Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grace at Home No. 266


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party! I hope you've had a good week. I know that many of you were affected by Hurricane Irma this past week, and I want you to know we've all been praying for you.

Here are some links from last week's party I thought you might enjoy.

Hayden from Two Paws Farmhouse created this corrugated metal awning in lieu of curtains for her kitchen window. Isn't it smashing?


Angela from Simply Beautiful made over some foam pumpkins from the dollar store to create these fabulous fall decorations.


For a fun fall look, Victoria from Dazzle while Frazzled crafted some colorful pumpkins from fabric scraps.


If you're looking for a good pound cake recipe, Marilyn from Marilyn's Treats has you covered. She shares 10 decadent pound cake recipes.


If you're in need of a good laugh, you need to read "A Chipmunk, a Cardinal, and So Many Rats" from Karmen at Chairs from the Curb.  Hilarious!


And if you're in need of some calming for your soul, you'll appreciate "Anxious for No Thing" from Michelle Bengtson at Hope Prevails.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Grace at Home No. 265


Hello there and happy September! I can hardly believe how fast this year is flying. If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I celebrated my birthday this week. The years go by so fast, don't they?

Thank you for being here for the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace. Here are some links from last week's party I thought you might enjoy.

Leslie at From Playdates to Parties shared six fall wreaths to make. Are you ready to decorate your home for autumn?

I'm always looking for organizational tips, and I appreciated this post from Carol at Comfort Spring. Check out this great idea for storing boxes of foil and plastic wrap.


Magic cookie bars are a favorite at our house, but I've never thought of changing the recipe. Andrea from Living on Cloud Nine has inspired me to try something new.


Stacy from Ordinary Days, Extraordinary Life inspired us with her post about time management.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, August 31, 2017

Grace at Home No. 264


Welcome to the Grace at Home party! I'm so glad you're here to celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some posts from last week's party I thought you'd enjoy.

Patti from Old Things New showed us how to create an ever-changing flower arrangement. You'll be inspired by this!


Roxanne from The Honeycomb Home shared lots of inspiration for decorating on a dime. Check it out!

Jennifer at Noting Grace was inspired by an image from Fixer Upper and created her own music chalkboard. See her post for full instructions to make your own.


Fabby from Fabby's Living shared lots of ideas for creating fall vignettes.



Amy from Wasteland to Graceland shared wise words about our work in this world in her post, "When You're Weary from the World's Lack of Kindness." I think you'll be encouraged by it.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!




Monday, August 28, 2017

Steadfast God


Like many of you, I spent a lot of the weekend glued to the news from Houston, Texas, and its surrounding areas. Hurricane Harvey, now Tropical Storm Harvey, is wreaking havoc along the Texas Gulf Coast, as it hovers there. The massive storm gathers moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dumps it inland, causing what may be the worst flood disaster in United States history.

One of my dearest friends lives in Houston, close to one of the bayous. She texted me yesterday that the firemen who evacuated everyone on her street put a lifejacket on her as they walked her out; the water was already 8 inches above her knees and running with a strong current.


This situation is frightening.

One of the most heartwarming things I saw on the news was that the emergency authorities in Houston asked for civilian help. Ordinary citizens got out their motorboats, fishing boats, rowboats, kayaks—anything that would float—and helped to rescue their neighbors. Thoughts of Dunkirk flitted through my mind as I watched. No differences of belief, opinion, or politics separated folks in Houston yesterday.

When I wasn't watching the news yesterday, I was at church, where we sang "Steadfast" by Sandra McCracken. I'm still clinging to the words today.

I will build my house
Whether storm or drought
On the rock that does not move
I will set my hope
In your love, O Lord,
And your faithfulness will prove
You are steadfast, steadfast

By the word you spoke
All the starry host
Are called out by name each night
In your watchful care
I will rest secure
As you lead us with your light
You are steadfast, steadfast

I will not trust
In the strength of kings
On your promise I will stand
I will shout for joy
I will will raise my voice
Hallelujah to the Lamb!
You are steadfast, steadfast

In the moment of emptiness
All was fulfilled
In the hour of darkness
Your light was revealed
In the presence of death
Your life was affirmed
In the absence of holiness
You are still God

You are steadfast, steadfast
You are steadfast, steadfast

Are you in a precarious place today? Not all floodwaters make the news, of course, but God's steadfastness is the answer we're all seeking.

Click on the video below to hear Sandra McCracken sing it. Then sing along.



God bless us, everyone.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Grace at Home No. 263


Hello, hello! I'm so grateful you're here for the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

It's back-to-school time, so I'm finding myself drawn to getting things organized. Life has so many moving parts these days that it's easy to feel overwhelmed, isn't it? Here are some posts from last week's party that caught my eye:

Angela from Simply Beautiful built this handy chalkboard/key holder. I like the fact that it includes a deep pocket for holding things. I think this would be wonderful to hang by the back door. Angela includes a step-by-step tutorial.


One way I need to become more organized is in meal planning and preparation. I've heard wonderful things about using an Instant Pot, and I've bought one, but I need to learn to use it. Leslie from Lamberts Lately must have read my mind: she's answered the biggest Instant Pot questions in one place.


Donna from Simple Organizing and More gave us 21 quick tips for being more organized. I like the fact that these are simple and doable!


As we live these busy days, it's all too easy for us to become closed-minded. Michele Morin helps us with this problem in this wonderful post, "My Piece of the Elephant." You'll be blessed by reading this!


As for me, I've spent a lot of time these last couple of weeks reflecting on the events in Charlottesville. As I've thought about the problem of racism, I've come to believe that conquering it needs to start with changing our hearts as well as changing systems and institutions. I'd love to know what you think about this! Please read Confession of a Recovering Racist and leave me a note with your thoughts.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Friday, August 18, 2017

Confession of a recovering racist


In June 2015, members of our church joined with Christians all over the world to lament the murders of nine precious brothers and sisters in Charleston, South Carolina.  We prayed together:

We stand with our sisters
We stand with our brothers
We stand with our families
We stand to bear their burdens in Jesus' name

And this past week, we dedicated time to lament the ridiculous actions of white "supremacists" (a term I hate, since there is no such thing as the supremacy of any race) in Charlottesville, Virginia. Again we prayed, again we vowed to stand with our brothers and sisters.

In the wake of such tragedies, it's easy for me to get on my high horse and rage against the evil of racism, to decry the lack of justice in the world, to insist that something be done.

But as I've thought deeply about the events of these days, I realize that for the most part, any raging I would do is really a cover for the real something that still needs to happen in my own heart.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I came by my racism honestly.

I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1960's.  Memphis was well on the way to being racially integrated before I arrived on the scene, so I didn't know that Candace, my dark-skinned friend in Miss Haywood's first grade class, would not have been allowed in my classroom just a few years earlier.  I didn't know that Mrs. Bell wouldn't have been allowed to be my second-grade teacher. I didn't know about the April 1968 shooting at the Lorraine Motel. I knew that the Safety Patrol at my school conducted riot drills along with fire drills, but I didn't know why.

My parents did know all about those issues, and when the authorities in Memphis decided to further enact school integration by busing students, they joined thousands of others in what's now called "white flight." We moved out to a neighboring county, well away from the jurisdiction of the Memphis City Schools.

Because, of course, my parents were law-abiding citizens. Had we stayed in Memphis, they would have complied with the law. Laws may change a person's behavior, and sometimes that's an important and necessary step. But they don't change a person's heart.

At heart, we were racists. I didn't know it at the time, but we were. So were most of our friends and neighbors.

Don't get me wrong. I was blessed that my folks were good people. My family was Christian, and at church we sang about how people of all races were precious in God's sight. I think we believed that, at least in theory. So far as I know, my parents treated all people well, regardless of race. I'm grateful for that.

What I've come to realize, though, is that no matter how seemingly mild a form of racism may be, it's dangerous. Our kind of racism wasn't overt, but it was very much part of our idea of reality.  The thought of one race being superior to others was one of our underlying assumptions, whether we realized it or not.

It's easy to rant and rage against racial injustice, but we need to do the hard work of changing our own hearts, then working for justice.

Here's the thing about underlying assumptions: once a false notion is accepted as truth, it changes the way we think.  It alters the way we perceive what's happening around us. Almost as though we were wearing glasses of the wrong prescription, we see distorted images--but we don't realize that we're not seeing clearly. Those distorted images appear to support what we assume to be true, and our false notions are reinforced.

At least that's the way it was for me. I've had my racism challenged and partially defeated by knowing many wonderful, talented, brilliant people of races different from my own. I thank God for this.

It's easy to rant and rage against racial injustice, but we need to do the hard work of changing our own hearts, then working for justice.

But I know my own heart. I don't want to be racist, and while I work at not allowing racism of any kind to linger, it's still much too easy for me to fall into thinking in terms of racial stereotypes. This is ridiculous, and I know better, but I'm still susceptible to wrong thinking.

Besides that, it's easy for me to bristle against the idea of "white privilege." I grew up in the South, but my ancestors were not slaveowners. My people were poor. My grandfather was a sharecropper; my husband's grandfather, a tenant farmer. My parents and my husband and I have had to work hard—really hard—for the progress we've made. So the idea of "privilege" can seem preposterous to me.

Yet I've never had to worry about my own race. I've never been frowned upon for no reason. I haven't had to explain myself or defend my right to be in certain places. If I achieve success in an endeavor, no one questions whether I deserve it or if I might have received it only because of my race. I've never been suspected of unlawful behavior. If I walk around my neighborhood, no one questions my right to be here. I've never had to worry about whether the way I dressed on any given day might make people respect me less. Shoot, I've even been able to shop for "nude" shoes, knowing that they'd be the color of my skin.

Every day I enjoy privileges that I take completely for granted. Again, my vision can be distorted without my ever recognizing that I'm not seeing clearly.

It is right and good to work for societal change.  I am deeply grateful for the progress in social justice that has been made in this country. One needn't reach too far back into American history to find evidence of terrible, entrenched racism, even racial violence, as a societal norm. An intensive study completed by the Equal Justice Initiative found that nearly 4,000 black persons were killed by lynching between 1877 and 1950. 3,959 instances of racial terror, often carried out with little or no punishment to the murderers.

I thank God that things have changed. I am grateful that racial terrorism now takes our breath away, makes us sick. Things are better. But they aren't good enough. They aren't good enough!

In response to such tragedies as we've witnessed, I find myself ranting about injustice, raging against wrongs that need to be righted. In the end, though, it's pretty easy to rant and rage. Far harder is it to change my attitude, to root out all the injustice and wrong that is within me. And if I allow traces of racism to lurk in my own heart, what good have I accomplished?

In the middle of thinking about all this, I read these words from Thomas a Kempis, in Chapter 11 of The Imitation of Christ:

"How can he abide long in peace who occupies himself with other men's matters, and with things outside himself, and meanwhile pays little or rare heed to the self within?  Blessed are the single-hearted, for they shall have abundance of peace."

Oh, God. This is not just my country's problem. This is my problem.

These times in our history don't call for vilifying others. They call for personal repentance. I must think about my own thinking. I must get my own distorted vision corrected and learn to walk with new vision.

Some of my friends* are working to make things better in our society. I am proud of their work, but I must do more. I must work with them. I must stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters of all races. And I must realize that before I can stand strong, I need to keep bending my knee, repenting of my own wrong thinking, and confessing the sin that's present in my heart.

So I pray. Dear Lord, forgive me. Please keep changing my heart. Help me to understand that the fight against racism is my fight, and show me how to help.

*Looking for a ministry worth supporting? 
I can personally recommend Corner to Corner and LeadershipLINKS.
If you know of others, please list them in the comments.

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