Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A prayer for back-to-school time


For some of us, this time of year brings a sense of anticipation, a spring in our steps, an eagerness to meet new challenges.

For others of us, this time of year dredges up images of old hurts, gives us leaden feet, and makes us dread facing each new challenge.

And some of us find ourselves somewhere in between.


Lord, You know the truth about us.

You know our histories, our hurts, and our hopes.

You know just what makes our hearts beat faster with anticipation and what makes them palpitate with dread. So we don't have to pretend with You.

What a relief, God, not to have to pretend.

Would you help us, Lord? Honestly, sometimes we don't even know what we need, much less what we want, when we face a new season. But You know what we need. You know where we need healing, where we need help, and where we simply need encouragement.

If we ascend into heaven, You are there.
If we go down into the depths, You are there.

Lord, we confess that sometimes we've been afraid of finding You. We haven't trusted that You are good. We haven't been able to believe that You are with us and for us.

But that's not the truth, is it? The truth is that You are always good, always with us, and always for us.

Give us eyes to see that You are here, God. Give us strength to seek You with all our hearts.

And please give us courage to know that everywhere we find You, we find love.

For every need we have this school year, we ask for Your grace. You've told us that it's sufficient for us.

We want to believe.
We need to believe.
We choose to believe.
Lord, help our unbelief!

Amen.
Psalm 139
I John 4
II Corinthians 12
Mark 9

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grace at Home No. 216


Hello, friends! I'm so glad you're here for the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace and beauty.

Here are some of my favorite links from last week's party:

Chloe at Celebrate and Decorate created a beautiful late-summer wreath using a plastic picture frame as a base. Isn't this lovely?


Susan from The Sparrow's Home shared a recipe for a Triple Chip Skillet Cookie that I want to try. This looks scrumptious!


Karmen of Chairs from the Curb shared the story of her husband's "little procedure" of having a small cancerous lesion removed from his face. She makes it hilarious!


As for me, I've been musing about how easy it is for us to compare our homes with one another's and why we should each celebrate our own taste. I'd love to know what you think about my post, "There's No Accounting for Taste."


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!






Wednesday, August 24, 2016

There's no accounting for taste


Want to hear something shocking? I can hardly believe that I'm going to say this publicly, but here goes:

My house has no white walls.

There. I've said it. Not a single wall in my house is painted white. You'll find some subdued colors, like Benjamin Moore Fieldstone in my living room:

What does it mean that there is "no accounting for taste"? Each of us gets to decide what we believe to be beautiful. It's an amazingly freeing concept!

And you'll find some very bold colors, such as the custom blue of my dining room walls.

Ever wondered what it means that there is "no accounting for taste"? Each of us gets to decide what we believe to be beautiful. It's an amazingly freeing concept!

But aside from the half wall below the dining room chair rail, nary a white wall will you find.

Now, even more shocking:

I'm not planning to paint any of my walls white.

You know what that makes me? A little out of step with the decorating times.

White walls are all the rage right now. Surely I need to be painting something?! It's not that I think white walls are ugly; I don't. I admire them in many houses. But I decorate my home according to my own taste, and white walls don't quite fit.

Should I set aside what I prefer and go for what is popular? After all, I write about trying to make my home a place of grace and beauty. Is there something wrong with me? Will the Style Police come to arrest me?

The answer is no.

Have you ever heard the comment "There's no accounting for taste"? I've heard people say that many times, usually while rolling their eyes. For years I assumed that this comment was an insult, because that's the only way I'd ever heard it used. People would look at something they found to be ugly or unappealing and say, "There's no accounting for taste," in the same tone of voice as saying "Ewww. Get that out of my sight."

But now I know that "no accounting for taste" is a statement of fact, and it's actually a very freeing concept.

You see, there are many things in life for which there is very strict accounting. There is accounting for how much money is in your bank account. For the amount you must pay in taxes. For how many pills you get in a prescription and how often you can get it refilled. For how many calories you are able to take in and how many you must expend to lose or gain weight. There's accounting for so much.

But there's no accounting for taste, because taste is not something that is prescribed by an authority or set by laws of nature. Taste is an individual thing, and we're all different.

Now, it is true that many of us agree that certain styles are pleasing or lovely. There are principles of art (color, proportion, symmetry, etc.) that are almost universally appealing. There are some design principles describing things that tend to look good to most of us. And it's certainly true that some tastes are more popular than others. But it's not true that certain kinds of taste are right and others are wrong.

So I'd like to make a proposal: let's stop comparing ourselves with one another and enjoy our own styles. Your taste is your taste, and mine is mine--and there's no accounting for taste! There are no rules. There is no Style Police. Each of us gets to decide what we believe to be beautiful--and then we can enjoy sharing it.

Life is good if we all bless and encourage one another. Vive la différence!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Grace at Home No. 215


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are a few posts from last week that caught my eye:

Debi from Surroundings by Debi admired the trendy galvanized letters she'd seen--and she created her own using papier-maché letters and paints! See her post for a full tutorial.


Shenita from Embellishments by SLR cleverly repurposed a jar that once held a candle--and look how she dressed it up! That's some creative recycling.


Kari from A Grace Full Life reminded us of Mom's kitchen with her funny post about meat loaf--and she included a never-fail recipe!


Sharon from Sharon Sharing God captured my heart with this adorable photo of her "grandbeagle"--and her post about spending time with this cutie really challenged me.


As for me, I shared some of the surprising beauty I've seen over the past couple of weeks. Can you guess where I've been?


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!





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Surprising beauty


I've had the chance to travel to some truly beautiful places in my life. Some of those I've shared here, such as my trips to Paris, Rome, and Normandy. Breathtaking, all of them.

This month, though, I witnessed some of the greatest beauty I've seen in a long time. Here are just a few photos from my travels in the past couple of weeks. See if you can guess where I was:




Okay, that last photo gave away the fact that I was in the U.S. This one makes it even more clear:

  
Any guesses?

Here are a couple more clues:



Perhaps you've recognized it by now.

I was in Michigan. Michigan! Can you believe the beauty?

I believe that when Michigan is mentioned, many folks can only conjure images of defunct factories dotted across the "Rust Belt" or abandoned houses in Detroit. Or they imagine the climate to be limited to harsh, gray winters. While Michigan may be home to some unattractive features (and what place isn't?!), I've discovered that it's also home to ravishing beauty.

I was born and reared in the South, but one of the greatest privileges of my life was moving to this beautiful state 25 years ago. For seven years my family thrived in Michigan. While we were glad to return to the South, we'll never forget what we learned while we were up North: that beauty is all around if we just have eyes to see it.

Lord, give us eyes to see the beauty of your Creation and of one another, wherever we may be.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Grace at Home No. 214


Welcome to this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some links from last week's party that caught my eye:

Chloe from Celebrate and Decorate created these gorgeous napkin rings from humble household ingredients. I'm going to make some for myself!


Now wouldn't those napkin rings be perfect for an alfresco dining scene such as this one created by Lori of Dining Delight? Beautiful!


I've just gotten back from Michigan, so maybe I have cherries on my mind. . . but I'm eager to try this recipe for Cherry Almond Bars from Kendra at Joy in Our Home. Don't they look delicious?


And if you want to both laugh and think deeply, you should read this post from Yvonne Chase: Speed Dating with the Holy Spirit!


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!