Thursday, December 21, 2017

Grace at Home No. 279


Oh, my friends. It's the last Thursday before Christmas! I know you're all busy preparing for the big day, but I'm so glad you've taken a few minutes to drop by the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some of my favorites from last week's party.

There are some wonderful Christmas home tours right now, aren't there? I really enjoyed this one from Jenny Louise Marie.


And this tour from Kathryn at The Dedicated House is lovely.


Next, some very special Christmas decorations. Not only is Queen Elizabeth II Britain's longest-reigning monarch, she and Prince Philip just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Laura from Decor to Adore created a beautiful space in honor of the Queen. Isn't that fun?


If you have kids with a long Christmas break, you might want to check out these great ideas for a Christmas stay-cation from Melissa at HumbleFaithFamilyWellness.


For some wonderful Christmas inspiration, you'll want to read "A Season of Listening" by Michele Morin at Living Our Days.


And if you're struggling this season, I think you'll be encouraged by "When Christmas Isn't Merry" by Cheryl from Homespun Devotions.


As for me, I shared our Christmas Home Tour this week, and I'd love for you to take a peek! 


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, December 20, 2017

My home at Christmas


Christmas is around the corner, and we've finally finished decking the halls around here, so I'm happy to welcome you to our home. Just a word of warning: our Christmas decor is very traditional, so I hope you like red and green!

Here's the outside of our house this year:


Here's the scene at the front door:


I made that "JOY" sign a few years ago (click here for easy directions to make your own), and I love hanging it up at Christmastime.

The front porch seating area is a favorite spot to decorate:



We never know what the weather is going to be like in December. Last week was freezing cold, but yesterday it was warm enough to sit out here!

When you come in the front door, here's the scene that greets you:


The first room on your right is the dining room, where I add just a few Christmasy touches.


This room is full of furniture that belonged to my mother. She loved "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and I have fun hanging twelve special ornaments in the window in her memory.


The Nativity scenes on the sideboard are special to me. The plate is from El Salvador, a gift from my sister from her missions work there. And the little wooden creche is from Israel; it was made of olive wood.


The sideboard in the dining room holds three Lenox "Trees Around the World" plates—one from each of the years that our sons were born. I pack these away very carefully each year!


Now into the living room, which is the hub of our Christmas activities. We have just one tree in the house, which stands in the corner of this big room. You can see more photos of the tree here.


At the other end of the room are the fireplace and the television. The TV can be shut away in a cabinet, but I left it out for these photos. You can see the stack of Christmas movies just waiting to be watched.


A doorway from the living room leads into the kitchen, where I have a few of my favorite Christmas things.


I made the NOEL sign in the window; click here for a super-easy tutorial. The green island is fun all the time, but it works especially well at Christmas. I love having a "variety store" vignette on it at Christmastime:


The old wrapping paper cutter works beautifully. And the candy scale is just like the one at Heckerman's Variety Store in Belle Plaine, Kansas, where my grandmother lived. How I loved going there and buying a bag of candy for a few cents!

The breakfast area holds our big table and my mother's dough cabinet. The table holds a simple centerpiece that we can easily whisk to the side, and the dough cabinet holds my old Department 56 village.


Our little beagle is 14 years old now, so you can often find her snuggled up here.


The breakfast room leads out to the screened porch, where I've added just a few Christmas things this year:


I hope you've enjoyed this look around our home. I wish you could come for a real visit!


In this holy season, I wish you and your loved ones every blessing as you celebrate the fact that God is with us.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Grace at Home No. 278


Welcome, welcome! I'm so grateful you're here for this week's Grace at Home party! We're now halfway through the season of Advent, and I hope your season of waiting and watching has been a fruitful one.

There were so many delightful holiday posts in last week's selection of links. Here are some highlights:

Kendra at Joy in Our Home shared some ways she updated the Christmas decor in her home for very little money. You'll enjoy seeing what she's done.


Lori at Dining Delight showed us the way she decorated a sideboard in her kitchen. So much Christmas goodness in one spot!


Eilis at My Heart Lives Here decided to create a calm, cozy look for Christmas at her house. Check it out!

Sweet Penny at Penny's Vintage Home goes all out with her decorating. She even decorated her darling "she shed" for Christmas. Take a look!


If you're looking for a yummy treat to make and share this season, you'll want to see how Theresa from Shoestring Elegance makes her rocky road fudge.



And if you've been feeling guilty about things you've done or left undone this season, you might want to read my post, "Lessons from a Christmas Tree." You'll see our Christmas tree and I hope you'll be encouraged by what I've learned.


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, December 12, 2017

Lessons from a Christmas tree


If you rang my doorbell, here's what you'd see when I opened the door to you:




We aren't terribly fashionable around here. We have just one tree, which stands in the corner of our living room.



Our tree is filled with ornaments old and new, most of them loaded with meaning or memories or both.

The oldest ornament on the tree is this stained "glass" angel my Aunt Marjorie made for me in the late 1960's. My angel holds court beside an ornament from 1991, the year my oldest son was born.




Another of my most precious ornaments is this handmade snowflake that frames a photo of my mother when she was a tiny girl. But you'll notice BB8 from Star Wars hangs just beside her.


And so it goes all around the tree: the old mixed with the new, the precious with the cheap, the sacred with the secular. Not fancy or fashionable, but just right for us.




What these photos don't show you is that lurking in the corner of the living room are bins of Christmas decorations. See?


At first, as I considered the fact that my Christmas decor is still a work in progress, I thought to myself, "I feel guilty that I haven't already finished the decorating and put all the boxes away."

And then I realized how many times over the past few days I've heard people speak of feeling guilty.

"I feel guilty that I didn't put up a tree this year," or "I feel guilty that our tree is artificial," or "I feel guilty that we cut down a live tree for Christmas."

"I feel guilty that I haven't made any Christmas cookies," or "I feel guilty that I've eaten too many Christmas cookies."

"I feel guilty that I can't give my kids what they want for Christmas," or "I feel guilty that I've bought my kids too much for Christmas."

Is there no end to it?

Of course, we feel guilty because we are guilty, and we know it. Every single one us is flawed. We all come up short. Not one of us is perfect.


But the very reason we celebrate Christmas is that the Lord of all Creation loved us enough to save us. He didn't leave us in our flaws and shortcomings. The Christ of Christmas is the One who came to earth and lived as a human in order to show us what a life without shortcomings would look like. And then He gave up his life in order for us to released from the guilt of our own sins and to live in freedom.

I think the words of the old hymn put it best:

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free--
For God, the just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.*

Full of shortcomings though we are, our guilt has been taken away--cleansed by the One whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.  Because of Jesus, we can live a life that's no longer ruled by sin.

Christ was born to give us life that is truly life.

My prayer this season is that your Christmas tree be more than a symbol of beauty and merriment. May it be a tree of life for you.



*"Before the Throne of God Above" by C.L. Bancroft


I'm joining these fun parties:
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Grace at Home No. 277


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party! I'm so glad you're here! I pray that your December is off to a good start and that you're able to enjoy this special season.

Last week's party was full of Christmasy goodness. Here are a few highlights.

Laura at Decor to Adore built a birch log insert for her fireplace. She wasn't fond of the look of her fireplace, but just look at it now!


Rita at Panoply showed us the way decorated her sunroom for Christmas. If you like traditional Christmas decor as much as I do, I know you'll enjoy visiting Rita.


Debbie at Debbie-Dabble goes all out for Christmas. You'll love seeing the way she decorates her home with such love and joy.


You'll be inspired by this table setting from Fabby at Fabby's Living. Fabby hosts a monthly prayer luncheon where a group of faithful women gather to pray the rosary. Such a wonderful tradition!


Eileen at Just Measuring Up shared a wonderful gift idea for children: a cookie decorating box! She shares all the details for making your own.


Yvonne Chase, the Single Women's Cheerleader, shared some thought-provoking wisdom about "missing tile syndrome"–and it applies to all of us, not just to single women!


As for me, I'm starting December a little more slowly, trying to soak in the Advent season. When it comes to waiting, I have a lot to learn! I'd love for you to read my reflection on learning to wait.


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!