Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday soul care


A prayer for today:


Here's the full text of this 15th century poem:

Come down, O Love divine,
Seek Thou this soul of mine,
And visit it with Thine own ardor glowing;
O, Comforter, draw near,
Within my soul appear,
And kindle it, Thy holy flame bestowing.

O let it freely burn
Til earthly passions turn
To dust and ashes in its heat consuming
And let Thy glorious light
Shine ever on my sight
And clothe me 'round, the while my path illuming.

Let holy charity
Mine outward vesture be,
And lowliness become mine inward clothing;
True lowliness of heart,
Which takes the humbler part
And o'er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

And so the yearning strong
With which the soul will long
Shall far outpass the pow'r of human telling;
For none can guess its grace
Til Love create a place
Wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.

May it be so, Lord.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Grace at Home No. 362


Happy New Year, friends!

I'm so grateful you're here for the Grace at Home party. I started this link party years ago for a few reasons:

1) to allow other bloggers to share their posts;

2) to promote community in the blogosphere, hopefully introducing both bloggers and readers to some new folks; and

3) to celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace, thereby encouraging one another.


I wish I could tell you how much it has thrilled me over the years to hear stories of folks who are now online friends who met one another through this party.

Blogging has changed a lot in the last few years, but I still believe that it's best when folks interact with one another. I believe strongly that a strong sense of community is the cure for much of what ails us in society. Face-to-face community is the most important, but I think online community is possible, and that's what I hope to promote.

Now to a question: is this party still serving you? I'm delighted to keep hosting Grace at Home if you like it and still want to participate. Please let me know what you think!

Now for today's party! Here at the Grace at Home party, 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!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Monday, January 6, 2020

Epiphany for a new year


When I was a young girl, I liked to collect interesting words.


Why say that something is well established and widely recognized when you can say that it's iconic?

Isn't it more fun to speak of the epitome rather than the ideal example of something?

Perhaps it's because my parents gave me such an unusual name, but I've always liked multisyllabic words. Of course, I've embarrassed myself plenty of times over the years as I've mispronounced those words or used them incorrectly. And as I've matured, I've learned to prize simplicity of speech. But my fascination with words continues.

One word that occupies a special place in my heart is epiphany, which I've always used as a synonym for an "aha!" moment or experience, what Merriam-Webster defines as "a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something." (What could be better than the definition of a multisyllabic word that contains three other multisyllabic words?)

When I was growing up and for a number of years after I became an adult, I had no idea that "epiphany" was any more than one of my beloved big words. Although I grew up with Christian parents who attended church regularly, learning about church history was not part of my education--quite the opposite, in fact. I grew up in a church that tried to practice religion as simply as possible, using only the Bible as a guide, eschewing any kind of creed or tradition. In some ways that was a good idea. In other ways, we missed out on a lot of wisdom.

After the birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, the church was established: a group of people who had been "born again" as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in John 3, who had been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, who were united in their love for Christ and their commitment to serve Him. Over the years, church leaders developed traditions to keep people's thoughts fixed on "things above," as described in Colossians 3:2. One of those traditions was the development of a church calendar—an ordering of the days of the year around the life of Christ. 

The church calendar begins not with January 1 as the start of a new year, but with Advent, the season of waiting for the coming of Christ. Then it moves into the 12-day celebration of Christmas. Maybe you're like me and assumed that the "12 Days of Christmas" was just a fun song to sing at Christmas parties. "Five golden rings" was always my favorite line. My mother had a small collection of Christmas decorations that featured a partridge in a pear tree. 

I knew nothing of Christmastide, which lasts from December 25 to January 6, a day for celebrating the visit of the wise men. "Epiphany" is the name for the celebration of that day, a commemoration of the greatest "aha" moment ever: the recognition by Gentile wise men of the infant Jesus as God incarnate.

As I learned about the tradition of Epiphany, one of my greatest joys was discovering a hymn written in the mid-19th century by an Englishman named William Dix. Here are the words:

As with gladness men of old
Did the guiding star behold,
As with joy they hailed its light
Leading onward, beaming bright,
So, most gracious Lord, may we
Evermore be led to Thee.

As with joyful steps they sped
To that lowly manger bed,
There to bend the knee before
Thee whom heaven and earth adore,
So may we with willing feet
Ever seek Thy mercy seat.

As they offered gifts most rare
At that manger rude and bare,
So may we with holy joy
Pure, and free from sin's alloy,
All our costliest treasures bring
Christ, to Thee, our heavenly King.

Holy Jesus, every day,
Keep us on the narrow way,
And, when earthy things are past,
Bring our ransomed souls at last
Where they need no star to guide,
Where no clouds Thy glory hide.

In the heavenly country bright
Need they no created light
Thou its light, its joy, its crown
Thou its sun, which goes not down.
There forever may we sing
Hallelujahs to our King.

As the hymn says, one day we won't need any "created light"; for now, tools and traditions like the church calendar seem like a really good idea.


As I think about the year just begun, I'm still trying to decide upon my goals and priorities, considering what might be my one word for 2020. In the process, I'm grateful for the wisdom and faithfulness of those who have gone before me. The writer of the book of Hebrews calls them the "great cloud of witnesses." Like them, I want to keep my eyes on Jesus, "the pioneer and perfecter of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2).

When I see "New Year, New You" messages all around me, I want to experience yet again the aha! moment of recognizing Jesus as Emmanuel—God with us. I am so grateful I don't have to make myself new; that's the work of God who is with me.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Sunday soul care


On this first Sunday of the new year, I want to keep my hands open as I pray,
watching and waiting for God's work in my life.


Today is the first of what I hope will become a weekly practice for me: to post a simple thought on Sundays that will turn our hearts to God. I'll call it "Sunday soul care," and I hope you'll join me.

Every blessing!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year


Happy New Year!


It's 2020, and I have so much to say about that, but for now, there's just one thing I want you to know. . . one thing I would write in the sky if I could. Here it is:


I truly believe that this truth changes everything.

You may disbelieve it.
You may doubt it.
You may not accept it.

But it IS a truth, and more than anything else I want you to hear this from me.

You are so dearly loved!

This is my prayer for you this year: I pray that you may be rooted and grounded and love and that you may grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ (see Ephesians 3).

The very best to you this year, my friends.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Grace at Home No. 361


Hello, friends. Welcome, welcome to the Grace at Home party, this last week before Christmas!

My favorite posts from last week's party showcase lots of different Christmas decorations. So I hope you'll enjoy this little Christmas tour.

Kristin from White Arrows Home has created lots of beautiful Christmas vignettes throughout her home. This photo from her entryway is just the start!


Lindsay from Lindsay's Sweet World has small children. I'm sure they're loving their home all decked out for Christmas.


Marty at A Stroll Thru Life lives in a warm climate, so her home is decorated for a sunny Christmas season.

Debbie from Debbie-Dabble describes herself as a "Victorian soul," and you can tell how much she loves Victorian decor by this peek at one of her Christmas trees!


If you need a small gift for friends and neighbors (or a snack for finishing your Christmas preparations), you'll enjoy this recipe for "Reindeer Feed" from Jennifer at Satsuma Designs.


Last but not least, Michele Morin at Living Our Days offers a sweet reminder of the real reason for the season.


Thank you to everyone who joined our last party! Now for this week's link-up. Here at the Grace at Home party, 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!
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter