Thursday, January 17, 2019

Grace at Home No. 326


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

Last week I asked if y'all were interested in my continuing this link party, and a number of you took the time to answer—and your answer was a resounding "Yes!" I'm so glad you enjoy this party, and I'm glad to continue hosting.

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

As we begin the new year, lots of us have decluttering on our minds, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here's help: Vicki from Fivespot Green Living shares 10 decluttering tips to get you started.


Jamie from So Much Better with Age provides a list of 60+ items to throw away today. Such great suggestions!

If you realize you need extra room in your kitchen, you'll appreciate this post from Wendi at H20 Bungalow, who gives a complete tutorial on how to add an extra shelf to your cabinets.


If these cold January days have you longing for some freshness, you'll enjoy learning how to have healthy winter houseplants from Carol at Comfort Spring.
Looking for a yummy new comfort food recipe? Check out these Maple Chicken and Biscuits from Andrea at Living on Cloud Nine!


And if you need a new perspective on how to approach the new year, read April Knapp's post on Biblical truths about goal-setting.


A big thank you to everyone who joined the last party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up.

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, January 10, 2019

Grace at Home No. 325


Welcome, friends! Hope 2019 is treating you well so far!

In January, almost everything I read encourages me toward an attitude of "out with the old, in with the new." Does anyone else feel that way?

Yet there are some "old" things I don't want to dispense with. One of those is hosting the Grace at Home party. It's definitely "old": I started the Grace at Home party way back in 2012.


In explaining the purpose of my blog back then, I wrote: "There's one thing that ties it all together for me: grace. That's the thing I prize most. My blog's purpose is to do what the title says--to impart grace. I want my home to be full of grace, too. I want it to be a place where my family, my friends, and my guests feel special and loved and welcome. I'm betting you feel the same way about your home."

So the aim of this party has always been to celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace. 

Now there are hundreds of link parties. Perhaps there's no longer any need for one that focuses on grace. But I still need the weekly time-out of thinking about this goal: I want my home to be a place of grace. 

I hope you feel the same way! If you do, I invite you to join me here every Thursday 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. I love looking through your entries, and I'll choose several to feature the following week. 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, January 3, 2019

Old Story for a New Year


Happy New Year!


No doubt you've heard that greeting many times over the past few days. Perhaps you stayed up late on December 31 and greeted 2019 with kisses and toasts, or maybe you pulled the covers over your head and slept the old year away. Maybe you've made a list of resolutions for the this year, or perhaps you've chosen one word to guide you in the months to come. But one thing's pretty certain: you've been exposed to the word "new." A lot.


We love the promise of newness, don't we? A blank slate, a fresh start, a reboot—these ideas appeal to us like few others.

But as I contemplate the start of this new year, something has started to bug me.

As I think back on my Bible study and meditation for last month, everything pointed to the coming of Christ. The whole season of Advent was meaningful for me, as I reflected on the promise of Immanuel—God with us. I tried to put myself in the place of the ancient Israelites, watching and waiting for the Messiah. The old stories rang fresh in my mind, full of promise and hope.

And then on Christmas Eve, gathered with friends and family for a special service, I celebrated the coming of the Christ child into the world. "Joy to the world; the Lord is come!" we sang as we raised our lighted candles high into the air. Just like every year, we marveled how those little candles made the darkened sanctuary so full of light when they were all held aloft together. Indeed, the Lord had come; we could feel it.

But now, a couple of days into the new year, we're ready to put all the Christmas stuff behind us for another year. We take down the decorations. We throw out any leftover treats. We hang new calendars and get ready for the business of making ourselves new.

Up and at 'em! Make your goals! Get yourself organized! Make it happen! The message of Christmas may have been that the Lord had come, but the message of New Year's seems to be that it's all up to me.

Already, just a few days into the new year, I'm weary.

Over the centuries after the coming of Christ, church leaders developed traditions to keep people's thoughts fixed on Him. As I was growing up, I knew next to nothing about these traditions. Because they aren't mentioned in the Bible, our church didn't observe them. I had never heard of a "church calendar." The very idea would have seemed preposterous.

In the church calendar, the new year begins with Advent, the season of waiting for Christ. Then it moves into the season of Christmastide, which lasts all the way to January 6, a day for celebrating the visit of the wise men. "Epiphany" is the name for the celebration of that day, when the baby Jesus was first recognized by Gentiles as God incarnate. In the mid-19th century, William Dix wrote a special hymn for Epiphany:

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.

Isn't that a wonderful prayer?

In these days of endless new-year-new-you messages, the idea of a church calendar doesn't seem preposterous at all. It seems like just what my soul needs.

Oh, I'll take my decorations down. I'll hang my new calendar up. But this year I'm choosing to remember that the celebration of Christmas is not just for December 25. We celebrate Christmas not just because Jesus was born, but because He lives and reigns. The promise of Immanuel was first for the people of Israel, then for the whole world. God himself is with us.

I don't have to make myself new this January. God himself is with me, and He is making me new. When I'm tempted to despair, I remember "though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day" (II Corinthians 4:16). The work of creating a new me this year is being done by the One with the strength and power to do it.

It's the old, old story, and it's what I need for the new year.

How about you?