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

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Grace at Home No. 360


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

Preparations for Christmas are now well underway for most of us, though I've talked with a number of people who feel as I do that the late Thanksgiving has made the Advent season seem rushed. Christmas is now less than two weeks away!

Here are some posts from last week's party that are sure to inspire and help you as you continue getting ready for Christmas.

Need a few more ornaments for your tree or to give as gifts? Check out these darling grain sack ornaments made by Joy at Artful Homemaking.


Do you love vintage Christmas decor like I do? Then you'll want to see the porch decorations at Paula's house. Check out Sweet Pea here!


Need a feast for your eyes? Read about the Christmas decorations in the kitchen at Penny's Vintage Home. 


I've been wanting to try a couple of new Christmas recipes, and I think I'll start with this peanut butter and chocolate fudge combination from Erin at Delightful E Made.


As for me, I've been thinking about how I tend to try to create the perfect Christmas. . . and this year I'm trying to do things differently. I'd love to know what you think!


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


Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Christmas of blessing, not impressing


“Deck the halls with boughs of holly,” sing Clark and Ellen as their station wagon zooms down a freshly plowed highway. Russ and Audrey roll their eyes in the back seat. The search for the perfect Christmas tree is about to begin.

I make some hot chocolate, and once more my husband, kids, and I settle in to watch our favorite funny holiday movie, Christmas Vacation. It’s dated, it’s silly, and sometimes it’s inappropriate, but year after year we follow along as the Griswolds make their way through December. We laugh until our sides hurt as Clark cuts the rope binding the Christmas tree (“Little full. Lot of sap.”), pours egg nog for Cousin Eddie into a moose-shaped mug (“Drive you out into the middle of nowhere, leave you for dead?”), and investigates the noise in the living room (“Squirrel!!”). If you’ve watched Christmas Vacation over the years, I’ll bet you have your favorite lines, too.

Of all the heart-warming Christmas movies available, all the beautiful musicals, all the rollicking comedies, why does this one endure? Why do we watch it over and over? Clark Griswold is a farcical character, so why do we identify with him so enduringly?



I think it’s because we’ve all been there. In our sometimes crazy-busy lives, who among us hasn’t aspired to create the perfect Christmas?

Who hasn’t tried to create a lasting memory by tracking down the perfect tree? Or attempted a stunning lightscape in the front yard? Or labored to plan the merriest holiday party? Or slaved to cook the most toothsome holiday meal?

We have good intentions. We want to make the holidays memorable for our families. And everywhere we look, we find inspiration. With all the magazines we read, the blogs we peruse, the Pinterest boards we scour, and the Instagram photos we scroll through, we’ve convinced ourselves that every element of the perfect holiday should be within our grasp.

This blogger has a different tree in every room of her home, each one decorated with a particular theme.

That Instagrammer boasts the most beautiful front-door wreath and garland we’ve ever seen.

One magazine features the six most elegant holiday desserts ever created, while another provides recipes for ten kinds of homemade candy that we simply must try.

We start with good intentions, and we work hard to create something special. But as we collect more and more inspiration, our plans for Christmas have enlarged to include more, more, more.

Somehow we imagine that we can take the best elements of everyone else's holiday plans and combine them into one stupendous effort. Clark Griswold called it a "fun old-fashioned family Christmas." These days I have my own term for it. I call it the Mythical Composite Christmas.


Many years ago my husband told me that I was constantly comparing myself to everyone around me. He said, "You choose the best attribute of everyone you meet, and you assume you should share that attribute. You've created for yourself a Mythical Composite Woman made up of all those attributes, and that's who you think you should be."

I struggled with comparison for so long that I finally wrote a book about my journey of wrestling with it. InterVarsity Press published the book, called Mythical Me: Finding Freedom from Constant Comparison. Finally, after many years of comparing myself to others, I'm finding freedom.

But then Christmas comes, and if I'm not careful, I'll slip right back into my old ways of trying to create the perfect Christmas. This year, I'd like to leave the farce to the Griswolds, so I'm taking my own advice.

In Mythical Me, I tell a story that I'm remembering this Christmas. One week I was rushing around like crazy, trying to pack too many activities into too little time. In the middle of one of the busiest days, a friend asked how I was doing, and I answered honestly: "Frantic."

My friend pressed for details, and I shared them: in addition to the normal activities and responsibilities of the week, my son was celebrating a milestone birthday, I was hosting a dinner party for an important client, and I was preparing for a business trip that would keep me away from home for a week. With a haircut and a dentist's appointment thrown in for good measure, I had way too many things to do and not enough time to do them, at least not the way I wanted to do them.

And how did I want to do them? Well, I had great examples. One of my friends makes each family celebration unforgettable. Another is an ace hostess. Yet another glides through business trips with apparent ease. I wanted to perform at least as well as the people I was comparing myself to, if not better than anyone else could.

Had I stopped to think about how privileged I was? Did I pause to consider how rich my life was? Not one bit. Instead, I let myself be frazzled by trying to be the best at everything.

My friend prayed for me, and I heard God's voice speak to me. Simply and clearly, God said, "I made you to bless, not to impress."

Tears sprang to my eyes as I realized that truth. The reason I was working through my long list was to bless people. When I got stuck in comparing myself to others, I lost sight of that purpose. My talented friends had inspired me and taught me, blessing me with their examples. But when I started comparing myself to them, I twisted that blessing into a kind of contest that no one could win.

This is the trap I'm especially susceptible to at Christmastime. Maybe you struggle with it too? Then maybe you'd like to join me.

We were made for mutual blessing, not comparison and competition

This year I'm choosing to remember God's words to me: "I made you to bless, not to impress."

When freed from the burden of wanting to impress people, we are able to bless them and be blessed by them. That's the way God designed us to be, at Christmas and all other times.




Thursday, December 5, 2019

Grace at Home No. 359


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

The days are rushing swiftly by, and it's now December! Are you struggling with the fact that Thanksgiving was so late this year? I've realized that I tend to rely on those last few days of November to get started on my Christmas decorating, but this year November was over before Thanksgiving weekend was over. We were blessed to have all our family home for Thanksgiving:


Hope your time was full of blessings and gratitude as well!

Here are some links from our last party I think you'll enjoy.

Looking for Christmas decorating inspiration? Then you'll want to spend some time with Pam from Everyday Living. I know you'll enjoy your visit!


Need some new Christmas ornaments for your own decorating? Check out these darling Scrabble tile ornaments from Ann at The Apple Street Cottage. She includes step-by-step directions for making these.

Wishing you had beautiful stockings to hang? The Happiest Camper provides a detailed tutorial for making your own!


Need some ideas for what to put in your stockings? Leslie from Lamberts Lately has you covered. She provides lists of great stocking ideas for men, women, and children!


I don't know about you, but I really struggle with dinner preparations at this time of year. I find myself wanting to bake cookies and make fudge instead of cook dinner! So I was glad to see this recipe from Ewa of Cooking with Ewa--chicken coated with Ritz crackers? Sounds yummy!


Last but definitely not least: if looking at all the Christmas decor online brings up difficult feelings, you'll want to check out this post from Tiffiney at Welcome Home Ministries.


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