Saturday, December 23, 2017

Thanks be to God for His Gift!

Christmas Eve is tomorrow! My blog has been quiet since last weekend because my life has been full!  I have been savoring these pre-Christmas moments. Monday came and went, the day I usually post my weekly gratitude list, but instead I chose a day of much needed rest after a wonderful church leadership dinner at our house the night before.  And then each day that followed I chose something other than to sit down and write a blog post-quiet moments in the wee hours sipping my coffee and reading my Advent devotional, baking cookies with my daughters and more baking alone to share with family and friends, finally getting the last of the Christmas cards in the mail, daily walks to compensate for the goodies I ate, running pre-Christmas errands with my husband, taking the grandkids for our annual evening of looking at Christmas lights, a grandkid sleepover, an early Christmas gathering with our whole family since two of our children will be celebrating with their in-laws this year.  Other than our church Christmas Eve breakfast and service, this weekend and Christmas day will be more quiet and low key than the busyness of the days preceding.  That, of course, is bittersweet.  

After Christmas, my husband and I are going to the beach for a few days, so I will be taking time away from blogging to enjoy time with him.  With that said, I want to catch up on my gratitude list here before "going quiet" for a wee bit longer.

Since 2009 I've been counting my blessings thanks to the prompting of Ann Voskamp.
 I continue to count my thanks
piling up gratitude day by day
in my journal.
(and capturing some of my blessings via my camera or iPhone)

-the smell of cranberry cinnamon bread baking
-Christmas cards and letters arriving in our mail
-watching our youngest grandson while our kids were at their company dinner

-God's mercy for my occasionally scatterbrained ways-
(I thought I lost something important-looked for it for almost an hour when it was sitting on my nightstand the whole time)
-God's provision via an insurance reimbursement
-a sweet evening together after running errands in prep for a busy weekend

-two big pre-Christmas to-dos on my list done today!
-three year old grandson and his babysitter, (our unofficially adopted granddaughter), stopping by for a visit
-a husband who is content with leftovers for dinner

-the God Who loves-Who reached down to us through Jesus
-God's sweet nearness to me this holiday season
-praying together 

-a sweet morning with my guy
-my favorite tomato basil soup for lunch
-watching Polar Express and nibbling on popcorn with my three year old grandson-
(while Papa and the rest of his family went to see the new Star Wars together)

-getting all of the prep for tomorrow's church leadership dinner done

-a hot bubble bath after a busy day
-the wonderful feeling of clean sheets on the bed

-lunch with the grands after church
-a great evening with our church leaders
-the safe arrival of our dear brother from Ghana, who is spending the holidays here
-our middle daughter and son-in-law's seventeenth anniversary

-my oldest grandson "hanging out" at our house this morning
-working on our annual family Christmas letter and reminiscing about God's goodness this year
-going to bed early after a busy weekend

-the last of the cards finally in the mail
-baking "eights", (Kringla), with my girls-and all six of the grands hanging out together while we baked

-heart to heart conversations

-noticing that the angel prophesied not only of Jesus' birth but of His future reign in Luke 1
-a sweet, peaceful time of baking cookies and listening to Christmas music

-running the last of the Christmas errands with my husband

-a beautiful foggy, icy morning-the first day of winter!

-a fun evening of driving to look at Christmas lights with our grandkids
-reading the Christmas story with the grandkids that spent the night 

-our early family Christmas celebration, (since two of our daughters will be with in-laws this year)
-our grandkids thrilled with snuggly blankets instead of traditional stocking stuffers
-my husband reading His annual Christmas blessing 
and our dear Ghanian brother's prayer over our family

-our whole family together

-my hub's helping with clean up after everyone went home

My prayer is that you will have a blessed Christmas and that the nearness of God's presence will be evident to you-especially those of you that are facing difficulties during this time. I pray that your New Year will find you in the center of God's good, acceptable and perfect will and lavished with His love and blessings.

still following, 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Peace on our little piece of earth...

At Christmastime more than ever, I want to sense the nearness of the Prince of Peace.  I want the peace that Jesus has promised to be in me and to flow out from me to others. I want our home to be filled with peace. 

I understand that we are living in anything but peaceful times.  But here, in this little piece of planet earth that is my body, my family, my home, my sphere of influence, I don't want the chaos "out there" to rule what's going on "in here".  Colossians 3:15 says that the peace of God is what should be ruling in our heart and mind.

The Christmas season tends to be full and busy. There's shopping and baking and Christmas card sending and holiday gathering hosting and that's on top of the normal activities that already fill our calendars.  There are three things that have helped to keep me sane-to keep me filled up with God's peace this year.  First of all, it's making sure to spend quiet time in His presence before the busyness of the day begins. Connecting with the Prince of Peace is essential to having His peace! As I've gotten older, I've turned into an early bird! I've come to love the quiet of the early morning hours. I sip my coffee, read my Bible, journal and spend time in prayer. When I have an especially busy day ahead I ask God for His help in ordering my day and getting things done.  When I have shopping to do, I ask Him to lead me to the best bargain and to help my money to stretch!  God cares about whatever concerns us. Nothing is too small, or too big for that matter, to take to God in prayer.  The second thing that has helped me to keep a peaceful mind and heart in the holiday busyness is to listen to worship music, Christmas music, or uplifting podcasts while I am hustling around trying to get things done.  It's amazing how worship music can minister to my spirit and God can speak to my heart even while my body is busy cleaning house and getting ready to host a large holiday gathering. The last thing that has really helped me to maintain a peaceful mind and heart is to take a good walk outdoors each day.  While it seems like a brisk hours walk is an hour that could be used to get other things done, I need the exercise and the fresh air and time in God's creation to keep my wits about me. The photo of the sunset above was taken on a very busy day. I forced myself to go on a walk, even though these shorter days meant I was risking it getting dark before I was done.  The fresh air and exercise, the worship music playing in my earphones as I walked, getting to see the beauty of the sunset - it completely rejuvenated me in body, soul and spirit.

We are a week away from Christmas Eve.  If you're like me, you've got a list of things to get done between now and then. Let's add something to our lists, shall we?  Let's add-Live in God's peace.

still following,
(Woman to Woman Ministries, where I normally write on Sunday, is on holiday break until January 2nd.)

Also happily linking up with the lovely
The Mom Gene

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Friday Favs...My Christmas-y Kitchen and Dining Room...

Last week I promised to show you the Christmas decorations in my kitchen and dining room.
If you haven't seen my previous Christmas decor posts you can see
my Christmas mantel here
my Christmas living room here.
On my dining room table I made a simple centerpiece using Target dollar spot ceramic houses,
Ikea glass vases, faux snow and a faux tree from Michael's.  
I had most of these items already and just used them in a new way.
On the dish cabinet is my collection of antique santa cups,
(and some flowers my husband brought me!)
The little santa with a lid is a candle purchased at Marshall's.
Also in the dining room are my knock-off Restoration Hardware shelves
with simple Christmas touches added here and there.
For the second year I've added a simple bare branch with a few Christmas bobbles to this large demijohn.

On the shelf hangs some copper cookie cutter lights.
A little metal house from JoAnn's Craft and Fabric Store sits by a bottle brush tree in a little tart pan.
A favorite ironstone pitcher is filled with some foraged wintery foliage.

Between the dining room and kitchen is our little reading nook.
A wee faux tree sits inside an antique copper cookie jar
 and is decorated with a pom pom garland and copper cookie cutter lights.

And now, my kitchen.
Mimicking the windows in the reading nook, pom pom garlands hang above the kitchen windows.
A sweet little old fashioned vignette sits by my kitchen sink.

My white kitchen always has touches of my favorite color red so that works perfectly for this season!

 Thank you for joining me today!

It's almost Friday, friends!
Have a HAPPY, HAPPY Friday
and a safe and BLESSED weekend!