As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year Prayer

The following is from William MacDonald's devotional book One Day at a Time:

New Year's resolutions are good but fragile, that is, easily broken. New Year's prayers are better; they ascend to the throne of God and set answering wheels in motion. As we come to the beginning of another year, we would do well to make the following prayer requests our own:

Lord Jesus, I rededicate myself afresh to You today. I want You to take my life this coming year and use it for Your glory.

I pray that You will keep me from sin, from anything that will bring dishonor to Your Name.

Keep me teachable by the Holy Spirit. I want to move forward for You. Don't let me settle in a rut.

May my motto this year be, "He must increase; I must decrease." The glory must all be Yours. Help me not to touch it.

Teach me to make every decision a matter of prayer. I dread the thought of leaning on my own understanding. "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).

May I die to the world and even to the approval or blame of loved ones or friends. Give me a single, pure desire to do the things that please Your heart.

Keep me from gossip and criticism of others. Rather, help me to speak what is edifying and profitable.

Lead me to needy souls. May I become a friend of sinners, as You are. Give me tears of compassion for the perishing.

Lord Jesus, keep me from becoming cold, bitter, or cynical in spite of anything that may happen to me in the Christian life.

Guide me in my stewardship of money. Help me to be a good steward of everything You have entrusted to me.

Help me to remember moment by moment that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. May this tremendous truth influence all my behavior.

And, Lord Jesus, I pray that this may be the year of Your return. I long to see Your face and to fall at Your feet in worship. During the coming year, may the blessed hope stay fresh in my heart, disengaging me from anything that would hold me here and keeping me on the tiptoes of expectancy. "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!"

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Most Unique Gift EVER Found Under My Christmas Tree

...would have to be this!


As Bekah opened this intriguing softish package on Christmas morning, mailed to her from her big brother Ryan from far, far away, we all waited anxiously to see what it was.

Now you must know that Bekah is all pink and frills and dresses and girlish things, so when she peeled back a piece of the pretty gingham paper, and saw a bit of a beak and black fur peeking out (and you must also know that Ryan is all outdoorsy and nature-y and no frills at all), she shrieked, "EEWW!" Gammy recoiled and others waited in suspense (or dread) to see just what was lurking in this package. Dad came to the rescue and pulled from his paper trappings...


...a very large raven puppet!




Then Bekah giggled and the Raven became quite the popular guy the rest of the day. Many different hands (from big adult hands to tiny child hands) made him come alive.

And he looks quite happy under the Christmas tree surrounded by glittery yarn and sparkling shirts and kitty calendars.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry CHRISTmas!


From our home to yours...
A truly Christ-filled Christmas and a New Year rich with His blessings!


♫ ♫ ♫


And before I depart this blog for our family's celebrating, I'd like to share a few of the phrases that have captured my thoughts and emotions as I have been listening to the music of the season:

"Ye who sang Creation's story now proclaim the Messiah's birth."

"God with man is now residing."

"...the dawn of redeeming grace..."

"God and sinners reconciled"

He has given us a reason to sing!


How to Have a Delightful Day!

  1. You get up in the morning thinking you have to run a bazillion errands with your mom and big sister.
  2. Your grandmother calls and invites you and your friend-niece to a Christmas lunch.
  3. You pick out a beautiful Christmas-y outfit to wear.
  4. You count the minutes until time to pick up your friend-niece (who has also chosen a beautiful Christmas-y outfit to wear).
  5. You arrive at Gammy's Christmas-y house!
  6. You notice that Gammy has also chosen a beautiful Christmas-y outfit, and you all have a very girl-y picture taken by the Christmas tree.


  7. You and your friend-niece stare at the skaters on the pond in the Christmas village.


  8. Your mom and sister leave to run the bazillion errands without you. Yippee!

  9. You play tiddly-winks.

  10. You eat a yummy lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches, pickles, and peppery potato chips, with fruit and snickerdoodles for dessert...all while sharing family stories and laughs.

  11. You play with Gammy's ceramic bunnies and make up stories about them.

  12. You watch an old Anne Murray Christmas special that Gammy loves, and ooh and ahh over the skater.

  13. Your mom and sister arrive (so soon?!) to pick you up.

  14. You leave with lovely party favors and special Christmas memories!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jingle Cats

Remember these? The cats who were too afraid to accept our love?

Well, I think they're coming around.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Born to Die

We put our hearts into celebrating His coming...and it is a glorious reason to celebrate! Emmanuel. God with us. Yes, a reason to rejoice!

But do we pause to consider that He was born to die? The words to an old Lanny Wolfe song are playing in my mind...
Born to die on Calvary
Suffer shame and agony
All my sin to freely forgive
He was born to die that I might live.
Indeed Jesus said, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.” John 12:27

So as we go about our celebrating, let us reflect on the reason He came. And be thankful for His sacrifice.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Farmhouse Christmas


Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

As a homebody, I love house-y things! I fully realize that my true home is not here, nor anywhere on this earth. But while I'm here, I am grateful for my home and try to make it warm and welcoming, cozy and comforting, a place of blessing.

For years, Ron and I have attended a candlelight house tour in a nearby community. It is so lovely I have sometimes wished I could relocate my house for that one night and join in on the fun! So this year I have decided to join in on The Nester's fun! And it is a lot easier than relocating my house. And I didn't have to bake hundreds of cookies. Or even deluxe clean, because I could move anything that I didn't want you to see into another room.

So glad that YOU could come in and share our farmhouse Christmas!


FARMHOUSE KITCHEN...

Cornhusk nativity I've had for years


A corner of my kitchen


My kitchen window decked for the holidays


Another cozy corner


By the back door


Rosemary tree (Thanks, Mom and Daddy!)




FARMHOUSE DINING ROOM...


Tiny tree trimmed with yarrow from our herb garden


Treats on the sideboard


FARMHOUSE LIVING ROOM...



Thanks for coming on our tour! And feel free to visit The Nesting Place to see LOTS of other homes in their holiday best!

***
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Favorite Tradition

There are lots of traditions in our house! We have predictable menus for tree trimming night, Christmas Eve, Christmas breakfast, and Christmas dinner. We have an advent calendar. We make far too many cookies. And there’s the annual mother/daughter Christmas shopping trip.

But one of our favorite traditions is the gifting of special ornaments.

Each year, on the night that we put up the Christmas tree, we present each of our children (and now our children-in-law and our grandchildren!) with their own Christmas tree ornaments. Often, the ornament has some special meaning to its recipient. Kristin used to be the one to walk our long driveway to the mailbox (after all, she corresponded with seven pen pals!), so one year she received a mailbox ornament. And, believe it or not, the year she became engaged to Brian, Ron found an ornament of a “diamond” ring in a red velvet box!

The year that Ryan studied in Ireland, I found an Irish snowman with a shamrock on his hat. (Yes, the search can sometimes be challenging!) Ryan also has several black Lab ornaments in honor of his faithful pal, Buster. And last year, I was thrilled to find that Hallmark made an ornament of the Fisher Price barn—a tiny replica of the very barn that Ryan had played with through his childhood, the very barn that we had just given to him for his own daughter, Eve! (What perfect timing!)


Kati treasures her “bookworm” ornament, given to her the year that she began to read for pleasure, and as a nod to her bird watching hobby, she has several birds and nests in her collection. This year's cupcake ornament represents her year of learning to decorate cakes.

One year, Bekah’s ornament had a baby Jesus and was inscribed with John 3:16, a Bible verse she had had me read to her over and over. Both of my piano-playing girls (Kristin and Bekah) have tiny pianos in their collections. And there are a few frou-frou ornaments in Bekah's too. ;-)





I also have made hearts embroidered with each child’s name.


The ornaments are kept in each child’s special box and they put their own ornaments on our Christmas tree every year, often with much reminiscing.

But, this collection of Christmas ornaments is “for keeps.” When each child starts his/her own home, they receive their box of ornaments to decorate their own Christmas tree. We have (a bit tearfully) sent two boxes of Christmas ornaments on their way to new homes.

We continue to have fun with it though...because now, not only do we search for special treasures for each of our four children, we have six grandchildren for whom we carry on the tradition!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Girl Time


We took time out today for some girl time. Those Starbucks flavors that are only here for the holidays called our names...and we came. Peppermint Hot Chocolate. Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino. Eggnog Latte. A few girly giggles. Okay, maybe more than a few.

The giggles began as I tried to discreetly record the moment via my camera. I said to Bekah, “Scoot into the table a little”...and the man at the table BEHIND me scooted into his table! What do you do? Choice #1: apologize profusely, and try to explain that you were talking to your daughter, and then hope that he thinks that it is quite the normal thing for mothers to photograph their daughters drinking hot drinks at Barnes and Noble. Or Choice #2: ignore his scooting entirely, and hope that the woman at his table has a better view of the situation and explains it to him. (I quickly decided on Choice #2.)

Then as we were walking from Point A to Point B in Super Walmart (which is always some great distance as the “Super” in Super Walmart refers merely to its size...but I digress), we cut through the aisle with floor coverings, doormats, etc. I happened to look over at Bekah, and she had a very unusual expression on her face. Fearing that she might be feeling ill, I asked her what was wrong. “I HATE the smell of rugs!” she complained. “It reminds me of scrambled eggs.” What?! More giggles. (From Kati and me, not from Bekah.)

By the time we arrived at the produce department at the end of our grocery shopping expedition, we didn’t need much to take us over the edge. While Kati went to select a pineapple, Bekah and I were choosing oranges. The navel oranges were quite oddly shaped—elongated, like large orange lemons. Seeing Kati rejoining us out of the corner of her eye, Bekah held up a particularly strange one. “Look at this orange, Kati!” she exclaimed. Only she exclaimed it to the man standing beside me, as Kati had passed by on the other side. I smiled at my fellow shopper, expecting him to see the humor in a little girl’s mistaken identity situation. He didn’t. Which made the whole thing seem even funnier to Kati and me, although we somehow waited for the man to walk away with his oranges before we collapsed into another fit of giggles.

Recounting our day's experiences to Ron over dinner this evening, they didn't seem quite as funny. But we girls had a great time together today...and have decided that it is better to be a bit silly than a bit surly as many Christmas shoppers seem to be. Hmmm.....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hidden Things

As I vacuumed around the chair in Bekah’s room, a hot pink something peeped out from underneath. (If you know Bekah, you are not surprised that the “something” happened to be pink. ~smile~) I lifted the chair’s skirt to discover a ball of fleece that was the nightgown that she had worn a couple of nights ago. Hmm…

I finished my cleaning, then called Bekah upstairs for a chat. I let her know that it was not acceptable to stuff things out of sight instead of putting them in their proper place, and that if she hid things under the chair in the future, said belongings would become my property for a week. (That is all it will take. Bekah is generally obedient...BUT she does not want to lose anything, even if it is only a week.)

After this behavior was dealt with, I began to see myself as Bekah, only on a spiritual level. Are there things in my life—attitudes, failings, sin—that I choose not to deal with, but rather stuff in a hidden place? Yet He sees.

Psalm 139 says it clearly.

1O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.
2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
3Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
4For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.
11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.
12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!
18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.
19Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.
20For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.
21Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.
23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: 24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Worth the Wait!


O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Waiting. Israel was waiting for a Savior. He was promised so many years ago, and yet He had not come. As I sing the words of this classic carol, I can feel the longing, the heart's yearning.

Waiting, whether for something good or bad, for something big or small, is difficult. It is hard to wait for an expected baby to be born, hard to wait for the impending death of a loved one. It is hard to wait in a long line, hard to wait for Heaven. But waiting is the way of life.

Yes, God's people had been waiting and longing for their Messiah. And yet, sadly, most did not recognize Him when He came.

But the wonderful, joyous truth is this...

And it will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our GOD for whom we have waited that He might save us. This is the GOD for whom we have waited; let us REJOICE and be glad in HIS SALVATION!" ~Isaiah 25:9 NASV

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tradition

There is a line of demarcation in our house separating Thanksgiving from Christmas. I love Thanksgiving (and the autumn season in general) so much that I want to eke out every last bit before my thoughts turn to wintry things, so other than the small stash of gifts in a corner of my bedroom, there is no acknowledgement of Christmas until the Day After Thanksgiving. But scarcely has the dining room table been returned to the dining room, and the love seat and antique school desk been returned to the kitchen, than Christmas celebrating begins in full force!




Thus begins our month long celebration. And traditions galore!

Traditions. Now there's a word with mixed connotations. I want to steer clear of "traditions" like those that Jesus condemned, those of the religious folks of His day. Their man-made traditions had made the word of God "of no effect" (Mark 7:13). But I have pondered the idea of "tradition" in celebrating, and have decided that carefully chosen traditions can be a wonderful life-giving thing.

Why should we make an effort to create traditions that will be repeated from year to year? Here are some of the reasons that I have considered.

  • Traditions help us to make connections with our families.
    When we observe special family traditions, our children feel a part of something bigger than themselves. They feel a part of something special, unique to their family—a family “identity.” Hopefully, those connections will last when they are grown. When they hear “Away in a Manger” or view The Christmas Carol they will be reminded of their roots and the special family memories we made. Of course, when they begin their own families, they will create their own memories and traditions, but the ones that were meaningful to them as children will probably influence their own choices.

  • Routines offer children security.
    Things that remain the same from year to year provide children with stability. Even when there are periods of difficulty, we try to maintain as much of the “normal” activity as possible. The year that I had a difficult pregnancy and had to stay off my feet, some of our Christmas traditions had to be altered, but we tried to observe those that meant the most to our family.
    Years ago, my friend lost her husband in an automobile accident. When the 4th of July approached the year after he died, her sons wanted to have the big barbeque that her family had always hosted. Although it was difficult for her, she continued with the tradition because her sons needed the security that that family tradition offered them.

  • We can use tradition to teach the things that are valuable to our family.
    Simply the things that we choose to make traditional speak volumes about what is important to us. By emphasizing the eternal, the holy, the righteous in our traditions, we are communicating to our children that those things are worth celebrating.

Do you observe Christmas traditions in your family?

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