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.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Small Actors

"There are no small parts, only small actors." 
Mrs. Armstrong
  
If you've ever read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (we have read it aloud countless times!), you might recognize the above quote by Mrs. Armstrong.  She says it every year as she assigns parts in the church Christmas play...and the children have no idea what she's talking about. 

This year, we had our own host of "small actors" who presented the Christmas story in the farmhouse kitchen.  Actually, we had a pageant last year too (you can see it ~here~), but this year the acting troupe kicked it up a notch as they had newly assigned roles, new script, and new costumes.  (We were told the "director" was Gavin.  But whenever there was a glitch, the actors called "Bekah!"...and Bekah was seen rewriting script, Bible in hand, all weekend. ~smile~) 




  1. The angel of the Lord (Bekah) announces the good news to Mary.
  2. The angel speaks to Joseph (Owen) in a dream.
  3. Shepherds (Owen and Gavin) quaking with fear.
  4. Mary (Maddie), Joseph (Owen), and Baby Jesus (who was acted by a doll this year because Baby Alaine, at 14 months, is "too squirmy").
  5. Final scene
And the audience loved it! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks to the Giver

Although many of my "favorites" are prone to change (favorite hymn, favorite poem, favorite book), my favorite holiday is pretty consistently Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because it is celebrated during the glorious autumn season. Maybe it's because I love dishes and napkins and tablecloths and an excuse to use place cards. It could be because I love being with my family and hosting family gatherings. It might be because the traditional Thanksgiving meal is just sooooo good. Or maybe it's because Thanksgiving is simple and straightforward; it's a low stress, one-day affair. I also love the inspiring history behind the story of the first Thanksgiving.

All of these things contribute toward making Thanksgiving my favorite holiday. But the nitty gritty of it is that Thanksgiving is a time to focus on gratitude. And being thankful is an empty idea, merely a feel-good exercise in positive thinking, unless we are offering our thanks to the Giver of the gifts!





Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. 

(Psalm 100:4,5)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Primitive Tom

The newest member at our Thanksgiving table this year will not be a new grandbaby.  Instead it will be this primitive tom turkey that I made using the instructions found ~here~. 





 Place cards will be turkeys too, using this download from marthastewart.com. 




What about you?  Do you keep your table decor consistent, or do you like to change things up a bit from year to year?


* * * * * * * * *

Today, I'm linking up with Tracy at Beneath My Heart for November's best DIY project.
Head on over for some house-y inspiration!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Snapshots: A Fitting Farewell to Fall

Remember the ginormous marshmallows? 
And the fact that we couldn't roast them last Sunday because it was too windy to have a fire? 

Well today was the day!
 

After lunch, we brewed coffee and took dessert out on the patio. 
Papa built a fire...and out came the marshmallows! 








With all of their sugary energy, the littles decided to play badminton. 
But, alas, there were but four rackets and five willing players. 




A wise adult suggested an alternative activity,
which became THE ACTIVITY of the day!

(I think the marshmallows were forgotten.)


To a racketless child, his mother said,
"Why don't you make a pile of leaves and then jump in it?"

All of a sudden, the rackets and shuttlecocks were abandoned,
and everyone began working on a pile of leaves!



They used their hands to make piles. 
They used their feet to drag leaves.
Some worked in teams.
Some worked solo.
(All were competitive.)


They used badminton rackets as rakes.
Then an enterprising youngster asked for real rakes!
They petitioned their parents for help.

 


I think they would have built leaf piles to the sky!

But, as adults tend to do, we put an end to their fun by reminding them
that it would soon be dark
and that the grands would have to drive home
and that surely their leaf piles were big enough now.

But wait!

This was not the END of their fun...
it was the BEGINNING
for now it was time to

JUMP!




photo by Kati



photo by Kati

Even the adults got in on the JUMPING!




 No, I did not jump. 
Someone had to take the pictures, right?



Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Medley

You may have seen this before; I have posted it each November in the three years that I have been blogging. I need to be reminded again and again...

This year, I am adding a medley of Thanksgiving hymns at the end. 




For years, I have kept this quoted passage tucked within the pages of my Bible. I can't even remember where I first found it. I only know that it pierced my heart so deeply that I wanted to keep it near, to be able to read it again and again and again. My human heart is so prone to complaining; yet I know that it should be filled only with gratitude. So when I find myself murmuring, I return to this place of eternal perspective and fall on His mercy. Lord, forgive me for forgetting your amazing grace.



~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 
Our culture is riddled with a poisonous spirit of entitlement. We always think we deserve more. We’re disappointed with our family, our neighbors, church, the waitress, the sales clerk, and the department of motor vehicles. Ultimately, we’re disappointed with God. He hasn’t given us everything we want.
What madness! If only we could see our situation clearly—even for a moment. We deserved expulsion; He gives us a diploma. We deserved the electric chair; He gives us a parade. Anything less than overwhelming gratitude should be unthinkable. He owes us nothing. We owe Him everything. When you realize you deserve nothing better than hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective, doesn’t it?
Christians in Sudan—who’ve suffered unspeakably for their faith—are deeply grateful for God’s daily blessings. But us? We whine and pout.
Thankfulness should draw a clear line between us and a Christless world. If the same spirit of entitlement and ingratitude that characterizes our culture characterizes us, what do we have to offer?
If I grasp that I deserve hell, I’ll be filled with gratitude not only for God’s huge blessings—including my redemption and home in heaven—but also for His smaller blessings: sun, rain, a beating heart, eyes that see, legs that walk, a mind that thinks...And because Christ allowed Himself to be crushed under the weight of my sin, I’ll enjoy forever a clear mind and a perfect body...Never believe anything about yourself or God that makes His grace to you seem anything less than astonishing. Because that’s exactly what it is.
~Randy Alcorn, The Grace and Truth Paradox, Multnomah Publishers 2003, pp. 33-35



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Diary Of A Whim

SATURDAY MORNING:
I am busy with Saturday things. 

SATURDAY AFTERNOON:
I think about painting the kitchen cabinets.  A lot.  I am suddenly obsessed with the idea.  And I want to do it now

SATURDAY EVENING:
Ron and I go out for a Christmas errand and a coffee date.  When he mentions going to Lowe's, I quickly agree.  That is a clue that something is up, and he looks at me quizzically.  In Lowe's, he goes his way, and I go to collect a gazillion paint samples. 

LATER SATURDAY EVENING:
This happens...




SUNDAY MORNING, AFTERNOON, AND (EARLY) EVENING:
I look at the gazillion paint chips taped to my cabinets.  Over and over.  In different lights.  Asking the opinion of every family member.  I go online to research how-to's.  I read Ron the how-to from This Old House's website, knowing that he is a fan of TOH.  I watch a few YouTube videos of men who make it look easy and quick. 

SUNDAY (LATER) EVENING:
Ron asks me to abandon the idea of doing this project before the holidays. 

MONDAY:
I reassess our calendar for these next ten days before Thanksgiving.  (Yikes!) 
I imagine my Thanksgiving dinner...with both tables in our farmhouse kitchen...and I imagine that kitchen with all the cabinet doors removed and the untidy innards displayed...and I imagine my aversion to this scenario. 

TUESDAY:
I concede to Ron that he is right.  (~whimper~)  I will abandon the idea.  For now. 


But stay tuned, because in January...


Monday, November 14, 2011

Sunday Snapshots: Random

~ It was a warmish November day today.  We had planned to build a fire in the firepit and roast some of those new ginormous marshmallows per Maddie's request, but it was quite breezy and Papa decided that it was better to be safe than sorry.  No fire, no fly away embers, no sugar coma.  Instead, the children played outside for hours, and were granted permission to have a Twilight Picnic of peanut butter sandwiches and yougurt, back at the edge of the woods.  They sat on a  large tree stump and covered part of it with a flannel sheet to serve as the table.  Bekah was the picnic photographer.




~ While most of the youngsters were at the Twilight Picnic, I dressed this sweet thing in her jammies and read her a story. 



~ Before her ride home, the sweet thing reached for a lollipop that Aunt Kati was holding.  Maybe she knew she had been deprived of her ginormous marshmallow?
 


~ Now I have to tell you the background of the next snapshot. 

This week, Bekah noticed some marks on the chimney in our living room.  On closer inspection, she discovered that these marks were letters...f, a, n, g.  Fang? 

Can you see them? 


How about now?



I remembered that my son had a propensity to autograph all sorts of things when he was a boy--books, my grocery list, furniture, walls.  He once penciled his name, R-y-a-n, on his bedroom wall with the n carrying on in a line that lasted for three walls.  When we questioned him, he claimed that it was "an accident." 

I wondered if he was the engraver of these chimney letters. 

So tonight when he called us, we asked him if he knew anything about the word "fang" written on the chimney.  Laughing, he said, "I don't remember writing it there." 

Come to find out, Fang was his self-appointed nickname back in the day, when he had a fascination with wolves and wolf sketches.  So "Fang" had autographed the chimney...and had gotten away with it for approximately twenty years.  We decided that the statute of limitations had expired, especially since we all got a lot of laughs out of the story.  Besides, Ryan said that he's sure it was "an accident."  ~smile~

He also suggested that, since it was pencil and could be erased, it would probably be reduced to a misdemeanor anyway.  But I figure that if "Fang" has gone twenty years unnoticed, I'll just leave it there. 



Saturday, November 12, 2011

To-Do List For Saturday

1) A little cooking...
Vegetable-beef soup simmering on the stove, pork roast thawing for Sunday.

2) A little cleaning...
Should be more than a little, I suppose, but we'll at least get the house presentable for Sunday.

3) A little contemplation...
Could I possibly paint my kitchen cabinets before Christmas?  Before Thanksgiving?  Am I nuts?  Isn't there enough to do already?  Can I even decide on a color, for heaven's sake?  Did I really encourage my friend to "go for it" when we discussed painting her cabinets, and then waffle about doing my own?  Should I "go for it" myself while Ron thinks it's a good idea?  Am I crazy?!

***
(I will accept any feedback on item # 3.  Would you ever contemplate such a project before the holidays?)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving: Making It Fun For the Kids


Thinking about the Thanksgiving mice has me thinking about celebrating Thanksgiving with children. 

I find it rather easy to please the adults.  Serve a bounty of food, keep the coffee hot and the desserts aplenty, and we're good to go, eating and chatting for hours on end.  

Kids, on the other hand, can eat what they want from the Thanksgiving feast in about five minutes, and they don't seem to want to listen to the rest of us chat for hours on end.  So we try to find ways to make the day meaningful and fun for them too.  Here are some of the things we have tried.


L-Rson Ryan (8), nephew Andrew (5), niece Amy (7), daughter Kristin (10)


Dress up.
The photo above is from the archives.  Thanksgiving 1990.  Our two oldest children and my niece and nephew dressed as pilgrim and Indians to respresent those at the first Thanksgiving.   

We have never had such deluxe costumes since then, but my mom found some really cute Pilgrim lady hats and Pilgrim man collars made of cardstock a few years ago.  (Unfortunately, I must have been too busy preparing the meal to take any pictures.) 



Arrange seating to include the children.
At one time, the four in the above picture were content to sit at a "children's table," but that changed as they grew older.  We puzzled over how to include them when there were only so many seats in the dining room, until one year when someone had the idea to move both tables into our large-ish farmhouse kitchen.  Then we were all in the same room, no one felt left out, and we mixed up the seating from year to year.  Sometimes, we would have everyone draw numbers to see where he or she would sit.  Sometimes I designed the seating plan, and we made placecards to mark each person's spot at the table. 

The big kink in this plan:  Someone(s) has to move all the furniture.  (And move it back.)  This fact has threatened to nix the plan on several occasions, but so far, we have always had folks who wanted it this way badly enough to do the grunt work.

Ron and Kati doing the grunt work




Yes, we are a family who goes to extremes.

You don't have to rearrange entire rooms.  But do try to find a way to make the children feel included at your Thanksgiving dinner.

By the way, this year, although we will have both tables in the kitchen again, the children want to sit together, so I'm planning a special kids' table.  Fun!


Plan some activities for the kiddos. 
Our dining room becomes a sitting room/playroom, but you could devote a corner of your family room or living room to some kid play. 
  • We bring in the basket of Duplos. 
  • When we had a Little Tykes kitchen, the kids cooked a pretend Thanksgiving dinner, complete with Kleenex mashed potatoes. 
  • We set a small table with crayons, coloring pages (like ~these~), stickers, Thanksgiving stencils, and lots of paper.   
    "What do I do first?"

  • Sometimes, we'll plan a Thanksgiving craft.  Check out your local library for a book of simple seasonal ideas.
  • I display posters of the Mayflower and Plimouth Plantation.


  • I set up "Pin the Tail on the Turkey" for the kids (and adults sometimes!) to play.  I bought mine at Target's dollar section a few years ago.  (You can buy one ~here~.  Or draw your turkey and a few hats, if you're a bit artistic.)
  • Speaking of drawing, you may want to try to draw a turkey using my friend Kim's instructions.  Click ~here~.  I think I can do this! 
  • Of course, the Thanksgiving mice are around. 


Playing with the Pilgrim mice


Getting a check-up before dinner

Everyone, kids included, will join their voices in singing a Thanksgiving hymn (Bekah will accompany us), and we'll all record a blessing on a leaf (or two or many) for the Thankful Tree(Picture of our Thankful Tree ~here~.)

It all adds up to a kid-friendly Thanksgiving Day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving Mice




These dear little mice fall under the category of "new" heirlooms.  They are not antiques, but they have become treasures as the children have played with them from year to year.

My mom bought a pair of these Thanksgiving mice years ago.  I oohed and aahed over them so much that she bought me a pair the next year. 

Mom is like that.  You're almost afraid to admire anything.  She'll either buy you one, or give you hers.  In this case, she did both, because a few years later, she gave me her own pair, and now I have all four little Pilgrims.  

The children have played with the mice for many Thanksgivings.  They are as expected as the turkey and stuffing (and perhaps enjoyed more).  I learned recently that they are not mix-and-match--there are definite pairs of husband and wife mice.  (Apparently only discerning eyes can tell them apart.) 

Bekah and the grands played with them last Sunday while the adults were lingering at the table.  It was reported that (horrors!), the boys were making them "modern mice" with elevators and a toilet and a playground with a slide and a sandbox.  The girls were not cool with that.   

I was also informed this year that we need another mouse.  Since Benjamin is old enough to play mice now, there are not enough to go around.  But an internet search was fruitless, so it appears that the children will have to share the tiny Pilgrims for now.  

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sunday Snapshots: Savoring the Moments

Sa·vor v: To appreciate fully; enjoy or relish


Yesterday, we celebrated Kati's birthday...again.  Her eighteenth (!) birthday was earlier in the week.  She invited some friends over for games and birthday cheesecake on Tuesday.  On her actual birthday, we girls treated ourselves to a day of shopping and pumpkin spice frappuccinos, and then we all went to Kati's favorite Mexican restaurant for dinner.  But Sunday afternoons are usually the time for family gatherings, and so we gathered to rejoice and mark Kati's passage into adulthood.  Oh my...can I really be the mother of three adult children?

The answer to that question, of course, is Yes, I most certainly am.  And although it sometimes seems as if all of my children were babies such a short time ago, I have learned that time does indeed fly by, and lifetimes pass lightning-quick in hindsight, and James was spot-on about it being a vapor, and that the only way to approach the whirlwind of days is to offer them to the Lord and to savor the moments.   


Savoring moments like these...


Kati with 18 candles on her cake
Overheard from the children:
"Wow!  Will that many candles fit on the cake?!"
As the candles were lit, "It's really getting bright!"



Sweet voices singing to Kati



Enjoying the gifts right along with her
In this picture, they are oohing and aahing over a "cake plunger."
I guess they could all imagine the cream-filled cupcakes that Kati will make using this handy tool.
(Leave it to Gammy to find such a clever thing!  She is the best gift-finder.)



Kati with Gammy
Both all dolled up and looking beautiful in their purple!
(Gampy was working, but we sent him a piece of pumpkin birthday cake.)



Kati with MomMom
Last year, MomMom and PopPop came together.
We keenly felt his absence.


And these moments...


Baby
(baby?) Alaine
the center of attention at the adult table
as she ate her birthday tacos while standing in her chair...


...my son-in-law (a wonderful father!) helping Ben with a puzzle...



...and lingering at the table
for grandmother-granddaughter time



We savored the moments as we went around the room, each telling something that we liked about Kati.  She gives me piggy-back rides.  I like her hair.  She has a gentle spirit.  (This is a new tradition for us, borrowed from Kristin's family.) 

When Ron took his mother home after the party, she gave him a bagful of treasures that had belonged to his fathera pocket knife, some French and German coins he brought home from his stint oversees as a World War II soldier, an award watch with his name engraved,  a monogrammed handkerchief.  Last night found Ron savoring these tangible mementos and reminiscing. 

Savoring  the moments...and being thankful to our Father for all of His blessings.


 ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

 
So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. 
(Psalm 90:12)




Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sunday Snapshots: October

Sunday Snapshots?  On a Saturday? 

While I was busy with other things in October, I neglected to post any Sunday Snapshots...so today is catch-up day! 


Here are some glimpses of our October Sundays... 









The Animal Kingdom :-)








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