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.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Reflections: 2011


For many years, our family has made a list of the past year's highlights.  We record births and deaths and major life events, but we also include vacations, lost teeth, and room remodels.  Basically, we record anything that seems significant to any family member. 

I have been reflecting on this past year, 2011.  It has been a year of highs and lows, a year of rejoicing and weeping, a year of accomplishment, a year of loss, a year full of His grace

As I am reflecting, I am going to share a highlight or two from each month, as recorded here in my bloggy space.  Join me if you like. 


JANUARY
Our visit from our faraway family (son Ryan, his wife Sarah, grandbabies Eve, Nora, and Peter) was far and away the highlight of this first month of the year!  I made a Smilebox collection of some sweet moments of our together time.  


FEBRUARY
How can the shortest month of the year seem so l-o-n-g?  Maybe it was because the flu made its way through our family of four...one. at. a. time.  Sometime between being sick and being nurse, I scratched out these musings about our preparations for our visitors and our preparations for the King of kings.


MARCH
The day of sorting spring and summer clothes with all of the little girls turned my thoughts toward changes.  


APRIL
April was full (with Bekah's birthday and Resurrection Sunday, and Kristin and Brian moving into their new home), but my thoughts were turned towards the end of our school year--Kati's last end of the school year. 

MAY
I began with a lesson inspired by a little boy's thorn...

...and then there was the bathroom remodel (yikes!). 
and


JUNE
Our June highlight was, of course, Kati's graduation, a day of tears (mostly joyful!) and celebration and reflection.


JULY
Oh, what a month of emotional extremes...a visit from Ryan, a beautiful celebration of marriage for family friends, a graduation party...but also intense sadness as dear friends neared the end of their earthly sojourn, and Ron's father reached the end of his. 


AUGUST
How do I choose just one post from August?  This is our month of SIX birthdays (including Ryan and Kristin and a triple birthday extravaganza) and THREE anniversaries (including our own and Kristin and Brian's 10th).  
But I also mused about passing along valued treasures...

... and the weeping continued as my friend's husband went to his Heavenly home.


SEPTEMBER
A new baby (my first great-niece), a charming wedding...and back to school with one student.


OCTOBER
In October, I wrote from my heart for all thirty-one days in my series...


NOVEMBER
We were thankful as we savored the moments...and I created another Smilebox of Thanksgiving memories.
and


DECEMBER
The year's theme of "rejoicing and weeping" continued as my beloved friend Ann slipped from her bed of suffering into His presence...

and we celebrated the first coming of Emmanuel.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 


Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not.
As Thou has been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness;
Great is Thy faithfulness.
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hast provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. 

(Words by Thomas Chisolm)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Breakfast Request

This morning I ask Bekah what she would like for breakfast.  I expect her to say toast with Nutella, or maybe a poptart, as she is not a big eater and usually wants something simple for breakfast.  However, she is a detail person, artsy and all about "pretty," and this morning she says,


I want a half of a cranberry bagel,
cut in half,
with cream cheese on both sides,
not like a sandwich,
laid on the plate like a butterfly.

(How's that for detail?)



Fait accompli!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Memory-Making Moments

Christmas Eve






Pinky, unhappy with her Christmas present     ~     Bekah and Kati, happy with their gift from Ryan


It was a four generation Christmas!


With the grandmothers



Three daughters, one son-in-law, five grandchildren!






Ron's mother           ~          My dad and mom


Top left: Alaine looking at my nephew Alec
Bottom left: My sister Linda and me
Right: Kati with my great-niece Isabel




On Christmas evening, we "visited" Ryan, Sarah, Eve, Nora, and Peter
via Skype.



Yes, it was a day of memory-making moments!



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Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Christmas Card For You



From our home to yours...


...our Christmas card to you, blog friends.


So often at Christmas time, our thoughts are centered on Christ as a baby.  And indeed, what an incredible miracle, that He came, as a baby, born of a virgin, into such humble surroundings, fulfilling all of the Old Testament prophecies of His birth. 

But, as believers, we are never far from the fact that this baby was THE MESSIAH, the long-awaited One, the One who was born to die, who came to redeemHe is EmmanuelGod with us!  Hallelujah!

***   ***   ***

I love Christmas music.  Many of the traditional carols have such rich, stirring lyrics...with the dawn of redeeming grace...God with man is now residing...Ye who sang creation's story now proclaim Messiah's birth...born that man no more may die.

There are also some meaningful contemporary Christmas songs.  (My daughters Kristin and Kati have shared some favorites on their blogs, ~here~ and ~here~.)

I want to share one of my favorite contemporary Christmas songs as a part of our Christmas card to you.  It is "You Are Emmanuel" recorded in 1995 by the group Truth.  I was hoping to find it on youtube, but the only video ~here~ is of very poor quality. 

Instead, I have linked to grooveshark online radio, which has the original recording, and I have provided the lyrics below so you can read along as you listen. 

Such beautiful music, such wonderful words...You Are Emmanuel.


YOU ARE EMMANUEL
You are the Rock that will not fall,
You are the God above us all,
Oh, Lord, You are Emmanuel.
You are Messiah who has come
You are the long awaited One
Oh, Lord, You are Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, among us and within us
Emmanuel, to earth you freely came
To overcome our evil
To dwell among Your people
Emmanuel, we praise Your name.

You are the bright and morning star,
You are the healer of our hearts,
Oh, Lord, You are Emmanuel.
You are the song the angels sing
You are the mighty King of kings
Oh, Lord, You are Emmanuel.

Emmanuel, among us and within us
Emmanuel, to earth you freely came
To overcome our evil
To dwell among Your people
Emmanuel, we praise Your name.
 


We pray that you will know Emmanuel, and that He will be "God With Us" to you in the coming year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

♪ ♫ ♪  How lovely are thy branches  ♪ ♫ ♪


It's not part of the song, but...
far lovelier are the dear daughters
around the trees!

Bekah in front of the kitchen tree



Kati beside the family tree in the living room


And the gorgeous photography is a gift
from my dear (and talented!) friend, Frances.
(♥ thank you ♥)


 
Linking up with Kristin's Gather Round Your Tree Linky Party



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

House Tour: Behind The Scenes

Many of you left such kind words when you visited the Old-Fashioned Farmhouse Christmas, and I am so happy that you enjoyed the tour! 

But I thought that you might want to take a peek at what went on behind the scenes. 

I must say that online house tours are perfect for procrastinators (like me). 

If it were a live tour, then I'd have to be ready at the appointed hour--house totally clean and organized, cookies already baked and artfully arranged, Ron and I dressed in our holiday best greeting you cheerfully at the front door. 

But for an online tour, the rules are different.  (Whew!)  You can move a bit of clutter out of camera range.  You don't have to bake at all.  You can take pictures while wearing your jammies.  And no one arrives at your house until you say so.  (If you're not ready when the hostess opens the Linky Party, you just don't link.) 

So on the day (yes, THE day...remember, I'm a procrastinator) of Melissa's Christmas Tour of Homes at The Inspired Room, I go into the living room to turn on my new pre-lit Christmas tree...and it wasn't pre-lit or any other kind of lit.  No. lights. at. all. 

I call Ron at work and tell him that today is the day of the house tour and what can I do with this tree that doesn't light.  For some reason, he doesn't think that I am weird, and calmly does some absentee trouble shooting.  I decide to turn the situation over to clear-headed Kati (who has had her own tour of her Christmas-y crafty bedroom ready to go for days), and she and Ron have several phone conferences.

Meanwhile, I snap pics all around, avoiding one certain dark-ish corner of the house.

Here is dear Kati, hard at work learning some mechanical and electrical skills...   



There were a few many bloopers, like this one with pajama-clad Bekah running into the room and some table clutter visible in the background...

...and this one where my lack of photography skill was "glaringly" obvious.



And then there was Pinky, who seemed to be everywhere.  (There is really just one Pinky.)



When I had finally finished taking pictures and went about the business of doing my hair, I cut a gash in my finger with a tube of  hair gel.  Really.  I couldn't make this up.

But at the end of the day, the tree was alight, the post was up, and my finger had (mostly) stopped bleeding. 

Surely next year I'll get ready earlier.  Right? 

(I think I hear the laughter of my loved ones...)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Sunday Snapshots: What Makes a Party?

It didn't start out to be a party. 

But after lunch, someone wanted to play Christmas Carol Charades...



...and then we had dessert
with coffee or hot chocolate or mint hot chocolate or Winter Spice tea



...and then a piano duet by the eldest and youngest daughters
who played "Silent Night."



So when everyone left, the littles each clutching a candy cane,
it felt like we had celebrated.

(I think it was a party.)



Saturday, December 17, 2011

"The House of Mourning"

1. A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one's birth.

2. It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.

3. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.

4. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.


  ~  *  ~   *  ~  *  ~  *  ~  *  ~
 
Ann's memorial service was today.  It was such a beautiful tribute to our beautiful friend...and honoring to the Lord, as her life and her death gave testimony to Him. 
 
After the service, we headed to a Christmas party for Ron's side of the family, which seemed to me an odd juxtaposition of events.
 
Throughout the day, a phrase from the Word of God kept running through my mind"it is better to go to the house of mourning"so tonight, I looked it up to discover the rest of the words and the context of the phrase. 
 
Oh, this passage is quite contrary to our natural way of thinking.  The day of death is better than the day of birth?  Sorrow is better than laughter?  It is better to go to the house of mourning? 
 
We talked about this on the way to the party. 
 
Why would it be better to go to the house of mourning? 
 
Perhaps it is because as we think about death, we are faced with mortality. 
 
Perhaps it is because we are sober. 
 
Perhaps it is because we are focusing on what is important, what is lasting, what is eternal.   
 
Perhaps our hearts can be turned a little more toward our Heavenly home. 
 
 
"The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Old-Fashioned Farmhouse Christmas


Emmanuel 
God With Us  


Because He came, and because He lives, we can celebrate every day in His mercy and grace. 

But here at The Farmhouse, we like to enjoy the holidays by making things extra cozy, extra comfy, extra bright, all the while keeping things simple and kind of old-fashioned.  When you live in an old house, that just seems to be the way to go.   


Come on in, and join our old-fashioned celebration!



Farmhouse Dining Room

In this room, we gather with friends and family for special meals.  It is around this table that we have our Christmas morning brunch, as well as birthday and holiday and company dinners throughout the year.  

This Christmas, the mantle is decorated with greenery and real and faux fruit.  (Can you tell which are real?)  Ron's tree is in the corner, candles are lit on the sideboard...all we need are some holiday guests!











Farmhouse Living Room

Here is where you'll find our family tree, festooned with special ornaments collected over the years.  No "theme" tree here...just everything from embroidered hearts to a small piano to a domed cupcake to a brass hammer to a glittery Eiffel Tower!

As we have no mantle in the living room, we hang our stockings on a primitive cabinet (which Ron built with old wood) and line candlesticks across the top.

The carolers are "singing" atop the piano; Bekah is often playing a round of carols below.  Pinky (our black kitty) has found a cozy holiday corner.  (You can read about my own cozy corner ~here~.)









The Farmhouse Kitchen

Now you're in the room that is the hub of our house.  It is where we share family meals.  It is where we homeschool.  It is where the coffee is hot.  It is where people always end up, no matter where the gathering begins. 

For Christmas, the kitchen has its own kitchen-y tree, decorated with popcorn and gingerbread men and dried orange slices. 

Pomanders fill the tureen.  Cookie cutters, candy canes, and an antique rolling pin sit among some yellow ware bowls.  A cornhusk nativity (that is older than some of my children) sits among others.

The astute observer may notice that Pinky has also found a cozy corner in the kitchen.  And some may be wondering about the very long cane that is propped against our school cabinet.  The "cane" is actually a shepherd's hook, an early Christmas gift from my son Ryan who knows my love for sheep.

 
 






This little lantern sits at our back door...and now that you've spent some time with us, you qualify as a back door friend!  You'll come back again, won't you?  And next time, you can use the back door. 

Merry Christmas to you as you celebrate Emmanuel, God With Us! 




:: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : :: : ::

Do you love house tours like I do?
If so, you can virtually traipse through
myriads of houses dressed in their holiday best
(~swoon~)
just by clicking on the tours below!  





Sunday, December 11, 2011

Home Free

We knew that the day would come, the day that our dear friend Ann would leave this earthly realm for another.  

Ann had suffered with ALS.  She told me once that the Lord had deemed that she should glorify Him through her life with this disease, that she had only one opportunity to do that, and she wanted to do it well.   

And "do it well" she did.  Oh, how she did. 

Why was it that when I visited her, I came away encouraged?     

Why did she pray daily for members of my family, and for others? 

Why did she want to hear about my small troubles?

Why did she speak so often about the Lord, and His great love, and His grace? 

Because she was living her life as an offering to her King, even as her world was becoming smaller and more limited and more restricted, and even as she was learning what it meant to die to everything but Him. 

On Friday, the day came. 

But even as I mourn, I rejoice at her release.  She is no longer bound by her earthly body.  In my mind's eye, I can see Ann dancing, her feet no longer lame.   I see her raising her hands, those hands no longer crippled by ALS.  I hear her praising the Lord who saved her, with a voice that is no longer weak.   I see dear Ann, totally whole, in the presence of the King of Kings who has been preparing her for this place all along. 

~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Welcoming Window

We have had this little Christmas tree in our dining room for years, decorated simply, with white lights, rafia garland, and yarrow picked from the backyard each July.

But there was a year that I needed to simplify.  It was the year that I was on modified bed rest with a difficult pregnancy, and I decided that we could certainly do without dozens of cookies and fresh cut greenery...and this small tree.  Ron kept asking when we were going to put up the dining room tree, and I kept saying that we could do without it this year.



Then one evening I was called into the dining room...as decorating consultant.  Ryan was home on college break, and Ron had enlisted his help.  So the two of them assembled and trimmed the little tree, while I sat in a chair and directed this small scale operation.  (As I recall, I eventually got up and helped with the yarrow.)

I kept wondering why this Christmas tree seemed to be so important to Ron. Why did he insist that it be decorated? There was the tree in the living room, and other festive touches elsewhere. Wasn't that enough for this year of simplifying?


Then I learned the reason.

It was not this view that was so important to him...





...it was this view.



Ron told me that this is the view that he sees when he gets home from work at the end of the day.  It is a welcoming window to him.  It says that the long day is over.  It says now you are home.  It says it is Christmas inside.

So now each year as we decorate the little dining room tree, I think of it as Ron's tree, a part of his welcoming window. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Downtown Christmas

Perhaps I'm a little old-fashioned, but instead of the mall with all its cookie cutter stores, I'll take the charm of a downtown stroll and inviting storefront windows and decorated lampposts and a sweet old dog lying in front of a bewreathed door. 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Essential (And a Few Other Things)

In the busy-ness of this season of celebration, it is important to keep a quiet heart

This quiet corner beckons me.  I must spend some time there each day. 



Sometimes I bring my morning coffee. 



Sometimes I light my favorite Christmas candle. 


Sometimes Pinky joins me.



But the real delight is here...God's Holy Word, the light of my path, the two-edged sword, the food for my soul. 






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If you're looking for ideas for some cute (mostly quick and easy) handmade Christmas gifts, take a peek at my daughter Kati's blog, Kati's Little Corner of the World.  All last week, she featured Christmas Gift Ideas.  (And I can vouch for the "cute" factor!)  I think you'll find some things you can pull together at the last minute too. 

While you're there, take a peek at some of her Photo Friday posts.  (This past Friday's photo made me smile.)


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I'm tucking this week's edition of Sunday Snapshots in here.  I happen to think that this video clip is cuter than cute, but I don't want to be like your Uncle Joe who showed you all 427 pictures of his Florida vacation...so I'll just say, take a look at it if you want to see two adorable boys lip-syncing to "Christmas, Don't Be Late", as in Alvin and the Chipmunks.  Good times! 





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