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 home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our Thanksgiving Day

Bekah stirred the cranberry sauce...forever!

Kati made cookie place cards.

Ron peeled lots of potatoes.

The table was set.

Actually, both tables were set!

Bekah thought they'd never arrive!

For the first time, Bekah accompanied the
family as we sang "We Gather Together."

And we were thankful together.

We are blessed!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,
and to sing praises unto Thy name, O Most High.
Psalm 92:1

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another Thought on Simplicity

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekend Pleasures

Oh, don't the weekends fly by! Although, as Ron often reminds me, the weeks fly by too. As do the months. And the years. And so, I am told by those who have lived longer than I, does a lifetime.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty for getting so much pleasure from simple things. But then I consider that these are blessings given to me at this this this season of life. And if I acknowledge that these are blessings directly from His hands (which indeed they are), and if I am willing to hold loosely onto the earthly, while holding tightly to the eternal, then I think that it is good to enjoy His gifts and praise Him for His mercy.

This weekend's memory-making moments included...

~ Umpteenth Annual Mother/Daughter Christmas Shopping Trip
I will not tell you just how many years that we have gone shopping together, because, quite honestly, I don't even know. I do know that for almost as many years as I can remember, we three have enjoyed the thrill of the hunt while strolling among festive decorations, the songs of the season accompanying our togetherness.

Sometimes a baby has joined us, or a daughter who has reached the required age of eighteen. Sometimes a new daughter-in-law, or a new grandbaby. Sometimes a mini van full of mothers and daughters...and sometimes, like yesterday, just the three of us, Mom, Linda, and me. But it's a tradition, and one that we love.

~ A lovely Sunday afternoon at the home of my oldest daughter,
a thoughtful daughter who knew that her mom would be low on energy after Shopping Trip Day (did I mention that these shopping trips are marathon events?), and invited us to share the afternoon with her family. All I had to do was show up, eat a luscious lunch, and enjoy the delightful hugs and chatter and sweetness of four grandchildren. (Thank you, Kristin and Brian!)

~ A refreshing autumn walk/run/wagon ride
All ten of us did one of the above. Choice depended on your age and/or energy level. :-)

~ Two little girls who spoke with British accents. :-)
This was too cute. The prim-and-proper Bekah and Maddie said things like "I can't believe he ran through the dirt," (speaking of Gavin who cared not a whit about being prim-and-proper on an autumn walk), and "Let's go see the kitty," all in their most high society British accents.

~ A phone call from across the miles
An opportunity to "visit" with Ryan's family via speaker phone, catch up on each other's news, and hear the sweet little voice of two-year-old Eve as she says, "I love you, Gran!" (Can you hear my heart melting?)


Yes, these simple pleasures are gifts from my Father. And I will praise Him for His goodness to me.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Pilgrim

"Pilgrim—that’s what I am, and if you know the Lord Jesus, so are you. We have been called out of this world, and the world has been crucified unto us. In other words, we don't love the world anymore; we have nothing to give to the world, and the world has nothing to give to us (Galatians 6:14). We are commanded to come out and be a separate, holy people unto God (II Corinthians 6:17)." ~ Jim Lucas, missionary

13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.
14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
~Hebrews 13: 13-15

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hast Thou No Scar?

This is another of my favorite poems. Again, it bears reading slowly, several times, to savor every word.

Hast Thou No Scar?
by Amy Carmichael

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendent star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned;
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet, as the master shall the servant be
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has nor wound nor scar?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Taste of a Bargain

Homemade apple pie is even yummier when served on new brown transferware dessert plates. Especially when the dessert plates were only $1.99 each at Tuesday Morning. :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall Fun-and-Flame

A beautiful cool, crisp (and dry!) autumn evening was the perfect backdrop for our local homeschool group's annual fall hayride and bonfire.

Ron pulled the haywagon filled with guests back to the bonfire site in the woods multiple times. (And we noticed that some of the young riders were on all of the trips! ~grin~)

Hot dogs and marshmallows were roasted over the fire. (Isn't that the only way to eat a hot dog?)

Brian served as Keeper-of-the-Flame.

Moms and dads had campfire fun. Fun? They look like they're having fun although I'll bet its been many years since some of those dads have sung "I'm a Little Teapot"!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sweet Sixteen...Three Celebrations!

Somehow we've managed to eke a lot of celebrating out of birthdays this year. Kati's 16th birthday was no exception...a whopping three times to celebrate this milestone year!

Never one to let things sneak up on her, Kati has been planning a Jane Austen theme for her birthday for months. The beautiful fan-shaped rose napkins were purchased and tucked away in early summer. The tea bag holders given as favors were selected well in advance of her special day. And for days-on-end, Bekah declared everything either "Jane Austen-y" or "not Jane Austen-y." (For example, "Jane Austen would never wear jeans, Kati!" and "This table looks very Jane Austen-y.")

The day came, and all of Kati's guests deemed the party quite Jane Austen-y. ;-)

Jane Austen-y tea set

Place cards labeled with characters from Austen novels

Lovely dinner companions

Eleanor, Marianne, Elizabeth, and Jane
(also known as: Kati, Kate A., Britni, and Kate F.)

Another day, we celebrated with family. You can't let a momentous occasion pass without sharing with sisters and brothers-in-law, nieces and nephews, and grandparents, now can you?

Kati and Kristin reminiscing

Blowing out the 16 candle again...this time with admiring Maddie looking on :-)

Then on her actual birthday, we took Kati to her favorite Mexican restaurant and returned home to more gifts and leftover cheesecake.

I suppose that Kati is now officially sixteen!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Thankful Tree

Several years ago, our family began a Thanksgiving tradition.

Many of you parents can probably relate to our experience. If you do something once (that's all it takes!), and the children enjoy it, it becomes a “tradition.” That’s how we began such “traditions” as watching A Christmas Carol to begin our Christmas season...or eating dinner at The Olive Garden on the 4th of July! So at holiday time, we are careful about not doing something that we would not want to continue to do for years-on-end. But no one is reluctant to continue this particular Thanksgiving “tradition” .

At the beginning of the month, we put up our “Thankful Tree”. I cut a large tree trunk out of brown mailing paper and hang it on the inside of our front door. Then we cut many paper leaves in bright fall colors. Daily, each family member is given a leaf on which they write something that they are thankful for, and then we tape them to our tree.

It is a delight to watch our tree grow with blessings—“my guinea pig”, “God’s protection”, “my nieces and nephews”, “God’s Word”, “my new job”, “family game time”—nothing is too small or too big to include. When we have guests, we invite them to contribute to our tree. We mail leaves to Ryan’s family to allow them to participate from afar. The Thankful Tree reaches fruition on Thanksgiving Day when our extended family gathers and are asked to add their blessings.

When I take the tree down at the beginning of our Christmas season, I do not dispose of those blessings! I “rake” those very special fall leaves and save them from year to year.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Morning Feast

This morning...
  • St. Luke
  • Little Pilgrim's Progress
  • "We Gather Together"
  • Emily Dickinson
  • Vivaldi
  • Vermeer
  • hot tea and apple butter muffins

Have I mentioned that I love homeschooling?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Choosing Gratitude

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

Monday, November 2, 2009

Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Oooooooooo...I am so excited that it is now November. It is my favorite month (I think, although that is subject to change as is my “favorite” hymn and poem and book), and I give myself permission to start playing Thanksgiving music.

Thanksgiving music?,” I hear someone say. Absolutely!

A couple of years ago, I found a book that falls under the category of you-never-know-what-gem-you-will-discover-at-your-local-library: Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, by Barbara Rainey. It had an eye-catching Thanksgiving-y cover that attracted my attention and so I pulled it from the shelf. There are beautiful illustrations inside too, as well as the history of Thanksgiving, ideas for establishing Thanksgiving traditions, and beautifully decorated pages for recording your own family’s blessings.

But the real treasure is the accompanying CD! Over and over I listen to these lovely instrumental arrangements of worshipful hymns. Included are “Come Ye Thankful People, Come,” “We Gather Together,” and “For the Beauty of the Earth”—all traditional Thanksgiving songs which I want my children to know (and which we have sung around our table on Thanksgiving day!)—as well as other hymns which inspire worship and gratitude such as “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” and “O For a Thousand Tongues.”

I subsequently purchased this treasure, so I don’t have to depend on someone else not discovering it at my library. Money well spent.
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