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.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Our Thanksgiving Day {2013}

With grateful hearts, we gathered on Thursday, in the midst of this season of "enough." Some of our number were recovering from yucky colds, some were absent because of illness (and they were sorely missed), and one little girl began the day just fine, and came down with a fever in the middle of her Thanksgiving dinner! Even so, our God reigns and we thanked Him for His blessings. (Isn't everything a gift from His hand? Do we sometimes neglect to thank Him, because the blessing is not packaged as we imagined it would be?)

Here are a few peeks at our Thanksgiving Day...

~ Setting the children's table ~
The children all wish to have their own table. This year, the logistics department decided that Bekah would need to move to an adult table, but some last minute finagling allowed her to sit with her nieces and nephews for another year.

~ Preparing for the feast~
Here is Owen (7) with sweet potato biscuits that he baked himself!
Eve (6) and Nora (4) have a look at Mr. Tom.
This year, our hymn was "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come."

~ The Feast ~
Again, Kristin and Kati were our faithful servers, assisted by Brian and Sarah as needed. 
We were well taken care of.

Peter (3) quietly contemplates a second sweet potato biscuit.

Right after Peter got his biscuit, we had a bit of excitement...
Pinky's tail caught on fire!
Do you see the candle on the cabinet behind and to the right of Peter?
Kristin told me to look out for Pinky who seemed to be contemplating a leap to the top of the door frame (which would have been a bad choice), and just as I looked up, the silly kitty walked across the candle and I saw her tail ignite!  I leaped from my chair, startling everyone, and ran to her, but within nanoseconds, the flame had extinguished. I grabbed Pinky, took her to the sink, and ran cold water over her tail. (She was not happy about that!) But aside from the smell of singed fur, you'd never know anything had happened.
(Something else to be thankful for!)

~ Desserts ~
Pies galore, freshly whipped cream, 
and a show-stopping pumpkin cake made by Brian's mother, Yvonne.
The servers sampled the desserts while Gavin (10) photobombed! 

It is a good day for us when all four of our children are under our roof!
Left to right (and oldest to youngest)...Kristin, Ryan, Kati, and Bekah

We shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house.

Psalm 65:4

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Oh my. These past few months have brought ups and downs, rejoicing and weeping, strength and weakness, joy and sorrow...all, I believe, from the hand of a loving Lord. And I am learning that "enough" is the right choice for me at this season.  

This week, I decided to move into what I am calling our Holiday/Emergency School Schedule. Together, we will have Bible reading, Bible memory, and reading from our current history book, Abraham Lincoln's World. On her own, Bekah will do math and her assigned reading (either literature or history), as well as practice piano. We are skipping poetry, composer study, picture study, daily vocabulary and grammar exercises, geography, and science. There may be days that some of those things get done, but the goal is to complete the Holiday/Emergency School schedule each day. 

For now, it is enough.  

If you have known me very long, you know that I love, love, love Thanksgiving. And I love decorating for Thanksgiving and planning different themes and place cards and table settings every year. But this year. This year I am not ready. The plans I had for the children's table were too ambitious for this busy season. I never settled on a theme for the adult tables. I have not been able to focus. Last night, as we were eating carryout food, I remarked that I had no idea what I was going to have on the Thanksgiving tables. "I might just use this," I kind of joked as I pointed to the candle centerpiece that has been on my kitchen table all of autumn. And then Kati said, "Why not?" And I thought, "Why not?" And suddenly  it seemed like just the right thing. 

It is enough. 

Our Thanksgiving guests are arriving today. There are no make-ahead dishes in the freezer. No tempting cake in the cake dome. Clean sheets will be put on at the last possible minute. Okay, full confession...dusting and vacuuming will be done at the last possible minute too. But I have given myself permission to simplify. And our guests are soooo accommodating, so easy-to-please. We will eat simple food and linger over coffee and cookies. (Hooray for two batches of cookies made this week!) We will talk and laugh and probably cry. We will watch the kids play. We will celebrate together. 

And it will be enough. More than enough.

It is not the season for perfect. For getting it all done. For a Martha Stewart holiday. For checking everything on the to-do list. 

It is the season of enough. 

And in this season, if (when) I am called to do hard things, to live hard things, to glorify Him in painful circumstances, He is enough. 

When I am at the end of my resources, when I am not sure which step to take next, He is enough.

Whether the path is busy or bumpy or bleak, He is enough, more than enough.

* * *

I am stepping away from my blog for a few days because this season demands my focus. But before I go, I want to wish you a blessed Thanksgiving! May you count your blessings and may your heart be filled with praise to the Giver!  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Note Card Party: Thanksgiving Greetings

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!

For this month's Note Card Party, I gathered a few of my favorite autumn house-y pictures, and added some Thanksgiving greetings. Thanksgiving cards are not as traditional as Christmas cards, but I have sent them some years. Do you send Thanksgiving cards?

Won't you consider joining Vee's Note Card Party this month?
She recently updated the rules, making it easier than ever to participate!

Click here for details...
A Haven for Vee
Thank you, Vee, for hosting this always-delightful party!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Joyful Noise

Christmas tunes on the piano...sweet voices singing
Apples to Apples...Hershey Park-opoly perking...tea pot simmering
reading stories...Thanksgiving mice "talking"...preschool play

Lots of "joyful noise" at our house yesterday!

And there is joy...even in the midst of life's sorrows.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Daily Light to a Frazzled Soul

At the end of a very busy week filled with emotional ups and downs and highs and lows and too many to-do's, I overslept this morning and then had a (most welcome) phone call from afar and the soup that I was serving for lunch wasn't ready and I realized that I was not going to get it all together in time to go to church. After Ron and the girls walked out the door, I sat down to "tune my heart." I opened the Daily Light on the Daily Path and soaked in these truths from the Lord of all creation, who is also, wonder of wonders, my loving Father.

Perhaps these thoughts will reach your heart too...

Thy thoughts are very deep.

We ... do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. - That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! - My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. - Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

PSA. 92:5. Col. 1:9. Eph. 3:17 19. Rom. 11:33. Isa. 55:8,9. -Psa. 40:5.

*** *** ***

The Daily Light on the Daily Path, November 17

Friday, November 15, 2013

An Island Story

We have been thinking about a kitchen island for a long time. That's kind of how we operate. L-o-n-g thinking-it-over/mulling/considering/planning time...and then we get it done. So you may have forgotten that we were planning a kitchen island. I shared a few of my ponderings in ~this post~, and then I left you hanging.  

Before and after that post, we were planning. Many, many discussions. 

What design?  An "open" look? Totally closed in with storage cabinets? A mixture: one part cabinet, one part open shelving? Do we want a drawer? 

Should the island have natural or stained wood? Or should we paint it? If we paint it, what color? We already have grayish green cabinets and barn red wainscoting in the kitchen. 

What height should it be? We don't want to block the view of the farmhouse sink, but it must be high enough for tall cooks. If we make a shelf, there must be room for the antique crock (a family piece from Ron's family).

I had a file of magazine clippings, a bunch of islands on my Kitchen Inspiration board on Pinterest, and a computer file of pictures found before Pinterest. (Yes, we have been planning this for quite a few years.)

Finally, Ron had caught up on other projects, the island was the next one on the list (yay!), and so we decided to just do it!  We put together all of our ideas, forced ourselves to make decisions on all those little details, and off Ron went to the shop.

And this is what he came back with...

Okay...maybe it wasn't that fast. But here it is in my kitchen. Yay!

I absolutely love the top. One of my island wishes was for a big chunky wood top. Ron delivered! He used wood from a beam that was part of his parent's demolished chicken house (the same chicken house that provided the wood for our COFFEE sign). It is chunky and imperfect...which is perfect to me!

The legs were also cut from an old beam, this one from a basement remodel that Ron did many years ago.

The remainder of the wood for the island was formerly the siding on the same chicken house.  (Maybe we should call this the "chicken house island"?)

The old crock fits perfectly too.

We thought that a drawer would give us some storage, so Ron designed a deep drawer in our island. I am still deciding exactly what to keep there. My extensive supply of paper napkins? (A few packages have found their way there already.) My not-quite-as-extensive collection of linen napkins?  Kitchen tools?

Ron also wanted to include a slide-out cutting board. It is one of Bekah's favorite features.

Our island was close to completion before our trip to Lancaster County in October. The night before we left, I was looking for an online source for Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint.  And what was the first to come up in my search engine? An Etsy shop based in Lancaster County!  The Etsy shop also had a store. I immediately emailed Deanna to see if she knew of the store. "That's the store we want to show you!," she replied. Come to find out, Fresh Vintage by Amy is the charming shop of Deanna's friend...and it is fabulous!  (If you ever go to Lancaster County, be sure to visit Fresh Vintage by Amy! Be prepared to ooh and aah over the many one-of-a-kind handcrafted items and wonderful antiques and collectibles. Our group of seven explored every nook and cranny of the store. At least a couple of times! And we all found treasures to take home with us. (See Deanna's photo of Sarah and Bekah with their vintage aprons...cute!)

Back to the island...
At Fresh Vintage, we purchased a bag of Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint, the color "Typewriter." (Am I the only one who loves the names of Miss Mustard Seed's colors? Probably not.)

We applied one coat of Typewriter...

...did some light distressing...

...and finished off with a coat of Briwax.

In the month that we've had it, the island has served many functions.

It has been a prep area. Here Bekah is decorating cookies for Kati's birthday party.
(Excuse the pot lid on the crock. Reality shot. ~smile~)

It has been a hangout. Here, Kati and I were checking recipes while we waited for something on the stove, but we also find ourselves gathering there...while someone else is cooking...on Sunday afternoons when lunch is about to be served...while waiting for evening coffee...

The island has been a holding place. A place to set dishes that are ready and waiting. Or a place to photograph.

(You may also have noticed that the island has been a candle burning place. On autumn days, I have a pumpkin candle burning for hours on end. I think it must run in the family!)

It has been a serving station. This may be my favorite function. (Although I really love the hangout function too!) For Sunday afternoon desserts or for party food, it is helpful to have another place to set the food or the dishes/paper goods.

We have been thrilled with the results of this project! It was worth all the planning and gathering of ideas and pondering and choosing. And the work...although a good part of the work was Ron's, but I think I can speak for him anyway.

If you stayed with me this long, then you must love house-y things as much as I do! Thanks for reading about our long-awaited kitchen island!

Linking to Miss Mustard Seed's Furniture Feature Friday...

Also linking to Joanne's very first Make it New Monday link-up at her delightful blog
My Not-So-Empty Nest...

My Not-so-Empty Nest

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Twenty!

Just because I am already the mom of two who have passed the thirty mark, it is no less amazing to me that my Kati has now passed the twenty mark!

Yesterday, we gathered with friends and family to celebrate this milestone birthday. (As always, I don't have photos of everyone. I am uncomfortable photographing my guests. Family, on the other hand, is fair game. They expect it. ~smile~)

The birthday girl chose to decorate with an autumn theme. She bought a bunch of pumpkins when they were marked down to fifty cents after October 31. We picked up the rectangular plates in Tuesday Morning (loved them!) and Ron found the golden yellow napkins at Target's Dollar Spot, also on clearance at thirty cents a package! (He bought five packs. The man knows my napkin obsession...and he is frugal. It was a win-win.)

We had a finger food buffet, which was fun. Kati made her own birthday cake. I was willing to make her a cake, but this pumpkin cake is a specialty of hers (and sooooo very good!), so we decided that it would be safer for her to do the baking. Bekah and I made and decorated the leaf-shaped shortbread cookies.

Using our borrowed tradition, we went around the room and each told something we liked about Kati. What a joy to hear what everyone said! Gifts were so thoughtful...and so "Kati." A chocolate Scrabble game for our game-playing-chocolate-loving girl, a lovely mat hand woven by Maddie, a pretty pink travel bag, gift cards to her favorite places. And then the cards...hand made by her dear niece and nephews, with their own personalities shining through! Perfect.

Here, Ben explains his card to Aunt Kati.

The littlest niece was a bit shy (extra guests on this special Sunday afternoon), but everyone else sang Happy Birthday, dear Kati! Well, maybe the littlest nephew wasn't singing either, but I'm sure he was singing inside.

(Or was he thinking about those candles?)

Happy Birthday, Kati!  

As you leave behind your teenage years, we can truly say that they were a delight. 
We look forward to seeing what the next decade has in store for you as you walk in His grace.

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