Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Eve

I can hardly believe that tomorrow starts a New Year and a new decade...

This is a special time for our family - Tomorrow is Lindsay's 18th birthday and then our anniversary on the 2nd.

Today will be filled with preparing for a gathering of our friends and family, fellowship, fun that is what is in store for us tonight! Then at the stroke of midnight - after 'Happy New Year' it becomes 'Happy Birthday!'

I am going to take the tree down today - with a full house tonight we can use the space and it helps it to feel like a 'new' space! I probably will leave the garlands and greenery and some white lights. I love the warmth it adds to this cold and snowy season.

I pray that this will be a year of growth for our family, spiritually as well as physically! After all our numbers will increase by one in June when our grandbaby comes!

Dallas at Abounding Treasures shared a beautiful quote on her blog yesterday -

Every home should be a Bethesda,
a house of mercy,”
where the suffering, the weary, the sorrowing,
the tempted, the tried, the fallen,
may ever turn,
sure of sympathy, of help and of love’s holiest fruits.

~ Homemaking by JR Miller ~

I really like this quote and this is my prayer too for our home and family. That are home will be a haven not just for our family but for those in need of family and comfort and encouragement.

What are you praying for in this New Year?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas At Longwood Gardens

Edited to add - click on 'Girl in Nature' blog on my sidebar to see some of my daughters photos from today!

I hope you are not tired of reading about Longwood Gardens. We really love it there, even in the winter. We went to see the Wildlife Tree that our homeschool co-op made decorations to go on it - they all had natural items that wildlife eat - seeds, pods, thistle, etc...I took a few photos - the tree looked really good - but somehow they didn't get transfered to my computer. I hope Lindsay took some!

We visited two of the tree houses, the Peirce-duPont house and then Tim, Emily and the younger kids went to explore the meadow, while Lindsay and I went to check out the conservatory.

The weather today never got above 32 degrees and it was very windy! I think Lindsay and I made the smart choice!

It was beautiful...every year they do different things and this year I just loved the many Christmas trees, and Pierre duPont's music room which is decorated in a different way every year also!

It is hard to tell but this huge tree was decorated in shades of pretty.
They brought in these Magnolias and lit them with white lights. The Magnolias were all around the perimeter of the Orangery.

There were several of these trees in the same portion of the conservatory as the big tree I showed you in the beginning. These were the same kinds of ornaments on the big tree.

There were several of these trees near the music room. The had white lights and strings of glass berries and leaves.

There was a lot of this beautiful winter blooming Begonia in the conservatory. Great red color, much better than my camera shows. Guess where they used this plant as well?

Isn't this tree stunning? And yes the red on this tree comes from the begonias and from these ornaments.
It was all so pretty...then we went into the music room.

It was stunning. Dim light - huge Christmas trees in the corners of the room, small tables for four each with the same color scheme - red and golds - but different linens and flowers on each table.

I love the pillars - the carpenters at Longwood made them out of walnut just for this display - they match the regular wood work in the room and made it possible to swag gold fabric around the room to soften everything.

This photo isn't very clear but you can see the beautiful place settings, and each table had a small lamp on it that provided the light for that table.

This is one of the trees from the corners of the music room. This room got my mind whirling! I need to plan an event to use some of these ideas! Anyone getting married soon? Oh, maybe for Lindsay's 18th birthday....hmmm. Not sure I could pull that off in three days...

If you get the chance to go to Longwood Gardens before January 10th, then I encourage you to go! It is so beautiful. Just make sure you bundle up!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reading - Young Girl Reading - Jean-Honore' Fragonard

I have been addicted to reading since I was in the first grade. Seriously addicted...I would read the cereal boxes on the table at breakfast every morning. My mom joined a book club when I was in elementary school so that she could buy me Nancy Drew books at a good price, it was a two books in one kind of deal. They would come once a month I think. sigh. I would be done with them in about a week. My mom couldn't keep me in books.

I love going into bookstores of all kinds. Now there is a lot of 'twaddle' out there as Charlotte Mason would say. This is true not only in children's literature but in adult literature as well, and let's just be honest there is a lot of garbage out there. But hey, I am not going there in this post!

What I wanted to share was some of the books that I read this year. Now mind you, being a busy mom, who homeschools and runs a homeschool co-op, and since we do lots of hospitality I don't have the time to read like I used to. But I read none the less, even if I have to stay up late because it is like breathing to me. I must do it.

I will try to list as many as I remember.

My Bible - God

All three books of Beverly Lewis' series "The Courtship of Nellie Fisher."

To Know Her By Name - Lori Wick
Promise Me Tomorrow - Lori Wick
Cassidy - Lori Wick
Sabrina - Lori Wick
Jessie - Lori Wick
Every Little Thing About You - Lori Wick
Every Storm - Lori Wick
Pretense - Lori Wick
The Hawk and The Jewel - Lori Wick
The Princess - Lori Wick

In case you can't tell - I am a huge Lori Wick fan and all of these books are rereads for me! Certain books like The Princess and Pretense I have read many times!

Lessons At Blackberry Inn - Karen Andreola. I am a huge fan of Karen's too!

True Honor - Dee Henderson
True Valor - Dee Henderson
True Courage - Dee Henderson
The Guardian - Dee Henderson

Emma - Jane Austen
Mr. Knightley's Diary - Amanda Grange
Jane Fairfax - Joan Aiken
Persuasion - Jane Austen
Captain Wentworth's Diary - Amanda Grange
Mr. Darcy's Diary - Amanda Grange
Letters From Pemberley - Jane Dawkins
More Letters From Pemberley - Jane Dawkins
The Pemberley Chronicles - Rebecca Ann Collins
The Women of Pemberley - Rebecca Ann Collins
Netherfield Park Revisited - Rebecca Ann Collins
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

Princess Adelina - An Ancient Christian Tale of Beauty and Bravery - Julie Sutter

Her Hand In Marriage - Douglas Wilson
The Fruit of Her Hands - Nancy Wilson
What He Must Be - If He Wants to Marry My Daughter - Voddie Baucham
The Little Boy Down The Lane - Douglas Phillips
Let Us Highly Resolve - David and Shirley Quine
Uniting Church and Home - Eric Wallace
The Duggars - 20 and Counting - Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar

This doesn't include the many books I read to my children.

I know there have been many more books that I have read, but since I don't keep a list, I can't possibly remember them all.

I try to be very careful about what I put into my mind, and what my children read as well. I like to read non fiction as well as fiction. Books that encourage me in my ministry as a wife and mother, and books that are just fun to read.

What have you been reading this year?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day

Hope your day was as great as ours, gifts, food, snow,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's Almost Here...

Just a few days left until Christmas...

Tonight we went to our friend Mindy's 'Holiday Concert' at her high school. She is a soprano and sings in the choir. It was a really good concert. For being a public school and being a 'Holiday Concert' they sang and played mostly religious music, including ending as is their tradition with the Hallelujah Chorus! They have Madrigals, choir, an orchestra and a concert band...many students with a lot of talent! It was wonderful to hear them proclaim the Lord's coming - even if some did not know what they were singing about!

All our shopping is done...Tim's birthday is Thursday - yes Christmas Eve! We are going out for dinner - or perhaps lunch if most restaurants are going to be closed at dinner time. We are going to the Christmas Eve service at our church and then will head home, to open stockings and get little ones settled for the evening. My Mom and Dad will spend the night and be there first thing in the morning. After feeding the horses and dogs, we will open gifts.

I have had a stress free Christmas season this year...really enjoying the tree and the beautiful atmosphere. I love reading my Bible in the living room by the light of the tree...

I am thankful for each of you and pray that you will celebrate Christmas with joy and peace in your hearts because of His Coming!

Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel...

A Christmas Laugh...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Is A Comin'

The forecast is for 8 to 12 inches here tomorrow.

Today is my main grocery shopping day and I must finish my Christmas shopping. I am taking along Lindsay and Emily as reinforcements!

It should be a long day, but fun, and Oh! the crowds will be crazy...not only are we a week out from Christmas Day but with a storm coming folks will be out to get their necessities.

The girls have a rehearsal tonight at church for those who are playing special music for Christmas Eve...long day ahead.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend - still focused on Christ's coming. This is the purpose for it all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

My Children, My Friends

My older girls and I spent several hours last night, sitting in the livingroom, laughing and talking. I love these young women, who are my daughters and yet my friends. We talk about life and love, the future. We talk about the Lord, about doctrine, about living as Christians in the world. I am so thankful for them.

This morning I have been pondering how we got to this point. It doesn't just happen - one day you wake up and your children are nearly adults and you are dear friends. It takes a deliberateness on your part. It takes seeking the Lord from the time they are born and asking for wisdom and patience and sensitivity. It takes have a goal of where you would like to see your children as adults. It takes selflessness.

I have failed at all of these things many, many times. I have talked when I should have listened; I have yelled, when I should have spoken patiently. I don't deserve the relationship I have with my children, but I am so thankful for the Grace that has given it to me!

A side benefit of all of it is to see their relationships with each other. It delights my heart...

They grow up so fast...

You don't want to waste one minute of fun...
Or craziness.....

It helps to have a loving husband and father who delights to do things with his family...
But in the end it is the Grace of God alone which will bring about this kind of life. I am so thankful.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

SoS Conference

This last weekend the National Center for Family Integrated Churches held a conference on The Sufficiency of Scripture. We were hoping to go along with some other members of our church, but it didn't work out this year.

I followed along on the NCFIC blog which you can read here.

The speakers for the conference were Voddie Baucham, Doug Phillips, Scott Brown, Paul Washer, Dr. Joe Morecraft and Kevin Swanson.

The conference is available on audio in two formats cds or mp3 download. You can preorder it at this link.

Some families we know through blogging were there and we wish we could have been there too! Maybe next time.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Creekside Cottage - Thomas Kinkade - Christmas Evening

Isn't this a lovely creekside cottage?

It doesn't look anything like my Creekside Cottage. Don't know if you all know but my blog is named after our house...I have always loved the old tradition of naming houses. In Little Women - they live in Orchard House. The Bennet sisters live at Longbourn and Mr. Darcy of course is from Pemberly.

We kept trying to think of a name for our house and finally a few years ago came up with Creekside Cottage. Our little yellow rancher sits on 4 1/4 acres with a creek that runs 11 months of the year, well, most years.

Our little cottage is not perfect - in fact it was a huge mess which is why we were able to afford our home! It really needs new siding - it is over 20 years old and has some holes here and there - a few rooms still need baseboard trim...that sort of thing. It is a delightful work in progress, and has been fun to make it our own, so to speak. Did I ever tell you that my husband has made all our door and window trim? He patterned it after the trim in the 1930's era house we used to own. It has added a lot of character to our home.

When we moved here we desired that the Lord would use our home and property to be a blessing to other people. He has answered that prayer in that He has allowed us to reach out to others and host them here. Sometimes it has been just for a family party or an afternoon of fun with a bonfire, but other times it has been for a weekend with a family we only knew through blogging!

There is always a lot going on at Creekside Cottage - school, family life, cooking, knitting, sewing, photography, music practice, reading, watching good movies....

Right now, Emily is working on her biology. Rachel is making Snickerdoodle cookies, Kyle and Sarah are looking through an I Spy book they got at the library. We all love these books - we like mysteries: Nancy Drew books and games, I Spy, Clue....Lindsay has feed the horses and has them ready for the evening. She was playing her recorder just a bit ago...dinner is started and dark has descended for the evening. The outdoor lights are on, inside soft lamplight and strings of white Christmas lights on the tree and all around. I find such joy in simple times and activities!

It is our prayer that in the New Year our family would continue to have these kinds of opportunities for hospitality. We delight to see the fruit of it in our own children's lives as every week after church they ask right away "Is anyone coming over today?" They are eager to host our family and friends!

What are you looking forward to in the New Year?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

We Danced The Night Away...

These photos are a beautiful picture of the value of a Family Integrated Church. In these pictures you will see fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, husbands and wives, grandmas and grandsons, single folk, teenagers, little girls all dancing together, our fun times flow out of our times of worship all together. It comes naturally to include everyone, because we are used to being together.

This set of photos shows the dancers doing 'Lucky Seven,' which includes the grand chain! This is a fun dance to do and everyone loves it.

These photos are of a different dance called 'The Small Set'.

As you can tell some people dressed up and some came casually but everyone had a great time!

We will have to do it again soon!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Ball - Christmas Greetings

Tonight is our Christmas Ball! We discovered the fun of English Country Dancing a few years ago and now we try to host a Ball at least once a year.

We are not sure how many are coming but we always have a good time with our family and our friends!

We have preparations to take care of today so I need to run...I will try to take photos and post them soon!

Friday, December 11, 2009

In The Bleak Mid Winter...

I found this beautiful video over at Holy Experience.

If you would like to watch it on full screen click on the button - second from the right on the video screen, the one right next to the volume button. Also make sure to pause my playlist!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Tree For Kyle

This blurry photo is the best I can do with my little point and shoot! But it looks so nice in Kyle' bedroom. You see yesterday, I had him cleaning his room while I sorted through his clothes, packing away the ones he has outgrown. It occurred to me that other than a string of lights over his window, his room didn't have much Christmas spirit! Then in a flash - a brilliant thought - "I have small trees downstairs! Wouldn't it be cute to put one in his room." But what, other than lights would I put on the tree? Then it came to me - he has a huge bin of Hot Wheels! I could put some of his cars on the tree with yarn. As I looked through the bin I realized that he has a lot of motorized vehicles from the movie "CARS"! I grabbed my left over red yarn, wrapped it around one of the back tires and tied it to the tree. I also put a few other cars on it - like one of his Jeff Gordon hot wheels. He loved it!

Here it is with the flash on my camera - you can see that Lightning McQueen has the top spot...of course.

What is the most creative thing you have ever decorated a tree with?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shepherds Abiding

I love the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Earlier this week Brenda at Coffee,Tea,Books and Me mentioned this book in one of her posts. I read it several years ago, but decided to reread it this Christmas season.

I loved it so much, again! These characters make me want to live in Mitford.

The kids went to Sight and Sound Theatre and saw "Miracle of Christmas," with their grandparents today. This gave me time to sit in my livingroom and read to my hearts content!

I also made a traditional cookie in our family that I make every year. My grandma used to make these Russian Tea Cakes every Christmas and passed the recipe along to me. I am going to share it with you.

Russian Tea Cakes

1 pound of butter
1 cup of sugar
4 1/2 cups of flour
Vanilla to taste
walnuts, optional
Powdered sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar and mix 1 cup of flour into the butter and sugar mixture at a time. Add vanilla to taste - I use 1 tsp of REAL vanilla. If you want to add walnuts you can add them now.

Roll dough gently into small balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Cook for 10-12 minutes. After cookies cool, roll in powdered sugar.

That's it. So simple and yet delicious! They are a shortbread cookie and make a wonderful gift!

Do you do a lot of baking during the Christmas season?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas Cheer - George S. Knowles - Christmas Cheer
I have done very little Christmas shopping and am not nearly ready for Tim's birthday Christmas Eve or Christmas or Lindsay's birthday January 1st and our 22nd wedding anniversary January 2nd!
But I am not worried - I find that I am full of the Christmas spirit. I have been focusing on Christ this Christmas - specifically His Coming...

Love was when
God became a man
Locked in time and space
Without rank or place
Love was God born
of Jewish kin Just a carpenter
with some fishermen
Love was when
Jesus walked in history Lovingly He brought
A new life that's free
Love was God
Nailed to bleed and die
To reach
And love one such as I
John E. Walvoord and Don Wrytzen

When I was younger, I sang in our church choir - we learned this song as part of a has stuck with me all these years.
Tonight is a cozy night in...the older girls are headed out to our friends home for a few hours. Then they'll be home.
Yesterday was filled with breakfast out with my husband ( a rare treat!), a stop at the hardware store for stain and polyurethane to finish the fabulous table my husband built! Then I needed to head out to give a ride to my son and his girlfriend to their prenatal appointment. They were so happy to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time...back to our house for a little bit, then off again to take them home nearly an hour away. Home again briefly and then off to a meeting.
I am really looking forward to being home tonight and enjoying the tree and my family - not necessarily in that order, of course!
In fact to let you in on a secret, right now it is 6:30 pm and the kids and I are in pjs and Rachel, Kyle and I piled into my bed!
I am going to have a great evening - how about you?

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Quiet Weekend

Saturday the forecast was for snow, but we live in an area of our state that is rather mild over all. However right around 8:30 am the snow started to fall, very lightly at first, then heavier and heavier.

The photo above is one Emily took early in the snowfall. We ended up with about 5 inches! It was a wet snow and hung on all the trees and shrubs so beautifully!

The little girls had a birthday party to attend on Saturday - right near our closest Target store - so the big girls and I did a bit of Christmas shopping while we were out. It was fun.

Home to relax and get ready for the evening as well as prep for Sunday. I always have the kids pick out what they want to wear to church a day ahead so that we can see if it needs to be ironed, if they have tights etc...even if they are clean! They everyone gets clean and into pajamas. We had a fellowship meal planned for after the service on Sunday so Lindsay cooked Chicken and Pasta and Emily made Uncle Robert's Chocolate Surprise Pie. YUM!

I got to bed late, and had a late night phone call. Could get back to sleep - then
unfortunately slept to late for Sunday School...we did make church and our fellowship meal! The older kids also practiced "O, Holy Night" for Christmas Eve.

We headed home for a while - Kyle and Sarah played out in the snow, the animals were attended to, and then the three older girls headed over to the folks at Hospitality Lane. They had quite the fun time.

I had a quiet evening with Sarah and Kyle - I read, they watch a couple of kid movies. It was lovely.

Tomorrow the busyness begins again. I am taking my son and his girlfriend to their doctor's appointment - hoping to hear the baby's heartbeat - and then I have a meeting in the evening.

I trust you had blessed weekend with much rest and delight in the season...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Encore Performance

I really enjoyed these guys' performance last year - so I am going to post them again for your viewing pleasure!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Out Of The Mouths Of Babes.... - Vincent Van Gogh -The Bible -Still Life

After dinner tonight, Tim was reading in the book of Acts which we have been studying for a while. We were talking about Paul and Silas who had been put in jail for casting out a spirit of divination from a slave girl. While singing and praising the Lord in the middle of the night - God sent a huge's a cool story you should check it out - Acts 16.

While Tim was reading Kyle leans over the table and says "Dad! I know who Jesus is!" Tim said "You do? Who is He Kyle?" To which Kyle replied "Jesus is the Word!"

You see, our advent calendar starts with that scripture - John 1:1 -" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God," and last night I asked the 3 youngest kids if they remembered what the first verse of our advent calendar says. They all said separately "John 1:1" and recited the verse from memory.

I was struck again by the importance of committing scripture - Truth - to memory and especially at such an early age. It stays with them forever! They have such fertile minds - what do we want to fill it up with? Current pop culture information or scripture - hiding God's Word in their hearts?

Kyle was so delighted tonight to tell his daddy what he knew about Jesus! What a precious moment...


  We are finally getting some blue skies with real clouds, and sunshine! I took sometime with Kyle and Kamryn's help to set up the deck ...