Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Friday, December 30, 2016

Decluttering My Soul

Decluttering is something we all think about as we approach a new year.  We want to clean out, organize, and find peace in a decluttered and tidy home.

I find that my soul needs this kind of decluttering as well.  

Sally Clarkson wrote about it so well here.

Over the next few days I will be taking time to talk to my Father and declutter my soul.  To give to Him the burdens on my heart that He asks me to cast onto Him.  He wants me to rest in Him, even in the midst of a storm.

I'm feeling the need to be with Him, to hear what He has for me, to give it all to Him.

I'll be back in the New Year!

Thank you all for this year of friendship, encouragement and hospitality.  I appreciate all your kind words, and your visits to my cottage.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Week Between

We always take the week between Christmas and New Year's as a break from school.  This makes the holiday last and leads us into Lindsay's birthday and our anniversary.

Tim has had work, but this is a lighter time of the year, so it has felt like a holiday for him, too.  Last night we went to see the new Star Wars movie with friends.  Today, the kids helped him with taking down a few dead trees in our horse pasture.  Sarah learned to use the chain saw and to chop wood, too.  Kyle was the wood hauler.  Rachel and I headed over to our library bookstore and then stopped to get a few things from the grocery store.

I found these two interesting books at the library bookstore.

Kay liked the cowl I made for Lindsay, but loved the red yarn I used for mine, so I am making her one.  I finished it and blocked it today, so tomorrow I'll stitch it together.

Tomorrow involves a road trip for Tim and I to pick up our nieces from two different airports.  Two went to Senegal for Christmas and one went to Colorado.  The two with the international flight are coming in at Dulles and the domestic flight comes in at Baltimore.  We pick up the girls at Dulles and then swing back through Baltimore for the other!  It'll be fun to chat about their trips!

Thank you to those of you who prayed for our friends Chadd and Chelsea.  God was gracious.  We are all grateful.  You can read all about it here.

I've seen a lot of posts on FB saying, "Christmas is over.  I'm ready for Summer!"  I say, "Are you crazy?"  For us its still Christmas.  I never take the decor down before New Years and I often leave it up until Epiphany.  I don't do Santa's etc, so it is easily transformed to winter decor anyway.  How about you?

I'm praying and thinking about a word for this coming year.  Do you do this?  If so what is your word for 2017?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Family This and That - Christmas Edition

We had a beautiful Christmas - relaxed, and I would say quiet, but Kyle got a Star Wars Nerf blaster and well, you can imagine what that sounds like. 

I got a lovely silver plated tea set from Tim.

I also got a cute tea pot from Rachel -

There were lots of books - my Mom and Dad gave me Chip and Joanna Gaines book.  I've started it already.  I gave Tim, Eric Metaxas' book on Deitrich  Bonhoffer.  Lindsay gave Kyle, The Green Ember, and Ember Falls by SD Smith. (we listened to the audio books and love them!) My Mom bought Rachel, The Fairest Beauty, by Melanie Dickerson.  The girls and I have read all this series through the library, but Rachel wants to own them.  We have Sarah several Lori Wick books that she is collecting, also.  I gave Kamryn both her very own Bible and Charlotte's Web.

Its great to have readers in the family.

Lindsay and Joseph came over in the evening and we watched the Dr. Who Christmas special.


Thank you all for your kind comments on my duet with Sarah.  She has given me permission to share her solo with you as well.

She has really grown as a singer this year.  She loves to sing, and so we are pleased for her.


Emma and Vinnie have their one year anniversary on Thursday!  Can you believe it?  

Wedding Day

Here they are in a photo from Thanksgiving
They are thriving and loving their Isla!


Lindsay and Joseph.  They are coming up on their 3rd wedding anniversary in March.  They are so fun, and are both thriving in their work, and in their marriage.

Kyle is a happy kid.

Rachel enjoyed a Christmas nap with Klaire.

Dad and Mom are doing well.  They were matching for on Christmas Eve.  

We had lots of baby holding which was fun

I don't have any photos of myself, Kamryn, or Tim.  I'll do better next time!  

Today, the kids are going bowling with my parents and then we are going to see Star Wars: Rogue One with friends tonight.


Also, I you would, will you please pray for our friends Chad and Chelsea?  I won't share more here, but tomorrow is a huge day in their lives, and we are praying mercy and grace.  Thanks.

Monday, December 26, 2016


I haven't sung as part of a group or solo for many years.  Sarah suggested that we sing Mary Did You Know at our Christmas Eve Service.  I agreed and then had a lot of work to do.  Vocal muscles were lazy, and I needed work (and still do) with strengthening them and increasing my breath control.

Sarah, who is 14, is growing in vocal ability and loves to sing.  It was fun to do this with her.

Someone asked if I would share it and so I am going to be bold and just do it.  It's not perfect but it turned out just fine.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

We are in celebrating mode!

Out for breakfast, FaceTime with Emma, Vinnie and Isla, picked up a few things.

Home now and I have dough rising for cinnamon rolls for tomorrow morning.

We are celebrating my husband birthday (which is today) and anticipating this evenings Christmas Eve service.

Prayer appreciated for Sarah and I.  We are singing a duet tonight and then she is singing a solo.  We just don't want to be flat or pitchy!  lol!

After the service tonight, the family will be gathering here to open stockings and to enjoy time together.

I've loved this Christmas season, with all its delights, and want to continue the joy of His coming throughout the year!

Merry Christmas Friends!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Christmas Adam!

Cause you know, Adam came before Eve, right?

Anyway its more fun to say than "Christmas Eve Eve."

We got the church decorated last night and it looks really nice.  It will add to the beautiful atmosphere, and help make the service beautiful.

Anticipation is building for Christmas day, and we work to focus on celebrating the coming of Jesus, into the world.  Oh, how He was needed and how need Him still!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Quotes, Links, and Thoughts On Christmas

"May you have the gladness of Christmas which is Hope; 

The Spirit of Christmas which is Peace;

The Heart of Christmas which is Love."

Ada V. Hendricks

Do any of you, besides Brenda and myself, read the Golden Hours?  The post today was so encouraging.  Its called "The Coming Of The Light" and its worth reading.  Here is a snippet:

"There is so much to grieve over, both in our world and in our individual lives. As shadow piles on shadow we can find ourselves stumbling in the dark, the questions gathering stubbornly in our hearts.
Does God really see what is going on?”
The Christmas story answers, “Immanuel, God is with us.
Is He powerless to act or does He simply not care?
The Christmas story answers, “Immanuel, God is with us.”
Has God forgotten us?
The Christmas story answers, “Immanuel, God is with us.
If the psalmist found hope in the presence of God, then for us Christmas is the turning point. There may still be dark days ahead but, from that night on, the coming of the light has been inevitable. Immanuel, our God is with us."
Tomorrow evening we'll be decorating at our church for the Christmas Eve service.  Becky is heading this up and its going to look beautiful.  Friday we go to an afternoon Christmas party with our friends' business that Tim does subcontracting for. Then Saturday is Christmas Eve.
I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas.  Mine has been wonderful.  I've enjoyed all the preparation, the decorating, the baking, the music.  I've listened mostly to Chris Tomlin's Adore album and a Celtic Christmas station and a Classical Christmas station on Pandora.  This is year I was ready to have a change from the usual music and I think I achieved it!  
I have a blog or two more in me so I'm sure you'll be seeing me before Christmas, but in case you don't visit back before Sunday 

Changes For Christmas


and their cousin

We enjoyed a dinner out for the December birthday boys (Tim and Joseph) last night.  I got to hold Klaire for a while (though Lindsay is holding her in the middle photo.  

We missed Emma and Vinnie and Isla, but Emma texted in because they had received their Christmas box from us, so it was like having everyone together.

As our kids get older, and marry and have children Tim and I are very mindful to 'hold loosely' to our kids.  What I mean by that is we recognize and say to them that they are their own families now and they can make their own traditions.

This year, Emma and Vinnie with Isla are in South Carolina, and will be in Tennessee for the New Year.  We miss them but Emma is so good with sending photos and video and FaceTime that we are staying in touch and its great!

Nate and Kay are going to spend Christmas morning at home with their girls, Kamryn and Klaire.  They'll come over later in the day for exchanging gifts and hanging out and eating.

This is Lindsay and Joseph's year to be with his family.   They'll be with us on Christmas Eve, and like with Nate and Kay, we see them often, at least every Sunday.

So Christmas morning will be the five of us and my parents.  It feels as if we are coming full circle, back to when we had three kids, in the early years of our marriage!  We are planning the food, etc for the day.  We don't do a formal meal, just a buffet of ham, some side dishes, treats, snacks.  People eat when they feel like it.  We play games, watch movies.  Its a fun and relaxed day.

I find my heart is perfectly at peace with this.  

I'm sure it may change from year to year.  Some years we may have Emma and Vinnie here, and Tim and I have said that in the future we may end up with a family gathering sometime in December and then on Christmas everyone have their own family gatherings.  Maybe Tim and I will make the rounds of the kids that are local, dropping in to bring our gifts, or perhaps we'll fly out to spend Christmas with any family that might not live locally.  

Perhaps we'll travel to Scotland some Christmas!  You never know but it's exciting to think of the possibilities, isn't it?

I know many of you have grown children and grandkids.  What are some ways you do Christmas as your families grow?  

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Few Last Minute Gift Ideas

I thought I'd share a few last minute gift ideas, incase you're in need of a last minute gift or two.

If you know a knitter or a crocheter how about buying a skein or two of chunky yarn and large needles or hooks?  Have you seen the large sizes they have now?  These are size 35 and they make a size 50!  With these 35's and some yarn it is super easy to whip up a cowl or a scarf in no time!  This scarf I'm making in the photo has only six stitches on the needle!  Quick, easy and gorgeous!

We've been having some great sales on yarn in our area this month, too!  A few skeins of yarn and a hook or needles, makes a great gift!

Books - We always give books here as gifts, and finding a book by a favorite author is top of the wish list for many of us around the cottage!

I found this book this year

I didn't know about this book until I was looking online at books by Tolkien, a favorite author at the cottage.  It is wrapped and under the tree for a certain boy, but one of his older sisters begged me to give it to her instead!

Also, what about essential oils and a diffuser?  I love to use my oils to scent our house, and when Tim had a bad cold a month or so ago, I made up a decongestion blend and diffused it by his side of the bed for three nights.  He not only slept better, he was quickly over his cold.

This is the one I use.  Runs for hours.

Another nice gift is chocolate.  At least it is to me!  Since I am following an eating plan, and I don't do sugar, the options available to me are limited.  There are some good ones, but they are pricey so they would be a special gift for sure.

This is my current favorite.  I buy it at a local store (not every store locally has it) and it was on sale 2 for $6.00.  See why it would be a treat for someone watching their carbs?

For men, who wouldn't like to receive a headlamp flashlight?  My man uses one everyday (at least in the fall and winter) to feed animals in the barn and keep his hands free.

My kids have used these for exploring caves, too!

So there you have it, my contribution of ideas for last minute gifts. Hope you've found it helpful!

Pondering This At Christmas

Tim read to us from the devotional book he reads from daily.  It was written by Richard Wurmbrand, a Romanian pastor, who was tortured for his faith in communist Romania.  You can read about that in his book, Tortured for Christ.

The devotional for December 17 was this - 

Isaiah 53:10 - "It pleased the LORD to bruise him."

"Therese of Lisieux had her place at evening prayers just in front of a sister who had a nervous affliction.  She always made a little curious noise, rather like on would make by rubbing two shells together.  This tiny noise got Therese down, but she never chided the offender, not even with a look.  Something insider her told her that the right thing to do was to put up with it for the love of God and spare the sister any embarrassment.  Only she could not ignore the disturbing noise.  Perspiration poured down her in the attempt to pray not-withstanding, but it was useless.

Then Therese hit on the idea of liking this exasperating noise.  Instead of trying vainly not to hear it, she devoted herself to listening hard, as if the sound were that of delightful music and her prayer consisted of offering the music to the Lord.

It is wrong to escape the anxieties and troubles through vain hopes or through quarreling with those who disturb you.  Do not only bear sorrows, but positively love them.

In giving to Abraham the order to sacrifice his son, God gave him the additional happiness of specifying an alter three days' journey away, so that he might enjoy for a long time the idea of giving his most beloved for his Master.  He could have placed the wood for the fire on an ass, but Isaac preferred to carry the wood up the hill himself.  Great sacrifices should be borne, not with patience, but with delight.

The heavenly Father Himself, because it was necessary that His Son should die on the cross for the sins of the world, did not sacrifice Him grudgingly: "It pleased the Lord to bruise him." Adopt this attitude toward whatever disturbs you in life and you will be happy."   Reaching Toward The Heights by Richard Wurmbrand.

This is giving me a lot to think about.  It certainly is not the western way of thinking, or even the American way of thinking.  It's challenging and I thought I'd share it with you.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Mary, Did You Know

O, The Weather Outside Is Frightful

But inside we are cozy and warm!

After days of frigid temperatures, a storm moved through that left very little snow but plenty of ice.  It wouldn't be even a concern except Rachel has to get to work today, so Tim will drive her, and by the time she gets picked up the temps will have moderated enough that there will be rain only.  

I am done with shopping and wrapping!  Do you like wrapping?  I love it.  I guess its because I love pretty papers and ribbons and gift tags! 

This year, I've used plaid paper (shocking, I'm sure), a red paper that looks like a knit sweater, a grey paper with cute owls in plaid, and a black paper with chalkboard writing.  I've also used a few gift bags for larger items.

The gift bags are from Christmas Tree Shops and the wrapping paper from Target's dollar spot.  The tartan paper was purchased last year on sale, and I bought enough to last for several years!

Happy Me!

We used to have access to roll of white paper in varying thicknesses and coatings, when Tim worked for a printing company.  I used to wrap all our gifts in white paper (it was free!) and use pretty ribbons.  When the kids were little I'd also use bright color markers to write on the packages - words from Christmas carols or verses from the Bible of the Nativity story.  It was fun and cheery!

Our box for our southern family is going out today, all our Christmas cards are on their way.  I love giving gifts.  We have a few bags of treats to deliver on Monday to businesses that Tim has subcontracted for or has done inspections for them.  We are appreciative of their choosing our business and want to show it.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, one of eight children born to Reverend George Austen and his wife Cassandra Leigh.  You can read more about her life here.

This is a wax figure done of Jane and it lives at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.

Jane was a wonderful writer with a quick wit that showed up in her many books.  

She gave us great characters

I'll be raising a cuppa or two in her honor today, and being thankful for the gifts she gave us all in her books.

My own collection of her books.


  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 ...