December 31, 2016

Be-YOU-tiful in 2017

As the new year approaches, I find that God is giving me a new goal.

It's a simple goal really, and something I've worked on my whole life, but I feel like in this season God is telling me, and you, that it's very important that we get this one right this time.

The goal is to be myself.

I think for every one of us living in this media-saturated world, it's very hard not to compare ourselves to others. And so much of advertising and media is exactly that. The magazines and television ads want you to compare yourself with the person in the ad and feel like you don't measure up. So we set out to be that false person. A person that truly does not exist.

Or we see someone who has had success in an area and decide to do it their way. We become a poor imitation of them and lose our individuality. Or even worse, we look around and see a version of the same person everywhere we go. Sheep leading sheep.

Or we listen to an amazing woman or man of God and start to become fascinated with them instead of God. We start to get all our knowledge of God 'second-hand' instead of going right to the source. We regurgitate food that was already chewed before we ever ate it. We need fresh manna which only comes from God.

God has made each one of us so uniquely different. We are the very expression of God. He is so infinitely vast in all His personality, character and attributes and we are - each and every one of us - an expression of some part of Him. Without 'you' being 'you', the Body is incomplete. You and your uniqueness is very needed and such a wonderful asset to the Body. When we each become 'ourselves,' we fit so well with everyone else!

I know that if I spent as much time with God discovering who I am as I do admiring others or trying to copy them, I would be much further along in this thing. I know that if I finally valued God's opinion more than anyone else's, I would step into a zone that I have never encountered before.

The other morning I sat down to spend some time with God. I have wonderful friends that read a lot of books and listen to a lot of video teaching and I do, too. So, I started to look up something that a friend had suggested we listen to, and I felt God pull on me so hard and insist that I just listen to Him. Spend time with Him. Quit counting on anyone but Him to teach me. Find out what His heart was for me and what He wanted to tell me.

And I realized all over again that God wants to form me in His Image. That 'me' in His Image is needed by 'you.' And vice versa. I need you to be 'you!'

Moses was not called to gather grain for a famine and Joseph was not created to part the Red Sea. Mary was called to give birth to the Messiah and she wasn't very good at building a boat. If each one of these people had modeled themselves after someone else and not sought God and become 'who they were in Him', things would be very different right now.

We're entering a new season right now and I sometimes I feel like my skin can't contain my spirit. I feel like I'm going to burst with expectation. I sense 'change' coming both in me and all around me. I am filled with fresh hope and so encouraged by God. I feel like some pieces have fallen into place and the shift is happening. I hope you're feeling it too!

My prayer group and I are going to be doing some fasting and praying - both individually and corporately. My expectations are high. I am praying for transformation - that God purify my heart and change me into His Image. That He corrects my wrong-thinking. That He gives me fresh revelation of Who He is and who I am in Him. I am praying for salvation for loved ones and that they have a life-changing encounter with the living God. That they step into who they are in Christ.

Because that's the key to everything - knowing who we are in Christ. Because He is everything and everywhere in our lives that we have valued anything outside of Him is anti-Christ.

So this year I want to encourage you. Turn off the TV. Put down the book. Find a quiet place and get alone with God. Saturate yourself with His Word. Ask Him who you are. Ask Him what He wants you to do. Learn to lose yourself in worship.

Find out who you are.

Love and blessings for God-filled 2017

"But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, 'With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.'" Matthew 19:26

December 20, 2016

A Christmas Buffet and a New Back Splash

My husband and son and I were hanging around after dinner last night when we heard a beeping from the basement. My husband went downstairs to see what it was and our carbon monoxide detector was beeping. After determining the batteries were good in both the basement detector and the main floor detector, he opened the basement patio door and the alarm soon quit.

And then the one in the family room, where we were sitting, went off. We got out of the house and called the emergency line for the company that takes care of our heating system.

When our heat guy came over, he told us the carbon monoxide levels in our basement had been dangerously high (5,000 ppm by the heater) and the detectors had saved our lives. We spent last night without any heat in the house but so thankful to God that He protected us. If you have gas logs or gas powered heat in your house, please get these detectors. The gas is odorless and we would have passed out and unless someone had found us quickly, died. 

On to more pleasant things!

One of the things we really love about our home is the open floor plan. It's especially nice for the holidays and entertaining.

Our dining room, kitchen and family room are divided by this large 'island.' This gives me tons of counter space and I use it like a buffet at the holidays.

It's also nice that I can talk to everyone while I'm cooking!

I moved my gold sled to the buffet and surrounded it with treats.  This little chalk board that I found at Tuesday Morning is always fun to change to match the season.
On Christmas day, this spot is filled with appetizers, desserts and drinks.

While I'm cooking, someone is always sitting right here - snacking.

When we redid our master bathroom this summer, our tile guy was nice enough to help me with our back splash. I already had the 4" travertine tile. He advised me how to seal them and what products to use. 
He had his wet saw set up on our drive way and when I got to the point where I needed the tile cut, he paused working on our bathroom and cut the tile for me!  But I did all the tile laying and grouting myself.
I love how it turned out and how well the tile matches the colors of the cabinets. A friend asked me how I got the pattern of the tile so perfect. I didn't do anything! I just kept grabbing the nearest tile.

I'm also really thankful for the advice and help that our tile expert gave me because I would have missed some steps without him! Thank you, Neil, at Carpet Gallery!
These are cardboard letters that I bought at HobbyLobby. I decoupaged them with blue and white napkins that I found at Tuesday Morning a couple of years ago.

Hope you've got all your shopping done! We've got a couple of Christmas parties this week and will be picking our son up at the airport tomorrow for a week long visit.

Also, our wonderful 'heat guy' is coming over today to get our heat working again! I've got both our gas logs going and I'm wearing several layers under a thick blanket. It's 59 degrees in our house.

love and blessings~
"So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them." Luke 2

December 16, 2016

Beating the Holiday Blues

The holidays can be a lot of fun or they can be very stressful and painful. If you're missing loved ones, like we are, it seems to be even worse at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.

I want to tell you, first of all, that you are not alone. God knows our hearts and our thoughts even better than we know ourselves and He's aware of our pain and our sadness. Give it to Him.

I hope knowing that helps, but I wanted to share some things that we all can do this time of year when we're hit with sadness or even just the blues.

1. Get your praise on! You can literally war against those bad feelings by praising God. We praise Him not for what He's done, but for Who He is and He is a good, good Father. Open up your Bible and find a Psalm that expresses your heart and ends in praise. Turn on some praise music and sing at the top of your lungs. Yell. Stomp. Get it out in a positive way.

2. Be thankful. We all have something to be thankful for. Gratitude draws God and the heavenly host to us. When we begin to verbally express our thanks to God, the angels literally gather around us and begin to minister to us.

3. Spend time with the loved one you're missing. My dad died two years ago right before Thanksgiving. He loved to cook and I remember many huge meals that he prepared with joy at the holidays. When I'm missing him, I sit down and talk to him. I tell him how I'm feeling. I tell him the sweet things I remember about him. I celebrate his life. If I cry, that's okay too. It helps to look my grief right in the face and express it.

4. Watch what you're eating and drinking. What you eat affects your body and your moods greatly. Too much sugar, pastries and alcohol throw your body off balance, and cause you to feel bad physically and emotionally. Gluten causes inflammation and inflammation can cause depression. Take a few days and eat clean. Juice. Drink lots of water. Bless your body.

5. Get some exercise. It's 5 degrees here in Michigan today and we have a foot of snow. I'm not leaving the house - lol. But if you can, get outside, shovel some snow, sled down the hill with your kids, take a walk and breathe some fresh air. If you can't get outside, bounce on your mini-tramp, turn on an exercise video and dance  - do something to get your heart rate up. You'll feel better.

6. Give yourself some grace. If you're exhausting yourself trying reproduce that perfect holiday you see in the media~News Flash! It doesn't exist. If you don't have a perfectly decorated house, tons of presents under the tree and a gourmet meal planned, you don't have to!

One year our family had had a bad year. hmmm - we'd had a couple of bad years. I had bought all the food to prepare a large meal and after the presents were opened, I just didn't have it in me. I fixed a large brunch of French toast and bacon. We all ate like it was amazing just because it was unexpected, and then we went to the movies. One of the LOTR's was out so it was a long movie and my kids were thrilled. It was such a fun day even though we broke all our traditions. There are no rules about what to do on Christmas. Spend your day in your pajamas if you want to. And remind yourself that others might be doing the same thing.

7. If you're so down that you can't make yourself do any of these things and nothing is helping, call a friend and ask them to help you and pray for you. If you don't have a friend, email me and I will pray for you.

I hope these things help. We all have times that we need to really focus on what's bothering us and then stop thinking about it and focus on our blessings. You are greatly loved by Our Heavenly Father.

love and blessings for a Merry Christmas~

"You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book." Psalm 56:8

"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

December 15, 2016

Our Home in the January 2017 Issue of Romantic Homes!

The January 2017 issue of Romantic Homes is out and our home is featured in this special 30th anniversary issue!

There are eight page of photos and a wonderful article telling all about our home. My husband is particularly pleased about how many times he was mentioned. lol You can order a copy here.

Kristen Wheeler was the photographer that came to our home. I thought it would be fun to share with you some of her photos that didn't make it into the magazine. All the following were taken by Kristen. The styling and editing is mine.
Our Entry

as you step into our living room
our living room

our dining room

our family room

master bedroom

guest room


I'll be back next time with more Christmas!

love and blessings~
"Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You. Teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul." Psalm 143:8

December 13, 2016

A Christmas Tablescape

We've always had Christmas and Thanksgiving at our house, but since our daughter and her family have moved back to Big Rapids, we've split the holidays. She has hosted Thanksgiving, and I have continued hosting Christmas.

We usually eat brunch as we're opening gifts and then snack all day while we wait for our big dinner.

A couple of years ago, we had my daughter's family over for dinner one night and I added a pretty centerpiece and battery-operated, child-safe candles to the table. Our sweet Levi was about four years old and when he sat down at the table he exclaimed, "This is pretty!!" His little face was low to the table, because he was short, and it was all lit up and sparkling. I've never forgotten it and always been surprised that a little guy would even notice.  But apparently, everyone loves a pretty table!
We don't sit down to the table until dinner time and every year I use the same dishes. My husband bought them for me when we were still on a tight budget and I've had them for about twenty years now. They bring back memories of when our children were little and all the Christmases we've shared.
This plate set has been a great neutral and has worked every year, no matter what color I was decorating with that decade! :) The last several years I've placed them on gold chargers.
I replaced my large sleigh centerpiece with this small wooden sleigh and some gold deer that echo the plate pattern. Faux evergreen boughs line the middle of the table, draped with gold ribbon and ornaments.
Every year I buy paper napkins at HomeGoods. They always have the prettiest patterns for the holidays. This year I tucked them into my gold stemmed wine glasses.
The candlesticks are from Ballard and come in a set of five. For some more bling, I added some ornaments to our chandelier.
My favorite combination this year is this dark blue and gold. 

If you're still looking for that perfect gift for someone, my dear friend, Kristin Malloy, has a beautiful Christian worship CD out. I just got it Friday and have just about worn it out. It is beautiful! You can purchase a download on her website  If you live in the Big Rapids area, you can buy a copy at Resurrection Life Church.
I'll be back soon with our Christmas buffet and our kitchen. We finally got our back splash done this summer and I'm excited to show it to you!

love and blessings~
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. Luke 2