Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas in France!

A friend, who I love dearly, recently shared with me how she wisely saved her money to accomplish and fulfill her dreams!  She said part of the fun of wanting to do something new in life was the dreaming!  I thought that was pretty neat, especially the part about saving for the dream. Dreaming actually costs us nothing but time and when we dream our imagination can go wild!  This is something I always tried to encourage in my children, dreaming BIG!  There are truly no limits in life.  A dream for me began as a desire simply to visit my daughter, Kara, when she and her husband were married and living in England.  At the time, I had never traveled abroad so I spent several months planning and dreaming and learning.  Today, it is my joy to share with others how simple it is to travel abroad and learn new and beautiful cultures different from our own, yet similar in many ways.  Along the way, I fell in love with France and truly all things French!  So.....come on along and let us learn together about Christmas in France!

In France, heralding the holiday season is St. Barbara's Day, December 4th, when water soaked wheat grains are placed in dishes and set to germinate.  An old Folk legend predicts fast growing grain to mean good crops for the coming year. *

The religious accent is strong upon all French Christmas customs.  A miniature nativity scene, called a "Crèche" is arranged by the children and placed in the home.  The crèche is artistically lighted for the magnificent religious services when age old hymns are sung, incense burned , and bells rung.  Following the midnight mass, all partake of "reveillon", a luxurious meal of oysters and special wines and sauces.

A giant wicker figure, "Melchior", named after one of the three Magi, has a basket on his back and is dressed in fantastic garb.  Strapped to a donkey, he is paraded from door to door to gather whatever foods the generous May give.  A candle is lighted at the church which beckons all the poor of the parish to come and receive of these gifts brought to the church by Melchior.

YES, I do love France and all the beauty of this blessed season reminds me once again that no matter where we live, giving in a generous way is still what makes us human and truly extending the hand of Christ Jesus.  May we all have an opportunity to share Christmas blessings!

Today on my blog I am giving away a mounted photograph I took in Paris of the Eiffel Tower!  Just send me an email at for a chance at the drawing!  I will select a winner on Friday, December 20th!

*source: Ideals, published in 1949

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Giving the GIFT of LOVE......

Christmas is just a week away now!  Most of us have written our sentiments in our Christmas cards and addressed them to friends and family!  Gifts have been selected and wrapped or, if you are like me, waiting to be wrapped!  This is the time when last minute touches are being carefully finished around the house and afterwards it seems the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree take on a wonder all of their own!  All around us, people are in the hustle and bustle.  This year, like every year since Jesus was born in a manager in Bethlehem, there still are some people just too busy to hear the greatest story ever told!  The story of how Angels proclaimed that Christ had been born!  Mary, had brought forth her first born Son, and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manager, because there was no room for them in the Inn.  No room for the Savior who had been born gloriously to redeem the world from sin.  The Angels proclaimed good tidings of great joy which was for all people then AND for all people now!  God's gift of glory, Jesus, had come to earth and every Christmas since then, men and women of Faith continue to lovingly proclaim the message of LOVE and of HOPE and redemption found in Jesus!  The Holy Scriptures teach us that all those who heard then and hear now marvel at this truth told by the Shepherds who were simply going about their business on that glorious night of tending their sheep.  Yes, they were on the job, so to speak, but their hearts were soft and tender enough to hear and to witness and BELIEVE!  Oh, how I want to be available to hear when God sends a message of HOPE!  Let us draw near and be still so we can hear!!!

May the next few days leading up to Christmas give a desire for a full spirit of LOVE for the Lord Jesus! The greatest gifts we can share cannot be wrapped in a box with paper. Our greatest opportunity is to give of ourselves!

Psalm 92:4 "For You, O Lord have made me glad by what You have done.  I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands!"

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Simple and Beautiful Change......

The Lord knows our names, the number of our days, and where we are to spend each one of them!  Sometimes it seems He just gives us too few days to spend with someone dear to us.  "The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want.....He guides us in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."  Psalm 23

I admit, I am a sentimental person.  It's hard for me to part with people I love and care about and it is hard for me to let go, but I do and usually, it's finding something productive in my life that helps me to move forward and exclaim....."everything will be okay."  Change is good for all of us in our lives.  The ocean is a wonderful analogy of is constantly moving and the tides and waves roll in and out and bring a freshness and a calmness that change can be beautiful if we take the time to stop and look and especially listen.  It's almost soothing and can lead us in those paths of righteousness that David was speaking of in the 23rd Psalm.  There is a renewal that accompanies change.

Change brings me to this picture.....someone needed a change and decided to part with this table!  Can you believe it?  My husband has an eye for vintage and antique furnishings that he knows I will bring back to life, of course with his help.  When he first brought this table home, it was cracked across the top, two legs were broken and it looked like it had seen it's better days and where it would spend its future, discarded...... While furniture comes and seems it rarely does with us!  We find something, and decide to  try and make something beautiful out of it!  Swedish furniture is often times painted and it seems that we have really been into painting furniture lately!  Painting does cover the unsightly blemishes of something with a bit of age, plus it gives the piece depth and detail. This is exactly what we found with this table and every detail appeared as we painted it for the ultimate dinner table for entertaining.  I've prepared the table for an early dinner with a wonderful friend.  As you see, it doesn't have to be an elaborate production to be a beautiful evening.  Something small and modest can be very nice.  Yes, simple can be lovely.  Entertain your family and friends for truly, we do not know how long they will be in our presence!

I leave you with a beautiful thought by Mother Teresa. "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God's kindness."

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lighting A Candle.....

Have you ever faced a difficulty so large that the impossible lurked in your mind? Perhaps something you've been praying for is delayed. Maybe you've looked at the situation, considered the options and felt overcome. The children of Israel faced a similar delay when God spoke to Moses and told him to lead the Israelites to the promised land to a place flowing with milk and honey. Joshua and Caleb were two of the mighty men sent to spy out the situation they were facing as they sought this new land. Caleb declared, "Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it." Numbers 13:30 What faith! He knew they had the power to overcome, a capacity to prevail and succeed. However, the spies Caleb sent to survey the situation brought back a bad report, complaining about giants in the land who were stronger than them. They wanted to give up! But Moses and Aaron after hearing of these giants in the land of Canaan, fell on their faces before the Lord. These faith filled men did not deny the difficulty of defeating giants, but sought instead the POWER OF GOD in the face of their problem. Caleb stood his ground and later, even though delayed, ultimately brought victory. God is able to bring you through any situation into a land flowing with milk and honey. In my own life, I have seen it! We have been faced with situations that seemed impossible to overcome, but we did with the salvation of the Lord. Let the power of the Living God work in your life today.... "They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed." Psalm 34:5 The Christmas season brings much hope and joy because Jesus has overcome a cruel world and we too can have the peace and joy right now...even a prayer request has been delayed, an answer will come. God will find a way to meet your every need. As you go out, take your faith and the Light of Jesus with you! Even a small gesture, such as lighting a candle in your home can be a reminder to you of God's good and shining light and that He is faithful in every situation. He is shining bright! Blessings to you dear one during Christmas and always!!!

Monday, December 9, 2013

San Francisco and Napa Valley......Celebrations of LOVE!

 I spotted this table and loved the French influence!
Beauty everywhere in Napa Valley!

My husband and I are blessed with a large and sweet family!  We love being together, although the times seem to be rare the past two years.  We make the most of the times we are all together!   For someone like me, who enjoys elegance and preparation for a dinner party, I must say I enjoy the spontaneity our children bring to our lives!  They are so fun when they are all together! 

I met my husband, by accident (another story), when I had just turned 18.  I was a freshman in college and really  had planned only to finish out the semester and transfer closer to home and my family! But........ He was so much FUN from the beginning!  Fast forward forty years and here we are today, five children, five spouses, and six grandchildren.  Blessed totally!  Our five children planned a wonderful holiday for us to San Francisco and Napa Valley, California to the Napa Wine Country!  We had a wonderful time and we appreciate so much the spouses giving of their time for the weekend also!  The highlight was just being together, laughing, enjoying San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Sausalito, California for it's wonderful seafood and the beautiful homes and the views!  Listening as they shared their memories of childhood, the memories of the teenage years, the wonderful spouses they all share their lives with now, and their children were the topics of the weekend!  So much thankfulness fills my heart!!!!  We have been blessed, truly!  Families are forever! 

 "I sing for JOY at the works of Your hands"  Psalm 92:4 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Looking UP......

Early this morning on my walk, I was thrilled to see a beautiful rainbow, which honestly just appeared! I so wished I had carried my camera!!!   It was vibrant and unexpected. It appeared for about ten minutes and disappeared....long enough for me to thank my Heavenly Father for the beauty.  Another two to three minutes passed, and another one popped up on the opposite side.  I am sure it was the same rainbow but only visible one side at a time.  The glorious beauty of the rainbow at times can be overwhelming for me.  This is the time of year filled with busyness.  People are shopping, partying, eating and drinking and enjoying every possible event on the list!  These are wonderful activities and they can be so fun.

Home and being with family and friends still is my favorite place to be during this Christmas season. We must slow down in order to hear and see all that our Heavenly Father has to give us as His gifts in life.  My heart is to serve HIM and to KNOW HIM in all his fullness!  This morning as I was looking UP,  God's GLORY appeared in the sky!!!  May you have a beautiful day and may you look UP!!!

"My voice you shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to you. And I will Look UP!" Psalm 5:3

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Joy.....

Today I have been totally wrapped up in the holiday of Christmas!!!!  From early this morning until around four in the afternoon, I decorated my home for Christmas!!!!  I am extremely organized when it comes to Christmas decorations!  It is easy for me to decorate my home because each year, I lovingly place them once again into the boxes so they will be ready for the next year!  Christmas memories for me are special.....every year of my life!  When I was child, the happiest days were Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! We always woke up early for the gifts from Santa then we attended Worship at our church to celebrate the Birth of our Savior, JESUS!  Glory to God in the Highest and Peace on earth to all men! 

This year because of my love for FRANCE, I decided to use more of a French influence in my decorating for the holidays!  Our sitting room has evolved into a beautiful French room and the mantel was decorated with all the French items I have gathered and could find!  The finishing touch...... postcards my sister, Pam,  purchased for me at an ESTATE SALE of a close friend whose uncle had been stationed in France during WWII.  They are so so so beautiful!  After I finished my decorating, around 4:00 pm I decided to check the mail, in the mailbox I had a lovely surprise!  Vicki Archer of French Essence had selected my name to receive one of her beautiful postcards from Paris and wouldn't you know, it arrived today!!!!  Talk about perfect timing!!!!   It takes center stage on my mantel!  Thank you Vicki!  I feel so blessed!  It's going to be a beautiful Christmas!  May every moment of December bring you LOVE, PEACE, and JOY!  Merry Christmas!!!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Thanksgiving Table

This beautiful book COME TO THE TABLE was a gift to me a few years ago by a dear friend. It is a book about food, fellowship, and a celebration of God's bounty as the cover so beautifully details. If you have a few extra dollars this season, it is a book you will enjoy all year! The writers' celebrate the goodness of God and the special ways that He brings forth food on the earth....which strengthens mans heart.

"Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers." III John 2 This is a beautiful time of the year when our hearts begin to turn closely to home and to family and friends that we love and care about. One of the glorious attributes that God has graciously bestowed upon a woman is the joy of nurturing and loving those around us. The result of spending time alone with God results in a quality of life, commitment, dedication, and action that is in line with His Word. He is there to help us on the road or succeed in each task that is before us. Thanksgiving and Christmas give us many opportunities to love and encourage those in our lives. I want to encourage you to celebrate God's bounty and make your table lovely for all to enjoy. We are blessed to be alive and to have another day and another Thanksgiving season to celebrate God's bounty and prosperity in our lives. May you know that God loves and accepts you as you come to HIS TABLE and He is there to listen, listen, and listen and He fully offers acceptance, blessing and refreshment and forgiveness. He is a God of goodness and GRACE! "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good: Blessed is the man or woman who trusts HIM!" Psalm 34:17

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Enjoying the Gifts of Our Labor.......

How I wish you could join me for a cup of tea and a freshly baked scone!  The joy of joining someone that we enjoy conversation with is always a reason to celebrate! In my thinking, the British have us beat on the stopping point in their afternoon when they enjoy "taking tea".  My youngest daughter is married to a handsome Englishman.  He is truly British through and through.  He loves my daughter dearly and knowing how much she is loved and cared for is the only reason I can stand the separation of an ocean!  His parents work together in their business out of their home, but everyday they stop in the afternoon and have tea.  From all indications, this is a very pleasant time of the day.  All stops!  Just conversation, the kettle, tea, cream, and sugar.  Sounds lovely to me and the photo above is from my own tea time at The Mandeville Hotel in the Marylebone area of London!

When you invite someone into your home, do you spend more time in preparing your home and the table setting in comparison to the importance of the grace with which it is prepared and offered?  This may be why tea time is so wonderful for British people, the focus is the time spent with another, like a cup of comfort.  I have heard it is like getting a hug from someone.  There is no rush or schedule.  

In this busy time of the year, may you and I remember that spiritual nourishment is as important as physical nourishment.  Let us remember not to be hurried and rushed.  Families suffer when lives are too hectic.  This break for tea seems also to help refocus and perhaps give renewed thinking as well.  There is nothing more beautiful in a woman's face than peacefulness and a real genuine smile.   

May your journey throughout this day be filled with time to share and perhaps dream over a cup of tea with a friend and conversation filled with gratitude and thankfulness.  

In the beautiful words found in Ecclesiastes 3:12 may " every man (and woman) eat drink and enjoy the good of all his labor~it is the gift of God!"  Enjoy a beautiful and blessed day........what a gift!!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Balcony People......Revisited!

It is such a JOY to be around people who lift up others with their actions and their words! Maya Angelou often quotes these priceless words:  "I have learned people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel."  It is my prayer to always be a balcony person and lift others UP!  Let us set about this beautiful task of encouraging others every day that we live!

A BRIGHT sunny balcony just waiting to open up the day with sunshine! Balcony people in our lives cheer us on to be our best!

How about a whole "choir" of balconies just waiting to cheer on the day? When we are a part of God's family.....we become a choir of cheerleaders!

This Balcony is closed......closed to the sunshine and the joy of morning!

Just at the right time God sends a whole row of Balcony people! One of my favorite little books is called simply, Balcony People! I loved this little book for it's endless encouragement but long ago, I gave it to someone who I felt needed it! I have never forgotten it's beautiful message. It truly ministered to me, and was life the time. Valuable words are something I hope to give or receive everyday. I grew up without a Father in the home. I did get to spend a limited amount of time with my Father though and I did love him and in his own way, I believe he loved me. My mother worked full time and so a great deal of my childhood was spent with babysitters or grandmothers. These factors developed in me a deep, deep, deep desire to always be a mother available to my children and made me want to cheer them on in every situation! I have loved being a Mom and along with my husband, we have sought to not only cheer on our own family but anyone that God so graciously placed in our pathway. In my own life, I was divinely blessed to have people who mentored me or believed in me and used encouragement to lift me up to be what I needed to be and helped me. These were the balcony people, always using words to lift up, not tear down. These kind of people help others set goals that can be achieved so that their lives can be positive and they can become the BEST that they can be. The pictures above give you a visual image of those who set in the balcony bring sunshine to our lives.....sometimes God sends a whole choir of balcony people and those people truly make an impact. May I ask.....what kind of person are you? Are you one who lifts up or sits in the basement and tears down, in negative ways. It is something to think about each and everyday. The minister and best selling author, Joel Osteen, says " If you truly want to become a better you, it is imperative that you learn to feel good about yourself. Too many people live under condemnation, constantly listening to the wrong voices". He reminds us to listen to God's Words from the Bible and live each day seeking to become the person God planned for us to be! I might add, that it begins by looking upward, becoming real before God in prayer through repentance and accepting the beautiful TRUTH that God loves you and sent His Son as the Savior of the world, knowing that the Heavens declare His Glory and the TRUTH that you can become all you were meant to be! "Thank you precious Lord for the Balcony people in my let me be a Balcony person to others! Amen!"

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Parisian Birthday for Ava....

November 11, 2004 our daughter, Kristen and her husband Brian and their son, Clayton welcomed a precious baby girl into their family....Ava Grace!  She came as a petit bundle of JOY!  From the beginning she had us all wrapped totally around her finger!
She's extremely bright and articulate, she's funny, she's sweet, she's a bundle of energy!  Her days are spent reading, playing the piano, playing with her little sister, Olivia, and becoming a wonderful gymnast, attending school and, her church, and a truly important venture.......dreaming of Paris!  She loves learning all about Paris and so when I am with her, we always talk about Paris, the French culture, and other places she hopes to visit one day in France! 

A Few Words for her French Vocabulary
Bonjour ~ Hello
Au-revoir ~ Good bye
S'il Vous plait ~ Please
Merci ~ Thank You
Oui ~ Yes
Non ~ No
Baguette ~ Long Bread Stick
Crepes ~ Very thin pancakes with filling
Ratatouille ~ vegetable stew
One day, I hope that she and I can travel together to Paris, the "city of lights" ......but until then, I have a few of my favorite pictures for inspiration that I took on one of my visits to France! One of my favorites is of the striking French couple enjoying a beautiful rose'.  After taking the photograph, I noticed all the pinks in the picture! 
Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) the famous French engineer who designed the Effiel Tower in Paris, also designed the Statue of Liberty which stands in New York harbor!

Ava loves art and has always been interested in drawing and painting from an early age.  Her paintings are already quiet impressive. Perhaps she will study abroad in France and refine her artistic gifts!  France is famous for the beaux-arts, the many great painters, and sculptors!  Already, she is reading French literature and last year she received a gift of The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

From Paris, her favorite city, I hope to take her to one of mine, St Remy de Provence! It is a beautiful village in the south of France in the region known a Provence.  The photos above were from a trip in 2011. We'll board the TGV train from Avignon back to Paris and enjoy a few more experiences before our trip home.
Perhaps she and I can walk across one of the 37 bridges over the Seine!

Pops hopes to go also and play a few games of Petanque!

At nine, Ava is already planning many of the fun things she plans to accomplish in her life.
My hope for her is that she will continue to study about France and perhaps make French a second language she will be able to speak fluently. We will take a ride on a Bateaux Mouche with her down the River Seine!  We will go the the top of the Arc de Triomphe and maybe walk up its winding staircase and see the excellent view of Paris! I hope to take her to the Louis Vuitton Store and let her select a purse for her mother!  But mainly, we will just want to wander all the beautiful little postcard streets that make Paris so amazing!  When we finish, we will wander through the Jardin du Luxembourg and set in the green chairs and let her write her own beautiful story of Paris while snacking on a few colorful macarons!!!  Happy Birthday beautiful Ava!  I love you with all my heart!

James 1:17. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights!" 
God's blessings upon your sweet life always!!!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

With a Thankful Heart.....

This is the wonderful time of year in the United States when families begin the holiday planning for Thanksgiving!  I love Thanksgiving because it's a day set aside to celebrate the blessings of the year's harvest!  Through the years, the focus has been less on our own gardens and bounty and shifted more to just celebrating what we are truly thankful for in our lives.  I love planning the table setting, thinking about where each person will be seated and by whom.  Some people bring all the JOY and laughter they have stored up for the know the one who is the life of the party!  But truly just being with loved ones is a thankful celebration.

Thanksgiving is about generations gathering together to enjoy each other and the family traditions passed on.  The older ones are a beautiful picture to everyone because young people rarely see themselves as growing old. They are caught up in the age of youth, bursting with excitement about their own lives and the dreams that are yet to be! The older and younger encouraging one another is beautiful!  This is what makes these gatherings so very special! Even though this is happening, along with loving on the new babies born, children enjoying cousins, and parents and grandparents sharing the news of their lives, a foundation is being built in a family that will last. A solid foundation that will only grow stronger in time with LOVE!

My own family growing up was not typical as my parents were very young when I was born and the foundation they could have built just did not work out.  So......when holidays come for me, I approach them prayerfully and with hope that all who are at our table will feel especially loved and loved well.

You see, LOVE builds a foundation quiet like nothing else.  Love is purposeful and lasting when given without any expectation.  This season as you prepare your own table, may I encourage you to build on the foundation of love, deep love that is unshakable, something that will never shake the foundation of your own life! Trust God as you plan and may I encourage you to prepare your own heart asking for guidance and blessing.  These special times can be the best time of the year and all who are at your table can feed on the bounty of a thankful heart!  Be blessed my friend!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Mother's Legacy......

I hope you are having a beautiful fall day! It is gorgeous where we live today! The past two days I have been thinking how much fun Motherhood brings this time of year!  There is nothing more treasured in a mother's heart than seeing her children have fun and happy times! Laughter is such a part of our family moments! My husband has always been a FUN person!  The first night I met him he made me laugh and still does.  Sometimes I do not know if he is serious or not!   What a legacy of FUN he has passed on to our children and grandchildren! 

As a mother, a lasting legacy is also left with our children!  There are all types of mothers and we can become one naturally by giving birth to our children or they can be given to us in a completely God designed way!  When we are young, we recieve this wonderful gift of children with no training, no resume, and no interview but wow what fun and joy comes as we learn this wonderful profession, on the job training!  I have loved being a mother and I still do!  I just love my children SO much and I love their children too.......a joyous blessing comes after your children have children!!!

Mothers are resourceful and as the years go by, most Mothers will go to the ends of the earth for their child.  In my life, I have always hoped that I make each one of my children feel that they are the only one when I am with them.  In essence, time is the main ingredient about instilling and developing the virtues and values that you want for your child.  I do not care what the books say about quality or quantity, I know,  because I have lived it, it is quantity first but a good mother develops over time.  Often she is mentored by someone special in her life.  It should be her own mother, but if that doesn't happen, God will send someone your way who will model to you the important virtues of love, patience, and kindness that are so important to be a mother.  He did that for me, over and over again in my early years as a mother.  He placed people in my pathway who pointed me to Him!  Real people, who to this day, I can picture as someone who took an interest in me and my family. 

In the Bible, Moses mother, Jochebed, stands as a monument to his mother's courage against staggering opposition of the time she lived in.  She had meager means, but desired to raise her Hebrew son in the ways and customs of her faith.  God carried out her desires to raise her son in ways that only He could design.  You see, the King, sent out a decree that all the boy babies under two were to die.  In a desperate situation, Jochebed took her dilemma and resources that were available and set about her work of saving her son's life.  She took the reeds from the edges of the river nearby and constructed a woven basket with a lid and placed her baby into the water, said a prayer, and pushed him away with hope and faith in the everlasting goodness of God.  Little did she know that the King's very own daughter would find the baby and raise Moses as a Prince!  Jochebed was hired for wages to be a nurse maid to her very own child, without anyone knowing she was the child's true mother!  God had saved his life for a mighty purpose. Her example encourages me as I keep coming back to the Lord, morning after morning.  And He is there, available to me and to any mother who seeks the Lord's guidance.  He performs what He promises, and that assurance can overcome any fear you may have about mothering or the job you are doing.  Mothers are valuable!   You can read Jochobed's story in Exdous 1:1 through 2:10!

Blessings to you today!  Remember that you are uniquely designed to be the most influential person in your child's life. Wow......that is remarkable and I hope you sense God's love for you and your children. Have a Happy and Blessed Fall Day!  Enjoy your day.......

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inspired by France.....

 Over the past few weeks, I have been changing a room in my home to include more of The French furnishings I have been collecting over the past year.  The photographs above I took during two visits to Paris and inspired me with their simple and beautiful lines.  In Paris, there are so many sights to inspire!   Every corner you turn, there is a picture!  Everything it seems is so artistically arranged, and everything paints a picture!  The French are all about vignettes......Little spaces perfectly arranged. This was our goal, to create a lovely little French space.  For our French room, we painted the walls a creamy ivory and painted out fireplace mantel a creamy ivory and used an antique paste to add an older look to the mantel.  I found two 19th century Louis XV chairs at an antique shop not far from where I live to go along with the beautiful French sofa I purchased last year and invested in a quality fabric and expert upholsterer who did an excellent job achieving the look I wanted.  I selected silk for the window curtains and used a simple French pleat with a covered button at each pleat and hung them on a simple iron rod.  I have some framed pieces of art in the room but most are unframed and framed photographs that I took in France.  I added a beautiful French inspired lamp from another room in my home and the room came together rather quickly.

I am drawn to French furniture and design because it has a sense of warmth and comfort, yet it is so graceful.  A home should be personal and filled with things you really love.  Your furnishings do not need to be expensive to be beautiful.  Add a lovely vase of fresh flowers, a candle or two, books, music, and you will have created an atmosphere that is both welcoming and warm.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Love of Books and Reading.......

The Beautiful Library at Osterley House near London

There are many treasures within the pages of books.  I remember vividly the day I fell in love with reading books! In my ninth year of school, we were often required to have a study hall period within our day and this was most often located in the library. On this particular day, I was looking straight ahead (probably daydreaming) and a beautiful book caught my eye. The book was REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier and I have never been the same! I was hooked on reading novels.  For me, they were often set in places I could escape to or dream of one day visiting.  At the same time, I began to develop a keen interest in history, mainly the United States history and over my university years, I developed a love for world history and books on art history. The years that I spent teaching middle school found my books to be my best friends!

It was many years, before we inevitably came to the conclusion that a room in our house had evolved into a library for our books.  This room was a period room with furnishings inspired by pieces found in Mount Vernon, President George Washington's home.  We had bookshelves built on both sides of a window centered in the front of the room and I began to fill them with books!  I searched antique shops for books on the Presidents of The United States of America. Our collection has grown now to include many books on George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and many, many more of our Presidents.  I have books on the First Ladies, the homes of the Presidents and other places that are important in our country's history.  Now our library includes books on decorating, travel, and books for Bible study and inspiration.  Our library is probably the most favorite room in our home when our adult children visit.  Our sweet grandchildren also seem to gravitate to the library.  All is serene in this room and it's a place I enjoy for my prayer time and devotionals in the mornings.

Our children grew up with a wonderful exposure to books.  We loved to read books to them and had boxes and boxes of children's books that have found their way into the homes of the two daughters' who have children.  They love books as we do!  

This past week, I began reading an autobiography on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was one of eight children born within a decade to Karl and Paula Bonhoeffer. This book had been a gift to my husband from one of our daughters.  The Bonhoeffer family lived in Breslau, Germany when their children were young and the parents were known to take much joy in their children.  Their children were educated at home the first few years of their educational training because Paula, the mother, was distrustful of the public educational system which used the Prussian educational methods. She had higher goals for her children which included books, music, and exposure to art in everyday life. The fun of dressing up and presenting plays to each other and visiting adults was also a big part of their schooling at home.  The early years of his life, building this confidence,  prepared him for the mighty call and desire to study theology and ultimately become one of the 20th Century's most humble men of faith.  We could say he was a man of extraordinary faith and fought to deliver a nation from the curse of Nazism. Home life prepares our children for their call in life.

Books in a home, available for a child to read builds confidence.  Reading begins at birth as a child begins to observe images and associates words with what the eye sees.  Children learn to read at different paces but a child who is encouraged each and every day to read will develop a life long love of books!  A library in your home can be a room with shelves and shelves of books or it can be a little corner you provide for reading quietly.  It really doesn't matter the size as long as you encourage and develop a love for books and reading! 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thoughts on Mothering.......

There is something beautiful about a one on one conversation with someone....especially if the conversation is about something you treasure.  As a mother, our greatest treasures are our children because they are beautiful little gifts sent to us from the heart of God!  His timing for each one is perfect.  Each one has purpose in His kingdom, so to love and nurture a child is one of God's highest callings in life. Recently, a friend asked me to quickly share ten points about mothering that I could share with young moms raising families today.  I quickly wrote down eleven.  Mothering never stops as long as we are breathing......yes, the seasons of mothering change as our children grow and change and ultimately grow up!  All the effort now should be focused with this goal in mind.  One day they will fly on their own. God does provide.  He is a God of providence!  He is Jehovah Jireh!  Thankfully our five are now grown adults.  They are independent and they make me so thankful every day.  As my husband and I say to each," we know what we prayed," and we see how God has answered.  We see how HE did over and above in all that we asked of HIM!   The circle is wider now and includes spouses, grandchildren, and our children's friends and their families.  It's beautiful!  It's golden.  It's a family only God could have sent from His very own heart.  We are humbled and it is with thanksgiving that I share these eleven points.  God is good!  He is essentially, absolutely, and consummately good! Praying His blessings on your family dear friend!  May your years of mothering be beautiful!

1.  Pray daily as a woman, wife, and mother for my heart to be clean before God.  Psalm 51:10 Be in His Word!

2. Pray and ask God to place women in my life who love Jesus and are mothering God's ways and listen to them and their their wisdom about children and the home.

3.  Pray daily and often throughout the day for each child by name, by temperament, personality, and needs. Spiritual and physical.

4.  Teach them accountability to God, to themselves, and to others. Help them see their body as a temple.

5.  Give them the perfume of love and acceptance as each longs for this from parents. Give them my blessing daily.

6.  Give them approval when they seek it earnestly and allow them to be who God created them to be with their talents, gifts, and intelligence.  Laughter is so important if one is prone to be funny, embrace this gift!

7.  Listen.  Listen to their voice.  Let them share their heart without judging.

8.  Love them unconditionally, especially in their failures.

9.  Assist them with their dreams and plans.  This would include protecting them from the wrong friendships and dating too soon.  Delicate territory :)

10.  Pray for them to sense God's supernatural presence in their life.  Share the Gospel early and often!  This would include not missing church except in emergency situations.  :)

11.  Invite people into you home who have the touch of Jesus in their heart and on their face!!!

Motherhood is about giving and preparation in bearing and raising children is such an amazing privilege!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Healing Waters: Reposted.....

Water means blessing for me.  Our earth is made up of 70% water and our bodies are greater than 90% water.  Water is my drink of choice too!  Watering my plants and flowers gives me great joy!  Water is free when we walk to a stream or river or spring to find it.  We must search.....but not far for healing times of need.  We know we can only live so long without water.  Our thirst has to be quenched.  For me, the same need cries out from my soul for spiritual watering. "As the deer pants for water, so my soul pants for You, Oh God." Do you have a need today dear one?  May I encourage you to turn your eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.  May we turn to Him for healing.  It doesn't matter how much money you don't need any to stand under the "fount" (Jesus)    Isaiah 55:1 "Hear, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters, and he that has no money, come you, buy wine and milk, without money and without price."  He has covered every need my friend for you and me today!

There are those days when only God can lead us "beside the still waters."   I am praying you have some still waters in your future!  Blessings of joy to you this glorious day!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Black and White


I am one of those people who love BLACK and WHITE!  I love black and white dresses, black slacks and a crisp white blouse, and of course I love black and white classic films!
Have you ever known someone who sees everything in life as either black or know, nothing fine line.  Some people call it right or wrong!  

What do you, white, or............grey?  It's something to think about! My summer has been very colorful, not so black and white and I have been gone from my blog far too long!  I have lots to share so hope to be seeing you again soon!  Enjoy these beautiful pictures.....all in black or white!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Providence and Faith....

In our lives, looking back at the ways God has provided for us is easy.  It's looking forward and trusting that HE will provide for our needs that sometimes becomes difficult in our journey.  There is a fine line between providence and miracles.  Life can be going along as we planned and then all of the sudden, a deep need arises and sometimes, lack of faith and direction follows.  We do not know where to turn.  We've all been there or we know someone who perhaps has turned to us, seeking advice on how we've handled a similar situation in our own lives.  In these difficult situations and sudden changes of life, we must believe that God is able, whether through a miracle or providence, to care for us.

What is the difference?  A miracle is a one time event in our lives!  We've heard and seen the words lived out....."It was a miracle!!!"  Providence is trusting, in God's wisdom and timing that He will align circumstances and situations up in our lives to provide for all we need.  Yes, my friend, HE is able, more than able to abundantly provide for every need that YOU or I might have.  We begin by trusting His Word and planting that seed of faith in Him and His Word that He will bring to pass all that He has promised about caring for us and meeting our needs.  Do you have something you are trusting God for in your life?  I know I do.  Like the farmer who plants the seeds for an apple tree and fruits in the garden, he simply places the seed in the ground and waits for God to bring forth the green plant and the fruit.  Trusting God with our daily needs is just as simple.  We give them to Him in prayer and we wait, believing and trusting that He WILL answer our prayers. The very words of Jesus in John 10:10 assures us that He came to give us life and to give it "more abundantly".

Faith not only involves a firm reliance on Jesus' power and ability, but also a complete realization of any confidence in our own flesh or power.  Today, you may face what seems to be a tough situation and because you have prayed a long time without an answer, you may be beginning to doubt that God can answer your prayer.  But we must believe that with God nothing is impossible! May I encourage you today to plant your seeds of faith like the apple grower and then wait....wait and see how God will provide....He will in His time and in His ways.  He alone can make all things beautiful in your life and in mine!  Have a blessed and beautiful day my friends !!!!

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation."
Psalm 68:19  

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Dreaming in Lovely Linens.....for the home....

 Looking for beautiful linens....look for these
 Beautiful Linens for the home in England at the shop, Cologne and Cotton!
Treasured household linens are perfect for an intimate Dinner for two!
You may have to look for a while....but many antique shops have linens
available for purchase.  A beautiful legacy to pass on in families!
Elegant Hotels and B and B's still use sheets and tablecloths of pure cotton!
Our grandmothers probably pressed their linens before placing them on the beds.
The linens I purchased in England now are on the beds! This one is a pure cotton coverlet
with Marimekko (of Finland) pillow shams of pure woven cotton! A luxurious bath, a good book, and cup of bedtime tea can be a perfect prelude to a perfect night's sleep!

Into the early twentieth century, seamless linen sheets and tablecloths, napkins and other linens were sold in exclusive boutiques.  In both England and France, these boutiques for beautiful linens still can be found quiet readily!  In the United States, we may have to look a little harder but there are still a few linen shops in some cities. In many ways, the European customs for sleeping rooms are more refined and elegant than our American homes.  For me, personally, I would love to see this return in our homes.  There is nothing like slipping into a bed in the evening hours that feels and smells wonderfully fresh!  Cotton sheets are the answer! I am often on the hunt for beautiful linens that I can pass on to others as gifts.

Imagine my delight as I found these beautiful stores in both England and France!  My daughter and I spent quiet a while just looking and enjoying the beautiful offerings found in these exclusive shops.  Both she and I purchased a few linens for our homes. (THIS was one item I could bring home easily.)  Tablecloths are the norm for dinners in my home and for me a tablecloth is "the symbol of a special, serene moment, like some island refuge amid a sea of daily worries" according to writer Rene Cazelles, who feels that everything can breathe again when the tablecloth is white.  I soooo agree!  There is nothing more elegant that a beautiful white tablecloth for dinner whether it be for two or a guest in your home.  Starched linen napkins add a touch of class!

What makes your house, your home?  I have found that it's the personal touches that make your home and mine our own, our place of comfort and restoration.  It's the place where our soul's are restored, refreshed, and renewed.  The place where we can begin again after the day that isn't always perfect!  Home can be!  I don't know about you, but for me, it is turning to the Lord and asking His Holy Spirit to fill my spirit with His thoughts and love.  There are times in this journey of life where we are faced with difficulties and trials amid the joys!  Everyday God is involved in our lives, always, always, always at work....and if we truly give Him each day, balance will come into every area and our reflections will look more like He intended.  This reflection is like a mirror that we look into as we are dressing for the day.  This can begin by coming to Him with awe and reference, seeking to know HIM more fully and HIS will for our life.  We have to desire to stop and look toward Him, into His heart. His Love radiates from His Word, The Bible. Love radiates out of a person who has been with Jesus!  Love gives.  Love shares. Love envelopes another.....(like the sheets you fall into at night)!  Seriously!  

When one gives their life to Jesus Christ, a covenant is formed that can never or ever be broken.  His banner over you is LOVE!  Perhaps that is why I adore white linens....they can be washed and made new again....everyday if necessary!  Our relationship with Christ is similar.  Everyday is new, everyday is fresh and HE can bring you and me into complete comfort as HE wraps us in the folds of His loving arms!  May your find the beauty of each day my friend!  May the Lord use you as a source of LOVE this day!

"You hem me in~behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." Psalm 139:5~6

What beautiful news!

The photo of the linen table filled with linens is from THE BOOK OF FINE LINEN!