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!