Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Path and The Door....

Imagine travel, especially to somewhere unfamiliar and without a map! We need a map if we want to arrive at our destination in a timely manner.  Today, we have Mapquest, Google map, google earth, and oh my heavens.....so many more!  Back in the day, my day that is,  paper maps were essential when we were planning a trip.  For weeks, we mapped out the best streets, roads, and highways to assist us and guide us to where we needed to be.  Today, we can plan to get to our destination and then type or key in the hotel address and follow the voice on the smart phone.  Times have changed!

What do you think, are shortcuts better?  I think we can all agree technology has changed the way we live and the way to travel to our destination.  Planning is part of the fun for me.  This is where I gain my confidence to actually......GO!  I am one of those who truly enjoys being home but, I have found, you can only see and accomplish so much inside your own home. We have to open the door and get out!!! The good Lord made us a people who need other people and so by getting outside and involved in other people's lives our path is enlarged and our lives are richer. We thrive best emotionally, physically, and spiritually when we share our lives with others. These relationships are a part of the guiding forces of our lives.  We are inexperienced  in too much of life without a guide.  Aside from needing a map to guide me [my husband and I have lived in 9 different cities over 40 years], I have turned to God's Word as a guide. Finding my way around Los Angeles, California helped because I had a map when we lived there, a large multi-page map!

In a similar way, God's word guides me each day on how to live life as a Believer!   The whole of Psalm 119 unfolds as how God's guidance will assist one in life's most practical circumstances.  Psalm 119:105, the psalmist David clearly calls out to God "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  We gain strength from these words as we trust He is able to guide the path of our own life, long range. Isn't that what a path does.....takes us on down the road, so wisely to our destination?  This passage also assures us that "the entrance of The Lord's Words gives light, It gives understanding to the simple."  We really shouldn't hasten ahead without a map or a guiding word.  Yes, the map of God's loving words is able to guide us and also nourish our soul.  God calls this provision, manna.  It is hard to survive for long without nourishment and especially nourishment for the body and the soul.  There is nothing more beautiful than being guided sweetly along the way......today and everyday!  Praying your path will be guided and the door will be opened by His shining Light!  Be blessed my friend....He longs to show you and me The Way!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Thank You Note.....

Ideas for Just The Right Paper, Pen, and Desk!

There is nothing more beautiful than a sincere hand written note.  Truly, it is a mark of class and good taste.  A lovely way to spend a few minutes telling someone, with gratitude, how much you appreciate their gift or their time spent with you.  It is personal.  In our culture of the masses and the media, it is rare to find someone who personally takes the time to make another feel loved and special.  Our thoughts go into written words so in essence we share a part of ourselves when we write a personal note.  As in speaking, we should think before we write, making sure our words are the right words and sincere.  Then, we should address the envelope carefully.  When our children were young, we encouraged them  to write thank you notes for nice things that had been done for them.  All of them, to my knowledge, carry this beautiful expression of thanksgiving on to others.

Years ago someone shared with me a  lovely book called, Silver Boxes.  It was a book written about words and how our words should be like little silver boxes tied up with silver bows......a special GIFT to others.  Those words have always remained with me because our words should be full of encouragement and grace.  We must choose wisely what we allow to enter our hearts because out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.  Psalm 19:14 says to us...."Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer."  Many of the notes that I have received, I enjoy keeping because they serve as little silver boxes of encouragement.

Once on vacation in Newport, Rhode Island, we found a beautiful little shop, called Papers.  The name told exactly what we found inside the quaint little storefront~papers!  All kinds of writing papers were found..... to buy, to order, to customize and for me, since I love paper, it was like....... Heaven!  Selecting the paper one chooses to write on and the pen with which one writes can be an expression of oneself also.  It doesn't have to be expensive to express how you feel and what you would like to say.  To someone like my husband who has a large pen collection, selecting the pen he will write his note with is the most important part.  He is gifted with a beautiful ability to script words.  His handwriting is beautiful.  There is another store in New Orleans, Louisiana called Scriptura and it also is filled of with papers, cards, stationary, and a vast array of books to select and customize one's stationary.

My most favorite letter is the letter that God inspired and wrote to all of us.....The Holy Bible, His written words to us.  "Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to may path."  Psalm 119:105  and "The unfolding of Thy words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple."  Psalm 119:130  God's love letter to us is available to us everyday and in this new year, I pray that you can begin each day with the most special WORDS ever written.  It's simple......"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."  James 4:8  Bless you dear one as you write and as you read your notes!!!  Have a blessed and happy day!!!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

French Inspired Toile de Jouy: Part II

Toile de Jouy always looks beautiful to me and continually inspires my love of all things French! Many of the original designs give a unique pictorial view of French history and rural life in the French countryside. The fabric was given the name Jouy from the French town where the fabric was first printed in the 1700's. The most commonly used Toile de Jouy has always been printed using a one color print for repeat design on a white or cream cloth. The most familiar print colours are red, blue, black, and grey. When these beautiful designs are used along side a solid or checked or even a striped fabric they become timeless in a room. 

The charm of a French home seems to be the imperfections found in antiques which makes them so warm and appealing. Finding a new piece of fabric to bring the furnishings back to a new life is what makes the hunt for me so fun! I enjoy the search as much as the work! Each day, we are given a day that is ours. God in His wisdom set the boundaries in the earth of day and night. He made the seasons to give the earth it's growth and it's rest. Do you have seasons of growth and of rest? These times are important in all our lives. I think of the season of childbearing and rearing as one of the important growing seasons of a family. Busy, busy, busy! A Mom rarely has time to sit down and a Dad is busy providing the money for this season in the life of his family. It's interesting that many of the toile de Jouy designs include children and family scenes. 

Families are important in all cultures. Families are strengthened by times together of both work and play. Perhaps that is another reason I love these French fabrics so much as my heart totally loves family times! Yes, each season of life, whether at work or at rest is needed in our lives. We are blessed by an awareness of the value of both. Work brings discipline and order into our lives and the rest balances the work and refreshes us so we can do our best when we return to the workplace, whether this is in our homes or an office away from home. It's very easy to get off the path and conform to the pressures of the world. You know.....work,work,work....get more, get more, see more, be more of what the world says is "success". The beautiful words found in Romans 12:1-2 though call us simply to live a different way. A way and a path where our lives are balanced and beautiful between work and rest. Yes, as ideal as the French countryside scenes we see in the Toile de Jouy fabrics.

 The Scriptures say, "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God."

 If we will come early and then often to God in our day, our lives can be transformed into a beautiful tapestry woven by our Heavenly Father. May we seek the Lord's presence in all we do today! Have a blessed and beautiful day!

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Beauty of PINK!

There is a belief that pink interiors are for little girls! I happen to love pink! Practically, when we think of color, we select colors that will be soothing and calming when decorating our homes. Most of the rooms in my home are a creamy white and the color comes from furnishings or accents I have used in the decor. However, the bedrooms are a different story. I selected a soft pink for one of our guest rooms and most people who visit, gravitate to this soulful pink room!

 Actually, pink offers limitless possibilities if you do not go overboard on the shade of pink. The soft shades are beautiful. Perhaps I like it also because it seems to blend well with white. White, like the color of snow reflects more light than any other. In the bedroom that is so popular now, I used accents of white and the good news is by introducing small items of white in various places, they will really pop in a pink room! I used a white coverlet and made pillow shams in shades of cream and white and then added a lovely brocade pillow in silver and pink silk to give the white a bonus pop! Soothing is a good word to describe pink rooms!

A romantic interior is what I am best at creating for others. Everything from the lines in the furniture to the fabric selected for upholstery are combined for just the right look! What has most influenced your approach to decorating? Perhaps it is your mother or a favorite aunt. Perhaps it is a close friend you have admired. I have some lovely French postcards that are soft shades of black and white. The images inspire me.

Our homes do not have to be perfect to be inviting and welcoming. When we greet someone at our door, hopefully our words are welcoming and friendly! After all, people will enjoy visiting and living in your home when you share your joy and your love with them in a place that is both comforting and peaceful! This is what truly makes a home beautiful!!! Have a special weekend! It's Friday!!! 

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue are the words of kindness. She watches over the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things but you surpass them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears The Lord is to be praised!" Proverbs 31:26~30

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Searching.....for God

"If we have a Godly thirst, it will appear by diligence in frequenting the place and means of grace; brute beasts for want of water will break through hedges, and grace-thirsty souls will make their ways through all encumbrances to come where they may have satisfaction." THOMAS PIERSON........... The psalmist, David, in the Bible, sought God, and only God to meet his needs. Everyday is a GIFT and a wonderful way to draw upon the refreshment that comes when we stop our busy lives to be refilled at His table. May we take refuge in the shelter of Thy wings!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

French Toile De Jouy....la vie est belle!

A French inspired home is both comfortable and beautiful.  Furnishings in a French home are usually inherited or found here and there at a second hand sale called a Brocante!  The French are famous for their brocantes!  One of my daughters and I happened upon one three years ago in Chateaunuf du pape in southern France.  I still vividly remember the day....... and what I most remember about it is, that I drove there!  We had rented a little French car upon our arrival in Avignon, France via the TGV Train from Paris.  My first venture was realizing the car was not an automatic but a "stick shift"  and SHOCK overcame me quickly!  It had been years since I had driven anything but an automatic but somehow on that fateful day, I remembered how to shift gears! Yes, Divine Intervention!  Directions were all in French, so YES it took a while for the arrival into the walled town of Avignon.  But, we made it and waited another day before I was brave enough to drive to the areas my daughter and I had longed to visit in Provence.  Our destination was a winery for Kara, as she had desired to purchase a vintage wine, in France, for her first wedding anniversary of marriage to Phil.  We enjoyed our drive and laughed and marveled that we were seeing France from a car and I was actually driving!  As we drove into Chateanuf du pape, we noticed a SALE of antiques, which would become our first brocante!  The items for sale were beautiful!  Gorgeous monogrammed linens, stemware, furniture, handmade French sewn layette items and beautiful paintings in beautiful frames.  So much more......one of my treasures that day was a French hand-sewn baby bonnet, which has become a treasure for a future grandchild!

It was there and at that point that I decided that someday, my home would evolve into a French home.  It has been easy, and a comfortable decor' has evolved in our home.  Parts of the things we have found have been accidental and most have been inexpensive.  We purchased a beautiful French sofa and had it totally redesigned.  The sofa was the perfect anchor piece for the setting room.  We framed photographs we had taken on our visits to France and picked up limoges here and there over many years of collecting small items. I love books, so who can ever have enough books about France!

This past year, we became a bit more serious about totally changing out the room with our love of France!  I made French silk drapes in a simple pleated style with buttons at the base of each pleat.  We found two Louis XV chairs at a second hand shop and then I searched and searched for the right fabric.  I decided upon a linen Toile du jouy fabric, which I found on sale.  Again, I waited and interviewed three upholstery professionals before I made my decision.  Waiting eight weeks, finally he was finished.  The room is complete now. The way it has all come together is as important as each individual element found in the room.  Everyday, I am reminded of my love for France and truly....all things French and my love of sharing with others this beautiful and inspiring country and way of life!  Now.....I may just have a Croissant!  la vie est belle! 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Raising Great Kids......(your own way)

"Our words to our children should be like a beautifully wrapped gift tied
with beautiful ribbons on TOP of them!" 
(The Book, Silver Boxes encourages this lovely thought!)
Everybody, or so it seems, has advice these days about how to rear a child.  The advice increases if one is blessed with multiple children!  This advice normally comes from people who feel that they have knowledge and wisdom on child rearing, perhaps because of an educational degree or the excellent role model their child is to others. I am not intending to slight the many hours needed for a degree as I have a degree in early childhood education and I am certainly not an expert, even with all my children grown! Lately, it seems this is on Facebook more and more and on blogs by the "experts".  I don't mean to be sarcastic in this regard but, these people are often just listening to their own voices.

My own children, now adults, have been judged by some of my fellow parenting partners so to speak when we were young parents.  As a Christian mother, I do and certainly confess to quoting Scriptures from the Bible to my children when they misbehaved or did things that I thought were just not right and sometimes truly embarrassed me.  Our children were "in church" from the time they were born, throughout childhood, the teenage years, and throughout college (when they were with me). Sharing our faith as parents in everything we did was a way of life for us. Our home was a happy home.  Our home was always fun and I think, balanced, because my husband was and still is a fun guy.  He was the one who made up the games they would play, told countless true stories from his own childhood of mischievous deeds that always propelled them forward into creating their own mischievous deeds for the fun of it!  He always saw the VERY best in each child and refused to listen to me if I became negative about one of the children's actions or attitudes.  He always saw the bigger picture of who they could become.  In the end, I think he won out and his way of parenting taught me so much about listening to their needs and being able to accept the children's choices and decisions as a part of growing up into an adult.

Now, for the RECORD, it is extremely hurtful when someone  decides to "judge" your child.  I have cried tears over this, when it has happened.  One incident, I even lost a friend, who judged my child for my decision to allow my child to have music in the bedroom.  How do you stop a child, who, from the age of three loved musical instruments and found playing music a passion? Today, this child's career is in the music business! Once, a person I respected a great deal told me I needed to find longer skirts for one of my daughter's. (I wish she could have seen the length/shortness of my skirts in the 1970's)!  Vividly, I remember one of my daughter's being so hurt by judgment that she begged her Dad and I everyday until we decided to change her to a public school, a decision that changed her course in life for the positive and the beautiful life she has today. Parenting is tough business. The best kind of parenting evolves time and time again.  I share this because we should be extremely careful about not accepting other peoples parenting styles and the path their child is on. Love unconditionally, your own children and your friend's children. There are so many "experts" who have failed miserably at rearing their own children and these failures somehow seem to propel them into advice to share with others rearing children. If you want to judge, count to 100 first! :) 

I am so proud of our five children.  They all have found their own way in spite of my mothering them.  I do believe I mothered my children with an open hand.  I listened to them, to their needs, to their educational goals, their interests, and made every effort to see their gifts and talents. I wanted to do this. I am thankful, I was given the gift of children and a husband who supported me as a mother.  We drove thousands and thousands of miles to sporting events, historical vacations, fun vacations, and yes, we spent a lot of time in church and at home praying for them and guiding them the best we knew humbly how to.  For me, this was the key, just doing my best as a mother, one day at a time.  Did I make mistakes?  Oh....YES!  Did they do things I did not approve of?  Yes, they did, but thankfully I learned as much as they learned in these times. We learned together.  This is the beauty of parenting......you must ultimately choose to parent with the skills and knowledge and WISDOM that you, yourself possess.  You are the one God entrusted with a child.

Today, when our grown children gather, their differences, not their similar traits, are what makes them a beautiful group to be around.  They love each other so very much.  They truly enjoy being a part of each others lives. The laughter is so REAL! This was my main goal in mothering.....that they would love each other more than they loved me.  It is a different kind of love, the sibling love verses the parental love but the one that most likely will keep them bonded as a family long after my husband and I are in our eternal home of Heaven.  In the Bible, in 2 Corinthians 9:7 some lovely and beautiful words remind us that "God loves a cheerful giver."  Yes, I believe this!  I believe that everyday your words spoken to and about your child should be like a "SILVER BOX wrapped up with a beautiful BOW on top!"  May I encourage you to be a giver to your child.  You will be tired, you will be discouraged at times, but hang in there, for being a mother or a father is a priceless gift from Heaven! One that will matter forever in the legacy you leave behind.

In closing, I share another true story.  One day, I received a phone call from another Christian mother who I was serving on a committee with at our church.  Our children (one of mine and one of hers) had been playing together while we worked.  She was angry  and I could tell immediately from her tone of voice and her words about "my child".  I found what she was saying, hard to believe but accepted her words and assured her I would speak to my child and ask the child to apologize to her child.  I told her I was so sorry and complimented her on her child.  I meant this sincerely. A day or two passed and I received the sweetest note from her in the mail.  She told me how my reaction was totally NOT what she expected.  She had assumed I would be defensive and we could battle it out in words. She ended up telling me that she was sorry she spoke so unkindly about my child and that she had learned a valuable lesson about judging another's child.  We became good and kind hearted friends after this.

Yes, it is possible to raise GREAT kids, even if our parenting style is not perfect! Enjoy your day if you have a child and BE Blessed my friend!  God always stands ready to do great things in each life! 

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the GLORY of God."
I Corinthians 10:31

 Our Four Girls!
Our One Son!