Friday, December 19, 2014

In Which We Are Invited . . .

'So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen Him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this Child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart ...'
Luke 2:16-19.

*   *   *
These final days of Advent.

This is when we are invited to step away from our ordinary routines.  So that we can fully step into His extraordinary story.

For some, this venturing away from business as usual happens gradually, almost imperceptibly.  For others, it requires a clear decision made that invites the possibility of a holy awe to settle in and over and somewhere deep within our beings.

We ponder the story of the birth of the Holy One, our Savior, Jesus Christ. 

And His young God-chosen mother.

For Mary is living out an unbelievable holy saga as her simply unexplainable pregnancy and the scandal that surely swirled around her take on a life of their own.


The grueling journey by some beast of burden takes place in her final days of pregnancy.  At their assigned destination, does panic descend as she realizes that there is not a decent room to be had? 

And what does she do with the stark realization that she and Joseph will be settling into an animal shelter, a shed jam-packed with an assortment of creatures whose owners have also joined the town's throngs?

As labor pains begin to grip her body with a burning frequency, the surreal reality hits her and her husband-to-be.  Her birthing suite would be right in the midst of manure-littered straw with cumbersome, noisy animals staring as they chomped on their feed ... and no woman friend or relative to gently guide her to the culmination of this, her virgin birth.

The Spirit who brought Jesus into her womb never leaves her side as she delivers the Son of God into a fallen world that's just as messy as the shed in which He took His first earthly breaths.
Miraculously, the Spirit quiets her young wise soul even as the Holy Child's first visitors include a random assortment of shepherds and more than a few curious bystanders who've caught wind of this unusual sacred drama. The ragtag company heads off in awe to spread the incredible heavenly news. 
And Mary is somehow able to pause.  In the midst of all that has swirled around her in a short period of time, she gently rests with her Savior-Baby and processes all that has happened.  Does she once again offer up those early pregnancy praises recorded in Luke's first chapter?  Or does she simply contemplate her own private thoughts during these first hours with the Son of God in her arms, at her breast?
Fast forward a couple thousand years. 
In the midst of our own whirlwind of emotions, travel plans, unexpected circumstances, glorious surprises, and deepest disappointments, we, too, are offered a compelling invitation to lay aside all that's ordinary and dwell on the sacred extraordinary.  We, who have been offered eternal hope and everlasting joy, are invited to ponder the remarkably glorious news that Jesus Christ is born.  And meditate, once again, on the miracle of our salvation and promise of heaven for those who claim Him as their own.
Just like the young virgin mother did all those generations ago.
I'm heeding that winsome invitation to take a bit of a break from business as usual.  Sweetest Advent blessings to you, my friends.  Be sure that I'll see you a bit further down the road ...
Comfort & Joy ~

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Vintage Ornament Daybook

This year, the only thing that's hanging on the tree's fake forever green branches are lights. 
Lots of them. 
They sparkle and shine, the teeny teardrop shapes, the vintage elongated ones, and the round orbs.  All together, they shed the most magnificent glow. 
Simple is best this year.  For sure.
But I do love my vintage ornaments, handed down from my grandma and assorted relatives ... and gleefully gathered from random shops and flea markets over the decades.  And even though they remain attic-bound this season, they are sure to make another holiday appearance before long ...

 over time, those aqua and pink babies on the left rarely saw the light ... 
their vibrant colors are as spectacular as the day they were bought

 one year I didn't even bother stashing these gems in their ancient cardboard homes ... 
instead they resided in big ol' glass jars where they were appreciated all year 'round

chips and scratches and flakes don't distract 
one single bit from this star-struck lovely 

this oh-so-faded marred red and white striped beauty
still catches the tree's glowing lights

one of a very few left from a larger collection,
this fragile baby is tissue paper thin

an ancient celluloid Santa light holds court way up high atop a jam-packed jar, 
while his felt snowman friend sports a battered hat and holds a tiny broom


old snow globe Santas join the colorful orbs as they party all over the place,
while a wee little celluloid friend and a cardboard gift tag nestle in the freshly clipped holly

more and more companions arrive to join in the fun ...
and I can't help thinking that Grandma would be oh-so-pleased and  
very much surprised to see her holiday belongings bringing joy to so many

You just might love these little albums, too ...


*   sharing sparkly things with Myquillyn  *  Angie  *  Kristen 

Friday, December 12, 2014

In Which Our Souls Rest as Our Hallelujahs Rise

Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for true and just are His judgments.
Amen, Hallelujah!
Praise our God, all you His servants, you who fear Him, both small and great!
For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory.'
~ Revelation 19


Dear Heavenly King ~
Would you please help us lay aside our far-too-busy calendars, the endless lists and complex cookie recipies, those rolls of gift wrap waiting to be unfurled and put to work, that gradually escalating frantic spirit that yanks at someplace deep within. 
Keep on prompting us to turn off every device that grabs hold of our rapidly fraying attention span and distracts from what is most necessary.
Gentle us, settle our restlessness, and invite us to breathe deep and allow Your Spirit to come closer than ever before.  We long to lean into Your everlasting arms ... and we so need to remember the rugged sacrificial journey from splendor to feeding trough.  Carpenter's workshop to waterside.  Hilltop cross to miraculously empty tomb. 
And back up to heaven's sacred splendor again.
We long for our heart-praises to soar high aloft to You, the only One who is worthy of our adoration.  And we need Your help in offering those hallelujahs with every bit of joyful exuberance that You promise to provide.
'Oh come to my heart, Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for Thee.'
* sharing Hallelujahs with Holley 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

10 Superb Stocking Stuffers

 I grabbed this photo from a few years back.  Things are alot simpler this Christmas.  {Although the man is currently sporting a 3 foot stocking which leaves mine in the dust.}
Anyway ... I'll be snipping a small armful of holly to arrange around the three family portraits that currently reside on the oak fireplace mantel he crafted all those years ago.
But as much as I'm embracing a much more minimalist holiday theme,
I do adore a good Christmas stocking!
{hint, hint}

Here's some of my favorite stuffable pleasures ...
go ahead and click on the red links to browse a bit. 

/    /    /


Jesus Calling has become a very dear little devotional book ... and I love that it now comes in this flip-top calendar.  And actually, I already ordered this ... for myself!  My husband Santa will be pretty surprised to find a little treasure already in my stocking when he comes laden with gifts. Unless he reads this post.  Which he probably will.
You need a decent pair of sharp scissors in every pen / pencil mug or desk drawer.  Especially since you can never find them when you need them most.


Keep a set of these gorgeous smooth-writing colors at your desk where you write cards and notes ... and stash another set right by your journal.
$10.99 / 7 pack
Over time, my journal's become a bit of a scrapbook.  I love using this tape to attach pictures, feathers, movie tickets, handwritten notes, and all kinds of special keepsakes to its pages.


I've been using Bonne Bell every single day since I was a teenager.  A few years back, my dermatologist looked at me like I was crazy when I told him.  Who cares?  This is a pleaser whether she's 4 or 94.
$11.95 / 7 pack

Warm tootsies are hard to come by during these long chilly winters.  I love these toasty fuzzies because they've got little treads on the bottom so you won't go flying down the stairs.  I wear them all the time indoors and in my fleecy boots when I venture outside.
$18.99 - $19.99 / 6 pairs


These heavenly chocolate orbs are simply divine as they melt into your mouth.  It's ok, go ahead.  You can start your diet next week.
$12.99 / 60 candies

Splurge.  Get a great big Balsam & Cedar jar now ... and anything vanilla for the new year, a familiar scent in the counseling office for stress relief.  Really.  This hefty necessary luxury seem to last forever.  {Hint - you can usually find them cheaper at TJ Maxx or Marshalls.} 
$25.95 / 22 oz. jar


Hands down, a long soak in a steaming bubble bath is my go-to stress reliever.  The cheap stuff works just as well as the expensive brands.  If you can't find me, I'm probably in the tub.
$12.95 / 36 oz. 2 pack

I refuse to head out the door without my off-white infinity scarf wrapped tightly around my neck.  And here's a rainbow of 33 colors to choose from!  If you're always cold, this is a must-have winter item.  Go ahead and wear it in the house if need be.

/    /    /
So ... what do you want to spy in YOUR Christmas stocking?
And what gadgets are you putting in HIS?
The 11 Best Christmas Gifts Ever
Ho ~ Ho ~ Ho
/    /
2012 photo
If you purchase anything by clicking on these links,
I'll be getting a few cents from Amazon.
And just maybe I'll buy another little something
to sneak into my someone's stocking before Christmas Eve.
Prices may have been adjusted since this post went online.
sharing holiday cheer with Kristen & Holley & Marianne

Saturday, December 6, 2014

On Modeling Advent for our Little Ones

'Place these words on your hearts.  Get them deep inside you.  Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. 

Teach them to your children.  Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking on the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night ...'
~ Deuteronomy 11:18-19 {The Message}

*   *   *
*   *   *
Precious Jesus ~

When all is said and done, there's not a more urgently essential calling than authentically living out our faith for the next generations to see.  To absorb.  And to claim as their own.

As we light candles in this holy Advent season, may the powerful truth and radiant beauty of those shining beams of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love be seen not only in beeswax pillars, but in the daily ways we do life together.

For there is a watching world.  And this we take very seriously.

We praise You for every opportunity to share Your birthday celebration and Your steadfast love.  Wow, what a privilege we've been given.

Yes, even when it exhausts us!

Please give us boundless enthusiasm and great patience as we gently cuddle and faithfully read, endlessly tend to and energetically play with these little people you've entrusted to us.  May we bring comfort and joy and security to their lives, these, our precious children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, students, and other tiny folk who You've seen fit to bring into our world.

Help us to model Advent well all year long.  For Your sake ... and their eternal salvation. 


*  sharing advent with Courtney

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Way-Too-Easy Teddy Bear Wreath

Sometimes you've got plenty of time and an overflowing pool of creative juices that enable you to design and craft a really fine wreath.  Awesome, really. 
A fabulous masterpiece, a truly impressive welcome at your front door.  A Pinterest worthy offering that people tend to ooh and ahh over, a gorgeous creation that looks like something on the glossy cover of your favorite magazine or a featured post on one of those spectacular decorating blogs. 
And how 'bout those beauties you're drooling over at The Nester's Great Big Huge Wreath Party even as we speak?  Wow!
And then there are those holiday seasons where you're lucky to find a tree and get it in the stand.  The lights are tangled and half of them aren't working anyway.  Someone somehow dropped the plastic container with all the fragile ornaments and they smashed to smithereens.  Baby Jesus is nowhere to be found in the old cardboard manger scene box and the advent calender is strangely missing the little widgets for day #13 and day #21. 
You're on your last nerve and not feeling all that jolly.  You're a bit astonished and more than disappointed to find that there's not one single drop of creative energy anywhere in your bone-weary body.
Or ...
Life is coming at you right and left ... and it's not all good.  Illness and money woes and family situations, time crunches and work pressures and huge decisions all seem to be colliding into one great big overwhelming mess.  And truth be told, you'll be lucky to get supper on the table tonight.
But that doesn't mean your joy and your sense of humor have to go out the window.  The key is to take the pressure off.  Show yourself a bit of much-needed grace.  And create something simple that makes you smile. 
I'll be honest.  I'm not feeling all that creative these days.  I've made a series of conscious choices to focus my energies elsewhere.  And that's ok.  It truly is.  I'm not too terribly embarrassed to say that I love this wreath that took me all of 5 minutes to pull together a few years back.
A favorite Boyd's Bear holds court front and center on this no-brainer door decoration.  Snuggled deep in the artificial {yes, fake} greenery, this sweet fuzzy friend is a welcome, whimsical sight at the front door.  The bow was easy-peasy to make with the shimmering gold and red ribbon's wire edges easily bending and draping all over the place.  My grandchildren got a big kick out of it.
And that was good enough for me.
The Nester's mantra, 'it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful,' is never more true than in seasons like this one when there's a subtle yet ever-present expectation for hand-crafted exquisite perfection in our decorating endeavours, in the gifts we give, and the food we put on our tables. 
Honestly?  I'd rather dim the lights, settle in with a cup of hot cocoa, and truly enjoy what bit of quirky creativity God is giving me right about now rather than sending myself on a guilt trip because my home's not looking like it came right out of a magazine.
You, too?  
And then just graciously let the rest go ... 
* partying with Myquillyn & Kristen 

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