Saturday, December 21, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This Year's Simple Mantel: Evergreen, White, and Silver

This is our sixth Christmas in our home in Visalia. Many of our decorations remain the same each year––there's something wonderful about tradition. But I like to change up a few things, just to keep it fresh. The mantel was my focus this Christmas season, kept simple with a real piece of driftwood,  evergreen (truly...it's fake) garland, shiny deer and candles, and white touches. Oh and of course silver bells.




Come along, she says. 
Stockings aren't hung yet. I'm waiting until Christmas Eve this year! That's a new one for me.

To complete the look, we added two lighted white deer to the backyard, which I can see from the window next to the mantel. (These we won at an auction this weekend supporting overseas missions. Great items for a great cause!)
Aren't they sweet? I love deer, although I understand they can be quite a nuisance to those who actually find them in their backyards.

What about you? Did you make any changes to your Christmas decorating this year? Or do you find warm comfort in keeping it the same?
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Frosted!

While our hope for snow has passed, our frozen mornings have been quite beautiful. So I braved the cold, bundled up, and grabbed my camera to snap a few photos.
English Daisy
Nandina 'Heavenly Bamboo'
Nandina 'Firepower'
Pansies...or maybe Violas (never can keep them straight)
Sea Pink 
Violets
Snap Dragon
How have you enjoyed our frosted mornings?
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Calla's in Love

Calla loves the Christmas tree. She believes whole-heartedly it's put up for her every year, as some sort of giant cat toy. And it's hard to blame her: shiny trinkets, balls, and birds dangle from tree branches! If I were a cat, I would have a difficult time ignoring such a thing, too.
 She got distracted by a bird flying outside the window.
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Advent

Willow Nativity Set
A couple of months ago, I received an small Advent devotional in the mail called "The Story of God with Us." (Free, I might add. Anyone else get this? Pretty neat.) I tucked it away and pulled it out this past weekend, but had yet to sit and read through the Scriptures until this morning.

It has not been an easy couple of weeks. Oh, there have been wonderful moments, top of the list being time with my family, especially Chels and Roger who won't be here for Christmas. But my heart has been heavy. The heart of our entire community has been heavy.

So this morning, when I finally heard the words of truth this season reminding me that God sent His son to save us––save us from sin, from darkness, from pain, from evil––and give us abundant light-filled life instead, I was overwhelmed with the goodness and glory of God. Praise God for loving us and saving us!

I was reminded, as well, that when I am weighed down because of the brokenness in the world, I am not helpless, as I often feel. I can pray.

Here are the first week's readings. Each one of us (whether we recognize it or not) is desperate for this life-giving truth.

December 1st: God with Us (Isaiah 11:1-5, Isaiah 7:14; Luke 3:32; Matthew 1:18-23)
December 2nd: Take Refuge in Him (Psalm 2:7-12; Matthew 3:17)
December 3rd: A Covenant for the People (Isaiah 42:1-7; Matthew 12:18-21; Luke 2:32)
December 4th: The Holy One of Israel, Your Savior (Isaiah 43:1-13; Acts 4:12)
December 5th: A Light for the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:1-7; Luke 2:29-32, Acts 13:47)
December 6th: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:2-7; Luke 1:32-33)
December 7th: The Lord Has Comforted His People (Isaiah 52:7-15; Luke 4:14-15; Revelation 1:5)

Do you have any specials ways you celebrate the Advent season? I'd love to hear them.
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Monday, December 2, 2013

December, you're here soon!

This whole Thanksgiving-on-Thursday and then December-on-Sunday thing is nuts. Anyone else feeling like they're in a fog? One second I was chowing down on turkey, and the next I was hanging stockings! What happened to that nice week where we recover from our turkey comas?

Even though December has come quickly, I'm glad it's here. I'm ready for our Advent season, ready for a time to turn our attention to Christ and His coming, ready for His light to shine even brighter. (And yes, secondarily, I'm ready for Christmas baking and stocking hanging, too.)

As this new season comes and we're still full from Thanksgiving, I'm full of gratitude. I'm so thankful for my husband, my family, my friends, my church, and of course, Christ. I'm thankful for warm homes, for bright lights, and for sweet rest. The weekend before Thanksgiving, Robby and I got to get away for a few days in San Diego, and it was lovely. It's hard to believe this is what the weather is like in San Diego just a week before December:
Hope you are all finding ways to cherish this Advent season! It always comes...and leaves...too quickly.
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