Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Need More Ornaments?

    Source: bhg

I'm going to my first ever Christmas Ornament Exchange Party.
Coolest Idea Ever.
I've been to Cookie Exchanges but never to one of these!
I'm taking eight homemade ornaments and I'll come home with eight different ones for myself.
I went today and picked up the supplies that I need for the ornaments that I'll be taking.
Here's a hint...
****Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow****
The party is next Monday night, and I can't wait to show you pictures...

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Advent Calendar...a favorite family tradition!

is derived from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming."
It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation.
...a celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas...
Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25th.
The season of Advent serves as a reminder
both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah 
as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return.

My kids most favorite Christmas family tradition is the Advent Calendar.
Here's some of the things we're going to be doing this year as a family...
~extra large slurpees from 7-11
~baking fresh ezekiel bread for neighbors
~watching a Christmas movie as a family..Lydia's pick
~going to the bookstore for new Christmas books
~baking Christmas cookies for friends
~watching a Christmas movie as a family...Seth's pick
~taking a trip one night to krispy kreme for hot donuts
~driving through neighborhoods in winter park to look at Christmas lights
~watching a Christmas movie as a family...Luke's pick  
~Christmas Eve service at church
~making a Christmas craft together
~making smores together 
~hosting another family for dinner
~a trip to downtown Disney to see the Christmas lights
~candle light dinner together in the dining room with the nice china
~dinner out together..kids choose restaurant
~trip to the beach together
~playdate at the park with friends
~taking blankets to the homeless man that lives outside our block buster
~family game night
 ~breakfast on Christmas morning at Waffle House..a family tradition
~going to a movie at the theater together
~watching Junie B. Jones in  "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" at the Orlando Rep. Theatre
 ~we'll do a couple of these things 2 times to make up our 25 things for the whole Advent season

In addition to the fun activities that we do each day of Advent, 
we also have an Advent Wreath and a candle to light for each Sunday of Advent season.
As we light a different candle each Sunday night, we read scripture and pray...
acknowledging our great need for him,
thanking him for his grace poured out on us 
  and anticipating with great joy his return.

May you have a blessed Advent season...
full of hope and peace and joy that comes in knowing the one who made you and loves you fully.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.....

Look closely and you can see my new mercury candlesticks..I'll try to get a better picture and post it soon!

The family room Christmas tree

I love all the creamy white, mercury, and burlap that I've seen, but our family craves CoLoR at Christmas.
I tried, as you can see in the pictures, to have the best of both worlds.
A little mercury with creamy whites and a little color.
I think it works.

We kept it simple this year...we kind of do every year.
The only things I've added this season are the burlap garland,
{$3.99 from Michael's} 
 the mercury candle sticks from Target for our dining room table,
{$12 each}
 and two strands of the big colored bulbs on the tree in the dining room.
{on sale at Michael's for $9 each}

Remember I was having trouble finding a spot for our stockings?
Well, our middle son thought to hang them on our English pine chest in the family room.
Problem solved!
We found Lydia's name in red ink on her blue stocking this morning.
I guess she didn't like that it's not yet monogrammed, and she felt the need to take it into her own hands.
We went back over the rule of not writing on anything but paper, and when she left the room, we laughed.
That girl knows how to take care of business.

There are only a couple of things that I'll eventually take away or add to the mix.
Our Advent Calendar on the half moon table in the foyer is a little too rustic for my taste.
It was all they had left last year, and I caved.
This is why we should never, ever, ever buy something unless we are c.r.a.z.y. about it.
I can't stand wanting to replace something after only one season.
Lesson Learned.
If I get a homemade one finished this season, I promise to post pictures...
there are some really great ideas floating around out there!

The only other thing I'd like to add this year are some mercury ornaments.
Do you see the gorgeous ones in that basket in my new header?
I'd love to add some of those to the dough bowl in my dining room.

I can't wait to see all the Christmas cheer that you've added to your homes!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

And The Stockings Were Hung By The Chimney With Care...

Martha made these stockings out of old handkerchiefs, sweaters and it looks like pajamas.
Pure Genius.
I pulled our stockings out today while we were spreading the Christmas cheer and remembered my dilemma.
We don't have a mantel in this house!

Where do you hang stockings when you don't have a mantel?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Deck the Halls....

    Source: Cottage Living 

We'll be "decking the halls" at our place tomorrow.
I don't how it goes down at your house, but over here, it always starts out all merry and bright....
The Christmas music is playing and everyone is participating...
We take turns unpacking the ornaments and going through the memories of each one....
it feels kind of like a hallmark moment...
and then...
before I know it...
without any real warning...
the kids all disperse to their rooms or to the neighbor's house and the husband has turned on college football.

If you know me at all, then you know that I don't really mind adding all the finishing details by myself...
truth be told...
I kind of resemble Monica Gellar from the sitcom "Friends" in these situations, 
so I love finishing the details by myself.
{okay.  I totally resemble her.}

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

twenty four hour get aways are pretty perfect.

you know you're tired when you can't write in complete sentences....
celebrating tracey's 40th birthday bash...
Amelia Island.
Elizabeth Pointe Inn.
Long walks on the beach.
Longer talks on that back porch while curled up in blankets.
and more food.
listening to crashing ocean waves.
talking under the most amazing full moon.
watching the sun come up together.
solving world problems under those umbrellas.
really good conversations about...
who we'd choose to be if we could live in someone's shoes for just a day...
favorite cars...
dream homes...
one thing we'd all change in our lives if we could...
our kids..
how we're gonna decorate for Christmas...
our marriages..
the next ten years....
and on and on and on.
It doesn't get much better than a peaceful get away with friends.
Did I mention that there was a ton of good food on this 24 hour trip?
It's never a good feeling to go into Thanksgiving feeling this full.
  black yoga pants...

Monday, November 22, 2010

thankful for grace.

I heard a message from 2 Chronicles 33:1-20 this week.
  It was about Manasseh, who was twelve years old when he became king. 
He reigned for fifty-five years, and he was all kinds of evil.
Before the message even started, 
we were all reminded how easy it would be to totally judge Manasseh.
The pastor encouraged all of us to get in touch with our inner dirtbag.
The truth is...we're all capable of "all kinds of evil."
...erected altars to the Baals.
...made Asherah poles. 
...worshipped the goddess, Artemis.
just to name a few.

This is where it got personal.
I was trying to get in touch with my inner dirtbag, but honestly, Manassah was still winning.
{I was kind of feeling okay about myself compared to him}
In other words, I was judging him.
About that time, the pastor informed us that...
Baal was the god of success.
Asherah was the goddess of sex.
And, Artemis was the goddess of youth.

I was officially in touch with my inner dirtbag.
We're all capable of "all kinds of evils."
I've become imprisoned to every one of those at some point or another in my life.

2 Chronicles 33:10
The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention.
2 Chronicles 33:11
So the Lord brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.
2 Chronicles 33:12
In his distress he sought the favor of the Lord his God 
and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors.
2 Chronicles 33:13
And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; 
so he brought him back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom.
Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.

We were asked a series of questions
in order to try to apply the truths spilled out in these scriptures to our own lives.
The two questions that pierced me were:
What are the idols that you've built up in your life?
Why do you struggle with God's grace?

I'm amazed at how quickly something can become an idol in my heart.
It's easy for me to get value, worth, security from just about anything.
sounds like idol worship, huh?
I struggle with God's grace because somewhere along the way I was taught that 
my behavior was directly related to my right standing with God.
Except, this isn't true.
Grace is unmerited favor.
There is nothing I can do to deserve it.
It's just given.
It doesn't have anything to do with me or my behavior.
It has everything to do with God alone and his goodness.
I don't know about you, but this lifts a heavy burden off of this natural performer's heart.

In spite of my misgivings....all He ever gives me is grace.
And, I'm so, so, so thankful for it even if I'm still trying to understand it more fully.
all photos found: Martha Stewart, Country Living, Better Homes and Gardens

I hope this space is refreshing to you.
I hope you leave feeling inspired and encouraged.