Thanksgiving Review

I am thankful for all of the usual things – just like you, I suppose. God. Family. Friends. Health. Conveniences. But for this creative girl, the holiday season, with all of its beauty, makes me the most thankful for our creator God. He created all of the toys in nature that we use to make our tables beautiful, food taste good and homes smell amazing. And while I really love playing with these elements it makes me wonder how much more fun God must have had when he was coming up with these things: the strong trees, beautiful flowers, aromatic herbs, tasty roots. If we can put these things together and make beautiful centerpieces, vignettes and delicious meals how much more can God envision making with these same things. Then my minds travels to how much more amazing Heaven will be. I hope that one day, when I am in Heaven, I get to create with the Great Creator – or at least play in the same sandbox along side Him. The thought of it is beyond exciting.

Enjoy a peek at what we created with God’s toys this Thanksgiving. DSC_0311

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Give Thanks

DSC_0304We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving. But this week as I was looking for a verse to put on our kitchen chalkboard I stumbled onto the Psalm 118 the Thanksgiving Prayer. We use pieces of this prayer all the time, but in total it is really powerful, so I thought I would share it here with all of you in hopes that some part of it resonates with you as well.

DSC_0403Psalm 118

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Let Israel say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say:
    “His love endures forever.”
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    “His love endures forever.”

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.
10 All the nations surrounded me,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
11 They surrounded me on every side,
    but in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
12 They swarmed around me like bees,
    but they were consumed as quickly as burning thorns;
    in the name of the Lord I cut them down.
13 I was pushed back and about to fall,
    but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my defense[a];
    he has become my salvation.

15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16     The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”
17 I will not die but live,
    and will proclaim what the Lord has done.
18 The Lord has chastened me severely,
    but he has not given me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of the righteous;
    I will enter and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord
    through which the righteous may enter.
21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.

22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.

25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
    From the house of the Lord we bless you.[b]
27 The Lord is God,
    and he has made his light shine on us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
    up[c] to the horns of the altar.

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

Best of the year

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This season has been rough on me. It always is. So I’ve been quiet here, just trying to make it to the other side of this holiday season without a total meltdown. Can you relate?

But I’ve missed writing, and honestly I have so much to share I can’t wait for January to get back in a groove of writing. But for now, I have a moment of quiet so I wanted to reflect on this past year. I started my blog in the spring so it hasn’t even been a year, but it has been therapeutic and fun.

So here are my top 5 most popular posts in 2014.

How much is enough

Why it’s a big deal we went to camp a second time

The dreaded Christmas card picture

My kids took over the kitchen this summer

At the core of vulnerability is shame

when moms are weak

After reviewing them, I agree that “how much is enough” is a topic I want to explore much more in 2015. Let’s get after it.

Happy new year!

Here’s to a quieter, calmer, life-giving 2015!

How to Make No-Sew Cushions for Banquette Seating or Window Seats

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I finally completed the cushions for our banquette seating around the kitchen table. I had the bench built-in right after we moved here a year and a half ago. It only took me this long to do my part!

No sewing. Water proof. Washable. These were my non negotiable’s on the project. ANYONE can do this. If you have a window seat and want to make a cushion for it, this is the way to go.

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What you will need:

– Measurements (width and depth)
– Thin boards (I used 1/4 inch thick boards and had the store cut them to my sizes)
– Foam from a craft store. I purchased 3″ thick, but they come in 1″, 2″ and so on…
– Fabric: I wanted mine to be waterproof since we have small kids and this is at our table. I purchased a vinyl fabric to go underneath and then a cotton pattern to go on the top. My top fabric was a light upholstery grade fabric. It could be used for curtains or other type project.
– Staple gun
– Fabric tape, or duck tape.
– Measuring tape
– Scissors
– Sharp serrated kitchen knife

STEP 1

First I cut the foam to the sizes of my boards. I used a serrated kitchen knife which worked well. The store used an electric knife like our mothers used when they carved our thanksgiving turkeys but I don’t have one of those antiques. I have to say it did make the cleanest cut, but my kitchen knives worked ok too.

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STEP 2

Next I attached the vinyl fabric around the foam and to the boards with a staple gun. See the picture for how I did the corners. they came out very nice a square looking when finished.

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STEP 3

Finally I attached the fabric with tape to the bottom of the boards. I used tape instead of staples so I could pull it off and wash it without ruining it.

It’s that easy.

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The Dreaded Christmas Card Picture

We get compliments (an inordinate amount of compliments) every year on our Christmas card pictures. I’m pretty sure it’s not because of my stellar photography skills. They aren’t stellar. I think it’s that people just want to applaud the feat of getting us all in the frame, looking at the camera at the same time, with a “decent” look on our faces. And they are right, it isn’t easy.

So before we attempt to take this year’s picture I thought I would show you what it does take to get a family of 7 in one shot, looking at the camera, and hopefully, with at least a pleasant look on our faces. I’ll settle for no one with a pained look on their face, including me…no, especially me.

Here are a few of my favs…enjoy.

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There’s always one.

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Despite the terror going on around her, one curtsies while soaking up her moment on stage.

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Yea, yea, don’t worry mom, I’m going to smile for your precious little picture.

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Picture taking is painful…or scary…something.

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Look! Santa’s here… he came early!

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No guys, really, it’s SANTA…I mean it.

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Let’s try it again. This time everyone sit up straight.

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you told me only ONE more picture. you lied.

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Often one will just bust out in song. Just what everyone needs…Let it go, let’s go… I can’t take it anymore. Let it go, let’s go… or I’m going to slam the door. Here…I…sit…with my smiling face…will the fun go on…cameras never bothered me anyway.

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All h$%^& has broken loose. Grandma’s trying to pretend she is still enjoying the grandkids. Grandpa is looking for a way out and the kids are well….done.

Do you have one? Please share!

Intentional Holidays – A Restful Thanksgiving

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A week or so ago I talked about being intentional with my holidays and eliminating some of the stress they bring.

So for Thanksgiving I punted. We went to a friend’s home and celebrated with them. For nearly 20 years these friends of ours have feasted with family and friends that need a place to celebrate. It’s always large. It’s always fun. The traditions are deep. But the cast is always different. And the stories…oh the stories we have heard of the fun. Roll-throwing contests. Burnt casseroles. Movies. Piano playing. Singing. Relaxing.

There is no formal invitation that goes out. Just a “hey you are always welcome to join us” kind of thing. But this year we accepted. We were excited and honored at the idea.

And all I had to do was bring some green beans!

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It was everything we had heard about and plenty more. The table was beautiful and yet practical. There were 19 people there sitting at one very long table that was pieced together from three tables.  We used paper plates and napkins but real silverware – a lesson learned over the years I understand. I took notes.

The food was plentiful and fantastic. Each of us brought a special dish to share. We loaded our plates up the first time and went back for more as many times as our stomachs would allow. We laughed, we relaxed.

We shared what we were thankful for in an “anything goes” sort of way. Some were funny, some sweet. All were honest. Everyone participated including a few who couldn’t be there this year and phoned them in. As they were read we had to guess who’s it was.

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While it was a total vacation for me it reminded me how very blessed we are to have such good, generous and loving friends. I know that day was a lot of work and preparation for them. I know because I have lived it. But this year, because of their generosity and goodness, I didn’t have to. I got to relax. For years through this tradition they have nourished many, many people. Their bodies, spirits and souls.

And I am very thankful for what they gave me this holiday season. Rest.

Intentional Holidays – Advent Calendar

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One way I wanted to be intentional about Christmas this year was through our Advent calendar. I want to help my children be others-focused instead of me-focused during this very self-centered, consumeristic season. In the past I have filled my Advent calendar with little gifts, or treats each day. Oddly, this didn’t get the results I was hoping for – instead it perpetuated the me-focus.

So this year I will fill the Advent calendar with kind deeds for us to do each day and promises we receive because Jesus came to earth as a baby and grew up to die for our sins.

The list of kind deeds are fun and silly and all the stuff kids love, but instead of focusing them on what they are going to get, they focus us on giving to others. Click Here: Advent Kind Deed List for a list of more-than-you-will-need ideas. Pick a few you like and add them to your Advent calendar this year!

Here is a list of Promises God gives to those who believe in Jesus. I hope these help us focus on the gifts Jesus brought to each and every one of us through His birth and life here on Earth.