Just Enough

Most of the Christmas decorations are still packed away in crates and drawers. And I don’t have any plans to dig them out.  For some reason I wanted small trees this year and peace. I had ordered a set of small trees on a whim from an online retailer.  I put them on my mantle with some greenery and pine cones. I visited a local shop where the proprietor had small trees (the largest is about two foot) at a great price and bought five so my Byer Christmas Trio would look like they were standing at the edge of an evergreen forest.  Then I purchased a bag of inexpensive bottle brush trees to display with a couple of small box houses, making a tree farm of sorts. I added a trio of small trees and a bowl that belonged to my great grandmother, full of small pinecones that I found in the mountains on a long ago trip, to my little desk. I added old brown crocks into the mantle display, put a single candle surrounded by greenery on a small stand, hung jingle bells on the front door, placed a sprig of berries on a doorknob, put out a few of my Christmas books and called it a day.

It’s just enough to honor the season without taking away from the true meaning. It’s just enough to remind me that making a home can be a blessing, but not so much that I’m exhausted. And, if I decide that I’m too tired to put it away and it all hangs around for awhile, it still blends in as winter decor, leaving me the freedom to put it away gradually without stress.  It’s all pretty low key. it’s all just enough peace to keep me grounded and help me find my sense of place. You can see it in pictures below.  Welcome.

100_5446-1

100_5409-1

100_5441-1

100_5444.1.jpg

100_1095peace

Hope your Christmas is filled with just enough peace and grace,

Teresa

100_5437-1

Linking up with the Nester for the Christmas tour of homes.

nester-christmas

Praising Him Forever And Ever

100_1476.3

 

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased’.              Luke 2:13-14

Throughout this season of Advent, we have been waiting for the arrival of the Christ child, watching to see how God is with us and preparing our hearts to receive him. His arrival is one of great celebration, a time of praise.

When the angels appeared to the shepherds, they sang “Gory to God in the highest”. The sky lit up with brightness, and the star led the way to the manger. I would imagine to those Shepherds alone in the quiet darkness that it was indeed a spectacular announcement. It certainly grabbed their attention and propelled them to go and worship the king.

They didn’t wait for a more convenient time; they went immediately to kneel at his feet in adoration and thanksgiving. They knew the moment was now. I think they also knew that the moment was for all eternity.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen… Luke 2:20

The moment we encounter Christ his glory comes down, and our praise goes up, and it is a praise for all time. Even when we don’t’ feel like praising.

If I’m totally honest, my emotions have been up and down during this Christmas season. They have ranged from despair to hope to peace to disgruntledness to just so-so. The constant has been that I know he doesn’t change. And, I know he is here with me in all of my many moods. So, even in the moments when the last thing I feel like doing is celebrating, I can still speak words of praise for his arrival. I can still be thankful he came, and I can still share his good news of hope with those around me.

Maybe your praise is celebratory with flashing lights, or maybe your praise is more a quiet reflection, but wherever you fall on the spectrum of praise, don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate the arrival of the Christ child; to remember why he came and to look forward to his coming again.

The king has arrived, he’s in the house, and his reign is forever and ever

My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever. Psalm 145:21

Praising in grace,

Teresa

h.100_2616

 

Today’s post is 4th in an Advent series, one for each week of Advent.  Wait, Watch, Prepare and Praise (today’s).

Quiet Christmas

god.is.in.the.house.3

This year is different.  Priorities have changed. Christmas is quiet. Making time for family and friends is intentional.  Hustle and bustle are are not welcome. Instead, we are waiting for Christmas.  “God is in the house” and “Jesus is here somewhere”  are the overriding themes as we prepare him room.  

fireplace.carolers.2

fireplace.carolers

One of the ways we have prepared him room is to take a less is more approach.  we’ve been doing this the past few years, but this year we did even less. We kept it basic and simple and left room for peace to enter our hearts and time to focus on the Christ Child.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

village.hotel

Our hope is that you are finding ways to celebrate that bring peace to your heart and that you too are waiting for Christmas.

Even though we kept the decorations simple, I’ve captured a few photo memories to share with you.  Enjoy!

PicMonkey Collage.2

candle.birds

red.vintage

christmashouse

quilts.houses

wreath

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey,on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9

discoball

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

silver.balls

I also wanted to share a picture of the tin can drummer boy my father made – I think it is very folk artsy. And, even though we didn’t put up a tree this year, I took a picture of my parent’s little tree to share and included a picture of my tree from last year.

dads.drummer.boy

mom.dad.tree.2015

Preparehimroom

Thanks for stopping by!  If you’d like to see how others are decorating for Christmas, be sure to stop by the Nester’s tour of homes where several other bloggers are linking up today.  If you have a blog you may want to link-up as well.

h.100_2616

 

I’ve been writing a weekly advent devotional – you can find them by clicking the titles: Waiting On Pure Delight (week 1), Watching For God With Us (Week 2) and Preparing To Make Him Room (week 3).  Come back next week and join me for Week 4 where we’ll talk about Praising his coming.

 

 

Quieting in Grace,

Teresa

 

Preparing To Make Him Room

Preparehimroom

How do you prepare for Advent?  We find it so easy to prepare for the events and gatherings of Christmas but do we prepare to receive the Christ Child? We dig out the decorations, shop for gifts, line up the holiday recipes and make endless lists, so as not to leave anything undone.

It is not wrong to make any of those preparations; in fact, doing some of those familiar traditions can be calming and a way to corral our scattered thoughts if we use them to our advantage.  Why not start with the beginning of Christmas – the waiting, watching, preparing and the anticipation of praise.  Let the significance of the Holy birth sink deep into the center of our being.   Allow the scripture to wash over our soul and the familiar Christmas hymns restore our balance.  Bask in the joy of the season with a heart full of promise in the one to come.

If we approach Christmas with a prepared heart, everything takes its rightful place and priority.  While putting the lights on the tree, we can remember that He is our light.  When we wrap gifts, we can glory in the ultimate gift of Jesus and pray for those who haven’t yet received Him.  When we welcome friends and family around our table, we can remember his table and how the bread is his body broken for us, and the wine is his blood spilled on our behalf.

If you haven’t taken the time to prepare him room this Christmas why not do so now.  Pause in the middle of all the hustle and bustle to make room for the Christ Child.  Let him enter into his rightful place around your Christmas tree and table.  Read through the Christmas story (Luke 2) savoring each detail and imagine that you are a first-hand witness as the events unfold.  Wait expectantly with Mary as she carries the baby, Watch carefully with the Shepherds as they journey by the light of the star to kneel before him, prepare your heart like Simeon as he hoped in the promise that he would live to see the Messiah.  Let your heart prepare him room This Christmas.

 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2:8-11

Preparing in grace,

Teresa

h.100_2616

 

 

Today’s post is 3rd in an Advent series, one for each week of Advent.  Wait, Watch, Prepare and Praise. Please join me next week for week 4 as we praise.

Watching For God With Us

god.is.in.the.house

Sometimes my Mom and I discuss spiritual things. One of the things she has held onto despite the Alzheimers is her faith. It doesn’t waver. Yesterday she told me God was in the House.

Today we discussed our relationship with Jesus, and she said she was afraid some people don’t acknowledge him – she didn’t use those exact words, but that is what she meant. She then said, ”Jesus is here somewhere.” I acknowledged that he was indeed in the very room with us. She went on to talk about how he is closer than we think. I imagine that somewhere locked in her memories is the worry about her loved ones that aren’t Christians; the one’s that aren’t watching for him.

Even when we know he lives in our hearts, we need to watch for him to show up in our lives. We get caught up in our everyday living, and we don’t take the time to sit down with him. We don’t take the time to realize that he is here somewhere, closer than we imagine. He is standing ready to engage with us, to show us that he is with us.

Advent is a time to watch for him. Long ago the people of Israel watched for the king. The Shepherds followed the star to find him. One day he will come to earth again to reign and the Holy Word tells us to keep an eye out, watching for his return.

Between that first coming and the second coming that we anticipate there is also the daily watching for him to show up in our life. He shows up in big and small ways. He shows up in the middle of cancer treatments, when the budget is stretched thin, when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, when we see the ultrasound of a new baby, or at the dinner table; he shows up when we don’t even notice that he is there.

God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.  ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:27-28)

For me, he showed up yesterday evening in a visit from my parents. It’s easy for me to be focused on my to do list. I knew my husband would be gone yesterday evening, and so I had planned a quiet evening to write. To be honest, I was struggling with this week’s Advent theme of watching. I wasn’t exactly sure what direction to go, so I felt the need for some quiet time to gather my thoughts. But, the phone rang, and it was my father saying he thought they’d come over for a while.

I didn’t want to be ungracious or make them feel unwelcome. Part of the reason I live next door to them is to be their support as we navigate living with Alzheimers. I realize that bringing my mom over for a visit is one of the ways I can support my parents. I want to make sure I am willing to put them at the top of my to-do list when needed. I want to gather memories of time spent with them. So they came, and we sat in the living room with the Christmas lights and the fake fire on the TV, music playing softly and had a great visit. It was peaceful and restful and more beneficial to me than my original plans.

If I had been more concerned with my plans than watching for how Jesus wanted to show up, I would have missed out on an opportunity to be blessed and be a blessing in return. How are you watching for Jesus to show up in your life – are you aware that he is here somewhere – in the very room with us?

There is nothing this side of heaven that is more important than our relationship with Jesus – he is by definition Immanuel, God with us. During this season of Advent, we watch for him. Look around you and see how he is showing up in your life. As my mom said “God is in the house.”

Watching in grace,

Teresa

h.100_2616

 

 

Today’s post is 2nd in an Advent series, one for each week of Advent.  Wait, Watch, Prepare and Praise. Please join me next week for week 3 as we prepare.

Waiting on Pure Delight

hustle.christmas

I’ve shared this haiku before.  I wrote it several years ago and for me it captures the essence of how we do Christmas.  We hustle around trying to do it all and even if we don’t quite feel the merry in our heart we put on that bright, merry smile anyway, assuming that if we fake it long enough it will be true.  We hope that we end up with the pure delight.

I’m not against a little hustle and hurry because that can be exciting.  I used to love to go out on or near Christmas Eve when everyone was making that last mad dash for presents.  There was something magical about being in the bustling crowd getting caught up in the flurry of the season, but all too often we allow the hustle and hurry to take over and steal our joy.

For too many years, I got caught up in the wrappings of the season and wanting everything to be just perfect with the end goal of sitting in the peacefulness of white lights and a perfectly coordinated Christmas.  Of course, a lot of times that peace eluded me because I was so exhausted from all the running around gathering up the perfect bits and pieces that would somehow make Christmas more special.

i.100_2373.2

A few years ago, Christmas was already over, when I finally sat down and started reading a Max Lucado Christmas book I had left over from gift books I’d purchased.  Reading it was peaceful and it helped me focus on the real meaning of Christmas in a way I hadn’t before.  I wondered why I hadn’t started the season by reading this book; it would have made all the difference.

I’m still working on the right balance during the Christmas season, but little by little, I’m learning to drop the need for perfect.  I’m learning to let go of much of the hustle, bustle, hurry.  I’m learning to hold onto the cold, bright, pure delight instead.   Especially, the pure delight.

Pure delight is wrapped up in the Christ Child. It is the core of all we celebrate.  The pure delight is the one for whom we wait.  God With Us.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23

What if, instead of the hurry this season, we just started with the anticipation of the pure delight.  What if instead of waiting impatiently in line, arms crossed, fingers tapping and heavy sighs, we open our arms with palms lifted up, waiting to receive; waiting for the pure delight that Immanuel offers.

Waiting does not necessarily come naturally to us.  If we take time away from our hustle and bustle for rest, we somehow feel that we aren’t doing enough.  We think it means that we are unproductive.  If we’re searching for direction we want the answer to come immediately, even though, learning to rest and wait might be the answer that is most needed.  We complain about how God is silent and doesn’t seem to be hearing our petitions.

He does hear, but sometimes, I think the silence is necessary to slow us down.  Do you remember, as a child in school, when the class was rowdy how the teacher would stand quietly at the front of the room staring calmly.  Eventually, everyone would start to notice and pretty soon, it would quiet down and once the teacher had everyone’s attention, she spoke.

I imagine that is how it is with God sometimes.  He just quietly stands close by waiting until he has our attention.   What seems like waiting too long, is not a punishment, or God ignoring us, it is simply because he knows we need time to be ready for his revelation.

The children of Israel waited a long time for the Messiah.  They had been hearing the promise for many years before it was brought to fruition.  I’m sure they must have wondered about God’s silence, but still, those who were faithful waited because they knew that he was there, standing, watching out for them, even when he didn’t speak.  They knew when the time was right all would be revealed.    They waited with anticipation for God With Us.

I found a prayer written in the back of my Bible that I penned a few years ago about waiting on God.  I’d like to share it with you.

I wait for you in the silence and even though you don’t speak I know you are there.  You know my name, you know my struggle and you care. You will sustain me; you will be my strength.  You will come in your time and shed the light of your presence upon me.  

I don’t remember the circumstances of what prompted that prayer, but I am beginning to understand the faith in praying that prayer and waiting for him to come.  He will bring the pure delight.  After all, he is God With US.

I hope during this season of Advent that you will wait for the pure delight to enter your heart and you will ease into this holy season with a renewed faith in the waiting.

Waiting in grace,

Teresa

h.100_2616

 

Today’s post is 1st in an Advent series, one for each week of Advent.  Wait, Watch, Prepare and Praise.  This one is a little late in the first week, but I still wanted to include it because I think the waiting is important.  Please join me next week for week 2 as we watch.

 

This Christmas

100_3940.2

100_3939.2This Christmas has crept into my soul slowly.  I am sitting here looking at the lights wrapped in tulle on my fireplace wall and the little tree lights peeking in from the Music room and I realize that sitting quietly (as quietly as you can with a game on in the background), soaking in the lights and allowing the redeeming grace of love’s pure light to sink to the bottom of your soul is the only thing that really matters.

The decorations don’t have to be major or perfect, the gifts don’t have to be extravagant and the food doesn’t have to be over the top.  Simple can suffice. (And the excitement of a Bengals touchdown can apparently break through the calm without making the lights flicker too much before all settles back to calm and bright.)

Earlier in the season when Rod Stewart was crooning in my ear and reminding me about baby Jesus (really, if you read it once, no need to again, but if you’re curious go on over and I’ll be here when you come back) I had one of those moments when you begin to realize a deep truth. A truth that has been marinating in my soul all season.  I realized that we go to a lot of trouble to make one day perfect. We act as if Christmas Day only comes once a year.  We get all in a frenzy making sure we have our list checked off and everything planned and synchronized.  We exhaust ourselves shopping and cooking and trying to fit in one more event.

PicMonkey Collage4

We say that it is because of Jesus, Lord at Thy birth.  But, I have to wonder if that is what we are doing.  Because I’m not so sure we are really focusing on the Holy Infant, tender and mild.  In light of the significance of his birth, Christmas is every day.  The day of his birth was the dawn of redeeming grace.  It wasn’t just for that one day, to be remembered once a year.  It is a Hallelujah event to be celebrated every day.

100_3881.2

100_4019.2

100_3853.2

There is nothing wrong with trees and baubles, parties and great food, or sharing gifts with family and friends.  However, if those things become our focus and wear us down to the point of becoming Scrooge, then I think we have to examine our priorities.  That is what I decided to do.

PicMonkey Collage2

When Rod sang Silent Night, the words really sank in more than ever before. I realized I wanted my focus to be on Christ, the Savior is born, so, I made a list of things to remember this Christmas.  Maybe it will help you remember too!

This Christmas.2

100_4002.2

May you find Heavenly peace wrapped in grace,

Teresa

A few more pictures…

100_3853.2

.2

100_3858.2

100_4052

100_4005.2

100_3868.2.1

100_4041

100_3849

PicMonkey Collage1

100_3850.2

100_3940.2

i.100_2373.2

100_1434.23