Peace Wrapping Around Us

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

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I’ve been wearing my mom’s socks; it makes me feel close to her. It is one of the ways I am navigating through grief these days and finding moments of peace during the Advent Season.

I’ve also been seeing her in my dreams. she usually doesn’t say anything; she’s not even necessarily a main part of the dream and I don’t remember all the details. it’s like watching a movie and there are people walking down the street or in the background. you see them but they’re not part of the main movie.

When she does show up in my dreams she looks like she did in her fifties. She’s dressed stylishly with her hair pulled back and she’s walking with confidence and purpose. She looks happy and peaceful.It’s seeing her like she was before the Alzheimer’s. I think these are little gifts that God has been giving me to reassure me that all is well. To remind me that she is whole now and complete in him. I still miss her terribly but I wouldn’t bring her back even if I could.  She’s dancing with Jesus and I would not take that away from her.

A few nights ago the funeral home that handled her arrangements hosted a memorial service for those who had lost loved ones this year. It was a sweet simple service that began with singing Joy to the world, followed by a message that allowed us to acknowledge our grief and accept it while encouraging us to find comfort and peace in laying our grief at the feet of Jesus.

The service ended with the song I can only imagine. When they sang the line about dancing or standing in awe I told my husband and father that I’m sure mom was dancing for Jesus. She was full of life and laughter and even in the most horrible ravages of Alzheimer’s that still Shone through.

Sitting in the sanctuary of the local Baptist Church hearing the scriptures read, listening to the words so aptly spoken, hearing the songs of worship, I began to notice that there was such a sweet spirit of peace wrapping around us. It was a peace brought on by the presence of the Lord among us but also a peace brought on by the collective grief of those present and the knowledge that we are all walking the same journey.

Even though our grief manifests itself in various ways it is still a common thread that binds us together. We know how the others feel and we know that God is our only peace.

I am thankful for that service and the reminder that it gives to me during this season of celebration.

A reminder that even in our grief we can still celebrate happy times, we can embrace our loved ones, live life fully and honor those we have lost by remembering them and making room for the grief. Joy and sorrow are not an either-or choice; they are allowed to reside together in our hearts and bring us peace and comfort.

whatever grief you are feeling during this season of Advent I pray you are leaving your heart open to be filled with God’s peace.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13 (NIV)
Grace for the journey,
Teresa
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This Christmas

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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May you find Heavenly peace wrapped in grace,

Teresa

A few more pictures…

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Advent IV – Peace

Linked to All Manner of Inspiration for Sacro Speco (sacred space)

This is the fourth Sunday of Advent.  Churches and Homes around the world will light the candle of Peace, which is also referred to as the Angel’s candle.  This is the season of anticipation of the arrival of the Christ child.  Of course this is symbolic as we know he came long ago.  For believers this also represents the anticipation of his second coming.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

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Finding peace in grace,

Teresa

Simple Christmas

Hope, Peace, Joy and Love – Wrapped in swaddling clothes – a gift for all who will receive.  This is Christmas.  This is the focus.  No need for gaudy adornment, or lots of ribbons and bows.  Just a few simple reminders that we are in a special season of light.

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front of mantel

My fireplace is cast iron with a slate mantel.  The previous owners had painted it white and we thought it was wood, when we discovered that it was cast iron my brother refinished it to it’s original color.  It is beautiful, but due to the inadequacy of my camera and my photography skills, pictures don’t do it justice.

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my large hurricane candle holder full of silver Christmas balls.
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You will notice that there is a candle missing in this picture, the lighting was much better and it shows the fireplace better, so I included it anyway.

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Wreath I made for my front door a few years ago.  I bought a simple green wreath at Michael's and embellished it with Dollar Store ornaments and bead garland.  Used a hot glue gun and just started gluing.  I thin it turned out ok.
Wreath I made for my front door a few years ago. I bought a simple green wreath at Michael’s and embellished it with Dollar Store ornaments and bead garland. Used a hot glue gun and just started gluing. I think it turned out ok.
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The window above my kitchen sink. i just added a string of colored lights.
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Back entry – found this at Hobby Lobby, one of my, if not the, favorite places to shop.
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A few or our “childlike ornaments” Mr Piano got me the Curious George last year, his mother got him the little red fire engine, because the real one like he used to have is way too expensive to buy these days, and we got the Schroeder and Lucy one this year – it is a vintage Hallmark keepsake ornament from 1996. That’s pretty much who we are – he plays I bask.
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please ignore that the window could use some windex. You can catch a glimpse of my neighbors house in the background. I love looking out this window – it feels like we’re in the country even though we aren’t.

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The little dining room off the kitchen. This room was supposed to me my mostly white little french dining room, but due to cramming two houses of stuff into one temporarily it has some elements that weren't meant to be in this room.  The table cloth hides a multitude of boxes that are still unpacked.  I just threw some ribbons and lights on the bookcase and a few ornaments on the table - and put out a crate of Christmas books.
The little dining room off the kitchen. This room was supposed to me my mostly white little french dining room, but due to cramming two houses of stuff into one, temporarily, it has some elements that weren’t meant to be in this room. The table cloth hides a multitude of boxes that are still unpacked. I just threw some ribbons and lights on the bookcase and a few ornaments on the table – and put out a crate of Christmas books.
I have several Children's Christmas stories - I love to put them out at Christmas.  The usually keep the message of Christmas real and simple.
I have several Children’s Christmas stories – I love to put them out at Christmas. They usually keep the message of Christmas real and simple.

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Did you miss the tree?  Me neither.

Simplifying in Grace,

Sadie

Linking up over at the Nester’s Christmas Tour of Homes 2012.  Lots of beautiful Christmas decorating going on – go take a look.