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2017 Holiday Season in Full Swing

Perhaps it was the new Pumpkin Praline Pie that I took along with the pumpkin and mincemeat pies, or maybe it was because I gave too much information in my post about Mincemeat. There was a lot of Mincemeat Pie left over after our Thanksgiving meal. I chose to see the pie pan half full and enjoyed large slices for breakfast on Friday and Saturday.

Yes, beef is listed as an ingredient.

This one is a keeper!

My two sisters handled hosting the most anticipated dinner of the year with style and impressive calmness. When I checked on them three hours before fourteen guests were to arrive, they were playing cards. The family gathering was full of joyful (noisy) conversation, delicious food, and expressed gratefulness.

On Friday morning, my sisters were ready for our annual Black Friday outing. The three of us have made it a priority to drive to a nearby city for shopping and lunch each year. We head out later than most folks and make it home  by dinner time. It’s our day to catch up and enjoy being sisters. More gratefulness.

My husband’s large family gathered at a nephew’s home on Saturday for a celebration of football, food, and family. It was wonderful to see our two sons and our daughter-in-law at both family parties. The three days of Thanksgiving ended, and Dave and I journeyed home to be in church on Sunday morning. Ah, Sunday.

Designated days resumed on Monday, now known as Cyber Monday, a day to make on-line purchases. I took advantage of a 40% off deal on some Love and Respect books and also ordered some items my husband needs. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving became Giving Tuesday in 2012. The worldwide movement encourages support of non-profit organizations with some donations being matched by corporations. On November 28, on-line contributions to good causes totaled at least $177 million. Our donation went to the LIFE TODAY Mission Feeding Program.

Today is Wednesday – just Wednesday as far as I know, except that we are now “officially” in the Christmas season. I’ve been asked if I’ve put up my Christmas tree yet. No, however, I have put away fall decorations and set up our lighted village buildings*.

*Full Disclosure: This is from a previous year. We don’t have the cords strung and little figures in yet.

December will arrive on Friday, and Sunday will mark the beginning of Advent for the Christian Church. It’s time for me to make some choices about more than which gift to purchase. Each day of this season, I hope to do these two things:

  1. Choose to bless, not impress. This has become one of my life goals. Keeping it simple avoids stress   and helps me to use my own gifts and time to bless people without comparing my efforts to what others do. I’ve decided to spend less time on Facebook. I don’t need any more recipes or decorating ideas. Less, I believe, will result in more. More time for my second choice…
  2. Choose to seek and to serve Jesus Christ. As a believer who is saved by grace through faith in Jesus, I worship Him, not as a baby born on Christmas, but as the Lord and Savior who will return for me. He is the Prince of Peace, and I need his peace. I was reminded at a prayer meeting tonight that we can be very busy and fail to accomplish anything worthwhile. My choice is to be still enough during this season to hear God’s voice in prayer and to seek to know Him better through reading the Bible.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

 

 

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Anticipating Christmas – Patience part 4

Ohio’s beautiful trees took their time bursting into fall color this year. My October 22 birthday often comes during peak leaf season, but some years the trees have been bare by then.  We wondered whether 2017 would ever bless us with Autumn’s brilliance. The last day of October passed and as November arrived, our neighborhood was transformed.

I often hear people say that they like the fall season, but not what follows – the cold of winter. While I’d like to keep the days from getting shorter and colder and the beautiful leaves from falling, I’ve turned the calendar page to November and know that December is quickly approaching. And with it, Christmas.

On November 1, some folks gave themselves permission to listen to Christmas music since Halloween is over . These lovers of the holiday season may have groaned when Christmas trees appeared in stores during August, but now eagerly await an acceptable day to put up their own Christmas trees . If their window shades are down, you can bet they’re secretly watching a favorite Christmas movie well before Thanksgiving. I’m not one of those folks, however, I did practice some Christmas music with fellow flutists this week in preparation for performing at church. And I did begin to make plans with our sons and daughter-in-law for a Christmas gathering in December.

At our mall in 2014. I’m in the middle.

When you hear that there are only 48 days until Christmas, how do you feel? Depending on my state of mind, I might feel amazed that the year is passing so quickly, pleased that I already have several gifts purchased, or a bit anxious about all that will need to be done in preparation for December 25. I’m hoping that the mall holds off on playing Christmas music for a few more weeks.  I’d like to enjoy the beauty of November before seeing Christmas lights come on in our neighborhood. Some areas of Ohio have already seen snowflakes, and I know that it won’t be long until they fall. The sparkly winter season will bring its own delight.

Those who have much excitement about getting to Christmas will need some patience as these weeks pass. For some folks, patience will be needed to get through the holiday season. Perhaps life has changed in a way that makes celebrating difficult. There may be memories of happier family Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas festivities that stand in contrast to today’s circumstances. If you’re one of those people, I hope that you will know the peace and presence of God this year and will find a meaningful way to celebrate.

Having grown up in the Christian faith, my family has observed a season of waiting for Christmas called Advent. This year Advent begins on December 3. Beginning that Sunday, Christian church services will include a focus on the anticipation that ancient Israelites had for the prophesied Messiah. They waited, not knowing how long the wait would be. While we may feel impatient for Christmas to arrive each year, we can count down the days with certainty as to when we will commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ, the promised One, who came into the world to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)

A second focus of Advent, meaning “coming”, is the birth of Jesus in individual  hearts and lives.  As we sing Joy to the World, we celebrate the Lord’s coming and plead, “Let every heart prepare Him room.” Jesus enters into every life circumstance, whether happy or sad, and every home where He is welcome, whether it is extravagantly decorated or very humble.

The third focus of Advent requires much more patience than waiting for December 25. Christian faith includes belief that Jesus was resurrected after his death by crucifixion and ascended into the clouds after appearing to many people. The Bible contains prophecies, including the words of Jesus himself, that He will return to the earth at an appointed time that no one knows except God the Father (see Matthew 24:36). God’s salvation will be completed.

Patient waiting, accompanied by obedience to the one we have believed will be rewarded.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8,9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wear Out Your Chairs

I was alarmed to recently discover that the fabric on one of our dining room chairs had worn out, revealing the foam padding underneath. In fact, I tried to deny the issue by stitching the hole together and moving that chair to a spot seldom occupied. When a second seat developed a hole, I had to face the facts.

As we moved into our home nearly twelve years ago, my husband and I selected a beautiful new table with six chairs and a china closet for our new dining room. While the construction remains solid, I admit that I only looked at the pretty pattern of the fabric in 2005 without considering its durability.

Years ago, when the vinyl seat covers of some of our chairs split open, we opted to purchase a replacement set.  This time, reupholstering was the answer, so I checked with friends about who to call and started browsing through fabrics. The two of us were still sitting on perfectly good cushions, though, and didn’t feel much urgency to get the work done. I ordered a few samples from on-line stores, but weeks went by until a deadline presented itself.  (Deadlines are often-needed motivators for us. Last year I decided that we would install a long-overdue handrail in our stairway just three days prior to my mom’s weekend visit. Dave was a good sport, enlisting a handy friend’s help to complete my hastily planned project.)

This time, I gave about six weeks’ notice, telling him that I wanted the chairs ready for my Bunco group’s gathering in June.  As he wondered aloud whether we could get someone to complete the work in that time frame, I shared that I would love it if we could do them ourselves. We decided that if he could figure out a way to remove a seat, we would attempt our first upholstery project. He rounded up the necessary tools and I ordered the fabric.

On the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, we worked together, with him removing seats while I measured and cut fabric. I then carefully stretched the pieces tightly over the old fabric for him to staple in place.

The first one was nerve wracking, mostly because I wanted them to look professionally done even though we were completely inexperienced! It turned out pretty well. (We went back later to fix one little thing.)

Old on the left – New on the right

Feeling more confident, we did another chair that day and the remaining four on Sunday. With the Monday holiday to spare, we successfully completed the project.

As I researched fabrics, I realized that a more heavy duty material would outlast the original quilting-style fabric. That made our task of achieving a smooth fit a little harder, but I hope that it will be decades before I notice any holes.

Our dining room chairs have always been well used. In each of our homes, we have set up a table near or in the kitchen for family meals and have not opted for a formal dining room. We are on our third table (fourth if you consider our kids’ table).

 

Son, Eric, on the right and friend, Jeff, on the left in 1988.

Our first table came from my grandma’s home in 1984.

Our first purchased set lasted until 2005 after these chairs were replaced.

Our current table with the newly re-upholstered chairs.

Gathering these photos, I was surprised at the sentimentality I felt about all of the times we’ve used our chairs.  Most of our family meals have been simple, but we have been nourished physically, relationally, and spiritually as we have made it a priority to eat together after bowing in thankful prayer. With our kids grown and on their own now, only two chairs get used these days, but I treasure the meals that Dave and I share at home and our evening games of Quiddler played at our table.

I’m convinced, and research backs it up, that families who eat together are more likely to flourish. A 2014 article from The Atlantic states, “children who do eat dinner with their parents five or more days a week have less trouble with drugs and alcohol, eat healthier, show better academic performance, and report being closer with their parents than children who eat dinner with their parents less often, according to a study conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.”

So, wear out your chairs! I’ll let you know if we hang out our upholstering shingle.

 

 

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Seeing Yellow – part 2

Last week, I described how dandelion distress dissolved into a fond childhood memory and promised to share another memory this week. While growing up in the 1960s with my two younger sisters, Mom and Dad designed and built a large addition onto our tiny  country home.  Each of us was given our own room and permitted to choose the paint color for our walls.  My sisters went with the trendy colors of Pepto-Bismol pink and orange.  I felt very chic in choosing Chartreuse green (I learned today that it’s named after a french liqueur!) I couldn’t locate a photo of my bedroom today, but here’s a picture of me in a chartreuse jumper that I made for 4-H in 1972.

 

Those were the good old colorful days. When I was 7, it was wonderful to do my own thing, and Mom happily painted the walls without a thought (as far as I know) of what visitors might think.

I still enjoy choosing paint colors for our rooms. When we moved into this house in 2005, the first order of business was to paint the drab master bedroom in a shade of green, not chartreuse, but an earthy sage.  My husband has also obliged me by painting other bedrooms in Greek Blue and Honey Gold.  During our 12 years here, we’ve changed the wallpaper in our den and gradually replaced kitchen paper with raspberry and cream paint.

I went through a phase when I wanted to get rid of the red French toile wallpaper in our dining room, but it grew on me again after some friends complimented the look.  Our living room has remained yellow since we moved in, even after I had the opportunity to choose something different a few years ago when some cracks in our drywall needed repair. At that time, we were both happy with the bright look of our white woodwork, yellow paint, and white sheer curtains with red floral window toppers.  We had the room repainted in the same sunny yellow and continued to enjoy spending time in our living room.

When it was time to wash the old, more-gray-than-white sheers this year, Dave and I determined that they needed to go to the curb instead of the washer. I was ready for something different, something a bit more contemporary that would still let in lots of light.  We hung two-tone curtains that are black on top with tan sheer panels in all six windows and were happy with the change.

Then one evening when Dave was out of town and I had the remote, I turned to HGTV. I’m barely familiar with the network, but recognized the Property Brothers working with a couple who were renovating a house to sell it so they could purchase a a dream home for their family.  As Drew and Jonathan escorted the man and his fiance inside a prospective home, the first words from her mouth were “Oh! All that yellow would have to go!” All three men agreed with her, of course.  The home was beautiful, but there was a lot of yellow.  And then, what I have known would happen if I started watching home improvement shows happened.

As the on-screen couple contemplated their options, the biggest drawback to this house was the yellow paint.  As I sat in my lovely room, I felt a bit insulted and began to think that maybe I didn’t like yellow walls anymore.  It suddenly seemed obvious to me that my room had too many colors, two many patterns, too much clutter, and on it went.  The next morning I spent a couple hours cleaning, de-cluttering and rearranging until I liked the room again.  But it wasn’t until Mom visited and approved of the way the living room looks with the new curtains that I completely recovered from my Yellow Paint Discontent.

Perhaps more people should paint their rooms yellow. According to Apartment Therapy’s article  “Five Happy Colors to Boost Your Mood”, yellow is #1 and all three of the colors that my sisters and I chose for our bedrooms are in the top 5!  Check out the pictures in the post; the first one reminds me of my living room. Go with greige if it makes you happy. I’ll keep my yellow.

 

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