Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Here we come a caroling...

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This photo (mix) has got to be one of my most favorite of moments and memories!  Caroling.  I loved it then and always will.

This evening I had the privilege to load my three kiddos, along with three of their cousins to attend a choral production with some home school families, from our church.  We knew quite a bit of them and I tell you - it feels so good to support friends, like this and this is only one way.
However,  on our way home, you can imagine - everyone wanted to sing and pretend they, too, were part of such a beautiful production and so we all took turns leading out in song one of our own favorite tunes.
Of course... those Christmas Carols are ALL so beautiful... and it took me right  back to my childhood days of when caroling in our church community or our neighborhoods was a REAL priority.   I found myself sharing this memory with my carload of choristers...

It was one of the most anticipated events of the year, for me.. to go Christmas Caroling.  Oh, the memories this evokes... Here is what I shared...

We always went Christmas Eve - with our church - to the large local community.  No matter the kind of weather.  I can remember going in the bitter cold, times of heavy snow (lots of memories on this one), even in the rain... however, the community KNEW we were coming. They expected us.  Prior to going our youth group would get together, a couple of nights before, to make up fruit baskets and bake cookies to take to folks along the way. 
This event involved bundling up (little kids and all), carpooling and still there would be what seemed like a mile of cars following each other with their four-ways on... we'd all get out of the vehicles, trudge carefully to the front door, with flashlights and song sheets (though not really needed, as we sung from memory anyway). Someone would knock or ring the door bell.  Someone else would lead us out into song.  Joy to the World, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels sing, etc.
We'd all gather closer together our harmonious voices echoing through the night sky.  Sure enough the front door would open and huddled in the doorways were the elderly, the growing family, a single person and every now and then, the surprised or "unsure" person (of what to make of all of this).   Some would ask us inside for a cup of hot chocolate ( I remember one year, someone offered chili) ... SERIOUSLY! 50 + plus people getting served... sometimes we were asked to come indoors because of someone to sick to come to the door and they simply wanted us to sing our hearts out- and they with feeble voice did their best to join in. 

It was beautiful.

We'd always end our four-part harmony caroling, at each home, with:

We wish you a Blessed Christmas,
we wish you a Blessed Christmas,
we wish you a Blessed Christmas
and a Joyous New Year. 
Glad tidings we bring to you and your kin,
good tidings for Christmas and a Joyous New Year. 
MERRY CHRISTMAS! 
(said in said- shout unison)


It seemed like forever - but starting at 6pm sharp! and ending more times than not at 10pm (getting to the last folks on the list) was a long time, but worth it - we'd all head back to our church to finish up any remaining cookies and fruit from the fruit baskets & cookie baking.  Someone usually would stay back, usually an older grandmother or two who didn't want to make the trek into the bitter cold or "inclement" weather - they were the ones who "had everything ready" when we returned; the kettle steaming of hot chocolate, the trays of cookies and a roaring fire in the fireplace.  Yes! there was a fireplace in the "auxiliary building".   Someone also had prepared a (handmade) Pinata for the final activity of the evening.  We ALL took turns from youngest to oldest (adults included) to take one turn at bat.  Chaos erupted... as we all dove to get pieces of candy and nuts.

Oh, what fun!

I wish I had a better picture to show - to share of my memories better.  I wish I could make these memories the same, for my kids... maybe one day, we will.

****

Do you go caroling?  Have you ever considered going?  Bundle up.... let's go.  I'll go with you.
Here we come a caroling... among the leaves so green.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

give us this day our daily bread

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Recently, I was gifted these books, by a dear friend.
The Life-Giving Table
by, Sally Clarkson

 As well, we were recently gifted this table and bench, by another friend.  We've been enjoying it... a lot!!   Here is a thought taken from the second chapter... by Sally's husband, Clay Clarkson, who authored a portion of the book.
"Creating a lifegiving table is an intentional act of
 gathering, blessing, eating, sharing and serving."


So, the book, Life-Giving Table...what about it?  Well, I have been enjoying thumbing through; slowly reading the first couple of chapters of this book and there is so, SO much to take in.  I said, I feel like I have to "sit and marinate" in it - to let it all soak in.

Its really asking me to think about the "gathering" that takes place around our table.  Sure.  It's the place where a lot of our life happens! Things get plopped. Crafts are crafted.  Its used for play time - of forts and "race tracks"; coloring and games.  Homework is done, there.  Laundry is folded.
Piled high and cleared off again - so that meals can be spread out upon.
Its true that while we gather there to consume our daily bread... that, that is also where training and teaching happens.  Correction.  Encouragement.  Singing.  Prayers are prayed.
Community and Fellowship flow.  Sometimes its raw and loud and not always pleasant.  Most times and more often than not -its amazing!!

I have always said... that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  But, here of late, since reading this book, I've been trying to bring this "idea" to my kiddos.  For them to recognize, that our dining room table... this is a place of ministry... it is the Heart of the Home.  Even more than the kitchen itself.

"For Jesus...the home is not what defines the table; the table 
is what defines the home." ~ Leonard Sweet, from Tablet to Table

Its not a perfect place.  There are scuffs and scars.  Its worn and scratched...
But...it's ours!!
Its function is truly central to our home!
Where daily we pray and ask God... "Give us this day our daily bread."

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Spirit of Loveliness

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It's bedtime.  More often than not, the only time of day - I get to pull out a book to read.  Too many times, the pile of books that I want to read is higher than my arm is long.  I typically never can stay awake long enough to read, let alone retain - anything - that I may have read, in the first place.  Sure, I want to.  It's just that either life is way busier than I think or other conversations take over and take place... but... that really is no excuse.  Personally.  I just don't like reading - not like I'd like to.  I was talking to a dear friend of mine - on Sunday - at church and we were talking about this very thing... and she said ALMOST the exact same thing is true for her... and ya'll... she's an author.  A homeschooling mama... she HAS to read... and yet, she struggles, too!!  I have never felt so supported as to hear my friend admit to this very thing - herself.
Don't get me wrong.  I love books!  I sure do.  In fact, I try to encourage my kiddos' to read, read, read. That books are their "friends".. they need to treat them well, etc.  Honestly, I really do like feeling the pages in between my fingers.  The way they smell,  the way they open, the clever illustrations.... even the font matters a lot!!! I would much, much rather hold a book in my hand than an electronic device - such as a kindle, etc.   And, yet... the "art" of reading; it's novelty, the time it takes itself to read the words and comprehend... is a real struggle.

Why do I share all of this?  And, why the photos of this book - that I share with you today?


Great question.  So, first off, this book was recommended to me by a cousin of mine, some time ago.  My cousin, Carmen, has truly become a dear, dear friend of mine - someone whom I respect quite highly and has become almost, more like a sister to me than some of own immediate sisters.  I clearly remember the day when Carmen truly encouraged me to open this book and take to heart the "teachings" of Emilie Barnes.  A dear saint of the Lord - who has recently gone home to be with her Saviour.  I would say (in my heart and mind) - Emilie has become a pillar post in the foundation of my "home-making"... and home keeping.  I have really admired the things she wrote and shared.  In fact, I have several of her books.  BUT... this one.  The Spirit of Loveliness... has carried me.  I'm forever indebted to my sweet cousin for her persistence that I get myself a copy of this book.

So.  I got to thinking.  There is no better way to get back to who I am than to dust off the cover of this "dear friend" and because it's format is like that of a coffee table book (its easy to read, in bite-sized chucks) ... I can slowly get back into reading (what I would say) has been and always will be one of my first loves.

For me.  The topic of home- keeping, hospitality, and growing in character (to be that godly influence as a wife and mom; a woman of Christ) ... is my deepest passion and desire.

***
In earlier years of blogging - I have alluded to this book before, although I'm not so sure that I actually referenced it.  There is a post about "glowing windows" whose idea came from this book, I'm pretty sure. You've got to go read that one!!!  I even linked it for you - so you can find it easy and go read...
It is simply another but continual prayer of mine.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Coffee and White Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

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This recipe deserves - I mean, DESERVES - some serious raves!!!
 My kids couldn't stop eating it, but... I had to make them stop!!  lol.

So, over on Facebook, this week, I've been part of a 7-day black and white photo challenge.  
And, loving it!!!  It's been fun to dust off the camera skills...and shoot some frames.
This photo though - didn't turn out to be a favorite - but let me tell you, as I have already said it.....  This is one yummy coffee cake!!

Here is the recipe, again!!

:: Coffee and White Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake ::
 1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. instant espresso
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour (I used reg. whole wheat!)
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup white chocolate chips

STREUSEL
1/2 cup all -purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup quick oats
4 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375*.   In a medium bowl, mix the buttermilk, oil, sugar, espresso and vanilla together.  Stir in the flours, baking powder and salt.  Fold in the white chocolate chips.  Pour batter into an 8x8"  baking pan.
For the streusel: In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugars, oats and melted butter together.  Sprinkle the streusel topping over the top of the batter.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.

***
I think it deserves a more delicious looking photo, don't you?   
So, here you go!!!  :)


I hope you get to make this and that you and yours enjoy it much as our family did - over here!!

Friday, November 3, 2017

house becoming home

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Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  
It turns what we have into enough and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast. a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  
~ Melody Beattie

***
These are all photos from the past (our old home) - but warm me every time I see them.  I hope you don't mind me sharing them again, as a repeat.
 Our house, now, here, is slowly become home.  It's true.
 It starts with gratitude...
I'm truly grateful.
This is what November calls to mind.  Gratitude.
Not settling.
But truly satisfied.
May my heart-house become at home!!!

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_home
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_home
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_home

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_home

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_home


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/melodybeat177949.html?src=t_home
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