Christmas, decor, personal, Uncategorized

2018 Christmas Home Tour

The Alley Cats were challenged by Pepper Basham to give a tour of our Christmas Decor. I decided to share the little decor I have. I only decorate two rooms for Christmas, my living/dining area and my kitchen. I don’t do a lot, but I think it makes my small home cozy and inviting.

I made a video if you would like to check it out here: 2018 Christmas Home Tour

Here is a picture of my mantle. I made the canvas a long time ago. (No, I can’t sell it, as I copied it from someone online.) I also made the stockings, which will NOT face the right direction. Any tips on that are appreciated!

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Here is my nativity. I share it because it is very old and worn. As you see, the poor donkey looks more like a dinosaur here without its ears.

We went small on a tree this year, but I love the old ornaments on it from when my kids were little. We have collected so many over the years, I cannot even put them all on the tree anymore.

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Because I got a puppy for Christmas and I think he is adorable, here is a picture of Phineas napping in front of the tree.

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Okay, one more of little Phin…he has started lifting one ear all the time. Cracks me up.

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I hope you have a very merry Christmas filled with family, love and lots of laughter.

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Uncategorized

Being At Home With God’s Peace

cocoparisienne at pixabay

When a home is full of love, it is a place of peace, of comfort, of belonging. Are you at home, and comfortable with, God’s peace? Do you find a sense of belonging with the call of God to live in peace and be peacemakers in the world?

Isaiah 2:2-5
In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
    as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
    and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob,
    let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Back in Isaiah’s time, Israel had the disease of unfaithfulness, of turning away from God’s wisdom to that of those around them. Isaiah prophesies that God is going to change that. God is going to change the direction of the people. The people would end up beating their swords into plowshares. 

God’s kingdom brings tools of peace into the world. His people take the weapons of the world and create tools to bless and encourage. Some might see this as an impossibility, but there is power in the blood of Jesus to accomplish what we cannot do on our own. 

But how does that work? Jesus shows us. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turns the law upside down, expanding upon it with the law of love. Murder is wrong, but Jesus goes further, saying that even being angry with a brother or sister is subject to judgment. Committing adultery is wrong, but even having lustful thoughts is like having adultery in your heart. 

It really boils down to loving others. That is taking the weapons of the world (debate, name-calling, ranting about what you think is true, obstinate refusal to listen, etc.) and turning it around to love. It’s about respecting those who are different than you. It’s about listening to those who disagree with you. It’s about overcoming evil with good. 

So how do we become at home with God’s peace?

  • Pray to be in tune with the Holy Spirit
  • Ask the Spirit to show you how to love someone who is on the other side of wherever you fall, whether it be racially, politically, or religiously.
  • Ask the Spirit to show you who is in need of your generosity today. Your generosity is a tool of peace.
  • Ask the Spirit to show you how to express unity with others.
  • Think about your words before you speak. Your words matter, just as our actions matter, and they build our culture, either for good or bad.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. If we proclaim him king over our lives and live in his kingdom here on earth, we want our words, our actions, our very lives to proclaim him as our Savior, our Prince of Peace.

Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to transform you into an instrument of peace? 

This post is based on the notes taken of John Ketchersid’s sermon at the Spirit of Unity Church on November 18, 2018.

editing, personal, Uncategorized

Finishing Edits, Being a Slug

slug.Micel_van_der-Vegt.pixabayI turned in my second round of edits last week and, as I did after the first round, slipped into a bit of a funk. I tend to hyper-focus when I have a deadline (or must get something turned in ASAP). It’s great to be that focused, but when the job is completed, I crash.

I won’t say I’ve been a complete slug. I have cleaned my poor, neglected house. I’ve pulled weeds and feed my flower beds. I got out and scouted for used books to send to Amazon. I’ve been a little productive, but …

I’ve also binged on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Have you all been missing romantic movies like I have? While I like superhero movies, I’ve been ready for some good romance. Netflix released The New Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. Oh my, it is perfect. Definitely my kind of show.

I’m loathe to admit this, but I’ve been binging on America’s Next Top Model. My daughter enjoys it and so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m captivated by the makeovers and the creativity of photo shoots. I tend to fast forward through the bickering in the house, but the shoots and catwalks are fun to watch.

So now that I’ve rested up after edits, I’m sinking in to my new story. I’ve struggled getting it plotted, so I’m digging in and brainstorming some ideas, praying the creativity with flow. I’m several chapters in and really want to take this story deeper.

How do you rest/recuperate/rejuvenate after finishing a major job or project?

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personal, Social Media, Uncategorized, writing

Fearing Authenticity

mask
Yep, that’s me.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been in a slump this year, afraid to post on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I’ve even been afraid to blog. Why is that, you ask?

I’m afraid to be me.

Since I’ve signed a publishing contract in April, I’ve choked at being just me. It’s silly, I know. But being an author and having to promote yourself as an author has me all twisted up in trying to be a “real author” — you know, someone who is serious about the business side of writing.

Don’t get me wrong. I am serious about writing and all it entails, but I miss being free to be just me. I love to laugh, not take myself seriously, and have fun with life. That includes all aspects of my life.

People talk about finding your “voice” in writing. If I can’t find my voice in real life and express that life (even on social media), then how can I ever find and free my voice in my writing? Indeed!

So this month I am focusing on authenticity. I want to be real. I want to be me — the real me. This should be fun, right?

When has your authenticity been stifled? Is it hard to be real, either in life or on social media?

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devotionals, spiritual, Uncategorized

Standing Firm in Flexibility

flexible.publicdomainpictures.pixabayThe only thing that qualifies us as children of God is faith in Christ Jesus. If we believe in Him, we are a child of God.

This is the precursor to Philippians 4:1-3:

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, you whom I love and long form, my joy and crown, stand firm in the Lord in this way, dear friends! I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women sine they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.

These two women, Euodia and Syntyche, disagreed about something and it was causing trouble in the church. Paul was pleading with them to stand firm…to stand firm on what though?

We need a firm foundation for our relationships in the church, and even outside the church.

We need to focus on the grace and love of Jesus as the basis of unity, which is necessary in the church. We need to stand firm in unity that puts others before ourselves.

So how do we do that? What steps do we take to find unity?

Be flexible.

Being inflexible can cause problems:

  • physically – our muscles atrophy and our joints become stiff
  • emotionally – bitterness and alone

If you cannot change, then you will find yourself all alone, bitter, and ineffective.

The Holy Spirit is our guide here. Jesus told Nicodemus the Holy Spirit blows wherever it pleases. Nicodemus thought he knew the law and what God was about, but he was wrong and needed to be able to change his thinking. He needed to be flexible.

Jesus was reprimanded for letting his disciples eat on the Sabbath and he had to remind the Jewish leaders that King David and his men ate consecrated bread from the priest. It’s okay to be flexible.

Peter was given a vision that it was okay to eat unclean meat. He had to be shown that flexibility was needed in order to save more souls. (The Gentiles would be included in God’s plan of salvation.)

In these examples, they had to question their religious foundation.

Is it a law or not a law? Or is the Spirit of God moving, urging us to be flexible? What is God doing and how is He at work in other’s lives?

Stand firm and be flexible. Is that an oxymoron? Actually, these aren’t necessarily opposite.

Stand firm in the way of Jesus – in grace, mercy, and love. Be flexible!

Don’t let anything pull you away from that wonderful grace and that fabulous love. If you pull away from grace and love in order to stand on law, being rigid and condemning, then you are wrong. Love always wins.

This unity that comes from being flexible must be guarded, and that comes from a commitment to embrace grace and love toward each other.

How will you commit to being flexible with those you disagree with? How will you show love and grace to those around you? 

***Based on John Ketchersid’s sermon June 3, 2018
***Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay

 

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book review, Uncategorized

Review: Falling for You by Becky Wade

Falling for You_becky wadeMy book of choice to read on a recent trip was Falling for You by Becky Wade. Let me tell you, Mrs. Wade can write! I was swept up in the drama of lost love rekindled, a decades-old mystery unraveled, and the sweet camaraderie of sisters. Wade has a way of delving deep into the character, helping you truly get into these character’s skin. I was captivated.

Back Cover Copy

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family’s small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin–and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he’s never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he’s determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they’re forced to confront their past and who they’ve become–and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

My Thoughts

I enjoy old loves being rekindled and this one definitely did not disappoint. The depth of feeling between Willow and Corbin is tangible, heavy with the anger of past disappointment and loss, yet ripe with the still-present attraction. I loved the sparks between the two, the snarky dialogue, the witty banter, and the wearing down of walls between them.  Their chemistry is undeniable for the very first moment they are thrust together. Just delicious!

One of the things I love about Wade’s writing is the secondary characters and how they help to develop the overall plot and characterization of the hero and heroine. Each character helps Willow grow throughout the book and face herself…her fears, mistakes, her outward self verses her inward self.

There is a beautiful theme of forgiveness in this book – forgiving oneself and forgiving others. Wade beautifully weaves God’s truths into these character’s past hurts and sins, creating a beautiful blanket of hope and renewal and ultimately love. Falling for You is a heart-palpitating romance with unforgettable characters. Willow and Corbin are definitely a yummy couple.

You can purchase Falling for You HERE.

devotionals, spiritual, Uncategorized

Holy Spirit: Peace, Purpose & Power

dove-2516641_640_cocoparisienne at pixabayJesus provides his disciples with peace, purpose, and power with just one thing: the Holy Spirit. That Spirit, the very breath of God, is full of promise to each believer.

After his resurrection, Jesus gathered his disciples close and said,

Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” John 20: 21-23

PEACE: Are you floundering in the mire of doubt? Are you in the midst of trouble or trials, whether it be healthwise, financial, or relational? Are you stuck in the rut of doing the same thing with no joy? The world gives peace only when everything is going right – the economy is good, there is no threat of war, all is right with the world. But that is not the peace Jesus brings. His peace is the kind of peace that transcends understanding (Phillipians 4:7). It guards your heart and mind against the evil one and fills you with a supernatural sense of well-being and trust in the One who has you in the palm of His hands.

Seek more of His Spirit and claim His peace.

PURPOSE: We all know John 3:16: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Jesus had a purpose and after the resurrection, he tells his disciples he is giving them the very same charge. He loves the world enough to save it. We have the purpose of loving others and sharing God’s love with them.

Seek more of His Spirit and love others as God did.

POWER: So often we feel limited by our own inadequacies.  We aren’t smart enough. We are too shy. We can’t talk to others easily. But Jesus gives power to those who believe in Him. He said to his disciples: “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Open your hearts to receive what He is giving so freely. There is great power in His Spirit. An interesting thing is that He slips in a note about forgiving others. “If you forgive anyone’s sin, their sin is forgiven.” Forgiveness is a power play that brings grace and mercy to those in need. So many cannot forgive themselves and as believers, we are called to bring peace and love to the world. If God’s people are not out in the world offering grace and mercy, who will?

Seek more of His Spirit and walk in this world with the grace and mercy of the Holy Spirit, full of power to accomplish God’s mission.

Some days it is easier to walk in the Spirit than others. How are you claiming His peace, purpose, and power in your daily walk?

 

***This post is a summary of John Ketchersid’s sermon on Sunday, April 8, 2018.

***Photo by cocoparisienne at Pixabay.com