Gratitude Day 167 – What I Learned in November

Fri., Nov. 30, 2018

Ecclesiastes 11:8 – No matter how many years anyone might live, let them enjoy all of them.

The days maybe long but long but the years are short.

I’m not sure who came up with this quote. But I feel like this is my life.

Actually, I feel like the days AND the years are short.

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This is why at the end of the last few months, I’ve sat down with my calendar and looked it over. What have I learned the last 30 or so days? What is something that I want to remember and keep close to my heart? Then, I’ve taken those little thoughts and turned them into something to share. Why? I hope it encourages us all to stop with a cup of coffee, tea or favorite beverage and reflect.

So, what have I learned during November? Here we go!

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  • The motto for my life maybe truly be: jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none. Every day seems so different. One day, I’m officiating a wedding. The next day, I’m playing taxi for a friend. A couple days later, I’m helping plan a community harvest dinner because I’ve double-booked myself and will be in Louisville, KY helping show and transport sheep instead of cooking in Wisconsin during the dinner. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a little bit of information about a whole lot of different things. Maybe you’ve noticed this on my blog! Does it seem like I have ADHD when it comes to blogging??!! My point is this: I’m confident God takes us on this wonderful journey of life. Sometimes, we may go through or experience something that doesn’t make complete sense at the time. Somehow, everything will get pulled back together and make sense … in God’s time. For now, I strap on a seat belt and enjoy the ride!

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  • I tried something new this month: A Paint Nite! Lacking the crafty gene, I still signed-up for an opportunity to paint a sign. I’ve hung the sign in our beautifully remodeled bathroom. Here it is. Doesn’t the sign’s black background looks stunning in our grey, white and black bathroom? On the day I participated in this Paint Nite, I signed up for another one! Yikes! Another group of friends invited me. I just couldn’t say no.

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  • When we moved into our current 110-year-old house, the relator told us we were moving onto one of the best neighborhoods of our little town. She’s right. Several times in the last months, Hubby Rick and I have hosted neighborhood get-togethers. Mid-November, we hosted another one. Our great neighborhood is changing! Several couples and people have lived here for years. Literally, years. These couples have known each A LONG time. Then, there is Rick and I. We’ve lived here 3+ years. We’re younger than the old-timers but much older than the three mid-to-late 20ish couples who have purchased homes on our street. While we cover different generations and have unique perspectives, when we get together, we truly have a great evening. We eat, chat, discover new things about each other and all leave with smiles on our faces. Sometimes, we need to get up from behind our computer, tablets, phones and TV’s and have real conversations with neighbors. Try it. Maybe you’ll discover some new things and people! Our neighborhood is planning another gathering for January!

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  • Right after Thanksgiving, Rick and I enjoyed a couple quiet days at home. We didn’t do a lot. One morning, we actually sat in bed with our laptops. A couple years ago, I would have never imagined my non-tech-savy hubby would be doing this. While I was catching up on e-mail, Hubby Rick was watching YouTube videos about installing bathroom tile. We are in the middle of building a new master bathroom. And trying to make it quite nice. While Rick has installed tile before, he is feeling out of his comfort zone with the tile I’ve picked out. Anyways … those couple quiet days WERE WONDERFUL. Simply blissful. After leaving the house sparingly, I convinced Rick to go somewhere Saturday night. We went to Pizza Hut for the salad bar. We are officially boring. There were a lot of things I could have tackled. And I did some things. I also decided if I’m going to put some Mary into my life, Ms. Martha needs to chill once in a while. Amazingly, she did. And she liked it. There will be enough opportunity for things to fill our days, nights and weekends in the next few weeks. For those couple of days, I tried not to feel guilty about a slower pace.

Before you become occupied with your Christmas to-do list, take a minute. The years are short. Sometimes, the days feel even shorter. What was something meaningful you discovered in November? Reflect. Enjoy. Savor.

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For opportunities to reflect, explore something new, gather with neighbors and just be, I am grateful.

Almighty God – we’re on this journey of life with you. I pray that we do not overlook or miss the great life-lessons you place before us. May our days not become so packed we miss spending moments with you. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 166 – Rustic Wonderland

Thurs., Nov. 29, 2018

Matthew 1:20 – But as Joseph was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. The angel said, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife. The baby inside her is from the Holy Spirit.

What makes a house and a home?

Little touches that say to family and friends, “You are loved and welcome here.”

I love to decorate for Christmas. Why do I do this? Because I pray our house will not just be another house on the block. I hope our house will be viewed as a home where people are loved and welcomed. This is why I created a Rustic Wonderland on our front porch. When people drive or walk by or bound up the steps to our lovely porch, I pray they feel like this would be a good place to stay for a while.

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My goal this year was to decorate using only things I already had. Buy nothing new. Find new ways to use what I have. Enjoy the results thoroughly.

Why? I am so ready to not purchase things. I am so ready to simply repurpose what we have. I am so ready to shop what’s in the house and carriage house and spend more time enjoying the finished results than create something that takes lots of time, energy and resources to pull together. Yes, I love having a pretty porch during the holidays. Yet, I feel too often we focus on the “what” of Christmas rather than remembering the “why” we celebrate the season.

So, welcome to our Rustic Wonderland. Ready for a little tour?

Good. I’m excited to give you one.

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Sister Debbie helped me pull this together. Fortunately, she is an excellent florist. She can whip together beautiful arrangements before I can get her the things, she needs to make them. She created all of the gorgeous evergreen arrangements, inside and outside of the house. (In a couple days, I’ll show how we decorated the inside of our house.)

Here’s how we went about putting together a Rustic Wonderland.

We began with a clean slate. I removed the summer furniture and fall decorations. Debbie contributed the greens and wreath. Other than one strand of lights we had to buy, everything else come from our house or the carriage house.

You’ll find a lot of old things on our porch that help us remember important phases, people and times of our lives:

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  • The well-used washtubs were my mother-in-law’s. With quite rusty bottoms, Debbie put ice cream buckets filled with oasis into the tubs. Into the oasis, she inserted various kinds of pine, evergreens, logs and twigs to create the designs. Hubby Rick cut the birch logs years ago. I keep recycling them. After placing the tubs into position, we put a brick in the bottom to keep the tubs stable.

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  • In the summer, the grey shotgun containers are filled with flowers. Why not use them now for evergreens? Because they are quite deep, we put a brick in the bottom, then the ice cream bucket with oasis, which makes for easier decorating.

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  • When I was a young girl, this sled was a Christmas present. The baler twine pull has been on this sled for YEARS. Hubby Rick found the skates at his former house years ago. I love to combine these two items together as they represent both of our former lives.

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  • Rick made this bench. It is usually in the entry way of our house. Since the Christmas tree is now there, we moved it to the porch and used it as a centerpiece for the Rustic Wonderland.

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  • The green box? Just like a tool box that used to be on a John Deere tractor on our farm when I was growing up.

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  • This enamel wash bin looks super cute with the antique lantern, greens and pine cones. The lantern came from Rick’s parent’s house.

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  • To make the wreath fit in with everything old, we simply added a different bow. For a fun twist on displaying the wreath, hang it with burlap or ribbon.
  • A quick design tip? Fill any container with pine cones from the yard. Add a little ribbon or evergreens if you wish.

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I hope these Christmas decorations beg friends and guests into our home. A porch or entry way is the first statement people observe about the folks who live inside the house. The message I would love for people to take away from our porch? “This isn’t just a house. It’s a home.”

After Gabriel visited Joseph, he didn’t take her to his house. He took her into his home. He wanted this young teenaged-girl to feel like his home would be a safe place for her. Joseph wanted this girl, specially chosen by God to carry God’s son, to know she was loved and welcomed into his humble abode.

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What does the entrance to your home say about you and your family? Is it inviting? Does it welcome your family and visitors into a place where memories will be made? Where they will be loved and welcomed?

Want to see what our Rustic Wonderland looks like at night?

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For houses that become homes, I am grateful.

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Holy God – It’s a subtle detail, but an important one. Joseph took Mary to his home, not his house. May we follow his example and create safe places for our families, friends and guests where they will always feel loved and welcomed. Amen.

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Blessings –

Dianne

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