Gratitude Day 185 – A Clean House and Soul

Sun., Dec. 30, 2018

Isaiah 32:18 – Then my people will live in a peaceful dwelling, in secure homes, in carefree resting places.

And then it was quiet.

So quiet.

After 8-9 days of company and overnight guests every night, today Hubby Rick took our eldest two grandsons’ home. He wanted to go ice fishing on his way home, so I stayed home.

To the quiet. To the peace. To time by myself.

We feel very fortunate that we’ve had so many days filled with family and friends. At times, the inn was a little full. Getting beds prepared between guests was quick. But we loved every minute of it.

Home is a favorite place. As we have remodeled our Victorian farmhouse and made it our own, it has become a place where I love to just be. It’s filled with items very meaningful and special to us. I never tire of being home alone because it is a place of peace for me.

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Home alone, I went full-on into cleaning mode. Yes, I also am a little OCD about a clean house. Getting beds ready for future guests. Cleaning bathrooms and smudged floors. Finding letters leftover from Scrabble and eaten boxes of candy left behind. Organizing the fridge leftovers. Running another load of dishes, now that I have more dishwasher soap, after making a quick trip to the store last night. Wiping down the smears and food left behind on the stainless-steel appliances. Do they ever really get clean?

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Cleaning the oven. When I opened it, I couldn’t believe I’d let it get so dirty! Seriously??!! I’m slightly embarrassed by this for those who have peeked into my oven in the last number of days.

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Load after load of laundry.

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Quietly letting the red and white roses hang their heads after looking so perky and beautiful for many days in a row.

As I cleaned, put away and did some deep cleaning, my heart felt quiet. Good. Satisfied. I love being in my house. I love it even more when it is clean. It truly becomes for me a carefree resting place.

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Yes, I’m one those people who will stay up half the night before leaving on vacation to make sure the house is clean before I leave. I want to walk into a house with everything in its place when I get home.

Some people don’t like to clean. Comments like, “It will just get dirty again,” are true. For mean, having a clean house creates a place of peace. Calm. Serenity.

As I cleaned today, I contemplated many things. What do I look forward to in 2019? What are some short-term and long-term goals for me? How can I create moments where I feel peace and serenity on a more regular basis?

I realize a clean house may not create this feeling inside of you. That’s OK. But where is that place for you? What activity helps you feel like you are back where you want to be? Where do you find peace and serenity? How have you built this into your life lately? Will you make it more of a priority in 2019?

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For a clean house and a happy soul, I am grateful.

Almighty God, thank you for each and every person who has been in our house these last many days. I feel blessed to have them in our home. And thank you for the quiet today, the opportunity to feel peace, calm and serenity. I pray these quiet moments with you today were as meaningful for you as they were for me. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 177 – Be Still

Fri., Dec. 14, 2018

Psalm 46:10 – He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

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It often feels like I go up and down these stairs no less than a hundred times a day.

In our 110-year-old Victorian Farmhouse, our bedroom and my office are on the second floor. The kitchen, TV room and other main living area are on the first floor. Laundry is in the basement. This means I haul clean and dirty laundry two flights of stairs. (We’re working on an alternative which will make laundry easier.)

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Coffee is downstairs. My computer is upstairs.

Food is downstairs. The printer is upstairs. (I don’t have wireless.)

Mail comes in downstairs. Financial records are upstairs.

Multiple times a week, my phone is on one floor and when it starts ringing and I’m on the opposite floor.

I’m heading out the door. Something I want to take with me is upstairs. I’m putting on my coat downstairs.

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Up and down. Down and up. You’d think all this going up and down the stairs would keep my legs in better shape, right? Wrong.

Hubby Rick and I have often said our house is not set-up for “old” people. We’re trying to kid ourselves into thinking we’re still not old, in spite of Grandson Dylan thinking Rick was alive when the dinosaurs were.

 

20181209_151828Recently, a group of friends invited me to participate in a sign-painting class with them. A few weeks earlier, I had my first experience with creating a painted sign. It was a great experience and I love how the sign fits into our remodeled downstairs bathroom.

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This sign-painting experience was different. We went to an actual business that helps people create beautiful signs. The business guarantees customers will love their completed sign THEY will remake the sign for you.

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While making our signs, my group of friends created our signs while stationed at the same large table. Basically, everyone else knew where they were going to hang their sign and how it should fit in with their decor. Me? Not so much. I was happy that I’d found time to go on the shop’s website (which has a whole bunch of sign options), pick out the sign I would make and get this information submitted before the deadline.

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I chose to include words from Psalm 46:10 on the sign: “Be still and know.” I had not particular reason for choosing these words. It was this sign that resonated with me the most at the time I was picking the sign.

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While making the sign, I still decisions to make: what color to stain the board? Did I want another material painted over the stain, which would allow for more potential effects with the board? What colors did I want to use? Etc., etc.

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Eventually, I chose a dark stain for the background board. Wanting it to look more rustic, I painted a lighter grey paint over the stain. The main letters became an eggplant color while “Psalm 46:10” was painted in black. I left the border boards dark to create contrast with the main body of the sign.

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When I left the shop, I still didn’t have a clue where the sign would go. Once home, I leaned it against a blank wall by the front door where it would be out of the way. For the next several ways, as I saw it every time I walked up and down the stairs. Then, I realized: why not hang the sign on the wall where I would intentionally see the sign every time I go up and down the stairs?

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So, this is where I hung the sign. Every time I come running down the stairs, I will not miss seeing these works:

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“Be still and know.”

Be still and know that whatever is going on in your life today, God is there.

Be still and know that when you walk out the door of your house, God is with you.

Be still and know that every conversation you have today, God will be present.

Be still and know there is nothing impossible with God.

Be still and know that God has your back.

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Just be still and know.

 

Now, this sign has become something I look at all the time. It’s a simple reminder every time I run up and down those stairs, I can be refocused on the One who is always with me.

Be still. Know.

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Not bad words to include in our daily lives.

For words to shape my day, I am grateful.

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Holy God – may your words be ever present and a part of our daily lives. May they shape our words, actions and deeds. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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Gratitude Day 170 – Peace at Home

Tues., Dec. 4, 2018

Luke 1:56 – Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months. Then she returned home.

I’ve had so much fun decorating the inside of my house for Christmas this year. Would you like to see some of the ways I’ve transformed my house into a peaceful Christmas place?

Good. I’d like to show you.

Just like the outside, I have some things old, just a few things new and all things simple and easy.

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Let’s begin with the tree. I’m a fresh tree tsar. Only real trees in my house. Years ago, my Mom wanted to switch to an artificial tree. She was afraid I would not come to her house for Christmas if she had an artificial tree. Yes, I still went. But in my house, I like the real deal.

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For years, I have used mismatched ornaments. A bit of this, a bit of that. Many that were given to me. This year, I didn’t plan on using new ornaments … it just kind of happened. My sister Debbie had some in her car. I had a few that I bought at Target. Soon, these were the only ornaments on the tree.

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Except this one. This ornament will ALWAYS be on our tree. It’s an ornament Rick received the first Christmas after his son Nate was killed. The funeral home had a special service for families who had lost a loved one in the last year. There were snowflake ornaments for each lost loved one on a tree, which were given to families at the service.

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On the banister going upstairs, I like to hang greens. Yes, these are artificial. (Sigh.) I haven’t figured out how to have fresh greens inside a month.

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This is the original front screen door for our house. Hubby Rick found it in the carriage house, covered with chicken poop. He power washed it, I put a coat of polyurethane on. It’s been on the stair landing since. It’s super easy to change out the decorations throughout the year.

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My Mom had a huge Christmas village. Last year, which was her last Christmas with us, she gave away pieces to her family. I’m enjoying having them out this year.

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My florist sister helped decorate my house. A bonus for me? Lots of fresh evergreen arrangements. Here’s my favorite, which is in our formal parlor.

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These decorations match nicely with the black tin on the table.

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In our dining room, Debbie made another fun arrangement for the table.

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We created a little village here, with fresh greens in the old milk bottles.

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While I prefer to decorate with burgundy over true Christmas red, we did incorporate a few red items. With the evergreens and the teal, it all fits together.

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In our television room, we have a fun centerpiece with a strand of little lights going through it.

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I’ve had this statue of Mary, Joseph and the baby for years. And I still love it.

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We decided to add just a bit of Christmas to our remodeled downstairs bathroom. The candles were given to me last year by a dear friend. They fit in perfect with the brush broom trees, which are all the rage this year.

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When I look out the kitchen window, I see these two ornaments, part of the bargain shopping I did at Target. And looked … it snowed!

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My favorite Christmas decoration of all? The Nativity. I have two in the formal parlor. This is one that my Mom gave me.

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The peaceful Nativity does not show us the wide range of emotions Mary experienced the months before Jesus’ birth. She was so unsure of everything that she stayed with her elder cousin, Elizabeth, for several months. Even though Elizabeth was too old to bear a child, she did. Shortly after Elizabeth’s son John was born, Mary returned to her little village of Nazareth. It was time to go home and prepare for the birth of her son. Did she know she would leave Nazareth again, this time for Bethlehem? Rather than giving birth at home, Mary was in a village where she knew virtually no one.

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Mary knew home is wherever you feel close to God.

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I feel this when I walk into my house. It’s a place of peace, calm and comfort.

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I pray your home will be a place of peace this Christmas; a place where you can discover anew the miracle of Christmas.

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For a home where I feel God’s peace, I am grateful.

Lord God – those months preceding Jesus’ birth were filled with so many emotions for Mary. She lived and stayed in many places. I’m confident, they all became a home for her. I pray we find your peace and calm this Christmas season in a special place; one where we can discover You anew each day. 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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Gratitude Day 12 – Demo Day!

20180412_214815(0)Fri., Apr. 13, 2018

Isaiah 58:12 – Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the foundations laid long ago; you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live.

Thursday was demo day at the Vielhuber household!

Our house is a Victorian farmhouse. It’s a decent sized house. In the 1960’s, it was converted into two apartments. When we purchased the house, it was a single-family dwelling. However, many aspects of the upstairs apartment remained. There was a tiny little kitchen. A small living room. Since moving in, I have wanted to remodel a chunk of the upstairs into a master on suite. Today, the work officially began.

20180412_214826The main area will remain a bedroom. The small living room area will become a walk-in closet. And the kitchen? A new bathroom.

This afternoon, I was working in my upstairs office. I was working through the piles on my credenza that I posted yesterday. Through a closed door, I could hear a crowbar and hammer. A little smile crept on my face. I knew what project Rick had started.

20180412_214840Rick really, really wanted to keep the little kitchen. There is another room on the backside of the upstairs. Rick sees this as a great game room. He wanted to keep the kitchen in tack, so he could make pizza when he had a bunch of guys over to play cards. While this sounds great, personally, I think a master suite is more practical.

After listening to the banging for a while, I wandered back to check progress. Last weekend, hubby Rick and I talked through how theoretically we would redesign the space. Next step: demo day.

Rick openly admitted he doesn’t demo quite like Chip Gaines. We’re not tearing everything out. We try to keep some things in place which are original to the house. Rick is also fastidious about recycling as much as he can. The shelves and cupboards are being removed carefully so they could be upcycled and used again.

Demo day is the first step. It will be a while before I can proudly show pictures of the completed area. But for today, demo day is a good day.

For this, I am grateful.

Lord God – I know we aren’t rebuilding ancient ruins. Maybe just sections of a home that are outdated and need a new purpose. Thank you for the foundation of this home. Thank you also for the various people who have lived here and felt safe and secure. May those who live here now and in the future been blessed by the having this house as a home. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne                                                20180412_214815(0)

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