Gratitude Day 178 – Nativity

Sat., Dec. 15, 2018

Luke 2:7 –  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

There are so many fun Christmas decorations: trees, wreaths, bulbs, garland and such. My favorite Christmas decoration?

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The Nativity.

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For me, the Nativity draws us back to the reason we even celebrate Christmas.

Would you like to see some of the Nativity’s we have at our house?

Good. Let’s take a tour.

This was my first Nativity. My Mom gave it to me for Christmas many years ago. I love the stick-like figurines. It’s made of wood and a bit more rustic, which I love.

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This year? I now am using her creche.

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My Mom also gave me this Nativity. Notice how Mary cradles Jesus so tightly and how Jesus’ hand rest just above the Son of God’s head.

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This one hangs on the wall. Isn’t the rustic wooden frame super cool?

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I’ve always loved this particular Nativity. I loved it enough that I gave a couple of these away as presents one Christmas.

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Some are a little more cutie.

And then, there are the ornaments. I picked up out a couple favorites to show you.

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Many years ago, Rick made several of these outdoor cut-out Nativities. He gave them to our parents and other people. We still love to put it out ever year.

Why are Nativities one of my favorite symbols at Christmas? For me, they represent the crudeness of the stable. The humbleness of the first visitors, shepherds. The simplicity of how a King would be born into this world.

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Mary, Joseph, the baby. Possibly some shepherds and sheep. Maybe three kings with some gifts in hand. Nothing more complicated. Yet, these figurines tell the story of how a Savior came to save the world.

Thanks be to God.

 

For Nativities around us this Christmas, I am grateful.

Lord God – while we don’t know exactly how that first Christmas looked, we certainly like to guess. I pray the many nativities round us draw us back to this story: the stable, the shepherds, the Savior of the word. 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 143 – Hand-crafted

Sat., Oct. 27, 2018 

Mark 6:3 – Isn’t he the carpenter, the son of Mary? Aren’t James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon his brothers? 

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Please say, “Hello” to the newest piece of furniture in the Vielhuber household. This gorgeous grey table.

Would you like to hear a little bit of the table’s story?

Good. Here it is.

After we began arranging furniture in our 110-year-old Victorian Farmhouse, I couldn’t find the right rhythm for the front parlor. Initially, I tried putting the piano in there. After four failed positions with the piano and four guys huffing and puffing from moving said piano, it was moved into the dining room. Hubby Rick proclaimed, “It ain’t being moved again … ever.” Someday we may not live in this house and it will find its way out the door, but that’s another post for another day.

Arrangement two in the parlor had furniture tucked in each corner. I am not an interior designer, but I knew this arrangement wasn’t user-friendly. How can you have a conversation when each person is across the room? At a neighborhood gathering, our retired neighborhood ladies gently moved the furniture into spots where they could converse. Clearly, they didn’t want to shout across the room to each other. I got the hint. I knew it was time for a new arrangement.

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Arrangement three is pictured here. Actually, this is arrangement four because I used to have a different chair in the parlor. This chair was desperately needed in the master bedroom where we are nearing a complete room overall. So, the tall, straight back chair came down from the attic and found a new home. This chair was my Mom’s. It is missing a spindle. But doesn’t this give it character?

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After I had the seating arranged this way, something was missing. Who can ever sit here and have a cup of coffee unless there is a table in the center? Shopping my house, the best solution I could find was this old crate. Actually, I think it’s a cool crate. See the old stamping on the side.

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The crate worked for a few months, but I knew that I wanted something a little more formal for the official “parlor” of our house.

trayEnter nephew Ben. Ben works best with his hands. He inherited a couple saws that were my Grandpa Deaton’s, which he used to build things. I have one item my Grandpa Deaton built: this tray. He built it for my Grandma. They had a screened-in back porch and often ate here. She used this tray to take meals to the porch. I, too, have a screened-in porch. I, too, use this tray to take meals to the porch.

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And so, Ben began to build. Furniture. He has built a variety of items: desks, tables, end tables, etc. He has built several items for my sister Debbie. I too, wanted a hand-crafted item from Ben. Wanting a round table in this space, I found a table similar to what I wanted, sent a picture to Ben with a few instructions about dimensions and color and waited.

This past weekend when we had a cousin get-together at our house, my table arrived. I love it. The grey color fits in with the rest of my house. The dimensions are just what I anticipated.

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What do you think? How do you think the table fits into the parlor?

I’m super proud of Ben and his passion for making furniture. He’s been inspired by my Grandpa and his Great-Grandpa to develop this trade. For his day job, he pours concrete. Many of Ben’s furniture pieces combine wood and concrete, which makes his work unique from other furniture makers.

While sitting in the parlor recently and admiring this table, and my mind drifted. We know very little about Jesus’ dad, Joseph. We do know he was a carpenter. For some reason, I’ve always felt he was more of a furniture builder than a house builder. I envision Joseph teaching Jesus how to make things with his hands, using the simple tools of his day. One reason I feel Jesus was so approachable and common is because he grew up in a home where he was encouraged to develop a trade and use his hands.

My trade is not the same as Ben’s trade. I use my hands in a different way, most often on a keyboard. But our inspiration is the same. Last weekend, Ben and I shared how we will work and work at something to make it perfect. Ben could easily point out the errors in his work, rather than letting me appreciate the great details he puts into his pieces. For example, he has these little plugs on the bottom of each leg of the table. Knowing that we live in an old house that does not have even floors, we can simply sand the plugs to level out the table. How cool is that?

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A bit of a perfectionist myself, I reminded Ben … and reminded myself … that being perfect isn’t what is important. If we only accept ourselves if we were “perfect,” then we mistake ourselves for being divine. I believe only God and God’s son, Jesus, can truly be divine. My spot is not in the divine chair but the chair in which God can use me as a tool within God’s kingdom. This means I’m not going to be perfect. And thank goodness God accepts me this way!

Can I accept my non-perfect nature? Wow, some days this is hard. Rather than being perfect, maybe I just need to see myself as hand-made by God. Unique, special, imperfect but perfectly perfect in the eyes of the one who loves me. (My perfectionist side wasn’t sure I should post these pictures with the make-shift rug I have under the table … but the table is to beautiful to keep silent while I try to figure a rug out!)

Just like the little table Ben made me. It maybe imperfect to the person who made it. But to me? It’s a perfect addition to our parlor. It will be a hand-crafted item I will treasure deeply, just as God treasures each of us deeply.

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My favorite part of the table? I didn’t discover this until we moved the table, so we could take some photos … Ben’s signature on the flipside of the table. I’ll always know who made this table for me. I’ll always know it was made with love and care just for Rick and I and our home.

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For a perfectly imperfect handmade table, I am grateful.

Dear God – thank you for handcrafting each one of us. For making us unique, different and special. And loving us even when we aren’t perfect and make mistakes. Help us to allow our imperfections to help us grow in grace daily. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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