Friday, December 20, 2013

A Christmas Ball, The Sacred Everyday...Gifts from God

Our two youngest daughters, Zuzu and Grace attended a sweet Christmas Ball last week.  The ball consists of English folk dance, much like you would see in Pride & Prejudice.  It's nice.  It's a sweet ball where everyone mixes and everyone is encouraged to dance with everyone at least once.   

 Zuzu is here in her ballgown, this was a find from the resale shop.  Zuzu and my mom made the straps from the matching shawl.  Zuzu bought a couple of yards of wide black ribbon to tie around her waist and the black gloves are my mother's from the 40s (so neat).  Voila!  For under $5.00 a beautiful Ball ensemble.

Grace is here in her lovely ballgown too. : )  She ordered the pretty blue dress from ebay and added the white scarf-like sleeve and sash that flowed down the back along with rhinestone sprinkles and a head piece. It was sweet, when she was at the fabric store, an older lady was so pleased that Grace knew how to sew, the lady shared it was such a shame young ladies don't sew much.  I so agree!  Grace's ensemble was a little more expensive because the dress was bought new.  Her complete ball outfit ran right around $35.  

Our retro tree...See my little elf peeking out?  He was my Italian grandma's little elf.  See the reflectors?  Those are very old, those are from my German grandparents...See the striped ornament?  That is from our home when I was a very small little girl. : )  I love old fashioned icicles too...Sooooo retro. So period.  

Prayer time with our Charlie.  He is one of our rescued dogs as you may already know. Rebecca rescued him when she was around twelve for her birthday...He is so dramatic.. a dreamie little dog.  He looks up at us as to say... Do you still love me?  Do you?

Last night our family watched this Christmas movie with Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray along with a beautiful Beaulah Bondi.  "Remember the Night"  (1940).  It's a sweet romantic movie.

Another Christmas movie, another very sweet romance with a very important life lesson.  Sooooo darling:
It Happened On 5th Avenue DVD

 Perhaps you are wondering about our little Guisseppe?  I had shared in my last entry that last Sunday night his eye came out of socket, Monday he was in surgery; our sweet vet is trying to correct the situation, his eyelids are actually stitched shut, bless his heart.  Guisseppe is another one of our rescue doggies... He's an angel.  The vet and his staff are angels too, a farm vet in old town. We love Guisseppe's half smile...he such a good natured little man.

I'll close with this shot of Grace running to the car for her first day of work one morning...Grace is our baby at 20 years of age! we've been married for 33 years!  Where has the time gone? : )

Listening to:

Listening to: James Taylor At Christmas.  This is so mellow and Christ centered.  I love his voice and always have.  Plus...his face reminds me so very much of my precious step-dad Al, who is with the Lord now.  Al was from the Bronx and he had the sweetest heart ever.  He was such a good grandpa to our little girls...and he left us suddenly of a heart attack, my mom was sent home from the hospital with his clothes across her arms in a taxi. much my heart holds.  This brokeness makes us whole in the Lord though...Much like a Tiffany lamp?  It makes us broken yet whole to share with others, to comfort others in a sincere way...The Light shines beautifully through the broken pieces...Warm, gentle, Light to comfort and to understand...and hopefully to be understood...

It's the time of year we remember our loved ones.  We'll see Al again, he is with God.

Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.

Today is a cozy balmy day...

This is the real gift: we have been given the breath of life, designed with a unique, one-of-a-kind soul that exists forever-whether we live it as a burden or a joy or with indifference doesn't change the fact that we've been given the gift of being now and forever.  Priceless in value, we are handcrafted by God, who has a personal design and plan for each of us.

Christmas love to All,   *a thoughtful smile to you*    ~Amelia

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

'What to do With a Hurting Heart This Christmas'

The Tree is where God’s grace does heart transplants: God takes broken hearts —- and gives you His.   ~Ann Voskamp

Sometimes.... Sometimes...I have to wonder if I'm being heard here but maybe that is not so bad.  Maybe God wants it like that for an Audience of One. 

I received this blog in my inbox, it's Ann Voskamp's blog and I really enjoy her blog...The blog today was especially timely.  It's been a strange day, some of it full of the blessing of a beautiful day in the country...some of it filled with concern for our elderly little dog, Guisseppe whose eye came out of socket, yes, it was horrifying and I always amaze myself how as a mom I can buck up to things like that, swallow hard and scream to God in my spirit as I call to Him quietly...silently... Surgery was done by our beloved vet as they are trying to repair the situation.  I tend to Guisseppe watching him in the middle of the night...gently holding him, taking him where I think maybe he wants to his water...potty, etc. He can't see well out of the unstitched eye...Bless his heart, he's so innocent and so dependent on me.  Jem calls me the doc.  

We women we give our all don't we?  We should I think.  But sometimes there are seasons when we feel given out, and in my season today I'm dealing with some things.  An only child that sometimes has to parent parents....for years and years it's been this way.   Only God knows.  

So the next time you think this gal has a pie in the sky life, know this gal has also seen things that a child should never have to see or experience...this child also has a very sensitive spirit that really can't take a whole heck of a lot.  I really can't.   The same spirit in me that makes me discerning in the spiritual realm is also the same spirit that has the ability to cause much more pain for me then others.

What do I do?  I try to talk to the Father, and sometimes that is through tears.  

I count my blessings, my precious daughters and husband.  It's not quite that simple to keep the chin up on certain days I so understand, I sure don't want to sound flippant but the Father is so faithful.  He loves me and He loves you today.  If you are having a weird, turnie-twisty day you are not alone.  

 Love to all,  Amelia

Saturday, December 14, 2013

This is a Cute Little Useful Sensible Gift for You to Make: Talc-Free Dusting Powder

"The mounds of Christmas presents my grandchildren receive now would have been unbelievable to me as a teen in the 1950s,"..."Each of us kids received two gifts that year.  My brother, Donald, got his usual gift-a dress shirt-but he's still smiling!" 
-Virginia Meseraull, taken from the Dec. issue of Reminisce magazine.  The story includes a photo of the two teens, she in a lovely ballgown holding her two gifts, one appears to be perfumed lotion of some sort.  Is that not the sweetest thing?  

I just love my natural cornstarch dusting powder that I make for myself so what better gift could I make for friends and family?  And hey gals, it is soooo easy! 
 I started with this little box from Dollar General.  Hobby Lobby also has nice tins.  Or you could just give it in a bag with a little bow and call it good.  You could use a simple white cardboard box, a wooden box...whatever.  K.I.S.S.  Keep it simple sweeties.  But whatever you do keep it thoughtful! : ) 
 Here is what you will need.  Plain ol' cornstarch.  Edit:  I now use non gmo cornstarch!  A fragrance if you desire, I would think for a gift a fragrance is needed.  I chose natural lavender oil, but if you don't have any on hand and really don't give a hoot about toxins etc. make sure the recipient doesn't care about toxins either (thoughtfulness), you could spritz a light spray of perfume.  Not too much though. Less is always, always better!  I used just a couple of drops of oil to the cornstarch..  Then I placed my plastic bag, a quart sized plain jane food storage bag, the old fashioned kind with a twistie, the cornstarch, the drops of oil and shake-a, shake-a, shake-a ya go!

 Put the twistie on top.

Done!   Now isn't that  the cutest thing ever?  The box cost a dollar, you may already have one or just go super simple with a little bag and bow as I have suggested.  The box of cornstarch cost 79 cents, the oil I ordered for my everyday uses.

We have found the old fashioned food storage bags from the Dollar General or the 99 cent stores to be invaluable for an economical storage solution.  Love'em.

Here are some pics from the last month or so I thought were neat.

 Janie made the "Give Thanks" banner above, I still have it up for Christmas too and it may just stay up! : )

A foggy morn out the back window...

I always get a kick out of the girls taking the trash out in our little 'Mr. Sparky' vehicle, see the chickens hitching a ride? 

The other week we  were coming home from our beloved Veterinarian's office (God bless Dr. H.) and this huge farm monstrous vehicle was coming at us on the country road.  He pulled over on his land and as we pulled away he got out and stood by the huge wheel on that thing!  Wow.  HUGE!

Winter skies at the Forest Cathedral.

Right now I'm looking out the window watching a blustery day out..My husband is burning a brush pile. Our two youngest daughters, 20 and 23 are readying for an English Folk-dance winter ball.  Good clean fun with beautiful hand-sewn modest ballgowns.  I sure wish I would have had nice clean things like that to attend when I was their age.  

If you get the druthers you may enjoy my last blog, The Faces of Advent Part I and II sometimes I have a lot to write and think about...

To keep track of these lives we live is not just a means of enriching our understanding and possible improving our sermons but a truly sacred work.  In these pages I tell secrets abut my parents, my children, myself because that is one way of keeping track and because I believe that it is not only more honest but also vastly more interesting than to pretend that I have no such secrets to tell...
-Fredereck Buechner, excerpt from 'Listening to Your Life' Dec. 14.

I hope we are all staying in The Christmas Story this Holy Advent Season...

Love,    ~Amelia

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Advent Thoughts: Faces I See and Have Seen I & II

...My story is important not because it is mine, God knows, but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also yours.  Maybe nothing is more important than that we keep track you and I, of these stories of who we are and where we have come from and the people we have met along the way because it is precisely through these stories in all their particularity, as I have long believed and often said, that God makes Himself known to each of us most powerfully and personally.  If this is true, it means that to lose track of our stories is to be profoundly impoverished not only humanly but spiritually.   -Fredereck Buechner from Listening to Your Life, Our Stories Dec. 10.

I haven't blogged in a while, just busy going about the daily life here, my new laptop suffered a fall, poor screen has been replaced twice now by my husband, the first one was dead within a week. Everything just went kapoot.  I'm now on hub's big pc and I quite like it except for posting pics.  Speaking of... my blasted little camera has gone kapoot as well so I've been learning a new little one.  Such is life.

This eve I was looking over my husband's old parochial highschool's little magazine thumbing through it with a ho-hum attitude at some blah-blah fashion show with the priest modeling some outfit, I'm flipping through it edging to the kitchen trash until I  saw the page where it states people who have passed on.  That is always so sad to me, just so halting to my heart.  I stop.  I read, I notice.  I stop and ponder...I put the magazine in the trash noticing the avocado dip stuck not only on the mag but on my elbow, yes the elbow donning my new svelte black turtleneck as well... Sudden thoughts of when I was a wee little girl in our living room back in the early 60s.  It was dark and I do believe my parents had their film projector out and the Prince family was over.  Mr. Prince was my dad's flight instructor and he resembled an exotic prince he did.  He had jet black curly hair and a dark complexion, much like the prince of Monaco but actually improved upon, especially when he wore those dark aviator sunglasses.  I bring this up because I was horrified that evening, me a shy wee little girl stopped by the most distinguished Mr. Prince.   Mr. Prince had stopped me, gently took my arm, and sweetly, sophisticatedly told me I had avocado dip on my elbow.  I remember being horribly embarrassed at this atrocious green blob on my elbow as the debonair Mr. Prince took a napkin and gently wiped it away.   The picture of that eve was from a Reminisce magazine, the days of green Christmas trees that smelled good, icicles on that tree and the most handsome, most beautiful mom and dad ever.  My dad would hold me on his lap with me in my feet pajamas...A picture of that time early 60s period.  That time was good. I didn't know Camelot was gone, Joltin Joe had left and gone away...My little world at that time was a sweet one.

My mom and dad, is this not the sweetest?  Yeah...They are both 83 years old now...Daddy called me the other morning at 7am and tells me he wants the new Mannheim Steamroller Christmas cd for Christmas... You know, the one Rush plays on the radio?  But I want it now...  Can you order it and send it to me? ....I want it now... (He sounded just like a little boy) and I just loved it and it brought a giggle as I hung the phone up.   My mom?  She was here the other day, a delight.   She was hemming and sewing Michelle's formal for an old English winter ball...Mom and Dad are divorced but friends, Dad still calls her sweetie.  Such is life.

As a middle aged married woman now, I look at our Christmas tree today, I've tried hard to re-capture that nice time in my life back then from those innocent sweet years of the early 60s...I have some of the same old ornaments, I manage to find icicles, you know...the old fashioned silver ones...we try to artfully master mixing white lights with a few colored...Although this year the colored ones didn't work.  Rebecca tells us all, "Without the little colored lights mixed in...That is going to look like an Americani tree!...Maybe so Rebecca.  Maybe so.  But to me....the icicles and old ornaments along with the real green tree in my messed up mismatched living room is somehow some way a part of my past I try to re-capture...I don't know how at the age of 52 I've wound up with a mismatched living room, I guess these things aren't that important to me...they are but they aren't.  Ya know?  Ever since moving here I've got 'My Three Sons' style furniture mixed with country-cottage!  Ha.  That's me I guess...  Really it is.

What is wrong with this society we are in I ask many a day as my heart breaks over I try to keep a semblance of a sweet home, old fashioned in all of it's 40ishness.  A Home that reflects our Lord Jesus Christ.  A home where Christ would feel welcome and is welcome.

A home where the supper table is still a great place of warmth and nourishment to the soul despite clutter here and there...It's something to look forward to...A Home where the quiet Christmas Story can be entered into...

Have you entered into The Story?  The Christmas story?  The sweet quiet Christmas story...

One thing I do when I see the materialism and gimmicky-ness of it all?  I sing O Holy Night...That will do it.  But remember....stay in that Holy Night... Just stay and rest, rest and stay...It's okay to say No, it's okay to not participate in white elephants...It's okay.  It's just. Okay to rest in Christmas and it's beautiful whisper of Christ our Lord and Savior...Rest in Him.  Let the durbishes we laugh at ourselves in our coco chanel-style black turtlenecks with blobs of avocado dip on our elbows...Really.  Who cares.  Laugh, just laugh, perhaps smile, yes, smile up to Heaven and may we use these humilities as lessons. Lessons of humility, the humility of the Christ Child.  The lessons of that beautiful Babe in the hay...  Let it whisper to our hearts...Our little child hearts. Vulnerable. Vulnerable to Christ Jesus.  Let the world whirl....


A Face of Christmas, yesterday 12.12.13

As many of you may know I enjoy goint to smalltown with Marianna, she loves the feel of it all like I do...We get it. 

Today Marianna and I went to smalltown and it was delightful, we went to the drugstore to check out those great little gifts for one of her sisters.  Budgets aren't much for this college student making her way with scholarships from the faculty.  Even Jem and I, we are keeping it simple as usual but even a bit more simple perhaps?  The budget we spend for each of our daughters is probably less then one gift in some families but I make it stretch. : )

Let's get down to the story for today, the modern day Christmas story this Holy Advent Season.

My story for today goes like this...As I was saying we were in smalltown and had moved on to the grocery store and I hear Mar talking to a younger woman over in the dairy section...

Didn't you visit oldtown church?

I quickly turn the corner to see the familiar face of a young woman wearing a knit beanie-hat.  She looks at us and holds a finger up and says once.  Once.  In answer to Mar's question.

I remembered her from a Sunday, it's a church we've visited from time to time and have grown increasingly dis-enchanted with it ourselves, knowing something is wrong and to just stop trying to make it work, God is saying No to us.  But that Sunday the young woman was right smack-dab in front of me with darling teenagers and a handsome blue-eyed husband. She looked very urban; that same knit beanie  hat etc.  I had reached my hand out to her with a toothy smile greeting her, me trying to hold her hands with both of making sure to tell her we were new too, so this young woman would know there are other sojourners there too...that we were not establishment so to speak.  She had responded in a half-way-way...I couldn't quite figure her half-response out and I don't think she had me figured out either or was going to try.  I later noticed her on her knees at one point and thought that was awesome...

Today there was no halfway awkward smile or response from her, she started talking, bleeding her heart out... and she says those particular church people don't care for her because of her piercings and tattoos.  I notice her tattoos on her chest are Hebrew.  I quickly tell her.. Oh that is Hebrew!  She lifts her pant legs and shows me the calves of her legs...There are huge words of Faith and Love tatooed on them.  She tells me she does home Bible studies... We tell her we so understand and we do the same many times. I quickly tell her our girls have a facebook friend who also has Hebrew tattoos.

She shares much...  She shares her husband who does not know Christ was suicidal when she met him and how now still as a non-Christian he won't visit another church because he felt unwelcomed by those particular churched people.

She has no car and was there with a short pudgy darling blue eyed man who could be her dad, he was her ride and was adorable walking around the store gathering his goodies asking me how to make stuffing..(I didn't know how either) ; )  She stands there with us... shares she homeschooled for a while, she shares she stays home most days hardly getting out making her own laundry detergent... I tell her I'm vegetarian for ethical reasons...She looks at me and says..."You're kidding!" "I used to be too!  Vegan is good!"  I say...yes, it is good with a big smile.  I tell her we have our own chickens and do eat their happy eggs. 

We tell her we've felt dissed in that place too... Marianna tells her it's clearly not the tattoos she bears, we obviously don't have piercings or tattoos.  It's simply the spirit of that place, and no, it's not right and it grieves the heart of God.  We don't know why or understand it...I wonder if it's not people who just don't understand what it is like to be a new person.  Whatever it is, it's grievous to the Heart of God, Children of the Father we should know these things because our heart should be meshed with His Heart. Tattoos or Coco Chanel-look walmart black turtlenecks and long corduroy skirts...geek glasses, makeup, no makeup...who should care?  Why should one side be prejudiced against the other?   If our lives have been good and we have known Christ for a long time.. let that be a testimony.  If our lives have been a mixed bag before Christ let that be a testimony...if our lives were messed up before Christ let that be a testimony...God uses us all. 

This was a divine appointment this Christmas season. Pray for this young woman, her children and oh pray for that beautiful young man of a husband who doesn't know the Father this Christmas season.

These are just some of the faces so far of Christmas this Holy Advent Season...Will there be more?

As you can imagine our drive home was sobering...Mar was sharing she feels maybe we should write a letter to the pastor about that suicidal man, because that is pretty much the last straw...That makes us mad and rightly so.

Do the things that grieve the Father grieve us?  Do the things that break God's heart break our hearts?

I hope so.

Signing off this's me Amelia, the Seabrook girl, enjoying the woods in God's creation this Holy Advent Season.