Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas~Crowning Glory


I have enjoyed so much sharing my photos and insights into the making of my ‘homespun Christmas’, but I have one more thing I must share before I can call this blog series complete.



One of the most delightful parts of the Christmas season is the array of songs, filled with cheer, celebration, and messages about our Lord Jesus Christ.



These are usually reserved for this one month out of the year, so we play them and we sing them again and again, while we can, because at any other time of the year, our audience would give us that look that says “Are you singing Christmas songs?


I love them all, and I savor the tradition of all the songs I grew up with. But the Christmas song list now includes so much more than ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Silver Bells’ and even the one about those lovely, warmed chestnuts. (Just what are chestnuts anyway?)



These newer melodies of Christmas bring the year-round-worthy messages of hope and peace, and celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, the Messiah and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, all with a more current sound and lyric. But the timeless message is the same!



This message takes center-stage in the celebration of this extra special holiday, and for me, He truly is the reason for the season!

So, as you make your final preparations for anticipated holiday gatherings and feasts, I’m sharing some of this new and fresh Christmas music with you, along with some  favorites brought back to life with new breath!. May you feel joy and refreshed elation! Just click on the link below.

Christ-Centered Christmas Music

Contemporary Christian Christmas Music


The title of this final draft says ‘crowning glory‘, but I’m not referring to any grand finale of my own making.


This is all about giving my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ the highest place of honor at my holiday table of celebration. The honor to which He is worthy!


“But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12


From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!




Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 4

When I think about what Christmas looks like to me, in fact the whole holiday season, it would not be complete unless all the enduring elements which I’ve come to expect are included in the picture.




The adorning of the house with all the colors and symbols of Christmas time, digging through the stored-away bins of decorations like a character straight out of Whoville. Somehow, every year it’s still a fond exercise in tradition.


Then there are Christmas cookies and all kinds of baked deliciousness in which we indulge, forcing back those pesky feelings of guilt and shame. After all, it is Christmas, and our New Year resolutions haven’t begun yet.

So we bake the cookies, we make the candy and fudge, we go to those holiday parties and enjoy this special once-a-year celebration!


Lastly, I love to see at least a little bit of snow during the Christmas season. It just feels right! I hang my ‘Let it Snow’ sign in hopes that it will come, at least for Christmas eve.


Aside from these, there are the things which you can’t buy, or bake. They are the gifts which we hold in our hearts, and the presence of those we love and cherish, when we lay aside the challenges in our relationships and choose peace and goodwill at least for now.



The most precious of those unseen gifts are the memories of the ones we miss, especially during this time of the year. I understand all too well that the memories are not all good, some are painful and sad and irreparable, and we work through that the best we can, but still…. they are missed.


(This is my Dad ‘aka Santa’, several years before he took his journey to heaven)


For some of my family, this will be a first. A first Christmas without a brother, an uncle, a friend. I have my list, as I’m sure you do, too.


The decorations, the cookies, and the snow… of course all of those things are momentary.


And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling. How could it be so? It came without ribbons, it came without tags, it came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before, What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas perhaps, means a little bit more?” ~ Dr. Seuss



Truly, Christmas is a matter of the heart…. a heart for family… a heart for goodwill……. the heart of a Savior, full of love for mankind, the brilliant star which outshines all the other details of my perfectly painted picture of Christmas.


“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—” Ephesians 2:8


…the best gift of all!


(Photos by Robin Abrams-A Song In My Heart)





Faith, family, Home Life, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 3

One of the most enjoyable holiday crafts I’ve done is what I lovingly refer to as ‘song trees’.


My initial goal of 6-8 paper song trees, quickly grew to a couple dozen, as they were so beautiful, and easy to put together, that I gave away about as many as I made for myself.



Here is one of my best, time-saving, holiday decorating tips: I use quilt batting, torn into shelf-size pieces, in the bookshelves to create a ‘snowy’ background. It can be purchased by the yard or in a roll. Rather than empty the bookcases of the regular, year-round décor, I simply push the items toward the back of the shelf, draping and covering them with the torn pieces of quilt batting. (See examples above) There you have, an instant, simple backdrop for all those festive & beautiful holiday colors!


As a child, I never realized how hard my Mother must have worked in order to assure that all her children would wake on Christmas morning to the hope and promise every child holds on to during the holidays.

I believe the most precious memories about Christmas are rooted in the traditions which are repeated every year….things that are sure….and predictable. It’s an unspoken expectation that everything which is perhaps unstable about this present life will, at least for a brief moment, come back into order and take the shape of something familiar which we can recognize.

No matter how simple that tradition may seem, it causes the uncertainty which threatens our peace of mind to lose some of its power, even if only for a short time. One of those traditions in our house is waking up to lots of goodies in our Christmas stockings.

I have to say (or confess) though, that a few times over my past 30 years of motherhood, “Santa” has been a little late in filling the stockings before the children woke up on Christmas morning! I think he was too tired from the long night of delivering presents all over the world, and he slept in just a little too long…. or maybe he forgot to set his alarm clock….

The kids were so good about waiting patiently for “Santa” to get out there and magically cause those empty stocking to become overflowing with surprises, never calling him out for his untimely oversight.


To my recollection, my Mother… um.. I mean Santa… never forgot to fill the stockings of my siblings and I.

Every year, we knew exactly what we would find… a large orange in the toe of the stocking, topped off with assorted nuts still in-the-shell, lots and lots of old-fashioned ribbon candy, colorful hard candies, peppermints, and yummy old-fashioned chocolate-covered crème drops! Every now and then, the hard candies would stick to the felt-stockings, but it made no difference to us! We just pulled it off and savored it anyway! These little morsels of sugary sweetness kept us happy all day long!

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

~Arthur Conan Doyle

Faith, family, Home Life, Uncategorized

A Homespun Christmas Part 2

Rustic & cozy. Warm & soothing. Outdoorsy & simple.


These were my goals in creating a wintry, get-away feeling right here in our own home.


The next mission was to gather lots and lots of branches to make walking through the house feel like a stroll through a woodland. Now, where am I going to find the branches?


Luckily for me, Andy knew someone who happened to have a humongous mountain of branches from their orchard. With gloves and cutters in hand, I sifted through the heaps to find the perfect ones, while my patient husband assisted. Not all branches are alike, and not just any would do! No! I had a vision and they had to be perfect!


Once home with our bounty, we sorted them, grouped them, potted them in small containers of plaster, and sprayed them with white texture which, once dried, looked like a dusting of delicate snow. (See picture below)


The beautiful branches were placed strategically around our home and imparted that warm feeling you get when you sing…”Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…Jack Frost nipping at your nose….Yes, you know the one!


Growing up, it was always tradition that very early Christmas morning, still in our pajamas with sleepy eyes, and before any presents were opened, we gathered around together and listened as the story of Christ’s birth was read from the big family bible.


We knew about Jesus and that this time was a celebration of His birth, and though we tried to listen, our youthful minds were filled with the anticipation of tearing open the colored packages which had our names on them.


Andy grew up with slightly different traditions, so we merged many of them and created our own special moments to remember. Taking a few minutes out of the excitement of gift-giving, to honor Jesus Christ and remember His birth was an important tradition that we agreed to continue as our children grew up.

Now, as our grown children bring our grandchildren to our home on Christmas Eve, they are hearing the same story of Jesus’ birth, as we open our big, family bible and read aloud the very same words that I heard as a child, the same words that were inspired by God Himself and were written into His Word, to be read and passed down to each generation, piercing the heart of man with the knowledge that God loves us so much, that He sent His perfect Son to a sinful world!

Here is this wonderful scripture of hope!

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
5 To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
6 And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Luke 2:1-14 (King James Version)




Ownership of My Faith


There are many who can state ‘I’ve been in church my whole life’.


I am one of those people. Even though my Mother was left alone to raise her eight children, she was committed to making sure we were in church regularly. Can you imagine today, being a single Mom, trying to get 8 children dressed, fed, and ready for church every Sunday morning? No one would have faulted her for taking the easy road and just staying home.


Being in God’s house, building relationships with other believers, and learning who God was, established a firm foundation on which my own personal relationship with God could grow, accompanied by the living examples of those in my life who lived out their faith in God in tangible ways.


“For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,  my confidence since my youth. 
From birth I have relied on you;  you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.” Psalm 71:5-6


God has always been real for me, I have loved Him since I was a child. I have always loved going to church, singing about Him, feeling the emotional connection with others who, more often than not, became more like extended family to me.


Didn’t all those things mean that I was already a Christ-follower by default? Absolutely not. There came a time when I had to own it. I wasn’t a Christian because my Mother was, or my siblings were, or because my Dad was a preacher, or because I hung out with Christian people.

Those were all wonderful, influential things in my life, but to be a true Christ-follower, it had to be mine, my own personal relationship with God my Creator, my confession and repentance of sin, my statement of trust in Jesus as my Savior and Lord.


That moment came when I was in the 4th grade, when it was no longer just what I believed, but it became who I was! Of course, as I continued to grow and mature and learn, I understood more and more what that meant.


My husband and I are committed to raising our children in church as well. We want them to have that foundation of faith, to know that they were thought of, wanted, created, and loved by God Himself, and it is our prayer that when they reach the age of understanding, that they will choose to follow Christ and grow their personal relationship with God.




“…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15




I will never forget the day, when my oldest daughter, who had just graduated from high school and was beginning life as an adult, made this statement. She said, “I don’t want to just go to church because you guys do. I want to go because I choose to.” That is what you call ‘keeping it real’. She owned it. And I respected her for it.


Want to know more about what being a Christ-follower means? I’ve included a link to a ministry which talks about who God is and how to begin a relationship with Him. This is a ministry which I personally trust to share the truths in God’s Word with kindness and compassion.

How To Know Jesus



Faith, Uncategorized

Can We Learn the Language of Love?

Sometimes, there are no words…. all that can be mustered is silence, words suppressed and trapped beneath cares and trials so heavy, one cannot be rescued or restored by their strength alone.


How many times have you fallen to your knees, bringing your burden to the feet of Jesus, and no words can come, but only your tears? No words come to your lips, and no audible words are spoken from God himself, yet when you rise, you’ve no doubt that your prayers reached heaven, and that your weary soul has found rest in the presence of God’s loving kindness.


It is in these times of weakness and weariness, that God’s strength becomes a shining light! Even without words, His light permeates above, underneath, and throughout any barrier, whether it be man-made or of spiritual origin. There is no place where His light and His presence cannot shine.


“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.” Psalm 19:1-6


Because man was created to not only need, but to thrive in relationships with others, He endowed us with language.


Unfortunately, as with everything else God created with specific, perfect purpose, influences of evil took hold of it and distorted it into a weapon…barbaric, course, perverse, and sometimes just ugly. It is manipulated like a sword, striking anyone in its path, cutting into the depths of the soul, beyond mere flesh and bone. Leaving scars in some fashion, leftover reminders of the power of unkind words and accusations.




The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18




If only we felt the pain inflicted upon those who receive our dangerous weapon of words, then perhaps we would never again unleash them so carelessly.



Yet, are we not all human? Are we not overcome by emotions which cause us to lose control of the most untamed member of our bodies…our tongues?



They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. Psalm 64:3



If only we, as citizens and rulers of this planet, could harness and master this one, small but powerful part of ourselves, what an amazing world it would be for all.


For if every word were an instrument of kindness, encouragement, compassion and love, then every person would walk with their faces to the sun, eyes bright with hope and promise, and with their heads held high, not in haughtiness or selfish pride, but because  we would be compelled to seek out others with whom to share the warmth which would be on the brink of bursting forth upon those who need it.




Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24



Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. Jeremiah 1:9


I think maybe that was the intent of words after all….

Faith, family, Uncategorized

A Really Good Movie

Today, I’m writing a movie recommendation rather than a story.



Some movies entertain, make my mood lighter with laughter, some make my eyes leak and tug at my heart. And then there are some which have a longer lasting affect, like this one, for instance.



My family enjoys watching faith-based movies. Along with great story lines intertwined with core family values, they encourage us in our faith in God.


The movie ‘War Room’ is a faith-based story which highlights the value of having a prayer life, likening it to a military war room, where top experts and leaders meet to strategize and develop a plan in order to fight an effective battle against their adversaries.


The main characters in this movie located their ‘war rooms’ literally inside a closet in their homes. On paper, they wrote down their petitions to the Lord, the names of their loved ones, bible scriptures written out by hand, and taped them on the walls.


Then, within the walls of their war rooms, they went to battle… spiritual battle. Armed with the Word of God, calling out their battle cries of truth and faith. Trusting, believing, surrendering the fight to Him, and upon leaving the war room, they are adorned with a medal of strength and confidence that God is in control. Mixed with a little bit of humor, the family stories in this movie will draw you in as it all unfolds.


We have seen this movie twice and loved it both times. I hope you are able to view it and that you will be encouraged. This movie is no longer in theaters, but is available on DVD.


I’ve included a link to the movie trailer:

“War Room” official movie trailer


Faith, Living Life, Uncategorized

Some Days Are Just Like That

Writing has alluded me as of late. In light of all the major disasters taking place across this country, anything I had thought about writing seemed quite insignificant in comparison.


When I began this blog, my desire was, and still is, to leave my readers with hope, inspiration, and smiles. 


Well, life isn’t always that easy, is it? Mixed in with those good days of joy and laughter, rainbows and sunshine smiles, there are a few cloudy days, mumble-jumbled emotions and uncertainties. I get it.


Some days, it takes more strength than what we currently possess to stand up straight and tall and to find that signature smile. I get that, too.


Just being real here, I’ve had more of those kind of days in the last couple of weeks than I have in quite a while. It’s been a struggle, which I’ve kept secretly hidden deep within myself. Many people don’t want to hear about those kinds of days, and to share that with you… is scary. But you know what? I know that you, my fellow travelers in this messy, human journey of life, get it. 


So, in keeping with my initial objective, this post will not end without hope. Just know, that on those difficult days, when you are feeling alone in your struggle, that you are NOT alone at all. You can remember that at least one person completely understands and can relate. That would be me. 


On those days, be kind to yourself, sip on a hot cup of soothing coffee, or tea. Pray, and be a couch-potato if you need to. Go to bed early and rest well, my friend.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28




Faith, family, Uncategorized

Our Unexpected Detour

We had just departed from my older brother’s home in Oregon, after spending a few days visiting him and his wife. It had been a great time, as usual, but we were ready to head for home, and we were only a few hours from our destination.

We had borrowed my Mother-in-law’s motor home, an older, open-designed model, with a nice, comfy couch located directly behind the driver’s seat. This is where I sat as we made our way down the highway.



I brought along some journals, one of which I had been writing in periodically since the beginning of our marriage. As it often goes, there were more entries from the earlier years of our lives than the more recent ones. Included were details about our first-born daughter, Melinda. Memories of her infancy, toddler-hood, and many of her first words and such.

I had also started journals for my other children, Michael, who was about 11 at that time, and 1 & 1/2 year old Marty. I thought the long drive would give me a chance to jot down more cherished memories.


We left LaPine before noon, stopping in a neighboring town to top-off the large gas tank before resuming the long drive home.

Andy drove, of course, with Marty seated next to him, buckled into his car seat in the front passenger seat. Melinda and Michael were enjoying the ride in the bedroom, which was located at the very rear of the motor home.


Less than 10 miles from where we had stopped for fuel, as we rounded a curve in the highway, the front tire of the driver’s side blew without warning.

I’m thankful for the good driving skills of my husband, for he was able to keep control of the motor home, as he carefully pulled the vehicle onto the shoulder.

As we came to a stop, smoke was billowing up from under the driver’s seat, and into the interior of the motor home, quickly becoming thicker and darker. Andy said, “Get out!”

I dropped everything, yelled to Melinda and Michael to come on and grabbed my baby out of his car seat while trying to stay calm. Andy struggled for a few seconds to get the latch on the old door to come free, and Melinda said, “Open it, Dad!”

By the time we all got out the door and began walking away from the motor home, the driver’s side was engulfed in flames. By the time we were a good safe distance away, looking back at the peril from which we had escaped, the entire motor home was an inferno.

The thick, black smoke smothered both lanes of the highway, with the fire so intense it literally melted the asphalt beneath it, and ignited the dry brush along the roadway.


Kind witnesses of our distress stopped to see if we were okay, as the kids and I stood crying and in shock, watching the motor home be reduced to nothing more than the frame it was built on. The only thing that survived the blaze was a pair of cast-iron wall hooks which I had purchased at an antique store. One good Samaritan literally gave Melinda the shoes off her feet.

We left the motor home with absolutely nothing. The irreplaceable journals, my purse, phones, baby supplies, identification. Nothing. I had packed some of our best blankets on the motor home, including the wedding-ring quilt which I had pieced, crafted, and hand-quilted myself….. It was all gone.


After the fire was out and all the legalities were taken care of, a local man who had extinguished the brush fire took us to his home, where he and his wife extended open arms and warm hospitality at what we had just endured. We quickly came to realize that they were fellow Christians, and he was a singing cowboy for Jesus, no less! God-sent is how we would describe them.


They drove us to a quaint, near-by town, where we waited for friends to come take us home.

Even though we were all okay and extremely thankful to have come out of the ordeal unscathed, the effort to process what had happened, and the numbness we felt from the traumatic events, was still with us well into the evening. In fact, all the children slept in our bedroom that night. We just needed to be together.


Sometimes, my mind plays out the other possible outcome. The more I think about it, the more frightened I get, but I remind myself that we were not alone that day.
There was one more passenger with us…Jesus.

Faith, Uncategorized

Adorned In His Righteousness

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.  Isaiah 61:10

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:3-4  (I am not trying to say here that we should not fix our hair, or dress nicely, etc. But I see this scripture saying that our true beauty as human beings is more than what those things may define it as, with the second part of the passage describing from where our beauty should be rooted.)


I was attending preschool in the small city where we lived. It was nearly summer, and my class went on a special outing to the city swimming pool.


The city park had a separate, very nice kiddie pool. The large, round pool was a small child’s delight, where one could play and splash with abandon. Evenly spaced around the perimeter of the circular-shaped pool, were small fountains which sprayed water up and into the pool.
Some memories are embedded in our minds because they are marked by strong emotions, so although I was quite young, I have never forgotten this particular day.

That day, my Mother dressed me in a red, one-piece, very plain swimsuit. I remember clearly like it was yesterday, feeling so terrible in it. Even at preschool age, I apparently had some awareness of fashion, or perhaps it was an early introduction to peer pressure, comparing my attire to that of the other girls. Either way, to that small, shy girl, it was not a good day.


I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and I sat along the shallow edge of the pool that day hanging my head and crying. I didn’t want to play.
I can still see myself sitting there. I would liken it to going to the prom dressed in a plain, hand-me-down, dull, lifeless dress, while all the other girls wore beautiful, sparkly gowns. You would want to find a corner to shrink into.



That’s what I felt that day. I’m not blaming my Mom. She was a busy mother with limited resources, and I’m sure she dressed me in something we already had, and probably thought it decent and adequate. I can only speculate that my teacher must have spoken to my mother about what took place that day.

What I can tell you is that my wise Mother put her seamstress skills to work that evening, hand-crafting a new swimsuit for me. The next day, when my preschool class went to the pool, I donned a cute, two-pieced, brightly colored swimsuit!


My countenance changed, and I played and splashed, laughed and dipped along with all the other children! (This too, I remember like it was yesterday.) I was a different child. I didn’t feel like a shy girl that day!




What I wore that second day changed my countenance! It changed how I felt inside.
And what I felt inside, showed on the outside.


Oh, you know there is a life-lesson in this story, right!?


In a secular sense, we change our outward appearance in order to change how we feel on the inside.


But God works differently. He begins on the inside of our being, and the inner changes manifest in our outward reflection.


When we no longer keep God confined to the sidelines of our lives, but invite Him to dwell within us, becoming vulnerable and moldable, surrendering our will to His, we are changed from the inside, out.


When we allow God to change us on the inside, His righteousness and His goodness begins to manifest in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and we begin to reflect the characteristics of Christ.



Although His love and abiding presence brings humility to our nature, we don’t hang our heads in shame. No!
Our spirits soar, and dance, and play with delight in Him!
We no longer wear that dull, lifeless old swimsuit. We have a new suit! It is new, and colorful, and it was fashioned by our Father’s own hands!



Shake off the shame of that old suit, and raise your hands in freedom and joy and dance in your new suit!


Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.   Colossians 3:12-14