After a wonderful Easter weekend, I went to bed Sunday night thinking about Monday. I started making my mental lists of what needs attention and how I need to get so much done this week. I felt the joy and hope of celebrating Christ's resurrection begin to slip away into the "real life" stuff of my normal schedule.
Maybe you feel it this morning too.
Back to the office, back to the grind. Back to putting the trash out by the curb on time, and remembering to pay that bill.
In the midst of my list-making, was reminded of Jesus' words in John 15:
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name.17 This is my command: Love each other.
I am struck by the way joy is intertwined with love. The way joy is not a passive feeling that descends out of nowhere, but is the result of love in action.
Love each other in the same way I have loved you, Jesus says.
This morning, the trash still needs to get hauled out to the road, and daily chores must get done. But I am actively looking for ways to be a part of God's love as I move through my day.
Jesus' amazing love was demonstrated through his self-sacrifice on the cross.
As a resurrected Savior, his love is continually demonstrated through you and me, by daily giving of ourselves to serve others in love.
That's how Sunday's joy will be carried into Monday....and Tuesday...and Wednesday....
That's good, good stuff, my sweet friends.
Blessings, hope and joy,
"And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15
I don't often think of being "called to peace," do you? And yet, if we quiet our hearts long enough we will hear Jesus whispering peace to our hearts, calling us.
"Peace be unto you," he told his disciples.
"Don't be afraid."
"My peace I leave with you."
Being called to peace means that like any calling, it may take a little effort on my part to prioritize it and make it a reality. It means saying "no" to anxious thoughts, and replacing them with thankfulness. It's funny how often giving thanks is coupled with peace in scripture. It's like they go arm and arm together.
Today, let God's peace rule in your heart.
Turn off the cable news - it is robbing you of peace. (I bet you already knew this, huh?)
Find a way to bless someone else.
Write down five things you are thankful for, and then thank God specifically for them.
Pray for your enemies. Not prayers of destruction, but prayers of blessing. Try it.
Go outside. Open your arms wide to God and give him praise.
Meditate on scripture. Write out Colossians 3:15 or another verse and work on memorizing it. It will transform you.
I'm convinced that the peace of Christ should be a hallmark of what it means to be a disciple. It's an unhurried grace that stands out in a loud, angry world that thrives on fear and worry.
But don't wait for peace to arrive on its own. It's a calling that must be answered.
Go out to meet it.
Respond to His call with thankfulness, prayerfulness, and choosing to bless others.
Let His peace rule in your heart.
One of the unanticipated serendipities of choosing Fridays to write about finding and creating beauty at home, is that my eyes have been opened in new ways to see beauty.
My goodness, beauty is everywhere!
I've become much more aware of my senses - the things that smell good, look pretty, feel nice, taste delicious and sound sweet...these are such gifts, and I think they are here for us to enjoy them.
I've made a deliberate effort to celebrate little snippets of beauty when I find them.
One of the most delightful ways to celebrate beauty is to bring the outside in.
Although spring is around the corner, I found some dried grasses and pods outside that made me smile. They're coming inside with me.
They will add texture without a lot of color - and sometimes that's just the right touch.
Now, I loved this post over at Thistlewood farm about brightening a dreary day with natural elements. Decorating a mantel like this definitely feels like spring, especially when you spray paint twigs and branches a gorgeous blue!
Around here, the wildflowers will soon be blooming - the blue bonnets are already popping up - and I've gathered up some small bud vases to have handy for a plucked bloom or two.
There is something about touches of nature, brought indoors, that are calming, reassuring, and grounding. It's as if our souls are thirsty for tangible reminders of God's grace and beauty, and these provide small tokens of His essence.
Nature helps us disconnect from the digital clamor around us, and reminds us, not only of our Creator, but of our place within His good creation.
We are created to be connected with our natural world.
We do this by spending time outside in creation, and by bringing the outside in whenever possible.
Isaiah 55:12 For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
What a picture of joyous celebration - outside - among the trees and hills. Each tiny flower, each twig, each blade of grass sings His praise.
How will you bring the outside in? What is your favorite decorating touch from nature? Are you inspired to try something new?
Have a beautiful Friday, everyone!
A Wednesday "Small Thing" for your sanctuary sanity:
Several years ago, my son's youth group was doing a huge garage sale as a camp fund raiser. Church members were to drop off their donated items on one particular night, so the kids could unload and set up for the big sale. Just before I was to take Grayson to the church to work on the set up, I thought I'd take a last look at the informational flyer that had been sent home with the kids.
The camp requirements were clearly stated:
Well, good golly almighty! FOUR BAGS?? I thought he was only required to WORK, not bring stuff to sell. I knew I should have reviewed the instructions earlier!
How was I going to come up with FOUR BAGS of stuff....in time to make it to church?
Game face on, I grabbed 4 bags and headed upstairs to the closets. I checked my watch. Only 15 Minutes before departure! I'll never be able to do this.
Imagine my complete surprise (and slight embarrassment) to EASILY, EASILY fill all the bags before running out the door!
Here's the other surprising thing: the lack of deliberation made it easy to say goodbye.
I didn't hold things gently in my hands and gaze longingly at them. I didn't clutch outgrown clothing to my chest and breathe in the memories.
No, I jammed them in bags, threw them in the trunk, and hit the gas pedal.
It was over so quickly.
Today's Small Thing is to take ONE trash bag and fill it up with either TRASH or STUFF to donate.
Clutter, be gone!
I am living proof that it can be done very quickly...and without tears, I might add. Perhaps the ticking clock helped me fight sentimentality as I stuffed the bags, so you might want to consider limiting your time to about 10 minutes.
Don't, I beg you, DON'T spend too much time on this! Set a timer and get moving.
Just say a quick goodbye, and be done with it.
It's easier than you think.
Hey, whatcha doin' on Saturday?
Why not come and meet up with me!
If you're in the Dallas area, I'll be at my favorite place, Paws for Reflection Ranch on March 18 from 10-2.
I'll have Flash (and Henry) with me, and we will be signing books and supporting the Ranch Riders. Ranch Riders are participants in the therapeutic riding programs, and this event is an opportunity for them to demonstrate their skills, celebrate their accomplishments, and enjoy a fun day at the ranch with family, friends and guests!
Paws for Reflection Ranch is owned by Melode and Stan Serenet. This amazing couple puts their heart and soul into helping people from all walks of life through animal-assisted therapies, education and recreation.
It is important work, beautiful work.
With their professional staff and a lot of special animals, every single individual who comes here has positive experiences that help them in their daily lives.
When you visit, you'll see not only the horses, but you'll also find goats, pot-bellied pigs, mini-horses, dogs, and a bunch of little furry friends in the petting barn. I hear there is even a new mini donkey on the farm!
It will be a day of fun, food, activities, and animals - all for a great cause.
I'll have plenty of copies of both Flash, and Flash Makes New Friends for you to purchase, and best of all you'll be able to kiss Flash and Henry on the nose! It will be great to see you there!
Are you facing a tough and scary Monday? Are there things that are just beyond your control that are making you feel afraid? Anxious? Knees knocking?
I want to encourage you today: God's got this.
Everything's going to be okay.
"Don't be afraid," is God's message over and over throughout scripture and throughout history. He whispers it in the wind, He speaks gently, He envelops us with love.
"I've got this," the Holy Spirit breathes.
It's easy to become fearful when we insist on certain outcomes, and try to force God's hand to do our own bidding. We think we know best: we demand it and then bite our nails in worry that God will fail us.
How much better to leave the outcomes to our good and gracious Father! Let Him do His perfect work - the One who sees the whole scope of creation and our place in His plan - He will not fail us, even when the answer is different from our own, small ideas.
Don't be afraid.
It's His word to you this morning.
Let His peace fill your mind and heart.
He is never late, He is never unkind.
He will not fail you.
No matter what you're facing, He's got this.
Don't be afraid.
I travel with my bed pillow.
That's how much I love and need it.
It supports my neck just right, and helps me get a good night's sleep. It's worth all the space it takes up in my luggage, even if I have to pay extra for baggage.
There is nothing better than sleeping with a good pillow.
In recent years, I've made a point of replacing all of the old bed pillows in each bedroom with better ones. Nice ones.
I've found that nothing says "sanctuary" like wonderful pillows, and plenty of them.
Considering that we spend one-third of our lives in bed, choosing the perfect pillow is essential for getting good sleep, and promoting overall personal health.
So how do you choose the right pillow?
These days, there are lots of options:
Stomach and back sleepers should choose a pillow that offers support for the neck, and is not super lofty. I personally love my contoured memory foam pillow, similar to this one:
Side sleepers should look for something puffier to fill in the space created by shoulders, to keep the neck aligned properly.
Most pillow packaging will show which body position it is designed for, and it's important to know how you sleep.
Filling: From hypo-allergenic fills to down feathers, there is a pillow for every preference. You can even find fillings made of buckwheat hulls, which shift along with your positions. I love down pillows, but have found that the "synthetic down" kind are just as comfortable, and retain their shapes a bit better. Pillows with a combination of feathers and down are an option that help keep the shape and support, while offering the softness that feels so delightful.
Speaking of softness: the level of packing makes all the difference. A firm pillow will have a higher level of material packed inside, while a softer pillow will obviously have less. I stand in the pillow aisle of the store and literally hold the pillow to my head and neck to see how it will actually feel.
I choose a firm, king-sized pillow as a "body pillow" to put between my knees when I lay on my side, and to support my arm. I can't sleep without this extra pillow in bed with me...it's that important.
My favorite place to find good, quality pillows at a reasonable price is HomeGoods. For my guest beds that don't get lots of use, I look for medium soft pillows with a polyester filling. One day I may spring for down filling, but the ones I've found there do the job beautifully.
They literally whisper, "come and sleep, you know you want to."
Now, if you are like me, and you put yourself (and your own personal comfort) last on the priority list (what with the needs of others and all), buying a new pillow for yourself feels like an unnecessary luxury.
I want you to stop that thinking right now.
I hereby give you permission to go get yourself a new pillow.!
Shoot, go ahead and get two.
For the cost of a meal out, you can dramatically improve your sleep, alleviate your neck and back problems, AND you'll feel absolutely pampered in the process.
Finding your perfect pillow will be the best thing you'll do for yourself all year.
Tell me: what's YOUR favorite pillow? Firm? Soft? Down? Foam?
On Wednesdays, we purposefully do a "Small Thing" together that helps create a sense of sanctuary at home. If you're floundering with disorganization and feeling overwhelmed, this is a great place to start.
Just do this one, small Wednesday thing with me! I promise you'll be glad you did.
I'm good at starting projects.
I'm not quite as good at actually finishing them.
I have lots of things I'm "working on," (having started them some time ago,) including painting all the wainscoting in my house, setting up a new filing system, cleaning out the flower beds, organizing my closet, and rearranging my studio.
Those are my big projects, all in varying states of Unfinished.
Then there are the smaller tasks that never seem to make it into the "Done" category: laundry, bills, dishes, and good grief, putting shoes away that have been by the back door for too long.
I'll be honest, some tasks never even make it to the "Begun" category, because I simply procrastinate starting them at all.
This week, I've been committed to finally checking some things off my list, and it feels absolutely wonderful!
I think I'd forgotten how euphoric it is to finish something. Completing a few small things has inspired me to complete even more!
Don't laugh, but....
I cancelled an online account to a membership I no longer use. Whew!
I finally got a toll tag for my vehicle.
I put a trash can in my office.
I paid a bill that I'd been ignoring.
I've got to say...the joy of seeing these tasks checked off my list makes me feel ten pounds lighter.
Today's Small Thing is to check something off your list.
Instead of leaving it half-done (I'm looking at you, laundry pile!), take it all the way to the finish line and call it "DONE!"
Savor the victory of putting the last clean sock away.
Enjoy seeing your kitchen sink shiny and clean.
Experience the happiness of paying that bill.
Feel the relief when you make that appointment.
Try not to dance when you drop off the bag of clothing donations that's been riding around in your car for a month.
You choose your task...just get 'er done!
What will you check off your list? What's been bugging you? What's THAT THING that will feel so very, very good when it's finally DONE?
Create some sanctuary for yourself by completing one thing today.
Chances are, you have a hodge podge of framed prints, loose photos in drawers, and a gazillion photos stuck in your phone or computer. You'd love to figure out a way to display your favorites, but need some inspiration to pull it off.
Framed photos can proliferate like bunny rabbits and end up looking cluttered instead of artfully arranged.
That's where a gallery wall can gather up your photos into a wonderful display.
Not only will it make your photos shine, it will really add to the feeling of warmth and fun in your home.
I recently made a gallery wall by turning recent family photos into black and white prints, and framing them in simple black frames. Using one color for frames creates a clean, uncluttered look, even though there are lots of them on the wall.
I did not use a fancy layout system for my wall, but basically started pounding nails. My thought was that I will continue adding to this collection, and I want the freedom to "add on" without getting stuck in perfectionism. All the frames are from Walmart, and I chose differing sizes and matting combinations to keep it interesting.
Here are a few inspirations that I collected on Pinterest and elsewhere to get me going.
This is from Pottery Barn, and I love the use of clocks and street signs mixed in with this travel themed collection.
I love this idea, using an old door to display photos! Instructions are on the website.
Kara at LillianHopeDesigns designed her wall with the "just start hanging" technique. By combining photos with rustic signs and frames, she created a fun, yet meaningful grouping.
If you don't feel comfortable eyeballing things and pounding random holes in the wall Pinterest is again to the rescue with tons of layouts you can borrow. This is from livelovediy.com
A few tips:
When putting photos together on a wall, I find that simple is better.
So...need a weekend project? A gallery wall gives you nearly instant satisfaction, and you'll love seeing your favorite photos artfully arranged in your sanctuary!
What's YOUR favorite gallery tip??
On Wednesdays here at Home Sanctuary, we try to do a little something together to create order at home. "Order" is our theme song. Often, it doesn't take much effort to make a huge difference in how we feel about things.
Now, it doesn't take a super secret agent to figure out where "KAOS" has been at work at our house. Just take a look at our bathroom counters. Between the toothpaste, hairspray, makeup and curling irons, some mornings it's difficult to even SEE the counters. And that's with NO KIDS in the house. #SAD!
Let's do a Small Thing today!
Let's "Get Smart" in the bathrooms and clear off those counter tops.
You could take your arm and do a clean sweep of everything into a drawer and be done with it, or you could whip out your handy cleaners and gadgets to do a more thorough job of actually cleaning. You'll probably enjoy the latter action for a lot longer, but I've used the first method many times and even that gives you some satisfaction.
You might even enlist some Junior Agents, if you have some around, to do some spraying and wiping. They can be a bit trigger happy, but they are often eager for a top secret assignment if given the right tools and a time limit.
Clean bathroom counters make me feel really, really smart. And just a little sexy. ;)
How about you? What's the strangest thing you found on your bathroom counter today? We can use the Cone of Silence while you share....