Words in the window

IMG_20170518_065834453This is my view today as I chop veggies to go in the freezer. There’s a scent of gardenia wafting over the freshness of the zucchini, squash, and onions simmering on the stove and the house is quiet. I’m cleaning out the fridge and preparing for a delicious casserole one of these days when I’m pressed for time and still in need of sustenance.

My cat watches my every move from his pod on top of the washer in the laundry room. It’s peaceful here today.

I had to take my glasses off as I transferred the steaming concoction to a strainer, but it didn’t stop me from reading the words on the ornament left on the window sill since Christmas, “Be cheerful and pass it on!”

I’m as struck by these words as I was the first time I saw them. Such a simple message. I originally bought the ornament for someone who has trouble being cheerful. (Subtle as a hammer, I know. grin) When I got it home, however, I noticed the ornament had a crack running through it. That’s not exactly what you look for in a gift, is it? A broken reminder to do something that’s often difficult? It just didn’t seem like a good idea to pass it along…or to throw it away. The “obvious” alternative was to place it atop a small silver cup on the window sill as a reminder to myself.

I’m convinced that’s what God wanted all along. The makers of this ornament meant for it to be perfect and to hang on a tree for a few days or so once a year. In the midst of all the other decorations of the Christmas season, this message might have gone unnoticed. But placed as it is on my window sill? Each day I see these words reminding me to spread the cheer that comes as a result of His coming among us to bring us hope and salvation. Each day I am reminded that things don’t have to be perfect for me to be cheerful and that I can change the world in simple ways just by being willing to be used in whatever way and in whatever place He chooses to put me.

Sounds like the words in the window were meant for me…and maybe, you, too. What will you do today to be a person of influence right where you are?

BE CHEERFUL and pass it on.

Grace and Peace!




Following the star

I usually change the artwork in our house around to match my mood or the season.  At Christmas, I took down the painting over the mantle and cleared off all the extras to make room for the Nativity set.  I hung the star-shaped lid of a box over the manger.  It was a bit larger than the scale of the nativity set, but I thought it kind of fit since I think the original Christmas star was pretty spectacular in size, as well.

This past Monday, I de-Christmased our house.  Actually, as a follower of Christ, my house will never be truly de-Christmased, but I took down all of the seasonal decorations and packed them away until next year.  I took my time and rested in between the collecting and the protective repacking of treasured items.

The Nativity set is usually the first thing I put out and the last thing I put away because it is the focus of the season.  This week, I packed it all carefully away; each piece in their individual plastic bags and placed carefully in the hollowed out Styrofoam holder before moving the box, once more, out to the storage area.  Christmas was officially over.  I proceeded to the next item on my to-do list.

It wasn’t until I sat down late Monday night that I realized I had left the star in place.

It looks very stark against the dark bricks with no figures below to provide context.

The more I look at it, the more I like it.  I’ve decided to leave it up for a few more days as a reminder of all the ways God chooses to speak to us, all the ways He directs our paths and leads us to the places where we can find Him.  Unexpected directionals leading us along unexpected paths to unexpected places where we find the One who came for us.

I think that’s the part that’s sticking with me most:  all the “unexpecteds” are on our side…never on His.  He’s always had a plan.  The ways He gets our attention will vary because He created each of us individually…no carbon copies here.

Yes, the star will stay in place for a bit longer…a  reminder to look for Him even in the unexpected places of this new year…some of them right out in the open if only we have eyes to see.

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas…

It is December 19th and the sun is shining outside.  The thermometer–a different one from yesterday’s photo!–reads almost 60 degrees.  {Maybe the thermometers aren’t really that different after all.  (grin)}  I will not need a jacket as I go about my outside chores today.  On the way to the herb garden to pick some fresh bay leaves, I noticed that the two large planters on the upper deck have plenty of healthy growth on this summer’s petunias, there are two rogue blooms on the mums in the back pots and two fading bloom clusters on the Lady Banks rose at the end of the house.  As I went into town yesterday, I passed a large forsythia bush already in bloom.  It is most definitely does NOT look like Christmas in this part of the country.

Living in the South means that we may have a very similar day once Christmas actually arrives.  Oh, we’ll still have Christmas, it just won’t look like the pictures in all of the Christmas cards on display in our entry area.

I can’t do anything about the weather, but I can enhance the holiday spirit with white lights in the leaf-free maple trees out front and a simple white spotlight on the front porch decorations.  I can place decorations in strategic places around my home–and I’ve done those things.  That still doesn’t make it reallly feel like Christmas.  What does it for me is how Christmas smells and I can make you think “Christmas!” with just one whiff as you enter my home.  The pungent scents of cedar and pine combine for a wonderful welcome thanks to the great big wreath of fresh greenery beside my front door.  (Thank you, Mama.)  There are two pots of blooming narcissus flanking the nativity set on the mantle.  Freshly baked cookies will add their own welcome in just a short while, but in the meantime, I’ve got a crockpot full of potato soup cooking for our supper and there’s a pot of “Simmering Christmas Potpurri” on the stove thanks to the seasonal gift from my precious #2.

Just in case you’re somewhere it doesn’t look like Christmas, either–or if you just want to add a bit of Christmas cheer to your home, I’m including Patty’s recipe below: 

Simmering Christmas Potpurri

1 Orange–quartered

1 Lemon–quartered

10 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 bay leaf

2 cups of water

Simmer on the stove to enjoy the smells of Christmas.  Add more water and use for several days. (As usual, I don’t always follow the directions exactly…and it generally turns out just fine!)

Breathe deeply, friends.  It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!