An Autumn Tour

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I walked around the house the other day and took some pictures of a few spots that have been decorated for the fall season. Just a few of the touches that we have added to our home to celebrate. Some we put out every year, traditionally. A few others are new this year. Many are just simple, but I love their simplicity. I didn’t take pictures of everything, but here are a few areas that I did capture ~

The above picture is on the front porch, as is this one – I put a big pumpkin in this chair by the front door each year ~

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I love the way the yard looks when the leaves start falling ~

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Coming in the front door, the first thing you would see is this autumn wreath hanging on a closet door ~

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In the living room, the mantle has been decorated with fall berries and the blocks changed to reflect the season ~

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Atop the living room hutch is a seasonal basket, while the lower part of the hutch holds several types of pumpkins, real and handcrafted, as well as a Harvest candle ~

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The piano holds my annual favorite berry pumpkin candle ~

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On the nature shelf, our ceramic Fall houses have been set up. I almost didn’t put these out this year, but the children wanted them – many of the pieces have been broken over the years from being played with by little hands. They light up at night and look very pretty, I must concede. Next to the houses sits a basket of colorful autumn gourds ~

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The stairs and church pew have been dressed up with cloth pumpkins and corn husk garland (the kitties love this!) ~

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The dining room cabinet needed just a simple pumpkin to fancy it up ~

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The dining table holds my old milk bottle with red, orange, and yellow berries (love these!) and a lovely white pumpkin that I picked up at the store ~

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Into the kitchen, there are pie pumpkins sitting around the counters ~

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A Jack-Be-Little on the windowsill is a yearly must ~

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A small ceramic pumpkin in a corner and a glass pumpkin serving up Autumn mix candies on the island (you may remember this from my Daybook) ~

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Finally, the kitchen hutch is decorated with berries, baskets, and mini pumpkins ~

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On the way out the back door, is one of several Fall signs that I have hanging around the house ~

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I hope you have enjoyed this Fall mini-tour of our home!

Blessings,
Nancy

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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(photo courtesy of Corbis)

“Come, ye thankful people, come;
Raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in
Ere the winter storms begin.

God, our Maker, doth provide
For our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come;
Raise the song of harvest home.”
-Henry Alford

May the Lord richly bless you and your family today as you praise and thank Him for His abundant grace in your life!

Blessings,
Nancy

Thankful Thursday

“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Today is the first of a regular weekly blog called “Thankful Thursday”. Every Thursday I will be blogging about something(s) that I am thankful for that week. It may be something general or specific to that week, or both! I hope you enjoy these posts and that they will inspire you to thoughts of thankfulness – as is my goal for my own life.

This week I am thankful for bedtime stories with little ones. Every night I dress Anna and David in their pajamas (and myself, too) and then we snuggle up in my bed and read bedtime stories. Right now I have flannel sheets on the bed which makes it extra cozy. Some nights they pick the stories, and some nights I do, but usually we read about 4-6 books. I love children’s books, and have them lining many bookshelves in my home, so there is always an abundance to choose from. After we finish reading, the little ones drift off to sleep (many times, me too!). This is a special, relaxing time of day for us and I’m thankful that it is a part of each evening in my life right now.

If you’d like to read what some other people are thankful for, click the link below to find other blogs participating in Thankful Thursday!

Blessings,
Nancy

Happy Birthday, Matthew!!!

Today is our son, Matthew’s birthday!  He is 17 years old, a fact which is boggling my mind!  I really don’t know where the years go!  It seems like yesterday he was just a little boy, and now he’s taller than me and on his way to being grown up.

 Matthew is truly a “gift from God”, as his name implies.  He blesses us with his quiet wit, inquisitive nature and sensitive heart for God.  He loves the Lord and is very concerned about doing what will please Him. 

He has a hard place in the family, following two older brothers, but is very strong in voicing his beliefs and standing up for himself.  He has the gift of persistence in all that he does – if it’s something he wants to do or learn, he won’t give up until he does.  I always joke that I spent two full years of my life just following him around (when he was 1-3 years old!) – he was always in the cabinets or into anything – he would rather explore than play with toys!

Matthew is very skilled with the computer and is a great source of help and support to me as I fumble around on it and try to learn new things.  He is presently putting together a computer from scratch as he can afford the parts.  It always amazes me when he knows just how to fix our “technical difficulties” that pop up almost daily (due to various users of various ages!)

Matthew enjoys being outside and playing sports, especially basketball.  When he was two years old, we had to install extra locks on the doors to keep him from going outside and heading to the neighbor’s basketball goal (remember that persistence?), and he used to sit and watch golf on t.v. at the same age, because there was a ball involved!  He has always liked any kind of ball game.  We spent many seasons watching him play baseball and basketball when he was younger.

These days he enjoys playing battle/war games on the computer and can frequently be heard cheering on his fellow soldiers. 

He enjoys his job and the friends he has there, and is a very diligent hard worker.

He loves cats and has really enjoyed our kitten, Macey, since she came to live with us.  Many evenings he can be found either carrying her around or chasing her around, depending on the mood of the moment!

Matthew was blessed with beautiful curly hair (to his disdain!), which he keeps cut very short now, but which used to be so adorable when he was 1 year old and blond (It has since turned dark brown, like his siblings).

I am so thankful for the gift of Matthew!  He challenges me, makes me laugh, exasperates me, touches my heart and blesses me every day (whether he knows it or not!) 

Happy Birthday Mattie!

I love you!

Mom

Pumpkin Recipes

I felt bad leaving you all alone with all that pumpkin (see previous post) and no recipes to use it in! So, here are two – sorry, no pictures this time – I haven’t made them yet myself!

PUMPKIN PIE –

1 1/2 cups of mashed pumpkin (remember to strain it first to remove excess moisture!)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 9″ pie shell (scratch, refrigerated, or frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat eggs in small bowl.
Add brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, evaporated milk, and beaten eggs to the mashed pumpkin.
Mix until blended.
Carefully pour this mixture into the pie shell. Fill to within 1/4″ of the edge of the crust.
Place pie on a cookie sheet and bake for 50 minutes, or until a knife insertedinto the center
comes out clean.
Remove from oven and cool for at least 30 minutes.
Serve and enjoy!

(Recipe from “THE PUMPKIN BOOK” by Jim Becker & Andy Mayer)

PUMPKIN BREAD –

1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup oil
1 cup mashed pumpkin
1 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/3 cup water

Mix sugar, eggs, and pumpkin in bowl.
Add dry ingredients and water in order given.
Mix well.
Bake in greased and floured loaf pan at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the
middle comes out clean.
Serve with honey butter.
Makes 1 loaf.

(Recipe from the Heart 4 Home website.)

Enjoy!

Blessings,
Nancy

Thankful Thought #7 – God’s provision

The Pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving feast as a way to celebrate God’s provision and sustenance of their lives in the new world. They had experienced many trials and griefs in their new adventure – food & shelter had been scarce, loved ones had been lost, and everyday life had been very difficult as they simply tried to survive and build a new life in a strange, new land. God was with them through it all – leading them, guiding them, and providing for them.

He does the same for us today. We still have trials and difficulties – sometimes to the degree that the Pilgrims had – sometimes just the everyday struggles that are just a part of life. He is there for us as He was there for them – leading, guiding and providing.

Truly we are thankful for our homes and families, food to eat and clothes to wear. It is good to be reminded at Thanksgiving time to thank the Lord for these things, because, truth be known, we tend to take them all for granted, am I right? I know I do.

God has provided us with so many blessings! He has given us life, food, and a beautiful world to live in. He has allowed us to enjoy this world by giving us eyes to see and ears to hear, as well as all of our other senses. He has provided us with homes to shelter us and clothing to warm us.

God has also provided us with people to love and to love us – our families and friends. They enrich our lives and encourage and challenge us. It is good to have others walking with us on this incredible journey of life.

These are the obvious provisions that God has given us, that we tend to think of at this time of year. However, have you considered some of the other things that God provides, but that we don’t tend to think about? Do we realize that every breath we take is a gift of God? How about our ability to think and feel emotions? He provides us with creativity – so that we can bless others around us and so be an instrument for His love. One thing that I many times forget to thank God for is for all of the bad things that could have happened, but didn’t – we don’t thank Him for this, because we aren’t aware of them. But He is in control of everything, and works our lives out to His glory – I am so thankful for this!

By far, God’s greatest provision in our lives is in the gift of His Son, Who was sent to this earth to die for our sins, and thus remove the wall of separation between us and God –

“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood.” – Romans 3: 21-25

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5: 8

I am thankful for this provision from God more than for anything else!

At this special time of Thanksgiving, let us remember all that God has provided for us, but especially this greatest of all provisions!

Blessings,
Nancy

Thankful Thought #6 – Children

I am so thankful for children!

Many times when I’m snuggling my little 1 yr old in my lap, I am overwhelmed with thankfulness to God that He thought up the whole idea of children. I mean, really, He could have just decided to create everyone already grown up, like Adam & Eve. He thought it would be best this way, and I am so glad He did!

Children are such a gift to us! It is good to be a family and to care for and nurture our little ones and raise them up for the Lord. It is good to enjoy laughing with them, to watch them grow and comfort them in their sorrows. They bless our lives, challenge us and make US grow.

I am reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18: 3-6 –

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the
greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name
welcomes Me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones
who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have
a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned
in the depths of the sea.”

God certainly values children greatly! If only our world today would value them the same way! Instead, children are many times thought of almost as another of our many possessions – something that WE want…to satisfy US, rather than realizing that they are unique creations of God, (just as we are) and not just an object that WE decide to have to make us happy. Certainly they DO make us happy, and that is good, but that is not their reason for existence – they are worth so much more.

Alright, I’m off of my soapbox! (for now!)

I love watching my children as they are examining a flower or an ant, thinking through a math problem, or creating something artistic! I love seeing my children grow up from totally dependent infants into confident toddlers, who want to “do it myself, mama!” I love seeing them master reading and writing and riding their bike without the training wheels! I love hearing them tell me of the things that are most important to them, or the funny joke that they read in a book. I love rejoicing with them as they get their first job, and observing their spiritual growth in the Lord. I love seeing them become responsible God-honoring adults with their own personality and gifts for impacting their world.

Children are precious. They show us what’s important in life – slowing down to study that ant, and trusting someone (or Someone) to care for them without doubting – and just being joyous over the little gifts life brings on a daily basis!

I know this is long, but it is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I will leave you with a verse from Psalms 127: 3-5 (one of our favorites around here!)

“Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.”

Thank you, Lord, for your wonderful gift of children!

Blessings,
Nancy