I’ll Be Home For Christmas…

Everyone’s posted a holiday home tour but me (or so it seems ). Let’s fix that!
(Check out other people’s houses, too! Mattie, Emily, Taylor, Michelle)

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Typically the decorations go up mid-November, but we don’t get our tree until December. This year we really procrastinated. I knew I wanted a smaller one this year (and we set up a larger one in K’s company office), but I don’t know that I was picturing it this small… Perks to buying your tiny tree the Saturday before the holiday weekend? We got it half off. Say hello to $10 ‘Ronald Trees-ley”:

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Yep, he’s real. Both of them.

Ok… on to the house tour.

No house light this year. Just my sled & fox.
No house light this year. Just my sled & fox.
Favorite holiday spot in the house
Favorite holiday spot
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K and I are the snowmen, Ly is the “woof”, & Enzo is the fox

Ronald, Enzo, & Ly

If you missed it on IG here's one of my favorite ornaments!
If you missed it on Instagram here’s one of my favorite ornaments!
I think we have five nativity sets in our house...
I think we have five nativity sets…
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I love this little cutout in our house

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What a Christmas wreck... ha.
What a Christmas wreck… ha.

Where all the magic happens ;)

And there ya have it. We only decorate the first floor, although there is a pine candle in the basement. Sorry my pictures aren’t high quality… that’s just life!

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I’m going to get religious for a minute.

I am a firm believer in faith by example. Rarely do I mention religion here on my blog, but I don’t shy away from identifying as a Christian. It’s my hope that through acts of kindness and openminded-ness toward others I get across what I believe to be the important parts of being a Christian. I think that being ‘Christian’ means knowing that you are flawed, seeking forgiveness and wisdom, and spreading kindness and love to the other flawed humans (and animals) on this planet. We’re meant to love and take care of one another. I don’t think Jesus cares if you voted Republican or Democrat (or Independent). That doesn’t make you a better Christian. I don’t think Jesus cares where (or if) you got an education. That doesn’t make you a better Christian. I don’t think Jesus cares about your skin color, gender, pay grade, criminal record, or hobbies. I think that Christianity is about serving Christ- and since we have no idea what He looks like or when He’ll appear, it’s best to serve one another with a happy, genuine heart.

All that to say, Merry Christmas, friends! (And if you celebrate a holiday other than Christmas, I welcome your festive greeting! I do not feel like there is a war being waged on me or the holidays I celebrate, and I hope you feel the same.) If you’ve ever thought about visiting a church you should slip into one on Christmas Eve and listen to the story of the birth of Jesus. If you live near me and you’d like someone to go with I’d be more than happy to have you along!

If you are not a Christian or you celebrate another event this time of year: Happy Holidays!  ❤︎

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Regardless of your beliefs, spread a little love and cheer and kindness this weekend, friends! Thank you for your friendship here in Blogland ❤︎

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That Secret Place

I had no inspiration for this post until I went there- that secret place. I like to think everyone has one… a place where you go to disappear for a few minutes or hours. A place where you go to collect your thoughts or erase your anxieties or bask in a moment of gratitude. A place that might be public- like a park or church- but a place where you can be alone with your thoughts. I like to think that everyone’s got a place. And if you don’t, I really encourage you to find one.

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I’m going to keep my place on the hush for now, but I’ll tell you about my spot when I was younger. Maybe it will inspire you to find a secret.

Like most children/pre-teens, I couldn’t drive. Perhaps unlike most children/pre-teens, I was filled with frustration and anger and doubt. I’m wired to worry and when I was a kid it sometimes consumed me. Our house was half a mile from the county’s career center. This building offers adults & high school kids technical career training. They also have a pre-school facility. When the world had me feeling down, and pre-school was not in session, I would walk to the center, hop the short playground fence, and sit in the slide. Sometimes I prayed, sometimes I read, & sometimes I simply sat.

Does that sound emo, or what?

My new spot is utilized under less depressing circumstances. I mean, I still go there when I’m upset and I want to be alone, but I also visit my place to soak in the weather or reflect or chat with God. Or just sit.

I don’t mean to be vague… I leave my phone in the car when I go so I don’t have any pictures and if I tell you where the spot is it’s not like you’re going to suddenly visualize it (…unless you’re a friend/family member reading this). Next time I’ll snap some pics and share them with you.

So tell me, do you have a secret spot where you find solace and comfort? You don’t have to tell me where- I don’t think K even knows I go unwind at this spot. Have I inspired you to go spot-hunting if you don’t already have one?

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The Words That Surround Me.

I rarely talk about my full time job, but I spend a lot of time (at least 40 hours a week) in my little office. Most of the day is spent in front of a computer typing +80 page appraisal reports; I often describe myself as a technical writer. Sometimes the monotony gets to me, but I’m usually pretty content to spend my day in my own space surrounded by my choice of music & my own little trinkets & my post-its of quotes I adore.

And today I’m going to share my quotes with you. These words get me through the hours or the weeks or the months.

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Quote 4

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Quote 6

Quote 7

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Quote 9

What quote(s) do you post around the house or office? Do you have a motto or favorite?

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…I couldn’t resist.

 

God’s Work, Our Hands

This is going to be a crazy week for me (T-minus 9 days until I leave for the beach!), but to kick it off I spent my Sunday volunteering at a local animal shelter. For the third year in a row my church participated in God’s Work, Our Hands- the ELCA’s day of service.

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We had a light lunch on Sunday and then some folks headed to a wilderness preserve while others spent time with residents at a local nursing home. My group of volunteers headed to the local humane society to walk some dogs and spread love to the kitties. *Links to adoptable animals*

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Mom playing tug-o-war with Dale.

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Hunter spending some time with Mitch.

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Sam talking with Falco & cuddling Grazey.

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Mom petting Atticus, Allie following Lindy, & Mom keeping an eye on Beast.

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Kim & Mom giving Cleo some love.

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Ended the day with some pumpkin ice cream from Milk & Honey!

Shelters break my heart and I always come home ready to open my own. (It’s a dream of mine!) I love the excitement that spreads across the face of a dog when he realizes you’ve chosen him to take outside. Or when a cat suddenly melts into the palm of your hand because you spent an extra 5 minutes giving her some love. Say a little prayer that all our furry friends find their forever-homes really soon! (Not pictures but super loveable: Sashie, Grace, Tinsel, & Cheif!)

What did you do this Sunday? Have I ever mentioned that Sunday is my favorite day of the week? I was so exhausted last night (and grateful to have my dogs home and safe) that I curled up with Lylee and passed out in my hoodie and jeans! Oops!

**This week I will posting a link to my donation page for Erica for our JDRF Walk this weekend. Any donation helps (and prayers for a cure are always appreciated, too)! Donate HERE!

-Louise

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

This Raw Life

Some of my favorite daily blogs are written by women who are incredibly honest and real. Sometimes they make a sponsored post or recap a vacation, but they usually talk about real experiences and feelings that have forced them to become a better version of themselves. They’re very good at writing about these things and it’s something I’d like to improve upon. I think this starts with meditation, devotionals, and actually taking time to sit in silence. Does that sound silly? I think it’s actually very necessary in this fast-paced world.

This Raw Life

I’m am a flawed human being. (We all are, actually.) My temper resembles a rollarcoaster and I am very argumentative. I have a husband that puts up with all that, but I’d like to be better. I’d like to be an even-tempered mom someday. I want to be a unbiased listener and a good friend to my loves. I want my decisions and my honesty to be guided by a grateful, patient, and open heart.

I would like to be invested in things that I truly care about. I want to watch less television and read more. I want to finish the novel that I’m writing and let others read it. I want to serve others (preferably those with cold noses and 4 legs) with a happy, energized heart. I’ve actually noticed my heart changing lately and I think it’s for the better.

I don’t want to completely change myself. I will always love Harry Potter and pull my dogs close when I lay down at night. I have an incredible support system made up of friends and family. Physically I feel good- You won’t see me in a bikini and my face looks like a hormonal teenager, but I don’t dislike me. I think that my goal is to turn my insides so positive that it radiates through my exterior and affects those around me.

How do you stay positive throughout the day? Any meditation advice? Who are some of your favorite bloggers?

-Louise

Faith & Church & Fellowship

I rarely blog about religion, but it’s been very heavy on my heart lately. I attend a church that is hurting & I feel like I have done everything I can to help heal, but the resistance in my church is very strong and I feel nothing but anger and distance when I walk through the doors on Sunday mornings.

I’ve prayed many time about my predicament- by feeling so distant from my church I know I am suffering in my relationship with God. Monday night, after our monthly church council meeting, I sat in my car and prayed about the conflict in my heart. Afterward I felt the need to ask Siri (on my iPhone) for a random Bible verse. This is what a got:

“And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Well dang. Sometimes God is a subtle man and sometimes He’s not. I’d say He was fairly straight forward with me Monday night.

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To be less vague, our church is comprised of very few millennial. Actually, there’s only a handful of folks under the age of 60. Some people see this as a problem and some do not. To attract a younger crowd there needs to be some change and, again, some people see this as a problem and some people do not.

The real problems lies within my own heart. I grew up in this church… but I am one of two left from my “generation.” I don’t feel fellowship, I don’t feel closer to God, I don’t feel anything. Sundays were once my favorite day but now they’re a bummer.

Over the last 5 years there has been a mass exodus from our church, so leaving wouldn’t be unheard of… but for a long time it was unthinkable for me. (Our family is deeply rooted in my church.) Now I just don’t know.

I’d like to blame someone, but there’s no one to blame. My anger has no target and that makes me even more frustrated. I know that K gets nothing from our church services and we’ve discussed the lack of child/youth opportunities that will one day strongly effect us.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10

I feel like I’m not united in mind and thought with anyone right now. I’m craving fellowship and growth and just not finding it. Obviously I will continue to pray about it, but beyond that I am stuck. I’m not looking for resolution with this post; I just needed an outlet.

We all struggle with ourselves and our faith and our community- this is just a struggle that God will led me through. I have faith.

-Louise

This post is a part of The Peony Project’s monthly link-up. We would love to have you join! The Peony Project is a community for women who love Jesus, love blogging, and are looking for a common space to share ideas, encourage one another, and make real, honest friendships with one another.

Grateful Heart: link-up

I have been waiting for this link up since Friday. Sometimes I let my heart get dark and jagged, and when I finally realize what’s happened it’s too late- I’ve already pricked someone.

Yesterday we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. He died for our sins. My sins. Sins like my prickly heart. And for that I am so grateful.

I am also trying to change. Laugh more, get angry less. Forgive more, envy less.

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This weekend I have been especially grateful for:

– my brother, who has the most forgiving heart

– my mother-in-law, who always tries to make things a little easier for my husband and me

– my husband, who accepts me on my good days and bad days

– my dogs, who shower me with endless love and adoration

– my God, who is forgiving and merciful and listens to my prayers and pleas

Starting this week with a clean and happy heart, and praying to end the week the same way 🙂

-Louise

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey