When to Dust I Shall Return

My grandmother passed away on December 4, 2012, just a few short months ago.
I can still envision her frail, thin, skeleton-like frame lying motionless in her hospice bed, 
her wide eyes and the tears in them as she recognizes me.
I can hear the sound of my voice, leaning in close to her ear, whispering that I love her, 
singing "I Just Called to Say 'I Love You'" and "Amazing Grace", 
and reassuring her that Jesus sees her and knows she's ready to go be with Him.

In her room were the last of her things: 
her glasses, a few photos of family and friends,
a cardigan or two, a cross above her head.
I can contain in a shoebox all the earthy wealth
that I, her eldest grandchild, was left. 

Was I left a huge sum of money? 
Rooms full of antiques? 
A car? 
A house?
None of these.
It's because she held onto her possessions with an open fist.
If you needed it, she gave it to you.
If she saw someone else in need, she gave what they needed to them.

She was a child of the depression,
and I believe she gave out more money to people than she actually ever kept.
She lived in apartments most of her life,
and the last apartment she lived in prior to her going into the nursing home
contained a twin bed, recliner, bookcase, two end tables, and a few lamps.
Yet she was the richest person I know.
Her wealth was incalculable. 
She lived charitably, though poor, and died bankrupt, a queen.

She was the epitome of storing up treasures in heaven.
You see, she knew that the things on this earth were not hers. 
She'd learned that things could be ripped away in an instant.
I rarely heard her say the word "mine".

Heirlooms break. 
Paint fades. Floors wear out. Trends go out of style. 
Fabrics fray. Time errodes. Appliances quit. Dust and dirt corrode. Warranties expire. 
She knew this. I know this.

However, with every click over to my favorite blogs, 
I become painfully aware that when I see possessions on display, 
I grow discontent with my own things.
And, like a voyeur, with one click of the "Pin It" button on Pinterest, 
I am enticed to electronically hoard others' ideas and gatherings of belongings.
With each swish of a turned page of a paper or online magazine,
 I am tempted to worship the latest paint colors, the newest flooring, the plushest furnishings.
I get excited from a SALE sign prompting me to buy from want rather than need,
because I am immediately made aware of my lack.

I remember my grandmother,
and that no matter how badly
I wished to travel with her
when she left her earthy shell,
she had to go alone,
without me,
without her possessions. 

What she did leave was a heritage of trusting God to provide for her day by day.
She pinched her pennies only to shower them on others.
She was others-focused and heaven-minded.

She had a lovely, simple life.
Her riches were her family and friends and Jesus' grace.
She wasn't scared to die.
She knew where she was headed.

Life tempts me to get more... grab more.. covet more...
and earthly trinkets tempt me to hoard or display them, store or showcase them.
I tend to let my possessions define me
and distract me from my relationships with others.

But what happens when I,
frail, thin, almost-naked, and skeleton-like,
 return to to dust?
What will I leave behind?
And what then can be said of those things
that, at present, I think belong to me?


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Luke 12:32-34 (The Message)

“What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know the way God works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.
“Be generous. Give to the poor. Get yourselves a bank that can’t go bankrupt, a bank in heaven far from bankrobbers, safe from embezzlers, a bank you can bank on. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Winter Nesting

This post could also be entitled
"What I Do Inside When It's Cold Outside, Baby."

I drew on the chalkboard in the kitchen.

I fed the birds so they had something to find to eat
(and so I could watch them).
The one on the right is a Carolina chickadee,
on the left is a white-breasted nuthatch,
and we find them both positively adorable.

We love bread pudding.
The smell, the warmth, the cinnamon.
It reminds us of Christmas, and I never got around to making one then, so here it is. 
No recipe for it; I just whisk stuff together until it looks good, and bake it.
No one has died from eating it... yet.

Oh boy (I know that you're probably a girl),
have I (with the help of my college girl) been purging stuff!
This is Christmas all over the kitchen.
There were thirteen boxes of decor.
Now there are six. Ah... peace!
(The still-beautiful things will be put into
our upcoming online Moving Sale, which I'll talk about soon.
They're all in the lime green and aqua round baskets,
although there was much more that didn't fit in those baskets!)

I found a neat calendar this year at Target to hang on the side of the fridge 
where our family keeps track of who's coming and who's going.
I have my own space for each day "mine" and everyone else has "theirs".
There is a space to write dinner plans each day, too.
Simple, and it was only $9!

In addition to making cinnamon-y things,
we are making chocolate-y things.
(FYI, I am back at the YMCA 3 times a week after a few months hiatus--ugh.)
Guilt-free brownie pie from Trader Joe's
(however, when we get done with it, it's not guilt-free,
since we add chocolate chips and walnuts...),
and my circle-of-friend-and-family famous homemade 
(this means no cake mix; P.S. I haven't used cake mixes in years!) 
chocolate mocha cupcakes.
I should share this recipe with you soon, too!

We are still keeping in touch with OUR EXCHANGE STUDENTS.
This is Khomchan, from Bangkok, Thailand, who lived with us last year.
We miss him a lot. We are planning a trip this summer to see him!
But thank God for Facetime and Skype.
We were goofing around and turning each other upside down in this picture.

Understandably, we've also been experimenting with hot beverages.
The coffee press is from IKEA, and that, 
combined with coffee ground right in your own kitchen,
is a treat for me, a self-confessed coffee snob.
Sipping chocolate from Trader Joe's is amazing,
as is green tea directly from China.

The master bath garden tub has been getting an addition around it:
framed wainscoting wallpaper, to add dimension to it.

The stand-in shower door was also removed from the shower.
The drill holes will be patched, and a curtain added instead 
Yes, that is carpet in the bathroom. It was not my choice.
I won't get started on why I love my husband,
but he isn't allowed to make design decisions anymore.
The bath has been tiled since this picture was taken. I'll share that soon.

If the shower looks dirty, that's because this picture was taken
immediately after the door was taken off.
That dark strip along the bottom? 
Gross gunk leftover from under the door strip. Ew.
If the fixtures look brass, that's because they are, 
but all the brass is slowly being removed
and replaced with chrome, and it's looking nice!
The whole bathroom is being redone, but it is slow-going.

So we bake a lot at our house when it's cold out.
We made this one Sunday and took it to church.
Sadly, there were no leftovers for us to bring home.

The original recipe was for raspberry trifle,
but I changed it to triple berry trifle.
You can find the delicious recipe HERE.

Our BASEMENT CAFE has been turned into
a hip-hop dance studio for our high school senior girl
with the addition of beveled wardrobe mirrors.
This is so she can practice for her senior project,
which is eight dance covers of Korean pop songs
that will be uploaded to YouTube.
I love watching her dance. She has so much energy!
The mirrors may or may not come down in June after she's graduated.
What do you think of simply leaving the mirrors over the chalkboard wall?

(I know this picture is horrible, but it was taken at night.)

Because our home is kind of dreary
after we put all the sparkles of Christmas and Valentine's Day away,
I was compelled to add these lilies to the dining room
so that our hearts could smile when we saw them!

More food? Sigh.
We hosted an after party for Miss A's high school semi-formal 
and this is what I made for the kids.
Fruit pizza. Easy, pretty, and yummy.
You can find the recipe HERE.

This is Miss A, the hip-hopper I mentioned.
Isn't she cute? And she's as sweet as she is cute.
She's saying hello and peace to you!
And she and her sister were having fun outside THIS HOUSE,
while my hubby and I were inside touring it.
Not sure if this classifies as winter nesting, but we were looking at a "nest".
(That's my car behind her! I love my Honda CR-V!)

And last, but not least, this is what I do from about 8-9:30 AM every morning.
I believe that we need to study God's Word daily in order to make it through 
when friends are untrue, children and spouses disappoint us,
loved ones die or estrange themselves from us, hope turns to doubt and despair,
and when we don't understand our place in all the mess.

As for me, without God and His redemptive grace over my life daily,
I would have GIVEN UP LONG AGO.
I know now that He is always here for me.
Patiently waiting. Lovingly watching. Gently guiding.

His presence weaved through my heart while I'm nesting is what truly makes a home.
And it's the simplicity of knowing that my home doesn't have to be perfectly
organized, decorated, or clean to be a haven for all who enter,
for it is Christ's joy and peace that lives in the walls.


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Even the Creatures

Each Sunday, I will feature a picture taken by one of my daughters, 
and some words of faith, hope, and love given by our Father:

 Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are— 
everything and everyone made by God

And you, O my soul, bless God!

Psalm 103:22 {The Message}


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