Sunday, November 24, 2013

Dear Friends...

I've been MIA for the past few days…

There is a reasonable explanation.

I invite you to read more of our story at www.graceandmustardseeds.blogspot.com

In the meantime,

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I love watching sparrows.  I have one silly sparrow that likes to fly toward my living room window and latch his little talons in the screen.  There he sits, watching me through the window.  Occasionally he chirps.  Mostly he just keeps me company.

He always reminds me that His eye is on the sparrow - and I know he watches me.  He is a tangible reminder that whatever I am facing for my day, I have one greater than myself looking out for my best interests.  

Today I am thankful for the sparrows.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Monday, November 11, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I do so love a warm mug...  It doesn't matter to me whether it is filled with hot coffee, hot tea, hot cider or hot cocoa.  I love a warm mug.

It may seem silly to some, but I am so thankful for a fun colorful coffee mug filled with heart-warming goodness.  There are so many across our world without clean water supply; I am thankful that I can fill my cup anytime I thirst.

Today I am thankful for my fun mugs...but so much more than that, I am thankful for what I am blessed to fill them with!

Only By His Grace,

Billie  

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Season of Gratitude...



I love, love, love board games!  It seems we go through spurts where we play them often, and then we get busy and forget about them again.  But when we are on one of our rounds of playing board games, it is such a wonderful time to spend with my husband and my kids.

Our favorites right now are Sorry and Trouble.  We like Sequence and Scrabble a lot, too.  We have so many board games - many need fresh batteries - but they are so much fun to play.

Board games and popcorn, sitting around the coffee table, or spread out on the living room floor.... it's something I'm very grateful for!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


Bread.  There's nothing like the smell of home baked bread in the oven.   It is one of the things I am most grateful for during the Thanksgiving season.

I love home baked bread.  Notice, however, that I didn't say homemade.  I can't bake homemade bread.  I've tried and failed multiple times throughout my life.  

Then one day a few years ago, I found frozen loaves of bread dough.  They come packaged 5 loaves to a bag, for the cost of about $3.00 - $3.50.  The process is simple: spray a loaf pan with cooking spray, lay in the frozen loaf, cover lightly with plastic wrap and let it rise for approximately 4 - 5 hours.  I usually do this in the morning before I leave for work.  When I return, there is a gigantic beautiful loaf of bread dough waiting for me.  I preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pop it in for approximately 20 minutes.

This is especially good when I've had the forethought to put soup or stew or roast in the crock pot.  The smell of that freshly baked bread wafting through the house makes it feel warm inside, and feel like home.  

Home baked bread:  It's an amazing thing.  I am so very thankful!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Friday, November 8, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I have developed an obsession for flax seeds, of late.  I bought a cereal containing these little tasties, and I was hooked.  Then, like the leaves in autumn, my favorite cereal was gone...discontinued...forever.  {sigh}

Not being one to let a little thing like my favorite cereal being discontinued keep my down, I started testing and trying out my own concoctions.  I'm not completely there, yet, but I have found a pretty close substitute.

We have a natural whole food grocer three doors down from my son's Karate class.  One night I wandered in and what to my wondering eyes should appear but WHOLE flax seeds!  Not ground, not crushed, not powdered....WHOLE!  Angels sang the Hallelujah chorus right there in Rainbow Blossom!

They also have a preservative-free, all natural peach instant oatmeal.  I mix the oatmeal according to package directions and add in a smidge of vanilla and a teaspoon of WHOLE flax seeds.... I'm a happy girl!  Yumma-do-da-day!  

Today, I am thankful for my favorite cereal, for natural peach oatmeal and for WHOLE flax seeds.

Do you have a healthy obsession?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


Fall brings with it some rainy, cold days, doesn't it?  Most of the people I know do not like overcast, cloudy days.  I, however, love them.

I love rainy days - not just when I can stay inside and read, either - I love running errands on rainy days.  I love going for walks and bike rides on rainy days.  I love taking photo shoots on rainy days.

Today, I am thankful for my bright red raincoat.  I am also thankful for my black umbrella with bright red polka dots.  See, it is terribly difficult to be glum and gloomy on a rainy day when one wears a red rain coat and carries a polka dot umbrella.

I bought  my raincoat at Sam's of all places.  It is London Fog, has a button on/off hat, big red buttons on the front and a tie sash.  It is warm enough to wear even in 40 degree weather if I wear a scarf.  My scarf is white and my mittens are white.  Honestly, it makes you feel like a peppermint!  It's so wonderful!

Every time it rains, and I stay dry and warm, I am thankful for my bright red raincoat.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I am thankful today for handmade - homemade gifts.

A few years ago, I stopped buying gifts for my father.  Oh, I wasn't being mean or cantankerous.  I decided I would honor his wishes.  For years he said, "Please don't buy me anything.  I don't need anything."  I realized that he wasn't being noble, or humble; He was being honest.  

What my dad wanted or needed, he would purchase for himself.  When he passed away in March, as my sisters and I sifted through boxes of mementos, it occurred to me what he treasured.  He treasured the cards and the letters, the board games bought at yard sales and played with his children, the pictures colored by grandchildren and the family photos he took of himself with his girls.

There were things I brought home with me that I had no idea he still had in his possession:  the handmade invitation to my daughter's first birthday party, a sticker bookmark she made for him when she was two, hand written Valentines from my son when he was learning to write his letters, a printed plaque I made for him on an old dot-matrix printer.  These are things I would have encouraged him to "just get rid of," or asked, "Why are you still keeping that?"  But these were his treasures.

I have started making more handmade "gifts."  I have started writing notes by hand when possible versus sending an email.  There are personal touches to these things - rather than just a store-bought gift or electronic note.

I am thankful for handmade and homemade gifts and the sweet memories that attach themselves to them.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I know this may be silly, but I am thankful for Martha Stewart.  Please, do not misunderstand me.  I love Martha Stewart.  I am honestly inspired by her, and in awe of what she has created from her vast knowledge of homemaking.  

When Lovie and I first married, I learned so much from her TV series Martha Stewart Living.  That is where I learned to bake cookies and make stews, where I learned to fold a fitted sheet and all the important little details about Depression Glass.  It is where I first learned to decorate a dinner table, and how important it is that everyone feel welcome.

One thing I also learned from my hours watching Martha Stewart is that I didn't have to pressure myself to be perfect.  Oh, the inclination was there.  The desire to keep up with Martha was there.  But then I realized, my stew doesn't have to be made from vegetables I grew in my own garden.  My fitted sheets don't have to folded "perfectly," I can own one heirloom piece of Depression Glass that belonged to my husband's grandmother; I do not have to be a collector.  I can bake cookies with my children from a mix - and my children don't care...they just love baking cookies with me :)

So today, as Thanksgiving approaches and I begin making my never-ending lists, dreaming up seating arrangements, tablescapes and side dishes, I am thankful for Martha Stewart.  She taught me so much in my younger years.  She has created for herself a legacy.

I, too, can create for myself a legacy.  Only mine will be filled with memories and traditions I have created out of time spent with my kiddos...not hours making sure everything is perfect.

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Monday, November 4, 2013

Season of Gratitude...



I am so blessed by the fact that I am transformed by the renewing of my mind and that I no longer have to conform to the world's way of thinking.  What do I mean?  Like most everyone else I know, I used to hate Monday morning -- well, Monday in general to be more specific.

Then, about a year ago, I had to have a good stern talk with myself.  "Self," I said, "Monday comes around every single week.  You can learn to like it or you can suffer through it.  Which do you choose?"  Man, what a harsh reality.  

Truth is, we can't make Mondays go away.  So why not make the best of them?  A couple of years ago I started making New Month Resolutions... must like the proverbial New Year's Resolution, only I gave myself a reset every 1st of each month.  WOW!  What a difference that made.  If I felt as if I had failed, or dropped the ball, or gave up too easily, I knew I had a reset coming in a few short weeks.  It was life-changing!

So I adopted the thought for Mondays as well.  Instead of thinking, "UGH!  It's Monday again...." think of it this way:  Monday is the beginning of a whole new week.  It's the first day of a week full of potential and possibility.  Last week's failures and mishaps are behind you, the things you wish you could have done, you now have another opportunity to do.

Mondays... yeah, I'm pretty grateful!

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


I'm going to share something shocking with you: I love the rain.  I love rainy days.  Rainy days and Mondays don't get ME down.  No sir-ee.

During this season of gratefulness I am grateful for rainy days.  I understand that it isn't the norm, that most people don't like rainy days, but there is something very comforting, even romantic, about a rainy fall afternoon.  It just allows you to go a little slower and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Think about it - the rain waters our earth, gives life to our planet and causes the pumpkins to grow.  And, if your lucky, and the temperature drops just enough...you might get to see the first snowflake of the season!

What are you grateful for?

Only By His Grace,

Billie


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Season of Gratitude...


One of the things I'm so very grateful for this time of year is the late sunrise and early sunset.  Oh, I know, not everyone likes getting while it's still dark, and most people don't like the thought of it getting dark at 5:30 p.m.  But not me.  I love it.  The shorter days feel like they are giving me permission to sleep in an extra five minutes and to hang out with my kids a little longer in the evening.

This year our schedule has been one of the toughest I can ever remember.  In fact, it's been a daily struggle for me just to keep going.  I estimated that each day I spend at least 3+ hours in my car, just transporting my kids to and from activities and myself to work and back...not to mention errands and activities.  Let me just say - I've come to hate my car.

So, now that the days are shorter and the nights are longer, our activities have ceases and we have our family dinners back.  We have evenings in front of the tv or piling up in the floor playing board games... We are together more now that the days are shorter.  

I for one am grateful.  

What are you grateful for?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

Friday, November 1, 2013

Season of Gratitude...

Every year I make it a point to focus on the things I am most grateful for during the month of November.  Most years I make a "thankfulness tree" using construction paper leaves,  some years we keep a decorated treasure box on the kitchen counter to hold all our gratitude in.  The premise is that each night at dinner, we write down and share one thing we are thankful for.  You can read about last year's project here.At the end of the month, or right before Thanksgiving, we take the box of notes, or the leaves off the tree, and share again ALL that we are thankful for.

Last year, throughout the month of November I posted about getting your home ready for guests, about cute Thanksgiving crafts for the kiddos that will visit you, about setting a pretty table.  This year, I may throw a few of those kinds of posts into the mix, but I've also determined that this year, we will focus on what we are thankful for.  Ready?  Let's go.

November 1:  I am thankful for the beauty in nature.


Around our part of the country, peak color season falls anywhere between mid-September and late-October.  One of the things I am most thankful for this year, is that we've had a late peak color season.  I love the fall colors during the Halloween season and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

It's as if the world is a brighter place, is filled with color and presence, and wants to wrap you in a nice warm hug.

Today, I am thankful for the beauty of nature.  

What are you thankful for?

Only By His Grace,

Billie

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