Sunday, December 16, 2012

For the Tough Times...

While I was ordering turkey at the Gelson's deli counter on Friday, a man asked me if I had heard the news about the shooting in Connecticut.   I did.  But I didn't want to talk about it.  Didn't want to think about it.   A few hours later, my girlfriend called me crying.  She was crying because she felt blessed to be picking up her daughter from school.   

It's been three days, and I choose not to watch anything on tv about the tragedy.  I can't.   Or to read the yahoo updates that are flooding my computer screen.  I just can't.   All I can do is pray for peace for those who lost a loved one.

Today I ran into a thrift store on the way to a friend's house.  I found myself looking at the hundreds of books on the shelves. My eyes locked onto one with yellow words.  "For the Tough Times" by Max Lucado.  Yep, this would be the book I would need to read today.  I just finished it.  I wanted to share the last few paragraphs with you.  

The last chapter is called "Do It Again, Lord."

"Most of all, do again what you did at Calvary.  What we saw in this tragedy, you saw there on that Friday.  Innocence ended.  Goodness suffering.  Mothers weeping.  Evil dancing.  Just as the shadows fell on our children, the darkness fell on your Son.  Just as our world has been shattered, the very child of Eternity was pierced.

And by dusk, heaven's sweetest song was silent, buried behind a rock.

But you did not waver, O Lord.  You did not waver.  After your Son lay three days in a dark hole, you rolled the rock and rumbled the earth and turned the darkest Friday into the brightest Sunday.  Do it again, Lord.  Turn this Calvary into an Easter.  

Thank you for these hours of prayer.

Let your mercy be upon all who suffer.  Grant to those who lead us wisdom beyond their years and experience.  Have mercy upon the souls who have departed and the wounded who remain.  Give us grace that we might forgive and faith that we might believe.

And look kindly upon your church.  For two thousand years you've used her to heal a hurting world.

Do it again, Lord.  Do it again.

Through Christ, amen."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Home Tour, Part 2

OK, now that I'm more awake, I have more accurate numbers from our home tour.  YOU helped us raise a whopping $1,775 (are you kidding me!!!) and 34 girls have signed up to be His Flower Girls.  Wowza!

And now, in better lighting, I present to you Teri's home. 

Front Door

Living Room

Stockings in Living Room

Vintage Hymn on Tree

Handmade wreath on vintage armoire

Names of God surrounding a Christmas crown

Living Room Mantle

Family Room Christmas Tree

Family Room

Family Room


Master Bedroom

Guest Bedroom

Again, we thank you for making yesterday so very special.
After such a success, we look forward to hosting another home tour in the spring.  "He is Risen!" will naturally be our theme.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sharing His Birthday...

Well, it’s almost 11 o’clock tonight as I write this and I am overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by your kindness, generosity and friendship.  

Today was the first Christian Girl’s Cottage Christmas Home Tour (say that fast three times) and what a day!  Both of our homes were visited by about 75 women, both in the day and in the evening.  And what troopers those evening ladies were!  It was freezing cold out tonight, but they were bundled up and once inside, made our homes feel cozy and warm.

I saw old friends and made sure-to-be new friends.  I loved sharing the day with women who love the Lord and love decorating homes.  What a combo!  

As I sit here tonight and reflect on my day, I am in awe of God’s blessings in my life.
I feel wonderful with no side effects from my treatments, have a husband who works hard so I can spruce up our home a bit and share it with others, and friends who come along side me and shower me with such amazing support.  In awe.

So to recap the day, I think Teri and I raised close to $1,500 from donations and boutique sales for the “can’t do cancer without God” ministry as well as for a local family who was recently brought to our attention.   And just as exciting -- 28 girls signed up to take an upcoming His Flower Girls class!  28!  Again, in awe.

So for those of you who couldn’t make it today, I took a few photos of our home.  I ran over to Teri’s between tours to take photos of her home, but the lighting wasn’t great.  So I will share photos of her home in another post.  

Front Door


Dining Room 

Dining Room

Happy Birthday, Jesus! 
Christmas Tree

Place Setting
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Family Room

Family Room

Family Room Christmas Tree

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Kitchen Fireplace

Homemade (not!) Cookies

The "Guest Cottage" Bed

Stockings in the "Guest Cottage"

Well, I'm whooped.
THANK YOU again to everyone who shared their busy Thursday with us.  Teri and I loved each and every minute of it!
From our house to yours, 
"Happy Birthday, Jesus!"


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Home Tour...

Well, just three more days until our first Christian Girl's Cottage Christmas Home Tour.  We are so excited to open our homes to you, sharing our love for the Lord to all who enter.  

If you love the look of modern homes, then stay home and wrap presents. :)
Because both of us love everything vintage, farmhouse, English and French (with a touch of thrift store!)
Our homes aren't dripping in Christmas -- we don't have the time and energy to do that.
Just a few touches here and there that say, "Happy Birthday, Jesus!"
Completely doable and enjoyable.

 You'll be treated to hot apple cider and sugar cookies as well as our boutique filled with gifts of faith for family and friends. 

 The tour is our gift to you, though we hope you consider making a small donation to my ministry, "can't do cancer without God."

Here are the details:

Thursday, Dec. 13th
9:30 am to 2:30 pm and
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

My home is located in the Foxmoor neighborhood (right before Westlake Elementary School) at 1608 Brentford Avenue, Westlake Village.   From Westlake Blvd. turn right onto Devonshire Avenue, then left onto Brentford Avenue.  We are in the cul-de-sac with the white picket fence.  805.373.1986

Teri's home is located in the North Ranch neighborhood (right past the Thousand Oaks Post Office) at 3333 Alleghany Street, Westlake Village.
From Thousand Oaks Blvd., turn onto Duesenberg Drive, then right onto Clearwater Street, then right onto Alleghany.  She is on the left hand side before you enter the cul-de-sac.  805.796.8194.

Feel free to start at either home, but make sure you see both.
 (The boutique is located at my home.)

We are so very excited to share this Christmas with each and every one of you!  

"Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him!"

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Christmas Memories...

Whenever I read Country Living magazine, I find myself a tad envious when I read, “My grandmother’s garden smelled of gardenias,” or “the smell of pumpkin pie reminds me of home.”   No smell reminds me of home and I don’t even know if my Grandma had a garden.  But one thing that brings my childhood immediately back to me is the sound of Christmas music.  You too?  Or is it just me?

I was recently leaving Cost Plus (by the way, they have the cutest linen Christmas hand towels I’ve seen this year!) and as I got into my car, I heard my first Christmas song on the radio, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Bing Crosby.   And before I could put my car in reverse, the tears were beginning to well up in my eyes.   

And as they do each and every single year, I always ask myself, Why?  What is it about Christmas music that always gets to me?

I’ve thought about it long and hard this year, and I think it reminds me of safety.  Being safe in the home that I grew up in.  No one had died, no one was sick, all was well.  My life consisted of Barbies and brownies.  And maybe, although I couldn't wait to grow up, there’s a little part of me that misses that.  Really misses being back home with my family.

As I hear familiar Christmas songs like the Carpenters’ ”Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" or Perry Como’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” (boy, am I old or what?), I’m instantly transported back to our family room.  I remember sitting on the couch, watching the Santa Claus Lane Parade while my mom reaches over my head to balance our little red and green felt elves on the branches of a manzania tree branch that “decoratively” hung on the wall over our couch.  I think I hated that thing.  

I remember our fake Christmas tree lit with old-fashioned colored bulbs and lots of silver tinsel.  It stood beside two shelves that held our Encyclopedia Brittanicas.  Anyone remember those things?   And I remember my mom hanging our red "velvet" stockings with the white furry cuffs (that I think everybody had in the 1970s) on the mantle.  Since our mantle was made of used brick and you couldn’t put nails in to it to hang up the stockings, my mom would wrap a rubber band around each loop of a stocking and then wrap the other end around the end of a brick.  I remember, even as a kid, thinking that was an ingenious idea.  Then she would put a sheet of flattened cotton on the mantle and nestle some white plastic reindeers in it.  Each year, it seemed that a reindeer would lose another leg or another antler.  But up they went.

And that’s the visual each and every year I hear a familiar Christmas song.  Funny what sticks in your head, isn’t it?  

Another thing that sticks is at the end of the night, when I would be in my bedroom putting away my presents (one year I got several pairs of Dittos and Luv-Its with matching tops -- now that was a good Christmas!) my mom would come in my room and ask if I liked everything I opened.  Then she would hug me and choke back the words, “I love you” while standing in front of my closet.   I would also choke back the words, “I love you, too.”  We’d pull back from each other and kind of laugh that we were both crying.  I think the tears came because we only said, “I love you” on Christmas night.  Kind of weird, huh?  But those three words just didn’t flow in our house, though we knew our parents loved us.   Hearing those words was kind of a Christmas gift too.

So as December begins and we draw closer to Christmas Day, may your memories be good ones.  I hope my kids remember loving their stockings more than their gifts (I did!), sharing God’s love with family, friends and strangers (we’ll be “elfing” this year -- knocking on a few doors sharing cookies and small gifts) and most importantly, that Jesus’ birth trumps any Christmas gift they could ever ask for.

Speaking of Jesus' birth, my friend Teri and I will be opening our homes on Thursday, December 13th for the 
Christian Girl's Cottage first Christmas Home Tour.  
Our decorating is nearly complete and we're thrilled to share our love of Christmas and our love for the Lord with all of you.
Once we put the final touches on them, I'll share a few photos of both of our homes along with an invitation with all the details.
Our home tour is free, but we're hoping to raise a little money for the "can't do cancer without God" ministry that God has so richly blessed our lives with.

Please mark your calendars (before they're jam-packed) for December 13th so that we can see each and every one of you.  Now that would be a good Christmas memory!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Because of a License Plate!

Well, can I just tell you that I am glowing.  Yes, glowing!  I can actually feel the heat coming off of my face!  

While I was standing in line today at Goodwill (where else!) buying a 99-cent quilted pillow sham to hopefully turn into a Christmas stocking one day, I checked my email.  And to my shock, I began reading an email from a photo editor at Angels on Earth Magazine (a Guideposts publication).  

"We are featuring your story called My License Plate Says It All for the March/April issue.  To help illustrate the story, we would like to publish a photo of the current license plate on the back of your car."  

Oh. My. Lord!  I felt the glow begin immediately!  
(And the people around me probably thought it was because I scored a quilted pillow sham for less than a buck!  Oh, no it wasn't!)

I wrote an article over five years ago about my love of (ok, obsession with) personalized license plates.  And about a year after finding out I had cancer, I ordered a new one.  I recently found the original article I wrote and changed the ending to include my new new diagnosis and my new license plate.  Soon after I re-wrote it, I gave it to my friend Teri to read.  She then gave it to her sister Shelly to read (whom I had never met).  Shelly was taking Teri's boys to the beach to surf.  While there, she called to tell me that she had sat on the beach, reading and re-reading the article several times.  Apparently, she really liked it. 

So a few hours later, I thought, if she liked it that much, maybe it's time to re-submit it to Guideposts Magazine -- one of my favorite magazines on the planet (filled with inspirational stories).  So on September 26 (exactly two months ago today), I hit "send" on my computer.  

So now a little back story.  

 Teri just dropped by my house tonight to pick up her daughter.  I stopped writing this post to answer the door and to tell her the good news.  She reminded me (with a big smile on her face) how much her sister had loved reading it.  That her sister had never come out before to spend the night at her house and to take her kids surfing.  And that the only thing she grabbed to read while watching them surf was my article.  
Funny how God works out all the details, isn't it?  
God used Shelly to encourage me.  Without her enthusiasm, I doubt I would have ever sent it.

As some of you know, I studied journalism in college.  I longed to be a writer.  A published writer.  I've submitted many articles over the years only to receive the "we're not interested at this time" rejection letter.  So when so many of you sweet people encourage me by saying, "You should write a book," I think, "No, I probably shouldn't.  I can't even get an article published." 

But I continue to leave all of my dreams in His hands.  And I love waiting to see what He has in store for me.

So, to prove that I love personalized license plates, I thought I'd share with you my collection of inspiring license plates I've seen around town.   I love those that say to the world, "I love the Lord so much, I'll put it on my license plate!"  

So here's just a few.  Disclaimer:  I don't know who these plates belong to.  I've just taken photos of those that have caught both my eye and my heart while walking through a parking lot.  I think I know what they say.  Let's see if you agree...

Forever God

   Jesus Rocks
 (and apparently the Cowboys do too!)

Five Love Him
(make that six!)

Alive in Jesus Christ?

God Rocks
 (think they know the Cowboy fans?)

Worship Him

God's for You

He Loves to Praise?

Jesus Christ, our King?

You are Loved
(so very, very true)

Well, if any of these look familiar, please let me know who they belong to.  I'd love to know!  

Re-dedicating my life to the Lord has made me see things quite differently now.  All I do is for Him.  Including sharing my love for Him on my license plate.  I love to sit at a red light, look in my rear view mirror and watch someone's mouth slowly sounding out the words, "use your gift."

I hope it encourages everyone to do just that.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fun Mom...

I did something last night I hopefully will never do again.  I did it because I'm trying to spread my wings out a bit as a Mom.  Trying to maybe earn the title of "Fun Mom" one day.  For example, this Mom often says no to ice cream before dinner.  However, Fun Mom just flagged down an ice cream truck the other night in 60 degree weather to get my kids a $3.50 popsickle thing they longed for -- before dinner.  As I jokingly sped up so I wouldn't lose the ice cream truck, and took corners real fast down a deserted street, I made a memory I know my kids won't forget. All because I let them have dessert before dinner.  It was worth it.

So, last night was no exception.   After another great Thanksgiving meal at my in-laws' home, we got home around 8 o'clock.  I did my usual thing:  took my shoes off, slid my bra off through the arm of my t-shirt (come on, you've done that before, right?) and got under a warm quilt on the couch.  "Ahhhhhhhh.  Night-night time," I thought.

About an hour later, just as I was almost down for the count, my daughter's head pops over the couch.

"Mom, are you asleep?  she whispers.  "You know what I've always wanted to do?  Go shopping on Black Friday."

I mumbled, "That starts tomorrow.  And no you don't.  There's gobs of people who shop on Friday.  We'll go next week."

As I turned over to get more comfortable, that little voiced said over my head, "No, it starts tonight at midnight at the mall. "

This Mom who longs to be Fun Mom wanted to die.  I layed there hoping if I pretended I quickly fell back to sleep she would retreat back to her bed.  No such luck.

"Can we go?" she said with a hopeful voice.

After a very long pause, and I mean very long pause, I mumbled, "Yeah,"  hoping she would fall asleep before the stroke of midnight.  Again, no such luck.

OK, so if you've never ventured out into Black Friday, I will quickly tell you why you should not.  Here are my observations.

1.  I've never seen more people walk into the mall at one time than I did last night.  Picture what the parking lot would look like if Apple were giving away new iphone 5s.  Yeah, at midnight.

2.  No one looked tired.  No one!  I told Rachel that we would count how many yawns we saw while we were there.  Three!  Three yawns after midnight and after eating one of the biggest meals of the year.  My record, I think, was 97.

3.  In front of every cash register stood at least 15 to 20 people.  That was fun.  At midnight.  With the exception of the Crock store -- there was no one!  If you have stock in that company, sell now!

4.   All the stores I wanted to wander into were closed:  Anthropology, Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn,  Nordstrom and See's Candy.  Hmm, no wonder I like these stores.  They're normal!!!

5.  There were no sales above and beyond the usual sales they always offer.  Not fun to find this out at midnight I might add.   

6.  Case in point.  Fun Mom said, "Rachel, I bet you want some Wetzel Pretzel bites at 1 am.  Let's go get some!"   Until we both looked at the line with 27 people in it and ended up in Godiva instead.  She got one chocolate-covered strawberry.  $7.  Yeah, apparently they weren't participating in Black Friday either.  

So at 1:17 am, Fun Mom and her daughter headed back home.  As I drove home, eyes still stinging from way too many flourescent lights on at that time of night, I dreamed of my warm quilt on my warm couch.

As I write this post at 8 am this morning (my eyes still stinging from interrupted REM sleep), someone is still out cold after a night of late-night shopping.  

But hopefully she'll wake up with a memory to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Surprises and Blessings...

Well, as so many of you are cutting up vegetables and tearing up bread in preparation for tomorrow’s big feast, (I’m not -- I’m on clean-up duty!), I wanted to share a bit from a blog I follow.  It’s called

“This year, Thanksgiving has special meaning for me. During Thanksgiving last year, my mother was in a coma after a horrific accident left her with a broken neck. Her doctors fully believed she wouldn't survive the first 24 hours -- they were wrong. My mom has incredible strength and has survived cancer, a broken neck and a month-long coma. Thankfully, she is spending this Thanksgiving with her family and taking on her traditional role of chief pie baker and mashed potato maker.”

This made me shake my head and say, “Amazing.”  We think we know how everything will turn out.  And often, we’re wrong.  
God knows how everything will turn out.  

Here’s to being thankful for a God who has amazing surprises up His robe’s sleeves.  
And bountiful blessings for us all.
Happy Thanksgiving!