Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thoughts on the new year...

Each year, I love to pick a scripture that I really want to live by and to focus on.
Last year, it was Proverbs 3:5-6.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."  
 
This year, it will be Romans 12:1-2.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
 
As I come into the new year, I want to face it with a renewed mind that is focused on making each day a journey and a walk with God, always seeking His will.
 I struggle with finding balance between making plans and trusting God. This has always been a challenge for me. I don't do well with change. I tend to get very comfortable. This scripture above is a wonderful balance of allowing me to rest in God, but to also be courageous and brave in stepping out of my comfort zone and being willing to be transformed by Him as well.
 
I love the way God works and when we ask for wisdom, He delivers...
Today, my devotional title was “Balance.” J
The scripture was from 2 Samuel 10:11-12 about when Joab was fighting the Ammonites. The message part went on to say,
“There must be a balance in life between our plans and our faith in God. Joab said, “Let us fight bravely.” In other words, they were determined to do all that they could, using their minds to figure out the best strategies, using their strength to fight, and using the other resources God had given them. But Joab also said, “May the Lord’s will be done.” He knew that when they had done all they could, the outcome was in God’s hands. Balance comes as we use our minds and our resources to obey God and, at the same time, trust him for the outcome." (The One Year Daily Inspiration)
I think this describes such a beautiful way to look at balance. Yes, we use the gifts and resources God has given us, but at the same time, trust that His plan prevails. And no matter what the outcome, we trust that the Lord cares for us.
 
This year, I am not making resolutions. I am meeting God where I am and trusting that if I cling to Him, He will lead me, change me, and transform me into everything I need to be.
 
Thank you for stopping by the blog to read.
Happy 2014, but mostly, Happy new beginnings and new adventures to you!
May God bless your year ahead.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

"Homemade-ish" gifts


Some Christmas season updates... 

Tonight I went shopping! At the Galleria. And I found an adorable store, with amazing stuff, and they gave me champagne. I loved browsing, sampling and picking gifts out for some of the lovely women in my life.

These little homemade signs made by Naptime Diaries have been a Christmas favorite in our home. They are basically a daily advent calendar and there is a devotion along with each day. Her online store and her story have been a favorite now for a while. 

If I had time to make everyone a homemade Christmas gift close to the heart (literally), I'd make you all a pallet Christmas tree. Seriously, how cute are these? I saw them at the Church where my Bible study is hosted. Crafty!

Last weekend we had our annual girls Christmas with some of my college gal pals. We used to do a cookie exchange but the last two years we have done a "favorite things" party. We all bring a favorite thing, within our designated budget, to share with each person there. Jill, our lovely and creative host, made this adorable hot cocoa bar that was a tasty little dessert! 

My parents were in New York over the weekend for an event/benefit... Don't they look cute?! I had to put this up because it made me smile when they emailed it to me. 

Have a wonderful night! More tomorrow! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

my favorite ornaments

Day 2 of twelve days of blogging ~ favorite decoration/ornament

My grandma has always needle pointed ornaments for me (and all my cousins) since we were born. We started with an ornament for our first Christmas and then they continued until we graduated high school.
When Nick and I got married, my mom gave me all mine to put on my own tree. They are my favorite and every year, they become more and more special to me. Here are a few of my favorites...







Aren't they beautiful?

Hope you're getting in the Christmas spirit… The cold Minnesota's are tough, but the snow is beautiful. A white Christmas for sure! 

Monday, December 9, 2013

twelve days of blogging christmas

I'm linking up over at Erin's Twelve Days of Blogging. Today's topic: Christmas decor

I love Christmas decorating, especially trees. I love REAL Christmas trees. There is something magical to me about having a real piece of nature in our home in the middle of this cold weather when going outside is sometimes painful! :)

Tea by the tree is peaceful, huh?


My mom needle pointed this stocking for Nick and I. We love it. It meant so much to us and its my favorite decoration by far!

Nativity set from our trip to Haiti

Little santa man and some other decor

A little FAKE tree in our loft… I still love it! 

There's some decor… more tomorrow from twelve days of blogging!

Friday, December 6, 2013

St. Nicholas Day

The older I get the more I realize Christmas is more than just a day. Its more than a season really. Its a way of living. 

Recently, I have really begun to appreciate the Church calendar more and more, especially during the season of Advent. The four weeks leading up to Christmas Day are just as important as the holiday itself, in my opinion. 

And today is a holiday I have come to love and adore, especially knowing the history behind it.
St. Nicholas Day! 
I like that St. Nicholas was a real person, who did a lot of good and had a strong faith. Not that I don't appreciate and enjoy the concept of Santa Clause, I just think its a little over-done in our culture.

A little background on St. Nicholas and some insight into why I like observing this holiday...
St. Nicholas was born in modern day Turkey and his parents died when he was young. He spent his inheritance helping the sick and the poor and was eventually made bishop of the area he lived. He lived during the Roman emperor Diocletian, who was know for his persecution of Christians, and St. Nicholas was actually in prison for some time during his service. I was fascinated to learn that he also was present at the Council of Nicaea, and actually signed the Nicene Creed, the profession of faith by Christians. I grew up Catholic, and this was always a part of our Church service. Its fun as I grow older and start taking more of an interest in my faith because I am finding out why we do the things we do. Its important for me to know why I say or recite something because then, if I truly know and believe what it means, it comes from my heart, rather than just a mouthful of empty words. 
So more about St. Nicholas…
He loved the poor, just like Jesus did. There are so many awesome legends regarding his name. Who knows if all of these are true, but I think its more about the idea of what he did and what he stood for. He was most known for being generous in the name of Christ and for serving those who were in need.

"The most famous legend of Nicholas' service involves three poor sisters who had no dowry, which meant they were unable to marry (and in fact, would possibly be sold into slavery, as was the custom in those days). One morning, the family woke to three bags of gold mysteriously waiting of them in their home, allowing the girls to marry. Nicholas had tossed the bags of gold into their window at night, so as to remain anonymous (and the legend even says that they landed in socks that were drying by the fireplace). -source


This must be where the tradition of putting the gifts in shoes comes from? Now, I am by no means someone that has a lot of expertise on this. I am just sharing what I found after doing a little research of my own.


We always celebrated St. Nick's Day, as we called it, growing up. After doing a little research on ththis holiday, I really appreciate that it celebrates something with such a neat history. What a great holiday, focusing on generosity and Christian love as we lead up to Christmas. St. Nicholas Day follows a lot of the ideas behind Advent too, in my opinion, promoting generosity and caring for others as we anticipate Christ's birth.


I love that this holiday was a part of my childhood and I will definitely follow tradition when we have kids of our own someday.


****


And Advent, what a beautiful season.


Its a season of expectation and anticipation. 
Its a time to empty our lives of ourselves, in anticipation for something greater than ourselves.
Advent is about waiting, resting, and anticipating. 
As Nick and I have been praying for a long time now for a baby, I know what it feels like to wait. 
If you've ever tried to have a baby, then you know what the "2ww" is. :) There are always 2 weeks of every month that we are waiting...wishing, hoping, & longing for our dream to come true.
Waiting is hard.
But you know what is beautiful about waiting, during Advent, or in anything you are longing for?
When you are waiting, you are hopeful.
You haven't given up. 
You are expecting something.
And that's what we do during Advent. We wait. We wait with JOYFUL hope!

At our church this year, we have a little bookstore outside the sanctuary and I picked up a little Advent devotional, Preparing for Christmas. It was written by a Franciscan priest, Fr. Richard Rohr. He says that the Advent mantra is "Come Lord Jesus," which are actually the last words of the Bible (Revelation 22:20). "Come, Lord Jesus," he says, "is a leap into the kind of freedom and surrender that is rightly called the virtue of hope." He says that this hope "is the patient and trustful willingness to live without closure, without resolution, and still be content and even happy because our satisfaction is now at another level, and our Source of that hope is beyond ourselves." This mantra "is not a cry of desperation but an assured shout of hope." How awesome is that? 
When we wait, when we long for something, we are hopeful.
And hope is a beautiful thing.

I don't say it enough...
Thank you for reading. 
Writing really helps me empty my mind. It is such a relaxing exercise for me, and for those of you that read and give me feedback and encouragement, it does mean something to me.
Know that I appreciate you!

Have a wonderful weekend.
Go places…
xoxo,
Caeli

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

December

I love this month and this time of year. Snow is appreciated with glee. Cold weather is anticipated with a surprisingly content heart (only lasts this month). December is a magical, beautiful month. The year is coming to an end and the beauty of nature and the Christmas season is celebrated with people we love. 
We just got a lot of fresh snow last night and looks pretty magnificent out there. I can't wait to walk in the first snowfall that is sticking to the ground without melting. Don't read my posts in February or March. I will not have anywhere near the excitement about fresh snow. :)

Last night we celebrated my brother's birthday. We went to Northbound Smokehouse Brewpub for dinner. Its an adorable place… great atmosphere, great food and very cozy. They had a giant lit up Christmas tree right outside too, so the whole place felt festive in a very subtle and charming way. I would definitely recommend this place.

Christmas tree from Church… isn't it gorgeous!?


Enjoy your day! 
xo, Caeli

Friday, November 29, 2013

A book review

I just read a really beautiful and precious book. A dear friend and co-worker goes to just about every craft sale in the state of Minnesota, but she is very selective about what she purchases. Usually she hardly buys anything at all. On Monday, she walked over to my desk and told me about a book she had purchased. She met the author, a local woman, and was so intrigued by her story that she bought the book. And she got me one too! 

Now, there are a lot of things you can give me that I'll enjoy, but a book? A book is the one gift that lights up my heart. (Nick, quit laughing at me) Since I was a little girl, I have loved collecting books. As a child, my mom said I used to fall asleep with my favorites stacked under my pillow. First piece of furniture we bought for our house? A bed, no. A couch, no. We went to Ikea and bought a bookshelf. Its nothing fancy. Someday I dream of having a whole wall of bookshelves in a lovely room with comfy chairs and big windows. For now, my Ikea bookshelf is perfect. Its packed tight and sits in our loft upstairs. Wanna know something that makes me even more of a geek? Its organized by category. Its full of some of my favorite childhood books, books given to me as gifts from some of my dearest family and friends, non-fiction, fiction, books about world religions and books about my Christian faith,  travel books, cookbooks, memoirs (my favorites), and a little spot for the 3 or 4 books Nick has read over the course of our marriage. 

Tree Spirited Woman, the book given to me, is a beautifully written narrative of a unique, unlikely, and heartfelt friendship between two women. The book touches on subjects that are already woven so deeply in our lives, but does it with a fresh, honest and simplistic message. This little book (its a quick read) is most definitely worth reading, one of those that you'll read, put it on your shelf, and smile each time you see it, remembering feelings and emotions that came to surface as the pages turned.


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