Sunday, January 17, 2021

How to Make a Graceful, Cozy Home Without Spending a lot of Money

It is possible to make a home cozy and inviting without spending a lot of money? I think it is. The general principal is to direct your efforts at appealing to the senses and the emotions. Unappealing elements such as dirt, disorder, and debris are not helpful in creating a comforting feel to your home and those things need to be banished. I like this quote and I think it sums up how to make a home that will bring about a feeling of contentment:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful"- William Morris, 1834

I'm sharing with you all here are a few things homemakers have done for generations to make their homes graceful and a place they and their families want to be. Let's don't quickly dismiss some of these old-fashioned and frugal ways of making a house a home.

Declutter your home. 

Put away everything that isn’t useful or beautiful. Make the time investment to evaluate everything in your home. Keep what you love and donate or sell the rest. Getting rid of the weight of seen and tucked away clutter will make your house feel totally different.

Keep the house clean.

  • Bathrooms should be cleaned every day. Make sure sinks, toilets, showers, & floors are clean and shiny.

  • Keep the kitchen . After meals, sweep floors, wipe down and clear counters, wash dishes and put away. Do a quick mop several times a week. I use an all in one spray mop from O Cedar.

  • Tidy those bedrooms...make the bed and put clothes away and have children do the same.

  • Common living areas should be picked up daily, vacuumed and dusted weekly, polished once a month or so.

Decorate with heart, hands, the senses and imagination.

  • Light scented candles & keep luscious smelling lotions handy. If you want to splurge, beeswax candles are heavenly.

  • Use throws and decorative pillows to add color.

  • Extend the life of furniture by covering any worn places with throws,quilts and blankets.

  • Hang family heirloom or second-hand painting bought from antique and thrift stores.

  • Wood furniture instantly warms a room as do natural materials such as bamboo, wood, leather, cotton, wool, and linen.

  • Area rugs add a lot of charm, pattern and color.

  • Potted plants such as geraniums are lovely if you have a sunny window. 

  • Keep a vase of flowers on the table, either fresh or silk.

  • If you can afford to paint, use warm paint colors.

Live, create and do things in your home.

In these covid times, home is the place to be!  And so we can use this time to really learn how to live and be at home.  Here are some things to do at home that will make your home come alive.

  • Keep a lovely tablecloth on the table and then eat at the table daily; use pretty second hand dishes.

  • Put out seasonal decor and celebrate holidays. Bring in greenery from your yard if you have it and put in pretty containers around the house. It's free and brings noticeable life into a room.

  • Display children's art and family photos.
  • Play music. Musical instruments add a lot of interest to home. Also you can splurge on a nice speaker and play from streaming services whatever you, gospel, cooking shows, jazz, classical. This is a wonderful way to personalize your home by having music playing in the background.
  • Keep coffee brewing in a sparkling kitchen;  make tea in the sun.
  • Cook and bake daily. 
  • Have some needlework projects out in a pretty basket, also newspapers, books and magazines.

Pay attention to lighting.

  • Use natural light during the day as much as possible. Open the windows if you can and let in the smells and sounds of nature. When it's cold, open the blinds and let the sunlight in. Nothing makes a house feel better than natural light and breezes coming in from the outdoors.
  • Turn off the overhead lights and use table and floor lamps instead. This will create a warm, cozy glow throughout the room and house.
  • String lights are super cozy and help to brighten up dark areas in kitchens or on mantels. Ambiance and accent lighting are both nice in a bathroom. Dollar General store has a great choice of small accent lights on a budget. Don't forget battery powered candles that have timers. These are lovely to have come on early in the morning for soft lighting in closets, bathrooms and kitchens. Have task lighting for areas where people read or do writing, art or needlework.
  • When the sun goes down, create clusters of illumination where you want focal and conversation points to be.
  • If introducing additional lights and re-jigging your lighting situation is out of the question for financial reasons, at least make sure you are only using warm bulbs throughout the rooms that you want to cozy up.

This all sounds like a lot of work. Is it really worth it? 

I think so! Your family will gravitate toward a cozy, well-kept home that will bring comfort  and add to their well being.  Creating a warm nest  is one way of ministering to them,  to friends and extended family and anyone that you invite into your sanctuary.  A thoughtful, lived in, loved space can bring peace to your little world and you will stay busy, active and creative as you do it.


Amy Laurie

Sunday, January 10, 2021

What is the Grace of God?


I love flowers.  They always seem to brighten up life and bring me hope. Flowers are like magic in that I can plant a seed in the dirt and a colorful, fragrant flower will spring to life. And then as I walk in the woods and observe the roadsides, I appreciate all the wildflowers that just come into my life without any work from me at all.  All I have to do is simply enjoy them.  I believe God's grace is something like flowers.  It brightens our lives and brings us hope.  

Paul talks about the grace of God in his letter to Titus, a minister in Crete:

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,  training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,   waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ...Titus 2: 11-13  (ESV)

The Grace of God has appeared, like the wildflowers appear. But flowers are very obvious and easily visible to our physical eyes. What is the Grace of God? and what form does it take? And most importantly, how do I get it?

I once heard another minister, Herb Alsup, explain grace with an acrostic:

Grace is...






As they say, there is no free lunch. There are many things that bring wildflowers into bloom...sunshine, water, the nutrients in the earth, the seed produced by a mature plant, the animal that dropped the seed. Much work went into that wildflower, though I only see the beauty and grace of the bloom. In the same way, God's wonderful riches of grace came to us because someone else did the work and paid the price.

But grace is more than beauty and enjoyment. When we receive grace from someone we receive their favor.  That can include forgiveness, privileges, gifts and simply their attention and presence.

The Bible tells us that we have been made the recipients of the grace of God and that is really good news, since mankind has so many problems doing life on our own.  In spite of our failures, we have God's favor, forgiveness, gifts, help and abiding presence. That is indeed riches!

We do not deserve grace for anything we have done.  We only receive grace through the perfect life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  He came to earth and lived the perfect human life. But he was hated by many people and was turned into the Roman authorities as a trouble maker.  Jesus was executed as a common criminal, but something cosmic was going on that only Jesus knew about. On the cross (the form of Roman execution), Jesus was submitting to a ritual sacrifice.  On the cross, He took our place and our guilt was laid upon Him. It sounds terrifically preposterous, right? But in another way makes perfect sense. The only man who was perfect was the only one who could make the perfect sacrifice to end all sacrifices and make things right with the Father.  

After his death, he was laid in a tomb. But after three days something magnificent happened. He then was brought back to life by the power of God.

How do we know this? There were many eyewitnesses to his resurrection as well as to his being lifted up into heaven.  The apostles and the early Christians preached the death and resurrection of Christ.  In fact they gave their lives for this message during the early persecutions.

We can believe it is true.  Now it is only left to us to receive the grace of God that comes to us through Jesus Christ.

How do we receive it now?

The Apostle Peter preached to the crowds after the death and resurrection of Christ.  He told them about the remarkable event of Christ’s death, resurrection and ascending to heaven.  They asked, What should we do to be saved?

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the

remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”- Acts 2:38

In fact, many of Peter’s audience did this very thing and we read that three thousand people were baptized that day.

Three thousand people received the grace of God that day: they received salvation and the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of God that lives inside of us and makes us into people no longer dead inside but alive and spiritually powerful.  So powerful is this Holy Ghost that the Apostle Paul says that it will be the agent of resurrecting our own bodies when Christ returns.

But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. - Romans 8: 11

Not only do we receive this great gift, what Jesus called eternal or unending life, but we also receive another blessing through it.  We receive a lesson in how to live our lives right now through the grace of God.  We don’t live this kind of life in order to earn the grace of God, but we live this kind of life in response to what we have been given and to make the most of it.  Right now.


I didn't grow up hearing a lot about the grace of God. I had heard the message of salvation and had confessed Jesus as Lord, I had confessed and repented of my sins and I had been baptized. I faithfully attended church several times a week with my family. But the grace of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit....that was something new to me as I began to read the Bible for myself as an adult. Growing up, God's grace was something that was mentioned here and there but I don't think it was ever explained to me. It had to do with my faith and religion, I knew that, and like many children and teenagers, I had a tendency to see religion as a series of duties and limits on my behavior.  

But then I started seeking God from my own immediate need. And it was incredibly refreshing when I started reading the Bible and discovering the goodness and love of God for myself!

I first began to comprehend this grace as I was reading in the Gospel of John as a young woman.  I had just had our first child, a baby boy, and I was at home a lot with him that summer.  I had it in my mind that I wanted to become a more serious Christian and so I decided to spend his napping times reading through the New Testament.

I was ready for a spiritual encounter because I was truly seeking some help.  In the last few years of my life, I'd gone through many changes: I had studied for and earned a college degree, married, bought and established a home, became pregnant and started teaching Spanish at a public high school. And then, during that first year of teaching, I had had a baby. My life was going great to all appearances!

But something wasn't quite right. In the postpartum months, I began waking up in the middle of the night with a racing heart and was sure I was going to die any moment. What was going on with me? I was just 22 years old and in the best of health. I had everything any woman could want. I had done all the things I was supposed to do as a developing woman...achieved good grades, played sports, finished college, gotten a teaching certificate and even a job... and had married a great man. home, I was struggling. I was clueless about how to run a household and care for an infant. I was a hot mess of anxiety and disorganization at home and this anxiety was surfacing in panic attacks.

One night I awoke with the baby in the middle of the night for a feeding.  I looked down at the sweet, adorable child and realized that I was absolutely powerless to keep him 100% safe. I felt completely out of control.  I felt in my spirit the weight of all the terrible things that could happen...accidents, diseases, disasters. I realized that my peace, my happiness and my joy were all tied up in this little baby, and yet he was just a mortal, like I was. My heart filled with fear and my heart raced. I had no idea what to do, so I turned to Jesus and prayed and called out to Him and as I prayed, my nerves and spirit calmed.  I thanked God for helping me and the sense of His real presence in my life for the first time.

I had a longing for more of this peace and to talk to Jesus and to get to know Him better.  I realized I’d never read the Bible, the word of God, for myself so I began reading the book of John, the story of Jesus' life, teachings, and miracles. As I read, I found myself loving this Jesus, and had a true sense of his divinity.  As I read about His life of love, I found joy and conviction filling my soul. So many things began to change in my heart and in my life and I began to eagerly devour the ideas of the Bible.   I can’t say that I was joyfully serving in my home yet.  I definitely had a  long way to go on being a godly wife and homemaker.  But I had found a spiritual home in Christ, I had new meaning and purpose. My life slowly began to take on some peace which has stayed with me these 34 years since I first started reading and praying.

Now I look back on that time and I realize that God was showing me His grace and mercy and that I was responding to that.  He was filling me with His Holy Spirit and I was empowered by that. His acts of love and sacrifice were teaching me how to live and did not go unproductive as I began to devote myself wholeheartedly to reading and obeying His Word.  I did this not from a spirit of “I have to do this because I will go to Hell if I don’t” but out of gratitude and love.  I did it out of God's Grace.

What is the grace of God? It is the riches and favor of God that came to us at Christ's expense. And I'm very thankful for it.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us,   even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2: 4-7 (ESV)


Amy Laurie

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