And once again, our home is "Christmas-fied" as Joy says

christmas tree  2014

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament.  Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even as God prepared the garden as a first home for his first children, Adam and Eve, He did not make it merely utilitarian, but a place of color, variety, design, eye-pleasure and personally satisfying-- a place of visual, emotional, intellectual and physical comfort for his first son and daughter. Fruit of every sort--probably at the peak of sweetness, with spices, herbs, nuts, grains, trees, flowers--the reflection of His own artwork in every square foot of garden.

A part of God's inherent nature was to create and provide pleasure to his creatures through what He made.

And so, as a co-creator, made in God's likeness, we extend beauty, creativity, pleasure within the confines of her own realm as a reflection of God's own creativity.

Granny's creche

My Grandmother made this creche scene for my own mother when I was a child and so it has become a treasure passed down.

Over the years, cultivating seasonal beauty has become a pleasure for me  and a gratifying one--as our home "feels' like the most wonderful place in the world for my children to be because of all the heart strings we have tied by sharing in the atmosphere of this through life-giving moments and traditions over many years.

I do not buy much, as I have used mostly things passed down or something bought one at a time over 33 years of marriage. I have lived in tiny apartments and sprawling old homes, but it is the loving placement of your own imprint of God's beauty through you that matters. Sometimes a small light in a cozy room is all that is needed to create a place of rest and a sense of haven.

The living room--the tree, wall of windows to the outdoors, lots of lights come together to craft a home into a sanctuary and  place of beauty.

So many words have been crafted about whether we devalue the beauty and simplicity of the Christ story through all of the contemporary ways we have marketed and made Christmas into a pagan holiday. Should we celebrate with Christmas tree and validate the pagan ways? I have prayed and pondered all of these issues over the years.

Yet, there has never been any confusion in our home with our own children. We are not pagans--we love Jesus in front of our children every day of the year. We have used our tree as a symbol that God is eternally the same--the ever-green is a picture of His never changing throughout eternity. We talk about the lights and how beautiful they sparkle as a picture of our need to bring light to a dark work and to sparkle with the life of Christ wherever we go. We have spent hours and hours of memorable "discipleship" moments sitting in our lit room, candles flickering, sharing hearts and growing closer.

In our home, though, we have used the magnificent Christmas story as one more way to celebrate God's beauty, life, love, goodness and building memories together in our home. Home should be a haven, a storehouse, for creativity and the glory of workmanship that shows the divine spark of our ability to create an atmosphere that breathes the life of Christ. Home should encompass all that is good, inspirational, true, comforting, loving and real.

stockings on hearth

The Hearth, that holds stockings, and our kids favorite gift to open, as it has many tiny treasures and surprises within.

The world around us holds temptation and darkness.That is why we all long for a place of comfort, a retreat of rest, a sanctuary of life where we may find a haven in which to restore the light in our souls.

When we, as women, create an atmosphere that invites and welcomes our children, husbands and families every day, they will always see our home as a place of restoration, a haven in the storms of life. It is one of the glories of womanhood to craft, uniquely, her own home into that place that warms the hearts, stills the fears, captivates the imagination of those who live there for the glory of God.

christmas table

The dining room Christmas table where many a memory has been made--I have simplified over the years and use wreaths, bought from a local mission agency, to do the decorating work for me. Simple and beautiful.

As my older children have forayed out into this contemporary world where post modern thinking prevails, and there is temptation, darkness, cynicism on every side, they all long to come home to refuel, to find harmony with God's design, to feel loved and to remember why they need to be warriors for His kingdom. Home art creates a legacy of memories and longings that ties the strings of our children's hearts to our own home, values and faith, where they will return again and again to remember all that is of true value.

Creating a beautiful haven gives all who enter a place for their work, play, creating and living of life. And so, though the work is long, we seek every day, to create the beauty of His presence, not only in our words, but also in the atmosphere that supports our messages.

Child friendly--the Raggedy Dolls my mother made me as a little girl.

Swedish Elves to pull down and to pretend with on the den mantle.

A camel carrying gold, frankincense and myrrh

Interest to explore in every nook and cranny, collected and saved over the years to make this the unique, "Clarkson" haven.

Of course, beautiful books everywhere to cuddle up to read aloud together.

Beauty and candlelight adorning every available space.

More treasures from past days--my grandmother's ceramic handiwork!

The big old copper pot on the porch that held geraniums now holds the smells and greens of the winter outdoors.

christmas cottages

An English cottage and church village, purchased Sarah's first Christmas--always on our dinette table for 29 years.

So much more, but each item lovingly placed with hopes that all who come here, especially my children, who will return home to celebrate life, will feel welcomed, embraced with the peace, beauty, serving of friendship and comfort and life of the Lord Jesus, who so meticulously worked to make our own home on earth such a place of beauty to behold, a soul-filling masterpiece of His own handiwork.

Peace to you this day.