My Word for 2021

2020 was a year I’m certain none of us will ever forget. It was a rollercoaster of emotions: fear, dread, hope, joy, darkness, beauty and grief. As I reflect on the year I realize I learned a lot about myself.

For one thing, I discovered my problem wasn’t being too busy, though I always claimed it was.

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Making it Ours-The Grand Tour of Arundelle Green

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This house felt familiar from the day we moved in. It is a red brick, Colonial style, grand beauty with traditional details and just a touch of farmhouse charm to soften things a bit.

First, I set up the kitchen. (Of course.) Isn’t eating the first thing we all do in a new house? With lots of cabinets and even some stashed under the island, I have plenty of room to organize my dishes. There are also clear glass-front cabinets where I display my Mikasa English Countryside dinnerware (which was a wedding gift twenty-five years ago!) Pioneer Woman Heritage Floral dishes.

Sidenote: You will soon learn that I am a huge Pioneer Woman fan. HUGE. I love everything she produces and it takes amazing self control to not own it ALL.

It’s so pretty. And, just to keep it real, it is never ever this clean.

You’re welcome.

Cute teen photobomb.
The breakfast table overlooks the pool. A perfect spot for lingering.

The dining room is adjacent to the kitchen. It is definitely the most formal room of our house, but I livened it up by placing our bright blue piano along the wall! At first I was afraid the piano was too much for this space, but over time it has grown on me and I have decided I love it in here.

Here it is all decked out for Christmas. Note the blue piano. Happiness.

Upstairs we have an extra bedroom that we designated as a guest room. I repurposed old twin beds, built by my father-in-law, that once belonged to my boys. I found the quilts and sheer curtain panels on Amazon. I just love the “granny” feel of this room. Old-fashioned and sweet.

The dresser on the right was once a changing table for my babies. Sigh.
The lamp and figurine belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

One of our favorite features of this place is the pool house, which we quickly named “Autumn House.” In the past, we were privileged to have a garage apartment where we housed missionaries on furlough or students who needed a temporary place to stay. We are thrilled to be able to have a space for this type of ministry again.

We will also use it to host parties and events, such as outdoor concerts. It is perfect for a crowd. There have also been a few epic sleepovers!

The big porch of Autumn House overlooks the pool.
The main guest room at Autumn House
The second guest room at Autumn House. These beds, made by my father-in-law, once belonged to my little girls.
The living room at Autumn House. So cozy,
It even has a wood-burning fireplace.

Back to the main house…

I apparently never took a photo of our living room after the sectional arrived, so here it is dressed up for Christmas (because I can assure you, as I write this my living room is NOT photo-worthy!)

We purchased this huge sectional from Ashley Furniture and absolutely love it. We all fall into it together in the evenings to enjoy a family movie or football game.

The master bedroom (below) is a peaceful retreat for us. We decided not to have a TV in there this time around, and I’m glad we did. It just keeps the room more quiet. More calm.

There are so many more pictures I could share, but I think I’ll stop here. Over time, I will come back and show you changes we make to the rooms in our home and around the land, especially as seasons change and call for freshening up of spaces.

In fact, I will need another whole post just to walk you around the land! There is a lot of work still to be done, decisions to make, and spaces to carve out and make useful for the animals we hope to bring in after Winter is over. But we aren’t in a hurry. We are home at last and grateful to wake up every morning to the beauty that surrounds us here at Arundelle Green.

Welcome.

Oh Come, Oh Come

As a child, we never celebrated Christmas.

Well, let me clarify that. We had a Christmas tree and all kinds of tinsel. We also received Christmas gifts and sang about Santa Claus.

But we never celebrated Jesus.

It was a purely secular holiday for us. The church tradition in which I grew up believed celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday was a sin so, we didn’t. As a child, it was all I knew but there was something deep within me that struggled with leaving baby Jesus out. I could not have articulated that at the time, but looking back I can still feel the longing, the burning in my chest when I heard “O Holy Night” or “Away in a Manger.” I would watch the Vatican’s Christmas Eve Service on the tiny TV in my bedroom, staying up late into the night as the pageantry and grand life-sized Nativity captured my imagination and I wondered what could be so wrong about it?

What could be so wrong about celebrating the birth of the Son of God?

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Papa’s Path

On a warm Autumn day my father giddily wielded a pair of branch loppers and beat me to the Shadow Wood. Before I knew it, he had forged a path.

We had not yet been able to explore what lay beyond our back yard because the underbrush was so thick and foreboding. The decision had been made to wait until Fall for things to die back a bit so we could safely tread through the vines, seedlings and huge rocks without getting hurt.

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Books and Other Writing by Jeanine

Click on the links to order from Amazon.

Paper Dolls: Trust Your Instincts

You will not want to miss this story that highlights a very real epidemic right here, in the United States. Appropriate for ages 14 and up, Paper Dolls: Trust Your Instincts is a must-read. Your eyes will be open to the signs of human trafficking and your heart will be moved to get involved to help stop this evil that is rampant throughout the world.

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Walk With Me

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com
Sunlight found no place to break.
Clear, cloudless sky gave the straight rays 
room to run
to the pond.
Across the bridge, glass below reflects and
lessons the ache
for a moment.
Walking, wandering,
ears in tune to breathing 
grown breathless 
as all the world weeps.
As all retreat into fear
and I cry for a new story.
That it will be well 
for I don't feel well.

Along the pebbled path 
beside the creek as darkness crept in
we turned.
Returning, 
and sunset presented gently tonight.
Slowly meandering,
tears dammed tight
in refusal
to break.

And there she stares 
emerging from woods
across the speckled water.
A statue breathing
frozen in time.

We gaze, 
one upon the other
and even my dog lies prone.
Unmoving.

The sound of applause
erupts
from left and right.
In rhythm yet disconnected
as if nature cries,
yes.
Stand.
Look.
Watch how we slow and observe
in unhurried movements.
Watch how she steps in time to her reflection
perfectly framed.

I dare to move
just a little. 
We stare again,
transfixed
as I will myself to breathe.
She goes,
farther,
in the tall grass 
disappearing
and I turn.

The applause ceases and we step more slowly
deliberately
as waters deepen to
reflect the last rays
of sunset's glow
while
out of sight
I hear the applause begin again.

That We Might Find our Home in You

Root us in a place, Lord, that we might find our home in you.

The Book of Common Prayer

We are such a transient society. Me, this girl who lived in the same tiny town until I was twenty-three? Even I have moved more times that I would have thought. Three towns in Texas, one in Pennsylvania, then four different houses in Middle Tennessee over the past twenty-five years have given me a collection of memories and friends that I treasure. But all those moves have also given me a deep desire for roots that run deep.

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Decisions, Decisions

We made the drive out to Shelbyville, Tennessee on a crisp November morning to pick out stain, doors and knobs for our soon-to-be-built bookshelves.

My fourteen-year-old son sat in the back of my Ford Explorer, long legs stretched out in front of him from his chosen spot in the third row with the second rows seats folded. I complained that I felt like a chauffeur with him sitting all the way back there, but he didn’t bend. “I like it back here so I can do this,” and he somehow stretched those growing legs even longer.

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Control this Chaos

In our home, there is a massive shortage of bookshelves. Built in 1999, this fact is quite a surprise because most houses from that time period (especially those built by the same builder as ours) have lots of beautiful built-ins. But, not ours.

There is a lovely front room, though, that was used by the previous owners as a formal living room. It will make a perfect library. Sure, I could put some pretty sofas and arrangements in there and use it for entertaining but our crowd of people is more of a chips and Ro-Tel dip kinda crowd. The formality would be a complete waste of space. We would honestly never use it.

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Oh, to be Young!

There is a young woman at my church who makes me smile every time I see her. She is not just beautiful, she is strong. Tall, model-status lovely, smart, and full of life. It was my honor to host her 18th birthday party here at Autumn House.

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