There Is A Purpose In The Storm

There is the purpose in the storm.

There is a purpose.

It's hard to see it in the midst- while the waves batter you and the winds threaten to break you. But I promise you, there. is. a. purpose.

Devotional - Jacob's Dream

Do you remember the story of Jacob in the bible? After he stole his brother's birthright and was forced to flee. One night in the middle of a certain place (it was a certain place because it was already written into his story, it was a certain place because it had a purpose) he laid down and laid his head against a rock for a pillow and closed his eyes. The Bible tells us he had a dream while he slept (which in its self is a miracle)...

He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it[c] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Genesis 28:12-13 NIV
Devotional Jacob's Dream

When Jacob woke the bible said he thought "surely God is in this place, and I was not aware of it".

How often do we miss God? How often do we go through our lives and miss His presence? In the ins and outs of our busy lives, how often do we go to sleep not aware of His presence? How often do we lay our weary heads on "pillows" of worry and pain, hurt and despair?

Related Article: What Are We Letting Beat Us?

God didn't show up when Jacob woke- Jacob woke to the knowledge that God had been with him the whole time even though he hadn't been aware of it. God didn't just suddenly appear because he dropped Him a thought like a genie in a bottle- He'd been in this place the whole time.

Like a loving father He'd been there the whole time, but Jacob was blinded by his own mistakes, and the waves of his storm until he opened his eyes and adjusted his view.

There Is A Purpose In The Storm

Long before Jacob found himself in that certain place, long before he was even born God spoke that rock into existence and laid it in the exact place where Jacob would choose it for a pillow, that one day it may be turned on end as a pillar- a testament that God had never left Jacob. Something as ordinary as a rock became a holy place in Jacob's journey and he called it the gateway to heaven.

Jacob had reached rock bottom - he was fleeing for his life because he listened to the wrong person and stole something that didn't belong to him. He was leaving everything he'd known up to that point because of a foolish decision. He was trecking through the wilderness and had to use a rock for a pillow- and yet God used that rock to change his perspective.

Sometimes God uses the ordinary to remind you that HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THERE.

Your greatest discomfort, your greatest pain, can be the gateway to His greatest revelation in your life. You see God didn't call that rock a gateway, Jacob did and it became the gate to God's promise.

Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.  I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Genesis 28:14-15 NIV

We can't choose the situation, we can't choose the storm- we can choose its purpose. We can choose to let it remind us that He has been with us all along and let it grow our faith or we can choose to let it be the storm that breaks us.

There Is A Purpose In The Storm


He's with us in the storm.
He's with us in the dry wasteland.
He's with you when you've reached the end of your rope, and the mistakes are piled like an insurmountable mountain and you just want to give up.

No mistake in your life will change what He has planned for your life since before you were in your mother's womb. What started as a storm in Jacob's life turned into a testament.

God didn't live in that rock- but it held the potential to make Jacob realize that God was with him.

When was the last time we woke up with the knowledge that God had been with us the whole time?

There Is A Purpose In The Storm - Devotional Jacob's Dream

Only God can look at your broken storm-tossed in-the-middle-of-a-certain-place and see the potential for something great. And turn it into a testament of His unfailing love. A reminder that He has been with you the whole time, because the same creator who created that rock and laid it in Jacob's path, created you.

Fall Decorating Inspiration

Bring on the boots, cozy sweaters, dazzling leaves, and crisp days! Fall is such a beautiful season! Here in the south, we will have to wait a while longer but today's low 70's temps have me dreaming...
so I have been looking back at our fall decor over the years. So many memories, so many years... in some ways it makes me sad, sad that Grandma Cottage and our "boys" aren't here with us to welcome another season. But I'm excited about all that this season will hold- and because of its one step closer to pulling out my trees!!! Yes, I am totally counting the days... 

The house and style have changed so much over the years but I wanted to share some of it with you in hopes it will inspire you to see pumpkins everywhere -Wink- and for those of you who love Christmas as much as I celebrate, its a little closer!


Ahhh... be still my heart! I love white pumpkins so much (granted this one is very yellow).


Back when our walls were green... Wow, the house looks so different!


This year we swagged brown chiffon up the staircase with beautiful leaf and berry garland.


This wreath we brought home years ago when Grandma Cottage was still decorating the Cottage. It's timeless around here and it's exit from the attic always is the first that falls is about to grace us with it's presence.


Chippy wagon, filled to the brim with pumpkins, giant chalkboard, and coffee- does life get any better?


This year we strung a simple leaf garland with Christmas lights (they have so many uses!) around the door and placed scarecrows on either side. To one side of the door, we added a strawbale with cute rubber boots little chalkboard signs and a pumpkin with a crow on the top. I miss those crows! They were so fun!!! I need to find more!



Hydrangeas in rusty buckets and chippy benches make my heart happy- they also make this corner of the porch so inviting.


Over here we have our old wagon loaded down with pumpkins and sunflowers.


Down the stairs, we placed mums and different colored pumpkins alternately. I think I need to go pumpkin shopping right now...


Those colors... *DROOLING*


In here we went with a hydrangea and pumpkin centerpiece with tarnished silver candlesticks.


We added moss and green pumpkins to the crate box on the coffee table to bring autumn to this area of the living room.


Over here we added dried hydrangeas in a basket and a cotton garland.

Legacy Of Mercy Author Interview and A Special Note From Lynn Austin

Just returned to bustling Chicago, Anna Nicholson a young socialite can't keep her mind on her upcoming marriage with the new information she's learned about her birth mother. She hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth, but are the secrets of the past better left unawoken?

Meanwhile, unflattering stories about Anna are being leaked by someone who would love to see her engagement broken and her disgraced. As Anna shares her faith with her society friends she understands that her choice to seek God's purpose for her isn't as simple as hoped.

When life becomes it's darkest Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Gessje de Jonge back in Holland Michigan. Geeje has been helping Dutch immigrants -including a teen with a troubled past- adjust to their new lives in America.

Today we have one of our favorite authors with us, Lynn Austin talking about her newest book Legacy of Mercy!



1. Legacy of Mercy will be released on October 2 and will be the first sequel you’ve ever written. What made you decide to write a sequel?

My readers decided for me! I received many, many letters from them asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancĂ© at the end of the book, readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally, she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. What if he is still alive? Lots of material for a story here, especially when the other people in Anna’s life try to discourage her investigations.

2. This story is set in your hometown of Holland, MI. Did you discover anything surprising while you were researching these books?

I knew very little about the early history of Holland, Michigan when I began this series—only that it was settled by Dutch immigrants. What surprised me was how much they suffered to establish a settlement here, including religious persecution, a malaria plague, and a devastating fire. Their enduring faith in spite of all their many trials was a huge inspiration to me.

3. The city of Holland must have seen an increase in tourism since you started writing about it. You even did a bus tour, tell us about it.

The book seems to have sparked a renewed interest in local history. The Holland tourist bureau told me they’ve guided several happy tourists to the places described in my book. And I was very pleasantly surprised by the interest in my “Waves of Mercy” bus tour! When I offered to guide interested readers to some of the settings from my book, I never imagined there would be enough interest to fill two chartered busses! There may even be another tour after “Legacy of Mercy” releases.


4. You are known for writing multi-generational books and Legacy of Mercy is no exception. What intrigues you about writing in this style?

I enjoy creating women’s personalities from various eras and exploring how the roles and opportunities changed for women from generation to generation. I find it very interesting to see how the choices one generation makes has an influence on each generation after them. It causes me to be more thoughtful in the way I live, knowing that my children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren may be impacted by my life.

5. Which character in Legacy of Mercy do you identify with the most and why?
I would have to say I identify the most with Geesje DeJonge. For one thing, she is about the same age as I am, and has lived long enough to be able to look back through the years and analyze them. She is in a position to see all of the ways and times when God carried her through—something we usually only see in hindsight, not when we’re going through the difficulties. I’m at the same stage in my life, and I can see God’s faithfulness to me in spite of the many times I questioned His wisdom.

6. When you sit down to write a story, do you know how it is going to end? Describe your writing process. How do you stay disciplined and not get distracted?

I never know how a story will end when I start writing. I rarely even know what comes next when I’m writing a chapter! I begin with the historical setting, and as I’m doing my research, my characters usually begin to take shape in my mind. I flesh them out by developing resumes for them so that they become real people in my mind, with backgrounds and personalities. Then I figure out where to begin the novel and simply make up the plot as I go along. If I’m surprised then the reader will be surprised.

My deadline keeps me disciplined. I know that if I write a certain number of pages a day, I’ll finish the book on time. I also know how very hard it is to write well when I’m behind schedule and a deadline is looming. Wanting to avoid that last minute panic keeps me disciplined on a daily basis.

As for distractions—there are so many! Over the years, I’ve had to learn when to put the book aside and enjoy a pleasant distraction (an old friend who has come to town, an afternoon with my husband), and when there’s no value in the distraction and it will only make the writing process harder.


7. Did anything surprise you about the Legacy of Mercy story?

Yes. One of the main characters ends up in an impossible situation, which put me in an impossible situation as I tried to figure out what to do! But I just kept writing and the dilemma untangled in a very natural but surprising way. (You’ll see when you read it!)

Also, the ending surprised me—a lot! I hope that all of my readers who asked for a sequel are pleased with it.

- A Note From The Author -


Dear Readers!

I’m so happy that you decided to join me on what I hope will be a fun adventure. I’m very excited to share my newest novel, “Legacy of Mercy,” with you because it was you—my readers—who inspired me to write it! I received many, many letters asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancĂ© at the end of “Waves of Mercy,” readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally, she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. Might he still be alive? Lots of material for a story here!

I really hope you enjoy “Legacy of Mercy.” I believe you’re in for a few surprises along the way!


Where You Can I Find It?


 

Legacy Of Mercy will be available on October 2. You can order Legacy of Mercy on Amazon HERE

Butternut Squash Pasta

The weather here in Tennessee is abnormally cool, and fall like which is making me crave cozy yummy recipes with all the flavors of fall. Like this delicious pasta dish, loaded with savory flavors that meet that cozy need. This dish is super easy to make (I made it while canning tomato sauce) and tastes sooooo good!

Fall Recipes

Fall Recipes

Related Article: Butternut Squash Casserole

Ingredients

1 cup organic onion diced
2 garlic cloves
3 cups organic butternut squash cubed
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 Tablespoon Parmazane + a little more for topping
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 box of Ziti pasta
4 strips of nitrate free bacon
red pepper flakes

Fall Recipes

Directions:

In a large skillet add the oil and onion. Saute until slightly soft and add garlic. Wait about 30 seconds and add squash, broth, and tyme. Stir and cover. Cook until squash is fork tender. Use a hand blender or food processor to puree until smooth. Add milk, salt, pepper, and cheese. Return to heat on low until it thickens slightly.

Fall Recipes

In the meantime boil water with a splash of oil. While that heats cook bacon in a skillet until crispy. Once the water reaches a boil add pasta to water. Cook according to directions on the box. When done drain and place in a bowl. Toss in sauce, sprinkle bacon, cheese and red pepper flakes over the top and serve.

Fall Recipes

Safe In His Hands

A couple weeks ago some friends from Wyoming came to stay with us and I found myself out in the dusk hours between day and night teaching the 10-year-old grandson to catch fireflies. At first, he tried to catch them by slapping his hands together in a squashing manner. I stopped him and told him to watch the way I did it... as we waited for another firefly to show it's self he watched my every move eager to learn the secret to catching these little creatures.

Flash... Flash... Flash...


Gently I cupped my hands around the spot where a flash of light had been- and to his delight seconds later a warm glow flashed through my cupped fingers.

As I opened my hand to reveal the little bug sitting safely in the hollow between my hands,  the bug sat unharmed and again spread its wings took to the sky. A small little light echoing its path across the darkening yard.

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I explained to him it was all in the way you caught it, it must be in the palm of your cupped hand or you'll only crush its little body...

With eager child-like enthusiasm, he chased these magical creatures through the yard as the stars began to peek through the heavens above. Dashing back and forth as little flashes gave away the location of the little bugs until his hands closed around them bringing them close so he could study them as the flashed in his hand before returning to the air and the game continued.

In much the same way as that tiny firefly was safe and sound from harm in my palm, God holds us securely in the palm of his hand. The creator of the universe, the one who spoke the world into creation, whose breath gives life to every living thing holds you in His hand.

In much the same way as that tiny firefly was safe and sound from harm in my palm, God holds us securely in the palm of his hand. The creator of the universe, the one who spoke the world into creation, whose breath gives life to every living thing holds you in His hand.

So often we find ourselves feeling like we've been tossed and turned in the storms of life, we find ourselves afraid in the face of the storm and forget that despite all of this His hands encircle us. Even when we are tired, when we don't understand, when we are hurting His hands hold us and sustain us.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4 NIV

Farewell To Summer...

The happy days have gone away… Summer’s glow has fizzled and died and left memories to float like drying leaves old and crumbly on the breeze to haunt and tease.

Like ghosts to mock your memory. Oh, that summer may return...

O That time may freeze forever and a day and summer’s glow remain and laughter be the only thing that haunts the breeze. That fireflies again light up the night and children chase them beneath the dusky sky.


If only the puddle could always boast the myriad of voices giggling and chattering about far-off wonderland, of planes and trains and mermaids too... and glittering dreams that sparkle brighter than the sun-kissed water.


If only the lane may be filled with children’s voices, alive with wonder and a thousand questions, the sound of skipping feet on pavement some heavier then others a bit older, a bit wiser, and softer ones unmarred by the heaviness of the world beside the steady stride of a furry companion… 


Child and dog, one young and new to life, one older and steady as time. One new to this path, one who’s traveled it many times in the golden glow of the sunset hour.


And the old hall upstairs be once again filled with little pleas to just stay up a little longer, at a sleepy hour as tired eyes droop lower towards surrender and yawns echo on their heels as little one are carried off to bed to be laid in the arms of their pillows


The garden beckons to hold another majestic tea party with fine ladies clad in their very best in bright colors and glittering crowns and handsome gents in fine bow ties and delicate cups that echo of bygone days of many summers and many children.


The sleeping wood waits to be awoken, and transform into the wild place of a child’s imagination.

O that summer and childhood may never end, and summer’s glow never fade… but summer must be laid to rest and the maturity of fall must take it’s place for soon the harshness of winter will find us.


Farewell summer... Forever you will be our treasure.

A gem we will hold dear,

the smile at the corner of our lips…

So farewell old friend, our beloved companion, farewell and remember us well for we will not forget you.

Giving A Fairy Tale Bedroom A Touch Of Fall

I always have so much fun with this bedroom, it's such a creative space that sparks the imagination. Mom and Grandma Cottage originally wallpapered this room with Sleeping Beauty when Brianna and I were little. Over the years the decorations have changed a bit, but the idea has hung on... (I still have my fingers crossed for a book cover door or a tree). 


We've never really shown this floor in our home for some reason so we thought we show you how we add a touch of fall to our fairy tale bedroom. 


No princess dream bed is complete without lacy sheets and pillow slips, ruffle duvet covers and squishy arm pillows.


Over the bed, we hung my mask collection from a willow branch with Christmas lights.


At the foot of the bed is this gorgeous thrift store trunk we picked up a few years ago, I love the chippy paint and bits of floral paper.


On this dresser, we placed the book of Grim Brother Fairy Tales that Mr. Cottage brought home from his trip to Germany [Read more about that HERE], we added a hand sculpted rose, a pegasus, and unicorn figurine, a pearl box, and glass shoe to keep with the fairy tale look. We also added this beautiful green pumpkin to the other end of the dresser and placed a gorgeous gold crown on top of it.


From the ceiling, we hung this adorable cup and saucers that a dear friend made for us. We put little battery operated tea lights in them to add a soft glow. Over the dresser, we hung this awesome sign from Hobby Lobby.


Related Article: Our Cottage Duvet Cover Line



On the other side of the room is our office station, this has a more mystery Nancy Drew feel to it. We found the sign at Burkes last summer, I love the reminder whenever I look at it. We placed Brianna's vintage typewriter on the desk and some fun journals on the other side.


In this corner we hung this gorgeous blue dress, it reminds me of Cinderella...


Between the closets we have a bookshelf loaded with all of our favorite volumes.


For this dresser we went with a bit of a Robin Hood feel, we filled Brianna's quiver with dried and fake roses. We also pulled in one of her swords in the same colors, added some beautiful chests and a fairy figurine. Behind it, all is this beautiful picture of Midsummer Nights Dream we found at a yard sale.


In front of the window, we placed this bench to serve as a window seat. We added soft white throw pillows and a gorgeous white pumpkin to the bench to bring in that touch of fall. In the window, we displayed these beautiful handmade masks from Italy and these beautiful suncatchers from our dear friend at The Cracked Pot Handcrafts.