Advent 2020 – new study

Keeping Watch: a 25-day Advent journey

ORDER Keeping Watch

Every Advent we begin a journey.
This year join the shepherds, Keeping Watch

Keeping Watch is a new Advent study I’ve written, based on Luke 2:8-20. How does the story of the shepherds intersect with our modern lives?

Beginning December 1, each day offers a reflection based on a small segment of the text, a verse to pray through and a thoughtful journal prompt to explore in a handmade journal (included). The daily reflections are printed on 4” x 5” cards, enclosed in a linen pocket folder, with matching handmade journal. An 8” x 9.25” print of a painting I’ve done specifically for the study is also included.
If you are interested in ordering for a group, please email – we will work out an economical way for you to use the study.
As always, thank you so much for your support of my projects. You are such a blessing to me!


The 1-2-3-4 Cake



A couple of Saturdays ago, I got up early for a day of baking. On the menu: my grandmother’s 1-2-3-4 cake.

She’d make this recipe for the layers of my birthday cake – layers slathered with a rich, sticky lemon curd and topped with freshly grated coconut. I can taste it now…

On this particular day, I went to my trusted (and overstuffed) recipe card file to find the instructions. But the recipe was nowhere to be found. I took all of the cards out – at least 937 recipes – but couldn’t find it. I began to panic, looking in every other conceivable place.

And then I stopped. And cried.

The recipe was one of my most treasured family heirlooms. My grandmother had written it down for me on a sheet of lined note paper, just before our wedding.

The realization that it was gone broke my heart. The realization that I couldn’t call my mother, who passed away just over a year ago, to get it from her overwhelmed me.

Thankfully, my optimistic husband insisted on calling our daughter, who, of course, remembered exactly what we’d done with it after our recent baking day together – to protect it from being lost, no less. It was found and the remainder of my day restored.

Why is a recipe, a Valentine’s card, a crocheted baby blanket, a photograph so important? Its significance is not in the thing itself – it’s the memory attached to it. It’s a song from long ago that we pull out and play every so often to remind us.

God has given us the good gift of family, the treasure of friendship, the power of love.

And it is this lasting love that compels us to, on occasion, look back with gratitude. I do that every so often with the 1-2-3-4 cake. And then I look forward with hope.

God has given us memories as a tool to strengthen our faith. When we look back on the things He’s done in past generations, our confidence in His love and care strengthens.

When we think about how He’s walked with us through every joy and challenge we’ve ever faced, we trust Him to always be our Good Shepherd.

And when we pass along to the next generation all that we know to be true about Him, we are investing in a legacy of faith for future believers.

“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live! And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.”
~ Deuteronomy 4:9 NLT
Memories are being made right this very moment. One day it will be my recipe or painting or very small lap quilt that will be cherished by those I leave behind. And I want my daughter, while holding that small lap quilt that took me nine years to complete, to think of how we laughed about me beginning it when she was 4 and finishing it just before she went into high school.

But even more, I want my children to have memories of our family recounting God’s goodness to us. I want them to feel God’s presence in their own lives day by day. I want them to be able to leave a legacy of faith to their children.

The things happening in our world right now, including COVID, will become a part of the next generation’s bank of memories.

So today, whether you are 18 or 88, be sure to make good memories with your loved ones.

Next on my grandmother’s list to bake and enjoy together?  An Old-Fashioned Pound Cake.

It was my mother’s favorite.

 Verse to Live By
Work willingly at whatever you do,
as though you were working for the Lord
rather than for people.
~ Col. 3:23 NLT

Make a good memory with those you love –
today is a good day!

~ Natalie

All the things that matter…

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
~ Matt. 6:19-21 NIV

One lesson I’m learning through this quarantine: there is always room for the things that really matter.

During these months I’ve not been frantically busy, rushing to meetings, running out to lunch and quickly ducking in the store. Instead, I’ve found quiet. I’ve lingered over my morning time with the Father. I’ve emailed and texted and talked on the phone without interruptions pushing in on me.

In these moments, for you and for me, we are reminded of how much people matter.

Conversations with those around us are less hurried. Family movie night is relaxed. Easy dinners are enjoyed outside.

And when a need arises, we’re available to fill it. Our whole schedule doesn’t need to be reorganized because we’re free to jump in and help.

Here’s the big question:

How can we take this with us when quarantine ends; these lessons in priority and availability – the things that really matter?

Maybe we could lessen our frantic busyness. Shopping could be done only once a week. Pizza and a movie night or date night take-out could become a weekly occurrence. We could send more cards, keep in touch, linger over conversations, celebrate the little things in life.

When all of this social distancing and shelter-in-place ends, I believe we’ll be different people, and in a good way.

Maybe we’ll have learned that there’s always room for the things that really matter.

Lord Jesus, we are weary from this virus. We admit that it scares us and sometimes it seems to shake our faith. We are burdened by what we see on TV, what we hear from government leaders, what we feel as people die in mass numbers, yet all alone. And with the loosening of restrictions, we are anxious in a new way. We need the kind of rest that only You can give us, peaceful rest for our minds and our hearts in this time and space. We so want to trade our yoke for Yours, that You would lead us; that we could learn to be more like You. Guide us to gentleness and humility during days when we feel vulnerable and frantic and fear-filled. Show us how to carry the burdens of others by the strength that comes from You. We need You – oh, we need you. Every day, every hour, every minute, we need You. Thank you, Jesus, for answering our prayers. Amen.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
~ Matt. 11:28-30 NIV

Enjoy all the things that matter –
today is a good day!

~ Natalie