WELCOME to Gates of Elloree!

By wisdom a house is built,
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures.
Proverbs 24:3-4

WELCOME! I'm thrilled that you're here! I believe that a woman's most influential position and greatest cultural vantage point springboard from the portal of her home. Therefore, this blog will reflect that with each entry being organized into a "room"... much like the rooms of your home. For example...

One week you may find an interesting recipe in the KiTcHeN, and another week you may discover something that inspires you when you visit the LiBrArY. Travel ideas will be located in the GaRaGe and gift ideas in the CrAfT RoOm. A list of supplies may accompany a fun activity in the FaMiLy RoOm, and a spot cleaning chart may hang above the washing machine in the LaUnDrY RoOm. You might hear laughter in the KiDs RoOm as you listen to the funny things they say. Educators and students will be interested in what we have stacked on the bookshelves in the ScHoOlRoOm. Even the YaRd is considered a room at Gates Of Elloree... everything within the gates of your home. And at the end of the day, fill the bathtub with the homemade bath salts you'll discover in the BaThRoOm cabinet and relax those tired muscles.

Does that sound like a place worth visiting? Well, I hope you feel that way about this blog. I invite you to grab your favorite beverage and cozy up to your computer screen, where I pray you'll find some things that will assist you in your endeavor to glorify the Lord, bless your family, & serve others. H


... C r A f T R o O m ...

Scratch Art & The Beauty of a Teacher’s Lesson

The art teacher handed everyone a large sheet of thick, white paper and a box of crayons. We were instructed to fill the canvas with color. Every square inch of white was to be covered with bright, bold colors. I remember spending a lot of time pressing the crayons hard and swirling little bits of color all over the page. Upon completion I held up my masterpiece and felt a surge of total satisfaction at my beautiful work of art. I was ready for the bell to ring and school to be over so that I could take my picture home and hang it up.

We weren't ready to go home though. The project was only half finished. I can still remember the horrible feeling that came over me as the art teacher instructed us to pick up the black crayon and cover all the color with a layer of black wax. None of the bright colors were to show through the darkness.

I was in shock. How could I possibly follow those instructions? Why, that would ruin my beautiful picture. I simply could not make myself pick up that black crayon and ruin what I had just worked so hard to create.

Our teacher was incredibly gifted - truly an artist. She patiently walked with us through each process, allowing the layers of emotion to be fully expressed by each student as we moved forward with our work. Some, like me, hesitated when we picked up that black crayon. Others protested and vocalized their anger. Some even cried at the thought of destroying their pictures. The teacher admonished us to trust her; to trust that if we were careful to follow her instructions we'd have something even more beautiful when we finished.

Finally, after what seemed like a very long time, each student’s design was filled with black wax and everyone’s canvas looked exactly alike. The teacher then took her own black canvas and attached it to the easel for all of us to see. She picked up a little plastic tool, shaped like a pencil, and began to scratch out an incredibly beautiful scene on her canvas. With each stroke of her tool you could see the expressions on each student’s face begin to change. There was a corporate wonder that expressed itself through all the "oohs" and "ahs" in the classroom that day. It was magical. The more she scratched the more amazed we were. The beauty of the colors that pierced through the blackness was even more vibrant than they were before. The fine lines of each flower she drew seemed to pop out and jump off the page. The butterfly she etched appeared to be three-dimensional as she placed it just above the petals. We all wanted the ladybug she drew next to crawl out of the picture and onto our arms. We were truly captivated by what we had just learned and eagerly went to work on our own pictures.

It was Antoine de Saint-Exupery who said that, “True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done, the zest of creating things new.”

Art class that day was a mesmerizing experience. I couldn't wait to take my picture home and teach my sisters how to make one of their own. We colored until our hands and arms felt like they were going to fall off. Suddenly the rarely used black crayons became smallest ones in the box.

The Lesson

Any teacher will tell you that a good lesson is one that has the ability to captivate the attention in such a way that it is never forgotten. And that with every lesson there’s a test. Not many students enjoy taking a test, but each one will celebrate it when they receive a good grade.

Whether your canvas is the size of a poster board or an index card, every new lesson serves as a mark of color in the timeline of your life. It’s a kaleidoscope whose design comes together to form a beautiful picture. One might think that at the point the canvas is filled with color the picture is finished and ready to be put on display.

That is not the case though. The Teacher hasn't called for the bell to ring, and He hasn't given us permission to go home yet. There's more to be done. It's time for the test. The Teacher calls for the darkness to cover your life, the beauty of every color life’s experience has brought to the canvas.

In the book of James the author tells us that the testing of our faith develops perseverance. And that “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:3-4)

How many times have you seen the blackness of a circumstance slowly start to creep over your life, spreading itself so thick that before long the darkness has overtaken every hint of color? And just about the time you think all is ruined it comes. What? What comes? The scratching!

With the precision of a skilled craftsman, the Teacher pierces the darkness and begins to scratch something into the black canvas. Colors begin popping out everywhere and it isn’t long before you realize that the black layer now serves as the backdrop, and the most beautiful colors come to the forefront. The most amazing thing happens. Your faith in the Teacher is restored and you suddenly feel the need to persevere through the process. With each stroke of the Teacher’s tool the details begin to jump off the page and the beautiful scene tells the story of your life in such a way that you can hardly wait to get home and share it with your family and friends.

When the bell rings, and its time for you to go home, your picture will be framed and displayed in the most prestigious art gallery of all time. It will tell the story of your life and everyone that studies it will be mesmerized at the skill of the Artist whose lessons were taught in such a way that when tested every masterpiece receives the highest mark of honor.

(Would you like to create some scratch art?
This is a great rainy day project for kids of all ages.
Here's a link with a recipe that uses black tempura paint instead of black crayons.
Give it a try and enjoy the art lesson. http://www.kidsart.com/q010100.html )

© 2010 Lorie Codispoti is a wife and mother who enjoys combining her love for words and her artistic gifts into works that can be shared with others. Lorie can be reached through her Gates of Elloree blog at www.gatesofelloree.blogspot.com .


H ... L i B r A r Y ... H

(Below is a book review I wrote for our state's homeschool magazine some time ago. I found it today and thought that some of you might be looking for a fun devotional book to use with your children, so I decided to post it. Enjoy!)

365 Days of Celebration & Praise -
Daily Devotions & Activities for Homeschooling Families
By Julie Lavender

Leave it to a homeschool mom to find a way to highlight the beauty of each day in such a unique way that it provides her family with a daily devotional that incorporates fun educational activities, prayers, scripture memory, discussion questions, crafts, games, cooking and singing - all together in one book.

While tapping into the well-traveled tributary of family devotional books, Julie Lavender has carved out an unparalleled niche with her latest book, 365 Days Of Celebration & Praise – Daily Devotions & Activities for Homeschooling Families. Her fresh approach creatively combines the celebration of each day’s holiday to a Biblical example. For instance, how many of you knew that February 15 was Ferris Wheel Day? George Washington Ferris invented the Ferris wheel and we honor him by celebrating his birthday as a holiday. Now see if you can guess what Biblical example is associated with this holiday. Well, if you guessed the story of Joshua and the children of Israel circling around and around the walls of Jericho you’d be correct. This is just one example. There are 364 more for you to read about in this enlightening resource.

Devotionals are designed to give you something to meditate on throughout the day. This book does that by first, piquing the reader’s interest with a holiday to celebrate. Did you ever stop to think about the fact that every single day, somewhere on this planet, some people group is celebrating something? In fact, there are more official holidays than there are calendar dates to fit them into. Because of this, many holidays must share their date with another. Every day that God blesses us with is worth celebrating, and this book highlights that by singling out 365 official holidays and framing each one to fit around your homeschooling day.

Of course, I must admit, upon receiving this book I didn’t immediately turn to today’s date, nor did I turn to the first entry in the book. That’s too predictable, and this homeschool mom has gotten rather attached to thinking “outside the box” with everything I read now. So naturally, the first day I turned to was my birthday. Unlike G. W. Ferris with his invention of the Ferris wheel, I didn’t find my name at the top of the page in bold. (If only I could invent & patent a secret breakfast shake; one that makes children wake up every school day morning, motivated to learn with the enthusiasm of going to a theme park. I could have a holiday named after me!) I was however, delighted to discover that my birthday is part of National Picnic Month; and relieved that it didn’t read National Save The Camel Cricket Day! I do love a good picnic – minus the bugs of course – and will have my picnic basket packed and ready for next year’s celebration. Ms. Lavender very creatively connects National Picnic Month with the story of Jesus feeding the multitude, as she questions if you’ve ever attended a picnic with 4,000 people. Included are tantalizing ideas for you to incorporate this holiday into your day.

Throughout the book Biblical examples are accompanied by ideas listed under the following five categories: Questions to Discuss, Related Activity, Curriculum Connection, Verse to Memorize, and Prayer Suggestion. You have the option of skimming the surface or digging deeper with this well-organized, simple approach to devotions.

I whole-heartedly recommend this resource to parents of young children. The simple format accommodates everything from a short attention span to the child who loves to research and dig up all the facts that surround the celebration. I have to admit though; the child in me has certainly enjoyed pulling this book off the shelf in search of discovering what special celebration each day holds. “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!”
365 Days of Celebration & Praise, by Julie Lavender, is available at your local Christian and secular bookstores, and online. H


H ... S c H o O l R o O m ... H

Dangling With Delight

“Higher, higher! Push me higher Daddy!” Our nine-year-old daughter, Jennifer, didn’t even try to suppress her delight as she soared to the sky on the first ride of her new tree swing. Her father instructed her to straddle the rope as he lifted her up on the board. She bounced around with such enthusiasm as her feet dangled between the swing and the ground. The anticipation of Daddy’s first push sent sounds of giddy laughter echoing through the woods, serving as full compensation for his constructive effort.

This was no wimpy tree swing. Prior to building it my husband assured me that careful consideration was factored into the location of the swing on our property; as well as articulate planning to connect the perfectly sized board to the chosen tree limb with a rope that came with a guaranteed 500 pound weight limit (something our son didn't hesitate to mention (“It’ll hold you!”) when he invited the neighbor lady over for a ride).

Now when my husband build’s something, you can count on two things: 1) It’s going to be secure; and 2) It will outlast any preceding model. For this swing it was important that a rider choosing to mount and careen over the embankment do so completely secure in their method of transportation. A thrill ride without the theme park, this swing has the look and feel of something you might read about in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Twelve years later, our swing continues to thrill each rider, especially those brave enough to attempt it in the dark.

When I reminisce about Jennifer’s first tree swing ride, I am reminded of what the Bible says in Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do your will, O God.” Many times I’ve found my heart checking itself in an effort to answer the question: Do I delight in doing the will of my Father? Do my feet dangle in anticipation when I’m between the call and the commission? How does one delight during limbo season?

Homeschooling presented these questions each time we transitioned from one grade to the next. We felt the conviction to continue and knew it was God’s direction for our family. But, just about the time I thought I’d gained enough experience to secure my feet to the ground, another year would arrive, the weathered rope shrank, and I’d find myself dangling between conviction and insecurity, desperately crying out for direction.

Anticipation sometimes couples itself with anxiety when we realize that we have no control over the direction of the swing. During that time the adventure can prove itself to be a daunting task that agitates that feeling of limbo as we wait for someone to come along and push us in the right direction. One day I realized that delighting in this stage of the process was something the Lord was trying to teach me, and my evasive approach had to go. I needed that between-grade-limbo time to seek my Father's direction and put my trust in His ability to equip me for the ride.

Dangling with delight is an acquired skill. Mastering it is essential in maintaining a good attitude. Delighting yourself in the Lord and trusting His plan for your homeschool is the rope that secures you to the branch. Jennifer was able to find joy in those moments of dangling before her ride because she delighted and trusted in the security of her father and his ability to equip her with a dependable swing.

Consider what Isaiah 30:21 says, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’” Have you ever jumped on a tree swing, knowing exactly where you wanted to go, and instead of moving forward you found yourself spinning around and around? Well, that’s exactly what happens when we panic and try to control the direction of our homeschool without taking the time to wait on our Father to get behind us and push us in the right direction. Listen for the word behind you.

Your Heavenly Father knows exactly how much pressure you’re under as you attempt to juggle all your responsibilities and provide academic instruction for your children. He knows how unsure your footing feels as you wade through piles of curriculum choices. He knows that without Divine aim and a gentle push in the right direction you’ll be just as confused about Algebra as you were when you wondered how a worm can eat without a head.

Your fellow homeschooler may test earlier, start school earlier, advance earlier, promote earlier, and even graduate earlier. Remind yourself that jumping on her moving swing, in an effort to avoid dangling on your own, will only produce frustration and anxiety. Before you know it comparisons will outweigh any presupposed benefits of trying to catch a ride. Besides, have you forgotten that every swing has its weight limit?

There’s something to be said for waiting on the Lord and seeking His counsel. Take advantage of the limbo season and don’t be so quick to move forward in your own strength. Isaiah 58:14 says, “…delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth…”

The dangling process is essential for success. By taking the time to delight in your Father, and seek His plan, you may just find yourself out on a limb crying out, “Higher Daddy! Push me higher!”

© 2006 Lorie Codispoti H


Staycations Are Nothing New

H ... D r I v E w A y ... H

Staycations Are Nothing New
© 2009 Lorie Codispoti

“So, where are you going on vacation this summer?” the store clerk asked me. I barely had time to think of a response before she added, “We’re leaving for the beach tomorrow.” Her entire persona emulated that of a child as I watched her fingers dance in succession with her chipper voice over the cash register keys.

I thought about this encounter as I made the 30-minute drive home from town. Where were we going on vacation? Do I even know what a vacation is anymore? We haven’t been on anything that even resembles our culture’s idea of a vacation in three years. In fact, in our entire married life we’ve only been on a real vacation, two times. Why, when I think about it, our honeymoon only included one moon with my honey, and by today’s standards probably doesn’t even qualify as a real honeymoon. Can you see where this Poor-Pitiful-Me train was taking me? Suddenly I was feeling deprived. As I drove up the driveway I saw a squirrel sitting on the fence and thought, “He has more of a vacation than I do. He builds a nest in my tree one year and then takes his family next door to enjoy the scenery and nuts from another tree the next. They go on the equivalent of a cross-country adventure every year.”

Wait a minute! I realized that I was playing another semantical mind game with myself, and allowing our culture’s influence to play with my psyche. So I came inside and started to remind myself of all the fun our family has had over the years staycationing (the frugal way of having a vacation while staying at home).

While our present economic condition may be fueling the idea for families to capitalize on nearby attractions, and a staycation being one of the newest entries in our cultural dictionary, this portmanteau is far from being a new concept.

For over 20 years our family’s vacations have consisted primarily of local attractions and places we could fit into a day-trip. I can’t tell you how many times “camping” meant setting up the tent on the back deck, or, if it was raining, moving all the furniture in the den, setting up the tent, and filling it with sleeping bags and bodies. These were great times for laughing, story telling, and dreaming out loud. Sure, we probably would have jumped on the vacation jet and traveled the world over if our one-income piggy bank would have been a little larger, but rather than fretting over the fact that it wasn’t we focused on our local resources and discovered the joys of staycationing.

So the next time someone asks you where you plan to take your family on vacation, smile and tell them that you have some of the greatest adventures planned, and that they all start right in your own backyard. Who was it that thought that the nuts tasted better in the neighbors yard anyway? It’s an oak tree, for crying out loud, and my neighbor is an avid squirrel hunter.

Now who wants to staycation with me?

(Consider some of the local ideas we’ve listed for you in Staycation Ideas for the Danville Area below, as you think about what to do with the rest of your summer. Sometimes there really is “no place like home.”)


Jesus Said Come


Jesus Said Come

Someone sent me an email that included the story about Peter walking on the water. My first thought was, “Now there’s a story I know well enough not to have to go and reread.” Well, immediately I heard a familiar voice whisper in my spirit, “You don’t know everything you think you know about that story. Go and read it again.”

(I love digging for treasure and the greatest Treasure of all is the Word of God. My soul delights when I hear, “Dig a little deeper Lorie! There’s something I want to show you, and you won't find it when all you're doing is browsing the Word for the day's fix.”)

Here is what I discovered...

Mathew 14:22-33

22Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. 25And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
28Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said* to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Examine closely the words of Jesus...

He said:

"take courage"
"it is I"
"do not be afraid"
"you of little faith"
"why did you doubt"

What is the Lord saying to Peter, and how does it apply to us?

First, he tells him to "take courage." Jesus must have known that Peter was going to need something beyond his own ability to manufacture. Peter needed to receive courage - supernatural, Holy Spirit courage to enable him to take the next step. Jesus knew that Peter needed this courage way before Peter even had a clue of his need. So He told Peter to TAKE it. He was offering courage and Peter needed to take it.

If I put myself in Peter's shoes, in that moment, I think my thoughts might have been, "Yeah, uh huh... 'courage'? Okay, got it! What's next, Lord?" My fixation on the excitement of the moment would cause me to overlook the very thing I need to do... "take courage."

(Hint: If Jesus tells you to "take courage" realize that it's not for the moment you are in, but for the next one.)

I find the next part of the story very interesting...

Jesus identified Himself, in person, with His own voice, "It is I." Yet, Peter wasn't absolutely sure, so he asked Jesus if it was truly Him. This part is mind boggling. I mean, the King of the universe is talking to Peter. He knows that voice. Didn't he recognize it? Peter spent days, months, and years listening to every word Jesus spoke. Why was he asking Jesus if it was truly him? I know there are times when I am so overwhelmed by my circumstance that it affects my ability to discern the voice I'm hearing. The noise of the storm seems to drown out everything familiar to me. Maybe that's what happened to Peter.

Next, Jesus tells Peter, "Do not be afraid." Jesus knew that fear would attack, and it did. He knew it, yet he told him to "come" anyway. Why? Peter needed to know that fear would attack. We need to know that fear will attack, but what we really need to know is that the power Christ has is greater than any fear. God allows fear to attack, partly so that we will see our need, and partly for us to witness the greatness of God's power to prove Himself "mighty in the midst" of every storm. When we realize that, we see fear destroyed and put in it's place, and Christ elevated and residing on the throne of our heart.

I find it interesting that...

It is only after He offers courage, identifies Himself as the enabler, and commands us not to fear, that He bids us "come." Isn't that awesome? Jesus knew that Peter, even then, wouldn't be able to keep his eyes fixed on the Lord and stand above the water. But, that didn't stop Him from calling Peter to come. His power is available, even when we take our eyes off of Him and fall. Peter cried out for the Lord to "save me" and Jesus did just that.

So, today, whatever your circumstance...

Take courage!
Know that it's Jesus who calls you to step out and come.
Don't let fear hinder your obedience.
Realize that even a lack of faith and overwhelming doubt won't stop Him from saving you when cry out to Him.

His love covers a multitude of sin. His love is strong enough to call us, save us, and restore us to Himself. What a great and awesome God we serve. We can step out, knowing that even when fear, doubt and unbelief rear their ugly heads they are no match for a sovereign God who loves His children and will be there to save us. H


Prayer Closet - Fragments


H PrAyEr ClOsEt H



In the morning we put our day in the Lord's hands. We make our plans and begin. As the day progresses though, unexpected interruptions seem to sneak in and steal away our time. Before we know it the day is spent and our investment does little for the emotional savings account.

Plans changed (without our permission) and what we are left with are broken fragments of our day. We pray, "Lord, I had hoped to accomplish so much more today. All I have to offer You are the broken pieces and leftover fragments of what might have been."

Read what Jesus did with a few fragments.

Mark 8:6-7...

"So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground. And He took the seven loaves and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before them; and they set them before the multitude. They also had a few small fish; and having blessed them, He said to set them also before them. So they ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets of leftover fragments.

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord takes the broken pieces, which He, by the way, breaks, and somehow manages to make something out of them. Nothing is lost; no amount is wasted. In fact, there are leftovers from the leftovers. (How miraculous is that?) Discouragement flees as He gathers the broken pieces of our day (or our life) and makes them into something that will glorify Him. Only a Mighty God can do that.

I encourage you to offer the fragments of your day to Him. Then watch as He creates more out of it than your plan, perfectly executed, ever could.

Lord, "I surrender all to thee, my blessed Savior. I surrender all."


Master Bedroom - Romantic Retreat


H .. M a S t E r .. B e D r O o M .. H


What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen each other in all labour, to minister to each other in all sorrow, to share with each other in all gladness, to be one with each other in the silent unspoken memories?
~ George Eliot ~

Romantic Retreat

Well, I had mentioned, in a previous post, that I would put together a list of things that would assist you in creating a romantic getaway... right in your own bedroom! Well, here goes...

A woman might describe her perfect idea of a romantic rendezvous starting out something like this... My knight-in-shining-armor arranged for the children to spend the night at their grandparents, and for me to take them there while he prepared a surprise gourmet meal (frozen dinners have to count here). I arrived home to find a crayon and play-dough stained dining room tabled covered in a beautiful linen table cloth and set with our wedding china. He lit the candle and escorted me to my chair. He then escaped to the kitchen and returned with my plate filled and being carried on a lovely serving tray. We sat close together, enjoying leisurely conversation, laughing, and eating a hot meal with no interruptions.

After dinner he held my hand and we walked to the bedroom together. To my surprise I found a lovely rose and a box of delicious chocolates laying on our bed. He waltzed me across the floor to the wonderful sound of soft, instrumental music. Into the flickering candle lit bathroom he led me, where a tub filled with hot water and cascading bubbles was calling my name.

I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me. - Song of Solomon 7:10

(Don't worry! I'm going to stop here. I'm sure you can put the rest of the story together. ;-) )

How does that sound? Romantic? Well, I think it does.

So what about your bedroom? And what about the part you play in creating an inviting atmosphere? Does it have the look and feel of a romantic escape, or does it look more like a multi-purpose room (computer room, TV room, exercise room, nursery and bedroom)? While I know what it's like to have limited space, and how important it is to make every space in your home functional, this is one place I would suggest you never compromise on. Whether large or small, your bedroom should be an inviting place of quiet, rest, and romance for you and your husband.

I will only choose to think of he that loves, cares for, and craves me. - Alyssa Anne Vitry

Here are a few ideas for you to consider as you focus your efforts to create a romantic bedroom getaway...

Start at the beginning of the day. For a woman, romance begins with that goodbye kiss in the morning, and is fed throughout the day with words, a tone of voice, etc. Communication feeds romance. Romance doesn't just happen on it's own. It needs help. Attention to the details will go a long way to spark the romantic flame in both you and your husband.

The anticipation of touch is one of the most potent sensations on earth. -- Richard J. Finch

One of the things I've always enjoyed doing is writing little notes and tucking them into places for my husband to discover throughout his day. It keeps me on his mind and gives him little surprises. Sometimes they are scripture verses that I want him to know I am praying for him. Other times they are romantic quotes. And sometimes, they consist of one word... a word that would mean nothing to others, but to us it communicates that I'm looking forward to seeing him at the end of the day.

More than kisses, letters mingle souls. -- John Donne

Get rid of the multi-purpose room. In the same way that waking up to a sink full of dirty dishes can make you feel like your day is loaded before it even starts, a bedroom that houses a treadmill will make you feel guilty for skipping those five miles you keep telling yourself you're going to get to "one of these days." A computer in the corner of the room will remind you of the emails you weren't able to get to, and glancing across the room at the TV on your dresser will have you singing the Veggie Tales song that was playing for the kids earlier.

If you want to "be there" emotionally and physically for your husband then I suggest that you begin relocating some of the "stuff" in your bedroom. Or, perhaps this idea... If your bedroom is the best place to house exercise equipment, the computer, or the television, consider moving your bedroom to one of the smaller rooms. Flip it. Take your old master bedroom and repurpose it. Turn it into the multi-purpose room and design a smaller room for your romantic retreat.

Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved bring a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring. - Oscar Wilde

Keep the decor simple. Lots of patterns and colors will create a busy atmosphere, not the restful one you're after for a bedroom look. Whether your style is Victorian, modern, old-world European, or shabby chic, you can create a relaxing environment by keeping colors simple, accessories to a minimum, and patterns attractive. Go to the library and browse through some decorating books (or go online) to get ideas. Make a mental note of the ones that make you feel relaxed and then bring the elements you like about it into your bedroom decor.

The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds, and that's what you've given me. That's what I hope to give to you forever. - The Notebook

Keep it clean. No one likes to sleep on sheets that haven't been washed in a while, nor do they like gazing through a window full of fingerprints. Clean bedrooms (and people), that look and smell good have an inviting feel to them.(Try using a subtle smelling, plug in air freshener. I like the "clean linen" scent, and my husband is an anti-perfume man, but this one doesn't give him a headache. It smells, well, CLEAN!)

I will have to tell you: you have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love, I love, I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on. - Mr. Darcy

Keep it tidy. Who gets excited about getting up in the middle of the night and tripping over Junior's dump truck, or stepping on Suzie's doll and hearing, "I'm thirsty!" Don't allow yourself to build piles of clutter. Even clean, folded clothes on TOP of your dresser has a messy look. Take the next step and put the clothes in the drawers. Empty overflowing trash cans, and clear the room of clutter.

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Who likes to go to bed alone? This is a rule that my husband and I made at the beginning of our marriage. We try to always go to bed at the same time. Now, there have been exceptions over the years, but we make it a point to make sure the exception doesn't become the new rule. Having that time together before falling asleep has been a strength in our marriage. We enjoy being together, talking, laughing and closing out our day together in prayer.

I found the one whom my soul loves. - Song of Solomon 3:4

Keep A Journal. Consider an ongoing written dialog. Keep a nice looking journal and pen set in your night stand, some place out of the way, but easy to access. I knew a woman that did this with her daughter when her daughter was a teen and how beautifully it worked to keep them connected and "talking" even when there were tough times. (Only they would write in it and then leave it on the other's pillow in the evenings.) Why not do it with your spouse? No rules. No demands. Just write in it when you feel led. Long letters or short sentences, litte remarks or notes, thanksgivings, etc., comments that will be a blessing to look back on and read (especially during a hard time). It could be things you are thankful for, scriptures prayed for one another, encouragements, questions, anything that works (maybe not to-do lists though - that wouldn't work for us).

This is my beloved and this is my friend. - Song of Solomon 5:16

Don't go to bed exhausted. Sometimes this can't be helped, especially if you have babies and small children. But, if you can order your day in such a way that the children go to bed earlier than you do, then you will find that going to bed, when you're not exhausted, will give you time to relax before falling asleep, and it will make your sleep much more restful.

Candles and soft music are nice for creating a romantic atmosphere. Scented or unscented, a flickering light is very relaxing and soft music will help you leave the cares of the day at the door.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Matthew 6:21

Don't talk about weighty things. This is another rule we made for ourselves early on in our marriage. We don't talk about things that get the mind going before falling asleep... money, relational problems (with each other, in-laws or friends), discipline issues with the kids, home improvement needs, etc. Don't bring up subjects that will hinder a good night's sleep. Save those things for another time.

I've looked around enough to know that you're the one I want to go through time with. -- Jim Croce

In our culture, romance is a term used to imply love relationships. But, historically the term "romance" implied more of a state of mind, an "expression of the soul." We also know that biblically, the soul is the mind, will, and emotions, right? So when you think of the word "romance" think of it both in the old world sense of a state of mind, and the love relationship you have with your husband. Putting the two together will help you to prepare your bedroom for both.

Here's a beautifully romantic song that I love .....

I Will be Here (sung by Gary Valenciano)


Heaven is the beginning of an adventure in intimacy, "a world of love," as Jonathan Edwards wrote, "where God is the fountain." The Holy Spirit, through the human authors of Scripture, chose the imagery of a wedding feast for a reason. It's not just any kind of party; its a wedding feast. What sets this special feast apart from all others is the unique intimacy of the wedding night. The Spirit uses the most secret and tender experience on earth- the union of husband and wife- to convey the depth of intimacy that we will partake with our Lord in heaven. He is the Bridegroom and the church is his bride. There we shall receive our new name, known only to our Lover, which he shall give us on a white stone (Rev. 2:17) --The Sacred Romance


On a side note:

Holidays mean more when you know the origin of what you are celebrating, in my opinion.
(For those of you interested in reading the origin of Valentines Day, here is a great article that you might want to share with your family.… http://www.actsweb.org/daily.php?id=587&tpl=daily_template.htm )

I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. H


Closet - Memories of Christmas Past


H C l O S e T H


Memories of Christmas Past
© 2008 Lorie Codispoti

Few things compare with the joy of childhood Christmas memories. Not only was I blessed to grow up with grandparents, but I was double blessed to have great-grandparents as well.

My great-grandfather loved the Christmas season, so much so that he thought nothing of using his woodworking skills to make gifts for the children in his community. My grandmother’s face would light up like a Christmas tree every time she talked about her father’s love for the Christmas season and the wonderful memories she had collected over the years. One of her very favorites was his firecracker tradition. It was one that he shared with three generations of his family.

Spending Christmas Eve at my grandparent’s house was such an elating experience that my sisters, cousins, and I had a hard time falling asleep. This yearly ritual, along with the popping sound of early morning firecrackers is one of my favorite, and earliest, childhood memories.

No matter what time we awoke on Christmas morning, we were not allowed to exit the blankets until we heard it.

What? What did we hear?

Well, it was the sound of great-grandfather’s firecrackers. Yep! My great-grandfather would rise early, bundle up and go outside to prepare for the arrival of Christmas morning. It wasn't long before we'd hear the multiple pops from the firecrackers in unison with his jolly voice as he hollered, "Merry Christmas! Merry Christmas, everyone!" (One year, he wasn't able to get the firecrackers, so he rang sleigh bells instead. I was convinced that I was hearing Santa exit the rooftop after a long night of visitations.)

Firecrackers were the signal for the children to rise. A cacophony of jubilant voices with a range of squeaks and squeals echoed throughout the house as we threw back our covers and bolted to the steps. It was there that my grandfather would stop us. We dared not pass him on the way downstairs. (It’s obvious to me now that both of my grandfathers were in cahoots on Christmas morning.)

It was such an animated moment that repeated itself every year. We followed Grandfather as he slowly crept down the stairs, mounting our curiosity with soft whisperings like: "Wonder what's downstairs! Wonder what happened while we were all sleeping! Wonder what Santa's brought us this year."

It was a painful combination of excitement and gut wrenching anticipation. He’d halt us at the step landing as he took a few more steps and peeked into the living room. Looking back at us with eyes as big as a cow, he took a deep breath and in a long, drawn out shout proclaim, "Oh my goodness! Look what I see! When we heard, “Children! LOOK!" we’d barrel past him like tumbleweeds in a windstorm - sure to have knocked him over if he didn't move. It was the grandest event of the year!

Christmas day followed with many wonderful moments as family members found their way home. Joy filled waves of gratefulness filled the air as we shared our Christmas meal. We all knew that we were incredibly blessed.

You know, it's amazing now that I think back on those wonderful memories; I don't remember very many of the gifts, and the ones I do remember would pale in comparison to what children receive these days. It really wasn't about the gifts. It was about the joy of family.

Next to both of my grandfather’s jubilant expressions and animated performances, the tangible things I remember most are things like my grandmother's pies, her homemade decorations, my great-grandmother's rolls and homemade applesauce, her love of music and the sound of her voice singing the carols we all loved. Their Christmas joy was contagious! It was heavenly! We were rich, but not in a material sense. My grandparents simply capitalized on the simple and made it grand.

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:9-11)

May the Christ of Christmas fill our homes with contagious joy, and cause the eyes of our hearts to awake and follow the Great Light that was sent while we slept in the darkness of our sin. H


Schoolroom - C is For Contagious Christmas Cheer


H S c H o O l R o O m H


C is for Contagious Christmas Cheer

Along with "counting down" the days till Christmas, why not "letter up" with some cheerful ideas to add to your holiday celebrations?Let's see if we can find a Christmas word and web-link to correspond with each letter of the alphabet.

Be forewarned: Reading this post may cause a large dose of Christmas cheer to fall on you. It won't be something you can keep to yourself either. I guarantee that spreading this condition may cause a cheerful reaction to infect all those you come in contact with.

Are you ready? Let's get started...

A = Advent


Advent is a term that means the four weeks leading up to the birth of Christ (Christmas). In the 17th century people would make chalk marks on their walls to give themselves a visual reminder of how many days were left until Christmas. Visit the advent link above to glean some wonderful ideas on ways for your family to meaningfully count down the 25 days before Christmas.

B = Bethlehem


You may not be able to physically visit Bethlehem this Christmas, but you can bring a little bit of Bethlehem love to others by making and sharing this O little town of Bethlehem card. Personalize your card even further by using the inside to testify of what Bethlehem means to you.

C = Contagious Christmas Cheer


Here's a great recipe for Christmas Cheer Cinnamon Sugar Shakers. "Shake it up, Baby! Twist and shout." Oops! Wrong thought process. ;-) Back to Christmas!

Share some sugar with this great idea. Everyone likes something sweet, and there's even a diabetic version of this recipe for those who need to watch their sugar intake.

D = Drummer


Watch this video of the Little Drummer Boy with your kids and talk about the significance of the story and how it's message can be applied to their lives this holiday season.

E = Eggnog


It's all about the nog, right? I absolutely LOVE egg nog, though drinking too much of it can give me a bit of belly ache, so I just drink a little and sip it very slowly to enjoy the flavor longer. Yummy.

I've never tried making my own, but this recipe looks like a good one if you want to try it. I like that the link is a "video-recipe."

F = Family


Ways to Keep Your Family Focused on Christ This Christmas is a wonderful article that suggests many ways for families to celebrate Christmas. Check it out.

G = Garland


This one is for my sister, Marcy. We had a discussion about this when she came to visit over the Thanksgiving holiday. She saw the Christmas garland I had made and we got into a discussion about the chains we used to make out of gum wrappers. Do any of you remember those? Well, I used that same method and substituted the gum wrappers for stiff Christmas looking fabric. It looks great and wraps all around my tree. I love it. Try using up all those bits and pieces of Christmas wrapping paper that usually goes to waste.

H = History


You know, things come alive when you hear the history behind them. For example, the story about eight-year-old, Virginia O'Hanlon. She began to doubt that there was a Santa Claus when her friends told her he wasn't real. She asked her father about it and he encouraged her to write a letter to the editor and ask them about it. (Sounds like a pass-the-buck position her father took doesn't it?) She did and the editor of the New York Sun took the opportunity to answer her question from a philosophical viewpoint.

This little, seemingly insignificant, letter to the editor has since been reprinted hundreds of times each Christmas season, by various periodicals, and has also been adapted into a TV movie. It's a very sweet letter and response. Take the time to read it and talk about the history of other Christmas stories.... especially the one that tells His-Story, the one of the Christ, the Baby born in a manger and the Savior who came to "seek and save the lost."

I = Icicles


If you like icicles you might enjoy using this picture as a wallpaper on your computer. I like to change my wallpaper often and I thought this was a pretty one.

J = Jesus


What better time to study the name of Jesus than Christmastime? This is a free, printable unit study on The Names of Jesus. The names are divided into 24 days and can also serve as an advent devotional. Each day includes discussion and a related activity.

K = Keepsakes


Keepsakes are those material things that evoke a favorite Christmas memory, moment, or event. Something that you can touch... Maybe your baby's first Christmas ornament. Maybe a photo album of family pictures taken next to your tree each year. Maybe you wear grandmother's Christmas apron when you cook the turkey. Maybe you have a special storybook that's only read on Christmas night. Maybe your family gathers on Christmas Eve to watch a favorite Christmas movie. The list goes on and on and every year our family reminisces over each keepsake and it's story. It's a wonderful time of sharing.

I have to say though, that our Christmas tree is probably the strangest "keepsake" on our list. It's the accidental keepsake that won't go away. LOL! Every year I plan to get rid of the mammoth tree that takes up our whole living room, and every year our family has the same Christmas Tree Debate. In fact, it's tradition now, a ritualistic part of Christmas that I'm still wishing away, but regrettably has seemed to find a warm place to snuggle in my heart. (Don't tell my family I'm confessing that. It could be to my ruin.)

Maybe one day I'll write an article on our family's age-old tradition of getting into a heated verbal exchange over that stinking tree, but for now I'll just suck it up and rent a crane to haul the ugly dinosaur that no body wanted out of the closet. (Tree tip: If it's someone else's cast away, let it go. Don't try to save it from the landfill graveyard. I'm still paying the price for saving the monster that comes out of the closet to bite me every year.)

L = Lists


Lists, lists, and more lists. I love working off a list. Scratching through an item on whatever list I'm working on gives me a sense of victory and makes me feel productive. You may be like me, or you may be one of those people who feels restricted and stressed by a list. Either way, I think this website will be useful to you. It's an online Christmas list that you can create and share with family and friends.

M = Memories


Everyone has a favorite Christmas memory. Here is an article where 31 Christian authors share their favorite memory with you. You will enjoy reading these.

N = Noel


Noel, the word we use in our language, is derived from three sources and means Christmas, birth, and new. Here's a website where you can listen to The First Noel, read the words to the song, and download a song sheet and music sheet. The website has other Christmas songs available as well.

O = Ornaments


Ornaments are fun, aren't they? I like them because as a family grows so does there collection of ornaments. Each year a new ornament or two is added, along with a new tale associated with it. Our ornament/story collection consists of ornaments we've made, ones given to us, and ones that we've inherited. I especially love the homemade ones. When our children were young we began an ornament tradition with them. Each year we gave them an ornament so that they would have a collection of them to hang on their tree when they left home. I couldn't bare the thought of their first Christmas tree being bare. This is the first year one of our children will have their own tree, in their own apartment. It makes my heart smile to think that he won't have a bare tree, but one filled with happy family memories that he will be able to add to as his family grows.

P = Presents


Last week I had a woman tell me that her favorite holiday was Thanksgiving and her least favorite was Christmas; and her main reason was over the issue of presents. Isn't that sad? Yet, I remember feeling that way years ago myself. With everything that is piled up on your "to do" Christmas list you hardly have time to really enjoy the holiday. For many it is a stressful time, filled with more chores than cheer. We resolved a long time ago that we would only give Christmas gifts to our children. John and I don't even give one another gifts. There were several reasons for this, which would take another post to explain, but I can tell you that the lifted pressure from this one thing has freed all of us up to enjoy the true meaning of the holiday.

Here's an interesting present option though. A friend shared with me years ago something that their family started and I thought it was a wonderful idea. They wait till Epiphany to exchange gifts with their family. Tradition says that the Feast of Epiphany is the day that the wise men arrived in Bethlehem and presented the baby Jesus with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. (My friend also told me that the after-Christmas sales and shopping were wonderful. She gets great deals and the after-Christmas crowds are much smaller.)

Q = Quiet


One of the things our family enjoys over the Christmas season is to gather in the evenings and read a Christmas story. We each get our favorite mug and fill it with our favorite hot beverage, snuggle up together in the living room, turn the lights out, admire the decorated tree, and read. This is my favorite gift of the season.

I used to collect Christmas stories from magazines. I'd tear them out and file them away till Christmas, where we'd pull them out to read during our family gatherings. Well, a few years ago my wonderful husband bought me the entire collection of Joe Wheeler's Christmas In My Heart series. Now I have enough Christmas stories to share with the next generation.

R = Red


Red Boots For Christmas is an online story book that you can share with your children. There is also an audio version of the story that you can listen to and enjoy as a family.

S = Snowflakes


This one is for my husband, John. I've never known anyone who loves snow more than he does. He spent part of his childhood in Labrador and has some wonderful memories of ice skating from house-to-house, ice fishing, and riding skadoos. We don't get much snow here in NC, but when we do he reverts back to those fun, happy childhood memories and prays that we'll be snowed in for days.

Snowflakes are amazing aren't they? Everything about them is fascinating; from the science behind them to making your own and hanging each one from the ceiling with fishing line (something I did one year to decorate our school room for the winter).

T = Traditions


Too Much Tradition? I thought this was an interesting article that might be beneficial for some of you to read. Traditions can be wonderful and beneficial for your family, but they can also be a distraction that leads to unexpected expectations. Finding a balance for your family is the key to enjoying and embracing some traditions while being open to nixing the ones that don't work.

U = Unity


In her book, 100 Ways to Have a Christian Christmas, Brenda Verner share with her readers 19 ideas, activities and projects that will assist you in unifying your family during the holidays. You might want to review this list and pick a few for your family to participate in.

V = Visitors


"Successful people do one special thing that other people don’t do in their planning -- they begin with the end in mind. They think about what makes the holidays special, and the answer is always “getting together with people.” Marcia Ramsland (Author of Simplify Your Holidays)

This entry is dedicated to my daughter, Jennifer, whose welcoming smile and cheerful heart is always ready to welcome visitors into our home. Even when she was a little girl, she would assemble all the children in the neighborhood and bring them over to our house for Bible studies and craft time. Do you have a child like that, one that is always asking you if we can invite so-and-so over? Well, I know it is an extra effort to have people over, but I also know that the joy it brings is worth it. Encourage your child if she is like this, and teach her the art of hospitality by giving her opportunities to hone her skills and find a balance between entertaining and family life. One day you will be invited over to her house! ;-)

W = Waiting


Waiting for Christmas. For some it is VERY hard; especially when they start to see retail stores decorating in October, and they start to hear Christmas music being played in the mall. A fellow blogger shares how her family celebrates the advent of Christmas day. She has been able to make the waiting enjoyable for the whole family.

X = Xmas


Some people get very upset when they see "Christ" in Christmas replaced with an "X". I used to be one of those people until I learned that the replacement was no replacement at all. The Greek letter, X, stands for Christ. We see it most commonly used in the term Xmas, but it was also used as an abbreviation for Christian (Xian) and Christianity (Xianity).

I love reading the origins of things. It has a way of clearing up misunderstandings, setting the record straight, and educating all at the same time.

Though some may try to take Christ out of Christmas by inserting an "X" in place of "Christ" it doesn't work. Christ is still in Christmas, and that should bring a cheerful countenance to your face every time you read, "Merry Xmas everyone!"

Y = Yams


Sweet potato casserole. Can you say, "Yammy!" Okay, okay. That was a bit cheesy, I admit, but yams are a pretty important ingredient in the Codispoti holiday dinner menu. This entry is dedicated to my son, Joshua. He is the yam-lovinest kid I've ever known. Ever since my sister-in-law, Pam, made the first Sweet Potato Casserole and shared it with all of us one holiday, it has become an absolute - you must absolutely NEVER forget this family favorite. Every year my son reminds me to make sure I have every ingredient on hand (like I need a reminder after all this time).

This link is the closest one to the same recipe that we use, only we use canned, evaporated milk instead of regular milk, and we also add about 3/4 c. of coconut. Yam-me! ;-)

Z = Zealous


"Our gospel is the unlikely tale that begins with an emperor’s folly, for in setting out to register "all the world," Augustus and his governor Quirinius put something into motion that transcends all earthly power. We know the story and how it comes out, but let’s try to see ourselves in the shepherds’ place, afraid to open ourselves to God and in need of reassurance, of being told not to fear. Let’s be willing, like Mary, to take the words in, to treasure and ponder them, because so much is possible when we do. As these words wash over us they penetrate, despite our defenses and distractions. Their spirit can move us and change us, whether we will it or not. Simply being present is enough, for church is a place that allows this transformation to occur. If we feel utterly exhausted, drained of all feeling and weary with worldly chores and concerns, so much the better. Our weakness is God’s strength. Our emptiness means that there is room for God after all." Kathleen Norris (Author of this article - Zealous Hopes)

My prayer for all of you this holiday season is that you will embrace the gift that was given to us all those years ago. (Isaiah 9:6 "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.") I pray that as you embrace the gift of God's Son, you will also embrace what He came for. (Luke 18:10 "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.") I pray that you will come to know Christ as your personal Lord and Savior. (Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.")

Christmas was one event, that happened one time. We have been celebrating the anniversary of that event ever since. May your heart be filled with Christmas cheer this holiday season. (Proverbs 15:15 "The cheerful heart has a continual feast.")

Merry CHRISTmas everyone!