What an absolutely wonderful time I am having with my little sisters here for Christmas. Not only did my baby sister fly in from Colorado to spend six days with us, but my middle sister also showed up on the bus the very next day to surprise us as well, and so we have been having a wonderful time playing games, and chatting, and crocheting, and having snowball fights…
Today we went out in the freezing cold and collected wood for the winter months as we were starting to get low. My sister Shannon and I had a blast teaming up on the sled, whisking  heavy loads of wood from the lot to the trailer, and making a game of such hard work. I dont think I have laughed that much in forever, especially when I upended myself face first into the snow because I was pushing the sled and she accidentally led the sled right into a big rock, stopping it short. We sat in waist deep snow and laughed until we cried.
Best part? She made it up to my by giving me a sled ride from the truck back to the wood lot, with me yelling “mush! mush!” the whole way, both of us laughing hysterically.
So seriously, a great day, AND visit from everyone so far.
I hope and pray that as the holidays near for you, that you worry less about the impression your home and cooking, or even your presents, make on everyone, and just enjoy every minute you have with those you love, because you never know when it will be the last set of memories, right?
I was so busy having fun that it was only today I learned about the school shooting in CT, where those precious children that were in K and 1st grade were horribly murdered by that young man. My heart absolutely broke as I thought of all of the adults who gave their lives to save them, of the parents who were grief stricken seeing other parents hugging their children and their little ones not coming out of the school. I cried for the men and women who responded to the 911 call, and who had to walk into that school and see things that they will truly never forget.
Hold your loved ones close, folks. Kiss you children before they walk out the door and never, NEVER lose an opportunity to tell them how much you love them, and pray for them. Never.
And as Forest Gump always says: “and that is all I got to say ’bout that.”.
 Some things just go deeper than words.
I have TWO announcements to make as far as the giveaways go:
For the Checkerboards and Etc giveaway of a $25 gift certificate, we have a winner and her name is
Is God Good or what? I know that you can use that gift certificate this year, cant you? She is the amazing mom of, count them, EIGHT boys, and I know she and Mary Larsen are going to have a ball coming up with how she can spend that $25 in support of Mary’s shop! Thank you all so much for participating! If you want to run over there and check things out again, here is the link to Mary’s shop over on Etsy:
And for the amazingly crafted Angel Ornament from my friend Angie’s FlutterBug Creations Shop,
would Diana Pierson Mason pipe up and tell us she sees this??
You won! You won!
Wahooooooooo! 🙂
For those of you who still have people on your list to buy for, and who are looking for small businesses to support, check out Angie’s shop on Etsy by clicking the link below.
For both of you, I will be passing on your emails immediately to the shop owners and letting you all connect to receive your prizes!!! For those of you who are interested in the process, I use Rafflecopter for the entries, and then they use Random.org to choose the winners among all of the entries that are given. Easy peasy for me, fair for you! Love it!
I am blessed to have three, amazing and talented friends and business women participating in our final giveaways this week. Today’s slot goes to Laurie Hudgins, the amazingly talented creator and designer over at Just Jolly clothing boutique. Her items are beyond adorable, and more than that, she has some of the cutest models you can ever imagine—her own children!
She will be launching her online shop in the beginning of January, and we will be right there supporting her, but for today she is offering some seriously neat stuff for the readers of The Welcoming House.
Just like last week, she responded to the same questions I have sent out, and her is her story, beautifully written, and full of encouragement for anyone who wants to start something creative and individual.
How long have you had your business?
 In my head? Four years. I’ve quietly dreamed of starting my sewing line for four years. It was never the right time, even when I tried to make it the right time. It wasn’t until I gave into God’s timing that things finally began to fall into place.
The launch of the web site is set for the first of the year.
Has your inventory changed over the years?
 In other words, did you used to sew and now you crochet? 
  My inventory has always centered around sewing, but have done some crochet orders before. What has changed was the direction of the sewing. Initially it was only aprons, then aprons and bloomers, and then finally all inclusive of children’s clothing.
Why did you start your business in the first place?
  As a stay at home mom, I’ve felt a loss of personal identity at times. I felt a void that used to be filled with creating, making – something I’ve always been compelled to do. Don’t get me wrong, the most incredibly filling role I have, and ever will hold is that of Mama.
But, sometimes Mama needs something that’s her’s, and her’s alone.
 Tell me more about yourself. What does having a small home-based business allow you to do
 that otherwise you would not be able to do?
 Time and opportunities. It allows me to be available to not just my family, but my church family, MOPS family, and friends. It enables time with them I most likely would not have otherwise. It affords me endless opportunities with my children. Yes, I’m at a sewing machine, but we can go over auditory lessons, sing songs, tell stories, and teach. But, more than that, I can listen and learn from them.
Why are you participating in this giveaway?
  I appreciate The Welcoming House blog.
I like the uplifting atmosphere and wanted to be a part of that.
 What are you offering for the giveaway?
 I’ll be giving away a baker’s apron in a grey chevron pattern printed on duck fabric with pink coordinating straps. It will feature an adjustable D ring neck, double front pocket, and a removable pink floral embellishment. I’ll also throw in a gift certificate redeemable for one of my Bow-dacious Ruffle-ump skirts that are available for girls from 6 months to 10 years.
 What is your favorite thing about your craft?
 That it is my connection to my grandmother who recently passed away. I grew up playing underneath her sewing machine as she watched her “stories” and made my clothes. I passed her pins and thread. I pestered her to know end with my constant chatter as she took the time to show me why she was doing what she was doing with each technique. I had a strange obsession with her pinking shears when she’d break them out to cut patterns. Pinking shears still make me happy.
My favorite thing about sewing is with each time I sit down at my machine, she’s there, hand on my shoulder, helping stitch the fabric of memories into a quilt to warm me for life.
 If there was one thing you would like to tell the Welcoming House readers, what would it be?
  Don’t be afraid to dream.
 Don’t be afraid to breathe life into those dreams and bring them to life.
 With God’s timing and blessing,
who knows just how big those dreams will grow to be.
 And, most of all, don’t let people tell you it can’t be done.
 Don’t let them steal your joy.
“It is His joy that remains in us that makes our joy full.” A.B. Simpson
So did you catch that? She is offering a beautiful, feminine and hand crafted chevron apron for someone incredibly special AND throwing in a gift certificate for one of her adorable Bow-dacious ruffle skirts for  ONE lucky winner. My girls point at her skirts every single chance they get, and ask for one, so I am telling you, you are looking at some serious cuteness there!
So are you ready to enter? This giveaway will continue until Tuesday at midnight, so you can enter both today and tomorrow with some of the choices!
Many Blessings to you and yours,
Isn’t she beautiful? Inside and out! 🙂