Monday, February 4, 2008




In the spirit of Valentines Day we celebrate romance, marriage, chocolate, and feminine delicacies.

I love surprizing my family with cozy interludes filled with the unexpected. This is a photo from last year, now try to imagine the surprized look on their testosetone faces as I lead them to this pink feast. Thank goodness the way to a mans heart is through his stomach. Indulge your family with a cozy picnic by the fire. Picnics indoors are magical!


Soft Lighting sets the mood and makes dining feel cozy and very intimate.



The allure of lace has captivated the romantic at heart for centuries, whispering quietly to our softer feminine side.

An Antique wedding gown dressed up with my own wedding veil.

Mark and I on our Romantic day, October 18th 1991. Our wedding was everything I could have wished for and then some. As beautiful as it was my style has changed over the years. If I could do it all over again, It would have been much different. Simplicity! Im using this word in a big way (just look at those sleeves and that bufont veil. What was I thinking!

For most young brides its all about the details, the perfect dress, flowers, caterers and all the fussing. Remember your fairytales, It was the hopes and dreams of every little girl to be the princess. It was the way Cinderalla was portrayed in our childhood years.


Romance...With todays busy shedules and day to day stresses, romance can fall short of anything but, romantic...We start to lose who we are, and the very purpose to eachother, as God created deep in our core. Remembering our romantic hearts is key... It is the source of all our creativity, our courage and convictions.

On this special Valentines day, I want to share with you an insert of a book that was given to me by my dear friend Natalie, called ,Captivating, Unveiling the heart of a woman" by John & Stasi Eldredge. An inspirational tool I go back to day after day as a reminder of Gods love for us...Enjoy!

Captivating...A woman in the presense of a good man, a real man, loves being a woman. His strengths allows her feminine heart to flourish. His pursuit draws out her beauty. And a man in the presence of a real woman loves being a man. Her beauty arouses him to play the man, it draws out his strengths. She inspires him to be a hero. The longing God has written deep in your heart are telling you something essential about what it means to be a woman, and the life he meant for you to live. A journey of the heart. A woman who at her core was made for romance, made to play an irreplaceable role in a shared adventure, and who really does possess a beauty all her own to unveil, the woman God had in mind when he made Eve... and when he made you, Glorious, powerful, and captivating. The crown of creation...

A Womans Journey...
Then the time came when the risk it took
To remain tight in a bud was more painful
Than the risk it took to blossom.

by Anais Nin

A loving Valentine Devotional by my dear friend Natalie...Thank you dear friend for your grace and wisdom :)
With the Valentines Day holiday approaching I thought I would start this new column off with something very near and dear to my heart and that is the subject of marriage. Hi, my name is Natalie Stephens and I am the author of the Dear Natalie column. I am a wife to a wonderful man I have been married to for over 20+ years and the mother of two teenaged sons. I am also a free lance writer and Bible study leader. I have a heart for the Lord and for women. I have ministered to women in my writings and through my devotionals over the years and it is my pleasure to share wisdom with each one of you from my own life experiences in a honest and loving way.
Marriage,..that is a topic countless books have been written on, lol! All I can offer anyone is my experience in my own marriage and pray it helps another marriage out there. I have a very happy marriage, full of love and genuine respect. But it has not always been this way. Like most marriages we started off young and very naive. Two young people with different backgrounds, different views on life coming together and trying to mesh all our differences into a newly formed marriage.
We have had our ups and downs to say the least.. some real trials. I was not sure at times if we would survive. It was my faith in this loving, caring Savior that has brought us triumph in our marriage. Many times I cried to God and asked for His help for His peace and reassurance. God has been so good to us. There are a few thoughts from my heart today I want to share with each one of you these are from my own experiences that have helped me personally.. one is go to Christ in prayer and really pour out your heart to Him He loves you so much and does care about your marriage often we think we can handle all our problems and keep our thoughts bottled up inside without pouring our hearts out to Him. Maybe for some of you this is a new concept.. but I know it works above all else and believe me I have tried everything. God can change situations where we are not able to..please seek Gods guidance above all else! You will be surprised what forms of wisdom He will use to guide you in restoring your marriage including His Word!



Marriage is about commitment that is not a very romantic word but each one of us did marry for better or worse. Say this to yourself often that you are committed to stay in this marriage for the long journey no matter how tired you may feel at times! Commitment says to your spouse no matter what happens I am here. No matter how difficult it is to communicate at times I am not going anywhere. Commitment speaks of integrity.
Do not give your self the option to leave (unless abuse is involved then please leave precious friend!)..and I will tell you why my friends, the grass is not greener out there I have many friends in their second marriage that will attest to this. You married him because you saw something in him you loved and treasured.. I know life, children, trials, etc., can changes us but you can rekindle that love. I am living proof of that, I have seen what God has done in both my husbands heart and in my heart.

Compromise is another un-romantic word..but one issue in today's marriages that breaks up so many couples, no one seems willing to compromise any more, it was a hard lesson in my own marriage but we have had to learn to negotiate and respect our differences. Marriage is hard work and it still is hard work I have to make time to spend time alone with my husband and when I am feeling a disconnect now I voice this to him or vice versa. We did have to learn to communicate with one another it is the cornerstone of a good marriage. He is so good to me he will go antique shopping with me and I will sit in the garage on a lawn chair while he works on his car talking to him, it is not always what either of us wants to do but we know it makes us happy to do so. I had to change how I viewed him and I thank the Lord for having two sons I realized that we also have male/female differences.. & that is not personal just how men think and do things!.. believe me I am surrounded by men all the time now!LOL!

This marriage is a work in progress we still have our moments. But I take my concerns to Christ and ask for His help I talk to my spouse and tell him how I feel. There are good people that care out to there to talk to as well. Dear friends don't give up and please for your family do what ever it takes to bring the walls down. Your husband is not your enemy and you must stop seeing him as this.
I am praying for each one of you and cheering you on! Email me if you have a question at
stephensw@t-online.de This column is about encouraging one another on, sharing our wisdom in life, praying for each other and bringing inspiration to your lives! We will post some of the questions on this site each month (anonymously if you like).

I would like to extend a special "Thanks" to my angel of a friend Jo-Anne Coletti, she is a true lady of grace and beauty, she has always seen something special in me and I love her dearly ..xoxox! Please know dear gentle friends that we both want this column to bless and inspire each one of you in your daily walk!
May God bless you and may you know just how special to God you truly are!
xo Natalie Stephens

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16


Happy Valentines Day my sweet blog friends :)

Jo-Anne
xo


My dear sweet friend Suzy from Suzy New Life awarded me with this sweet bloggin’ blessing. Thank you for sending your blessings to me, I really appreciate every single kind word, act and thought! Thank you for being so sweet!
Suzy wanted to see how far blessings can travel and this blessing traveled a long way - across the big ocean and two continents. Now I am sending this blessing to:
Rachel from Rachel Going
Sher from The Antique Paperie
Polly from Count Your Blessings
Sanya from In The Pink Antiques
Stacy from Stacy's Shabby Shoppe
Caroline from Vintage And Romantica
Tracie from My Petite Maison
Barbara from The Book Blog

Fifi from Fabulous Fifi

"You Make My Day" Award ~
A very special jewel of a lady, Tracie from My Petite Maison sent this
" You make my day award" to me today. Thank you for your bouquets of kindness, You've been an inspiration to know sweet dear friend :)