Personal Reflections & My Holiday Home 2013

For me, Christmas is not about

fancy wrapping paper or a jolly man

negotiating our chimney.

It’s about the birth

of the King of my heart.

I have been awfully relaxed this year about decor.

In my defense, we live on the edge of a magical

forest in a home with gloriously massive windows

framing light and trees and sky and snow.

I can’t compete with nature, mama!

Two extra fluffy friends join us this year.

My sister’s girls are here while she

celebrates the holidays in Italy.

This is Jessie above singing.

And this is Miss Suki…14 years young.

Sweet Bella Luna.

A family of nine in the backyard!

Old ski poles from Europe.

I spent an entire afternoon making

this ‘simple’ tissue paper garland.

My kids thought I was a freak for

all the effort and whispered stuff like




They don’t get it.

I loved every minute of creating the

romantic chain whilst viewing Thelma and Louise.

omg. Gina Davis’ accent melts me! She goes:

Something’s, like, crossed over in me,

 and I can’t go back (bake is how it sounds),

and i just die.

I made flowers for the tree too.

The bathtub-sized Hungarian dough bowl cradles gifts.

My sister Lisa in Arizona who is constantly

creating lovely, made this textual wreath,

and I love the scale and neutrality of it.

* * *

An obvious absence of glitz, glamour,

sparkle, and shine around the house this year.

None of the trappings above are truly blogworthy.

And it’s okay.

It has been one of the most challenging

years on record for my family because of

breast cancer and the BRCA2 diagnosis.

A whole lotta physical loss and spiritual upheaval.

Diagnoses, doctor appointments, surgeries,

instant menopause, reconstruction, orthodontia,

hair loss, and now physical therapy have

cramped my style.

By the way, I do miss my boobs, but I miss BREAD more

now that gluten has also been taken away.

I have felt God’s presence through it all.

My relationship with the One who came

into the world so humbly has deepened.

I am stronger than I imagined.

I have glimpsed grace in fresh ways.

I am muddling through and feeling

e c s t a t i c a l l y  h o p e f u l

about the promise of a new year.

* * *

Thank you for reading, and if you can

spare a moment, please leave a comment.

I would love to hear more about you

(where do you live? how are you holding up?…)

Peace to you right where you are.




  1. December 23, 2013 / 7:17 pm

    My lovely Michele, Oh how I love you, your spirit, your creativity and your special heart that belongs to Jesus. Thank you for sharing your heart with us throughout the year and always brightening my day with your sweet words. I love the quiet, peaceful presence you and your home maintain now and throughout the year. Blessed Christmas to you and your family. Give your Mom an extra special Christmas wish from and thank her for raising such a beautiful girl inside and out,
    xoxo Kathysue

  2. December 23, 2013 / 7:22 pm

    your view is fabulous made only better with all the white carpet! i have a sister lisa in Arizona too! you are beautiful and boobs are soooo over rated. my grown son and his dog moved in with us last week as a surprise , ahem…..and my daughter and son in law are struggling with becoming pregnant…she just informed us that the insemination did not take…..
    so, i am struggling a bit in tennessee but look forward to candlelight mass and singing "silent night" surrounded by jesus' love.
    merry christmas,

  3. December 23, 2013 / 7:41 pm

    Wow!! What a fabulous post. So heartfelt and really meaningful.
    So sorry also to read you have had such a difficult year.
    I'm also about to go "bread/gluten-free in the New Year 😉
    Sending you love from London xx

  4. December 23, 2013 / 8:40 pm

    Dear Michele, First off, I think there is everything blog-worthy about your simply gorgeous Christmas decorations – and I LOVE the paper chain. The meditative time it takes to make something like that -even if you are meditating to Thelma and Louise -is where and when the Christmas magic happens.

    Let me say also that I am so glad you made it through this challenging (doesn't seem strong enough of a word) year. A lot stronger. A lot wiser. And even more beautiful. I think you know it was a tough year for me, too, in very different ways. But these struggles, they show us who we are.

    I hope that 2014 is a little more gentle on both of us. And that there continues to be magic and miracles and simple beauty all around.

    Much love and Merry Christmas! XOXO

  5. December 23, 2013 / 9:19 pm

    My dear one, the pics are beautiful, just like your soul! And your gorgeous little furry helpers are so sweet. Wishing you love and peace and happiness this Christmas xxx

  6. December 23, 2013 / 9:32 pm

    Beautiful photos to match your words. After the year you've had, I wish you a peaceful, relaxing and happy time this Christmas and hope the new year brings fresh new energy and joy. Love to you, beautiful lady.
    Meera xxx

  7. December 23, 2013 / 9:45 pm

    Whenever I see Hello Lovely on my email I just click you first cause I know there is beauty, wisdom, and inspiration. This was a tough year for me too physically and so…..I know…somewhat….how much we Hope and Pray for a very NEW YEAR. Blessings

  8. December 23, 2013 / 9:48 pm

    Love your post- looks like my girls are doing good! Wishing you were here with us in Italy. It is such a special place and YOU would fit in so perfect. The food is fresh and the wine is right up your alley. This year has been crazy and we will never be the same. Next year just has to be better ya? I love you- keep writing these amazing posts. Your words inspire and make my days brighter.

  9. December 23, 2013 / 10:47 pm

    Your Beauty and Wisdom is so inspiring. I live in North Carolina, Asheville, a beautiful place because my girls and grandboys are here. Cancer and surgery will take it out of you, my husband is a prostate cancer survivor. I am thankful for every Christmas we have together. I know your family has been through so much, I pray for a healthy and Lovely year for you all. Love your sisters girls! I am dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis for years but am thankful for each day. Much Love, Di@Cottage-Wishes

  10. December 23, 2013 / 10:49 pm

    Michele, You are a joy to know through your writing and an inspiration. I admire you for so many things including your strength. This year I don't have holiday decorations out. Almost everything I have is packed for a move to Northeast Missouri whenever my house sells here in Vieques, Puerto Rico (a small island off the east coast of the main island of Puerto Rico). I made the decision to move back to my home area last year realizing I am getting older and need better medical care and do not want to be here when I REALLY need it. Then last week I received the results of a thyroid sonogram and have three small nodules. My doctors won't be available until the middle of January due to Puerto Rican holidays. I am a positive person and have lived a number of places around the US and have been single since I was 28. That was almost 40 years ago. My companions are my three wonderful dogs. I am blessed with many friends here, however, my family is in Missouri, so I am looking forward to returning. As you know life is not always easy, however, every day is a blessing in many ways. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had and look forward to more and have a faith which has kept me strong. I feel your strength come through in your writing and know you will have many blessings in 2014 and I look forward to reading about them. You are in my prayers. Rev. Dr. Nancy Carr

  11. December 23, 2013 / 10:55 pm

    I wish that 2014 be the best year for you, you deserve my dear!! Many blessing for Christmas and with those 3 cutie dogs who can you not have a merry one!!

  12. December 23, 2013 / 11:49 pm

    Oh Michele…..I can't even begin to express what an inspiration and role model you've been to me during the past year. I am in awe of your strength, determination, peace of mind and heart, and your love of life and God. I love your gentle and artistic soul. May your next year be blessed with an abundance of joy, light, and health, my sweet friend!

    I live in Michigan. It's cold, snowy, icy, cloudy, dreary…..and I'm ready to move someplace where the sun shines more often. 🙂

    Merry Christmas to you, dear one!! ♥ xoxo laurie

  13. December 24, 2013 / 3:14 am

    You have come through the year and the challenges with grace and wisdom-and I truly wish you and your family good times ahead and good health for all of you. You have been inspiring in what has been a difficult year for me as well-we lost our beautiful 26 year old daughter. Thank you for sharing, for your strength, and beauty, and for sharing your faith-that is what has gotten me through too. It is true that the things that bring us to our knees are the same things that do make us stronger-and able to realize just what is so important. blessings…….

  14. December 24, 2013 / 4:18 am

    Merry christmas Michelle! I LOVE the way your home looks – just a tiny bit of Christmas decor is all it takes to make it feel festive! Lvoe the red guitar 🙂 And I'm hoping next year is much less stressful for you!

  15. December 24, 2013 / 4:34 am

    Beautifully spoken…'s all about our King! My year was 2009-2010……his intimacy and love never leaves us or fails….Merry Best Christmas Ever!~~~Roxie

  16. December 24, 2013 / 8:43 am

    Dear Michele,

    I wish you and your beloved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!


  17. December 24, 2013 / 11:38 am

    I am so sorry to hear of all you have suffered and endured this year, but, by the looks of it, you live in a magical and healing place. Have a wonderful Christmas with your family and those sweet puppies.

  18. December 24, 2013 / 1:00 pm

    Michele…I'm sorry that 2013 has brought you so many challenges. I am grateful that you have shared your journey in your beautiful blog. I always look forward to seeing your posts. If I may be so bold, I am declaring great things for you, for myself and for our great country in 2014. Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family. Sending lots of love. XOXO

  19. December 24, 2013 / 4:10 pm

    Evey once in a while I break out in tears. This usually happens on holidays, birthdays, whenever Marty Robbins sings El Paso, and especially Christmas Eve. These are "I miss you" tears. To explain, I'll copy and paste a post from May 2013…the first time of this acknowledgement on a public forum.

    Four years ago at 5:10 on May 27th, a Wednesday, a fine warm and sun filled day, my darling 26 year old daughter slipped away into the Great Beyond after two years of battling pancreatic cancer. I held her hand as she joined the multitude that was awaiting the tenderfoot's arrival.

    I am blessed because my parents passed on the gift of the belief in God to me. I cannot for an instance ever remember NOT believing in God. This surety in my Almighty I have passed on to my children–and that pleases me! So when Elizabeth left, I knew we would soon be together again.

    After Elizabeth's death, I kept on living, kept on praying, kept on doing. . . . Every once in a while I'd break out in sobs (still do). Thankfully, I've never fallen apart in front of my precious band of 6th/7th graders (but what would be the tragedy in sharing some tears with youngsters that end up caring and loving you after months of shared devotion?).

    Have you ever hankered after something, but couldn't put your finger on exactly what? That was me for months. Then one day I fell into a letter sent to my by a dear friend. Through her sharing, I was reminded how cathartic writing is. Somehow I had forgotten that. You reminded me to "Claim it." Here I am claiming it. . . I am a writer.

    Thank you for reminding a heartsick mama that placing words on paper can assist the spirit mediate between body and soul.

    Thank you, Friend
    Love & Peace,

  20. December 24, 2013 / 7:05 pm

    Sending you a great big, but gentle, hug from almost the centre of the UK.
    Z xx

  21. December 25, 2013 / 11:54 pm

    Magical and beautiful! All of it!! Your home, the decor and especially the little friends. Panda and Mocha send hugs and kisses. Merry Christmas, dear friend. Sending you good cheers on this Christmas night.
    Stay warm,

  22. December 26, 2013 / 2:55 am

    Merry Christmas my sweet friend. What a year you have had….I hope 2014 is one "hot damn" year for you and your whole family!!!

  23. December 26, 2013 / 5:30 pm

    Hey gorgeous – awwwwwww, the dogs are so cute… and just look at the view where you live – you're right, how do you compete with that? You have had an incredible year – just wow –
    cute that you said you missed your boobs, but you missed bread more. When i went dairy free, the thing i still miss the most is cheese… Sometimes i pick up big blocks of it when i'm in the store and just hold it up to my nose and breath it in. Anyway, i love and count it as a blessing that i know you and you are my friend… and I love that you love Jesus…


  24. December 29, 2013 / 1:42 am

    Hello, sweet Michele. Merry Christmas to you! I have had a busy season this fall, so haven't been around much, but I'm so glad I read this post. I have thought of you often this year, and I appreciate your willingness to share your physical challenges. You are definitely strong, lady. Keep going!

  25. December 30, 2013 / 9:55 pm

    Wow! You are absolutely amazing in every way, I really admire you. You are so inspirational.
    Wish you all the best always.
    Love, hugs and kisses x

  26. January 10, 2014 / 8:29 pm

    I had to pop back and comment
    on how absolutely radiant you look
    in this picture….A sign for the year
    ahead I'm certain, which I hope will
    be abundant with healthy blessings
    for you and your family!!!

    Love ya, girlie.

    xo Suzanne

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