Happy New Year Ya’ll

Gloire `a Dieu dans le plus haut et sur paix de la terre, bonne volonte’ vers homes.


I won’t bore you with the used up clichés about it being a beautiful year or one of the best, etc. You know it was. And I’m sure you were blessed in many ways this year, as was I. Don’t take it for granted, ya’ll. Most of us have an easy life compared to the millions who don’t even have basics like food, water and shelter. Geez, if I want water I turn on the tap. I have more than enough to eat. I climb between warm sheets and blankets each night under a solid roof, out of the elements and away from the city. I am spoiled. If I want something, I go to the store and buy it. Even when I have more month at the end of the money, I still have more than those in, let’s say, third world countries.

Humbling, isn’t it?

Why me? Why am I so blessed? To think of my position in life along those terms is mind-blowing. My short-comings and disabilities are nothing. My needs are met even if my ‘wants’ aren’t always met. It’s hard to admit, but even my pets are better off than at least half of the world’s population. Sure, I have difficulties, trials, seemingly insurmountable issues. But they can and are dealt with, not necessarily on a first come first serve basis, but without a doubt fixable one way or another. I can’t imagine it any other way. Again, I am spoiled.

“There, by the Grace of God, go I.”

I recently read a book by Deb Hunt. Dream Wheeler is the story of a remarkable woman who started her life over at the age of 61 years. She moved to another country, bought a shell of a house without any useable essential amenities and set about creating the life she wanted. When I tell you Jane started over from scratch, I mean from scratch. And she did it from a wheel chair.

dream wheeler

Could you do that? Could I? One part of me would love it. Wow, starting from the bottom means there only one way to go but up. Would I have the courage? the confidence? the means?

I highly recommend the book, by the way. I got it from Amazon in ebook version. I think now I’m going to get it in paperback. I want to be able to put my hands on it and read randomly. I’m quite sure I would get nearly as much inspiration from it as I do from the Bible or other inspirational writings.

So Happy New Year to ya’ll. I know I said I won’t bore you with clichés but I have to say ~ enjoy your life and do your best to make someone else’s better. You can start by praying for peace.

Oh. And you might think about giving glory to God. He’s the best.

The Home of Jim and Frances Hurst ~ It’s Christmas In There!

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for a grand tour of an awesome home. I know I say ‘awesome’ a lot but there is no better word to use when describing this place. Jim and Frances Hurst have a home that will make you feel like you have just stepped into the pages of Architectural Digest, The New Yorker, or in the tube with HGTV. It is jaw-dropping beautiful. And it has more than one story…

Christmas Day 2013 will mark the one year anniversary that a tornado scraped it’s way through an Alexandria, Louisiana downtown neighborhood and left a sorry sight in it’s wake. Jim and Frances’ home was hit full on but thankfully, the damage didn’t constitute a total loss. Man, talk about angels watching over them! Before I tell you the story, let me share what Frances told me about their home.

First, it was built sometime in the 1930s and was a commercial property before the Hursts acquired it. Lucky for us they did. The building was nearly sold to a person who wanted to razz the place. That would have been a real shame, especially considering how it has been sculpted into the stylish loft that it is now. Another grand piece of history would have been lost and they don’t build ’em like they used to, ya know.


Jim and Frances are a couple with incredible talent for restoration, imagination, and repurposing. What others saw as just another old building, they saw as their next big project. They have been there for six or seven years and haven’t run out of project ideas yet. Of course, the 2012 tornado dropped a kink into some of their plans but it didn’t stop them. It just kind of sidetracked them for a good 10 months. Aside from that, this project has clearly been a labor of love. The love shows. It permeates every room and hangs in the atmosphere like a pleasant, heart-warming ribbon of light. The Hursts live on the top floor of the building, thus ‘the loft’. That, my friends, would be a serious 5700 heated square feet of loft. It is a splendid area with an industrial vibe to it softened by the presence of antique and vintage pieces of re-purposed furniture and modern fixtures sharing space with pieces of sentimental value.

When I was given a tour of the loft I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. In fact, I recall from the first moment I stepped off the elevator – yes, elevator – I prayed to God … Please, please, please make my heavenly mansion like this place!

Ok, back to the tornado. Thankfully the structural damage was mostly limited to the roof at the south end of the building. Unfortunately, as is the way with bad weather, rain and wind followed causing the majority of the damage rendered. It must have been a huge mess. The pics below, courtesy of Jim Hurst, were taken after the tornado hit.

tornado 3

tornado 4

tornado 5

tornado 6

tornado 10

tornado 14

tornado 18

Putting the pieces back together had to have been an enormous task, but the couple managed to do it with flair. Being the artist that he is, Jim is the man behind the iron. Fence, that is. He created the iron fence that surrounds the outside areas of their home. It’s not just a security/privacy fence. It is a work of art he shares with the community.


In addition to the fence, his talent is shared throughout the home in the form of furniture he has built, his art, and even the door and cabinet handles.

Jim and his son built this table for Frances one year.

Jim and his son built this table for Frances one year.

handmade handles

handmade handles

Now, friends, sit back and enjoy the rest of the pics of this fab house.

This Christmas tree is in the master bedroom. Can you imagine waking up to that every morning? The next picture is taken from the opposing end of the building – the opposite side of the same window. Didn’t I tell you this place is awesome?

This vignette greets you as you step out of the elevator. This would be Harry’s greeting. Harry is their enormous Portuguese Water Dog.

OMG, the kitchen! Vibrant lime green plus industrial flair tempered with work from local artists (Bridie Rollins, Maria Manemann, and, of course, whimsical Jim) and an old drafting table turned into a kitchen island!


This is a view of the kitchen from across the room. Next, the centerpiece of the generous sized table and chairs. Jim built the table and Frances, talented seamstress that she is, upholstered the chairs. And look what she did to Christmas up her chandelier!
chandchristmas chand


Frances is an avid pianist and this great room is big enough for not one, but TWO huge pianos! I just wonder how the hell they got both of them upstairs! *ahem, pardon my French.

Please note that this piano, built in the 1800s, is the same type piano that Beethoven used!
Do you recognize the table with the vessel sinks on top? It’s an old chemistry table, thank you very much. Frances said it still has the holes the gas pipe fit through in chemistry class. And seriously, did you see that gianormous walk-in shower? Now you know why I asked God to make my mansion in heaven just like this. I’m pretty sure the master bath is about as big as my living/dining rooms together.

Here we have a few sentimental pieces. A cabinet that belonged to Frances’ mother, a dresser repurposed into the perfect chest, a barber chair for Santa, the sink/vanity for the guest bathroom, a massive Cyprus stump that has been with Jim since college, and oh yeah, a bench Jim made out of an abandoned wheel chair.

There is so much talent put into this old building! I have to show you my very favorite thing. Well, my favorite thing besides the corrugated tin ceilings throughout. You know those structural iron I beams characteristic of loft buildings? Yeah, the ones that hold the roof up. Did you notice those in the living area? Look again. Jim clad them with wood molding and the end pieces of some very old fluorescent lights that came with the building. They look like old street lamps to me. My eyes watered and I think I salivated when I saw them. Sorry about the visual, but I have to tell it like it is. My friends, this is ingenious and stunning. Visionary, in fact. Who thinks like that? Um, the Hursts do, that’s who.


I have only shown you the top floor home of this wonderful couple. There’s more…. Maybe another time.


I would dearly love it if you would leave a comment on my page!

It’s Christmas, people. Do something nice for someone. Anyone. And don’t forget to pray for peace. Amen.

Now I’m waiting on Oprah….

I’m sure she is going to call. Well, almost sure. Pretty sure. maybe. You think?

Check out the link to my interview on Good Day Cenla!

P.S. I did not know I had such a southern accent. And dang, I’m so surprised at how sweet I sound, sugah!

Just click on this link:

I’m praying for peace today. Please join me.

The Best Christmas Songs You’ve Never Heard Part III

Oh ya’ll, please check out these ‘different’ Christmas songs first posted by adoptingjames on WordPress… These will certainly put you in the mood!



We’ve all heard “Winter Wonderland” and “Little Drummer Boy” thousands of times this Christmas alone. If you need some fresh new songs to play in the car that still capture the Christmas spirit, take a look at the list. They’re all available on iTunes.

Click here for PART I and Part II.

“The Bells of Christmas” by Loreena McKennit – Remember the movie where Tim Allen becomes Santa Claus? This song that plays while he sees the North Pole for the first time will definitely send Christmas shivers up your spine.

“How Many Kings” by Downhere – I really like this Christian group; their EP album is one of my favorites in the Christian genre. This Christmas song they put out a few years ago, is admittedly missing that “Christmas sound,” but the lyrics are certainly fitting for the season and very thought-provoking.

“Breath of Heaven (Mary’s song)” by Point…

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On the Bead Board … New Christmas Rosary

On the bead board today…


How do you like this Christmas rosary? I put it together using semi-precious beads; green jade, red crystal, and cracked fire agate. Each bead is wire wrapped by hand using non-tarnish silver-plated 22 gauge wire. Take a look at that unusual center connector. It is a beautiful rendition of the Holy Family. The pewter crucifix compliments it perfectly. For a bit of Christmas delight, I added a ring engraved with the words “Jesus is the Reason” on one side and “for the Season” on the opposite side. The ring floats along all five decades and is a permanent part of the rosary.

The technique of wire-wrapping the beads insures the durability of this sacramental tool. There are no links that will split open over the years. Construction is tight and the prayer beads will slide through your fingers easily.





This is a rosary that you will be proud to hand down from generation to generation. Merry Christmas, ya’ll, and don’t forget to pray for peace!

A Different Kind of Christmas This Year…

christmas 2013

Christmas is a little different at my house this year.  So far, there is no tree decorated in the living room, no big meal planned yet, all the presents are still in the closet, as is the door wreath.  It’s quiet.  The Johnny Mathis Christmas cd is still in the case.  It seems like Thanksgiving was yesterday and it’s already time for holiday madness to be swinging in full force.  I don’t know why, but this household is holding out.  It’s all happening too fast and time is jumbled up in a close knot.  I need to find a way to spread it out and undo some of it.  Anyone else feel that way?

I want these Advent days to slow down so that I can savor them.  I want time to move in slow motion like it did when I was a little girl.  I want every minute to be recorded in my memory instead of seeing the blur of a fast paced Christmas season.  It’s just too much this year.  I’m not prepared.

I saw the singer Jewel on the Today Show this morning and she seemed to have a handle on what Christmas should be.  She said something to the effect of having a child brings back the joy of Christmas.   Now, that’s profound.  

Ahh, therein lies the problem.  I don’t have my children around me, and by that I mean grandchildren.  After all, my boys are all grown up and, being boys, they have their own lives to live, don’t they?  My gaggle of grandchildren lives just far enough away that I don’t get to see them as often as I would like.  I think that because November and December seem to have collided this year, the opportunity to see them has been limited.   I can’t wait till I can get my hands on them!  We are going to have such fun!  I can see it all now:  teaching them how to bake cookies, making Christmas presents for their parents, the cousins getting together and having a blast playing games, taking pictures, hugging, kissing, and loving each other. 

Yeah, that’s Christmas. 

I have a new friend (writer Fletcher McHale – check her out https://nantubre.com/2013/11/04/book-review-save-us-a-seat-by-fletcher-mchale-nablopomo-4/) who has a very unique way to make note of her prayers.  She starts out with the line “dear 7lb 8oz Baby Jesus”.  I’m going to borrow that line just this once because it seems appropriate during this Advent season.  My prayer goes something like this:

Dear 7lb 8oz Baby Jesus,

You are such a beautiful baby.  And what a shame that you had to grow up to become the Sacrificial Lamb but I thank you for it.  And I thank you for your tenderness and mercy shown to me throughout my whole life.  And the blessings, the blessings from you, Baby Jesus, that I call my Grandchildren.  My gratitude is eternal.   This Christmas I intend to celebrate you in a new way.  I’m not looking at the hustle and bustle of the world.  I’m not looking at all the lights and the wrapping paper and the cards.  I’m not struggling to buy the biggest and the best.  I’m looking for you in my heart and in the innocent eyes of little ones.  I’m planning to see you through simple joys and hopeful promises of love and laughter.  The genuine kind, not the kind that comes with opening presents and racking up gift after gift.  I only have one gift to give; my love.  And that gift will be a celebration of You, given freely, joyfully, happily.  It will be given in terms of guiding little hands pressed against each other in prayers of thankfulness and teaching them to shape gingerbread men for the oven.  It will be given through the reading of the Christmas story.  To the best of my ability, it will be lavished upon whomever You put in my path.  But I will need Your strength and a good dollop of Your unconditional love to sustain me.  I’m not that strong on my own, you know.   Thank You, dear Baby Jesus.  Love, Nan

Share the Christmas Love by praying for peace. Ya’ll have a good one!