Christmas trees fill the home this time of year, and are a fun way of expressing the season.

I have different memories of trees over the years - the tree from my first Christmas as a wife, the tree from my Christmas expecting my first baby.

This year will be the tree I remember when I learned to decorate in a way that is so "us" as a family.

I had the idea of using wood on the tree and asked my husband to cut small circles of wood and then drill a hole by which I could hang them. Eager to get outside for a task he and my son made about 30 wood ornaments for the tree. See pictures 1, 4 and 7.

My daughter saw in a magazine where two candy canes were put together in the shape of a heart, and suggested we make candy cane hearts for Christmas ornaments. Off we trekked to the dollar store, bought two packages of candy canes and after a touch of hot glue, voila! See picture 6.

In my first years of being married I made cinnamon ornaments. Over time they broke and I threw them away. The idea of these ornaments came to me again and so my daughter and I made some for this past week. You can find the recipe here (I had to add more applesauce than the recipe called for to make the dough moist enough for us to use). Once baked and cooled I covered the ornaments with a sparse coating of white paint since some of them looked a bit cracked from baking and I wanted to gently cover that up. See picture 2.

The idea of "new" ornaments began when I notice some dried berries I had in a container. I cut the branches into 2-3 inch strips and then glued 3 strips together and tied with a ribbon. I then did the same with some dried lavender branches. My beautiful oak leaf hydrangea bush provides amazing blooms, which I had gathered when dry and put in a basket for decoration. I simply pulled those 8 blooms from the basket, tied a ribbon around each one and they became ornaments too. I LOVE the dried naturals addition to the tree! See pictures 3, 5, 7 and 8.

I've never had an official tree topper, but have had a "joy" sign for many years and like the way it looks at the top of this year's tree.

The word "joy" is appropriate for this season and everyday. Joy can seem so far away at times, elusive, unable to be reached and yet holding out my hand and receiving what God has decided to give me - there I find Joy in the person of Jesus and in the gifts He gives everyday.

One of my favorite quotations is:

Joy is a flame 
that glimmers only 
in the palm of the
open and humble hand. 
Ann Voskamp

I must be humble enough to know that I need to be open to receive Jesus in order to receive this joy. There was a moment in time when I received Jesus, His gift of covering my sin, giving me peace with God for eternity. Knowing Him is the potential for the everyday to be full of joy. The desire is for joy to fill one's home, and that desire is great and attainable. But first that joy has to fill the lives living in that home. I hope this joy fills your life.

  And not only so, 
but we also joy in God 
through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
by whom we have 
now received the atonement. 
Romans 5:11