tending day.

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It’s midday on a Tuesday but it feels to me like Monday, since I lost mine to appointments and practices and hither, thither and yon. It’s not how my week usually ebbs and flows but this is life.

I’ve just cleaned the living areas of our house and I’m sitting down to a homemade chai with the hope that I’ll be able to cobble together a grocery list. My washing machine is working her hardest and whooshiest from the back of my house. I found a rotten potato in the kitchen, which explains the funny smell we’ve all been searching to end. The dining room table is clear for a few hours.

It’s my tending day. I tend and I think about yesterday, about how five o’clock came and I felt worn out and done in but the dinner still needed to be made. About how I slipped my rings off my fingers and plunged my hands into a bowl full of ground turkey, stirring up dinner. About how I felt the weight of hard questions with harder answers, hard questions with invisible answers and the uncertainty in between all of that. About how just when I was thinking with my feeler and about to topple over the steep edge of worry, God’s presence in me whispered a spring time bloom of a truth across my heart and mind. It tripped across not in words but in heart truths that can’t be captured by our language. I think about how He reminded me: He is God, good, for me, with me, Sovereign. If He goes with me? I can go anywhere. And He wants all my feeler-thought things because He wants me. I think about how dependance has become so much more meaningful to me than arriving.

It’s my tending day. I think, too, about how my children minister His sweetness and laughter to me. I think about Sunday morning, how I sat on the couch as the sun began to flood our den through the windows. About how I watched my eleven year old fit himself into a box and play spaceship and I don’t know how many more remembers I’ll have of a moment like that. About how my girl looked so precious in her new polka dot dress that I thought I might burst into a million bright-burning stars. About how my youngest can still fold up into my lap and put his warm cheek right next to mine, his nubbin fingers wrapped around my forearm.

It’s my tending day. And God tends my heart. He reminds me that worries and unanswered questions aren’t all of my story. He reminds me that He’s written both the raw and the resplendent into my life. I don’t always live in that tension well, but He’s written it that way just the same.

about sailboats and a home tour.

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One of the things I have a hard time writing about here is the fact that I am an annoying and incurable nester. I love to love our home and live in it. I love to shuffle everything around and reimagine and reuse. After four years of living here I think we are getting closer to using every inch well. Somehow, though, I never feel comfortable with that voice in my writing.

Today, I have the sweet privilege of sharing my home (or at least the downstairs portion) at Life Made Lovely. Heather is one of my favorite bloggers. Her faith story is truly a miraculous telling of how God meets us in our deepest loss and walks with us. Every week she shares a real home that is filled with real people. It is my joy to be featured there this week. I hope you’ll pop over there!

As I was putting together all the little bits and pieces, I found myself really wanting to tell the story of my sailboat painting. In the end, I decided to leave it out because I had already been wordy enough. It seemed like just the right sort of thing to share with y’all.

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I hit repeat one more time. It’s a song: a beautiful guitar-driven mash of words about being on a journey. It’s Ben Rector’s “Sailboat” and it has attached itself to my heart. A song about a journey, yes, but not the beginning or the end. It’s a song about the middle: about going somewhere but not being there yet, about the inglorious day after day of not there yet. Somehow listening to it honors a truth–an anthem–beating its way through my heart. Life is full of beginnings and ends, yes, but it is full of so many middles. I want to honor my middles instead of only worshipping beginnings and ends. There is much in the middle to learn, sing, enjoy.

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It’s the weekend before Christmas and Tom has given me a Saturday afternoon to run about. I drive five miles across town. I drive past the neighborhood where my Grandpa lived all of my childhood, with it’s metal-toyed playground. I meet my college roommate at Atlanta Bread Company. Just like every year it’s almost Christmas and it’s a balmy 80 degrees. We sit outside in the breeze and drink hot coffee. We have one hour to talk about everything and nothing. It’s a gift. On the way home, I pop in to my favorite thrifty antique store. I’m looking for cheap oil paintings, mostly landscapes or portraits. I scan all the same booths that usually have art and I turn the corner to go home. My eyes light on two sailboats caught in green and blue waves. It’s too much to spend on myself days before Christmas so I settle for a portrait study of a woman with bouffant hair in sepia tones.

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It’s the day after our Christmas festivities. All the family are gone. We’ve settled in to watch The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. My six year old is in heaven. He is Reep! He is Peter! He is Caspian! He swashes imaginary swords and tumbles around the den. In no time, we’re watching Reepicheep cross over and through tall waves into Aslan’s land. I am a mess of tears with Lucy and Edmund as they say goodbye for a long time. I think about Christ. About how faithful He is. About how He is in the middles with me. I remember how they got there: through a painting of a Narnian sailboat.

Later, I lay my head on the pillow and pull our heavy down comforter up over my chin. I’m thinking about that sailboat painting in the antique store. I get up and count my Christmas spending money. There’s enough and I go to sleep vowing I will drive over the bridge to buy my painting in the morning. I wake up praying, hoping it is still there.

It is. I buy it and smile all the way home. I thank God that He speaks to us in all kinds of ways. Later, I hang my sailboat painting right there in our bedroom.

I look at it everyday. And everyday I thank God for beginnings, ends and, most especially, middles.

Christmas this year.

I almost gave up on opening the door on my Christmas home this year. There are two reasons. One: my words are rusty and I feel a little jumbled. Two: I don’t feel the most confident writing about decor choices. But. I’m going to do it anyway.

This is how I decorate for Christmas: I wait until the 6th(ish) day of December and then I start to feel this desperation that I’m eons behind. So, we lug the decor down and I splatter it everywhere and I throw things here and there without the slightest plan. But it works for me. I’m not a planner, I’ve found. I’m more of a discoverer with these types of things and I just have to try a million things until my heart sets on something.

So. I’m posting today for the discoverers out there.

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No garland this year. But I did make this wonky wreath out of trimmings from our tree.

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We watched video tutorials for folding and cutting paper snowflakes and then strung them up in doorways.

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This little nativity is from Mexico. I think my girl has set this vignette as it appears no one is fighting or using weaponry.

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We bought a thirty dollar, crooked tree at the lot down the road and called it good. I felt ambitious and finger knitted a garland that only ended up covering half the tree. We used it anyway. Then my short people threw some ornaments up. We’re shooting for excellence over here, people.

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We have slowly been settling into our new bedroom downstairs. It’s still a very much in progress room. My daddy built that headboard for me and I’ve always wanted to hang a wreath on it but just got lazy, I guess. Until this year.

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I still love our new bathroom where I wrapped some flannel around my husband’s first hunting trophy and strung garland in the window.

Also! Grover wishes you a very, merry Christmas!

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I’m linking up with my friend, Nester.

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some recipes and an invitation.

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Eightish years ago we lived in our first parsonage. Our girl was just a round, brown-eyed baby. There was a sweet simplicity to my life. It was the New Year and I was full of lots of hope and resolve. I knew how to make a few things: variations on casseroles, chicken in the crockpot and bake and break cookies. I decided that year that I wanted to learn how to roast a chicken, how to bake a pie with flaky, scratch-made crust, how to make cookies that didn’t come in a plastic tube. I still cook and cook and cook. That year began something in me and I’ve covered all kinds of ground. Truth? After dozens and dozens of chocolate chip cookie recipes, my husband still loves the bake and break kind the best.

Over the last year I’ve taken such a journey with food. I’ve cut away and added in and examined my heart and confronted my stubborn will. There is a truth I can’t shake: convenience is killing enjoyment. I’ve found myself so angry at how long it takes to make a meal full of fresh ingredients over and over again. But. I’ve also found that the best meals are the ones I’ve worked hard at making. They leave me full and nourished instead of empty or weighed down.

I’m not a chef. I don’t write recipes or experiment much. I’m a cook, one who loves a good recipe and will go down following it. I try new things often and have at least one grand failure every week. This time and love in the kitchen is a huge part of my life. It seems wasteful to let all of that energy go wandering away when the dishes are done and I get to put my feet up. So. Here are three recipes I’ve loved over the past month.

Zuppa Toscana. This is a paleo-version of the hearty classic soup. I love soup, stews, stoups. All of them. I’m alone in my family on this allegiance but I don’t care. This one was so wonderful and I’m pretty sure my children had no clue they were eating turnips. I used ground pork instead of sausage and added some spice and flavor to kick it up some.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Butterscotch Cake. I made this because my children had eaten through all of the cereal and frozen waffles and we had nothing for breakfast. Plus, my mama had sent home some butterscotch chips and I only had white wheat flour in the house. I substituted coconut oil for the canola oil and pure maple syrup for the sugar. This was so, so good. It was. Just good. I don’t have fancy words for it. Although I eat a predominantly paleo diet my family doesn’t and I’m sure they’ve prayed many a time that I’d give up on paleo-ified treats. I’m learning to just let treats be treats.

Sauteed Fennel and Carrots. I am obnoxiously obsessed with fennel right now. This obnoxious: I tried to evangelize my cashier at Trader Joe’s today on the subject of fennel. It’s great made with carrots but it’s also delicious as a stand alone. I like to leave it in the pan long enough to let it get brown and crispy on the edges.

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On a sort of unrelated note, I would love to invite each of you to take part in my December class for the Influence Network. I know it’s such a busy month. And that’s why I think we would all do well to gather together around the Word and speak truth over perfection-chasing and expectations. This month’s class is about perfectionism. We’ll be looking at five verses that have been changing me in so many good ways as I slowly learn to rest instead of strive. You don’t have to be a member of the network! Sign up right here if you’d like.

 

a fresh start on a Monday.

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I have three(ish) days until I leave for Influence. The logical thing to do was to redecorarrange my house. It took me all summer to pull the wallpaper down in this room. And then a few weeks to get the pesky trim painted, which I didn’t want to do because I was feeling lazy at that point. But I did it anyway. The budget for all of this hoohah is basically nothing so I robbed other rooms and my stash of things that I keep hoping someday they’ll find a home on one of my walls. I swore I would never have white walls again after years and years of living with them. It makes all the difference and I’m so glad I went back on my word.

My house is a mess. I’m not persistent enough to measure or even make sure that every picture is straight. I have more than enough to work on before I leave on Thursday. But I’m happy. I want to live in this room and my girl has been camped out in here hosting tea parties and secret clubs.It’s not totally finished but it’s good enough for right now.

PS. Here’s a before shot. We lived with it this way for over four years.

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something about our house for a change.

When we moved into this little house of ours four years ago (Gasp! Longest we’ve ever stayed anywhere!), I was running a little handmade business. Just off the foyer was a sweet little room with built in bookshelves, a closet and a full bath. We live in a real-life, former, actual parsonage and I’m pretty sure my little room was a pastor’s study. It made for a great office.

Two years ago, I gave up that business and I have struggled with my little room ever since. It’s had several different incarnations as an office but mostly it just looks like a storage room.

On a sunny afternoon this spring I began to wonder how we could use the space better. It’s just off the foyer and houses the only bathroom downstairs.  Honestly, it’s been rubbing at me that we don’t use the space that well since it was a major draw for moving here (after four previous moves).

So. After some really hard thinky-thinking and a few talks with my husband and finding five people to agree that it was a good idea (because Tom was not in a hurry to move my six foot tall headboard down the stairs for me to quick decide it wasn’t such a good idea after all) we are in the process of moving our bedroom downstairs.

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I took this picture of our office yesterday afternoon. As you can see, I’m making lots of progress. Smiley face.

The biggest concern was that we would be losing space. Half a room, to be exact. This little room is cozy and it will be a challenge to make it work but I’m so excited. I’ve lived in a few small houses and there is something about being really intentional about every single thing. We also had to think about our own bathroom being the main one. I decided that I would be more motivated to maintain some peace and order and make(ish) the bed if I knew that others would be passing through that space on a regular basis. Plus! We gain a guest bedroom with lots of storage upstairs and out of sight.

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That’s one half of our current master. I’ve switched to all white bedding and stolen some of the burlap for our den.

In the end, it’s been a gift of creativity and a goal to work toward. Sometimes? You just need that. I’m absolutely willing to be wrong if it means that I’ll fall in love with what I already have. I love problem solving and there have been lots of little issues to think through, especially keeping some kind of work/writing space for me. I don’t have all the solutions yet but I’m ok with not knowing. It’s ok to start without knowing all of the details.

What do y’all think? Am I crazy? Naive? Too pie in the sky?

PS-If I’m wrong I’ll just have to live with it because Tom is not carrying that headboard back up our 75 year old staircase with two turns and two landings.

PPS-Look how much difference a little wallpaper removal made in our bathroom. I’m far from done but it’s such a nice change.

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i can’t say anything about basketball or some thoughts on summer.

summertableAs of noon on Thursday it is officially summer in my home. Right now summer looks like a tan line from hours of baseball in my favorite sandals plus project baseball card reorganization all over my dining room table.

Naturally, on Friday we barely left the house. We watched this video about ten times in a row (click through if you’re using a reader). I cried and gut laughed. I let the kids do basically  whatever they wanted until we were all a little stir crazy. And then we headed to Target to buy one fun treat each for the summer months.

I bought two fresh $11 alarm clocks to go in their rooms so that I could enforce the no-coming-downstairs-before-7-AM rule. Yesterday? The boys set their alarm for 7. I think we have some more talking to do about this whole sleeping in thing.

Mostly, I’ve been spending time trying to figure out how to be more prepared for long, hot days. I don’t talk about parenting too much here because I want to be protective and also I feel like a failure most of the time. I do not feel like I’ve got this thing figured out. I’m beginning to think that feeling clueless is actually a symptom of growth. Maybe?

So. We have days stretched out in front of us and I don’t want to spend them being a referee. The problem is that I’m not gifted at planning. I’m also not gifted at following a schedule. We decided to set a few goals along with sticking to a few non-negotiables like reading every day, writing some, helping around our home and working on math facts (womp womp). I’ve been looking, too, for little day trips that we can take for some adventure. And the goals? The goals include really cute things like jumping off the diving board, writing a 20 page story and watching the Lord of the Rings movies (wishful thinking).

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I’m hopeful. It’s just that I see what a gift it is to have the opportunity to spend these days with my children and I want to live like that. I’m willing to try and fail at forethought if it changes the way I respond. I want my words and time with them to be a gift and while I fully believe that no failure or desperate prayer or tearful apology is wasted in God’s economy, I would also like to enjoy my children. I’m hoping to fall somewhere in the middle: flexible but also purposed.

just for your information

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I don’t really do sponsored posts but I wanted to pop in today and let y’all know that my dear friend, Jessi, is offering a 40% off sale in her shop through today (that means that today is the LAST day).

Truly, Jessi’s prints are some of my favorites so I thought I’d show you a few that we love and look at everyday.

 

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I’ve given these as gifts, just becauses and everything in between. And Jessi has so many lovely new prints. I don’t know. I just really believe in what she’s doing and I wanted y’all to be able to scoop up these beauties at a great price.

I hope your Wednesday is full of hope. I hope you feel new mercies wrapped tight and snug. And I hope you cling to promises that are true.

forced rest on a friday.

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Here’s a fun fact.

All 3 feet 10 inches of a gidgety 8 year old girl can in fact contract the flu in the middle-endish part of April.

We’re on day three and half of being housebound. She’s pitiful.

Here’s something good, though. Of all my children, my girl is my kindred when it comes to being a homebody. She loves to be at home, to be in her room, to be with her people and outside of a school day and maybe gymnastics she mostly chooses to be here. We’ve had lots of quality time.

And I’ve gotten some good spring cleaning and rearranging done. Like a spice drawer. It makes me so happy. I totally copied a friend so I’m not really a genius.

I finally hung some stuff up around our tv. I did a bit of robbing Peter to pay Paul here and stole things from other walls that I don’t look at as much. It’s a hodge podge, really. My painted lady is a watercolor of my Gee Gee Mama (great grandmother) that my great aunt gave us for a wedding present. My mom cross-stitched the two Charleston cathedrals. The two family crests were my grandmother’s and the needlepoint cottage was my grandma’s. There’s room for one more teensy thing that I’ve yet to figure out.

All this? It’s what I’ve come to call forced rest. Good. Hard. Stir crazy. Rest.

Related: Can you have too many gallery walls?

christmas here.

I wish I could invite all of you over. Last week, you took a post about my friend’s ebook and made encouragement for me. I like y’all. It’s a hard turn after such a heavy weekend but today I’d like to welcome you in to how we do Christmas here at our home.

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After the conversations we had in October, I trust you know that the celebration of making a home comes from the work God has done in my heart. You can read all about how to make the wax paper candleholders right here.

I’m linking up today with my friend, Nester. I’ve also passed more than a few minutes browsing all the creativity over there.

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I’ve got another post up at Beautifully Rooted today. Won’t you come over and celebrate the Coming King with me?