Thursday, February 28, 2013

Welcome to my home....

It's a cozy little place with books stacked high, clutter in corners, many a quilt and afghan to cuddle under, treasured trinkets & knick-knacks on every surface, and lots of very special people inside it.

“You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.”
--Julie & Julia
This isn't chocolate pudding. It's actually eggnog pudding and it was rich and amazing. But, really, anything made in my happy, fun bowl given to us by Auntie Aud is bound to taste delicious.

"Is there anything better than butter? Think it over, any time you taste something that’s delicious beyond imagining and you say ‘what’s in this?’ the answer is always going to be butter. The day there is a meteorite rushing toward Earth and we have thirty days to live, I am going to spend it eating butter. Here is my final word on the subject, you can never have too much butter."
--Again, Julie & Julia. I just love that movie.

Wooden spoons are my best friend.

I love these people. Yes, our place settings have bow ties. Yes, Natalie has marks all over her face. If you watch Doctor Who then you will understand. Bow ties are cool.

Our comfy living room.

Books and books and more books.

An impulsive purchase. I don't regret it one bit.

Silly old bear on Maggie's quilt
sewn by Mom.

 Mismatched china. Let's have a mad tea party!

 Fun Fact: Watch "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" and you will see this picture hanging in Toad Hall. You can't see it in this picture, but the glass is all antique-y and bubbled.

 I saw a sign like this in an antique store in Minnesota. I fell in love with it and Mom surprised me by making one (and a much prettier one I might add) for me for Christmas.

If you have read One Hundred Cupboards then you will know why I have cabinet doors on my bedroom wall. I must post close ups of the art: Each one is special and has a story.

My bedroom.

Amazing Grace, Hedwig, and a ship. I call my room "eclectic".

This was saved from my childhood home. I love it to pieces.

..And last year's beautifully, victorian, twinkly, Christmas tree.

I love this place. Thank you for stopping by. It's been lovely. :)

Tudor Woods

 My home for the first 13 years was the perfect, little, cottage-y sort of place.
It was just dreamy. Here we have lovely tropical, very floridian plants. Later we planted luscious blue plumbago flowers in the front; reminiscent of an English cottage. There was a trellis (that I built) leading you to our tiny backyard with an overgrown--in just the right way--secret garden. I loved everything about that little house. The playground and backyard that became anything we imagined:

A waterpark

 A Princesses garden

A theme park. We names ours "Coopers Land". The green swing was the parks most popular "Trip to Mars" ride.

The perfect place for a picnic.

We could play anything and be anything. Like in this picture Carley is disguising herself as a tree. She wanted a bird to builed a nest in her branches. She special little thing.
 Treasure Island.

 Inside, the rooms were tiny but just right.
 The sea foam green walls in our room & lavender quilts & the sun shining through the eyelet curtains.

Books and books and books and more books.
The colonial style dining room with a table hand stained by Mom.

The scratched, worn kitchen table where our schoolwork was done.

Carley is wearing not but an apron in the photo. The shirt is photo shopped. ;)
The cramped kitchen where we had so little cabinet space that we had to store our pots and pans in the oven.
The living room. Oh, I just loved that little living room with vaulted ceilings, book shelves, the antique secretary, piano, and creaky wooden floors.
  I never wanted to leave but, we did, and quite suddenly. I never got to say a proper goodbye. God is good, and I was able to later retrieve many special keepsakes from my childhood. But, the place itself is lost to me. It took me a long time to fall in love with my current home. Until a year ago, I still called that cottage from my childhood "home". It took years to accept these four walls on Little Dorrit, and even longer to love them. It does take time and care to turn a house into a "home" and now near 8 years have passed and "home" it has become. Now, I can't imagine living anywhere else....


Yesterday evening was full of some of my not so finer moments. I thought more than a few self-piteous thoughts:

...I had to wait 1 hour and 6 minutes past clocking out before Natalie picked me up.
...She insists that I-95 is the quickest route.
...It is not. Congress Ave. is. ( Congress: 18 minutes. I-95: 35 minutes)
...I am always right.
...I can’t believe that I still don't have a vehicle. God is teaching me patience. Whether or not I'm learning it is debatable.
...To avoid being the last person to leave and having to set the alarm at work (I treat alarms like the plague) I waited outside. In the rain. By myself.
...Delray is not the safest area.
...Rainy parking lots at twilight make me feel even less safe.
...Note to self: get a gun.
...6:45 pm: Is this rain on my face or are these tears? Pathetic.
...6:55 pm: gggrrrgglllrrgglgggllrr....I'm so hungry, I'm going to die. Literally.
...Nat pulls in at 6:06 pm.
...Hey! Let's do something fun for the girls she says! Let's get them a movie and Chick-Fil-A she says! It will be fun she says!
...I don't have to cook so I agree.
...Blockbuster. Check.
...Movie. 1/2 off. Maybe the universe doesn't hate me?!?
...In line at CFA: Carley calls. She is reheating last night’s soup.
...Way to go, Carley! Good job spoiling our surprise! (BTW: They didn't even watch the movie last night.)
...Come home. I eat the world’s best vegetable soup and a grilled cheese. The heavens opened and the sun shined bright. Not really. But, in my world it did.
...Still raining. Oh, well. We need 1/2 & 1/2 and bananas. I'll brave the storm.
...First I stop at Plato's Closet and spend practically no money on some adorable clothes. Win.
...Target. I spend way too much time there. I pretend shop (fill my buggy with everything I would buy if I threw responsability to the wind...and then I put all but the bananas, creamer, and some makeup).
...Check out, walk to the car, step in an ankle deep puddle, and ruin my new pair of shoes.
...It's pouring still. I'm searching my purse. Where are my keys?
...Oh! They are on the seat of the locked car where you left them when you were distracted by a phone call.
..."Mom??? Can you get me? I'm stupid and it's raining and I locked my keys in the car. This is the second time I've been stuck in the rain in under three hours."
...20 minutes later. "Mom??? Where are you? We live literally 2 minutes away from Target."
...Apparently, Nat drove to rescue me. She forgot her cell phone to call me, so she just left the key under the tire and went back home.
...I lug a bunch of shopping bags to the car and in the pouring rain (and a very restricting pencil skirt) climb under the car to retrieve the key.
...I drive home and cry. No, weep. The mascara dripping, blubbering kind of weep.
...A hot shower and conversation with God, a fizzy cup of cola, and Miss Congeniality 2 make me begin to wonder if it really might be all right in the end.
...Last night I fall asleep, "I'll laugh about this eventually."
...This morning I woke up with a laugh.

Sometimes I overreact. Sometimes I lose heart. Sometimes it's over the most trivial of things. But "Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Something Worth Fighting For

I have spent years struggling with contentment. I find myself sorting through the emotions: One pile of bad attitudes, anger, and resentment...sin issues that I need to change. The other pile of desires for my life and myself: Good desires, wholesome longings, worthy goals. But due to circumstances outside of me, these dreams have not come to fruition. I can deal with the first pile. They are obviously wrong and I obviously need to address them. The second pile confuses me, frustrates me, and leaves me begging for a remedy; a plan of attack. I have had a word doc saved literally for years now that I open from time to time and write, edit, read, re-write....It's all about my struggle with contentment. Or, really my fight for JOY. I don't just want to be content with my life...I want to LOVE it, REJOICE in it, be OVERWHELMED by its BEAUTY. This ever-changing story is me pouring my heart out honestly: every thought both good and bad, everything I am unhappy with, every person or circumstance I blame. It's all there. And slowly, slowly, slowly I am making sense of it. It's been interesting to see this story evolve that I am, or maybe I should say God is writing...I'm just the hands on the key board: the patient in surgery, having this cancer named "discontentment" purged from me by the Great Physician.

This is how I left said story most recently (please excuse my botchery of grammar etc.):

My life isn't exactly what I would have chosen it to be. There is a lot that I would change if I could. But, I have found the importance; the absolute necessity of fighting for joy. If it's not something that you are being intentional over then too often will you find yourself sinking quietly into discontentment and bitterness. It's not a sudden thing--at least it isn't for me.  It's slow and silent and one day you wake up and realize that you have been miserable for months. I don't want that. I don't want to look back at months and years of  potential happiness wasted on useless, ugly discontent.
But that is my story. Joy: It's an ever constant battle for me. Happiness: It doesn't come naturally to me. I never realized this until recent years. I suppose that would be because contentment, peace, and joy are not difficult to find when your life is easy and picture perfect. But, once things go wrong, once your entire world is turned upside down, you lose everything that joy & happiness were associated with.....the result is that joy & happiness are lost also. They are something that you took for granted and now that they are gone you realize in frantic state just how precious something as simple as happiness is and how willing you are to desperately fight for it.
It has taken years of baby steps and small victories to be where I am at today. Not that I have conquered the dragon or taken joy captive. I don't believe that's the point. It IS the constant battle: the tears, the prayers, the struggling every waking moment to not let yourself be swallowed up by all that's wrong with the world <---that is the proof of the value of joy. Happiness was handed to me on a silver platter when I was young. I didn't appreciate it and I underestimated it's worth and for a while I lost it because I didn't treasure it.
My enemy is discontentment all rooted in anger towards my father and my resentment of having to work. I always these thoughts nagging on my mind:
If you had a decent father who provided for your family then you wouldn't have had to work since you were 16. You wouldn't be working a full time job now. You would be able to pursue all of the wonderful domestic things your heart aches and longs to do. You could bake and cook wholesome meals for your family. You could devote more time to learning the skills that interest you. You would be able to stay on top of things at home more. You could volunteer for 4kids every week. You could spend more quality time with your family. Your mom wouldn't have to work and could be at home more. Everyone could be home together for dinner every night. You wouldn't have to spend 40 hours a week doing something that is so foreign to you so against everything that you are.

That is why it is a constant war within me. In so many ways, I want the exact opposite of what I have. And, it's messy and tangled and confusing because so much of what I want is good and worthy. But, I need to tell myself over and over and over again that while it is right for me to desire these things, I must find the joy and the satisfaction in what has been handed to me during this season of my life. I know that God is good. I know he delights in blessing me. I know that if I do not allow myself to be blinded by discontent, I will see that my life is rich & fully blessed. That it is overflowing with mercy, goodness, love....and all of it undeserved.
The battle is difficult, but the prize is worth it. When I realized how miserable I was and began my quest for joy I realized how precious it is. I love it, I fight for it constantly, I know & value its worth. God has helped me to find an exuberant & overflowing love of so many things. I find peace and contentment in the smallest details of life. The world is a beautiful place; the people in it are beautiful. I can be and am learning to be happy. And, while I still and maybe always will need to fight for it in some areas of my life, those areas are growing smaller as happiness comes more naturally to me. Today my heart smiles. My joy is increasing at the expense of bitterness, hurt, victimizing myself, and anger.

Thankful for His sanctifying grace,


Monday, February 25, 2013


hiraeth [m.] welsh(n.) yearning, longing, nostalgia; homesickness, grief

“It is difficult to define hiraeth but to me it means the consciousness of man being out of his home area and that which is dear to him. That is why it can be felt even among a host of peoples amidst nature’s beauty. Like a Christian yearning for heaven.”
~D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“There have been times when I think we do not desire heaven; but more often I find myself wondering whether, in our heart of hearts, we have ever desired anything else….It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we desired before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work….All your life an unattainable ecstasy has hovered just beyond the grasp of your consciousness. The day is coming when you will wake to find, beyond all hope, that you have attained it.”
~C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain

“It was when I was happiest that I longed most….The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.”
~C.S. Lewis Till We Have Faces

I think God gives us little tastes of heaven here on earth. There are certain things that stir our hearts and trigger that yearning for home. I love that word: yearning.
One night, Natalie and I were walking along the beach late at night. The moon was full in the velvet sky and reflected on the black water. The waves rolled and quietly crashed. I couldn't tell if it was the wind or the overwhelming majesty of the ocean that chilled me to the bone. I felt like I was walking on holy ground.
"Have you ever heard the word, 'hiraeth'?" Natalie broke the silence.
She told me what it meant, the sea showed me how it felt.

What moves you? What causes that pang in you heart? That ache? That silent cry for home?

Music...What music in particular changes. Today it is Mumford & Sons. I couldn't describe them better than this, "Every song of theirs feels like a prayer. It’s almost too much for me sometimes . . .listening to them is like looking straight into the sun. It hurts it’s so bright."--Glennon

Van Gogh...I wish I could put my finger on what it is that speaks to my soul. Maybe it's the vibrant, bold, hundred shades of blue he uses. Or the way you can see the wind blowing. Or the tiny, individual, almost haphazard strokes that somehow all unite into such colorful, enchanting art...

The Sun... The sun setting over the everglades. the sun rising over the Atlantic. The heat of the sun on my arms, The rays of the sun in my front lawn. Dust dancing on the patches of light on my carpet. Those brief seconds just before the sun disappears when all of nature: every blade of grass, every leaf, every drop of rain, every flower petal catches fire. It's orange, coral, tangerine, and red colors.

This Quote (Particularly the italicized portion)..."It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among the mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking glass. Ans as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the mirror in the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different--deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looks as if it meant more. I can't describe it any better than that: if you ever get there you will know what I mean.
It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right fore hoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried:
"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!"
He shook his mane and sprang forward into a great gallop--a Unicorn's gallop, which, in our world, would have carried him out of sight in a few moments. But ore a most strange thing happened. Everyone else began to run, and the found, to their astonishment, that they could keep up with him: not only the Dogs and the humans but even fat little Puzzle and short-legged Poggin the Dwarf. The air flew in their faces as if they were driving fast in a car without a windscreen. The country flew past as if they were seeing it from the windows of an express train. Faster and faster they raced, but no one got hot or tired or out of breath...
..If one could run without getting tired, I don't think one would often want to do anything else."

--C.S. Lewis (The Last Battle)

“Savory...that's a swell word. And Basil and Betel. Capsicum. Curry. All great. But Relish, now, Relish with a capital R. No argument, that' the best.”--Dandelion Wine (Ray Bradbury)

I think everybody has their own list of "good words". I have a list of words that make me swoon. Whether it be for the meaning behind it or for just the beautiful sound it makes when spoken:

-Ardently (Particularly when said by Fitzwilliam Darcy, "I love you....most ardently.")
-Fye! (As in, "Fye upon thee, oh silly heart!")
-Dagnabit! (Say, "Dagnabit!" instead of any other expletive you would typically use in a moment of frustration and I promise you all stress & tension will dissipate. You just can't say that word without smiling)

...Apparently I have an affinity for f-words.

And then there are words that I loathe. They nauseate me, irritate me, give me the heebeedee jeebeedees:

-Prego or Preggers


If this were a blog where actual people actually read my posts, then naturally I would close this post with me asking you what you good/bad words are. But, Alas!.....Oooh! That's another great word: Alas! Anywho, I do not have readers so I shall end rather awkwardly.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why you gotta be so mean?

Pinned Image

It is stuff like this that I was referring to when I wrote this.


There is this blogger that I love and respect and am in danger of idolizing. She posted this today. I liked it, so I'm stealing it.

At the end of her post she asks the question,
"What experiences or sensations are cathartic to you?  What provides you with psychological relief through the expressing of strong emotions?"
Four things immediately popped into my mind:

Walking...My favorite time to take a walk is at sunset, just after a storm. The water colored and ink penned world's colors are bleeding and blended from the rain. The sky is painted coral and orange. The smell of wet grass is pungent. The oceany wind whistles through the palm trees and my hair. I never wear shoes, I prefer walking barefoot at the edge of the grass and the road in the puddles. Or is it more like wandering rather than walking? Sometimes I feel like I have little choice in the matter, it's as if the rain beckons me and I must answer it. It's during wanderings such as this when my soul finds healing. Most of the time I don't even know that I am in need of healing. It just happens, and when it does and the weight is lifted from my shoulders and my worries are washed away and I feel the lightness and peace and quiet contentment come sweeping over me...I wonder how I never realized how heavy I was before.

Driving...Early in the morning, with my windows rolled down, and 90.7 classical radio playing. I can't help but smile.
Or at dusk. That's when I turn my radio off, hold my cell phone to my ear (so I don't look like a crazy lady) and talk to God. I wouldn't call it praying, just talking honestly and without inhibition.

Cleaning...Scrubbing baseboards, dusting, sweeping...It frees my mind. Sometimes my mind remains blank, which is a good thing. I feel like my poor brain is always in overdrive. I think and feel too many things all at once almost all the time. Blank can be good thing. I see it as giving it a chance to recharge. Or sometimes I ponder a single thought deeply and fully and as exhaustively as I can.

Creating...I think that one of the best ways we can praise our God is by imitating him. I'm not very good at that, But, I try and where I can imitate, I will. I think that he has gifted me with creativity. Or maybe he hasn't; maybe he has just gifted me with the love of trying to create and the ignorance of my inability. Whatever it is, I do feel closer to him with a paint brush, needle, crochet hook, whisk, rolling pin, or pen in my hand. And what is more "cleansing and purging and emotional and relief and breathing again.
It is overwhelming, like drowning in healing.
It is intense and vulnerable and freeing.
It grounds me, centers me, rebirths me, makes me new"....
than growing closer to him?

"'Cause I am done with my graceless heart, so tonight I'm gonna cut it out and then restart."--Florence and the Machine

This is a long and rambling sort of post. It's about a lot of different things, but really about the same thing....becoming less like me and more like Him.

Everyday, even if it's for just five minutes, I try to write something. It's a good habit I think. I've been writing/journaling since I was 7 and it's always been my therapy. Sometimes I sit and think about life: both the good and the bad and a wave rushing, crashing tsunami of emotion and thoughts and joys and confusions sweep me off my feet. That is when I pick up a pen and notebook and land safely on my feet again. Writing brings me clarity and helps me process. It makes me feel grounded and sure.

And I love that 13 years later I can hold a worn, black and white composition book and touch the pages that my hands touched then as I poured my seven year old heart out on paper. Journals are a wonderful keepsake. They are also brutally honest and years later when you pull them out of a dusty old cardboard box in the attic, your haughty and graceless heart is revealed to you. And you are tempted to ceremoniously and somewhat frantically (in fear of anyone finding out just how wicked you are) tear out and burn those pages, saving only half the truth. Then, when I'm gone and my children pull them out of a dusty old cardboard box in the attic, my sweet, fun, gentle spirit is what they will find. As tempting as that may be, I think that would be a waste. The truth is: I was/am proud, self-righteous, spiteful, unforgiving, unloving, lacking grace, and so blind to it. And, if I destroy that memory, I am wasting a story of salvation, mercy, and redemption.
I was completely honest about my feelings and my thoughts at the time of writing. Whatever I felt, I wrote. I can now, 10+ years later, see myself for who I was, and most importantly, see where God's grace has brought me. I am still the same person in so many ways, but at least now I am aware of it, I see it, and my heart is broken over it. And, ever so slowly, I am changing....but, by no means am I finished.
I am still proud, but not as proud. I am learning that He is the only thing that I have to boast in.
I still lack grace, but I yearn so deeply that the grace that has been so lavishly poured into my life would spill over and out of me.
I can still be unloving, but now more than ever I am realizing how important love is. I used to take it for granted, I used to undermine it's worth. Not anymore. Love is a powerful, beautiful, overwhelming thing. I'd die without it, and I'm worthless if I don't have it.
There are still people that I need to forgive or my heart needs to be ready to forgive. Forgiveness has always been a confusing thing for me. I won't get into it now. But, if I acknowledge who I was/am and how many times I have wronged people then I would be a fool if I didn't realize how much I needed forgiveness. And, if I need it then I can't be stingy with it. I must extend it to others.

I wish that more has changed, but at least I'm not stagnant. At least I see now. At least I know how badly I need to and how desperately I want to change. And that's a start.
Every morning I wake up to my soul whispering the same prayer. Simple words, but the cry of my heart. "God, make me softer on the inside and tougher on the outside."

 I want to be gentler, quieter, kinder, slower to speak. But also stronger, more resilient, full  of conviction, & wiser. I want to live and love with intention. I want every word I say to be purposeful I want to be feminine but never weak. That is my desire.

Am I rambling? I think I am. I'm sure that there is a point that I am trying to make. Maybe it's just that I'm a dirty, rotten sinner in the hands of a potter. The perfect artist who will mold me and refine me and shape me into something beautiful. I could let the years of diaries discourage me, but I won't let them. That would be faithless of me.
I will begin with hope, and courage, and grace: “I am better than I was.”
I will end with hope, and courage, and grace: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

And, so my soul finds rest in that knowledge and I am quite sure of it.

Over the next few weeks, I will try to post some of the journal entries I wrote then along with my response now. While I want to save these journals, I can't leave them as they are without comment.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

" This world of ours is a happy world, so that God is our end, so that we can say to Him, "Thou art my God." Then everything takes new hues of joy and love. Our daily comforts have a soul in them, for they abound in thanksgiving; our daily infirmities or crosses have a special joy in them, because they are so tenderly fitted to us by the medicinal hand for our God; the commonest acts of life are full of deep interest, because their end is God; daily duties are daily joys, because they are something which God gives us to offer unto Him, to do to our very best, in acknowledgement of His love. It is His earth we walk on; His air, we breathe; His sun, the emblem of His all-penetrating love, which gladdens us. Eternity! Yes, that too is present to us, and is part of our joy on earth. God has given us faith to make our future home as certain to us, as this our spot of eath; and hope, to aspire strongly to it; and love, as a foretaste of the all surrounding ever-unfolding, Almighty love of our own God. " --E. B. PUSEY, Joy and Strength