as i look at the two pictures i took today,
i notice they are both things that keep us.
lighthouses keep ships from dashing upon the rocks in tumultuous seas or in the dark.
lifeguards keep beach dwellers safe,
beach dwellers who thought they were having a dandy time along the shore’s edge
when all suddenly changes to ones worst nightmare.
i am comforted that god puts lighthouses and lifeguards
in our lives and the lives of our children
for we tend to be frail souls in danger,
sometimes from the trials that storm us from the outside,
and sometimes from the inner struggles that we bring upon our selves.
i am presently thankful for a few of those saving graces in my own life.
i do not take them for granted.
and i marvel at the idea
that even when the seas of life are calm
the lighthouse and lifeguard are still there
standing firm and tall
maybe even to simply remind us that it will not always be so.
therefore i will enjoy the calm in this day
and also trust amidst its stormy moments
knowing i just need to lift my eyes a bit
and i will see my help.
i will go toward it when i am able
and it will find me when i am not.
Blessed is He who gives and takes away.
In this life, we are mostly given gifts.
Gifts of new life and joys and great memories along the way.
Today a life took a turn.
It began to be taken away.
And yet I will say “Blessed be the Lord.”
I didn’t want to do this day.
I don’t like hospitaly places. I don’t like death and sickness.
I don’t even like driving on the city roads to get there.
But this girl went.
It was the hardest of days,
and yet bittersweet beauty intertwined.
Today I saw a wife of nearly 60 years
walk into a hospital room hoping for the best.
Instead, I saw her realize it was time to bring her love home.
To spend his last moments where he belongs.
She seemed so strong.
I was not.
I think she knew in her heart of hearts this day was to come.
I think the Lord prepared her dear heart. I’m glad he does that.
I saw a daughter,
my twin of a cousin,
hold her father’s hand knowing what was ahead.
She stayed at his side, rubbing his head so tenderly,
Talking in his ear whenever a move he would make.
He knew she was there.
He reached out for her hand and would weakly hold it with all his strength.
It calmed him.
She told him, “I love you, Dad!”
He looked at her and whispered, “I love you more!”
They sweetly argued the point a few times back and forth, “Nuh uuh. I love you more.”
She rubbed his head and offered words of comfort.
Her words soothed his soul.
She told him they were taking him home today.
I think he wanted to go home.
Home to the familiar smells and sounds and loves of his world of many years.
Home to his family.
This girl spent the day holding his worn and frail hand.
It reminded me of my Papa’s hands. They were brothers.
I told him I loved him.
I cried a lot. I saw and heard him in pain.
I squished it all away to smile at him whenever he opened his eyes.
I didn’t think he knew who I was.
But he did.
He reached out for my hand and pulled me in.
I could see him look at me.
He called me by name and told me he loved me.
I told him I loved him, too.
He gave a kiss from behind his oxygen mask.
I wonder how it could be, that three simple words can mean so much.
I think we are supposed to be a part of this season in life
rather than sending it and all its ugliness off somewhere
so we don’t have to feel the pain.
It is part of life.
And it is a different kind of good.
It is good to hold weathered hands
and rub weary brows
and say I love you a hundred more times.
This day fills my thoughts on my own final days.
As I watched my uncle’s daughter care for him so tenderly,
I could see my own daughter someday
and her deep pain and her great love.
God will be with her and my sons as He was with us today.
This girl doesn’t want to die in a strange room.
This girl wants to be at home.
With children telling our stories and shedding tears and mostly laughing.
With all the littles climbing around and being noisy and cute,
even if I don’t know they are being noisy and cute
or that they are even there at all.
This girl wants the faces of her dear ones
greeting her with their sweet faces
in the moments ones eyes are open,
For mingled in the pain and ugliness and sadness of death
there is a different kind of beauty
as we say our goodbyes.
Goodbye for now, sweet Uncle Art.
I look forward to holding your hand and telling you I love you once again.Read More
A conversation was had today. A conversation that frequents this homey home. It’s a conversation about Christian and music. Or Christian and art. Or Christian and really anything. But it usually starts with the topic of music. For this family swims in music.
Some in this family sing and play piano. Some play guitar and mandolin. Some would like to do drums if we only had drums. This girl mostly just pushes the ‘play’ button on things or listens to her family of music players. I am not the connoisseur of music. In fact, this girl has been known to listen to a song bunches of times till it dawned on her little self that the same song it was. Over and over for an embarrassingly long time. The words of songs never stick in this quirky head. Ever. They stick in everyone else’s heads, though. They sing and tap even when the music is not going, for going it still is, in their heads. And they talk numbers when music is going. Thirds and fifths and one, four, three. They don’t just listen to music. Music is a part of them. It is how they think. Married man and my dear one have even been known to call out the key of car honks in New York.
Not only can most in this homey home play music of some sort, but all have been influenced by their daddy’s music appreciation. He listens to all types of music. He mysteriously controls all music-playing things throughout the house. It is everywhere. This girl often pokes her head into the control room/office/bedroom when the phone rings asking for quiet somewheres. Please.
If there is a style of music, we have heard it. We have talked about it. We have discussed the math of it and what makes it unique. We know its major artists and some of its history. And, we have proclaimed our like or dislike. Ok. I mostly feel lost in these conversations, but I appreciate that they appreciate it.
And guess which type of music is unanimously and consistently and frequently disliked by all four of my lovely children? Christian music. Which absolutely frustrates this girl to pieces, because this girl believes Christian music should be amazing. Christian anything should be amazing. It should be the best. It should be the most popular because of it’s undeniable and profound excellence. But it is not any of that.
So this is my topic today. For it is my topic nearly every day. The topic of what makes something Christian?
It is a huge subject given to much debate. I am not a debater. Just a ponderer. And this girl has been pondering much on this lately, for important it is. My children at home still need a workable answer to this question. I need a workable answer. We all do.
I know many volumes by great and studied folks have been written on this topic, most of which this girl would never read, for over her head they truly are. I used to read them but I have quite given up. It’s just not my cup of tea. And this girl would rather read lovely books and make lovely things and spend time with her lovely family anyways. But a little answer that I believe we all can grasp has been come upon in her pondering. And it is this.
This rather simple girl believes if one truly pursues knowing and loving God and passionately pursues excellence in our ‘art’ then our art will naturally reflect our knowing-God and therefore be undeniably and profoundly excellent and therefore amazing.
It doesn’t mean we will have Bible verses written all over or in our art. I was running today. And when I run I ponder. And I noticed the world all around. I didn’t see “Jesus was here” written on anything at all. Each leaf didn’t say “made in heaven”. But each leaf and tree and ocean and sky in their pure majesty reflect their amazing maker whether it is recognized as such or not. And I think our art should do the same; reflect the great maker without silly labels. It should be distinguishable without a label. Truth is truth. Good is good. Beauty is beauty. If our life’s art is true and good and beauty filled and we are pursuing God, then our art is Christian. It reflects our God. It has his impression in it even if to most that impression is unseen.
This girl has a little hunch that some in this sweet younger generation are getting it. They are pursuing a walk with God. They are pursuing truth and good and beauty. They are artists and they are Christian. That is Christian art.
I wish I would have gotten it a bit sooner and left off doing the ‘Christian things’, and spent more time doing the christian things this girl was made to do. Cook, sew, capture beauty, love, encourage, create. But I think I get it now. So now that is what I do. Admittedly this girl needs to work on both sides of the equation. Work hard at the gifts and talents that are uniquely my own, and work hard at knowing the God that entrusted those gifts and talents on this simple girl. For only then can my life, my art, be truly Christian.
Here’s the Paris scoop…
Some of you dear lovelies have probably noticed less Paisley and Lace posting, and maybe even noticed this girl has become more of a foodie than a quilter or crafter. During this last chunk of time, this girl has discovered photography and the telling of stories of wonderful people in my world is more to her liking than sewing, although sewing still she does. With this recent extra busyness in one’s simple little mom-life, projecting hasn’t fit in quite as well as one was accustomed to it fitting in. For, once upon a time not too long ago, a dear friend whom has been known for almost forever, asked married man to create her and her twin sister’s business website. He did. Then this girl started taking pictures for the website to keep it fresh. Then I began working up email campaigns advertising events and lovely items as they arrive in their beautiful shop. Then I started posting their facebook pictures, for that was not their cup of tea and they needed it to be someone’s cup of tea. Their talent is treasure hunting, purchasing and merchandising and creating beauty in the lives and homes of their customers. Then this girl found herself blogging about a few of their journeys which I was asked to tag along with them on. I ate crepes and artisan bread and drank good wine. Now I am going with them to Paris to blog about their journey there. I think there will be more crepes and artisan bread and good wine. It seems my cup of tea has become telling a story of sorts, and getting it out there. It’s more than taking pictures for a business. I don’t think this girl could do that. It has to be more personal. There has to be a story. A lifestyle. A passion. It has to be mixed with creativity and artful food. It has to be people I care about. People I know. People I would go to Paris with, and I can’t think of any other folks this girl would venture with to the other side of the world without her sweet family.
And all this goodness, that wasn’t being sought out at all, has pushed me into learning more about photography and the ever ginormous feat of uncovering the grand mysteries of Photoshop and Lightroom. I realize those lovely helpful programs might not seem like grand mysteries to most, but rather helpful little programs they are. And all the dials and buttons on the camera are dials and buttons for most. but for me, not so. Until something is shown to me in a most unusual way that this not so very standard brain and hands can understand, mysteries they remain and fumble along this girl does. The older I have gotten the more I have realized dyslexia is really mine. It explains a lot, for sure. I landed upon this discovery by watching two of my children work hard at learning to learn. They have managed just fine, but being the homeschool kind of mom who tries to understand how to teach each child differently rather than treating them all the same by throwing the same booky-books at each, has enabled me to see myself in their thinking processes. I do have a long road of learning ahead. But being a road by definition, means progress will be made if this girl just keeps going down it. I hear learning new things makes our brain stay young. And that’s a good thing,
This girl is like Bob, though. Every day I just try to take those baby steps. I even hear Bill Murray’s voice in my head when I get overwhelmed telling me to take baby steps. Weird but true. The great challenges this girl has in learning new things reminds me that my kids are learning new stuff all the time, and to be patient with them. And watch What About Bob with them so they, too, can have that same voice in the back of their heads telling them to take baby steps when they might rather give up.
Meet the sisters. We gathered for a cookbook club, and here is the recipe I posted for them of the green bean dish seen here. They are lovers of good food, wine, beauty, life and God. Which is why Paris with them works for this simple girl.
Now to gather up a boy or two for the watching of What About Bob.
Imagine you are walking.
Walking to the most glorious place one could dream up.
It’s a walk that takes a lifetime
but all along
you know where you are going.
You have dreamed of being there your whole life.
You continue to dream your glorious dream throughout all the days of your life.
You set goals and make plans to reach your target.
You have pictures in your heart of what it will look like when you get there.
Pictures that make your step light
even when the road is rough.
Now imagine that as you journey along the way
that most glorious place one dreamed about
begins to look slightly different than you imagined.
The closer you get the more different it looks.
Maybe it’s because the closer we get, the better we can see it
or maybe it’s because wisdom’s old age is like a pair of glasses
enabling us to see more clearly
what the goal really was all along.
We didn’t know it, but God did.
Maybe instead of a glorious island
we find our selves in a lush meadow,
or we see a waterfall we didn’t know was there all along.
We didn’t know the grass was blanketed with fragrant flowers.
We couldn’t imagine the peaceful sound of the flowing waters,
or the deep blue sky.
We ended up in a different place entirely,
though it always was ahead of us.
We didn’t turn aside on the path at all.
This place was surely meant for us.
Designed for us.
By the Master Designer.
Isn’t life that way?
With sweet and bittersweet surprises along the journey?
Although this girl has ended up somewhere quite unimagined,
I cant say it’s disappointing to find myself ending up in this different place.
It’s just different, indeed.
Better, I suppose.
We end up stretched and challenged and stronger than we thought possible.
Stretching and being challenged is never anticipated with delight,
but looking back we see its purpose.
We begin to see how it made our path more meaningful.
Once upon a time
a man told my boy
that everything in life will disappoint him.
Once upon a time
this mamma told that same boy
that everything in life has hidden treasure,
for that boy is on a path
carved out specially for him by a God who knows him by name.
A God who loves him even more than his mamma.
A God who likes to create good things in him
and surprise him
with the bestest of hidden treasures along his life’s journey.
This girl told her boy to be on the lookout.
To let life’s challenges be a creative force in him,
rather than fill him with life-stealing disappointment.
May we all see treasure along our journey
in the little unplanned stuff of life.
May we all know that it is a loving God who leads us there.
even when it’s not what we had expected.
Sometimes we might need to grieve a little or be angry for a while.
We can tell God that. He can handle it.
Then we must find the courage to move on. Embrace it.
Let it shape us and change us for the better.
So what grand and unexpected path is this girl taking?
This girl is going to Paris.
Yep. You read that right.
Admittedly, this is not the most upsetting or disappointing proposition.
It’s just different.
Different than anything I had ever expected.
So different that when I talked with my kids and husband about it
telling them how unlike me it would be to go on a trip without them,
they said there was noooo way they would let me say ‘no’ to it.
Paris wasn’t even on my Bucket List.
And although I’m not working through grief or anger about the whole Paris proposition,
this girl is quite surprised.
For, if any of you know me, you know this girl is rather simple
and quite content
in my happy little home
with my dear family
sewing and cooking and floating ( I can’t call it surfing, yet).
But, alas, God is rather pushing me out of my comfort zone
on toward something that only He knows where it will take this girl.
And so I must go.
More about why this girl is going to Paris to follow soon. I promise.Read More
I hope all you dear lovelies were quite able to take a little pause on this Easter day.
May we all remember what has been done for you and me.
Then may we remind our sweet children
what has been done for their dear little selves.
And may our remembering empower each and every one of us to live lives changed by grace,
so that we might love more fully
live more joyfully
give more selflessly
and create more beautifully
that the world would know what was done for their dear little selves, too.Read More