He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9

Two Rooms


We were at the cabin in the snowy woods - sitting in front of the fire, just talking. And suddenly it was before me – our marriage in vivid color. More accurately, pictures of each of us individually in vivid color. Because really, a healthy marriage is where each person knows and enjoys who they are, but where each becomes better and better at being part of one another.


You won’t be surprised to know that in this vision my husband is a library. Not a dark, dry, dusty library with a mere sliver of light piercing the musty air. But a massive, rich library. Bookshelves to the ceiling, lined with beautifully-bound volumes about everything you could possibly imagine. And these volumes are not just facades in which, upon opening, you find blank pages. Each volume is gold-embossed and full of rich and wonderful information. Comedy, history, romance, theology, nature, ministry, politics, sports…a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips. There is a large fireplace, graced with two burgundy wingback chairs on an exquisite oriental rug. The desk is well-used but tidy. The windows are large, but framed with part-closed tasseled curtains. A distinctive and handsome room that you could get lost in.

Just across the hall, you’ll find my studio. The white sheers are blowing freely from the wide-open windows. The walls are a shimmering hue that changes shades with every turn of the light. On the floor beside the couch is a stack of books. Each corner holds its own purpose, but the fullness of ideas tends to extend and intermingle until it all looks a bit of a jumble at first glance.

Several instruments are propped here and there. Art and books are everywhere. Lots of comfy chairs for sitting and chatting. Left-over cups of tea. Red toile cushions. A few chocolate wrappers and scratches of paper. A dying plant or two, and some beautiful pictures that, while tastefully combined, may or may not be hanging slightly askew. Several projects are obviously underway at once, lending life and ideas to one another. It is a happy, although unpredictable place.

And these are the two worlds that must abide under one roof in beautiful harmony. The answer is not for each to remain to himself, rarely engaging in more than passing cordiality. But each must learn to abide fully and comfortably in the room of the other.

When I go into his library, I am in awe. I am inspired. I am comfortable. Sometimes, I’m even bored. Those times when he is fully engrossed into a volume whose meaning I am too lazy to discover – sometimes I get frustrated and just walk out.


And sometimes when he walks into my studio he is completely overwhelmed. A storm may be brewing and a few drops coming in – (and why in heaven’s name would a person leave the windows open during a storm, anyway?) And he finds it baffling that I would want to do so many projects at one time, with jazz crooning in the background – why not just focus on one and avoid the noodling of ideas?

But then there are those times when you will find us both in front of the fireplace, completely engrossed in some idea or volume together. Or in the studio creating a project that will solve the world’s problems. Or hiking a winter trail and experiencing what needs not words. Wondering over the colors of a new bird species. Laughing at the antics of a room full of kids and puppies.

But the trick, I think, is understanding, respecting and valuing the differences of our design. And having the patience and discipline to linger in a place that is not necessarily comfortable until it becomes natural. Sitting long enough to learn about Christology and pneumatology and eschatology. Listening long enough to understand why the color of the wallpaper is related to the shade of my toenails and how that is all so worshipfully connected. These are the things that refine us through patience and unite us through kindness and combine us into one understanding.

And then, perhaps – he’ll paint with brighter shades and I’ll act with quieter, more purposeful confidence. And we most certainly will better understand why God chose marriage as a picture of His love for us.
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Two New Babies!

We're off on a new adventure.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we'd like to present Max and Mya. Mya is just barely 6 weeks old and Max is 7 weeks old. Mya is smooth, petite and cuddly. Max is a round, fluffy bruiser who eats like a piglet and is ready to take on the world.

They are purebred Golden Retrievers with impressive pedigrees. But they have completely stolen our hearts for no reason at all.

I do sortof feel like I have new babies again! Scheduled feedings. Waking up before the sun for crate training. Standing in the cold while they do their business. Baths and playtime. We're so excited. You can visit our goldens blog to follow this adventure.

http://www.puregoldens.blogspot.com/

Here's one of my favorite pictures of them spooning during their nap. Mya has her arm around Max.



We need some ideas for a kennel name before we give Sir Maxwell and Lady Mya their official AKC names. Those of you who are familiar with the process of those ridiculously long names, do you have any ideas for us? We'd like it to be elegant, but reflect something of who we are. Too bad we don't have some "whispering pines" around here or a "claybrook." We've been brainstorming, but haven't settled on anything yet. We thought about "little blue house without any siding on the end of Blinn Street." But somehow it lacks a certain charm. Doesn't quite have the ring we're looking for. Fryville doesn't quite cut it, either. See what I mean? This is a tough decision.

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Pizza, Popcorn and PJ's

Whew, what crazy fun! Kayla and Karissa had their first sleepover. We invited 4 girls (all second cousins.) Kayla, Karissa, Shaylee, Alyssa, Jaida and Karris. (ages 3-9) One 2-year-old boy cousin came too - as company for Caiden.

They all came in their jammies.
We ate pizza. Boy, did we ever eat pizza!


Then popcorn and an American Girl movie.

Then one L-O-N-G night which was very short on sleep.
Then fried eggs, cinnamon pancakes and a chocolate milk toast for breakfast.

There were some really wonderful, fun moments. And there were also some moments of female angst. If I had it to do over again, I think I'd plan some more organized group activities. But they're a bunch of creative girls, and I just let them follow their creativity wherever it led. It did lead to some catfights, but everyone survived. I hope they had as much fun as I did. I'd like to try it again sometime.



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Back in the saddle...

Welcome, 2008. May you bring us many happy and productive practicing hours.


We took a sabattical from violin lessons for Kayla last semester. I was having some serious burnout from a very stressful experience with Kayla's teacher in Alabama. So here we go again! With me as the teacher, this time. Teaching your own has its joys and sorrows. Baby steps.

Karissa's toughest issue is having the patience to go through the necessary pre-twinkling steps before she cranks out some tunes. We're taking it slow and easy. Kayla's biggest challenge (or mine, that is) is finding a good, energetic but quiet time after school and work to get Kayla's practice time done.



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Hiking Scenes - Brown County State Park

Brown County is famous for its blazing colors of Autumn.... But we have discovered its quiet beauty in pristine winter white!
There's something about hitting a snow-covered trail.



In the quiet hush of winter

The light and the shadows are amazing. With the canopy of leaves fallen, the views are clear and spectacular. We watched a pair of deer dash down our hill and up another and could see them clearly to the top of the next ridge.
The serenity of a frozen lake

Different kinds of animal tracks - side by side on the ice


Slowly trickling streams under sparkling crystals
Everything sitting quietly in place - patiently waiting for the happy shimmering tickle of spring.
And the wonders of nature in its resting season. Not to mention the biting cold of the wind on your face mixed with the warmth of exercise. And the constant, colorful commentary of my goofy hiking companion.
Here are two trees that have grown together as one. Two totally different species, learning to live together and become something even more beautiful than they were on their own.

Sounds familiar.
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Little Cabin in the Big Woods

I


I had prayed for snow
We took a beautiful evening stroll through the snowy woods...Watched the sunset

And came home to this
We spent a lot of time by the crackling fire

David cooked me a delicious breakfast in this cozy kitchen. (Check out that antique stove!)
I enjoyed the clawfoot tub

The back porch and deck were so peaceful.
We played games and read and talked and did a LOT of hiking (see "Brown County" post).
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Epiphany

On Epiphany morning (the traditional church-calendar day celebrating the coming of the kings), the kids got their treats that the wisemen had left after their camels ate the hay we left them.

We went to church...

And had Sunday dinner, with our normal dinnertime creed quoting & singing routine...

and THEN....
This year, we actually decided to do our gifts for the kids on Epiphany.

Think she likes it?
Caiden and daddy trying out Caiden's new Cabellas pop gun.

Whatever it was, they shot it!
We tried something this year that I really liked. It seemed appropriate for us to exchange gifts on the day that reminds us about the king's gifts. The night before, we had all decided and shared what we'd like to give Jesus this year. Before we opened gifts the next morning, we put our "gifts" - drawn on paper - into a special box for Jesus. Then the kids opened their gifts. It was fun and meaningful. If it sticks and we do it again in future years, I'm hoping to find an appropriate ornate box - something like we imagine the kings would have brought. Then we can keep our papers and next year when we open the box we'll see how we've done at giving our gifts to Jesus. Kayla decided to give Jesus her heart. Karissa wanted to give him her puppy dog (a very precious thing, indeed!) and Caiden wanted to lead a song for Jesus (conducting is his new favorite trick). David and I gave gifts relating to spending our time in specific ways.
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Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night is the twelfth day of Christmas (Dec. 25-Jan 5). Epiphany is the day after - January 6th - and traditionally marks the day to celebrate the coming of the Kings.

It is our tradition to celebrate Twelfth Night and then take our tree down on Epiphany.

On Twelfth Night, we celebrate with a king's cake and hot chocolate.
There are lots of ways to make a king cake - and there is traditionally a small surprise baked inside for some lucky eater to find. But we usually just buy a round danish or make cinnamon rolls in the shape of a crown. We made it kingly with some of the candy from the Christmas stash.

This year we actually had the traditional Spanish cinnamon hot chocolate that my friend Nelda gave me. You heat milk and then blend it with wedges of spicy chocolate in the blender until frothy and warm. Yes - it's delicious!
We also practice the old tradition (from Mexico, I think) of putting your shoes outside the door with hay in them for the king's camels.
As the kings pass through on their way to Bethlehem, the camels eat the hay and leave a small treat.
We made king crowns



and played family man's game - "To Bethlehem."

We just let Karissa head to Bethlehem any old way she likes. By the end of the game, the toilet had quit flushing and I was sick of wearing a bath towel on my head.
Aside from one kid throwing up all over the craft area (probably from a serious sugar overload) and the other normal kid stuff, we had a wonderful evening.
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Bringing in the new year with Garen & Crystal

Garen is my brother in Cincinnati, for those of you who don't know him. He's a construction manager with Lycos and does some pretty cool big projects. They do the concrete work for places like the Creation Museum, Holiday Inn water parks, Race Tracks, etc. Crystal is an angel from South Carolina. She is a fantastic teacher and has her own tutoring business. She was our friend before she was our sister, and she's awesome. They have a beautiful 5-bedroom home near Cincinnati - one of my brother's remodeling projects.

We had a wonderful time - made the guys wear hats and act excited and then lounged around most of the first day of 2008 while the flurries came down outside.
Playing around in uncle Garen's boat....
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