Daily Reads


When happiness equals thankfulness

It's been a rough week. There's no other way to say it. 

These days this corner of the world seems dark and perpetually rainy and cold. The culture is more often cold and unfriendly than warm or hospitable. Work, which is usually a source of great happiness for me, today completely humbled me and reminded me of how much I don't know. And although these disappointments are so very small compared to the hardships of others, I feel deflated right now. Is this what it's all about? Is this what I can expect from my adult life? Constant work with no guarantees of fulfillment or success? Disappointment by other people? Rain until the end of eternity?!? (I should clarify here: I AM BEING DRAMATIC AND A LITTLE HORMONAL RIGHT NOW. My internship is going fine, my instructors are excellent and they are great to me, and I'm doing a decent job for a student, but I am not living up to my own expectations and that is just painful.) 

At times like these, I seek comfort in our home. Cleaning it, organizing it, decorating it, filling it with people we love, music, conversation and good food. It's my instinct, and it feels completely indulgent and soothing. All week long I've been thinking about this thoughtful post from one of my favorite bloggers, Darby, and relating it to my own life. The post talks about how we tend to compartmentalize our lives into serving (helping people in need, teaching Bible class, cleaning the toilets, etc.) and all the other parts of living (cooking, having fun with friends, homemaking, etc.) In her post she poses the question, how can we glorify God even when we are doing the things that we love - things that we do for our own fulfillment? She quotes a devotional book by Tozer, "Paul’s exhortation to “do all to the glory of God” is more than pious idealism. It is an integral part of the sacred revelation and is to be accepted as the very Word of Truth. It opens before us the possibility of making every act of our lives contribute to the glory of God. Lest we could be too timid to include everything, Paul mentions specifically eating and drinking. This humble privilege we share with the beasts that perish. If these lowly animal acts can be so performed as to honor God, then it becomes difficult to conceive of one that cannot." 

Over the course of the week as I returned to my home, my refuge, each evening with gratitude in my heart, the meaning of these words has become clear to me. I'm so thankful for the sanctuary that is our home. I'm so thankful that after a disappointing day (or week) I can come here and cook and write and do laundry and be with my little family and our friends. And even though I know that I honor God by serving others, I believe that doing these things that I love is living to the glory of God too because when my comfort and happiness translate into thankfulness, God is glorified. May I always thank You, God, and acknowledge You as the source of everything good in my life.

And then there are these wise words from Ecclesiastes. They are completely candid, and speak directly to this hopeless feeling that creeps in when we (I) get too wrapped up in our own success and failure. I believe these words with all my heart. 

"A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?"
--Ecclesiastes 2:24-25


The best of the best

In my short blogging career (four whole weeks!) my life has been so enriched by the blogs I have read. I follow about 26 blogs faithfully (see Hooked On at the right of my page). All are written by women. Some of the authors are family, some are friends of friends, some are complete strangers. Some are artists, some are designers, some are mothers, some are Christians (the best are all of the above, in my opinion!) Content ranges from funny stories about kids and pets, to original artwork and photographs, to deeply personal praises and thoughts about faith. All are uplifting to me, and every one is precious because these individuals are precious. So bright! So creative! So articulate! What a blessing for us all to take our best, distill it down into words and pictures, and share the blessing with others. Thank you for sharing, ladies!

Here are some of my very favorite posts from the last month. Enjoy:

This recipe is an excellent example of what I love about this particular blog. It's simple. It's wholesome. It's delicious. And, there are beautiful color pictures to illustrate every step. (The author and her family live on a farm!! LOVE it!)

This is one of my very favorite posts from one of my favorite bloggers. I was already a total fan of her interior design work and her writing, and then I read this post about the birth of her first child. It is a wonderful read - totally worth a few minutes. Have some kleenex handy!

This post, by another one of my faves (the twin sister of the previous one) has had me thinking for days now. It's a subject I've been thinking about a lot lately too - living to the glory of God - and I don't think it's any coincidence that the author wrote it and I read it! I'm sure God's hand was working in this! I'm still mulling it over - more to come on this post later...

The entire category of interior design on this blog is gorgeous. Colorful, whimsical, creative. Just plain fun.

And, speaking of fun, this post about hipster puppies had me rolling with laughter. Really good stuff.

This gorgeous, gorgeous blog is like an instant trip to Paris. I tried to choose my favorite post, but I can't. They're all amazing and the perfect antidote for anyone who is homesick for the city of light.

And finally, this little gem from A Cup of Jo. It's frivolous. It's completely impractical. It could very well cause accidents. But I just can't help myself - it makes me smile. 


The purple book

I stood in a very long line at Walmart today and leafed through the latest issue of House Beautiful to, you know, transcend the situation. As I waited I realized that although these days I get most of my design info and ideas online, I used to buy tons of design mags and tear out my favorite ideas and pictures and paste them into a blank book with a purple canvas cover. I had forgotten about the purple book and I couldn't wait to get home and dig it out to look through it. I dragged that book around with me for years through several moves, several jobs, and several different houses cutting and pasting the images that said home

I thought I might have a good laugh at the contents of my old book, but I am so delighted by what I found! It's amazing how little my taste has changed over the years, and I am so happy I kept those pages because they are still inspiring to me. Some of the themes: family-friendly outdoor living spaces, crisp white linens and tranquil colors in bedrooms, neutral walls and floors with pops of vivid color, sunlight, built-in bookshelves, dining rooms made to be full of loved ones and good food....I plan to use these as Tim and I put down roots in the near future and put together what will be our family's home.

I regret that I didn't cite any of the designers, or paint colors, or furniture companies in my purple book and I realize now that I haven't been citing much on this blog either. So, I would just like to say that in the future I am going to make an effort to site wherever I can. The designers/photographers/bloggers deserve the credit that is due, and it is heartbreaking to fall in love with a paint color (for example) and have no idea what it is. I am definitely not trying to pass off any of these images as my own - I just know that if I don't save them I will never be able to conjure them up again, and they are way too precious to let go.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, having said all of that, here are some more images for my new, twenty-first century purple book:


Cake and love songs

It's a little late for a Valentine's Day post but I can't resist. We didn't buy gifts for each other this year as we normally would. We're trying to spend less all around and we decided to go out for a nice meal and make other purchases off-limits. We followed these rules (for the most part) and the result was a sweet, sweet day. 

Tim made me a card, baked me a pink velvet cake and gave me some roses and a potted orange tulip plant (dessert and flora - this man really is my soulmate!)


For my part, I made him a mixed CD of songs that we have loved over the years together, complete with original cover art and a Valentine written inside the liner notes.

Last but not least, I finally put together a project that has been in my brain for a long time - a silhouette of our little sweetie, Ella. It needs an oval frame (or at least an oval mat) but otherwise I really love how it turned out.


Snow day

I recently started my third and final clinical rotation for school, and although I'm enjoying it, it has made me intensely aware of how much I loved being home over the break. There is a part of me that needs to work and have a life outside of our home, but I am always happiest when I am here and taking care of our little family. I never got bored during the more than forty days I had off from school. I rested, worked out, organized, crafted, cleaned, studied, traveled, played with my puppy, prayed, talked, wrote, lunched, shopped, cooked, read. The time was so precious, and so rejuvenating to my soul. I used it wisely, but I've been a little blue this week just knowing that blissful chapter had come to an end.

I don't know why it surprised me. I should expect, by now, that my God will be lavish with His blessings. But today he sent another beautiful snow storm, and Tim and I both got to stay home for the day, all snug in our little house with our little pup. Tim worked and I read blogs like it was my job with a warm puppy on my lap. We cooked a good lunch and ate together. I baked a cake and made a stew. It hasn't been an extraordinary day, but it was just what my heart desired. And I didn't even have to ask.

"You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips." 
-- Psalm 21:2


* I took these pictures with my favorite new iphone app, which I learned about on my favorite blog.



Cabin fever

I think winter is getting to me. I am dreaming of summer days in a little cabin in the mountains...aaaahhh. Perfection.


Little bundles

Two very dear friends of mine are expecting babies this spring. One friend is funky and offbeat and expecting a girl, and the other friend is more traditional and expecting a boy. Both friends are precious to me and I didn't want to just run down to Target and hit the baby aisle for a quick gift. I've been waiting for inspiration to strike and yesterday I came across this site with the most adorable and simple guide to making personalized onesies - perfect for both of my friends! I went right out and bought some cute fabric remnants, onesies, and fusible fabric and had the whole project done in about three hours with no sewing. (Poor Tim came home to onesies and tiny animals strewn all over the guest room and me grinning from ear to ear. I think it scared him! Haha!) It was so fun to choose the fabrics and animals that suit my friends (and their little ones) and make something for them with my own hands. And they turned out so cute! I'm thinking of making some for my dog now....


Eye candy for the soul

There's a famous quote by Kurt Vonnegut that I find so beautiful, "If I should ever die, God forbid, let this be my epitaph: THE ONLY PROOF HE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS MUSIC". I love that quote because it is both a profound expression of belief (How could something as magical as music exist if there was no God?) and one of simple joy experienced through the senses (I hear God in music.) Pure genius. Although I see God all around me in this world (as opposed to hearing Him like Mr. Vonnegut), I know exactly what he meant and if I could adapt the quote for myself I would only change two words: THE ONLY PROOF SHE NEEDED FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD WAS COLOR.

My recent foray into blog world has brought me into contact with lots of photos - yaay! - mostly of gorgeous rooms, gardens, foods, and travel destinations. Beautiful and right up my colorful alley. But today I came across a great new site on flickr called interestingness and although it's not my typical style I can't stop looking at it! The photos are quirky and fun and thoughtful, and although they are not all in color, that just makes the colorful ones even better. Enjoy. interestingness