31 March 2014

Hallo England

 The Tube (underground) stop for Paddington Station.

 Paddington Train Station
 Walking into Oxford from the train station

Oxford city centre

Here's a few shots just to say hallo from England!

I am so tired. Right now I am listening to a bell tower chime away a tune that sounds like wedding bells. It's been going on for about 40 minutes. It is something I am definitely not used to. With so  many bell towers so close, it is interesting, indeed.

After an overnight flight and a whole day of traveling after I got off the plane by train, underground subway, another train, and by foot. I am pretty brain-dead so until I get to catch up on my sleep, I will spare you more dribble drabble words and lull you with some sneak peak photos instead.

28 March 2014

Travel Prep

Do you stress out when you have to pack for a trip?
I actually don't mind it. The only thing that takes me time is selecting the outfits to bring, with enough variety that I don't get bored, but also enough complimentary colours so that I can mix and match with only a small selection. I like when the weather of a place limits my shoe possibility so I only bring a couple pair rather than every possible scenario. This time - tall boots, moccasins, sneakers. Nothing fancy and nothing Summery, but shoes that will go with everything I wear. Comfort is a must, so I can walk down the cobblestone walkways and all over the city.

I have learned over the years how to travel fairly light. It is critical when I am in charge of my bags and I have to be able to lift and pull them. It is not worth it to bring so much stuff. I mean, I am a girl, so I bring several pairs of shoes and many different outfits, but one difficulty, for me, lies in deciding what books to bring. That's not usually a problem for most people, except me. A few are given- my Bible and my journal, and this trip actually makes it easier, because I know I will be buying books when I am there. So, I might only bring one book (maybe two). I have to leave room for all those potentials waiting over there in Oxford for me!

What are some essentials you must bring on a trip?

27 March 2014

Travel Planning

The daylight hours may be extended into our evening hours now, but I certainly do not feel like I have any extra time in my day. Do you? Can we add some time rather than change the time? That would really help. Don't you think?
I am just being facetious because it's all about what we make as priority. Of course we cannot do everything in a day!

Gladly, my wish for more time is about to be granted because I am about to go on vacation! In Oxford, I will be able to take time to muse and write to my heart's content. I cannot wait to indulge in that. You might be thinking "why would you go somewhere on vacation to write or put your nose in a (big) handful of books?" Well, my friend, Oxford inspires me, and I love to write. I think I soak in the authors' remnant words as I walk around those streets lined with history.

I hope I find many places to sit and think, and feel inspired to write lengthy entries in my journal. I hope I walk miles each day to and from bookshops, colleges, open grassy spaces, and eateries with the cheerful spirit of the inexhaustible traveler who also takes time to observe, reflect, and watch. And much to my delight- there will be time for all that.

If I crave activity I know which streets to meander down- High Street and Cornmarket. If I crave some solitude, I know where some peaceful spots are. And every few steps is a photo opportunity. Oxford is the loveliest of cities and my mind, heart, journal, and camera will be full.

26 March 2014

Imaginative Thoughts

The day begins with rain and gloom. I don my long green jacket and oxfords, and wear them in defense of the weather closing in. The cooler weather, that is, for a day or so. Any change as such is most welcome, and I grin to my own delight. And the day clears up. The sky slowly breaks up and blue peaks through as the grey clouds are swept out of sight.

The day grows cooler and the winds come down to reinforce it. Oh, I can smile at that.

My mind is open to new ideas. It is as if the wind has swept the old, decaying thoughts with the new, breezy possibilities. Or impossibilities. In order to fully stretch the imagination, one must think of the impossible. The realm outside the box must be explored. One must travel down the rabbit hole. Then, the imagination can run at full speed.

Maybe I will find the tree and rabbit hole that Alice tumbled down while I explore the meadow at Christ Church, Oxford. Perhaps the whimsical tone will attach itself to me.

My delight is enhanced by memories of books, especially when visiting a place that was in a book, or where an author lived and wrote it. Because there is something oozing in that atmosphere. Words formed there and made it into a book (or books) that have shaped me in some good way. Let me soak up all the atmosphere of those places. The writing vibes can dance around me all day.

Memories of books become like memories of my own life. Treasured. Remembered. Talked about. Delighted in.

25 March 2014



This magazine.

It's darling.

It is a magazine that goes against the grain of culture in the best of ways. It reminds women of our worth and how we are the change. We can implement the goodness that the world needs if we take action. The magazine is full of beautiful photos, inspiring stories, articles, poems, and quotes. I love taking time to read through it.

I am not really big on magazines. I rarely ever buy one, but one that is full of loveliness and inspiration? Yes, I will take it. And if you are looking for something similar, check it out.

Visit the website HERE.

24 March 2014

Down By the River

Just a few tiny glimpses of the stunningly beautiful wedding of my friends Liz and Sean this weekend. The wedding was at Hillsborough River State Park, with the most peaceful backdrop for the wedding ceremony, the river itself. It was held in the morning, when it was quiet, calm, and cool under the shade by the river.

I loved that the wedding was in the morning. The fresh start to a day marks the start of a new marriage. It was a beautiful ceremony with thoughtful, prayerful moments, and even some unexpected excitement as a small group of kayakers glided by during the ceremony. Liz waved to them, and we all laughed. You just have to go with the flow with these things.

Nothing felt rushed. It was more relaxed, which was aided by the gorgeous antique furniture that was placed under the trees like a living room. Becky and I sat there on the sofa for a while, lounging and talking with others. Donuts and fruit were offered to us there as well, in between the ceremony and the reception.

Everything about the wedding was simple- it was at a state park, not a fancy venue, and yet the details that they added were so elegant and classy. And on top of that, all the decorations and even table decor was all made by Liz. She painted the backdrop behind the sweetheart table, she painted the table runners, napkins, and the wooden place mats. Such beauty and personal touch was in all the details, and I love that. I loved the mismatched china plates and glasses, the wooden utensils, the tiny succulent plants, but especially all the creative touches by Liz herself. Also, I loved that they served us breakfast! Chicken and waffles, egg casserole, tomato, bacon, biscuits and gravy, fruit. It was delicious.

I was honoured to be there to be share to their marriage day. To enjoy the day with them and their close friends and family. 

21 March 2014

Each Light-filled Hour

Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don't take
a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

- Ecclesiastes 11.7-8

I am really diving into the reminders here from Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, full of wisdom, full of truth. It may seem so silly to people when I delight in the small things, like beginning to write in a new, lovely journal, but truly, it is delightful! It is something sweet to be thankful for and when we train our hearts and minds to be thankful for all the little things, we grow into a lovelier person.

When we focus on all the blessings of our own life, and stop comparing ourselves to others we become truly grateful people. It's because we are satisfied with what God has given us, but when we look at others we never feel satisfied because we will never be that. Never stop being grateful for all the things that are present in your life. Don't take them for granted.

And when the dark days come, which they surely will, we will know that those days are only temporary. Like smoke, they will dissipate.

20 March 2014

Recent Reads

What have you been reading? Anything interesting, thought-provoking, or inspiring?

Here's what my recent reads have looked like:

Four Faultless Felons by G.K. Chesterton - Four witty mystery stories where the obvious felon isn't the felon. Where the titles of each tale are an oxymoron in themselves. Where I know by the last few pages the real truth will start to leak out and everything revealed. I could see hints of my favourite Chesterton stories in these tales. I feel like this book was a rehearsal to his best mysterious books.

The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck - I have a first edition of this book, given to me by my good friend's boyfriend. I have wanted to read some of Steinbeck, because I am not very familiar with him. So, this was a good, easy read. Written in 1942, it is the story of a nameless town that was just invaded and taken over by an army. There are clear implications of propaganda but the heart of freedom sings out in the characters and their unwillingness to give in to the soldiers who have taken over their quiet countryside town.

In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred, Lord Tennyson - This is a long poem written my Tennyson 18 years (I believe) after the loss of his dear friend. It is beautifully written, with short stanzas that follow a flowing rhyme scheme. The language is lovely. While the poem begins with more thoughts about a person, it flows into a more spiritual work as it goes on, leaving me with some underlined passages to muse upon.

The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L'Engle - I can read one of her books in just a few days (or less) because I enjoy them so much. Sure, this is a young adult story published in 1965, so there is some cheesiness, but it is so well written and the themes are deep. The issues are relevant even if slightly outdated. At the core is a deeply loving family. The father is a scientist who is on the brink of something big, and certain people want that information so they can sell it for the highest price. There's lots of intrigue, spying, and lessons on doing the right thing.

Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis - I re-read this book over the weekend because I felt like it. The more I ponder about his 3-part space trilogy books, the more I want to re-read them, so I am doing that. They are much more about humanity, the implications of development, research, and battling the scariest of evils than about space. I got so much more out of this second reading, and cannot wait to move on to Perelandra,  the second book, which I like even more.

19 March 2014

Stormy Time Change

I am awoken by a flurry of noise
The rain crashes around my home
and I feel like I am caught
in a small cage
with thin walls

Darkness amplifies fear
so stamp it down
and realize you are safe
in God's great arms
Safer than any wall provides

Isn't it a fact that darkness amplifies things? During the day you may not even notice a rainstorm outside if you are in your home working on something. But at night, asleep, the rain hitting your window sure wakes you up and attention is drawn to it. (Or maybe you are blessed with the ability to sleep through noises)

What about light?
How do you feel about this daylight savings time change? The majority of people love the extra hours of sunny late afternoons, but I must admit I dislike waking up in the dark more than I enjoy the added daylight hours. I like to wake up when the sun is rising and the lovely, fresh morning light fills my home.

Instead, now I am dragging myself out of bed in the dark and fumbling around to turn on some lights that feel too bright for the early morning. Spotlights, they feel like.And the darkness they contrast makes me yearn to snuggle back under my covers.

Needless to say, I am not the biggest fan of the time change, but I cannot do much about it, save for write a few words of protest.

17 March 2014

A Beach Visit

Down to Venice I went for the weekend. It's been awhile since the last visit. My younger brother and sister-in-law came up for lunch and I got to see them (most likely) for the last time before they move to California.

I should have thought enough to realize that my baby niece would probably be making a trip to the beach, her first real time to play in the sand. I, however, did not think ahead, and was ill prepared for such a beach trip, so I was left to wear my corduroy pants and Minnetonka Moccasins. But it really wasn't too bad. Much more essential were the sunnies to shield my eyes from the bright late afternoon sun.

We went sometime after 5:30 so it wasn't the time of bright, noontime sun. The sky was a perfect velvet blue. We lathered up in sunscreen and I took photos of Elliott's first walk along the water's edge with her daddy and then play in the sand with her parents. At first, she was tentative with the sand, but soon was sitting on her knees playing happily. I know I am completely bias, but she is the cutest little baby, always smiling, giggling, or doing something cute. Of course, I am her aunt, so I get to say stuff like that.

14 March 2014

On Oxford - -

Stones graced with age,
history speaking out from each
building, with stories to be told.
Favourite authors lived here,
worked here, ate here, drank here,
and read in the open air,
after taking long walks in the groves.
Idealist as I am I picture flowers
bloomed at their feet,
and chilly air so invigorating.
Poet that I am I hear words
dance about in my head
to describe the inspiring places.
Musing as I do, my feet will wander
without getting lost, in the fields
of Christ Church.

I have booked my trip to Oxford, England and I cannot wait to be there! If you asked me where my favorite place to be is, to relax, but also explore, and wander, and indulge in my favourite things, my answer would be Oxford. I think many other people would be bored with my idea of this vacation. Staying in one city for ten days and it's not even a big city?

For me, it's perfect. I can walk everywhere. I can do as much or as little as I want each day. This city enchants me. It inspires me. The history is so interesting. Favourite authors lived here. Books are treasured here. Quaint pubs are abundant. Little coffee shops are around the corner. Fields of grass and flowers are lined by the beautiful buildings of the colleges. The River Cherwell gently curves with punting boats gliding by.

I have been daydreaming about walking these streets again. I remember the other two times I have been in Oxford, I would walk the streets wondering what it was like in the 1600's, the 1800's, etc....So much has stayed the same. The cobblestones have never been changed. The buildings have seen so much history, crisis, war, peace, quiet times of learning.

A place is not more beautiful than that, to me.

12 March 2014

Read More

I am notorious for trying to get people to read more. If you know me well, I've probably tried to get you to read a book. I talk about books, I hint at books, I always have a book in hand or close by. I buy books for people who don't generally read, in hopes that one day they will glance at their shelf and, in curiosity, pull it down and start to read. And hopefully realize how enjoyable it is!

It gives me such joy to see people reading good books and share their thoughts with each other. An engaged imagination brings a wealth of new landscapes. I love when people are curious about a book and want to know more. Part of the joy of reading is talking about what you think and what gripped you. Start a conversation with me about books and it might be a very lengthy talk.

We can always read more. Similarly we can always learn more. They kind of go hand-in-hand. Even me who loves to spend hours lost in a good book. I can read more. I can definitely read more of the Bible. I read at least a chapter a day, but I can do more. There is always room to grow.

11 March 2014

Be Cheerful No Matter What

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.
-  1 Thessalonians 5.16

Chilly mornings cheer my soul, but I know for many people in the country, they are wearisome of the cold weather. I realize that for me to enjoy chilly air, the northern states have to be frigid so the chilly air descends to the south. My pleasure may lead to their misery.

I delight in my chilly mornings and try to bottle this happiness in hopes that I will remember in six months to be cheerful during those endless months of humid and hot summer days that stay with us.

I cannot help but smile as I wake in my sunlit room (before the time change) with the air chilled. Pulling on my crochet slippers I make coffee and stand at a window at the blue sky that is pouring over us this morning. These are the chilled early Spring mornings that warm up but will not last long. So, I delight in each one. 

10 March 2014

Thrifting Finds

The good and bad thing about going to thrift stores is you never know what you will find. If you are looking for something specific, there is no guarantee you will find it, but along the way you might find a few things you have wanted previously. But the really good thing is that you spend so little on each item, you don't even feel bad about getting it, especially if you can find some really good quality items.

Emily and I had a very successful thrifting date this weekend, which started with a delicious breakfast to fuel our shopping. Neither of us are really big on lots of shopping. We don't really go to malls or do much clothes shopping. But, it was our day. I got a few nice quilted jackets and Emily found the southwest style jacket for me! A lovely dress that can go with so many things (the bottom of the dress has some pretty applique features). Barely worn Minnetonka Moccasins? Yes please! A vintage looking necklace jumped out at me on my way to the register. Emily got some Ked's sneakers and several dresses.

Mostly, though, it was a lovely day hanging out with my friend and enjoying a relaxing day off from our busy schedules!

07 March 2014

Weekly Snaps

Elements of Spring have entered my home. Little bright spots of colour to match the warmer air we have had here. We are still getting little bursts of cooler air every week or so,  which pleases me very much.
 Finished reading Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. It was written in 1938 but has many elements of a Gothic romance similar to Jane Eyre (published in 1847). It was a good read. Intriguing mystery that kept me hooked to the pages.
At teatime this just kind of happened. I cannot explain it. The biscuits just fell out of the box that way. Then I ate them.
Is it strange that the gloomy, cloudy, rainy day cheered me up and made me smile? It made me want to invent reasons to curl up by a window with a book, or go for a walk (when it wasn't raining). Call me odd....I don't know how to explain it.

06 March 2014

A Few Ways to Acknowledge God Everyday

As the season of Lent begins (yesterday was Ash Wednesday), I look for ways to focus on God. Something I want to do is acknowledge God more in all my little everyday activities. It is too easy to get wrapped up in your own thoughts, tasks, and worries, and lose sight of why we are able to do anything (it's because of God!). That is why it is so important to let that go and acknowledge God into every moment.

1. Start the day with your favourite cup of coffee and a few minutes of reading Scripture, praying, and making a few notes in a journal.

2. As you drive to work, give thanks to God for the sunshine (or the rain), the cereal you ate, the trees you drive by, and the day itself. You will find that the list keeps growing.

3. Set a timer at work for several times a day, to stop and have a quiet few minutes of prayer and reflection.

4. Incorporate prayer requests and prayers together at meetings with co-workers.

5. Write a memory verse (and change it every week or so) in a location that you will see often and be able to repeat in your head (on a white board or post-it note).

05 March 2014

Letters from Rilke

...have patience with all unsolved problems in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms, or books that are written in a foreign tongue. Do not search now for the answers, which cannot be given you, because you could not live them. That is the point, to live everything. Now you must live your problems. And perhaps gradually, without noticing it, you will live your way into the answer some distant day.

-from a letter of Rainer Maria Rilke

As one who loves to write and as one who has many unanswered questions (well, who doesn't?), Rainer Rilke's letters are so inspiring. Not because they provide answers but because they remind me that it is okay to live all those unanswered questions.

Written between 1903-1904 this collection of letters is called Letters to a Young Poet, and I feel like Rilke is writing these letters today, to me. I am already a fan of his poetry (and wish I could read it all in the original German) and I find myself gravitating to my books of his poetry pretty often. These words he writes as encouragement to a distant friend who is a poet are oftentimes read by me when some wise words are needed.

Nobody writes real letters these days. It is a forgotten method of sharing deep thoughts, trials, encouragement, and ideas with one another and I think we are missing out. Sure we have email and social media to share thoughts with the world, but it is not the same as sitting thoughtfully with a blank sheet of paper and writing it out by hand. I argue that there is something therapeutic about writing thoughts out with a pen. That is why I prefer to journal in that way.

But I also admit that I don't write as many letters as I would like to.

We are subjects in a modern world with modern conveniences that somehow speed things up but don't slow us down. So I will be taking a few minutes to slow down and read some excellent and encouraging letters by Rilke.

04 March 2014


One moment, I am not paying attention because life is so fast-paced and the next moment it's Spring! It hit me the other day that our prettiest flowers are in bloom and I have barely noticed. My path through these busy days has been so narrowly viewed that I literally haven't stopped to smell the roses. Except I don't see any roses, but the pinks and yellows of these full blooms, falling and carpeting the grass all around. This photo was taken at my church. In the spirit of feeling like a little kid who wants to go out and play in the pleasant weather, I wrote a silly little poem that could have been written by a younger me.

You fill the air with pollen
and our eyes get watery
But when we clear our eyes
it's such a sight to see
Blooms bursting busily
on trees along the street
And the little girl inside me
want to dance and meet
The lovely colours vibrant
brighter than the norm
And they only stick around
until the next rainstorm

03 March 2014

Merry March

He'll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.
- Philippians 3.21

I say goodbye to February with a pang of sadness, mainly because the coldest months are now behind us and the chances grow slimmer for many more days of the glorious chill. However, we've had a few recent days that started off chilly, much to my delight, and I indulged in an extra french press coffee to celebrate. I wore my new favourite army green jacket and moccasins, even though it warmed up later.

I read this verse as I drank coffee and I mused about how it displays God as currently working all the pieces into place. He's not just sitting idly nearby, watching. He is above, and everything else is below and around Him. He is presently moving parts so that things fall into place according to His plan.

We shall say that March will be merry, to keep with a catchy alliteration. I like the cheerfulness that the word 'merry' invokes and I refuse to confine such a lovely word to December only. I think March deserves to be just as merry as December.