30 May 2014

Delightfully Drizzly Evening

O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.

O stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbor
With your crooked heart.

- W.H. Auden

I am listening and watching the rain fall from the vantage point of my cozy second floor home. It is one of the best sounds I think. Especially when it is that medium sized, constant drops, falling straight down with some intermittent thunder rolling through.

When was the last time you listened to the rain? If it was when you were working on a project or drafting an email with rain as the background sound that doesn't count. What I am asking is different. I mean just being immersed in the moments of melody produced by falling water. We take for granted the abundance of rain we get here. Even when we feel dry, the rain comes eventually and restores our grass and plants. But there are regions in the world who very rarely ever get rain, and when they do, it is a spectacle. (Reading my friend Amber's blog of her Middle East desert life is a reminder of the myriad of differences in other areas of the world)

It is a delightfully drizzly evening. These kinds of days or evenings flood me with inspiration to muse and be thoughtful. This poem by W.H. Auden causes me to be thoughtful. It makes me look inwardly at myself to ask how well do I love? My love is full of fault lines. Bumps that reveal my humanity. And yet through the imperfections and lack of love I show sometimes, my life is blessed. 

29 May 2014

Summer Heat and Naps

A stillness finally settles
on a room covered in relics
of a darling baby.
The only movement now
is the gentle sway of sheer
curtains in this room.
Studying the light as it slices
through the transparency
and becomes my companion
as the household rests.
All is quiet and still
inside and outside;
the heat provokes siestas
and we all partake.

I wrote these little lines while visiting in Venice. The mornings started hot each day so there was nowhere for the temperatures to go but up. Spending time indoors was essential.

My days have been full of books books books, and studying light. The bright light that has filled our days. These early Summer days.

The heat lately has been ever-present, with no relief from cooling rains. Clouds come by and linger, causing us to imagine the possibility. We are teased. The cloud cover is welcomed. The ground remains dry.

Afternoons linger and siestas seem so appropriate. Summer. It lasts for six or seven months or more. The melancholy air feels heavy. Solution? It is time to retreat to a cool spot and read poetry with a bottle of sparkling Perrier in one hand.

28 May 2014

Poetry Talk

Everything is at once simpler and more complicated, more solemn and yet less serious.
- C. Day Lewis

I am browsing in a field of contradictions. Where am I to go next?

In poetry there are no contradictions because according to the poet, for everything that is true the converse is also true, writes Cecil Day Lewis in The Poetic Image. I picked up this used book in Blackwell's Bookshop in Oxford. This kind of word-talk travels right along my street and it is producing some interesting waves of insight into poetry.

The poet can contradict something written a few lines before and cause no damage to the consistency of the poem. How is that for a paradox? The sky may be described in one line as a covering of clouds, blanketing the earth, but in a subsequent line referred to as limitless. That's a very pragmatic example, just to give an idea.

A poem. It's a place where words dabble in images that can be contradicted twice within its lines and still come out with part of a truth foretold, with the point of the poem looking toward the pattern in the world. The pattern that looks directly to the infinite. The unknowable. An incredulous poet can therefore choose words with confidence about that which is mysterious.

It is the beauty of poetry. (Or is it the confusion of poetry?)

Words chosen are used to evoke images that make the point easier to grasp. It might be simpler to state the scientifics of a thing, but that doesn't make it as easily understood. You probably understand the concept your Pastor is diving into when he stops and tells a story to illustrate it. This is a similar idea except it is choosing words within a densely packed poem. One could understand the emotion of an image being used to by-pass the scientific jargon that may clog a poem.

That is why poems tend to make something simple more complicated and something solemn less serious. A paradox woven within. Sometimes confusing poems clarify something not yet grasped. And most of the time it's worth hanging on to learn the truth.

27 May 2014

Glimpses of a Weekend

 A long weekend calls for a little getaway, so down to Venice I went. I know a lot of people hate packing, but I don't mind it too much. Since it is just me, I can pack pretty light. And in the Summertime, a sun hat is a must!
 We attended a surprise retirement party for a high school science teacher I've known most of my life and was in his class. I loved the creative decorations. Science books, beakers filled with flowers, and test tubes filled with Smarties. It was fun to see people I haven't seen in a while.
 And my darling baby niece provided much entertainment. Why is everything she does so cute? She is walking all over the place, and pointing at everything. She will point at you and say something in her baby language. And all you can do is smile at her.
Found this in my brother's room. Turns out my younger brother set this up in my oldest brother's room before he moved to California. We jokingly call my oldest brother "Big Bird".  It kind of warmed my heart.
 Back at home. Getting down to business. 
Spent Memorial Day wearing American colours and doing lots of work around my home. Cleaning, laundry, organizing. You understand. And gosh it's hot outside.

23 May 2014

Long Weekend

Long weekends are for:

- Sleeping in a little bit
- Visiting with loved ones and friends
- Road trips
- Sight seeing and acting like a tourist
- Traffic jams
- Pulling out the old camera and practicing with the manual settings
- An extra cup of coffee
- Cooking English breakfast
- Many hours of reading in a cozy chair
- Visiting the beach and ending up with sandy shoes
- Getting hugs from baby niece
- Listening and pondering
- Breathing and taking in some silence
- Reading Psalms
- Thrifting
- Blooming flowers
- Sitting at a coffee shop
- Sunny skies and shifting clouds
- Straw fedoras
- Salads and fruit
- Time spent around the dining table
- Shopping with Mum
- Afternoon naps
- Sunlight coming through lacy curtains
- The scent of coffee and books
- Good conversations
- Daydreaming about travel adventures
- Writing in various locations
- Some good tunes - if you need a road trip soundtrack, HERE is one for you.

22 May 2014

Writing Process

It seems to me that if a little flower could speak, it would tell simply all what God has done for it without trying to hide its blessings. It would not say, under the pretext of a false humility, it is not beautiful or without perfume, that the sun has taken away its splendor and the storm has broken its stem when it know that all this is untrue. The flower about to tell her story rejoices at having to publish the totally gratuitous gifts of Jesus. She knows that nothing in herself was capable of attracting the divine glances, and His mercy alone brought about everything that is good in her.

- Thérèse de Lisieux

I read a blog post last week by an author who was writing about the writing process, mostly referring to a recent story he had written. He struggled with writing the story, as ideas suddenly came to a halt. He pointed out that most of us seek moments of pure inspiration that strike us when our mind races to keep up as the pen flies across the page.

I can relate to that. I tend to enjoy when the content in my mind spills out onto the page as the words flow so easily. It's almost gleeful when my hand hurts from writing so much.

But he said that's not where his best writing comes from.

Wait. What?

He explained that his best writing comes as a result from the labour and hard work behind forming the sentences when he is trying to keep at it and not let the story go. It is about pushing through those dull moments when you sit with a blank page and no ideas. It is when you take time to ponder and to gather new thoughts and explore something deeper. It is a struggle. It tugs and pulls on your heart. Part of being creative is sticking with it even when it is slow like molasses.

That is the true craft of writing and the possible source of something good. To be able to produce something beautiful, not because it was easy, but because it was hard.

Isn't that how life is?

It's not the easy life that is the best, it is with hard work that you get to become a better you. You come out from a challenge much more equipped, wiser, and more appreciative of your life.

21 May 2014


Light, space, zest -- that's God!
So with Him on my side I am fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.
 - Psalm 27.1

It strikes without warning. It grows in my mind and doesn't let go. Daydreams ensue without instigation. The sensation that I need to go. To travel. To adventure.
To get away!
It's not because life here is bad or dreary. On the contrary, life here is pretty swell.

It is something I cannot help. This wanderlust in me is part of who I am. I am someone who needs to travel every few months. It doesn't always have to be a big trip, but somewhere different from where I live.

Adventure may vary for everyone. For some, it has to be something daring like rock climbing. But it could be as simple as going to a coffee shop or exploring a neighborhood. I am not the rock climbing sort. Little adventures do satisfy me.

I will take a long walk in the mountains, or a steep hike to a waterfall. The air still and silent, but then permeating with the sound of rushing water in the distance.

I will take a book with me to a coffee shop and be immersed in a place full of life, coffee, and conversations.

In about a month, I will drive up steep, curving mountain roads to a lovely home on the edge of the mountain overlooking the Blue Ridge. I will sit outside on the huge porch we will have and just be there in the mountains with a journal in my lap and coffee by my side.

I like to experience little towns, big cities, scenic drives, people, and nature that are different from what I see each day. It is good to have ones eyes opened apart from the norm. While I do have some big dreams of places far away to visit, I want to see all I can of this giant and beautiful country. There is so much I haven't seen. I'd say a good mixture of the two will be the solution to my wanderlust problem. Or is it a problem.....?

20 May 2014

Beautiful Variety

Turl Street Kitchen, Oxford

We are a variety of people. None of us is the same as the other. It makes life interesting and difficult at the same time because while differences bring out the creative nature, it also makes it more challenging for us to understand one another.

I love being different from most everyone else, and yet that kind of isolates me and sometimes instigates the feeling of being the only one who enjoys things I do. And sometimes it feels like there is nobody around to talk to who is in the same boat as me. That is our struggle as humans, though. It is not just subject to me, or you. I bet everyone feels that from time to time.

Our differences are what make our lives colourful and full of creativity. It gives us an edge to think in new ways or to listen to others as they explain their thought process. It expands our own horizons.

If we were all the same in our pursuits, passions, and skills we would be missing the beauty that is the myriad of God's creation.

Instead, we are a lovely tiled mosaic and multi-coloured array of unique pieces. We may feel broken and scuffed up, but when your piece is placed among the others it becomes something even more beautiful as a whole because its individual charm adds to the body of work.

This is why what we do, what we love, and what we say matters. It is part of the big picture and even if we think our part is tiny it has a perfect place in the grand plan.

God is the tile maker, the ultimate designer, the colour coordinator, and He doesn't make mistakes.
Isn't that grand?

It's not a mistake that you are who you are and you love what you do.
It's a beautiful thing to embrace what God ingrained in you.

You make the whole scene lovelier. 

19 May 2014

Last Burst of Spring

For the last couple of days I have been in disbelief. Here we are, in the latter part of May minding our own business when a storm system rolled through the area leaving behind the most pleasant of gifts -- cooler air and less humidity! I can scarcely believe it except that I was outside experiencing it.

It was so exciting to come out into my living room the other morning and turn OFF my A/C. What a joy! In late May? That is unheard of. But it will only last a day or two, so it is to be savored. So, I sat there with a cup of coffee, enjoying the silence and chill in my place without the A/C running. Ahhh, I love it.

I pulled out my old Minolta SRT200 camera and loaded it with some new film. It's 100 speed film and I cannot wait to see how some practice photos turn out. I ventured outside where it was sunny and enjoyable to take a few photos in my yard.
When I stepped outside, I said hello to my back alley neighbor. My neighbor said he was enjoying this "last burst of Spring". I agreed with him. It felt delightful compared to the norm at this time of year.

The afternoon lingers. Light isn't fading quickly, but the sun stays high in the sky, fooling me into thinking it is earlier than it is. My sock-adorned feet pause in the warm shaft of sunlight dazzling on the wood floor. This last burst of Spring is reminding me of the long days of Summer that are coming. The sun-soaked days, hot and heavy with humid air. The sweltering breezes that kick up in the afternoon. The sultry nights that fade slowly. I want to capture this Spring day and save it for later.

The blooms of Spring and Summer are abundant, like the Plumbago, who can take the heat and humidity and still look lovely. A cheerful purple flower. These are a favourite in my yard that I sometimes cut to bring inside.

Being outside this weekend was lovely! I took every chance I could get. I hope you did too.

16 May 2014

Note to Self:

The wise counsel God gives when I'm awake
is confirmed by my sleeping heart.
Day and night I'll stick with God;
I've got a good thing going and I'm not letting go.

Psalm 16.7-8

What is taking you away from seeking the Lord all day? Pay attention, dear, because you're missing some opportunities. There's always something, isn't there? They all seem like excuses to me. Running late. Busy at work. Errands to run. People that require attention. A home that doesn't clean itself.

But in each of those things is the element of the eternal. We just get stuck in the mud of the earthly present that we live in, and lose sight of that which is infinite. Why is it so hard to say prayers of thanks through all these things that keep us "busy"? Surprisingly, it really shouldn't be that hard, except that we battle other forces all day long. Forces that are trying to keep us out of contact with our Lord.

The Psalms are helping me slow down and explore the range of emotions that we all experience throughout our weeks. I have been reading three to five Psalms each day, and they give a well-rounded scope of life, with all its joys and trials. I read the poems of the Psalms and know that they were written long ago, and yet are completely relevant today, because the words of the past are important.

We live in the midst of God's past and future, which is why those things of the past matter. The Psalms remind me that life following God isn't all roses, sunshine, and glee. It is also the frustration of feeling alone or the feeling of God forgetting about our suffering. These are the emotional struggles being thrown at God, by the Psalmist, and God can take it all and love us all the while. Keeping the communication alive is the point, which has been reminding me to acknowledge God in everything, not just the cheerful moments, but the moments of the day where I am going through daily tasks or feel the stress rising.

This is how to stick with God, day and night.

I've got a good thing going, and I'm not letting go.

15 May 2014

Reading Essentials

What do you need when you are ready to dive into a good book?
Do you need quiet?
Do you prefer noise and people?
Is a coffee shop the perfect combination?

I can recall countless instances of sitting at a coffee shop with a book of John Donne or Rainer Rilke poetry or a C.S. Lewis book. When I was taking my online literature class through Oxford, I went to a certain coffee shop in town to read. There is something about a stranger-filled environment, even when full of noises, that is easy for me to read in. I think it is because the people are unknown to me I can cast the voices to the background and create my own focus bubble amidst it all. The muffled conversations around me along with the espresso machine up front lingers in the air. The sounds of clinking mugs and glasses are harmonious to peoples' voices. Where did all the free time go to sit at coffee shops these days? Sometimes I daydream about spending days with my nose in a book, tucked away in some lovely coffee shop and a perfect cappuccino.

In Oxford, I indulged in the blessed hours of pondering over words from the old pages of the book I brought with me that day, to the backdrop of British accents and the creaking of old rustic wood floors.

Lately, though, my place of reading has been in my tiny home. Quiet. Peaceful. I curl up with a crocheted blanket on my sofa as the a/c unit never turns off because it's so hot outside. Birds chirp noisily at certain times of the day, fluttering around happily. Today, the wind is also throwing the wind chimes around frequently. 

I am one who is always seeking out a good location to read. What is the perfect place for you?

14 May 2014

Prayer Pause

You are so good.

Worthy of all my praise. Worthy of a constant flow of praise from me, and all creation.

Walking through my every day with you by my side is the only way to truly live. Without You there is no life. Your plans are perfect. Mine are flawed. I cannot doubt You, nor should I worry or distress if my plans do not come to fruition. You have something even better in store.

Your love is like a sweet Spring walk, the most pleasant of all. Full of vibrant colours and reminders that You make all things new.

I am putting You in charge, Lord. You take all my fear, worry, doubt, and lack of confidence and You give me the strengths that I need. With constant reminders every day, I see pieces of Your plans unfold, and it is full of goodness. Thank You, Lord, for so much goodness and for protection from the evil that tries to creep in.

All glory and honour goes to You, Lord, now and forever always. Amen.

13 May 2014

Music Notes

I've been exploring new music from some musicians I like and thought I would share some of it! I am one who doesn't listen to the radio, or popular music so anytime someone mentions some new popular artist, I am usually clueless. I am always on the look out for new music, or old music I haven't heard yet and I appreciate creativity in a musical sense.

Nickel Creek
Nickel Creek decided to part ways 7 years ago but came back! I went to two or three concerts with my brother Jason, back when they were a band on tour, and they are so entertaining and such talented musicians. I am a huge fan of Chris Thile the mandolin player, who plays classical Bach from memory and also plays the best bluegrass I've ever heard. The other two, Sean and Sara, are brother and sister, and talented in their own right. Their perfect harmonies are irresistible. Anyway, the group released a new album! So eager to get this one.

Click HERE for one of their songs "Rest of My Life"
And if you want to hear Chris play Bach click HERE.

Future of Forestry
When I discovered Future of Forestry and learned that the name came from a C.S.Lewis poem by the same name, I was hooked. The music is creative, interweaving electronic instruments, strings, and piano beautifully, especially in this new piano and strings session that just came out (and I will definitely want). I really appreciate the thoughtful lyrics and beautiful arrangements of the songs.

Click HERE for the song "All I Want"

Jeremy Casella
One song that has resonated with me this past week is this new song by Jeremy Casella. I would really like to buy his new album "Death in Reverse". The Rabbit Room posted this song, and it is what I have come to like about his music. I met Jeremy back when I was in college, when he opened for Caedmon's Call on campus. My friend recruited me to work the merchandise table all evening. Jeremy came out to stand behind the merchandise table and meet people after the show when everyone was buying CDs and tee shirts. I stood next to Jeremy at the table and I was the only one helping him (out of the other people working the tables) so I ended up talking with him quite a lot. At the end of the evening he gave me his two CDs as a thank you for the help at the table.
Anyway, his words and his musicality put into song have a dreamy ethereal sound. He has a way of repeating phrases (almost like a meditative chant) that sticks with my heart as it sings that through the day. The reminders through repeating truth so our hearts remember it:

Yet arise my soul
             You're not alone

Give me deep, meaningful words and some meditative phrases and the song is on my repeat list, as this one is.

Be still
     Be still....

Click HERE for the song "Letter from an Old Friend"

The DuPree family is so musically talented. This is a group of a brother, sister, and cousin, but all the other siblings are busy being part of Eisley or Sucre. Christie, the singer has such a lovely, smooth voice and the songs are sweet and simple, which kind of makes me think of old fashioned things I like so much. They have a new album out, too, and I like every song I have heard.

Click HERE for the song "Backwards"

P.S. I have been working to freshen up the old blog (did you know that I have over 800 posts? It is an old blog, and I haven't made any dramatic changes to the look since its beginnings!), so don't be alarmed by the changes!

12 May 2014

Coffee Table Project

Last weekend my landlord helped me with a project of making my own table! I bought a coffee table from Ikea, and put it together. Then, I purchased wood planks and had them cut to size and a dark stain. I've never had a coffee table before, so this project was so exciting to me! Plus it only cost me about $45.
My landlord has every tool you could imagine, and he sanded all the boards for me with his electric sander. I tackled sanding the ends of the boards. Then, it was time to stain all sides of each board.
We stained each board and had them sitting elevated on nails on a table. Then, after sitting for 5-10 minutes we wiped all the excess stain off and repeated the process for the other sides.
Then we let the boards dry out in the bright, hot sun. In only a few hours they were totally dry. Behold, the power of the sun.
We brought them upstairs and glued them down on the table. A few of the boards were slightly warped (blast our humid weather!), so I set some stacks of books on those spots to even out the table top. I let it sit for a few days.
And now I have the most beautiful coffee table! Partly made by my hands. It's pretty amazing.

08 May 2014

Oxford Books (11)

Here is the second part of the books I got in Oxford. If you missed the first part, click HERE. So many good books to read!

(from top to bottom)

A small book of poems by John Donne - This little book is just the perfect size to be along for the ride in my bag. It is from an Oxfam bookshop so it was super cheap, and it was my reading companion on a few mornings as I drank a cappuccino at Turl Street Kitchen.

Watership Down by Richard Adams - I have heard such good things about this book, but had never read it. So, when I found it in an Oxfam bookshop for only a few pounds, I figured it was the perfect time to snatch it up. It takes place in England. It is about a group of rabbits who leave their comfortable burrow to escape impending danger to seek a safer place to dwell, only running into danger along the way. I have just started reading it, and can see how our human tendencies of development and expansion (and destroying natural preserves) will be brought to light through these little creatures' journey.

The Pocket Guide to Oxford - I didn't really need a guidebook for Oxford, but this one is fun and focuses on all the places I love. I read through this book at least 2-3 times during my stay and I referenced it daily. It told me about the colleges that allow visitors, when they were open, and if they cost, which was extremely helpful for me because I wanted to go into every college that I could, but didn't want to spend lots of money on that alone. The book is cute and interesting to read. It is written by the dodo bird from Adventures of Alice in Wonderland, so it has some silly comments and little drawings of the dodo in the margins.

The Napoleon of Notting Hill by G.K. Chesterton - Another Chesterton find. I had been wanting this book for years, and never found it, until now. I look forward to reading this story about all the boroughs of London becoming their own kingdom. I am reading another Chesterton right now, so this one is in my queue. 

Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson - This was completely random find at an Oxfam bookshop. It is three stories about country life in the 19th century in Oxfordshire. I haven't started this yet, but do look forward to learning more about Oxfordshire just before the turn of the century.

The Poetic Image by C. Day Lewis - I found this book in the used section of Blackwell's Bookshop. It is about poetic imagery, of course. Simile, metaphor, and image used in poetry. I haven't started this book yet, either, but I expect to learn more and therefore will really enjoy reading it. If it deals with words, poetic image, and language, I'm in.

Essays on Middle English Literature by Dorothy Everett - A used book from an Oxfam bookshop, it is from the Herford College Library. I know because the inside front cover has a "Hertford College Library, Oxford" stamp. It was probably discarded when a new edition came out. This will be a challenging book for me, as it will be like I am in a Medieval Literature class without the professor. But when I feel especially scholarly, I will dive in.

London: Hotels & More by Angelika Taschen - This larger, coffee table book has thick, lovely pages and really beautiful photos of the fanciest hotels in London. It separates the hotels by borough, and also shows other places of interest around that hotel. I found this used book at an Oxfam bookshop for just a few pounds, and it's so pretty and fun to look at. I was collecting potential ideas of which borough to visit on my last day in London. I did get several ideas.

07 May 2014

On Traveling Solo

The night is deepening. My cup of tea is cooling. My mind is wandering and leaving the Summer-like feel of this country and I am back in England. My heart yearns for it. I dream of the day when the fields of gold fly by me from my seat on the train again. The bursts of Spring blooms flowing like carpets on the flat fields all the way to the hills as far as the eye can see.

Indeed, my heart does smile in the presence of England (or talks of it). It is a magical place to me. In all the best ways. So much inspiration is gathered from the landscapes, the trees, the flowers, the history, the architecture, the authors and poets, the towns, the culture, the food, and of course the books. England pierces my heart like no other place has.

I am so glad I used my recent vacation time to go to England, on a solo adventure. I received a lot of questions and wonderings about what it is like to travel alone and spend an entire holiday solo. Several people remarked that I am brave, but I really don't think I am. For one, though, you have to be okay with being alone, in general. For some people, that is just not an option.

For me, though, I like to be alone. How else can I spend loads of time reading or writing in my journal? If someone wants to join me in spending hours at a coffee shop writing and reading literature, then that would be marvelous. But most people do not enjoy that sort of thing. That's why this adventure was my chance to do everything I wanted to do. That is one huge advantage of taking a solo trip. You have complete freedom to pick what you want to do, and change your mind along the way.

I will admit, there were a few times I felt alone. By that I mean I recognized that nobody within 4,000 miles knew me and it felt a little lonely. I remember one instance of that was when I came back to my room after a great day and I wanted to share my day's events with someone. I wanted to talk with someone who knew me well, but I couldn't. So I wrote emails, which isn't quite the same, but it did help. But then I did what I normally do every night at home - I wrote in my journal, prepared a blog post, read, and drank some tea. And all was well.

I feel like my appreciation of Oxford is so much deeper and part of that might have to do with being alone. It sort of forces you to be more open and friendly (which is a difficult thing for me - I am not a natural at starting conversations) because you are the one responsible for everything. Nobody there is going to speak for you. I met some really nice people along the way. Like the porters at Christ Church College. I felt more at home there because I would exchange a few friendly words with the porter on duty as I left or came back into the gate. Since I struggle with striking up a conversation with strangers, this trip helped me do that better. Practice. Practice. Practice. Going to church was a really good thing, too. To be among fellow Christians in the community of Oxford warmed my heart. I had several conversations there with friendly people.

One more thing to consider is I have been to Oxford and London before. So, I knew where I was going. I knew the train stations, and the way to get places. This is a huge help to me, because I like to know where I am going. I am good with directions, but I also plan ahead so I know which way to go. Going to a city that is already familiar to me was a great idea because I stepped off the train that first day and walked straight to Christ Church College, and then walked about the city as if I had just been a student on holiday returning back to my college. So my advice on that topic is - know your city. Become familiar with the streets, the landmarks, the names of things. Study maps. That is what I do.

I might just be too independent for my own good. This trip made me even more so. I had not taken a solo trip overseas until this trip. Would I do it again? Absolutely!

06 May 2014

A Thousand Thousand Thanks

A thousand thousand thanks
for the truth so evident
in the presence of good
talks, and how much of
God's love is floating
all about those moments.

With comforting vibes and thoughtful talks, my heart is warmed. I feel the sense of other-worldliness is at play sometimes. Things that never could be orchestrated by human insights come to pass and I stand awestruck in His presence (which is everywhere we stand and breathe).

His presence is all around at all times, and yet when people close to Him gather, the air is thicker with His presence. A beautiful atmosphere that grows deeper in fellowship by simply sharing the most precious gift we have here on earth - time.

A cup of tea is poured. A cloth napkin folded. Laughter is spread, even more than jam on toast. Stories are shared. Dreams are explored. Imaginations meld together to form cohesive ideas. Strawberries stain china plates as the conversation lingers. Tea cups sit in their saucers, once full of tea, now remnants of goodness shared with others.

The beautiful presence of time well spent.

There is no replacement for it. And no substitute.

05 May 2014

Coffee, Rain, and a Birthday

 A good weekend begins with some good coffee, a pen, and pages to fill in my journal. That is exactly what I did this weekend.
 A few rainy days sure didn't get me down. I love a good rainy day. Especially when it is a a fairly light rain that doesn't hinder me from running some fun errands. Plus, our earth is parched. We really needed the rain.
See this ottoman? It has been my "coffee table" for many years. I've never had a real coffee table. But a big project happened this weekend! I will be sharing more soon. I am so excited!
My brother's birthday was Sunday, and I invited him, Samantha, and Elliott over for breakfast/brunch. I think they all enjoyed the English breakfast, and it was delightful to have them over. Ellie ate, walked all around my tiny home with excitement and laughter, played my piano, and smelled all my flowers.
I bought a tiny little succulent.  I love succulents and cacti. They are plants that I can easily take care of! I have never been one to have many plants because I don't know how to take care of them, but I have been hooked on these kinds of plants. I am considering planting it in this teacup that has a crack in the bottom (so it cannot be used for tea). What do you think?

02 May 2014

Rugs, Flowers, and other Charming Things

Lately, I have been....

Making: a woven rug out of three king size bed sheets. I am a first time rug maker!

Reading in hand: Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien

Reading online: This beautifully written blog post, called "Rain" on the Art House America blog- HERE

Wearing: a thrifted dress that has become one of my new favourites, and oxfords. Call me old-fashioned. I kind of dress like I live in some bygone era. 

Drinking: Sparkling Perrier (always)

Smelling: The most beautiful garden roses given to me by my boss and his wife.

Cherishing: All the little moments of joy my baby niece brings to me (and everyone she meets!)

01 May 2014

Oxford Books (1)

My weakness is books. Anyone who knows me knows that.
Being in Oxford for a few weeks allowed me a lot of time to spend as I pleased, in bookshops. Therefore, many books came home with me (and made my luggage really really heavy). I cannot resist books that I would not be able to find here in the States. Finding books in Oxford by my favourite authors who lived there in Oxford is such a dream. That is what happened with several of the books I bought. Here are some of the books I bought in Oxford (yes, there are more that I will share later).

Yours, Jack - letters by C.S. Lewis - I have read many letters of C.S. Lewis and I have wanted the multi-volume set of his collected letters, but they are pretty expensive, so when I saw this book of collected letters I jumped at the chance to read them. To those close to C.S. Lewis, he was known as "Jack". That is what he wanted to be called when he was a little boy, and how he signed many of his letters. I am more than halfway through and the letters are so enjoyable. It is like reading little snippets of his logical mind on Christian matters. He helps others in their struggles. They are inspiring to read. I am underlining a lot of sections.

Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien - I picked up this used copy of a collection of tales from Middle Earth in the Oxfam bookshop on Turl Street. Many of these tales explain more about certain people or situations that occurred in The Lord of the Rings or before those books take place. I have only just begun reading it, and really look forward to learning more about the mysterious world of Middle Earth through Tolkien's imagination. I have been wanting to re-read The Lord of the Rings, and this may prep me for it.

All Things Considered AND Stories, Essays, and Poems by G.K. Chesterton - These are the two Chesterton books I got in Oxford. One of which was bought for me by a random lady in the bookshop who approached me and offered to buy me a book. Read more about that lovely tale in my post HERE.
I am such a fan of Chesterton. He was an amazingly talented writer who wrote about every topic under the sun, even politics,  religion, etc...and does it with such a whimsical tone that even when he is critiquing something I find myself smiling at his wit. I thoroughly enjoy his essays and his thoughts.

Toast & Marmalade by Emma Bridgewater -
I stumbled upon this beautifully photographed and written coffee table book at Blackwell's Bookshop and was so enthralled by the recipes, writing, and photos of English life, I had to buy it. Funny enough, Emma Bridgewater designs pottery (mugs, bowls, etc..) and I bought my Mum a lovely mug a year or more ago from her collection. Her designs are simple, but colourful and fun. I wanted to buy one of her mugs while in Oxford. I love mugs and bowls. I debated and debated with myself, and went into a little shop numerous times looking at the large collection. I ended up not buying myself any mug, but I will one day. (I think my problem was I bought so many books that I had to stop myself somewhere!)

Shining Like Stars by Lindsay Brown -
I bought this book at the church I attended in Oxford, St. Ebbes. They had a book sale after the service, where two large tables were full of Christian books and they were all only £
1 each! How could I resist? This book is about Christianity in the universities around the world, which seemed appropriate as I was at Oxford University. Seemed like an interesting topic to read about. I haven't started reading it yet, but it's on my queue. 

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - I couldn't resist reading this while in Oxford, so I picked up a new copy. So delightful. So witty. So imaginative. I have already written about Alice in my post HERE