not today.

I won’t be sharing an appendix this week.

I woke up with such a heavy heart for the world, which isn’t necessarily unlike other days this past month, year, decade. It was just another morning where the feeling was unsettled, coupled with many, many moments of reprieve where I looked around at the beauty within in my own home and place on the earth. It’s a dichotomy that I haven’t learned to relax with completely, but I’m getting there.

The world is dark right now and, as I’ve mentioned before, I started feeling the weight of this fact about a decade ago. It’s not like it wasn’t decaying prior to my noticing it, obviously. It’s been in free-fall since the apple was bit but wee all have eyes opened at different times. Simply said, the last ten years has been my turn to wake up and learn to gracefully live on these parallel tracks. A space where I’m genuinely grieved for what I see and also tremendously grateful for the joy that still exists.

So, no frivolous links today. Just a photo of how Frankie sees the world (she hangs these paintings in a local restaurant) and a Bible verse that constantly brings me back to a place of unwavering calm.

“…Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:32b-33

the beautiful things.

“The best things are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of God just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life’s plain common work as it comes certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life.” ― Robert Louis Stevenson

“Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful. Beauty is God’s handwriting – a way-side sacrament; welcome it in every fair face, every fair sky, every fair flower, and thank Him for it, who is the Fountain of all loveliness, and drink it in simply and earnestly with all your eyes; it is a charmed draught, a cup of blessing.” – Charles Kingsley

the way we think and live.

I want to move forward in a state of gratefulness for all that 2020 laid bare. There was “then” and there is “now” which actually makes it pretty similar to the changing of any season of life, but this is obviously different. I want to sit in the space I find myself presently, forever – thankful for what this past year exposed to our family and how we will use that to arm ourselves for the years to come. It was a heck of a year – a year that snatched so many things from our grasp overnight, but also a year that gifted us immensely.

I want to write about all the things surrounding the above sentiments – the way things were and a pathway to think and live, moving forward. But, for right now, I want to formulate what exactly I should say in an encouraging way that would benefit anyone might stumble upon this tiny website. Instead of my words, I think the following quote by one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry, is rather appropriate and especially timely.

“People who thus set their lives against destruction have necessarily confronted in themselves the absurdity that they have recognized in their society. They have first observed the tendency of modern organizations to perform in opposition to their stated purposes. They have seen governments that exploit and oppress the people they are sworn to serve and protect, medical procedures that produce ill health, schools that preserve ignorance, methods of transportation that, as Ivan Illich says, have “created more distances than they….bridge.” And they have seen that these public absurdities are, and can be, no more than the aggregate result of private absurdities; the corruption of community has its source in the corruption of character. This realization has become the typical moral crisis of our time. Once our personal connection to what is wrong becomes clear, then we have to choose; we can go on as before, recognizing our dishonesty and living with it the best we can, or we can begin the effort to change the way we think and live.”

-Wendell Berry from The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture

appendix vo. 10 (anglophile edition)

I’m a bit of an anglophile, which makes sense when you learn that one of my favorite historical figures is Winston Churchill, our daughter’s name is Kensington, we spent our honeymoon in jolly London, my favorite movie is Mary Poppins, and any time I spend in front of a screen is largely consumed enjoying shows on BritBox or the BBC. I remember being in Guatemala when I head that Princess Diana had died and I cried openly. A bit silly, I know, but I was young and my interest began when I was quite young. It’s matured since then and I solidly settled into reading non-fiction accounts of the small island’s pivotal role in wartime conflict.

These are my two favorites thus far:

Found here.
Found here.

I’m fascinated with the monarchy and British history. I generally have skepticism for any pop culture attempts at categorizing the Royal Family (I heavily side-eyed “The Crown,) and have recently been exhausted at all the brouhaha over Harry and Meghan and spectacle that has become of it.

Anyhow, I was saddened to hear about the passing of Prince Phillip this morning. I got a text rather early and while it seemed to be inevitable that it would happen in the near future, it still made me sad. He lived a long life – 99 years! – and was a solid companion to his wife, the monarch. He represented and was involved in much more than our modern generation might give him credit for (or even know about) seeing as most peoples only brush with his person is through the character portrayal on the Netflix show about the family. He had a variety of interests and was steadfast in standing by and playing second-fiddle to his wife, as was necessary given her position. He was a good man, by all accounts, and I believe their love story will one day be talked about much like that of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

Here is the most recent obituary from the BBC and I loved all of the photos of his life shared here.

In honor of the day, I thought I would share a small collection of British finds and I do hope you enjoy them:

***

*While I’m not sure if The Roseberry is still operating, I can’t think of anything I’d more prefer to ride the streets of London in. It’s just so perfect.

*I know many people are itching to go on a vacation, so if any of you are bound for London, here is a wonderful website to help you find that perfect cottage (or apartment) for your trip.

*A public park in the ruins of an old church? Sign me up.

*I 100% guarantee that the next time our family visits the UK, we will spend an entire day “Mudlarking” on the Thames. Unfamiliar with the term? Check out this page and this page. If you want to go even deeper, HERE is a book about it! Absolutely intriguing!

*If you have a few moments today, I highly commend to you that you should take a peek at the the Royal Collection online archives. I was so pleasantly surprised to find they have an entire collection of miniatures – Look at a few samples of what I found!

*While not implicitly British, we are in the throes in a remodel of a space in our home. The goal is to have it resemble a British tavern to some extent – searching out both colonial and European furnishings. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome – it will take some time to get the entire thing outfitted, seeing as our primary sources are FaceBook Marketplace and estate sales.

And this is completely unrelated, but the green is popping off the trees and after a good rain last night, everything looks electric. I had to share my view from our bedroom. Spring has sprung!

I could share another hundred links or so, but I have a list a mile long and need to hop to it. I hope you have a restful weekend, wherever you find yourself.

Rachel

daily wonder

For the first few years the girls were home for school, the piles unnerved me. I had a first grader, a 4 year old, and a newborn. The laundry was always a rotating chore – never finished. The sink was often full and I would clean a room only to turn around and have it be disheveled 10 moments later. I was told it would happen and they were right.

They were also right that after a few years, it doesn’t bother you as much as it once did. I wish I had listened to the voices that told me to let the piles be and just relax, but you learn by doing and I learned, that I can clean up all I want during the day (and I sometimes I still do) and yet there will always be something more to do. I’m still learning this lesson after 8 years.

Wisdom and age tells me to let the piles rest and just appreciate them for what they are. Simplistic sounding, I know, but a much more high-minded person could use this same principle for something else that constantly requires tending but never offers a satisfactory solution. Do with this bit of unsolicited advice what you will: Let the piles be.

It doesn’t mean I leave the growing mounds forever, where their girth eventually swallows our family alive and leaves us applying to star on an episode of “Hoarders” – no – I just mean the urgency to remove, dust, and straighten has all but left my being. Not sure whether it’s a product of aging or slight laziness, I often just walk by the piles.

And more and more often I find myself staring at the piles – they are everywhere – and being filled with wonder. Wonder at all my girls are blessed to consume and be enchanted by. Books and paints and art and watercolors. It’s a bit of a mess, yes, but it’s a sign of the times – those being the best of times – where we are all near to one another and their imagination is allowed, encouraged, and abounding.

One day I’ll walk into our living room and marvel at the gleaming sheen on the coffee table. For now, I’ll let the piles be.

Resurrection Sunday 2021

We all roundly agreed that this was the most special Easter celebration any of us could remember.

The girls woke up early to go searching for their “baskets” (which are large buckets because functionality is key around here.) We excitedly got ready for church because we knew it was going to be an amazing morning – Polly was being baptized, I was helping with “coffee hour” after the service, there was an egg hunt for the kiddos and, of course, we felt the general joy that accompanies the most important day for Christians.

We spent the morning and early afternoon at church, with loved ones – laughing (because Polly didn’t take favorbly to the communion wine), crying (because baptism!), smiling (because watching children run around on a sugar high is hilarious), and shouting our goodbyes when everyone went their separate ways to celebrate further with loved ones. Many of us agreed that next year, we will all have one large church feast – so we don’t have to leave one another that day.

The rest of the day we spent with our dear friends, where they cooked a delicious lamb dinner. We sang a new (to me) hymn, prayed and thanked the Lord for the bounty He has supplied us with, and we ate, laughed some more, and cut into the lamb cake.

We found ourselves enjoying 70 degree weather and it was so darn perfect I almost felt like crying (it was a long winter.) Once we were home for the evening, it was too lovely to stay inside, so Sean mowed the lawn while the girls and I sat with the dog on the porch.

Everyone went to bed extremely happy and we have talked about it all day today.

He is Risen. He is King. He has a plan. He is good.

Our family lives in gratefulness for each of these things and is feeling specifically grateful for such a wonderful day of rejoicing.

what is good about tomorrow?

As a child, I vividly remember thinking it was so odd that it was called “Good Friday.” There seemed to be nothing good about it – it was the day that Jesus died. The Jesus I had been taught about my whole life, that I loved, sometimes feared, but always thought of as loving, kind, and gentle. So, to celebrate his death as “good” always seemed off to me, even when my parents went to great lengths to explain to me the “why”, just as I do with our own children.

I think it takes a bit of aging to truly understand what is so good about Good Friday. It takes years of sinfulness to realize that you are the miserable offender that makes Good Friday so important. It takes living in darkness to need the light so desperately. Once you have sunk to the bottom and seen how mucked up your soul is without salvation, you begin to understand the beautiful goodness of what tomorrow symbolizes. It’s the epitome of good. It’s the only good in this world and there is nothing we have done to deserve it.

One of my most very favorite stories in the entire Bible is the story found in Luke 29:39-43. Jesus has been hung on the cross and he is placed between two criminals who are also under Roman punishment. I think that this portion of scripture can often be overlooked in the grand story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, but it should never be forgotten. After all, Isaiah 55:11, reminds us that His words will not return void, which means that each printed word found in the scriptures is for a specific purpose.

There’s a reason that the story of the two criminals is shared.

Even as a young person (but especially as an adult, with many years and mistakes under my belt) I deeply feel the generosity and grace that Jesus showered down while hanging on the cross. He was not only feeling the deep, long, searing pain having a crown of thorns shoved on his head and his body completely marred, but he was also feeling the weight of all the sins of the world. His death was so much more immense than any one human has ever felt. And even still…

The first criminal basically dared him to take himself down – to save himself and the others hanging! He said what every other doubting Roman or Jew at the time was thinking, which makes me believe he must honestly not have believed that Jesus was the Son of God because I shudder to think of someone speaking with such gall if they knew Him to be just that. He was all but begging for physical salvation, not understanding that Jesus was dying so that we have soul salvation – one that will save us not from just death on this earth but from eternal separation from Him.

The second criminal (and I wish I was able to truly watch his reaction) responded back with a swift rebuke, “this man has done nothing wrong” and then says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

And this is the part that breaks my heart every single time I read or hear this scripture:

Jesus replies, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Our Savior suffered an agonizing death. For you. For YOU. This fairytale idea that we can all live good lives of moral “good-enoughness” and somehow weasel our way into the favor of the maker of heaven and earth is so far removed from reality, but it is often what people seem to believe. The whitewashing of the crucifixion and resurrection has allowed its holiness to be substituted for bunnies and eggs and baskets but the truth is this…

Thousands of years ago, a man hung on a cross with nails pounded into his hands and feet. He had all the sins that had been, that was, and that would ever be, put on him by the Heavenly Father. He was alone and broken and breathed His last. Every iniquity was felt by His spirit and He felt the weight of your sin and mine. Specifically.

He died for us. And he died for that criminal. He died so we wouldn’t have to.

Even though we are the ones that should be hanging right next to Him.

All of humanity was given a chance. The work and promise and beautiful redemption plan played out in the form of a young man giving His life between two hardened criminals.

I can’t think of anything that could possibly be more good.

The 2nd Tuesday of Passiontide

(in the Christian liturgical calendar, Passiontide denotes the last two weeks of Lent, beginning on Passion Sunday and ending on Holy Saturday)

I went to bed last night thinking on many things and when I do this, it’s easy for my mind to wander and become unsettled. I’m not alone in this, I know. For me, it’s less of an anxious feeling and more of a concerned, concentrated meandering – attempting to sort out all that is going on in the world and where we may be headed. In doing this, I somewhat convince myself that I can protect our family, specifically our daughters, from what might be coming. Of course, this is futile and I know it. I control very little. Heck, I made biscuits this morning and even at the precise oven temperature, I burned the bottoms. I can’t even control that which I meticulously prepare.

With this looming in my mind, I thought it was rather providential that our morning reading was the following Epistle.

“The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? Lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up. Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.”

Isaiah 5:5-11 NKJV

God is always so perfect in His timing. A scripture that was added to a prayer book hundreds and hundreds of years ago, was precisely what I needed to hear on this Tuesday morning. Hallelujah!

brief when lengthy is desired.

Those who thought that the insane news cycle and cultural plunge would end with 2020 is sitting at home *very* frustrated right now. 2021 will prove just as ridiculously confusing. I would venture to say that 2021 will be even more disconcerting than the year of the corona.

I’m only writing this because it’s heavy on my heart and top of my mind, and yet I’m finding it hard to find extra time to sit and write all my thoughts down. I want to, but this season in life is proving very full (as I’ve mentioned before) and so I can only manage snippets (for now.)

Until I’m able to share my thoughts long-form, the small things will have to do……

Beverly Cleary died on Friday. She’s one of my girls favorite authors and her books mean a lot to our family. I loved this sweet reflection written several years ago.

We celebrated Palm Sunday yesterday with our church family. The day before we had a “work-day” at the parish where we weeded flower beds, children wiped windows, and the alter was decorated with palm branches. I’ll say it again, finding a small church family that is devoted to one another, the liturgy, and the word of the Lord has been the biggest gain of the past year, and arguably of our lives. It’s absolutely invaluable, especially in these times. More on this later.

All of our seedlings are planted for our 2021 vegetable and herb garden. I can’t believe it’s been an entire year since the last time we did this. We are hoping to yield twice the amount of produce as last year and share it with our neighbors and church family.

***

I really believe the next year will bring about difficult times. It won’t be without joy, but I believe unique challenges are coming, especially for those who adhere to a Christian ethic, and I’m praying about this. Praying about how to fortify our family further. Praying for my husband as he leads us. Praying for our church and other faithful churches. Praying about how to be used in this. Praying what to share here.

I hope to write more about this soon and I wonder how many of you are feeling like this as well. Take heart….God is with us and He is, as He has always been, the victor.

appendix vo. 8 (history edition)

Not surprisingly, history is my favorite subject. I can’t tell you how much I love hearing a good bit of historical trivia or some obscure story regarding a time period I thought I knew well. I can’t tell you how inspired it makes me. Inspired to do what? I can’t really say, but I suppose just inspired to know more.

Here’s a few things I bet you didn’t know (and neither did I!)

  • Did you know that Harriet Tubman was four years old when Thomas Jefferson died and she died when Ronald Reagan was two years old? Our country is so young.
  • Did you know that one of John Tyler’s grandsons is still living?! John Tyler: as in our 10th President?! Read about it here. Insane.
  • Did you know that “Dollhouse Grave Markers” were a thing? I know it will sound creepy or completely bizarre to some, but I think the story of these memorial dollhouses is really sweet. Heartbreaking, actually. The story of Roselind is my favorite – to think that the townspeople still take care of it during the holidays! Sigh. Read all about it here.
  • And finally, I absolutely love this short film. It’s just wonderful how this man has decided to enjoy parts of both the past and the present. Please take six minutes and watch.

And with that, I’m off. We are planting seedlings this weekend in our basement. We are hoping for a great harvest this year – planting almost twice what we did last year! On Monday we begin construction on a portion of our home and I’m excited to share that with you soon.

Have a restful weekend!

Rachel