Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Home Soon

Home isn't where you're from, 
it's where you find light when all grows dark.
-Pierce Brown, Golden Son

I got these pictures from the home appraiser yesterday, probably because we close Thursday.

We close Thursday. Thursday, I will have a house. A place of light while all grows dark.

It was a long wait, but now it's over. This week, I will have a new home!

There's so much to be done. Just look at the place! Over the weekend, Josh and I showed up to the seller's yard sale incognito so we could look the place over again. Our realtors have been adamant about keeping buyer and seller separate, so we listened to them talk about selling the place and moving and the monster king size bed in the master and nodded and murmured sympathetic things. Josh bought a table saw that was left from the longtime owner. I bought some garden tools. Then we got back in the car, more excited than ever.

The last minute curve ball (and I'm told there always is one) is that the owner requested an additional three weeks after closing to vacate the property. We wanted to say no but couldn't, really. The elderly ladies who are moving are stressed enough as it is, and we were able to negotiate a better price in exchange for allowing them to stay past closing. So we get the keys and access to the house Thursday, but work can't begin until they leave. Or May 31. Whichever comes first.

It's okay. I have so much to do before then, and I'm used to the idea now. Week after Memorial Day. I can wait.

I can't believe the home adventure begins again so soon. I can't wait to take you inside! -Brin

Monday, May 4, 2015

Glorious Light

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace 
at all times and in every way. 
The Lord be with all of you.
-2 Thessalonians 3:16

As the days grow darker, I pray that glorious Light will break through and shine on each of you. I pray light, and life, and rest for you.

That is the prayer in my heart today.

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Paradoxes, Part Two

Our ancestors are totally essential to our every waking moment,
although most of us don't even have the faintest idea about
their lives, their trials, their hardships or challenges.
-Annie Lennox 

There's a mystery in my ancestry. A closely-guarded secret that went to the grave three generations ago.

But I'm about to dig it up.

I remember being about seven. It was Christmas day. My cousin Matthew and I were sitting on my grandparents' bar stools, swinging our feet and drinking Nesquik hot chocolate with marshmallows. Across the bar in the living room, the "old people" were gathering to take pictures by the mantle- my Dad, his mom and her mom. And my Papa. He stood to the left of my Dad, by himself. After the picture, I asked my Meme, Where is Papa's family?

I'll never forget the reply: Christmas is a happy time. We don't talk about that.

And that is the first- and only- time it was ever discussed.

It wasn't enough. It wasn't then, and it isn't now. My family tree, stretching wide and beautiful back to the 1600s, is sawed off on this side of the tree. The missing branches haunt me.

After asking some hard questions and joining Ancestry.com, I've found a few answers. My Papa's mother, who died the same year I was born, had my Papa when she was 26. That was easy enough to find; my parents still remember her and she is buried near my Papa. It was the 1930 U.S. Federal Census that made my heart stop. There she is, my Great-Grandmother, Delia, living with her brother, Hugh, and her mother, Lou. And there's my Papa: Paul R... with... wait. What does that say??

Runnels, Paul R. nephew.  Runnels? Runnels?! Our last name is Wisdom. His last name is Wisdom!

I was shocked. Shocked and intrigued. Further study has turned up nothing. Following census records revert to the family name and never hint at anything amiss again. That one slip, on that one census record, has changed everything. I have far more questions than when I first started. Than when Christmas was a happy time and we didn't talk about this.

But I can't let it go. I have to know: what happened to Delia? What story did she go to the grave with? And when I find those missing branches, where will they lead?

Most importantly: what is my real last name?

This morning, I nervously opened my DNA kit from Ancestry and followed the instructions. It was simple and only took a moment. 

So now, I wait. I wait, and wonder with nearly every waking moment. Annie Lennox is right: we haven't the faintest idea of these people's lives, trials, hardships or challenges....

 Read Paradoxes, Part One, by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Bee-Day

She liked to tell everybody that women made the best beekeepers, 
'cause they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting. 
It comes from years of loving children and husbands.
-Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

My bees came yesterday. I am a real life beekeeper now.

If you've been around here any time at all, you might remember me going on and on about wanting to keep bees. I mean, wear-the-suit and rob-a-hive and nurse-bee-stings kind of keep bees. Local, red clover honey was calling me. So was my own beeswax for making candles and salves. Then along came The Secret Life of Bees, and the obsession solidified: I had to find a way to get a hive.

And yesterday, under the gathering gray sky, it finally happened. The bee man came with girls for my hive.

The bees came from a well-respected bee man about an hour away. His girls are chemical-free and bred to be gentle. He's also inspected by the state, ensuring scary issues like disease and the varroa mite- the believed reason for colony collapse disorder and bee shortages everywhere- will not be a problem. Hopefully. Hopefully not. I will have to stand guard.

I like Jesse because he's soft spoken and completely, bewilderingly calm, even when the bees land on his bare skin. Being near him, I wasn't afraid, either. In fact, I was enthralled. I lifted and examined the frames before installing them in my new hive. The only time the bees got agitated was when, like the klutz I am, I bumped the third frame while installing it. Jesse said nothing for a moment, then, softly, "Yeah. They don't like it when you drop them."

Can you spot the queen?

So here's my hive. These are the girls that will (literally) work themselves to death over the next several weeks building a hive, nursing brood, guarding the colony, gathering pollen and nectar, drawing out comb, and making honey. Among other things.

By twilight, right before darkness fell, the wayward bees found their way inside the new hives. I stood outside, listening. Their buzzing is hypnotic. Have you ever heard the sound coming from a beehive? It's the warmest, fullest, steadiest hum you've ever heard. Your heart hears it.

Much, much more to come on beekeeping. So much more... -Brin

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sleeping, Safety and Seeing

In peace I will lie down and sleep, 
for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.
-Psalms 4:8

 Millie, during weekend storms

You know the crazy back story behind that verse, Psalms 4:8? David, the man who penned that psalm, wasn't known for having a peaceful life. In fact, his life was deadly dangerous and full of turmoil. But David was known for his confidence that- no matter what came his way- God saw him. God was good. And God was mighty to save.

Go your way today... and sleep tonight... in peace, my friend. God sees you. God is still good. And He is still mighty to save. 

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!

Friday, April 24, 2015


Look what I found on the realtor's website this morning!


Unless the sky falls, we close in less than two weeks. You guys!! A new house/garden adventure! Can you believe it?! Could I use any more exclamation marks?!

Sorry. I'm just so excited!

Last one. That was the last one, I promise.

Josh forwarded an email between the title company and the realtors yesterday and it showed a beautiful termite inspection report and evidence of pest treatment this week. It also mentioned title should be in any day. I whooped and hollered. I can only assume we're out of the woods with any last minute crash-your-dreams-down-to-the-ground issues, but I'm cautiously thrilled.

Can someone be cautiously thrilled?

Not that I've thought about it...because I've tried NOT to think about it... but the first thing I'm doing is ripping off that terrible awning and the railing on the front porch and steps. Bye bye. Then I'm patching walls and priming the whole interior and airing the rooms. Everyone who's walked through the old place says it stinks. Bad stinks. So that's getting done and then we'll move in. Only then.

I haven't shown you any interior shots yet because the home is occupied by a retiring nurse and, recently, her elderly mother, and their personal items are still displayed. (Just seemed wrong to plaster their personal space on the world wide web without permission, you know?) But trust me. I'm going to bore you half to death with pictures.

Things I'm also considering now that we're marked SALE PENDING:

- I have to transplant all my roses and plants. In May/June. In Texas.
- I'll be doing most everything myself since Josh works 50 hours a week.
- I hope they leave all that super cool stuff in that far/dark corner of the attic, including the carved antique rocking chair and the (original?) mirror above the fireplace.
- I have to get a chimney sweep out immediately to check that and the fireplace on the sun porch. Yes. There's a working/cooking fireplace on the sun porch. (Note that I showed restraint and did not use an exclamation mark there. Winning.)
 - I have to throw the biggest, most joyful new house party ever. This house is big for me, folks. BIG.

Probably should log off now since I feel lines of exclamation marks coming on....

Hope you have a great weekend, wherever you are.  -Brin

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Paradoxes, Part One

I have said that Texas is a state of mind,
but I think it is more than that....
-John Steinbeck

I wore boots yesterday and went to a ranch. The community's raising money for a local young woman, an avid equestrian, who has cancer. She's a beautiful girl from a beautiful family, and folks turned out to buy nachos, sing karaoke, bid on auction items, and take selfies with horses named Rio and Blackjack and Pongo.

Have you ever been to Texas? It's a confounding place. It's the land of paradoxes- it's steamy and it's dusty. It's the plains and the ocean. It's palm trees and snow. It's liberal hipster and skeevy redneck. It's loud, it's serene, it's bustling, it's remote. 

It's impossible to be bored in Texas. I think that's why I stay. That, and it's where my family is- both sides. They all sailed from England, landed in Virginia, wagon-trained to Georgia, and settled in Texas. The men had names like Bird and Tavner and Abner. And William. Always, William. They worked hard and fought harder and preached, some. I've been putting together a family tree on Ancestry and got word that I could apply to be a DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) gal, just like Emily Gilmore on Gilmore Girls. That revelation hit like a smack to the funny bone- hilarious, yet sharp/deep at the same time. Paradox, again.

Lately it's been on my mind how important it must be: the where we come from and who we are. Is it something you ever think about? Is it something you believe matters? I mean, I was raised to understand that Texas isn't just a place, it's in your blood. It's your birthright. But I have always felt like I belonged in a windy, gray, salted-air ocean place, too... like I know something I don't and am carrying a secret no one's ever told me. Crazy paradox, I know.

So I'm about to tell some stories... I'm about to string words together and make a chain from William to Brin, from history to present. It feels necessary, somehow. Necessary, and yet a completely frivolous way to spend these precious days. Could be a present state of mind, but I think it's more than that....

More to come on this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Rocks and Roses

....It struck her that that perhaps everyone 
had the ability to see themselves in others. 
Even in the rocks. Even in the roses.
-Holly Lynn Payne, Damascena

I'm glad you're here. 

We're kind of like a family, you know... those of us who come here. You read me, I read your comments, and I think we see ourselves when we look at each other. Rocks, roses and all. Hi there, you.

The roses are blooming and so I picked some and brought them in. But really they're for you. Thanks for sharing my days, my quiet thoughts, my messy life.

Call it Earth Day or Wednesday or whatever you'd like. Today I'm grateful for... and looking at... you.

Let's be friends always, okay?  -Brin

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Whippoorwills, Singing, Gardens and Houses

A feather from the Whippoorwill
That everlasting—sings!
Whose galleries—are Sunrise—
Whose Opera—the Springs....
-Emily Dickinson

Everything is alive here- sprouting and swaying and singing. It's all just so... alive. I'm not sure why, but this spring has brought so much reassurance for me. I've heard her opera of hope: we may be facing chaos, but God is on His throne and He has a plan. Just look at the roses and tell me He doesn't. The Everlasting still sings.

Is this not just the most beautiful, Secret Garden-like place you've ever seen? It's Whippoorwill Gardens in Cass County, Texas. I took Josh not long ago, and we wandered around until it clouded up and threatened rain. I want something like this- these rooms of roses and fountains, I told him. I want something like this at the new place.

Speaking of, so far, still so good on the new house. We're on schedule to close May 9. I'm in this alternate world right now of gardens and paint colors and flea markets and list making. And how wonderful that it's all happening in spring, with all her galleries and operas and whippoorwills!

We're so blessed to be talking gardens and houses. The Everlasting... He still sings.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Moment: The Lord Lenders

 Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, 
and he will reward them for what they have done.
-Proverbs 19:17


You all know how home is such a big deal to me. I love being home. Home is my favorite place. I need a reason, and a good one, to walk out my front door and get in my car. So a few years ago, when the plight of the homeless people in our area was (honestly) kind of dropped at my feet, it seemed predetermined: homeless people would become my "thing".

Last year, Hats-Underwear-Gloves-Socks (HUGS) for the Homeless, was born. (That's the website. Check it out.) I was stunned when our local yarn store agreed to collect homemade hats for our homeless friends. Gorgeous hats, like the one above. I was floored when people started showing up with bags of socks for our Socktober event last October. And now? Now I'm giddy that we are 40 pairs of underwear in to collecting 500 pairs of new underwear for our UNDERWARENESS campaign. The local radio station is running public service announcements. The city's event page on Facebook shares nearly every status. Word is getting around!

But even more, I love the way the Bible deals with giving, especially giving to the poor. God makes it clear: He is all about the poor. Want to touch on something that touches the heart of God? Start with the poor in your community. Your neighborhood. That school down the street. (Homeless people aren't really Josh's thing, and he's huge into education, so he faithfully volunteers at a very disadvantaged school in town and helps mentor students. We all have our own passions and callings, you know?)

In fact, God says it this way: if you are kind to the poor, you are lending to Him. And He always repays. Isn't that wildly awesome? Giving to the poor is lending to God, and He repays.

I can't think of anyone I'd rather lend to. Can you?

So let's do it. Let's be the ones who rise above circumstances and setbacks and walk out of our own homes and become a people who are known by our kindness to the poor and overlooked. 

Let's be Lord Lenders.

Monday Moment is a little devotional to help kick start your week. See you again next Monday!