Saturday, January 31, 2009

Long Week, Lovely Things

A fruitless job search in the city, an ice storm and your Dad in the hospital makes for one heckuva long week. So join me, will you, in thinking of pretty, pleasant things... things like summer roses and sunset picnics and lemonade on the porch swing and sheets billowing on the line and a basket of fresh bread. With sweet butter.

There. A tiny bit better....

I'm off to the hospital. If you think of it, please pray for my Dad.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dry Cleanings, Wet Washings

A hearty laugh gives one a dry cleaning,
while a good cry is a wet wash.
-Puzant Thomajan


Rather for dry cleanings or wet washings, HouseHelper Sets are back in the Freeman House Shop. For those who asked...

I'd have one additional set available, only I watched one of those tear-gusher movies last night and inadvertantly used one of the HouseHelpers to mop my face. Ooops. Found yet another use for them, it seems.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saturday Recap


Saturday:

Sleep in.
Paint canvas.
Bake Apple Crumb Muffins.
Feed birds.
Walk dog.
Talk to friend.
Simmer soup.
Fold clean towels.
Write letter.
Watch movie.
Soak in bath.
Back under covers.

How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me?
-Psalm 116:12

Friday, January 23, 2009

What Can I Do?

Three. The number of friends who've lost a parent this week. I'm at a loss, as usual, thinking of what to do and what to say to help or comfort them. On Monday, I ordered this book: What Can I Do? Ideas to Help Those Who Have Experienced Loss. It came today and I've spent a few quiet minutes thumbing through it. Some of it, I think, is great. Other parts seem a bit old lady.

So, I thought I'd ask you. I thought you might know: what do you do when someone you love loses someone they love? Or, if you are the one who's been on the grieving end of things, what's something that comforted or cheered or helped you after your loss? What meant the most to you during that time?

Kind of a somber thought before the weekend, isn't it? I'm sorry. Just need to be there for a few friends this weekend, and am quite unsure how....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The God Who Never Forgets

He's there all along. Jesus. Sometimes, like crusading unbelievers, we bury Him in the plaster of our denials, our doubts and our disobedience. Then we sit in our empty lives and empty relationships and cry, "He's not here! He's forgotten me!". But He is. He's there. He's the God who never forgets.

I've spent time talking to God lately about my life. It's taken a few years, but the realization that my life is, in no way, what I expected it to look like has finally hit me. Perhaps it also has something to do with turning 30 soon. Over the weekend, I told God that I'm tired of not having answers. Will I leave Freeman House or stay? Should I pursue a new career or not? And what's with this sudden... leaning... toward Portland, Oregon? I've never even been there. And I'm tired of the cold. Why do I think of it so often?

When I was small, my parents hung a little plaque above the light switch in my Strawberry Shortcake room. With its old-fashioned lettering and burnt-edges, the paper plastered onto the block of wood looked strangely out of place in my little girl's room. But there it hung anyway, with its large black words:

And you shall seek Me and find Me
when you shall search for Me with all your heart.
-Jeremiah 29:13

It meant nothing to me then, but reading those words every day lodged them in my heart. I'd need them, it seemed, later.

Fast forward back to the present. A time of seeking God. God, I'm seeking You... with all my heart, I said. Where are You? What am I supposed to do now?

Nothing.

I'm not letting this go, God, I insisted. I need You. I'm gonna keep calling until You pick up. I'll seek You until I get an answer.

Still nothing.

Monday night the phone rings. It's my friend Erich. Although we correspond often through Facebook, I hadn't talked to Erich in over eight years. And here he was, calling me. We talked for a little while and then he said, slowly, You've been on my heart, Brin. I had to call you. God... well, God's saying, "I haven't forgotten my daughter." He wants you to know that. He hasn't forgotten you.

I haven't forgotten my daughter. The most beautiful thing I've ever heard.

How can you not weep at that... the picture of a heavenly Father who rises to show compassion to His children? I haven't forgotten my daughter.

I thanked God for His love. And then I started bugging Him again. Your words sound so sweet in my ears, but I still don't have my answer, I prayed.

And I prayed. And kept praying.

Yesterday, sitting outside playing with Millie, I felt it pressed into my heart: Isaiah 49. But the city of Zion said, "The Lord has deserted me. The Lord has forgotten me." The Lord answers, "Can a mother forget the baby who is nursing at her breast? Can she stop showing her tender love to the child who was born to her? She might forget her child. But I will not forget you. I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Your walls are never out of my sight.

I haven't forgotten my daughter. I haven't forgotten. I haven't forgotten...

But I'm stubborn. Comforted, but stubborn. God, I still need my answer, I persisted. Habakkuk, my heart said. If you're a Christian, you know when the Holy Spirit is speaking to you. Your heart gets all warm and glowy inside you, and it's as if, instead of blood, there are words... warm words... pulsing through your entire body. Habakkuk. Habakkuk.

Habakkuk? That was my answer. Really? I flipped over to Habakkuk, a book I read in private school Old Testament class, but not much since. And there He was, in chapter 2, verse 3:

The message I give you waits for the time I have appointed.
It speaks about what is going to happen. And all of it will come true.
It might take a while. But wait for it.
You can be sure it will come. It will happen when I want it to.
My answer. My answer from the God who never forgets. And even though it was a "wait for it... WAIT. FOR. IT," my heart was immediately quieted. He hasn't forgotten. And the answer is coming. I can be sure it will come.

Not sure why I'm telling you about this. Who knows, someone else could be waiting on an answer, too. Or someone might feel forgotten. All I can tell you? God... well, God hasn't forgotten His daughter. Or His son. And His things... well, they happen when He wants them to. And in meantime, we will seek Him and find Him when we search for Him with all our hearts.

How can we not? He is, after all, the God who never forgets. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever heard.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Desk


Bet I get five emails each week in which someone will invariably ask to see a picture of my desk. Or office. Or sewing room. Where do you work? I want to see where you write! Post pictures of where you sew! So... well, here. It's not much, but this is my desk.

It may look as if I have no idea what's going on here, but miraculously, I do. I have notepads for notes, yarn I'm dreaming up projects for, blooming bulbs with shoots of green (good for the soul, eh?), an iPod Shuffle, newly loaded with Bart Millard and Misty Edwards' I Will Waste My Life. And in the thrifted 25 cent, yellow rose pot, a fistful of stamps and puppy treats. (Logically.)

And don't forget the books, which I flip through/refer to/ am currently devouring: Where Jesus Walked, Emily Dickinson's Gardens, The Herb Bible, Falling Cloudberries, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, The Business of Bliss, This Life She's Chosen, and Conspiracy of Kindness. They sit underneath this...

...pictures I've taken, old pictures taken of me, and pictures I love. It's all set above a rusty tin ceiling tile in which my favorite poem is framed: This World is not Conclusion.

Also crowding my work space? The usual suspects: green highlighters, stump-grinding bills, Mexican restaurant receipts, embroidery patterns, a cordless drill, fish emulsion and a traveler's guide to Istanbul. You know, the things we all have to work around.

Wow. Really need to clean off this desk before someone sees it. But first a little brown dog needs to go outside and play. She's pulling on my shoestrings, then sitting up to rest her head on my knees. Her eyes say: Is it time yet? Are you done yet? Honestly. How do people work without a puppy under their desk?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hold the Talk, Pass the Bread

In the Lord's Prayer,
the first petition is for daily bread.
No one can worship God or love his neighbor
on an empty stomach.
-Woodrow Wilson, 28th American President


I woke up this morning with sort of a groan. January 20th. Man. I sighed, and at the same moment decided I'd pray up until swearing-in time... for my country, for its new president, for the mess we're all in.

As I started to talk to God, I decided I'd also fast until it was all official in Washington. It's the first time I've ever done that, fast and pray. Some Christians are big on fasting and praying. They think they're holy because they skip meals and blabber to God about things. It's almost as if they're trying to manipulate God... trying to back Him into a corner... and saying, "I'm starving myself down here, God, so You have to listen to me now." Please. The worst, in my opinion, are those who go out to lunch and spend the hour reminding everyone, loudly, that, No, I'll not be ordering because I'm fasting, but you heathens go ahead with your cheese fries.

Yeah, never got the whole fasting thing the way people do it now. What? Your prayers go to the first of the line just because you were hungry when you said them?


But today I thought I'd be one of those super Christians and decided I'd skip food and, every time I thought about how hungry and thirsty I was, I'd turn my thoughts instead to our country and talk to God about it. I'd ask God for His guidance and protection and patience as we seek Him and try to get things right. And I'll admit, I prayed more this morning, more earnestly and intensely, than I have in awhile.


That said, I get President Wilson. It is hard to function when you're hungry. It is hard to keep our minds on a holy God and help others in His name when you're hung up over food.

I'm reading a book this week called the Conspiracy of Kindness. Wow, this book has me hollering No way! Too cool! and highlighting half the book to send to friends. I'm loving every word. Talk about daily bread. Talk about food for thought. No wonder people are so hungry for Obama's "change" and "hope". No wonder some people see him as a savior as opposed to an elected official. Christians moan and groan but forget it's our fault. Christians have dropped the "hope" ball. We've flubbed the Good News of "change". We've shifted the church's message of "Yes we can" to "Maybe someone else will". We've let kindness and compassion fall to the wayside. We've become hearers, not doers. We should be ashamed. As a Christian, I'm ashamed.

So where do we start? I don't know about you, but I think I'm going to start with bread. There are some hungry people out there. Besides, Jesus was big on bread. He taught us to pray for it. He used it to feed people before He talked to them. And before anyone sees hope or change or anything else a politician promises, they need their empty stomachs addressed. We have to get back to basics. Whether we're talking government or faith, we have to get back to bread.

Hold the talk, pass the bread. That's all I'm saying. That and, where's the peanut butter? Everything's all official now in Washington....

(A note for those of you looking for a "God is still in control" post regarding today: sorry to disappoint. Jon didn't write one either, so I figure I'm off the hook. Oh. And before anyone asks, I made this bread from the MOST AMAZING BREAD BOOK EVER: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. It really does take five minutes, which to me says both "hope" and "change". Yea.)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Most Amazing Day

I thank you God for this most amazing day...
and for the blue dream of sky
and for everything which is natural,
which is infinite, which is yes.
-e. e. cummings

A most amazing day, glimpsed as I opened my eyes and peered out the old window beside my bed.

Blue dream of sky, glimpsed behind Freeman House while breathing in the expanse...



... and playing fetch with a lab made of chocolate...

...while lying in the natural grass. Cool on my back, sun on my face, sky in my eyes.

Yes.

I thank you God for this most amazing day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Long Winter

I've been out of town this week. Hope you didn't worry.

Babies. Babies! They're popping out everywhere. With no less than three friends due in the past or coming week, I've been knitting like crazy Aunt Purl. I managed to get several soft little washcloth sets done, as well as a few hats and tiny blue booties. Poor little January babies... the world must seem awfully cold to them.

Speaking of the cold, I read a most inspiring article today. An article that tweaked my thinking in the midst of The Long Winter (as I'm calling this one now). John Piper is a favorite, and his words on our "economic downturn" quieted my heart and had me whispering a soft amen. I needed those words. Something about this winter had me turning sour inside... maybe it was the bitter cold inside Freeman House. Or getting so sick. Or the frustration and despair over not finding a job. Could be the anniversary of my divorce, too. Whatever it was, I bathed in Piper's words and those scriptures like I was standing under their foamy fall. God will take care of us. God will take care of you. God will take care of me. He will. He just will.

And, as we know: no winter lasts forever.

I'm headed out of town again and away from the computer for several days. Hope you all are well and warm, wherever this finds you tonight. -Brin

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuesday Treasure: Garden Web Forums (Or, How To Garden On The Cheap!)

Photo Credit: GardenWeb, Matt Melcher

Let's talk treasures. Because if you garden, this is definitely your gold mine. It's the free Garden Web Forums over at iVillage. Have you heard of them?

Yeah. I hadn't either. But several weeks ago I was flipping through a seed catalogue and found a most unusual and heat tolerant flower called Gaillardia. I started seed hunting only to later realize that the sweet little flowers simply weren't in my budget this gardening year. Bummer. But then... then I stumbled onto the Garden Web Seed Exchange Forum. One quick and easy post explaining what seed I could trade and what seed I wanted, and 10 days later I had three varieties of Gaillardia mailed to my door. For free!

Photo Credit: Garden Web

It was so easy. Too easy, actually. Had to be a fluke, right? Last week I tested it again, offering some of my heirloom tomato seed in exchange for any and all varieties of basil. So far I've traded with three different gardeners across the country. The best part? They're as thrilled to get my seed as I am theirs! Yup. I'm now helplessly addicted to this forum.

If you've ever considered starting (or expanding) a garden, I wholeheartedly recommend starting here. Even if you don't have seed to trade, many generous gardeners want to see their hard work pay off and offer free seed if you'll send them a SASBE (self addressed stamped bubble envelope). And we're not just talking seeds here. These hard-core gardeners will trade cuttings, slips, and whole plants. I think I even saw a tree on there the other day.

Today's treasure? Garden Web Forums. And fellow gardeners the world over. Happy gardening, all!

Tuesday Treasures are (sometimes) sponsored features that revolve around the stuff, places and resources that make Freeman House... well, Freeman House. Some Treasures help further the restoration here, some don't. But all are fabulous Freeman House finds!


Monday, January 12, 2009

The Great Recipe Project

Want freedom? Get organized.
Want to get organized? Get creative.
- David Allen

I did it. The recipes are done! My first completed to-do project of 2009. It felt freeing and deeply satisfying seeing all that paper from all over the house reduced to a stack of pretty cards.

See? From that to this:

*Happy sigh*

Twenty recipes into the pile I got out from under the covers and decided I needed to find larger recipe cards than the Martha Stewart ones. I liked the strawberry/vintage look, but there was no way I was going to fit those big mama recipes on them. (Like that recipe for Stuffed Fried Chicken with Vidalia Onion Gravy? The one I change up and make every few weeks? No way was that one going on a little Martha card.)

So I found these big recipe cards from Alicia Paulson's sister, Julianna Smith. Free to print, and they were my favorite of all the ones I found. Thanks Julianna! I happily copied them, cut them, and scribbled on them. And in a matter of a weekend, my great recipe project was (beautifully) done. Did I mention how happy it made me?

So it's onto a new mess. Looks like we have another project to tackle. Sunday night, while I was copying the last recipes, Millie jumped up from a snoring sleep just as the most horrible crash reached my ears...



The "closet" fell down, dumping all my clothes, shoes and bags to the unfinished floor below.

Want to get organized? Get creative. Guess I'm moving from recipes now to clothes...

Friday, January 9, 2009

Recipe Reorganization

I cannot resist recipes. Since college, I have hoarded torn-out magazine pages, handwritten notes, printed-out concoctions and photocopied ingredient lists. Last spring I made a feeble attempt to organize it all, deciding to stash all recipes in four binders labeled Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Huh? Dumbest idea ever. It never got done.

But now... well, something has to. Every time I open a cookbook, scraps of paper flit to the floor. Whenever I reach on top of the refrigerator (shudder), an avalanche of paper comes sliding down. Today I found a recipe in my coat pocket. The insanity has to stop. This weekend.

So the project I've been dreading for... um... years... is about to be conquered. Get this: the temperature is expected to drop 50 DEGREES in the next 24 hours, so I'm bundling up and happily copying down recipes onto neat, pretty cards. When they're done, I'm thinking of hitting a flea market or junk sale to see if I can unearth one of those long and skinny wooden box/crates - the ones decorator people put candles and things in. Wouldn't that be fun... an extra long card catalog box for recipes? (Until I drop it, that is?) laugh

Oh yeah. And you have to see these. I'm printing them out on some leftover cardstock and using my bestest handwriting to pretty them up.

I had a crowd over yesterday before skipping off to a dinner party last night. At some point, someone asked me for my two favorite, quick recipes. I thought for a minute and then said: Mocha Hot Chocolate. If you're a coffee and a cocoa drinker, mix your cocoa mix - by the tablespoon or envelope or what have you - into a hot cup of coffee (as opposed to water or milk). It's ten times better than regular hot chocolate.

The other? You can see part of it in the photo above: Homemade Baking Powder. I go to the trouble because the commercial stuff has chemicals and preservatives and sometimes tastes metallic to me. So: sift 1/4 cup cream of tartar with 2 tablespoons baking soda into an airtight container. Keep at room temperature for 4 weeks. And if it clumps as it sits (as it might do, since it's lacking all those additives), resift before using.

Here's to recipe reorganization, free recipe cards and the little hints that make our lives a little sweeter! Enjoy your weekends, dear ones. -Brin

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Shortribs and Soap Box

I believe that thrift is essential to well-ordered living.
-John D. Rockefeller


Shortribs: I made those beef shortribs. That $2 package of beef shortribs from Monday. Um, wow. New favorite winter recipe for sure. It was better than a $12 roast. Served over steamed rice, that tender meat and sauce was just as good as anything you'd find in a great restaurant. I followed the recipe exactly until it came to the allspice (couldn't find any around the house) and parsnips (couldn't find any at the store). So I left out the allspice completely and substituted carrots for the parsnips. The whole lot cooked itself in about 3 hours in a (largely unattended) stove. My kind of cooking. Still... wow. I'll be making this anytime I can afford the beef.

Don't you love it when you find a new "keeper" recipe? Especially one that will feed several mouths for, say, five bucks?

***********
Soapbox: Special thanks going out this morning for the overwhelming show of support I received for the little Tuesday Treasure bit. I've had an awfully hard time juggling bills these past few months, and a failure to pay the property taxes on Freeman House soon means I could later lose the place at public auction. I'm not looking for fun money here. It's an awful lot to juggle as a single girl. I'm passed the point of worrying myself sick (with pneumonia) over it... I'm to the point of trusting God to meet my needs while using every available resource at my disposal to generate bits of income. At least until I find a job.

Yesterday some of you called our new Tuesday Treasure venture "tacky" or looked down your noses at my decision to start that feature. I'm aghast. Despite some of that criticism, however, I won't make apologies for my decision. Longtime readers here know we've supported and championed several causes (Shoes for Orphan Souls, Brides Against Breast Cancer, Best Friends Animal Shelter, Compassion International, Friends With Flowers, The North Texas Foodbank, and the ASPCA), to name a few. I also try to mention and support other bloggers, their projects, their books and their shops. And out of appreciation for how wonderful you guys are to me and this old, crooked house project, we've done giveaway after giveaway, etc.

This blog is four years old. That's a lot of material... a lot of time... devoted to sharing things with you all. And over time, this blog and its readers have become a community of compassionate, caring folks who try to give of ourselves, our time and our resources when we can. I'm incredibly blessed by that, and pray we'll continue to come together to help and give when and where our hearts lead us.

And if we add a Tuesday Treasure feature to keep it all going, so be it. I'm excited about the mutual support this opportunity provides. I'm excited to "meet" new people, their work, and learn what drives and motivates them to create or learn.

**********
Guess that's about all I wanted to say. Thanks for hanging in. Off now to make beef stock using those shortrib bones. Think a big pot of that simmering away will be medicine to the lungs... and the soul. Enjoy your Thursday! -Brin

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Tuesday Treasures

Yes, I realize it isn't Tuesday. But I'm so excited about this little tid-bit that I had to share it now: it's a Tuesday Treasure.

So. Say you have your own blog. Or Etsy shop. Or website. Or say you have a book or product or idea or cause. And let's say your special thing... your treasure... could use a little... promoting. A touch more traffic. A heap more hits. A round of new readers. A slew of new shoppers. And say you don't have the time - or the big fat budget - to make it happen.

I think we can help each other out.

Starting next Tuesday, you have a chance to tell the My Messy, Thrilling Life community about your treasure, whatever it may be. For a few bucks, you can have my floor, and together we'll tell the hundreds of kind folks who stop in here each day about your treasure. It's a win-win: you will reap the benefit of a whole new community of readers and supporters, while the rest of us will reap the benefit of new treaures to see and savor.

Sound like a lovely little plan?

Shoot me at email at: brin[at]freemanhouse[dot]org if you're interested. We'll be sharing a Tuesday Treasure in no time. -Brin

Millie and Me

Raking leaves was on the agenda for this morning, since the cottonwood didn't finish dropping its foliage until December, and since I still don't have a job. Still.

I raked. Then I noticed it: silence. Millie had stayed alongside until she pulled one of her amazing sneak-away routines and left me alone with the leaves. I had to run down the street after her, hollering for her to come, Millie! And she did. As we trotted back to the rake, I asked her if she'd like to go to the neighbor's to see her best dog friends Cornbread and Okra. (Yup, the neighbor's dogs are named Cornbread and Okra. I do live in Texas, y'all.)

Millie's tail wagged as I pushed open the neighbor's picket fence gate and eased it open so Millie could join the other dogs. Playing and jumping and running ensued. Sweet sounds. I went back to raking leaves. Millie, I noticed, came back to the gate and stared at me. Then she began whining. Play with your friends and enjoy the sunshine, I called to her. She barked.

I'd just finished the leaves and sat down on the steps with a cup of tea when I heard Millie whining again. Then... silence. Then the most horrible dog noise I'd ever heard - a snarl and a shriek in one. My eyes darted back to that gate and my hands went slack. The cup of tea hit the steps. I was up immediately, running. Millie's head was wedged between two pickets. She was hanging from the gate.

I screamed. There was spit flying and Millie was still struggling and I tried to pull the pickets apart - or off! - but I couldn't. I screamed louder, hoping - I don't know - that someone would show up with the jaws of life or an axe or a tub of Vaseline or - something. Someone! Help! I tried to pull Millie's head up but it was stuck. I tried to force it back but it was stuck. I tried to pull on the right picket. Then the left. Nothing. And Millie got quiet. I climbed over the gate and tried to pick up her body... would it help her breathe?... but I worried it might break her neck. Would it break her neck? I didn't know. I screamed.

Millie was silent, hanging from that blasted gate. I kept screaming. It echoed in my ears, that awful noise. And I heard myself, hysterical, yelling, Someone? God? GOD?! HELP! HELP! HELP US! HELLLLP US!"

I grabbed Millie again, and planting my left foot on the gate, I pulled on up on that collar as hard as I could. Millie's tail moved and then her head. I quit worrying whether it would hurt her further and just... pulled. And then we were both on the ground and the screaming had stopped. And Millie lay there a moment and then - a breath. Then another. Sweet sounds. I bent over her and those chocolate brown eyes looked back into mine. She wagged her tail.

Think she's going to be okay. She's sleeping now. I'm still shaking, but at least my screaming has stopped. I'm sure all that racket interrupted an otherwise peaceful morning in heaven.

I'm sure my guardian angel is thrilled I have a dog. Talk about overtime and extra assignments.

The LORD is with me; He is my helper.
-Psalm 118:7

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Lettuce, Beef and Getting Well(ish)

Lettuce, picked from my neglected January garden. I tumbled it from a basket into the sink, where I swirled it around in cool water and then dumped it on the counter to towel off later. Seems everything in my life is half-done these days: laundry washed but not dried. Letters written but not mailed. Today I found one boot, properly put away, but the other in different room. Why am I so scattered these days?


Perhaps I need to switch up my diet. Since I came down with pneumonia, I've had nothing much (aside from standard holiday fare, of course) except soups, oatmeal, Ramen noodles and hot teas. Not much protein there. Last night I went to bed so hungry for a steak, I lay looking out the window, hoping the clouds would break long enough for me to see a star. I wanted to wish for a Texas-sized slab of beef. With a baked potato. Just thinking of a seat at Texas Roadhouse made me feel better. I went to sleep thanking God for the food I do have and praying for those who don't have any, but I still thought a steak sounded superb.

This afternoon I found two packages of marked-down clearance beef shortribs. Not quite a steak, but I could afford it. I knew immediately I'd make something like this, and as I put them into my cart, the face of an older, widowed lady in our town popped into mind. Okay, I'll take her some, too.... Guess we'll both have beef for dinner tomorrow. (God's so good, especially when I'm already blessed beyond what I deserve.)

So I'm glad to be feeling a bit better. I'm in a cooking mood anyhow. That winter cooking mood where you don't mind standing around the stove all afternoon since it's warm and comforting and homey. I have a cookbook I want to cook through this winter: My French Kitchen. You haven't seen it? Oh gosh. You have to. It's my favorite cookbook in the world. And not because it's beautiful, although it is. It's because I don't like French food - not so much - but I've loved everything out of these pages. The meals and desserts are simple and rustic but also hearty and pleasing. Somehow they appeal to the southerner in me.

At least it'll be something different to go along with all that lettuce.

Where was I going with all this? Um... can't remember. Figures. Must be time for more medicine. Think I'll head back to bed.

Wishing you a cozy evening, and perhaps a cozy supper, too. -Brin

Monday, January 5, 2009

Thoughts On My New Year


Spent some of New Year's Eve in the prayer tower, talking to God about the past year and asking Him about this new one. I want to believe that, in spite of all signs pointing to the contrary, He has great things in store for us this year.


I came to a startling realization the end of 2008. For the first time, I realized that God is not all about our happiness. Our wealth. Our whims. That God is not in the business of making His children successful or rich or happy. Rather, God is the business of fathering His children to maturity. He's more interested in seeing us conform our lives and ourselves into His image. Into the image of His Son. And like any good father who's trying to teach a willful, obstinate child, His lessons sometimes come at the expense of our comfort, our feelings, and our expectations.

Realizing this has changed my life. No wonder I felt so let down by God before! I was expecting Wonder God to fix all my problems, right all my wrongs and fill my soul with indescribable joy. Forget Daniel in the lion's den or those boys in the fiery furnace or Paul in prison, my life was supposed to be a worry-free Christian cruise. And when it wasn't, when heartbreak and trouble and annoyances continued, I wondered what I was doing wrong. Why I'd miffed God and forced Him away. As if my rebellion or grief or problems were too much for Him to handle. He is, after all, a bigger God than we give Him credit for.

But now I see. Now I see! Now I see that it was during those terrible times He was the closest. Now I realize that during that time I had His hand - even if it was leading me through valleys I'd rather not venture into and waters I'd rather not wade through. But His hand held me. It held mine tightly. And we're emerging now from that awful valley, God still my patient, loving Father, but me a stronger, wiser, less selfish child. And we still have each other's hands.

Yeah, now I see. Now these years make sense and sit more lightly upon my heart. And I'm more convinced than ever that God is good. That God can use messy, thrilling lives - even those as crazy as mine.


So I'm approaching this new year with a new spirit, almost. I taxied into 2009 with less baggage to catch up with and drag home. And it's unspeakably freeing. It's undeniably heart-lifting.

Happy 2009, all. It's going to be interesting. It's going to be good.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Note to Friends

My friends are my estate.
-Emily Dickinson

I have so many friends in all shapes, sizes and ages. My friends are a joy. They'll be my legacy, too.

My little friend Kailey colored this picture for me while I was down with pneumonia. Another friend, Jolene - almost 50 years older than Kailey - was there with the type of "doctor" advice only mothers can give. Lisa brought me a blanket. Sue sent tea. Others brought dinner or sent flowers or emailed me funny jokes, which cracked me up between all the coughing. To all of them, I wanted to take a moment to express my thanks. Without you, I would be a rabid porcupine - all crazy and pokey and mean.

(Ha! Lisa will get that, if no one else does.)

Really. Thank you all for the comments and emails and the sweet things you've said, mailed and e-mailed lately. Wish I had time to respond to everyone personally. Please know that I hold each of you in my heart, and proudly count you among the legacy of happiness I hope to leave behind one day. Thanks. -Brin

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hello There, 2009

Before I ring you in, I'd like to say a final farewell to some of the lovely moments and memories 2008 brought:

There were so, so many. Too many to list. Too many to photograph. Too many to name. And now the year is gone, and I look to a new year, full of so much possibility and promise. What do you hold? What is hiding... waiting... for us to discover?

This much I know: I'm glad 2008 is done. And I'm ready to see what God has in this next set of days.

Resolution One: I will live for God.
Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.
-Jonathan Edwards