As ‘back to school’ happens and life is moving on, I’m feeling in between.  Here and there. New England and Midwest. This day, September 1,  marks the beginning of a new season (figuratively). Nine months in our new home- with our new friends- our new normal.  
I wrote this about a year ago as a part of my going away process… it still brings old faces to mind, and happily, also a group of new faces. I am confident in how He is pouring out a new story- a good story for all of us, even in the letting go.

Pour.  It’s the first word in my mind when I consider our friendship.
Pour out.  Pour over.  Pour into.
And we do pour a considerable amount, don’t we?  
We pour water, coffee, tea, wine, sangria, champagne, cocktails, and 
more sangria, please.

After we pour our drinks, we pour out ourselves.
We pour ideas, recipes, stories, and advice.
We pour our laughter, love, prayers, tears (these are pouring now- the others at the cafe beginning to get uncomfortable).  
We pour anxiety, fear, concern, grace, and forgiveness.  We pour life into each other.

We pour out gifts… the brilliant and undeserved treasure put in us by the Lord.  
We do have a variety of gifts, have you seen?
You pour Welcome and Hospitality, the warm, priceless offering of a place to rest and connect.
You pour gracious, painful Honesty and the beautiful ability to enter into conflict to make us face our true selves and force our friendships into stronger places.
You pour out sweet Vulnerability, challenge us all to look at our fears and own them before Our God who says, ‘do not worry!’ 
You pour Creativity, and as we marvel at your artistry we all feel God’s presence more intensely.
You pour out Wisdom, Experience, light-filled Guidance for us to follow into the Unknown and New.
You pour Encouragement, the celebratory support from friends who know, understand, and believe wholeheartedly that we can do it… whatever the task.
You pour out precious Faith.  Trust that God always does what He says He will do.
You pour quiet Attentiveness, your listening ears and deep heart abiding with all that we pour back.
You pour bold words of Hope.  Powerful testimony of what is to come… future Grace.

You’ve poured all that God has put inside you, and  I feel God’s Grace and Presence in your faces and hands.  I’m filled to the brim, ready to overflow to a new family, a new circle of smiling faces. Still, I can’t imagine life without a cup in my hands and your beautiful faces before me- pouring liquid favor and life-giving love into each other.  I can’t imagine daily life without you.

Will you still be my people?  Can we still pour life into each other?  Pour out ourselves, pour blessing over each other?  I know I need you on the other side of my cup.  As I pour coffee (in my hobnail mug, of course),  I promise to pray for you in deep, joyful, extravagant ways.  

Because you need this.

Pour a cup, pour out your prayers, and allow God to pour into each of us in divine mystery… and know that the cry of your heart matters immensely to me and to the Lord.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him.  
God is a refuge for us.”  
~Psalm 62:8

With More Love Than You Could Hold In A Thousand Hobnail Cups,

more good things

1.  Though it is plainly summer in Connecticut, it is not 105 degrees.  This makes me happy, because I am an angry person when I’m uncomfortable.  Being sweaty immediately upon exiting the shower?  Uncomfortable, therefore angry.  Sitting outside in 80ish degrees with a breeze?  Lovely, and not angry.

2.  I was unreasonably afraid that our house would be hot all summer.  It is pleasantly, surprisingly cool, and I am thankful!

3. There are 4 huge old trees in our front yard… lots of shade, low branches for climbing, and stunning shadows and light coming through the leaves.  I love the quiet rush of the wind coming through the limbs. I love watching my children gain confidence as they scramble to new heights and overcome their fear as they climb back down.

4.  Matt and I hung twinkle lights across the front yard… they make me happy. 

5.  Julia doesn’t hate fireworks and sparklers anymore- she enjoys the crashing and crackling, the flashes of color, the heavy smoke spreading across the lawn.  There’s more growth and development in just that sentence than I can describe, so you have to believe me.  It’s a big deal.

this picture is blurry because she is in motion. when she loves something, she shows it with her whole being.

6.  We visited New York City briefly this month, and of all the fun we had visiting Uncle Alex, Aunt Jessie, Cousin Hadley,  Mimi, and Auggie Dog (not to mention the views of the Hudson, the WTC, the Statue of Liberty, and a trip to the Museum of Natural History), my favorite part of the weekend is this:  Jessie miraculously and unknowingly got our children to eat the same kind of chicken. Not two separate meals- just one. This is also a big deal.  You are winning all the things right now, Jessie.

7.  Actually, I really enjoyed NYC, what little we were able to cover in 28ish hours!  The little pocket parks between buildings and the huge numbers of families playing out on the lawn by the river create such a different kind of community within the larger city… fascinating to this suburban girl.  I look forward to staying a bit longer, seeing more of the city, maybe babysitting that cute baby so her parents can go out. Yes, the miracle of the chicken has merited babysitting.  It’s that huge.

8.  I got the laundry clean and the airplane snacks made before midnight the night before we leave town… you might not think this is noteworthy, but I manage to procrastinate prepping and packing for travel until the wee hours. I’m so far ahead of my usual self I may pour a drink… sit down… ignore the fact that nothing is actually in suitcases yet.  

9.  We have church outdoors in the summer.  While not everything about this is perfect, I am enjoying these aspects:  dewy grass, friends on picnic blankets and folding chairs, rustling leaves, laughing children chasing each other across the yard, voices carried off by the wind as we sing and pray together. 

10.  There are blackberries growing across the yard- planted by someone else I’m not sure how long ago.  Watching the branches flower, push through into tiny green clusters, and now deepen from green to red to black has been so sweet this summer.  They will probably fully ripen while we are away, and I like to imagine our friends getting to enjoy them with their families.  Why do blackberries mean gathering together to me?  They just don’t seem like a solitary fruit- certainly not meant to be consumed hurriedly or privately.  

11.  I have decided to read more about blackberry cultivation.  There will be more of these next year, mark my words.

12.  We have several more weeks of summer vacation, and many of our planned adventures and hoped for projects still to fulfill. 

where i sit…

Some thoughts about where i sit, and write, and read… 
and waste time on Facebook.

 90% of the people who read this are my blood relatives.  8% of the remaining handful are in my church.  So for the 2% who don’t know this already, our family lives in the manse on the property of our church-
Living in a manse is similar to renting, but then not very much like renting at all.  
It’s the same in that we choose carefully how much money to put into the 
home ourselves.
 Window treatments & light fixtures= yes. 
Hardwood floors & kitchen cabinets=no. 
 It’s different in this:  caring for this home is also caring for our church, which we love.  Updating and maintaining a piece of the church= yes. (And i’m pretty sure i’ll get messages from the trustees about this… We are happy, y’all!  I promise!  No need to panic! : )

SOOOOOO much painting was done before we moved here.  I am more thankful now than when i first moved in because i see how much work it was!  Service is my biggest love language, and often the hardest for me to accept.  
I feel loved by my painted walls. 
There was a tiny room that i didn’t know how to use before we moved in, and it became my dumping grounds and bill paying space.  As we unpacked, settled rooms, and got rid of furniture that wasn’t a fit for this space,
 this became my office. 
Not a place of business, but a workspace.  
And then i wanted to make it pretty, because pretty matters.  
Not perfect, not fancy, just a lovely little spot- 
a welcoming room.

This tiny room had a former life as a nursery, i believe.  Hence the pink paint.  The pink & brown is *actually* prettier than these pictures show, but the colors didn’t work for my purposes.  
This picture was from when we visited in December… 
the day before we knew we would be moving here!
You can see the color slightly better here as i began to paint it…
And here it is now:

Walls and ceiling are painted Topsail, by Sherwin Williams.  It’s my go-to pale blue, and I use it in my kitchen and mudroom as well.  I won’t lie… there were 2 almost full gallons of this in the basement, so I wasn’t about to spend $30 on a new can of paint!  I’m super classy, so i mixed the remainder of the satin and semi-gloss cans together to make sure i wouldn’t run out.  

 You can’t see them well, but on the floor I have two vintage tool boxes.  One has real tools in it (such as my hot glue gun- surprise!), and the other has stationary and cards.  

Those wooden plaques from the craft store make easy photo displays… sometimes I have the girls’ artwork up there, sometimes an important word or verse.  Hot glue a clothespin onto a piece of wood- it’s as simple as that.
 Painting all that brown wainscoting white took DAYS, so I’m waiting for inspiration before tackling the built-in desk/closet/shelf.  
I’m open to color suggestions on this one…

 My favorite piece:
 if you can’t read it, the quote is this:
Woman’s Sphere
They talk about a woman’s sphere
As tho’ it had a limit-
There’s not a place in Earth of Heaven,
There’s not a task to mankind given, 
There’s not a blessing or a woe,
There’s not a whispered yes or no,
There’s not a life, or death, or birth, 
That has a feather’s weight of worth-
Without a woman in it. 
-M. Walker 

My second favorite piece is this lamp… it’s huge & obnoxiously girly, and I went back to the antique mall three times before i decided to buy it. 

The latest addition to my favorite things is this card from a cherished friend… 
Bloom Where You Are Planted, indeed.

So this is where I am.  
A nice place to bloom, I think.