Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Friday, October 28, 2005


My husband says that maybe my long posts are scaring people away. I guess I have been a little rambly.

Is short and sweet the way to go with blogs? I don't know if I can do it, but I can try!

So how is this one for short?:o)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Guarding Against Selfishness

As I have been thinking the past several days about what home means to me, I have been tickled with an uncomfortable thought. How do I prevent my home from becoming a cacoon of selfishness?

I know myself. I LOVE home because of the freedom I find, the joy I take in being there. But I have been wondering where and how the balance is found between home and the world. Home is important. But reaching out to the world is also, and is commanded in Scripture.

I have been wondering what God's plan is for women in relation to our service in the world. When I am finally free to be at home, I don't want to become a Selfish Homemaker (Is there such a thing? :o)

Chasing worldy acclaim is pointless. That is not what I am referring to. I'm referring to the dirty work of caring for the people you wouldn't want your children around. Feeding the people who may not deserve it. Loving the unlovable. I'm talking about venturing out into places where the comfort of home is not felt, simply for the purpose of reaching someone with Christ's love. God commands it. But for His grace, I would be no better off.

As Christian women, is our service strictly limited to the home or the Christian community? I don't think so. How are we to prioritize our lives correctly so that our mission on earth is best fulfilled? I am still working out a way to logically and Scripturally approach this topic.

What is it about home?

Maybe all women don't yearn to be at home. But I don't understand this! Home presents opportunities for the most creative and important work a woman can accomplish. The possibilities far outweigh those afforded by any other environment on earth.

At home, I can control the atmosphere. If I wish for a cozy style, I can surround myself with glowing candles, warm throws and and pad around in fluffy slippers. If I am a romantic, I can load a vase with flowers and hang gauzy curtains. With just a little creative ingenuity, I can transform my home--however humble--into a charming cottage, an urban-chic haven, or an elegant "castle" for my family.

At home, I can brew a pot of my favorite chai tea and sit down for ten quiet minutes with some reading.

At home, I can always find some physical task to work off some extra energy.

At home, I can spend time with my favorite person/people in the world.

At home, I can open up a window or a door and breathe deeply.

At home, I can let my creative juices flow into the next great project: Whether I'm working on a scrapbook, refurbishing a piece of furniture, searching online for new enticing recipes, writing a letter, writing a book, organizing all the closets, painting a bedroom, sewing a new skirt, attempting to make as wonderful an apple pie as my grandpa makes, learning a new piece of music, starting my dream small business, planning a surprise for the people I most care about, planning a party, planting flowers, calculating a family budget, tackling a great work of literature, washing a car, developing my worldview by reading the Bible, history, philosophy and science, organizing and implementing a service project or class, comparison-shopping for the best prices on items my family needs, preparing a feast on a cold day, preparing a light picnic on a warm day, creating an organizational system for an efficient household, contacting potential clients, vendors, contractors, service-providers for my small business, or working on the perfection of just about any other skill imaginable...can there be any other place that provides such an opportunity for the realization of a woman's dreams and aspirations?

At home, I can spend a quiet and lovely evening with my husband.

At home, I can spend and loud and lively evening with family and friends.

At home, I get to be the hostess. The Mistress of Activities. The Manager of the daily schedule. The Mrs. Somebody. The Queen of the Castle.

At home, I am surrounded by my favorite things.

At home, I am free to share my things and time with others.

At home, I am challenged and encouraged by my daily interactions with people who are very important to me, and to whom I am very important.

At home, I get to choose both the music I listen to and the volume.

At home, I can scent the air with the clean smell of soap, the steamy fragrance of home-made bread or my Pumpkin Spice candle.

At home, I am free to come and go at will. The world is at my doorstep.

Here's wishing that soon I will be able to experience the full-time freedom and opportunity of Home.

What are your "At homes"?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Don't You Wish?

I guess I wouldn't care a squat for money if it didn't control my life so much...for instance, how my time must be spent!

Well, this week we are very happy to have planted some tiny seeds towards financial health! I was able to set aside almost 1/3 of my paycheck for our savings/debt pay-off account. Eventually (and hopefully very soon!) the goal is to be putting my ENTIRE paycheck into this account and living off of Micah's income entirely. Baby steps. Baby steps.

Back From DC

The trip ended up being longer than I first expected, but I didn't have time to see much! I was working very stressful 12-13 hr days. I've told Micah I don't know if I can handle more business trips with this organization!:op

What a teaser. I had about an hour inside the Museum of American History...just enough time to rush through about half of the exhibits. The neatest things I saw were the REAL Star Spangled Banner, and the first ladies' dresses. They even have one of Martha Washington's gowns...I can't believe it's still preserved! I don't think I'd ever before seen a dress that old; at least one that is significant because of who wore it. I can't wait to return to DC and spend a couple days going through all of the Smithsonian museums...with Micah as my travel companion:o)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

On Values

"Feminists like to insist that "old-fashioned values"--as garden-variety morality is now called--and the social institutions that supported them are inconsistent with modern life. Yet while it is obviously true that you can't go back in time, it is not true that the teachings and principles that have guided humans since the beginning of civilization have suddenly become irrelevant. The problem we face as modern people--and particularly as modern women--is how to reconcile the old with the new."

"The modern feminist conception of power is actually a very narrow one. It judges women solely by their leadership in politics or the corporate world but belittles the power women have traditionally wielded in civil society: in raising the next generation; in their community, in the countless hours of unpaid work and volunteerism women devote to their neighborhoods and schools. This isn't to say that women can't be, or shouldn't strive to be, leaders. But it is to say--and this is a very old lesson--that worldly power as an end in itself does not necessarily make you happy, especially if you have sacrificed everything else in its attainment."

-What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us

On Motherhood and Work

"I'd like to think that an enlightened society is not one in which all its economic and cultural forces combine to encourage women to deposit their children in state creches and walk away without a backward glance. And if I'm right, then any solution must begin with the recognition that women need help getting time away from the workforce to be with their young children and not, as the current advocates would have it, in subsidizing day care to free Mom to go to work to pay the taxes to fund day care.

In the end, changing government policy can only do so much. Ultimately the solution to The Problem [of how to combine work and children] will rely upon changing our own attitudes toward the value we place upon work. So long as we insist upon defining our identities only in terms of our work, so long as we try to blind ourselves to the needs of our children, and harden our hearts against them, we will continue to feel torn, dissatisfied, and exhausted. Is this unfair? Maybe. But it is an issue to take up with nature, not politicians. We are the most radically equal generation of women in human history and we have collided with one of the oldest facts of our s*x. There may be ways to ease our situation, but we cannot change it. Nor should we want it to be changed. The guilt we feel for neglecting our children is a by-product of our love for them. It keeps us from straying too far from them, for too long. Their cry should be more compelling than the call from the office.

-What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us

On Marriage

"...The only alternative to the obsessively egalitarian marriage of today that [many women] can imagine is the rejected inegalitarian one of the past. They enter into their marriages clinging to their newfound identities and newly gained territories as tenaciously as break-away republics cling to theirs, fearful of surrendering a scrap of their independence lest the old country move in and take over again.

But it may be that in order for modern women to have the marriages we want, we will have to stop being so preoccupied about our identities, and instead develop an appreciation for the mutual, if differing, contributions we make to marriage as men and women. Maybe what we should expect from our marriages is not so much an equality in kind but an equality in spirit. We want our husbands to love and respect us, to see us as their equal in all aspects of the mind and soul, but that doesn't mean we have to do exactly the same things in our day-to-day lives or to occupy identical roles. We must also understand that family has never been about the promotion of rights but about the surrender of them--by both the man and the woman. A wife and husband give up their s*xual freedom, their financial freedom, their right to "pursue happiness" entirely on their own terms the moment they leave the altar. No matter what may come of their marriage, they have tied their identities--and fates-- together. Through the act of having children, they seal them. And this is what a woman today who takes her husband's name acknowledges with that symbolic act. She is hardly declaring herself his chattel. She is asserting, rather, that she and her husband have formed a new family, distinct from all their previous ties, both permanent and total in its commitment."

"Alas, by withholding ourselves, or pieces of ourselves, instead of giving to our marriages wholeheartedly, we can't expect our husbands to do so, either. After all, it's not as if postponing marriage and going into it with our eyes more wide-open has made marriage any more stable than it was when men and women went into it practically blind. A young man I know told me that he'd "at last" moved in with his girlfriend of a few years. "We're more serious now," he said proudly. And I thought, No you're not. For marriage, as the married know, is about more than signing a lease, splitting bills, sharing chores, and professing a vague sort of long-term commitment; it's about more than being home in the evenings or spending weekends together or deciding what color to paint the walls; it's about more, even, than happiness and contentment and compatibility. It is about life and death, blood and sacrifice, about this generation and the next, and one's connection to eternity.

It is not nostalgic to wonder why this very obvious truth now seems to escape us; why so many men don't understand that it's wrong to walk out on their children and wives--or why so many women feel so nervous, so insecure, and so frightened about "losing themselves" the moment they marry. What is strange is that for so long we could be persuaded otherwise, that we could grow up mistrusting and steeling ourselves against so essential a human condition as love."

-What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us

On Love and Family

"Unfortunately, postponing marriage and all the responsibilities that go with is does not prolong youth. It only prolongs the illusion of it, and then again only in one's own eyes. The traits that are forgivable in a twenty-year-old--the constant wondering about who you are and what you will be; the readiness to chuck one thing, or person, for another and move on--are less attractive in a thirty-two-year-old. More often what results is a middle-aged person who retains all the irritating self-absorption of an adolescent without gaining any of the redeeming qualities of maturity. Those qualities--wisdom, a sense of duty, the willingness to make sacrifices for others, an acceptance of aging and death--are qualities that spring directly from our relationships and commitments to others."

"By waiting and waiting and waiting to commit to someone, our capacity for love shrinks and withers. This doesn't mean that women or men should marry the first reasonable person to come along, or someone with whom they are not in love. But we should, at a much earlier age than we do now, take a serious attitude toward dating and begin preparing ourselves to settle down. For it's in the act of taking up the roles we've been taught to avoid or postpone--wife, husband, mother, father--that we build our identities, expand our lives, and achieve the fullness of character we desire."

-What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us

On Intimacy

"If women do, by and large, wish to reunite s*x with love, to regain male commitment, and to restore trust and civility between men and women--the most appealing aspects of traditional morality--then we are going to have to be prepared to put up with some of its restrictions, too. Instead of embracing the "slut within us," as Naomi Wolf advises, we should reject her, just as we should reject men who use and discard women."

"Of course, we may continue to do as we do now and pretend that women are every bit as s*xually free and nonchalant as men. But if we do wish to carry on with this pretense, then we should not express astonishment or resentment when men behave more badly than they used to, or show less inclination to stay with us, or that s*x generally feels more meaningless. After all, when something becomes widely and cheaply available, its value usually goes down too."

"The new understanding of s*xual differences might simply be found in the old understanding if we were willing to restore it and polish it up a bit. That understanding recognized the unique and often mysterious traits we instinctively think of as masculine and feminine, traits that have persisted despite all the idealogical sandblasting of the past three decades. They are too subtle and elusive to be inscribed into law. They confound both poets and social scientists. But they are differences that complement each other--that ignite passion and s*xual attraction, give love its depth and emotional sustenance, and ultimately form women into mothers and wives and men into fathers and husbands.
By denying these differences, we prolong the period when we are s*xually vulnerable; we waste the opportunity in our passionate years to find lasting love and everything that goes with it--home, children, stability, and the pleasure of s*x as an expression of profound, romantic, and monogamous love. We have traded all this away for an illusion of s*xual power and, in doing so, have abandoned the customs that used to protect and civilize both s*xes, that constrained men and women but also obliged them to live up to their best natures. We might now be more free. But we enjoy less happiness, less fulfillment, less dignity, and, of all things, less romance."

-What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us

On Women's Needs and Desires

"For in all the ripping down of barriers that has taken place over a generation, we may have inadvertently also smashed the foundations necessary for our happiness. Pretending that we are the same as men--with similiar needs and desires--has only led many of us to find out, brutally, how different we really are. in demanding radical independence--from men, from our families--we may have also abandoned certain bargains and institutions that didn't always work perfectly but until very recently were civilization's best ways of taming the feckless human heart."

-What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us

An Interview with Danielle Crittenden

DANIELLE CRITTENDEN, in an interview with Jim Lehrer:

"...My book is about this generation of women who has grown up post- feminist, or what I think of as the daughters of the revolution, with very strong ideas, many of them feminist in origin, about how life was going to work. And I think we found that a lot of those ideas have failed.
So whether it's to delay marriage; delay having children, put everything into your career; that your fulfillment will come from your career, not from your marriage, not from being a mother-- these are ideas that we have grappled with and certainly accepted growing up, only to find out that when you get into your late 20's, 30's, you have put everything into your work.
You look around you, and if you're not married, you've suddenly made it very difficult for yourself to find somebody, a man who's committed; if you're having a child into your 30's, how difficult the work-child struggle becomes, and in fact, you suddenly realize that your priority is no longer your job, but yet it's now very difficult to leave your job. The sexual revolution, I think, has been very hard on women, and made it also very hard to find men who will commit. So those are a lot of the ideas that I address in the book."

What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us

What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us, by Danielle Crittenden, was one of those formative books for me. You know...the kind you devour, and then repeat-read every couple of years? I read it when it first came out my senior year of high school, in 1999, after hearing Danielle on a talk show. I have never found a more succinct and coherent articulation of the feminist movement's legacy...both the good and the bad.

Danielle's point is not to bash or posture. She simply wants to examine where we as women are now, where we've come from, and to honestly consider the positives and negatives in each. She also offers advice as to how women can get everything we dream about from life. We just have to make the right choices and be willing to awknowledge that there are seasons of life. You can have everything, just not everything at once. And sometimes, sacrifices must be made to allow for the greater good.

This book is not written from a particular religious standpoint...I would say that the points and arguments are more sociological. But, as a Christian, I still found much to consider, and I'm sure that other women of many different worldviews will be encouraged and challenged by Danielle's common-sense approach. For anyone interested in the role of women from a historical and cultural perspective, I highly recommend this book.

Note: This book contains a few incidences of language, but they are relatively tame. I just wanted to give warning.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

This is what I'm missing!

It's been a while since I've seen beautiful fall leaves like this. This picture is my little "fix":o) Isn't it beautiful? We are just now beginning to feel a little bit of nip in the weather. It still reaches almost 90* during the day, but the nights have been down in the low 60*s. Aaahhh. Sigh.

Late Night

I got on my blog to find a bunch of monkey faces staring at me. Aaa! (this won't make sense to those of you who come here later...the site where my pictures are uploaded is upgrading, and they decided to put pictures of monkeys in place of mine. What a nice choice. Gave me a scare...I thought someone had been hacking and was trying to be hilarious!)

Work is crazy right now. I had to bring work home with me, and am having a very hard time motivating myself to do it. It's 1:30 am. I need to get it over with, so I can have the rest of my weekend to spend with Micah and get some work done around the house.

Tuesday I will be making a short one-day business trip to DC. I am excited, because I have never been there before. But unfortunately, I will not have time to see much!

This has been an amazing week for Micah at his job. Weeks of not enough work...and then this week he was bombarded! It's wonderful. Maybe God really is going to provide us with the means to live on Micah's income alone. I half didn't believe that He would, but things are going so much better than expected so far! Oh me of little faith.

An exciting new step for our dreams to launch some home business ventures...this week we actually purchased a domain name and hosting for a website! The website is not finished, and we're not yet ready to unveil anything...but I'm very excited to be able to work on it. It feels like we're getting somewhere!

OK...enough stalling...back to work. Hope everybody has a lovely weekend!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thank you... everyone who responded to my request for mothers to share. I really enjoyed reading what you all had to say! And I was really encouraged. I want to share these responses with my husband.

Danielle's description of parenthood was so beautiful:

You have less time to yourselves so you have to enjoy the small, sweet, and thoughtful things more. You also get the wonderful satisfaction of seeing your husband turn into a father. You see them love, nurture, protect, and provide for this little person you love so much too. You see each other in this little individual and marvel at God's goodness in giving you this little soul. Then there are times when you have no clue what to do with them and you have to earnestly seek God together and talk and talk and talk...then submit, submit,and submit to your husband because you should trust God to work through hubby. Its hard work, but there is and can be so much joy in babies to be indulged in together.


The past couple days I've been spending too much time reading other peoples' blogs and neglecting my own:o) A lot has been going on, and I've got a lot on my mind right this post will be a hodge-podge. Bear with me:o)


Razorbackmama said:

I hear ya on the debt!!! Ei yi yi!!! Most of it is from student loans (my dh is a veterinarian), but STILL!!!!!Have you ever looked into The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey? We are wanting to start doing it.

Then she said:

OK so like I'm a goober. I just noticed that you have Dave Ramsey's site linked on your sidebar. LOL!!!!!!

Yes, I do...and I'm glad she brought it up, because I've been wanting to mention him for a while now! We discovered him about a year ago now, when we picked up his book at 75% OFF Books for about $3 because it looked interesting. It was the best $3 we've ever spent. Considering now how much he's helped us, I would have paid full-price three times over!

Dave Ramsey has so much common sense that he seems radical. For us, it was a wake-up call! We had been devouring books about business and how start one (a long-time dream for us), most of which were advocating debt as a tool to build wealth. I felt uncomfortable with this, but it seemed like the only way. We were also being eaten up by the debt we had already accumulated. Not that we were crazy or extravagant spenders...but we did use debt to pay for school (bad!) and to get us through some lean times (bad bad!). We figured that if we could start the business, that could hopefully earn us enough to pay off the debts we had. Ramsey gave us a smack and made us realize that you can't dig yourself out of debt with more debt (duh!).

Due to a period of unemployment and our current situation with Micah's job (he is in the tough beginning stages of a new private-contractor type position in New Homes Inspection), we have not gotten as far on the plan as we would have liked. But we have succeeded thus far in our commitment to not take out any new debt (No new debt at all during the past year!) and we have paid off a couple of the smallest debts. We are planning all future purchases and business start-ups on a cash-only basis. As I mentioned before, we now have plans to live on Micah's income and pay off debt with mine. As Micah's income grows, we plan to throw some of his on the debt pile as well.

For those who have debt (including the basic usuals, like car loans) or want a finances tune-up, I can't recommend Dave Ramsey enough. He has a national weekday radio show, along with his books. Visit his website.


Nichola said:

I hate to but I just had to make a comment about your internet. In my circumstance, where we don't make a monthly income because we are farmers, we decided to go for the slow internet. Plus we live in the country and the lines are not new. (Read: Hard to connect sometimes.) However, we pay $9.99 a month. That is for 50 hours of service. I am very happy with dial-up when I compare that with the $40-50 bills my friends pay. 50 hrs is plenty of time usually. If I am on more than that a month then I shouldn't be anyway.Just thought I would throw that idea in the pot for you.:-)

Thanks,'re certainly right! Dial-up is cheaper! We've just gotten high-speed since we moved into our new home...always before, we had dial-up. This, for us, is our one "luxury". We don't have cable TV, hardly go out anywhere expensive, etc, so this is our little splurge. Micah found a good deal on a phone line / high-speed internet combo, so we went for it. We plan to use it for our home business ventures, so it will be practical as well. If it gets to be a financial drain to our budget we will consider canceling it.


I wanted to mention something cool that happened at work today. My boss and I were talking, and she was showing an interest in things going on in my life. I didn't outright state it, but she must have derived that I am a Christian. She said: "I'm a Christian, too. And so are "H" and "A"--two other co-workers. I had guessed this, from observance, but it was neat that she wasn't afraid to share! We then talked about faith, church, ministry, homeschooling (she has two nieces who are) and even relationships. She's an older single, and is looking for a guy who will want to be involved in ministry at Church and who will want to be the spiritual leader in the marriage. She also hopes to be able to work from home using her writing, so she certainly supports that I have the same dream. She has been giving me a bunch of information about writers conferences, etc, to encourage me! I am glad to learn that God has placed me under a woman at work who is a Christian and a kindred spirit:o)

Sunday, October 09, 2005


"Love is a special gift of vision: the power to see for a little while what God meant when he made that person."

-Elisabeth Elliot

God created my husband with special gifts and purpose. I need to be constantly seeking to build my husband up in his strengths, not tear him down for his faults (which I probably have more of than he does).

Unfortunately, I'm a perfectionist (and I wouldn't wish this upon anyone! It doesn't mean I'm perfect, it just means I can tend to make myself and others miserable over the fact that I'm not). If I look at life through my perfectionistic lense, it's easy to focus in the faults and ignore the beauty.

I wish I would always look at my husband the way God sees him. He is God's excellent creation, and God's wonderful gift to me. I should not take him for granted.

Tonight, I'm going to focus on these things in Micah's character:

  • His kindness and gentleness. He never yells at me or tries to intimidate me. Even if I provoke him, he doesn't lose his temper.
  • His faithfulness and loyalty. I feel SO secure in his love. He daily lives out his commitment to me, and has never, ever given me cause to worry about his faithfulness. If we have a disagreement or issues to work through, he is willing to do the hard work of wading through these things so that we can stand together stronger than ever. He is always ready with forgiveness if I need it.
  • His willingness to work on areas of weakness. If I approach him about something in a nice way, he is very open.
  • His spirit. He's always dreaming and maintaining optimism.
  • His little unexpected sweetnesses:o)
  • We can be silly together. Micah and I never had a period of time in our relationship when there was awkwardness or uncomfortableness. We have always been able to be ourselves--ridiculous or not--around each other.
  • He loves me in my worst moments. He thinks I'm beautiful when I'm not. He gives me tenderness and love and hugs when I'm not very lovable or huggable.

Goodnight, all! I need to go give this wonderful man of mine a big hug and tell him that I love him:o)

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Experiment: Can we live happily on one income?

This might seem amusing to those who are already successfully living on one income. But we never have before (as a permanent situation), and this will be an adjustment!

Here's what we're going to do: Micah and I talked last night about where he's heading with his career, and how I'm going to get to the place where I can do what I really want...that is, be and work at home. We have decided that, while it is still not time for me to quit my job (I believe I have mentioned before on this blog that we have a lot of debt that must be dealt with!), we WILL learn to live on his salary alone. Starting right now, we are phasing my salary out of our budget. It will probably take a few weeks before we eliminate it completely, but we are doing this ASAP. Within a month or two, we should be living completely on what he makes.

We are going to create a separate account for my paycheck, and it will be used only for saving and paying off debt. Micah has committed to do whatever needs to be done (even if it means taking a second job--hopefully it won't!) to support us.

This will not be an easy situation, because Micah is still in the beginning-training-certification (ie, unstable) stage of his career. Our finances have been volatile due to this, and our debt. But we trust that we are doing the right thing, and that God will provide the work that Micah needs.

Beginning situation:
  • Rent on a small house in a modest neighborhood
  • All the typical utilities, food, necessities, etc.
  • One monthly car payment and car insurance on two cars (one paid for)
  • $400 p/mo in gas (maybe more)
  • Currently not on health insurance, but we are planning to get on a plan as soon as possible.
  • Few extravagances, though we do have high-speed internet and eat out inexpensively on occasion.
  • An enormous amount of debt. I will not embarrass myself by stating the amount...let's just say that we could have bought a house with that money. Please: don't anybody out there put yourself in this situation for ANY reason :op

Well, I will post updates on our progress, and the experience! Should be interesting. I am nervous, but excited to actually be making progress. It feels like we've been stagnating for a while, and now we're actually heading somewhere!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

This question is for mothers

Any mothers that happen to read this...

How does your life REALLY change once you have children? How do children affect your relationship with your husband? What is the best way to prepare for all of these changes?

No...I'm not expecting! But my husband and I have had some discussions about what kinds of changes children would bring to our lives and relationship. I'm looking to glean wisdom from moms who have been there.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Favorite Things File: Hot Tea!

Now that it's officially fall in Texas (meaning, it's only 90* outside instead of 100), I am thinking of more ways to celebrate the season. I love seasons! Since we don't have beautiful fall trees here or even cool weather (yet), we have to be creative:o)

One cold-weather tradition I can get away with, because I work in a FREEZING office, is to drink hot tea. I only drink coffee occasionally, and usually only at places like Starbucks in the Barnes and Noble where Micah and I spend many evenings. But tea has become something of a daily habit.

This habit really started during my time living in an Oxford flat without central heating. I spent a lot of time wearing my bathrobe, socks, slippers, wrapped in a blanket, drinking my tea. I like it the British way, with milk, no sugar. I love Chai tea and anything a little spicy.

My best friend is also a hot tea drinker, and has honed her habit into a fine art. She has an entire collection of beautiful tea cups and saucers that she's been collecting for years. When you are offered tea at her home, she'll direct you to help yourself to one of the cups off her display shelf (a great lesson--that lovely and special things become more so when they are used and enjoyed!)

I would love to hear about others' fall traditions and pleasures...if anyone would care to share?

Port Meadow

Written by Erin in 2003

When I was living in Oxford, England, my flat was situated on a little street called Walton Well Road. If I went out the door and turned right, Walton Well Road would run into Walton Street, where I would walk past the wedding dress shop (with a window displaying a new dream dress every three or four days), Jude the Obscure Pub, the post office with the friendly mustached postmaster, and the Oxford University Press. I used to turn right on Walton Well Road nearly every day to go downtown.

One of my favorite things to do, however, was to head down my front steps in my sneakers or hiking boots and direct my steps leftward. It was then--after passing my neighboring flats and crossing a bridge over the railroad tracks--that I would find in Port Meadow a truly quiet place.

Port Meadow, at the outskirts of Oxford, is common land to everyone. Surrounded by trees, so that only the tips and spires of some of Oxford’s buildings are visible from the field, Port Meadow is meant to be preserved and used only for walking and jogging or grazing horses and cows. I liked the horses, but the cows scared me. Never before had I considered running through a field filled with these animals--three times my size--but upon trying it, I found that it was an exhilarating experience. Often, I would breeze down the footpath, barely being able to make out the dark cow shapes at the other end of the field. But occasionally these grazers decided to be a little more friendly. There were times when I found them right at the edge of the path, nodding their heads solicitously as I nervously trod past them. Eventually I came to welcome their company as a kind of challenge--that is, I felt a certain thrill when I was able to overcome my apprehension at their closeness and keep running. Only once did they cause me to turn around, as I recall--when one particularly menacing-looking cow planted itself directly in the pathway and stared at me as I approached. I decided not to challenge it’s territory.

Despite stubborn bovines, the meadow was a quieting place for me to go and shake off the worries of the day. Sometimes I would go alone to think and to talk to God. Other times I went with a friend. The very spirit of the meadow seemed to encourage those deep conversations between friends about life, love, and God. Maybe it was the wide open sky or the calm serenity of being surrounded by nature. Other people must have felt the draw of the place as well, because I often saw one, two, or groups of them - usually with one or more dogs along - strolling the field in conversation or reflective silence.

When my boyfriend, Micah - now my husband - came to visit me from Texas, we packed some sandwiches and fresh fruit and headed down the meadow path. We passed through a gated fence into a part of the meadow where the animals couldn’t venture, then spread our picnic on a small hill that caught both the sunshine and the cooling breeze. That afternoon is now my favorite memory from Oxford. We stayed until the sun began to dip behind the trees at the edge of the field. It was an unforgettable time of talking, sharing our hearts, and enjoying being together after a long separation.

Slightly more than a year has passed since I lived in Oxford. Right before I left, I took one last walk through Port Meadow, snapping several pictures on my camera to help me remember what it felt like to walk there. Even though I am now back home across the ocean, I have come to realize that the meadow is with me still. It is an integral part of me; in fact, it always has been. Inside me is that place where all else is stripped away, where the self-made facade does not penetrate. It is the real me. It is the part of me that I had no hand in creating. It is in this region of myself that I question and consider concepts about life and God. It is here where I connect on some mysterious level with my Love--my husband--and the reason we know we are soul mates.
My own meadow was created by God, and so I have asked Him to take it back for Himself. I sometimes come here to meet and talk with Him, though not as often as I should. Why not, I wonder? There is such peace when we are here together.

Here in my innermost sanctum, I sometimes meet my demons. Much of the time they are far away, but sometimes they place themselves directly in front of me and attempt to block my path forward. These are the areas of myself that are flawed and imperfect. These are the messages that the enemy aims at my soul, mocking me for my unworthiness. They are intruders in my field, and I fear them. But what joy I feel when--with a strength not my own--I am able to face and overcome those fears!

Perhaps this is the reason I felt so at home in Port Meadow, the reason I sought it out whenever I could. The meadow is a reflection of my soul.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Our Home

My entry-way, dining room and music room:o)

Living Room

Fluffy thinks this sofa is hers

I like the things in my home to mean something. That glass jar on the hearth contains dried rose petals from all the roses Micah's given me. The hearth broom is one that my Grandpa and I made together (He's a real craftsman--also does carpentry, black-smithing, and just about everything).
Both the dresser that the TV is sitting on and the end-table beside the couch are finds we picked up on the side of the road (they had a sign on them saying FREE, so we helped ourselves!) I sanded them down to give them a distressed finish. I still have to buy new drawer handles because I didn't like the right now there aren't any:o)

Bench Project

Today we finished making a bench for our front porch. OK...we didn't make it from scratch...but almost!

Some neighbors of my parents gave us a bench they were going to throw away. I wish I had a "before picture" was pretty bad! The metal was green and rusty, and the wood was rotten. Micah and I sanded and recoated the metal, and then replaced all the wood. This project took a lot longer than I expected, but we're happy with the results!:o)