Reclaiming Abundance: King’s Cottage & Yellow Pants (weeks 10 & 11)

Because we had SUCH an adventuresome and occupied October, I’m just a skosh behind- a tish even. So, I will be using my formidable magical powers to put two weeks of this project into one. [Insert Harry Potter spell here. Unfortunately, there is no combining spell used in the HP series. We could just say something like Combinus Homogenous! or something… Look at us being inventive. Oh, the cleverness of us!]

SO. On to Week 10: The issue of naming our home has long been a desire of my heart, because for one thing, I always loved how people named their homes in England- from estates down to a snug little cottage. Which of course makes me think of this quote from Sense & Sensibility:

“I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself… where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me and be happy. I advise everybody who is going to build, to build a cottage.”

It should really be noted that it is Robert Ferrars who utters this quote to Elinor Dashwood; and, in spite of sounding like something people make into a graphic and pin on Pinterest, it is actually insultingly condescending of him- but if you don’t know about that go read the book and/or watch the movie. In the book (which I admittedly have not read in its entirety… *hangs head in shame*) it does say soon after that,

“Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.”

Isn’t that amazing?! I realize this is not news that Austen is amazing, but I am simultaneously filled with utter gratification at her description of how you feel when people patronize you, and also feeling ashamed that I even refer to what I do here as “writing”. My “writing” should probably just be called something else altogether. It’s more like vaguely-coherent-sentence-formation-with-semi-correct-punctuation. Anyway, on to the first point of this post… which will quickly snowball into 3 weeks instead of 2 if I keep adding asides about Jane Austen novels.

It seems like all the best things happen in cottages. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say all the most genius and imaginative people live in cottages. They just seem prone to magic. ((Both the people and the cottages.)) And all the best cottages have names. Like C.S. Lewis living at The Kilns in Oxford, or the singer/songwriter/author Andrew Peterson ((aka the male version of what I want to be when I grow up)) living at The Warren, the Weasleys living at The Burrow, or any given fictitious home found in Tolkien’s Middle-earth… Like Rivendell, or Bag End, etc. ((I recognize, Rivendell is certainly not a cottage. It’s just part of the naming-a-place thing.))

My dear friend, Heather, and I even named our dorm room in our second year of living together at college. See, we’d been living in room 306, which was a wonderful room, with which we were exceptionally pleased. But because Heather had agreed to be back-up R.A. and because there arose a need for the back-up to become not-the-back-up anymore, because the 2nd floor needed a new R.A. we had to move to the opposite end of the building on the second floor. 218? 219? I don’t remember the exact room number. Namely, because I dubbed it “2-0-crap” at some point soon after moving there. This was because it was situated, to our singular displeasure, above the cafeteria. Which seemed to perpetually be preparing ((or reheating, more like)) some mysterious potato dish at any given time of day. The fumes of this repulsive, toxic, odious desecration of potatoes could be seen pouring through the screen of our window. ((Oh, and there was no AC in this building, so the windows almost always had to stay open.)) Thus, the name 2-0-crap.

However, in an effort to feel more cheerful about the whole thing, we decided to sort of call it Barton Cottage, like the forlorn little place the Dashwood girls are forced to move to. ((…yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. I also tend towards over-use of the ellipsis, which I technically don’t even use correctly. So that bit about correct punctuation earlier was a lie.)) Somehow, this act of naming our grubby little room redeemed the place a little, made it slightly more endearing. And we still made it as beautiful as was within our power. Which is, really, a good thing to do no matter where you live. How rare is it to actually live in the sort of place you dream about? Clearly, the success of HGTV alone reveals a desire in humanity to live in a place of beauty. ((Yet another way I see evidence that we are created with an innate thirst for beauty- even in things like our faucets and soap dispensers.)) Let alone Pinterest… Beauty feels intentional; it gives a place purpose. Or, maybe it’s better to say it reminds us that we are purposeful, especially in dry seasons or dark ones that feel like wandering endlessly through the desert.

So, the act of naming our home is to me another way of staking a claim in this beauty, this abundance, that I believe is available to be found in any season. ((Seriously, click right here to read The Nester’s thoughts on this… She puts into words what I never have.)) This is a lovely thought, however the challenge of naming things always tends to plague me because I’m a perfectionist and want a name to be at once meaningful and appealing.

I wasn’t sure what to name our home ((it’s an apartment right now, but it’s really a pretty one, and I’ve decided it’s a cottage that just happens to be elevated to the 3rd floor of a building)), but I knew I wanted the word “cottage” to be included, because our last name actually means “the old cottage.” That’s just cute, people. But, “The Old Cottage” lacked color. So, I decided to borrow Ryan’s name as inspiration. The name “Ryan” actually means “little king.” I LOVE this, for so many reasons, but especially because of the spiritual parallels to us being children of God- little kings and queens. Royalty whose job is to serve, whose garb isn’t glamorous, but whose lives are made beautiful.

Like Rivendell is an elven outpost, our little cottage is an outpost of the kingdom of God. He reigns here, and everywhere, no matter how far from heaven we are. So, all that to say, I made up my mind- miraculously- to call our home “King’s Cottage.”   Now. Since I haven’t been able to figure out how to do the thing I want most, which is to find a piece of wood and somehow paint it and make it into a rustic sign that says “King’s Cottage” on it, I’m settling for these 3 framed lovelies that were a gift (one of my absolute favorite gifts) we received at our wedding. They ironically contain a quote about Rivendell- one of my favorites:

A perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.” ~ Bilbo, on The Last Homely House

That’s another name for “Rivendell.” If we had a tag line for our home, this would be it. Now, I know this isn’t a verse, but it reminds me of verses about hospitality, which isn’t about having fancy napkins or a perfectly clean house, but who we are supposed to be in the world, and what happens to a place when we bring the kingdom of God into it. Jami Balmet says some pretty great stuff about hospitality. Anyway, here they are:

These were oddly difficult to capture on my phone. The whole picture-taking endeavor was just awkward. But there you are.
These were oddly difficult to capture on my phone. The whole picture-taking endeavor was just awkward. But there you are.

They were, most fittingly, made and given by Heather as a matter of fact, who is at the very least a kindred spirit. From one cottage to another. Wanna closeup?

This one first...
This one first…
...this one next...
…this one next…
...and last but not least.
These are actually photographs Heather took of our last dorm room my senior year, her junior year. (It wasn’t 2-0-crap. It was 3-something-or-other. And it had two windows- most coveted for the light and air circulation. One of them you could climb out of onto the roof… which of course we never did.)

So, some day when I figure out this signage thing, I’ll totally post pictures of it ((because undoubtedly, I will be so proud of my barely-considered-DIY project, I will force it upon the internet like a child showing off a macaroni necklace)). 

There they are. Hanging happily above the Reading Chair, in which many endeavors in sleeping, sitting and thinking,
There they are. Hanging happily above the Reading Chair, in which many endeavors in food, sleep, story-telling, singing, & sitting and thinking have occurred. Also, reading.

That’s week 10. And now- week 11!!

Patience. It’s not my greatest virtue. When Hulu freezes 20 times in the middle of an episode, I find myself snarling and preparing to throw heavy objects. I’m like the Hulk, but considerably more shrill. And not scary at all. Though I do turn green, oddly enough… I should probably get that checked out. And I realize that I’m reacting with the same vehemence as someone who is about to go to war and burn, pillage, and plunder their way through peasants and countryside… ((Like Trogdor the Burninator. Click on that link and prepared to be cultured. And to lose a few IQ points. Go on. I dare you… Did you do it?? How bout those consummate V’s?))

If I react this way to an inanimate object ((I didn’t even tell you about my eternal feud with hangers of all kinds…)), you can imagine that I need some work on patience. Especially when it comes to teaching preschoolers and taking care of multiple children all day at the preschool where I work part-time. Don’t get me wrong- I totally love those kids!!! They are so cute, and they just want to hug you all the time and show you their creations, and all that good stuff. However. That doesn’t mean they don’t have their own turning-into-little-grumpy-Hulk moments too. And when those moments come, it is sometimes all you can do to maintain your already thin grip on sanity.

I don’t think anyone wants to be whiny, impatient, or snotty to their friends- me, the preschoolers, or anyone else for that matter. I want so badly to be the best version of myself possible. Not in the striving-and-trying-hard-to-be-some-impossible-standard-of-perfection kind of way, but in the desiring-to-be-who-God-made-me-to-be kind of way. To grow in my relationship with God, who gives the abundant life I’m always so thirsty for. But it’s so much easier to just be a grouchy pants than it is to choose to let yourself find God’s presence in a frustrating moment. This quote about being irritable and overwhelmed says it all:

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It’s one of those quotes I heard and don’t feel like I need to explain. I know what it’s like to act like an ungracious and un-generous person when I neglect intentional focus on the Lord. It’s unpleasant for people around me, sure. But it’s almost worse for me… I think. Not just because I feel ashamed of acting that way, but because it’s just not me. Not who I’m made to be, anyway. And I’ve been thinking I needed to doodle the verse I chose for this week since I first got that amazingly sweet Thank-You card from my boss and the kids at the preschool after my first full week of being there. The verse is this:

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26 ESV

It’s probably a shocker to you, but when my mouth opens, wisdom is not generally the first thing that comes out. ((The whole thinking-before-you-speak thing is SO hard; what about those of us that think with our mouths???)) So, because I like this so much, and because we finally broke down and bought more ink for the printer ((which might as well be the Elixir of Life of office supplies for how much the stuff costs)), I decided to put it in a couple places. Here, on my bedside table:

Next to a pile of books I intend to read... My theory is that if they're right next to the bed, I'll be significantly more prompt in reading them.
Next to a pile of books I intend to read… Oh, except Harry Potter is on top. I was reading that for the millionth time… Yet another reason I piled the others under it; so that I won’t keep rereading all my favorites. My theory is that if they’re right next to the bed, I’ll be significantly more prompt in reading them.
She is, of course, drinking coffee. Because there's no chance for wisdom or the teaching of kindness or words of any kind until it has been ingested.
She is, of course, drinking coffee. Because there’s no chance for wisdom or the teaching of kindness or words of any kind until it has been ingested.
At first, I thought of putting it in the back of the the binder, but I don't know that I'd actually see it frequently enough...
At first, I thought of putting it in the back of the the binder, but I don’t know that I’d actually see it frequently enough…

And a bigger print of it on the fridge:

Printer ink has never made me feel so cool.
Printer ink has never made me feel so cool.

Either way, I’ll be sure to see this every morning… especially because I like this girl’s outfit. Especially because of the yellow pants.

Incidentally, Internet- you may rejoice with me over my great victory, because as of two weeks ago ((remember, I’ve been busy))– I CAN FIT INTO MY FAVORITE PANTS!!!! Which are mustard yellow. $10 at Old Navy, baby! Anyway, following close behind coffee on the list of things that insure my happiness are those pants… On that profound note, that’s it from here at King’s Cottage! ((Isn’t it just fun to say??? Is it cheesy?? No. Don’t tell me. I’ve decided I don’t care.))

Anyone else name their home? Derive particular joy from colorful pants? Both?

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Reclaiming Abundance: My Beloved’s (week 9!)

So. You’re probably wondering why it took me two weeks between posts… Oh- you’re not? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway. The short version is that I said “Yes” to basically everything I possibly could from October 10th to now.

 

The long version goes thus:

We’d decided to go over to visit my parents for that delightful covered bridge festival day. That was the 10th. After that, we had two birthday parties that same weekend. The following two weekends occupied themselves with two more trips to Indy, because Ryan and I’d agreed to fill in preaching/leading worship since my parents were on a trip. ((Ryan was preaching, and I led worship. Obviously, I did not preach, so this was likely an unnecessary clarification.)) So, on the 18th we found ourselves at a Starbucks meeting up with my beautiful friend Megan and her positively adorable 4-month old, Aurora, ((Who is so tiny in comparison to Lucy; she could eat that baby.)) and then led the church services the following day. The next weekend (aka the 25th-26th) we went to the wedding of two wonderful friends from our small group and THEN drove over to Indy. Oh, did I say “went” to the wedding? I meant “went to the wedding, in which we were involved a surprising amount.” Ryan agreed to run sound/tech and I helped with the bridal party’s makeup… and Lucy was the flower girl.

 

** PAUSE FOR EFFECT: BRACE YOURSELVES FOR EXTREEM CUTENESS **

 

photo 7 photo 8 photo 10 photo 6 photo 2

 

((Yes, I realize that Lucy’s face in that last one is SO flattering, but it was so cute of Katie and Andrew, I had to include it… Sorry, Lu.))

 

I mean, seriously. I’m so glad they got married so we’d have a reason to dress her up like this… which I know was their whole purpose. To all who attended and experienced this decibel of cuteness: You’re welcome.

 

Anyway. The awesome thing is I developed a positively dreadful cold round about Wednesday- huzza!!! In case you don’t know, having a cold of any kind presents certain obstacles to things like singing. Which is vexing when you’re supposed to lead worship and, you know, sing and stuff. Mercifully, I somehow had something resembling a singing voice, though when I spoke it came out like crackling, scratchy burnt pieces of toast. So, it’s really a miracle that people didn’t flee when I welcomed everyone at the beginning…

 

It reminded me of this:

 

Except unlike Phoebe, my phlegm was, unfortunately, NOT sexy.

 

Suffice it to say, time for blogging evaporated and here we are, nearly two weeks later. *Hangs head in shame* My deepest and most profuse apologies to you who are reading. All three of you.

 

However. In spite of our active October ((I refuse to call it merely “busyness” because I so thoroughly enjoyed ALL of the people and activities we got to be a part of. It was all truly wonderful; we simply find ourselves ready for a day spent in jammies drinking copious amounts of coffee and not moving save to prepare meals or get ready for bed)) I must note- nay, brag!– on my wonderful, thoughtful, gracious, helpful, hunky husband. I could spend the remainder of this post listing all the ways in which he made the last several weeks infused with peace in the midst of- to some degree- chaos. But to be brief ((…let’s pause so we can all laugh at this hilarious joke…)) here are a few:

1. He has intentionally carved out space before leaving for work every morning for us to pick up doing our couples devotional again- and keep doing it, instead of sleeping longer.

2. He made dinner- as in had it ready to eat when I got home after one of my longer days last week. It was brinner. ((That’s breakfast-for-dinner fyi. And no, he didn’t make it because that’s the only thing he knows how to make. I’d actually put it on our menu for that evening. Which makes it even more amazing that he just took initiative to do it.)) And it was awesome. Complete with coffee, which he’d just finished making when I got home with Lucy.

Brinner. How I love thee!
Brinner. How I love thee!

 

3. He did laundry, helped with dishes, and was willing to make the *extra* trip to Indy so we could have our epic covered bridge festival day of fried food goodness… not to mention carrying all our stuff up and down the stairs like, a bazillion times ((third floor apartment, people)) which means a LOT more now with Lucy. Apparently, even one baby has a ton of crap to take everywhere. ((If only someone had invented a type of- I don’t know- huge box in which you and all your possessions or perhaps, other people, could stand and it would magically take you to down to the ground and/or back up to your floor, as the case may be…))

 

As I’ve said, I could go on, but then it might just look as though I’m including all these reasons because I’ve recently discovered that he reads my blog and I’m just trying to get marriage points. ((The fact that he reads it in and of itself should be a big, giant, highlighted, bold-underlined-italics reason on this Husband Brag List, too.))

 

But of course, all this does have something to do with this week’s Abundance verse. Which is actually from two verses:

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine… And his banner over me is love.”

 

Technically, it’s Song of Solomon 6:3 and 2:4b. And in case you didn’t know, that is the NIV for the first part, and the NASB for the second.

 

Originally, I had picked this to doodle as a wedding present for Katie and Andrew. What is surprising is how dense I was when it came to choosing a verse to do for them. I didn’t want to just use any verse about love or marriage, or that part in Ephesians about husbands and wives, or that verse that is so often quoted at weddings about going where you go and staying where you stay etc. ((…which always intrigues me a little, just because technically Ruth said that to her mother-in-law, Naomi, after Naomi tells Ruth that she’s free to go back to her family since her husband- Naomi’s son- had died… so, it’s not said in the context of romantic relationship)) The reason that I say I was dense is because of how huge a part of our love story- Ryan’s and mine- that verse has been.

 

Thank you, Target, for such a lovely picture frame!
Thank you, Target, for such a lovely picture frame!

Ryan was my first boyfriend… and last ((obviously)). We met spring of 2008, which was the latter half of my sophomore year of college. Without telling you the entire story, which would take several posts worth of space, I just want to tell you one part of it. The part where I was freaking out because I’d never had a boyfriend before and was terrified of this new thing that was wholly unexpected in every possible way. ((Since I’d resigned myself to the fact that I’d probably be like my mom and not marry someone until I was 32… This at the wizened and sagacious age of 20.)) I’d even laid down the boundary of letter-writing (to theoretically protect myself from any phone-talking expectations) that summer, because we started dating- oh, I mean “talking” ((which was all I was brave enough to call it at that point. You know, in case he was a head case. I never factored in that might be the head case.)) at the end of the school year, after which I would go home to Indiana, eight-ish hours from him.

photo 1

I believe it was during that first month that I was home, when I got to have coffee with my beautiful Aimee, and poured out my bubbling torrent of neuroticism. Or, to call it by its proper name, we shall use the scientific term: First Boyfriend Freak Out. And Aimee, whose closeness with the Lord I perpetually seek to emulate, shared something you might call prophetic about Ryan with me. She looked at me- with that enviable perfect peace smiling out of her eyes- and told me that Ryan was waving a banner over me. At the time, neither Aimee nor myself, seemingly knew how to take that exactly. And we moved on from there… I didn’t have an epiphany about the obvious connection of this comment with those verses until the next month, when Ryan visited our family for a week. Just after he left, I opened one of my journals, and saw this verse- Isaiah 11:10- from earlier that year before I’d met Ryan:

” In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.”

 

And it hit me. He’s waving a banner over me. That banner was love. CONNECTIONS, PEOPLE!!! ((I think they call that a kairos moment… Maybe?)) And then my brain exploded… just kidding. But I did write my first love song whenever that was- somewhere around July 4, 2008- about being willing to risk for this relationship. I think it was exceptionally terrifying because Ryan knew within like, 2 weeks of knowing me that he could marry me, and I didn’t know until like, 6 months (9?) into our relationship. ((Depending on whether you count the “talking” months… sheesh.)) Of course, it took another 2 or 3 months after I wrote this song for me to actually play it for Ryan, but really, can you blame me? I mean, you can’t exactly un-play a song for someone once it’s played.

photo 11

So, that’s how it started- the journey of forging my path with Ryan’s- two becoming one. And really, that’s what the whole of our marriage- and any marriage, I suppose- is, at it’s core. It’s a daily thing. You put on a gown and a tux and make a vow on one day, but the next day you don’t wear a gown and look your best. Sometimes you look downright ugly. Or your spouse does. The truth is, Ryan has kept on waving a banner of love over me through plenty of ups and a plethora of dreadful downs. I have kept answering him with my love. And it’s only through Christ- who IS love- that we have any idea of what this looks like, or how to keep our promise when one of us is being human in a hideous way. That’s my prayer for anyone’s marriage- certainly it continues to be my prayer for Ryan and myself- that we may keep waving this banner of love over each other, over our homes, our children, our lives.

photo 10