hellomarylou

Inklings from within


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January {inspirations}

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Ancient of Days

“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.”
Daniel 7:9

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This past week was a flurry of activity as we helped prepare for my brother and his fiancé’s wedding. V was an organized bride with a clear vision of what she wanted so it was a fun event to be a part of.

20121025-184415.jpgThe barn where the reception was held was so beautiful. Honestly, if they would let me, I would move in and make it my house.

20121025-184434.jpg The day dawned, dreary and wet, but the skies cleared beautifully just in time for their outdoor ceremony. And they got married. They said I do. I will. For as long as we both shall live.

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There’s my family. All 457,694,793,474 of us.
The reception went off beautifully. A celebration with good food, an excellent and witty toast by my little brother, songs, tears, love, blessings. We were and are, so happy for the newlyweds.
Towards the end of the reception, a light rain had grown to a heavy downpour and could be heard pounding on the roof above us. The wind had picked up as well and I said to David, “I think we should go over and close those doors.” The barn had these giant doors that were propped open throughout the evening. I had started to make my way towards the doors when David said, “Honey, no. Just stay here. Don’t worry about the doors.”
Looking back, the timeline blurs, but suddenly the wind really started blowing and one of the barn doors swung shut and then open again with a loud BANG! There were a few seconds of silence and then a lady’s frightened scream. And then bedlam. It sounded like a freight train was bearing down on us. People were running all over the place trying to determine the safest place to hide away. I was close to the bridal table when a window in the ceiling caved to the pressure and glass came flying through the air. I remember dropping my phone and thinking, “Who cares?” (there’s no app for the end of the world) I was getting underneath the bridal table when I heard my dear husband yelling my name. Vigorously.
If you look at the photos above of the barn, you will see these ladders/posts that run from the floor to the ceiling. He was standing next to one of those and calling me over to join him. I put one foot in front of the other, like a slow motion escape from the rabid dogs in my childhood nightmares. I reached his side, we fell to our knees, hugging the sturdy posts. At some point I became aware of the fact that I was hugging a stranger who was also clinging to the post. The stranger and I were both praying. “Dear Jesus, calm the storm. Dear Jesus, be with us. Protect us. Dear Jesus. Jesus.” The wind whipped and howled and the roof rattled and then, as suddenly as it had come, it was over.
People got off their knees, reunited with their lost spouses and children. Hugged each other. “Are you okay? Where were you? Who was with you?” I unwrapped my arms from around the stranger and as she turned to look at me I said, “Nice to meet you.” She smiled. “It seems like we were both thinking the same thing.”

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“Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,
when he blows on them, and they wither,
and the tempest carries them off like stubble.”
Isaiah 40:24

20121025-195132.jpg We spent lots of time going over the details of the storm. Over and over. Each one’s different perspective. Rejoicing over and over that we were all safe.

20121025-195441.jpg The next day we drove around the neighborhood around my mom’s house and surveyed the damage. It was an incredible sight to see, to try to wrap your mind around the power it must have taken to cause that much destruction. I know that what Lancaster County suffered was nothing compared to the storms that other areas have suffered in the past. Nevertheless, it was certainly the strongest storm many of us have ever experienced.

20121025-195922.jpg Saturday evening we were having a ladies’ night out at a bistro in Honeybrook when we got the news that a young mother had passed away mysteriously in her sleep. She was a sister to one of my brother’s groomsmen and someone with whom I occasionally hung out before getting married. Ruth. Thirty one years old. My age. Mother of three. I can’t imagine what her family must be going through. What can ever prepare you for losing a sister? A daughter? A wife?

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“A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of The Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.”
Isaiah 40:6-7

20121025-201310.jpg I walk around as if I hold the keys to life and death, as if I can count on my next breath. My next day, or week or year. But in truth, each and every moment I am being held up by the mercies of God. Each moment of life, a gift from the Father. And that can bring fear to my human heart. A few weeks ago I answered a question in my Q&A book. Where do you think your road is going? And the answer had come to me so clearly. Towards redemption. And Ruth is just a little further down that road than the rest of us. There is a reason to fear God. He is powerful and just and holy. And there is a reason to trust God. He is faithful and true and not willing that any should perish. If you have claimed the blood of his Son Jesus as a sacrifice for your sin, repented, and turned from your sin, then you are his.

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“Fear not, I am the first and the last,
and the living one.
I died, and behold I am alive forevermore,
and have the keys of death and hades.”
Revelation 1:17-18


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Blessings Flow

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It was a Merry Christmas and an exceedingly Happy New Year!
Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera on our family’s New Year’s weekend getaway; therefore I am unable to prove the good times I claim we had. If I find the opportunity, I will steal some from some unsuspecting relative.
After getting home Monday afternoon, it was back to work on Tuesday. And today, today I have been cleaning and de-cluttering like a mad woman. My goal is to finish the de-cluttering and spring cleaning process by April 1st. Maybe by March 1st. But definitely by April 1st. Heaven knows this place isn’t that big, I could do it in a week if I really wanted. But let’s be realistic.
Freeing our house from clutter is a bug that has bitten me slowly….only recently have I started to get really serious. I have already taken a few boxes over to my Mom’s basement with plans for a big spring yard sale. Today I added more to a yard sale box and took lots more to the dumpster. Just getting rid of simple things like half a year’s worth of my husbands Cabelas magazines feels good. Not to mention small fabric scraps not worth saving, Christmas wrapping odds and ends, old, paid bills, wedding gifts I never/almost never use, antique or used store finds that are no longer practical enough to suit me, leftover WEDDING PROGRAMS, (I had a stack of about 50!!) scrapbook paper I don’t need/want, etc etc etc. Just STUFF, that takes up space in my house and in my mind and slows up productivity.
The Unclutterer is a website that’s been hugely inspirational to me. A bit extreme sometimes, but it points me in the right direction. It has really helped me figure out that hanging on to sentimental objects is only rarely worth it. Our memories are what we should hold precious; and more often than not, the objects that represent those memories, become an overwhelming and annoying cluster of things to step over, dust around, and sweep around, taking up space in our homes that could be free for real creativity.
Anyhoo….a salute to 2012! And to our God who gifts us with each new day.
Blessings,
Marylou


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Toes in Cowpies

Is there a bigger letdown than a cancelled vacation? I know, it’s such a first-world problem, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. Next Saturday morning I was going to be in a car with my mom and sisters on our way to the Outer Banks. It was going to be our first ever ladies only vacation. Sisters, mom, nieces. But Sister Irene, she’s a doozy, and in her fury has pretty much doomed our vacation. And in my grand optimistic wisdom, I declined the travel insurance when booking our house. Yes.

“Only worry in the world is the tide gonna reach my chair…” (I was really looking forward to singing that song at the beach.)

It is what it is. And what it is, is a reminder that we can make plans, but God allows our every breath. Every move. It’s humbling, and gratitude inspiring. He has saved me day after day, for 10,950 days. (give or take a few) For some reason, He has not consumed me, with fire or cancer or hurricanes or famine or war. I did not place myself on this earth. I did not self-help my way into being. I did not send in an application requesting placement on this planet. Life is a gift from God to me, completely un-merited and unattainable on my own. Without that gift I would never even know the pleasure of sinking my toes into the sands by the ocean; I wouldn’t have sisters and family that I love to be with. So thank you God. For life.

As far as the vacation goes, we do have a couple of options. We’re considering a mountainside vacation, at my aunt’s vacation-farmette in West Virginia. I don’t have pictures of the farm, but I know there will be a few of these there:

And some of these:

Cows and concord grapes. The ambience would be different – our toes will luxuriate in cow pies instead of sand, but I’m sure we’d still have an unforgettable time.
We’re also considering going to my sister’s house in South Carolina. Poor lady, it wouldn’t be much of a vacation for her to have us all pile in her house, 🙂 but we’re still undecided.
Labor day weekend is this weekend! What are your plans? We have a few possibilities……..I’ll be doing some organizing here at home, maybe a DIY project, (coasters!) a wedding Saturday evening, maybe a visit to the Fonthill Museum, and hopefully a few campfires thrown in there.
Have a blessed weekend!


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August

August- it rushes in with white hot heat, drenches us in humidity, and almost, almost makes us long for the coming season. Autumn is the season I relish most, but this year I’m watching its arrival with equal parts anticipation and trepidation. Anticipation for the crisp weather, apple cider, FOOTBALL, and campfires. Trepidation, because I know that just beyond the beautiful harvest sunsets lurks the icy grip of winter. But today, today I close my eyes, let the summer sun sink into my bones, and thank God for this day.
This day- today is an extra day off for me. I traded a few extra hours last evening for my entire shift today. Yesterday was a long day but today is bliss. I hung the laundry outside and enjoyed the clean, crisp smell of it when I brought it in. I chatted with our land-lady-we were standing in the yard when everyone else felt the earthquake. We didn’t feel a thing. I took my husband a glass of ice water while he mowed the lawn. I chopped up peppers and basil from my garden to put in the pasta sauce I made for dinner. Now DH is gone for the evening and I am reflecting.
Reflecting on August-

The second weekend in August we traveled to Oklahoma for my cousin Tony’s wedding. There were ten of us, assorted siblings, in-laws, Mom, and DH and I. We took two vehicles and had a great time traveling out there. The above photo features a number of us cousins that were lucky enough to be together for a few days. It was supposed to be a serious photo but some of us couldn’t maintain the seriousness. Oklahoma is…….vast. And beautiful. One night we sat out in the prairie watching the most fabulous lightning storm of our lives.

Last weekend DH and I took an impromptu weekend off in Delaware. We left Friday evening, checked into our hotel, then went out to dinner.

Dessert was complimentary coffee and cookies from the hotel. 🙂

{cute pillow}

{good books}

{good company}

The next day we crossed a few bridges, criss-crossing our way from Wilmington, to New Jersey, and back to Pennsylvania. We visited the Brandywine Zoo, (took us about 10 minutes to walk through the entire thing :)), a “farmer’s market” that wasn’t, Swedesboro, NJ for lunch, and then ended our day at one of my favorite stores in the universe.

{love}

{loveliness}

{beautiful $$$$ scarves}

{furniture I want to take home}

{more coffee}

{chalkboard}

{purple}

{love forever}

Lest you think it was an all butterflies and roses weekend…..it was not. It was one of those weekends where even though we were together, DH was being a perfect gentleman, and he played romantic music in the car while the rain came down…..there was something in my heart that was demanding more. More what? I’m not sure I could tell you. It was just this little voice in my head that wanted to somehow shake what I needed out of my husband. It was a demanding voice. And although I restrained it, by Saturday afternoon I felt myself starting to withdraw. I started making a mental list of reasons he was to blame for my discontented spirit.
Friday night I had picked up a book at B&N entitled “Every Woman’s Marriage,” and the small part of it that I had read started to come back to me, and I thought with surprise, “Oh this again.” My spirit was dry because I had not been feasting on living water. I had not been leaning on the only REAL source of fulfillment and joy available to me. Everything else is but a shadow of that source. Forgive me God. Forgive me husband. We put our relationships in rough place when we expect them to meet our every deepest need. Marriage is beautiful….but what gives it its beauty is what it reflects….and that is our relationship with our Creator. And He is so faithful to remind us of that, and not leave us stumbling in the dark forever.

Sunday night we celebrated my brother’s birthday, (pictured here with his gf) with grilled shish-kabobs, grilled veggies, cake and ice cream. And coffee.

We also discovered that his dog has an…..unauthorized pregnancy. Oh dear.

Until next time,
Marylou