Monday, December 31, 2012

A Day in Colonial Williamsburg

Today, Melody and I upheld our tradition of spending New Year's Eve wandering around Colonial Williamsburg to enjoy the beautiful live Christmas decorations. Here is a glimpse of our walk...

Looking through the keyhole of the Wythe House

The Weaver's Shop

An outdoor market across from Bruton Parish Church

A welcome sight on a chilly day

Bruton Parish Church

The busy shopkeeper having a few words with his assistant outside Greenhow's Store

The Milliner's Shop :)

Jeremiah - one of my favorite Williamsburg horses

A quick game of horseshoes

The Courthouse

One of our favorite little bridges :) 


My kind of traffic...

Coastal Flare

Monday, December 24, 2012


1) Thankful to have a few hours with my Daddy tonight.
2) Thankful for a lovely afternoon spent with my Mom, sister and younger brother. Been quite a while since we were all able to spend a day together.
3) Thankful for clarity in my Grandaddy's condition and wishes...a mercy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012


1) A beautiful winter walk with Sarah Beth and Daniel. 

2) When my Mamma came back from the day at the Hospital with my Grandaddy, she brought an unexpected surprise: a beautiful pillar candle for my study, a case of tea lights and a good supply of candles for the fireplace mantle so that we can light them every night after dinner for reading. What a lovely treat! Oh the joy of simple pleasures...  

My favorite time of day...

3) I've been thinking a lot lately on what it means to pursue a steady peace and joy in the soul. Deeply inspired by the consistency of these qualities in much of the literature I studied this term, I began to notice correlations between these qualities and the intentional order and restraint inherent in many of the authors' life and work. I began to notice that this correlation was also consistent in the lives of friends and mentors whom I respect.

I had always felt rather discouraged by this, shaking my head sadly at my disorganized tendencies and subconsciously chalking up the cyclical unrest which descends on my heart to my easily affected emotional nature. I could not foresee a time in which I could learn to love restraint, voluntarily seek structure and live joyfully within each moment. I reveled - almost to an aching point -  in the literature, music and history which gave glimpses into life lived in such a manner. Yet here, I found myself falling short of realizing the hope in such glimpses by directing my disappointment toward my misfortune of having been born in the modern age or with a passionate nature. But as I've looked back over what was learned this term, I am seeing afresh what I really knew all along. Such peace is never convenient and is rarely the result of circumstances. This contrast struck with especial significance a few days ago as I read the following observations in a brief introduction to 17th century Literature:

"Of course an orderly world can be disrupted, and those who lived in the 17th-century were familiar with vast disorder. In this era their government was twice overturned, their church fragmented, their society redistributed. Indeed, though they believed in order, they saw very little of it. Perhaps this is why the recurrent movement of 17th-century literature is a quest for resolution. It is everywhere apparent, whether in Donne and Herbert’s self-wrestlings, Jonson’s neat epigrams, Herrick’s happy abandonment, or Milton’s weighty ponderings. The quest for resolution bred a spirit of high resolve: the writer set pen to paper questioning, and did not stop his hand until he attained some answer or equilibrium.... Common to all these is the searching and arriving, which in our day may signal a strange
glimmer of hope. We have grown callously accustomed to pursuing a never-ending search; the 17th
century poets may renew our hope for rest." (L. Brigham)

That last line has especially stayed with me as having pinpointed one of the key differences between my default approach to life and that which I am now striving to quietly embrace. "Pursuing a never-ending search" could serve as an accurate label over most of my life thus far. The pursuit had, in itself, become a kind of goal, much like that which C.S. Lewis describes in Surprised By Joy.  I am now discovering that there is a kind of settledness which may be had now - unbound by circumstance. As creatures which still bear vestiges of their unfallen capacity for peace and joy, we are privileged to hold both the ever-present longing for full restoration and a settled contentment now

This realization has been steadily growing since early this summer but it has reached a head in the last few days. God-given abundance is all around us - just as real as the loss and grief and struggle visible on every side. To savor what has been given (not in what one could wish for outside of that gift), to take joy in one's work as the prescribed calling of that moment, to rest in the confidence of God's sovereign providence over words fail in describing the relief of such a thought. My "hope for rest" has been renewed, a "spirit of high resolve" has been instilled and I am setting forth: beginning on my knees with the earnest prayer for grace to live in light of how I was created and towards the state to which I will be restored. While I cry, as fervently as ever, "Come, Lord Jesus, Come" I can say for nearly the first time that I take deep joy in the chance to "walk as in His presence" now. This world is fallen, but it is yet a mirror, a glimpse, a taste of the Paradise which our Almighty God created us to tend and enjoy. How can we do otherwise? 

Friday, December 21, 2012


1) An Evening at Home with Family, listening to my Mamma read a Christmas story by the soft light of decorations. 

And of course we couldn't read a story without popcorn and sweet tea :)

2) The opportunity to slow down a little. It will take a while I guess to fully simmer down from the busyness of the term's climax but today was a good start. 

3) Time with my Daddy... it was so short - just over meals - but it was still so so good to be with him at last! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012


1) Reaching home safely through all the wind and rain!!
2) So much joy to be living in the moments given
3) The wonderful opportunity to look back over this semester and revel in the treasures emerging from the feast times and the seasons of pain and weariness. There is so much that could be said, but my heart is full and my brain is tired (never a good combination for prose :P)

Many blessings to each of you, and may the anticipation and hope of Christmas fill your hearts with deep comfort and lasting awe.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


1) Decent travel progress despite a later start than planned this morning. Thankful for safety so far and a comfortable place to spend the night here in the Horse Capital of the World. I love Kentucky!

2) Grace to finish the last large project early this morning and then still enough brain power to work on tying up the smaller assignments of the week in the car.

3) For this poem. A find myself echoing a few of the lines in my own prayers today.

Batter my heart, three person'd God; for, you 
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend; 
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend 
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new. 
I, like an usurpt towne, to another due, 
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end, 
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend, 
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue. 
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved faine, 
But am betroth'd unto your enemie: 
Divorce me, untie, or breake that knot againe; 
Take me to you, imprison me, for I 
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, 
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

(John Donne)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


1) Beautiful and unexpected fellowship throughout the course of the day
2) The excitement and camaraderie that emerges in these last few "optimum days" of the semester.
3) Unnecessarily sweet goodbyes with many friends. I always feel a bit silly that I mind the parting with dear ones and the uprooting of a few weeks break. It has been a matter of prayer that God would give me grace to keep an eternal focus during this busy time, aswirl with the out-of-ordinary. I never expected that He would choose to make these last days so full of sweet, joy filled moments or that I would be able to merge into the blessing of family life while still at Wheaton. How gracious He is to my frail heart! He remembers that we are dust...

Monday, December 17, 2012


So very thankful for many things right now. Just a few tonight though: 

1) Thankful for God's merciful hand of protection on my brother and Grandfather over the weekend. 
2) Thankful for the opportunity to look back on the abundance of treasures - academic, spiritual and relational - that God has chosen to bestow this semester. It has not been an easy one but it has been so good. God's mercy has been large and sweet. 
3) Thankful for an especially refreshing time spent with a dear friend on Sunday afternoon. A riverside walk on a perfect wintery day, a bit of shopping in downtown Geneva and very meaningful conversation over an incredible cup of hot chocolate. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Grateful for...

1) A little slice of country and home on a much anticipated drive with a dear friend.

2) For the reminder that opening the heart to love deeply is worth the pain of loss.

3) For the joy and perspective gained from time spent with dear ones from 3 generations today.


Oh God, 
Though I am allowed to approach thee 
I am not unmindful of my sins, 
I do not deny my guilt, 
I confess my wickedness, and earnestly plead forgiveness
May I with Moses choose affliction rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin. 
Help me to place myself always under thy guiding and guardian care, 
to take firmer hold of the sure covenant that binds me to thee, 
to feel more of the purifying, dignifying, softening influence
of the religion I profess, to have more compassion, love, pity, courtesy
to deem it an honour to be employed by thee 
as an instrument in thy hands, 
ready to seize every opportunity of usefulness, 
and willing to offer all my talents to thy service. 

Thou hast done for me all things well, 
has remembered, distinguished, indulged me. 
All my desires have not been gratified, 
but thy love denied them to me
when fulfillment of my wishes would have 
proved my ruin or injury. 
My trials have been fewer than my sins
and when I have kissed the rod it has fallen from thy hands
Thou hast often wiped away my tears, 
restored peace to my mourning heart, 
chastened me for my profit. 
All thy work for me is perfect, 
and I praise thee. 

(Valley of Vision)

Saturday, October 6, 2012


The following video is well worth watching. Written and produced by friend and fellow Summit Oxford Alumnus, Ben Bailey, it is one of 6 episodes documenting his time in Oxford this past year. This episode in particular well expresses my own experience in Oxford and the gratitude I have for such an incredible opportunity. Watch and be inspired!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Warning and A Challenge

Tonight I stumbled across some pictures taken this past winter and early spring. My first thought was shock at how much thinner I was then. I decided to keep a stash of these pictures handy for when I need inspiration to make myself go exercise or to have one of my frequent RDT's with Pasta.

Honestly, I find it rather hard to look at these and not feel a pretty strong sense of frustration at my current condition and the seemingly impossible task of working back down to the weight I was at the time of these pictures. But as I sat here scrolling through the pictures and thinking, a deep sense of gratefulness and a lingering warning began to emerge as well. 

I believe it is apparent to more than my eyes that something more than sausage biscuits and fettucini alfredo is missing from my face in these pictures. A sort of fierceness or obsession, a consistant weariness, a little fear, and just a general darkness seems to pervade the expression in my eyes from this period. Yes, I was finally thin. But my priorities were very wrong and I was deeply unhappy. And, ironically, it was at this time more than any other that I tended most to indulge in a desperately dissatisfied but ultimately narcissistic outlook. Being thin and relatively fit, pursued as an end, did not answer the hunger it promised to fill. Rather, like any other pursuit which has become an end in itself, its demands increased with little corresponding recompense. 

So much has happened and, by the abundant grace of God, changed since these pictures. But the same selfish tendencies, the same ever-hungering but never satisfied heart still exists and rears its head frequently. Like Israel of old, I so easily "forsake [God], the fountain of living waters and dig for [myself] cracked cisterns which can hold no water at all." So I covet your prayers as I seek to live each day, drinking deeply from this Everlasting Fountain and finding there the fullness that all these hungers seek. 

Wednesday and Thursday: Savoring the little things...


1) Homemade Carmel Popcorn (thank you Mrs. Brigham!!! :)
2) A much needed, long awaited talk with a friend
3) Dancing alone by moonlight


Invigorating afternoon walk! It was so refreshing to have those five miles of fresh air and warm blood pumping through my veins just before this evenings dress rehearsal and chamber coaching.  

As I walked these richly fragrant paths, I read page after page of Cavalier poetry. I have such a tough life, y'all. I actually have to read poetry for homework! Basically I am living my dream...

I don't know how long I spent staring up at this giant old tree. This picture doesn't begin to do it justice in all of its twisty gnarls and massive spreading reach. 

Dinner out with Jaime! We split this incredible hunk of delicousness.  

And then finished it off with these. How I love adventures with this girl!! :) 

And today I'm thankful for soft comfy shirts and ball caps. They just made this afternoon's walk that much better. 

Finally, a few of my favorite lines from today: 

"Give me a look, give me a face
That makes simplicity a grace; 
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free -
Such sweet neglect more taketh me 
Than all the adulteries of art. 
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart."

(Ben Jonson, Still to Be Neat, 1609)