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Archive for the ‘The Inklings’ Category

Never have I been so glad to see mud. In my garden where there should be grass, clinging to bottoms of my boys’ boots as they climb into the mini van, smeared across the mudroom floor. I’ll tire of it, complain about it eventually, but for now I’m glad for anything, anything but the salt and grit that my family tracked into the house over the long months of this frigid, snowy, record-breakingly cold winter.

Mud, yes, we can now see it, but apart from the slight thaw, mountains of snow still surround us and the temperatures hover just above freezing. And so still, we are waiting. Waiting for balmy breezes, and for tender green things to make their appearance. Waiting for color, and an end to this black and white world. Waiting, waiting, waiting for spring.

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The Kilns, former home of C.S. Lewis

The Kilns, former home of C.S. Lewis

And I’m feeling that wait as I clean the mudroom floor, glance out the window at the snow, now grey, littered with twigs and leaves, and pock-marked by the rain. I’m waiting for spring, sure, but also waiting for answers to prayers I haven’t even bothered to pray, waiting for clearly marked miracles and the next bend in the road.

Because all that waiting can make me feel trapped. Trapped, like I’ve been all winter, trapped here rattling around the house with the boys,  when most days the temperatures were too low to even get out and exhaust ourselves in the daylight and snow. Trapped in the sameness and monotony, wondering why I do each little thing that I do day in and day out. Stuck with that unsettled feeling that something’s not right, and it’s more than my décor, or how clean the house is, or even how many cuddles I give the boys. Because no matter how I try to make it so, this is not really my home. And no matter how I wish it so, though I know the end, I don’t know what comes next. 

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Oxford University

And it’s strange how much waiting can feel like fear. Strange how sameness, instead of affirming who I am, can leave me feeling oh, so purposeless, so lost.

I feel lost, but I keep sweeping that mud into a pile, a pile of black dirt I can scoop right up. And while I sweep, I think of Susan and Lucy in Narnia, waiting in the darkness of that almost spring as they watch the Lion leave them hidden in the trees as he goes forward to face evil. They’re waiting, though they don’t know what for, and they’re frightened because they don’t yet know the ending, or how much they can trust.

Oxford University

Oxford University

And then after, when it’s over–when it is finished–they run towards him to caress him, to free him even though they think he’s gone. And they don’t even know what he’s accomplished, what’s been given–for Edmund and for them. And they don’t know the power he has over darkness, over evil, over death. But for the moment they are waiting, fearing every dreadful probability that their minds can fathom. They fear because they’re waiting, and they don’t know what’s coming, though we on the outside, do.

So I remind myself that these times come, and I can’t escape it. In this world we must wait, though our eternity begins now.  And even though we know He’s with us in Spirit, we’re not home, not with Him like we long to be. But we know, though Lucy and Susan didn’t, that it’s coming, that being with Him. And we know, though they didn’t, just what’s already been done for us.

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And in these frequent times of in-between waiting, sometimes the only thing to do is sing. Sometimes when your heart is heavy–with waiting, or uncertainty, or fear–the only thing to do is lift your voice and sing out praises to the One in whose sameness you can always put your trust. Sing it like you mean it, loud and clear. Sing of what He’s done, sing of how He’s won. Sing it till you feel His presence, feel His arms wrapped tight around.

And so I’m singing, and I’m sweeping. Moving boots and wet door mats. Cleaning this floor like I’ll clean it tomorrow, like I’ll clean it the day after that. And though I’m waiting, still I’m smiling.Because it all does matter. This home, and the cuddles, and what we say and do here.

Because He’s here. And He’s returning. And when He does, He’ll really hold us. He’ll hold us and the wait will end.

He stood for a second, his eyes very bright, his limbs quivering, lashing himself with his tail. Then he made a leap high over their heads and landed on the other side of the Table. Laughing, though she didn’t know why, Lucy scrambled over it to reach him. Aslan leaped again. A mad chase began. Round and round the hill-top he led them, now hopelessly out of their reach, now letting them almost catch his tail, now diving between them, now tossing them in the air with his huge and beautifully velveted paws and catching them again, and now stopping unexpectedly so that all three of them rolled over together in a happy laughing heap of fur and arms and legs. It was such a romp as no one has ever had except in Narnia; and whether it was more like playing with a thunderstorm or playing with a kitten Lucy could never make up her mind.

– From The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

by C.S. Lewis

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Running to His arms . . .

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f3sNiYpuF4

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For friend hearts, and sweethearts, and parent hearts, too,

for hungry tummies, and open arms, this one’s for you.

Some truth, some fluff, some real love stuff . . .

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Ah, Janey, make us swoon.

To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love.

~Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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Love? Yeah . . . You’ll be crying . . .

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Well, well . . .

Handsome is as handsome does.

~J.R.R. Tolkien

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Ah, at last . . .

I don’t want sunbursts and marble halls. I just want you.

~Lucy Maud Montgomery,

Anne of the Island

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Sweetest video ever made–send this one to your honey.

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And this is what you can tell them over Valentine’s dinner 😉

Opening her eyes again, and seeing her husband’s face across the table, she leaned forward to give it a pat on the cheek, and sat down to supper, declaring it to be the best face in the world.

~Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

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Love? Oh, WOW.

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Love comforteth like sunshine after rain.

~William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis

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A little something for the Valentine table.

For your children, for your honey, or for you!

Beetroot and Parsnip Soup with Horseradish*

(nope, not tomato!)

pink soup? think of that! and jolly easy to make!

30 grams butter

1 potato, peeled and chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

1 small onion, chopped

2 large or 4 small beetroot,

peeled and chopped

800 ml vegetable stock

1oo ml cream and sour cream,

combined

1 T horseradish mixed with

1 T olive oil and 1 t vinegar

Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. And the onion and cook till soft but not brown, then add the potato, parsnip, and vegetable stock/broth. Bring to the boil and then add the beetroot, cooking for a further 15 minutes. Don’t overcook, as the beetroot will go from a lovely deep pink to a red color. When the vegetables are tender, remove from heat and puree with a stick blender (or blender) until the soup is smooth, but with a few lumps. Stir in the cream, sour cream, and horseradish mix and season with salt and black pepper. Exquisite!

*Recipe adapted from Delicious Soups by Belinda Williams

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Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.

~C.S. Lewis

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Wishing the happiest of Valentine weekends to you!

Avonlea x

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Happy Little Sigh is now on Pinterest! Join me there?

http://www.pinterest.com/happylittlesigh/

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The darkest day.

I always remember.

The least sunshine. The least light.

Winter solstice.

December 21st.

And after this, I’m counting minutes–approximately two each day–until the hours stretch to bring the golden light of the summer sun. But for now, when I feel more than a little sorry for those Narnians and their ever winter never Christmas. When even the icicles hanging outside the kitchen window, and the layer of ice coating everything else, when even they can’t shine, my brain can feel as cloudy as this murky winter light.

Because it’s been a year since I slept right through the night. An entire year of being just a bit too tired. The Admiral is a happy baby, but teething didn’t suit him well, and his habits are bad. Waking every few hours. A snack and cuddle, and if I’m lucky, a sleepy smile for my troubles. And so mornings start later than I’d like.  A little voice, a little cry, The General’s black olive eyes blinking into mine from the side of my bed, and the day begins.

Still, sometimes I see it–the beauty of eternity that begins today. These little souls, my little men, and the treasure that they are.

Other days I hit the floor running,

some crazy dance from room to room,

glancing occasionally at the clock,

and imaging the utter shock

my friends would feel if they ever stopped

and saw the state of this house.

On those days I find myself, at least once,

pausing,

the whirlwind of Cheerios and bibs and Lego and foam swords  and three little men swirling all around me, a now cold cup of tea in my hand,

wondering,

what oh, what is going on?

There must be something, something I’m missing,

or it wouldn’t be

like this.

But what?

A little sleep, to be sure.

An intentional effort to count blessings

and sing praise

and speak truth.

Yes.

All that.

All that, and just a little more time

with Jesus.

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Because though I have 2 million distractions, though the crumbs, and the laundry, and the children cry out to my clouded, foggy, weary brain, though the weather is bleak, and though I carry sorrows and disappointments in the deepest chambers of my heart,

none of it

none of it

should be an excuse.

An excuse to raise my voice or declare my dissatisfaction or remain in a dark, murky mood.

Because eternity begins today.

Our eternity began the day we were born.

And for those of us who love Jesus

that means counting those blessings,

speaking those truths,

and no matter how we’re feeling,

choosing to live like Christ.

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The new year is coming.

Isn’t that a shock?

And what sort of year, I wonder, is it going to be?

I have my hopes and have my dreams,

but I realize that what I need

more than anything

is to spend more time with The Word.

With Jesus.

Pouring over His commands,

reading and re-reading his life

until His words and His ways and His will,

which are all Him,

become more of who I am, too.

For there is no better to know what we’re missing.

There is no better way to bring into the darkness of our lives and minds

His perfect light

than to live and love like Jesus.

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As you light this final candle for Advent, remember not just the manger but the cross. The purpose of Christ’s arrival on our planet. The depth of His LOVE.

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For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.   ~ John3:16

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Love came down at Christmas
Love all lovely, love divine
Love was born at Christmas
Star and angels gave the sign.

Happy Little Sigh is now on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Join me there?

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One year.

That’s how long it’s been since we came here, to this old yellow house by the river.

A year ago, I stood looking up at the sky through the hole in the kitchen roof, counting on two hands the days till the baby would come. Trying not to care that I had to wash my dishes in the bathroom sink. Lay out our meals on a cardboard box.

At the storage unit in town a high cliff of boxes contained our stuff from two different continents,

two different lives.

I tried, but I never did find the baby clothes in time.

At night, on a borrowed computer, we tracked our stolen laptop round the city. Then lost hope when it left the state.

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It had only been a year.

One year before that since we’d come back.

Started life again in America.

And even when life’s good, a person might have to mourn a little over that.

Over the loss of a country. Of a way of life.

Even without break-ins, and police, and counting loss.

And that’s exactly what I did for a while.

I counted my loss.

Sobbed over them like a teenager with a broken heart.

It was all too surreal, and I didn’t know where to begin.

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And I can’t say when it happened.

Can’t say just exactly when

I felt the great relief of letting go of it all.

All the stuff.

All the demands I had for my life.

For years, I hadn’t dared draw too near. Not close enough to rest my head there on His knee.

I didn’t dare.

There wasn’t peace.

Then one night I dreamed.

He carried me in His pocket.

All linen and white.

And I was small, and I was safe,

and I went with Him through His day.

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The roof has long been fixed.

I have a kitchen, and it has a sink.

Slowly, slowly, as we’ve done before, we’re making this house into a home.

But when I find myself surveying it all,

feeling pleased about the way the sideboard looks,

and the curtains, and the chandelier,

I remind myself

what I really have to be thankful for.

What I have–because of Jesus–that nothing and no one

can ever take away.

 

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“Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.”

~ C.S. Lewis

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For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ Romans 8:38-39

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A Very Happy Thanksgiving to You

Dear Readers!

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For more of the story of how it all happened

one year back . . .

You might also be inspired by https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/06/17/its-one-of-those-london-days/

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Happy Little Sigh is now on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Join me there!

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It all began with a cup of tea.

He wanted one.

And so did I.

We were the only ones.

Earlier, on that cold walk through the night to the student flat where a group of us were meeting for a DVD, there were questions about peanut butter (isn’t that what Americans eat?), and secret smiles, and I thought he must be very young.

I was in Scotland.

The world was green, and there were castles, and though I could hardly understand a word of what he said, my red-haired Scottish loon from the village on the sea,

on the pages of my journal I swore I could marry that boy.

And, more to my amazement than anyone else’s, I did.

We moved to Scotland, and life began.

It began. It didn’t end.

Not like the movies or the books, where it ends with “I do.”

No, that was the beginning.

And I went to teaching and he went to working. And meals were cooked, and floors were swept, and a baby came. And although it happened, every few months, that I’d pinch myself and wonder how little me ever ended up there, in the Highlands of Scotland, most of the time it was just life.

And while life was happening, it also happened—as it happens to us all, I think—that somewhere between the tenth time washing the dishes and the hundredth time making the bed, between the hundredth night up with a crying baby and the thousandth time wiping a toddler’s face, that I began to wonder.

I wondered if this was right.

Because this was not how happily ever after was supposed to go.

Castles and Scottish mist aside, I wasn’t supposed to be tired all of the time, and the housework wasn’t supposed to take so long. I wasn’t supposed to get lonely, and we weren’t, no we weren’t supposed find within our hearts such moments of hate that with our words and our eyes and a turning of our backs we would wound each other. Leave each other bruised, starved, and with our very hands widen the cavern between ourselves and God and between each other.

And yet we did.

And the days were dark.

We could have walked, either one of us, in search of our real life. Our real fairy tale. And though we didn’t feel it, we chose to believe it when we heard that the grass is always greener where you water it.

And even yellow grass, or even brown and dry, can become green. But you’ve got to water it every day.

Even when it’s the last thing you want to do.

And you can try to be happy with it just being all right, or so-so, but I’ve got to ask you, like I asked myself, don’t you want the very best?

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More than anything, I love to talk of those first days.

The first dance. The first giggle. The first time I dared to touch his shoulder with my head.

Because I know I must remember who he is. Who he really is, deep inside—that boy I first met.

We’re the same people, he and I, deep, deep inside.

Oh, sometimes we’re both still so angry, we’d like to do a whole lot more than spit. And it takes a whole lot more than a little grace to make it through.

But love is not self-seeking.

And real love gets a little less sleep, a little less time for what we want, a little less of what we most love to eat, to make the other person happy. To give them joy. To make them strong.

Never underestimate the power of a smile. The power of a kind word.

Like water to grass, they are spring rain to the soul.

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No, life doesn’t end with “I do.” That is where it begins.

For you and your Mr. Darcy.

For me and mine.

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“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”
~ C.S. Lewis

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It’s coming! I’ve heard!

The fourth Narnia film is on it’s way.

No trailer as yet, I’m afraid, so it may be a while.

But, to tide you over, watch

HERE:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puGl87f7A1U

Or for a bit more depth for you literary, bookish types, listen to the podcast

HERE:

http://narniacast.mymiddleearth.com/2013/10/21/narniacast-ep-7-the-silver-chair-movie-chat-1-various-guests/

At least there’s time to read the book (or perhaps read it again?) before the film comes out! Best to know if they’ve left out some of the best bits.

Something new to feel happy about 🙂

“You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you,” said the Lion.”  
~ C.S.Lewis, The Silver Chair

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You might also be inspired by Mr. Darcy and Me – My Trip to Pemberley

https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/09/13/mr-darcy-and-me-my-trip-to-pemberley/

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A little hunting at my favorite second-hand shop uncovered this treasure . . .

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Lock me up in a room with this book

(and a cup, and teapot full of tea),

and I’d be quite content for a good few hours.

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Ah, and what ever could I say, when there are images such as these to be poured over?

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Part of the magic of living in Scotland was the possibility of getting into one’s car,

and within a few hours, being able to see the home of

Jane Austen,

or Charlotte Bronte,

or C.S. Lewis,

as we did, one lovely April.

We went to Oxford, England,

to Magdalen College of Oxford University,

where C.S. Lewis taught for nearly thirty years.

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Anyone can tour it.

See Addison’s Walk along the Cherwell River,

where C.S. Lewis liked to stroll.

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And his rooms at the college, now marked by some red geraniums.

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 “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy,

the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
~ C.S. Lewis

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“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

~ C.S. Lewis

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You might also be inspired by Start Living Your REAL LIFE Today

https://happylittlesigh.com/2013/09/03/how-to-start-living-your-real-life-today/

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