Inglenook: Welcome!

“Inglenook? What’s Inglenook? Whose blog is this?”

…is probably what you’re asking as you read this. Never fear, it’s just me, Laurie, under a new alias. The days of My Heart Shall Rejoice are gone…Inglenook has arrived! Well, The Inglenook Companion, to be exact.

Let me explain myself.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of my first blog, Hoofprints and Roses, begun as an earnest, horse-loving twelve-year-old. Since then my blog has run through many iterations to suit my changing fancies. My Heart Shall Rejoice was actually the longest run, beginning as simply Rejoice! when I was fifteen. It’s been 6 years!

Needless to say, my heart and dreams have grown and changed, and it seemed an appropriate time to change my blog identity—shift it to my grown-up tastes and future aims.

“That’s all very well,” you may say (primly sipping your tea), “But what’s an inglenook?”

This. This is an inglenook.

From Wikipedia

More specifically, that little chimney corner seat tucked back in the wall…can you see it?

A short history: inglenooks were partly enclosed hearth spaces that hark back to medieval times, where family members could sit while the cook worked at the fire. It soon became a cozy and convenient place for people to gather during the Middle Ages, when every shred of heat was precious in drafty winter homes. 
Later, as prosperity and comfort grew, inglenooks were reduced to a decorative setting around the fireplace. Their social impact, however, continued. I love Stephen Holt’s description from This Old House:

“A medieval symbol for hearth and home, the inglenook was placed at the very core of the house, usually in the hall. These shingled retreats were for summer resort living, a safe and carefree family home where all could gather around the fire on a foggy evening in the protective inglenook. …[In modern architecture] it is not used for cooking and only occasionally for heating, but it strongly imparts feelings of sheltering welcome and domestic serenity.”

Isn’t that lovely?

Warmth and family, welcome and safety. A place to rest with a good book on a quiet afternoon, or bundle in with family and old blankets on a chilly evening. Laughter, stories, companionship. Life.

This is the atmosphere I want to encourage in my own home some day, and express to you through this blog…a blog you could read in your own “inglenook,” as a sort of “home companion.”

An Inglenook Companion, that is.

Many joys to you,
Laurie

Music Thursday: "Miserere Mei"

Good morning! Today is Music Thursday…not because of any particular musical association with Thursdays, but because I wanted to share a particular song I like. I’m intentional like that.

That song is Miserere Mei, a falsobordone setting (setting being the setting of a psalm to music, falsobordone being a style of musical recitation in the 15th-18th centuries) of Psalm 51, written by Gregorio Allegri around 1638.

I first heard the piece at a local choral concert with a friend–its strong melodies and haunting harmonies stuck in my mind, and I underlined it in the program to look up when I got home. Although I’ve since listened to it repeatedly, I never knew anything about it until this morning, when I looked it up to share with you.

 Allegri (1582-1652), an Italian priest and composer, wrote the work “on his own time”–or rather, not for a particular commission. Soon, however, his music caught the ear of Pope Urban VIII, who secured an appointment for him in the choir of the Sistine Chapel. He held this position until his death.

The Miserere itself offers a double-choir version of Psalm 51; one choir sings it chant-style and the other adds melodic embellishment…this is what creates that exquisite tapestry of sound. At some point after its writing (and for unknown reasons), the Misererei was forbidden to be transcribed and published (!!!) and  allowed to be sung only in the Sistine Chapel itself.

This continued until, as legend has it, a young composer by the name of Mozart visited the Sistine Chapel in 1770. After hearing the piece only twice, he transcribed it accurately from memory and took it home. Since then, the piece has spread through the world, with ornamentation added by performers until became what it is today.

Sharing it with you today is an appropriate coincidence, as the piece was traditionally performed during Holy Week back in the Sistine Chapel days. Here, the King’s College Choir gives it at Easter, in the King’s College chapel:

Psalm 51 itself holds one of my favorite verses, and many more that have been a mainstay of the Church for millenia:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.”  Psalm 51:10-11

What a beautiful ode Miserere is to this heart-felt, repentant Psalm. The Psalmist earnestly desires to serve the Lord with a pure heart, not half-way and steeped in sin. Praise the Lord for His incredible sacrifice at the Cross–the meaning of Easter, and the reason this song was sung–which enables us to live that Spirit-given, Spirit-filled victory over sin! I pray this song blesses you as much as it did me.

Laurie

A Quiet Thanksgiving Night

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! It’s a gorgeously clear night out, full of crisp autumn air and starlight from Arizona’s endless sky—a fine benediction on two days of holidaying with family. The last week has been so full of running and doing and talking and dishwashing that I’ve hardly had a chance to actually thinkabout Thanksgiving and what it means. Indeed, I have so much to be thankful for that sometimes it takes my breath away. Here’s a few things that come to mind:
I’m thankful for hot showers, clean clothes, and a soft bed.
I’m thankful for a family that loves me and my multitude of flaws unconditionally—and shows it in practical ways.
I’m thankful for good music that stirs the soul.
I’m thankful for healthy food to strengthen our bodies.
I’m thankful for the opportunity to pursue my chiefest dream of becoming a book illustrator.
I’m thankful for golden sunrises and sparrows picking breakfast off the ground.
I’m thankful for a solid, time-loved house that keeps us warm and dry.
I’m thankful for Arizona’s infinite sunshine and wild clouds.
I’m thankful for a job I love, that’s both challenging and satisfying.
I’m thankful for dear friends that love the Lord.
Most of all, I’m thankful for my Heavenly Father and His Son, and His Spirit dwelling within me. His love fills and fulfills me, His Word guides and renews me, His hands hold and shape my days. I can trust Him with all that I am, and lean into His promises when flesh threatens to fail. He loves me dearer than any father, brother, or husband, and He is the Creator of the universe.

What more could one possibly want?

Autumn Days

Autumn has much the same feeling as New Year’s for me, for whatever reason. There seems to be a fresh start, with new winds blowing and the sun shining brighter (which it actually does), and everything changing with the bright colors and dancing leaves.

This autumn, my family’s had lots of lovely new opportunities for friendships and activities (yay Bible studies—so satisfying) to fill our days with, and I’m training to add some new responsibilities at work. Like I said, new things!

What I’ve appreciated most this season, though, are the absolutely spectacular mornings. Every day, the sun rises with some measure of gold and glory, and christens the day with such beauty as would make you catch your breath. I’m usually at my quiet time when the sun crests the horizon, and it’s like the Lord’s own benediction on our time together.

As you can see, I gave my blog a little facelift (I can now change the header photo to suit my moods). I’ll keep posting some of my random thoughts and observations now and then…the Christmas season is soon upon us with it all the joy, wonder, and celebration of the birth of Christ. I can’t wait! I love Christmas.

But I won’t forget to give good old Thanksgiving its proper dues. Autumn isn’t done yet! I’ll wait until the turkey is stuffed and in our bellies before breaking out the carols.

Oh, and speaking of mornings earlier—I leave you with this:

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise. Awake, my glory! Awake, lute and harp! I will awaken the dawn.”

Psm. 57:7-8

Go in peace,
Laurie

Little Blessings of Late

flowers on branch

Odd as it seems, God’s goodness in our lives can be easy to lose sight of. I cringe even saying it, but it’s true–between the busyness of each day, we let thankfulness fall in the cracks. So, I’d like to dig it back out and spend a few moments reviewing some of my blessings of the last week.

  • My wonderful young adults group. It not too small, not too big, filled with people who love the Lord and His Word. We have awesome spiritual discussions, and play games that make us laugh ourselves sick. And we do it every week! It’s pretty cool.
  • An impromptu video chat with dear friends I haven’t seen in forever. Seriously, there’s no pick-me-up like old friends that you miss! It was super spur-of-the-moment, completely unexpected, and so much fun.
  • Doing a quick drawing that just “clicked.” Like I was made to do it. And maybe I was.
  • Sticking with my workout program…and seeing results! I’ve actually lost weight (not necessarily what I was looking for, ha!), but am already stronger–and it’s so cool to see that each day in my workout. And it feels so good! I’m starting to understand the whole “I want to go work out” thing…it’s addictive.
  • My Living History group. This week, by a bizarre turn of events, I ended up cooking part of our lunch on the wood burning stove…there was much laughter and the worst cooking fail of my life (or, nearly). Details to come in a post. It was nerve-wracking and hilarity-laden.
  • Getting a new sketchbook! And then hacking it in half, b/c you can extend the life and get double the use (thanks for the idea, Papa!). Can’t wait to start the first half. (Lol!)
Well, it felt good to think back on the recent blessings in life. Thanks for listening…I leave you with Andrew Peterson’s song “The Magic Hour”, which I have been enjoying of late:
(If you can’t see the video, click here)
Time for a quick sketch before bed. Good night!
Laurie

Quick Sketch: Sleepy Dog

My grandfather’s art assignment for me the last few weeks (I do bi-weekly art lessons with him, as he is an accomplished southwest landscape painter and has much to share) has been loose contour sketches, like Shari Blaukopf’s shown here. In her post, she mentions Charles Reid’s “blind contour sketch” approach explained in his Watercolor Solutions—a method that has astonished me in its effectiveness. To put it briefly: keep your eye on the subject, your pen on the paper, and follow the outline (or contour) of the subject, checking occasionally to make adjustments on angle or proportion. I’ve been amazed at how accurate my drawings have been, while staying loose.

I used that method for the outline of this sketch, and added my own extras for detail and shading. The detail is fun—dipping the pen in from the outline for a quite squiggle that adds dimension and interest. I’ll be using this method more in the future!

Materials: Strathmore 5.5″ x 8.5″ sketchbook, Pentel Stylo sketch pen

Laurie

My best is yet ahead

Christmas morning snow

Incredibly, it has been over six months since I last posted. And what a full six months they have been!

For those that may not know, my family is caregiving for my widowed paternal grandmother. Caregiving is a journey…and that’s the only way to say it. You learn lessons (often hard ones) all the time whether you want to or not–because every day, every action is determined by the next right thing. The last six months have been full of those lessons for my whole family, including my grandmother.

To be perfectly frank, I let myself flounder for much of the last year. Spiritually, physically, I let my personal responsibilities slide and simply did what I felt like doing. I learned so much the hard way through this, but I’m so glad I did:

  • I am utterly miserable when God is not the focus of my life
  • I feel sick inside when I spend too much time on my own entertainment
  • My body and mind feel like stagnant ponds in the middle of August when I decide I “don’t feel” like exercising…for months

Yeah, you could say I made some bad decisions. And suffered for them, inside and out. However, I also learned some very wonderful things, about myself, my life, and God:

  • God LOVES me, and He is my Father, not just my King
  • I am made for simplicity and quiet, inside and out (will be talking about this in future posts)
  • I’m made to create art, and the pursuit of that is clearly my life calling (how awesome is it to be able to say something like that?!)
  • He WILL deliver me out of deep waters, when I turn to Him and repent with all my heart
  • Praise is an amazingly powerful weapon! 🙂

I’m so looking forward to 2017. I firmly believe it will be my best year yet, like Michael Hyatt says in his Best Year Ever course (which I did, and cannot recommend highly enough). There’s so much I want to do and learn, and can’t wait to see what kind of progress I make on my goals for the year.

Here’s to a new year of blogging about God’s goodness!

Laurie

Saturday Smiles

A few things that made me smile this week:

1. These girls.
 

They’re part of my Living History group, and I got to see them last week at the Folk Arts Fair at my work. Who says friends have to be your same age?! I took pictures of them as they slaved away in the heat, hand-cranking ice cream, laughing all the while.

Here, they’re scraping every last iota of cream off the mixer. That ice cream was good on a 100-degree day.

2. Late-night rain.
 

This year, like always, June has swept in with cloudless brilliance and a parched heat. I try not to cringe at the barren skies, and pray that the monsoons arrive early. Last night, they did! It rained as I fell asleep, with that cool perfume sweeping in the windows. Today, we have massive cumulus clouds rolling across the sky, giving us shade and beauty. My soul feels quite refreshed after this break from that relentless Arizona sun!

3. Swap-meet treasures.
 

This morning I joined my dad and uncle on a trip to the local swap meet, and was not disappointed. My finds of the day: an 1875 copy of Lord Byron’s poetical works, and a 1921 first-edition Scaramouche. Sabatini doesn’t pop up just everywhere, so I nabbed this one.

I also found a lovely tunic for church tomorrow–perfect for layering over capris to help out in Sunday school. I’ll try to get an outfit post up for you soon…I always appreciated modest fashion inspiration from others, so I’ll try to reciprocate a little!

4. This pretty birthday bouquet my grandma received.
 

‘Nuff said.

So that’s my Saturday in a nutshell for you. What made you smile this week? I’d love to hear!

~ Laurie

…And He Shall Strengthen Your Heart

Rose in garden

“I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Psalm 27:13-14
These verses have spoken so much to me lately, and today I began memorizing the whole psalm. It’s so full of promises that bolster and embolden. Psalms is by far and away my favorite book of the Bible, and I find myself there often, savoring the sweet reminders of the Lord’s provision, protection, love, majesty, and beauty. No need to fear, for He is confidence; no room for weakness, for He is strength; no place for emptiness, for He is boundless love. Oh, it’s wonderful to read!
I’m reviving this blog after more than a year–in the blogosphere, I am nothing short of flaky, and I apologize. But I’ve been busy–I have a new website for my professional life as a graphic designer and illustrator, with a blog to go with it, and though I initially planned for it to replace this blog, I realized that it only really had place for my art. I missed my lifestyle blog, with my everyday thoughts and pictures! So it seems that my art blog over there is sufficient place for my sketches and art musings, and over here I can do everything else. I apologize to everyone who’s been putting up with my flitting from blog to blog, but this finally seems to “sit right” inside me. 
Keep an eye out for more fresh content coming soon here at My Heart Shall Rejoice!
~ Laurie Elise

The Issue of Pride (In Myself, Namely)

This post may seem a little ramble-y, as I don’t have a completely clear and stated thought on the whole thing yet, but so much of my spiritual growth lately has been centered around this area that I felt I had to post about it before talking about anything else. 😛

Anyway, the Lord has been convicting me of an area of sin in my life that I hardly knew was there. Yes, I had been aware that some part of this sin is in all of us, but never recognized it so plainly in myself.

I am speaking, naturally, of pride.

But this pride was not an honest pride in me, like the sort that makes you glad about something you did well, or even a pride that admires itself, and then laughingly admits it does so. This pride was that sneaking, insidious variety that patronizes its fellow man and then calls itself humble.

Yes, I have been a willing victim to thinking too much of myself…and that’s dumb. So let’s start with the intellectual superiority bit.

This sort of thing starts with perhaps a more knowledge-based mindset. I love reading, history intrigues me, I enjoy learning new things (especially new information about things). None of these is wrong! But then I started to see the society that busies themselves with these pursuits, and was mentally put myself among them because of my interest: they are the wealthy, the intelligent, the philosophical and philanthropic (usually self-proclaimed). But usually they have let this go to their heads and it ruined them: in short, they are the snobs.

Add to this the currents fads of poetically helpless melancholy and introversion, and you have yourself the perfect recipe for intellectual superiority. For me, it didn’t start hard or fast, but rather with a thought: “I prefer thus-and-such music, and they listen to so-and-so. My choice is more educated…heh. Bully for me.” And so it went, though not often in so many words.

But here’s a question—who are “they”  in the thought above? Well, mostly anyone who didn’t share the same tastes and interests as myself. Yes, it’s embarrassing to say, but I have been a fool, and it feels good to admit it.

The funny thing about pride is that letting one kind in often opens the door to another. This is what has happened to me. After watering and weeding my sweet little garden of “I’m-so-smart” for a while, those weeds (for that’s what they really are) began creeping into other areas of my life and thoughts, tainting almost every area, it would seem. (More posts on these areas later.)

The problem is that sin is rarely a clearly-stated thought in my head: “I think I am better than everyone, yet somehow still humble. Indeed, I am a miracle of godliness.” It is rather a feeling, or a sub-thought, or a sneer. I’ve pandered to it instead of yanking it out by the roots or just walking away when it shows itself.

So the Lord has been showing me this sin and gently leading me away from it. It’s hard, having to stop at each thought, and then pull it out and replant it if it’s wrong. But I have honestly been so disgusted with myself that it almost feels good.

And you know what? It feels so good to be a fallible human again. It feels good to see how wrong I’ve been, and to make a fresh start of it. I’m normal again—I need my Father’s help as much as the next person, and know I can’t do it by myself. But He always can.

Off to re-learn the love walk,

Laurie