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,

A Penny for My Thoughts

Well, I haven’t been here since Thanksgiving! And I had planned to write at least one post about the new year, “thundering newness,” and other esoteric feelings about 2018 (it’s probably better I didn’t). Happy March, anyway!

I’ve been thinking about…

…Amazing new opportunities as a graphic designer at our church. I’m actually a ministry “intern” now, and am shortly starting an Assemblies of God Bible school program (which is combined with the internship). I had looked at this program a couple years ago, but it wasn’t the time yet. Now, it is! The Lord has pulled me into a group of awesome people that love Him, and I’m excited to start my first real ministry experience with them.

…How much fun it would be to write a travel blog. But first you have to travel. Hmm.

…Having stripped my phone down to the barest essentials of being a “phone.” I’m tired of its technological tyranny over my life…so I deleted every app I don’t need for work or true convenience. Even the email app went. Crazy, I know.

…But have you read Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work”? If you haven’t, you need to. You might chuck your phone out the window when you’re done. Or at least delete your social media accounts, like me.

…Except for my art-focused Instagram account (my own sketches, preview-able at the bottom of my blog in a handy-dandy widget!). I actually started it around Christmas in an effort to keep myself accountable with daily practice of my art. It worked! However, app access for it went “adios” in the phone purge as well…now I’ll only be able to update by transferring the photos to a computer. Less distracting. (Goodbye, Instagram “Explore” page!)

…How I want to read more. My reading life has dwindled to almost nothing in the last couple years, and it nags at my conscience every time I walk past my “half-finished book” lineup. Reading is too slow for the 21st century, too sober and wise and peaceful. But how I crave that wisdom of centuries past to seed and shape my own life!

…Our last two GORGEOUSLY cloudy, rainy days. Maybe people in Seattle are tired of rain. Not me! Not here! (We live in Arizona.)

…The saying my Papa has: “Simplicity is the keynote of art.” The more I’ve thought about it, though, the more I am convinced that simplicity is the keynote of life. I crave it in every corner of my days, from the inside out. Simple thoughts, fewer belongings, unmuddied focus. Why? Because simplicity brings peace and depth. The fewer things you run after, the farther you’ll be able to go. I want to go far.

…The difference more Bible reading makes. A devotional email from Kim Potter prompted me to take my Bible reading plan seriously (9 chapters a day, people!) and I’m already seeing the change in my thought life and desires. It feels so good!

…The fact that I haven’t finished today’s reading yet. Oops. Better get on it.

Go in peace,

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?

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!


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

Do Wise Men Laugh at “Internet” Humor?

This will be a shorter post, since I’m still lazing around in my pajamas and have to leave for class in an hour and a half. (I like the later start time…and I’ll be home for lunch! Just perfect.)

This morning, the one passage I highlighted in my Bible was Proverbs 13:20:

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

I love the first part, as I personally long to grow wise, especially in inter-personal situations, the way my mother is. It even sounds like wisdom come by osmosis, which makes things easier. Right?

Well, I’d like to think so, but I’ve discovered that’s it’s often a hard choice to hang out with the wiser people. And not just people in the flesh–people/communities online. As young people, foolishness is sooo tempting simply because it’s easy. And not just easy, it’s also fun and amusing.

For a case in point, look at Tumblr, Pinterest, or YouTube. Internet humor is addictive, at the least, and I have spent many an hour giggling at the insane and inane. But recently, the Lord opened my eyes one evening to what I was really laughing at, and I realized it was nothing short of stupid. And I was spending so much time on this, listening to these “invisible people” online, instead of even doing something I truly enjoy, like reading a good book or doodling in my design journal. In short, I was the companion of fools.

Don’t get me wrong, I love humor and think it’s one of the greatest gifts God gave us. Clean entertainment that includes a good laugh is an awesome way to unwind and relax. But when I realized how much brain-space I was devoting to this empty, poor-quality humor, avoiding anything serious that might require me to actually *gasp* think about something, I saw that this was a problem.

So I went on an internet break to help break myself of that, and also flush out the general slime I felt covered in. It’s been a smashing success, and now, when I spend a few hours poking about online researching something or catching up on social media, my brain doesn’t quite feel like my own when I’m done. Instead, I’m trying to stay with “wise men”, listening to good spiritual teaching, reading the Bible more (I’m getting addicted!), reading good books, and making/doing artsy stuff.

So that’s my little encouragement for the day. While writing this post, it’s started to snow outside (!!!) and I need to puzzle out an accordingly wintry outfit for school. What was your verse for today? Do share!

“Write What You Know” Applies to Spiritual Lessons

“Write what you know.”

It’s a common piece of advice in writing communities, something I’ve heard many times. As far as fiction went, it felt very limiting, like I could never write a story that didn’t have a teenage girl as the protagonist and took place in the real world (neither of which I was fond of as a young writer).

But what about writing devotionally?

I was listening to a sermon by Eric Ludy last night (listen to it here) and he spoke of a commitment he and his wife Leslie made to each other early in their ministry: that they would never write about something spiritual that they hadn’t lived out.

I have always been inclined to do the opposite. I’ll be going through some trial of the faith, and suddenly, in a moment of Spirit-led clarity, I see what the whole thing is about and what I’m supposed to be learning. And I stop there. Once I know what I’m supposed to learn, it’s like I think I’ve learned it, and am therefore completely qualified to encourage others on the topic. Not so fast, feisty-pants.

So I’ve been thinking, and I’ve reached a similar decision to the Ludys’ for my own life and little blog here. From here on out, as far as spiritual matters go, I’m going to write what I know, and nothing more. I write here for the encouragement of others, and how can I encourage them in things I don’t fully understand myself?

All right, Lord, it’s up to You now…I’m going to need some help living this out!

Becoming a Woman

“To me, a lady is not frilly, flouncy, flippant, frivolous and fluff-brained, but she is gentle, she is gracious, she is godly, and she is giving. You and I have the gift of femininity…the more womanly we are, the more manly men will be and the more God is glorified. Be women, be only women, be real women in obedience to God.”
Elisabeth Elliot

As an only child, much of my life has been spent in pursuit of my own pleasure, with little thought of anyone else. But now that I’m older, I’m seeing every day what exactly a real woman is supposed to be. She is selfless, serving, gracious, and kind—an impossible list of virtues, most of which I don’t seem to have. Do I want to help clean or cook? Not really. But this isn’t about me—and that’s what womanhood is about.
One positive about being older is that I’m far more willing than I have been to shoulder the responsibilities of womanhood, and actually apply myself to learning those beautiful character traits of a godly woman.
Learning them is, by far, the hardest thing I have ever done. Learning self-sacrifice in particular, especially the practical sort usually required of a woman, is painful in every way, but its reward is a deep and lasting loveliness and strength that nothing else brings. I’m not very good at it yet—only recently have I really realized how important it is to relationships, especially in a family. And since I’m not married yet (and probably won’t be for a while), my family is my mission field.
Graciousness and kindness are also sacrifice, in a way, and can be very uncomfortable. Usually it’s much easier to be sarcastic, or sharp, or funny in a slightly cruel way. Words have always come easily to me, and sometimes it’s very hard to simply smile, and say something soft and sweet instead. Another disadvantage to being an only child is that I tend to be unaware of what people around me need, whether it’s a hug or a glass of water. However, these little kindnesses go so far—another thing I’m just now realizing.
So, I really feel like I’m in a new chapter of life, with an entirely new mandate from the Lord: becoming a woman, a strong, godly one. It’s an exciting journey that never ends.
How about you? What are your thoughts on becoming a godly woman (or man)?

Mysterious Beasts in the Bible

I think some of the animals the Bible mentions are quite interesting. Take, for instance, the mention of a unicorn in Psalm 22:21.

A unicorn?!

Hey, those legends had to have come from something. And while man’s imagination has come up with many a strange jabberwocky, the Bible can be trusted on these points, being the inspired Word of God.

And that’s why it’s so interesting.

This morning, as part of my scheduled reading, I was assigned Job 41. This chapter’s detailed description of Leviathan—a mysterious titan of the deep—always leaves me breathless.

This monster has airtight scales that no human weapon can puncture (vv. 16, 26). He kindles coals with his breath and flames come out of his mouth (vv. 21). He is unimaginably powerful—yet gracefully formed, with eyes like the morning (vv. 12, 18). On this earth, there is nothing like him (vv. 33).

Too bad there aren’t any at the zoo.

At any rate, God’s creation is incredible…but not to be worshiped before its Creator. During this Holy Week, don’t forget what He did for us!

Have a blessed day, friends!

Obeying Joshua

During my Bible reading this morning, I came across this scripture:

“So they answered Joshua, saying…“Whoever rebels against your command and does not heed your words, in all that you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and of a good courage.”

Joshua 1:16,18

So, Joshua had just gotten done giving a short, uplifting speech to the children of Israel after Moses’ death, and now they’re answering him. And that’s what they said. That anyone who rebelled against his command would be put to death.

Amazing, huh? I wonder what would happen if we implemented that in modern-day America. It would probably be considered a “cruel and unusual” punishment, and we’d have lawsuits out our ears, accordingly. It really wouldn’t work that great with a democracy, anyway.

But there’s still dictators out there today who use this method! Only now I think they’re called tyrants. And the nation is a “restricted” one. Maybe a police state?

So does that make Joshua a tyrant too? No. Here’s the differences between Joshua and your typical modern-day tyrant:

  1. Joshua was appointed of God and led Israel accordingly. He bowed to a higher power, unlike most dictators today.
  2. The people he was leading put this system into place, not Joshua. They wanted to follow him, and decided to get rid of those few who disagreed with God’s chosen leader.

Just a few thoughts for a Thursday morning. 🙂 Have a blessed day, y’all!