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What’s Different About This House?

In the quaint mountain town of Julian, outside of San Diego, you will find this charming house.

Notice anything different about it? Here’s a closer view.

Yes, it has two front doors. When William Kettner built the house in 1923, he followed the German style of including one front door for the wife and her friends and another front door for the man of the house. Kettner and his pool-playing buddies used his side and his wife entertained her lady friends on the other side of the house.

Today the house is not only a home but also a shop. The place retains its charm as it heads toward being a century old.

I don’t remember ever seeing a home with two separate front doors, one for the ladies and one for the men. It’s an interesting concept. My husband and I have our own bathrooms and we have our own coffee pots and our own computers. Just this morning we talked about maybe having two dishrags because one of us is not so good at shaking out the crumbs (yep, that would be me). We haven’t found the need for two front doors, though.

How about you? Your family may share a front door but find life is smoother when you don’t share in some other ways. What works for you?

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesdays and Texture Tuesdays. Texture used is Embrace by Kim Klassen.

Posted in Encouragement, Loving People | Tagged , | 8 Comments

When Ducklings Need a Bit of Help

In the children’s award-winning book, Make Way for Ducklings, author Robert McCloskey tells a story of a family of ducklings and their mother living in downtown Boston. The mother duck decides to cross a street, unaware of the danger of speeding vehicles. As she leads her little ones into danger, a kind cop runs to the rescue.

He stops traffic so the vulnerable ducklings can cross in safety.

A delightful bronze recreation of the story delights children and adults alike in a Boston park. Here you’ll see the mother and her brood marching along, enjoying their stroll.

Something’s missing, though — the policeman. The story of the ducklings would be untold without the kindness of their protector, but still today they march, blissfully unaware of their need for the gentleman who watched out for them.

This New Year is a good time to take a look back and consider who helped us this last year in our daily march through life. I would include on my list my former colleagues who recommended me for the new job I’m enjoying; my friend who invited me to sing in a choir and rediscover the joy of music in community; and my friend who sent me her piano students when she moved away. I’m so grateful for so many who look out for me, providing experiences I didn’t even know I craved. This year, I’d like to remember the high-stepping ducklings and be on the lookout for those who watch out for me. A word of thanks would be welcome, I’m sure.

How about you? Were there times this last year when someone stepped in, blew a whistle, and helped you face something scary? Who’s believed in you enough to let others know? Has someone given you a recommendation that paved the way for a rich new experience?

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesdays and Texture Tuesdays. Photos from Boston have one layer of Kim Klassen’s Crackerjack in Color Burn.

Posted in Encouragement, Gratitude, Places | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

Hoping at Christmas

Is there something you unpack at Christmastime that fills you with nostalgia for Christmases past? When you bring out the garland and ornaments and decorations, what takes you on a mental journey back through time?

For me, it’s Sunny the Bear.

Each year, Sunny instantly transports me to a Christmas years ago when I was newly pregnant. I had struggled with almost losing the baby. I had also opened a bank account and Sunny came with it, as a reward. My hope of delivering a healthy baby was somehow tied to Sunny. The furry bear was a tangible piece of that hope with a smile that never slipped, waiting patiently for a little playmate to arrive. I would look at Sunny, in his little blue-striped shirt, and wonder if our child would one day lay in the crib beside him.

The next summer our baby boy was born healthy and whole. We named him Matthew, “gift of God.” Sunny lived in Matthew’s room from the time we brought our son home. Eventually Sunny lost his shirt because he was a much-loved bear, and Matthew, our much-loved son, grew up.

Now, at Christmas, Sunny smiles from a row of plush animals accumulated during my children’s young years. Sunny reminds me of how thankful I am that my prayers all those Christmases ago for a healthy baby were answered yes.

It seems apt to remember that time of expectation and fear and hope, of longing for our gift-of-God son, during Christmas. At this season, we celebrate the birth of a baby boy who didn’t have a crib. He didn’t have a soft toy waiting to welcome him. His bed was a filled with scratchy straw. He shared his nursery with large, noisy animals. He was expected and hoped for, though. He was God’s gift to all of us.

How about you? What beloved object triggers a poignant Christmas memory?

Posted in Encouragement, Hope, Patience, Thanks | Leave a comment

Finding the Wonder

How are you doing on finding the wonder of this holiday season?

Yesterday I sang in a concert in a church that’s almost a century old. It’s a welcoming place, with all of the burnished wood, elegant pews, soaring ceilings decorated with carvings, and the added touch of candlelight.

My friends and I sang the majestic music of Messiah, complete with the rousing Hallelujah Chorus. Next came a quiet, gentle carol with these words:

The shepherds had an angel, the wise men had a star,

but what have I, a little child, to guide me home from far,

Where glad stars sing together and singing angels are?

This musical moment in a stately old church ushered in the wonder of Christmas for me. Here I was in a choir of grownups singing about a child’s view of the manger. I loved that because we’re all young at heart in some way, aren’t we? The carol ends with this verse:

Christ watches me, His little lamb,

Cares for me day and night,

That I may be His own in heav’n

So angels clad in white

Shall sing their “glory glory,” for my sake in the height.

Wishing you moments this season when wonder overcomes the cares and activities and carries you where the singing angels are.

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesdays and 12 Days of Textured Photos. The photo above has Kim Klassen’s texture Lilly with Soft Light.

Posted in Encouragement, Hope | 3 Comments

Celebrating the Light

Lights add brilliance to the holiday season. At Disneyland you’ll find lights upon lights this time of year. I’d heard that Small World is especially charming all lit up. During the day, the huge front of this attraction is white — all white. I was anxious to see the transformation from white to colored lights. As soon as the sun set, we headed over to Small World. The sky was a mix of gray and blue and the lights were on but not at all impressive. We left for dinner and came back later, when the sky was finally totally dark. The first sight of the massive wall of twinkling reds stunned me.

Once the sky was black, the lights were spectacular.

Christmas is the time we celebrate the light coming to a dark world. It’s in the darkness that the light radiates most effectively. The contrast is what shows off the beauty.

Wishing you light in all the dark corners of life as you celebrate this holiday.

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, Love’s pure light . . .

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesdays and Texture Tuesdays. Texture used is Kim Klassen’s If Only with Color Burn.

Posted in Encouragement, Hope, Places, Travel | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Picturing Peace

How do you picture peace? Is your life peaceful on the surface but maybe not so
peaceful just below?

This is the tranquil scene I found recently in the countryside of Massachusetts.

Lexington Green

Trees turning red and yellow in early autumn, a white church steeple
punctuating the blue of the sky, a lush lawn laying a green carpet. A small
bench beckoning us to sit and enjoy. A picture of peace, right?

Yes, but here’s what this square block is: a battleground.

It’s been preserved more than 200 years now because here the first shots of the
American Revolution were fired. The colonists grabbed their rifles — the ones they owned
because they were farmers, not because they were trained military. They met
across the street in the tavern that still stands, waiting for the British
soldiers marching toward this spot.

The first blood shed in a long, gruesome conflict flowed on this patch of grass.

You could drive past this park and remain unaware of what happened here, except for
the large sculpture commemorating the rifle-bearing colonists. It’s worth
remembering Lexington because, from this violent encounter, an all-out war
resulted. The colonists won, against great odds, and today Americans live in
liberty unparalleled in the world.

Peace today covers the ground of battle at Lexington. Peace in my life is layered on
times of battle. While peace comes with no guarantees that it will last, I can
enjoy peace today more than if the battles had never happened. Sometimes peace
can be appreciated only because conflicts raged and resolved.

This is the whole picture of Lexington: guns and green together. Where are you right now? In a time of peace won through war? A time of conflict with peace still to come?

Linking up with Sweet Shot Tuesdays!

Posted in Encouragement, Hope, Patience, Peace, Places, Travel | Tagged , , | 3 Comments