Twenty

While I sat in my car crying in the hospital parking lot, a doctor sliced open my husband’s neck for a lymph node biopsy.  Days earlier a CT scan suggested that my husband had lymphoma.  While we prayed that the biopsy would not confirm this, I let my fears consume me in the waiting–I was immobilized.  I managed to stop the sobbing long enough to call my friend Erin and ask her how I should pray when frozen.  She told me not to worry about the words right then, that my tears, heart, and each breath would be enough for the Spirit to intercede for me.  We hung up and I sought distraction and maybe solace in music until the procedure was over.  And that is when “God Will Lift Up Your Head” by Jars of Clay played at just the moment I needed it.

The band included this reworked hymn on their 2005 album Redemption Songs and the words cleared my mind’s fog that day,”Into the wind your fears, hope, and be undismayed.  God hears your sighs and counts your tears.  God will lift up, God will lift up, God will lift up your head.”  Call me crazy, but then, and now, I knew that I was experiencing an undeniably supernatural moment.  The song ends with, “through waves and clouds and storms, He gently clears the way, wait, ’cause in His time so shall this night soon end in joy, soon end in joy, soon end in joy…”  Just like that, my sobs of fear turned to sobs of hope.  How did I deserve the promise, that whatever the biopsy, this night would soon end in joy?  The song became the soundtrack during my husband’s illness, stage-IV non-Hodgkins lymphoma, playing in loops to buoy my hope anytime it started to sink.  Six and a half years later, I still can’t listen to the song without crying.

Callan6mo_39First round of chemo

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Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 12.25.22 PMOur photo session with Magic Hour, organization of photographers who serve cancer patients and their families

If you have read TPH for a while, you know our story.  But I can’t tell you how meaningful it was to me to relate this experience last weekend, face-to-face, with a member of Jars of Clay.  The Ugly Cry happened, y’all.

Jars of Clay celebrated their band’s 20th anniversary with a music-filled weekend in Nashville that we were lucky enough to attend.  Coincidentally, it is also the 20th anniversary this year when my husband and I met and fell in love…and also became Jars of Clay fans with their first album.  If you love music like we do, it can be hard to love contemporary Christian music.  Jars of Clay changed the contemporary Christian music game, massively, influencing many artists who came after them.  And, they are still the standard against which I measure any new Christian band or sound.  We’ve followed every album, attended many of their concerts through the years, and even had one of their songs used for divine intervention, no big deal.  It was a pleasure to celebrate with them last weekend.

They performed acoustic rarities Friday night at the offices of Blood-Water, a non-profit organization the band founded that helps the AIDS/HIV and water crises in Africa.  It was cozy and intimate, but the poor guys (good sports) had to pose for many photos with fans–our goofy family included.

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The band hosted coffee and tours at their Gray Matters recording studio on Saturday morning.  The kids came along, too, because they are big fans themselves.

IMG_4433Outside Gray Matters in Nashville

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A band amasses mucho memorabilia over 20 years–t-shirts, posters, stickers…Grammies and Dove Awards, too, just lying about.  We chatted with the band, and when we cornered Charlie Lowell–keyboardist for Jars of Clay–I mustered up the courage to tell him how their song pulled me through my husband’s illness.  I almost didn’t because why would he want to listen to just one more fan story, I assumed.  But he graciously listened like I was the only one there, even with the ugly cry and snot.  It felt full-circle to me.IMG_4437

IMG_8656Sitting at the studio, practicing their “serious album cover” shot

IMG_4445They delivered a fabulous 20-years-of-music concert in the historic theatre in Franklin, Tennessee. (Franklin, by the way, is too cute for words.  I’ll be back.)

jars of clay www.tphblog.com

IMG_8663Q&A with the band before the concert

And, you know what, of all their many songs, they played “God Will Lift Up Your Head.”

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Twenty years is a long time, with the multiple lifetimes we’ve packed in; yet it goes by fast.  The years are a gift–and all the good and bad within those years, too.  Two weeks ago my husband had his annual CT scan, that time of year when I alternately ignore it from fear and pray over it with desperation, depending on the moment.  It came back clear, thank you!  And, so, we are now two years out from his last reoccurrence.  Twenty years out will be a dream come true…thirty years…fifty years out so I can see the day when our children will change our diapers.

When I could barely eek out that prayer six years ago for him, for us–for our children, that they could have years with their father please–God promised me joy.  It is written on my heart forever.

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IMG_8662And now that chubby baby knows exactly how wonderful his father is, the nuances of Daddy’s personality, the absurdity of his corny jokes, the dedication to his family’s happiness.  That little boy can now say deliciously preposterous things like, “You’re the Daddy…you can do whatever you want.”  Every year is a gift.

Thank you–Charlie, Matt, Dan, and Stephen–for a fabulous music weekend.

Housey House Stuff & A Big Idea

Well, I can’t believe it’s been four months since I last posted.  So what’s the status of this old blog?  I don’t know.

But what I do know is that all of the kids are in traditional school this year.  For the first time in 12 years, I have time alone during the day.  While this would be a perfect segue into the Great Soul Searching of 2014 of what will I do?, I’m not up for writing that beast right now and, really, you just want to see the house stuff.  There are a million and one ideas I could pursue, but at the moment I’m taking a breather with my family, managing the cottage business, and focusing on the house, making it cozy and such.

To get me out of the house a bit, too, I am working on a little design project for a medical office and will teach a handful of elementary and middle school art classes in Asheville, North Carolina, this school year.  Otherwise, no other commitments.  And, I like having the margin to be available for any needs that arise in our circle.  The breathing room feels precious, sacred.  So, yeah, the blog, I’m not making any big decisions about it now, even though it is an embarrassment to me.

Like anyone making decisions for their own home, I’m scared to death.  I have a semi-clear vision for this house, but it is soooooooo easy for me to get derailed.  My attention is turned to the layers of the house–rugs, drapery, wall treatments, etc.  You know, the things that could be fat, expensive mistakes.

Some fabrics I’m mulling over:

I love this Cindy E. Barganier, New Turquoise Chain, for my daughter’s room.  I think.

www.tphblog.comShe is sold on it so there is kind of no going back on it.  The colors are just too similar to her artwork that I’m afraid it will be matchy.

Aya by Larsen is the top contender for the living room:www.tphblog.comAlthough, the first pick was handpainted Tangled by Porter Teleo, to which Sherry Hart introduced me, but the colorway was off a bit.  Instead I’m going to use it as inspiration for wall painting in our front entry hall.

www.tphblog.comI can’t decide about Aimee from Clarence House.

Aimee Clarence HousePart of me adores it and the other part of me is all, “whatchu talkin’ about, Willis?”  I mean, look at all the colors!  But then, look at all the colors.  Partly it feels good and Bauhaus-y to me–or, it feels like kids + marker.  This color bonanza is under consideration for the mint kitchen.

So that is about as far as I’ve gotten this year on interior work.  I took the summer off and spent with the kids.  A fair amount of my time was spent on finishing the landscaping.  I’ll have to post some after shots, but here is the pic I took when the cypress tress arrived.  It is funny what one fights about with one’s spouse.  He wanted cypress trees.  I didn’t.  But then he didn’t want a wife who blows all his hard-earned money on endless rounds of furniture, so, compromise.www.tphblog.comYeah, so, one of my millions of ideas is this:  remember up there a few paragraphs I talked about my precious breathing room?  I’m thinking about homeschooling again…just for one year.  I guess it was the whole traditional school with rules and set hours and dress code and rules, that I started to get all itchy in that independent streak of mine.  But!  This time would be different.  We’re thinking about world schooling.  Learning through traveling the world.  Trust me, it took my husband a full month to come around and actually talk it over with me.

Unlike a lot of world schoolers, we would not spend the whole year abroad; but, instead, we would take trips in 2-6 week increments with 6 weeks or so in between trips for instruction about our next destination.  My husband would join us on some of the travel, but mostly I would be traveling alone with our children, hopefully never away from hubby more than 2 weeks at a time.

Anyway, we talk like it’s happening.  The kids are intrigued.  There are many details to work out.  But now it is just for me to decide if I can really handle it.  It isn’t all crepes in the shadow of the Eiffel tower and curry on the beach in Thailand; it can be, as I experienced on our recent trip to Europe, car sickness and abdominal cramps and diarrhea in a public restroom.   So I need to know if I’m ready to deal with my own diarrhea and diarrhea of three kids, so to speak, in a foreign country before I commit.  But I need to decide soon because planning will need to start right away.  And, if we do this, I will be consumed with this until August of 2016.  I share in hopes you will add some insight!

Okay, no promises on what will happen here on the blog, but you can keep up with TPH on instagram.  See you there!

It’s a Girl! | Nursery

What are you doing in four weeks?  Well, my dear real-life friend Darlene of Fieldstone Hill Design will be having a baby girl.  Oh, jealousy, I can’t help but envy all the newborn snuggles and sweet cheek-to-cheeks in her near future.  Sleepless nights…it just doesn’t seem to matter with the third baby.

Bebe bebe bebe nursery image

She has invited designers to dream up fantasy girl nurseries that she has posted throughout her pregnancy–all beautiful ones, take a look.  And she took a chance and invited me to participate!  But she had to lay some ground rules for me knowing my penchant for painting internal organs and decorating with bare body parts:  ”no intestines but nudity is okay.”  Well, I didn’t want to flirt with controversy so I avoided any semblance of either, but there are aviary parts.Screen shot 2013-08-08 at 7.08.58 AM

And there is a sweet mural.

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I couldn’t help myself on the mural, thinking back to my little business of designing nurseries and painting murals in Houston.  That was a happy job.

Hop on over to Darlene’s and see the complete room that I dreamed up for her little soprano.  Darlene wrote some super sweet stuff about the writer of TPH, which has me thinking surely she has me confused with someone else (thank you, thank you!)  And, thank you, friend, for inviting me to contribute!  I can’t wait to meet your sweet girl!

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In other news, I figured out the laundry room layout so that I’m happy…and it has a sink!  Thank you all for leaving your thoughts on the idea of a laundry sink–I agree with you!  I’m sure I won’t regret it.  And thank you to patient Darlene, who has a million-and-one nesting things to do, for fielding my late night emails and frantic texts about the laundry spatial problems–you are the best!  I’ll share the plan soon.

Cottage Bedroom Redo | Art & Bed

The art for the cottage bedroom redo is moving along…faster than I thought, so that is good.  The painting to go over the bath tub is almost finished.

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My apologies to real landscape painters.  I wanted the painting to be mainly sky–something kinda dreamy for tub soaking.

The other little painting is a collage piece made from strips I cut from an old survey left in the house when we bought it.  This is it in the beginning…I’m still wrestling with it, and when I triumph over it (I hope), I’ll share photos.

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After I finish this post, I will work on my little watercolors while the kids and I watch The Christmas Carol…a little late, but whatever.

Now, prepare your eyes.  This is the bed I ordered from Overstock.  I will take the bedding, uh, in a different direction.

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The prelude to this story is sad.  I found the most gorgeous vintage brass bed on Craigslist (in king, so rare), but I couldn’t fit it in my car and by the time I found wheels that could, I lost that puppy (I know, Master Craigslisters, I did so many things wrong here).  It wasn’t a good week.

For the bed, I had ruled out wood (too much on floor and ceiling) and painted wood (too many painted pieces in the room).  And, ick, an upholstered bed would look nice and soft but would be totally grody in a rental.  Metal seemed like the perfect solution.  So I was completely crestfallen to lose this brass bed, and new was too expensive for the budget.  But this bed from Overstock had great reviews and the price was right.  I ordered knowing that I will need to apply some kind of decorative finish–probably soft black.  We’ll unpack it this weekend, and I’ll get to work.  I’ll let you know!

But it would be so fun in a bright color–did you see the bed painted green by Grace of A Storied Style?2013-01-08_0016

I’ll save the rug for the fabric post.  I hope to procure the fabric today!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!

Happy 2013!

Well, it looks like the party has gotten started early.  Wishing you all a safe and happy start to the new year!

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