Thank You, Lord

Thursday, July 31, 2014

I have spent the past two weeks facing the possibility of a deadly form of cancer. I am so thankful to report that all looks well; no cancer. A follow-up appointment in four months just to be completely sure.

I can't tell you what I've been through in two weeks' time. I'm sure some of you have been through a cancer scare; all of these new tests we have are a blessing, but can also be a burden and can create so much worry.

All kinds of things go through your mind. You go to the worst-case scenario, and play it out. "I'm never going to see any grandchildren; I won't see two of my children even get married. I won't grow old with my husband."

I had already started thinking about what I might leave as tokens of my love for friends and family.

And I spent a lot of time in my Bible, about the only thing that brought me peace. 

There were times I would "forget" about my health for a little while, and then the possibility of serious illness and death would come rushing back, leaving me short of breath, stomach flip-flopping.

I can't express how thankful I am for this life. This short, precious life we've been given. This has reminded me, again, to be grateful for all that I have, to be kind to everyone I meet, and to love others well.

One thing that gave me great peace was to realize that if I had only a short time left there is nothing I would rather do than what I'm doing right now. I wouldn't feel regret that I wasn't spending my time doing  _____ (whatever; fill in the blank). I wouldn't feel cheated that I never got to Greece or Italy; Heaven is going to be so much more beautiful. I would be glad to spend my days doing exactly what I'm doing now, taking care of family and friends, doing a little writing and creating, hopefully trying to make my corner of the world a little more beautiful.

Another thing I realized is that there is no one that I need to forgive or made amends with. All of my relationships are "settled." Not perfect, but no loose ends. That is also a good feeling.

But I am so grateful for the opportunity to live longer; there really are so many things, given the opportunity, I want to do and see and learn. And so many people I want to love on.

Thanks for listening, friends, and I do hope you thank our Lord for this one beautiful, precious life we've been given. I know I am thanking Him.

Love, Deborah

Tea for Mr. Beautiful

Sunday, July 27, 2014

My tea posts usually feature lovely, feminine teacups, pretty linens, and, I hope, inspiration for a beautiful, girly-kinda tea. But today, I thought I'd share a little informal "tea" I made for Mr. Beautiful.

"Mr. Beautiful?"

"Oh, honey, all the bloggers do it. They call their husbands 'Mr. (insert name of blog here).'
'Mr. Beautiful Matters' is too long, and you don't really want to be called 'Mr. Matters,' do you?"

He rolls his eyes a little, but I'm going to pretend he is secretly pleased.

So anyway, Mr. Beautiful has been doing an awful lot of work around here lately, what with painting the kitchen and the pantry and trimming back the forest that is threatening to overtake us.

I could take a nap and pretend to be Sleeping Beauty, and Mr. Beautiful is the prince hacking his way through all this brush just to get to me.

Well, that deserves some iced tea and homemade oatmeal scotchies, don't you think?

Nothing too fancy, just a canning jar for the iced tea, served with a wedge of lemon, and a plain white Fitz and Floyd dessert plate with three one and a half cookies. I got some plain white dishes out of sympathy for my husband and son, who, though they've never complained, were probably tired of dining exclusively on floral vintage china that can't be put in the microwave.

The ball game's on. Mr. Beautiful is finally able to relax.

The Tigers lost, but life's still good. Lots of work accomplished this past weekend, time together with family, and homemade cookies. You just can't go wrong.

Thanks, honey, for all the work you do around here.

Linking with . . . 

Into the white

Friday, July 25, 2014

There's a lot of color in my home, but not as much as there once was. And I'm thinking there's going to be even less in the days to come. I'm gravitating more and more to a white/cream palette. 

I don't mean an all-white, stark-white palette; that's way too cold and sterile. I'm talking about using and combining all the variations of white and cream. The paint color samples below were only a fraction of what I could have brought home. There are so many shades. Billowy clouds, cotton whisper, innocence, oyster, powdered snow, Belgian cream, vanilla delight, Victorian pearl, white truffle, soft lace, and cinnamon cake, to name just a few. Just the names make one feel all cozy and comfy. So restful and peaceful, warm and simple.

Hmm . . . okay, I'll admit, a few pinks and dove grays got in there . . . 
I don't get the same feeling when I hear "screaming fire engine red, hot fuchsia pink, sunflower yellow, and passionate purple." Colors are wonderful; who doesn't love a beautiful sunset in wild pinks and oranges and purples? And some people look fantastic in a bright yellow or a bold cobalt blue. One of my favorite bloggers is always full-on color.

But for me to live with it? When I was having lots of trouble sleeping, I tried all kinds of things. One was making our bedroom as peaceful and simple and almost Zen-like as I could. Bright colors and busy patterns were out.

A little too bare, maybe, and now that I'm sleeping better, I might add a few touches, but I really love the serenity of all white.

Even my clothing choices are telling me about my preference for white.

When I was reorganizing my closet lately, I decided to put all my whites together, rather than organize by sweater or blouse or tank top. Look . . . 

Yes, I admit, not a lot of ironing goes on here.  I favor the slightly rumpled  soft, comfortable look for both cotton clothing and linen bedding.

I realized I love wearing whites more than I had thought. Half my clothes are white.

None of this move "into the white" is going to cost me anything as I only have to "shop my house." By putting a few things away and pulling out other things, I'll get closer to what I want. And this all started when we re-did our kitchen floor. One change always gets me thinking about others.

This valence was over the white vertical blinds in our breakfast area. 

I was using colors in my kitchen basically to go with this valence. But the blinds needed to go; with the valence down, the red transferware off the walls (which we had to take off to paint), and everything off the hutch (so we could move it for the floor to be sanded), I all of a sudden saw that I've got a clean slate. White breezy curtains, and white dishes on the walls and on the hutch will transform this room.

Even in the family room, I realized, once I take these down, I'm almost there. 

Change up a few purple and green pillows that are only there to match the valence, and I can go neutral (the sofa and one chair are cream, and so is the carpeting. I have a soft green chair that will still be okay, I think).

Most of our furniture is maple or walnut or darker. I had a serious case of envy over all the cottage-y, chippy white furniture I've been seeing on people's blogs. Okay, not very serious, but still. But now I'm seeing how beautiful whites and creams can look with my dark wood. 

Look at this darling little bowl that I got from Michele at Finch Rest Emporium on eBay. I think it's beautiful against the dark wood of my hutch. My hutch was filled with yellows and pinks and greens before, but I think I will fill it with all my white china, teapots, and pitchers.

So no more color at all? No; depending on the room, accents in my favorite colors, chocolate brown, robin's egg blue, pink, and soft sage greens will all feature somewhere, and I can change that up very easily against the white on whites.

I read once that both Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe did their homes in all white. Sounds very old Hollywood and glamorous. Sounds fabulous in fact, but if my home is comfortable and welcoming and peaceful, I'll be happy.

I will never be in House Beautiful, anyway. No matter how lovely a creamy/white palette with soft muted accents against polished dark wood is, I will always be pulling out something to use that will spoil the whole effect . . . 

I mean, really, how can I not use these old, retro placemats with the 70s orange/yellow/green vibe that grandma made for me? And there is white in them.

Do you have a favorite color palette for decorating and for clothing? Is it bright and colorful or all-white, or is it somewhere in between?

Cherubs and tea

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Look at these lovely hydrangeas from our front yard. I take no credit; they just bloomed without any help from me. Aren't they pretty?

And look what came in the mail from Finch Rest Emporium, the eBay shop run by the lovely blogger Michele of The Nest at Finch Rest.

I fell in love with these two cherubs holding up the little bowl, perfect for soap or candy . . . or pearls. I also found this beautiful teacup, made in Austria, in Michele's shop.

She packed everything extra carefully, and I am so happy with my purchases, including a little milk glass bowl. 

I found the box of English breakfast tea for sale at our local breakfast place. It says "1 infuser" on the front. I asked the cashier what that was, and she said it was just a tea bag. But I thought she must be mistaken; if it was a tea bag, it would say tea bag, right? Was it loose tea, some special cone of tea, or what? I had to buy it to find out.

Okay. It is a tea bag. Though a kind of fancy one. Those marketers are a pretty savvy bunch. 

Here's a closer look at the teacup . . . 

And remember the kitchen floor re-do? Here's the before . . . 

And here's the after . . . 

I'm just waiting for everything to be totally "cured" and then I can put furniture back. In the meantime, my husband has painted and I've been cleaning out cupboards and the pantry. One project always leads to another . . . 

And for a wonderful example of serendipity, look what happened this past weekend . . . 

My daughter Jessica and I had gone to get a gift at Bed Bath & Beyond, and at the checkout lane we decided to get a diet Coke. I hardly ever drink this anymore and didn't know about their #ShareaCoke campaign. I am not kidding you, the very first two bottles my daughter pulled out were these. She didn't search around for them or anything; they were just right in front. What are the odds?  

Knockout roses are also wonderfully prolific in the hands of unskilled gardeners.

And in more randomness, in a rather random post, guess what I found when cleaning up the guest bedroom preparatory to my sister and her family visiting?  

Ooops . . . these were to have gone in last year's Christmas stockings. I guess I hid them a little too well. They're still good, though. I checked.

Linking with . . .

History and Home
Tea in the Garden

I just realized this is my 100th post!! Thanks to you all for reading and your lovely comments.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I am not a shy person. I love my friends and family, and enjoy spending time with them. But extended time with people can leave me depleted. Extended time making small talk with strangers is completely exhausting. I can happily spend hours, days even, puttering around my house, working quietly, thinking a great deal, and writing and reading. A happy night for me is a cup of tea and a good book. I am an introvert.

It is estimated that in America, one third to one half of the population is introverted. If you are not introverted, chances are you are married to one or are raising one or are a friend to one. And yet, extroversion is seen as the ideal temperament in our society.

"Yet today we make room for a remarkably narrow range of personality styles. We're told that to be great is to be bold, to be happy is to be sociable." (p. 3)

 Team work and cooperation, being talkative and taking charge, having a strong personality -- these are all highly valued, and individuals with these traits are often viewed as smarter and more successful than quieter, more thoughtful personalities.

So what happens to the rest of us? According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking (Crown Publishers 2012), we often pretend to be extroverts. We push our children to be extroverts. We feel ashamed that we would rather stay home with a good book than go to a big party. We feel that maybe we think too much. We feel a little guilty that we let the phone go to voice mail. So we push ourselves, often to our detriment, to be more outgoing, more gregarious, than we really are.

Susan Cain has good news for us. The world needs us. Without introverts, we never would have had the theory of gravity (Newton), the theory of relativity (Einstein), Chopin's nocturnes, Peter Pan, Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm,  Rosa Parks, or Google, to name just a few. 

She punctures the myth that group projects, team work, and collaboration, increasingly popular in schools and in the corporate world, are always the best way to work. Working alone often produces the best inventions and discoveries, the best art and literature.

I thought her explanation of the rise of extroversion as a cultural ideal was fascinating. She speaks of the "Culture of Character" slowly changing into the "Culture of Personality" in the 20s and 30s, fueled by advertisers and self-help gurus such as Dale Carnegie, and later, by exuberant sales personalities like Tony Robbins. Whereas hard work, reputation, manners, and integrity were highly valued in the nineteenth century (and could be cultivated by anyone), characteristics such as personal  magnetism and being attractive, dominant, forceful, and energetic were now being pushed as the way to succeed in an increasingly competitive world.  Just as left-handed children were trained to use their right hands, "parents and teachers conspired to overhaul the personalities of quiet children" (p. 27) so that they wouldn't be "social misfits."

Today, "The pressure to entertain, to sell ourselves, and never to be visibly anxious keeps ratcheting up."  (p. 31) Look no further than Facebook and Twitter and the rise of "selfies." There is an extreme bias toward being extroverted in the U.S.

Of course, we need extroverts. They're the ones we love to invite to dinner parties, and who make us laugh and can take great ideas and put them into action. They're fun to be around, and can energize us to action.

But Susan Cain's book reminds us that introverts are just as valuable to our world. Introverts are the thinkers, the scholars, the writers. They are the listeners, the people who enjoy deep discussions. Introverts can lead and direct people, as well, when they need to. In fact, their style may even be more helpful in sensitive negotiations, and as leaders as they tend to listen more, ask questions, and think before they speak. Their calm demeanor can often diffuse heated situations.

I, for one, love being an introvert. It's sometimes a little hard "in a world that can't stop talking," though. TVs are everywhere, even blaring at the corner gas station. Smart phones sounding alerts, 24/7 news coverage (remember the days of just one hour of news?), and FOMO (fear of missing out) can overwhelm those of us who prefer quiet. The world is really noisy. I would say even the most extroverted needs to cultivate a little quiet in this world just to stay sane and keep perspective.

This is a well-researched book (with 46 pages of notes at the end), but very readable and interesting. She explains when it is good to be a "pseudo-extrovert" (for example, when you have to present ideas to a group), how to honor and value introverted children, and how to get along with an extroverted spouse, as well as what it means to be "sensitive" and "highly reactive." Have you ever been told that, as an introvert, you need to develop a thicker skin? Well, it turns out that highly sensitive people (who are mostly introverts) are physiologically "thinner skinned;" they actually do feel hot and cold, light and noise, emotions, and others' feelings more than other people because of their physical makeup. And she explains why that can be beneficial and not a handicap.

 I highly recommend this book to introverts and introvert-lovers alike. It will give you new appreciation for the contributions introverts make to our world.

Now I'm off to quietly putter around the house by myself.

Sharing with . . .

Home and Garden Thursday

(It just occurred to me that blog link parties are the consummate gatherings for introverts! In real life, I'd be exhausted if I went to twelve parties a week!)

(I was not compensated for this review.)

In memory of my son

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tomorrow would have been our oldest son's 30th birthday. He was born on July 14, 1984, and died some 12 hours later. His name was Brian.

I have his little footprints framed on my dresser. I will be forever grateful to whoever took these, as well as to whoever took pictures of him. A thoughtful nurse also gave us the little yellow knit hat that he wore during his short life. Blessings to whoever knit it. Years later, when I was looking at it, I discovered a little brown hair of his inside the hat that I had never noticed before. It took my breath away.

The hospital where I had him had a tradition of serving a meal to both of the new parents, including champagne to celebrate. When someone hesitantly asked us what we wanted to do, we said "yes, we want to celebrate his life." And we ate and drank, thinking of what a wonderful gift his short life had been, how happy we had been.

Of course, I was still in shock at that time, and so much grief and anger and confusion would follow.

The hospital where I had him had asked if we wanted him to be baptized (we said yes) and they arranged a small funeral service for him. Several friends and family came. I was there in my bathrobe in a wheelchair, still hooked up to an IV pole. Because I had had a C-section I wasn't able to go to the cemetery with my husband when they buried him. It was a rainy day, and I still picture him there alone with the gravedigger.

I had been raised in a church-going family; my husband had not. We had no particular beliefs about God at all when we got married, even though we did get married in a church with a traditional Christian service.

I think the greatest gift that Brian gave us was the gift of faith. Through all the difficult questions that surfaced during our time of grieving, questions people have asked through the ages regarding suffering and evil, we were able to come out on the other side with a strong faith in the Christian God.

In the subsequent years we lost six more babies through miscarriage. Those times, too, tested our new-found faith and made it stronger. I thought of Peter, who was asked by Jesus, "will you too leave?" after some of His followers had abandoned Him, and when I, too, wondered about this God. "No, Lord, where would I go? You have the words of life."

There were times I did wonder what God was doing, but where else would I go? Who else loved me as much? Who else offered me as much hope? Who else faithfully walked with me through all the pain and heartache that this old, broken world can dish up? Who else promises to bind up the brokenhearted, to make all things new, and Who promises I will see my loved ones again? Yes, seven in heaven. I am looking forward to seeing all my dear ones.

Brian was the first of our ten children. Yes, the Lord blessed us with three beautiful children who lived, now 21, 23, and 27. They are treasures to us.

I think back to myself all those years ago, young, happy, and so proud of my little expanding belly. I remember walking downtown with my husband the first time I wore a maternity top (that was in the days before skin-tight t-shirts outlined the baby bump). "Do you think people can tell I'm pregnant?" I asked him, trying to push out the barely visible swell of my stomach. I wanted to share with everyone the exciting, wonderful news of this unbelievable miracle. And then how quickly it all turned, months later when I worried I hadn't felt him move, the anxious trip to the hospital, the doctor listening for a heartbeat, and then the frantic rush to the delivery room and an emergency C-section.

Beauty and happiness, then horror and disbelief. I lay there in the hospital afterwards, stunned and in shock, clutching a small doll from my childhood that I had asked my husband to bring from home. 

I think of the young woman I once was, and wish I could reach back and hold her, and whisper that everything was going to be okay, that the Lord can bring beauty out of ashes, a glad heart out of mourning.

Happy birthday, Brian. And thank you, dear son. One day we'll be rejoicing together.

Taking care of business

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

You know all those little chores around the house just waiting to be taken care of? Not the regular, need-to-do everyday ones like laundry and cooking, but the ones that aren't super pressing, that you keep putting off? The ones that sit there, silently accusing you, making your shoulders sag just a little every time you see them? Well, I decided yesterday that I was just going to deal with them (or at least the loudest and most annoying of them).

It's been rainy and humid here, too hot to be outdoors, so it was a good time to be inside with the AC and just git r done.

Just so you know, it's not all tea parties and rainbows here. Our down comforter has been heaped up on the floor since the beginning of May. It only needs a trip to the laundromat. The gray striped comforter came home from college in May and needs a seam repaired. And why is that green blanket just piled on top, and not in the linen cupboard?

So for two months, I've been looking at this eyesore. I have to do it eventually, so why didn't I take care of it right away and save myself the aggravation of seeing it every time I came in the room?

Twenty minutes to mend the seam on the aging, just-two-more-semesters-to-go comforter. Boom. Back in my son's room (and out of ours!), ready to go back to college in late August.

Get to the laundromat. Run to the grocery store after putting the queen-sized down comforter in a 5X heavy-duty washer. Run back, put in dryer, and get home to unload groceries before they melt. Run back, dry another 40 minutes while I peruse a catalog. Boom. Done. A little extra work, but really, how hard was that?

Ready to store in the guest bedroom/craft room closet (oh dear, that could use some organizing).

Uh oh, looks like that yellow tablecloth needs to be ironed. And speaking of ironing . . . 

I won't even tell you how long these have sat at the bottom of my clean laundry basket, underneath the always-present lone socks waiting for their mates to show up.

And, really, so easy to iron.

So satisfying to accomplish a few things . . . 

In the bigger picture, things are a bit chaotic. What with all the campaign interns in the dining/living room (my son is running the campaign for our local senator) and our kitchen floor being re-done and my husband painting . . . 

I almost didn't post this. Super embarrassing, especially with the table gone. But, just keeping it real.

This is a job we've been meaning to do ever since we moved in, and that was years ago. Like I said, taking care of business.

This is what the corner of my family room looks like now. Everything had to be pulled out of the pantry, and the china cupboard needed to be moved out as well.

um, did I really need to watermark this photo?

We will need to stay out of the kitchen for five days. The coffee pot is already in the powder room, and I have a supply of paper plates on hand. Sandwiches, take-out, fruit . . .

Can't wait to see the result. Now I'm off to do a little more ironing and mending while I'm still inspired.

Linking with Share Your Cup Thursday.

Tea and lemonade on the deck

Sunday, July 6, 2014

We had the best weather over the 4th of July holiday weekend. Perfect for watching fireworks, going to the parade, and sitting outside enjoying a cup of tea and homemade lemonade.

A cup of organic Darjeeling and some homemade lemonade on ice, leaning back on some comfy pillows with conversation and a good book. Ah, summertime . . . 

I got the recipe for the lemonade from Easy-peasy. 

Homemade Lemonade

8 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

Start by making a simple syrup with 1 cup of water and 1 3/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved, cool. Put in refrigerator. Squeeze lemons to get 1 1/2 cups lemon juice. Remove seeds but not pulp. Add lemon juice and 7 cups of water to syrup.

I love the simple, old-fashioned look of canning jars and striped paper straws.

My daughter and I went to Ulta over the weekend to get a few things. She showed me this Rimmel eyeshadow quad named "Afternoon Tea." I almost got it just for the name! (Hers is pictured here.) I almost never wear eye shadow, and ended up giving her my Naked 2 palette, pictured here -- pricey, and I figured she'd get much more use out it. I have an old Clinique eye shadow palette, and I mean old. It needs to be pitched. So I got this Physician's Formula classic nude palette. Isn't it pretty? Maybe I'll even use it.

Love this pretty pink Colclough teacup.

And this Shelley teacup with the pale green handle. Love the fluted edges on the Shelley cups. The teapot was my great-aunt's.

The linen napkins are very old heirlooms; the spoons were my mother-in-law's, in the Rambler Rose pattern. It's so satisfying, don't you think, to use beautiful, old things?


I want to welcome my new followers; and thank you all for reading and commenting on my blog. It's been one of the biggest surprises and pleasures of blogging, meeting so many kind, creative, and lovely new friends. As Anne says, "Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world" (Anne of Green Gables). Thank you, my lovelies.

Why the beautiful matters

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

I started this blog as a way to record the beauty in my life and to show why it matters. I have enjoyed sharing with you some of the beautiful things that I am privileged to enjoy every day, simple and ordinary things, in most cases, that we all can enjoy if we have but eyes to see. 

Why is beauty so important? Does the beautiful matter? Dostoevsky, one of my favorite writers, said that "beauty will save the world." I have pondered what he meant by those words. I can't speak for him, but I do believe that in a world marred by evil, where terrible and destructive things happen every day, it is critical to be able to see beauty, appreciate it, and give thanks for it.

the hydrangeas are finally in bloom here; definitely worth the wait
Over in Iraq, ISIS is beheading soldiers and police. The eastern Congo, "the most dangerous place on earth to be a woman," is home to a whole population of women who have been brutally raped by soldiers. Veterans who have served our country well are dying in our own hospitals here at home because they can't get timely care. You and I both know I could go on and on. The newscasters do, every day.

When I set a pretty table here in my little corner of the world, when I light a candle and put fresh flowers atop a vintage tablecloth, when I prepare a  homemade meal for my family, does it really make a difference? How does ironing linens and organizing a pantry help solve any of the problems we are facing?

 Appreciating the sun sparkling on water, a beautiful sliver of moon rising above the trees, and the brave and funny little chickadees busy about my feeder, is more than just a little thing. I think noticing these things is crucial to a life well lived. When I hold a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, do I breathe in the aroma and give thanks? Do I look outside and appreciate the warmth of the sun, the beauty of the clouds, the life-giving thrum of the rain, in short, the marvelous variety of weather, each beautiful in its way? Do I glance around in gratitude for the home I have and all the memories made within it?

Recognizing beauty points us to the Source of all beauty, the One who created it and sustains it. It reminds us that Someone is ultimately in charge. He gives us these glimpses of beauty, if we have eyes to see, to remind us that there is hope. We need not despair.

the knockout roses are also in bloom here
Someday, all will be restored. But we may not merely wait. We can create beauty around us. We can enjoy beauty around us. We can point others to beauty, and remind them of "whatsoever is lovely." This is not Pollyannaish thinking. We are not burying our heads in the sand. One of the reasons why beauty matters so much is that we know evil is rampant. Recognizing and giving thanks for beauty is one of the ways we do battle with evil. We look for the good and promote it wherever we can. Yes, we vote and volunteer and pray and give money and do whatever else we can in our sphere of influence. 

But, ultimately, most of us can't do a whole lot to change the world in a big-picture way.
 But we can celebrate and appreciate "whatever is true and noble and right . .  ."  (Phil. 4:8) We can try and bring beauty into others' lives. A friend's daughter was able to do this for rape victims in eastern Congo when, as a counselor, she encouraged them to talk about and share their pain with each other. The smiles on the faces of these brave women and their newfound solidarity is beautiful. It matters. Taking an arrangement of flowers from your garden to a friend battling cancer is a way to fight evil with beauty, not only with the beauty of the flowers, but with the beauty of friendship. But it won't cure her cancer, you say. Who knows? It will help cure despair, and that's no small thing.

Providing a respite in your home for someone who is struggling in her marriage brings beauty into a difficult situation. Fortified by a cup of tea served in a pretty vintage cup and a homemade scone set out on a lovely plate with a dollop of lemon curd, sitting comfortably on your deck together enjoying a light breeze and the scent of sun-warmed herbs planted by cheerful geraniums -- it doesn't solve her marital problems, but it gives her strength and courage to hang in there and do battle for what is lost and may be restored.

You are out all day, fighting traffic, listening to heartbreaking and disturbing news, dealing with rude and hurried and harassed people, and you come home and spot a pile of freshly ironed linens stacked neatly in a pretty basket, and you think, "ah, all is well."

"Beauty is vanishing from our world because we live as if it does not matter," says the English philosopher Roger Scruton. Many of our books, movies, art, architecture, and music are filled with despair and ugliness. He says "It is not merely . . .  a flight from beauty . . . There is a desire to spoil beauty . . . For beauty makes a claim on us; it is a call to renounce our narcissism and look with reverence on the world."

We can choose to embrace the beautiful in the choices we make, the books we read and the music we listen to. And I don't mean hiding out and only reading Anne of Green Gables, as much as I love that series. I mean choosing the things that help make us better people and help us love and appreciate and fight for Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. And we can share these things with our children and with those whose lives are broken and hurting.

As William Wordsworth said, "What we have loved/others will love, and we will teach them how."

The next time you make a lovely homemade soup, cut flowers from your garden, iron a tablecloth, or spend a few moments gazing into a twilight sky, remember that you are doing battle. You are resisting the forces of ugliness and evil, and championing the cause of the true and the beautiful. And yes, I do believe it is that epic.

Linking with Home and Garden Thursday * Home Sweet Home * Show and Tell Friday * Pink Saturday * Share Your Cup Thursday * Feathered Nest Friday

(The quotes from Scruton and Wordsworth were found in the July/August 2013 edition of Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College.)
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