concerning fairy gardens and little girls

Lately Fairy Gardens are all the rage. I’ve watched them pop up in nurseries, across the world of blogs and pinterest, and now my 3-year-old simply loves Tinkerbell. So a couple weeks ago, when I noticed a nearby nursery was having a “Fairy Garden Tea Party,” it only made sense to take her. We had time to fill, as I needed her out of the house that afternoon while her baby brother and daddy napped (his post-call weekend). She was to recite her catecism and Scripture memory verses later that afternoon at our church, so we tucked this event in right before.

We arrived and were shuttled back to a somewhat ‘secret’ garden, packed with more daylilies than I’d ever seen in one place, exploding in a thousand colors. There were bright quilts spread across the lawn, and my dressed-up-3-year-old fairy joined the other diminuative princesses and fairies in painting clay teapots and filling them with flowers. Then we did a scavenger hunt among the gardens to find the little potted fairy gardens hidden about, then a snack of tea cakes. Finally, a “Garden Fairy” arrived to  read a tale, and they all brainstormed a name for her. (“Amethyst” won, in case you were wondering). The Garden Fairy (now Amethyst) handed out little fairy garden accessories to the little girls in attendence. My daughter admired her minituare copper watering can, and I knew we’d have to return home to make our own little fairy garden.

As you can see in the photo, we added some other accessories, and a patio. The plants are all thriving a week after we built the piece. There are little fields of thyme (see the frolicking lamb amidst them?) and a tiny broken robin’s egg my daughter found was tucked in. The little flower pots are big enough for some tiny succulents to grow happily, and the bright flowers look like magical minituare trees next to the tiny house we painted together.

All in all, it’s a sucess. My little girl says Tinkerbell might just move in. We’ll see.

Of note, I ran across this little set of answers from C.S. Lewis to 3 common objections to Fairy Tales. Its an interesting read, especially if you have a 3-year-old who is looking for Tinkerbell.

 

*Linking this post to the “Fairy Garden Contest- 2012″ at The Magic Onion’s Blog*

spilled milk, missionaries, and a map

A full cup of milk is tipped by a three-year-old elbow, forming a small river which seeps into the joints of the table’s ancient wood. I huff and grab another towel, then kneel to reach the puddle formed beneath after I finish up top. My one-year old hurtles green beans from his high chair, narrowly missing my head. They both start in a chorus of whines. I sigh and try not to think about the piles in the laundry room, on my desk, or the entire bookcase of kids’ volumes my son delighted in pulling out one-by-one and scattering while I finished a phone call earlier in the day.

I finish the floor, and balancing the toddler on my hip, sweep damp crumbs from his seat into my dirty towel. On my way to the garbage pail, I catch sight of the map hanging next to our table. I pause.

My mind travels ten thousand miles to the countries we’ve pinned. These are the places our friends have scattered, where they’ve planted their lives. They are harsh, dark places. I think of Travis and Amy, in their Ugandan village at the farthest reaches of one long, solitary road. Measles just broke out, a new battle to fight among many in Bundibugyo, where they went 8 months without refrigeration for the precious vaccines last year. I silently pray for them, for Christ in them.

A couple hours later and my Littles both sleep briefly. I scour photos of kitchens on Houzz and try to make a decision about granite color. It turns out that a renovation, even when hiring others to do the hard part, is still something of a full-time job if you want to do it properly. All the costly decisions involved; what if I choose the wrong backsplash and kick myself for twenty years? The dryer buzzes and I move towards the laundry room to switch loads. On the way, the map again catches my eye. A flag stuck in Mali, the tiny scrawled names of Brett and Sheri, whose work at the new hospital is challenged by Mali’s recent coup. Paint color decisions pale as I remember their last report–the desperate needs in Mali.

Several times each busy day, my eyes land on the map. I try to allow them to rest there for a moment. To see the flags perched on the edge, waiting to be stuck in Japan, in Indonesia. To linger on the ones I turned backwards when I took photos for this post, because some of my friends cannot be named, and are giving their lives away in places I cannot name. I can say vague things, like “Southeast Asia” or “Northern Africa.” I get correspondence from these locals written in code. Yes, these are real battles being fought, you see, and the Enemy is after these warriors. I look forward to seeing our children play together again, to hosting them in our new home this time. For these names I beg Him for safety. That He would spare them from physical danger as they go about His work.

I find myself looking around my suburban Southern home and am well aware of the gifts of our first-world life. I’ve been around the world, seen countless slums and eaten meals in third-world huts. I feel this tension–this great, great tension. Yet the talents we have fit here in the first world. Cancer, the disease of the first world, is what my husband is specialized to fight. So for now, God has made us Senders. We get to be a part of building hospitals in Africa and churches in Japan. But in the hustle of first-world living, we could potentially forget these dear friends who’ve laid down their American lives to be the hands and feet of Jesus elsewhere. So we hang the map right in the middle of our life and pin their names across it.

So you–in your first-world home. Hang a map. Pin the flags in the hard places where your friends serve. If you don’t have friends in hard places, make new friends. Or borrow mine. Pray. Give. Send. But don’t forget them.

My first novel is now available!

My first novel, A Fountain Filled, became available today on Amazon! It’s so exciting to see the whole thing all polished up and packaged nicely behind this beautiful cover. It is available as an ebook on Kindle, but that doesn’t mean you have to own a Kindle device to read it! You can download the free Kindle app to your smartphone, or download the Kindle software to your computer and read it there!

Here’s what the story is about:

Anne Knox, a Southern belle adopted from South Korea in infancy, dreams of becoming a missionary doctor. She starts her first year of medical school determined to make it through Gross Anatomy without passing out or puking. What she doesn’t expect is a plea for help from her brother in the jungles of Venezuela, who asks her to recruit a team of students to set up mobile clinics. But the desperate need, and a call from a surgeon friend who offers to help, make the request one she can’t refuse.
So, despite an overwhelming workload, unnerving clinical experiences, and her secret belief the med school made a mistake by admitting her, Anne sets out to build a team from her class. One by one they agree to join her: A handful of Christian classmates she meets during a prayer meeting on 9/11, both her bulimic and Hindu roommates, a scarred Gulf War veteran, and even legalistic Jonathan Church—a cutthroat student looking to pad his resume.

After a tumultuous first year, final exams complete, the splintered team travels into the Orinoco River Delta and camp amidst the Warao, a primitive jungle tribe. Each day in the clinic brings more difficulty. An ill child needs round-the-clock care, and tempers flare while the thermometer rises, with students quarreling over the complex needs. Then a terrible accident occurs, a massive thunderstorm hits, and they face a new question. Will they all get out alive?

J. R. R. Tolkien by Mark Horne: a review

 

Throughout my life I’ve enjoyed reading biographies of people I admire, and this is the first writer’s biography (other than Lewis’ Surprised by Joy) that I’ve set out to read. It is a short work, describing all sorts of interesting tidbits about the literary giant’s childhood and Oxford years and romance and war experiences. He lost his parents at a young age, was raised in part by a Catholic priest, eventually made it to Oxford and developed life-long friendships with like minded literary types, later to include C.S. Lewis. He fought in the trenches of France, surviving only because he was hospitalized with fevers, and returned to the world of literature and acedemia, eventually to write a series of books that became international best-sellers.

Being a biography, it still had its dry moments, but those were quick and short, and I found the book easy to finish in just a few short hours. The interesting life Tolkien certainly kept the dry parts from dominating.

In particular, I enjoyed hearing more about the relationship between Tolkein and C.S. Lewis. I’d always been curious about how they got along, and how close, in fact, they were. Turns out they have a very long-lasting yet hot and cold friendship. But each was clearly used in refining ways in the life and writing of the other.

It is also remarkable to hear about Tolkien’s life and see so clearly where he drew from his experiences in his stories. I can see now why there was so much war in his stories, as he much have suffered from PTSD given all he saw in the trenches of France (no PTSD mentioned in the book–that’s just my guess given how much he saw).

One thing that I’ve heard before regarding Tolkien is that he did not mean the Lord of the Rings series to be taken allegorically, which can be felt as disappointing by people who view it as such. But Horne makes the point that this didn’t mean Tolkien didn’t want his themes used in application to the readers’ lives, though he didn’t make those applications himeself.

In any case, it was a good, quick read, providing interesting insights into Tolkien’s life.

Thank-you to Thomas Nelson Publishing for giving me a review copy of the book to peruse through their BookSneeze blogger review program.