Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Charming Country Visit

We had a lovely visit today to a tiny town outside of Youngstown, Ohio. My friend Phyllis, the widowed teacher I worked with in California who brought me to the Lord, has been in China teaching and evangelizing for two years. She returned during the summer, to Washington, and this week visited her sister in Youngstown and her son in Columbus. She spent the day with us yesterday, and today we drove the 45 minutes to visit her at her sister's house.

This house, nestled in the woods. It was to die for. I didn't want to leave. Janet, her sister, decorated with country decor, including delightful wallpaper and border in every room. She had high-quality oak wood trim everywhere. I don't see much country-influenced decor anymore. Everything is so earth-toned or red nowadays, with a far east influence, it seems to me. I love country blue and dusty rose, or country blue with soft yellow. And soft, soothing flower patterns, and old, old milking cans, butter churns, and worn wheelbarrows. Rustic country things and homemade crafts send me swooning. My living room is charming rustic country and I love it! Unfortunately, unfolded laundry and stray toys can easily take it over; I don't get to enjoy the full effect nearly enough.

Their backyard was amply large and beautiful, perfectly, but not overly shaded, looking out to expansive woods outside their property line. There was a large wrap-around porch and a beautifully done, extensive wooden ramp to accommodate her sister's wheelchair. Truly, it was a wonderful scene. So soothing. So cozy. So country!

Daniel and Emily, my outdoorsy two, were in heaven. The weather was a beautiful 70 degrees, and fully sunny. They ran around with abandon, exploring the backyard, searching for insects, and thankfully avoiding the poison ivy climbing the enormous maple tree trunk. Daniel was about to catch an insect right next to the ivy, but my friend Phyllis recognized the pesky vine just in time. Thank you, God. Close one. I would definitely have been driven insane by a poison ivy-suffering Daniel. Not a good patient, that one.

Timmy, my analytical, budding engineer, enjoyed the toys inside. Janet, a retired second grade teacher, had all kinds of higher-level-thinking puzzles, spelling games and building toys. He was in his own kind of heaven, charming the pants off Janet and her kind husband, Fred. They think he's a boy genius. Maybe. But I hope not. I want him to be down-to-earth enough to attract a wife and give us some grandchildren while we can still lift them. I know that sounds selfish.

Other than the fact that Emily Rose howls during most of our car trips (just shoot me!), this has been a perfect day, spent with lovely people in lovely country. I feel slowed down. Soothed. Relaxed.

Daniel noticed the quiet stillness, the charming beauty. He noticed the perfect sunset we drove into, on our way home. One of the things I find most dear about him is that God's creations are never lost on him. He notices. He gives thanks. He has a heart of gold and a unwavering passion for life. My heart loved him deeply today. I am proud of his simple spirit.

We are surrounded on one side by country farms where we live, but it isn't the same, since we live in a housing track. When we retire, if that ever happens, we will live out in the country. If I can't afford a country house by then, a little country cottage will do just fine. Small spaces can be lovely for country decorating.

I have my fingers crossed that Phyllis will come back to visit family for Christmas, and hopefully be available to help a little when our baby comes. She is a dear, dear friend who loves kids. My mom is coming in April, at my suggestion, because the last time she came in the winter, the boys drove her nuts with their pent-up energy. I'm hoping for a smoother visit with her this time, but that compromise leaves me without help after I get home from the hospital. I'm sure God will provide, but possibly it'll be at the last minute. God likes to give out information on a need-to-know basis. Have you noticed that in your life? It works to keeps our eyes on him, that's for sure.

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