Saturday, February 22, 2014

Penelope Norton Richards

Our girlie is 3 months old tomorrow. It's incredible to think that such a short time ago, we had not yet met. And now we love her more than we thought possible.

4 months ago:

3 months ago:

And 2.5 months ago:

Getting to know another human being is absolutely astounding. How can we be so familiar with her noises, faces, little fingers and toes and still sometimes have no clue why she does what she does? We do know where her strong will came from (her mother). And her quiet fascination in observing everything around her (her father). But the sum of her parts are so much more than a 50/50 blend of us both. I still don't quite understand the math, but from 1 and 1 comes a 3rd. We are still in awe that she is her own person, perfectly known and loved before creation. If we know our daughter and delight in providing for her needs, how much more does our God do the same for her? And for us?

It's been impressed upon our hearts again and again these past few months that our time here is short. And precious. And that every moment spent distracted or wasted on something other than learning to know and love our God (and in turn, knowing and loving each other - each made in God's image) is its own tragedy.

With that mindset, each day - no matter how seemingly ordinary - is an adventure.

May that truth cry out to us in every moment, no matter how small. And may this be our family's identity for all of the years we are given.

//Photos by Megan Decker

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wonderful Things

3 more months (give or take) until we meet our little girl. And we absolutely cannot wait.
This sweet little thing has been stubbornly making her presence known since week 18, using the world's longest arms and legs (our doctor's words, not ours) to poke, punch and prod. All day. And all night.

Our excitement is so much more than the darling tiny girl clothes, and the adventurous nursery we have planned. Rather, it's trusting (believing) that this little soul is meant for us and for this time. We wonder what it is about us as parents that require this exact child, unique to all others throughout history. We can't wait to find out, although we're convinced it will take a lifetime to understand.

Finding ourselves wholly unfit and unprepared, our hope is in Grace that is sufficient for the work ahead.

"The Real Work"

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,

and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.

The impeded stream is the one that sings.

-Wendell Berry

(photo from an afternoon of getting together with one of my favorite favorites - Megan Decker)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


...Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love it All

2012 was the largest year yet, full of big BIG things. 
wonderful/demanding/expectant/frightening/industrious/heart-breaking/beautiful/cold/vibrant/quiet/ear-piercing/wild/breath-taking things.

Our hearts have shattered as they've doubled in size, all in moments filled with glory and wonder. We've rejoiced, mourned, laughed, wept, celebrated, endured, crashed and risen with so many others. The greatest joys and the greatest sorrows. We feel more mature than ever before. We feel more clueless then ever before.

It all came together in a moment last month, while a group of us were caroling at a nursing home. A resident's wife had called us in to sing to her brain damaged husband. We sang a few songs by his bedside, and it wasn't until we were almost done that I noticed his roommate in the corner. A man with pictures from the past covering every inch of the wall above his bed. A man who had no visitors. A man who was mouthing the words to we were singing.

We are divinely created for this one exact place, this one exact time and these one exact people around us. Every person. Every. Single. Person. Each and every one we meet. Every story we share, every smile we give, every tear we cry and every song we sing - never ever wasted.

And we may never fully grasp how great a calling that is. God does give us moments of grace, where He pulls back the curtain that so often blinds our eyes, letting us see glimpses of just how connected we are (bound together with love). Love that moves mountains, breaks stone hearts, redeems the broken.

Which brings me back full circle. 2012 was hard for so many. Yes, we have had our own great sorrows, and so often we were called to mourn with others. Too often. A line from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets goes round and round in my head: 'Human kind cannot bear very much reality'. 

But (by grace) more strong than the pull of despair was a call to hope. And love. We are preaching to ourselves and we are preaching to others. To everyone we touch. And Lord only knows how very many people that actually is. 

So I am excited for 2013, no matter how it hurts in the moment. We have a great, shining redemption that is already at work. And we already see it working. In the smallest moments and in the grandest ways: the times we spend together over good food and drink, the books we read, the friends we build, the random pictures we post and the statuses we 'like', the gardens we grow, the beauty our eyes learn to see. And the lonely men touched by Christmas carols. And in the sorrow we share with those around us.  

There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.
I John 4:18


Monday, April 9, 2012

not in part but the whole

I'm blown away by how loving, awesome, powerful and personal our God is. The cup of wrath which was mine to drink was drained by Jesus Christ. Every bitter drop.

And He blesses us still more. This spring, I've discovered gardening and I couldn't be more obsessed. I love learning new skills, and so many great minds have been coaching me this season. My birthday present was 2 adirondack chairs, and we have coffee in them most every morning. I love things that grow, and I love having a place to sit and take it in. We've also decided that our back yard is the perfect place for an Easter egg hunt (for our future/Lord willing/sometime children).

To top it all off, I get to spend my life with this guy - he finds time to be wonderful even while juggling 60+  hour work weeks and his MBA at Chicago Booth. Plus, he is a big dork with me :)

My sin (oh the bliss of this glorious thought!)
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord O my soul.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

nothing quite like a real book

I won't deny the convenience of a Kindle. Particularly when traveling..

But I'm a romantic at heart, and I'm in love with real books. Kindles can't beat the real thing - the way paper warps as it ages, dust covers, the smell, the texture of excellent binding, the sound books make when you slam them shut, etc

Reading (good) books makes us human.
And real books can be shared with our children, and our children's children; a tool of hope for future generations. And that is why real books always win.

At least in my book :)


Thursday, January 5, 2012

potato leek soup

With the craziness of a fabulous Christmas over, we're ready for a season of rest; and so we've been hunkering down for a nice and long cozy winter. I've found myself wondering if winter is not too unlike the Sabbath of seasons. Spring brings energy with its brighter days, new life to flora & fauna and the work of planting. Summer is for traveling, celebrating, filling our schedules to the brim and staying up much too late. We harvest, bustle about and feast in the Fall. And then comes Winter - with its dark days, quiet snow and frozen ground. Perhaps I can grow to appreciate the rest and waiting. And perhaps, Lord willing, I will use this quiet season for spiritual and imaginative refreshment.

So yes, this southern girl still finds cold weather disgusting, but she's realized that a fresh perspective helps a bit.

But on to my point :)

I have the perfect winter soup recipe. In fact, the conclusions above were reached while I prepared this fabulous Potato Leek Soup (found on a friend's pinterest board, where everything she pins looks so tempting).Simple ingredients, minimal fussing and incredibly filling - that's my kind of meal. The biggest hassle is cleaning and prepping the leeks, but I've discovered a technique that makes everything easier. The leeks I find out here are always so filthy with mud and sand. But look at this easy (and beautiful, I think) way of cleaning them:

Maybe everyone else has always cleaned their leeks this way, and I'm just late to the party....either way, I'm super glad to finally know better.

As mentioned, this soup is so simple (and affordable!). The leeks are sauteed with butter and salt; potatoes, water, thyme, chili pepper and bay leaves are added; simmer for 20 minutes or so; stir/blend/emulsify to your texture preference. And that's it!

I'd recommend adding more potatoes to increase the soup's thickness. Also, blending the soup gave it a wonderful velvety texture. We sliced up a crusty loaf of bread and paired it with a bit of sherry. It was a wonderful, simple and cozy dinner. 

Perfect for a calm, restful and reflective winter night.