Posts tagged firwood cottage

This morning I am reveling in God’s goodness to me. I am rich, wealthier than I ever thought possible.

Though I have yet to engage in the lovely practice of “counting gifts” in a journal of gratitude, my heart can’t help but keep track of God’s goodness to me.

I remember once, when I was in Bible College, a crusty old professor who seemed to delight in crushing the exuberance of incoming students, stated that, “the Cross is the gift, not these every day things we give thanks for.”

He was right of course. And wrong too.

The Cross is the gift, yet out of the ultimate sacrifice, a love grew and grows and spills over into our every-days. The joy we were meant to experience in the Garden shows up in bits and snatches of beauty on our way back into the kingdom in the here and now.

I think that cantankerous professor knows that now that he’s in the presence of the Giver of gifts. And I’ll bet he glows with the joy of it, instead of glowering as he once did.

Wanna know why I’m feeling so rich this morning?

 It’s cuz I have a secret I’ve been longing to tell you about and I finally can!

If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that I started it with the help of my daughter, Elizabeth. She wrote The Kitchen portion of the blog as a way of helping us to see the value and beauty in food and feeding and glorifying God with and in our bodies. Before she and her family moved to L.A. she also held my hand as I learned how to do all the techie stuff.

Well, girls, she’s back in Portland. As in, living here. Right here… across the street and down two houses…

Brook and Elizabeth and Duke and Scarlet and Beatrice moved into a darling little house sixty steps from Firwood Cottage.

Can you believe it?

All the while I knew it might be happening I didn’t dare believe it would. (Why do we do that to ourselves?!) But it did! Too many “coincidences” to ever think this is anything but a great, big, beautifully wrapped gift from God.

I’m the wealthiest woman in the world!

 My pantry is filled with healthy, mom-approved snacks for all the moments in my day when the Grands come to check in on me— which they do, all through-out the day! Little Birdie breaks into the gentlest smile every time she sees me— and I can’t wipe the silly grin off my face when she does. How is it that a 5 month old can validate my entire life with one smile? I don’t know, but she does!

And I want to tell every young mom who is struggling this morning with the relentless exhaustion of being a meeter-of-needs to babies and toddlers and pre-schoolers:

What you are doing today is going to make you rich someday!

 You can’t see it now. I wish you could. I wish I had.

Every time you wipe that messy face, every time you cuddle that child close, every minute you put into that little one is an investment that will yield riches.

 I am counting my blessings over here in my cabin in the back… and every one of them have names. And I am praying for all you mamas who need to know it’s worth it.

May God give you the strength to believe that what you do today matters.

 From a heart bursting with the joy of it,



(image by abi porter)

 “One of the true hazards of writing is that you yearn to write deeply honest things that rise up from lessons learned the hard way… then you have to learn those lessons the hard way.”

~ Shauna Neiquist in Cold Tangerines

This week I have been unpacking. A little early perhaps, as Firwood Cottage is not move-in ready just yet, but life does not wait and I’ve got things to accomplish. And so I pad about in stocking feet on a floor still hardening, trying to figure what to do with Too-Much-Stuff.

Way too-much-stuff. 

Which leads me to worrying. Where will I put it all? What should I get rid of? Those dishes I’ve had since our early years that I still like but don’t need? That pine hutch that takes up so much space and sticks out so far into a room too small but would be perfect for our too-big TV.?

I ask Phil.

Eyeing my too-big stack of pie pans waiting on the kitchen counter for a place to live, he answers honestly, “You don’t need pie pans. You don’t bake pies, Di.”

And just that fast I’m ruffled and annoyed and ready for combat. Because, you see, Phil’s mom made pies, and so did mine. Delicious, memory-making, mouth-watering pies: rhubarb, French apple, Boston cream, cherry- with real, straight-from-the-tree, pitted-one-at-a-time cherries.

Real women make pies. 

And now I’m not worrying about my too-much-stuff anymore, now I’m feeling my identity crumble the way my once-upon-a-time pie crusts did. Before I stopped making pies.

I live with an image of who I wish I were, of the woman I want to be: The woman with a perfectly ironed apron tied around her perfectly tiny waist, pulling a perfect pie out of her perfectly clean oven to feed her perfect family in her perfectly tidy-all-the-time house.

And then I look at me. Covered in dust from pulling boxes out of a disastrously dirty garage. Disheveled and discombobulated over too much stuff with a mind that can’t stop writing words when really I should be figuring this out.

And I don’t make pies.

Which I could excuse away if I could just keep my house perfect, but I can’t… or at least I don’t.

I want to, you see, but I live with two big men who live big lives.

My son, saving for his future, rushing off each morning, returning late every night, building, dreaming, doing, working… and messing up my tidy little house.

And Phil, that man I love, the one who reminds me that I don’t make pies— whose list is always too long and whose life is always too full. The one who dreams big dreams and packs life tight and invites me to join him in his journey.

How in the world am I going to live in this little house with two big men… and their piles of Too-Much-Stuff?  Too not-very-tidy men whose image of who they are is not in the least tied to how perfectly kept this house is. 

I go to sleep under the itchy wool of all my worries, waking up wound tight, uptight. It is dark, rain washing the coming day like those German hausfraus of my growing up years, who scrubbed the front step first thing every single morning, their own beauty all caught up in the cracked concrete.

Is that me?

Do I really believe this house is too small? Or is it just right? In our budget, with room to spare— for being generous, for living free. Just the right size for doing life different, the way God is calling us, the way we are longing to live in this fun, no-pie-baking chapter of our lives together.

For this former ugly-house to become home, our home— home for my two messy men and me— a woman learning to be who I am, learning to let go of who I am not— I am going to have to do more than unpack a few boxes. In fact, in order for Firwood cottage to become a place of rest and refuge, a place for refreshment and fun and good times, I am going to need to hang on to truths I know, but too soon forget.

  1. That real women aren’t perfect.
  2. That real women don’t expect perfection from themselves or those they love.
  3. That real women aren’t afraid to let go of the past because they’re so excited about future hope, they hardly notice old glories.
  4. That real women always make room for more life.

And that, my dear girls, is what living my life “hid in Christ” is looking like right now.

Messy, confusing, satisfying, exhilarating, daring, unconventional, and clinging close to the One who promises to finish this project of remaking me into a real woman.

And so, I ask you the questions that woke me up this morning:

Can we… women fitting ourselves tight in the Shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91), learn to be who we are by simply coming in close to who He is?

Can we… women of such worth, such intrinsic value, (Matthew 6:19-34) stop trying to be perfect in order to learn to be holy? Wholly His, caught up in Him? Lost in His perfection?

Can we... women set free, (Galatians 5:13-15) give others room to become who they are? Letting go of tidy theories, those expectations that tie them tight and choke the life out of every one of us?

Can we live large and small at the same time?

From my heart,


P.S. Are you like me? Do you cling to an image of who you wish you were but in honest moments, realize you’re not? And that, indeed, you’re not meant to be? 

Please grace us with your stories, your wisdom, your struggles… we learn from each other…

P.S.S. I gave my pile of pie pans to a friend who makes pies…




For we are God’s masterpiece.

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesian 2:10

Dear girls,

Today I thought I’d give you an update on the house we’re remodeling.  We had hoped to be in by Christmas but, like all remodels, this one is taking longer than we’d planned. And maybe it has something to do with the fact that I keep changing the plan. Every time I say, “I have an idea…” I see Phil shudder a little and sigh.

Because it’s nestled in a grove of fir trees and because the name of the street is Firwood, I’ve fallen into calling this house Firwood Cottage.

Which is really much too poetic a name for what is still a pitifully plain 1960’s box. But it encapsulates my dreams for what this home will someday be: a darling little cottage on the edge of a clearing down a bumpy lane from the village called Lake Grove.

(Still ugly on the outside.)

(Wood floors and new windows, moved walls and rewiring, pipes and panels and can lights… our little house is getting a complete make-over.)

Just as my name for the fixer-upper we’re remodeling is a bit grander than reality, it would seem that God’s name for me is almost embarrassingly boastful.

He calls me His masterpiece. 

And you, too! Just because He’s taken ownership of our lives and He knows the beauty He has planned.

In the same way that I see what my ugly little house will someday be, God sees who you are becoming. He can overlook the ugliness because He’s sketched out a plan and He’s crafting and carving and recreating the way He wants you to be.

That, my dear friends, is what redemption is all about. Beauty.

God taking my sorry mess and revisioning, recreating, reimagining who He knows I really am.

Sometimes the process is painful— ripping out the old wiring hurts.

Sometimes the process is messy— sweeping away the debris we’ve accumulated isn’t pretty.

Sometimes the process of creating beauty in our lives seems to stall— that’s when He’s doing a deeper work, down underneath where no one sees.

He knows all about the pain and the messiness and the delays and He isn’t in the least bit worried.

He loves you.

He loves working with you, loves coming close, loves who He knows you are becoming.

He’s not comparing you to the big house down the street because He loves cozy cottages where He is welcome and brought in, where He is wanted.

And He sees you.

He sees the nooks and crannies that add character, delights in the way you’re made. He knows how it all fits together and how you will turn out in the end.

And I think He just can’t stop smiling your way. I think He’s surrounded by that great crowd of witnesses and He’s pointing you out and telling all those redeemed ones exactly how you’ll look when He’s done.

I think He’s proud of you.

And that He’s got a new name just for you. A name that tells the truth about who you are.

From my heart,


Read about who you are and how He feels about you in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians. And about your name in Revelation 2:17 and 22:4.