56. the random Messy Beauty of everyday life

I bought a new photo app for my phone the other day for 99 cents. While playing around with Nofinder (just pushing buttons, in other words) this photo was the fourth one I took.
Random messy beauty

I was shocked. It was really just a shot from the back deck here at Apple Hill. None of the others looked like this at all, and I have no idea what I did or how it came out like this. It is totally random, and I’ll probably never be able to recreate the effect, but I love it! It’s messy; it’s beautiful; and it reminds me of a favorite quote from Madeleine L’Engle:

Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it.”

  • That is, don’t wait — just plunge right in;
  • that is, keep working — it will come;
  • that is, while you’re working — don’t forget to say thank you to the Creator who created you to create.

I’ve been thinking about beauty lately because the photos on my recent blog posts have not been beautiful. Yet there is a beauty in messes that only the person close to it, the creator, can see. We know what the mess is going to turn into… Ever made a cake? Flour, eggshells, sugar spilled all over the counter, dirty cups and measuring spoons all over? Yet the end result is a delicious dessert.

20130316-213854.jpgWe’re moving everything out of the kitchen to get ready to lay the floor. I don’t even see this mess because I know it’s just a temporary inconvenience; but if anyone came to visit, they might think we’re applying to be on “Hoarders.” And, really, the entire cottage looks like this right now. There are no “Beautiful Photos” because there just aren’t any. And yet…

This coil of wire is probably not beautiful to you. But I look at that gorgeous roll of BX cable, and I see new wiring in a wonderfully rehabilitated, once dilapidated, old cottage. I see the cost of  it, the hands that labored over it, and what it is replacing — old jumbled up, mouse-chewed, taped-together wires. Now see again with new eyes — Isn’t that a fantastic coil of shiny cable? And just look at this new installation…

What a metaphor for everyday life, for God. Our creator knows and loves us regardless of the mess we are now, because he knows what we will be later: a perfectly created work of art; a delicious dessert; a beautiful house, perfectly wired.

I hope that thought gives you the hope that it gives me…

44. thankfulness 360

it’s my new project.

you’ll see it up there on my pages.

i’m not advertising me, just suggesting it to you.


it is helping me find joy and gratitude again.

i would say

snap out of it, self.

look at your blessings!

my husband said,

what do you have to be depressed about?

he’s right of course.

he usually is (at least about the stuff that matters….)

i blamed it on winter and no sun.

I blamed it on the busy-ness of holidays.

i blamed it on all the bad stuff that’s been happening


around the world


it was Christmas, for goodness sake.

the Joyful time of year.


i wasn’t.

so i’m taking pictures

every day.


all that makes me smile,


the little blessings that make me happy.

and i’m finding it again.

each day with each small thing

i think

is this the one i want to photograph?

and now i’m walking around all day long

thinking about saying thank you to the Creator



my heart is overflowing again.


of one little project.

you don’t even have to look at my photos.

take your own.

and give thanks.

30. A Stillness in Time

I’ve been experimenting with black and white photography these past two weeks. Perhaps it is a bit ironic that as autumn’s colors are at its most glorious, I’m choosing black and white. It could be that my camera can’t capture the beauty of fall; but I think it is more of a mood. I hear friends say how much they love fall and its coolness, but I miss the sun and the warm. The last gasp beauty of the bright, God-painted trees can’t make up for the gray, cold rain.

Is it just the absence of color that creates the different moods of black/white/gray photos? Is it the lack of color that makes the observer focus on form, line, and shape? What gives the dreamlike, still, unearthly qualities to black and white photography?

As I was reading about the feelings that black & white photos evoke, one phrase keeps rumbling in my mind — that it creates a sense of stillness in time. Being here at the cottage does that for me as well, so the two have merged in this post. It is a stillness, a peace, a quietude that is not in my “other” life. It is almost as if time is standing still when we are here.

There is something else that a black and white photo implies — simplicity. I’m not sure why… Is it because it reminds us of a simpler time? Or is it that the colors don’t get in the way of what we see? Details and shadows all become clear, yet at the same time, shrouded in mystery…a metaphor for life, for God.


Life is simplified here at the cottage: work and jobs are left behind; meetings and responsibilities are rare; we don’t have much technology, just our cell phones and a television to watch Steeler games. We are focused on here, today, now, and what we have to accomplish — our purpose, for now. To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.–Ecclesiastes 3:1.


In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis writes,

The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.

Stillness of time,
Season of quiet,
Circle of life,
Listening to that other voice —
Black and white photos fit Apple Hill Cottage well.

(Don’t worry, I’ll be back to colors next week.)