How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning, (Sonnet 43)
Valentines Day is sneaking its way to the Inn. It has always been a fun day, counting ways that love shows.
So of course, Innkeeper adds some simple touches.
Then Innkeeper decided a break was long past needed. Idea forms. Gather supplies. Make a small mess. Finish and hang.
Is it the best wreath I’ve ever made? No. Did the wreath-making provide a needed pause from my heavy thinking? Yes and Yes! Then my nubby soft but chunky sweater wreath is a success.
It hangs at the entrance door to the Inn, announcing that an old sweater can get a new life. And the pink ribbon? Declares that life is amazingly sweet.
Back to Sonnet writing and counting. 36 years ago, God put hubs and me in the same boat. He has been a steady guide for our family. He is my favorite coach and carpenter. He has provided not just one beautiful home for me but two. He has made “for keeps” easy.
Be it chocolate, roses, or sonnets, share some love with someone this Valentine’s Day.
Come, just as you are.
PS: A little known detail. I was my Valentine’s first date. He was 27, me 25. The shy teacher-carpenter won my ❤️
For all the sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: “It might have been.” ~John Greenleaf Whittier, “Don’t Quit”
I’m not sure what “quit” JGW had in mind when he wrote his poem. Things gone wrong, trudging up hill, funds low and debts high, all followed by a big ole’ sigh. We can feel his pain.
His challenge has become rather famous, Don’t Quit.
It brings me to the mail delivery this week. Finally the little package arrived with my word. Make that two words on a bracelet.
never quit. 1/12 of the year is behind me. 11/12 lies ahead to practice.
When I chose this sentiment, in the season I’m in, it seemed a good cheer. And it has been. Here is the way Innkeeper reframes it. “Don’t quit your day.”
It is tempting, isn’t it? Life gets tangled up. The day brings unwanted interruptions. We lose our focus. The weary heart says skip the chores. Time to veg out. The cheerful heart says, skip the chores. Let’s go shopping.
James Clear, from his book Atomic Habits, offers this: “I am what I daily do, not what I wish were true.”
The author of Hebrews says this: “Let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us.”
There is a straightforward charge to make the most of our days. And just as God has hand-designed my race, and yours, He gives the strength to run it.
The habits that help ground us in stormy weather serve up big benefits. You probably have heard this: First create habits, and then your habits create you. I’ll share a couple of Innkeeper’s grounding habits. Without this discipline, I can dither my life away.
Innkeeper’s Grounding Habits: (One small note. My alarm is set for 4:15 am. I need the extra hours to keep up. One day, the clock will go back to 5:15.)
** Keep appointment with God each morning. Reading the Bible and talking over my day with Him. ** Drink water first thing in the morning. ** On my big indoor track at the Inn🤗 walk 20 min. ** Office time. Reading, writing, studying, responding to emails… ** Prep meals in the morning. Mr. Innkeeper has been my helper. ** Welcome others! Right now, it is hard to have people over due to mom-care. But still, there are many opportunities to reach out and encourage, right?
It’s a quiet “miracle” of repetition. It makes actions easier over time. I have long sensed that there is comfort in a routine. That said, I am ready for a vacation, where I can dither along for many days, preferably somewhere warm.
Whatever your rhythms are or aren’t, us Never Quitters walk together. And it makes my heart glad.
Come, just as you are. margi
PS – A perfect time to share Innkeeper’s Walmart bargain. $1 tennies. They won’t work for race-running, but I can see them in my next vacation😊
So I did a thing. Another thing as I looked over the space in our still newish home. The problem had grown so big it was time for a fix.
I bought a new laptop to use for writing and leading Bible studies. A laptop is designed, at least in my mind, for sitting with the portable computer in my lap. In my recliner. Considerably more comfortable than anywhere else.
Enter problem. I have many study resources, Bibles, notebooks, workbooks… the pile grows up with no place to grow out😊 It is obvious I need to work at a desk.
I first tried the island. The counter height was off for laptop writing. I would also need to clear off the book pile each time. Uh, no.
Then I tried my twirly very comfortable chair in our Nook. It was a long way from the answer to my problem. I would need to set up a small table to work from. Uh, no, no.
Next I checked out the only unused space – our Guest Room. It is already a tight space accommodating a queen size bed. I spent ten minutes re-inventing different bed types to allow the room for double-duty.
On minute 11, I squashed that whole idea. After all, an Inn needs to have its own bed space.
So no room at the Inn for a desk. (In the only other home we’ve had, I was spoiled by three.)
Then it came to me. Funny, how if given enough time, problems usually pop up with their own solutions.
Enter our Nook dining table turned office. I am tucked back in the corner where my mess can’t be seen coming through our front door. Easy enough to clear the table for company dinners. It has been a perfect solution!
Come to find out, Innkeeper has something in common with Cinderella. Remember these lyrics?
In my own little corner In my own little chair I can be whatever I want to be On the wing of my fancy I can fly anywhere And the world will open its arms to me. ~Richard Rodgers
In my corner, my studies take me through the Bible. 66 books written over a period of roughly 2,000 years by 40 different authors from three continents who wrote in three different languages.
I fancy a sheepherder, ark builder, a Jewish girl becomes queen of Persia, a poor girl meets rich man in a classic love story, thrones overthrown, evil kings, murder plots, slingshot and arrows, a damsel in distress, a band of men learning upside-down living, a baby born to be King, and an entrepreneur lady selling purple cloth.
Innkeeper is a lover of words, but none transforms her life more than God’s Word.
I get lost in the Bible from beginning to end. It is the story of redemption. It tells how to live a successful life; it also tells how to live a foolish life. On its pages you will find how to make a reservation to guarantee your place in Heaven.
I hope I haven’t lost you. I wanted to give you a peek into the early mornings of Innkeeper’s agenda. Then there is cooking and cleaning and crafting, all necessary to keep running an Inn smoothly🤗
Until the next thing.
Come, just as you are. margi
PS: Innkeeper will always make room for teaching the Bible. If you would like to learn more, reservations are open. Cost is free. Teacher is easy-going and non-intimidating😊 Bring a friend, if you like. Have some fun learning. Coffee is ready. Online works too, thanks to technology.
As I was leaving Walmart in the snow, blow and 26° below, or so it felt, I said these words out loud, “Love where you are.”
It is the middle of January before we hit our first shove-able snow. My kitchen curtains have been waiting. Mr. Innkeeper has not.
I read this quote just this week on Facebook:
“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow.” ~Mindfulfitness
Innkeeper smiles. Love where you are.
And it goes deeper than measurable snowfall. Contentment.
The 1828 Webster Dictionary defines contentment as: a resting of mind without disquiet.
Since disquiet is not a word oft spoke, I looked it up too: uneasy, anxious, restless.
Innkeeper creates her own dictionary. Contentment: my mind rests and I’m at peace.
Does it come naturally? Notta, considering that the storms of life linger much longer than the most recent snowfall.
I spied this quote from Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C.: “I want to be famous in my home.”
I like that. Imagine if we were known for our contentment, contentment that reaches beyond the weather.
A mind at rest does more gratitude, less grumbling. More trusting, less fretting. More cookie baking, less criticizing.
A lofty goal? We can work on it together. This proverb found in the ancient words. “A heart at peace gives life to the body.” (Proverbs 14:30)
This kind of heart is made so by the grace of God, walking alongside of principles of truth.
A resting heart can walk through snowdrifts. If you need to pretend it is a sandy beach, Innkeeper makes allowance.
Come, just as you are. margi firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: A love for snow days is a carry over from being married to a teacher. Sweetest message in bygone days on old answering machine, “Mr. Deeks, school is canceled for tomorrow.” Light the candle and turn up the music😊
Over the weekend, there is a word that popped up uninvited. I’m trying to view this word in a more positive light. It is a word that begs for a solution.
I’ll give you the definition and see if you can guess the word.
Adjective – untidy or dirty; a confusing and difficult situation to deal with.
The word is messy. Although the Inn could always use a bit more cleaning, it is the latter of that definition that sits with me.
I daresay we all have those situations that knock us for a loop, where we are blindsided by a particular circumstance. Right?
Innkeeper had one this weekend. I won’t go into the details for privacy sake, but what are we supposed to do when we are “hit” with messy? How do we respond when a situation seemingly has little solution?
A – throw a pity party B – breathe deeply and count to ten C – stop at the store and buy Mint Ice Cream D – let your feelings dictate the rest of your day
I will be wide open here… far too often C and D are my go-to’s.
Of course, neither provide a solution. In fact, both lead to more problems.
It is one of the areas of life I have been working on. I have dubbed it Feelings-Management, which carries as much importance as weight management (hello ice cream).
I’m working on both. Seems they are equally challenging.
So, what did a Jesus-loving Innkeeper do this last messy occurrence? You’ll be happy to know her steps did not take her to the ice cream store. Nor did she let it ruin the rest of her day.
She did breathe deeply, let her tears fall, and anchored her heart on this verse.
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:1-2)
How does it work?
1- God is already ahead of this situation. 2 – He is already working on it for good purposes. 3 – I can’t see beyond the bend, but He does. He leans low and lovingly whispers, “Will you trust me with this?” 4 – And I say a wobbly “Yes.” 5 – And then, this on repeat until faith grows taller. 6 – And you find soul rest.
If you’ve got something “messy” in your life that seems impossible, I’m walking it out with you. Trust makes the best walking stick. Lean in, small steps.
I’m not sure I want to say, “We’ve got this!” How about, “We’re getting this.”
Now I’m off to bake a Cream Puff Cake. Finding a bit of freedom on that hike, too.
Come, just as you are. margi
PS: Innkeeper did end up choosing a “word” for the year ahead. Rather, the word chose her. I ordered something as a reminder. When Amazon delivers, I will share. Meanwhile, at the Inn, I got a surprise visitor. Bluebird, your short stay smiled into my day!
“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.” ~ Winnie the Pooh
If you are scratching your head wondering if there is a moral to this story, Innkeeper assures you, there isn’t (insert smile emoji).
Unless you count pondering on old view (2021) and trying to figure improved view (2022).
The truth is, I like imagining the fresh unwritten days ahead. In the rearview, I easily see God’s blessings and find His faithfulness marked all over my personal failings. I think it is enough.
My social feed has all sorts of shoulds and tips to make the year ahead more meaningful, more successful. Just today, in my email is a course offered for $99/month about creating the life you want. Another offers 31 free daily core workouts.
Innkeeper shrinks a little. So many wonderful ideas out there. But Innkeeper is just trying to tie up her tennies.
And the view ahead? As much as I dream of Innkeeper waking up this New Year becoming grand and glorious in a whole list of habit-keeping and adventure-seeking, I’m really just banking on God’s faithfulness. I think it is enough.
How about you, Chatter-ers? Do you make resolutions? Choose a word for the year? Make a list of places to go or things to do?
If so, I’ll be your best cheerleader. But if you’re like me, just lacing up, I hope I’m good company for the road ahead.
And as my grandchildren are famous for saying, “Guess WHAT, Gigi?”
God’s promises are even better company for 2022. Hear these well-worn and beloved phrases.
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23
Mercies afresh for a-fresh year.
My new planner unknowingly chose me. Hope is peeking around the corner. The tennies are on the move.
Come, just as you are. margi
PS – Innkeeper doings. The kitchen rating in the New Year can only go up! Both rated 4 out of 10. Lemon Cake for mom and Tortellini Soup.
If you’re not careful, you might feel as though you’ve wandered into the wrong Inn.
With all the weeks of decorating, baking, shopping, tradition-aling and gathering behind us… the house is strangely quiet.
And strangely enough, I find my heart is as well. After all the hustle and bustle of the month, I crave some quiet.
There are no big events on my planner. The fridge is emptied of holiday splurges. The to-do list is far shorter. There is room for some short winter walks. And for fun, on my work table is the new Bible study I will lead in January.
But Innkeeper knows, before she can make the most of these last days on the calendar, she must first quiet her space.
Un-decorate. Pack three tubs. Dust. Vacuum. Mop. Re-decorate.
And in a blink, the Inn is simply dressed.
With throws to snuggle under, we are ready for snow days. I still have some winter candles to burn.
“Mrs. Tiggy-winkle is a hedgehog washerwoman with kind and twinkly eyes. She launders the clothes of all the animals and generously delivers them clean and pressed.” ~The World of Peter Rabbit
The year isn’t over yet. End on a high note. It could mean laying aside that pile of ironing (smiling, as if) and finding a wee bit of silence.
It’s not a new promise, but it is as fresh as the new day itself: “He satisfies the longing soul…” ~Psalm 107:9
Only You, Jesus, can free our hearts and satisfy our longings. Something I’m holding on to these last days of 2021.
And one last note, written in her finest handwriting: Thank you these past couple of months for spending a piece of your day with Innkeeper in her little bitty corner of the internet. Truly, she is most grateful for you.
The Inn will reopen in 2022.
Come, just as you are. margi
PS: Hush at the Inn will be interrupted on New Year’s Eve. As is our tradition, we “supper” together with good friends. Menu is Barbecue Chicken, Potato Salad, Lettuce Salad and Artichoke Spinach Dip. Innkeeper hopes to welcome the New Year with kind and twinkly eyes, therefore she will miss counting down the ball dropping.
You may have picked up my word for the month of December.
Wonder. By definition: a sense of awe, amazement, marvel, ponder.
On Thursday late morning, I prepared my Nook for a special time, to Wonder.
Fresh cup of coffee. I lit my cedar and balsam candle. My Bible and journal at hand. Mini-flocked tree and fire keeping company.
Phone rings. Skip the coffee. Candle goes out. Shoes go on. Innkeeper to Caretaker.
No time to Wonder.
Hours later, back home from mom-care, head to shower and pj’s.
Curled up under my throw. TV on. Doorbell rings. Pajama-clad Innkeeper opens the door (wet hair up in gray towel). No, not Amazon but a lovely neighbor from around the bend. Bearing banana bread loaf and conversation. A few unplanned moments under the dark sky with a new friend.
And wonder fills the Innkeeper’s heart.
Sara Hagerty, in her book Adore, says this: “An eye for wonder needs cultivating. A sense of wonder is the ability to see God who is always declaring Himself to me.”
Wonder arrived. In a mundane minute. In wet hair and pajamas.
God declaring my Jesus-sharing matters. Thursday night I found it mattered to a lady around the bend.
And so on this soon-upon-us Christmas, we wonder. A baby arrives to rescue us. Is it real?
If you’re uncertain about the answer to that question, we give you an open invitation to Wander Inn. An invite to a conversation around the Wonder of Jesus, God’s grand plan. The event that changed history. And my eternity.
Strains of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” is playing over my Alexa.
A sense of Wonder & Awe fills the Inn. Do you not hear the angels sing?
Hark! The Herald is making an announcement – listen to the report, found in God’s inspired words, the Bible:
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son (Jesus) so that anyone (that’s you and me) who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The best report ever heralded.
I wish you all a Merry Christmas! Thank you for being a Chatter friend. Humor me while Innkeeper pretends she is hand-delivering a sweet gift to each one of you. And for those who are carrying so much, for you I pray.
Come, just as you are. margi
PS: Our big family celebration will be on Christmas Eve. This is the first year (minus covid) that I’m not tablescaping a sit down dinner complete with name cards. 26 of us are going to wander around the Inn eating hors d’oeuvres and sweets, sing to candlelight, read from Luke 2, find the pickle & Christmas Spider, and end with a Fierce Family Competition. Traditions are alive and well at the Inn. Thankfully, so are we with our nine noisy bonus blessings.
Mailbox at the Inn is always open: email@example.com FB: Margi Deeks
At the Inn I am simplifying Christmas decorating. I was reminded of the three wise men (well technically we do not know if that is an accurate number) but my challenge as the keeper of the Inn: my Christmas decor has to fit into three tubs.
I choose only a few places to craft my decor, to capture the imaginations of all who enter (think nine little grands.) The Winter Zebra presiding over the little white house with 43 windows and a bright red roof on our fireside mantel. The island that magically transports you to snowy winter as a chubby sweet bird pulls a little red wagon filled with ice.. The peek to our wooded land through our merry windowscape.
And then there is our tree.
Our previous tree was weary and chose to retire before our move. So last year we shopped around until we found the perfect tree. Rather, the tree with twinkly hundreds of tiny lights found us. The sweet meet-up moment happened at Walmart aisle T-138.
We put Tree up and the hundreds of tiny lights twinkled. Tree felt at home in the Inn.
I pulled out several old bins and began decorating. Red and white ornaments. I stood afar. The hundreds of tiny lights dimmed.
I switched Tree to another color theme. I stood afar. The hundreds of tiny lights dimmed. A third try was made. “Oi,” said the Innkeeper. The tiny lights had dimmed once again. Hmmm…
Tree got un-decorated and the hundreds of tiny lights once again twinkled.
“Aahhh,” said the Innkeeper, with her own twinkle in her eye. The tiny twinkle lights ARE the decoration.
It is one of the glories of the Innkeeper to create a home that offers a warm welcome, a place that says, “Come, take a break from the storms of life.” Candlelight, books to browse, laughter in the cozy, and shared notes of blessings.
And the Tree, standing tall and erect, doing its main job – to shine bright. Reminding the Innkeeper of her main job – to shine bright.
How easily my light can be dimmed. By too much, just like Tree.
Distractions, fear, loss-of-focus, forgetting, willful neglect. And my light dims. So what’s an Innkeeper to do?
As it happens, a long and far away ago these words were written, just for the Innkeeper’s heart.
Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world.” (John 8:12) Forgive my casual speech, but hangin’ with Jesus is exactly what keeps a light bright.
The Innkeeper’s habit. Stay close to the Light by opening God’s Love Letter, the Bible, each morning. What we invest in becomes most precious to us.
It is a simple prayer often whispered at the Inn. “May I reflect the beauty of Jesus.”
I think all my simplified decor will fit into my three new red bins. What won’t fit because it can’t be binned: This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.
Come, just as you are. margi
PS – What was baking at the Inn this week? Brother Dave came in out-of-state to help us in mom-care. His Christmas favorite of mom’s hopped onto my island – Nut Horns, oven-ready.
It sounds a bit like a description of yours truly. Yes, I’m still struggling with too many extra lbs. (Another way of saying the Innkeeper does not “have it all together.”) But, let’s get on to a cheerier topic.
Think marshmallows, not margi.
When my kids were young I remember watching Martha Stewart make marshmallows. She made it look so easy. She also said if you hadn’t tasted homemade marshmallows, versus store bought bag, you hadn’t lived.
To remedy my 25 years un-lived, I bring you marshmallows from the Inn.
Cast of characters: inexpensive ✔
Fun factor: yes indeed ✔ The small pool of gelatin changes as the syrup mixture is added. Billowy white mounds! And they grow. And grow some more. Kitchen Aid runs 12 minutes whipping the white. I felt transported back to science lab.
Quickly, finish the process. Time is of the essence. Do not even think about scraping the bowl. (FYI – there is no scraping in marshmallow fluff.)
Patience. Must wait ’til morning.
7 am. Excitement mounts, after all, it’s been 25 years the Innkeeper has waited for this moment. Will it or won’t it? Resemble anything like my 25 year-old Martha-memory?
The science experiment, a success!
Drumrollll, yes, YES! The Innkeeper takes a bow.
According to the pleas of my grands for “just one more,” I’m sure they would agree with Martha. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a white and puffy.
May your December be filled with sweetness, not necessarily the kind that adds another pound.
Come, just as you are. margi
PostScript: Does the Innkeeper have a reduction plan? She does. She hopes.