brownstone bliss.

 for the past few months, i have had the most intense Brownstone obsession. i can't get over how perfectly urban these things are! tall and narrow yet many of them have a surprising amount of square footage and roomy interiors. while in Chicago visiting Nicole, we strolled through neighborhoods in Wicker Park to soak in the various styles of these amazing pieces of architecture. not too long after, i stumbled onto a design blog featuring this particular brownstone below; it might possibly be the most perfect living space...ever.

incredible windows and look at that spiral staircase!

love love LOVE! what a stunning architectural feature in the home!

the arched passageways break up the strong linear statement of the staircase and banister.

"and then there was light"-what a stunning way to access all that delicious natural light!

the built-in library adds a nice pop of color and function to a very transitional hallway which otherwise could be wasted. perhaps a game of chess would be ideal at that sitting table! the arched ceiling cocoons you in providing a strangely intimately intellectual nook.

i am off to dream of a quintessential, urban life in one of these magnificent structures!


black friday.

i was dreading today...black friday. its the worst day of the year, if you work in retail. there is no way to explain how maturity, kindness and patience vanish after the stroke of midnight...its baffling, really. nevertheless, i tried to subdue the nausea last night thinking about opening early to floods of stressed-out consumers. ha.

i was pleasantly surprised! we were slammed all day but in a good way. people were generally very patient and kind to each other (and us!). there were no cat fights at my checkout counters which has fully happened in years past; my staff was incredibly capable and focused today. what a blessing!

something i love about the Briargate store is that we're family. our staff is family and our customer base is so consistent that it feels like family. rarely does a day go by when i don't see a familiar face and likely they are someone who i know more personally than simply as a client. i love that.

as the holidays approach, i always get nostalgic. nostalgic for precious moments with family and friends; slowing down a little to savor sweet fellowship with those in your life whom you love. truly, there is nothing more meaningful than time. that's partly why i hate black friday-its completely unnecessary to be so obsessed with things right after supposedly spending the previous 24 hours relishing the non-tangible with grateful, humbled hearts. the deals aren't usually that great anyway. people get so caught up on the concept, its sickening. now, this is not a soapbox speech and this isn't meant to be a blanket statement about everyone out shopping on black friday. not at all. i'm all for a good deal...so don't take it the wrong way but i think everyone can admit that the entire approach has grown to be out of control!

if i had to choose a gift from someone over time with them, i'd choose the time. that is how our lives get knit into the lives of others who encourage, support and challenge us to become more Christlike. for that is truly what matters here...knowing Christ more. its all about Him and just like i'd choose time over a gift, so would He.

He wants us. simply us and all of us. our heart, our mind, our soul. this requires time. our offerings to him, however they come, mean nothing without our hearts and He can only have those if we give Him the time. He is everything. He knows me infinitely more intimately than i know myself; its mind-boggling to me because i AM me-ha. i always think i've got a pretty good handle on my own heart and mind yet He clearly is the victor. it is my choice to acknowledge that or not.

so as black friday 2011 comes to a close, i think i'll pass on the great deals; instead, i will sit grateful and humbled by the tremendous love and perfect intimacy that awaits if i choose to give the gift of time to the One who created it. it will undoubtedly prove to be the best bang for my buck. :)



i've been thinking a lot about training the last few weeks as i've been so blessed to be out on the mountain in the gorgeous weather. we've had THE most amazing fall; unfailingly sunny with a chill in the air; still 'warm' for this time of year. we are predicted to have another El Nina winter which is ideal for me-tons of snow in the mountains and not so much of it down here. :) along with that also comes the wind, howling everyday to remind us of its invisible presence.

just recently, i've felt the pain of soreness from exercise. the result of intentional training. just as that soreness comes and goes and reminds us of the work we're putting in, so it is with our spiritual training. its not always fun, its not always easy and sometimes seems so basic (just like those crunches we all do, right?!) yet there is something undeniably essential about the repetition of it.

without core strength exercises, we aren't able to stabilize our bodies throughout our everyday activities; without our core faith disciplines, we aren't able to stabilize ourselves on Christ through the ups and downs of life.

making time to be in God's precious Holy Word every day is fuel for the soul. "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you-they are your life." Deut 32:46-47 it is essential. it takes a lot of mental focus and quite honestly very difficult to fit in a lot of the time. yet it is pivotal to our existence. it is the bedrock for absolutely everything. and in an ever changing and unstable world, it is truth. absolutely and purely truth.

i recently read Galatians 5-6 which includes "but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control...Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit...Let us not become weary in doing good for a the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." i was struck so deeply by how fundamental these characteristics are having read this verse hundreds of times since my childhood AND how truly i do not actively practice or embody these characteristics of the God i serve. simply thinking through a single day at the store was enough to scratch EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE off the 'accomplished' list-ha!

although i am not proud of that, i am so thankful for this reminder to revisit the basics; i need to do some serious training on my core. its not going to be pleasant and i will likely encounter those moments of 'soreness' in realizing how miserably i fail at this with out the grace of God, but it's worth the pain and effort. it will stabilize me and quite honestly, its the 'little stuff' that tends to make the most profound impact for the name of Christ.

simply being loving when people tend to be selfish. simply reveling in the joy of salvation despite the immediate circumstance. simply choosing to abide in the perfect peace of Christ amidst the pandemonium of this life. simply being patience in our dealings with people rather than rushing through blindsiding moments of beauty along the way. simply being kind dissipating 'situations' quickly. simply remembering that "every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of heavenly lights" inciting us to extend goodness towards others. simply being faithful to our word will astound because of the prevalence of mistrust. simply being gentle and choosing to pause for a thoughtful moment before responding-giving the benefit of the doubt when most are aggressively seeking to protect their own agenda. simply exerting self-control to allow Him to handle the things that come our way rather than flying out of the gate swinging. He's big enough and He has reason for the way and time that He accomplishes His purposes. of that i could not be more certain. now i have the choice to live as though i believe it...

....so continuing onward and upward, i'll be going back to the basics in my training to ensure that the only One capable of being that bedrock is in His rightful place. marvelous, wonderful grace!


lovely kitchens.

 i absolutely LOVE the kitchen pictured below!! the island is so unusually shaped; the all white with industrial looking lights gives it such a clean finish. i would love this kitchen in my house!

the kitchen below re-purposed a store counter for the island. love that idea! also, this is an interesting all white/espresso combination. a start palette but the kitchen still feels inviting.

 this kitchen makes me think of restoration hardware's colors. in an old, restored tudor house, the washed out beech wood cabinets with the low ceiling and exposed beams/rock give it almost a cave-like feel. i love the lone window that has light streaming in and the GIANT island. what a great workspace!