Sunday, August 12, 2012


If you've lived at all, you know life comes with rough spots. Valleys. Trials and tribulations. And sometimes, life throws you a bunch at once. Usually, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it keeps you going. At least for a little while.

But what if there isn't a light at the end of the tunnel? What if you can't see your way through? What if you don't know if it's ever going to end? When it all seems dark, what do you look to then?

In searching for this answer, I came across the beginning of the book of James.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

I've read this a lot. But it never struck me this way before. Trials equal testing. Testing equals steadfastness. Steadfastness equals perfection. Holiness. Righteousness. In the words of James, lacking in nothing. What James is telling me here is that throughout my trials, I need to be focused on something someone else. It's only through focusing on Jesus and his perfection in me that I can even start to rejoice in my trials.

Even if there never is a light, and this life continues to be a tunnel, Jesus can be enough for me. And, while I wait patiently for his return, I can learn steadfastness and faith through my trials. If James wasn't clear enough then, he hits it home in verse 12.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 

- Polly

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Garage Projects.

Remember the garage full of projects I had yet to get to? Well, we're starting to clear it out. We have a desk and a variety of tables that were in need of some love paint, so I spent the weekend so far sanding and spraying.

Tables 1 & 2 my mother-in-law gave me from her stash of yard sale goodies. I'm thinking #1 for the front entryway, and #2 in the living room.

I decided on yellow at first, then didn't like it, and did light blue instead.

The table 2 is 'pewter grey'.

Table 3 my sister-in-law gave me. It also is now grey.

And finally, the desk that we bought on Craigslist used to be an ugly cream with peach trim. It and its matching hutch are on their way to becoming shiny black.

I can't wait to put all of these in our house!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

Meeting the Neighbors.

The Pastoral Life.

When Polly and I moved to the country, a few things became necessities.  We needed fly-swatters and rat traps . . .

Not mouse traps.  Not cute little field mice.  Not the little fur-balls of soft adorability.  Rats!  Okay, rat.  But still, it jumped at her face.  Even my friend who was visiting for the weekend from Fort Benning's Airborne School was no match for this wall-climbing escape artist.

Anyway, necessities:  swatters, traps, a dog, guns, and with the move to the country, I was obliged to grow a beard.  A nice reddish Amish beard.  Polly's still working on hers.  And between borrowing my sister's dog and the scarcity of malls, walks are another necessity.

Since Polly's post yesterday showed off the house, today's rant is an introductory tale of our "neighborhood."  Or as I like to call it:  pictures taken of random things while dodging pick-up trucks and picking up stray dogs.  While manageable on their own, combining pick-ups and strays is sure to prove disastrous.  Our dog, George, is safe enough.  After all, she's safely restrained by her lovely pink leash, which it is my thrill to use (she started as Georgia . . . we got lazy).  However, Buddy and Daisy (no collar = new names!), enjoy running into traffic as much as rednecks love pretending to be NASCAR legends.

Beyond the obvious safety risk, I am ashamed to admit that my greatest anxiety is how Polly and I appear irresponsible and uneducated.  After all, when you're walking down the road with three dogs and one leash, people assume one of two things.  Either we play favorites . . . for keeps.  Or we can't count.  Our reputation was further degraded when Buddy and Daisy (those incorrigible canines) thought a running child wanted to play and plied Georgia with such peer pressure as wagging tails and sounds of the hunt.

In my account, Buddy's redeemable quality is limited to his apparent ninja skills.  After a week of Polly's doting, Buddy decided that appropriate payment would be giving her the joy of surprise.  Not surprise gifts or surprise parties, but surprise ATTACKS!  Whereas most people think of biting and mauling as an attack, Polly's standards are much lower.  To her discerning heart, an attack consists of erratic flight patterns (biggest phobia:  butterflies and ladybugs) or appearing out of nowhere (genies, wizards, and Buddy).  To me, her loving and compassionate husband, such entertaining happenings more than make up for not having cable TV.

The next introduction is our (vicariously owned) horses.  Okay, so they're not ours.  We don't even get to ride them (though Polly has aspirations).  However, we do get to feed them very excited carrots!  Or feed them carrots excitedly.  Actually that would probably spook them and get Polly trampled.  For now, we'll stick to quietly and calmly feeding them orange tubers while dreaming of moonlit rides . . . around the barn.  Ooh, romantic.

Traveling away from our farmhouse, we walked past the second best looking abode on our road.  What it lacks in structure, it makes up for in spirit.  Or was that spirits?  And were those the "boo!" kind or the brew kind?  Anyway, one man's dilapidated shack is some woman's folk art print.

Next, we have this cow.  Only in the south could you look at a cow and crave a beautifully fried, handcrafted sandwich while a Tim Hawkins' song dances to the front of your mind.

Finally, our walks usually end at the old Granville House.  For the uninitiated, instead of rubbing a lamp, Jimmy Stewart taught that breaking glass earns wishes.  Polly doesn't share his sentiment, so I'll have to earn the winning lotto numbers while she's not there.

Grace & Peace,

Tom & Polly

Our Initial Project.

When we moved in, there were these really cool crate shelves already in the kitchen. I liked them, but knew they could be turned into something better. We were painting the whole house, and so I figured a quick and easy solution would be to paint them white or cream, along with the trim. After painting just the pull-out shelves, I realized how tedious it would be to paint the rest. The problem was I had already put one coat of paint on one of the crate insides.

After I had resolved to paint it, my mom had an idea. Why not paint just one shelf and paint our initial in the background? That way, I wouldn't have to paint the entire unit.

I LOVE the way it turned out.

I even like the imperfections in the A.

And now I don't have to spend hours and hours painting all that raw wood! Success. Thanks mom.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

News to Me.

"Wanna do something together?!"

Men, (are there even any men reading this?) what comes to mind when your wife asks this question?  If you're new to the game, you might envision buying tickets to your favorite full-contact sport.  Or catching the new blockbuster that just came out!  Hope beyond hope, maybe this one will have a plot.  For those more experienced veterans, you might prepare yourself for a night of crafting, cooking, or . . . soul-searching eye gazing with the question that always leaves us scrambling:  "What're you thinking?"

Luckily, arts and crafts weren't on the table this night.  My lovely wife had blogging on the mind.  Of course, "Polly" has been an avid blog follower for years and knows all about the virtual world of sharing opinions no one will pay for yet.  On the other hand, I, "Tom", have never subscribed to a blog nor cared to wait anxiously for the daily nuggets of housewives and bored workers.  I had a Twitter account for a record three days, and I thought about joining Pinterest for about two minutes before remembering a time-honored tradition called masculinity.

If you're wondering about the anonymity, it just makes us giggle.  That's about it.  Plus, Polly and Tom are our heroes from a wonderful piece of literature not published within the last 100 years.  We use their names instead of our own in order to write more freely.  However, since only a small portion of our families will ever care to read this, I suppose our purpose is thwarted.

Anyway, back to tonight's story with Tom and Polly.  When my passionate beauty suggested blogging together, it seemed perfectly in-line with her personality.  She is opinionated, fiery, and very smart.  For fun, she watches documentaries.  She enjoys finding new injustices against which to prevail.  Standing at 5'1", she's the knight in shining armor for the oppressed.  At 6'4", I make sure she doesn't get hurt . . . or carried off by an abnormally large hawk.

So, I was nothing but surprised when she began to doubt whether she would enjoy blogging.  Blogging seems like it would be the whipped cream on her opinionated world!  Isn't blogging what impassioned people dreamt about before 1990-something when they used such words as "dreamt?"  Before then, people had to resort to endeavors that ended in either a hoarse voice or a cramped hand.  In a shining moment of helping the world, blogging now relegates such vehement pronouncements to size 14 Helvetica type.  And the rest of us can happily avoid and ignore their stimulating posts.

Until we join the club . . .

So, when Polly suggested winning a Pulitzer together, I thought it might be fun.  I let the idea sink in while I continued surfing the rest of the web.  Before I knew it, she had embodied initiative.  Our blog was established and our first post was . . . posted.  Apparently we're blogging together separately.  So, for future reference, hers come with pretty photos.  Mine, sans.  This is only fitting, because she's pretty, and I'm wordy.




 So we bought a camera with my birthday money plus some money we've been saving. Thanks to everyone who contributed for my birthday! Finally some much needed pictures of the farmhouse!

 This is the back of the house. 

Our garage. Full of projects that I am (eventually) getting to. 

Front porch, complete with fence and gate.  

Close-up of the back. This leads to the kitchen.  

Here's our kitchen...and... 

our awesome island that we bought on Craigslist. 

Shelves that my father-in-law and husband measured, planned, and installed. 

 Aforementioned husband in the dining room, which is directly off the kitchen.

 Built-in cabinetry. 

First living room that we're planning on using as an office eventually. See the project I'm currently working on? All our bedroom furniture, again, off Craigslist. 

Beautiful silk curtains my mom gave me. 

 The second living room/guest room. Do you like the white-on-white curtains?

 Hall bathroom.

Master bedroom - we still haven't made it to unpacking quite everything. 

Master bathroom with clawfoot tub. 

So that's our house! Another post coming soon on one of the first projects I did in the kitchen. Looking forward to hearing what you guys think!