Wednesday, April 24, 2013


It was a huge surprise to find out that our blog was nominated for the Liebster Award by Under the Big Blue Sky! Honestly, we didn't think that anyone really read this blog.  Life has been very full lately as we traverse the seasons of warm weather, walking babies, demanding jobs, and church celebrations of Easter. Although the blog hasn't been updated much recently, we were encouraged to see that someone still cared : )  As we find our way back into posting our thoughts and blessings, it is a good outward motivator to remember that we are part of a larger community! Thank you, Jennifer, for giving us a loving nudge.

Here are the rules of the Liebster Award:

     1. Proudly display the Liebster badge!
     2. Thank the person who nominated you.
     3. Share eleven random things about yourself.
     4. Nominate eleven blogs/bloggers worthy of the award (who also have less than 200 followers).
     5. Answer the eleven questions asked of you.
     6. Pose eleven questions to your nominees.

Because this blog is written by two authors, the random facts and questions will be answered separately. The blog nominations and questions given to our nominees will be shared together. Heather is getting back into blogging at Sparky's World and Alyssa blogs at Playing Life's Guitar.

Eleven Random Things About Alyssa

1. I am very blessed, and constantly thankful for my blessings, but my written List of 1,000 Gifts is currently only at 186. Time to get going once more!

2. I enjoy sci-fi stories. My husband and I have been occasionally watching season three of Star Trek: Voyager. We always skip episodes that sound too depressing!

3. I only listened to classical music (by choice) until I was almost fourteen years old.

4. Someday I mean to become more proficient at identifying birds and bird calls; my knowledge right now is rudimentary, but I would like to know all the midwest birds, at least. I used to know the northwest birds, since that's where I lived until age eighteen.

5. From the time I was eleven years old, I used to sit on the rooftop of my house to read, look at the clouds, and think. There is something about rooftops that provides new perspective and calm. (Thank you, mom, for not objecting!)

6. Although I enjoy being close to large bodies of water, boats are not my friend. And not because I get seasick... it freaks me out to be ON the water.

7. I am joining the ranks of thousands of parents (probably millions) who have the book "Goodnight, Moon" memorized.

8. We have sporadic dance parties in our house.

9. One summer I made money by picking wild huckleberries that grow in the mountains of Idaho and selling them to local fruit stands. It was quite time-consuming, but they are highly sought after, so the price was great!

10. Someday I would like to start a school.

11. I earned the bronze and silver Congressional Awards in high school. Didn't make it to gold, though, because I was too focused on music by that point.

Eleven Random Things About Heather

1. My earliest musical memories are Delta Blues and Broadway musicals and Sunday School songs. This pretty much sums up my personality.

2. I am a rabid St. Louis Cardinals fan. While that is no secret to my friends, most people who are learning about me are utterly surprised that I love sports.

3. I've lived in three states that all touch each other (Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma).

4. I finished high school at sixteen and started graduate school at twenty-one. Since then I've realized that I may not be all that smart.

5. I met Alyssa her freshman year of college and my second year of graduate school. What a blessing she's been to me in the intervening years.

6. After studies in English, history, and theology, I now work in payroll in the fashion industry and am a professional paper ninja (administrative assistant).

7. I've had a pen/pencil/marker in my hand since I learned that they helped me "say" something... that is, at two, I was writing on walls and in books and still find my toddler-ish scribbles in books.

8. My secret fantasy is to be "discovered" by someone and start a new career as a world-famous singer. Or a movie director. I'm not picky.

9. I've never broken a bone.

10. I might prefer being a country mouse over a town mouse; I have not yet decided which I like best. But the possibility of chickens weighs heavily in my decision...

11. One day I will teach at the school Alyssa founds. But I will probably teach classes like History of Baseball I and II, and Intro to Film Viewing. And "How to Journal" will be my favorite class to teach.

Alyssa's Nominees for the Liebster Award

1. Ugly Green Sofa - I knew her when I was growing up, and she often makes me think deeply.
2. The Discipline of Passion - an online friend who loves photography, creativity, and her children!
3. Gray Matters - a soul sister I'd love to meet someday and chat for hours about life, food, and God.
4. Messy Lab Studio - she's got amazing artwork and celebrates Freak Flag Fridays!
5. A Chase After Wind - she makes everything into an intriguing story. And she just had a baby!
6. Studiobeerhorst - his art and thoughtful writing are like a fresh glass of springwater.

Heather's Nominees for the Liebster Award
7. Team Bradley - my friend has a great sense of humor.
8. A Little Alana - meet the next Martha Stewart. But kinder and sweeter and Southern.
9. What the Hart Likes - she introduced me to Essie - and be sure to check out her Etsy store!
10. Toads Drink Coffee - fabulous reflections on life and faith.
11. Life is the Teacher - Lyssa's other blog, I learn a lot from her.

Alyssa and Heather's Answers to the Questions from Under the Big Blue Sky

1. If you could visit any country, which would it be?

A: Ireland! Every person I know who has been there says that it is gorgeous. Plus, I have ancestors from Ireland, and so does my husband, so someday we'd love to go : )

H: It's a tie between Wales and Brasil. Wales because it is where my family is from, it is beautiful, and it is green. I love green. Brasil because it has always held a mystique of something different from what I grew up with, it seems like it is a vibrant and celebratory culture, and all of my Brasilian friends have been amazing.

2. Who was the one person who had the greatest impact on you growing up?

A: Definitely my mom. She home-schooled me, put up with my craziness, and encouraged me to pursue my dreams of becoming a musician and teacher. Now she's an amazing grandmother to my daughter, and an invaluable resource as I set out on the journey to home-school my own children.

H: There were a lot of people in my immediate experience, but someone who has radically shaped me and the way I want to live is Edith Schaeffer. She taught me to see that every person is important, that every thing we do has eternal value, and that beauty is something to we can enjoy. I look forward to having tea with her in heaven.

3. What is your favorite meal?

A: Either spaghetti from a restaurant called Vince's Spaghetti in California (where I haven't been for over ten years) or my mom's home-made tacos!

H: Anything Mexican. It is the food that feeds my soul. But Alyssa's mom's tacos are pretty high on the list of favorites.

4. Where to vacation: by the ocean, or in the mountains? 

A: I'm torn! I like the beach, but don't like deep water... I love the mountains, but there has to be a river or lake nearby. How about mountains by the seaside?

H: The mountains by a lake. The ocean can be nice, but I love the trees because the are alive. And they are green. I love green.

5. What is one of your favorite books?

A: My favorite constantly changes according to what I'm currently reading, but I'd say that right now my favorite is "How Children Learn" by John Holt. I usually have about ten favorite books ; )

H: There are too many to choose from. But one that continues to haunt me and make me laugh is "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. It might seem prosaic to some, but it was and is life changing to me.

6. Who would you call a hero?

A: Someone who sacrifices a part of themselves to serve or benefit others. My first guitar teacher, Kelli, is a hero to me, because she sacrificed so much of her own time and energy for over a decade to help me become a guitarist, musician, teacher, and better person.

H: My parents, who have spent thirty-three years caring for a special-needs child. Or the men and women who risk their lives every day to protect and heal us. Or anyone who gives away their time and energy for the benefit of others.

7. Cat or dog?

A: Cat!

H: Dog!

8. What is an occupation you would love to try?

A: If I could start over, I would love to be a gypsy and travel around the world sharing music and stories!

H: I'd love to try and be an architect, creating living spaces that are both beautiful and functional.

9. Favorite way to write: notebooks or computer?

A: I take notes, keep a calendar, do my bills, write a journal, and make lists on paper. I do my creative writing best on a computer because typing keeps up with my fast-paced thoughts; my hand-writing gets too messy when I write quickly.

H: Both. I love the fact that notebooks require time and thought, almost a focus on each word as they flow from the pen; but a computer allows me to see the big picture.

10. Sound or noise you love? Sound or noise you hate?

A: Harmony laughing! Nothing beats my baby's laugh : )  But I hate it when she screams in pain, especially when I can't see what happened if she's out of my sight. We're in the mobile stage so there are constant falls and bumped heads.

H: The rain falling on the roof, the wind in the trees, laughter, Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" or the Prelude for Bach's Cello Concerto No. 2. I hate the sound of yelling and anger, of rude and insensitive people, and anything high-pitched and mechanical.

11. The song you listen to when you need a lift?

A: There's no particular song, but when I need a lift, I'll listen to the albums "A Day Without Rain" or "In Memory of Trees" by Enya or "Tree of Life" by William Coulter. Or just put the radio on the classical music station.

H: It depends on the reason, but a few contenders would be "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison, "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan, "Bad" by U2, "The Sands of Time are Sinking" by the Indelible Grace group, "Laundry Room" by the Avett Brothers, and Bach's Prelude for Cello Concerto No. 2. And I need to sing to all of them. Even Bach, I just try and mimic the notes. But honestly, most music lifts my spirits. I love music.

Eleven Questions for Our Nominees

1. What is your earliest childhood memory?

2. What is your favorite quick snack?

3. Describe yourself in less than fifteen words!

4. Is your cell phone old school (basic talk/maybe text) or new school (smartphone)?

5. What is the most beloved piece of art hanging on the walls of your home?

6. What is your favorite type of cheese?

7. If you could spend one day in your own history, which day would you choose?

8. What's your drink at Starbucks (or not-Starbucks as the case may be)?

9. Three bands or musicians you'd love to see live?

10. Are you an Early Riser or are you a Night Owl?

11. Tell us what you are grateful for today!

A Day at a Time

Last week was miserable; I won't hash out all the details, but for national and private reasons, it was a distressing and painful week. This week I have slowly been flexing emotional muscles and cleaning house (literally) in preparation for some exciting things. In the course of cleaning, I found the notebook where I had been keeping my list of items over which I was giving thanks. I'm sorry to say it's been months since I've written in it, but I decided to start again. Yesterday I filled an entire page, so I thought I'd share a few here.

- employment.
- the return of green, of leaves and grass that are suddenly awake with life.
- rain - though it is bringing burdens to some, it brings life as well.
- relative freedoms in my daily life.
- expectations of a home to call my own.
- always for hope.
- swelling music that reminds me of the existence of transcendence and the glory that is to come.
- for slow growth that is still growth.
- the opportunity to shed attachment to things of little importance, that are only dead weight.
- A history to remember to give thanks.
- clean hair, sweet smelling soap, rosemary and calla.
- I am fed and full, never far from healthy food.
- early morning light, hazy, full of promise.
- singing my heart out in the car.
- I believe! Help my unbelief! Teach me how to repent. This is an acceptable prayer.
- grace
- quiet moments, however brief.
- sleep