A Quiet Wood

A Quiet Wood

Monday, August 11, 2008


Here I sit in the embrace of my favorite green chair. I drink in the stillness of the hallway outside my apartment. I relish these last few moments of solitude before another year unfolds here on the Hilltop. Am I ready? Yes, I think so. (And thanks for asking.) There were moments earlier this summer when I could not have replied quite so readily, but our Heavenly Father has been reminding me lately of why I am here at all; has been reconfirming my calling, my purpose. So, yes, if He has more for me to do...I'm ready; ready to welcome these young women so full of promise, fears, hurts, and endless potential into my heart. I pray that they will truly find a home there.

*Please pardon me while I make a wild shift in both subject matter and tone. There...it's done.*

I realize that I left you, my faithful readers, smack dab in the middle of my summer and have since recklessly abandoned you with shockingly little remorse. I'll try to give you a brief rundown of the rest of my summer activities as quickly and painlessly as possible. (Of course, that's also what they tell you right before they jab a 2 inch needle into your hip, so it may not be of much comfort.)

My summer was truly blessed with some time to disconnect and recharge a bit. It was also blessed by incredible moments with friends. I did not record every single one of these moments due to the fact that people begin to look at you funny if you pull out the camera every time you pass within 10 feet of each other. So, I expect you all to take me at my word when I say that I had many wonderful times with my friends. :)

I did have to record our evening of Balderdash at Harold and Kayla's. My dad pulled out a very strange wig/hat arrangement in honor of our time. It demanded a photo.

My mom also had a few pretty funny moments with Dylan, who was absolutely determined to feed her chips.

Great times!

The last week I was actually at home, our church had its yearly VBS. The theme this year was "Go for the Gold".

Different people from our church participated, and it turned out really good. We had over 200 kids every night. I had a lot of fun being involved with my buddy Willie. He had a way of keeping things hopping. He and Pastor Loper were a big hit with the kids.

Right after VBS was over my family left for our vacation in the Smoky Mountains. Brent met us there, and we had a really fantastic time. My mom, who is wildly organized, brought lots of great food items to make our experience even better. She even brought my unbirthday cake. (Remember last year's? So beautiful.) Unfortunately, the trip was not kind to this cake.

Oh well, it still tasted lovely!

I'm trying hard to force the trip into a nutshell, but it's a bit difficult. There was the trip to Dollywood...

...with my parents;

the tubing accident that wreaked havoc on my elbow (I flipped my inner tube in the rapids...dumb...but excessively funny.);

browsing at The Christmas Place (or whatever it's called...my dad loved it.);

eating good food at places like the Apple Barn, Huck Finn's Catfish, Bullfish Grill, and The Old Mill (Hey...he's awake!);

visiting with our neighbors;

and just enjoying time together with our family.

There was this time when Brent annoyed my dad by "wasting film" in the digital camera (Not really, but the concept applies. He was annoyed.),

and this time when he nearly sent my mother to her eternal reward out of sheer terror for his safety,

and this time which defies explanation,

and these two people who are responsible for it all. I rise up and call them blessed! *rising* "You are blessed!" *settling back to a reclining pose*

If you are interested in any further tidbits from our vacation, you can view some excerpts on Brent's latest video blog.

After our vacation, I came back to the Hilltop to start the process of getting ready for the year. It wasn't all work, however. I did manage to fit in trips to the park, the flower conservatory, the art museum, the museum center, etc. Really lovely times. It was on my foray through the conservatory that I had a moment of inspiration. I shall share it with you now...ready or not. I was walking through the Bonsai display enjoying the miniature plants; so detailed and intricate in design. I came across this one.

Not all that extraordinary really as bonsai plants go. Pretty, detailed, but that's what one expects in this sort of display. However, the thing that caught my eye was the card below it.

This little plant is 40 years old, and 31 of those years it has spent "in training". It is constantly being pruned, shaped, and bent into the image that its owner desires for it. Without this constant "training" the branches would grown unruly and this delicate plant would lose the thing that makes it unique. It would become just one more bit of greenery.

How often do I chafe under the constant "training" of my Heavenly Father. "How long is this going to go on?" "Surely I should be good at this by now!" And then I remember that the One who owns me, both by creation and by purchase, is conforming me to a very specific image; that of His Son. He knows that without constant "pruning" and "training", I would grow unruly and the image would grow more and more indistinct as I became just like everyone else around me. It may not be the most powerful example, but I was blessed as I realized that if human gardeners will spend hours and years to perfect a tiny tree, how much more will our Heavenly Father patiently tend us until the image of Jesus can be clearly seen.

Bless you, my friends. I wish you all very lovely last weeks of summer. Make them count!


Liz said...

Great post and glad you had a great summer! Enjoyed seeing your pictures of the fam's vacation. Also enjoyed seeing you all doing the balderdash thing at Kayla's...Looking good!

trakylynn said...

Thanks for the post.. have missed reading all about it. Loved seeing the pictures from your vacation with the family! Hope your school year goes well.... Take care and write soon!

Sarah Cook said...

Check my blog in a few days, or I might just call you. So glad you are back and had a good Summer! Thanks for the comment on my blog! Love ya!

Kimberly said...

You have certainly made this blog count!! I loved it all..the great pics of your Dad esp.:)...also glad you captured your Mom and Dylan!

I'm glad you were able to visit your favorite museum spots...I remember your love of the Bonsai.(but that title did throw me!) That is definitely a good object lesson...I wonder what the bonsai would say about the training? I believe and trust you will be an important part of helping those girls discover who they are created to be. Love You!

Jo said...

Were you on campus Monday?! I was in town for a short, unplanned visit, but didn't think you would be back yet. I would have enjoyed a short, unplanned hello. Oh well, I will soon be part of the throng that invades your quiet halls for a long, planned visit.

Anonymous said...

I was here. Sorry we didn't connect, but you're right. I'll see you...soon. *evil laughter*

kayla said...

I think that your Dad plays a better game with that wig. He should wear it when he's out visiting the sick and needy. One look at that red hair and they're sure to forget all their troubles.
I'll also have to make sure that your Mom knows that if there is ever a day that she doesn't feel like feeding herself I'll be glad to send Dylan over. I'm sure that wouldn't be counterproductive.
Hope that you have a good first semester on the Hilltop, and I'll look forward to some more quality time over Christmas break.

kayla said...

I almost forgot, please tell Willie thank you for his positive example on my boys. They now sing "Obedience Is" with great gusto, but not without first saying (in a rather nasal voice) "I love that song".

Anonymous said...

Love the post!! As always (well ok, maybe almost always) you give a laugh and something inspirational, but definitely it is always one or the other and sometimes, like this one, it is both! Loved the pictures!! it must be a younger sibling thing about wasting the pictures and annoying the parents... of course, luckily you are at the age now where you can't be blamed for their behavior or tricks anymore... LOL!! Sounds like you had a great summer! Now that you are back at the hilltop I'm expecting weekly updates and laughs and inspirations! (that is what is going to happen right?.... you did say yes right or was that a riiiggghhhttt, snicker, snicker that I heard from you? LOL!!) Glad you are doing well!! Talk to you soon!

Cindy said...

Ahhh...my little friend is back from her long hibernation from blogging! Yay!!! Thanks for a great read. Very enjoyable to read about your vacation, and see some happy pics:) I saw Brent's video blog a few days ago...and I have a question for you. Just how many hushpuppies DID you eat?!? haha...

Well, great to talk to you last week. And thanks for the lesson from the Bonsai tree..very insightful. Well, gotta go!

Love you, friend, and hope to see you soon!

Alanna said...

I read your blog and then watched Brent's Video blog - incredibly funny! Sounds and looks like you'll had a great time in the Smokies - even if your elbow didn't have too much fun! :P See ya soon!

Anonymous said...

Thanks all for your comments.

And I have no idea how many hushpuppies I ate...and at that point I really didn't care. :)

Kim M. said...

I love your update. Your parents are so cute :-)

I'll have to look at Brent's video blog to see what the hype is about hushpuppies. I cannot imagine anyone eating a bunch of them though.. did you know (according to a library book I got not too long ago) that they were "invented" by the slaves to keep the hounddogs quiet during fish fries? I was very fascinated by the highly useful piece of info. :-D So I just had to share it when I saw the mention of hush-puppies.
Sorry... couldn't resist :-D

Charity said...

How lovely to hear about the rest of your summer (love your dad's wig-thingie!); and that scratch looks nasty, funny or not. I'll be seeing you soon, as I'm bringing my little sister up to live in your house. So far, she's had nightmares about showing up for class in orange strapless formals and sleeping Charlie-&-the-Chocolate-Factory-grandparents' style in a dorm stuffed with girls ;o) She's wondering if her lack of good dreams is a sign from the Lord. I'm sure you can reassure her on that point ;o) See you soon...

Anonymous said...

Charity - hope her dreams subside a bit. However, the Charlie & the Chocolate Factory stuff may be truer than one would like to think. :) We're going to be pretty croweded.

Anonymous said...

That's "crowded". :)

Jamie said...

You must have a great time writng your blogs! I'm enjoying them too!

cheriepasbjerg said...

Absolutely love the pic of your dad "enjoying himself" too funny, you and your brother have the funniest facial expresions, two peas in a pod.
Have fun this next school year. Can't believe it is "that" time. xoxox

Andy said...

ouch! your elbow looks painful!

Susanna said...

Your blog posts always bring me great enjoyment! Hope all goes well with the new school year!

Susanna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Making Memories 1999 said...

Enjoyed the update. I LOVE the Apple Barn and Huck Finn's Catfish place as well! Sounds like you've had a great summer. Thanks for sharing the pictures!

crazychristina08 said...

Ms.V- Hey! I am going to try this whole blogging thing...:) I miss you alot! It was very weird when this school year started and I didn't make my way back!!
I was just upstairs blow drying my hair and I thought "I should leave Ms.V a comment on her blog"...so i started thinking about what I would write you and I stopped thinking about what I was doing at the moment, and thats when the blow dryer decided to try and claim half of my hair! I was pulled back to reality with a burning smell and with a feeling of discomfort as I realized I was about ready to loose half of the hair off my head...so I decided that you would probably prefer me to keep the other half of my hair and think of what to write you later!! :)
I hope this school year goes amazing for you. You are loved and missed!! Stay in touch!

Juwah said...


Will you even see my little Hola at the end of the enormous list of comments?


Juwah said...


Will you even see my little Hola at the end of the enormous list of comments?


Teenage Gypsy said...

aw...I really liked the Bonsai tidbit...it was just what I needed tonight. Thanks!

Dave said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog. Looks like you guys had fun in Tennessee :) I love it down there!!