schoolroom progress

sewing studio/schoolroom/workshop/mess + fellowship hall/prayer room, etc. almost completed…

a little danish squirrel stove by morso, custom cottage-style doors by our friend + contractor sam koch.

a little danish squirrel stove by morso, custom cottage-style doors by our friend + contractor sam koch.

our friend ben gilliom made the concrete countertops, which seemed like the most utilitarian option for a kids’ craft space. paint color on cabinets and wainscoting is “gatherings” by magnolia.

our friend ben gilliom made the concrete countertops, which seemed like the most utilitarian option for a kids’ craft space. paint color on cabinets and wainscoting is “gatherings” by magnolia.

faucet is from ikea. sink basin was a $50 amazon find.

faucet is from ikea. sink basin was a $50 amazon find.

my sewing + office space is to the left. i’ll store two sewing machines + two printers beneath the desk, tucked away behind linen curtains.

my sewing + office space is to the left. i’ll store two sewing machines + two printers beneath the desk, tucked away behind linen curtains.

sam is building carriage doors that will open out (and have windows up top). this area will have a sofa and most of our homeschool things.

sam is building carriage doors that will open out (and have windows up top). this area will have a sofa and most of our homeschool things.


willow glad garrels

willow name

willow + glad :

our children’s names generally come to me about halfway through my pregnancy. they seem to be both representative of something God is teaching me, or me & josh, during that season of our lives, & also an indicator of the nature/gifting/destiny of the child i’m carrying.

during my pregnancy with willow, the Lord was teaching us to praise Him at all times. so often we as humans construct shrines of our disappointments, which are apt to become the theme & message of our lives, towering above the tabernacles we could rather build to proclaim the goodness & faithfulness of God. in times of sickness, confusion, “failed” plans, the Lord was teaching us to trust Him and His goodness, & proclaim His praises as we awaited His provision, healing, & salvation. 

the symbol i saw of this in nature was a willow tree, which seemed to have a flexibility & resilience in its limbs, arms gracefully arched in praise. in scripture, the willow tree is a symbol of praise, a symbol of the Lord’s faithfulness as the people celebrate the feast of tabernacles in leviticus (23:40), then in ezra (chapter 3) and nehemiah (chapter 8) as they return to jerusalem after a season of exile. i also uncovered a wonderful allegory about a willow tree in some early christian writings, namely “the shepherd,” parable 8, which also portrays the willow as a tree that ever clings to & sprouts new life.

we were also learning to take delight in the law of the Lord, & saw the correlation in scripture between righteousness & gladness (Psalm 1:1-6 and Psalm 32:11, etc., through the work of the Holy Spirit—Galatians 3:2-6), even as we were seeing the truth of that in our own lives. thus, willow glad.

so, while we were learning about praise in all circumstances, & reaping the fruit of gladness, God was forming this resilient, joyful little girl inside of me. these lessons josh & i were learning seemed to be a part of her, our little willow glad, & already she has seemed to be an easy-going, sweet-natured little thing, who will be firmly planted by streams of living water, offering shade & comfort to others beneath her graceful, ever-praising branches, singing songs of gladness even in times of seeming captivity (psalm 137). welcome to our family, willow glad!

poppy's nursery

i know this sounds incredibly nerdy, but i almost cried when i had to pack up the math room that i loved so much. once empty, though, i had a blank canvas, and had such fun turning the space into a nursery! it was the first time in four babies that i've really had the chance to nest so extensively. heron was born six weeks before we moved in with my mom for a year (into my old bedroom); shepherd was born into our little apartment in portland, & slept in a nook in a walk-in closet just off of heron's bedroom. when perry was born we'd just moved into our current home the month prior, and all was a clutter of boxes.

the themes are simple, with a loosely tied palette of coral, ochre, navy, & ivory, using cotton, wool, & lace, and a collection of vintage spools throughout. as much as possible, everything is vintage & handmade. since this blog is partly a record of my domestic creative endeavors, i'll highlight the handmade. i had a blast pulling it all together, & often thought of the delight jesus must feel in heaven, spending thousands of years now creating a space for us. isn't it so sweet & comforting to know that he understands a woman's nesting instinct, & that God created us to delight in creating special places?

four babies in, i knew i'd fall asleep nursing. it was time for a chaise lounge!

on an old mantle i distressed, my first branch weaving--with a poppy pod woven in. 

never a fan of proper changing tables, poppy has a sheepskin rug, with diaper supplies tucked away beneath the chaise in an old suitcase

some favorite children's books : elsa beskow, sibylle von offers, and beatrix potter | an old suitcase lined with liberty of london floral, and given a new handle 

always a simple way to add color pops -- pompoms!

the western meadowlark recalls the reason for poppy's name.

clothes, diaper supplies, & extra blankets are stored in the bins. i sewed wooden curtain rings to vintage lace tablecloths to make the closet and window curtains.

middle-of-the-night pregnancy insomnia produced this fillet crochet banner for poppy! josh & i hung the lath on this wall together.

the sweet vintage dress is from my friend robin. baby bonnet by briar handmade.

 i made sheets out of unbleached muslin, a box pleat crib skirt out of ticking stripe, and tea-stained a white crib bumper for a warm ivory color (not shown). perry's old spindle crib received a face lift with chalk paint (first sanded, then painted with annie sloan's "old white," distressed, and finally given a wax coat on top).

josh did this sketch of poppy pods ten years ago before we'd ever thought of naming a child poppy. i found the drawing a few months ago & made an embroidery piece out of it.

six weeks

one million thumbprints

last week josh worked hard to write, record, and produce the song "hiding place," created especially for the one million thumbprints campaign. when the kids asked josh why he was writing the song & why he was giving it away, he told them about the desperate plight of women and children fleeing for their lives in war torn areas of the world. he also talked about the importance of living generously in order to help others in their time of need. heron proceeded to open up her little deer bank & draft a letter to one million thumbprints.

one million thumbprints is a campaign through the work of world relief to end violence against women and children in congo, south sudan, and syria. 

josh is partnering with one million thumbprints for the next 7 days by releasing a deluxe anniversary edition of his album HOME. download the album for free on noisetrade and receive two brand new songs inspired by the women the one million thumbprints team met with in the congo.

josh is donating 100% of the tips received to support the work of one million thumbprints and world relief in the congo. download, listen, and share!

little bear

poppy smiled at heron all the way through "little bear". it was swimsuits & books in the backyard all day long (with a little schoolwork snuck in there, too). swimsuits in april, eighty four degrees!

outdoor napper

heron selah | the names of our children, part i of iv

josh and i are often asked about how we came up with our children's names : heron selah, shepherd zuri, peregrin jude, and poppy evangeline.

so often God reveals His character and purposes to us through both His creation and His Word. to reflect this, our children's names contain a word from the book of NATURE (first name) and a word from the book of SCRIPTURE (middle name).

each of our children's names represent something God was showing or teaching us during the time of my pregnancy--something that also seemed to speak into the calling and nature of the child i was carrying. like biblical patterns of prophecy there's a present and a future element, a double meaning.

i'll start with our oldest daughter, heron.

when josh & i first discovered i was pregnant we began to think of names that meant or symbolized healing to us. soon we began to ponder bird names, for birds & wings have always symbolized healing to us through the imagery found in scripture (malachi 4:2, psalm 91:4a, and matthew 9:20-22 in particular).

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. Malachi 4:2

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge. Psalm 91:4a 

And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, "If I only touch his garment, I will be made well." Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." And instantly the woman was made well. Matthew 9:20-22


in the passage from matthew, the woman who has been bleeding for 12 years touches the hem of Christ's garment, or, rather, the tassels of his prayer shawl, which are also called "wings". (i love how "the sun of righteousness...with healing in its wings" in the old testament becomes the Son of righteousness with healing in His wings in the new testament!) this passage became important to us about fifteen years ago, soon after josh & i met but before we were married, & the Lord spoke through this passage that He would heal me of a similar affliction & enable me to carry life. for years i'd had endometriosis, a condition in which every doctor i'd seen over a period of 10 or so years had told me could very likely cause infertility, or, at the very least i would have a very difficult time conceiving. but the Lord promised healing to us then, fifteen years ago now, & He did it!

four days before heron was born, our home for the year in the background. that old mansion was steeped in history--legendary bank robber john dillinger's old getaway house, and a stop on the underground railroad!

so why a heron? josh & i moved to eaton, indiana, late in the summer of 2007 for the season of recording josh's album jacaranda. our friends bill and robin had offered us their beautiful 1800s antebellum mansion (their second home, unoccupied) as we transitioned out of the pastorate in indianapolis into full-time music. we began to stalk the great blue heron along the banks of the mississinewa river which ran along the 35-acre property. the heron always seemed to show up at the most important moments, one of which was on our way to the clinic for a pregnancy test. as we left the house that day we drove past the heron, stopped the car & watched her take off in flight (appropriately, as "tomorrow on the runway" by the innocence mission played). in that moment i knew in my heart that i was pregnant, and that we were having a girl. so, of course, "heron" became that perfect bird name we'd been searching for. the name "selah" soon followed--a name from Psalms that is generally recognized as meaning to pause, rest, contemplate. this is a reminder to heron, our high-energy extrovert, to slow down and pause sometimes. 

heron selah, our healing little bird, is our symbol of christ's healing & comfort & care for us. what a joy it is to see our children live into their names! from the moment of her birth, God was bringing healing to our hearts through heron--my father passed away unexpectedly six weeks before she was born, and her very arrival lifted our mourning. she also literally has the gift of healing--my migraines have often been lifted through her prayers. and selah? heron is an artist, and we are blessed to already see her practicing rest and contemplation as she stops for hours at a time to create her masterpieces. 

seeking the Lord's wisdom in the naming of our children is a beautiful opportunity to partner with Him in the shaping of these little humans and their hearts. for us, waiting patiently for Him to share His plans for our children, and naming them accordingly, has given us the keys we need to pray and encourage them in their gifts and callings as they grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man...

recently poppy (via iphone)

march 19

march 29

april 6

april 6

april 7

april 10

march 26

march 26

april 2

april 7

april 7

april 11


"mama, is this why poppy has blue eyes?"

two blue-eyed grandpas --> two brown-eyed parents --> one blue-eyed baby! 

plus... a full head of fuzzy red hair, and skin so rosy we call her "pinkie pie". so unlike our other three!


nana ramsdale

my mom was out here to meet poppy and to help us out as we transitioned into being a family of six. she was such a big help for the two weeks she was here; she even took on schooling the kids! she was here with us on her birthday--st. patrick's day! happy birthday, nana!

Breakfast and Books in Bed with Baby (& mama!)

at the suggestion of my friend julia rosen we've had a daily rotation with each of the older kids first thing in the morning with me & poppy. we've named it Breakfast and Books in Bed with Baby (BBBB!). josh has been cooking up gourmet omelets, coffee, (and even some leftover chocolate cake today), and provides such a sweet time for me and the kids while he hangs with the other two. today it was shepherd's turn, and he picked out the mouse guard. thanks, josh, for being Super Papa/resident chef!

papa + poppy

another little girl for this loving papa! though many have said, "she looks just like the other three!" we think she looks so different, and so decidedly garrels. not my coloring or eyes, but rosy skin and strawberry blonde hair, and maybe even blue eyes from her papa's papa, mike. she's a beauty, a feminine little thing, and this man is smitten. 

little miss cozy dozy

so far poppy is our sleepiest baby yet! and also, big sister heron is always making little gifts for her!


heron's waited almost eight years for this!

home visit / day 1 check-up

yesterday was hard, with all of us breaking down--mama & papa exhausted, my milk coming in, the kids feeling sidelined and stir-crazy. but here's a more photogenic moment of the day--poppy's first home visit by our wonderful midwife, regina (who's visited us at home for teatime + prenatal check-up for my entire pregnancy)! regina was also my midwife when i delivered per at home, and has walked with me through two pregnancies/births & one miscarriage. i treasure her wisdom, care & friendship. 

poppy's first day

in which little miss poppy meets her sister and brothers, grandma & grandpa garrels and aunt alli, and heron cries tears of joy...

family of SIX! a little blurry, but i suppose day one is usually a little blurry for the sleep-deprived!

poppy's birth

poppy’s birth was one of the most beautiful, holy moments of my life, & we are so grateful for God’s grace, favor, and presence on that day.

but before i begin, first let me say that though i’m a home birth advocate, my first birth was in a hospital, and i’m incredibly grateful for it, as heron’s birth had complications. i had a quick natural delivery with a midwife, was very well cared for, & my birth plan was respected by hospital staff. and i learned from that experience that i would be a good candidate for home birth. i don't vilify hospital birth, but have definitely experienced the beauty of birthing at home in the subsequent three births, & simply hope this story can encourage some women to choose it (or, at least, natural childbirth) if the choice exists, acknowledging that sometimes intervention is necessary. more importantly, though, i hope my story illuminates that the pain of childbirth is nothing to fear. the day i labored to bring poppy into the world was so rich with meaning & instruction by my loving Father, as i saw Him transform any pain into joy, all the day resplendent in light and worship. & isn’t that just like Him, & just how He carries us through life? when we look to Him in trials and suffering, and welcome them as friends, He creates in us a deep & abiding joy, a peace that carries us through, & such a profound knowledge of His grace that we can’t even recollect the pain in the hardship. all is calm and all is bright and all that's left is the memory of His presence...

the lead-up to poppy's birth was longer than usual for me. contractions started the afternoon before, slowly, but just enough to let us know her arrival was imminent. by the evening of the 9th we thought poppy would be joining us in the middle of the night, so we sent the kids over to grandma & grandpa’s just before bed, telling them they’d probably be meeting their baby sister the next morning! as soon as they left, contractions died down; josh & i enjoyed a lovely evening & a long night of sleep together. the morning continued without incident, and, with the kids still away, we enjoyed the most wonderful date of a morning. the perfect breakfast, a sunny walk to the park, lingering talks, prayers, songs, worship, and lunchtime, too. God even showed us a rainbow!

by mid-afternoon things finally started up again in earnest. an hour in, & contractions were already strong. the Lord had been leading me to pray that He'd take away the curse of the pain of childbirth, even though i don't fear pain and have a high pain tolerance. & do you know what? every contraction, though intense, was filled with such joy! with each one i'd exclaim, “thank you, jesus!” josh would ask, “did you just say, ‘thank you, jesus?’” and i’d say, “yes! i’m so happy!” and the tears would stream down.  

we filled up the tub, then continued to enjoy the afternoon as labor was only intermittently strong (a strong one only every 20 minutes, then a barely-there one three minutes later--not my usual pattern of 2-4 hours of active labor + 2 minutes of pushing = baby!). the curtains were open, sun streaming through, birds chirping, magnolia and cherry trees blooming outside.

when contractions would die down, i’d ask for more—we were so eager to meet our little one! whenever josh & i would join together in prayer, i’d immediately experience a strong one, and again, such joy. i’d bow my head during contractions, lift it up and feel the sunlight on my face, filtered through the cherry blossoms outside.

the day turned stormy, we closed the curtains, evening came, the candles were lit. 

when it was time—birth time, there were two minutes of pushing, & i was holding poppy evangeline! finally born at 8:49 pm on march 10, thirty hours after the first contraction, seven of those hours in active labor. the reason for her long, slow entrance finally made sense—she was posterior, & my body was taking a long time to figure out how to birth this upside-down baby (head down, but flipped over)! and yet i never even experienced back labor. hallelujah!


born at home, in water
10 march 2016
at 8:49 at night
7 pounds 10 ounces
20 inches long

in the season while i was pregnant with poppy, the Lord was teaching us about rest. when we sought the Lord for a name that would reflect her calling, we sensed her name somehow intertwined with the very thing He was teaching us. and as we reflected on rest, we couldn't get away from images of peaceful meadows, filled with poppies. 

her middle name means "good news". this name, too, reflects something the Lord has been showing us this season--that our family calling is to be bearers of the Good News of Jesus! that we are to publish & prove the good news through our lives, stories, songs, words, and pictures. as  poppy enters our family, she enters this calling, too, & we can't wait to see how the good news will be displayed through her life! also... my father, who passed away in 2008, was a missionary bush pilot of a plane called the Evangel, so her middle name is a nod to him as well... 


spring is here!