I wandered into the community center with two little ones toddling behind me. Paid for my large drip coffee and proceeded to the cream and sugar as my boys chased around the cafe, faces pressed up against the drink refrigerator and pointing at the pretty stones in the faux fireplace that separates the cafe from the study center. I remembered seeing a magazine that piqued my interest on the display table near the front doors. But it wasn’t that publication that eventually won me over. It was another. Words and images intrigue me, especially thoughtful and unique ones that somehow lure me in with a knowledge that there is something deeper within the pages to be revealed.
The cover of a short newsletter read, “Letters from The House Between, Formerly Notes from Toad Hall”, written by Margie Haack. All of these words captured my attention in different ways and sent a whirlwind of lovely images through my mind as I wondered what this publication had to say. The image on front was of a bird bath covered in snow. The title of the first letter read, “The Little Way”. I took the newsletter and another missionary newsletter and found my way outside to the patio to watch my boys ride their tricycles on the basketball court and try to download my emails onto my phone. We recently canceled our internet to save money while at seminary so to retrieve email now takes a lot of time and patience to pick up the community center signal and wait for the slow downloading of messages. I feel so archaic now and almost pre-1997!
As the boys played, the sun became increasingly hot, my coffee got knocked over and my dependable phone could not download my messages. My morning plans were beginning to be thwarted. But I was thankful the boys were still able to play, especially as Daddy got to join us for a while, and I still had a small window of time to read a little. Eventually we made our way back down to our own patio, enclosed by flowering bushes and a short stone wall; my sanctuary. I dived into the newsletter, determined to find that treasure I knew was waiting for me.
As I started to read, my heart swelled with joy to read of the authors’ encounter with the writings of a 19th century French woman named Therese of Lisieu. Over 15 years ago, I found a collection of St Therese’s writing at a small Christian bookstore. That collection in itself was a rare find as I had not heard of this woman before, perhaps once, but I can’t recall. To see another writer’s encounter with the writing of St Therese and her “Little Way” further drew me into this newsletter. Years ago, I read with delight about the simplicity and joy she found in loving Jesus and His love for her. I saw in her writing a reflection of my own smallness, something that she eventually became content to accept as part of her calling. It was a delight to find that someone else had read these little known words of hers and had benefitted spiritually from them as I had. I wanted to know more about The House Between and the authors who lived here. So I continued to read.
“He that is a little one, let him turn to me.” Proverbs 9:16
In the Letters, Margie Haack, writes about the writing accomplishments of friends and literary mentors, of admitting her jealousy of their brilliance in writing, her repentance, and her acceptance of her own calling and the work that God has for her to do. Sharing one’s struggles publicly requires an artful balance of disclosure and modesty. I think she does this beautifully. She also shared about another 19th century woman, Christina Rossetti who also came to terms with her own smallness, and like Therese of Lisieu, saw it as part of her sacrifice and calling in life.
Haack also wrote about recent family news, a move from their old home, Toad Hall, to their new one, The House Between, and the beautifully rich meaning behind such a mysterious name for their home. It made me want to name our home and our future homes, our gardens, our patio because naming it gives it identity and purpose. Reflections on their garden, her granddaughter’s bread baking, future projects and aspirations and even prayer requests drew me into every word on each page.
One of her prayer requests was “Finding good and true words for writing.” I breathe deep with contentment as I affirm this need as a writer to find good and true words, to share, to find beauty in, and with which to describe our stories. She mentioned her blog which I’d love to share with you here: Toads Drink Coffee. After perusing her blog, I saw more things in common: a love for L’Abri Fellowship, for the teaching of Francis and Edith Schaeffer, similar music tastes, writing blogs, art blogs, homemaking blogs and liturgical year blogs. This woman is a kindred heart.
Upon arriving at The House Between, I was introduced to a new writing friend, years ahead of me in life experience and writing accomplishments. I do not consider myself a great writer. Instead, I am a student, content to be learning quietly the art of composition. I do not know exactly what my writing goals are, but the journey for me is like that of small beginnings as in Therese of Lisieu, Christina Rossetti, and Margie Haack. Perhaps my writing will always be small or perhaps one day, the Lord will see fit to share more of my writing with others. This I leave in the hands of God and seek to be faithful day by day as I live in my own “house between”.
Please visit Margie’s blog: toadsdrinkcoffee.blogspot.com
To receive Letters from the House Between, contact Ransom Fellowship on their website www.ransomfellowship.org and they will add you to their mailing list.
We thought of that place as “The House Between”, a place bound on one side by years past where we raised children, continued our ministry and grew older, and on the other side, a place in heaven where God holds a perfect place of restoration yet to come. Our new home is a reminder that this is only a ‘place between’ what is now and what will one day be true Home forever.
– Margie Haack, Letters from the House Between, Issue 1