A Bouquet of Lovely Flowers

When I recently saw a post about a floral subscription from Bloomsbury Lane Farm, I was intrigued. While at first I thought it might be a little extravagant to have fresh flowers every two weeks, I also thought about how I LOVE to support local farms and businesses and how much those flowers would brighten my days.

Little did I know how much I would need those flowers on the very first day of my subscription, and how my perspective on those flowers would change.

There are some days that put a lot of things in perspective. Like how life has the potential of changing dramatically in an unexpected moment. Thankfully, our lives weren’t changed dramatically. Just a few of our plans, and just enough to fine tune our perspective.

We are grateful for our children and their families every single moment of our lives. Of that, one can be sure. But sometimes we get to hone in on what exactly we are grateful for. Today I was reminded that I am grateful that our daughter and her husband are raising confident, happy, obedient and compassionate children.

Children who can go with the flow when the plans of the day with Granma and Granpa suddenly change, and are happy to do something different.

Children who know how to make the best Get Well card anyone could ever want, and who know how to give the most tender hugs at just the right time. Such great kids. Such great parents.

We are also grateful for good friends. The kind that bring dinner and a little laughter at the end of a very long day, even when I tried to refuse because it seemed silly to not do dinner myself. So glad they ignored me. I really needed that help.

Grateful for story time with littles, complete with giggles and snuggles. Grateful for friends who give gifts that keep on giving- long after the unwrapping. Gifts that come alive and ripple to the ones I love every time I read them.

Grateful for an attentive and kind neighbor who rather than going along her merry way, made her way to lend a helping hand. Grateful for the owner of The Chicken House for her welcoming smile, easy conversation, and contribution of a few extra blooms for a thank you for my kind neighbor.

Grateful for a clutch of flowers, and the realization that maybe they weren’t just for me. That getting a lovely bouquet of flowers every two weeks means I have more than enough to share. More than enough to express a little bit of gratitude.

And grateful for the realization that sometimes our lives are made a little easier by the summation of all of the little things from all of the great people. A bouquet of lovely flowers.

Gifts

Months ago one of our children sent me a message asking if I would give her a gift list for Christmas.  She wanted to know what to get for not only me, but also other members of our family.

My immediate reaction was slight annoyance.  First, while I know it is somewhat unreasonable, I really love for people to know me well enough that if they want to give me a gift, that it be one that made them think of me.  A gift that is personal means so much to me, and I don’t like making lists of things I want.  Mostly because if I know I want it, quite honestly, I’ll usually get it myself.  Second, I have all of those people and more to think of gifts for that are from me, and considering how I feel about gift giving, it’s a lot of work.  I don’t really want to do that work twice.  I already have enough of a list myself.

I didn’t answer the message immediately because something in me was giving me a warning that I was wrong, and so I wasn’t quite sure how to answer.  I was contemplating the message while I was working out one morning, and the thought came to me, “I have a big list, too, and you still ask me what you should do for other people.”

I almost fell off of the treadmill.

Oh boy.  Okay then.  I love how my Father knows me.  I love how he knows that all he has to do is give me one little key and it opens the gate to a new perspective.  A window appears and I can see a little bit more.

I started to think about the perspective God has of us and our requests.  And our choices.  We aren’t wrong to ask for his guidance in sharing our gifts with those around us.  After all, he knows the full picture, including all of our needs and wants.  Who better to direct our efforts to truly be a blessing to each other, and to genuinely show love and meet needs?

I started to think about what I’d been asked.  Do I know the needs and wants of the people in my own family well enough to even answer the request I was asked?

And we aren’t wrong in taking some initiative from time to time either.  After all, his list is pretty long, and intense, and we are capable of coming up with a few good gifts of our own.  We are his children.  We do have in us the capacity for knowing and loving our fellow man on a very personal level.  It also seems to me that if we are striving to be more like him, to follow his lead and example, then perhaps we shouldn’t need to be directed in every action.  What would he give?  What would he do?

Had I really set a good example of what it meant to give a good gift?

Then the first part of my complaint, and let’s face it, it was a complaint, hit me.  I expect other people to know me well enough to give me a gift that matters to me.  That is personal.  That is special.  Really?  Okay.  Let’s break this down.  First of all, the keyword here is expect.  Does he expect us to know what to give him without ever giving any kind of a clue?  Ummm, no.  He is pretty clear about what he wants from us.  In fact, he’s had several prophets and apostles jot it down for him.  Or rather, for us.

Have I been clear about what I want?

Of course that doesn’t mean that we have to stop there.  Certainly we can get to know him better.  Certainly we can refine the gifts we give him as we come to know him better.  Certainly he smiles when we do.

I responded to her message with a message of reassurance that she always gives good gifts, and that I felt confident that she would do well.  I also reminded her of things that I enjoy and that might inspire her.  I didn’t give her a lot to go on for the rest of her list because, to be honest, I realized I didn’t really know.  I hadn’t really taken the time to understand the needs and wants of the people on the list as well as I should have.  I was concentrating so hard on what I thought I should give them that I was caught up in the “I” way more than the “them.” But I am working on it, and I am grateful for all that he teaches me.  I just hope one day I’ll actually learn it.

In the end, our daughter gave beautiful, thoughtful gifts, as she always does. And she’s probably none the wiser for all that this little interaction taught me, but I am aware, and I am grateful.

#520in2018

A couple of years ago I had a goal of doing 520 hours of service in a year. I didn’t make it, but it was still awesome. Then I got distracted, and even felt like people thought I was bragging with the hashtag. After reassessing a few things, I’ve decided to return to this idea. I’ll be posting my progress along the way, not as bragging, but more as accountability, but also an easier way to keep track of it myself as well as let others know that I’m available to help if I am able.

What does this mean to you? It means that I am offering up to 10 hours of free quilting each month. No strings attached, but a few rules to keep things fair.

1- Edge-to-edge/panto quilting only. I will show you some options and you can choose which you like best. Once the quilting has begun, you can’t change your mind, so make sure it’s what you want!

2- The Green Apricot/Angela Gubler are not responsible for costs of materials- backing, batting and thread. They either need to be either provided by the client or purchased from TGA.

3- Shipping costs are solely the responsibility of the client.

4- TGA is not responsible for loss or damage to the quilt top or quilted quilt.

5- To submit your quilt for this offer, simply send at least two pictures of the quilt top- one of the whole top and the other a close up, and the measurements of the quilt to thegreenapricot@gmail.com. You do not need to send any info about why you are submitting the quilt. I will respond to let you know if I will be able to schedule your quilt.

6- If I am able to fulfill your request, I will schedule your quilt for quilting, and it is your responsibility to get everything to me by that date. I am using a scheduling system for quilting and have limited time slots available, so you may lose your spot if I do not have everything in hand on time.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful new year, and I hope you are, too!

Mom was right.

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It’s about 10:00 am, and while I’ve been out of bed since about 5:30 am, I am not yet dressed, and that’s my breakfast in the Ninja cup on the table.  So what exactly have I been doing for the last four and a half hours of my life?

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I didn’t take this sweaty selfie this morning because I didn’t know I was going to writing about this, but it’s accurate anyway.  Each morning it takes me about 30 to 45 minutes to wake up.  During this time it is best if no one asks me any questions or expects me not to walk into any walls or furniture.  I don’t drink coffee, and I have to wake up on my own.  It means brushing my teeth, putting on my workout clothes, drinking some water, making my bed and perusing social media for a few minutes.  This morning I also threw in a load of towels and put some clothes for handwashing to soak in the sink.

Then I work out for a little over an hour.  During part of my workout, I listen to talks from the recent LDS General Conference.  I like the idea of strengthening both my body and spirit at the same time.

Then I clean.  Years ago I followed FlyLady.net, and I learned a lot about cleaning and organizing from it.  Over the years I have modified what I learned from it to fit my own needs, and basically it comes down to dividing the house into sections and working on a section each day.  (I actually only do this Monday- Friday.)  Our house is generally not messy, so that’s never really been an issue, although we do have a problem with piles that I have to work on.  The biggest problem our house has is the details, but I find that if I commit a couple of hours each week to each section of the house, so many of those details get taken care of.  This morning it was the kitchen.  Appliances, backsplash and cabinets are all on the list, but don’t all get attention every week.  Oiling and rotating my coveted cutting board as well as cleaning the floors really well are a weekly task.

Then I make my breakfast, hit the shower, get fully dressed (my stint with Mary Kay years ago also taught me a thing or two), and hit emails, bills, and other to-do list items.  Which reminds me I need to do something.  I’ll be right back.

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I don’t especially like working out or cleaning, so I do it every day, first thing in the morning.  I really hate cleaning the shower, so I keep a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in the shower and literally clean the shower every day while I am in there.

I’ve heard people say that you should begin your day doing things that get your creative juices flowing so that you feel energized and ready to face the day.  For me that is, as my Nanny would say, bunk.

In the past I have started my day by going straight to the studio, or by sitting down to write, or by cozying up with my latest yarn project while binge watching Netflix, all the while thinking, “Oh, I can wipe down the kitchen when I make dinner tonight.”

What.Ever.

I’ve learned the hard way that not only do I not wipe down the kitchen while I am making dinner, but I also like to snack a lot while I am “being creative,” and oh, I actually am remarkably less productive creatively while I have in the back of my mind the list of things I should actually be taking care of for the day.

When I choose creativity over responsibility, everyone loses.  It’s just the facts.  My family loses out on my undivided attention.  My body loses out on the attention it needs to function properly.  My spirit loses out on the joy of accomplishment.  My clients lose out because I am not efficient or dependable.  Even my projects lose out because I bring so much garbage to the table by not cleaning it up beforehand.

It may seem like I end up with a late start to the studio, because reality is that I rarely get there before noon anymore, but it is also very real that I am much more productive once I hit the studio doors than I ever was before.  I get the same amount of work done in an afternoon that I used to get done in a day, and it all goes back to putting everything in it’s proper place, both in space and in time.

I’d have to say that it really is true that it’s best for me to get my chores done first thing, even if it means I have to admit my mother was right.

A Few of My Favorite Things

This year has been an interesting one for me.  Let’s just say that 2017 has presented me with lots of opportunities for growth.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life, and I am very grateful for every aspect of it, both the chuckles and the challenges.  But I have found myself as this year is beginning to come to a close taking time for a lot of personal inventory.  Asking myself questions like, “What am I supposed to do now?”  And hearing myself say things like, “Well, that didn’t go the way I thought it would.”  Midlife crisis?  I dunno.  Maybe.  I think I thought I was too young for that, and that really that only happened to men, but of course neither of those statements are true.  We all have to reevaluate ourselves from time to time if we have any hope of making any real progress in life.

So, for the last week or so I have kind of put the breaks on a lot of things in my life.  Not permanently, but just long enough for me to slow down and think more clearly.  But just because I said, “Whoa, Nellie” on certain aspects of my life did not mean that the blows quit coming.  A client who will not forgive me.  Difficulty and hurt in a relationship in my family.  Watching someone I care about struggle, and knowing there is nothing I can do.  Making another really big, really embarrassing mistake.  And then there was the trip to Utah.

That I am not on.

When this trip was scheduled, I was anticipating having a very different list of things on my plate, and I knew that I really couldn’t take the time to go out west with my husband for a long weekend and camping and hunting trip with the family.  A few weeks ago it became obvious that things were changing and that I really did have time to go, but I also knew that plane tickets are pricy, and we really do plan those kinds of things pretty far in advance in order to keep our costs as low as possible.  It was just too late.

Dropping Jeff and a friend off at the airport was feeling a lot like salt being rubbed into the wound that has been 2017, but I am pretty much over that crap.  No, I was not happy about missing out on a chance to see kids, grandkids, in-laws, nieces and nephews.  No, I was not happy about missing out on clear, cool mountain air, campfire smells, dutch oven cooking and more stars than I used to think it was possible to see in one night.  But there are lots of things to love right here in my own backyard.  Lots of things things to counteract salt, and bind up a wound.

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Doughnut Dollies is my most favorite donut shop ever.  It is also 46 miles from my house.  Obviously, I can’t make a trip to Marietta, GA every day or even every week just for my beloved donuts, but I can once in awhile.  We live south of Atlanta, and south of the airport, so I began my trek north for the day.  I went straight to Doughnut Dollies from the airport, and I couldn’t have been happier about it.

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Like I said on Instagram, caramel goes pretty dang well with salt, and even better on a donut, so a salted caramel donut it was.  And an orange gingerbread one for the road.  I know the question begs to be asked, “Why is Doughnut Dollies the best?”  I love their hip, crafty and creative takes on my favorite pastry, and the shop itself is an absolute delight, but really the reason I love them so is the texture.  I love bread.  Soft, fluffy white bread.  These donuts are much more bread-like than most donuts, and I love that the donut itself doesn’t seem to be as sweet as others.  The sweet seems to be more in the add-ons, and I just really like the balance.  (This may also explain why I hate Krispy Kreme donuts, especially when they are hot.  It’s like just eating fried sugar.  Bleh.)  Plus, the peeps that work at Dollie’s are really nice, so that’s always a plus.

From Marietta, I decided to keep heading north.  This weekend is the Georgia Apple Festival in Ellijay, and Gold Rush Days in Dahlonega.  The weather is beautiful and finally starting to be a little bit cooler and drier, which around here is nothing but good news and puts a lot of people in a good mood and stirs up a desire to head to our version of the mountains.  A lot of people.  Knowing that this weekend is festival weekend up north, I also knew that it meant the apples are in, and it’s time to make applesauce, but I wanted to get up there before the crowds.  So, I plugged in Sybil and headed up the highway.

From the Atlanta area, I just take I-75 north to I-575, and stay on it until it ends and becomes GA-515.  The first apple places you come to in Ellijay are on the right, Panorama and Penland’s.  I have to be honest, I always stop here, but it’s not really usually to buy apples.  My husband’s favorite hot sauce comes from this place, and they don’t take phone orders and they don’t ship.  So I stock up on it, and a few other gift items for the holidays.  I did buy a peck of Arkansas Black, and of course, some apple cider donuts.  They are my second favorites behind Doughnut Dollies.  Every time I go there I am greeted by busloads of seniors headed to Ellijay for the day, and quite honestly, I think that is their biggest clientele.  I don’t have any opinions about Penland’s, as quite honestly I’ve never been there.  I just get what I come for at Panorama, and then move along.

I keep going north on GA-515, then turn right on GA-52.  This is where the majority of the apple markets and farms are located.  There are little bitty, no fuss places like Hudson’s Apple House, and there are larger markets complete with petting farms and hayrides like Hillcrest Orchards, and there are several in between.  It really just depends on what you are looking for.  When my kids were younger, we went to the bigger places more often because there is a bit of tourism and fun about it, but nowadays I really am just going for the apples. I realized on my drive up that it was the first time that I had ever made the drive without my family.  It made me a little sad, but then I gloried in the fact that I could do what I wanted without worrying about this or that, and I got over it quick.  Apparently that’s the name of the game.

I love Hudson’s Apple House.  It might be my favorite stop of all.  It is small, and located in what looks to be an old service station.  The family is lovely, and I always like to visit with them.  There’s no fuss.  Just apples.  And kindness.  I wanted a tart, hard apple, but not just a Granny Smith, so she offered for me to try a Pippin, which was delightful.  If my family and other close friends are reading this post, they are probably laughing at that pic of the partially eaten apple.  I hate biting into food like that because I feel like I get it all over my face and I’m sticky and dirty and need a shower.  But, she wanted me to try it before I bought it, so I did, and I loved it, but I was really glad I had wipes in the car.

My other favorite on Ga-52 is the B.J. Reece Apple House.  It is one of the bigger places, and is a little touristy, but seriously has a really great selection of apples.  I think you can also pick your own here, and they may have hayrides and things like that, but I don’t really pay any attention to it.  I’m just there for some serious apple shopping, a jug of peach cider, and maybe some produce.  I didn’t buy as much as I usually do this year, something I will explain in another post, but I did pick up some Braeburn apples, which I am looking forward to using.

If I had the kids with me, I would have continued on southeast on GA-52 and gone to Burt’s Farm.  I took the kids there many times when they were younger to pick out a pumpkin, or just to take photos with the rows and rows of pumpkins of every size and color.  When they were very small, it wasn’t as well known, and it was easy to park, and there weren’t a lot of crowds to contend with.  It is still gorgeous. and lots of fun, but it is also a popular destination for school field trips, and is often packed with people at this time of year.  I did debate about going over to Amicalola Falls just past Burt’s Farm to climb the stairs by the falls, just to see if I could do it and not feel like I was dying like I did the last time, but I opted for a different route. I still think I might go back up sometime this fall.  I feel those stairs challenging me.

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Instead, where GA-52 takes a sharp left to head towards Burt’s and the falls, I turned right onto GA-183 and followed Sybil’s directions back south and into Atlanta.  When I got to Intown Quilters I shared apple cider donut and apple joy with Sarah and the crew, and they shared fabric and fiber joy with me.  It lifts my spirits so much to be with creative friends and talk about our passions.  I love this shop, and it’s crew.  I never leave there empty handed or without inspiration, and yesterday was no exception.  We laughed and chatted, and even disagreed, and in the end I left with both my hands and my heart filled.  It was a good day.

Even though 2017 and I have been battling it out, I know that in the end I will prevail.  I’m totally watching fireworks on New Year’s Eve this year because while 2017 is going down in flames, I will live on.  This year may have beaten me up a bit, but I’ve lived long enough to know that bruises heal, even the ego type.  It is just a matter of time, and as my husband says, learning how to fall so maybe next time there are no bruises, or at least smaller ones that heal faster.

Getting it together

This past January I weighed more than I ever did 9 months prego and on the verge of delivery. I was not by any stretch what most people think of as extremely overweight, but I still could not move. I dreaded putting away dishes because if I knelt down, I had to use the countertop to pull myself back up again. And stairs. Don’t get me started about the stairs.  I didn’t like driving my fun little car anymore because it was so hard to get in and out of it.  Then I had a customer pull me out into the hallway during an event in The Green Apricot studio to tell me that I really needed to get it together.  That I should enjoy the holidays and my upcoming trip to Puerto Rico, but that when I got back I needed to do better.  All these quilters just sit behind their machines and get fat.  I was, obviously, totally offended.

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Then I saw this pic that my husband took of me on our trip, and I finally had a discussion with myself.  The conclusion was I am not getting younger, and it isn’t going to get easier. so get started. So I did.

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The irony of looking like this for most of my life was that I ate everything in sight and never did anything athletic or that even remotely looked like exercise.  Like never.  Ever.  When this photo was taken, I was about 37 years old.  I had brought 4 humans into this world who at the time were about 11, 13, 15 and 16 years old.  I had been divorced and remarried, and honestly had been through a lot.  But I was not prepared for what was to come in the next couple of years.

The difference between those two pictures is about 7 years, My Great Depression, and 50 pounds.  When I was 39, I went through some tough times.  I gained 30 pounds in about 3 months.  I then struggled through a deep depression that would last for about 2 years, and still lingers from time to time.  After the initial gain, I just kept adding on, a little more each year.  I went from being able to carry my weight around with little effort, and even less thought, to not being able to get off of the couch without my hips hurting.  I couldn’t get up a single flight of stairs without being winded.  But seriously, you don’t want to hear the stair rant.

Now, to be clear, I don’t really care to be as small as I used to be.  I am a grown woman, and I am totally cool with what that means.  In fact, I would be just fine with what the scales read last January if I also could move around with ease.  Now, again to be clear, I do have issues with vanity just like everyone else, and there is a part of me that would like to be size such-and-such again, or at least close to it, but almost as soon as I have those thoughts, I am reminded that it really is irrelevant.

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The difference between the picture at the beach and the bathroom selfie is about 10 months, about 200 workouts, a very different outlook on food, very little neck and joint pain, and 25 pounds.  I took this picture yesterday so that I could thank my friend for sending me this cute LulaRoe top.  We kinda have a joke running because almost every item of clothing I buy from her I say, “A jean jacket would be cute with that!”  So, I posted it on social media, really only thinking about the shirt, but when a couple of my friends made some kind comments, it got me to thinking.  I started looking over pics from this past year, and it has made me really grateful.

I like the woman in the pic with the orange bandana.  I also like the woman in the pic on the beach.  But I don’t really want to be either of them again.  The bathroom selfie is who I am today, and I like her too.  She’s been through a lot.  She’s made a lot of mistakes.  A lot.  She’s cried a lot.  She’s laughed a lot.  She still has trouble letting go of some of her baggage, but she’s learning to move on.  She’s learning about who she is, and who she isn’t.  She’s taking time to sort things out.  Slow down a bit.  Find balance.  Then pick up and run the race when the race is on, but slow down for the training.

There will be more pics.  And when there are, I want to be glad that I am no longer the woman in this bathroom selfie.  It’s all about progress.  It’s always about progress.

 

The Grand Architect

by Angela Gubler.  First written June 2016

There was once a Grand Architect and his Wife.  They worked together daily planning and creating a beautiful home, all the while watching their family grow.  They had a wonderful family, and each day they would look into the eyes of each and every child, imprinting everything about them onto their own hearts.  They loved their children very much, and their children loved them.  Their children gathered around them always- watching and listening to them.  The Architect and his Wife were very happy, and it brought them great joy to be with their family.

But the Architect knew that his children loved him, at least in part, because he was all they knew.  He also knew, in his infinite wisdom, that the great bond that he had with each of them could only grow deeper and stronger if they had the chance to choose to love him.  But how?  How could he give them a chance to choose?

He would build them a new home, similar to their real home, so that they could remember him, but different, so they could have a chance to choose.  Plans were made, and the new home was created.  The Grand Architect knew that he couldn’t be there with them because his bond with his children was so great that if he was there, they would automatically choose to be with him, thus taking away their ability to choose.  So, who would watch over them, and help them the way he would help them if he was there?  He needed someone who was most like him, who knew him best and would take care of them the way he would himself.

“Ah, yes, that one,” he thought to himself as his heart whispered the name of The One.  But what if they couldn’t remember him, and what if they chose to love someone or something else more than him?  He knew they would be lost, because while they were his children and could become as powerful as he was, they were still just children, and could not do it alone.  He thought of the The One again, and he thought of what he himself would be willing to do to save all of his children.  His heart seemed to stop at the thought. He knew what The One would have to sacrifice and suffer so that all of the others would have a chance to choose.  He knew it was the way, the only way, but it hurt him so that even one of his own children would have to suffer so terribly.

But he couldn’t hesitate.  The bond between himself and his children needed to grow in order for them to grow.  They could not become like him- grand architects- if they didn’t have the chance to choose to be with him.

So, he gave them the opportunity to go to their new home.  He explained his plans to them.  Some of them wanted to stay where they were, but most of them listened to their Father, and took the opportunity to build their bond with him.

They went to their new home, and as he knew they would, they forgot about him.  They didn’t remember their real home, and their new home was full of conflicts and choices and experiences they had never had before.  There was pure beauty and soft voices that reminded them of something they couldn’t remember, but there were also so many things that were new, and sounds that were loud that caught their attention.

He watched as they struggled, and he waited each day for them to look for him, to gather around and watch and listen to him as they had done before.  The One showed them the way, and taught them to remember the Grand Architect.  The Grand Architect was grateful, as he missed his children more than he could bear.

The children had a harder time than they thought they would.  They had thought that they would easily remember their Father, but it was not so.  Sometimes they loved other things or people more than they loved the Architect, and so their bond with him weakened.  As their bond weakened, they became weak.  They found it difficult to stand.  They found it impossible to grow.  How could they ever get back to their home?

The One knew how.  He knew how to mend the bond between the children and their Father, and he worked at it tirelessly.  He had become a Great Welder, and he used parts of himself to meld the children back to their Father.  But they had to choose.  They had to take their broken bonds to The One in order for him to fix it.  They still had to choose to love Father in order for their bond to become stronger and deeper.

Many came, but many did not.  It was a chance the Grand Architect had taken.  But he loved all of his children, so he made new homes for all of them, even the ones who chose not to love him and come home to be with him again.  As time went on, his children made their choice.  And so, he gave gifts to all of them, regardless of whether or not they chose to love him.

But the ones that chose to love him over everyone and everything else found a deeper and stronger joy than the rest.  They found themselves to be like him- grand architects with families of their own.  And so, they did as their Father and Mother had done before them, and built a beautiful home.