“I remember it as October days are always remembered, cloudless, maple-flavored, the air gold and so clean it quivers.” 

Leif EngerPeace Like a River


For as long as I have lived, I have been given no choice but to associate the aromas of a skillful kitchen, the glow of lamplight, and the bustle of rambling houses with a voracious appetite for truth, dialogue, laughter, living, the joy of the Lord and the hope of Heaven. The hours have surely added up to years – that were spent lingering around the table or crowding into the living room to talk and tell stories and travel along the conversational paths that trek through the stuff that makes real life tick.

For nearly as long as I have lived, I have dreamed of someday planting my life and my family in the midst of some well-worn estate, with porches that never end, rooms that tumble one into another, a library tinted with stained glass light, and a kitchen table that stretches across time zones. Here we would welcome inquiring students, heroic weather-worn missionaries, skeptics, a small herd of grandchildren, and pretty much…well, any of you that want to come. We will eat and drink and study and talk and sing and laugh and refresh ourselves for the journey by reminding each other of our destination and of the deep joys along the way.

This place of my dreams has been mentally crafted by living images of places I have been, places I wish I’d been, and places where I’ve actually lived in the undeniable reality of imagination. The Place is a magical hybrid of The Eagle & Child, Zion Hill Bible Conference, L’Abri, Saint Annes, the old baptist parsonage on Church Street in Merrimac, Massachusetts, and various journeymen’s stops on the roads of Middle Earth like Bombadil’s cottage, Beorn’s Hall, or the Last Lonely House at Rivendell. If you have never heard of some of these holy places, then you know all the more why I’d love to invite you to a place, that these and many others have birthed in my dreams and determinations.

Well, my desires are no secret to the Lord; so for the time being we will continue to learn and laugh and love and linger around the feast, in the golden glow of Shorey Hall on Cooper Circle.

*   *   *

In the 50′s and 60′s, the country estate in the photo above was a hilltop rest home in Northfield, New Hampshire, run by a genuinely kind-hearted, Miss Eastlack. In the 70′s and 80′s this extraordinary place, set at the top of Zion Hill Road, housed the Zion Hill Bible Conference and (expanded to 42 rooms) was visited by the most extraordinary teaching and Christian fellowship that I have ever experienced. Much of the year it was where I lived with my mom and dad and husky beagle – in a place big enough to hold a village. The blisters (driving nails), the sporadic bustling crowds, the aimless wandering, the tastes of heavenly worship, the books read in a thousand hidden corners, and so much else – were all good.

   If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. 

J. R. R. Tolkien


Dreaming and planning for my second-half-century (if the Lord wills) and believing that we may have the privilege, still, to build and inhabit an uncommon place — to extend and expand the rich fellowship and activity of the happy and bustling home that has been for decades our central occupation and calling. 

“The Thomas House” — we have tended to call it — would be a family home, a hospitality house, a gathering place, and the natural habitat of easy laughter and of conversation, without haste or excess propriety.

In this place (built among family and like-hearted friends, in a being-carefully-explored geographical location), there would be a village of family industries, a dash of amateur agriculture, the smell of wood-chips, and an attentive supply of good food and drink (a notable bit of it home-grown, raised, or brewed). 

The talking, writing, teaching, singing, strumming, worship, and creative media-making that would live in this place, would together craft the stories that our lives crave telling, with all the folks that veer from the road — inadvertently or intentionally — to enter that front door.

In atmosphere and activity, community and well-broken-in comfort, and even in look and landscape — we would love this Place to be a mix of the two places pictured above: the place that shaped me and my deepest affections and a place of profound historical connection. The first was formed and nurtured by my father and mother (Zion Hill Bible Conference) and the second (George Washington’s Mount Vernon) reminds me of my father every time I visit.

“It's lovely to be going home and know it's home. I love green gables already, and I've never loved any place before."

Anne (of Green Gables)


An image capturing a home or special place will become a treasure. This gift you can confidently give a parent, a grandparent, a child, a brother, a sister, a friend...nearly anyone who has had life fall and ripple out in one place or another. Tell me who it is — who might be described as "impossible to buy a meaningful gift for" who would not be affected — reflective and appreciative — of some place in their life, having been captured with flavor and beauty in a picture. The gift for the one who doesn't need anything but that has experienced so many things in very personal places.

My style is Realistic Whimsy and my unapologetic mission is to provoke the emotion, memories, and profound nostalgia that live inside of us in connection with the Places (homes, wedding locations, family vacation settings, churches, schools, etc.) that have been the set and stage for the lives that we have lived. I draw structures (both simple and complex), with an eye to portray them accurately at the very same time as I seek to inject into each portrait a touch of magic that infuses the picture with a sense of the warmth and wonder with which we see our own holy places.

You will never regret investing in the creation of memorable, expressive, skillful images of places dear to you or those you love.