“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV).

I’ve always loved the story Little Women. The movie version, that is–until recently.

Though I’d seen nearly every film created depicting the March sisters, I’d never read the book. So when I decided one goal for 2022 was to read more, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was on the top of my list. Bill had, after all, given me a beautiful hard-bound copy years earlier, illustrated and signed by another beloved writer / artist, the late Tasha Tudor.

How delighted I was when we decided to visit Concord, MA for Spring Break! And the first order of business once the airline tickets were purchased was to buy Orchard House passes as well. I simply couldn’t wait to finally tour the home of the Alcott family.

But I must go back a bit–tell some pertinent details to all this, which made the trip that much more amazing. Truly, a dream come true! And it all begins with my very kind, generous, and loving husband Bill and the talent of one gifted artist named Luke Allsbrook.

Luke is married to one of my dearest friends. Renee–a talented (I’d call anointed) artist herself–has written and published songs too many for me to count. I’ve had the privilege of working with her from time to time, in worship at ladies’ events and at area churches. I call her the Fanny Crosby of our day, and the world’s blessed to have her in it!

We go way back–their children and ours having grown up together. Jacob and their oldest son Boyd were playmates as littles, and together we’ve made some beautiful memories.

(Boyd Allsbrook (far left) with Jacob and Ian Miller)

But back to Bill and Luke. Several years ago, my sweet husband contacted Luke , asking him if he’d consider a commissioned piece. “Of Orchard House,” he’d requested. It didn’t take Luke long to agree to the “surprise” job, and his work began.

Some months later, Bill told me we’d been invited to the Allsbrooks’ for dinner. I, of course, suspected very little, as everyone involved was quite good at keeping secrets. I was just excited to be with dear friends.

We enjoyed visiting in Luke’s studio, surrounded by the things of an artist–a plethora of panels and paints, easels and inks, brush bouquets with well-worn bristles, cloths smudged with rainbow colors. A table was adorned with all good things–fruits, nuts, an assortment of cheeses, and bread and crackers too. Visiting came easy, though there seemed to be a hint of excitement, and I wondered about its source–as though some sort of good news hung in the air.

Well now, that’s an understatement. After a bit, Bill turned to me. “We have a surprise.”

For me? I thought.

“It’s something Luke and I collaborated on. I know how much you love the story Little Women, how it inspires you in your own writing…” Bill paused. “And Luke, being such a talented artist, has used his gifts to create…”

Again, there was a beat of silence as Luke stood, then took several steps to a canvas-covered easel. Removing the cloth, my jaw dropped. Before me was a beautiful depiction of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House, the home where she and her family lived in Concord. The home where many artistic friends gathered to talk about their latest projects, to share ideas over food, much like we’d been doing.

(Beautiful song writer and friend, Renee Allsbrook)

“So, what do you think?” Bill asked, though he rightly knew the answer.

I couldn’t find my voice, so choked on emotion. So overwhelmed with gratitude. So overcome in that moment.

Finally, “Oh my. It’s… it’s absolutely beautiful. Thank you. Thank you so much.”

Bill and I joined Luke to stand before his magnificent piece of art–the product of his hands, his God-given gift. I marveled at each line, each shadow.

It was Renee’s voice we heard next. “Turn around and let me take a picture.”

And we did. And she did.

So you see, visiting Orchard House was a dream come true. Finishing the book just prior to our departure was a dream come true. And each time I look at the beautiful painting of this lovely New England home hanging on my living room wall, it, too, reminds me of dreams come true.

(Savoring each and every detail)

Dreams that are realized…

In friendships.

In shared faith.

In the use of one’s time, one’s talents, one’s gifts.

By a loving Father who knows us better than we could ever know ourselves–who places within us the stuff of dreams that He might bring them to fruition in His perfect time. In His most perfect manner.

Yes, by a husband who loves lavishly and gives more generously than I deserve.

Even now, my heart overflows with gratitude, and I can’t contain the joy. It bubbles over and brings life to Louisa May Alcott’s words from Little Women

“… laughter is ready when hearts are light.”

(Luke Allsbrook, the artist, far left)
(Depiction of Orchard House, Luke Allsbrook artist–2020)
(Orchard House–on our recent Spring Break visit to Concord)