Yarn Along : lists + front porch living 

 









It’s a rare quiet moment ‘round these parts and all the kiddos except my oldest is in bed. He is listening to an audiobook, I’ve been crocheting on my granny stripe blanket, and all is well.  This blanket.  I may need to always have one going.  It seriously is the most comforting thing to work on. It satisfies all my need for loud, lovely, riotous color,  and simple, repetitious handwork.

Seems like lately it’s rush, rush, rush to everything with everyone, along with the general eye-widening (read:glazed) overwhelm of child-teaching and child-training etc., and my brain is having a hard time keeping up. So, on Monday, when we already had a babysitter for an appointment, I took the opportunity to go to a coffee shop afterwards for a few hours and make lists of every last thing I could think of.  It was absolutely wonderful.  I reworked our chore list, finished some menu planning, solidified the babysitters we need for the month, made master/weekly/daily to-do lists, and other lists of whatever came to mind.  My mind feels much more free to actually work in any given moment rather than stumbling over all of the to-do’s and random info I’ve been storing in it.

This has been a work in progress, and I do believe it will become a habit I practice regularly.  The other week when struggling, I made a list, jotting down everything that came to mind.  I then divided it into four different categories: God’s Business, To Pray About, Thankful For, Take Action.

And so begins my journey with brain-dumping.  I’ve journaled for years, (as in: since 2nd grade, and yes, I still have every.last.one. of those old diaries and notebooks and journals) and that is a type of brain-dumping.  But this is more organized, and truly does help my frame of mind just to get everything out on paper.

I’m not organized by nature.  I love the idea.  But I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, which = generally not in a straight line. So when I made all my lists on Monday, and actually accomplished some things on them, I sort of couldn’t believe it.  Yay.

On another subject, we are winding down our school year.  We’re all ready to be done. I have things that need to happen around here (yes, they are on a list) besides teaching school, and everyone is ready to not be required to do math/copywork/etc. every day.   It sounds good to have a change of pace.

I got some watercolors the other day, and the girls absolutely love them. We’ve been doing scribble painting – just scribble a bunch on the paper, paint, and the end result looks like stained glass.  Such a cheap and lovely thing to do.

We’ve began our days several mornings lately on the front porch, with me and my coffee and devotions, and children joining me one by one as they get up.  There’s just nothing like the mornings, with its golden light making everything sparkle, and the sleepy, squinty morning-fresh faces all snuggled up in their blankies.  Kitty-holding, playing catch with our dear Trigger-dog, and bike riding.  It’s a good way to begin the day.

We’ve got a fresh batch of chickens, getting about 7-8 eggs a day, and the chicks the boys have raised will be laying soon too.  It’s lovely to have brown eggs and an abundance of them.  They hope to be selling them soon, as soon as we aren’t using everything that comes in.  Miss A’s favorite chore is to gather the eggs, and her and Miss E come in crowing with delight at how many! and oh look!  …Along with several egg misfortunes, due to the trauma of being carried in pockets or by a certain 4 year old who hasn’t quite grasped the concept of Egg Fragility.

It’s a good life we live.  I’m seeing more and more the need to press in to Jesus, to rely on Him for the most mundane things and believe Him. Believe He’s doing good things.  Believe He wants to help me order our days.  Asking Him what I need to do next.  Believing He’ll show me.  Believing He covers me and my days with grace, and shows me how to do the same with these lives He’s entrusted us with.  The picture is so much bigger than what I realize or even remember in the moment.  Soul-shaping, and responding in love, training and guiding, and learning to let go.  What utter sanctification this mothering journey is.  And what a good Father, who gives only good gifts, and knows what we need and how to get us where He has us going.

Joining:

Nicole from Frontier Dreams

Advertisements

Blessed. Especially so since I wrote it all down.

I have been absent for far too long, but there just haven’t been many words I’ve wanted to write down.

Today was a hard day, full of meltdowns and parenting’s dirty work, me fake-smiling and breathing prayers for patience along with hope for things I can’t see. It’s good and right to exercise faith, but my flesh pulls and groans at the thought and the action of it.

Other days this week have been bright and happy, and filled with the stuff I dream of. Reading aloud and drawing pictures and learning, learning, learning all the good and true and lovely things. There were sleepovers and campfires and basketball games and beginning the adventures in Walter Farley’s Black Stallion, learning about geese and singing our hymn of the month: “When I Survey”.  There was even a date night thrown in the mix.  Chinese food and good catching-up conversations and a trip to Walmart where we went our separate ways (yes, this is normal on our date nights).

I find myself so weary and disappointed when there’s days like today, yet isn’t it also good when we have to choose to see the good?

Because there truly

is

so

much

of it. We can let our souls faint and be mired in the yuck of the moments, or we can direct our sights upward at the things not seen, along with the good that is there that we must choose to focus on.

So I choose to look up!

 

God is good.

We have come.so.far.

The relapse Mr. E is in is relatively mild, and he displays none of the usual uncomfortable symptoms.

Coffee is life. Especially when the sun is peeking over the mountains and I sip while it lights up our lawn, our bright green woods, and makes everything shine. Ah.

Cousins to play with and boyhood schemes and dreams are a joy.

Rainbow crochet blanket.

Miss E: “Mommy! It’s a BEAUTIFUL day!”

My dear, dear husband. All rights itself when he walks in each evening.

Surprise candy bars and sodas brought exuberant joy from a certain 12 and 10 yo that I couldn’t have predicted.

Miss A: “Mommy, when I grow up I’m gonna marry the Kingdom of God!”

80 degrees and thriving spring life outside.

Four fresh baby kitties and a purring, devoted mama cat.

Read alouds and the thrill of experiencing them together as a family. Most recently, Trumpet of the Swan, Black Stallion, Just David (by Eleanor Porter, author of Pollyanna), Pilgrim’s Progress, and plenty of other random picture books. Reading anchors our days.

(And for a tip? Keep a book in your car that’s only for longer car rides – where we go to church is 45 minutes from home, and we read this book when we drive anywhere that takes very long.)

 

There’s much more I could name. Honestly, it’s been good just to write down a few of these things and remind myself of the truth.

I’m blessed, and if you aren’t feeling very much so, go tell someone what good things come to mind. It might help you just as much as writing this blog post has helped me. 🙂

 

Wherein I ramble

I’ve been planning on posting for awhile, with side-by-side feelings that I had nothing to say, as well as feeling that I just wanted to write, no matter how random it ended up being.  So here goes.  All the randomness shall now commence. 

It’s a rare moment of quiet this afternoon, with the sun shining bright in the cold and the wind strong enough to be heard outside. My girls are sleeping and I made a pot of coffee.  Cup#1 beside me and it just feels so good to be drinking something warm on this chilly February day.

So much busy, yet there have been patches of rest in between as well.  I rearranged our room the other week, cleaning out, adding some twinkle lights above our headboard, changing where the rocking chair is, and placing my $3 walmart hyacinth bulb nearby to fragrance this fresh space.  My hyacinth is almost done, two beautiful purple blooms that are arching toward the floor, their best life spent, and it was all too short. 

I haven’t been knitting or crocheting at all for the last several weeks… something is going on with my shoulder/arm that makes it tingle/ache/get numb etc.  It doesn’t seem to be as bothered with writing, so I’ve been journaling more, reading more, and that is for sure a good thing.  I do miss it, but it’s been a good discipline to focus on other things.  I really hadn’t read much for myself for awhile, other than the Bible, and I just started “Freckles” by Gene Stratton Porter. A few pages in, (I’ve begun this before and somehow never appreciated it, mostly because I have always tended to read easier books that weren’t old.) and I’m captivated. 

So this month has been a time of reflection amid the going here and there and family get togethers.  God’s good, and He is faithful, and circumstances aren’t what brings me joy.  Not new news, but powerful to dwell on all the same. My soul is so much quieter than it’s ever been.  There is lots of opportunities to practice patience during my days here with school and children and their always-needs. I don’t get it right a lot of the time, but it’s getting easier to let things go and relax and know that God’s got it. Always.  

We are still reading “Carry On, Mr. Bowditch”, and a quote in this book keeps running through my mind. Nathaniel’s mother told him when he was small that she liked to look at the stars.. because  “when you look at the stars, it makes your own problems seem so much smaller.”  I love this thought.  I have had moments like this, when I realize that the Star-Maker is my Father.  And that nothing is a surprise to Him, nothing is worrying Him.  I just love how books do this.  Just at the right time, a quote that brings truth and wisdom, or teaches lessons that are so much better from story than lecture.

Today Miss A suggested that I make waffles, so I’m thinking waffles and sausage will be the supper.  Perhaps apple waffles? We’ll see what I have time for.  So many things I have on my to-do list, and I’m learning that it works a lot better to write it all down as much as possible.  My brain works much better in the moment if it isn’t cluttered up with trying to remember a lot of things.  So at the moment I have curriculum that needs to be researched and purchased for my 6th grader, as well as the next All About Reading book for Miss A – she is flying through learning her letters now, and I’m trying to keep up with her.  To see her begin to sound out words and read simple sentences is incredible.  

I’ve got plenty of spaces that need to be cleaned out, with the motivation of preparing for a yard sale here in a couple months.  A close friend of ours is putting her stuff in as well, as she is planning to move to Thailand for mission work in April.  Exciting changes for her, and we are thrilled to watch it play out before our eyes.  Even though goodbye will be hard….

I’m loving winter, and plan on making the absolute most of all the coziness that I can. More soup is on the horizon, and I’m slowly using the bananas I’ve thrown in my freezer over the past while to make different banana-y breads. So far I’ve made a chocolate chip banana bread (it was delicious.) and another basic banana nut bread. As long as it sort of resembles cake, or is good with butter on it, my family is happy. 

I’m taking a Habits e-course thing with Mystie Winckler from SimplyConvivial.com.  It is just so good.  Seed habits, not making huge changes, but little tiny things in the areas of prayer, health, reading, and a few others that I haven’t gotten to yet. I’m truly seeing the fruit of what happens when I add seriously small changes to my routine.  30 seconds of prayer, every time I make coffee. Doing crunches while I brush my teeth.  Changes so small they almost seem pointless.  But they grow, and foster the desire to make bigger changes once those small ones become habitual.  I highly recommend.

I hear the sound of waking children, so it’s time to get busy.   Happy Friday!

Home + All the Rainbow Projects

IMG_7635

IMG_7636IMG_7637

IMG_7626IMG_7630IMG_7641

IMG_7624IMG_7638IMG_7643

Oh goodness, it’s cold.

I know I’m probably wimpy. But this is cold. 

This morning it was 20… and the forecast said it felt like 3. The wind was howling and it’s supposed to go all day long, at 20-30 mph.

I sent my dear husband off with copious amounts of coffee, and leftover cheddar chowder for lunch, feeling bad for him that he is out in it, but glad it’s at least sunny.

I do happen to be one of those strange sorts who loves winter, as long as I don’t have to go out in it.:)

We got home from our California/Oregon Christmas trip, it was lovely, and now I am just so glad to be home. There is nothing that compares to hibernating with soups and flannel sheets, the fire roaring in my basement, and settling back into a routine.

We took a three week break from school and now we are back  into the full swing of things. It’s been working so well to give my boys their spiral notebook with assignments for the day, send them to separate parts of the house, and proceed with kindergarten for Miss A. She is just barely beginning to sound out short words, and it’s honestly one of the most exciting things to see sounds and letter learning begin to organize itself into bits of tiny word-reading here and there. Every once in awhile I stress a little, she is 5 1/2 and doesn’t know all her letters, isn’t reading quickly, maybe I’m going too slow… then I remind myself that slow is better. I’m not pushing her, I’m letting her go at her pace and working on things as she is ready. When it’s not clicking, we slow down, and when it’s all coming together we speed up again. I do believe from experience that it’s better late than early. Too many of us mamas need to relax and trust the process, rather than all the stressing it’s so easy to do.  Little by little, bit by bit, keeping those fires of learning lit and never extinguishing them with pressure and force.

I have been working on my granny stripe afghan, and occasionally a rainbow-y sock that I started on our trip. I’ve only knit one other pair of just plain socks, but I’m amazed at how fast they go. I don’t consider myself a fast knitter at all, so to have half a sock completed in a week was so much fun! Miss E is fascinated by all things knitting, and wanted to try on this sock… I went to take it off her foot and she said “No, Mommy!! It’s covey!!” (Her word for cozy and comfy all in one.)

I’ve been reading a lot of books, mostly stuff for and to the kids.

We started Carry on, Mr. Bowditch, just finished Little House on the Prairie and started Farmer Boy. Farmer Boy is my favorite book in the series, and I’m cracking up at my boys who are soooo hungry every time I read. The doughnuts! The apple pies! The platters filled with seasoned sausages and bowls of gravy! We had to have an evening snack the other night while I was reading just to tide everyone over until breakfast.

Along with hibernating, I’ve also been motivated to do bits of cleaning out, here and there. I went through the toy closet the other afternoon and it feels so good to have it all organized and swept up, and the kiddos are so much happier with all their things making sense and in their places again.

It won’t last long, and I’m incredulous at all.the.pieces.that accumulate everywhere. Game pieces. Uno cards. Paper clips. Pieces of string. Legos. Baby clothes. Papers. Erasors. Crayons and mostly used colored pencils. They are like a mob that waits until I leave the room and jump out to lay around when I come back in. It’s truly like they have lives of their own.

On a totally random note: I was getting ready for the day a few minutes ago and my very dramatic 3 year old was sitting on a stool beside me for various reasons having to do with not coming when I called her and being disobedient. She is not at all happy about it, and after sitting for a few minutes and whining, she finally said this: “You not WETTING ME GET UP AND IF YOU DON’T I. WILL. DIE!”

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

She’s my ball of fire and sunshine, and I’m thankful for her and so much more on this sunny, cold, windy day.

Happy knitting and reading, friends!

linking up with Ginny’s  Yarn Along   

And Nicole’s Crafting On

on faith and how to please God

There is something amazing about the power of Scripture.

Some days I read it and there isn’t anything that particularly jumps out at me, but there’s a solidness and comfort in simple saturation of God’s inspired Words.

Other days there are things that are so clear and meaningful it’s as though they were divinely highlighted.

For awhile now I have been intrigued and inspired by Hebrews 11 and its list of saints who were unflinching in their faith.
The ones who did the right thing even when it was hard. Who obeyed God in the face of ultimate grief. Who trusted God even when it didn’t seem that He was doing anything. Who were martyred and considered it a glorious privilege.

This is the kind of faith that I want. It’s the kind of faith that makes anything possible and everything able to be borne.

Persistent, determined faith.

I’ve read Hebrews 11:6 before. But this past week when reading these words again, I was impressed with something I hadn’t ever noticed.

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 KJV

In the past I have read this and kind of got stuck in my own musings of how small my faith is, and how I’m probably barely, if at all, pleasing God because of that fact.

But this time something new was there for me.

First, in order to have a faith that pleases God there are two things this Scripture details as requirement; they have to do with His existence and His character.

1.) So first, we must believe He exists.

This isn’t that hard for me. Oh, I have had times of really wondering where God is in the midst of hardship. Or why He isn’t doing anything. But as a general rule I acknowledge that there is a God.

2.) The character part. We must believe that this God is the kind of God who rewards those who diligently seek Him.

This is what stopped me in my tracks.

Our God is a Rewarder-God. And not only is He so, we must believe Him to be this kind of God. As in, we can’t please God if our faith doesn’t accept Him as a God who loves to reward us for seeking His face and His heart.

This, I believe was the faith of Noah, the faith of Abraham, the faith of Sarah, the faith of the martyrs. They looked up to the heavens with knowing smiles and acknowledged that, “Yes. There is a God. An unseen, enthroned King. A Maker. An Authority that is unequaled in power and glory, deserving all our worship and praise.”   There. Is. A. God.

And then, a much more personal and heart-expanding truth: this God rewards.
He loves His children immensely. And those who choose diligent seeking, who choose to follow after Him with all their heart, who repent when they mess up… And those who refuse to worship their experience over His promises, these are the ones who please God with faith. They will experience unimaginable rewards. Both here on earth as well as in heaven. And I’m not talking necessarily about rewards you can touch or see (though that’s certainly within the realm of possibility), but rewards from the Spirit in this life that make our hard things possible to be viewed as a privilege.  And rewards in heaven (you know, the kind that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, what the Father has in store.).

This is Martyr Faith.

This is a faith that takes people through prisons, through disease, through fire and persecution.

This is the faith that propelled Abraham up a mountain on a God-ordained mission to kill the son he had waited decades to hold in his arms.
The Son of promise. The one who was the link to sons and grandsons and great-grandsons who would number greater than the stars.

But Abraham knew God was real. And He believed that God rewards those who seek Him. So he sought. He obeyed. He believed in this God so much that He was willing to obey what seemed like a senseless and horrible request.

How else would you do what Abraham did unless you truly believed that your God was capable of anything?

Anything.

And everything.

And sure enough, God proved Himself faithful.

These two truths must be settled in our heart. We must choose them over and over.

Believing God is real.

Believing what kind of God He is. That His rewards are deep. Better than we can imagine. They are for us, here and now- the reward of patience in impossibility. The reward of being able to love instead of reject. The reward of His character and mind thriving inside these flesh-temples. They are Loving. Perfect. Beautiful. We have no concept of the pleasure He takes in us. And we can’t begin to imagine the ecstasy that will envelop us as we stand, perhaps shoulder to shoulder with martyrs and the ancient Faith Heroes, and hear His words ring out across heaven’s majesty:

“Well done. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. ….enter into the joy of your Lord.”

The joy of your Lord.

What an amazing privilege.

 

Slow

It’s Saturday.

And it’s almost mid-November. And I made chicken and dumplings for the first time in a loooong time last night.

This week I have been simultaneously wanting to hibernate into a long winter’s nap (exhaustion from life, recently) yet knowing that I need to settle into a new rythym of sorts. A new normal.

Sometimes when life is crazy busy and you’re running from one thing to the next it’s just time to stop.

Just stop.

Stopping this week looked like school going by the wayside. I would think about it, feel guilty about it, but when I listened to  Sally Clarkson’s podcast I knew.

I knew that it was time to do a little caring for my own soul.

That looked like sitting down to knit on Friday.

It looked like making doughnut muffins for my kiddos Friday morning …just because.  It looked like chicken and dumpling comfort food Friday night.

It looked like letting my children play in their hay fort without requiring school to get done.

It looked like a stop at the library to bring home a dozen or so books and oh! The squeals of delight…!

(There is something thrilling about seeing your 12 yo get excited about books on King Tut and his tomb, and it helped me stop feeling guilty for not requiring 3 more math lessons be done this week. We are learning, in this house, and my children are learning to educate themselves with books and questions and all manner of self-direction.)

Who really said anyways that you were supposed to make sure you didn’t skip any school the first week of November?  I have to ask myself these kinds of questions- and I’ve heard several veteran homeschool moms say the same.

Again, we just needed to stop. To slow down.

I was able to enjoy coffee and a conversation with an older, wiser mama who encouraged me to keep pressing on.

I got to chat with another friend who is in the same place in life as I am, and we talked about keeping perspective fresh and truly loving our children.

We snuggled kitties, I listened to music that lifted my heart and soul, and vacuumed my floors because there is hay-bale remains everywhere.

I set a timer for a few minutes at a time and cleaned up my bathroom, my living room, and washed my dishes.

Stopping this week wasn’t necessarily about not working… it had to do with slowing my heart and mind down and thinking truth.

Listening to wise friends and mentors. Listening to God’s Word. Allowing stillness to penetrate my heart.

Slowing down.

Resting.

Break-neck speed wasn’t meant to be an environment for thriving.

So I rest. I rest my heart in His. I rest my need to get all the schoolwork done and lay that down too. I rest my concerns and wonderings about the future. The future isn’t mine anyhow.

I snuggled my girls up this afternoon and read a couple books and laughed along with 5 year old giggles about the mouse who needed milk with his cookies. I breathed in the scent of my 3 year old and marveled at the softness of her skin when she fell asleep in my arms within minutes (very.very.unusual) the other night.

I thanked my son for helping me wipe down the counters even though he was grouchy about it.

Seeing beauty is so much easier when we are slowed enough to look for it.

 

 

Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul


I am thankful.

I will not choose to be anything else.

I’ve begun several sentences to try to describe in a nutshell the last few weeks, and I just can’t figure out how to say it well, so I’ll just say it how it is.  (Many of you know this already, but still.  Hard to know how to encompass some circumstances in words.)  These past two weeks have been hard.  Just hard.  As hard as they could have been? No. Harder than anything I’ve faced yet? Yes.

And at the same time, it’s not the hardest place I have been. Hardest circumstances, perhaps.  But the sense of God’s grace and provision and the prayers of people we love have made the things we have been dealing with not go away, but the load has been made lighter, all the same. 

There is a very real sense of Emmanuel.  God with us. 

A very real sense. 

Fear. Anxiety.  The knowledge that perfect love casts out fear.  Hopelessness. The knowledge that love never fails.  Not knowing how to pray. The friend who says – we will pray on your behalf.  The sensation of flying blind. The knowledge that in Jesus, we are guided.  We are NEVER flying blind.  That in our weakness, His strength shines brighter than ever. Blind tears. The strength of my husband and seeing that strength in fresh ways that I never, ever have seen in all our nearly 13 years. 

I know less about parenting than I ever have.  I’m asking God what it looks like to truly love my child.

What is His heart toward my child? What does He think of them?  I’m asking Him to teach me how to mother, how to love.  I’m asking Him honestly.  Because I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever been in a place so empty of my own ideas or plans and just plain clueless on what to do next. 

So, with all that said, I’m thankful.  This is what I choose.  I am thankful for a good, good Father.  I’m thankful I serve a galaxy-builder.  That the God who lives in my heart is great enough to raise dead men from the grave and make dead hearts new and make me know that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that I can ask or think. 

He is so able.  

So able.  

So as we walk unknown paths, I choose to be thankful for many things, and these are a few.


the truth of God’s Word.

-the brilliance of the leaves out my window.  Orange, fiery red, fluttering to the ground, clinging to the trees who have borne them all season.  

-our four baby kittens and how my sweet girls mother them. Rocking, loving, talking to them as though they were their very own babies. 

-fire in the fireplace in the morning

-chilly nights and cozy soups

-hay-forts from the hay bales we used the other evening

-bread and wine, fellowshiping in His sufferings, realizing that His sacrifice was pure love, and He’s able to guide me in the same

-laying down in the quiet night, with a husband who prays with me for strength, guidance, and wisdom

-miss E – naming her kitty “Clifford” (pronounced Kiff-uhd) … after her favorite stories about Clifford the Big Red Dog.

-requests to read “Pa and Ma” (Little House on the Prairie)

-garlic breadsticks

-finishing the white lace blanket, blocking and folding its softness up

-kindness in all of its forms, from dear friend’s hugs and sweet children wiping my cheek with their palms. 

-taking a nap with my girls after a trying and tear-filled afternoon yesterday

-this gorgeous sunset

The Beauty of Mums, Bread, and Dishcloths

Mums.

Yum.

I have two yellow ones on my deck, and they shine bright and lovely every single day.

<exhale.>

My obsession with flowers continues.  But they sure are the happiest things, just sitting on my deck, minding their own beautiful business.  I believe in the power of intentionally surrounding ourselves with beauty.  It comes in all forms, and might just be a clean countertop or in my case – yesterday – an actual, for real, clean microwave.

There is a mulled cider candle on my mantle that is burning, and I lit a candle this morning on our table while we ate breakfast. Last night after cleaning my microwave I got in the notion to make some quick English muffin bread, too.  And ah. Fresh bread with butter for supper was a hit.  It wasn’t hard, didn’t require kneading, and was just amazing.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I shall post the recipe.  You really should go make some.


English Muffins in a Loaf

6 c. Flour

2 T. Yeast

1 T. Sugar

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 c. Milk

1/2 c. Water

Cornmeal

Combine 3 cups flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and soda.  Heat milk and water until very warm. (120-130 degrees) {or if you are like me and don’t want to mess with a thermometer, just heat your milk and water til it’s lukewarm, and dump your yeast in and stir it up nicely.}

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients.  Beat well.  Stir in the rest of your flour to make a stiff batter.  Spoon into two bread pans that have been greased and sprinkled with cornmeal.  Sprinkle tops with cornmeal.  Cover.  Let rise in warm place 45 minutes. Bake at 400 for 25 min.  Remove from pans, slice, and EAT WITH BUTTER. (Well. Or whatever you want.) 


This loaf is all that is left of the two I made last night. The original recipe says to slice and toast, which I did, just now, with the intention of taking a picture of toasted, buttered, English muffin bread yumminess.  However, I ate it before I toasted it. Or took a picture.  Oh well.
And you should really make the soup (Zuppa Toscana copycat – made with cauliflower instead of potatoes) to go with it.  You can feel all carb-free while you eat the soup, and then take a bite of luscious bread and remind yourself why carbs are good for the soul every once in awhile.

I’ve been knitting along on my blanket edging… almost halfway done.  It’s easy, mindless, and continuously beautiful.

Somehow my dishcloth situation has gotten precarious.  I seem to run out of dishcloths regularly, and because I cannot abide dishcloths with that certain aroma about them, I’m pretty much a stickler for changing them out often.  Yet, alas, I check my drawer, and there are none.  I found a few in the garage… I think they got used to clean a weedeater. Or hold a kitten because “Kittens need blankies, Mommy!”…   I broke down and bought a few, and then I thought – hey!  I knit! I crochet! I should be making my very own dishcloths!  So I did.  Just a simple granny square, with scalloped edging around the side, and another more complex (but not very) pattern with the same scalloped edging.  I used this Easy Crochet Dishcloth Pattern for the slightly more complicated one, and this Granny Square Dishcloth for the other one.   They were so quick…  crochet is hands-down so much quicker than knitting. And fun in its own way. After finishing the one and making a whole ‘nother one, my hands were very tired of working with cotton, so it was back to my delicious merino blankie again.

I made a second pot of coffee this morning, and this weather just calls for all the coffee and tea.  Rainy, chilly, sunny, blissful fall. Schoolbooks are strewn across my table.  I sent my children out to play, and they are down in their fort in the woods. The thought crossed my mind about calling them in for math drills and science, and then I just knew.  This weather will not last, and they will not be children forever.  There is, after all, a time for everything, and school is not only bookwork.  School is manners, and getting along, and fort building, and having your siblings as your best friends.

So I shall pour another cup of coffee, and let the children play.  When they are happy and outside and getting along, it is a sweet blessing, and one I do not take lightly.  I just might even take my knitting out to the deck to sit and beside my happy little mums awhile.   (Or until my fort-builders are ravenous for their lunch.) 🙂

Joining in with Nicole from her weekly Crafting On linkup, as well as Unraveled Wednesdays and A Wise Woman Builds Her Home.

Why being chosen changes everything

Nothing really had changed.  Things hadn’t gotten worse, or really better.  The same challenges, the same child, the same annoyances, the same every day tiredness.

I sat in my bedroom Saturday with nothing changed, just life and its messiness that no one else is here to see, and told my husband I just didn’t care anymore.  He knew, of course, that those emotions in the moment weren’t true, and gently reminded me that I really did.

But in the moment?  All I wanted to do was shower in peace.  Without someone crying, someone arguing.  To tell someone to do something and have them actually do it, for pete’s sake.  Without either a.) whining, b.)bothering someone else who is probably supposed to be doing something too, or c.)going out to the garage to check on the various wildlife/latest puppy escapade/weedeater

My panic button was flashing continuously, and all my warm and fuzzy autumnal moments were distant memories, even though they hadn’t been long removed.  In fact, it seemed as though all my overwhelm socked me in the gut and I was left breathing hard, lost, without a truth reminder to be found.

Tears leaked trails on my cheeks and I stared into space in our bedroom, my husband speaking calm to my heart.

I spent the weekend alternately doing mechanically the things that needed done, going to town by myself, desperately searching for things to calm my heart.  Praying, aching, and wondering what-in-the-world made it all seem impossible right now.

I hesitate to be too open about the challenges in our home.  One of my issues with writing is the tension between real life and a pretty picture that is only true some of the time.  I can post sweet pictures of family bliss, without writing about the tantrum being thrown off to the side.  So in my quest for joy, as well as my desire for honesty in my writing, I’m faced with writing about both, and hoping my heart comes through each time.  There is both gratitude and gritty, messy life happening at our house.

The truth that I know is that all of us have hard things in one form or another.  I also know that when we face those very challenges, we can too easily make them into something much bigger than they are.   I do this.  We have a hard day? Suddenly my mind is whirling with the hard future we are sure to face with the particular child we are dealing with.  A bad attitude?  Oh my, this one as a teenager is going to be impossible.

And all those thoughts are absolutely toxic.  Faithless.

I know this, but it’s just hard some days.  Just plain hard to remember truth when the lies fly fierce and fast toward my heart.  The all-too-familiar thought processes begin to seep in, wrapping tentacles of anxiety around my mind:  “Why me? What is wrong with us?  No other families have problems like this. I don’t have a clue what to do, and I’m pretty sure I never will. Other mothers are seated with their obedient and joyful children as they all learn quickly and then they all frolic happily in the meadow when school is over.”  (Mine frolic. Yes.  They do.  Not always happily.  And for some reason they like to frolic in and out the door, leaving it open much of the time, rather than spending their time in the meadow.) 

This weekend I was in full-on pity party mode.  And as a result, I started freaking out about every.single.behavior.  My children became people who were in my way, annoyed me, and I simply wanted to escape.  (Not sure if anyone who reads this can relate?)  Even though I KNOW that they are beautiful gifts, they don’t FEEL like it all the time. Especially when the shrill whistling (is it possible to whistle at the top of one’s lungs? If so, my children have it mastered.) never seems to end.

So that’s real life at our house.

I knew I needed a dose of truth.  A reminder of something.  Anything to re-focus my mind on what is true, good, lovely.   I’ve lived life when things aren’t awesome and had amazing perspective in the face of it all.  It can be done.  I know it can.

But how?

I know there are ways to focus my mind on things above.  I can shift my heart and mind into  praising God for progress. (I do.)  Praising Him for Spirit-help that moves me through my days.  I can (and do) thank Him for all the good He has in store for my family.  I can ask Him to show me how to love, how to cultivate an atmosphere of grace in our home.

And these things are all good, all a part of the necessary attitudes in facing whatever it is we are facing.

The thing is, it really doesn’t matter what it is that our Thing is.  Health? Children? Marriage? Addiction? Mundane? Money? Loneliness?

It just isn’t important what our thing is… that thing that dogs us, pestering us with snide reminders that pretend to be truth… telling us that if this thing were removed or fixed, we’d finally be ok.  We know life wouldn’t be perfect, say, but we would be free of this thing, and we could breathe freely, and walk a little more upright.

So as I wallowed in my emotional exhaustion this weekend, I kept asking this question in my heart.  “How can I continue to do this, day after day?  How can I regain perspective?”  

And after we had put everyone to bed last night, and I was cleaning up the popcorn bowls and grape juice cups, my dear, dear husband walked up to me and framed my face with his hands.

He looked deep into my eyes and said “Here is your word for the day:  ‘Elect’.”

I glanced quizzically at him, and he continued:  “Elect.  It means chosen.  Picked.  You’ve been chosen by God to fulfill what He has for you to do.  You’ve been chosen by Him.  You’re His favorite.  You’re who He wants. You’ve been chosen to be my wife, chosen to be the mother of these children.   But most of all? You’re chosen to be His.  His very own.”

Tears welled in my eyes.  The relief kind of tears you cry when suddenly all the world rights itself from its crazy off-kilter spinning, and everything makes sense.

I’m chosen.

He picked me.

He sees me as the apple of His eye.  His favorite.  Daddy’s little girl. He wants me.
There is nothing like acceptance, value, and a knowledge of who I am and who He has made me, and the fact that this means I get to call my King, “Abba” that makes me feel like I can take on the world.

Well, except He already did.  He took on the world.  And so often it feels like it’s all on my shoulders. Yet again, false perspective.

We sat down last night in our living room – I’d lit a candle and put up a few twinkle lights around the pumpkins on our mantle, and as I began to finish crocheting the edge on my new dishcloth, our conversation continued.

My husband reminded me that it’s only my job to do the best with what I know.  To pray, to stay humble, to cry out to our Lord for help.  To raise these children with faith, with hope, with love.  He reminded me that I need to stop freaking out all the time.  (Thank you, dear husband. Truth.)

It’s not my job to worry about the future.  To carry the world on my shoulders.  It’s not my job to try to fix behavior, even.  It’s my job to trust.  To keep coming back to the One who made me and the precious (yes, marvelous treasures) ones I have the privilege of teaching and loving each day.

So it’s what we do with what we have.  The thing that separates the hopeful and the hopeless is perspective.  It’s knowing Whose we are.  It’s choosing to do the right thing, over and over and over. And knowing that every single right choice is known by the Knower of All.  It changes everything.  Nothing circumstantially may have changed.  But this truth? It changes everything.

He sees us. 

We are not alone.

We are chosen.

Elect.
Romans 8:33 “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.”

 Books + tea + knitting + soup = autumn coziness 




Well, full-on swing of life is in progress here. And I’m taking a breather from it this afternoon with my mug of tea sitting quite companiably beside me. {sip.} Ahh.  Creamy, sweet basic black tea.  Just the perfect thing for a (for the moment anyways) quiet afternoon.  Hang on.  I need a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate too.  Be right back.

Make that two. 

There really isn’t any way to catch up in writing form all that’s been going on.  And none of it has been overly monumental anyways. So this post will be somewhat of a random mishmash of thoughts, what’s happening, things I’m thinking about. 
>> I menu-planned this month. This, Dear Reader, has been a lifesaver.  Not only did I menu plan, but I actually took note of what hamburger I needed and (drumroll.) browned it ahead of time and put it in the freezer, as well as made a meatloaf for one of our meals this month.  Let me tell you.  This way of living is much preferrable to not knowing what we are having at 4:30 p.m.   The deal is, I really do want to be an organized person.  And I love the way it feels when I am.  But I just haven’t been able to be consistent about it.   Anyways, I’m slowly learning.  And the relief of having that out of the way for the month is lovely.  I also wrote down meal ideas for breakfast and lunch.  
>>Fall is amazing.  I’m always looking for yellow leaves by June.  This month, with all of it’s pumpkin, apple, chili and candle-burning goodness thrills me every year. I drive down the roads and just marvel at the bright pops of color.  So bring on colder weather, I’m loving every minute.  (And this last week has been warm and humid. Bleah.  But at least it doesn’t look like it when you look out the window.)
>>Books, books, books.  The power of reading out loud.  The power of literature to teach.  We learn geography (reading about Napoleon in Story of the World turned into finding out where Siberia was, where the two islands where that Napoleon was sent to, etc.). We learn to understand writing that was from 100 years ago by reading old books aloud and becoming familiar with it’s sentence structure and different use of words.  We read poetry, and our current favorite is A.A. Milne.  We are reading “Now We are Six”, and it’s just so funny.  It’s like a more formal version of Dr. Seuss.  My recent secret to a day gone south is reading aloud. And this year in school, I’m attempting to start our days with a read-aloud during breakfast.  Sometimes it’s the Children’s Story Bible.   Sometimes it’s Wisdom and the Miller’s.  Sometimes it’s Little House on the Prairie.  And sometimes, like this morning, it was a news article on the wildfires in California.  (More on that later.)    Lately, every afternoon we gather in and get cozy with paper, pencils, or whatever other thing is interesting to do with their hands, and I read aloud then too.  Or we listen to an audiobook.  Right now, in the afternoons we are going back and forth between Little House on the Prairie and Streams to the River, River to the Sea.  And today, when I was too tired to do anything, we listened to the Moffats.  I know I’ve got a picture overload in this post of everyone reading, but I just seriously can’t stop taking pictures of my children doing the very thing I love so well. 
>>Tea time is more and more a tradition in our mornings.  A pot of chai, sweetened and milky provides the perfect background for our Morning Time lately.  Sometimes we have a snack to go with it, sometimes not.  Something simple, like cheese cubes or buttered toast, sometimes a handful of nuts. And lately I’ve been thinking that something yummy like muffins would be fun. Somehow it just makes learning even more special to have tea to sip while we read poetry or a picture book.    
>>The fires in California… there are always wildfires in California. But this year, it is sweeping across a lot of residential areas in Santa Rosa, and Napa Valley areas.  One of my cousins lost his home, and my aunt and uncle nearly lost theirs.  I’m so thankful they are safe, though I know that the loss of a home and neighborhood is devastating, to say the least. 
>>I’ve been amazed, again, at the power of God in the throes of parenting.  The power of His Spirit to guide.  And this morning when things were tense, I was reminded that my primary work is not simply to administer consequences and lectures.  My most important work is to be the image of Christ to my children.  To show them exactly what kindness looks like.  To offer a cup of water to the child who has tested me the most.  To perhaps serve first the child who has displayed lots of selfishness.  And the victory is ours in every situation.  Already!  
>>I’ve been knitting on this creamy, delicious lace baby blanket for much of the summer, and I just began the edging.  Pattern is Gaia on Ravelry.  I’m using Tosh Merino Light yarn in Antler, and it’s just perfect.  My only yarny complaint is that there have been several places in one of the skeins where the yarn was frayed, and nearly broken.  But the feeling of this single-ply yarn, and it’s subtle sheen just makes for a wonderful knitting experience overall. Which, after all, is my favorite part of knitting. I’m not obsessive about finishing projects, but the feel of yarn through my fingers, the excitement of casting on a new project… it gets me every time.  This blanket has many prayers stitched into it…. it’s for a friend who has been praying for a long time for a babe of her very own to hold close.  I’m going to be sad to see this project come to an end, but I have a fun apple green baby sweater for another friend that is going to be cast on as soon as I get this blanket blocked. 
>>More about books… I’ve been voraciously reading all sorts of things homeschooling and mothering related.  One book I had, and hadn’t ever read is called “Mother” but Kathleen Norris.  Oh, this book is a gem.  It was written in the early 1900s, and was an easy read, a story of a young woman whose life was dramatically impacted by her faithful and loving mother.  The one quote that smote my heart and I that I knew was meant exactly for me was as follows:

“….She secretly regarded her children as marvelous treasures, even while she laughed down their youthful conceit and punished their naughtiness.”

You see, I have lost this all too easily.  I become obsessed with behavior and get annoyed with the constant-ness of irritations and annoyances, and I forget that I am surrounded by beautiful, marvelous treasures. No matter what they are doing or not doing, I must always keep in view that my children are treasures straight from our Father – and He always, always gives wisdom and grace to accomplish the things He has for us to do.  I need this wisdom and grace on a moment by moment basis, and was so thankful for this reminder of just how important my persepective and thoughts toward my children really is. 

Other books I’m reading, in little bits and pieces – Pocketful of Pinecones, by Karen Andreola, Susanna Wesley, by Charles Ludwig, A Charlotte Mason Education, by Catherine Levison, and I’m not sure what else. In other words, I’ve started several of these books and switch around regularly.  Hopefully I’ll get done eventually with all of them. =)
>>Soups.  I made this variation of a soup recipe I found online last week … 

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup (for crockpot)

-4 cups chicken broth 

-1 pint diced tomatoes

-2 T. Tomato paste

-1 lb. ground sausage

-1 clove fresh garlic, minced

-Basil, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Garlic Salt to taste

-1 package of cheese tortellini (I accidentally got spinach cheese ravioli, this was good too.)

-1/2 cup of half and half

-1/3 block of cream cheese

—(I also added a pint of canned, blended yellow squash that made it extra thick and yummy, and didn’t change the flavor a bit!)

Place broth, tomatoes, paste, sausage, garlic and seasonings in crockpot and cook for 2-3 hours on high.  About 15-30 minutes before serving, turn to low and add cream cheese and half and half.  Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan!

I made this for some friends of mine for lunch last week and they loved it.  I had some left over, so I added more of everything to it, (including the squash the second time around) and we had it for supper with some pumpkin muffins.   Yum!!
Happy October, friends.  🙂

Linking up with Nicole from Frontier Dreams and