..all the random happy..







It’s quiet in my house.  And that is luxury.  I’ve got a cup of cold brew beside me and the evening light is fading, the lamps are shining softly in my living room, and my dishwasher is washing most all my dishes.

There’s just a lot to be thankful for, and my heart’s been swelling with it all.

Miss E…. The way her soft little hands frame my face when she wants me to look at something, or wrap tight around my neck in a hug. How she says “I have a SQUISHY TUMMY” and giggles. And just how right she is about that. Everything about her is squishy. Even her gold curls.

Miss A is my Chief Egg-Getter.  She is so proud to bring in all the eggs she finds, and carries them in her skirt, or her coat pockets, or dress pockets…. we have only had a few mishaps.  And the way she carefully holds her skirt and takes it outside to shake out the shavings from the chicken pen.

-The relaxed rhythm of schooldays.  The getting into a routine that works for us, most days, that isn’t too stressful.  I’m learning and re-learning that pushing my children to perform and get lots done is counterproductive to a well-rounded and balanced childhood.  Igniting sparks of interest, and feeding their curiosity is such a fun and exciting way to learn.  Letting their interests guide a lot of what we do….. and requiring excellence and neatness in what they are doing, without forcing large quantities of schoolwork is proving to be a good fit for us.

My newfound admiration and perhaps addiction to tulips and fresh flowers? Oh my, there are orange and pink ones on my counter now. They sure do bid a cheery good morning, perhaps especially the one with a mind of its own.

-Sweet and hot pickles from Kroger … yum.   They go really well with the crusty bread I got off the discount rack last night,  and a small slab (hmm. Is there such a thing?) of muenster cheese.

-I finished my second shrug, all but the button.  Yay!  Started on the third last night and hope to get a lot done this weekend.

-Went to a sweet friend’s house today… the children played all day… her kind, kind 16 year old who showed my boys his calves… shot targets with them on his .22, treated them with respect and gifted my youngest little man with a leather cowboy hat that he had outgrown (they go quite well with his leather chaps)… We ate salad and peach dessert and drank really yummy tasted-like-a-coffee-shop-cappucino coffee/espresso that she made us with her little Italian coffeemaker.  I knitted and her girls crocheted and played with mine, and we talked about sewing little girl dresses (she is amazing at that kind of thing) and her mom stopped by and gave me crochet pointers.  It was a lovely day in all respects and I was sad to see it end and filled up with all the happy fullness that friendship brings.  My children piled in to go home and announced that we needed to come back tomorrow.

Everyone is well now.  No sickness, no sniffles, everyone is running and playing and arguing again, just as though those weeks of sleeplessness and fever and everything were gone.  Isn’t that how life is? We go through trials, (big ones, hard things, emotional challenges that leave us thinking the world is halting) and then later on we have different things. Good things, maybe different hard things.  But we are stronger and the hard of the last thing fades a bit and we move on to the next.  One of my mom’s favorite quotes, said with a twinkle in her eye – “When it says it came to pass, it means just that.  It comes to pass.”  My mom’s full of wisdom.  But that could be another whole post by itself.  Or possibly a series. 

-Dove chocolate is a gift. I confess I hid in the bathroom with several the other day. My kids can smell chocolate/hear the crinkle of a wrapper from a mile away.  But I may have locked the door.  Just in case.  Funny how they never seem to have heard me when I tell them to clean their room/fold laundry/empty the dishwasher?

California oranges. We still have a fridge drawer full.  They are juicy and bright and never disappoint with any kind of lackluster flavor.  I mean, these things are a dessert all by themselves.  I am so thankful for every single one we stuffed and crammed into any and all available spaces in our suitcases and carry ons.

Her and her kitties.  They are wrapped and held and rocked and loved and named and renamed and sung to…. it reminds me of me when I was little.  I was in love with kitties then… and it’s just kind of sweet and thrilling to see your girl love something like you did. Today she was in her fleece nightgown, singing all the made-up songs and being a little mama to her “Fluff” kitty.

-Sometimes she comes up and says “I have a lot of kisses in my bucket for you.”  “A lot” sounds like “a wot” and I’m not anxious for it to change.  Growing up seems to happen all too quickly.


{yarn along}: when all you want to do is the new project








Oh my.  I have a new love.  

I’m still a little surprised, because for some reason, as a pompous knitter, I thought crochet was lesser somehow. 

I mean, people would talk about crochet, and I would think, yeah, well, that’s nice.  And sometimes I would be very impressed with what people made.  But surely it couldn’t be as spectacular as knitting, could it? 

I was very naive.  

Very.

Now a year or so ago, I decided I wanted to learn how to crochet, because I thought I really ought to be able to master it.  So I started following some basic instructions, and learned how to chain, and single crochet.  But I didn’t get very far and chalked it up to the fact that sure enough, I was right, crochet just must be something that wasn’t for me. Ah well, I was a happy knitter. 

Then.  I noticed a few things that knitting just couldn’t accomplish. 

Namely the granny square. 

And oh, me oh my, I fell hard.

  

Yes, this is something I needed in my life.  Must have granny square blanket in vintage colors. 

My determination was renewed. 

And fortuitously (that’s just a great word, isn’t it?) we had a babysitter here the other night (which was a whole ‘nother blessing in and of itself – my dear hubby and I got to go out to eat and indulge in chips and salsa at the new Mexican restaurant – my steak tacos were amazing – and get my glasses fixed and go to Sam’s and Walmart and lots of romantic things like mattress shopping) and when we got home — I remembered that she crochets! So I whipped out my crochet book, yarn, and hook, and asked for a few tips, and got started.  

And so guess what.  Shrugs are nice, and pretty, and fun.  But they are not my mustard yellow cotton granny square.  My beautifully fun crocheting.  I’m sensing another rabbit hole.  I even enjoyed a few stitches along while sipping coffee from the lovely, vintage mug-that-matches-my-yarn that was gifted to me by an equally (well, much more so, really) lovely friend. 

But alas, there are shrugs to finish and school to teach, so I shall restrain myself and do the adult thing and work on my knitting. (Oh man, I feel almost like I’m betraying my first love.  But it’s like children.  There is always more love in the heart for more than one.) But come a month from now, I’m going to be crocheting to my heart’s content, yes ma’am.

In other news, shrug #2 is on it’s way nicely to the finish line.  One half a sleeve left and it will be as good as done. Yay! 

Tonight for supper I made a copycat version of Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana soup..  It was a low carb version, as in I switched out the potatoes and used cauliflower.  This honestly is my family’s favorite soup. And I’m always surprised by this, just because at first glance it doesn’t exactly sound kid-friendly.  But every single one of my children lap it up.  Even the 2 year old who completely fell apart at the thought of having to try one bite of very unsophisticated broiled tilapia last night.  

Basically, I don’t even use a recipe… I just put water and as many bouillon cubes as makes it taste broth-y, browned sausage (tonight I put minced fresh garlic and an onion in to brown with the sausage-YUM), a couple bags of frozen cauliflower, frozen or fresh chopped kale, red pepper flakes to taste, salt and pepper, and then at the very end, some half and half. Voila’ – yummy soup. Oh, and I baked some bacon (if you haven’t ever tried this, go do it. Now. Lay bacon on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes.  Done. Very little mess.) and chopped it up for us to top the soup with.  So it sort of felt like we were gourmet tonight except it wasn’t hard or time consuming.  Yay!! 

I’m still (if I’m honest, I’m barely beginning) reading the Insanity of God and wow.  This book is so raw, it’s hard to describe. I’m going slowly, partly to savor and partly because that’s all I’ve had time for.  The author has just went to Somaliland and observed the devastation there… describing it from the viewpoint of a middle class American who is walking into a war-torn country in the early 90s. He describes the land mines. The fact that children can’t go out to play.  The lack of food and shelter.  The utter devastation of a country.  My heart was in my throat as I sat in my comfortable chair reading what’s a reality for so many people. Today.  Tonight.  This past week. 

I think of Syria…. and Aleppo and all I want to do is find a way to help, to pray, to somehow make a difference.  And reminded, once again, to not take my blessings for granted.  We can’t fix the world’s many problems.  But we can love each other well.  We can pray.  We can educate ourselves on what is going on outside our familiar circles. And God will show us how best we can be a blessing to those around us and those who are in need. 

Blessings to you this week as you knit, crochet, and love your people! =)

Joining Nicole from Frontier Dreams 

a wretch His treasure

How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
Click the above link and listen while you read
..So yesterday I was reading in John as the sun peeked up over the hills out my living room window… My coffee was in hand, and my littlest was doing a decent job of sitting quietly with a book.   I opened to John 14, where Jesus says these words in verse 23.

“…If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him.” 

My Father will love him. 

Will. Love.

I looked up the meaning of love here and the word is agapao.  

Agapao :  

To take pleasure in.

To long for.

To esteem. 

To regard the welfare of.

To prefer.

To prize above other things.

To be unwilling to abandon or do without.


My heart got swollen with a type of near-disbelief as these words sunk in. God the Father, he takes pleasure in me. He longs for me.  He esteems me (Webster’s definition of esteem is respect and admiration).  He regards my welfare.  He truly cares about me.  He prefers me.  He prizes me above other things.  He was unwilling to abandon me or do without me. 

My other children were trickling into the living room as the sun climbed a bit higher and shone soft and bright through my window and on the grass that’s bright green by now. My coffee was cooling, I got another cup and resumed my study amid several conversations with the 4 year old and 9 year old. 

Almost breathless, I contemplated what this meant.  And how in the world have I missed this all these years?  Oh I have always known that He loves me.  

Jesus loves me, this I know.  

Oh love of God, how rich and pure.  

Oh, how He loves you and me…

A love that goes from east to west, and runs as deep as it is wide…

Did the authors of these songs have the same awestruck realization? That this God is a lover? That He is passionately in pursuit of my heart?  That as He creates and forms each new life, He does so with such intensity of love that we cannot even begin to imagine the plans He has for us? 

Slowly, I realized that this basic truth I had stumbled upon has been shrouded and covered up in my heart as a doctrine.  The doctrine of God’s love.  It’s been hidden under deflated expectations.  The hard things in life.  You know, when you know God’s good but life isn’t? And it’s all too easy to mesh the two underneath the idea that if God was good and He loved me then this awful things or that diagnosis or whatever wouldn’t be happening.  Oh and then… the other illlusion. That when I’m good, I know he smiles.  (And thinks ‘It’s about time‘.) When I’m not, He surely is frowning.  Or frustrated.  Or maybe indifferent and moving on to pay attention to the other child of His who has a lot better handle on loving their children well, ministering cheerfully to the needy, the one who is sweet and kind to their husband so much more often.. 

This is outright deception

The accuser, the Lucifer of condemnation and darkness has blinded the eyes of our understanding. And somehow shone this twisted thinking into our minds in such a way that it’s what looks like true truth.  

A God that longs for me?  That refuses to abandon me?  That prizes me above all else?  This is the God that thought of me and chose the cross for His Son.  This Abba Daddy God chose nails and lashes and grief and blood and piercing for His precious Son… because He refused to be separated from me.  

Oh, my heart.  This is why the cross.  

He saw me, filled with Him, and even before that, while I wasn’t – He sent Jesus.  His Beloved.  And longed for me. Longed for me to see.  To see Him with arms wide, running as only the Master of the Universe can run towards His daughter… 

And planned my destiny while His Son hung broken, ragged skin, eyes glazed in pain.  Everything that hangs on a tree is cursed.  Jesus became my sin, became my yelling, my anger, my self-lashing, my misunderstanding.  He became our murder and pornography and lust and stealing and selfishness and pride.  

He became this because He saw the value of who I am and who you are when His holiness is on us and in us.  We don’t have to try harder or be better, we simply need to begin to believe that He has filled us.  That all that He is, is ours. 

 His love and righteousness has made us beautiful.  He says so.  

We aren’t slaves any longer and I’m not interested in the lies that the deceiver has whispered for so long that says who I’m not.  This understanding of how God thinks about us is the key to everything. If I know who I am, if I understand my position as a loved and valued and healed and admired daughter, it changes it all.  This is who I am now.  This is my birthright, adopted into the family of the Most High.   

This is a love I haven’t even scratched the surface of.  But I’m newly determined.  And even in that determination, I know He’s cheering me on, whispering truth and love-words and excited to share more with all of us.  He wants us to know. 


To see how deep the Father’s love for us.  

And how vast beyond all measure.  
….The sun’s up now, my children are riding brooms like horses  and planning picnics, reading books, carousing like the carefree and loved littles that they are.  

We are too, you know? Loved.  

And we can become as little children too.  And be carefree. Because He’s got this.  And He’s got us.  

If He’d let His son do what He did for the express reason that He couldn’t abandon me or you, we can run wild and close our eyes. We can know that the future is held and our welfare is secure in the capability of a Creator and a Lover whom in our wildest dreams we can’t fathom the aching depths of His love for us. 

That He would give His only Son, 

to make a wretch – 

His Treasure. 


yarn along: continuing the shrug saga + just him and I


I’m sipping free Starbucks as I write, sitting in Infusion Room #1 at the hospital.  Mr. E is here for an infusion that helps his nephrotic syndrome go into a prolonged remission… which = much less prednisone, not to mention all the other things that go along with relapses.  After experiencing 3 of these relapses since January, we are very excited to come have his infusion.  He has had it twice before, and it basically means we spend the day here while he sits in a recliner and sleeps/eats/does schoolwork/listens to audiobooks.  So far the sleeping has been priority #1, due to Benadryl that they use to help with side effects of the infusion.  I am so thankful for the doctors who knew my son before I did… diagnosing him and walking with us through this syndrome.  They told me today that they are still hoping for him to outgrow it by adolescence.  We know God is in control, and simply coming up and being on this particular floor is sobering. This is where the children come who need chemotherapy.  Everything is bright and white and geared towards children.. they do an excellent job of making this a pretty place.  Yet we are here, thankful that one dose of medication seems to make it possible for us to visit rarely.  I’m pretty sure that this kind of easy is not commonly seen on this floor.

We got up at 5:30, and got here in time for his 9 am appointment, and we will probably be here til late afternoon.  I went across the road desparately in search of some coffee… and lo and behold, the hotel that has a sort-of Starbucks in it poured my coffee, gave me cream, and said — “We are actually closed – Enjoy!”  I was thrilled.

I’m hoping to get plenty of knitting done today… working hard to get this shrug done, and hoping to finish it within the next week.  I’m working on the thing that goes around the outside, forgetting what it’s called… duh.  Anyways it feels like it’s taking forever. As soon as that’s done, I’m on to the sleeves which won’t take any time at all.  I’m doing well on yarn – plenty left, but I’ll have to admit I’m a bit nervous just because I have a deadline… it’s for a wedding… I want it to look right… all those things. =)

I just started reading this book, “The Insanity of God“, by Nik Ripken.  I’ve heard that this book is amazing, and life-changing, and a perspective-shifter.  I can’t wait to dig in further. For starters – the author’s name isn’t his real name, and he has changed the names of the people whose story he tells as well.  They are in danger, they are the persecuted church, and he is attempting to give them a voice as well as protect them in the process.  But this book is a personal journey of the author’s faith and the way God revives it…

….

Thankfully we all seem to be feeling better after the Two Epic Weeks of Yuck... I am so. Thankful. For a full night’s sleep. Whew. Seriously.  Sleep is something I could wax poetic about right about now.  It is so great to see my children running around again and being silly and playing and even having the energy to fuss.  (Yes, I can’t believe I’m thankful for this?!)

Yesterday I spent the day with two dear friends… we have begun a tradition of getting together every two months for the day, no kids, since we all homeschool and random get-togethers just don’t happen anymore. It was so, SO good.  They came over to my house after all my munchkins walked up to grandma’s house for the day, and we enjoyed a cup of coffee before heading out to lunch.  We ate at a fun restaurant and shared bacon and blue cheese waffle fries, (yes, that’s a thing, and it was amazing) and laughed and talked about all the important and pressing things.  We solved several of the world’s problems, I’m pretty sure.  Plus we had a chance to talk about the things we are all going through…  and just encourage each other to keep on keeping on.  Each of us have different hard things, yet we each have a testimony of how God is working and smoothing us into His image.

Well, the infusion is halfway finished, Mr. E.’s working on his long division, and I’m thinking it’s time to stop blogging about knitting and pick up my needles and actually do it!  At least, that is, until more coffee calls my name… my first cup is empty and I just might have to go in search of more soon… = )

Joining Ginny from Small Things

{yarn along} tulips + all the sickies

Joining Ginny from Small Things

       







I’m sitting here with a sick one on my lap… we have been a sorry lot for the last week and a half.
We got home from California, and within 4 days my eldest got some sort of short-lived fever and cough which triggered a relapse with the kidney syndrome he has. They are usually a 1-2 week ordeal, with large doses of prednisone to get his kidneys back to working properly. I have a love/hate relationship with prednisone. It does help him, so much.  But the side effects?  They are awful.  Last week there were many sleepless nights, as well as some rough days. It appears Mr. E. is over the worst of it since the weekend, which is awesome because the Man got fever and chills and all manner of yuckiness that he is still fighting off. And for two days/nights my two little girlies both had fevers. (Notice the pictures are of them sleeping peacefully? Yeah.  That wasn’t the whole story.  I just took the pictures because a.) they are so sweet when they are sleeping and b.) it was such a sweet relief to see them resting peacefully.)

Like I said, we have been a sorry lot.

On Wednesday, I left to make a Walmart run while the girls and my hubby slept.
As I drove out the driveway I realized I had been out of the house just once during the day for nearly two weeks. I felt like flying as I drove through the sunshine and all the blooms and green-grass glory beside the roads.  First stop was Dairy Queen and a mint oreo blizzard. Self care while being nursemaid was a high priority. Walking through Walmart was pure luxury. And I did not hurry. 

That was when I spotted these. I’m pretty sure they have healing properties….!


They now grace my counter, the table beside my chair, and my windowsill. Such happy, beautiful things they are. Tulips are one of my favorite flowers. I rarely buy flowers, but I’m thinking I may need to make more of a habit of it. Seriously. They aren’t that expensive, and some days (read, weeks with sick children) just call for a little extra brightness. 

I decided that we needed chicken noodle soup, and I’ve heard that bone broth is excellent for healing. We had a couple chicken thighs leftover in the fridge… so I threw them, along with celery, carrots and onion in a pot and simmered it all on low over night. In the morning,  I took the bones out, added some more chicken, and some spinach that was soon to be headed to the chickens if not used, and some spaghetti noodles.
Oh, goodness. It was goodness in a bowl. It got rave reviews at lunchtime from my boys who ate at least 3 bowls each, and I do believe we will be having it again for supper. This is where I don’t think we will be having too much of a good thing.
Peppermint tea, honey, apple juice, Motrin, lots of baths, emergen-C, toast, chicken noodle soup. Tulips. Warm quilts. Lots and lots of sleep. I’ve got my arsenal and I’m ready to keep on nursing my lovelies back to health. We have so much to be thankful for. I’m hoping for sleep tonight… thankfully  fevers were gone last night, though one of the girls was complaining of an earache. I’m really hoping we don’t have an ear infection on our hands.  
Not much knitting done lately, but when I can I am working on the shrugs. I’m making progress, probably halfway to 2/3 done with shrug #2. As for reading, there are a couple sweet children’s books that we have read aloud lately. Mrs. Mack by Patricia Polacco made me cry, and is a true story from the author’s childhood. New Shoes for Sylvia by Johanna Hurwitz is a sweet story that every little girl will love. I love to watch Ms. A enjoy books…. she wants to hear the same stories read over and over. 
I have been reading Love Him Anyway by Abby Banks. Wow… this book is the true story of a brave mama whose baby boy wakes up paralyzed one morning and her decision to find joy and allow God to work in her life in spite of the hard. The author is real and raw and details their journey beautifully. I highly recommend this book. It’s not long, and I’m seriously inspired. I want to go through this life and deal with everything God gives from a place of surrender and joy. I don’t do this nearly like I want to. I mess up regularly when it comes to dealing with hard things. Yet I’m moved and motivated as I read this book, knowing that I can know God is working and equipping me for all He has called me to. As I heard in a sermon the other day… 

We aren’t here to just survive the storms, we are here to SHINE.


I will say when it comes to knitting, I’ve got a hankering for a lace project. Something light, and maybe with nupps. Mmmm pointy needles, wispy yarn… I think I’m gonna start looking for patterns. Maybe a shawl or heirloom baby blanket in the Shetland tradition? Something square or round. Lots of lacy goodness. I’ll be dreaming of this while I finish shrug #2 and shrug #3…. 

{yarn along} : unhurried + little pink shrug take 2

Joining Ginny

I know, I know.  It’s kind of a rerun from last week.  But I did get started on a new shrug, which is exciting!  {My model for the sweater was into doing all sorts of crazy faces. If you hadn’t noticed already.} So all that is left on shrug take one is the button.  Something wooden, most likely.  Yesterday I got in a row or two while teaching long division.  And as I knitted and made one left and made one right I was thankful that teaching math comes in small bites.  (Whew.)

I love the feeling that comes when your child has that “Aha! ” moment!  Especially when you have explained the same things for the umpteenth squared time.  He got it.  And I could’ve danced around the room when he began to fly through those problems instead of laboring over each one.  This is just one reason I am so glad we homeschool.  It’s not easy, many days are hard, we are challenged with just the logistics of people in each other’s space for this many hours at a time.  Honestly, I’m challenged with this as much or more than anything.  I said I wouldn’t ever homeschool, (!! Ha! Never say never!) and yet now I can’t imagine anything else.  Well, I can imagine mornings having coffee with other moms and a quieter house.  But I can’t really imagine not having them here with me.

For all of the chaos and arguing, for all the weariness and too-often questioning myself and whether I am doing ok and hopefully not ruining my children, there are relationships being built at our kitchen table. There are memories being made while the forts are being built.  The traditions of stories and tea, (however irregular some of those traditions can be some weeks) are things I hope these little ones never forget.

Which brings me to the book I am reading, The Unhurried Homeschooler by Durenda Wilson.  Oh me, oh my.  This is my new favorite book.  The tag line alone caught my heart and made me exhale.   “A simple, mercifully short book on homeschooling”.  

Aaaahhhhh.

So the other night, I filled my bath with hot-as-I-could-stand and lots of bubbles, sank in, devoured part of it, set the book down, and promptly splashed just enough water out to get my nice, brand new sigh-of-relief-in-the-form-of-a-book nice and wet. Thankfully it’s not ruined, and I picked it up again yesterday.  This book is from a mama who has been there and done that with 8 children. And it, like Teaching from Rest did a year ago, is confirming so many things that God has already brought to my heart. Gentle learning environment. Keeping things simple.

This quote:

The latest trend to “educate early” is in direct opposition to nature. The child’s level of development plays a huge part in their ability to grasp whatever we are trying to teach them. ….If it’s interesting to them, they will learn so much more.   … In fact, studies show that in two or three years, a child can learn everything they need to know for success in high school and college.”


I love this –

“You have a God-given compass inside you when it comes to raising your children…”

Just as a sidenote – this woman has several children who are finished with school,  some who are in college and several whom she is teaching at home still. She speaks of their children who are in high school now being fully engaged with their education because they have had time to explore and discover.

When someone writes from experience, it gives so much meaning to to their words.  And she speaks of listening to her intuition.  Laying self-doubt aside. Being unhurried.  Not despairing over the seasons of making meals, changing diapers, and trying to keep the house falling apart, because children are always, always learning.  It may be that sitting down to read a book is the very best thing for the day. And the most necessary!

Yesterday we managed to get in our read-aloud we hadn’t picked up for awhile, “The Story of the Treasure Seekers” by Edith  and later on when the girls were napping we started our Story of the World we just got, and read about Lewis and Clark. We are also reading Seaman – a story about the dog that travelled on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.  The TruthQuest spiral bound book pictured is what I have been using for our history curriculum. It is excellent and gives chronological book recommendations throughout history, as well as brief overviews that are quite compelling.  Both Story of the World and Seaman are recommended (along with a whole HOST of other options).

It’s a beautiful Wednesday here… shining sun and children racing outside with bananas for a snack and plans to act out the Underground Railroad since Mr. J just devoured “The Drinking Gourd”  (by F.N. Monjo).  It  talks about slavery and a little boy who figures out that his home is a stop on the Underground Railroad, and that slaves are to follow the Drinking Gourd (Big Dipper) north to freedom.

There’s apple pie and more coffee in the coffee pot, if you don’t mind the scattered legos and laundry everywhere, stop in and we’ll knit and chat a bit! = )

Spring Fever

It’s 1:30 and the girls should be down for a nap by now.  But…. 69 degrees.  Need I say more?  Bike riding, voluntary raking up the yard, and he told me he was making an Indian chief hat.  They have been bringing me all manner of flowers found blooming.. and it’s adorable.  Most of the time they come in with clumps of green leafy weeds and these tiny purpley-blue flowers poking out.  Spring’s everywhere.  

We had tea at 11:30 while play dough got formed into hamburgers and pizza slices and tootsie rolls. I read aloud from “Boyhood and Beyond” that just came in the mail the other day, and sighed with an inward joy at how tea and reading out loud makes a day come alive.  It makes it easy to find joy.  I was interrupted often, there are squabbles that broke out, and we didn’t finish the chapter.  But truly.  School was art and sculpting with play dough, listening to a story about telling the truth and making good choices, and tea – (it was declared “TODAY IS THE BEST SCHOOLDAY EVER” when I announced my last minute idea to do so). 

It’s a good reminder to me.  Morning Time in our school has had different flavors… sometimes very short, often not at all because I get too caught up in the importance of completing workbooks… and today we needed to gather back in close again.  Trips are lovely, and yet coming home is a restoring of routine, gathering things and putting away, making our meals and tasting the goodness of how sweet home really is.  

Chicken with seasoning is baking slow in the oven, I’ll probably make some baked rice to go with it.  I had a fresh tangerine from California for lunch, and it just tasted like sunshine. My washer and dryer are humming, and the boys have been folding clothes and sweeping and helping with gusto today. We told them if they were willing to make an extra effort in being cheerful in their regular chores, we would give them extra opportunities to make money with other chores around the house they don’t typically do.  Mr. E is focused on earning money for a red bloodhound (He just read Where the Red Fern Grows and loved it), and Mr. J has decided he wants to earn money to buy a rabbit.  I have no idea if the enthusiasm will last, but it sure is nice in the meantime. 

Our weekend looks busy… both with my sister in law’s bridal shower and helping with food for a viewing and funeral of a sweet man in our church who has battled cancer for the last while.  Life, death, change.   Today is one day filled with moments, and all of the small and mundane make up the life we will one day look back on.  That’s why today I decided that I wanted to pull my children in close to me and teach them truths rather than assign pages.  There is a time for everything, and next week it will be time to pull out the math books again.  But this week, margin and breathing space needed to be first on the schedule.  

We weren’t made to hurry all the time.  Fast-paced living doesn’t give us room to grow, to taste, to truly experience the blessings God heaps. Sunshine.  Tangerines.  Tea. Fresh Laundry. Slowly passing a hot iron and making a shirt crisp.  Breathing thanks for the husband who will wear it. Ice water. Rocking. Story -reading. Noticing the green of the fields and the contrast of spindly and leafless trees eagerly readying for spring.   We need to do these things for our children and for ourselves.  It’s a free extravagance, this slowing down…  

Each moment, a gift itself.  

I think I’ll go make another pot of coffee.  And enjoy every sip. =)

{yarn along} :: little pink shrug + returning home

Joining Ginny                                                                                                                              


I’ve been working on the first of three little pink shrugs that will be worn by my girls and my niece for the upcoming wedding of my brother in law and soon-to-be sister in law. This one is completed except for a wooden button and blocking, and I’m ready to start on the second.  Wedding is in April… and I began this one the end of January. So I’m hoping that the combination of the familiarity of the second time around + about 2 months til the wedding will = getting them done on time.   I’m not overly worried about it, but I know I don’t have any extra wiggle room. The pattern is Miss Daisy, and it’s delightful to make.  I’m using Malabrigo Rios in English Garden, and the color is so girly and sweet it’s just a pleasure to work on.  Truly it’s a quick knit.  I’ve not worked on it constantly at all, and it’s really only taken about 3-4 weeks of sporadic knitting to get this one mostly finished.  They will wear them with little cream dresses that my sister in law is making.. and I was thrilled to be doing the knitting part and to let her do the sewing part.  Sewing is definitely something I’d like to get better at, and do more of… but I’d much rather sit down with my needles and yarn at this point. 

I’m almost finished with A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker.  It’s excellent.  The story line follows a young Bedouin woman who meets Jesus in a life-changing encounter.  I’m looking forward to the next one, A.D. 33.   The other book I’m reading, AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, is a very interesting story about a man who walked the entire Appalachian Trail and journaled his experiences as he went.   It’s a kindle book, and was free, and it’s been a fun, mindless read. I’m not a hiker.  At all.  So I can’t fathom actually doing something like this for fun – I would much rather read about it, thank you very much.   

This morning we are home from a not-quite two week trip to California…. and I am on my 3rd cup of coffee.  It’s an absolute delight to sit in my very own chair, with the sunlight streaming warm onto the familiar quilt wrapped around my feet…  There really is nothing like coming home.  It was such a good trip.  Good to see friends and reconnect… to see my parents and brother and niece… to have the privilege of another few times beside my grandma.  I thought a lot about what home means and how interesting it is that California still feels like home, yet I came home last night and this is home.  I wish that it was possible to gather all of “my people” and have them be in one place.  All the family, all the kindred spirits, all the special people that have known me and that I have known my whole life. 

There is something so comforting about being around people who know your story, your roots, your family.  Who know what you were like when you were little (well, most of the time that’s comforting)….   It can be a challenge in all of life to find that balance between enjoyment of things without gripping onto them too tightly.  Holding loosely onto blessings.  Enjoying them for what they are.  Knowing that change comes, and it’s good to grow and learn. 

Last night we stopped to get a few essentials on our way home from the airport.  It had been a long day – up since 2:30, long flights, tired kids and tired us, a screaming 2 year old on the 2.5 hour drive home from the airport… disconnect and misunderstandings between my husband and I that had went on for too many days.   And as I walked through the familiar aisles of Walmart, a small reminder edged its way into my heart.   

Thank Me.

So I did.  

Small, seemingly insignificant things. 

Thank You that I am walking. 

Thank You for the bread in my shopping cart.  And whipping cream for my coffee in the morning.

Thank you for fresh oranges in our suitcases. 

Thank You that my children aren’t sick anymore.

Thank you for my husband.

Thank you for a safe trip home.

I got in the vehicle and we drove home, and I forgot about thankfulness for a bit while there were still annoyances and a tired 2 year old and a smelly garage from kittens when we got home. 

But then I remembered again. 

Thank you for my bed.

Thank you for the soft cheeks and sweet kisses.

Thank you for the words “Rock me, Mommy”.

Thank you for boyish excitement over being home.

Thank you for renewed friendship.

Thank you for a long-overdue talk with my husband.

It’s always a perspective-shifter.  And I seem to need the reminder on a very regular basis. (Which is possibly -no it IS why it’s a common theme in my blog posting. – Sorry for the redundancy, dear reader.)

It doesn’t automatically make all the yuck go away.  The 2 year old still screams, the communication issues are still there, there are still messes everywhere I look this morning.  But somehow, the light shifts on everything and the mercies and joys are glowing a bit more, rather than being hidden behind a cloud of mundane. 

Today I’m not rushing anything, I’m still savoring the memories of the last few weeks, and I look forward to cooking supper in my own kitchen this evening.  We aren’t doing school because my kidlets need to run and play and build blocks and Legos, and fix eggs and hold kitties. 

It’s good to be home.

of the mercies of the Lord

It’s her favorite song.

For as long as I can remember, and I’m thinking for as long as my dad can remember too.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever – 

I will sing, I will sing….

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever,

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord.

With my mouth, will I make known  

Thy faithfulness, thy faithfulness

With my mouth, will I make known, 

Thy faithfulness to all generations!

She was wearing green, fuzzy socks. The ones that keep warm the feet that do not walk anymore. The ones that Miss E declared as “pitty socks!”, while running her tiny hand over those old, grandma feet…

She stared at me, and I didn’t know if she knew who I was, those bright and snapping brown eyes, the ones like my own. I thought surely there was a sparkle of recognition, and I leaned down and tried to hold that sweet, clenched hand. Her arms and hands moved involuntarily, all over.  Her eyes wouldn’t stop looking up and around, over the ceiling, across my tribe of sober and not-sure children, who only get a chance to see her once a year.

My youngest wanted to hold her hand, and did so as we sang..

Blonde ringlets framed the sweet 2 year old lips that leaned in to kiss this old cheek that contorted and constantly moved around.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord, forever…..

Oh, Parkinson’s.  This disease has ravaged her body and mind, and yet…..

and yet.

We began to sing and her voice began to hum the tune of this favorite of hers. We sang Jesus Loves Me, and when we got done, she immediately said: “Oh, that was pretty.”

I will sing.. I will sing…

We sang again our current family favorite – “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and she began to sing the words with us.  It was so beautiful. My sweet grandma’s old voice blended in a harmony that was better than perfectly in tune with my slightly off-key 2 and 4 year old little girls, and  9 and 11 year old boy-voices. We took a few pictures, and sometimes she would focus back in on me, and I told her that it surely wouldn’t be long before she was able to be with Jesus, and walk around without her wheelchair and be able to run and dance and sing and talk with abandon.

With my mouth, will I make known, The faithfulness….

She hummed about His faithfulness to her even as she wasn’t able to get the words out.

To all generations.

Tonight I laid on the floor between my two girlies and the questions began to flow.

“Mommy, will grandma Mildred die? Will she go see Jesus?

And the pretty angels?

Mommy? Does grandma have an ouchy body?

Why will she die?

How will she get up to heaven?

I answered as best I knew how, thinking to myself about singing about His faithfulness to all generations as I spoke truth-words to the next one down. These girls are three generations from a Parkinson’s ridden woman who has endured hard, hard things.  A grievous and untimely death of a husband.  The loss of a daughter in law to cancer.  The death of a second husband.  The slow and agonizing death of a functioning, healthy, hard-working body into paralyzed muscles, shaking hands, and the inability to speak coherent sentences.

And what she has left is the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.

She has so much left.

She sings, in as strong of a voice as she can muster of the faithfulness of her Father to every generation.  Of His mercy.  She sings in her geriatric chair while suffering the indignities of aging that she will sing.

She will sing, yes she will.

Forever.

Of His mercy.

joy choice, joy-reasons.

It’s always a choice. 

That’s just the long and the short of it.

Somehow, it’s easy to forget this truth.  Joy is simply always a choice.   There is always, always, ALWAYS joy to be found in every scenario.  No matter the chaos surrounding, or the grief that wants to overwhelm, or the unknown-ness of future or the wreckage in the world.

I get to choose what I focus on and what expression molds my mouth.  Is it smile? Or is it grimace? And what is it that my children and husband see on a regular basis? What would they say at the end of this day would be the characteristic of my attitude?

We flew on a plane Saturday to California.  The first thing I noticed, the thing I always notice when I come “home”, is the brilliance of the sunshine.  I never used to notice how sunny it is here… I just took it for granted.  And yet, the blinding brightness of the sun gripped me in a beautiful way Saturday afternoon as we taxied into the runway.

My parents picked us up from the airport and I hugged them hello…. I never used to pay attention or truly value their hugs.  But twice or three times a year doesn’t come around nearly often enough, and  I can’t help but be grateful for each hug I experience from my mom and dad.

We went to In ‘n Out for lunch and once again, something about experiencing something not often makes it taste that much better.  Never had a burger and fries tasted so good.

We were tired Saturday from a 4-hour night the night before, and so when at 11 pm that night I heard the unmistakable noise of throwing up from the next room I was less than thrilled.  Then it turned into two children …. then three.  All taking turns while Mr. T.  and  I tag-teamed with washcloths and fresh pajamas for those who needed it, and cleanup.  And yet, somehow, in the middle of the night as he stood holding the littlest who was the most sick of all, I had to give him a kiss and tell him I wouldn’t want to be doing this with anyone else. It was a rough night, lasting until about 6am, when the 2 year old and I mercifully fell asleep on the recliner.

The next day we all stayed home from church, and everyone felt much better.

Yay!

Yesterday I was sick.  Not fun.  But today I sure do appreciate being well.

There are almond blossoms to see here, old friends to renew acquaintances with, fresh laundry all folded, ice water to sip, mint tea that tastes good on a weary stomach, the 4 year old falling asleep during an audiobook, beautiful camellias in my parent’s backyard that now grace the kitchen island and the kitchen windowsill.

There is going back to the old home where I grew up, walking through the backyard and smelling the weeds and bright grass in the spring that is oh-so-familiar.  There is the oranges and their juiciness that rivals any dessert you could spend hours preparing.

There’s my mom’s baking powder biscuits and cheeseburger soup.  There is watching my children make new friends, and meeting a lovely niece for the very first time.

So.  Many.  Things.

Oh my, there have been loads of things to irritate and frustrate.  But truly?  It’s a choice.   I get to choose whether joy or annoyance is my focus.
Today, this moment, I choose JOY.  What do you choose?

Choose joy, then write it down.

Writing it down = experiencing that original joy twice.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Sunshine, oranges, happy smiles, mint tea….

Jesus, grace, husband-friend, a mom-hug, friendships old and new..

Children, snuggles, audiobooks, Bible verse encouragement from a friend, delving into a good book, bubble baths….

Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  He is the true Joy-Reason.  Amen?