Summer at our House

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It’s officially summer.

And I am blogging from my phone while I sit at the park that is just around the corner of my house. We brought the cousins along today, and the boys are making up all manner of variations of “jackpot”.  I’m pretty sure the rule-making takes up more time than the game?!

Its a perfect summer day. A little humid, a little overcast, but lovely to relax in my lawnchair and knit and blog.

We have a new puppy, and his name is Trigger. He is the cutest thing ever, other than the fact that the chewing on all manner of things has commenced. I’m trying not to think about it. And what is likely to get destroyed in the process.

My boys and man planted a row of cosmos in our garden this year, and I couldn’t resist going out Saturday and picking the first few blooms. A couple of them were pretty ragged, but to think! Fresh wildflowers from my own garden on my counter! I don’t know what is going on with my obsession for flowers and just all of nature’s beauty recently. I have always loved our mountains here, but lately it seems that everywhere I look, the landscape explodes with beauty. The way the light lands in a stream through the window, vibrant purple cosmos, fresh dill’s smell and it’s soft, bright green needle-leaves. The way the mountains rise up blue toward the sky, and the way the trees are leafy and blow lazily in the breeze. I’ve never been so aware of it all.

Every morning I have been taking my coffee, Bible and journal to our front porch. I watch the sun light up the field and paint it golden; the drab, tan leftover wheat turned shining and bright with the sun’s brushstrokes.  The birds are already singing when I walk out, tiptoeing so as not to wake any sleeping munchkins… and it somehow seems that God Himself has orchestrated the bird’s chorus and beauty in my front yard just for me. A “good morning”, of sorts.

So I whisper “good morning” back, and smile at the truth reminding me that all this Creation, all this I see wouldn’t have to be there. But it was created for me to enjoy. It was made with me in mind. It’s almost too much to comprehend. The love He has for us, shouting out from Creation, telling us in the most glorious way that He longs for us to see Him clear, to know Him well, to see just how good He is.

We went to an antique tractor (thing? Day? I don’t know.)  at a recreation park near here last Saturday.  There was lots of stuff there.  Blacksmithing.  A chainsawing competition. Homemade doughnuts and pork BBQ sandwiches.  And an antique tractor pull.  There were auctioneers and hit and miss engines and all manner of tractors and farmers and old men (and young) in overalls and an atmosphere of festivity.  There was a wood turning demonstration and the ones doing so were kindly making tiny little tops and tiny little containers for the kids watching.  And the doughnuts.  Did I mention the doughnuts? Oh, oh, oh.  The doughnuts. Words kind of fail.  But I’ll try.  Huge, hot, glazed and poofy.  I had one, and it was amazing.  Hot and fresh.  Then later at home I had another, cold, and it was amazing in a whole different way.  Slightly deflated, a bit crunchy and the solidfied glaze crumbling instead of oozing, the you-better-lean-over-your-plate kind of thing.  Sheer doughnut bliss.  

But I digress.  Back to tractors.  There was a tractor pull, and we got all excited to see which one was going to go the furthest, pulling the weight down the run.  I had my eyes set on the gorgeous red Farmalls, (I know next to nothing about tractors.  But I really think the Farmall tractors are so pretty.)  But there was a shiny Oliver and the John Deeres’ did well too.  See, I even know the names.  

It was a good day.  Tired and sweaty children, happy and full of all the sights and tastes and sounds of the day.  

I’ve been knitting a beautiful lace shawl lately. The pattern is easy so far, and the lace (read: exciting part) is just beginning. It’s been a thoughtful knit.  A knit that while mindless, has also been a time for me to pray for the friend who will receive it.  I love to take the time to think about the person who is the recipient of my knitting, hoping for them, praying for them, thinking of them, and desiring that they would be filled to the brim so much with truth, and Jesus, and joy through whatever He allows.  Sometimes it’s hard things.  Sometimes it’s happy things.  But regardless… that no matter what, that they/we wouldnt ever be shaken from the truth that He sees us and knows us and is for us.

I’ve also been making Greek yogurt lately.  Ahhh.  So yummy.  With berries, stevia, and maple flavoring for me.  With vanilla, raspberry jam or fruit and a drizzle or three of honey for the kiddos.  I’m always amazed at how much more mild it is than store-bought yogurt.  Eating it plain isn’t what I do, but it’s not inconceivable with the way this stuff tastes. I really need to make granola now. 

And speaking of berries, we have been getting some black raspberries from our wild bushes.  Mr. J picked about a cup and wanted a pie, and so I combined the rest of the blackberries I had in the fridge, along with some of last year’s blueberries from the freezer, and voila! Triple berry cream pie!  It did not last long enough, but oh, it sure did taste good with coffee that evening.

It’s another day now, and it was yesterday when I was at the park phone-blogging.  My house is cool and it’s overcast while the quiet of afternoon napping and boys reading the Mandie series I collected every birthday and Christmas when I was their age. I love when they love books.  It brings back so many memories, and it also reminds me of the bliss of reading a good books.  I haven’t been doing much of that lately, what with knitting and other things that occupy my attention while I’m sitting down.  Although.  There is a book I got the other day on my Kindle that I’ve been perusing in my spare moments.  Actually I’ve been devouring it.  Have implemented several ideas and we are seeing some absolutely lovely results.   Oh, trust me.  The getting there isn’t always lovely.  But bit by bit, sometimes in small ways, and other things that are huge and amazing, some of the things that we know would have been diagnosed with all sorts of capital letter combinations are disappearing.  

That being said, I must add a disclaimer.  I am a firm believer that the Lord is the number one Leader and Guider of parental instruction.  I believe also that when we ask His guidance, He does provide it.  And I’m ever so grateful He has done so in the form of this particular author.   It’s good, old-fashioned advice that cuts through so much of the physcobabble of today’s parenting and adoption experts.   Best of all, it confirms much of what I’ve already believed at the back of my mind, the things I’ve felt to be true for a long time.  And when something confirms, it is ….really confirming. 

How’s that for profound? = )

My afternoon coffee is nearly drained, and the munchkins are up.  There is a puppy-training session going on on the front porch and I’ve got a bucket of green beans to snap.  Yay for fresh green beans, fresh squash, and leftover chicken and rice cassserole for supper!

All is Well

These days.

They are so fleeting and the lump in my throat bears witness to how I feel about that.

Quick, rush, chaos, dirt on my hallway floor.

Laundry piles in moldering mountains and there are fingerprint swirl smudges on every surface.

I break up the arguments and kiss the finger and close my eyes when she does what she always does…

Those two tiny girl-hands wrapping soft and pulling my neck in so her kisses land on my face.

She is all fire and glorious honey curls. Sweet as they come, and just as strong-willed too.  Or maybe more.
Freedom, space, relief when the daddy walks in through the back door, home from a long day and I’m twofold glad to see him.

Glad because he is still my love, more than ever, and glad for the relief of not being the sole parent in the moment.

….

I’m learning the art of savoring the small.  Just a newbie in that, though, but I’m grasping hold of the moments and closing my eyes more often in thanks-giving.

Our days continue the tightrope walk of breathless wondering at what behavior challenge might be next, (and there is so.much. I am not saying when I say that) my thoughts continue to come back to the fact that I wasn’t ever promised a perfect life, or always lovely days.

So as I learn to savor the blessings I’ve taken for granted at times, it helps to remember that I’m held and kept safe through the hard, and the hard things are gifts in their own right.  Hard is a blessing, it amplifies the blessing of what’s seemed insignificant, but most of all, it draws me to Him.

Draws me to look up, not in.

To look away from myself, and to know that my sufficiency and my okay-ness never once has to come from whether things are easy or fun.

 

True joy comes from my Saviour.  From obedience to Him. It comes from knowing, nodding yes to the truth that He never leaves, He always carries, and my worship and heart is all He desires from me.

So I’m thankful for the hard things, thankful for the small things, thankful for the heart-stopping beauty of children playing carefree together.  Each moment where there is sunshine, enough food, savory and sweet treats, hugs and clean water, the kiss and strong hand of my Dear Man, the admittance of wrong and “I’m sorry”, the gas in the car, the shoes on our feet, the Bible.

Most of all, I’m thankful there is a Giver.  And an Enthroned Majestic Ruler of all of life, who isn’t surprised, disturbed or dismayed by any of the things that so easily attempt to do so to me. He is the Giver of all Good, so I’m taking deep breaths and knowing that all things work together for just that.

Thank you Jesus.
All is Well

I’m looking up, You’re reaching out.

With outstretched hand and knowing smile, 

You fill me up, you make my cup

Just overflow and all the while…

I know my pain is felt by you,

The bitter tears, the fear that shakes

My quaking heart, but it is true – 

You’re never shaken, never moved

You’re never caught off guard by what I’m going through.

All is well.



I look to you, and lift my eyes

To One whose heart was broken first

By what breaks mine, and now I find

That when I let it go and let my soul

Take rest and find it’s home in You

I’m not alone, I’m never left —

A blessed refuge, oh, it’s true.

Jesus, You’re not shaken, You’re not moved.

You’re never caught off guard by what I’m going through. 

All is well.



You formed me, You know all my days –

You knew this morning what I’d face

In chaos rush, or quiet hush,

The truth you arrow-spear my heart,

All things, yes all things can be done

Through You, the God of  Earth and Sky

The power that raised you, rolled the stone

It lives and dwells and breathes in me.

You’re here, this Holy Power, it reigns…. 

In heaven above and in my heart and home….

Never shaken. Never moved.  Your Holy Sameness, making all things well.



What You went through, the cross that crucified True Love

And then the grave and death that couldn’t hold You there…

And now the Spirit whole and filling me,

Whatever I walk through has first been walked by You –

That I may know You.

Fuller, wholly, well and true.

And  Resurrection Power and Suffering Fellowship…

If what I’m going through makes me conformed to death,

Then Saviour, send whatever You deem best.

Send rain, send storms, send sunshine, warm and soft

But most of all, keep sending Power that overcomes the dark, 

You’re never shaken, never moved. 

And You do all things well.

Whatever May Come + Mother’s Day Reflections

Take a listen.  It’s highly recommended.

10,000 Reasons
Yesterday was  Mother’s Day.

And I have a lovely purple orchid gracing the antique chest in front of our window.  There were wide grins and excited hopping around and lots of happy shrieking as one of my children brought it in this morning.  We had a potluck at church today and in honor of Mother’s Day, the men brought the food.  

There was a lot of meat, unsurprisingly.

The smoked sausage biscuits Melvin made were superb, and I’m pretty sure there weren’t any left. 

There was also a lot of dessert.  I even had to wonder if my brother-in-law got on Pinterest to find the gorgeous creation he made that was brownies topped with fresh strawberries and bananas and drizzled with a chocolate sauce. It was amazing.  Definitely Pinterest worthy. 

I had a lovely nap in the afternoon and that was also amazing. 
But if I’m completely honest, this has been a hard Mother’s Day.

I am in the middle of one of the most sanctifying journies I’ve ever known.  This past month has been so, very, very hard.  I won’t go into detail because that’s not important.  What I’m walking through is something that so many mamas have seen, and a variation of it has been known by probably every mother out there.  
When your child is stuck in a place that is unexplainably, constantly, not good.  When they refuse to respond.  When they are stuck on themselves and no one else. Picking fights, angry, frustrated, and underneath it all, a deep, deep hurt that seems impossible. And I know there is trauma and the fact that he didn’t get to be at our house and get snuggled and loved on from his first moments.  I know there were things seen and experienced that no child ever should.  I grieve that I didn’t get to carry him in my womb, and rub the skin on the stomach that shielded him underneath.  His heart didn’t beat beside mine, and my laboring for him is an excruciating journey that wasn’t over in 24 hours.  

Yet isn’t this what all mothers know?  That we labor in our hearts for our children.  We never stop knowing that there is so much we don’t know.  That we can’t fix.  

No matter how they come or what they have seen, their sin nature is the same

It’s just like mine, and its not overly complicated.  

We all need  healing, and my son is no different and no worse.  He is walking a journey I wish he wasn’t choosing/didn’t have to walk, yet at the same time knowing without a shadow of a doubt that my Good Father is using and weaving and orchestrating.  I know that I know that I know that God doesn’t allow pain and awful without being able to use it for something so much more beautiful than I could ask or imagine.  So much abundantly above anything I could think of.  All the poor choices and yucky circumstances our God is more than able to redeem.

So as hard as this Day for Mama’s has been, I think it’s also the reality of what is.  What is life, sometimes, what are humans, what happens when we let go of the fairy tale  in exchange for abundance of heart and mind and soul that only our King can fill us with. 

I am a mother, given grace by a kind Creator, parenting children that I am being used to help mold, yet I’m only a vessel.  I’m not the one who is ultimately responsible for my children’s choices, and I don’t need to try to figure out how to parent and strive and stress over the details of what has been and what might be. My job is to press hard into Jesus and thank Him for the wisdom and grace and ideas He provides, every minute, and love my children with the love that only He could give in the face of a lot of chaos and lashing out.  I don’t need another parenting book (though many have lots of good thoughts), I need the fresh and reviving Word of God.  And it makes me giddy to think of the possibility and hope that comes from pressing into a God that knows my child so much better than I do, resting in the fact that He sees all and knows all and does all things well. 

A dear friend sent me this verse this morning –

For God has not given us the spirit of fear,  but of power and love and a sound mind.”

Oh, friends.  Dear mamas.  I may be walking a hard journey.  And my mind has went to so many places that I have to immediately take captive.  Because this.  This truth. 

ANY time there is a whiff of fear?  It’s not ever from God.  Ever.  Ever.  Ever.  

I used to fear all the time what my children would become.  All the time.  My mind was taken captive by the future I nearly thought was inevitable.  And trust me, it wasn’t good.  

No longer.  When fear comes to my mind, I am learning to thank God for what He is doing.  For how He is working in beautiful ways I can’t see yet.  Every time the awful thing happens or the unthinkable enters my mind, I’m thanking Him for the beauty He brings from ashes and the deep love that He has for me and my littles. I thank Him for His love and care and that everywhere I am or am not, He is.  I thank Him that there’s nothing He will allow to be wasted.

And you know what? As much as parts of this journey aren’t something I would choose – I’m finding out that the refining process and the sanctifying work that God is doing in my heart is so much preferrable to the bland and hopeless and fear-filled existences from before.  It may never have been this bad before in our house, but this is a beautiful place to be. I’m not praying that it would go away for my sake, but that He would give me strength and grow me like crazy and that I would SHINE, along with praying that my son would be healed and choose life.

If God can do this work in me, when I’ve long been so defeated as a mama, I know without a shadow of a doubt that He can do the same for my dear child. 

He is the God of redemption, 

the God of healing, 

the God that has the power to raise His Son and our hearts from death and destruction. 

If, in fact, this is the God we serve, let’s stop with the fretting and the exhausted striving.  If He truly is this God, and we establish that in our minds, then may we not lessen the impact of who He is by allowing the adversary to fill us with fears of who He isn’t. The one who kills, steals, and destroys is certainly not our God.  But the lies, oh, they try to swoop in and steal our joy and our hope with thoughts of a God who might not come through for us.

Let us let Him fill us with impossible hope.  Amazing joy.  May we get alone with HIm and begin to, like Abraham, 

believe against hope.  

Let’s take an honest look at what we see, and stop walking by sight. Walking by faith means we take into account what we have not observed yet, and we begin to thank God for the impossible and the exciting and the wonderful that He is doing and will do.  And also, for the hard journey.  And that He makes it possible to have a grin and know truth and pray hope and grow like crazy in the thorny unsee-able places. 

Faith, not sight. 

And for any mamas who read this and identify with my story, will you join me?  Let’s raise our hands and thank our Father for all He gives.  And for all He does.  And that He isn’t the author of fear, but that He has given us the spirit of power.  Of love.  And of a sound mind in the face of everything.  Mothers who mother by God’s power, with His love, and whose minds are sound in the truth of a Good God and His reigning power over every event of life can laugh in the face of fears and call them out for what they are.   

We can thank God for what He has done and what He is doing.

We can hope against hope.

We can thank Him for growing us. 

We can thank Him that there isn’t any circumstance that’s able to steal our joy.

We can thank HIm for simply being who He is.  

Appreciating, adoring, worshiping and letting our praise fight this battle.
Whatever may come and whatever lies before me,

Let me be singing when the evening comes:

Bless the Lord, Oh, my soul.

Oh, my soul!

Worship His holy name – 

Sing like NEVER BEFORE, OH MY SOUL,

Come worship His holy name!

{crafting on} yarn/books/spring


I met my friend for our weekly early-morning Starbucks meeting… (well, weekly as in we meet when we aren’t too tired or other stuff comes up.  We are very relaxed about it.)

I knitted and we talked homeschooling and sewing and laughed and drank our coffee.  We meet at 5:30 am, and let me just say, it’s always hard to get up and drag myself out of bed.  But it is so worth it.  We run the gamut of topics.  Encouragement to not lose heart when homeschooling is hard.  Reminding each other who we are in Jesus.

It’s good stuff.

>>>

I’ve been under a quilt since I got home, with my second cup of coffee, and the girls ar/e stomping on bubble wrap and playing with kitties.

Last week was really, really busy. Not much time for knitting, and there were things going on every day and in the evenings too.  Mr. E came down with a case of impetigo, and so I have been sanitizing and lysoling and washing hands like a crazy lady.   I think it’s clearing up after a round of antibiotics and lots of various home remedies.  I’ve been (still am) rather paranoid about everyone else getting it.  I didn’t even know what impetigo was.  Now I do, for sure. I’m pretty sure the collective amount of times we have all washed our hands in the last 4 days would be – A LOT.

Mr. E  has been reading “Banner in the Sky” about a boy who climbs the Alps in honor of his father, who died attempting to do the same.   Mr. J is reading various books in the Childhood of Famous Americans series.  (I scored big a year or so ago, when I found about 40+ of  books in this series for $1/each at a used book store near here). Yesterday he came up and couldn’t hardly catch his breath as he told me all about what he was reading.  I was thrilled.  And surprised.  And yet not surprised.  I continue to gently lead him and not push too hard with reading, and I’m pleasantly surprised with how well it is working.  I want to display a feast before my children of literature, reading to them, giving them good books to read, listening to audiobooks with them, and using all these books and the things they are interested in to spark their love for learning.

                                           

>>>>

The other day when I went to the yarn shop to knit, this beauty caught my eye.  I am in love with sock yarn.  Especially striping sock yarn.  Especially rainbow striping sock yarn.  So, it came home with me.  And I’m dreaming of the socks it will become.  Basically,  I’m dreaming of all the lovely and exciting things that are going to happen when I am finished with knitting pink wedding shrugs.  Mr. J got all excited about learning how to crochet, so I taught him how, and he thought it was quite fun to crochet shamelessly in front of me, while I knitted away on the Eternal Shrugs.   No one seems to have sympathy for me, not even my dear aunt – (who has crocheted loads of things, including Miss A.’s beloved and ragged blankie.  Blankie has been a constant companion since she was about 11 months old, and has taken the phrase “Security Blanket” to a whole.new.level. . – and I seem to be taking run-on sentences to a whole.new.level as well.).  – who had the nerve to send me a picture of the sweet granny square she was crocheting (even knowing my crochet angst) because she “just thought I should know”.   I glanced longingly at my hook, and dutifully continued knitting.  (Don’t worry, knitting, it’s not anything personal, and it’s certainly not that I’m leaving you behind.  I’m just expanding my horizons.)

 


And here is another thing that’s been catching my eye.  This post from Attic24 blog on the Granny Stripe Blanket….  I’m going to begin on that, I think, when the shrugs are finished. …….  Just google pictures of granny stripe blanket.  See if you aren’t drooling over all the beauty.  Oh I can HARDLY STAND the waiting. This is a great way to use up the odds and ends of yarn… or come up with stripes of lovely colors that go together.  The possibilities are endless. 


>>> 

It’s a beautiful day here, my girl has on her mismatched boots (it’s amazing when we find matching shoes around here), the grass is absolutely, unbelievably green, and there are pillows of white fluffy clouds framed by a blue, blue sky.  I’m entranced by the beauty of spring in a way I have never been before this year.  All the color is a riot and first on my agenda today is to go cut some blueberry branches to brighten and bless my kitchen table and countertops.  And who knows? Maybe the living room and my bedroom, too – why not? 

Joining Nicole from Frontier Dreams

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 Knitting + tacos + the last of the ice cream 

Joining Nicole from Frontier Dreams



 

I am now officially knitting shrug #3.  Got started Friday night, then on Saturday my dear husband took care of the kidlets while I went to my local yarn store and had several hours of uninterrupted knitting time.  It was so nice to get a fair amount done, and I’m now feeling a bit more confident about getting finished without a mad rush before the wedding on April 22.  I did figure out I made a mistake on shrug #1, which should be easy to fix, but I literally need to be making every minute count.

A row here, a row there.. during nap time, and sneaking in a few rows sitting on the front porch while the kids played outside riding bikes and carving various wooden utensils with knives.  It felt good to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine and late afternoon breeze.

I’m still reading “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripken, probably 2/3 through. It’s still gripping me, swirling in my mind and awakening, digging, convicting, and a whole host of other things that are good and hard at the same time.

I can’t wait to continue learning more about crochet… for now I have a sweet little coaster that I look at fondly and think of all the glorious crochet things in my future.

Tonight I made these Barbacoa Tacos and I have only one bad thing to say about this recipe.

There are no leftovers.

I mean, we licked the platter clean.  They reminded me so much of Chipotle, and seriously were so easy.  Just throw the meat and sauce in the crockpot, cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, shred meat, and cook again for a couple hours on low.  I  added chopped lettuce and stir-fried peppers and onions, (–I feel all frugal because these peppers had seriously saggy and wrinkly skin, and I used them anyways. They were just fine.  Yay for cleaning out the fridge!) chopped cilantro and onions, and then whizzed up some sour cream/lime juice/salt/sauce from the can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  Everyone else ate them on tortillas, and I didn’t bother – just ate mine bowl-style.

I don’t usually cook stuff like this very often… even though it was really easy.  My go-to suppers trend towards soups, eggs, pancakes, and spaghetti.  And hot dogs.  Cooking like I did today actually requires forethought.  As in, the meat must be gotten out in the morning, instead of at 4:30 thinking oh phooey, right, I need to fix supper for my family because in an hour or two they are going to want to eat.  Again.  

So …yay for today because. 1.) being frugal and using the peppers instead of throwing them to the chickens and 2.) having forethought. 

And yay for right now, because my dearies are all in bed, (not quiet yet, but in bed, nonetheless) I have a cup of Lady Gray tea beside me, and it’s the time of day when I can relax a bit, knit a few more rows, and enjoy the end of the day.

Oh. And also, there is this.   

I do believe I will, thank you. 

..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….