soul-vacation.

The air conditioning is doing its job nicely.

So is the washing machine.

I took a nap this afternoon, and I am thinking I could probably use another…  It is HOT and humid outside and the dog days of summer are officially here.  (Why is it called dog days?  Hmm.  I should google that.).

My brain sort of feels like it’s been on autopilot.. after a few weeks of busy-ness and company, (my mom and dad were here for a week and my brother’s family for the last night they were here.) somehow all I can think about is vacation.

I don’t know how all that will work out. We have talked about getting away just the two of us, and also the possibility of doing something for several days with just our family.

Regardless of what happens, this prevailing thought of vacation keeps coming to mind, and I had to wonder about how to have a vacation when you aren’t on vacation.

Sometimes it’s time to actually go away, to another place, and let the everyday cares be set aside for awhile.

But what I believe my soul is mostly longing for – is rest.

Life has been emotionally and mentally draining for awhile. There are the Big Decisions that must be talked about and made, the Raising of the Children to be done, and yeah. That about encompasses the whole of what has been going on at our house.

Regardless, there isn’t a realistic way to just “go on vacation” in the middle of it all. Maybe we will.  Maybe we won’t. Maybe it won’t be as quickly as I want. Maybe it won’t be at all, this summer.

But, Rest.

Soul-Rest.

Perspective shift.

Focus rearrangement.

How to do this in the middle of everyday life? Because this is what I have needed. Truly needed. More than I have needed an actual getting away.

There is a way to walk through the mundane and the chaotic with grace and joy.  I do not need a vacation to live life well.

But soul rest requires a slowing of the mind. It requires a deep breath. And what I have needed is the reminder that communion with Jesus – intentional, alone time with my Saviour – is where my soul will find its rest.

So in these past few weekss (amid a broken arm/ER visit, a birthday party for a newly minted 5 year old, company, green beans, blueberries to pick and freeze, etc…) there are a few things that I have begun doing to take a deep breath. To stop for a moment and lay aside the important for the better.

-I started a new Bible Study. One I have had for years, (as in, I did the first lesson about 9-11 years ago? Before we had children.) and I am so, so glad I didn’t finish it then.  Because it’s what I needed now.

-I have made coffee in the afternoons sometimes, just because I have some time alone then, and because, well, coffee is good. Need I say more?

-I pulled my spinning wheel out, and started spinning again.  This actually happened today, on the front porch, in some lovely, you-could-almost-taste-fall-coming weather.  The pillowy softness of wool slipping through my fingers, making yarn, and the rhythm of my feet pressing the treadle… it’s good stuff.  By the way. I started writing this post on a day where it actually was hot. Today was a welcome respite.

-I have slept in several mornings.  Not a habit I want to get into- but for a few mornings it’s what I needed to do.

-Some afternoons, or when I have had a moment to myself, I have been practicing praying aloud, rather than just in my head, and communing with Jesus. Thanking Him and worshiping Him… not just asking Him for things, or for help.. but adoring Him and thanking Him for all He is doing. This goes excellently with coffee.

-I began “Little House on the Prairie” with everyone after lunch. The girls have their blankets that they sit on, they draw or do some sort of quiet-ish activity (read: Miss E needed reminding of her need to stay on blanket and be quiet over.  And over. And over. Don’t misunderstand. It wasn’t all sunshine and roses.)  But on a whole, it was good. Very good. P Ma, Pa, Mary and Laura and baby Carrie, Jack the brindle bulldog, butchering time, Laura’s corncob doll, and little pint of cider half drunk up… this series really is one of the very best. Also, the fact that this particular book is the same exact copy that was read to me as a child adds to the experience.

-Reminding myself that God is happy with me. Genuinely, truly delighting in me. That He is my King.  I am His own. And He not only loves me perfectly, but He is happy with me.  He likes me.  At our women’s Bible study the other week, my dear friend Sara reminded us of this truth.  And it’s been reverberating in my mind.  He isn’t fazed by our poor choices, He isn’t forlorn and sad with us.  He delights in us, He is glad for our joy in Him, and He is happy with us, just like we are happy with our own children. Only  So. Much. More.  He delights to forgive us. Delights when we come to Him. Delights in us because we are His.

I needed the reminders of these truths to change my perspective.  So my soul could be at rest again. I needed to remember the importance and the restorative power (another blog post on this soon) of reading out loud to everyone.  I needed to remember that sleep is a priority.  I needed to remember, simply, who I am and that I’m loved.

Vacations are lovely. But the soul needs to rest in its God more than it needs anything else.

“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him”  Psalm 62:5 (KJV)

Wait, in this verse, means to be still.  To grow silent, and cease from activity.

So, soul, stop.  Stop your activity.  Grow silent. Wait upon your God.

Soul, take a vacation.

Stop striving.

Soul, sit a bit, take a breath, wait on God, get un-tilted from your skewed perspective.  Let the rush of life stop, make time to savor, to wait, to slow.

Whisper thanks to Him, hug those little people hard, and definitely make some coffee in the afternoon.

Or come over to my house, because I may have some already made.

beauty.

 

Beauty.
It soothes my soul.

And its everywhere.

This past weekend I planted flowers and “beautified” our deck with plants.  There are hanging baskets on our front porch, pots on the deck, and impatiens and cosmos in the flowerbeds.

There are fewer impatiens and one less pot, because …puppy.

I am not known for my green thumb, and in previous years I haven’t been quite as obsessed with flower-beauty as I am this year.

I’ve gotten hanging baskets before, but always thinking, ok, all four alike, keep it matchy-matchy. This year, though? I picked four different baskets, loud and wild, pinks and blues and reds and whites and yellows and deep purples. I want all the variety and crazy combinations. I don’t care if pink and red clash. It’s just all beauty.

And I am enthralled.

Recently I’ve been aware not just of beauty itself, but how it soothes me. How it brings me back to truth. How it shows what reality really is – a kind and Good God who is orchestrating every detail of our lives, and showing us in all the showy ways just tiny glimpses of His own beauty.

This morning my youngest was up early, (6:30 these days..) and I wanted some quiet and time alone before I began parenting (amen?), and the thought skittered across my mind as I sent her to my bed to lay down….

“Cherish this time, don’t wish it away, she won’t be 3 and snuggly forever.”

And the words of my mother-in-law just this past Sunday evening rang in my mind, in reference to this time of our lives…”Just enjoy it,” she said.

So the coffee stayed in the coffee pot and I crawled back in bed with my delighted girl.. and this is what I heard:

“You take a nap with ME, Mommy?”

“Mommy… I love you too. I love you too.”

And she told me all about Aunt La-la coming last night while I was in town, and chattered and wrapped squishy arms ’round my neck and kissed my cheek and my arm, whispering her “I love you too’s”.  My heart filled to overflowing for this treasure, this time, this sweet one. This beauty, with her loud stomping everywhere she goes (Bull. China shop.) and her penchant for sweets, her stubbornness, her long, long, hair with wild curls, and how dearly she loves.

We read a story and she surprised me by picking out the e’s on the page, and I melted into one last 10 minute sleep while she wallered (is that a word? I think it must be. It’s what she did.) and talked and attempted to hijack chapstick and my phone.

It’s a summer-slow morning. And everyone else trickled out of bed, enthralled with the new library books and always, always holding kittens.

That’s beautiful to me.

And the fresh, rain-soaked blueberries coming in last night from our patch by my dear second son, so excited with his find and asking if I want one. They tasted delicious, more so accompanied by the smile of the giver.

The rain-drops glistening on the bright green of lavendar and succulents on my deck this morning.

My whipping cream, pouring into a steaming cup just 10 minutes ago.

Fresh sheets, slipped on late at night with the help of the husband I love, and crawling in, the coolness and the weight of the quilts, and the knowledge that he is still loving me, almost 14 years since he started, and the beauty of love that stands through hard and harder. Sickness. Health. Vows that were hushed and quiet with all the strength of the love we shared then, and knowing that the love we share now is more beautiful than I ever could have dreamed. That even when we misunderstand  each other and get frustrated, when we are tired and clueless about how in the world to parent or what we are supposed to do, that our love is rock solid. We know so much more about each other and so much less about parenting than we ever did before. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Then the way the carpet looks after the vacuum has worked its magic, and feeling like surely this time my room won’t get messy again.

Knowing that in just “one more sleep” my mom and dad will be here, and we will talk and laugh and drink coffee in the afternoon because why not? and hug and not think about saying goodbye again. We will enjoy the beauty of the moment.

The sound of the washer and dryer humming, cleaning the dirt and grime off the summer mountains of laundry.

The way my shampoo and conditioner smells, and the sense of luxury in having a new bottle and inhaling it’s unfamiliar and intoxicating scent.

Starting our new read aloud (so what if we don’t finish the others..) “Streams to the River, River to the Sea” by Scott O’Dell, about Sacajawea.  And yesterday, going to the library, just my boys and I, and filling our bags with books for all. Then taking french fries and coke up behind that subdivision in our small town, all the way past the houses to the very end where we were way up high and we could look out and see the valley where we live, with the mountains capped in wispy white clouds. We parked there, enthralled by the view and pointing out Grandpa’s silo, and the weeds and tall grass framed the bottom with bright and sun-caught green. We sipped our drinks and I read aloud and we were all captivated by the story. The view. The sun. The taste of McDonald’s hot and salty fries.

And the kitten who traveled under our vehicle to the library and who pitifully meowed loudly as we were trying to order French fries. The rescue attempt commenced with great excitement and we hoped the people behind us understood while my boys ran wildly around the van looking. Soon the little yellow kitty was safe and sound and gifted with the first french fry for his bravery.

A bath with oatmeal and Epsom salts to (hopefully) soothe the poison oak that’s taken up residence on my leg.

A word, fitly spoken while on a last minute rendezvous with my dear friend last night.. sitting in the motel parking lot that should have had a sign that said “scenic overlook” on another mountain. This time looking at the twinkling lights below and the other mountains we know are there but couldn’t see, while rain drizzled on and off on the windshield. She spoke truth to me that I didn’t even know I needed, but keep coming back to over and over again since we talked.  We spoke of grief and pain and when your mama goes to see Jesus and leaves you behind and what it looks like to step into a future that’s uncertain and maybe even thrilling at the same time. What faith looks like and how sometimes what you really need is just to make sure you get enough sleep so you can get up a bit more refreshed and not quite stretched so thin.

The fresh cucumbers found in the garden, and brought inside with great fanfare.

When you can pray and you don’t even know what you’re going to say, but Jesus brings the words and they flow and you know you wouldn’t have wanted to come up with words by yourself anyways.

And this verse the Lord led me to yesterday:

“I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.” Psalm 71:14.  So much beauty when we praise more and more… it increases our hope. It magnifies our hope. And it’s the only way to continue in hope.

So much beauty. So much overflowing of a cup that isn’t half empty, and isn’t even half full. It spills and runs and drenches everything, and the more I praise Him the more I hope and the more beauty I see around me.

More.

And more.

for when the days are long and you need a cup of lemonade.

It is nigh to July.

And I can feel the itch to school-plan. Which makes no sense to my I’m-relaxing-and-it’s-still-summer self.

Nevertheless, the itch is there and mostly it’s because when I’m not pressured to get a lesson done or feeling the push to “do school”, I remember why I love homeschooling in the first place.

This morning I let the kiddos play outside with no chores; feeling rather out of sorts and trying to come up with something fun to do that wouldn’t involve a.) packing anyone or anything up or b.)much effort.

I’m pretty sure that both a and b are synonymous.

All I really wanted to do was sit in the cool and quiet with no noise and knit peacefully, thinking lots of profound thoughts and sipping cold brew.

However, there were chickens dead because some unknown predator had gotten into the chicken house (again!) and beheaded more of our dwindling brood. Due to said circumstances there was one very upset 11 year old who wanted to find said predator and do away with him Once and For All.

There was also a puppy and various cats/kittens who continued to sneak in through all the various doors left open and I  said/yelled (I could seriously use a foghorn.) for the 12 billionth time for ALL THE PEOPLE TO SHUT THE DOORS PLEASE AND THANK YOU.  I may or may not have added those last four words but surely one of the 12 billion times I did.

I continued wearily brainstorming to come up with a plan. Weary at 10:30? Yup. Sadly.

Going to get ice cream for lunch? While I love the idea…Nope.  That involves effort and packing. And it also involves risking a sugar-high naptime encounter. Regardless of effort and packing I Was Not going to go there.

bingo.

My mind settled on the best idea yet.

Lemonade and a read aloud.

Oh yes. Along with some almost freezer-burnt banana chocolate chip muffins that have been languishing in my freezer. No one minded them, since they all wanted at least two.

I squeezed a whole bunch of lemon juice in a gallon jug, dumped some stevia in, (no sugar! Woot!) added a BUNCH of ice, filled it with water, and poured 5 cups full. And sweaty kids sat down with eyes lit up like it was Christmas when I pulled out the read aloud that had also been languishing, though not in my freezer.

(Confession: there are way too many read alouds we have begun, and not finished.)

This one was “The Treasure Seekers” by Edith Nesbitt, and the munchkins settled into munching and then drawing/coloring/water beads. Water beads! Go get some! Now! Even if you aren’t a kid! (Again, I digress. But these things are awesome. I didn’t want to stop playing with them while I read out loud.)

We read a couple chapters, and it was awesome. And it was what kindled the reminder-fire of why I love this.

At the end of the school year it seems like all my good intentions fly right out the window and the kids are way more on their own, math, copywork, math, copywork, over and over.

It wears us all out and it’s boring.

Morning Time, with it’s prayers and singing and memorizing and read alouds and fun science facts and mapwork and nature drawings and poetry, all but disappeared from March/April on.

And Morning Time is what I love.  It’s what draws us together. To begin our day with prayer centers all of us, and reminds me of my most important work, teaching truth, goodness, and beauty.

Funny poems, sometimes just one, that make everyone laugh. Sometimes we can’t stop and there are choruses of “one more! Read one more!”

The excitement of knowing one or 5 more states, the standing and singing the doxology. The tea time and the satisfaction of another verse tucked into our memories.

This is why I love to homeschool. Because of the relationships. The time spent together. The learning together.

We have been in somewhat of a survival mode for a few months, and it’s so much easier to just send them off to play, or to do their math, and that’s ok too. Sometimes you really do need to sit quietly with cold brew and knitting on the couch.

But for today, I am realizing that the fun got drained away and it’s time to come back to coming back together.

We read at least two chapters and by then it was lunch time and we were hungry but full-up with all the good. Yes, the 3 year old got bored for part of the time and went back and forth between multiple activites.  Yes the water  beads were fought over and hoarded  by the 9 year old.  And then while I was in the middle of the second chapter, his two sisters were struck with some sort of strange benevolence and decided that their big bother needed multiple spoonfuls of their water beads.

I kept on reading, saying a silent prayer of thanks for the sweetness that shows up at the oddest moments and for the sheepish, knowing grin that spread across the one who didn’t deserve to have kindness given.

And I thought of the days when God gives me lemonade and refreshing joy from various things like connected friendship and prayers said out loud just for you that make tears slip down your cheek. And the knowing that you are prayed for, often, and always  by a heart-sister.

For when He amazes me with kindnesses like lunches with friends who’ve known each other for years and can always pick up where we’ve left off. For 6 am coffee with other friends who have felt the same pain, and know how to read between all the lines of what you say.

I thought of the ways we grow up into Him that so obviously couldn’t be manufactured by our good behavior and the fruit that sprouts and grows, so surprisingly, on simple and once-bare branches.

Truly, there is much treasure to seek and find in this life..

And I’m thrilled with the reminder that simple joys and blue Tupperware cups full of lemonade can make smiles spread wide.

He fills our cups, for sure. 

 

 

 

 

yarn along: ordinary beauty + truth reminders

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After a day of morale-busting parenting yesterday, which I won’t detail, I decided it was time for a day at the creek.  There really aren’t words to describe some days.  When the force of your child’s will just nearly lays you flat.  When your brain can’t keep up with the swirl of noise and questions and needs and arguements.  To sum it up – I simply just have to say that I really never knew parenting would be this hard.  And I never knew the depth of love I was capable of, either.  Or how much this mothering journey would teach me about my Abba’s patient love for me.

We have a lovely creek at the back of our property, and Mr  E mowed the path last night down through the field.  It’s a gorgeous day, around 70 degrees, and the sound of the creek rushing over the rocks and the splashing of happy children makes my heart dance. I have to be realistic and tell you that the children weren’t always happy, there was the screaming-3yo-stumbling and the grouchy-9yo-who-chose-to-be-selfish and the puppy who wouldn’t stop trying to get into my bag.

But overall? The scenery and the joy overwhelmed the minor irritation. They were building dams and splashing hard and singing loud and the dogs companionably joined in with all the excitement.  It’s fun to have two dogs, romping along with us, and Shadrach (our nearly 12 year old Husky/Border Collie mix) is tolerating Trigger the Puppy quite well.  If dogs could roll their eyes, I’m pretty sure Shadrach would, while Trigger bounces around him, teasing and being generally annoying.

I’ve gotten to the lace part of this shawl/blanket that I’m working on.  The pattern is Gaia by Marie Adeline Boyer, and I’m using Tosh Merino Light in Antler.  This yarn.  This yarn is so amazing… it’s been awhile since I’ve knit with it, and it’s lovely.  The pattern says it will take 3 skeins, and I’m on skein #2.  It’s simple and classic, and a very enjoyable knit.  I’m working on it some in the afternoons while my children have rest time with books or take naps, and in the evenings after they are in bed.  It’s been easy to pick up or put down, and once I take a glance at the pattern for each row, it’s not hard to memorize the repeats.

….

As I said earlier, yesterday was rough.  So this morning, I sat down with my coffee, thankful for the moments of quiet still to be had, and opened this book that my friend gave me, Mom Enough.  By page 2, I stopped.  There was so much truth and hope and good reminders packed in, that I knew I had plenty to chew on.  I quickly called my husband to read out loud to him what I was reading…

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This was written by Rachel Jancovik, and perfectly spoke to me about the perspective that had gone missing from my heart in the middle of the chaos.  This laying down of one’s life for another… it is a privilege.  Lay down your life.  As soon as I read this, my heart ignited again.  I remembered Who I am serving every time I lay my life down for my children.  I remembered that Jesus laid His life down for me.  I remembered that it is a joy to do the same for others, most specifically the Littles and the man I have been given.  I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that all this is a gift.  But I’ll have to admit…When things go south it’s pretty easy to let these beautiful thoughts slip right on out the window.  I want to lay down my grievances about the life I am living, not cling to them with ferocious tenacity.

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.

A beautiful example in Scripture.. That Jesus Himself din’t come for people to serve Him, but to serve others.  And to lay down His life.

I get to serve these precious people in my home.  I get to fix the meal, listen to the stories (so easy to tune them out, so important to listen), to hug the child, to kiss the ouchie, to bathe the dirt off tiny feet.

It’s a fine work of refining, this mothering journey.  

And in the spirit of full disclosure I must admit, I heard the sound of waking girls from nap time.  First response? “Phooey.  They are up already.” 

And then they walk in.  These blonde and brown-headed beauties, complete with kittens and blankies.  

Be still my heart.  Thank you Jesus.  They are a gift. 

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Joining Nicole from Frontier Dreams

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

>>>

 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.