Chickens

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Our chickens are so happy.

They have been pecking and bobbing their way around our yard for the last two days.

Always before, they had to stay in the chicken run because our beloved dog, Shadrach, was fond of chicken. And not in a good way.

He had to be put down last month, and while we are all sad to say goodbye, one benefit is that our dear chickies are happy as little clams. Or as free chickens, perhaps. 

They’re much more tame than our previous chickens, due to the fact that we have a regular Fern (Charlotte’s Web reference) in Mr. J.  He is so devoted to his chickens that he announced a month or two ago that he wants to have a chicken dairy when he grows up. We’ve decided that would definitely be a niche market. 🙂

He sits and sits (on his homemade chicken-watching stool) down in the chicken run, just holding them and watching them whenever he gets a chance.

Anyways, the boys let the chickens out a couple days ago for the first time, and they were adorable. Fluffy and pecking and just having an all-out garden party.  Evening came, kids went to bed, and I remembered that we still had chickens out. Not only that, but some of them were up on the porch, and even had the nerve to get up onto the rocking chair and attempt to enter the house by flying at the windows.  My husband was less than impressed. A.) Chickens on the porch.  B.) Chicken poop on the porch. C.) Chicken flying at the windows.

He muttered something about needing to get the chickens into their pen, and next thing I knew, my calm, unflappable husband was on the front porch, sternly informing our rooster in no uncertain terms to leave the premises. I stifled a giggle, and went outside to help with the chicken herding. This involved several interesting and humorous attempts of me, standing at the top of our backyard bank, and sending various chickens reluctantly flying down to T.

I caught the last one, (yes. I did.  Me. I held a chicken.) and we had a nice, romantic walk down to the hen house.  Hand in hand, and chicken in arms, we strolled down to the back yard.  I commented on the romantic moment, and T wholeheartedly agreed (with perhaps a bit of an eye roll.)
They all gathered in to roost, and we went in to drink coffee.

I’d herd chickens and take evening strolls to the hen house with him any day.

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Coming Home

Ahhhh.

 

Ahhhh.

 

Laundry going, swish-swishing and the cool of my dark-ish living room is a refreshing alternative to outside.

We are home from a road trip to California for my grandma’s funeral, and so much about the trip and the homecoming was just lovely goodness.

Today was the first day we just haven’t had plans to speak of, and it began with coffee on my front porch and the beginning of another round of laundry.

I picked all the cucumbers in our garden, and so far have accumulated at least two very full bags of them.  I see pickles in our very near future.

Our road trip to CA – (last minute one, at that)was incredible. We soaked in the beauty of a hundred different landscapes.. rolling, green potato fields in Idaho.  Vast endless open land in Texas. Sagebrush and cactus in Arizona. Sun-reddened cliffs at the border of New Mexico and Arizona, where we stopped at a giant teepee and ate chicken tacos from the crockpot for supper. The plains of South Dakota, wildlife in Yellowstone. The canyon that we drove through during sunset from Yellowstone to Cody, Wyoming was unspeakably beautiful.

Less beautiful, yet still memorable was the nausea that was overtaking me during that particular drive, which ultimately resulted in the same stomach bug that had settled in on our family and was attacking one person every three days.  Miss E was first, and it hit her after we had been on the road for one hour from leaving home.  Several days later Miss A got it, then Mr. J, then me on the way home. Not wanting to be stingy, we spread it right on to my niece and nephews.. and my sister-in-law…. and hopefully it’s ran it’s course by now.

My grandma’s funeral was a beautiful tribute to her life, and we are so thankful she could go home to Jesus. It had been a long time for her, her home-going…. years of Parkinson’s disease gradually robbing her body of the ability to function, walk, and talk normally.

So it wasn’t sad, really. Oh, I cried more than I even thought I would at the funeral. It was the ending of an era, the realization that time doesn’t stop, that I am actually getting older, and there are just so many moments to be lived in and enjoyed.

I find myself in a place in life, a time period that I remember my parents being in.  I think it’s sort of snuck up on me.  But it’s good, too, to realize that life is so worth living, and there are just so many people to love on and bless.

And so, we are home from a trip. My grandma has passed on to eternity. I wonder what it’s like up there – my Miss E thinks she must be dancing. I’m inclined to agree. Grandma was barely able to walk for so long, and unable for the past few years.  I believe she is likely singing and praising and dancing with all the joy she never knew even existed.  I’m a little jealous of the face-to-face realization of her faith, to be honest.

But I’m going to live my life now, and make pickles, and take my kids to swimming lessons, and greet my husband at the door with a kiss.  I’m going to call my dad more often and enjoy the conversations I have with my mom.  I’m going to read aloud to my children and make a point to smile widely at them just because.

This is a good life. It’s not easy all the time, but that’s just because it’s the Before. The Prelude. And things aren’t clearly seen in the Before. It’s just a taste, a small window.

Bits of Idaho fields with mountain peaks and rivers winking and glistening below as they wind. Raging-fire sunsets. Wispy blonde curls and husband embraces. The moments where our heart dances and we’re called in beautiful longing for the More that’s coming.

After here, there’s a Story that we’ve barely tasted. Our eyes haven’t seen, our ears haven’t heard, what is coming. What is waiting.

But it is waiting. So we wait, too, in hope. In joy.

Because we will reap, if we faint not.

The half has never yet been told

 

 

Wherein I ramble

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home + All the Rainbow Projects

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Oh goodness, it’s cold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes you just have to laugh.

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

Happy knitting and reading, friends!

linking up with Ginny’s  Yarn Along   

And Nicole’s Crafting On

Slow

It’s Saturday.

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

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

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

Just stop.

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

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

That looked like sitting down to knit on Friday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Slowing down.

Resting.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul


I am thankful.

I will not choose to be anything else.

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

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

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

A very real sense. 

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

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

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

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

He is so able.  

So able.  

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


the truth of God’s Word.

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

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

-fire in the fireplace in the morning

-chilly nights and cozy soups

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

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

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

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

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

-garlic breadsticks

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

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

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

-this gorgeous sunset

The Beauty of Mums, Bread, and Dishcloths

Mums.

Yum.

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

<exhale.>

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

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


English Muffins in a Loaf

6 c. Flour

2 T. Yeast

1 T. Sugar

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

2 c. Milk

1/2 c. Water

Cornmeal

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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.