waiting

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It’s that time where I start to get texts and inquiries from people, where neighbors walk by and holler, “you still here?” and all those last minute projects feel so terribly crucial.  Every day it seems I make a little bit of progress mentally in checking things off my list to be ready for baby.  I’m just a few days away from my due date, but I’m feeling more peaceful about it all than I have with any of my other pregnancies.  Thats a gift from the Lord!  I had a ton of anxiety going into my birth with Philippa after such a traumatic delivery and recovery with Noah.  Because her birth went so much better, I’m feeling more at peace with how this one will go.  Of course, I say that and that could change as soon as labor actually begins!  Pray for me and with me that I would remain at peace, fixed and focused, and full of joy.  I’ve just been feeling more joy and excitement to meet this little one than anything else.  I’m treasuring these last days with her moving around quietly inside, knowing I may never experience this again.  And I’m enjoying good nights of solid rest, knowing those will evade me soon for some weeks.

I appreciate the little bursts of energy and motivation I have some days to get things accomplished that have been waiting for attention for months.  Reorganizing the open shelving in our kitchen.  Hanging new light fixtures as well as treasured photos that have been sitting in boxes since we moved in.  Giving all the kids hair cuts on the porch, and wishing I could squeeze in one for myself.  (I’m desperate enough to be tempted to cut my own.)  I love seeing the little basinet in our bedroom when I glance down the hall, knowing it will have new life in it again soon.  This new little person we don’t know yet, but soon won’t be able to imagine our lives without.  The bursts of energy do help to get projects done, but usually they are followed by days of increased tiredness.  It’s just the rhythm for now, and I’m being gentle with myself in it, for the most part.

Phoebe and I are still working diligently on school, but I can feel myself losing steam and motivation there.  Brandon is starting to take her to her weekly co-op so I can stay home with the littles and the change of schedule is a little weird for us, but also really neat to have him more involved in her schooling.  It’ll only be short-term as I recover from birth and keep the baby home for the first number of weeks.  My parents treated us to a really fancy date the other night, maybe the nicest restaurant we’ve ever eaten at, and we talked so much about our kids and schooling.  His thoughts and observations were really fun to hear and helpful to me, and made me feel like he’s getting a peek into my “work” that helps him understand a bit more of my world.  I love that he’s interested and truly enjoys doing schooling with Phoebe when he gets the chance, and that he has ideas and excitement for our future in it with all the kids.

My parents also gifted us a new BOB stroller which is so generous and helpful, and when they were watching the kids during our date the other night, they all brainstormed name ideas and wrote them all over the box.  Super cute, and I wanted to snap a picture of it so we don’t forget.  We still haven’t 100% decided on a name, I have literally so many I love (few that Brandon approves of, though), and I think as usual we’ll just need to meet her and see what fits.  But don’t give me suggestions!!  We want to name this little one. 🙂

This week has been up in the mid-seventies and sunny here in NC, and it feels so odd to me to be ready to welcome a baby in such weather!  All my babies thus far have been born in the deep middle of winter.  It’s fun and different this time.  I have a feeling this little one wants a March birthday.  I’ll keep you posted, but know that it may be quieter around the blog for a little bit!

yarn along

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This cozy little scene by my bed currently bringing me joy.  So I’ve been knitting on a few different projects this week.  It’s funny how a project can sit neglected for awhile and then suddenly you have the desire to pick it back up and finish it.  That’s how it has been with my featherweight cardigan.  I mentioned a few weeks ago that I thought I would run out of yarn for this project and I went ahead and ordered another skein but, of course, the dye lots are drastically different.  As you can see above, the skeins I did have were already pretty different.  I started alternating skeins just toward the bottom of the cardigan where it looks pretty stripey in the photo.  I don’t really mind how it’s looking, but I don’t think I’ll keep alternating skeins on the sleeves so hopefully it turns out ok and not too odd looking.  I’m almost done with the ribbing on the bottom, and then will move on to sleeves.  I’m sort of hoping now to not need to use the extra skein I ordered and just make 3/4 sleeves with the two balls of yarn I have currently going, because the new skein is a much brighter purple.  Maybe I’ll knit a little baby cardigan with the new skein of yarn?  I’m sure I’ll find a use for it.  😉

I finished Francine River’s new book and have been back to reading A Circle of Quiet in the evenings before bed.  I’m really enjoying it.  I so appreciate her thoughts on writing and creative work.

Linking up with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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signs of life

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Last Friday as well as today we’ve gone for little hikes because both days have been unseasonably warm, sunny, and beautiful.  Actually the last few days this week have been so spring-like and warm, it’s hard to believe it’s mid-February.  Part of me is enjoying it, because who can resist being outside on days like this?  Part of me is a bit sad.. it feels too early, and I still wanted a few more blustery winter days.  Maybe we’ll still have some.  I know everyone seems to love spring the most, and it is irresistible with its bright colors, blooms, sounds and abundance, but I still love dreary winter most of all.  I guess I was assuming this baby would be born in the midst of cold days and nights and somehow it feels wrong for everything to be so warm already.

Anyway, the children are loving it and have been outside as much as they are able during the day.  I’ve noticed the days slowly stretching longer and longer, and what a good effect it has on all of us to have a little more light to enjoy.

Last Friday we went for a short, easy hike at a place nearby called Jump Off Rock.  It was truly beautiful and a great picnic spot, so I was glad I had packed our lunch.  Afterwards the kids stretched out with bare toes in the sun and then climbed around the rocks, finding a little passageway/cave through them.

Our weeks have felt really busy lately, even though I can’t say we have a ton of “activities” going on, per say.  Weekly OB and chiropractor appointments for me, as well as trying to get in our weekly grocery trips (I usually go to at least 3 different stores), homeschool co-op, library trips, other random errands, and school work/house work seem to fill up our days to the full.  I’ve been nesting like crazy, too–working on finalizing things in Noah/baby’s room, like having Brandon make and hang those shelves for me (which I haven’t finished organizing quite yet), organizing boxes of stuff in the school room, etc.  You know, the important things.  Meanwhile, the car seat is still not installed in the car and I don’t have a hospital bag ready or anything like that.  We are delivering at a different hospital than we have with all the other children, and we still haven’t done a hospital visit.  I think we vaguely know where to go.  I’m still trying to knit a few items before baby comes, too.  I feel like my brain is all over the place and I only have 10 days left before due date.  Nothing much is happening yet and I feel mostly normal, just increasingly tired and big.  Something must have changed because now everywhere I go people look and smile and somehow know I’m due any day.  Lots of “ready to pop” comments from strangers.

I am trying to get as much school work done with Phoebe as I can before baby comes and throws a wrench in things.  I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be able to accomplish or how much time we’ll need to take off before I can get back in the rhythm with her, so I’m trying to diligently get in a good solid 4-5 days a week while I can.  She and I seem to have hit a hard spot with math, which has historically been her favorite subject, but as it gets harder she has been “dreading” it, she tells me.  We’ve started doing it first thing in the morning versus the copywork/language arts we normally focus on first thing, but it doesn’t seem to be making much difference.  Maybe having Brandon teach her and fill in a bit while I’m recovering with new baby will be refreshing for all of us?  Reading with her, history, science, art–these are all a breeze and enjoyable for both of us.  Hoping she and I can still spend a good bit of time snuggled up reading while new little baby girl sleeps.

Today we went to a local historic home, the Carl Sandberg home, which we have really enjoyed visiting in the spring/summer months for picnics and to see new baby goats.  With all the flu going around rampant in our area, I’ve been trying to avoid public places so our hikes and walks have been more in the woods and less at parks/playgrounds.  Our hike today was just lovely, and I told the children to be looking for signs of new life.  They saw a pilated woodpecker, new little buds forming, and heard lots of birds singing.  The first set of twin kid goats are due in about a month, so we’ll be back soon to see and play with them.  We’ve been seeing daffodils and crocuses pushing up through the soil on our neighborhood walks, too.  Just before I snapped that picture of the three of them holding hands, Noah had asked Phoebe, who had come back to me to tell me something, to keep having a little conversation with him, and they ran off holding hands.  A sweet little moment.  They spend a lot of time together and there is always a lot of friction between them because of it, but they really adore each other too.  Its always encouraging for me to see the good moments happen.  Don’t worry, the hike ended with its fair share of whining and weariness, and we squeezed in a library visit afterwards, which was probably pushing it being everyone was already “starving.”  But we survived and recovered this afternoon with naps + quiet time spent with fresh library books.

 

 

yarn along

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Its a cozy rainy day here in NC.  Rose is sitting on the windowsill watching the rain drip from the eaves, Phoebe and I are having tea while she practices her cursive.  Noah and Philippa are off playing cars in his room and we’ll probably be spending all day cozied up in here with books, warm mugs, maybe even a movie later on.  I think nesting is in full swing for me, so I’m busy cleaning nooks and crannies that have been neglected for some time, and making unreasonable goals for what I want done before baby arrives.

I cast on a pair of newborn baby socks this past week, hoping that some hand knit socks will stay on better than the store bought newborn ones that always seem to slide right off.  I’m knitting them with the same yarn I used recently to knit my own pair of socks.  They are tiny and cute and the kiddos can’t believe we will have a baby with feet so small.  I still have a few other projects on the go, and I’m starting to feel really ancy about finishing that baby blanket but have so little time to work on it!  If it’s late, I know the baby won’t mind but I imagine snuggling her right up in wooly goodness when she’s at the hospital.

I’ve been reading Francine River’s latest book, The Masterpiece, (which just released yesterday!) and have been staying up way too late in the evenings reading it.  It is everything I love and enjoy about River’s writing, and so fun to have a new book of hers in my hands again.  I’m already almost finished with it.  As with most of her books, this one tells the story of brokenness and redemption, romance and the turning of hard hearts to God.  It’s definitely worth reading!

Joining up with Ginny’s yarn along and Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

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Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.

january

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A fresh new year—the ending of one year and the beginning of another makes us all pause, take note, consider, evaluate.  Even when we don’t want to, don’t have the energy to, or don’t believe in setting goals, intentions, or making resolutions–somehow we still in some way find ourselves reflective.  Even when we’re afraid all we say we will change and do and accomplish will inevitably fail, and all the ways we plan to better ourselves might end up like last year’s plans.  We still find ourselves wanting.  New Years resolutions–aren’t they filled with wanting?  And there’s nothing really wrong with that in some ways.  It’s natural for us to want to improve, change, increase, grow.  It’s good and right.  It’s the natural way for any living thing: to grow.

Yet I sometimes hear in all our New Years talk a lot of discontent.  We chatter on about the things we want to attain for ourselves this year, the things we think we need to have to be happier, more comfortable, more seen and known, contented, successful.  In this I think we have to be careful.  Yes, let us reflect, let us learn to number our days–but not for our own glory and renown, but for God’s glory and the sake of the kingdom.  Let us evaluate where in life we have gotten off track in regard to His purposes for us, and endeavor to readjust.

Gratitude is good and right, too–seeing what we already have, seeing all the gifts of God’s grace, seeing how far He has brought us and trusting Him to carry us all the way Home.  Remembering that truly we need far less than we think, remembering that our happiness comes not in our feeding our fleshly desires but in denying them.  In letting God fulfill us, satisfy us.  Remembering that if we are discontent today with all the bounty we have before us, we will still be discontent tomorrow even if we attain more.  Remembering that God alone is our good, our portion, our inheritance–and if we are in Christ, we always have Him, and that is enough.  There is always joy available to us, there is always grace as long as we have breath, there is always the opportunity to be content.

In the years before I was a mother, I often would spend a portion of New Years Eve and day journaling about the big moments of the closing year, and the things I felt God had done in me and in my life, and then recording where I found myself at that present time and the scripture I sensed God was highlighting for me for the coming year.  This season of motherhood and being late in my fourth pregnancy makes finding such uninterrupted time for journaling scarce.  Instead of feeling “behind” because I don’t have all my reflections and thoughts in order by the first of January, I’ve been taking the whole month of January as a time of reflection.

It’s been a sweet month in that way.  The rush of the holy holidays behind us, children’s birthdays done for a year, and now stretching before us a string of ordinary days.  Back to our common life.  Mornings spent mostly at home working on school, house work, small projects here and there, organizing, cooking, playing in the mud and snow, trips to the library, neighborhood walks, books on the couch, pizza on fridays.  Weekends spent cramming in as much time with daddy, to-do list items crossed off before baby comes, running errands, worship and rest.  There has been a lot of journaling, listening, reflecting in the early morning quiet, when the world is still hushed and dark and I sit with the scriptures and coffee.

But the beginning of this year was also hard.  Brandon worked the first two weeks straight without taking a day off, working late into the evenings, and it took a toll on us both.  During that time I was also sick with a head cold, as well as some other body grievances, and felt pretty wiped out and depleted.  Phoebe has had some major setbacks in her appetite and eating, which has caused me to do a good bit of revamping our usual staples, recipe testing, and recipe hunting, which is all very exhausting.  I’ve had my share of breakdowns over the last month, nights when I just end the day in a pool of tears.  So yes, January: back to the ordinary, which can be sweet, but also can feel like a slow plod forward with a summit far off in the distance, obscured by clouds.  Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my way and can’t remember what my course is supposed to be anyway.

It’s never too late to step back and take time, take stock.  Even if in your January there wasn’t much time for it, February is as good a time as any.

There are a few extra-biblical resources I would recommend to you if you’re looking for a few books to help you along the way.  These particular titles kept coming to mind throughout this past month, books that have grounded and inspired and set me on course.

  • The Songs of Jesus: A year of daily devotions in the Psalms by Tim Keller
    I believe this is the third or fourth year I’ve read through this devotional daily.  Some years ago I was studying the Psalms and bought this resource to help stay saturated in them, and I don’t know that I’ll ever really graduate from daily reading the Psalms.  This  book is helpful in that it is short and entirely feasible to squeeze in when you literally have moments to read before little children’s feet hit the floor.  It’s also one I frequently read aloud to Brandon or the kids if they are up early snuggling with me.
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society by Eugene Peterson
    I read this years ago in college but am curious to re-read it lately.  This concept of our Christian lives being “a long  obedience in the same direction,” the endurance and seemingly slow returns of the Christian life rings true for me lately.  The world seems to be spinning ahead faster and faster, and we are a people more entitled and impatient than ever.  Yet if we do not remember and return to this reality, that our Christian lives will look more like a long obedience in one narrow direction, I believe we will lose heart and fall away.  We need encouragement in our endurance!  Also, this book happens to center around the Psalms of Ascent:  “I knew that following Jesus could never develop into a ‘long obedience’ without a deepening life of prayer and that the Psalms had always been the primary means by which Christians learned to pray everything they lived, and live everything they prayed over the long haul.” (Peterson)
  • Your Beautiful Purpose by Susie Larson
    This book, combined with Emily Freeman’s book below, were two that gave me permission to pursue some dreams and passions and desires of my heart, to make room in my life for creative expression (this blog, photography, knitting, reading) and to see God’s purpose in it.  The two books together seemed to have a conversation in my soul that helped me discern more of my purpose, which was incredibly freeing and fruitful.
  • A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman
    See above. 🙂
  • Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love by Jerry Bridges
    This one came to me a few years ago in a terrible season of battling a besetting sin.  I needed to understand how God’s grace was literally transforming me when I felt that I was making no headway.  This is just one of those books I think any Christian can benefit from reading at any time, but particularly those of us who just can’t seem to get beyond moralistic living, those of us who always come to God with our performance in our right hand, whether for good or ill.

I know many people choose a “word” for the year.  I find God often seems to choose a word for the year for me, a scripture.  (Sometimes I think we are skeptical that God speaks to us in this way, but I have found that if I ask Him to give me a word (scripture) over the coming year, a focus, a truth that He is planning to weave into the fabric of my life in those days–and then I wait for Him to answer–I find that He has always answered.  His primary means of speaking to us is through His Word, and He loves His Word (see Psalm 119) and delights to answer a cry from a heart hungry for His Word.  I think we can be confident that praying this is praying in accord with His will (1 Jn. 5:14)).

He seems to highlight and repeat a certain scripture to me, something that speaks to a current need or struggle or question.  This year, the word “peace” came up in my soul so unexpectedly.  We live in tumultuous times, yes, but in my own home and heart, there is a cry for peace!   And then, this scripture came up time and time again, everywhere I turned.  It will be my focus for the year 2018, and I leave it with you, too, as an encouragement onward in your own race!  I hope that in this new year, you and I both find ourselves walking a bit more closely with Jesus, growing in grace.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21 esv

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yarn along

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Yes, another yarn along post.  I’m sorry to you readers who are non-knitters!  I do hope to have a more “regular life” post up sometime this week.  Lately I’ve been busy working on a baby knit for a loved one, so I can’t show much of it here.  It’s been sweet to knit and mostly mindless, at least on the body section.

I’ve been flipping through and enjoying these two homestead-y type books from the library.  Welcome to the Farm and Homestead Kitchen have been informative and fun and somehow relaxing for me to flip through, being that I’m basically a wishful-homesteader, and don’t you just love the library for having fun, current resources like these?  I’m thinking just the teensiest, weensiest bit about spring (I’m really a winter/fall girl through and through) and about our little garden space, what we will grow, and if I’ll have much energy for it with a newborn.  I hope so–I was so sick all last summer with this pregnancy that the smell of the garden itself was a total turn off, as well as all vegetables.  I’m hoping for a better experience this year.

What are you reading and making/knitting lately?

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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yarn along

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I’ve been knitting this baby blanket for our little girl, coming the last week of February.  I’m not a great lace knitter, I don’t think, in that I don’t really have much practice knitting from charts and in order to follow of line of instructions I really need total focus.  I’m not to the point where I can memorize lace.  Thus, I must have quiet to work on this blanket!  Sometimes I can do more mindless knitting while I do school with Phoebe.  This project is something I can only work on when the kids are in bed at night and I’m not watching something I’m terribly interested in.  That being said, I absolutely love working on it and wish I had bigger chunks of time to do so!  I am adding one extra lace repeat on the side and bottom to make the blanket a bit bigger.  I already love how it’s looking and can’t wait to see it block out when it’s done.  Knitting with Quince & Co. is always a treat!  (Brandon graciously let me indulge on yarn for this project.)

I’m reading A Circle of Quiet for the first time.  Just a few pages in, really, but enjoying and commiserating with her reflections on motherhood and creativity.  Often find myself craving my own little circle of quiet.  These days, even though I attempt to rise earlier than the kids, Philippa’s little ears seem to hear my coffee brewing on the stove and she always creeps out with tousled hair to snuggle with me in the dark while I read.  So few moments truly quiet + alone.  I ache to spend more time writing, as I used to, but feel like there is so little time in these busy days, and my brain is going in so many directions that the work of focus has become quite a labor.  I know that there are seasons of producing in our lives and also seasons where seeds are lying dormant in the soil doing the necessary work of waiting in the dark.  Good things will grow eventually, and we must be patient with the process and not always ancy for the fruit.  Each day and season has its own gifts to be enjoyed and thorns to handle.

Linking up with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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