yarn along

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I really have far too many projects on the needles right now, and have no business casting on anything new.  I have quite a bit of gift/birthday/christmas knitting to get done.  However, this last weekend I was able to get away for a couple of days for some retreat/solo (with wren) time and its really the best time to begin a bigger project that requires learning a new skill.  I’ve had the yarn for the Tecumseh sweater since my birthday in June but wanted to finish a few items before casting on and I knew it would take some extra brain energy to get this project off the ground, being it is my first attempt at color work.  So I decided to take it along and at least get it started even though I will probably have to set it down for a bit until I finish some more gift knitting.  Still it felt really good and exciting to get it on my needles!  So far it has been really fun and easier to knit than I anticipated.

I’m still reading (affiliate link) Liturgy of the Ordinary, enjoying every bit of it though I’m making slow progress.  Lots of sickness in our house the last couple of weeks and I’ve been making more of an effort to get to bed earlier because I am up so much in the night with multiple children but especially Wren lately.  So my reading time has been less, but hopefully we’ll all be feeling 100% soon.

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

graybeard + this year’s fall color

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I shared a few posts back about damaging my camera and needing to replace it.  Well, I did!  It wasn’t a major upgrade at all, but the camera is a slightly newer model than what I had and I am still trying to figure things out on it.  It was so wonderful to be able to get out last weekend for a day trip to nearby Montreat, NC where my husband and I went to college, met and married.  These trails used to be our daily bread, our common language, and now we are so rarely in these woods!  It was ministry to us both.  It’s therapeutic to get away from home and our usual work for a bit, particularly to get outside together.  We hiked for a little ways, looking for a good spot in the river to stop and let the kids play.  I think our kids are pretty decent hikers considering their age; Philippa does well keeping up with the older two, though she can often tire out far sooner than the rest of us.  As much as we’d like to go farther, we have to be content with shorter hikes and more stops and curiosity.  After playing in the water for a bit the sun dropped below the mountains and the temperatures grew cooler quickly.  We headed back to the trailhead and the picnic area just below it for a cozy warm fire and dinner.  It was a treat for me to play around with my camera throughout the day, and I was thankful for the opportunity to capture a bit of this year’s fall color, and these simple sweet moments together with children who are growing lankier every time I turn around.  Fall, the turning of seasons again, and these days slipping by so quickly.

yarn along

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Amid all of the baby and birthday/gift knitting I’ve been doing lately, there are some longer-term “selfish” projects on my needles, and my marley shawl is one of these.  I’m new to brioche, in fact this is my first brioche project and I really enjoy it.  I do have to work on it when I can do the eight-row repeat without interruption so that I don’t lose my spot.  Well, truthfully at this point I feel like I’ve got it under my belt and it’s easier to figure out where I’ve left off, but it’s still not a project I like to pick up and work on unless I have a longer bit of time to focus on it.  So I’m sure it’ll languish on the needles a bit and I hope to have it done sometime this winter season because I can’t wait to wear it/use it (as in, now!).  I counted rows last night and realized I’m about half way through, so that was exciting and surprising!  The yarn is so enjoyable and brioche is beautiful and squishy.    One of my knitting goals for the year was to learn brioche and it’s surprisingly much easier than I expected.  My other knitting goal was to try color work, and I have a project planned for that which I hope to start SOON!  I’m about to finish a few projects which feels good.

I’ve been realizing lately that in all our busyness, reading time is getting cropped out of the day (as in, chapter book read-aloud time).  Brandon began reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle (affiliate link) to the kids in the evenings, and I began reading this book to the kids during our school morning which I was given as a child, Treasure in the Big Woods.  I must have won it in Sunday School as a child for a bible drill or something (it isn’t listed on amazon).  Both have been enjoyable for all of us!  I’m still reading Liturgy of the Ordinary  (affiliate link) as well.

What are you reading or making lately?

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

 

On growing up

 

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We were gathered at the kitchen table over breakfast, and I pulled out the bible for our morning family reading time.  As we were discussing that day’s reading, I asked the children something and Phoebe’s response was, “Well, I just don’t read my bible that often.  I don’t find I really have a use for it.”  Words that made my heart sink.  Is that what she sees in us, I had to ask myself?  Does she not see her father and I clinging to God’s word, making USE of it in our daily lives?  Where are we exemplifying it’s practical use and purpose?  I’m thankful she was being real and honest, and I think if most of us are honest, we don’t feel too much differently than she does.  We don’t read our bibles much because we don’t really see the use, right?  What good is it anyway?

But then the hard days come.  The shock of bad news, the financial burden, the unexpected need.  The broken heart, the anxious nights–and those of us who are Word-people find that only God’s Word breaks through these hard life realities.  Only God’s Word helps, soothes, and brings hope.  I hope I can show my children that there is nothing like God’s Word, like hearing truth that divides so perfectly (Heb. 4:12) and brings light (Ps. 119:130) and literally imparts strength to the listener (Ps. 119:28).

It’s been a hard few weeks around here.  I don’t only want to share the good in this little space, because of course you know it isn’t all good!  I’ve been feeling increasingly frazzled and stretched and overwhelmed lately, trying to juggle more than I ever have before and feeling at capacity, if not beyond.  I dropped and broke my camera which is a source of joy and also income for me.  It will cost as much to fix it as it would to purchase a new camera.  I was planning to open a little etsy shop this month but now can’t photograph the items I want to sell (I can use my phone, but it doesn’t do the same job as my DSLR).  One of the children had lice, resulting in a total house scrub down and a billion loads of laundry.  A few days after that discovery, the vet informed us Rose (our kitty) has fleas and so the house underwent another big scrub down, and despite my great dislike for the use of any chemicals, a terminix guy came to resolve the issue.  It seems to take a lot for me to break down and cry lately, but I cried a good bit that morning from equal parts exhaustion and discouragement.  Fleas + lice make one feel like a domestic failure (and I hesitate to share it here because it feels so yucky/shameful)!  Also, I think because “home” is so important and special to me and also my primary place of work, it hits hard when home is infested, you know?  Couple all of that with a baby who hasn’t been sleeping well and my own little bouts with insomnia lately, and you can imagine the toll that that takes.  Because of the cleaning and flea resolution, we had to cancel another family camping trip attempt.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about growing up, what it feels like to realize you are a grown up when all the while you still feel like that same child.  Our spot of earth is tilting away from the sun and my soul needs the reprieve, the wide open space of barren forests and quiet land.  Autumn comes and I hear the strain of the familiar song — geese crying out against an iron sky.  Leaves turning from green to ochre, rustling dry on the limb.  Hearing the geese, it makes me sing that song from my childhood by Michael Kelly Blanchard every time — A view out the window is just a piece of the sky.  The song triggers a memory and suddenly I am driving out with my family to Burnsville area as a child, hiking the Roan Mountain bald and drawing it in a notebook, trying to capture that fall glory with my 8 year old hand.  There’s the ache and longing to just be that child again when life was simpler and felt safer.

A few weeks ago I went to bed fighting anxiety and overwhelm over some pressing needs with our children.  I picked up my current read at the time, Rebecca Reynolds book which I recently shared on this blog, Courage Dear Heart: Letters to a Weary World.  I just so happened to be reading a portion that evening about watching our children walk through their own underworlds and rebellions and not trying to manage or methodologize life for them but to hang in that liminal balance of trust.

She writes,

“I wish I knew how to help kids understand desire for the Lord without also learning what it’s like to fill their bellies with husks left for the pigs.  I don’t want young people to take King Solomon’s approach, plunging into one futile experiment after another until they are finally exhausted enough to declare, ‘Vanity, vanity.”  If I could choose for them, I would give all young believers the way of Enoch, that dear old man who walked small and honest beside God until he woke up one morning and found that he was walking in his eternal presence.  What a beautiful way to spend life on earth!  ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be Enoch, and his is the path I’d want my kids to take if I held the game controls of their lives.

Yet fear and compassion drive me to that desire as much as faith.  As much as I hate spiritual disaster, I know God can work with it because so many of my favorite writers have been there.  Lewis was an atheist, and he was likely immoral for years.  Dorothy Sayers had a child out of wedlock.  Chesterton left his childhood faith only to grow madly in love with orthodoxy in the end.  Bad choices can leave ugly scars I don’t want my children to have; however, God is a master of chasing wandering souls through terrible decisions.

This idea that darkness can be commandeered for good stands fiercely against most of the books I’ve read on raising kids right, and doing marriages right, and living life right.  Method manuals have filled me with guilt and fear, and some have nearly driven me mad with self-doubt.  But as much as I love my children, as much as I’m willing to give to help them, I’m not strong enough to be their savior.  God didn’t make me their choreographer; he made me their mother.  So whether they live robust, trusting lives, or whether they wrestle the Lord until he wins their hearts, I still need the living God to complete what he began in them.  If that involves a journey into the underworld, I have to trust the Father to chase them into the valley of the shadow of death.

My husband keeps reminding me that the fatal flaw of most writers is trying to make sense of things before they have come to their proper end; rushing a story is the dark side of the creative nature.  But when we try to jerry-rig the natural progression of events God has planned–either in our lives or in the lives of those we love–we aren’t trusting him.  We are trying to pull the moth out of her cocoon three days too early and then command her to fly when she cannot.  We are trying to compress billions of nuances of grace into six tidy paragraphs.  We are skimming over our first, giant, reptilian sins; rushing the crude lines of our faith’s first cave paintings; reading the CliffNotes on our early renaissances; bouncing over our nuclear winters of backsliding; and jumping straight into ‘They lived happily ever after.  The end.’…

When we are willing to depend upon a God who lives, forgives, redirects, and upholds, we begin to realize that we don’t have to frantically strain to rewrite the meaningless seasons of our lives.  We can cling to grace at the center and learn to preach the gospel to ourselves in small, honest ways.”

I had a small moment of panic in realizing I’m the adult care taking for these four little souls and yet feeling very much so like the child who still needs her own parents.  My dad brought me creme brûlée recently, just out of the blue because he knows it’s my favorite dessert, and later that evening after I put the kids to bed I realized I hadn’t really thanked him for it.  I found myself crying again, feeling seen and loved in a season where I don’t often “need” my parents like I used to, but then realizing actually I do.  Does that make sense?  I’m an adult now and things have changed yet there’s still this child in me who feels just like I did as a little girl.  I was once dependent and carefree, hanging in the trust that my parents would always come through and take care of everything.  Now I’m an adult with my own children and I’m supposed to provide that sense of security for them.  They view Brandon and I in this way, and yet I know the reality of how fragile our financial and emotional well-being is at times!  Sometimes when life presses in, I still want to run to my parents to bail me out, but it’s not their place any more.  We are grown, and our help is in the Lord.

I woke the next morning to these words by Emily Freeman in her podcast, The Next Right Thing, and was struck by the timeliness of them.  I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them:

“So what does growing up feel like?
It feels like torn lace, like smoke, like wedding mints melting on your tongue,
like distraction,
like worry,
like chasing but not quite catching,
or trying to remember but seeing only through foggy panes.
It feels like wider hips and thinner lips,
and laugh lines starting to show up around the curved edges.
It feels like sorrow and joy.
It feels like courage, and sometimes regret.
It also feels like freedom.
We are still growing, even though we’re grown.”

We are still growing up, even though we’re grown–and it is hard to feel like we have much to offer another who is growing up when we feel impossibly like we are still that small child ourselves.

I don’t have a tidy way to wrap all of these thoughts up into a neat bow or happy ending, but it’s just what I’ve been processing lately and I thought maybe someone else out there has been thinking about the same things.  About how hard it is to grow up and be an adult sometimes, how the load of it is far heavier and weightier than we ever imagined as children, and yet nothing has really changed–God is still the same God as He has always been and will be.  He will carry us all the way, and our children.  So here we are, going on from day to day, depending on God, looking to Him as a child, receiving from Him, growing as we go.

yarn along

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I gave Phoebe this ball of sock yarn last Christmas for her to knit with since she loves all things purple and fuchsia.  However, the yarn has been used for a million other purposes and left neglected and tangled in her room so I picked it up to knit her some socks with it.  One can’t let yarn go to waste!  I was thinking to get ahead on her birthday/Christmas knitting but she’s spotted them and is so excited for a new pair of socks so I’ll probably just let her have them whenever they’re done.  I have a few other projects on the go so I didn’t need to cast something new on, but there’s just something about sock knitting.

Still reading Liturgy of the Ordinary (affiliate link) and loving it, though I haven’t made much progress since last week.

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

Courage, Dear Heart

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Hey friends.  I finished this book, Courage, Dear Heart: Letters to a Weary World, not too long ago and wanted to share about it with you here!  Written as letters to the brokenhearted and storm-battered, in each chapter Reynolds strives to offer three things: words for our pain, the presence of a friend/companion in the journey, and hope so that we can run the race.

You cannot be human for very long and not feel some heart ache, some brokenness.  As you live and walk farther, you only gather more hardships along the way–no one gets through life unscathed.  Of course, life is not only about the hardships and there are rivers of joy.  However there are seasons where the grief and pain seem to swallow up all of the light and we aren’t sure that we’ll ever recover.

In my own life there have been a handful of excruciating seasons, most I can’t really share in this space.  One such season for me was in the first couple of years immediately following Phoebe’s diagnosis with Celiac disease.  Of course the shock of the diagnosis and its implications for lifestyle changes was one overwhelming aspect.  There was so much change so quickly, so much to learn about, such a huge leap in our grocery budget, medical bills from multiple procedures, etc.

Even now as I sit to write this, I am overwhelmed trying to explain the depths of what this journey has been like for us.  I’ve tried writing this post out a few times and keep coming up short.  There is so much, so many layers.  Emotional pain, physical pain, spiritual ramifications, financial strain–the way all of that hits a marriage, the way my husband and I process it all differently and then have to work through it somehow together.  The way it makes a mother nearly go crazy to watch her child suffer and to feel helpless.  Then there is the PTSD of sorts of having gone through something like this, and the temptation to live now in the shadow of the next shoe dropping.  It has been one of the hardest seasons to date, one I’m not sure I’m totally through yet and certainly not one I can fully unpack or process yet.  I was sharing about it with a close friend + confidant recently, how going through this has somehow fundamentally changed the landscape of my soul.

All of that to say, Reynolds book strikes a chord with the storm-battered and weary.  So many words have sounded empty and hollow and lifeless in this season.  Few seem to speak the language of the suffering.  Maybe only those who have walked through these kinds of dark valleys can speak the tongue of it, sending forth words to pull another groping traveler along.  Her words are honest, simple yet profound, hopeful.  It’s rare that a book will make me cry, but there have been time that her words have reached that inaccessible closed off part of my heart and helped to crack it open a bit so the pain can be released.  That is a gift, friends.

She offers permission to suffer, to be human–which we so desperately need when in the company of fellow Christians who often unknowingly communicate that we must be strong in our trial.  She offers a realistic view of what it looks like to be human and yet carry the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.  (What a mystery!)

I highly recommend it for those of you who might be in a trying time for one reason or another, needing letters from a fellow sojourner who can offer real hope and care and help you grope for God through the dark.  I leave you with this little excerpt from the introduction:

“In C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, young Lucy finds herself trapped inside a thick, enchanted darkness in which all nightmares come true.  Overwhelmed by fear, she cries out to the great lion, ‘Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.’

At this moment of desperation, Lucy notices a light.  She looks along its beam and sees something inside:

‘At first it looked like a cross, then it looked like an airplane, then it looked like a kite, and at last with a whirring of wings it was right overhead and was an albatross.  It circled three times round the mast and then perched for an instant on the crest of the gilded dragon at the prow.  It called out in a strong sweet voice what seemed to be words though no one understood them.  After that it spread its wings, rose, and began to fly slowly ahead, bearing a little to starboard. . . .No one except Lucy knew that as it circled the mast it had whispered to her, “Courage, dear heart,” and the voice, she felt sure, was Aslan’s, and with the voice a delicious smell breathed in her face.’

So courage, dear heart.  I know you are tired.  I know the darkness is thick, and the way is longer and harder than you ever expected it to be.  But God sees you, he hurts with you, and he welcomes your honesty.  Even to the ends of the earth, he will lead you on.”

A special thank you to Tyndale Publishers for their complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions my own. 

yarn along

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I finished the body and am onto the first sleeve of Philippa’s birthday sweater, which I’m knitting with yarn I dyed myself.  I’m really happy with it!  It’s probably time to hunt for buttons.  The weather has turned colder here and I always feel a bit caught by surprise when I start digging through bins of children’s winter clothes and layers and discover what we are short on.  It seems wren needs a few more warm layers, and I’m wanting to cast on all the things.

I didn’t finish Home Education Vol. 1 (affiliate link) but it was due back at the library.  I made it about half way and I would recommend it and probably should buy it for myself.  The Liturgy of the Ordinary (affiliate link) is a book Brandon gave me for my birthday back in June and I’ve been forcing myself to wait to read it.  If you’ve been around my blog for any time at all, you know that this theme of the sacred found in the ordinary is the theme I seem to orbit around the most and find the most fascinating.  I’m planning on going on a little solo retreat early November and was hoping to read it then but I couldn’t wait, so I started it the other evening.  I love it already.

What are you reading and making lately?

Joining Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.  Feel free to join in, too!