a horse girl’s dreams come true

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I never want to forget the way she smiled.  How full and happy her heart was on April 23rd, the day she had been counting down toward for weeks in advance.  My mom offered to treat Phoebe to a horseback ride on the Biltmore Estate nearby, and of course an adult had to go with her so I also got in on the treat!  (I haven’t been on a horse since college I do believe, and it felt really good.)  It was one of the sweetest days of Phoebe’s life, so she says, and I was grateful to be able to snap a few photos to remember it by.  I hope to get a few printed for her bedroom. I was on a huge white horse named Pepper.  She rode a horse named Scout, and she still thinks and talks about him regularly.  She hopes he is well and wants to own a horse just like him when she’s grown up.  It makes a momma’s heart very full and grateful to see their child fulfill a long-held dream, and I am ever so grateful to my parents for their kindness and generosity in gifting us this unforgettable experience.  We are truly blessed beyond words to have parents who love on us and our children so well!  Thank you thank you thank you, mom. ❤

Schiele Museum of Natural History

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Recently, a good friend and I did a day trip to the Schiele Museum and Planetarium in Gastonia, NC, which is a couple hours drive from us.  It was a field trip I had been looking forward to all school year.  For our science work, we have been focusing on earth science, rocks + fossils, dinosaurs, and outer space.  I visited this museum as a college student either for an ecology class or field natural history, and it left an impression on me!  I thought it would be so neat to share this with the kids, to let them see the constellations in such a neat way in the planetarium, the life size dinosaurs, and all the other exhibits.  Of course, the kids thought it was a blast to skip our regular school day and do a day trip.  They absolutely loved it, especially because we shared the experience with friends we love.  My only regret was that it felt pretty rushed and the kids were flying through and not taking much time to read and learn as they went, more so just taking it all in.  We can always make another trip!

The outdoor exhibits weren’t open but we had fun running through the woods and exploring it all, reading the placards when we could.  It would definitely be neat to go back when these outdoor exhibits are open!  Wren eventually lost steam and by the time we were due for the planetarium show at 12pm, she was pretty much done.  Needless to say,  I stepped out with the screaming baby while the others enjoyed the show.  We ate a picnic lunch that was hurried/interrupted by the rain and then we scooted off to nearby Ikea.  It was a bit of a feat taking 8 children into Ikea between my friend and I, and we were hurrying because it was a Friday and we wanted to do our best to avoid weekend traffic in the rain.  We ended up taking longer than expected, and the bed frame I was looking for for Philippa was out of stock 😦 but I would say it was still a success and really, really fun.  We returned home tired but also energized.  It was a fun way to culminate our science work for the year and a reminder of some of the best parts of homeschooling–experiential, hands-on learning together as a family + with friends.

eastertide

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If there’s anything Easter teaches us, it’s this: there can be sorrow and still there can be joy.  There can be life borne from death.  What a victory!  In fact, the greatest joy I have tasted came out of death.  First, His death.  Then the resurrection.  If there’s anything Easter teaches us, it’s that we can be adrift on the waves of pain and loss while also rejoicing in that unshakeable Hope.  There is a future coming for us that will far surpass our imagination.  Indeed, there is a weight of glory.  I was struck by these words on Easter:

“It still feels like Saturday to me – the loss of a best friend’s youngest son this year, Rachel still in a coma, the Sri Lankan bombings this morning, other sadnesses of this year, and the weight of the world’s longing still feels as present in our sanctuaries as the fulfillment of those longings. Maybe even more so. I’ve cried off and on all morning, unable to rouse my usual celebrations or rituals… As we sang a hymn together at the end, I was struck by the line, ‘Break the bread of new creation where the world is still in pain.’ In the brooding longings of our Saturday world, we feed each other, we pray, we remind each other of all that is beautiful, true, and good; we feast, we ‘drink the wine of resurrection, not as a servant but a friend.’ Perhaps that is what Easter can be today for us, too – bread and wine, hope and each other, even when the world is still in pain.” (Sarah Bessey)

There were bombings in Sri Lanka and the loud headlines.  There was my own broken heart.  There was the unexpectedly cold Easter weather, the children with coughs and runny noses.  There was a broken family held together and holding together in the midst of it by this Savior who takes the failures and the doubters, the deniers and the deserters, and restores them.  Resurrects them.  Sometimes I can hardly believe its true.

This Easter we surprised the children with little Easter baskets in the morning with a new naturally-dyed hair bow for each of the girls, a new hat for Noah, a small simple journal and some new coloring supplies for each.  We worshiped together with our church family, came home for a very cold Easter egg hunt, naps, and then dinner and another Easter egg hunt at my parents house nearby with my brother and his family.  I hope I didn’t bore you with my millions of photos of a bonneted baby looking a bit like mother hubbard shuffling around in her linen dress.  Every first is so fun with a baby.

I hope it was a blessed Easter for you, and that you were able to catch a glimpse of the Risen one and the glory once again that awaits us, too.

hello, again

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hello, dear old friends. 🙂

I’m so sorry for my unannounced absence in this space.  I haven’t posted in a bit over a month, the longest this blog has ever been silent I do believe.  As I shared on my instagram account, there have been some personal things going on that have been difficult and discouraging, and I haven’t felt much like myself.

I also wanted to step away from social media for a few weeks, at least the producing of content side of it, and see what it did for my soul.  I guess I’ve needed to sift why I keep this blog, what my hopes and intentions are.  As a busy mother, it is hard to justify what feels like the extravagant wastefulness of keeping a blog, knitting, reading, editing pictures, etc. etc.  I often hear from other mother friends “I don’t know how you have time to x y z..” and maybe in part because of the other personal hardships we’ve been facing these last number of weeks, I wasn’t sure that I did in fact have time for it.  My home is seemingly always in varying states of disarray, there’s always work I must neglect in order to pursue creative endeavors.  I often feel guilty because of that.  I wondered if I’ve said everything I’ve needed to say, if I’ve begun to just take the same photos again and again.

Anyway, I can’t go into it all now because I only have a few minutes to write here today.  What I can say is that I thought it would be harder to go without sharing and posting much.  It wasn’t actually very hard at all.  In fact, it felt surprisingly good to be silent and private.  What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would miss taking photos and keeping a record of our daily moments.  I did keep up with taking pictures here and there, but I was mostly just still and quiet.  It made me sad, and that surprised me.  Keeping the blog somehow helps me stay present and awake to my own life.  It helps me pay attention and keep a record.  It brings focus and a bit of purpose.  It forces me to process, in a way.  I don’t know all of the reasons why I feel compelled to keep on, and I don’t know that I will forever, but for now, I’m back and it feels good.

I’ve missed you, too, reader, and hope you know that I do so enjoy connecting with you and hearing from you.

So while my soul was feeling the very heavy weight of grieving some losses, winter gave way to spring in our little part of the world.  I noticed it more intently this year than I have ever before in my life.  Every day I have walked around our home, looking for the bulbs we planted last fall to sprout and bloom.  They have!  I can’t quite express the ministry it is to the soul to watch green things come out of the ground, but I know many of you know just what I mean.  I’ve also planted new things in the soil.  During the last few weeks I’ve had some time convalescing and haven’t been able to do my usual physical labor, so Brandon faithfully prepped the garden soil, tilling in our compost from the last year, while I sat near him knitting in the sun.  We’re making better walkways between rows this year in a hope to minimize weeding.  We’ve planted strawberry plants and more asparagus, even as daily there are shoots of asparagus popping up from what we planted last year.  We’ve planted lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, edible flowers, beets and sunflowers all from seed and are hopeful that we will see them sprouting soon.  It has been so lovely spending time each day out in the sunshine, enjoying the cool mornings and warm afternoons before it is unbearably hot and buggy.

The kids and I are all feeling the itch to wrap up our school year.  Our homeschool co-op finished up this week, and we have about 5 weeks of curriculum to finish up before we break for summer.  We’ve done some fun simple field trips, like visiting the Biltmore House (local to us historic home) to see the horses and animals and gardens.  We have a field trip to a museum later this week and hopefully a couple little getaways are in our near future as well.

I hope that spring has come your way, too, and that you are experiencing the ministry of new green things, sunshine, honeysuckle and lilac on the breeze, buzzing bees.  Sending much love to you today. ❤

wren is one

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Our wren wren.  How can it be?  This year with you has been so sweet.  Also, spicy.  As you grow you are learning to exert yourself, learning what you like and what you don’t.  One thing you became very attached to early on in your life was your bunny, a gift from a family friend.  Nothing comforts you like bunny.  So we thought your first birthday should be a bunny themed day.  We can’t believe you are one and we’ve said so a million times.  You are a joy to us all, everybody’s baby, and you make us all laugh with your silly faces, grumpy eyebrows, bunny love, toddling walk, and excitement for life.  Happy first birthday, sweet little very.

A little bit about her day:

Friends (and my mom) came over the day before her birthday (Saturday) for a cookout, bonfire and play time.  We didn’t make it about her day persay, but we did have carrot cake in her honor and a couple of gifts.  On her birthday, it was just us.  After church I wanted to take photos of our girl in her special birthday dress + crown, just as she is now — walking, exploring, loving being outside, chasing our kitty Rose, and keeping up with her siblings.  It was good that we did because shortly thereafter it began to rain and pour for the rest of the day.  When she woke up from her nap and saw her presents by the fireplace, she picked them up and started right in on them, knowing just what to do.  Each of the children helped her open a gift.  She opened her birthday sweater that I knit for her and she immediately bit it, as she does whenever something is soft and snuggly.  She held onto it and didn’t protest a bit when I put it on her.  It’s so sweet because whenever she saw me working on it she would grab the yarn (and generally she is very into my yarn anyway).  We got her a bunny book and her cousin-twin Silas sent her the sweetest book about a bird named wren which made me tear up to read.  Its perfect.  We also bought her a pair of boiled wool overalls which will be so nice for her to wear on all her adventures outside, with the reinforced knees and bottom.  They are very big on her but they will fit her throughout next winter as well!  My mom bought her her first baby doll (wren can’t say her “b’s” yet so she calls it her “day-dee” instead of baby).  Her big gift from us was a little piano of her very own.  She is obsessed with our piano but can’t reach it or play it unless someone helps her up and then sits and makes sure she doesn’t fall off the bench, so this little piano is just her size.  She has loved it so much, which is always a delight.

For her cake, I made a vegan + gluten free carrot cake which was literally maybe the best carrot cake I’ve ever had, and I topped it with new little bunnies in honor of her bunny day. 🙂  She has never had anything like cake before and she’s our first child to absolutely dig in and love her first birthday cake.  It was a very special first birthday, just perfect in so many ways.  And I tried not to cry and be sad about her growing so big so fast, or the fact that it might be the last first birthday we celebrate, and instead just enjoy all that is now and all that will come.

 

 

yarn along

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I’m working on a quick little birthday crown for Wren, her flax light sweater is blocked and finished, and her little linen birthday dress came in time, also.  It is very bittersweet to think we are already at her first birthday.  More than any of the other children, her first year has flown by in all the hustle and busyness of life with four kids.

I’m savoring Placemaker: Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace.  I’ll share some words with you:

“This magnetic pull toward beauty is an inclination most of us carry but too few of us acknowledge.  Even if we are aware of it, we seldom honor it as something planted in us for a purpose.  The rushing world has convinced us that beauty is something extra, not the thing itself.  I would never have guessed…that the hand that compels us to stop and stare at something as insignificant as a beautiful tree in flower might be the hand of God.  Rarely do we know what is at stake when beauty surprises us into stillness and we pause to listen, even for a moment, to creation’s song.”

I hope you find a few moments today to pay attention to that invitation to pause and enjoy the beautiful.

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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reorienting

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When life crowds in and all the pain and hurt breaks our heart, sometimes we need to escape.  I don’t know what it is about the wide open spaces, the heights, the familiar trails, the quiet of the wilderness and the piercing fresh air, but it truly does wonders.  We are facing some hard things personally and I asked Brandon last weekend if we could spend the day Saturday out hiking somewhere.  I didn’t have the energy to think about where to go, and somehow he knew just to quietly drive me to one of my favorite areas, Black Balsam and the Shining Rock Wilderness area.  We speak few words to each other, I knit on the drive, snap photos while hiking.  Mostly we just enjoy the respite from our every day landscape.  I think about place, and why familiar places can minister so much to our souls, all the memories sewn into the landscape.  I have been coming to these trails since my childhood, but mainly since my high school days when I first fell in love with backpacking.  I have come to these trails many times to be with God, to be in the wide open silence, the whipping wind, the other-wordly play of light and cloud.  Now we bring our children along as we go, feet tracing routes we know like the lines on our hands.  We hike most of the day, five miles in all I think, in which their little feet kept up with our pace with barely a complaint.  We get back to the car around 3 in the afternoon and eat lunch all piled in the hatch of the van, wet and muddy, tired but refreshed.  Souls reinvigorated.  I am so thankful for this little tribe of mine, the way we explore and sojourn together.  These children are so precious to me and I’m so proud of them.  I pray they learn to endure when the way is foggy and unclear, when the weather turns from sunshine to storm.

The mountains feel a bit like they’re moving under our feet and we find ourselves reaching out for that which is immovable and certain.  I can never express how profoundly grateful I am for the scriptures, for the God of the scriptures who is THERE, who speaks, who is unchanging and wholly Other while being intimately close, and for His word which is sure and will endure forever.

I turn to these old words from a treasured commentary by Walter Brueggemann called The Land: Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith:

“Land is a central, if not the central theme of biblical faith…There are no meanings apart from roots.  And such rootage is a primary concern of Israel and a central promise of God to his people.  This sense of place is a primary concern of this God who refused a house and sojourned with his people (2 Sam. 7:5-6) and of the crucified one who had ‘nowhere to lay his head’ (Luke 9:58).

A sense of place is to be sharply distinguished from a sense of space as has been stressed by some scholars.  ‘Space’ means an arena of freedom, without coercion or accountability, free of pressures and void of authority.  Space may be imaged as weekend, holiday, avocation, and is characterized by a kind of neutrality or emptiness waiting to be filled by our choosing.  Such a concern appeals to a desire to get out from under meaningless routine and subjection.  But ‘place’ is a very different matter.  Place is space that has historical meanings, where some things have happened that are now remembered and that provide continuity and identity across generations.  Place is space in which important words have been spoken that have established identity, defined vocation, and envisioned destiny.  Place is space in which vows have been exchanged, promises have been made, and demands have been issued.  Place is indeed a protest against the uncompromising pursuit of space.  It is a declaration that our humanness cannot be found in escape, detachment, absence of commitment, and undefined freedom.

Whereas pursuit of space may be a flight from history, a yearning for a place is a decision to enter history with an identifiable people in an identifiable pilgrimage.  Humanness, as biblical faith promises it, will be found in belonging to and referring to the locus in which the peculiar historicity of a community has been expressed and to which recourse is made for purposes of orientation, assurance, and empowerment.  The land for which Israel yearns and which it remembers is never unclaimed space but is always a place with Yahweh, a place well filled with memories of life with him and promise from him and vows to him.”

Yes, maybe that’s it.  When all is spinning, we need to return to places that remind us of who we are, where we are going, what is sure and unchanging.  Maybe returning to those places is what helps to reorient us to the God of the place, and the promise of His presence with us in all our sojourning.