I’ll Push You

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Hello long-lost blog! ¬†It’s been a bit of a weird summer, and I’ll share more about it soon, but there’s been good reason why my blog has sat unattended for a couple of months. ¬†I’m terribly far behind on book reviews, so I hope to catch up on those soon.

This book caught my eye as I’ve been wanting to read more fiction/stories over the summer. ¬†I watched the trailer for the documentary that is coming out and found myself in tears.

I’ll Push You (affiliate link)¬†is the true story of two friends, Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, who grew up together and have stayed close through college and marriage and the early years of parenting. ¬†Justin began to have nerve problems in his feet during high school, progressively losing mobility and control in his feet and legs. ¬†For years doctors did tests and studies but were unable to give him a clear diagnosis. ¬†The autoimmune neuromuscular disease acted much like ALS but wasn’t ALS. ¬†As his disease progressed, Justin began to have less and less mobility and the Gray family decided to move closer to the Skeesucks to help and do life more together. ¬†Patrick and Justin had enjoyed many adventures together over their years of friendship, so it was’t much of a surprise when Justin approached Patrick and told him he really wished he could do the Camino de Santiago in Spain. ¬†The Camino de Santiago is a 500-mile trek through the mountains and rough terrain of Spain, usually done as a spiritual pilgrimage. ¬†As soon as Justin mentioned the idea to Patrick, Patrick’s response was, “I’ll push you.”

The book chronicles their adventure, how the pieces came together, how their journey went, and all the amazing things they learned and grew in as they went. ¬†They also share much of their story, the history of their friendship, and their faith in God in the book. ¬†I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was maybe most impacted by the intensity, depth, and sweetness of their friendship. ¬†Their friendship is something special and rare, and it makes me wonder if I would love my friends so sacrificially. ¬†It makes me want to be a better friend! ¬†I was also struck and blessed by Justin’s attitude toward his weakness and dependency. ¬†He is peaceful and surrendered, even as his body slowly succumbs to his disease, and in my own season of weakness and dependency, it has been challenging and helpful to see his example. ¬†I’m eager to see the documentary when it releases!

I highly recommend this sweet story.

Thanks to Tyndale Publishers for their complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

yarn along

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I finished Mere Motherhood a few days ago and just so so enjoyed it. ¬†I highly recommend it for any mom who is at least a year or so into homeschooling. ¬†I think if I had read it before homeschooling I might not have quite commiserated with the author or found it so humorous. ¬†Maybe it would have freaked me out. ¬†I rarely laugh out loud at a book, but I was stifling fits of laughter in bed when reading this one on multiple occasions. ¬†The author has 9 children, 8 boys and 1 girl, and she chronicles her homeschooling journey from the very beginning up to present. ¬†I resonated with so much of what she shared, her struggle to find her philosophy of education, her parenting and housekeeping woes in the midst of schooling and pregnancy and new babies and life’s constant change. ¬†It was truly a joy to read, a help in so many ways encouraging me toward the things that truly matter as a mother and homeschooler. ¬†Reading the final chapters where she shares about the teen years reminded to me to really enjoy and engage in this present seasons with little ones! ¬†I found her book to be gritty, honest, humorous, helpful, and I couldn’t put it down. ¬†Will definitely be reading it again and passing it on to some friends!

I found A Charlotte Mason Companion at a recent local homeschooler’s curriculum sale and was so ecstatic. ¬†It was on my summer reading list and finding it for $6 was a steal! ¬†I’m even more eager to read it after reading Mere Motherhood and find myself continually drawn to and resonating with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy.

I’m on the last four rows of the Antarktis shawl for my mom. ¬†Actually I technically finished the pattern a few days ago but I continued to add repeats of the garter and lace sections because I have so much yarn leftover! ¬†I’m sure it will grow quite a bit once I block it and be a good size, which I hope is what my mom is looking for. ¬†I can’t believe how quickly this knit up and I’m excited to gift it! ¬†The yarn has been so very lovely to work with and I want to knit with all of Fibre Co.’s yarn!

What are you reading and making this week?

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Affiliate links included.

yarn along

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I cast on the Antarktis shawl for my mom in Fibre Co. yarn meadow, color way Bergamot. Ive wanted to knit with this yarn since seeing Ginny Sheller’s shawl last year, and my mom happened to pick the same pattern, so that is fun! ¬†It’s my second time knitting this pattern and its fun to see how much I’ve grown in my knitting since the last year. ¬†I’m really enjoying this knit and the yarn is just perfection. ¬†Super soft and airy, yet rustic.

I finished From Good to Grace last week and loved it to the very end. ¬†Its one of those that feels like it was written just for me. ¬†This one, Mere Motherhood, is deeply engrossing. ¬†I have a hard time putting it down when I do find a few minutes to read before bed. ¬†She’s a bit rougher around the edges than I expected, and I’m curious to see where the book goes. ¬†I love memoirs. ¬†The kids and I have done something similar to her “morning time” in the past and I’m curious to implement something a bit more in-depth this next school year.

What are you reading or making lately?

Joining up with Nicole of Frontier Dreams’ weekly Crafting On.
Affiliate links included.

this cup

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Well, we are starting to feel like summer is here. ¬†Last Friday we celebrated our last day of school for Phoebe’s kindergarten year. ¬†I still want to continue reading and writing work with her over the summer to keep things fresh, but really, our homeschool co-op starts up again in August so we only have a few weeks (!!!) before we’re back in the swing of things again. ¬†I think both of us need to feel like we finished before we start up again. ¬†I need time to plan for the next year, order books and resources, make a calendar of sorts and have a plan in motion. ¬†There’s a big homeschool book sale here this weekend so I’ll be pulling together my list in the next couple of days in preparation for that but I know I will need some time to plan out the next year as well. ¬†Beginning “first grade” feels a bit more serious than kindergarten! ¬†There are so many directions we could go in, and I feel that pull as a homeschooler to try to do everything and go in a hundred directions, but I know I need some time to seek the Lord and His plan for us for the next year. ¬†There is a lot of freedom in homeschooling and so many worthy approaches that its almost overwhelming for me, someone who likes to be told the rules so that I can follow them! ¬†Its a good challenge for me to stay small, simple, focused, and dependent on God’s leading.

Phoebe has been listening to audio books constantly on the little music player in the sunroom, coloring and having tea and flying through the Little House series. ¬†She’s relistening to the Penderwicks book because I haven’t checked out the next one from the library yet. ¬†Her last day of school she cried a bit, saying reading is just so hard for her. ¬†She failed her eye exam at her recent physical and she goes to see an eye doctor next week to see if she needs glasses, which may explain why she gets super tired/frustrated when we work on reading. ¬†She loves books and being read to, and she is starting to read everything she can around her, but she says it is her least favorite subject. ¬†Who knows, I’m not too worried about it because she has been a book lover since she was 6 months old. ¬†I do want to cultivate her continued love of it though and not frustrate her.

We celebrated our end-of-year with a yummy skillet chocolate chip cookie and a batch of coconut ice cream, and we all cheered as a family for the way each of us worked hard this year to make school happen. ¬†Noah and Philippa were huge helpers to me, doing their best to stay out of the way while we did work, and a really close friendship developed between them as a result. ¬†I plan to have more activities ready next year for them to engage in so that they can be included if they want to be. ¬†Brandon supports me hugely, encourages me when I feel like I’m not doing enough, and helps out sometimes in the evenings with Phoebe’s work. ¬†He and I both get excited thinking about him taking on some schooling in the future, too–teaching skills, doing field trips with the kids, or helping by reading or listening to Phoebe read books. ¬†Homeschooling really is a family venture!

Summery things are blooming in the yard, butterfly bush and the last of the poppies, and our little garden is starting to produce. ¬†A robin family built their nest in the tree by our porch so we’ve had fun peeking at the little blue eggs. ¬†We have a huge rosemary bush by our mailbox so I’ve begun drying clippings from it to store up for the winter, which makes Phoebe extra happy since “it is just what Ma would do,” she says. ¬†So we enjoy these little things, the markers of time passing, the liturgy of the ordinary, small shifts and small moments. ¬†Life.

I’m knitting away as usual, and trying to squeeze in reading always. ¬†I’m working on a hat for a loved one. ¬†I have some “homeschool mom enrichment” books to read this summer, as I’m calling them. ¬†A few things I want to refresh on as I look ahead and plan. ¬†I have been wanting to read this book, Mere Motherhood, for a long time, and I’m excited to dig into it. ¬†I plan to review The Well-Trained Mind again, as well as Teaching From Rest. ¬†I hope to also read A Charlotte Mason Companion. ¬†There are so many other good ones out there, but a few is probably all I will realistically accomplish.

It’s my birthday today and it’s been mostly a usual sort of Wednesday. ¬†When you’re a momma with little ones underfoot, there isn’t much of a break from the daily tasks. ¬†Spills and messes still happen, children squabble and need parenting, dishes and laundry pile, meals must still be made. ¬†I really don’t mind, though. ¬†I’m happy right here. ¬†I mean, I’ll take a stack of books, a long bath, some knitting time, and a good long run on a mountain ridge any day, don’t get me wrong! ¬†I’m learning to lean into the fray a bit more instead of just trying to survive it until the break comes. ¬†I realized last night and this morning that I kept humming Sara Groves song This Cup.

How many hours have I spent
Watching this shining tv
Living adventure in proxy
In another person’s dream
How many miles have I traveled
Looking at far away lights
Listening for trains in the distance
In some brilliant other life?

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy

So take up what we’ve been given
Welcome the edge of our days
Hemmed in by sunrise and sunset
By our youth and by our age
Thank God for our dependence
Here’s to our chasm of need
And how it binds us together
In faith and vulnerability

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This challenging reality
Is better than fear or fantasy

What if my whole world falls apart?
What if my life could be different?
What if I sat right here and took you in
Without the fear and loved you whole
Without the flight and didn’t try to pass

This cup, this cup
I wanna drink it up
To be right here in the middle of it
Right here, right here
This beautiful reality
Is better than fear or fantasy
Is better than fear or fantasy
Is better than fear or fantasy

We’re all hemmed in by sunrise and sunset, our days all have edges, our life is limited by bounds. ¬†Another year passes, another year comes. ¬†We can fight our limitations, grumble about our reality or surrender to what God has given us and say, this cup I will drink. ¬†To be present, right here in the middle of this moment–that’s what I want.

yarn along

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It took Brandon a little while to decide on a hat pattern for the yarn that he picked out, but we finally did and I cast on for it a few days ago. ¬†He is very particular, not wanting anything slouchy or “trendy,” and likes more classic simple hats, but with some kind of a bit of interest. ¬†So I think what we picked will be good. ¬†This yarn is nice to work with so far, I’m still learning how variegated yarns knit up. ¬†I can’t quite foresee it until I start knitting with it. ¬†This one almost looks camo-ish to me as it knits up, so I’m curious to see how the end result will look. ¬†It’s very bright and the blue is dark enough that in the evenings it’s hard to work on it because I can’t see my stitches super well in low light. ¬†I’ve been working on some gift knitting as well, always a few projects on the go. ¬†I’ve had a little idea too, something I’ve been praying about and thinking about, a way to share some of my knitting with you folks, too. ¬†I’ll share more about it soon!

Still reading From Good to Grace¬†(affiliate link), not much time for reading these busy days, and I’m enjoying this one slowly.. hoping I really digest it versus speed read through it and it not sink in. ¬†Are you tired of seeing it’s cover yet? ūüôā ūüôā ¬†Maybe next week I’ll be onto something new. ¬†Maybe.

What are you knitting or reading lately?  I always love hearing from you and getting ideas for new books and projects!

Linking up with Nicole of Frontier Dreams weekly Crafting On.

 

yarn along

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Still reading From Good to Grace by Christine Hoover and enjoying it so deeply.  Highly recommend.

Knitting philippa’s second sock. ¬†She¬†seemed completely disinterested in these until I tried the first sock on her and she started wiggling her little toes in it. ¬†Now she is so excited to see me knitting the second one. ¬†It amazes me every time, how excited the children get when I’m making something just for them.

What are you reading or making lately? ¬†Linking up with Nicole’s Crafting On. ‚̧

From Good to Grace

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The kiddos and I were out this morning spreading mulch around the front flower beds, taking trips back and forth with a borrowed wheelbarrow wagon. ¬†These little ones love to work hard, especially if every trip back and forth is rewarded with a ride in the wagon! ¬†We’ve all come in now to find refuge from the crazy heat (does it feel terribly hot to anyone else for May??) so I have a minute to put up a quick little knittery post.

Over the weekend I cast on a baby gift item, so I can’t share too many details here, but it is really a fun knit so far. ¬†More about it once it has been gifted!

Also, I finished The Awakening of Miss Prim (enjoyed it!) and began reading From Good to Grace: Letting Go of the Goodness Gospel¬†by Christine Hoover. ¬†Friends, this one is meeting me in a very profound way. ¬†There are some things my husband and I are working through, praying over, laying before the Lord, and this book is speaking directly to it. ¬†I bought it back when it was a new release with some saved birthday money last year and its funny how I haven’t felt like it was the right time to read it until now. ¬†The author is addressing her own tendency and battle with legalism/moralism, what she is calling her “goodness addiction,” which is basically whenever we try to earn our way to God, whenever we think we must be “good” for Him, in order to earn His love or favor or grace or salvation. ¬†This is one of my most deeply rooted battles, something I struggle with every single day, and something the Lord must be working to free me from. ¬†Of course, He began speaking to me of this back in my early college days, and its amazing to see the progress He and I have made, and yet sometimes it startles me to see how my “goodness addiction” creeps back in. ¬†I love how the author quotes:

“The Gospel was not my working theology: Mine was moralism and legalism–a religion of duty and self control through human willpower. ¬†The goal was self-justification, not the justification by faith in Christ that the gospel offers. ¬†But, as many people can tell you, moralism and legalism can “pass” for Christianity, at least outwardly, in the good times. ¬†It is only when crises come that you find there is no foundation on which to stand. ¬†And crises are what God used to reveal my heart’s true need for him.” ¬†(Hoover, quoting Rose Marie Miller)

Yes, when life is working for us, working hard to earn God’s favor or to stay in His good graces flies under the radar, and looks an awful lot like Christianity. ¬†We’re productive! ¬†We’re doing good things! ¬†We’re happy-clappy and strong! ¬†We can feel pretty good about ourselves, even a big smug about our work for God. ¬†Maybe a tad reproving¬†of other believers who aren’t as productive as we. ¬†In fact, I believe this heresy is still terribly prevalent in our current church culture, at least here in America. ¬†I feel like since¬†I battle this so deeply, I see it easily in others. ¬†But our crises sift us. ¬†It’s one of the few beautiful gifts that come from a painful trial.

One of the hardest things about this whole past two-year journey dealing with all the ups and downs and life changes that have come with Phoebe’s diagnosis has been the way it has wiped me out. ¬†It has made me feel emotionally and mentally weak. ¬†I don’t know much else how to describe it beyond a feeling like I can’t breathe. ¬†On the hardest days, I’ve literally felt physically short of breath. ¬†An old heart condition of mine began to flare up, and I was back on a heart monitor for a month and seeing a cardiologist. ¬†As far as we could find, there was no physical problem, so the cardiologist told me it must be stress.

I’ve had to pare down a lot of my commitments and focus most of my energy on caring for Phoebe’s particular needs. ¬†I have felt pretty lame as a Christian in the sense of how “small” my circle has been drawn, how very small my efforts seem, how very unable I am to serve in some of the ways I used to and desire to. ¬†Guilt comes easily. ¬†I’ve learned a lot. ¬†I’ve learned that the Christian community isn’t terribly great at letting each other go through seasons of weakness and unproductivity. ¬†The great injustice of suffering something is that not only are you bearing the burden of your ordeal, but then you feel terribly guilty for your weakness in it. ¬†You feel guilty that you aren’t being “a better Christian” in the midst of it. ¬†You feel like you must hide your suffering and struggle and questions. ¬†As Ann Voskamp said in her book The Broken Way, “When the church¬†isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ.” ¬†We can say until we’re blue in the face that we are a place for the broken, but if the broken don’t really feel welcome? ¬†If the broken don’t really feel safe to just BE WEAK and be seemingly useless for a season?

I am just now, just now after almost two¬†years on this journey, just now beginning to surrender to my uselessness before the Lord. ¬†I can’t even describe in words how He has been ministering to me and speaking and carrying and meeting me in ways I do not deserve and can hardly receive. ¬†I have learned that I must ask Him and HIM ALONE what He wants from me. ¬†What does faithfulness look like, Lord, in this season? ¬†What do you want from me? ¬†Not: what does the church want from me? ¬†Not: what does my family want from me? ¬†Not: what do my friends expect of me? ¬†But what do YOU want, Lord? ¬†And His answer:

“Worship. ¬†I desire your worship. ¬†That is all. ¬†In everything you do, in whatever you put your hand to–do it as unto me. ¬†Do it for me. ¬†Find me in it. ¬†Enjoy me. ¬†Receive from me. ¬†Do the hard work of receiving all of me. ¬†I gave myself for you, to you. ¬†I am split open, broken, blood-spilt for you. ¬†Take and drink. ¬†Take and eat. ¬†This is your holy hard work. ¬†This must come before you do any endeavor in my name, and this must be the place from which you continually abide.”

And I believe I am finally learning to rest in Him.  To receive Him.  To be weak before Him, as much as I despise that weakness in myself and wish I could be a star pupil.  I am learning to stop earning what has already been DONE for me.  I am learning to stop trampling His precious blood underfoot as I run about in all my human efforts (Heb. 10:28).  I have tried to do great things for God, when all along He has wanted me to see what great things He has done for me.  I have had my eyes turned inward, when He has wanted them turned upward.

Laying down all this striving? ¬†It feels a lot like a death of sorts. ¬†Death to a way of thinking, a way of living, a former identity. ¬†That old flesh of mine keeps resurrecting, it would seem. ¬†And death feels terribly counter-intuitive and painful to the flesh. ¬†It is plain unnatural. ¬†But it is the upside-down way of the Kingdom of God: whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matt. 16:25). ¬†Sometimes we have to lose everything we’re clinging to in order to see and know and experience how held we are.

We get to be weak, friends. ¬†We get to be the weak that we are. ¬†He receives us just like this. ¬†He wants us to drink our fill of Him again and again and again. ¬†Maybe His goal isn’t for us to eventually move from our place of weakness to being strong again. ¬†Maybe His goal for us is to remain here. ¬†To remain terribly, painfully aware of our inability and weakness so that we are dependent on Him for every thing. ¬†Maybe thats what He means when He says He uses the weak things of the world to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27) rather than saying He transforms the weak into bastions of strength. ¬†If that feels a bit scandalous for you to say (as it does for me) than maybe we’re really not walking in grace like we think we are. ¬†Maybe we really need to revisit the scripture and take a good hard look at what the Gospel is.

Anyway.. My little yarn along post turned into¬†pouring out my heart. ¬†I hope it resonates with someone out there just a little bit. ¬†I hope if it does you’ll consider¬†reading Christine Hoover’s fantastic book, From Good to Grace.

(And just so you know, I don’t get any kickback for promoting her book. ¬†I just share good books because I believe in the power of the written word as a tool for change. ¬†I do always link to amazon and technically am an affiliate with them, but I have never made a single dime off of that affiliation. ¬†Just so you know. ūüôā ¬†Because I know I’m skeptical of people like that. ¬†#skepticforlife)

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I’ve written about this theme many times. ¬†If you’re interested, here are a few of those posts:

You Get to Be Weak
Savoring the Gospel When You Fail
From Legalism to a Feast of Grace