words on the wind

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On Friday evening, Brandon took the older kids to a baseball game to see our local team play.  The tickets were complimentary and fireworks were happening after the game so of course everyone wanted to go.  I stayed home with Wren since the game would be starting at her bedtime, far too late to keep the little bird out.  (I tried to convince Brandon to take my camera and get some photos but no such luck.  Sorry!)  After everyone left she and I went out for a long walk and I savored the freedom of walking one little baby strapped snuggly in a stroller.  Able to go my pace and distance, we walked to a neighborhood close by that has a lovely, quiet little lake.  It has been unseasonably hot and dry here for a couple of weeks, but this night as we were walking the wind picked up and it was cool and blustery.  We went all around the lake and the streets up above it while the wind blew wild around us.  I felt myself unwinding in the quiet, able to think, able to listen.  It sounds odd to say, but as I thought about the people who lived in these homes and how nice it must be to live on the edge of a lake, I felt that someone there must be a writer.  I could feel the words on the wind.  I used to think of myself as a writer, writing words in journals (and poetry sometimes too) since my earliest years, writing and writing and writing.  Yet in this season of motherhood, it all feels so muddled.  Even as I type these words little ones interrupt and pull on me.  There are almost no times of day without those constant needs and interruptions except for evenings, when I feel totally fried and weary.  I don’t journal anymore, really.  My most tidy record of these days is this blog, and it is fairly intermittent lately, too.  The writing I used to do is more absent from this space.  I’ve been missing it, feeling like maybe I had it all wrong and I’m not a writer at all.  What kind of writer goes so long without really writing?  I mourn the loss, I think maybe its too late anyway.  And as I was walking along the edge of the lake, wind blowing wild through my hair, I could feel the words on the wind, flying just over my head, if only I could reach up and grab them with my fingers, but they flew by, just out of reach.  Maybe I only imagined it.

With the close of May, and the close of another school year, my mind clears a bit.  There is still the tying up of loose ends from this last year, testing to be scheduled, and the planning and researching that already must begin for our next year.  I can’t ever really turn that off, but I hope if I get some of it done early in the summer that my mind can rest. In the space in my brain that opens up after our homeschool year ends I find myself thinking about and returning to creativity.  I think I will stoke those flames a bit this summer.

June begins.  I find myself standing outside our little stand-alone garage with the peeling white paint, spraying water over bare dirt.  This side of the garage faces our neighbors home and borders our yard and theirs, and I imagine they wonder what on earth I am doing on this neglected side of our garage watering dirt.  I feel a little silly.  I defensively want to them them that I’ve planted sunflower seeds here and I can just see them waving tall in August heat, brightening up this little drab side of the building.  I’m full of hope that my daily watering will bring something beautiful out of this barren dirt.  I can see it just there, in my mind’s eye, and so I stand here and do this work though I look a fool.

I hope to show you those sunflowers one day, the fruit of toiling over scraggly dirt and neglected corners.  For now, photos of our garden.

 

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. ❤

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.

yarn along

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This beautiful book arrived in my mailbox yesterday and I began the first chapter last night.  Christie Purifoy’s first book, Roots + Sky, was such a gift and came to me at just the right season in my life when we were in the early stages of looking to buy our first home, dreaming of a place to put down roots.  Since then I’ve followed her on instagram (and more recently her podcast called Out of the Ordinary), enjoying the beauty she shares with the world.  In Placemaker, Christie discusses what it means to co-create with God in the work specifically of cultivating beauty. I am always drawn to the theme of beauty–and I’m not talking about skin-deep beauty, but the breathtaking beauty of an arctic landscape, or the neat tidy stacks of laundry, or even the unlikely beauty of a somewhat disheveled home full to the brim with life and laughter.  I’m also drawn to the theme of ‘home’ and the way our hearts long for it, hunger and search after it, and why that is.  So I am eager to see what Christie has to share with us about these things.  I am thrilled to be able to read her words again and to share this book with you!  Yes, I will have a copy to giveaway to one of you readers very soon. 🙂

I’ve been working this week to wrap up a few smaller knitted projects, and in between I’ve been knitting on my cosmic remix shawl which feels like it’s knitting itself.  It’s just quietly and unobtrusively coming together and I can’t wait to wrap up in it once it’s done.  The yarn is so airy and soft.  What are you reading and/or making lately?

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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when it all sits a bit heavy

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It’s the first of February, the last day of the work week.  I realize I haven’t put up a regular old blog post in a couple of weeks and wanted to say a few words here.  January was quiet and simple for us, with a lot of sickness and thus we hunkered down at home.  With February comes some relief and hope that we will be out and about as normal soon.

I haven’t been taking many photos at home with my camera as I usually do, maybe feeling a bit uninspired and blue.  I’m sure it has to do with being sick and feeling incredibly worn out.  It’s taken every bit of energy just to keep school going for the children while I’ve been sick and wanting just to lie down in bed.  I’ve also been deeply saddened by things happening in the world around me that make me feel quite helpless: for one, the passing of the legislature in NY last week for full-term abortions and even post-delivery “abortions”, which hit me like a punch to the stomach.  I have felt nauseous over it whenever it comes to mind.  I honestly have no words to say other than I’m deeply grieved and I’m praying about ways to take action.

A newborn baby I was praying for passed away last week.  A woman battling cancer dances weary at the possible end of her fight and I can’t sleep, up praying for her, a woman I’ve never met but yet feel so burdened to pray for.

Also, those in the knitting community are well aware of the deeply divisive conversation/debate that has been happening regarding racism.  Though I am not anyone with a voice in the knitting industry, I’ve been reading along, at times very angry, other times anxious and always quite sad.  I have been surprised at how much it has affected me.  I think we can do better than this as a community, we can show more grace, understanding, and kindness.  Then I look around at my own children who squabble and hurt one another often throughout the day, and I understand.  If we can hardly get along with those we love the most, our very own flesh and blood, how much harder is it to get along with those who seem so different from us? How much harder to be kind to those whose beliefs we disagree with?  I find myself constantly instructing my children throughout the day to love one another, “be kind, be kind be kind,” to esteem one another more highly than the object their fighting over.  I weary from repeating it, yet the reminder is always needed.  Left to ourselves, this is humanity.  Even tightly-knit families have rifts and disagreements.  Maybe especially tightly-knit families.  We need to remember that peace with one another is to be treasured above being right, and is a goal worth sacrificing our own thrones and soapboxes for.  Does that mean we sacrifice truth and the fight for what is right and just?  Absolutely not.  But I do think we can stand for what we believe in and for a better world/more equality while treating our fellow man with dignity and respect, and not adding injury to insult.

Sometimes the brokenness of the world sits on us like lead.  It sits so heavy.  At times if I’m honest, I want to shield myself from all the hurt and ugliness, maybe even from my own complicity.  My hands are full of dishes, wiping snotty noses, throwing in the next load of laundry, pulling together the next meal, nursing the baby, teaching the next school lesson.  I am hidden away in my home raising little people — what can I possibly do?  I am reminded: I can pray.  We can pray — with the confidence that our prayers mixed with faith are able to move mountains.  Things that seems impossible, fixed, overwhelming, insurmountable — God is able to level them.  Conversely, when we feel like the very ground beneath our feet is shifting and the world around us rages, we can turn to God, our refuge + strength, a very present help in trouble who tells us not to fear even when the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the sea (Ps. 46).  He makes wars cease, He breaks the bow, shatters the spear and burns the war chariots with fire (Ps. 46:9).  We are destined for a kingdom where peace will reign.

And then the familiar and eternally comforting words of Romans 8:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.  And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.  For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:18-27)

He is interceding for us continually, He is working while we sleep, working in spite of and even though our weakness.  Let us take heart and trust Him to move the mountains while we sow the small seeds of hope and faith in prayer.  And if we have opportunity to take great steps, then by all means, let us take them!

How has January been for you?  Whoever you are reading along here today, I hope you know you are welcomed in this space.  Thank you for reading my rambling thoughts, however imperfect they may be.

xo

january

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She’s a red bird out in the winter landscape
all barren, bleak and brown
but made new
Because a child is here
and wherever a child is, there is life and curiosity and wonder
all things made new again.

It is early January and we woke on Sunday without electricity.  We lit our fire and got a text that church services would be cancelled for the day, so we snuggled in for a cozy morning.  Ice came down, blanketing everything, turning our bleak ordinary into something new, magical.  As soon as she had eaten breakfast, Phoebe bundled up in her red Phoebe sweater which I knit for her a few years ago (it still fits!) and went out to explore.  I went with her, exploring our usual and ordinary little plot of ground which looked so transformed by the ice.  All morning we heard limbs cracking and exploding in our neighborhood.  Generators were running.

I’ve been in a reflective state these past couple of weeks.  It used to be that I spent much of December reflecting on the end of the year and journaling, setting goals and listening to the Lord for His Word to me for the coming new year.  Now with two children’s birthdays and the Christmas festivities, I am far too busy in December for much reflection at all.  I’ve realized that January has become that time for me, and I give myself the whole month to go slow, to put my ear to God’s Word and listen.  It has been good to be in ordinary time, no big celebrations, just the quiet return to old paths.

I still haven’t processed it yet, this changing of years, the closing of the last and the start of the new.  I find myself more discouraged, tired and overwhelmed this year than I think I’ve ever been.  I feel like my plate is incredibly full, even as I watch other women juggle far more than I.  I feel my smallness.  I feel quieted.  I also feel more hopeful and trusting of the Lord than I think I’ve ever been going into a new year–can all those realities coexist at once?  I’m not sure how.

I find myself disoriented by it all, like somehow I’ve lost my way a bit.  My ear is to the ground, my face set firmly on His, my feet retracing all the old and worn paths.  It is good; He is my good.  Nothing can separate us from His love.  Nothing else will satisfy us.

I pray you and I hear His voice early in our year.  That we seek Him about the year to come and wait for a word from Him, a glimpse of Him, more than watchmen wait for the morning.  That we persist like a lover in pursuit of her Beloved.  I pray that we see the little red birds in the bleak winter landscape, all things ordinary made beautiful and new.  All the things we think are tired, old, lost — redeemed.

“You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no longer be termed Desolate
but you shall be called ‘My Delight is in Her,’
and your land ‘Married,’
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your builder marry you,
and as a bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
so shall your God rejoice in you.”
Isaiah 62:4-5