hello, again

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hello, dear old friends. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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

 

an imperfect, happy Christmas

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“My discomfort with the gifts was a result of the circumstances that rendered me impotent to deal with buying them. ¬†By the very nature of things, there was a limit to the time that could be expended in acquiring them and an even greater limit to the money that could be spent. ¬†While the season’s moralizers will always claim that the amount spent is not important (“It’s the thought that counts”), intelligence and simple observation militate strongly against that position. ¬†The thought behind a standard boy’s bike and the feel of a ten-speed racer under that same boy are very, very unequal to a fourteen year old. ¬†In 1984, they were also very unequal to my checkbook.

That year, the inequalities and loss of time were multiplied by children, children-in-law, grandchildren, grandmothers, and godparents. ¬†The real issue, however, was that children need to experience the security and the largess of having those this-world things that help them fit easily into the patterns and flow of their own lives, both social and domestic, private and public. ¬†For fourteen year olds in a farming village, that meant ten-speed racers…

Gifting is a way to demonstrate love. ¬†It requires that we study another so intensely as to perceive his or her unspoken desires and meet them. ¬†It means to startle with the unexpected, the perfectly chosen. ¬†For our children we had always seen it as a way to form a thankful and satisfied adult, to create a readiness for generosity, the early habits of appreciation, and a sense of blessedness.”

I read these words by Phyllis Tickle in her short book of stories from her farm called What the Land Already Knows early in the month of December. ¬†A small little book, yet multiple times in the dark night while I would be reading it, tears would prick my eyes. ¬†Yes, to feel overwhelmed with the December things–the gift buying, the desire to bless our children and hope to provide them with hearts that understand what it feels like to both receive and give generously. ¬†The desire to spend our affections richly on the One to whom the seasons is all about, Jesus, the babe in the manger. ¬†The tug and pull of gatherings, pageants, birthdays, meals, Advent readings, the gift buying and wrapping (which largely falls on me and it can bring such weariness even though it is a joy). ¬†The questioning of ourselves–are we spending ourselves (both our time and money) well in this season? ¬†Are we giving our children too much? ¬†Too little?

Her words brought freedom and the reminder of what it’s like to be a child–to hope for an item and to receive it. ¬†To anticipate the good gifts of Christmas morning, to work through the ungratefulness and dissatisfaction in our hearts that can sometimes follow. ¬†Her words helped me as a mother to wrestle my own guilt and frustrations with myself down–we are finite, limited. ¬†We have so many pressures in these years with little ones and so few resources. ¬†We cannot hope to dance through this season perfectly, we will mostly limp through it held up by the gracious and loving arms of the babe who came to save us.

This Christmas morning began with a child who wet the bed and then a screaming baby woken up too early. ¬†I had slept quite poorly and had a hard time being in a good mood until well into the afternoon, unfortunately. ¬†I apologized multiple times to everyone and was mostly very grateful that Brandon was unusually chipper and unaffected by my grouchiness. ¬†Three different loved ones gave me products intended to help puffy, tired eyes this year and I do so hope these products do the job! ūüôā

We had filled the children’s stockings with dried fruits from nuts.com, chocolates, a stainless steel cup, pencils, a couple of small toys, as well as a pair of knitting needles. ¬†Yes, everyone got needles because all three older children are asking now for knitting needles and yarn. ūüôā ¬†Phoebe wanted her first pair of circular needles, which I had told her she would receive if she stuck with a knitted project and finished it. ¬†(She has mostly done that). ¬†Wren received some new rubber bath toys, her first glass sippy cup, new spoons, a rainbow stacker and a ball. ¬†Each child got a book, one smaller item they wanted, and then one larger item. ¬†Grandparents had sent along new pajamas, dried mangoes, books and such, plus one larger gift: a trampoline! ¬†Both Brandon and I had gifts from secret santas (my family drew names for Christmas) and we both got each other a few things when in previous years we haven’t simply because of inability. ¬†He bought me a beautiful pendant necklace (theres just something so romantic and lovely about a man giving jewelry to his girl). ¬†He treated me to way too many bath salts, lotions, candles, as well as a new ball winder which feels heavenly to use. ¬†I treated him to some new tools and carhartt overalls, a new belt and hat. ¬†He spent the remainder of the day putting together Phoebes bike and the trampoline and we had a simple dinner of veggies/hummus, cheese and sandwich meat with a little bit of sushi (my favorite!) from our favorite local spot.

After baths and reading together the children treated us to a surprise performance of the nativity while they requested I play “Silent Night” on the piano. ¬†It was so precious and sweet and it blessed me so — yes, when it’s all said and done and they’ve been inundated with far more than they really need by way of material items, they do understand what this season is all about. ¬†We’ve been remembering the waiting for the Savior and what it’s like to hang in the long dark waiting for His coming and then to celebrate His arrival, Immanuel, God with us. ¬†How we need Him! ¬†What a miracle it is, God wrapped in such small, frail human flesh–given to us.

It was a Merry Christmas filled with the usual interruptions, bad attitudes, apologies, forgiveness, snuggles, joy and laughter that typically fill a family’s day. ¬†All this holy wrapped up and tucked into all this ordinary. ¬†I hope it was a Merry Christmas for you too, dear reader. ¬†May these days leading up to the New Year be filled with sweet reflections, peace, and joy!

ps. I’ll pop back in here soon with photos from both Noah’s and Phoebe’s birthdays. ‚̧

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 br√Ľl√©e 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.