yarn along

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Making progress on my timber cardigan in brooklyn tweed shelter, color way fossil.  It’s good to be knitting again, albeit slowly.  This is a super enjoyable knit with the loveliest of yarns.  I’m trying to convince myself not to attempt birthday/Christmas sweaters for each of the children, but I find myself accidentally settling on yarns and patterns.  We’ll see.

I’ve been reading this biography of Francis Schaeffer for some time, I put it down when I was really sick with this pregnancy, but have just picked it back up in the last few days.  I have been so impacted by Schaeffer’s writing and work, as well as his wife and children’s writing on homemaking and home educating (Edith Schaeffer’s The Hidden Art of Homemaking, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake).  It is fascinating to me to learn about this man and his family and the way they followed Christ and their impact on the Kingdom of God.

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

yarn along

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Hello everyone!  I hope some of my readers are still around and have hung in there with me while I’ve been absent.  I hope to slowly get back into my usual blogging swing.  I have missed it!

I haven’t felt at all like doing anything creative since mid-June, so all my knitting projects have been put away for a time.  I’m just beginning to be able to look at patterns and yarn again and feel the tiniest nudge toward the creative bug, so I’m hoping my “making” juices start flowing again soon.  I have missed feeling like myself!  Apparently the children have missed it, too.  Noah told me the other day he misses when I used to knit, and all three children piled their birthday knitting requests on me.  (Sweaters!  Mittens!  Socks!)

The weather has shifted ever so slightly in our area, cooler mornings and evenings and days.  The song of fall is whispering on the wind and I can hear it better this year than ever before because all through my sick and depressed days of pregnancy, I knew fall would be the time when I would get back on my feet again.  Fall is my favorite season because it is so beautiful and glorious in every way in the mountains of NC, but the best part is anticipating winter!  I’m a winter girl through and through.  I love bundling up, I love fires and steaming mugs, cozy slippers, red cheeks and noses, snow and even the barren landscapes.  I’m looking forward to it more than ever this year!

After a long hiatus in my project bag, I’ve picked up my Winterwoods ABC Cross-stitch sampler in anticipation of the coming fall season.  Sometimes I only have the energy to stitch a few little x’s before I set it down, but I’m reinvigorated to finish and frame it.  We were hustled moving into our home, and had a few house projects to do after we moved in before we could begin settling things in their places, and then this surprise pregnancy stopped me right in my home-organizing tracks.  I’m beginning to feel up to the task of settling into this home and making it ours, and this little sampler brings me such joy every time I see it.  Truly cannot wait to find a spot for it!  I originally stitched it intending it for Philippa’s room, but we’ll see.  It’s the second ABC sampler I’ve done from Alicia Paulson and everything she designs is so lovely.

I have been reading just a little on my own, but not as much as usual.  Phoebe and I have been reading this beautifully illustrated version of The Secret Garden from our library.  We’re both really enjoying it, but for some reason I am aching to read E. B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan to her in the fall season.  I haven’t read it since I was a child but it has been calling to me, so I’m eager to get through the Secret Garden this month for sure.

Linking up with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
Affiliate links included in this post.

 

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’m late getting this post up!  Summer time is nearly upon us folks, evidenced by the fact that my children are playing outside longer in the evenings and running back out after dinner to make the most of these long sunny days.  Right now they are busy helping daddy dump mulch from the trailer, while I wait for them to come in for dinner.  So I have a minute to get this post up!

I finished the Water rock vest and am just waiting to block it (I think I will need to, to try and add some length) and also finished Phoebe’s socks over the weekend.  I cast on a pair for Philippa immediately, improvising the pattern (using 44 stitches instead of 48) to make the cuff a bit smaller, but now I have to think about the math.  So far its working out!  Here’s to hoping my math works and it fits her.

I picked up this book, Design Mom: How to Live with Kids, from the library on a whim today.  I love flipping through books like this for ideas and inspiration for decorating.  I should clarify that when I talk about “decorating” our home, I mean using what we already have and rearranging it.  Haha. 😉 Such is life when you have little ones and live on one income.  I’m almost done with The Awakening of Miss Prim and have really enjoyed it so far.  It’s been fun to have a totally pleasurable read for the evenings versus something that requires my mind to be awake.  Although I’m craving theology.  Deep, rich theology.

What are you knitting, reading or working on this week?  Here’s to hoping you find some time to make beautiful things and read good books.

Linking up with Crafting On + my knitting friend Being Bodeker.

 

yarn along

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I finished Phoebe’s first sock and just turned the heel on the second one this morning.  She is begging me to finish these asap.  Even though NC summer heat is threatening to bear down on us, she wants socks. 🙂  I’m knitting Susan B Anderson’s ribbed socks for kids pattern in Knit Picks stroll gradient yarn (color way unicorn) and I used some leftovers from my “favourite socks” for heels + toes.  So fun and so fast to knit little kid socks.  A very satisfying knit!  But then, I feel like I say that about everything I knit.  Knitting is just satisfying. 🙂

I picked up The Awakening of Miss Prim after Ginny (the originator of the yarn along) mentioned she was going to read it, as she is also looking for some lighthearted fiction.  It captured me immediately and I can’t wait to get in bed at night and dive back into it.  I already don’t want it to end!

No real link up this week, except linking arms with my knitting friend over at the Being Bodeker blog. 🙂  
Affiliate links included in this post.

long days of small things

In order to find God it is perhaps not always necessary to leave the creatures behind…The world is crowded with Him…
The real labor is to remember, to attend.
In fact, to come awake.  Still more, to remain awake.
C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm

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Yesterday I woke up to the laughter and squall of children in the room next to mine.  The day began in the rush and hurry of need and hungry tummies.  I normally try to get up before the children, but I had been struggling with sleeplessness and a bout of anxiety in the middle of the night and slept fitfully.  My plans for the morning were interrupted by an unexpected trip to the doctors office to check on one child who woke up with pink eye in both eyes, then running to pick up a prescription and grab a few groceries before heading home.  It was afternoon before I breathed a breath of prayer to God and realized I had completely missed my time with Him in the morning.  My soul instantly cringed–how could it have been nearly all day before I even remembered God?  Then came the familiar rush of guilt with a dose of self-hatred to boot.  All this soul amnesia.  I shake my head as I wash the dishes.

Last November I retreated away to a hermitage a few hours from here.  I went alone for the weekend, Brandon had offered to keep the kiddos.  Motherhood and the constant presence of people all looking to me with their pressing needs–it can wear an introvert out.  It can wear any person out, I’m sure!  We need to pay attention to our souls, we must take small breaks, place spaces in our calendars, slip away when we can to refuel.  We need silence, we need reflection, we need sleep and solitude.  That weekend was glorious.  The cabin was perfectly cozy at the very tip top of a mountain.  I kept my journal open and wrote endlessly, read the scriptures and studied, read other books, knitted without interruption, went for walks in the woods, cooked simple meals, rested, worshipped, prayed.  It took me almost the whole weekend to really relax and unwind, and I realized how tightly wound motherhood had made me, along with the added role of care taking for phoebe.  All of the worry and strain, the financial burden, the roller coaster of her improvement and decline.  I needed that time away, so I could reenter the fray with renewed energy and focus and love.  I needed time to seek God in the quiet, as I used to in my days before children.  I needed uninterrupted time alone with Him to hear from Him.

If only we could have these times whenever we need them.  If only we could guarantee some respite, rest, and silence throughout the year, then we could seek God as we desire to, as we think we should.  And I do believe times of refreshing will come, pockets of rest.

However, when we would flee difficulties in motherhood, most of the time God would have us press in.  Where we would avoid and escape, He has us pick back up, day and night.  Motherhood is so constant, endless, around the clock, with needs that can simply swallow us whole.  Our souls can cry out–

“Oh, that I had wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would flee away and stay in the desert;
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.”
(Psalm 55:6-8)

We think we will find relief in escape, in a break–a sometimes we do.  But is it good for us to set our eyes on the next break on the horizon and survive until then hanging on by our toenails?  Beyond that–can we only find God in our escapes, our breaks, in the quiet place of refuge?

Or could He possibly have treasures for us right in the maelstrom of motherhood, right in the trenches of it?  Must we wait for Him on the sidelines of life–sidelined by little people and their needs–or can we have Him right here to the full in a way we never expected or anticipated before?

Could pressing in and finding Him in the weary work–could this possibly be the point?  The thing He wants us to learn, the muscle He wants to strengthen?  Of course its far easier to find Him in the quiet place of refuge.  But if we can’t find that quiet place of refuge, do we wave the white flag of defeat and turn our hearts off to God until we can have a moment alone?  Or can we find a way to God in the very mundane, simple, undervalued work/tasks of motherhood?

Could the tasks turn out to be a path to God?

What if the very practice of mothering and doing the work of motherhood–washing the dishes, feeding the hungry mouths, wiping the bottoms, folding the laundry, teaching, admonishing, disciplining, training, guiding–could these things possibly be a spiritual discipline of sorts, leading us to know God, experience Him, enjoy Him in a way we never could or would choose otherwise?  Could there be treasures here for us–right here in this season–that we’ll miss if we shut down and vow to hold on until the crazy ride is over?

What if God is not only found in the lofty theological ivory towers, the seminary classroom, the pew, the sanctuary, the prayer closet, the monastery–but here, scrubbing the floor around a toilet.
Here, chopping onions and carrots.
Here, holding a feverish child.
Here, in the pickup lane at school.
Here, singing a hymn over a sleepless child.
Here, organizing shelves, stacking piles.
Here, in the rush-hour traffic home from work.
Here, in the weary waking hours.

What if we could find God in the ordinary work of motherhood rather than trying to fit our old habits and disciplines into this new rhythm–which for most of us feels cramped, incompatible, impossible.

Is it possible in this season of little ones to be both a good mother and to keep close company with God?

This is what is addressed in Catherine McNiel’s book Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline.  This book exceeded my expectations.  I was a bit afraid it would be another moany-groany book about motherhood without being terribly helpful.  Instead, it was honest.  Real.  Insightful.  Provocative.  Thoughtful.  Helpful.  It addressed our great hunger for God, our desire to know Him, our frustration with all the things that seem to work against us and keep us from Him.  She ends each chapter with a practice, tangible things to anchor us to God throughout the day.  Things like our breath:

“Inhale deeply and realize you are breathing in God’s unfailing love.  Exhale and release into his unceasing presence.  Suddenly, breathing–your easiest daily accomplishment–is an act of worship, meditation, and prayer.” (McNiel, p. 12)

Without adding a burden of more tasks to our schedule, McNiel helps us to find God in each of the tasks we already perform daily, and do them as unto the Lord.  Like walking, eating and drinking, cooking, household tasks, sleepless nights, pregnancy, diapers, breastfeeding, to name a few.

McNiel commiserates without sounding whiney, encourages and exhorts without loading on a heavy burden of guilt.  She feels like a true companion in this journey of motherhood, someone who understands its complexities and enjoys them, glory, grit and all, because of the way they point us to God.

I devoured this book, crying over sections of it, marking up nearly every page, returning to it over and over, savoring it.  It is one I will need to reread more than a few times, I believe.

If you are a mother afraid you might be missing out on some great spiritual life because of your busy role as mother–maybe this book is for you.  If you ever feel a bit like you can’t breathe under the pressing weight of this season, a bit like you can’t breathe–Maybe this is one to ask for for Mother’s Day?

*

Thank you to Tyndale Publishers for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
Affiliate links included in this post.

 

 

 

yarn along

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Phoebe and I did school yesterday sprawled out on a blanket under a great spreading maple in our backyard.  We began reading The Penderwicks.  I’m not even sure what led me to this book but I remember hearing somewhere along the way recommendations of it.  We’ve been listening to The Little House on the Prairie series on audio books, too, and Phoebe’s been re-inspired to run through the yard with her bonnet strings dangling around her neck like Laura.

I’m still not reading much lately.  Odd for me, I know,  but by the time evening comes and I’m free to read I just don’t have much brain power left.  I’m in need of some light hearted stories, so if you have any book recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

I’ve mainly been working on my waterrock vest for the Appalachian Knits spring KAL that I’m participating in.  The designer of the pattern is my friend from middle + high school days, Jennifer, and she is the one who taught me to knit!  So it’s really fun working on her pattern.  Everything she makes is gorgeous.  I’ve almost finished the body and ready to begin arm hole shaping.  I’m adding another inch or so to the body since this is a cotton/linen blend yarn and I plan to wash/dry it, so I’m adding length to account for shrinkage.  Plus I have a long torso, I think.  Anyway, I’m really enjoying knitting it.  I’ve started some socks for Phoebe too and I plan to knit a couple pairs for each of the kids and eventually a pair for myself too.

Joining with Nicole’s Crafting On, a weekly craft link up, as well as another knitting friend here.