snow for a week

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Last week we had the biggest snow we’ve potentially had in many years here in North Carolina, and we personally had close to 16 inches.  It stayed on the ground for most of last week and today is the first day we’ve really seen the sun and the ground since then.  Everyone enjoyed it so much and somehow we managed to have electricity throughout the entire storm, while many of our neighbors went for days without power.  It was neat seeing the neighborhood pull together to help one another, checking in on the elderly and those without power and offering to help where needed.  We enjoyed a lot of time out in the snow and also keeping our hands busy inside with a few crafts like stringing up dried oranges for garlands both inside and out (for the birds), paper snowflakes, cookie making, painting, christmas movies, etc.  It’s been good to take a break from our usual school work to make time for these activities and just being together, but of course it isn’t perfect.  We still have a lot of bickering and momma getting frustrated with the soggy layers all over the floor and the messes everywhere I turn, but it has been good just the same.  I’m such a work in progress when it comes to patience and grace with my children, and I’m making a concerted effort to do things together this holiday season that are fun for them even if they’re a bit stressful for me.

We went to the Christmas pageant at our church, and we went to our small local mall to send off a package and walk around (i.e.: let the children run and blow off some pent up energy) and happened to visit with Santa while we were there.  I think it’s the first time any of my kids have sat on Santa’s lap and given their Christmas requests.  It was pretty cute and we had some good conversation afterwards, and I remembered so many visits to the mall with my family during Christmas time when I was growing up.

Yesterday we went into downtown Asheville for a Christmas brunch with my family that’s local, since we all help with my dad’s remodeling business in one way or another.  We usually eat out (when we do eat out together) at Posana’s restaurant because it has an entirely gluten-free kitchen and it’s one place we feel safe letting Phoebe eat.  It is a huge treat, thank you mom and dad!  It was windy and cold, but still fun to walk all around and see the Christmas decorations.  Phoebe wanted to take a picture of me (I’m wearing my Timber cardigan and Campside shawl!) and I’m thankful she did, even if I don’t love being in front of the camera.

Over the weekend we went to the annual open house at our favorite pottery place in Brevard, NC and then visited with our old neighbors there for a few hours which was such a treat.  (Elizabeth, if you’re reading, you know I’m talking about your grandparents!) 🙂

Evenings during Advent are spent gathered around our advent wreath, coloring ornaments for the Jesse tree as we read through Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.  Last night we lit the “joy” candle and it’s hard to believe we are just a few days away from Christmas.  Noah turns six on Thursday, Phoebe turns eight on Sunday and then Christmas is upon us.  It’s going to be a very full week ahead!

I hope you’re staying cozy and warm, enjoying these last few days of anticipation.

first snow

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The “first” everything in this home is special, as we are still finding our way in these four walls.  Decorating the house for the Christmas season is new, finding new homes for old favorite decorations.

I’ve been looking forward to our first snow in this home for a long time, really since before we bought the home.  Last February we were out of our rental, living temporarily with my parents while waiting to close on this home, and we drove over one day to drive by the house on a snowy day.  The neighborhood was transformed, so quiet and pretty and white, and we couldn’t wait for the day when we’d be building snowmen in the yard and tracking footprints all over the yard in our own fresh snow.

The snow began early in the morning before the kids were up, and it just kept coming and coming, all day long.  We had a playdate at a friend’s house and had a blast playing in the snow together with them, stayed through lunch and then realized the roads were quite covered and we had better hurry home.  We slid around all the way, but made it safely.  I had the kids rest briefly but then we couldn’t bear to not be out playing in it all.  Daddy came home from work early with milk and a couple other provisions and we prepared to hunker down for the weekend.  We were prepared to lose power, as some other folks around us had, but miraculously we didn’t.  Church was canceled on Sunday but our roads were relatively clear by then, so we headed instead to our very favorite pottery place in a nearby town, where we have gone every Christmas season since before Phoebe was born.  They have an open house the second weekend of December usually, and you can get a free small pottery mug (per person) and they have hot cider, snacks and treats, live folksy music, and crafts for kids.  We often buy a little christmas ornament or something there to support them and it’s just one of the most Christmasy feeling things we look forward to doing during the season.  So festive and fun.  We try to get a picture every year in front of their cheery red door.

Otherwise, I’ve attempted to keep our December still and quiet.  Advent readings and Christmas hymns begin and end our days.  We’ve made yummy grain-free Christmas cookies (though I never got around to making icing for them) similar to these.  We decorated the tree one evening and remembered all our favorite ornaments.  I treasure the junky kid-made ornaments, especially the ones from last year that Phoebe made while in the hospital in Winston Salem waiting for her endoscopy procedure.  My, what can change in a year’s time.  Phoebe has been practicing for weeks at church to sing in the Christmas children’s choir, and she requested a solo.  They sang last Sunday and what a joy it was to see her do so well, and to see her making new friends at our new church home.

This week is busy with birthday celebrations and today will probably be our quietest day until after Christmas.  Phoebe turns 7 tomorrow and I still have a few things to do to prepare.  Mostly, I just can’t believe that teeny tiny baby girl has gotten so big, grown-up, sophisticated and smart.  Sob.  With little ones, our lives are filled with change even as we try to nail a few things down around us.

I hope your December has been cheerful and meaningful thus far, and that you are enjoying these last few days before Christmas.  If I don’t pop in here before then, Merry Christmas to you and yours!  May you find Jesus to be enough for you, the very fulness of joy, and every other good merely the overflow of His grace.

 

snow and sweaters

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We saw (maybe?) our last snow of the season on Sunday morning and felt again the child-like wonder and awe that always comes over us all with new snow.  My sweater had been finished for about a week but I hadn’t worn it because I’d been recovering from the flu and just wanted to save wearing it for the first time for when I actually felt normal.  It’s the first sweater I’ve knit for myself so I was a bit nervous I would mess up the sizing.  I slipped it on Sunday morning and Brandon snapped a few photos of me (sorry for the crazy lighting) and then we went out with the kids for a walk in the snow.  The arms are a tad bit long, as I added about 2 inches of length to both the body and the sleeves, but I’d rather them be long then short.  It truly is so cozy and warm without being too heavy.  I loved every minute of knitting it.  Totally easy, relaxing, and simple.  Shepherd’s wool is so squishy and soft and just 100% wool.  The colorway, “sea breeze,” makes me think of the ocean.  I could definitely see myself knitting it again.

 

back in the swing of things

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It’s quiet enough in the house to hear the faint trickling of water in the gutters, snow melting from our rooftop after days of blanketing the ground.  We don’t normally keep snow for a few consecutive days in these North Carolina mountains, but the temps have been low enough, giving us days of sledding and soggy peeled off boots and layers piled by the door.  I haven’t posted yet about Christmas.  I haven’t posted my new year reflections and hopes.  I haven’t been reading much this week.  I had a migraine that’s lasted for about four days.  It seems to be on its way out today, just barely there.  Phoebe has been on an extremely restricted diet as of Sunday, and my days and mental capacity have been filled with getting back into the swing of homeschooling and feeding her.  I’m spending hours in the kitchen every day just trying to keep up and come up with ways to get her to eat.  It’s going better than I expected, but it’s a lot of work, so not much margin left for other things.  I miss this space and blogging and hope to catch up on those posts soon.  Do any of you still care to even see Christmas pictures? 🙂

I have, however, been knitting because I crave knitting for my sanity!  It is so peaceful, so unwinding.  During the snowstorm I cast on a few new items.  What is it about falling snow that makes one want to cast on and knit everything??  I’m trying to force myself to finish Noah’s sweater and stay focused.  All it needs now is the buttonhole placket which I hope to finish tonight, then sewing on buttons.  I have so so loved knitting with Shelter and have so loved this pattern that it is a little bittersweet to be on the last few rows of it.  I plan to knit him a hat with the one leftover skein, as he requested.  I can’t wait to wrap it up and let him open it.  I really want to knit mitts and slippers for each of the kids, too.  And cowls!  And hats!  Before winter is over!  🙂

Linking up with Ginny’s yarn along today to share what I’m currently knitting + reading.

fifteen years

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Fifteen years of undeserved life + breath.  Fifteen years, a gift.  We all know that each day we are alive is truly a gift, each new morning another day He has chosen to give us.  But I remember laying in the freezing dark cold of that snow, wet and shivering, being fully aware that this might be my last day.  We talked about it, my sister and I, as we clung to each other and to any semblance of warmth in that makeshift snowcave.  We knew God would be good even if He chose to end our lives in this way, on this mountain, at the ages of 16 and 20 years old.  He could have, but He didn’t.  In the swirl of emotions following our rescue, the way it felt to see a helicopter with men smiling and waving over us, the way it felt to be helped onto that helicopter, flown to a hospital, exiting to microphones from multiple news agencies in our faces; the way it felt to see our parents for the first time, and our siblings; to be interviewed on the Today Show.  I remember in the wake of all of that publicity returning back to my high school, walking the halls and being FULLY alive.  I could hardly handle the way it pierced me, I wanted to jump up and down and shake people and scream at everyone, “We are ALIVE, you guys!?!  This is insane.  Don’t you get it?  We all have been given ANOTHER DAY.”  We all sort of know that each day is a gift, but I can’t tell you what it felt like to know that God wanted us alive.  He chose to let us have another day, another embrace with our family, another breath.  Here we are, fifteen years later.  My sister and I both graduated high school, college, got married, have had three children each.  Life has gone on, God has granted us more time, and our hearts are mindful of the miracle that this is.  When we forget, our little “snowcave anniversary” comes up, year after year on February 12th, and we remember.

Psalm 34

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.

Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!

I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Come, O children, listen to me;
    I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
What man is there who desires life
    and loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil
    and your lips from speaking deceit.
Turn away from evil and do good;
    seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
    and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
    but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He keeps all his bones;
    not one of them is broken.
Affliction will slay the wicked,
    and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
    none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

A little video my sister put together years ago:

I’ve shared more about our story here, here and here.

all this light

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The heavy snows of last weekend lingered all week, now just piled in soggy clumps here and there.  We have played so much in it, the kids bemoaning the sun and the melting each day.  It’s been an ordinary sort of week around here, lots of cleaning and tasks and bills and such.  The sun was so inviting this morning we were out for a bike ride and jaunt to our little neighborhood playground, but it was still so freezing out!

I found myself battling against some heavy dark of soul this week.  I don’t know how much more to share of it here, but only do so because it seemed to be a theme this week between the Lord and I, and I see it reflected in the pictures above, the favorite snapshots from the week: dark + light.  I found myself scribbling in my journal yesterday afternoon, “Thank you, Lord — the night can be so dark, black as coal, but the light falls so sweetly this morning.”  I found myself cheered by the afternoon light pooling on our dining room table, slanting across my journal laid open, dancing across the snow.  These children bring so much light, so much laughter.  Life with them is good–I’m so thankful.  Could it be that He wanted me to notice?  Could it be that He wanted me to see?  Could it be that He wanted to preach to me the light of the glory of His grace to me in these ordinary earthly realities?  To let the light slant just so in beams across my path, to remind me:   The light always overcomes the dark, always.

I’ve needed to preach the truth of the Gospel over my soul this week, leaning hard into what the Word says is true rather than what I feel.  I found particular comfort in these words:

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit…

You are a hiding place for me;
You preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with shouts of deliverance…

Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.”

Psalm 32:1-2, 7, 10

I am blessed, not because of any other glad or fortuitous circumstance, but namely because I am one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.  This is the happiest circumstance of my life, and it is permanent, unchanging, unswerving, though the enemy of my soul would often try to convince me otherwise.

Maybe you needed to remember, too.  If you are in Christ Jesus, your sins are covered.  All His ways to you are grace.  He is your hiding place, your secret place.  His steadfast love is your shield and buckler against the enemy, your promise that in the end, no matter what comes, it will be well with your soul.  I hope you see His light this weekend, and His steadfast love surrounding you.

first snow

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Here in the mountains of North Carolina we gladly welcomed our first big snow of the year last night.  It’s still coming down in huge flakes as I write.  We had a cozy morning taking it slow and then took like an H O U R to bundle everyone and get outside.  This is the first snow Philippa can play in and potentially remember.  One of the best parts of raising kids is getting to see them discover the world.  SO fun.  We took her on the craziest sledding hill ever and she loved it!  As did the other kids.  Until they didn’t, and everyone was thoroughly wet and soaked and there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  But hey, that’s par for the course.  Everyone recovered their sanity after hot chocolates and getting cozy by the fire.

This week has been a heavy week here, emotionally.  A lot of friends and loved ones going through a lot of difficult things, and my heart has literally been aching on and off this week, grief rolling over me in waves, as grief tends to do.  Tears coming unbidden at inconvenient times.  Playing in the snow this morning, seeing the world blanketed in white, seeing it look fresh and new… it is a gift to me from the Lord.  A quietness settles over our little corner of the world, broken only by children’s squeals and laughter, and we are soaking up every glorious second of it, even in the face of grief.  Maybe we just needed the reminder that storms can bring glory as well as grief, beauty in spite of the bitter.  Maybe we just needed to see that a storm can be the way God chooses to make all things new.