Gratitude & Glories {2nd week of September}

I’m thankful for this week…

~sugar-free BBQ in crockpot and sweet corn from a friend to cook up after church ~ a surprise 40th birthday party for my dear friend and she was very surprised ~the hardness of pressing through exhaustion, only to walk away with a blessing of good conversation after, I love that feeling! ~ my children getting to spend time at their friend’s home ~ baby’s crib being moved into the big boy’s room, bittersweet, but nice to have a quiet retreat, too ~

~ a lovely 18th wedding anniversary, early morning canoe ride and picnic in a little alcove on the lake, which we promptly dubbed Amos and Amy’s Anniversary Alcove. HA! 😉 ~ fajitas for lunch and a downtown walk around, taking some beautiful photos of old building details, flowers, patterns, and a green door ~ a lovely outdoor tree arboretum, which I adored and a thrifting stop~ countryside drive, taking more photos (trees! magical lanes! hay bales! my poor husband! 🙂 ) and soaking up views, and reading a bit of my thrift store book purchase ~ just falling into a soft, cozy bed and wiping the slate clean after long days ~

~ new, fresh mornings~ chilly, blanket weather beginnings ~ gorgeous flowers and trees on a long walk with the children to the little stream I call the “Withywindle” that’s just around a little bend in our road ~ caught in a shower at the end, my oldest saving some of her giggling, waterlogged siblings with the car, adventures are sweet together, are they not? ~ listening to grand music while nature sketching and journaling together, candle lit and tea brewing ~ just trying to remember how much I’ll miss the little hats, sweaters, and wet boots lying about when they are gone ~ picture book pile with my middles ~ interesting narrations and thoughts from all my children this week through the various books we are reading~ resting in my bedroom, working on little homemade Christmas gifts, while listening to Anna Karenina ~

~heat on for the first time this week, warmth and I love the friendly, ‘ole growl of the furnace coming around once again~ a lovely time out with my oldest daughter, my mom, and sisters to celebrate one of my sister’s 28th ~ laughing and reminiscing ~ my 8 yo playing so well with the baby ~ his belly and chubby little feet, so precious ~ the song “Find Me in the River”, a throwback from my teenage church group days, bringing comfort and memories ~ my oldest son gleefully making four loaves of bread, motivated by his long, hollow leg ~ afternoon school done, mom gets to read Thornyhold by Mary Stewart, what a cozy, light read, thanks for the recommendation, Katie! ~

~the return of chili in our menu, deliciously hot, daub of sour cream, sprinkle of cheese on top ~ the mismatched, thrifted, favorite dishes sparkling in the dinner candlelight, this very same light reflected in the eyes of my loved ones ~ pretty mugs filled with favorite coffee or tea, my go-to lately being Sweet & Spicy by Good Earth, something about the warmth of hot drinks this time of year, huh? ~ thinking about a book I just finished called The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller ~ perusing again The Private World of Tasha Tudor, so inspiring, from our library stack ~ lovely, thought-provoking devotional readings each morning from The Parables of Nature ~ short walk in gray weather, but beautiful after days of rain ~ zinnia, sunflower, and weed bouquets picked with my daughter, noticing dew drops on the face of the sunflower, what a face ~ late raspberries on bush ~ homemade pizza made for the children, jazz serenading our dinner ~ my BIL coming down for a visit, a dear daughter making a bed for him ~ gifted watermelons from grandpa ~

~ reorganizing and cleaning out my room, nice soothing corners to cozy up in ~ piles to be donated, garbage thrown out ~ continuing to dip in my massive Anna Karenina with more tea, Saturday’s with rain are sublime ~ pile of pancakes made with my two little boys helping me, mini pancakes made for them to eat while they waited, simple things make them so HAPPY ~ chicken “nachos” thrown into the crockpot, the smell permeating the house while the rain continues to drip, drip ~ a laughing boy comes up from our old, flooded (reoccurring issue) basement, dubbed the “fire swamp”, talking of leaping from “rock to rock” avoiding the swamp-y-est parts ~ laughter over messes is a thing to be thankful for, I guess, huh? 😉 ~ pumpkin muffins with melting butter for the all the children, extra in our freezer for our first homeschool co op meeting coming soon of the year ~ pages printing out for our new poet, I’m privileged to share her with our group soon ~ a husband who knows how to fix the above printer when it jams 😉 ~ for honestly, just sitting down, after a long week to type out this list, it makes me see, really see ~

So blessed~

What are you thankful for right now? I’d love to hear. Spread the joy. ~

{I was having technical difficulties this week. Sorry, no new photos to share.}

Gratitude & Glories {1st week of September}

~I am thankful for this week…

~ darling baby “reading” with the “click clack moo” cadence his Click, Clack, Moo book ~ postponed graduation party of a friend, so nice to visit for hours at a beautiful park ~ riding alone with my oldest to do an errand, uninterrupted time to chat ~ corn on the cob for dinner, sitting around and talking long with all the children ~ my husband playing Sheepshead with the children while I went to bed early~ letters of encouragement in the post ~ rereading my shelf, all the favorites that bring me so much joy ~ Pauline Banes illustrated end papers of Professor Tolkien’s words ~

~”walking in the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Spirit”, Holy Scriptures inspiring our first morning of formal back to {home}school ~ morning nature ramble for half hour after breakfast each day, poetry, devotions, and Scriptures ~ neat connections between Roman history and Hans Brinker of all things, by my oldest ~ sketching in our timeline journals called a Book of Centuries ~ reading of cow horn lanterns and time candles ~ all the lovely new books we cracked open~ hard adjustments, after all, first days are always that way, but good just the same ~

~elderberry syrup making by my 11 yo, Ella ~ convicting, helpful marriage reminders through an old book ~ one of my children working on a written narration from the Fairie Queen, really enjoying it ~ picnic table schooling in gorgeous, warm, flickering sunlight ~ watching an older version of Little Women with Greer Garson as Aunt March with my middles and littles. We really enjoy this version!

~Full gorgeous Corn Moon and very windy, my wind chimes singing away ~ seeing the lovely Butter-n-Eggs on our nature ramble, among many favorite late summer flowers~ drove older two for bank errand, post office stop, and ice cream scoop, very fun albeit, I’m a nervous wreck about number 2 driver’s ed student 😉 ~ Benjamin (6 yo) helping me make beef and brown rice for supper ~ Redwall or an OZ book being read in evenings before bed ~ old pair of jeans dug out and cut up, making slings, love when they get creative with what’s on hand ~ my 13 yo enjoying a video Latin program we are trying out ~

~starting earlier, getting done earlier, so we have time to do our own things ~ reading out on the lawn chair in the sun ~ our old folksong and hymn CDS being taken out and listened to, just like meeting with old friends again ~ lots of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong while we work in journals or on copywork ~ a beloved daughter begging to read just a little bit more of The Secret Garden ~ delicious bucket of garden fresh tomatoes and basil from my brother and sister-in-laws garden ~ date out for a moon filled sky and cheese burger and veggies ~ new book in the post, Romancing the Ordinary, that looks lovely ~ apple, grape, and late raspberry snacks from our orchard ~ getting a big clothing/porch/storage area cleaned and organized while beginning to listen to Anna Karenina ~

So much to be thankful for this week! How ’bout you?

Gratitude & Glories {4th week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

~a few days at the cozy cabin, beating the surprise heat wave ~ gorgeous drive and rereading The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery ~ baby’s happiness to be out of the van and running up and down the hall, his short, stubby legs tooling around ~ children building in the sand, burying one another, and swimming ~ napping ~ dropping off Amos and some children for a tubing run, driving in silence to the pick up point, gorgeous sun and quiet, riverside ~ seeing a Kingfisher twice! ~ bonfire smell and crackle ~ delicious peaches with my breakfast ~ rainy, but cool, romance-tinged air in-between rain showers ~ canoeing on a lovely little lake…so peaceful ~ wooden bridges and pines ~ glass-like lakes reflecting the sky and treeline~ green everywhere ~ lilypads ~ oldest son dragging us through a shallow connecting inlet, laughs all around ~

 

~ hard days that drive us to our knees, humbling this mama ~ catching up on piles, so satisfying ~ new Christmas book arriving in the post, can’t wait to share it with the children ~ early morning prayer and reflection time ~ commonplacing quotes that I’ve read for further reflection and meditation ~ picking a bouquet of flowers and weeds for the table with my Ben ~ a library poetry book and CD listened to over and over again, delighting us all ~ library pickup again, checking out The Mouse Mansion yet again and may need to make our own mouse house, a good autumn/winter project possibly ~ Ella, Phoebe, Benjamin, and Gideon helping me make homemade pizza and zucchini pizza, candle lit, and little hands shredding cheese so chubby and sweet ~ my husband’s invitation to go out and watch the lightening with him, he knows I love the wild and windy approaching of a storm, just what I needed to blow away a case of cobwebbys! ~ last dates to local drive-in cafe before it closes for the season, love their coleslaw~

 

~a morning thunderstorm welcoming Friday in ~ some older children not going to work and helping me purge, rearrange, and spruce up our homeschool supply closet, living room, and library a bit ~ encouraging vlogs and little tidbits I’m reading here and there, preparing my heart and mind for school beginning next week ~ the way the wind whipped my sunflowers and the apples in the orchard, the black willows gorgeous in the sunlight ~ cooler weather rolling in today ~ Ella and Phoebe getting to spend time with a beloved grandma and friends, swimming and playing games ~ haircuts for three of my boys, so good to see their eyes again 😛 ~ Louis Armstrong and blog perusing ~ and look at this lovely mug on sale! ~ continued regular afternoon tea set up by my Ella ~ barn swallows still swishing and swooping my spirit up, up, and up ~ goldenrod bouquets on my book table ~

How was your week? I’ll leave you with this lovely quote that I jotted down in my commonplace journal ~

“As August comes to her slow and dreaming end, the air has a special smell, the smell of ripening, the smell of drying hay, the smell of the piney woods in the cool of the evening. The strange rusty smell of marigolds and the prickling odor of zinnias, and so exciting to breathe it all in! I do not, ever, like ends. I like beginnings and rich plump middles, but ends are always sad. Of all the ends in this old unquiet world, though, the end of summer is one of the best. For the first small throb of color in the swamp maples in September is a fine thing to behold. And the first nip of the air on a golden morning is heavenly to feel after the languor of summer’s heat.”

~ Gladys Taber

Gratitude & Glories {3rd week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

~busy Sunday, full to the brim with a graduation of our two older boys from a scouting camp through our church ~ picnic and flea market moments, talking with a sweet woman from Chicago at park ~ free water park tickets from my husband’s aunt ~ time for me to run to JoAnn Fabrics and use up a coffee gift card, Iced Breve latte was so delicious ~ some ribbon for my new apron and felt for some Christmas softies for my middles/littles ~ new-to-us ping pong table, laughs on fitting it into our van ~ date with Amos to hash out some things, delish hamburger patty and veggies ~ gorgeous drive to a bungalow that some mom friends and I rented for a few days ~ cooking healthy meals for each other ~ tea, devotions, and prayer time ~ strolls through lovely neighborhoods, a favorite house with a lavish Zinna fence border ~ hiking, talking, and admiring lovely, expansive views ~coffee with healthy muffins, fruit, and yogurt parfait ~ small gifts from the friends, bags of veggies, helpful recipes and charts, and other little tokens to help on our health journey ~

~ my middle kids watching The Hideaways movie based on the book, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – some of my children loved this book, others disliked it and the movie brought a similar reaction, but fun all the same ~ loving new prayer app someone told me about and morning hush this week took on a new meaning to me, just introducing something fresh ~ lovely moments just laying out together on lawn chairs in shady, dappled light from our tree ~ my “outdoor” office as I try to wrap up school planning ~ sun-soaked breezy naps w/pillow and soft coffee-mug blanket outdoors ~ garage sale, finding a perfect fit of a book for one of my children’s school lessons for $2 ~ Joe’s Coconut coffee coming in the post, mmmmm ~ church outing, nice to see family and friends ~ trying new recipes, eating beets for the first time! ~ getting a good grocery list/menu plan down for the next few weeks ~ crafting with pretty washi tapes and nice, scritch scratchy pens, a third “draft” of my school ideas for the new year ~

~ a recommendation from a friend of a couple of lovely new-to-us picture books from the library we’ve been lingering over, Monarch and Milkweed by Helen Frost and Leonid Gore and Daylight Starlight Wildlife by Wendell Minor, highly recommend both~ catching and releasing a baby mouse, one daughter sketching it ~ oatmeal with Greek yogurt, cinnamon, a couple walnuts, and oh, the glorious PEACHES ~ writing a 4 page letter to a lovely pen pal ~ dipping in and out of a few books ~  continuing the resurrected afternoon tea time per my lovely 11 yo daughter who brews, bakes, and sets it all up ~

What wonderful slow wrap up this August has been to summer…not sure I’m quite ready to leave it! God is faithful! How did your week go?

~

Gratitude & Glories: {2nd week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

~Sunday, early morn quiet, coffee, moon and stars, sure and steady, prayer, Bible & books ~ is it a boat or bowl? from a curved leaf conversation with Benjamin ~ rereading prayer journal entries, Jesus’ faithfulness~ 5 year journal, loving it ~ swallows and finches roosting in our ash tree in the evening before dusk, chirping and chattering and then going silent for the night ~ early morning chirping again, greeting the dawn ~ house wren pair ~ fog, sunrise, Queen Anne’s Lace ~ online Zoom picture study of Brueghel’s,  “The Preaching of St. John the Baptist” and discussion after it~

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~cuddling with 1 year old at 1:00 am as he plays with my face and eyelashes, his wide Precious-Moment-like eyes looking at me sweetly ~ explosion of Morning Glories on deck railing, never failing to encourage me, my own private little Anne-Blythe-Idlewild, if you will ~ listening to my sweet 11 yo on library pick up date and snuggling later with her on deck as we watch the stars ~ my husband getting out the telescope and telling me about how he and some children looked at the night sky and sketched some of what the saw ~ impromptu lunch picnic under the Honey Locust of delish chicken, zucchini, and brown rice stir fry ~ decaf cuppa of vanilla hazelnut in the afternoon ~ washing my face with rosemary lavender bar soap, so refreshing ~ looking at old Taproot magazines outdoors for crafting inspiration with my middle and little children ~ Christmas handmade planning beginnings, better start now, or they won’t get done ~ Queen Anne’s lace added to my nature journal ~

 

 

~delicious bits of atmospheric Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase (not one I’d 100% recommend, FYI), happily searching for the elusive type of read I love ~ the glow-y hour of the evening, looking silently at the chickens, baby boy and I ~ a friend recommending this podcast on addiction, sparking a lot of ideas and offering hope ~ pursuing some lovely domestic type books, especially my favorite one for creating inspiration ~ atmospheric soundtracks on Youtube ~ dragging out sewing machines with my middle and littles ~

 

 

~ working on organizing sewing/crafting items ~ little doll aprons ~ Noah passing written driver’s exam ~ school planning, almost done – surely have way too much on list, but will have to run it for awhile to see what needs tweaking ~ writing a long letter to a pen-pal ~ beautiful countryside passing by as I helped my husband move farm equipment around ~reading in car while waiting for boys to finish lawn mowing job, sipping coffee from ball jar ~ baking gingerbread biscuits (we felt in an autumn-ish mood) with Ella, Phoebe, and Ben for tea time and the freezer, used up a can of black treacle I had in cupboard ~ now I have the beautiful tin to find English Ivy to put in! ~ watching Miss Potter with kids that night and bringing out our collection of Beatrix Potter books to ooh and ahh over, the Hill Top photos in the movie bringing back my trip there in 2016, swoon ~

 

 

 ~ swooning over Lore Pemberton’s art, I was given a piece of her work for Mother’s Day this year and it’s just one of my favorite things EVER ~ concert done by the middles and littles for my husband and I, so wonderfully sweet and screechy at the same time 😉 ~ missing my older boys who are camping and oldest daughter who’s working and hanging with friends, but trying to let go and begin embracing different seasons ~ got a wonderful, awful idea about how to incorporate my love of writing and creating into one, can’t wait to get started ~ gorgeous thunderstorm last night ~

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~Exhausting, but GLORIOUS week in the Lord. So, so grateful! ~ How was yours?

“Stand in the ways and see,

And ask for the old paths, where the good way is,

And walk in it.

Then you will find rest for your souls.”

~ Book of Jeremiah

 

Gratitude & Glories: {1st week of August}

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This week I’m thankful for…

 ~a drive through dappled, morning sunlight, through hills, fields, woods, rereading Miss Read’s delightful Village School, a perfect pre-autumn school-ish inspirational read ~New Life Lavender’s Organic Shea Butter w/Lavender Essential Oil, soothing my eczema ~ wind chimes donging and tinkling peacefulness through the open window ~ a new, pale periwinkle type color of Morning Glory blooming Sunday morning ~ country drive with my husband that took us through new-to-us Amish homesteads ~ cool, almost autumn-ish feel to a brand, spanking new dewy morning ~ playing Schliech animals (a favorite toy here) with my 1 yo, Gideon ~ reading some timely and encouraging things in the Book of Numbers ~ crisp, buttery, whole wheat pancakes for the kids ~ reciting “Be Not Afraid” at breakfast with everyone, so inspiring ~ beginning the first Redwall book all over again with a new bunch of children ~ My daughter Ella and I finishing up the wonderful historical fiction book, Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit ~ nodding Queen Anne’s Lace and pale blue Chicory on the roadsides ~

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~morning walks with whatever kids are available and my husband ~ visiting a lavender farm, lavender ice cream, and lemon lavender tea, rosemary lavender soap purchased – a surfeit of lavender! ~ Zoom book study, looking at the Habits are Ten Natures section of Charlotte Mason’s Volume 1 with friends, wonderful discussions ~ 4:00 afternoon tea parties with the “Queen” ~

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~driver’s education test preparation, my 15 yo son’s gratitude for my help ~ library book pick up stacks with my middle son, uninterrupted conversation for a wee bit ~reading outdoors, under the Honey Locust~ chemistry books trickling in via the post, so thankful for living book recommendations from friends ~swinging baby and boy every afternoon in the balmy breeze ~ my 6 yo arranging the  garden tomatoes beautifully ~

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~errand date with son, little free library, pig feed pickup, drive-in ice cream, and Amish veggie stand for sweet corn ~ staying up late to watch an Avenger movie with two oldest ~ finishing The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel ~ broiling fresh sliced tomatoes with basil and a little cheese ~ clouds, black swallowtails, zinnias, hollyhocks, cosmos, barn swallows, and every other small bit of natural beauty gifted to us this week ~

What a blessed week ~ Thank You, Lord Jesus!

How was yours?

~

{I hope to make this a regular post on my blog as I want to live in a posture and attitude of gratitude, a form of ‘practicing resurrection’. These don’t mean my life is perfect and trouble free, but I’m choosing to focus on the good as a way to give thanks. Please join me on your blogs, in the comments, or on your own.}

Monday Ponderings {March 9th} Match-Striked Dawns

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Only Heaven is better than to walk with Christ at midnight over moonlit seas.

~B.M.

 

Trial ever consecrates the cup

Wherefrom we pour the sacrificial wine.

~Lowell

 

The Cloud of Witness

 

Fragments of these quotes have been tumbling around in my head lately. My heart skips from the idea that being shrouded in the blackness of life with Christ is the very next best thing to being with Him in Heaven. A profound reshifting of how I view the sorrows and trials of life. Weariness and relational pressures build like the dirty, greasy dishes in the sink. Yet I can choose to see the precious, discarded, darling pint-sized blue and green gingham shirt on the bathroom floor as evidence of a vibrant, earnest 5 year old boy I get to love.  Irritations war within me over snippy words, grating like the large dental bill opened recently. But the pleasant ‘thawp, thwap’ sound of our USA map blowing as the furnace kicks in below, visible heat and friendly sounds warming me inside and out. Hope drains away quickly like the last dregs of my coffee, if I glance at the waves instead of gazing into the piercing Eyes of strength. His hand outstretched through the darkness towards me. Deadlines, half written schedules, tensions between to-dos and to-creates, crumpled recipes, all pile like the dead, sodden, end-of-winter, depressing leaves out under the tree. Leaves not unlike the potato peels all over the floor, a child-like outlook that I so wish I could grab onto, saying this was the “best job ever” – peeling potatoes with mom. Potato-peelings of life moments are glorious if I can look at them anew, through a filter of child-like honesty and without cynicism.

I want to look at life through the simple delight of a deeply, simple but gorgeous painting found thrifting for a dollar – a fresh, haunting blue, sheep on a hillside – He comes for me, that one, lost wandering sheep, a mother floundering in a midnight, blackness of soul. He holds me safe around His shoulders, quieting my incessant bleating and trembling. His beautiful truths of how much He truly loves me, filtering down through the cobwebs and endless muck of my emotions and pressures of this world. He delights in giving me good, tangible gifts, yes, earthly things like moist, spicy chicken and buttery broccoli, deeply lashed pooled blue baby eyes to stare deeply into, piercing my brown ones. Gifts of little rivulets of melting ice, dribbling, merrily and softly down the side of the street, speaking, no whispering hope and spring to the heart and soul, a knowing that it will come again. The grave cannot hold hope for long  –  I know so, because of the jonquils everywhere in the wild as we traveled south recently – shards of joy piercing deep their yellow welcome,  cutting up through the thick, leathery folds of my dry, skin heart.

Those pudgy little boy feet, with one sock on, one off, moments that culminate in this heart whisper that “Jesus is here RIGHT now” with you, Amy. Even in the messes, misunderstandings, the doors of the van of life spilling out paper wrappings, petrified apple cores, and crumpled socks. Not unlike the refuse twisting and turning inside, frantically trying to recycle into anything redeemable. Ice melting, last bits of snow sifting down from branches, trial and triumph, hatred and hope, a mixture of drinks to sip from this deep cup of life…nothing immediately good can be seen or felt in these times of emotional  graveyard, but through these dry bones are rising brilliant match-striked dawns of joy.

Wait for it, Amy.

~

Sunrise, Sunset

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Sunrise on oatmeal breakfasts, a newly-minted 15 year old’s birthday, on morning visits to friends that live 45 breathtaking minutes away, the grand, barrenness of the trek striking me with joy and a sigh. Sunset on our beloved Arabian’s life, his old age catching us not unawares but a bit unready to say goodbye, sunset on candlelit dinners, the dishes waiting for the dawning of day. Sunrise on my parents 41st anniversary,  and water park days with dad, tickets a gift from a beloved Great Aunt.  Sunset on lingering moments with book stacks, french toast and bacon dinners, and canvas tepee sleepovers in girl’s bedroom. Sunrise glittering across icy driveway, faint light creeping around corners of house. Sunset ushering in full moon, unseen from main windows, reflection glimmering  off cars, buildings, soft, blue glow enveloping the night. Sunrise joining the flicker of early morning candlelight and twinkle lights, bursting brightness into the house, glinting off that never-ending pile of dishes to be washed. The dry, chapped mother hands dipping in suds, listening to Mill on the Floss, towel over arm. Sunset bringing husband and son with a large load of bright, red apples from storage, children’s eyes sparkling and grins over a favorite fruit. Sunrise on devotions, The Golden Key, and Book of Luke, as we lick our breakfast spoons. Sunset on reservations, travel plans being finalized, and new {green 🙂 } glasses ordered.  Sunrise on nursling’s cries and a mother’s kettle steaming, books, lists, and words to soak into soul. Sunset on harsh words, fights about our beloved Playmags {of all things!}, and uncleaned crumbs. Sunrise slowly coming earlier and earlier, darkness being pushed back, ghostly blue blackness being parted aside, and a warm, friendly light peeking around the edge of the curtain. Sunset on bad habits, out of ordered affections, and worry, hopefully. Sunrise, the new dawn on a new day, a newer month, one week old already, oh the possibilities. If I listen and notice. Sunset on library trips, babysitting jobs for my oldest daughter, mentoring Zoom meetings for a teacher mom, and soup lunches at church. Sunrise, sunset on the first week of February.

Sunrise, sunset. 

~

Monday Ponderings- Keep Your Clocks Wound {February 3rd}

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…we must daily keep things wound: that is, we must pray when prayer seems dry as dust; we must write when we are physically tired, when our hearts are heavy, when our bodies are in pain. We may not always be able to make our “clock” run correctly, but at least we can keep it wound, so that it will not forget. ~ Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water

Sunshine has spilled for two and half days in a row, albeit a bit spotty. On Saturday, I stood still near my kitchen window, gingham curtains brushing my elbows, hands wrapped around my hot coffee cup. I lifted my face, eyes closed to its warmth bathing me. Yesterday, I noticed a flicker of it through the tree branches, slanting through the window, and landing on the back of the church pew. It blinked and bowed, dancing across the wood grain just like a prayer.  This time of year we think of the coming of the spring, as we angle half past through the blinding white and the equally blinding darkness towards greenness and light.  Thinking on the L’Engle quote, it’s hard work to keep our many “clocks” wound and things going, especially in the darkness. Then the sunset itself was hopeful last night, a promising gift of purples, pinks, and pungency. There is often just the right amount of grace for the moment if I take time to look hard, peering through the dimness. This morning, I found myself up in the early black with baby,  then hands deep in dish bubbles, and my audio book. As the morning knocked, the sky grew lighter and lighter…mismatched to my heaviness over words that I was repeating in my head. Words have power, just as light does. Words sink down into our souls, whereas light shines up, around, out, and through.  The sunshine is good medicine though, when wading through dishes, desperate moments, and peeling back the inner onion layers (more on this later). Sunshine therapy at its finest, a moment or two of clarity, and the click clack of keys to catch it before it floats away into the air.

~

Saturday Song

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I took to the meadows today. Cloud shadows hover over a section of far-flung woods. Clouds that are low-lying, pancake-like, stretching on to eternity. Green-gold topped with clear blue are the hues of the moment, a bit of scarlet thrown in for extra flourish. A gentle hum and a soft rustle are my background music, the distant shrillness of  machinery cutting rudely in. A small getaway, pens and journals in hand, a small step for the restoration of this mother-kind.

It was a week of relationship work, of gathering together with people. The hard-heart- softening work. Charlotte Mason shares that character is the purpose of education and surely she must mean mostly the mother’s character. Encircling little cousins that visited, comforting aches and pains, you know the stuff life is made of. A birthday party, sunflower-y cake celebrating another niece. A grandpa visiting at dinner time a few nights, homemade pizza, and eking out the last few garden watermelons ripe with late summer. Homeschool friends gathering around the craft and drawing table, turning ears, lifting voices, searching the depths of Van Gogh’s “The Potato Eaters.” Chocolate chip zucchini muffins shared and lovely conversations with other mothers. Francis Bacon and Jane Austen’s Persuasion discussed and quotes swapped. The long van rides, parking next to the riot of purple morning glories, heart leaves twining around my own fleshly heart. The long minutes spent talking, listening, soothing. The loudness of it all becoming magnified by low sleep. My comfy bedside chair became a revolving door for hurts, concerns, laughs, plans, book chats, and dreams. Heavy chair.

The spent, shriveled Queen Anne’s lace nods it’s weary head next to mine. The long expanse and deep view of it all overwhelms me. The wind whips my page over, a glorious, grassy, earthy, clover-y smell dives deep into my nostrils, winging through my lungs, truly refreshing. Beyond the ridge, up and out of a valley of trees, a golden soybean (or is it wheat?) field lies as a bright beacon drawing my thirsty eyes. It reminds me of the hymn I’ve been reading with the children called “Come to Jesus” by Fredrick Faber and how I read it this week accompanied with music. There’s certainly a wideness in God’s mercy, a wideness of the sea or even these vast fields. A small spider crawls up a large weed stalk next to my chair. Oh, my soul sings.

The exhaustion, countless meals, and the schedule threatening to drown unless I stop to see. To admire the three leaves with pale mimicking triangles on the clover, the grasshoppers, and yes, again with those clouds. The beauty of another week becomes my Saturday song. Sure, there were discordant moments, a screech here, and a blast there, but I see. In the midst of reading Mark in the Holy Scriptures together at the hot oatmeal breakfast table, rolling out dough, wiping noses, giving neutralizer treatments. During the washing and drying of towels till they’re soft, fragrant, and fluffy, I see just that small bit of glory. I see a little of the “peace that just begins when ambition ends.”* I’m reminded that I’m on a journey, I don’t need to rush, worry. I can just watch the bumblebee on the goldenrod, wash a dish fresh, open a soybean and a milkweed pod with my 7 yo, walk through grass and white clover, with the dew dampening my toes, steam rising from my coffee. I get to read piles of board books to my 5 yo and 5 month old, catch the edges of fog that lies in the ditches, around corners, and under trees, walk out after late night nursing sessions to gaze at the stars. I get to read about the Knit Your Bit campaign during the World Wars to the intrigue and delight of the children, light the black taper candles as the night draws to a close, and I am always amazed at the little tune of gratitude just hovering inches away ready for me to snatch if I will just listen, if I will just see.

~

*The Cloud of Witness, p. 362

Back Here Again

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I flicked on the faucet, filling my coffee pot. There at the bottom of the sink, a common cricket surprised me, a delightful friend to great the wee hours of the morn with. A weariness stole over me, yet I felt good about the fact that it was Friday and we’d made it. A full week of back to (home)school and it was lovely. Yes, of course, a favorite coffee mug was broken, paint got on the kitchen table, laundry did not get done, wrongs to wrangle and mend, and there were a few tears shed (not just by me, either).  But oh, the joy of Phillis Wheatley’s poetry read, intriguing mix of Greek myth, Christianity, and her ironic, heart-wrenching thankfulness for the coming freedom of the American colonies. My unkempt hair falling in my face (I desperately need a hair cut), while talking over philosophy (Ourselves by Charlotte Mason) with my two older boys about our dual selves and one of them comparing it to that cartoonish picture of the devil and angel on our shoulders, lends a sobering blend of joy and holy seriousness to what I get to do as a homeschooling mother. Silence and contemplation over mysterious bits from George MacDonald in his At the Back of North Wind. In our afternoon free time, my 12 yo son and I have been enjoying reading and discussing Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. I had planned on a shift into our autumn menu, chili, chicken noodle soup, and roasted veggies with sausage. I’ve had to scramble a bit as the temperatures tricked us by dropping and then sultry sunshine slipping back in. We made due and sometimes soup was sipped to the hum of the air conditioner. This seems to be the year of Wisconsin (and England!) geography trails and deeper digging into science, but with glorious LIVING, breathing books at the helm. The early morning math figuring together, each child rotating to me for help, has worked wonderful this first week, it’s amazing the things we talk about as we fill up with ideas.  We had a long ramble on our beautiful gravel road, the dog gamboling ahead of us, darting in and out of the neighbor’s corn, the butterflies following us. “The butterflies are my friends,” the sweet, sensitive 5 yo tells me. Common Buckeye, Red Admiral, Sulfurs, and Monarch are still swishing lightly through these last dog days of September summer. Can you believe that Monday is the official first day of autumn? My sleep deprivation has reached new heights, a darling, chunky almost 5 month old baby boy smiles at me, making it worth it, but not any less hard. I was able grab a few secret moments to dip into this strangely imaginative book about writing and run away to Italy for a bit in Von Arnim’s The Enchanted April. Paint brushes dipped into watercolors remind me of the Staghorn Sumac tips now, brilliantly red-tipped. A few Christmas gifts have begun to get a jump start, and the oven is being used for more bread and cookies. Our favorite Elevenses snack began again, a giant bowl of popcorn and mugs of hot chocolate (yes, even with the heat! Old habits die hard.), hymns and folk-songs playing. It brings back so many memories of the countless pages read, conversations, and the life lived, learned, deep love planted around this old, hand-me-down table. The seasons ebb and flow, like one of those time-lapse videos, in my head.  It’s so good to be back here again.

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Few things that blessed me this first back to school week:

Each day the world is born anew

For him who takes it rightly…

Rightly? that’s simply!- ’tis to see

Some Substance casts these shadows

which we call Life and History…

Simply? That’s nobly! – ’tis to know

That God may still be met with, –

Nor groweth old, nor doth bestow

These senses fine, this brain aglow,

To grovel and forget with!

 

Lowell, The Cloud of Witness, p. 380

 

Psalm 23 (emphasis mine) NASB

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

~

Crazy Love

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I have a crazy, crazy love of things….

So many little things…

Crazy, crazy, swirling, circling…these are the days of needing to reduce the daily life down into teeny increments. The copper tea pot, the baby sock, the drip of green paint slowly oozing down the side of the paint can, the u-shaped upside down bit of light from the table lamp, hour-glassing up the wall, the click of wooden blocks, post it notes, a black crayon, jug of distilled water nearby, smell of cornbread, can opener, shocking yellow bath towel, crossed off days on a nearly spent August, weeds taller than I, said green paint under finger nails, sunflower seed shells, two shoes without mates, white barn salt shaker, blue flicker of gas, glisten of waning light on ham slices, moonshine on roofs of cars below,  distant cry from crib, squares of blue & green outside, piece of spaghetti stuck to foot, the off button on the podcasts, the sign-out tab on social media, and the hesitant smile, side glance of a child, probably wondering where his mother has gone.

So many little, crazy things to love with a crazy, exhausted love.

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