The Gift of This Moment

IMG_20190505_170710_582

Haunting flute music drifts through the air mixed with my lemon essential oil mist. Feasts for nose and ears. I’ve been slowly floating up and out of post-partum exhaustion and haze, resurfacing, so to speak. Not quite back in the land of the living yet, but one moment at a time, finding my way, taking deep breaths at the surface. Our summer has been a mixture of scrambling, snuggling, and sliding around in the big, red van. We’ve been bumping our way over country roads to family parties and a week at the cabin, surrounded by the memory of pine-drenched air there still fresh in my nose mind. The year has flown, new baby’s have a way of slowing time down and speeding it up at the same time. We’ve enjoyed reading poetry together, trying to finish stories and songs that fell to the wayside during my last months of pregnancy. Summer is time for long book series, my oldest especially embracing the extra reading time, but also she has been found out in the hay meadow on her horse, our new family dog trotting alongside. Ahh. Summer. A welcome friend, I’m soaking her in, recalling the Polar Vortex that swept the northern midwest just a few months ago. I saw somewhere online that there was like a 100 degree difference in some parts of the midwest when compared to the deep “winter that never seemed to be Christmas” that we went through. In hindsight, that was a lot harder for me than I thought. So, I’m determined not to complain of the slow, sultry, still days we are having now. I closed my eyes and let the sweat drip down my back, trying to soak in warmth, bone-deep. Yes, I don’t love nursing a hot, wiggling, darling in this weather, but I’m grateful for it and it’s erasing effects of that cold that is written deep in my skin. Technology has been a boon to me the past few days, as a dear heart, Elisabeth, has been voxering me about my history study plan for the autumn. Summer is off from the scheduled books, but mothering and teaching really never rest. We plan, we dream, we hope, and pray. My black hollyhocks stir slightly in the breeze, a hopeful bit for me, as I fight feelings of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of needs. Needs for myself, of health, feeling good again in my stretched skin, sleep, and peace. Needs for my husband, encouragement and restful place to come home to, and the needs of a whole bouquet of beautiful children I’ve been given to water. We walk by faith, not by sight, and sigh, isn’t that a good thing? If I looked outwardly only, I’d faint, but I fix my gaze by faith on the One who walks along with me, in fact, carries me. Flute, water trickles, and a gentle murmur of sweet voices are surrounding me now. A gift in the moment. And I’m thankful for it.

~

A Blessed Thanksgiving to You and Yours {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #9-10

_MG_5750

MY heart in chiming gladness o’er and o’er

Sings on “GOD’S everlasting love! What 

would’st Thou more?”

Yes, one thing more! To know it ours indeed,

To add the conscious joy of full possession! –

O tender grace that stoops to every need!

This everlasting love hath found expression

In loving-kindness which hath gently drawn

The heart that else astray too willingly had gone…

We thirst for GOD, our treasure is above;

Earth has no gift our one desire to meet,

And that desire is pledge of His own love.

~F.R. Havergal

The Cloud of Witness, p. 109

 

81. children using leftover pie dough for little cinnamon sugar creations

82. my husband snuggled on couch, wrapped in sleeping bag, children all around him, and sitting on his lap

83. all of us talking to the turkey like he is part of our family. He was taking a cold water bath and we kept poking him and conversing with him! Ha.

84. Kitchen Aid mixture is such a good friend at holiday time

85. lovely brunch conversation and my little children licking their fingers from the cinnamon rolls

86. a child seeing that I was cooking bacon and hollering for joy, “BACON!”

87. temperamental can opener working

88. talking books with oldest and pursing Goodreads and the local library online site

89. bed sheets flapping in the cold, crisp wind – they are going to smell so fresh

90.  one daughter helping me cook bacon and scrambled eggs, another mixing  OJ, and my son placing the cinnamon rolls on pan – those moments when cooking together is so fun

91. my fluffy mauve sweater

92. new light bulbs put in, the kitchen is a brand new space! Ha.

93. fabric purchased and waiting to be washed for a Christmas project. Crossing my fingers that I can finish something

94. a new refined to-do list for the next few weeks – not too bad

95. a Christmas gift arrived for my 9 yo daughter that I know she is going to LOVE and I’m pleased with it.

96. new, fresh day after a few rough ones, Tylenol and hot, delicious coffee helping me to get going

97. my 4 yo laughing at a funny part in the book The Napping House, his giggle is so darling

98. the sizzle of the turkey and the juicy, slicing of apples

99. the Narnia movie soundtrack

100. the way the children’s art flutters on our art line in the house, heat blowing up and in, warming the heart of our home

~

So many tangible and intangible blessings all year round! ❤ Thanks for joining me this month, noticing our blessings ~

 

On the Eve {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #7-8

20170822_121439

{Gulf of St. Lawrence/Atlantic, summer 2017, from near the East Point Lighthouse, P.E.I, Canada. This photo has a special meaning to me and I love it so much.}

61. the joyfulness in my children, so refreshing

62. anticipation of my family’s happiness over the big dinner planned for tomorrow

63. overhearing the walkie talkie conversations between my children and husband as they hunt –

64. new Elsa Beskow calendar for the new year

65. good price on bulk red potatoes and onions

66. seeing my sister and BIL’s new apartment, the blessing of them cooking a great meal for me, and spending time just chatting

67. someone at church kindly filling in for me in Sunday School

68. an invitation to a lovely couple’s home after church last Sunday, delicious home-cooked meal, a cooking break for me. The gentleman was an accomplished carpenter and my little children were so delighted by the beautiful wooden toys and marble run he built.

69. a little copper tea kettle I found thrifting that has brought so much delight to us through it’s beautiful sparkle and hours of pretend play

70. my 11 yo’s languages and codes that he’s been creating. He is so inspired by Tolkien’s Elvish

71. new pen pals from Oregon for two of my children

72.  our dependable vehicles. My trusty Dodge Caravan gets me where I need to go and my husband’s Prius is wonderful for long commutes.

73. the Amish old-fashioned corn-shocks dotting the landscape

74. new book of Christmas stories to enjoy in December with some hot apple cinnamon tea

75. a sale on some shoes that I love! They are like a burnt orange (not my usual color choice), but they came and they fit perfectly and I love them

76. Pioneer Woman’s Pie Crust recipe. It’s my favorite and gets well used doing holidays and birthday seasons.

77. My SIL’s cranberry sauce recipe. She just blends up cranberries, a little sugar or honey, and an orange. Seriously, addicting stuff

78. My littlest son, who plays with pieces of cardboard, the broom, and an old bouquet of artificial flowers for hours. This kid is so unique, funny, and amazing.

79. sharing Thanksgiving poetry from anthologies with the family

80. the fast and furious snowflake shower today. Just so beautiful. The most beautiful part was seeing my 9yo out in it, just enjoying it, walking through it, and bending to look. She told me she was having a hard time seeing the snowflake patterns. I’m so grateful she wants to see them. Sigh

 

~

Snowy {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #6

IMG_5617

{a gorgeous restored church on Prince Edward Island, Canada}

 

51. lamp-lit dinner of buttery pancakes shared with two children who were at home with me last night. We listened to soft music as the flame flickered. So peaceful!

52. the sound of potatoes being grated. Juicy and a pleasant scraping. Hash browns for my husband! Opening deer hunting and an empty fridge had me scrambling to find some things for hungry bellies. The hunters seem to appreciate the few eggs, random turkey sausage (found deep in freezer),  and hastily-made hash browns.

53. the sizzle of oil and smell of crispy potato.

54. the soft, top outline of snow on some forgotten laundry on line.

55. slowly attempting to paint the constellation Orion in my nature journal. It looks primitive, but I’m glad to capture the moments I’ve spent gazing at this imposing fellow in the sky.

56. fascinating essay here and quotes here on Myth & Moor, probably one of my favorite blogs. I suspect that the author and I are kindred spirits, hopefully, we could be friends even though we may differ in many of our core beliefs.

57.  reading The Little Engine That Could over and over to my littlest as he just discovered it on our library shelf. I never realized until now that it’s sort of a retelling of the Good Samaritan.

58. Black-Capped Chickadees and a Male Cardinal at my feeders! We don’t have a lot of trees and I’ve really missed the variety of birds that we had at our former home.

59. pretty Christmas wrapping paper that I ordered. I usually wrap all my gifts in one print, the monochromatic scheme looks so pretty under the tree and frankly, it’s just easier.

60. I got a few things scribbled last night in my journal. Some writing actually down in ink and not floating around in my stuffed, spilling-over brain! I’ve really struggled with making the time, because it feels like I need so much mental space, of which I have zero right now. I’m finding I’m going to have to fit it in the margins of life or it won’t happen at all. How wonderful it is to just get down one page of words captured for just a little while.

~

 

Sick Days {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #5

_mg_7204

We’ve been under a cold and upper respiratory fog that just will not go away. Thankfully, we seem to be slowly coming out the other side of the tunnel and I know there are things I was grateful for even in the midst of hard daily life circumstances.

41. extra soft Kleenex, big three pack, that my husband picked up for us

42. daughter who served me hot tea on a tray with a card and light candle, so cheerful and an unexpected blessing

43. fluffy duvet covers to snuggle under

44. the brilliant star-filled sky out of our big window in the upstairs hall. I’ve been up a lot with children, my own coughing, and I kept noticing it as I passed by.

45. I made a simple meal of meatballs and mash potatoes and my family was in raptures. Hallelujah for happy stomachs!

46. thick, soft socks

47. children who helped out with cooking while I was really sick

48. glorious orange sunrise this morning, shining through a purple and pale blue haze, so beautiful

49. sunlight has been rare lately, so when it visits, the shafts throughout the house are lifegiving

50. sharing the reading of our books together, cuddling under quilts, listening to music and watching Victorian Farm episode on Youtube. Flexibility to keep going when sick at a comfortable speed.

~

 

 

First Snow {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #4

_mg_4056

We awoke to a thick, delicious, white frosting spread across the land. We are delighted and are celebrating by baking something to go with our hot drinks and books today.

31. my daughter’s little whispy bits of hair blowing in the warm, wood-pellet stove air

32. banana and walnut go together so very well, do they not?

33. a lovely time with four mothers, a passel of children, books, beauty, and delightful conversations

34. impromptu date with my middle two, listening to their dreams, ideas, and having lots of laughs together

35. first holiday party of the season tomorrow, a chance to listen and encourage, and wash a few dishes 😉

36. little hands peeling mandarins, fresh, sweet citrus-y smell

37. wood smoke curling out of all the Amish schools, yards full of little carts, recesses of little, black-clad children running around. Crowds of them walking along the roadside, brightly colored lunch coolers banging against their legs

38. anticipating the 200 bulbs the little children and I planted last month. Spring will be glorious thanks to those little gems tucked away

39. tea with honey. I’m a coffee person, but in autumn and winter, “lashings of tea” is the way to go!

40. The only Christmas-y thing I’ve began early is Bing Crosby. Swoon, so cheerful and comforting

~

Forever – is composed of Nows {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #3

img_1091

by Emily Dickinson
Forever – is composed of Nows –
‘Tis not a different time –
Except for Infiniteness –
And Latitude of Home –
From this – experienced Here –
Remove the Dates – to These –
Let Months dissolve in further Months –
And Years – exhale in Years –
Without Debate – or Pause –
Or Celebrated Days –
No different Our Years would be
From Anno Dominies –
{Wow. Thinking on this poem today. Isn’t it lovely and full of food for thought?}
21. a little boy that says “blue” for glue. “Can you blue this for me?” Be still my heart.
22.  sound of rain on the windshield.
23.  simple dates over spicy sandwiches, no place to be, just laughing and catching up.
24.  that the voting ads are going to now stop filling up our mailbox. Ha. Today is election day in the US.
25.  enjoying listening to Shakespeare’s Henry V with my older children, the film adaptation with Kenneth Branaugh has some inspiring scenes. We’ve had some fantastic discussions, laughs, and love the, “Once more until the breach dear friends, once more” speech.
26.  my daughter’s hamster face sticking out of our wooden play castle!
27.  four, fluffy, new deep purple bath towels.
28. listening and dancing to different soundtracks.
29. reading Green Eggs and Ham for the first time again.
30. my biggest boy sitting in front of fire, sketching a trebuchet.
~

Saturday ~ {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #2

IMG_6972

WHO is the honest man?

He that doth still and strongly good pursue, –

To GOD, his Neighbour, and himself most true;

Whom neither force nor fawning can

Unpin, or wrench from giving all their Due…

Who rides his sure and even trot,

While the world now rides by, now lags behind;..

A being brought into a sum,

What Place or Person calls for,-he doth pay…

Who, when he is to treat

With sick folks, women, those whom passions sway,-

Allows for that, and keeps his constant way:

Whom others’ faults do no defeat;

But though men fail him, yet his part doth play!

Whom nothing can procure,

When the wide world runs bias from his will,

To wreathe his limbs, and share, not mend the ill.

This is the marksman, safe and sure,

Who still is right, and prays to be so still.

~Herbert

The Cloud of Witness, p. 454

 

I thinking on that poem this morning and here are some things I’m thankful for right now!

11. little board bridge children made across trench husband is working on. Then offering to hold my hand across.

12. light swaying of clothing on the clothesline.

13. new-to-us table lamps adding so much warm glow to our living room.

14.  a whole day ahead, no major responsibilities, ripe in possibilities.

15. my son’s little overalls.

16. Scripture that promises that God will be strong in my weaknesses.

17. creamy chocolate milk.

18. Voxer, a walkie talkie type app, so I can chat away with my friends.

19. a couple of Christmas surprises I have on the way. I always feel better if I don’t wait till the last minute.

20. first lines in a new book, the anticipation of what is to come.

 

~

Welcome, November ~ {One Hundred Bits of Gratitude by Thanksgiving} #1

_MG_9404

Hello, welcome to my second annual gratitude list here at Hearth Ridge Reflections. I hope to make a list, culminating at the American celebration of Thanksgiving, of things that I am noticing and grateful about in my life. Please join me on your own blog or jot it down in your journal, I find it such an amazing practice of reordering ones focus. I find this time of year, no matter how hard I try, becomes a haze of busyness and materialism. This little project helps me to take a moment away from all of that.  I miss it around here, yet I’ve been given a lovely, wild bunch of children whom I’ve chosen to home educate and that takes precedence. How are you all, dear friends? I hope this post finds you well. Yes, I do call you friends, even though most of us have never met. I appreciate you reading here, sharing your thoughts, and I pray that you walk away with a bit more hope and delight in your back pocket then when you arrived. Here is what I’m thankful for today:

  1. Searching the shelves for our Thanksgiving books and refilling our book basket.
  2. The delight on my daughter’s face when she realized she got a letter in the post.
  3. The smell of peppermint tea.
  4. Stepping out onto our deck, escaping a boiling hot kitchen, into a cool, dark, and star-drenched sky. I grabbed our constellation chart and spent a few lovely moments.
  5. Planning a pineapple-glazed ham for our first holiday gathering coming up, anticipating family enjoying it.
  6. The rotation of children and myself in rocker set near wood pellet stove. Little toes and fingers warmed. Conversation around the warmth. Books read, snuggles.
  7. Little heads stuffed into warm, colorful hats.
  8. That autumn smell. A soupy mixture of wood smoke, earth, rotting, wet leaves, and a closing down of the year.
  9. Unexpected inspiration in a magazine about how important the intangible moments are during the holidays, beautiful, wise, and a blessing.
  10. Precious sleep, when I’ve been not sleeping well.

~

Retreat

_MG_9407

The pine smell enveloped me, breathing deep, I soaked in the flickering sunlight. It dappled on green, falling and shifting down. My face lifted, eyes closed for just a moment. I was home in this place away from home. The trees shifting and waving, welcoming ripples, the wind weaving me into this tapestry of green, with a hint of autumn color beginning. My husband kindly covering the home front, so that I could take time to retreat. I was struck by the quiet solitude, yet not a loneliness. The crunch of leaves, the occasional bird, and that glorious wind were the background music for my visit. I slowly strolled through the stone work, little bridges, and other work of the Franciscan monks that had lived here beginning almost a century earlier.  The Stations of the Cross intrigued me. I didn’t have the prayers with me, yet I stepped up to each one, and something was hovering at the edges of my mind. I studied the rough, yet careful stone structures with their wooden crosses on top. Inside were the images of Jesus being condemned by Pilate, Jesus accepting his cross, and seeing Mary. I was interested in the three falls of Jesus, wondering. The people mentioned. Simon, Veronica, and the women of Jerusalem. Jesus dying and buried. This Via Crucis was complete and as I looked back,  my vague impressions struck me. First, I wondered and felt a longing for the depiction of the Resurrection and the hope I find in that part of my faith. I found myself shocked at the violence played out in the midst of this wooded sanctuary. The blood, pain, and rejection He encountered stood out harshly against the very calm creation surrounding me. He more than anyone understands. Understands me as a human, is with me through life, and whatever sorrows I’m treading through, He will lead be beside still waters, He will restore my soul. Violence and pain are real, but I rest in His beauty and love. I thought of this retreat weekend and all the beautiful women that I’d been visiting with, our hopes, dreams, and yes, pain, some with deeply intense pain of things they are carrying. A rustle of wind shifted the leaves and light. All of us here were coming to grow and rest a bit, taking a break from the daily cares of cooking, answering questions, and being “on” for others. Yet, I found myself seeing how much of those things echo Jesus’ very posture towards me. The very “job” if you will, that I find myself in, one of mothering and caring, one of practicing compassion, was what I was seeing dimly reflected in these ancient walls, in these unique women, and whispering through the trees and words from our discussions. One last glimpse back, as I exit these woods, gratitude for the green, the light, and for a little bit more understanding than before. The small things of life are truly the biggest.

~

And yet…

8740106D-A8A2-4F1C-A6A2-579AECC98891

The screen door may have broken. The fruit flies may be multiplying. The garbage may be overflowing. The new oven may be ten days out. The school plan may need to be thrown out and started over from scratch. The fridge may be empty and the menu plan nonexistent. The floors may be filthy. The light-bulb in the bathroom may be flickering. The little girls may be quarreling. Throats may be sore and stomachs queasy. Weeds may be knee deep. Emails/calls may be buzzing in our must-do ears. Insomnia may be culminating in bone-deep exhaustion. Tense words may be said over and over again. Baskets of laundry may be stacked haphazardly around your dining room. An unidentified smell may be growing on your porch.  Humidity and whining may mix in a teeth-grinding combo. Carbs may have been consumed instead of vegetables.

And yet…

The sunset riots with purple and pink. The smell of fish off the grill drifts on the air. Kittens tumble joyfully. The last bit of light filters through the leaves. The day was wrapped in a unearthly fog, a swan pair floating out of it, on a nearby lake. The kind, listening ear of someone close, who enjoyed and engaged in your school ideas for the year. Heart-shaped Morning Glory leaves. Giant leaf hats and afternoon movies. Colby jack cheese and hot, jolting cups of coffee. Little, pudgy dill-smelling hands.A daughter asks to listen to “The Keys to Canterbury” together. Fluffy duvet covers. Little boy ecstatic over, “Big GREEN tractor, mom!” Comedy videos on Youtube. Sunflowers opening, chickens cackling underneath. Cool, dew-drenched moments.

I am ever so grateful for the tugs to the pulls of life. Perspective and a turning of one’s face just a LITTLE bit to the left makes all the difference. A kind of holy peripheral vision, if you will. I’m hanging on to every one of those little “and yets” in my heart tonight…

 

~

 

 

 

British Educator, Miss Charlotte Mason {English Memories}

_MG_5756

{St. Mary’s, Ambleside, Cumbria, England and my sister}

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Charlotte Mason, a British educational reformer. As I’m in the throes of planning our new learning year, and just reading and researching, I got to thinking how very grateful I am to have found her philosophy. The impact her teachings has profoundly changed me and my life in all areas. It’s been two YEARS now, since I made my wonderful trip to see where she lived and worked, and I’ve yet to share how much it touched me. She has complimented and enhanced my faith in so many small ways and I was trying to put my finger on the why. I think that it has to do with the emphasis on people and relationship. Children are born persons, after all. Mothers and fathers are persons, too. I’m just barely grasping a small fraction of the importance of this and how Jesus really loved and cared for people.

{inside of St. Mary’s – and my dear mother}

I’ve been rereading favorite posts on Nancy and Karen’s blogs, as well as dipping into Karen’s book A Charlotte Mason Companion (a yearly summer reread!)and Charlotte’s own books, specifically Home Education, as I’m in a book group reading this together. What richness! This gift of a feast of ideas, which culminates in a love of God and others. Sigh. It’s not easy though, its not quick, there are no formulas, it really is a gentle sowing of the seed and trusting by faith, that richness is going to spring forth.

I so enjoyed strolling through some of the places Miss Mason lived and worked, visiting her grave. It was easy to see why the Lake District made such an impression on her, just the beauty and freedom of spirit, must have dove-tailed into her thoughts on the realness of this life and education. Life found in the little corners of the every day moments. Life found in the hard moments and good moments of family and friendships, and the lives we touch through beautiful books, art, and music.

{Archives of student work at the Armitt Museum and other items- a treasure trove of inspiration!}

Life is a balance between duty and pleasure, why not blend them both, with the cultivation of habits and careful attention, yet an openness and beauty of being unique people with unique gifts and bents, dipping our toes into many interesting pools of life?

{Ambleside Bridge House}

I guess I’ve been just trying to refresh my heart again about the deep emphasis on relationship. All of life really is a careful, thoughtful stitching pieces of our human relationships, our relationship with God, and all of the world around us. A delightful building of the quilt of life. Its hard, but it’s beautiful. It’s not hurried, it’s a slow flowing and filtering through each day, moment by moment. It really is revolutionary and counter-cultural. Charlotte Mason’s thoughts continue to help me in a small way with understanding the essence of relationship. When things are out of sync here, after reflection and prayer, it is usually that I have a rift in one of my many relationships.  I’m prayerfully considering again, a time of refreshing and reordering of my affections. On God and on people. Truly, the things that matter.

_MG_5779

{Scale Howe – Miss Mason’s teacher training school – now part of the University of Cumbria}

My sister and I were so touched by this quote in one of the students notebooks at the Armitt Museum. I still think about it often ~

 

The Heavens are calling you and whirl around you,

Displaying to you their eternal beauties;

Yet still your eye is looking at the ground.

~ Dante

Why indeed am I still ‘looking at the ground’ when there is so much more? A beautiful quote to meditate on and consider as I realign myself and refocus on what it means to have this privilege and a responsibility to be alive. I am so grateful.

~