Sunday

some beauties of its own

Solstice is here and the world outside my windows is
not white,
unless you count the consuming fog that settles
each night and fades in sunshine.
We foster awareness in our children of
changing seasons, of cycles of the moon, of
creation's rhythms. We thank God for sunrise each day and
sunset each night.  Knowing the dependability of creation,
the rhythms of the earth and that everything has a season,
draws deep peace in the lives of our family and
reminds us of what a small part we are of the world,
of life.
 

As a child I had no concept of nature's rhythms.  I marked
time by Christmas and summer vacation,
everything else blended together as long
splotches of useless, boring time.  Living in California,
I wasn't even very aware of changes in the weather;
it was chilly in the mornings, warmed up during the day and
cooled off again at night.  Year round.

I lived without reverence for the world around me and
the God that created it.  I used, consumed, and imagined my
future; glamorous, successful, self-seeking.  A product of
American culture, I lived for myself, I dreamed for myself.

Glory be to God,
He showed me another way.  He opened my eyes first to
His love, then to His grace,
then to His creation and finally,
the musical rhythm of everything.
Life was no longer about what I could do and get, no,
it was about playing my part in the symphony of creation,
joining with life's rhythms, glorifying the Great Composer.



Tip toeing through each day, mindfully acknowledging life's music with
celebration, books, poetry, music, food, prayer and observation,
we live a life of awe, of mystery, of peace, of
delight in God and His creation and
the beautiful, rhythmic patterns of life.
Eyes open, hands open, deep breath.
 

"Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own." ~ Charles Dickens


Tuesday

Today we walked

We walk together,
six children and I,
under sky of dark beckoning.
We talk of hopes, of story, of game,
we let dreams fall down with the rain and
watch,
and see,
each drop, dry land touched by magic,
turning seemingly eternal brown to green and
green,
everywhere and
children laugh and wonder if we skipped winter and
went straight to spring. 



Home's warmth and scents welcome us,
fire glowing and fresh bread waiting,
wet clothes strewn and dry clothes on
or not and
books,
always books,
and tea and toys and.
And.

Sometimes I'm so wrapped up.
In this or that or what he said or she thinks or
this happening or that or can I believe this or.
Or.
So wrapped up and these moments,
these simple, perfect moments are
lost.  Today we walked and rain fell.
Today the littlest beauty danced around naked
over and over
and wrapped herself in afghan and snuggled
in my arms.
Today my twins needed to be heard,
their stories and plans,
their unwavering desire for fairness, their frustrations.
Today we ate homemade bread covered in butter and
it crumbled hot, some in mouth and some into the carpet and
it was perfection and a mess, and it takes mindfulness to
notice that
often perfection is.

Today we walked.  Tomorrow we will walk.
Daily we will walk.  Same path.  Everyday will hold
perfection and everyday will be messy and
everyday I will need to stop being wrapped up so
I can grab these moments.  

It's these moments that make a life.  And
I will live.



 

When it rains they forget

Christmas tree shines light and I sit,
listening to the rain dropping out the window.  Two weeks of
storm doesn't mean we are out of this drought but
people like easy solutions and I already notice the lack of
conservation in the neighborhood.  Hello rain, they say,
that must mean everything is better and they use and consume
and waste and hello people, we need water, not just a good storm's worth,
please slow down.  Slow down.

 

I wonder about life and how people can lament something, can know
that things are not right, can see where changes need to be made and
yet, do nothing.  Nothing.  Continuing on as before, as always,
consuming, wasting, rushing, "progressing," losing touch with
all that is real.  Tolstoy wrote a short story, pen to paper, questioning,
how can we continue on like this?  How can we know and yet not do?
How can we pass on this legacy of wrong-ness? 


If I cannot pass on love, simplicity, truth and goodness,
if I cannot offer rhythm, stability, peace and knowledge of the truly important,
I will feel I have failed.  When we are glad for rain so we can water our lawns again,
when we work 40 hours so we can buy the newest, fanciest gadget to remove
us further from the people around us, the sunrise, life, reality,
when we buy and consume and don't consider where this stuff came from,
what it's made up of, and what it's doing to us, we have failed. 

We have failed to live our lives beautifully, to embrace the created world wholly,
with reverence, to love and give and mindfully live each moment.   We have given
ourselves over to false comfort, false security, to entertainment and those who seek
profit, not truth.  We have entered the Brave New World cheerfully, with no regrets,
leaving behind Narnia, Middle Earth, Prince Edward Island.  Is there a place for us
in this world of consumption, of materialism, of success?  Is there a place for
those who walk a different path?  And how do we keep that path clear, not
wearing out before those who follow behind reach it?

 
 
"For Lucilla was not without hope for the future.  She had lived long enough to know that the spring always comes back." ~Pilgrim's Inn
 
I guess we just continue on, walking and
planting.  We become as Miss Rumphius, tossing
seeds upon the roadside wherever we go, beautiful lupines growing
in our wake.  Hope for tomorrow keeps us moving, hope that spring
returns.  Hope that eyes open, that birds sing and that there will always
be people who want to listen.  Hope that we will shower our children with
beauty, love, nature, give them a voracious appetite for life and they will keep seeking,
keep pursuing, follow this road less travelled.  Hope.
 
 


 
 


Thursday

Oh clouded eyes and I can't see



I tiptoe through my days now, praying with every breath, praying with every stitch I knit, watching jays fly overhead, standing in chill of night while rain beats down, taking in every glowing star, delighting in each night's moon, refusing to take anything for granted.  I can't see straight sometimes when the tears cloud my green eyes, but it's okay because the tears don't fall, they sit there as a reminder that there is something greater than all of this and I don't need to see.  I don't.  I just need to remember there is something greater. 

I spend a day heartbroken over the darkness; a friend's mother dies from cancer just a few weeks after they learn it is consuming her, a broken system lets a father and husband's killer off because of a badge, darkness and turmoil just rage and people can't hear past the pain and there is hate and hurt and where is hope?  And as the moon rises gloriously once again, hope creeps in with phone calls; my sister's beautiful engagement, and the birth of new life to a friend.  I rejoice and I mourn and I wonder how to keep going when things don't make sense and it's the tears and the cloudiness that remind me; I don't need to see, I just need to remember there is something greater. 

I reach out to one of the wisest voices I know, begging for something, some insight, something to make the heartache lessen, and I find truth in her words.  "I think in some ways, that's our job here; to mourn with those who mourn and keep being witnesses to the suffering."  I witness.  I do.  I witness the pain, the suffering, the hurt.  I witness the darkness while I hold my candle, flame aglow, this little bit of light, this little bit of light is the Light and I will hold it while you cry and I will cry with you and I will not let this Light go out and together we will walk.  We will walk.  Through your darkness.  In your pain.  We will walk and the Light will shine even when we are consumed.

And this, "Maybe this is where we find real humility, Amy, in this heart-broken place, knowing we can do nothing but pray and love?"  I hear the cries, the pain, the anger and I can do nothing, nothing, but pray and love.  I want someone that can do something to hear them, their cries, to hear me.  Pray and love.  The only Someone that can do anything does hear them, does hear me.  Clouded eyes, I don't need to see, remember something greater, Something Greater hears us.  Hears us and He weeps with us.  Oh He weeps.  The Light, shining in this darkness, weeping for our pain.   The clouded eyes, Something Greater, and  He will wipe our tears, He will bring vision and light once again.  A little bit peeks through; life, love continues; marriage, birth, He is here in the midst.  Pray and love.  Pray and love.  There is comfort to be found.

Friday

Wool, warmth and wishing it were wet {the w post}

 




We had Thanksgiving the other day when the rest of the country did.  It was kind of strange; for the first time since we have been married, it was just our family.  James, the kids and I.  We didn't go anywhere or have anyone over, we just cooked this amazing meal and ate it and it was just us.  We felt really bad about not having anyone to share it with.  At one point I told James to drive around and look for some transients to invite over but there weren't any.

So we ate our dinner and the four little ones barely ate anything.  I think Pearl ate her mashed potatoes, Ruth ate turkey and Moses ate 6 rolls.  Hannah drank her milk and had a bowl of cereal.  When she went to bed that night, she told me that she didn't like Thanksgiving.  She said she understood why we celebrate it but that it wasn't fun, we spent all day cooking food she doesn't like, and she says thank you to God every day.  I hugged her close, told her I understood and I was sorry it was a bummer day for her. 

Today we had a totally normal day; breakfast, reading, outside time, main lesson, read aloud and lunch, more outside time, quiet reading time, and then we went to the park and met some friends.  Hannah told me she liked today way better than Thanksgiving and I totally understood.  I even ate some leftover candied yams, so it was perfect. 

We got our Christmas tree this evening and the scent of pine is permeating the living room.  I wish it were snowing outside.  I just wish it would snow here sometime.  But it won't.  My husband laughs at me because I always knit with wool, making the kids vests, sweaters, hats to keep them warm, and it never gets all that cold.  It'll be 65 degrees out and I bundle them with their little wool hats and vests  to go on our daily walk and we will be walking down the street looking like we should be in 30 degree weather while someone is outside their house in short sleeves mowing their lawn.  But warmth is important and wool is important.  Just ask Steiner. 

So I'm just going to sit here with my tea and candied yams, knitting more woolens, pretending it's going to be a cold, snowy winter.  Hopefully we'll at least get rain.  We're kind of desperate for it in California. 


Have a great {and if I say cold and snowy, please know it's out of pure jealousy) cold and snowy weekend.
Peace,
amy

Tuesday

I will not waste this life





 I sat outside listening to jays argue with squirrels, acorns the treasure to be had.  My children played nearby building faerie houses and collecting bugs.  Steaming cup of tea in hand, book at my side, I drank in the beauty of autumn day, crisp air, life truly lived.  In moments of such peace I remember to breathe prayers, letting the call to pray without ceasing become my soul's cry and I know nothing better and need nothing further and God's presence is so heavy.

And then I grab my phone.  I check instagram where I notice I have lost 5 followers and I feel this quick pang of disappointment, frustration, rejection.  I go on facebook and see post after post that breeds anger in me; opinions and articles about parenting, faith, Ferguson, food, education, politics.  I comment on a few posts, mostly kind but some argumentative, and for quite awhile after I am only half paying attention to the world around me while continuously refreshing facebook in order to reply to the random strangers that I am arguing with.

How quickly and completely I let the true, the good, the beautiful, the real, my peace, my life's moments, be destroyed.  Destroyed by people I don't know, destroyed by the opinions of others, destroyed by information, words, thoughts, ideas that are not inline with my own. 

Seven years ago I stopped watching, listening to and reading the news.  Without a source feeding me the fears, events and opinions of the world, I was free to live my life simply, in peace, focused on our family, trusting God.  I wasn't completely ignorant; friends would tell me about important things or I would see a quick headline on yahoo, and if I felt the news warranted my attention I would look into it.  The news that I paid attention to was scarce and of my own choosing; the beauty of life was prominent and everywhere. 



And yet here I was, ignoring beauty of autumn sun setting around me, cup of tea cold, book left unread, being filled with the exact same things that I had set out to avoid all those years ago; fear, opinion, the unimportant.  Being filled with them on a much larger scale, in a way that consumed my heart, mind and emotions like never before.  I had unknowingly let that medium back into my life; unnecessary knowledge now with the ability to share my view on it with everyone. 

I am a pacifist and yet here I was arguing with a stranger about pacifiscm.  My words were not filled with love and kindness, I was not being mindful with my tongue, I was worked up and angered over this person's views and the way they portrayed my God and their love of our criminal justice system, and I was just spewing garbage.  "But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."  "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits."  " out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."  There is a reason for all of the verses on the tongue and no, I'm not using my tongue but it's utterly the same.  My head is being flooded with news and opinions and my heart is subsequently filled with emotions ranging from anger to frustration to happiness to pride to jealousy to disgust and the world we live in gives us a microphone and my heart just overflows right out of that microphone onto a screen. 



As I am going through this unnatural range of emotions and sharing them with whoever happens to be on the same thread as me, I'm simultaneously living my life.  Kissing my children's scraped knees, reading classics aloud to a room full, taking a walk through our neighborhood listening to my kids sing and watching out for hidden deer in the oaks while having these crazy, bipolar emotions as I scroll through my phone.  This can't be healthy, this world we have created.  It's eating away at our lives, our moments, our peace.  We agree and bemoan it and then, we carry on the same as before. 

My worth is not wrapped up in my instagram followers.  My views and cares are not any less if I keep them to myself or if someone else's differ.  I will not disappear, I will not be ignorant, I will not be nobody if I am not on social media.  But.  I will suffer if I keep allowing it's influence into my life.  I will suffer if I remain distracted.  I will suffer if I allow my emotions to be tossed around by the thoughts of others.

I want to hear the birds sing.  I want to watch the pink orange glow of the sunset over the hills.  I want to hear every little story my children tell and smile at every amazing thing they do.  I want to feel wind kissing my cheek.  I want to read books and learn and grow without the influence of a thousand voices.  I want to enjoy my moments without having one hundred people "like" them.  I want to live every single day, breathe deeply, dance unabashedly, feel, hear, taste, smell, see life.  Because we only get one.  I refuse to waste it.
 

Thursday

Hospitality failure

I haven't been writing much. 
You may have noticed. 
Honestly, Instagram kind of killed my blog, I admit it.
I'm going to try and get back to it though, I really am.
This is my attempt.


I'm going to be totally honest right now.
I love hospitality.  Opening my home, baking for people, offering fellowship and a place of comfort;
these things fill my heart.  And yet?
I hate it too.  I have had to come to a place where I can admit this and I feel like such a horrible person.
I think it may be my introversion that makes hospitality so difficult for me.
I like my peace, my comfort, my privacy, my rhythms, and having an open door home is not really compatible with my comforts.  In theory, I'm all in.  Someone is in need?  My door is open.  You need a place to stay? We will make room.  Hungry?  I'll make extra.
But then they come.  And I'm fine.  Things are lovely as long as I can take care of them and not have to talk too much. 
At some point though, my heart starts to pound and it becomes hard to breathe.  I'm thrown so far out of my comfort zone that I stop being hospitable and start being rude.

I always talk about how I would love to live in community.  Shared land, shared kitchen, shared garden.  And then my husband reminds me that I can't even handle people in my home for any length of time,
so how would I ever live in community? Kind of like how I always talk about how much I would love to
travel full time, driving around the country with our children in an rv, and he reminds me that I hate being away from home for even a day or two. 



It's like I have these ideals, these things that I know are good and right, but I cannot live up to them.
And I know the grace of God is sufficient for my shortcomings but still.  It just kind of shows me that I'm not the person that I think I should be.  I know God made me an introvert for a reason but I also know He wants me to be hospitable, kind, loving, welcoming.  I need to learn how to balance the two.

I don't have any answers, just the realization of the need for balance.  What do I need to do to maintain my comfort and sense of peace while being hospitable?  I'll be thinking about this for awhile. In the meantime, if you happen to come to my house, please know that I want you there.  I want to shower you with kindness, I want to serve you.  But if you notice me get a little short, if you notice that I stop engaging well, please know that I still want you there.  I'm just struggling with the balance and need to learn to breathe.


Friday

{september 5 daybook}

::freeing::
Today we are freeing ourselves from everything burdensome, allowing peace, beauty and joy to reign. We are singing and playing, running and reading, knitting and painting. Nothing else. Sometimes you just need to let go and breathe.


 
::whispering::
Today I am trying not to speak above a whisper. Lately I have noticed myself raising my voice way too often. I cannot let that become habit. And so I am intentionally speaking quietly, calmly. The change in my attitude and the atmosphere of our home is incredible. Let peace reign.




::nurturing::
While all children are unique and need nurturing in similar and different ways, I have one sweet child that stretches me and grows me so. It has been a process of learning how to comfort her, how to sympathize, how to calm, how to prevent her turmoil. But learn I am. Slowly.

People that don't understand her often ask why we let her get away with so much. I can't understand their question. She's not being bad. She's struggling with frustration, with not being able to regulate her emotions, with not understanding things. And so we choose to hold her hand and gently guide her, be there for her when she struggles and help her to grow.

We tend to, we nurture, the souls placed in our care. Sometimes the nurturing is more difficult, but we press on and never stop.




::continuing::
Learning from the difficult, the challenges. Always holding to our values. God, family, love, compassion, nature, art, books.  Our values are staples that keep us grounded, keep us focused, give us peace. Things change, times get rocky, but when you have things to hold to, you can prevent yourself from falling.




Walking on today, freely, whispering and nurturing.

Tuesday

{September 2 daybook}

::celebrating::
I know it's not quite autumn yet, but September sings of the season-to-be and I couldn't help but rejoice when the calendar changed on the first.  I usually wait until it's actually fall to change our nature table and decor from summer, but this year the anticipation is too great and September marked the seasonal entrance in our home.  I'm trying to ignore the fact that it was 98 degrees on the first.  Soon enough there will be fires and cocoas and pumpkins.



::knitting::
I finished Pearl's plain vest recently, sewing the buttons on. She wanted to wear it, though wool, and as it was so hot out, she wore nothing else.

I'm casting on some wool socks for Ian who will be starting his second year of college this month. He is in Oregon and unlike here, he gets freezing temperatures and some snow. We weren't really prepared for his first year, completely forgetting the fact that it would really be winter there, since we don't get any sort of actual winter weather here. This year I hope to take care of him better. :)



::reading::
I finished Agnes Grey and though not as wonderful as The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, it was still a great book. Layla started it right after me.

Just today I received a package with a book for me and two for the twins. I've been wanting to read Heaven on Earth for a long time and finally decided to order it with money left over from my birthday.


::creating comfort::
These are days of coziness, of forts and afghans, rhythms and food.  These are days that remind me why I do what I do, why I spend so much time creating comfort and why the mundane tasks and living are perfect.  These are days that I read and re-read one of my favorite poems, finding my own peace in words written oh so long ago.  These are beautiful days.


STAY, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
  To stay at home is best.    
Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
    To stay at home is best.      
Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O’er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
    To stay at home is best.    
 -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Friday

{August 29 daybook}

::simplifying::

I love beauty and color and decorating but I also need and crave simplicity. Every so often it becomes way too cluttery and I find myself steeped in anxiety and a bit unable to breathe. And so I begin to simplify, doing away with excess, organizing, finding homes for the things that have chosen shelves or corners as their home. Late summer seems to be one of the times this happens, I think because I am mentally preparing for a season of comfort, and a beautiful, orderly place is so important to the fruition of that. 

                                  "Our lives are frittered away by detail.  Simplify, simplify." 
                                                             -Henry David Thoreau


::cooking::

Just as the return of autumn beckons rhythm and comfort, it also calls me back to the kitchen and menu planning. I need plans in order to accomplish most anything and cooking is one of the most necessary places for that. In summer things are a bit wispy. We buy veggies and meats to grill and things are quite simple. With days of soups, chili, homemade bread, slow cookers, and pumpkin everything around the corner, I am spending loads of time with cookbooks, clipboard, pens and plans. And I love it.



::listening::

Lately we have had Mozart playing in the morning, the Swell Season, Elizabeth Mitchell and Woody Guthrie at various points throughout the day and Gillian Welch as my kitchen companion.  I love having music as a background to our days combined with deliberate times of quiet where all we hear is our voices and sounds from outside. 

We have been memorizing and meditating upon James 1:19, specifically being quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. These three things are key to family harmony. As we focus more on listening to each other, we find ourselves slower to speak and be angry,  and much more compassionate and helpful.



::learning::

I always learn so much from listening to my children narrate from their various books or seeing their drawings in main lesson books. Even when they are telling me about the same things that I have read on my own or heard from older siblings when they read the books, I always learn something new, even if it's just a new perspective. Hearing or seeing what each child takes away from something is such a beautiful, eye opening thing.


Days are moving at a slow, peaceful pace, preparing us for what lies ahead. We are welcoming peace into our lives and family, quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.

Thursday

{daybook}

August 28.

::rhythms::

meals, working, outside, playing, learning, creating, reading.  these are the things that make up our days, that center us.  there is so much turmoil in the world and having a steady, rhythmic home life speaks peace into our family.  when things out there get so overwhelming, i look to nature's rhythms, the constant changing of the seasons, the ebb and flow of the ocean, the birds that fly so freely overhead.  life goes on, it continues, God reigns.  i find peace.  and so i long to give the same to my children, a family rhythm that they can look to and know that things carry on, life is beautiful, there is good.  





::creating::

my mind focuses so much better when my hands, my heart, my soul are working on creating beauty.  adding  and changing home decor, always along with the season, bringing nature inside to breathe real life into our walls, finding ways to add the lovely.  using my hands to knit, always knitting, pouring love and prayers into each little stitch.



::reading::

always so many books.  agnes grey by anne bronte, for the children's sake by susan schaeffer macauly, how to teach your children shakespeare, parents and children by charlotte mason, and reading aloud star of light by patricia st. john to the kids.

about the brontes.  jane eyre is the most well-known and loved of the bronte sister books, followed by emily's wuthering heights.  anne is overlooked, though in my opinion, her books are the most lovely, thought-provoking of all.  agnes grey was much harder to get into but i am quickly falling in love.  the tenant of wildfell hall though, that is my all time favorite bronte book, and i daresay one of my favorite books.



::contemplating::

oh, just... issues of racial injustice, poverty, cruelty, heartache.  you know, the easy things ;)  as you likely know, i am a very passionate, zealous person and when something falls in front of me, it's really hard to let it go.  i've had to meditate on amos 5:24 a lot lately... "but let justice roll on like a river."  this takes me back to nature's rhythms.  when things are hard find the constants.


::thankful::

sometimes i forget to be consumed with gratitude.  things get really hard sometimes.  the world tilts and i think i'm falling, we are all falling.  but the river, the ocean, the birds, the children, the laughter, the stars, the Creator.  constants.  rhythms.  so thankful for those.


autumn is just around the corner.  my season.  my comfort.  my peace.  autumn is beckoning and i am answering.  seasons.  constants.  rhythms.

"let justice roll on like a river."