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Thursday, February 26, 2015

beginnings

 




With much of the south covered with a blanket of snow, it's hard to believe that gardens are right around the corner...and yet here we are, less than six weeks away from our last frost date.  Even though it's nineteen degrees outside, we have tiny green, growing things on our kitchen counter, reminding us that spring is on the way.

Our garden this year will be largely trial and error as we get to know our new place and figure out weather, sunlight, and soil conditions. But that's part of the adventure of it. We have some warm days coming up next week and I can't wait to get out and get my hands in the dirt!

it was me all along

 
As a long time reader of Andie Mitchell's blog, Can You Stay For Dinner?, I was excited to have a chance to review her new memoir. Her writings about eating disorders and food issues are extremely insightful and have been very helpful to me in my own personal journey, and I enjoyed filling in the details of her story that didn't make it into blog posts.

I love Andie and I love her writing and I really wanted to love this book, but honestly--I can't use the word love for it. It was engaging, to some degree, but it left me feeling a little hollow. While I found her courage to overcome a difficult childhood remarkable, the story as a whole lacked resolution, and when I reached the end, my first thought was "that's all?" It felt unfinished, like there should have been some more meaningful aspect.

I don't want to totally knock it because I think that it could still be helpful to someone who has gone through similar struggles. But if you are looking for a "how to overcome" manual, this isn't the book for you. I don't think it's one that I will probably read again, and will most likely pass it on to someone else.

For more information on the book, click here.

To learn more about Andie, click here.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, February 23, 2015

four





We had a green cake (as requested). We had vanilla ice cream. We had presents. We had candles. We had banners. And we had a brown-eyed, curly-haired birthday girl who makes every day of our lives special. Happy birthday to our four-year-old Anwyn! We love you to the moon and back!

Friday, February 20, 2015

it's time


Over the last couple of years, I have lost several women who were very dear to me. The latest one was just this past week, a mom of seven who lost a long battle with cancer. Each of these women epitomized Godly womanhood in their love for their husbands, children and grandchildren, their love for their Brothers and Sisters in Christ, their steadfast faith, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. I honestly don't remember them saying a bad thing about anyone. They made everyone that they knew feel special, loved, valuable. Following their deaths, tributes flooded in via Facebook from people whose lives had been touched and changed by even brief contact with them.

It used to frighten me when men and women who I would consider to be heroes of the faith passed on. It frightened me because there seemed to be no one who would rise up and take their place. I can remember a few years back when Adrian Rogers and several other well-known preachers died, feeling a slight panic because the old guard was leaving us, and the new guard--well, they seemed insipid compared to those stalwart soldiers.

The fact of the matter is: these heroes are just ordinary men and women. What makes them icons of the faith is the fact that their lives are one hundred percent committed to following the Master, no matter the cost. Their steadfastness is not due to some superhuman ability in them, but due to the fact that the Creator of the universe works in them to empower them. The only difference in them and in people who we would consider to be "ordinary Christians" is their availability.

That empowerment is available to me. It's available to you. It's available to anyone. I don't mean to sound overly confident or arrogant, but each one of us has the capacity to become our heroes. It's time that our generation stops taking, stops being the one that feeds on the stronger ones, and becomes the strong ones ourselves. It's time for us to give.

We may not consider ourselves to be older women, but we are all older than someone out there. These women I knew who died came into my life when I was 13, 16, 23. Do you have a thirteen-year-old in your life right now?

It doesn't require perfection, but it does require commitment. It doesn't require pharasaical holiness, but it does require us to clean up our lives so that we are worthy and capable of being an example to someone. How many of us could say about our speech and behavior, like Paul, "Imitate me as I imitate Christ?"

It means taking a look at what we wear. It means taking a look at what we watch and read. It means taking a look at what we say and how we say it, at how we look at and speak about other people, at how we love. It means examining motives. It means dealing with old hurts and wounds so that they no longer control our behavior. It means saturating ourselves in the Word so that His light is reflected in our lives.

If this sounds difficult or overwhelming, take heart: the incredible thing about God is that all He requires is willingness. If we are willing, He will be faithful to do the rest. He will build us into an army.

There is no B team.

If not us, who?

If not now, when?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

winter storm

Owen decided to write a song.

This girl! She dips icicles in snow and then eats them. Because it makes her so nice and warm.

So much to discover!

Bea helped me make crackers, Trim Healthy Mama style.

Ice sculptures.

Everything is glazed and frosted.

When the sun breaks through on an ice-covered world, pictures just can't do it justice.


We've had quite a welcome to our new home! A week of ice, snow, and temperatures that have even dipped below zero. I feel badly for the people who have to work out in it and for the animals that have to live in it, but honestly, I love this weather. I love quiet days at home with my family. I love soup and bread and coffee and hot baths and cozy throws and good books. We are looking forward to Spring and all that it will entail, but for now, I am content to savor this slower time.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

beauty


We serve a God who created beauty. Think about it: He designed roses. Hummingbirds. Diamonds. Read the Biblical accounts of the Old Testament temple and of the New Jerusalem--the incredible attention to detail, the colors, the tapestries and carvings. And He placed within us a love of beauty, of creativity, a desire for order and loveliness. Aren't we told in Philippians to think on what is lovely?

As busy moms, it's so easy to lose sight of this. I realized not long ago that I had gotten to a point where my definition of a successful family meal was one in which everyone had a spoon, fork and place (often a paper plate), and no one spilled their water. I had totally lost sight of loveliness while stirring spaghetti with a fussy toddler hanging on my legs while I fought down waves of morning sickness, At the same time, I found myself frustrated by my children's table manners (or lack thereof) and by the often fractious atmosphere as we ate.

It occurred to me that maybe my lack of attention to beauty and loveliness, my sense of "let's just get through this meal" was affecting my children's attitudes. It also occurred to me that a failure to focus on what is lovely had left an unsatisfied hole in my heart, an area where I had failed to nourish my soul with something vital to my well-being as a woman and a child of God.

We don't have television, but thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime, I have watched multiple British TV series like Call the Midwife, Larkrise to Candleford, and Downton Abbey. I love the Brits' careful attention to the routines of life and to what is lovely and proper. Even a farmers' wife will sit down to a beautifully arranged table for a cup of tea and some cake every afternoon. There is a carefulness and a sense of propriety that has largely been lost in American culture.

I'm not talking stuffy or stodgy here. You won't find me measuring to make sure that our table settings are the right distance apart. But I am attempting to approach life--and especially mealtimes--with more care. Set the silverware correctly, and teach my children to do the same. Give everyone a folded napkin instead of just tossing a stack onto the table. Arrange vegetables artfully on a plate. use a pretty cloth for the bread basket (my favorite is a flour sack dishtowel that my Grandma embroidered). Light a candle.

It really doesn't take much more time to pour tea into a china tea cup than into an ugly free mug from the bank. It is just as easy to set a spoon straight as it is to toss it down any old way.

It's far from perfect and of course we still have days when we're doing good to get three square meals at all. But I am thrilled to see that as I do things with more care, it is reflected in my children. More often than not, mealtime conversation flows without the usual bickering. Everyone seems to exhale slightly as they sit down, as if that time around the supper table is a retreat, an oasis, a re-calibration after a busy day. I think we're even seeing some changes in table manners--although that's still a work in progress!

I've realized that as a woman--aside from the whole mom aspect--I crave beauty, I need beauty. Without it, I become frazzled and depressed. I used to justify my lack of it by saying that I was trying to live more simply and to not fall into materialism, but I've realized that loveliness doesn't have to be materialistic or expensive. It can be as simple as a wildflower in a mason jar, or a six dollar tea cup from an antique store. What is requires is intention, an awareness of how easy it is to slide into exhaustion and resulting apathy. To stop caring.

As I write this, the house is quiet and snow falls outside my window. Every tree branch and blade of grass is coated with a thin layer of silver ice, like a fairyland. My coffee is hot. A good book sits on my bedside table, shouting to be read. And my heart swells with the knowledge that this--all of this--is God's creation. And it is so very, very good.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

hello again at last

The girls and I made cupcakes...very pink cupcakes.
 
Happy Valentines Day from our new neck of the woods! We are finally moved, mostly unpacked, and have a few moments to come up for air. The move was eventful, to say the least. We were in separate vehicles. Stephen had Ethan,  the truck full of boxes and two dogs. I was in the van with the remaining four kids, a parakeet in a cage, a jar full of fish, and various and sundry miscellaneous items. We drove almost half of the trip in torrential rain and had stopped for fuel when Stephen's truck decided to die. It was Sunday, of course, so there were no auto repair shops open. O'Reillys could order the part that he thought he needed but it wouldn't be in until the next day. The thought of spending an entire day (or more) in a hotel room with our menagerie--even if we had been able to find a hotel that would accept all of us--was not very cheerful. So we decided that the most reasonable thing to do was for me to go ahead to the new house with the kids and animals and for Stephen to get a hotel room and stay until the next day to fix the truck.
 
I am far from an experienced traveler, and it had taken most of my courage to make this drive with the comforting lights of Stephen's truck ahead of me. Let's just say that when push comes to shove, God gives you the grace and the strength and you do what you have to do. We rearranged dogs, fish, bird and children and I continued the drive, still in torrential rain, through road construction and major cities. There were a few white-knuckle moments, but I only got lost twice, and right about dusk, we rounded a bend to see the twinkling lights of our new little town. That, my friends, was one of the best moments of my life.

I feel blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country!


Stephen did get his truck fixed and made it here an exhausting day and a half later. We've spent the last two weeks getting settled in, and we already love our new home--both inside and out.


I have so much to write, so much that has been simmering in the back of my mind during this time of transition, but this hello will have to do for now. We have an arctic storm predicted for the next few days and I'm hoping to sit down and hammer out some thoughts while we are housebound. Snow, hot tea, good books, writing, knitting, and time with my six favorite people in the whole world...it sounds like a recipe for a perfect week!