Dear Friend

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‘Tis the season to be ruminating on love. Human love to me is chiefly tangible.It takes action, showing, doing, serving, and being much more than some little metaphoric chubby guy shooting people with arrows. One of my favorite expressions of love is in the form of old-fashioned letters sent through the post. There is something about a bit of beauty and friendship being shared in this slow, thoughtful way.

In the days of instant updates, tweets, and texts, receiving a handwritten note is priceless. For me, the whole process is a labor of love. Choosing the unique, beautiful cards or paper. “Geeking” out over all the pen choices, which ink flows the smoothest. I’m not even going to get started on decorating the envelopes, the vintage wax seals, and washi tape fever. Choosing the right postage stamps is pure agony. God forbid ones postage stamps not be pretty or unique. 🙂

I can’t tell you how much joy this art form, an almost lost one, can be. It’s a two-fold joy. One in the creating and sending and the other in anticipation and receiving back.  Currently, I have two sweet gals who share a bit of Pennsylvania country life with me. Karen and Rebecca graciously are my friends from afar, real friends, through the pages of a letter. Bonnie from North Carolina and Fleur from New Zealand, letters and hands and lives reaching across the miles. These four women and I sharing bits of art and the beauty of life through a tangible medium.

These letters become a bit like a treasure trove to me, stored, tied up with a bit of twine, or used as a book mark, or hung up, decorating my home. The connection with the past and present is very real in our letters, recalling the women of old, who this was their only way of communicating once or twice a year. Pen pals are in a way, an act of preserving a bit of the past. A bit of my history for future generations to mull over. What would we do without all the writings and letters of the past?

The wait for these written treasures makes them all the more worth while. The small, limited space and the amount of time spent writing and winging across the sky, make us more to the point, more about savoring and sharing little important parts of life. We share a bit deeper and notice the small things longer, dragging out a life time, appreciating singular instances of life over two letter writings. That slow living is very uncommon now and I am so glad to keep cultivating this habit of love and friendship.

~

Faith Baldwin

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God’s plan is never one of monotony. He works through contrasts: the seasons, tropic and arctic regions, seas and rivers, deserts and wastelands. He works to bring about good; to teach compassion. Some have said that God is impersonal, indifferent to suffering. There have been times when I, too, have thought so. There are moments in the life of every man when, unable to explain the Plan satisfactorily to himself, he wonders why is there loss, tragedy, destruction of peoples, the sorrow of the innocent? If we know why, we would have achieved our identification with the Plan itself. Out of fire and flood comes the strength to rebuilt, the impulse to share unselfishly, to comfort and sustain, the great drive to compassion felt by one or many people. Out of loss comes the growing into knowledge that – past the material – there is no real loss. Out of surrender, I believe, a conquering is attained, out of the violence of emotions, the noise of self-pity and distraction, we learn quietude.

Many Windows: Seasons of the Heart

Faith Baldwin

pg 34

~

Winter Ideas

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{Good reading choice, boys. 🙂 }

We are slowly making it through the dreary, foggy winter days. We’ve had some glorious sunshine spilling through the bleak grays. The sun is a blessing, shooting out and then deep down into our souls. Here are a few of my favorite wintery things, currently.

  1. Listen to Malcolm Guite recite his poem.
  2. Take a hot shower while listening to Anne’s podcast. Bookish kindred spirits.
  3. Take winter walk with children, listening to their sweet thoughts. Make hot chocolate together when you get back.
  4. Read Amy’s lovely post on the new year. 
  5. Hunker down with a light read and a cup of coffee. Kate’s stories  are lovely or Charles has some good ones, too. These can be found through the public library.
  6. Create a nature journal, highlighting your favorite winter birds, creatures, or whatever suits you. I’m loving these journals. 
  7. Make scones and tea and listen to some haunting music.  She has a song on this particular CD that is inspired by The Highway Man by Alfred Noyes. Sad and thoughtful.
  8. Read poetry together. We love Favorite Poems Old and New by Helen Ferris.
  9. Peruse another’s  reading list for a new book. Go book shopping.
  10. Wash your bedding and snuggle down for a long winter’s nap.
  11. My children love LEGOS, blocks, and Schleich animals this time of year, especially.
  12. I’m looking forward to watching this very soon. 
  13. Put up copious amounts of twinkle lights. Ask my husband. He’ll verify my obsession. 😉
  14. Save up for a new mug or socks.
  15. Journal through your Bible. Memorize a Psalm.
  16. Move your comfy chair by your pellet stove. Wrap up in your favorite blanket. Read Gladys Taber.
  17. Bird watch. Google your favorite birds to hear their calls and watch videos on them. Bundle up and head outside to listen and observe.
  18. Make time to hang out with friends. For me, there is nothing like coffee with other mom friends.
  19. Go on a breakfast date with husband.
  20. Break out a map and plan a trip.
  21. Order free seed catalogs and dream.
  22. Susan Branch. She is so cheerful. 
  23. If you home educate your children, here is a lovely spot for inspiration.
  24. Go to local coffee shop and people watch.
  25. Make a big pot of soup and take some to someone you love. My mom is fantastic at this! ❤
  26. Practice your accents. 😉
  27. Go thrifting.
  28. Practice tying knots aka knitting. (ok, this was a joke about my knitting abilities.)
  29. Write real letters and post with pretty envelopes and stamps.
  30. Light a candle and shake fist at ice. Just kidding. {sorta}

What are you doing to celebrate the last months of winter? (or survive them? 🙂 )

~

Seed Cake

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“Come along in, and have some tea!” he managed to say after taking a deep breath. 

“A little beer would suit me better, if it is all the same to you, my good sir,” said Balin with the white beard. “But I don’t mind some cake – seed-cake, if you have any.”

“Lots!” Bilbo found himself answering, to his own surprise; and he found himself scuttling off, too, to the cellar to fill a pint beer-mug, and then to a pantry to fetch two beautiful round seed-cakes which he had baked that afternoon for his after-supper morsel.”

pg 8 The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

 

I’ve been so inspired lately by these lovely tales of courage, friendship, and love. Something I needed is found between the lovely pages of these classics. It’s the focusing on something outside of oneself and the example of bravery on the perilous journey of life. It’s caring for others and good more than ones own comfort and security. Ouch. These titles are definitely high on my list for cold winter months. I was so inspired that we made a seed cake today for tea time in honor of our Hobbit friends. Literary feasting is so lovely and I don’t want to forget these little moments with my children.

 

~

February Eve

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It was such a relief to talk with four friends last night. Over cafe au lait, salads, and various delicious sourdough sandwiches, we dug into our lives. Books, family, schedules, and home educating. Why do I wait so long to share life with friends? Why do I live life so often alone? Of course, we all have full lives. But taking the time to really visit, I see that many of the very things I’ve struggled with or find myself fretting about, echo the topics my friends were sharing. Maybe social media deludes me into thinking I am connecting. As the chai was sipped, ice tea savored, I thought about what one of the woman was saying. We all agreed that we compare too frequently and we live with way too much guilt. Our culture is merciless with standards of what it means to be “XYZ”. Unfortunately, the home educating, stay-at-home mom culture is no exception. For the most part, I think we would all agree that it’s our dream job. I know I’m living my dream life. Yet, we aren’t immune to all those voices floating around that whisper, “You aren’t enough.”  As I sit here, ready to turn the page on my calendar, on the cusp of a new, fresh month, I want to take a stand.  By the grace of God, I am enough. I will faithfully and patiently take one step forward at a time, taking care of the life I’ve been abundantly given. I will extend grace to those around me, because of the love and grace God lavishes on me. That includes grace to myself. I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to fail, react in anger, and be impatient. That doesn’t me worthless. I’m going to dust myself off, stand up, and just do the next small thing in front of me. Sow that seed. I’m going to make an effort again to not isolate myself, reach out and say, “Hey, you too?” and believe by faith that I am loved beyond measure.

Happy February Eve.

 

~

 

The Far Country by Nevil Shute – A Book Review

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{Book cover: Goodreads}

The Far Country by Nevil Shute – Jennifer Morton is a young office clerk in depressing post-war London. It’s 1950 and the future looks grim. She ends up rushing to her ill Grandmother’s side, only to find that she is dying of cold and malnutrition because her pride wouldn’t allow her to let anyone know that her widow’s pension was taken away.

The grandmother, Ethel, had years before, given her love and support to Jack and Jane Dorman’s marriage, even though he was considered unsuitable for Jane. The Dorman’s have by sweat, blood, and tears created a good life for themselves in Australia as sheep farmers. They began to worry about Ethel, reading between the lines of her letters. They end up sending her a large sum of money, but it’s a little too late. Before Ethel’s death she signs the money over to Jennifer.

On the advice of her parents, Jennifer decides to visit her distant relatives the Dorman’s using some of this money meant for Ethel. She is amazed and blown away with the stark beauty and all what she deems as luxuries that she finds in Australia. Simple things like cream, meat and clothing items which were extremely scarce and unheard of in England.

Jennifer begins to love the area surrounding the Dorman’s farm and appreciates so many things. She meets so many interesting people including a Czech doctor who works in the lumber camps. After a freak accident, she assists him in an emergency surgeries to help injured lumbermen. History, adventure and sweet love continue through this story, with a light mystery bringing up the end.

This might sound like it’s confusing and jumps around too much, but it is beautiful. I found the history fascinating. Mr.Shute touches on the socialist government in England at the time which is interesting. I really enjoyed this title. I own this book, one step toward reading more of my shelf in 2017.

I also enjoy A Town Like Alice by this author. Have you ever read any Nevil Shute? What did you think?

~

Anne of Green Gables: Chapters 6 & 7

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Continuing our reading…

Mrs. Spencer is so distressed about the “mistake” that has been made, with the Cuthbert’s receiving a girl instead of a boy. She recalls Mrs. Blewett is looking for help with her large family. Marilla does not care for what she knows of Mrs. Blewett and compassion wells up in her towards Anne. She asks for more time to decide with Matthew on whether or not Anne will stay.

“During Marilla’s speech a sunrise had been dawning on Anne’s face. First the look of despair faded out; then came a faint flush of hope; her eyes grew deep and bright as morning stars. The child was quite transfigured; and, a moment late, when Mrs. Spencer and Mrs. Blewett went out in quest of a recipe the latter and come to borrow she sprang up and flew across the room to Marilla.” pg 46

I love how Marilla really agrees with or finds humor in the things Anne says, yet always tries to do the “proper” thing by correcting her.

I loved this line: “Matthew’s shy face was a glow of delight.” pg 47 He and Marilla come to the conclusion to give Anne a try.

In Chapter 7, we find Marilla shocked and appalled at Anne’s rather slip shod view of God and prayer. I love when Anne says that she forgot to pray because she was, “so harrowed up in my mind.” pg 49

“You’d find it easier to be bad than good if you had red hair, ” said Anne reproachfully. “People who haven’t red hair don’t know what trouble is. Mrs. Thomas told me that GOd made my hair red on purpose, and I’ve never cared about Him since. And anyhow I’d always be too tired at night to bother saying prayers. People who have to look after twins can’t be expected to say their prayers. Now, do you honestly think they can?” pg 50 🙂

I love this bit…

“If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great bit field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I’d look up in the sky-up-up-up-into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer. Well, I’m ready. What am I to say?” pg 51

Anything that you are loving about these chapters?

~

Just Kindness

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Three little containers of my favorite body scrub from a local spa. My husband’s aunt told him, “I know Amy loves this stuff, can you pass it on to her?” No reason, no special day, just kindness.

In a stack of overlooked mail, a beautiful pen pal letter, with hand made note cards for me. All tied up in  red & white twine, fairies and flowers dancing across them joyfully. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

After Christmas, as if what I received for the holiday wasn’t enough, a family member noticed I needed a new quill pen and nibs. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

“Did you make dinner yet?” he asked. “No, I haven’t.” I answered. Pizzas, soda, and flowers on my table. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

Movie night with my little daughter, older son surprising us with hot chocolate in big mugs, grin on his handsome face. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

“Mom, I made this for you.” daughter passes me a beautiful drawing. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

A freshly made bed, pillows plump, throw blankets folded at the end. A little boy surprising me with beauty and order. No reason, no special day, just kindness.

Kindness. So simple, yet SO life-changing.

~

 

Because {why I do what I do}

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“I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folks that keeps the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”

~Gandalf, The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

 

Match struck. Wick touched. The smiles, clink of dishes, delicious smells lingering, dinner is served. The twinkling reflection of candlelight in my loved ones eyes beckons me. The why behind what I do, my because.

A little boy’s hand leading me to our old rocking chair. The Little Train by Lois Lenski clasped in his chubby hand. He smiles through each whistle and toot of the story, even through we’ve ridden this track many times before. This is my because.

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Soft stacks slipping. Fold, stack, fold, stack. Squeals of delight, or rather rolled eyes, a favorite shirt or finally-my-jeans-mom that are freshly clean, ready for new adventures. Feet pounding up stairs, drawers slammed. Tangible everyday deeds keeping the darkness at bay. My because.

Grocery lists, faded recipe cards, old Bible-camp baked oatmeal ingredients, long lines, let me rub my sore feet. Fresh fruit in hand, gulps of cold milk, buttery popcorn piled high. Feasts for family. Kindness and loved stirred, baked, and served.  Because of Love given, I am here to love,…my because.

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Listening, answering, helping. Relationship ruminating. Tears, angry words. I’m sorrys, and I love yous. The sag and relief to their shoulders, the sparkle flaring up in downcast eyes. The because behind all the time and agony spent. It is so very worth it.

I read somewhere “you can only come to the morning through shadows”…these moments, these little things we do, this January road I’m walking is beautiful. Why? Because. Because of the beautiful people served and the life lived together.

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