Starting the Day off Right

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So far:

  1. We’ve had a major battle regarding rubber band ownership.
  2. I found out that I have 567 baskets of laundry to fold, not 3 as previously known.
  3. My Kindle seems to have walked off and lost itself.
  4. I discovered random petrified foodstuff in couch as I looked for aforementioned Kindle.
  5. We forgot a password to something a child decided they want to do TODAY. This is causing an inordinate amount of angst.
  6. We are out of cheese. We live in the Dairy State. This is not good.
  7.  I decided I need a break from Instagram and Facebook. I’m already twitching with withdrawal after a half of an hour of this torture.
  8. It has been declared that sandwiches are banned for a meal choice in our home. What in the world am I going to feed all these children for the rest of their lives?
  9. We are out of cheese.
  10. How in the world am I going to survive this day without cheese, Instagram, Facebook, and my Kindle?

~

Brain Dump

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My brain is swirling, turning, and murmuring at an even higher rate than usual which is saying something. As a wife, mother, and home educator, my brain is often full, but for some reason, I just can’t get the thing to shut up lately. I need somewhere to dump some of it and the blog is that place today. Bear with me.

  1. I hate cancer. Three local friends are battling it and watching them through it all has a way of making “important” things in my life seem stupid. Yes, I have little irritations and stuff, but I’ve been thinking about perspective and the attitude we have in life makes a HUGE difference. Mulling on this constantly and praying hard for these precious people.
  2. Spring hasn’t quite sprung here in the Upper Midwest, but it’s attempting too. I can’t tell you how excited this makes me as a mom and home educator. The children are outdoors! Hallelujah.
  3. I love writing and would like to publish my writing some day. Don’t you love how romantic that sounds? Do you know how unromantic the reality of this is? It’s extremely hard work. And that’s just the writing. I’m just barely getting my feet wet and it’s been a good, humbling process of growing for me. Also anything, even good things can become all-consuming. Thinking on how to balance my life as a wife, mom, home educator, and woman with my writing has been interesting. Also see Number #1 on this list. What truly matters in life?
  4. Our formal learning year is slowly coming to a close as we are in our third Term. We plan three Terms a year of 12 weeks each. I’ve learned so much this year and am looking forward to learning more and growing with my children. This has been a pretty good year for us, but I have some tweaks and things to research over our summer break. I’m so excited to attend a Charlotte Mason retreat with my oldest daughter this summer.
  5. I’m someone who can easy feel claustrophobic. That’s why I’m married and have six children. It’s been really interesting to attempt to stretch myself and grow in this area. I’ve been struggling with the balance between relationships with God, my family, and others with the time to recharge. Again ,back to that Number #1 on this list. Ahhhh. This pressure is good for me. Sanctification at it’s finest.
  6. We have a long drive to civilization from Hearth Ridge. I’ve been enjoying various podcasts. Do you listen to any favorites? I’m especially enjoying What Should I Read Next? I have a few others to try out soon.
  7. I’m extremely thankful for the surge in the last couple of years of Charlotte Mason community support online and retreats. However, lately, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of opinions, voices, and thoughts out there. I really love those that have finished out this journey in some way and so I’ve kind of pulled back to just focusing on those like Karen and Nancy. This doesn’t mean I don’t love hearing about CM home educating, no not at all, but at some point I have to just walk out the journey in my own home. Stop planning and absorbing and actually walk it out faithfully in small steps daily here. As I go, I can learn more, grow, and tweak it for my family. My prayer is that I be found faithful in this path we have chosen.
  8. I tend to read and eat emotionally when I’m drained. I’m really trying hard not to just pick up junk for my mind and body and it’s very hard to change bad habits. My book stack is HUGE, but I think I’m doing better finding light things to read that aren’t completely formulatic. I’m really looking forward to getting outside more for my long walks.
  9. I’m looking forward to a tentatively planned trip with my husband for our 15th anniversary this fall. I’ll share more as plans are firmed up.
  10. I was looking over my massive stack of journals and just amazed at how blessed I am. I really want to make an effort of intense, soul-deep gratitude and contentment. I need to lay aside my whiny irritations and thank God for His unbelievable faithfulness. Yes, I believe these are choices I make daily. Is my life perfect and carefree? Of course not. But it was never promised to be. However, in everything and through everything, God is WITH me and that I can never express enough gratitude.

~

At the Table

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What’s for dinner?

We are having Robin Hood, Raphael’s La Donna Velata, crunchy Math numbers, with a side of Favorite Poems Old and New.  We are drinking deeply from Antonin Drorak’s music and dessert is Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Numerous other delectable dishes are being served up at this feast. I lean back and sigh with satisfaction at the wide array of dishes, something for everyone here. At this table, we all are filled with our favorites, the things that hit our taste buds just right at the right moment.

I was pondering last night how much I cherish home educating my children. I particularly am thankful for the wisdom of Charlotte Mason. My favorite thing about her learning philosophy and methods is that is personal. It’s about relationships. It’s about each person being unique, connecting to the Lord and His world in an intimate, personal way.

She liken this type of living as a feast, a description that really touches me. She told us that it isn’t about facts but how much we care. At this feast, we are all learners, partakers.  My 7yo pulled out The Secret Garden the other day, and we read this together:

“The bird put his tiny head on one side and looked up at him with his soft bright eye which was like a black dewdrop. He seemed quite familiar and not the least afraid. He hopped about and pecked the earth briskly, looking for seeds and insects. It actually gave Mary a queer feeling in her heart, because he was so pretty and cheerful and seemed so like a person. He had a tiny plump body and a delicate beak, and slender delicate legs.”

pg 40

The Secret Garden 

Frances Hodges Burnett

I actually had a little lump in my throat, thinking of orphan Mary. The quickening of the beauty of that bird in a love-starved heart. That is so alike this way of living, a bright spark. I then began considering the foster care system as I had been reading something earlier. Later that evening, all of us got talking about the differences between foster care and orphanages. We started talking about adoptions and friends that have opened their hearts to it.

The next day, some of the children started a fund to purchase necessities for underprivileged children. See? It’s all connected. Life is a huge beautiful interweaving of personal relationships and connections. Miss Mason’s heart was for all people to partake of a deep connection with their God, enter in the cares and concerns of others compassionately, and understand they are each a uniquely created person in God.

The candles are flickering low, the table cloth is a bit rumpled, crumbs litter the floor, the delicious feast feeding and nourishing us. It isn’t always easy creating this feast, it takes a bit of work, elbow grease, yet it is so very worth it. I murmur a last word of thanksgiving and blow out the candles.

Tomorrow, we will taste and see that the Lord is good all over again.

~

Sunlit and Shadowy

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Pondering this…

 

That is a problem everyone has, whether in sketching, in photography, or in treating life realistically – knowing what to do with the shadows that belong in the picture. Nearly every job has its sunlit side and its shadowy aspects, its happy rewards and its drudgery and disappointments. A measure of contentment can be achieved if the job-holder knows that some shadows belong in the picture, and he accepts them without irritableness or bitterness.

pg 161

Thoughts Afield

Harold E. Kohn

~

March Forth, Mother

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I snuggled him to my chest, sniffing that sweet baby smell in his hair. Oh my. I really do love these days of home keeping, mothering, and learning with my children. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments, which usually involve me shutting myself into my bedroom, with coffee and books or crying on my hubby’s shoulder. 🙂 I haven’t always loved this life and still struggle with discontent. However, for some reason, 14ish years into this gig, I’m beginning to really settle into this grove. I truly can say I LOVE it now. Yes, it’s hard, physically and mentally, but it’s also so beautiful. I’ve been trying to figure out what is the difference. I think the difference is that I’m not fighting it anymore. The idea that there is “something” out there later or after I’m finished mothering. Hah. Mothering doesn’t end. The idea I’m not doing anything worthwhile or meaningful is hogwash. I can be all that God has for me right here and now. The false idea that there is one way to mother and you must meet that standard or you get a big fat F. Nope. I have my strengths, I do my best, focusing on the things that are most important for me, my family, and my faith. I prioritize and then just relax down into them. Like a comfortable sweater on a cool spring day. Contrary to pretty much everyone else, I don’t want to be a woman who does it all. I want to do a few things WELL.  I put my hand to the plow, sow, and lay a feast of love, beauty, and a smooth-ish rhythm to our days. I trust by faith that the Lord will complete that which He has started in my children and I. So, I’m challenging myself to march forth, boldly and bravely. Enjoy each step fully, no reservations, and no fear. Motherhood is a beautiful gift.

~

Anne of Green Gables: Chapter 8

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Continuing our reading…

There are a few parts in this chapter that I just love. I’m noticing over and over again, that Marilla needed Anne much more than Anne needed her! Anne just brings so much life and beauty into Marilla’s life.

Marilla’s stern, hard-nosed Calvinism in the face of Anne’s questioning, open, dreamy state is such an interesting contrast. I just adore this moment.

She found Anne standing motionless before a picture hanging on the wall between two windows, with her hands clasped behind her, her face uplifted, and her eyes astar with dreams. The white and green light strained through apple trees and clustering vines outside fell over the rapt little figure with a half-unearthly radiance.

“Anne, whatever are you thinking of?” demanded Marilla sharply.

Anne came back to earth with a start.

“That,” she said, pointing to the picture-a rather vivid chromo entitled, “Christ Blessing Little Children”-“and I was just imagining I was one of them- that I was the little girl in the blue dress, standing off by herself in the corner as if she didn’t belong to anybody, like me. She looks lonely and sad, don’t you think? I guess she hadn’t any father or mother of her own. But she wanted to be blessed, too, so she just crept shyly up on the outside of the crowd, hoping nobody would notice her-except Him. I’m sure I know just how she felt. Her heart must have beat and her hands must have got cold, like mind did when I asked you if I could stay. She was afraid He mightn’t notice her. But it’s likely He did, don’t you think: I’ve been trying to imagine it all out – her edging a little nearer all the time until she was quite close to Him; and then He would look at her and put His hand on her hair and oh, such a thrill of joy as would run over her! But I wish the artist hadn’t painted Him so sorrowful looking. All His pictures are like that, if you’ve noticed. But I don’t believe He could really have looked so sad or the children would have been afraid of Him.” 

pg 55-56 ❤

Marilla calls these observations irreverent!!!! Anne is astonished because she really felt moved spiritually by this art. In the same vein, Marilla demands her learn the Lord’s Prayer because she is next to “heathen” and Anne looks on it lovingly as poetry! Oh my, it just makes me think how too often I despise the open, fresh way my children look at things, instead demanding some dogmatic adherence to what I think. In reality, the faith and relationship between Anne and the Lord here seems miles ahead of Marilla, in my humble opinion.

Any thoughts on this chapter? There are many other beautiful passages in here. Sigh. 🙂

 

~

Marriage in Four Seasons

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{for your listening pleasure}

Seasons of love flow and change, following the pattern of nature. I gaze now at the barren, white expanse of our Wisconsin fields. The black, craggy branches completely bare of leaves, creaking coldly in the wind. The icy stream cutting through the gray, dirty landscape. My marriage began one hot, sultry summer day, but I now think on the moments of bleakness. The misunderstandings, the cold shoulders, and staring at my husband as if he was from an alien planet. Keys locked in cars, bills forgotten, winter moments of life. Piles of snow reminiscent of the issues to be shoveled through in marriage.

A bit of green pushing up through the earth, surprises, birth of babies, new beginnings have sprung as spring in my marriage. We gazed amazed at our first home bought together, ignoring the ramshackle state, DIY piles, and hours of work that lay ahead. It didn’t matter because hope springs eternal. The beauty of a bouquet of flowers, a kind text, an encouraging word, and a hug have kept newness alive in our hearts. A common goal, faith, and sense of purpose, living our country life and raising a family have strengthened us in moments of weakness.

The plowing, sowing and the hours of weeding, pruning, and cultivating seem worth it for the harvest in a garden. Joy does indeed come in the morning. Summer sunlight breaking through. Back to that hot September day, when we pledged through all of life’s seasons we would stick together, we couldn’t have known truly what a sacrifice it would be to make that daily choice. A choice of wiping the sweat off of illness, financial pressures, and humid blasts of family issues. The delight yet exhaustion from new life, new jobs, the lack of sleep or rest.

Relationships are extremely hard work. They need constant attention. It’s easy to let the leaves of life to fall, shifting and slowly drifting down, not noticing the pile of offenses creeping ever taller. The autumn winds rattle and shake the windows of our family home, and one must notice these things before they become cracks in the foundation, warmth lost, a wisp in the cooling air.

I confess that I am unashamedly old-fashioned in my view of my marriage. I’m committed to it. No matter the winds that buffet it, no matter the hard rains we face, I choose to stick it out today, tomorrow, until death do us part. I believe anything beautiful and true takes hard work and sacrifice. Just look at the cathedrals, beautiful gardens, and greatest inventions. They all have one thing in common. A stark, shear, almost mad perseverance.

I often say harsh words to my husband, I lack compassion, or am neglectful, yet he still chooses to love me. He forgets, gets busy, and misunderstands. Yet, without us choosing to forgive, what good would we see built? I realize that there are extremely hard circumstances which many find themselves in and we can’t begin to understand the reasons so many relationships end. All I know is my own, and barely at that. I take it one moment, one sown seed at a time, believing that we will reap a continued harvest of a life of togetherness.

Yes, togetherness. That’s the word. Notice I didn’t say bliss or life of romance. The truth truly is that those are small bits that flash out now and again, but the real love comes in the ugly yet beautiful mundane. This is the stuff unwritten and outside the film frame. The cleaning up after sickness, the hot angry tears, the dropping everything to run that annoying errand, and the letting go. It’s the countless bags of garbage taken out, the meals and dishes, it’s the faithful punching the clock to pay bills.

These are the cyclical seasons of true romance. When you change those sheets, fix that door knob, or stretch out an arm to steady someone. It’s the darkness, smells, and frustrations that spell and create a true togetherness. The anticipation of the changing seasons is one my very favorite parts about where I live, and just maybe I can approach each and every one in marriage with gratitude. Gratitude that I’m being shaped and honed through this relationship in a way that none other can. So cheers to soon-to-be 15 years, and Lord-willing, many more.

~

 

 

 

 

January & February Reads

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What did you read these past couple of months? I’d love to hear! January was spent finishing up books from last year, which if they were more than half done, I didn’t include in this list. I ended up with a lot of fantasy and YA titles these first few months of 2017. How do you read? A few books at a time? One book, start to finish? I like to dip in and out of a HUGE stack, which I have going and changing all the time. I linked to reviews if I did them and I put an asterisk if recommended and/or a note on the title. 🙂

 

The Best Man by Grace Livingston Hill

The Far Country by Nevil Shute *** (Highly recommend.)

Precious Stone Trilogy by Kerstin Gier

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling

The Invisible Library Series by Genevieve Cogman

The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel*(Interesting sci-fi/dystopian read with food for thought.)

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan* (England and books. Sigh. Unfortunately, ruined by unnecessary heavy adult content. Grr.)

The Mountain Between Us by  Charles Martin*

The Lake House by Kate Morton*

A Life Intercepted by Charles Martin*** (Highly recommend.)

The King’s Orchard by Agnes Sligh Turnbull*** (Highly recommend. Historical biography following the life of James O’Hara. This is set in Pittsburgh, PA area around French and Indian Wars into the American Revolution.)

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

Carl Sandburg, Voice of the People by Ruth Franchere*

The Broken Way: A Daring Path into the Abundant Life by Ann Voskamp*

Until Winter Comes by Mary Jane Hathaway

Amberwell by D.E. Stevenson* (Lovely historical fiction set in England around WWII.)

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Matthew, Mark in The NKJV Holy Bible*** (Honestly, Leviticus is a hard read. 🙂 )

 

 

 

Happy Reading!

 

~

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Ponderings {February 27th}

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Meditating on these revolutionary words from Jesus today…

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 

To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.

“But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing to return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.

Luke 6: 27-36, NKJV, The Holy Bible

~

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.

~