St. Martin’s Church, Bowness-On-Windermere {English Memories}

Once Upon an England Trip

A favorite memory of our trip was visiting the beautiful, vast churches. I’ve been reading a bit more about them and I wrongly assumed that the bigger they are, that they are then called cathedrals.  This is another article I found fascinating about the construction of ancient churches and meaning behind some of the symbols. My children and I really enjoyed reading this book about cathedral construction, fascinating and quite astounding. I’d love to dig deeper into this study, anyone have any favorite books on the topic? I’d like to research old churches that are in America as well, although 241 years will never compare to Europe’s ancient structures.

St. Martin’s was the very first we visited and holds a special in my heart because of its simple beauty. I wrote something on my old blog home about what these grand churches meant to me and I’m trying to wrap my mind around the loveliness of the history, tradition, and memories that these spaces evoke. Entering, I was immediately struck by a cool, damp, earthy smell. I was engulfed by a hush and reverence, the vastness was so inspiring, lifting my heart toward God. My footsteps echoed as I walked through these places, reading plaques, meditating and praying, thinking through the history of the people the built, lived, worked, and died surrounding these central places of village life. I thought on the unfortunate horrors done in the name of religion, the beliefs and doctrine that shaped countries and kingdoms, all of it swirling and building awe in my mind. I found the lives of the people buried in the crypts fascinating, one could spend hours reading and absorbing.

St. Martin’s was a beautiful beginning and I will share more of the historic churches we visited later on in my trip.

~

 

 

Monday Ponderings {June 26}

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Many were the tears shed by them in their last adieus to a place so much beloved. ‘Dear, dear Norland!’ said Marianne, as she wandered alone before the house, on the last evening of their being there, ‘when shall I cease to regret you?  – when learn to feel at home elsewhere? – O happy house! Could you know what I suffer in now viewing you from this spot, from whence perhaps I may view you no more! – and you, ye well-known trees! – but you will continue the same – No leaf will decay because we are removed, nor any branch become motionless although we can observe you no longer! – No; you will continue the same; unconscious of the pleasure or the regret you occasion, and insensible of any change in those who walk under your shade!  – But who will remain to enjoy you?’ – Marianne Dashwood

Sense & Sensibility

Jane Austen

p. 17

(I can identify with these sentiments so much, especially since our move last year. A place, a home, a particular moment means so much to you, and when you leave it or are far removed by time and memory, you grieve. I love this so much as I contemplate the importance of sense of place, an extension of belonging.)

~

Supreme Beauty

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There was a leap of joy in him, like a flame lighting up in a dark lantern. At that moment he believed it was worth it. This moment of supreme beauty was worth all the wretchedness of the journey. It was always worth it. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” It was the central truth of existence, and all men knew it, though they might not know that they knew it. Each man followed his own star through so much pain because he knew it, and at journey’s end all the innumerable lights would glow into one.

Gentian Hill

Elizabeth Goudge

p.208

(emphasis mine)

~

Kingdom of Opposite Tale: Part 2

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Part 1

Soul crouches, cowers in the crevice. It covers its ears. It doesn’t want to take on the path right now. The swirling opposite stream’s Siren call is loud today. Tendrils of a whisper float to Soul, “Just give this foolishness, this outmoded path up. Ease, tranquility, softness, and beauty are yours, Soul.  Just calmly step over.” Soul traces the tentacle scars on its arms. The edges ooze, pus and pain mingle in its mind.  A beautiful face is now in the crevice, swirling and hovering near, slender finger beckoning. Soul is tempted. Why face the mundane road of thou-shalts and whosoever wills? Why feel the bruise and pain of this Kingdom of Opposite? Soul decides to just hide from it all. There is no danger in this crevice. After all, it’s still on the path. Soul leans nearer and stares harder. Siren’s lustful song is longer, mournfully louder. Cringing, Soul remembers. Eyes of its mind shut tight, forgetting again, fighting to remember. Its eye strays toward the path. That blood, a watering of red, on the dusty trail beyond its resting place. Startled, Soul stretches forth one leg, creeping back, faith seeping into its doubting heart. It can’t be. What is that small piece of greening hope in the barrenness? It shuffles closer and peers down. A curling, swirling vine is growing from the red stream.  Something sprouts in Soul’s heart.  Hearty, simple, brave, little vine.  Beauty among dry bones, Soul muses. It pulls itself up, brushes itself off, straining eyes ahead, following the swirls and twists of green.  “One must look hard for beauty in this Kingdom, but isn’t that the very essence of True Beauty? It comes up through the hard places, the lost places, the gruesome places of our path.” Soul speaks these truths out loud, telling itself, drowning her voice, watering the little seed of its heart. Soul starts forward, following the Vine wherever it may go, a spark of beauty leading it onward. It begins again with one step.

~

 

 

 

Five Months In – Kingdom of Opposite Tale

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Welcome to the Kingdom of Opposite –

Soul is on a path, rocky and barren, dry, desert wind blowing.  This part of the path has been five months and a little more, it reckons. Sweat- laden, Soul turns its head and glances around the landscape, plodding, plodding. Step at a time, day at a time, one tear at a time. A side way glance, grasping, grabbing arms, tentacle-like flail from a stream going the opposite direction. Soul sees flashes behind, flashes of fascinating things, muddied and unclear. It stops, staring and mesmerized. Shaking its head, it turns, glancing at the path that it’s been on…almost half of this new year. The same old, same sharp stones, same small way.  Soul’s head turns once more to the brilliant flow on either side of him. It thinks to itself, “I have none of those accomplishments, what is that newness, I need that, I’m different, I’m wasting, withering in obscurity, I’m desperate for easy, restful things.” Something sticky and hard is on its arm. Soul looks down. A black, stinking, ugly tentacle is grasping its arm. The stream gleams, it glitters, it accomplishes great, measurable things. There are accolades and praise in the sweet-smelling stream. Soul trembles. What has Soul done compared to the this alluring flash surrounding it? How can Soul measure up? Another tentacle joins its companion. Soul thinks, “I have nothing, I am nothing, all I have is this journey of rocks, painful and jarring.” Closing eyes, deep breath, Soul hears something. It can’t compete with the glamorous beauty flowing all around it. It is so faint, so gentle, yet has a musical, lyrical bell-like quality to it. Soul bends. Soul rests in the wind of it. Reaching and stretching its ear to it, Soul finally yields to its draw. Listen. Can you hear it with Soul? “Be still and know.” Soul realizes that its cheeks are wet like the dew of the morning and its parched, patched heart is refreshed. The tentacles are gone, bloody traces of their grip slashed across Soul’s wrists. Soul turns once again to the path winding in the opposite direction of the teeming stream. Something brilliant on the path jumps out at Soul. It stoops to touch it, warm on its finger. It’s gruesome, it’s dark red, it’s sticky, it’s messy, it’s a blood trail. Soul never noticed this before. Soul’s blood drip, drips, down mingling with the blood on the ground. Soul crests the next rocky ridge, plod, plod, step, step, and upon looking down into the valley below, through a heavy, dank, fog, it catches a glimpse of Something. Soul can’t name it. Yet, it takes a step down and toward, into the unknown, refusing a glimpse to the side and the beautiful, teeming, mass flowing beside it, instead filled with an unexplained, incredible Love that fills the lonely, confused, and weary crevices of Soul. Soul scrambles, tripping, stumbling over the rocks, relationships rocks, Soul-wrenching rocks, just to catch one glimpse. It never does, but it follows the brilliant Light that surrounds the Something, sending out a pulsing promise of “You are loved.” Soul catches its breath, places its scarred feet one step lower into the Kingdom of Opposite. Soul falls, but looks up, faintly seeing this Beauty ahead, on the same path, together with Soul. The Light beckoning with love and acceptance, Soul seeing the path of blood flowing from the One, that blood mixing with its own on this journey, and nothing, no ease, no prize can complete with the brilliance of this dusty, love-soaked path. Step, step, plod, plod. One moment at a time.

~

 

 

 

 

Green

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Spring has taken me by surprise. I completely missed it last year. I’ve been drinking in the green, and it got me thinking when I had last seen such a verdant spring. We’ve been drenched with rain, its drizzle helping paint the land with deep, delicious greens and the sky with brilliant blues. Last year, we were in the agonizing process of showing our former home, packing, doing important remodeling on Hearth Ridge (putting in plumbing and electricity) on a deadline, and lastly, I was preparing things for my then upcoming trip to England. Needless to say, I completely missed spring. Green is my favorite color anyway, the one that makes my soul sing, knocking me speechless as I gaze on the fields, woods, and far-reaching vistas surrounding me. It’s a small thing, yet it has swept through my heart in such a profound way. I think of the endless spreads that reach on and on for miles, I think on the pioneers crossing the meandering streams, finding perfect spots for their homesteads, battling the beauty of this land, eking out a life. I think of magical forests, remote kingdoms, I think of my Creator, His beauty and love for me. I think of hope, the beauty of all things new, I think of a living poetry moving and breathing over the land. I think of all the beautiful literature I’ve read, flashes coming alive as I feel, hear, and see what I read. It kinda of sparkles and swirls just like the bokeh of light glinting off the water. I never want to forget this spring, the first one I’ve spent here at Hearth Ridge, and especially, don’t want to forget today. The gorgeous sunshine, framing the splashes of green and blue. The birdsong, the soft-leave-rustling wind, with occasional gusts like a delightful dream hitting you, the perfect temperature, cool, yet sun warmly kissing your face, eyes closed and chin turned upward, you could just feel the rays seeping into your skin.

My young, sweet daughter, pointing as we walked, crooned, “Mom, the wind in the trees is just like little bells.”

I couldn’t have said it any better.

~

Amy Carmichael

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“TEACH ME TO DO THY WILL”

Psalm 143:10

NEARLY 400 years ago Vaughan wrote:

“I would I were some bird or star

Fluttering in woods or lifted far

Above this inn

And road of sin.

Then either star or bird should be

Shining or singing still to Thee.”

But he had to live the common life in a difficult world, and so have we. I have often noticed that just when we feel most like saying, “I would I were”, our God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, meets us with some plain command which pulls us up sharply, and makes us face this eternal truth: We are not here to wish to be somewhere or something we are not, but to do the thing that pleases Him exactly where we are, and as we are.

So out “I would I were” becomes Cause me to hear…; cause me to know…; teach me to do Thy will. And should the heart within us fear as we face that way again, instantly the blessed word revives us, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee”. “It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.”

Psalm 143:10. Isa. 41:10. Phil. 2.13.

Thou Givest, They Gather

Amy Carmichael

p. 87

bold emphasis mine

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Monday Ponderings {May 22nd}

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Could mere loving be a life’s work?

 

The Dean’s Watch

Elizabeth Goudge

p. 122

(I can’t tell you how much this line impacted me this weekend. The surrounding passage is beautiful. This book is lovely, but it would have been worth reading for just that one line. Praying and pondering over this thought.)

Mother’s Day 2017

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{My first daffodil bloomed Easter morn – 2017}

 

The sun greeted me this morning, a small gift with big meaning. I brewed my coffee and briefly wondered what I should attempt for breakfast for my crew. Sunday mornings are busy, usually eggs and toast are on the menu. But I chose to grab a few moments, legs folded under me, hot mug of coffee in hand, reading my favorite book. Paul’s words jumping out at me as I dipped into I Corinthians, at least I think that’s what’s after Romans and did Paul author it? The children slowly trickle down as the sun rises higher. I listened to the dear, scruffy nine year old read some Danny the Dinosaur, refilling my coffee. A bleary-eyed daughter appears headed in the general direction of the WC. A cry of, “Mommy!” from the two year old who has appeared with the 12 year old, almost man-child. I snuggle “the baby” and try scrubbing off the crusty food left on his chin from last night. I should have done baths yesterday, drat.

The children convince me that toast is all they want and will ever need, especially slathered in Nutella. Yes, such a balanced breakfast. Hazelnuts have protein, don’t they? (Just forget about the sugar for a moment.) It can’t be much worse if I gave them cereal. Then they start in with lovely happy mother’s day wishes and ultimately, hand me cards and the surprise of a Kitchen Aid mixer coming soon to a kitchen near me. Yay and hallelujah. I’ve wanted one of these for a while and am eagerly anticipate whipping up all sorts of yummy things, my poor arms thank you, husband and children.

Yikes. The clock is against me, I inwardly rale. How in the world am I to get all these children out the door for church in time? We will have to go semi-dirty as it is, I regretfully think EVERY WEEK. We scramble looking for the various items that always seem lost on Sundays. Shoes, hair brushes, and clean pants, of course, are the main culprits. There are always the inevitable battles over bathroom rights, who breathed on who with foul breath, and who gets to sit where in the big, ‘ole red van. But somehow, we all make it to church. Not all clean, not all with shoes on (true story), and slightly harried, but hopefully, with some semblance of a smile on our face. We are supposedly joyful Christians, after all.

After church, I notice all of us battle-wearied mothers, lugging all of our lovely handmade cards and various flowers gifts kindly supplied by the church. Of course, those of us who have more children than the 2.4 national average now have 245,895 smashed cards, bedraggled flowers, along with our diaper bags, Bibles, and discarded shoes we looked for over an hour this morning tirelessly.

The day continues as I enjoy my own mother, we feast, we fellowship, and we scrub some dishes. We wipe noses, and we soothe fears. Basically, we continue with our mothering dance as old as time.  I gaze in awe at my brand new little niece, wash a few more dishes, contemplating later over a quiet solo dinner all that mothering encompasses. A chance to see the world through a child’s eyes, a chance to stretch my impatient, selfish heart, and a chance to be a part of the creation of life itself.  A chance to love someone other than myself. What a gift.

~

Long and Slow

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I’ve been thinking lately about this Charlotte Mason educational life journey that my children and I (my husband,too) are on. Partly because, we are coming upon the end of the 2016-2017 formal learning  year and I’m beginning my planning for autumn, a new, fresh year. I’m rereading a few favorites, The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater and Pocketful of Pinecones: Nature Study With the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola, and the more I read, learn, and walk this road, the more I see that it is simmering and savoring kind of life. In a way, sort of like my favorite kitchen appliance, the crock pot. Early in the morning, with the sun’s rays slanting in on the floor, the smell of my coffee brewing, you will often find me loading up my crock pot for dinner. A pinch of rosemary, slices of potato, pieces of ham, a bay leaf. Water pouring over it all, salt and pepper shaken in, and broth added. The top is then dotted with butter, lid on, set on low, and dinner is being prepared. It is a long and slow process. My day is settled and oh, so much more calm when I have dinner started before 9:00 AM. A sage piece of advice told to me from a seasoned mother. Charlotte Mason knew this wisdom also, but in the educational sphere. I’m stretching this analogy, but I love analogies…I’m a visual learner and it helps me to see things in a new, helpful light. Those ingredients that I added are like the methods of a Charlotte Mason education, the habit of faithfulness to working my plan is like getting the dinner into the crock pot, and then it’s the long and slow simmering in my life and the lives of my children, the philosophy of all of it,  the leaving alone of it, that makes the whole. Do I just constantly fuss with that crock pot and always impatiently check it, adjusting it, throwing it out if not perfect, tasting, worrying, and fretting over it? No. That’s the point of this wonderful piece of kitchen equipment. It’s the letting alone and trusting the process. Yes, sometimes, the meal isn’t that great at the end of it, sometimes things don’t work out perfectly according to my recipe, maybe a little burnt around the edges, but for the most part, I faithfully add the ingredients, day in and day out, knowing that the slow process produces nourishment for our lives.  May I fill our crock pot with delicacies and then rest in the Lord, smelling the beautiful aroma floating through our lives each day.

~

Elizabeth Goudge

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Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Goudge. I can’t tell you what an impact your books have made on my life. Your fiction is so beautifully real, full of vitality, moments that you have read and lived, a compost of life. Your non-fiction collections inspiring and beautiful. If there is one of way of describing what you wrote it would be that you have found romance in real life. The sweeping nature observations, your love of England, your beautiful turns of phrase, and your real, troubled characters that could be anyone of us. Their thoughts and feelings ring true. I love that your writing forces me to slow down as not to miss one single thing. It makes me realize how fast I live, how distracted I exist, and what a gift I’ve been given by God here in my place on earth. I realize that I’m gushing and I know you weren’t perfect or that we would have really seen eye to eye on everything, and yet, this stay-at-home mother has found in your words, a feast for the cracked edges of her soul. I have found that my heart is turned toward my Creator and the imperfect, yet lovely relationships with people all around me. I have reread Pilgrim’s Inn and A City of Bells many times, and others I still remember in detail. Your words have become cherished friends and I will continue to revisit them for years to come.

“In times of storm and tempest, of indecision and desolation, a book already known and loved makes better reading than something new and untried … nothing is so warming and companionable.”

Elizabeth Goudge, A City of Bells

 

~

The Music of Domesticity

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{Spring book love}

Life is full, isn’t it? I’ve been caught once again between the things that must be done and the things that one wishes to do. However, thankfully, there is some overlap and that is the beauty of looking closely at life, a sort of thread of music woven throughout. A tune carrying us forward. There truly are moments of delight to be found in every hour of mundane.  As Mother’s Day approaches, I’ve been ruminating on the relatively short years of my mothering journey so far, trying to remember when I began to see mothering and all things domestic as a gift and a song. My memory isn’t the greatest, but I recall a book called, The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocketboth of my dear sisters and I laughing about the title, yet it meaning so much to me. It gave me a permission to ENJOY art, culture, beauty, and domesticity in my home. Even though my faith is extremely important to me, when I started as a wife and mother, unfortunately, I had some unrealistic standards from the faith community that I took on as a burden. This was a lack of discernment and error on my part, viewing opinions that are man-made as truth, but are not actually from The Holy Bible. Insecurity reigns supreme and it scrambles to look for formulas.  I also remember savoring Edith Schaeffer’s books and Ruth Bell Graham’s poetry. And of course, the gift of Gladys Taber, who I was introduced to through another lovely person, Susan Branch. Gladys column in the Ladies Home Journal many years ago was titled, “Diary of Domesticity” and I think that is just lovely and it inspires me.  In the Family Circle she penned, “Butternut Wisdom”, so sweet and quaint. And of course, my dear mentor, Charlotte Mason, shared on education, life, and relationships. I was so encouraged to read this today and this the other day, thankful once again for having found the name Charlotte Mason almost 10 years ago, and following the prompting to dig a bit deeper. My own dear mother, Margaret, has been a constant example of servant-hood. Just laying aside her own desires for others out of love.  These sweet notes of encouragement also have floated out from many fiction authors over the years. I especially fondly recall hours with L.M. Montgomery, Elizabeth Goudge, and Jane Austen.  Katrina Kension and Annis Duff come to mind as well. All of these women are so different, not all of the same faith, not all mothers themselves, but yet have so invested in my growth, kept the light burning, so to speak, in my heart.  So, anyway, I just was thinking through this, wanting to record and share in hopes that it might encourage others as much as it does me.  Now a bit of life beauty recorded…

Hearth Ridge Daily Diary Entry {4.17.17}

Amos and I discussed a few things. I need to learn to listen better and forgive quicker. Snuggling on the couch with my boys, we sang through “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt”, my 9 year old, running to find the book for my 2 year old to look through. Rain clouds rolled in, this hill we are on wears all the weather’s feelings on its sleeve and we can see what’s coming miles ahead of it.

I had to apologize to my 7 year old for snapping at her, and my 9 year old and I laughed about me dubbing him Sir Sam of Mathematics. He was having some negative feelings about hitting the numbers today. I hope I will have enough time to get through all the chapters for my book study tonight. Nothing like procrastination. Ironically, they are about forming good habits. Ha.

I’ve been thinking through my 7 year old’s upcoming birthday. It’s so interesting to really think about the people our children are, who they are becoming. A funny thing happened today, which I promptly shared on Instagram, I was reading from the Landmark Series, Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway, to my 12 year old son. My 5 year old was apparently listening because after we talked about the Labrador Sea and Greenland on the map, she came up and said, “Do you want me to send you back where you were…unemployed, in Greenland?” Oh my. Maybe we watch The Princess Bride movie too frequently. 🙂

The afternoon found us outside, fickle weather, sun peeking out. We blew bubbles and through the windy gusts, my older four played basketball. I showered and threw on a favorite comfy outfit of a black t-shirt, black maxi skirt, light brown sweater, my favorite old Red Converse Allstars, and don’t forget my favorite necklace, bearing words I need to remember daily. “Courage, dear heart.” by C.S. Lewis. At a restaurant before study, I sit sipping my drink, as I listen to that faint tune of beauty humming in the background of my life, soak in the words of a mentor, and thank God again for this blessed home life I live.

 

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