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.)

Anne of Green Gables: Chapter 11

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Continuing our reading…

“Well, how do you like them?” said Marilla. 🙂 … “I’ll imagine that I like them.” said Anne soberly. p. 78

I loved this chapter about Anne’s new dresses made by Marilla and her first experience at church. I noticed a lot of beautiful words in this chapter, of course, L.M. Montgomery always uses lots of flowery words. That’s why I love her so much. I don’t think modern literature can even come close to this kind of language anymore, maybe due to time constraints and readers not really talking this way or reading these types of books. I suppose in some ways, it comes down to a matter of taste. I absolutely love Montgomery’s effusive style. Here are some of the words and phrases I loved from Chapter 11:

snuffy – serviceable – sateen – pampering vanity – frills – furbelows – skimpy wincey things  -so much gratefuller – puffed sleeves – thrill – disconsolately – fidget – irreproachably – arrayed – skimpiness – contrived – a golden frenzy of wind-stirred buttercups and a glory of wild roses – promptly – liberally – garlanded – a heavy wreath – daunted – lonesome – splendid – queer – horrid – rebukingly – melancholy – tragical – snappy

Quotes: “But I’d rather look ridiculous when everybody else does than plain and sensible all by myself, ” persisted Anne mournfully. p.79

“I said a little prayer myself, though. There was a long row of white birches hanging over the lake and the sunshine fell down through them, ‘way, ‘way down, deep into the water. Oh, Marilla, it was like a beautiful dream! It gave me a thrill and I just said, ‘Thank you for it,God,’ two or three times.” p.81

Marilla felt helplessly that all this should be sternly reproved, but she was hampered by the undeniable fact that some of the things Anne had said, especially about the minister’s sermons and Mr.Bell’s prayers, were what she herself had really thought deep down in her heart for years, but had never given expression to. It almost seemed to her that those secret, unuttered, critical thoughts had suddenly take visible and accusing shape and form in the person of this outspoken morsel of neglected humanity. p. 83

~

 

 

 

Monday Ponderings {May 15th}

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A good reminder for me today.

 

Speaking on the her childhood:

In those days, women made whatever was good and never minded how tedious the process, but now we live in a short-cut age. But house-keeping is fun, and I think women who hate it lack imagination. It is one job where you enjoy the results right along as you work. You may work all day washing and ironing, but at night you have the delicious feeling of sunny clean sheets and airy pillows to lie on. If you clean, you sit down at nightfall with the house shining and smelling faintly of wax, all yours to enjoy right then and there. And if you cook – ah, if you cook – that creation you lift from the oven goes right to the table. One way to look at it, of course, is that women’s work is never ended, and I have heard housekeepers say they hate to make cakes because they are eaten right up anyway. You can make it drudgery if you want to, but it isn’t. And it is not monotonous either, for no day is ever really the same. Lucky the woman who has a home and can live in what she is creating!

Stillmeadow Seasons

Gladys Taber

pg 70

emphasis mine

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.

~

Hearth Ridge Diary {Tuesday night}

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{ a stream near us that I dubbed The Withywindle. It’s stuff dreams are made of, don’t you agree?}

Tuesday night is always taco night here at the farm. I don’t remember when we instituted this tradition, but anticipation builds every week. I’m glad a bit of meat, sour cream, salsa, cold lettuce, a big giant family-sized bag of shredded cheese, with a side of crispy tortilla chips elicits such rave reviews. The home cook takes all the encouragement they can get! ¡Olé!

The morning dawned cool and rainy, misty grayness hovering over the farm. Perfect for coffee and reading together. We were particularly moved and had a good discussion over Elizabeth Yates’, Amos Fortune, Free Man.

Early afternoon found us tackling chores, while listening to an old folk song and hymn collection from our Charlotte Mason community group. “Goober Peas” rang out and the broom sweeping seem to keep time to the beat. The sky clearing a bit, I was able to run out in the afternoon, in an attempt to help at a friend’s yard sale, but alas they really had it under control. I felt a little like Mel Gibson in his movie “Brave Heart” while out, silently screaming, “FREEDOM!” in my mind as I drove gaily down the road. A diet soda, chocolate-definitely-not-on-my-diet, and podcasts cheering me on my way. I threw around all sorts of ideas with this empty bit of time on my hands as I pointed my Dodge Caravan homewards. Should I find a place to sit and sip coffee? Are there any nice places open in my rural area past four o’clock in the afternoon? (Don’t laugh. A real dilemma in rural areas.) I settled on a bigger public library. I ransacked the memoir, writing, and poetry section and sat down to peruse in a comfy chair by the window. Pure bliss.

Glancing at my phone, I realized it was time to head home. I put some of the books back including a fascinating one about literary places in the Midwest. I definitely hope to check into Sterling North’s museum and a few other places someday. Road trip, anyone? I am currently reading Aldo Leopold’s A Sand Country Almanac and would love to visit The Shack.

As I left the town, my eyes drank in the view. Oh my. Spring here is delicious and food for the soul. The green is so hopeful, so light, so refreshing. The hills reaching to the blue sky, touching the clouds. The Amish were out enjoying their little horses and carts, scooters, and roller blades. I saw the freshly plowed fields finished, I had passed them working earlier.

It looks like more rain moving in from the east, but the rain-scented air is worth it. My two year old is out picking bouquets of dandelions for me, the sun setting. A lump forms in my throat about these precious children I’ve been given for such a short time. Glorious gift and weighty responsibility. I read this morning about how Gladys Taber’s mother left the to-do list and took her on a picnic,

“And it occurs to me now that it is a good thing for any parent to stop now and then and wonder what memories they are giving their children. We all try so hard to leave real property, but memories are property of the heart.”

Stillmeadow Sampler

pg 33

~

 

Hearth Ridge Diary {early May 2017}

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“Mom,” she sobbed, “they (her siblings) called me Veruca Salt!” Her head lowers into her hands in an adorable, pitiful way. “Do you know what this means?” my daughter cried. “It means they think I’m a brat!” As I choke back a smile, I  try to console my daughter’s hurt feelings and talk about it with her. As the weather ever so slowly warms up here, the green bursting forth, glorious skies, and warm sunshine, we are all feeling a bit cramped with formal learning and books. It’s always this way in spring, we long to burst forth, just like the flowers from the ground and birds in birdsong. We’ve been outdoors more, using the clothesline, the children playing baseball with my father-in-law, basketball games, riding bikes, going on walks and, of course yard work is picking up significantly. The vistas are breath-taking here at Hearth Ridge and they are working their way into all of our hearts. Many of the hills and bubbling streams, with their little copses, remind me in various ways of North England. The Amish community plowing with their horses and their clotheslines full of monochromatic clothing whipping in the wind, lend a quaintness and a vintage quality of ages past.

“Hey, Mom! Do you have a magical marker?” another child asks me. I smile wishing I did have a magical marker or anything magic for that matter. A slight sense of weariness has been inching it’s way into my bones, yet, I know that we have a small break coming from our formals studies soon. I will use the break to plan the next set of wonderful books we will be diving into, spend time outdoors and traveling with our large extended family, and getting outside to blow the cobwebs away.  We have a few books to read aloud this summer and nature journals we’d love to share together as well.

I’ve been changing over our winter clothing to spring, although our area can’t make up it’s mind, per usual. I’ve been slowly pondering the task of feeding eight people for summer without my fall back on soup, which we eat copious amounts three seasons out of the year. I pulled out my friend’s chicken salad recipe and it was delicious, and I suppose I should clean and get the grilled ready to go. Sandwiches for two months, anyone? The new recipe for a coconut cake for Easter Sunday was a big fat failure. I think it might be something to do with my blender being broken and I tried whipping meringue by hand. Ha. I can’t even make a good meringue with a blender.

I’ve been pondering once again how many small things make up a big whole. How all the little things, the hard things, rotten things, beautiful things of life are a blessing. I was reading somewhere and stumbled on this quote.  I think I will think on this a bit more in the coming days.

The whole world is a series of miracles, but we’re so used to them we call them ordinary things. Hans Christian Anderson

~

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.

~

Springtime Thoughts from Harold E. Kohn

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There exists a real temptation to be academic concerning nature, to spend one’s nature study hours among heavy natural history textbooks and journals, seeking what the most authoritative scientists have to say about those problems. But if that is done, one misses the most important aspect of nature study – the exposure of one’s eyes to beauty, the inhaling of evergreen-scented air, the feel of rough bark under one’s finger tips and the softness of a pine-needle-carpeted forest aisle under food and the soft caress of a lake breeze across one’s face. The well-balanced student of nature is one who recognizes the problems of his field of interest and works towards their solution, but in the meantime he experiences nature directly, living it, breathing it, rejoicing in it.

This balance between recognizing the problems of life and exploring its joys is a secret of achieving happiness. If we do not weigh the problems at all we become jittery activists or empty-headed sentimentalists, and if we consider only the problems we become burdened by discouragement and pessimism. The most satisfying attitude is to face the problem of a situation realistically while wringing from it the most possible good.

Thoughts Afield

Harold E. Kohn

pg 22-23

(emphasis mine)

~

 

 

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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