Dishes and Dreams

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The rainbow swirl of greasy film glimmers up at me. A spot of soap makes it shrink away in concentric circles. The bright, scorching light of sun off snow hits my eyes from the little window above the sink. The brightness is a gift this time of year, as is the flicker of candle flame sitting on the sill. Any sort of light offsets the February gray. The smell of the candle intermingles with dish soap, the sudsy, drips hitting the water with a pleasing, soothing sound. Water is so meditative, running through little streams, out of faucets, down crashing falls, dribbling off eves, and bubbling over rocks. A dangerous, beautiful thing. I wash away the vestiges of spaghetti, oatmeal, and frustrations. Meditating on music, movies, and a glance through the window, a Downy Woodpecker at the suet. The rough towel, that’s seen better days, dry in my damp hands, swiping, stacking, closing cupboard door. Shutting out the bitterness, harsh words, washing it all clean, and stacking it away in the forgetting cupboard. Our days are stories, stories that we are putting down in living ink, blood, sweat, and yes, fat drops of salty tears. Silverware jumbles, clanging, the clink, clink of stacked glasses and mugs, building, working through each step of these relationships. Each day of clanks, clinks, and new blocks for the foundation.  I scrub stubborn spots of crusty peanut butter and Nutella, it fading and swirling down into the depths. Just like my children, their childhood, messy, beautiful, and slipping away all too fast, the slurp of the drain licking up the last drop. Dishes that held hot delicious memories of these moments, this twenty-four hours around the sun. Sustenance, conversation, and fruits of one’s hard labor. There’s something so satisfying about dishes and dreams.

~

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How Thy Heart was Set

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“Rose From Brier”

Thou has not that, My child, but thou hast Me;

And am not I alone enough for thee?

I know it all, know how thy heart was set

Upon this joy which is not given yet.

 

And well I know how through the wistful days

Thou walkest all the dear familiar ways

As unregarded as a breath of air;

But there in love and longing, always there.

 

I know it all; but from thy brier shall blow

A rose for others. If it were not so

I would have told thee. Come, then, say to Me:

My Lord, my Love, I am content with Thee.

 

Amy Carmichael

Mountain Breezes, p. 294

~

{Thank you for all your thoughts and encouragement yesterday here and on Facebook regarding my questions about writing. I spent some time this morning praying and reflecting and was so blessed by a few things deep in my heart. This poem above is a recent favorite and is VERY pointed and convicting in a good, challenging way.}

A Chat about Writing

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Hello there,

Welcome! Please pull up your chair and grab a cup of your favorite coffee or tea and let’s talk writing, shall we? I’ve been thinking about writing lately, well, more like, I think about words all the time, my brain is always swirling with ideas, stories, like a little spider on my web, latching onto moments, wrapping them up for later opening, assimilating. The question is how does one take all that is up here and put it out beautifully down there? Onto that blank, crisp journal page, or get that blinking cursor moving? Well, the short answer is to just do it.  The long answer, I don’t know. I find that it is so hard to roll out a lovely smooth dough from all the ingredients being mixed in my head. I realize I have way too many metaphors going on here. That’s just how fast and how convoluted my brain operates. That’s part of my huge problem. Do you feel the same way? How do you organize your writing? How do you separate different threads and veins and voices rambling in your head? How do you choose which to give priority? How do you remember the light-bulb moments in the midst of cooking dinner or reading to a child? How do you turn off the tide when needed, but like the moon turn it back on and faithfully keep the ebb and flow going? How does one live real life, when the brain is living a thousand others? It often feels like it has to be all or nothing for me. That’s unrealistic.  I have a blessed, wonderful life here on earth. One that deserves faithfulness and attention, gratitude in action. One that actually is my real living breathing muse. However, I can’t silence those things happening upstairs and don’t really want too, necessarily. They are beauty, light, and a bit of wrestling with darkness as well. A continuing conversation that  binds all of the realness of this life on earth with the moments that inspire and lift us to our life beyond.

I vacillate between just spewing things out (like currently) or taking time to carefully think, research, edit, and meditate on something before the ink dries permanent. The latter takes huge amounts of energy and brain power, which I’m sure we all find in short supply.  I fill up on conversations, prayer, nature’s messages, my faith taking on wings, floating through my days, the books I drink from bringing me closer to a small glimpse of glory. I feel desperate at times for it to congeal into something with jello-like form.

Where does one find the stillness to process, slow down, and prioritize? I know for myself, it’s a choice. It’s a choice between getting my to-do list done, or sitting in a comfy arm chair snuggling with my little boy. It’s a choice between conversations with my oldest daughter sprawled on my big bed, or vegging on another Doctor Who episode. It’s a choice between scrolling through Instagram or reading another chapter of a delicious, enticing book. None of these are necessarily better or worse than each other, but for every yes, it’s a no to something else. Excess isn’t necessarily better, but how does one drain away the pond? How does one satisfy the insatiable hunger for words, thoughts, and newness? How does one be content with the little gift pulled from the squeaky bucket from the bottom of the well? How can one stop the constant motion and voices that never shut up, and birth something into life from that mess?

Anyway, just thoughts I’m thinking, metaphors I’m mixing, and awesome alliterations I’m always assembling.

🙂

Thanks for listening. Please feel free to chat back.

~

Good Morning, February.

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The sun is shining. The fire is hot. The door opens with ease. The blue sky spills down into the dankness. The cellar door clanks back and forth, back and forth, my friend wind waving well wishes.  But it cannot block out the fluffy bits of fullness floating through the firmament. I turned the calendar page. A new month, a brilliant blue moon to love. A clean slate, chalk-dust free, full of promise.  The books are opened, tattered bookmarks and all, candle wicks blackened from light and heat, mugs with rings around them, grounds in the bottom. The ice is still here, the ice is still everywhere, but the sun glints off of it, a jewel shining in my heart. February, welcome.

Meditating on grace and truth:

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

~

 

Get Lost

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I follow the wet, dirty footsteps down into the basement. My own previous steps upwards and out. My winter boots thunk, thunk. A dank, warmer air greets me as I step inside. The door creaks. Despite its chipped paint, cobwebby appearance, the door betrays finer days. Perhaps the farmer’s wife, I daresay, chose it for a bit ‘o beauty to grace her humble cellar space. Or perhaps, and more likely, added later, a cast off, used where needed. This underground cavern I’m in is lit by a few naked bulbs, a draft of air, as I pull in the green garden snake of a hose, tinkles the string against the light. The hose, muddy, leaky, wet in my hands. A splatter of it all on my black leggings, my well-worn, brilliant blue t shirt clashing, garishly with my mauve cardigan. No need for fashion here. Function definitely over form. Function with its kind of beauty, for the taking, for the absorption. I brush my hand, broken finger nails, rub the hose slime from them, and clump, clump up the inner stairs. Left behind are the wet tracks, tinkling light cords, slosh, and mud. Mingling. What does it all mean? I don’t know. Nothing. Everything. But its a clear moment. Senses engaged. A noticing. And for that I’m grateful.

Thinking on this quote:

“I have to get lost so I can invent some way out.” – David Salle

~

January Gifts

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His hand on my neck. A middle of the night wayfarer cuddling. Three year old cold feet, climbing under the quilt with me. “I sleep in Momma’s bed,” he says sleepily. Crunch of  gravel and ice, a warm gifted day, taking me out into the wood smoke, manure-tinged air, whiff of icy earth. The sun setting shards of sharp sparkle skittering across the straggling snow. There’s something about January. Its sound of silence, quiet under pinning of a humming low, a gentle song. Its own smells, its cadence and chorus. There’s lots of pockets in January. In sweaters, coats, pockets of ice and snow, little bits of fog and sunshine tucked away like my car keys, old receipts, mittens, and lemon lime lip balm. There’s flashes of golden, angled-pieces of fodder rising from fields, the browns, murkiness, grays, and black shadows. Fire flutters, not unlike the busy feeders, ding dinging, clanking, crackling as I pour sawdust bits into the stove. The smell of wood shavings rising brings me immediately to the sun shafts on the floor of the Amish carpenter shop, Amos and I stood in last summer. Drinking in the smell, I feel in two places simultaneously, at home in front of the warm fire, and at the shop, the little dog running around my feet. A sweet Amish child’s eyes staring up at me from under her navy kerchief.  January sharpens the distance between outdoors and in, summer, its door wide open, all of it home, the natural world welcoming and friendly-like. A careful purposefulness is needed to come out into this new, bitter world. This January room. A world foreign, strange, yet essential for the renewal of the earth and its growings and groanings. A watering, a deep rest, a sigh. We too, find ourselves at rest, a rooting and watering deeply, often in-between pages of poetry and prose. A soaking in music, hot drinks, a pause. A conscious sound of silence. Metaphoric silence of course, with our beautiful gaggle of geese here who forgot to fly south. But a season that naturally draws close, simmers, sips, a mind that knows it grows through fallowness. We rest to awake. We drink to quench. We sow to harvest. No matter the broken pipes, icy roads, cold hearts, January breathes of life to come. It takes only a moment to see through the fog, hail, to the gifts given all around. ❤

Quotes for Reflection ~

“The beautiful is as useful as the useful.” He added after a moment’s pause,” Perhaps more so.” Les Miserables – Victor Hugo p. 23

“There may be more beautiful times, but this one is ours.” Jean-Paul Sartre

~

 

Monday Ponderings {January 22nd}

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But in reality, the more there was to do the better. I never ceased contriving fresh improvements, being fully aware of the importance of constant employment as a means of strengthening and maintaining the health of mind and body. This, indeed, with a consciousness of continual progress toward a desirable end, is found to constitute the main element of happiness.

The Swiss Family Robinson

Johann Wyss, p.228-229

{I’ve been thinking on this quote since I read it last week. I think there is an important truth in it, especially, now, how leisure and work balance are out of proportion in our culture or at least the lines are blurred. I think especially in American culture, work and productivity are glorified. I was recently talking to a friend about other cultures possibly having a better balance with knowing when to quit working, being willing maybe to have less, in order to have more time to relax. Just wondering out loud here. It is interesting how Wyss depicts the fun the Robinson family had WHILE working together, yet, they never seem to stop working. How does rest play into life? How do we find value in people outside of what they can “produce”? I realize this is a work of fiction and they are in a survival environment where their daily bread, so to speak, must be eked out by the sweat of their own brow. Just interesting to think on in a modern environment. I think one can have TOO much leisure time, and become internal and focused on one’s self…ahem. I also think it’s a mistake to think life is about working, money, and always striving. I have found some of my family, who are from an agricultural, country life background, with large families, definitely lean toward the latter. Yet, they also seem to value family time, but WORKING together tends to be the majority of it. What do you think?}

First Things Preeminent

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Ice crystals of my heart

Jack Frost across my soul

Clang, din, discord, tearing apart

Driving wind takes toll

 

Sun dogs flare out, refracted chill

Which came first?

This distracted frayed heart, ready to spill?

Or relationships, cursed?

 

This tension, people or peace

Relationship blizzards, slippery and cold

When will these flakes cease?

When will I bow, buckle, and fold?

 

There must be a shelter,

Where the two can dwell together,

A place where first things are first

But freedom of peace, stillness can bloom, burst

 

It won’t be easy, a bitter battle fought

An inner quietness, calm

Midst a white barrenscape, thrown and caught

A teeny snowflake resting on my palm

 

Frosty breath, stomping feet

Hot drinks, arms cuddled

Warmth and cool, people and peace, mix, meet

A forever mixture, a forever dance, forever muddled

 

People preeminent, peace frost bitten?

Or soul warmth, relationships forgotten?

Frozen stream on pause

Gray skies, blankness, life’s unanswerable flaws.

~

New Year’s Ramblings

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Icy fingers wrap around my ankles as I sit here at our big wood desk. I feel shackled, worn, old, and frankly, cold.  The pellet stove is chug, chug, chugging, the edges of our old home are a bit chilly.  Thank God for the licking, crackling warmth, for piles of quilts, and thick socks. How are you beginning out the new year? I feel a bit stuck, dazed, and confused, which is how I probably am every year after the holidays. Not the cheery new year post you were looking for? I’m sorry for that. I just needed a place to ramble.

Foremost on my mind is our formal learning beginning again Monday here at Hearth Ridge Farm. I’m excited and anticipating diving into all the beauty with my children. Meeting again our favorite friends through the piles of books, forming relationships with many things, and being pointed in a subtle, gentle, really loving way to the One who gave it all to us.   I’m very aware of the fortitude and determination this takes on my part. It’s a humbling and a discipline to choose this educational path for our family. I’m extremely grateful and know it’s a privilege to even HAVE this choice. Not all families are able to walk this road, even if they desired too, and I know that it isn’t always the easiest route in some countries with legalities. I’m praying and ruminating on this and have things generally set for beginning.

I’ve been thinking about peace and relationships. That they aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Although they certainly seem that way at times. By peace, I mean, a quietness, a calmness, a sameness. Ha. Ya. Really the opposite of relationships. Real relationships are a tension, a messiness, and a dance. Of course, that’s what makes them so beautiful and so ugly.

I began reading Les Misérables as part of my goal for classics this year and I’m really enjoying it so far. I knew I had to get started on it so that I can savor and not get rushed and bogged down in huge sections to read.

I enjoy writing so much, but sometimes I think I overthink how much time or quiet it takes. It DOES take a lot of editing to make a thoughtful piece, but the initial puking it out doesn’t have to be fancy or long-winded. Sometimes I feel like there are a thousand little dwarf ideas pounding at the inside of my head with their pickaxes, but poof, they are gone in an instant, and if I don’t write them down quickly, I forget. So, I have piles of gems waiting for me to refine, buffing to bring out their shine. I keep reading things how one needs to just do what they want to do NOW, you know seize the day and all that rot, because we don’t know how much time we have, but that wars within me due to the season I’m in. The truth is that I find it VERY difficult to have the mental space and clarity to write very much. And I’m ok with that. Or rather, I’m learning and choosing to be ok with that. The rewards for what I’m privileged to do right now, far outweigh any perceived level of greenness I can only guess at on the other side of the fence.

I don’t have a lot of goals or resolutions or even really a word this year. Not yet, anyway. Aren’t I just a ray of hot sunshine? I think it is going to boil down to something to do with how seriously I take my faith. How do the affections of my heart order? How am I walking in obedience to what I believe is true? How can I quiet and yield myself, listening for His still, small voice? I also have been praying about how easily I forget my faith for ungratefulness when plans go awry, or dryers break for a time, or relationships rear the ugly side of the head. Oh, to live on a higher plain then the immediate.

I probably sound depressed, but I assure you, I am not. I’m trying to be realistic. 😉 However, I have some bends in the yellow brick road ahead. For instance, I’m very inspired by Edith Holden’s nature notebooks and have plans to work on mine. Our feeders are full of birds and there is nothing better than quietly watching them. I have an embroidery and quilt project on the docket.  My oldest daughter and I are going to take a sewing class. Our Charlotte Mason group will beginning again and I’m honored to be researching and planning for our new poet. Piles of books, mugs of coffee, gorgeous, never-ending views, a family gathered, and a Love of a Savior that never gives up on me.

I’m good. Happy first week of January. Stay warm.

~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday Ponderings {Happy New Year!}

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Both faith and fear ask us to believe something that hasn’t happened yet.  ~Unknown

{A friend passed this on to me and I’ve tried to find the original source, but many different attributions come up in a search, so I labeled it unknown. I am taking this and really ruminating on it this week of new beginnings. Have a blessed New Year!}

~

Christmas-y, Winter-y Reading

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John William Waterhouse – “The Annunciation”, 1914 {Google}

Oh, ’tis the season for a good book. Well, it’s always the season for that, but it’s delightful thing to pick up something related to winter and Christmas. I’ve been inspired by reading other’s Christmas reading.  This list isn’t exhaustive, but I’ve just named a few in each area that we’ve enjoyed or are enjoying currently.

For the Family, our past favorite chapter books:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Christmas Stove by Alta Halverson Seymour -We are currently reading another Christmas story of hers and loving it. These are set around the world and The Christmas Stove is set in Switzerland.

On That Night by Elizabeth Yates – this book fostered many good discussions and I hope to reread it again another year. Lovely, heart-probing story.

Winter Cottage by Carol Ryrie Brink – a lovely story from the author of Caddie Woodlawn, another favorite title of ours. A family struggling during the Depression, end up staying in someone’s summer cottage. A heart-warming tale set in winter-y Wisconsin.

Currently, we are reading two new tales to us, and are really enjoying them:

 

{Goodreads, Google}

The Wonderful Winter by Marchette Chute – don’t let that cover fool you! We found an older copy of this lovely story. An orphaned boy runs away to London and spends his best winter ever with an acting troupe! We haven’t finished this, but the writing is GORGEOUS.

I Saw Three Ships by Elizabeth Goudge – I’ve been wanting to read this story for years and now we are finally getting to it. Polly lives with her poor aunts and is hoping for a Christmas surprise. Charming story surrounding the Christmas carol of the same name. I am a huge Goudge fan, so I’m delighted with this!

For myself to enjoy, I was trying to remember ones that I have really loved over the years:

 

{Goodreads}

A Christmas Book by Elizabeth Goudge (not pictured) – I fondly remember this book from years ago and hope to revisit it in the future. A collection of stories from her previous novels, centering around Christmas, and a few new stories, make for a charming read by the tree, sipping hot chocolate.

Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read – I’m a huge Miss Read fan, albeit I haven’t read much of hers recently and need to remedy that! I enjoyed this story, Miss Read is so good at cozy stories centered in little villages and you can’t help fall in love with what’s happening in the villager’s lives  and the subtle humor throughout.

Martha’s Vineyard: Isle of Dreams by Susan Branch – this may be a bit too sad for the feeling of the season, but I adored this memoir. Filled with Susan’s delightful illustrations, she shares how she pursued her dreams of drawing & painting, finding a darling little home of her dreams, helping her heal and work through a hard divorce.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen – I read this with my children and was deeply moved. This is a good title for deep winter, angling into spring. A little family decides to move to a small cabin they’ve inherited that is filled with great summer vacation memories. Dad is suffering from PTSD from the war and it hasn’t been an easy time as a family. This is written so beautifully and surprising wisdom and beauty sneak up on you all the time. I hope to reread this later in winter.

Honorable mention: Jane Austen’s 6 novels often make it into my winter reading rotation. My favorites, currently are, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Pride & Prejudice.

We also enjoy many different pictures books and devotional type readings together, but I’ll stop for now. How ’bout you? What titles have you enjoyed during the winter season?

~

 

My soul

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And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

Luke 1:46-55 KJV

~