Wednesday, May 25, 2016

summer afternoon whispers












Strawberries fill the refrigerator and I am tucking them away in the freezer and into jam jars as quickly as I can.  The sweet fragrance drifts through the house as the jam simmers and I can't help dipping a spoon in to taste.  Crystalline jars filled with these sweet rubies begin the line on shelves in the cellar again, in front of last fall's applesauce and the last jar of summer's peaches that I have been hoarding for a special occasion.  

Bicycles are the main form of entertainment all day; at least 80% of the time outdoors (which is most of the day) is spent with little people zooming around the place on their wheels.  When not on bicycles, chicks are being carried and talked to and fed and played with.  I like to bring my crafting or my book out to the chair and sit nearby listening to their play and getting lost in my thoughts. 

Different projects suit my different moods, and as usual, the summer afternoons whisper that fine handiwork is called for, and my needlework comes out.  I am getting much better at french knots than I used to be!  When I had to rip out all of the Kiddy Vertebrae that I was knitting for Millie, I was sorely disappointed.  Somehow I was nowhere near gauge even though my gauge swatch was fine.  I think it is because I am using cotton- oh and because the lady at the yarn shop where I bought the yarn told me it was a heavy fingering when it's really a WORSTED yarn according the the Berroco page on Ravelry.  I didn't even think to really check the facts.  The sweater looked much too large when I draped it over her this weekend, so tada!  Four weeks of knitting undone in the course of three minutes.  This sweater pattern is written for many different yarn weights so I decided to try knitting gauge with different size needles but I am at a loss of what to do.  So I think I am going to try again on a different size needle and see what comes of it.  I wish I could say I was confident in going forward but when it comes to figuring out gauge and needle swapping I get a little discombobulated (and I think that's marks the first time I have ever had to write the word "discombobulated").  My Millie girl really likes this color of yarn and I really like the idea of a little cotton cardigan for summer evenings - anything warmer than that here just won't get worn until fall.  Meanwhile I put it aside until I had the energy to figure out all of the above and realized that I hadn't finished my red Memoirs mitts.  I have only the thumb on the second mitt and then I get to hunt down some lace and buttons for finishing touches.  I love how long they are and although I am currently just looking forward to the warm summer ahead, I do cherish the thought of wearing them in the late fall when it gets chilly again. 

As for books, life under communist rule, fantastic travel to different worlds, and childhood mischief are all on the menu this week.  The books on my nightstand couldn't be more different from one another and I like the variety.  The Pastor's Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand (which I just finished) was really interesting and challenging, like most books written about those enduring persecution for their faith.  Of course I have known that life under Communist rule is very difficult but I have a clearer picture of what it was like in the U.S.S.R for believers in Christ (and others).  I thought Wurmbrand wrote with a lot of discernment about why some people chose to suffer in prisons for their faith while others maintained their position in government-run churches even while participating in the Underground Church in Romania and infiltrating the government.  I also came away with a clearer picture of why so many would capitulate and become informers to the government at that time.  It made me think of stories I have heard about China and the official churches compared to the house churches there. 

Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson:  Not for young children, but a really good book series for your older readers this summer if they haven't already read the 100 Cupboards series!  I have only just begun Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink and I can tell I am going to enjoy it too; for audiobooks, mainly The Count of Monte Cristo which is moving into the really fun part (on the CraftLit podcast).

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.  Would you leave me a note in the comment section here so I can click easily over to see what your thoughts are today?  I hope your weather is lovely and that you are healthy and able to enjoy what sunshine may come your way!


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

eden undone


Beginning





Story.  I love a good story.  Above all stories, the Bible holds story like the Deep Magic of Narnia, story with more power and beauty than all other stories ever told. As I have studied the book of John this year with other women from my church, I have seen so many threads of stories that I haven't seen before, or haven't seen as clearly.   "In the beginning," the story of creation, followed by the fall of men, and then ultimately redemption of all things has been present in my mind in every single chapter of John;  it arched over every account I read and discussed with my sisters.

And so we began, once upon a time, and I paused in breathtaken awe when I imagined the Christ- called simply "The Word" - existing in joy with the Father and the Spirit before creation - and then becoming the avenue through which all things sprang forth, the very Life and Light of men. 

But then the darkness.  The doom and danger loomed large on the horizon and the soul-shattering darkness pierced the light ...

...but could not overcome it

A thread of light trailed through the pages of this Story and I traced it whenever I could.

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world" took me straight back to "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" and I dizzied at the incomprehensible grandeur and humbling over the Word, Life, and Light of men becoming frail human baby flesh 

with wrinkly toes and crying for hunger 

at a mother perhaps so young that nowadays we would think it a sorrowful thing for this mere child to be raising a child. 

Broken


What could it have been like to see through the eyes of Jesus during His earthly ministry?  Having perfect knowledge of the perfect unbroken world and walking through the painful broken thing it had become?

To see now the brokenness of the Samaritan woman at the well
To see now the lame man at Bethesda pool, unable to move himself or find anyone to move him into its healing waters
To carry on working alongside imperfect disciples even when a dear one has been beheaded
To hear the clamors for immediate wants and needs with no regard for the deeper spiritual hunger in our own hearts as the crowds demanded signs and miracles for their own selfish and temporal desires
Crowds of people who refused to see and accept that this was the One they had been waiting for because they didn't like giving up their illusions of control and safety

Yet He walked faithfully through each moment of His life with precision care to break into the deepest places of the men and women He interacted with. 

Finished



Then
Abandoned by His close friends 
Body broken by the earthly powers
He was crushed for our transgressions
He was broken for our failures
He finished the work promised in the first story 
In the very moments Peter was frantically denying ever even knowing the One who calmed the storm on the sea, Christ Himself was in the process of enfolding the guilt of that denial into Himself 
before the Righteous Judge 
Christ dying even for the sins of those who had called for His death
My mind reeled as I considered that Jesus was being punished for sins being committed against Him in the very moments of His own death, giving Him such authority as He asked the Father to forgive His accusers. 

Then, abandoned finally by the Sustainer of life, He breathed and died. 
Finished

We discussed together the hours before His death together with solemnity, with sorrow over what He suffered in our own place.  I felt a little like we could have been the women standing near the cross and I realized that their world must have just fallen apart in those moments.  The storm and fury of God's wrath made the earth tremble.  Could they even notice for the trembling of their own souls?

Found




Then, like a clean breeze wafting through the room, shaking out the musty air and cobwebs of sadness, we came again to a Garden and a woman.  
This time the woman is not speaking with a snake but with the One who crushed the head of the snake.  

The Fall in Eden:  undone!  Did Mary mistake Jesus for the gardener because He was the new Adam, the perfect caretaker of creation? 

In Eden, I hear the Lord's voice full of sorrow and tender longing for His soul-shattered creations, "Children, where are you?" and my heart both grieves and explodes with joy that He cares to seek them out, even if it means being sent from the garden with promises of hard toil and pain of sin.

In this new garden, the children are found!  
"Mary," he says and in this Garden it signals reunification and healing.  "Tell my brothers  I am ascending to My Father and Your Father, My God and Your God."  Mary is sent from this Garden in joy and amazement to declare the finished healing between man and His God.  



Healing






I thought often about the differences between the unbelieving crowds and the believing followers of Jesus.  Which am I?  Am I willing to receive Jesus as Almighty God over all, with authority to dictate and command my life?  Although it sometimes feels safer to deny my need of Him and try to go on with my life, I know that I am too much like dead Lazarus in the tomb, wrapped still in graveclothes but being called out into the light of day.  Do you hear His voice calling you up and out to the fresh air of the Garden Healed too?  
"Follow me," Jesus said to Peter after Peter's betrayal and restoration. "Follow me."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

dream


  







The days are not lazy here at all, though I wish they were.  Here and there, we bounce from one thing to the next all day right now and I am looking forward to the long days of summer arriving soon. That might be a first for me to say since moving here four years ago because the summers are my loneliest time here, and I have usually felt a measure of anxiety about that but not this year for some reason.  I'm so glad and thankful that I am able to just feel anticipation for good things coming this summer, even if I have no idea yet what those things will be.  I think I am a bit less lonely these days as my dear girls get older; they are no replacement for my friendships with other women but those friendships would also be no replacement for a quiet blooming friendship with one's daughters.

If there has been any knitting time, I have mostly been knitting the little cotton cardigan for Millie and I am certain I will run short of yarn, as I suspected I  might, and will have to order another skein.  On days where there is a little extra knitting time I can squeeze in, I've cast on some little secret knitting in gray too.  And on Monday when our family observes Sabbath rest, I began embroidering kitchen towels from Alicia's free patterns - oh they are adorable and my little country kitchen would be a perfect place for them!  I am going to stitch each one in a different color.  It felt like such a luxury to spend time just lingering over setting up that project in the midst of a busy time, setting aside the "shoulds" for awhile and being quiet.

I am often now dreaming of projects, dreaming of sewing clothes for myself that would turn out perfect and darling (not much chance of that) and dreaming of little items to add to my girls' wardrobe - cropped little pants for Lyddie with thrifted chambray, soft and cool summer nightgowns, sundresses.  Sort of simple dreams and I'm not sure why suddenly they are so present in my mind but I'm waiting for moments to make them real and those moments haven't come yet but I'm not worried.  

I had the privilege this month of leading a sewing workshop with a few of the girls who come to Kingdom Kids, the elementary after school program that my husband directs.  It was such a delight working with girls who had never sewn anything in their lives, a few of whom had never really had any exposure to someone sewing with a machine or maybe even much by hand.  They were effusive in their excitement, especially over their finished pillows.  They learned several skills:  how to make knots in thread, thread a needle, sew buttons, work a sewing machine to make straight seam, how to construct and stuff a pillow and use a whipstitch to close the opening.  I sent them home with a little sewing kit that I had put together - scissors, needle, threads, a needle keeper, pins, and an extra length of fabric.  They left already planning  aloud what they were going to do with those supplies once they got home.  It was a true delight and as all Makers know, a joy to draw another soul into the happiness of Making. 

I have just finished 100 Cupboards by N.D Wilson and am waiting for the second book to arrive at the library for me to pick up.  It was excellent and so creepy that I couldn't read it when we were camping or right before bed!  

I am now reading Sabina Wurmbrand's book The Pastor's Wife, her autobiography of being arrested and taken from her 10 year old son and sent to a labor camp during Communist rule in Romania -for at least 15 years I think (I haven't finished it yet)!   She was arrested because she was wife to a prominent and faithful Christian Jew who pastored a church in Romania.  He also spent years in prison and was tortured for his faith- he wrote a book called Tortured for Christ which Jesse ready years ago.  Not exactly an easy book to read (either one) and yet really encouraging, challenging, and convicting  as a call toward contentment in whatever circumstances I am in, not just because "it could be worse" but also because ultimately it will all be better than we can dream for those of us who trust Christ and his atonement.  Later in life they co-founded the organization Voice of the Martyrs, which you may have heard of. 

Also reading:
**Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
**The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas which I am listening to on the CraftLit podcast
**Several Hank the Cowdog audiobooks by John R. Erickson with the girls in the car- a treasured time for us that makes all the driving time enjoyable!  If you have kids and haven't listened to the author reading these books himself, you really need to see if you can find some of them at your local library! 

I am joining Yarn Along fun over at Ginny's blog.  You can too if you have an instagram account or blog!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lavish













On Mother's Day at church, we stood up and each half of the room alternated reading verses from Proverbs 31 to the other half.  You know, that "excellent wife" passage.  I will step out on a limb and assume you haven't had this experience :  a room full of functional orphans from Native America + a wonderful husband reading to you Scripture about the identity and work of a godly woman of Christ.  I wish you could experience it too.  As we read, I couldn't help but think of knitting when we came to the passage about a woman providing warm clothes for her loved ones, and a feeling of joy for the gift of knitting washed over me, yes, right there in the middle of church.  For several years, knitting was purely a means of relief for me, a stress-reliever, a way to see beauty, and a way to have my hands busy while my brain rested.  It was also a joy to turn out garments for my babies and begin to find this online community of knitting friends that challenged my thinking and skill growth in the art.  This has been very good.  But over the past several months I have also felt a stirring to use my knitting time to bless others.   Don't for a second think I believe there is anything at all wrong with knitting for oneself or knitting pure frivolity - there is a deep joy in creating just to create because it makes you happy and you were made for it.  However, it struck me that the extravagance of being generous with my time is important.  To give away hours of time is suddenly this great joyous way to richly love someone whether they understand the value of the gift or not. Lavish: a delicious word to describe the way I want to love everyone who comes into my life because I myself have been loved so lavishly.

This week I test knit some baby socks for my friend Lisa. What a sweet pattern!  It will be released very soon so I will come back and link to this post once it is!   Millie's Kiddy Vertebrae is on the needles as well.  And oh, my, I finished my SweetiePie ABC's cross-stitch sampler and am in love.  As soon as we begin our new budget I'm hoping to get the materials to frame it so I can that baby up on the wall.  

Reading is another rediscovered gift in my world, and I'm entranced by 100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson.  I was reading at the coffee shop the other day (ah, divine!) and a friend came in and I was so absorbed in the story that I jumped when she called my name to say hello.  I am also really enjoying Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo although so far I think I prefer her other recent book that I read a few months ago, Flora and Ulyssesbut I am not finished yet and reserve the right to change my mind. The book The Pastor's Wife by Sabina Wurmbrand is a challenging and amazing thing to read but only in small sections as it is a book about the life of Christians being persecuted in the Soviet Union.  

I'm listening to The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas on the CraftLit podcast (which is going to take awhile) and Wuthering Heights which I got on Audible.  Books books books! 

I am joining in with the Yarn Along hosted by Ginny which I look forward to every Wednesday.  Are you yarning along?  

Saturday, May 07, 2016

three






  

Dear Rosie,
How can you be three already?  When did we leave the true baby stage behind and move into the preschool years?  
You have your whole family laughing so much of the time.  Like last night when you just made curious faces at us each in turn at the dinner table and then laughed hysterically when your silly glances made us laugh - and then we couldn't help but laugh harder at your infectious laughter.  This is my Rosie. 

Dear one, your little scraped knees this week are a sign of how you are so determined to take on so much of life, to keep up with those big sisters.  You are such a brave climber and I love watching you nurture your baby dolls so tenderly.  I am amazed at how long you can entertain yourself with almost nothing.  You are still content to be near me more hours of the day than not, and I am so glad for that because I know how soon you will be more determined to pave your own way away from me. 

Your arrival changed my whole world; one would think that a third baby might just settle into the family with only a few ripples but not so with you!  Your birth brought the rockiest and most raw and beautiful time of my life along with you.  You were such a light and joy to me when I was walking in the darkness.  I was and ever am so thankful for you, for your health and safe delivery into my arms that day. 

I pray for you, my love.  I so hope that you will walk in the light of Christ all your days.  If all I manage to teach you is of your need for Him and how to repent, I will be content, knowing He will take care of all the rest.  Although, there is much more I will hope I get to teach you.  Before you know it you really will be reading and riding a bicycle and reciting Psalms, and swimming, not just "when you growm-mup" like you often say, but in a few short years.  We have so much joy ahead of us, my darling, and I look forward to the moments I have with you. I love you, my big three year old.