Wednesday, August 13, 2014

these reminders.

attempting to sell a house is hard.  sanctifying.  everyone in my life hears the same song from me every day.  i whimper.  complain.  trying to find satisfaction in the uncertainly of a life's scene that is (possibly?) changing.  how does one find contentedness in a home that one is trying to sell?  how do you detach when you don't know if there's need?  how do i anchor myself, settle my feet, on floors that may not be my own on christmas?  

i've been silent here because this is a place i aim to share what inspires me to stay home with my children.  to keep them close when the whole world tells me to send them away.  when they still have milk teeth, send them out to use their little words in a big world that is most decidedly not geared towards & valuing of small ones.  individuals.

but i struggle.  it's not an easy battle, keeping them close.  especially when our house is on the market & everything is supposed to be clean & i'm dealing with idols trying to rip me in half.  

i want time alone.  quiet.  i want my house to stay clean.  projects to get finished.  beds to stay made, &, oh! i would love the thoughts in my head not to be run off by whining before i have a chance to write them down.

i haven't been taking pictures as much as i usually do.  i haven't been capturing beauty because i haven't been paying attention to it.  i've been pouring into myself & lamenting over dissatisfaction.  i have been existing & complaining.  halfheartedly trying to remind myself why.

finally i connected my camera.  i've been occasionally snapping pictures when i think about it, & it's been 3 months since i've uploaded the pictures.

uploading memories.  pouring over images.  seeing the little faces.  revisiting memories i was too busy (or distracted) to drink in fully the first time.  milk teeth framed in courage & adventure... & some times sass.  i need these reminders.  especially as we read about, & see first hand, how deeply the world is hurting.

a home is not an anchor.  christ is my anchor.  my calling to be their mother & to do so even when i'm tired & nervous, overwhelmed & battling jealousy & selfishness.  they need me as their mother, connected & inspired.  he has led me here.  to these precious faces, & their precious hearts.  he will see us through this time.  

maybe our home won't sell.  maybe, christmas 2015, we will still be in this house.  in struggling to find contentedness in our home is where i've missed the mark completely.  my contentedness should be in him, my anchor in the Lord, yes.  tangibly?  given by the greatest gift-giver, these faces are my home.

& i am humbled & thankful that they're safe.  that we're safe.  that we have a park to visit & a car to get us there.  that we aren't subject to physical threats because of our beliefs.

i sometimes feel poor.  we live in a land of great wealth, but i struggle with feeling like i don't have enough. my babies are safe.  our house goes far beyond merely meeting our needs.  my husband loves me dearly & i see him much more than most are able to see theirs.  

reading the news.  seeing the families ripped in half, running for safety.  my brothers' heads on poles.  

these reminders. they're heart breaking.  they're raw, staggering reminders of how wealthy i am... & how my four walls do not define me.  nor do my successes.  nor my failures.  nor my idols.  my definition is merely this - by amazing grace, i am his.

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Expectation of Imperfection

I am not gentle with myself.  I am a perfectionist & if I can't do something perfectly, I usually have a "why even bother attitude".  Desires become idols really quickly in my heart, & when the outcome isn't what I'd like, or I can't have something exactly as I'd like, I am really let down.  It's a dream if mine to have a thriving family homestead one day.  (One we may be putting off a while for hospitality's sake.)  Eventually, I want to grow (& raise!) most of our food with my kids helping & enjoying our own homegrown, seed-to-table, slow food.  Canning, preserving - the whole 'putting food by' is a huge desire of my heart.    I want to learn farming skills with a passion, but I'm trying to break my idolatry cycle, so I've laid this desire at His feet, & asked Him to help me learn, but also, to not let my dream become an idol.  

My first attempt at gardening occurred last fall & it was a complete failure.

I had a success rate of zero from the seeds I planted.

The seedlings I bought were were either uprooted(!)

or eaten by squirrels.

I know why the garden failed (sunlight, soil, water, critters, season - you know, essentially everything), &, yet, I found myself really surprised by the fact that I was hardly upset. The Lord met me in my failed garden.  He answered my prayer!  Not the way I'd had liked, but He grew me through my failure!  Having a dead garden is hardly inspiring, but hearing whispers from the Lord that my garden wasn't part of my identity?  It was worth the failure to see that idol surrendered.

We planted our garden on the shady side of the house last year because we were having 6 trees cut down on the sunny side.  When the trees were cut, the men laid the logs exactly where I wanted my garden to go. My husband is a busy man & has not had time to move 6 trees' worth of logs to the upper part of our yard (or when he did have time, I'd much rather him have spent it with me because, well,  he's busy & time with him is precious).  All of this to say - we were intending on moving the garden to the sunny side of the house, but never got around to it. (If you need fire wood, holler.  We've got you covered.)

On a whim, I grabbed some seeds from Target one day.  Only about $5 worth, & thought, if I plant them & they grow, wonderful.  If not, it's ok, because the garden isn't placed perfectly.

When I started weeding the beds, I found that there was a plus to not moving the garden bed - some of the seeds I planted last fall are growing!! Namely, a carrot.  1. Whole. Carrot.

& lettuce, too!  (There may have been more since I was weeding & pulled up a bunch before I realized the some of the weeds were crops. Whoops.)

I took this as a super great sign.  Maybe last fall's garden wasn't a complete failure, after all!!  I started planting my new seeds with great expectation, & with a jump in my step.

Well, there's a certain little helper of mine...

This Guy!
who likes to be everywhere I am, & into everything I'm doing - including the garden.  We have a raised garden bed, & from everything I've read about raised beds, you're really not supposed to walk in them because it compacts the soil.  Try telling that to an independent toddler.

It's very shocking.  Dirt?  That can't be messed with or stepped on?  Yeah, he doesn't think so.

The day I started planting my peas, he was helping, too.  How did he help?  He pulled up my ONE CARROT from last fall.

Not all the way out of the ground, but enough for me to see that it was actually, really, a carrot!  Do you see that orange?  Because I had already let go of the idea that this garden was actually going to yield food we were going to eat, seeing the little spot of orange absolutely brightened my day.

Also, I experienced a very unexpected gentleness with myself, not expecting everything to work.  I let my baby get messy & step in the garden.  I let him touch the plants, & when he pulled one up, it was really exciting to see a spot of color under all the dirt.  & it helped me remember part of my dream is having a family garden - one my kids are comfortable with.  I want them to remember gentleness & fun when they look back at our garden, not one they weren't allowed to really understand or get into.

The diaper, I know.  He sat in a puddle & slid down a mud hill, all in the name of Fun.
Also, they're little, right?  Especially the baby.  He doesn't understand soil compaction.  He understands fun, though, & he's teaching me all about it.

The Lord has helped me come to terms with the fact that this isn't the season for our family to grow our own food, but He's also helping me learn that it's ok to try things without the expectation of perfect success.  & the expectation of imperfect, I'm learning, is a really great, gentle place to be.

Where you have room for exploring things - like eating dirt.  (Him, not me.)

& little boys can go outside & explore without those pesky clothes getting in his way.

We left a rug out in the rain - for a while - & when we finally moved it so it could *ahem* dry out, we found a salamander hiding underneath!  I had never seen a salamander before!

I'm learning that pictures don't have to be perfect to convey emotions... like thrill & excitement.

Dirty feet can be really precious.

Just like dirty finger nails.

& climbing trees can be fun with flip flops & without shoes.

Not expecting perfection has really lightened my heart.  When I asked the Lord to help me release my idol of a perfect garden, He - like He always does - has given me so much more.  He's helping me see that it's ok to not expect perfection from myself, or my kids, or my husband.  He's also helping me see that when I do mess up, even in something small, like leaving a rug in the rain, or planting seeds too late, He still makes all things work together for our good.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Room to Breathe Easy

Over the past couple of months, my husband, Ben, & I have been feeling a gentle push to move.  We love our home, our neighbors & our church, so we've waited.  Then a push came again in a very large & tangible way when one of our beloved neighbors listed his home & it sold incredibly quickly.  We met with a couple of realtors who told us, "yes, economically, now is the time."  But was it?  The company Ben works for has been experiencing a shaky period, & that's a scary thought - sell a house & then potentially be without a main source of income.  We prayed about it, & Ben met with people in his company & we were, yet again, given a push to move.  So we started looking at what was out there, so we could get a feel for what is on the market.

We didn't want to leave our church, but we knew we wanted land so we can increase (err... begin to learn) self sufficiency skills, & finding a 4 bedroom home with 5+ acres around our church is simply not in our price range.  We knew Ben's job would be our anchor physically, so we decided to start looking further from our church, keeping Ben's commute as a main focus.  I prayed about it.  Ben prayed about it, & we were so torn.  Certainly, developing farming skills isn't a bad goal since it's spoken about in Proverbs frequently, & though we love our church so much, I began to really lean into the fact that the Lord is with us wherever we go.  I got to point where I simply prayed, "We will go where you send us."  We started looking on the east side of the city.  It would be an easy interstate commute for Ben, & land is much more affordable.  I began researching some churches in the city & even found one I thought our family would really love.

We started packing, getting our home ready to show (not easy with little ones, oh my!).  In our last meeting of the year, we asked our missional community group to pray our decision, & for God to give us peace & direction.  The night, my husband told me, "I don't want to move away from our friends.  Or our church.  I don't feel like a piece of land is worth leaving a place we feel so called to be.  I've been praying about it.  God is directing us to move, yes, but I don't feel like He wants us to leave our church."  (As if we needed any further push to stay at our church, the next week we learned that one of Ben's stores is moving close to our church in July!!)

I've been keeping my finger on the pulse of the market & finding a home with land within a reasonable drive to his 2 stores, his office, his lawn care customers & our church?  Very limited.  They're not move in ready (we're talking serious renovations required) and we are looking at 3 bedrooms, not 4 - which means we would have to be much more intentional about being hospitable - something we feel very called to be.  Still, we've been praying.  Guide us, please.  Let us know which way you want us to go.

Saturday, while Ben & I were painting (all the trim! in the whole house! oh my goodness! it took forever!), we starting talking again about our dreams with moving.  I want a mini farm.  Farm dogs.  Veggies.  Fruit trees.  Room to Breathe... but with what we're seeing on the market right now, we won't be as able to be nearly as hospitable as we'd like to be.  My husband's gentle response, "I think focusing on hospitality is more biblical than having a large piece of land."  My heart sunk, but he's right.  We've talked about foster care.  We talked about Safe Families -  we've even started our family application.  We have talked about having room for someone who needs it.  It doesn't set well with us to move away from that goal.

So now, with our home almost ready to list, we have a goal.  We want to keep our mortgage payment the same (or less), & find a home close to our church with room to share.  Any home size is capable of being hospitable, that is true, but we want to move in a direction where it's easier than now.  When I was searching for a church in the city, I listened to Dhati Lewis' sermon, Recapturing the Lost Art of Hospitality.  He mentions how he & his wife have always looked for homes that will accommodate more than just their family.  That's our goal with this move.  Though I would love home on land with Room to Breathe, we're trying to find a home where others in need have a Room to Breathe Easy.  Stepping out in a faith is a little scary, but He will take care of us.  He has shown us that more times than we can count. It's time for us to really work more towards loving others with the gifts He's given us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

things i've made: andrew's blanket

title: Andrew's knit to crochet blanket (ravelry link)
craft: crochet, hook "S" with 3-4 strands throughout.
materials used: (quoted from original project) "Both my grandmother & my husband’s grandmother passed away in 2009, & I was given their yarn. It sat waiting for a worthy project. Because the yarn I inherited is from 2 different grandmother’s collections, i needed a project that would both display the colors, & help them flow together."
made for: my precious Andrew
when: finally finished april 2013
how often is it used: daily
other: this blanket took a while to make.  it started as a knit project, but i frogged it about a quarter of the way through because 3-4 types of yarn held together on size 7 needles equals a rug more than a blanket.  once i started the speed hook pattern, the blanket kind of started to fly off my hook.  i took a break for a bit, but the end of pregnancy with paul when i was too big to really move, i hauled it out of the closet & started working on it again.  i need to remember that.  this blanket took years to make.  it's twin sized. maybe queen, but it would be a small queen, for sure.
would i make another? yes, & i am in the process of making another scrap blanket for Luke, though this blanket is a combination of single & double crochet to help speed the process along.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

things i've made: dad's father's day scarf

title: dad's father's day scarf (ravelry link)
craft: knit
materials used: thick & quick
made for: my dad
when: 2011
how often is it used: unknown
other:  this was my first project using thick & quick yarn, & the scarf came together surprisingly fast.  the whole thing kind of flew off my needles.  weaving in the ends was not as nice.  that was probably the longest part - which is saying a lot because this was in back before i had to relearn how to knit.  (i learned to knit in 2003, right after i was in a car accident & my left wrist couldn't withstand the weight, so for years i knitted with the left needle either tucked in my armpit or resting on my thigh.  everything took ages, but i didn't know any better, so i kept on trucking.  once i learned to crochet in 2012, i stopped knitting because everything came together so much faster with a hook.  late last year, almost exactly 10 years after i first learned to knit, i decided to relearn how to how my needles & i've fallen back in love.)
would i make another? the pattern, for sure.  it's really fun & comes together quickly, especially with the thick & quick.  another scarf just like this?  maybe for my boys when they're older.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

things i've made: vera's market bag

title: another market bag (not listed on ravelry yet)
craft: crochet
materials used: hobby lobby's "i love this yarn"
made for: my mother in law's birthday
when: july 2013
how often is it used: unknown
other:  like my mother's market bag, this was made with super simple hexagons, & it came together quite quickly.  my mother in law loves to shop for fresh fruits and veggies at local farmers markets (she knows where all the best ones are.  i keep meaning to go with her, but our schedules didn't connect last year.  maybe this spring..?), so i wanted her bag to withstand a bit of weight without losing its shape.  i didn't use the same layout for this bag because i thought the hexagons would change shape with weight over time. the bottom of the bag is kind of a zig-zag & i added a few rows of single crochet in an attempt to strengthen the bottom.  we'll see if it works.
would i make another? i want to!  it's on my long list of things to make.  (including my blanket)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

things i've made: my mom's market bag

title: mom's market bag (not listed as a project on ravelry)
craft: crochet
materials used: hobby lobby's "i love this yarn"
made for: mother's day present for my mom
when: may 2013
how often is it used: unknown
other: these hexagons were originally supposed to be for a blanket i was making just for me.  those of you who are knitters/crocheters are probably chuckling, because it's so rare to be able to make a project just for yourself, isn't it?  i can actually say, aside from a handful of kitchen cloths, i've never made something for myself.  (i have made a headwrap for someone, but ended up keeping it, but that doesn't count - ha!)  so, mother's day was coming & i wanted to make my mom something, but my little paul was not even 2-months-old, so intense crafting just wasn't going to happen.  i found a pattern on ravelry that i really liked.  i had a pile of hexagons already made in colors i knew my mom would love, so i just went with it.  i'm sad i never took a picture of it finished.  perhaps i'll take a picture of it next time i'm at her house...?
would i make another? yes, & i did, but i changed it a little. more info to follow on this next week. :-)