Friday, April 24, 2015

from their mother



It has been wild to see what emerges from the ground of our new house this spring. Every time I look out the window there is some new color. I did not plant a thing. 

Out of the mundane rises gold with all its might. Lavender like remember. Fiery red yes. Raw purple poetry, vulnerable and rejoicing. 

Everything comes back. Today is not only today. 

It is not all lovely. There is so much to clear away. Overgrown and in the way. Pettiness, despondency. 

For two weeks I've lived on the thin layer of epidermis, sliced deep by poison ivy, my skin angry like words I can't forget. Everything comes back. Today is not only today.

And my own words and prayers are seeds scattering, erupting one day in some season or place far from now. 

One day my kids will peer out the window and see some shape of me. What seeds do they carry in their heart from their mother? 

Have I scattered faith and strong and true and passion? Among the mundane and daily, have I sown beloved, imagination, some shoot of fiery red?  Have I broken open, dancing? 

Or only passive shrubbery? 

Only arguments and sighs?


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Homeschool (question, convention)



A few weeks ago I began to imagine life if we didn't homeschool. I wrote lists of possible life plans if the kids were in school; get a job, finish the novel, go to grad school, drop the kids off and go to Starbucks. 

This is only our third year of homeschool, but each year in the spring I have worked through our decision all over again. It is likely that every year this will happen and its good and necessary to give myself space to ask the question.

But even at my most doubtful, in the back of my mind I know the Midwest Homeschool Convention is coming, and this fact alone gets me through muddy March.

I've attended smaller conferences which left me less satisfied or outright annoyed, and for me the bigger conference is worth the four hour drive (time with grown-ups? I would drive ten hours). It is one time a year without children, and enough conversation and homeschool inspiration to hopefully re-fuel me for another year.

Most of my Classical crushes were there, some really solid parenting workshops, and a plethora of everything else. I came home with renewed vision for what homeschool is and what it can be, my mind swirling with thoughts and ideas.

I love to learn the theories. But Sam still needs to learn her multiplication facts, and this is where I find myself again today, attempting to put the glorious wide vision into a daily practice.

I thought I would sort out my notes and blog about a few of the highlights. This is the main thing the Lord impressed upon me this year:

The work I am doing is God's work. 
I am to work as unto the Lord.
God will complete His work in my kids.
I have everything I need.


The best line from the convention was a speaker quoting Ben Carson. He said:
"You will likely have about seventy-five years on this earth. You will spend the first twenty-five years preparing for the next fifty. You will spend those fifty years reaping the benefits or paying the consequences for how you spent the first twenty-five."
What a gift to have these early years with my kids, to nourish their bodies and minds and spirits with all that God has given, to furnish their minds with good and true and lovely things, to engage with them the great conversations. To help nurture the person God has created them to become, and disciple them in the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Truly, the call to homeschool is a gift, and I am so grateful.


p.s. I wouldn't want to do it alone. I am grateful for friends on this journey with us, and a fruitful co-op, and for Christ-centered women I am learning from and with. I am blessed!

p.p.s. My favorite part of the convention was hugging my dear friend Shannon! I love how God weaves people together throughout life's seasons.


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Work, sometimes

Work, Sometimes
Mary Oliver

I was sad all day, and why not. There I was, books piled
on both side of the table, paper stacked up, words
falling off my tongue.

The robins had been a long time singing, and now it
was beginning to rain.

What are we sure of? Happiness isn't a town on a map,
or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work
ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around
with a poem.

Then it began raining hard, and the flowers in the yard
were full of lively fragrance.

You have had days like this, no doubt. And wasn't it
wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a
moment!

As for myself, I swung the door open. And there was
the wordless, singing world. And I ran for my life.


Reading this poem was like a sudden warm breeze. Like yesterday, the thirtieth of March, when the grass began to grow. It felt like swinging a door open. It describes the way I have been feeling lately about my work.

And wasn't it wonderful, finally, to leave the room? Ah, what a moment.

I have spent ten years in this room. Mothering. Writing in the margins. It is my heart's work. I am falling-down grateful for every day of it.

But I got a job. A real, dress-up job with other adults. It feels like it is time, now, to leave this room, sometimes. It feels like swinging a door open.

Happiness isn't a town on a map,
or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work
ongoing. Which is not likely to be the trifling around
with a poem.

My new job is a few evenings and weekends. Nothing particularly noteworthy, just a simple part-time job.

We are still going to homeschool. I will keep writing in the mornings. The time is right, and we need for me to bring in some extra income. It feels like an open door, like fresh breezes. I think it will freshen all of my work- mothering and homeschool and writing.

All work is best sometimes.

For a long time now I have lived should-be-writing. But art {life} isn't produced through guilt. It comes by distraction, attention, fun.. . time in the yard full of lively fragrance.

The best thing I have done for my work recently is to walk away. To learn to work, sometimes. It is wonderful, sometimes, to leave the room.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to make a decision

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace... Hebrews 12:28


I am quite moveable. It is a problem. There are so many ways to think about any given subject and I can think and overthink and lay awake thinking and exasperate myself.


Then there are the things which I don't analyze or question at all but which somehow ease in beside me. Poetry begins while making the beds or running baths or watching the street. Things like affection rise up from the ground, they water themselves, they survive on dust. Things like affection don't need thinking or persuading or dissecting but space, wind, light.

I think I am learning, slowly, how to know, which is to think a little less. We try too hard, planting all in rows when we are meant for freedom. Kingdom life is not for measuring and counting, analyzing, deciding, but for scattering, wasting, blooming, bursting.

A kingdom which cannot be moved is not wide and tall and certain- reinforced- all of these kingdoms crumble. An unmovable kingdom slips in the frame of the door. It is slim and small and scattering in the breezes, planted in the cracks.

Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.

It is the smallest room behind the smallest door. It is the treasure buried in a field, the yes of the heart, the quietest knowing. To decide is more of a waiting- unknowing- still and small and quiet, listening, wind blowing where it will. Let us have grace.

“Often I have not known where I was going until I was already there.  I have had my share of desires and goals, but my life has come to me or I have gone to it mainly by way of mistakes and surprises.  Often I have received better than I deserved.  Often my fairest hopes have rested on bad mistakes.  I am an ignorant pilgrim, crossing a dark valley.  And yet for a long time, looking back, I have been unable to shake off the feeling that I have been led- make of that what you will.”-Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Wisdom of Tenderness

When Jesus said that he was hungry and thirsty and naked in those around us, he was referring to more than mere corporal needs. We’re surrounded by people who are hungry and thirsty and naked in their souls, and they come to us hungry for understanding, thirsty for affirmation, naked with loneliness, and wanting to be covered with the mantle of our genuine tenderness.  
 
It’s more important to be a mature Christian than to be a great butcher or baker or candlestick maker; and if the only chance to achieve the first is to fail at the second, the failure will have proved worthwhile. Isn’t failure worthwhile if it teaches us to be gentle with the failure of others, to be patient, to live in the wisdom of accepted tenderness, and to pass that tenderness on to others? If we’re always successful, we may get so wrapped up in our own victories that we’re insensitive to the anguish of others; we may fail to understand (or even try to understand) the human heart; we may think of success as our due. Then later, if our inner world collapses through death or disaster, we have no inner resources. 

The greatest thing on earth is respect, because it is the heart of love. 
 

Your faithfulness will be measured by your willingness to go where there’s brokenness, loneliness, and human need. What are you to draw from the life of the Master? The knowledge that love and mercy are the most powerful forces on earth.

from The Wisdom of Tenderness: Brennan Manning- an excellent book! Worth re-reading again and again. 




A collection of Patchett's essays, published throughout her career and ranging on topics such as her disastrous first marriage to the story of her happy marriage, her career as a writer and her relationships and various experiences. Patchett is a master essayist. I thoroughly enjoyed these essays and listening to her read her own work on audio only enhanced the book, as she has a wonderful voice. 


I chose this book to read looking for stories on the immigrant experience for the novel I'm writing. The story of Bohemian immigrants who settle in Nebraska in the late 19th century was fascinating both for the story of the immigrants who helped settle our country, as well as the fascinating description of the vast plains and struggle to survive in it. (I was born in the wrong century. sigh).