Wednesday, July 31, 2013

12 things I learned in July

Linking up with Emily of chatting at the sky to share some things I learned in July:

1. I miss the sky. There are a lot of things I love about living in the city, but when I visit my parents I remember how much I miss the sky.

2. It is possible for three kids and I to eat dinner at Target for under ten dollars. And then I spent $47 shopping afterwards. It is possible for three kids and I to eat dinner at Target for under $57 dollars.

3. Speaking of Target, when my in-laws were in they took the kids shopping and they picked out Li'l Woodzeez. These are my new favorite toy. It is so nice to find something not a) princess b) pink 3) ridiculous.

4. I already knew I loved our library but this month endeared them to me a little bit more. They offered personalized book recommendations on social media one evening, and I now have four books on my nightstand waiting for me. Cuyahoga Public library, I think I would live in CLE just for you.

5. If I can have a day in my own home, all by myself, and the windows are open and if there is a storm brewing, and grey misty breezes and the whole world is quiet, and if I have a coffee nearby preferably on ice, well then, I could just write and write and write and write . ..

6. We canned pickles and blueberry jam and a whole load of peaches, and I learned again that I was born into the wrong era. I am glad for feminism of course, but I could happily spend long summer days wearing an apron and filling up mason jars with my mom and daughters and sisters in law. (I feel connected to my grandma in the kitchen, she was still preserving food the summer she died, one year ago this month.)

7. I learned that I have commitment issues when it comes to buying a house. Hunting for a house is much more fun than buying one. And do we even want to buy a house anyway? There are so many lovely houses and cities, how does one choose just only one?

8. Hamsters look an awful lot like rats. And if my kids are trusted to pet sit it is likely that someone will forget to latch the cage. And it is likely that I will completely forget we are pet sitting. And at six in the morning as I am sipping my coffee there is a good chance that rat-hamster will dash across the living room, and there is a good chance my screams will wake the neighborhood. Both I, and Fuzzy, are still shaking.

9. I am sleeping at night and keeping up with the laundry and reading books and even finishing sentences again . . . and this really makes me want another baby.

10. When I am weak then I am strong (2 Cor 12:10)
      and the reverse: when I am strong, I am weak. (why must I relearn this over and over?)

11. It doesn't matter how fondly you remember college, fourteen years later you will reunite with old college friends and reminisce and look at old college pictures and laugh at yourself and want to die of embarrassment. You will still remember college fondly.

12. I miss hot weather. C'mon Ohio, it's July. Hot not cold.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

she is

She is my child who roars and weeps. 
Her eyes flashing in rage will turn as quickly to delight. 
In a storm of tears she bursts suddenly into laughter. 
I knew her intensity from the womb, it pulled energy from my fingernails,
she swept me on waves knocking me over and for months I could do nothing but curl myself, shipwrecked, around her. 
She is born an island she is rock and sea. 
She collects shells, the broken ones. 
She crashes and falls apart and comes up a blue dolphin, a delicate sand dollar, a singing coastal town.
And what can I do but curl around her and sail her coasts and storms
and every day, a hundred times, sun and rain I tell her, 
You are my sunshine Annie. You are my starshine.
I know.
I love you Annie.
Me too.
And in the night when tides are low she comes soundlessly to me,
needing to anchor, needing the curl of the moon around her.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

to restore your faith (soup 6.28)

I have been collecting links for a couple weeks without posting, so here is a download. Plenty of thoughts and words and ideas are collecting, too, this summer beneath the wild blue sky. This is the wonderful thing I am finding this summer- my mind (heh). Life is calmer and there is this new space opening up for ideas and possibilities, new space in my arms this summer, more space to talk and pray and breathe and create and dream. It is good. The full years were good too.

Things I am thankful for this week . ..

A little roadtrip and a night away, Ohio fields and farms and cities, Ohio summers, a good visit with an old friend, a lovely rainy day beneath umbrellas exploring her city (Columbus, Ohio, if I weren't already attached you would make me want to move). Thrifting. Good conversations. Too many books. 3, 5, and 7= such fun + happy ages. People who make me think and books that make me hope. Grace. Grace. Little friends, listening in on all the chatter. Time to write and words when they flow. My husband who makes me laugh. Friends I admire and people giving themselves to follow Christ in a thousand hidden, sacrificing ways. My brother and sis in law coming to stay tonight . . .

On the drive to Columbus I listened to two Tim Keller podcasts. I think these may be my favorite I have ever listened to: Sexuality and Christian Hope, and How to Find the Way.

The book I read this week is Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I began reading this and immediately asked myself how I could dare to even try writing fiction, when works like this exist in the world? Morrison's writing is lyrical, magical, haunting.

Last week I didn't have time to read but feel asleep to The Mad Farmer Poems by Wendell Berry. Simple, provoking, comforting. I am so glad Wendell Berry wrote books.


21 Pictures that will restore your faith in humanity

Can you be generous and still pay the bills?: Relevant

Ann Voskamp: Ways to Labor and Deliver your Best Life
Breathe in: Lord, I receive.
Breathe out: Lord, I give thanks.

World of Ordinary: RZIM
The parables Jesus told are also richly artistic, theological pauses upon the ordinary. Presented to people who often find themselves beyond the need for stories, whether puffed up with wealth and self-importance, or engorged with religion and knowledge, his stories stop us. He is acutely aware that the religious and the non-religious, the self-assured and the easily distracted often dance around idols of magnitude, diverting their eyes from the ordinary. And yet his very life proclaims the magnitude of the overlooked. The ordinary is precisely the place that God chose to visit—and not as a man of magnitude.

One Small Change: the story sewn into every seam: how to talk evangelical

How to Buy Ethical Fashion on a Budget

. . . We Fill In "Truth Gaps" with Fiction: Donald Miller . .. YES.
For this reason, I’ve become more and more comfortable with this phrase: I don’t know.
I no longer consider this phrase a cop out, either. In fact, I now consider the phraseI don’t know a form of extreme respect for the truth.
Why Christians Should Read More Fiction: Relevant
I could ramble for days about the unexpected joys, benefits and lessons I’ve learned from the novels I’ve read, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll distill it down to two practical ways that reading fiction can benefit Christians: beauty and empathy.

My favorite line from Song of Solomon, as one of the characters is dying: 
"I wish I'd a knowed more people. I would of loved 'em all. 
If I'd a knowed more, I would a loved more.
Oh may we live knowing and loving!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

what we want

This is what I want. I want a hot summer evening when the breeze picks up just as the sky is turning pink and chicken is being pulled off the grill. I’ll pour the wine, you toss the salad. We’ll serve the children first at their own table and they will run off to catch fireflies in the yard as we begin our adult meal on the deck. Just for this night, the food is good, the children all are happy and occupied and we will enjoy a leisurely meal and uninterrupted conversation. We are dreaming here.
After dinner we push back our plates and magically, there will be cheesecake. We will say oh no, no, no, we shouldn’t, well okay, and we will pass forks and pour coffee. 

And then the night will be getting late but the conversation will be getting good, and so we’ll keep talking. The kids will keep playing and we will dive right into all the controversial topics, way too late at night, and talk and argue and only come up for air to pour more coffee. We will get honest, and speak those questions we live with and walk around. There won’t be answers but only me too,” all around, and this somehow will be all we really are looking for.
Finally when the children begin to grumble we will carry them inside and wash their feet, and say good-night. Yours will fall asleep in the car on the way home and we will carry ours upstairs and tuck them into bed and come back down to wash the dishes. We will be unable to sleep from the coffee, but really more from the conversation.
Because this is what I really want out of a warm summer evening with friends: good conversation. It is one of the greatest things in life.

This summer has come with the gift of some long, honest, meaningful conversations with friends and family, and I love nothing more. Sometimes with young children good conversation- well, even complete sentences- can be in short supply, we can go days without it and so I’ve learned to treasure these moments all the more dearly. Because when it happens, when people can come together and talk honestly, about things that matter, the moment sparkles. Like the fireflies our children chase in the dark, these moments of understanding and connection are worth chasing.

I sit on our deck drinking coffee with old friends who I haven’t seen in years, or at the park watching the kids play with the friends I see every day, every time I come away thinking how very much alike we are, regardless of our differences. I see what a hard battle we each are fighting, in our own daily ordinary lives, and though we are making different choices and have different circumstances we all want the same thing- to live this one precious life well.

My friend who is a single mom and one of the most courageous people I know; my friends who live in Africa and my friends in Haiti, my Canadian friends, friends with kids or no kids, friends who work or quit working or are going back to work, my friends in Indiana, Washington, Alaska, in small towns  or cities; we all are trying our best to get this right- this thing of living.

We want to live a life that matters, but we’re still  trying to figure out what that means. We want to follow God and we are still willing- wherever whatever whenever . . . but we are quieter, now, a little slower to speak. And we are reaching the age now of being just old enough to be skeptical, but still hopeful. We have had opportunity by now to regret some things, or a lot of things, enough to sober us but not to defeat us.  We wrestle with these questions because the truth is we don’t know what we are doing, for certain, and it’s good to know we aren’t alone.

When we can really get to the heart of things, almost always the thing we find is a pulse that sounds very familiar. People are people, we are all such a mess of flaws and good intentions, and when we talk the flaws are so much less and the good so much brighter. It seems many of our differences and conflict could be healed with good conversation.

I’m pretty convinced that what the world needs most is a grill and a picnic table, some fresh summer vegetables, and fireflies. This, and a few long days when the whole world isn't so tragically busy. Good conversation can change the world- at least it changes me.

Monday, July 15, 2013

We just finished breakfast at our hotel and now Jim is at work, the grandparents are on their way home to Missouri, the kids are cuddled under the covers watching a cartoon and I am stretching this first half of our summer just a few minutes longer until we check out. Thus begins the second half of our summer: less excitement, but just as anticipated. I am looking forward to a few weeks of long boring summer days.

Jim's parents took us to a hotel for two nights at the end of their stay. It was so nice having them stay with us. Sam is still weepy after saying good-bye last night.

I spent a few hours this week planning and ordering curricula for next year.  I am so thankful for Heidi and her blog, Mt Hope Academy.  It is one of the first homeschool blogs I ever started following, years ago, and definitely remains one of my most influential homeschool blogs. I love her focus on literature and I am absolutely amazed by how much her kids read! Plus she takes amazing pictures and posts really thoughtful links and she's honest, too, which is always a relief. She uses a classical approach and a lot of the Well Trained Mind resources, and she has been giving a very thorough run-down of the curricula she uses. Such a gift! Here's the Simplicity Version, but she goes much more in-depth for each subject, too. Love this blog.

Book- Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids, by Kim John Payne. Good book, but I did end up skimming most of it. I wish it had been written a little more, well, simply? Good, practical advice on simplifying a child's life, everything from toys to schedules . . . I disagreed with a few things, mostly that a child should have only a few books (heresy!) Mainly about getting back to the basics and protecting your child from growing up too fast, with a lot of practical tips.

I think I was actually a little relieved when Google announced it was doing away with Reader. Like my friend Cami, I thought of it as a good way to unsubscribe from a lot of blogs I don't read anyway. However, I did switch over to feedly and I am really loving it.

This is the best Peach Cobbler recipe I've found.

We finally got a blender and made these Green Monster Spinach smoothies. They really are yummy and don't taste at all healthy ;-).

Everyone's a Biblical Literalist until You Bring Up Gluttony: Rachel Held Evans

This is wonderful- one more reason I wish we could all sit around a campfire singing kumbaya: When choirs sing, many hearts beat as one: npr

The Comfort of the Provider: Study in Brown
When I look back at our life and think of how I would have cringed to show anyone the reality of our situation, how often we were oblivious to the edge of disaster as we rode out storms on our little life raft of faith, I can't help but marvel at the gentleness of God.  He had no unkind words for us, no disdainful comments that we were "stupid" or "dumb" to be in such a mess.  No, He just kept telling us to hang on and trust Him and He'd get us through.   

Ohio friends: if you are anywhere near Canton you must check out our friends' awesome new deli! Deli Ohio serves local foods in downtown Canton. I haven't been here yet, but can't wait to check it out! Here is a great review.

Oh, so much more I would like to write here, but we are off . . . Cheers to many more hot, drippy summer days!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

take your everyday, ordinary life

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. 

Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. 

Jim's parents are visiting from Missouri and his mom is amazing. She has endless energy and loves to play with the kids, all day long, for days on end. It is really remarkable, the kids absolutely love her and as a result I have had a day for planning curriculum and Jim and I got a date night, and exercise, and today I spent a full day writing. 

It's been a good but busy month, and I have a hard time shifting gears and so when I finally sat down today to write it went nowhere. 

I wrote, and deleted it and wrote and deleted and then thought about searching for a job. 

Instead, this is what I am doing, just what I did before I sat down to write: offering this ordinary life to God. These ordinary words that today went nowhere. This precious wasted time. I sat. I wrote. It  was terrible. I will try again tomorrow.

Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. 
No, God brings it all to you. 
The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.
Romans 12, The Message

Friday, July 5, 2013