November 24, 2012

quiet, again

The clock says 8:30 but I feel like midnight.

My family was here today, all twenty of us, for Thanksgiving.  As each family bustled through the door, laden with food & children, our old farmhouse felt smaller and smaller.

When the last of them had left, over eight hours later, I cannot tell a lie:  I was glad.

It had been a good day, as family gatherings go.  Things went right far more often than I had expected.  I had forgotten far fewer things than I had feared.  Children played happily and toys were shared, mostly.  The food all turned out well, even the impromptu supper.  There was laughter and talking and the coffee did not run out.  Nothing broke.  No one was mean (not even the grownups).  Toys were cleaned up and toilets flushed the way they're supposed to (not something to be taken for granted in an old farmhouse!).

But I am a quiet person.  Oh, I can talktalktalk with the best of them, as my children, who regularly eavesdrop on my phone conversations, can attest.  But when it comes down to it, what I need after a good talk, is a good silence.

So while I enjoyed having them all here, I am also enjoying my quiet house, flickering candle, and the comforting presence of my Farmer, who also likes a good dose of quiet, reading beside me at the kitchen table.

November 19, 2012

sweater teddies

I went a little crazy the past few days creating these little snugglers:

So I opened a shop with Etsy to find them homes in time for Christmas.

: : :

It all started about a year ago . . .
. . . with a favorite wool sweater that shrank in the dryer, 
and a daughter whose friend got her a teddy bear kit for her birthday.

Lightbulbs went on in my head,
and Sweater Teddies were born.

Here they are, up close and personal:

Snowflake Bear

Bow-Tie Bear

Soft Blue Bear

Red Vest Teddy

French Knot Teddy

Maybe you or someone you know would like a huggable Sweater Teddy?

November 15, 2012

in my wildest dreams

There is a barn outside my window.

Fading white paint perseveres under a (mostly) new green metal roof.  Glass-block windows punctuate the low north wall.  A neglected milk-house, used by my daughters as a rainy-day play place, juts out westward, toward the house.  Inside, sunlight pours through the smudged six-paned windows that line the southern wall.  Broken panes admit the swallows who take up residence every spring, dotting the beams above with their mud nests and swinging merrily from one glass pipeline to another.  Two gutters, full of three decades of debris, stretch along the stalls for the length of the barn.

Around the back, a bank leads to the upper entrance.  The light is dim.  Dust swirls around two old hay wagons, stacked boards, and bales of ancient hay.  The floorboards, here and there, are soft - even missing! - underfoot.  One treads carefully.

The barn has sat empty, except for swallows and mice and farm-cats and children and the occasional coon, since the 1980's.  It looks like the Rapture happened - tools and cow chains and various metal implements left lying where they were last used.  Manure never mucked out of the box stalls molders when the rains seep in.  Log sheets hang on a clipboard in the milk-house, next to a cupboard of long-expired antibiotics.  Milkers dangle in water-less sinks.

Some days, when I am feeling wildly optimistic, I peek into the barn and see visions.

I see the aisles of tie-stalls replaced by an art-lined hallway, sunshine streaming into cozy groupings of plants and chairs, doors leading off into monastic retreat bedrooms where there used to be calf pens.  A quiet library where the box stalls were, and maybe a dining room.

Upstairs, where now the air is thick with quiet ... I picture busy corners of creativity:  a pottery studio, of course, and where the hay is stacked against the northern wall, a bank of windows, and an easel for paints or pencils.  A walled-off workshop for woodworking, maybe, and a music room.  Supplies for basket-making, chair-caning, candle-dipping, or any other kind of satisfying handwork.  Weaving?  The large high-ceilinged center of the floor for dance, perhaps.  And skylights.  A vast space for the rich interplay of communal creation, and for more solitary pursuits sometimes, too.

A drum circle.  Poetry readings.  Movie night.  Jazz improv.  Writing workshops.

A corncrib stands sentinel by the upper entrance, stacked full of my father-in-law's winter wood.  It could be, instead, a compact one-man retreat, walled-in with earth and heated with wood, a respite from electric's hum.  The farm could hide half a dozen little havens, tucked under trees, secluded from all but the birds.

: : :

I love to create beautiful things - pottery, food, photography, garden - but most of all I yearn to create beautiful spaces for living, for Life to happen.  To take something dusty & broken, something that is the very symbol of disappointed dreams, and turn it into the joy of living ... would make my spirit soar.

What's standing between my dream and reality?
Research.  Money.  Hard work.  Guts.

Will the barn ever become The Barn?  I don't know.

This is my wildest dream.

November 1, 2012

who's making progress here?

This morning, sitting with a roomful of women, our eyes glued to the high-heeled, passionate Texan on the screen, I caught a word picture that I did not care for, not one little bit.

Bitterness, she reminded us, gives Satan a foothold in our lives.

alexindigo's photo

Merriam-Webster defines "foothold" as "A secure position from which further progress may be made."  Yikes.  2 Timothy 2:26 intimates that the devil has plans that he hopes to accomplish.  Guess what:  I don't want the devil making progress in my life!

So, am I bitter?  I asked myself.  According to Ephesians 4:26, it is the anger that controls me, that I hold on to past the daylight hours, that gives Satan a foothold in my life, allows him to gain ground, to make progress, to get done what he wants to get done.

And what is he after, this enemy, this accuser of our souls?  Satan, that thief, that father of lies, comes, Jesus says, only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).

Do I want to contribute to that?  Is holding on to the wrongs done to me (be they real or imagined) worth that kind of price?

Of course not.  And the antidote is simple:  forgiveness.

So here's another image:  Satan losing his foothold - not gaining ground, but losing ground!

Mountain climber falling during an icy climb up th
Mansell/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Okay, so Satan losing ground is good.  But simple does not equal easy.  And forgiveness - not just once, but seventy times seven, daily(!) (Matthew 18:21-22) - can be formidable.

To just let go, like that, exposes me to more pain, more injustice, more wounds.

On the other hand, it also frees me, to receive love.......

..... to receive abundant life (John 10:10), and the flowing of the Holy Spirit in my life (Ephesians 4:30).

Whose progress do I want to cooperate with?

I am certain, Paul writes to the Philippian church, that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

I'm letting go ......

...... will you?

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