August 25, 2013

sacrifice of praise

Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

August 24, 2013

metamorphosis (2)

At the pottery studio, I prefer the wheel.

But there are other ways to shape the clay.  By a bank of windows looking out onto the parking lot, there is a slab roller (picture an old wringer-washer with just one roller bar on a table) for making flat sheets of clay for tiles or handbuilt items.  Just outside the studio, affixed to the wall at the edge of the showroom, is an extruder (imagine a sort of giant pasta- or playdough!- machine) for squishing out clay tubes of various shapes - smooth cylinders, long square boxes, star-shaped hollows, and more.  It looks kind of magical, really:  ball of clay in the top, pull down, tidy shape emerges at the bottom.

I never stopped to think about how the process affects the clay.

On the wheel, the clay is centered, bathed with water, and firmly but gently, slowly - often in three (or more) pulls - coaxed by fingers into a final shape.

Much different from being quickly forced from one shape to another by the strength of unyielding metal.

I'm thinking about the clay, now, feeling the forces of change on my heart.

"O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? 
As the clay is in the potter's hand, so are you in my hand.
Jeremiah 18:6

Am I - will I be - malleable?

Months ago, a woman I trust told me that God is getting ready to shake up my friendships.  She didn't know that some of my friends were then planning moves, both into and out of my life, physically and emotionally.

Sometimes it feels like betrayal, this change, and sometimes like grace.  Sometimes both.  But always, there is pain.  More the extruder than the wheel, is this process.

I've never been a fan of change - at least not change initiated by another.  It's unsettling to me, like someone else pushing my rocking chair into motion, or a child swinging the hammock I'm resting on.

Maybe the liquidating stage of the chrysalis is over, now, and the formation of the butterfly is beginning ... I hope.  I hope there will be something to show for the squeezing of my heart.

No, not hope.  I trust.

"Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, 
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:18

August 23, 2013


Lil' Snip, awhile back eating his first french fry, asked: "Are there mashed potatoes in these?"


A homeschooling mother's victory: daughter pulling the wrapping off of a frozen pizza to exclaim "dendritic crystals!!" and sending an excited sister to find her magnifying glass.


Lil' Snip (the only son among three daughters) looking adoringly at his colored pencil, which he has just discovered can be extended by twisting the end, cooing "cuuuute!" in an exact replica of our expressions over him.


Spice one morning told me about a dream she'd had [my thoughts in brackets]:  "I had a dream last night about a monster [oh, no!] that I was chasing [you GO girl!] that turned into Truffle [(a beloved cat) - that's my girl, turning monsters into playmates!!]"


Isaiah was showing me, rather vigorously, how he pats his head. "Be nice to your head," I told him, "because it's your head!"

"And," he reminded me, "my face is on it!"


Spice asks me if she's a pessimist or an optimist. Trying to avoid labels, I tell her that she's just her. She counters with: "Does that mean that I'm a pessimist and you just don't want to tell me?"


... and one from my Farmer:  My elliptical and I had started getting reacquainted (slowly), so I was disappointed to see that the bathroom scales hadn't moved in the direction that I had hoped. My husband, quick-witted, quipped "Boy, you must put on muscle fast!"


August 22, 2013

"wasted" morning

So, it's a little after eleven a.m. and I'm looking about, laptop warming my knees, wondering what I have to show for my morning.

At first glance, not much.

It took me most of the morning to make my grocery list, thanks to getting breakfast into my son and playing TinkerToys and plunging the toilet and bantering with friends on facebook and demonstrating touch-typing without looking at the keyboard for my dubious daughters and catching up on a cousin's blog and adjusting the food processor for the bread-crumb-maker and doing a ponytail and giving emotional counsel ... and of course, my own natural distractedness.

Unseen, though, is the necessary-to-the-introvert recovery from a lovely and very social day yesterday, when my favorite little Sister came with her three little ones.  We loved being with them, and now today we are regaining our equilibrium.  Like it or not, convenient or not, on the to-do list or not, this is as vital to us as sleep and whole food.

And so we "waste" the morning.

Ahhhh ..... that's better.

August 21, 2013


Strawberries, warm from the sun, out-of-this-world flavor.
A bouquet of lettuces.
Kale, and collards, and an appetite to eat them.
The world's best cucumbers, thin-skinned and luscious.
Blueberries, picked after a long day's work!  (the big ones really do taste better.)
Fragrant ripe blackberries like only a connoisseur can pick.
Raspberries hastily snatched in the rain.
Ear after ear of corn on the cob.
Tomatoes in small round globes and large-lobed wonders.
Sweet slicing onions.
Knobby, crisp little bulbs of garlic.
Watermelons - golden, red, orange.
Potatoes, with the dirt still on them.
Golden peaches and sturdy little pears.
Grapes, fruiting after all these years.
A giant pumpkin, just because.
Carrots - who knew? - in purple, ivory, and magenta.
Asian cabbages for an evening of kimchi-making.
Red cabbages and green cabbages for our family's supper.
Silky white turnips so good we christen them "dessert turnips."

Hours on the tractor, burnt by sun and wind.
Sweat from fighting mechanical beasts.
Muscles sore from digging.
Grimy knees and shorts, kneeling by a stubborn rototiller.
Chunks of dirt fallen from his shoes.
Thinking, and thinking, and thinking some more, to solve the problem in front of him.
Weed-flecked socks in a heap, memorial to weeds tamed, again and again.
Furrows in his brow from frustrations sculpted into solutions.

A smile for me, home weary from shopping, when I left in a snit.
Hugs when I am stiff with resentment.
"Thank you for breakfast," every morning.
Unspoken forgiveness, over and over and over.


Some men bring home flowers.

Mine brings me sacrifices.

August 19, 2013

Monday music

Instead of diving madly into my week (per usual), trying to get seven days' worth of to-do done in a Monday, today I am choosing to sit, purposely, listening and observing a bit, soaking in what is before jumping into what might be (and, further, remembering that there's a vital difference between what might be and what should be).

Since my ears are my most acute sense this morning; I'll start there.

I hear ...
... Nice stomping, and slamming doors at her sister
... Lil' Snip blowing on a harmonica and shaking maracas
... piano music on the stereo
... the phone ringing!

I smell . . .
... Comet cleaner where Spice is cleaning the bathroom
... coffee from what's left in my mug

I see . . .
... studious Sugar, practicing typing
... "nap" and "read" on my to-do list
... Tinker Toys as far as the eye can see
... Lil' Snip's ambitiously long Lego "fire engine"

I feel . . .
... comfy crop-length sweatpants
... the sofa under me, weary-seated, but still with good back support
... contentment for the chaos of busy children, home with me
... not hot or cold - thankful for autumnal weather, early

I'm looking forward to . . .
... lunchtime!  (and then - O Glorious Quiet - naptime!!)
... my nap!  my book!
... mid-week visit with sister
... family week in September, when we live outside together
... and further on, a women's retreat and some days in the mountains with family
... much, much further on (I hope), Heaven.

August 17, 2013

taking off the rose-colored glasses

If you have children (or ever hope to), R.E.A.D. this!  Jen Hatmaker exposes the secret thoughts shared by every honest mom everywhere.  (Well, at least her, and me).

Ahhh, it was hilarious!  Thankyousomuch Jen Hatmaker, for a great Saturday morning laugh.  And also for {inadvertently} validating how I feel so much of the time as I fumble through teaching my children at home. 

The Guilt. 

But you know what?  We're all in it together, aren't we - grumbling at how hard it is (some more hilariously than others, thank you Jen) but DOING IT ANYWAY because, well, it's right, and even though we sometimes want to take a permanent vacation from them, they are our children and we would pretty much offer our lives for them. 

Oh wait.  We ARE.

August 7, 2013

impossible? nothing!

If things ever feel a little dull around your house, I suggest that you find a glass-lined coffee carafe and dash the lining forcefully into the sink.

Preferably in the presence of multiple children, especially if one or two of them are given to hysterics (inherited, just possibly, from you).

If the gunshot BANG and the hysterics aren't exciting enough, rest assured that you will likely be finding mirrored shards in unlikely places for hours, or even, if you're lucky, days or weeks (depending on the thoroughness of your housekeeping).

You can go ahead and indulge in some hysterics yourself, just to go along with the general mood.  Sprinkle in a few gloomy thoughts about the impossibility of cleaning it all up, the danger to all small & tender bare feet in the family, and the injustice of it happening on day when you were so desperately hoping for respite that you wore your comfy pants to remind you to take it easy.

And then grab some damp paper towels and start wiping.

Last, but not least, remember to take a photo of [some of] the carnage to remind you, when you've calmed down, that all things are possible, even cleaning a few million microscopic mirrored glass fragments from the kitchen and adjoining laundry room when you least felt like it.

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Matthew 19:26

August 5, 2013

promises for the crucible

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

"Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid;
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

"When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trials to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

"When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all-sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flames shall not hurt thee, I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

by George Keith

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