Lenten Hope, Lenten Joy

i

40-day journey to the cross.

I posture my heart.

I posture my soul.

Face down- yet

lifted

(high)

ii

I clasp hands earnestly

and beseech

for joy and hope

at the table gathered

with children.

In the morning.

I pray.

iii

Later.

It is afternoon.

And, I am jolting

forward. stop. forward. stop.

hurtling jaggedly home

two cello players car (in)side with me.

and suddenly...

I am deliciously

captivated by the

word

incandescent-

incandescent... distilled to me from a moment

in a beautiful song. 

(I would never have found but for the son by my side)

iv

We are almost home- and oldest cellist and I study quickly

to gain the full understanding

of this lovely, lovely word:

it speaks to me.

  1. adjective incandescent: 

(of light) produced by incandescence.

glowing or white with heat.

intensely bright; brilliant.

brilliant; masterly; extraordinarily lucid:an incandescent masterpiece; incandescent wit.

aglow with ardor, purpose, etc.:the incandescent vitality of youth.

God, I love this song.

“Magic Mirror”

 

O, profound song. Speaking to me.

 

Inside, I weep.

And-

I joy.

v

Later, (on the road again) I ponder how that word

incandescent

thrilled me to the toes

and how

for a brief

whiff

of time, I felt so joyfully alive.

And, I’m grateful.

I think on… what makes me feel alive.

vi

I find myself stepping

into Target.

Target, of all places,

and… once again-

the joy is

rising.

a glimmer, found for me

among little girl dresses

with unicorns

and spring themed

garments hanging like

hope

in pinks, greens, purples, sky blue

and of course,

(silver and gold)

sparkle

for some reason

I am happy.

 I am happy among the spring themed atmosphere of Target.

I tell my son, and we laugh.

Target can do that to a lot of people, we ruminate.

As we walk out, the smell of coffee fills the air, and I fill my lungs.

With that good smell.

vii

In the car,

I realize

that I prayed,

in the morning

I prayed

for the reality

of joy

and the reality

of hope

and that we would ponder the way to the cross

and 

the joy of resurrection.

 

The truth is-

it has been a rare day that

I have felt the free joy

I found today.

I don’t take it for granted.

I am grateful.

O sun, O spring, O-

thankful for hope

and

feeling

for

goodness, joy, and life.

And knowing it is true.

viii

I am looking for Spring.

I am looking…

I am looking for my Savior,

lifted high.

I am looking

in the faces of the

ones around me-

and I am remembering,

to

pray.

Face down

yet lifted

(high).

 

The Things We Say

At the table-

at the end

of one long day.

Sweet son and I.

Mulling. Ruminating. Discussing… yet – one.more.time.

We had spent most of the day in Virginia just outside of Harrisonburg. And, O! the memories for me on that drive south. Mountains, beauty, rural countryside. And, Virginia.

We immersed briefly in a different culture while there. In his words, “it was rural.”

And, we ponder.

“It was just a different culture…” he says- “those 8 muddy jeeps and the off-road militia shirts on the guys [from the red-clay caked jeeps] coming into the restaurant [where we stopped for dinner]”- “West Virginia/Virginia signage with the big, black guns.”

I nod and laugh. The jeeps were lined up in a row next to our big, white van.

We head home and the minute we cross the Maryland state line- we are swept into the aggressive traffic. Maryland drivers! It’s a real thing. The pace of the freeway; the spirit of the drivers; the angsty need to keep up, keep on. It was distinct. Even if we hadn’t seen the sign, we would have known. Maryland.

“It’s just a different culture,” he says.

I listen. I nod.

I say, “And what did you think about that culture?”

He shrugs. “It was just different.”- not quite willing to put into words all that it was and all that it wasn’t.

Then, I say, “Maybe you should go to PA,”

[PA is codeword for Pennsylvania by people from there in case you wondered- and maybe didn’t know..]-

and- [he has some possible college choices there].

We look at each other.

In unison,

“It’s more chill there.”

We laugh.

The Things We Say.

output

 

Day (Night) Story

Outside my window... winter wonderland. It is snowing, and we have a weather advisory. Thinking the highschoolers’ co-op will be cancelled tomorrow morning.
I am thinking…that I have tried three times to complete my weekly review this weekend- and it still hasn’t happened. So,now- I am procrastinating and writing this post!
I am thankful… for time around the table on Sundays. For the Piano Guys Playlist streaming through my bedroom via the Echo that was a Christmas Gift from my brother- and all the feels. This IS my music. For good talks with my loved ones, my darlings. For hot tea and chocolate. For oatmeal with raw honey. For GRACE (and my whole soul raised up in praise and an inner shout)
In the kitchen… Asian Beef made by Todd and it WAS amazing!
I am wearing… still my cozy church clothes- thick, creamy tan sweater, black knit top, black skirt with almost golden flowers. I think I was loathe to take this warm, pretty outfit off today. I also thought I would be heading out to a lesson that ended up cancelling because of weather-  This skirt is from long ago- that still fits- maybe even better than it used to- so there’s that. But my headband is round my neck, and my hair is down and going a wee bit crazy- kind of like my mind.
I am creating…the Mid-Year Report for colleges; updating the high school transcripts with semester grades; this blog post; tomorrow’s day plan
I am going…to run around tomorrow afternoon and evening- unless the snow cancels all. I am going to squeal with glee when Todd finally gets into our bed after working.
I am wondering…hmmm. I am wondering so much, I don’t know what to write here!
I am readingWingfeather Tales by Andrew Peterson, Different by Sally and Nathan Clarkson, Passion for the Impossible by Rockness, Charlotte Mason Home Education Volume 1 Part 3- I just finished Middlemarch by George Eliot, and I am pondering Becoming Mrs. Lewis (plus many others)
-with children, I am reading: My Father’s Dragon; The Horse and His Boy; The Hundred Acre Wood; Heidi; various picture books
I am hoping... to feel much better this week and to sleep better.
I am looking forward to…a special time with a cousin; annual birthday meal out with my birthday “twin” brother; one-on-one times
I am learning…about learning challenges and homeschooling with learning disabilities; I am learning about myself and how to be a more fully nurtured and invested person to pour out more richly.
Around the house… so many things. Where do I start? In March, I plan to begin trying to follow the Motivated Moms household checklist for maintenance tasks. And- all our chore routines need a hearty refresher!

 

I am pondering…Mystie Winckler’s Weekly Review Email that came out this weekend. And-
— she writes:

“It’s about knowing how to show up each morning and how to help the kids do the same. It’s about holding on through the storms – whether the storm is inside us or the storm is the child’s doing or our current situations are storming or it’s all three making a whirling tempest.

We can do it. We must do it.

Sometimes, homeschooling is a mind game –

with ourselves and with our kids.”

Later on, she says, “We are the atmosphere.”

And– I was ready to go deep in and deep under- until Todd pulled me up and out. With nary a blink of the eye. Christ is the atmosphere. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a responsibility. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need to show up with a positive force and focus. But…. he reminded me of a sermon we recently heard at church and one of the points was that the worship leader and that leader’s stainless life is NOT the focus- Christ is the focus.– and the same is true in our homeschool and should always be true.

Thank You, Lord for the gospel. And let me tell you, those storms she lists up there. Yeah. I’ve got all of those.

O! Let me wake up thinking about how to magnify Christ in my homeschool!

Note: there is a lot more to that email- and some wonderful “meat” to chew on. But, the prompt asked, “What am I pondering…” — and, well- there you have it.

One of my favorite things... dairy free whip cream on hot chocolate and coffee! O, I waited years for that stuff.

Something funny…I was at the Chik-Fil-A on Saturday with my Nathanael and Asher. The Chik-Fil-A in my town has a drive through situation that makes my heart race when I am in my big van- but I was enduring for the lemonade! The line wraps around the building through a parking lot complete with a stop sign. I was waiting at the stop sign and looked to the left. There– was a Yield Sign– and I read (in my head):

YIELD:

to the exciting

drivers (!)

and I thought: My! Chik-Fil-A is taking their positive vibe to a whole new level! Then, I read the sign again- and realized it said:

EXITING

drivers

EXITING NOT EXCITING

O! we laughed. And then, laughed again when we told Todd.

A peek into my day… this was not today– but still.

Norah and Mellie painted my toes. One foot purple (M)/the other pink (N). It made me laugh. They did it on a day I wasn’t feeling well. Nurtured by my wee, small girls. And Norah painted her own fingers and toes- blue and pink. Roses- forever my pleasure (thank you, my love). And,– me and tea with my darling.

Mary Oliver

I learned today- as a happenstance-

on social media, no less- 

from another

I consider kindred

that Mary Oliver (renowned poet) died 

yesterday.

This day of mine

-my own-

has been long and full of tumble

yet

I am fighting for this quiet pause

to

acknowledge this beautiful poet

-this soul-

whose prose (A Poetry Handbook) to this day

is in easy reach on my bedside table

and first and still

takes my breath,

distills me in a moment of held time,

makes my

heart to pound with hard, illuminated rhythm,

captivates intellect, soul, -my

self

“Poetry is a life cherishing force. And it requires a vision- a faith, to use an old-fashioned term. Yes, indeed. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes, indeed” (122).

whenever I read her pieces whether

prose or poetry:

a life- giving spark–

lilting hope

even

–the lyric pulse

in me–

quakes to life with a thrumming joyous hum:

and I want to respond to her charge-

so powerfully proffered to her generation and all the world:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild, and precious life?”

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

 

 

What is it I plan to do?

And you?

O, me!

I want to respond to her charge.

Mary Oliver. Thank you.

 

Christmas 2018

(Note: as I was writing this- my youngest daughter had a very bad episode- and I was derailed for a short time. Back now to finish!)

 

I am home from Church with sick little girls. My oldest daughter at the helm with me. The illness is dramatic with choking coughs, inhalers, little girls who whisper with constraint because they fear the cough, a Saturday morning pediatrician sick visit, now antibiotics, ear infections, a vaporizer (first time EVER using one in my entire motherhood– just continually shows me how  there is always more to learn, know, implement, and use–I am frequently surprised in this motherhood journey and realize all I would think I *knew* if I didn’t have the long journey of parenting all the ages for decades), and a grace- given neighbor who literally came (unknowingly to her) my rescue, sat with me, applied her stethoscope, provided (legitimate) medical advice, and was an all around comfort.

(Thank you, friend. Thank You, Lord.) 

In a few moments, Abi and I will spring to action and (hopefully) whisk the house into better shape. She is knitting industriously, and I– I am writing here and pondering. We are all listening to Piano Guys: A Family Christmas which is one of my Christmas favorites.

Blessed Christmas 2018. Sharing some memories and grace gifts. I managed (somehow) to pull our Christmas together amongst the most different advent season we have ever had. It is somewhat of a blur- we had the great delight of hosting overnight guests two weekends in a row, college son coming home, his work commitments, my high school students online classes stretching even through the 21st of December, concerts, and performances. I am resting in this Christmas week as I try to prepare my mind, heart, and home for the next semester of school. Lord, please help me. I am still writing at 66books and here is a link to my most recent post there which refers to this timely, precious week between the change of the years.

Some of our traditions fell to the wayside- but some remained unscathed:

Sunday evening advent; Adornaments; The Advent Book; It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol; Christmas Eve Shepherd’s Meal; Christmas Eve Wrapping Extravaganza; Christmas Cookies

-not enough Christmas story reading- but we are working on that now-

Something I deeply treasured this Advent Season was “tuning” in to Sarah Clarkson’s Advent Poetry readings. She would go live on Instagram (which I would watch when I could) and share the loveliest poetry. I learned many new favorites- the whole experience blessed me tremendously. You can find them here. They are a wonder.

 

Here is a link to Jonah playing my favorite Christmas song (by ear). — his Christmas gift to me. Best gift.

Memories:

Contempic performances (Nutcracker Tea, Town Mall, and Nursing Home) and the treasured friends (and family)who shared them with us

Nathanael’s Cello performance at the Town Mall with CCS string group

Opus Winter Recital

Annual Christmas party and having special guests this year

Cookie Day and Mango Chili

My first time ever eating pomegranate ( I am in love) and the best fruit salad ever

Starbucks after Abi’s Christmas dances with Courtney and her girls

CPYB Nutcracker Performance with Jenny and Emma at the Hershey Theater

Christmas songs, Trumpet playing, Schwenk visit, heart to heart talks

realizing that Bjs wasn’t actually BJs (and time with the Erks)

lunch with Jen and all her wisdom

Being Colin’s Christmas exchange family for this year and the thoughtful, amazing gifts we all received

Amazon Prime’s Little Women and The Christmas Candle on Netflix

Christmas poems for sisters (from Micah)

Jonah’s viola music

Nathanael’s companionship at the shops on Christmas Eve

Taking the little girls to their first ever theater movie with their cousins: Mary Poppins

their happiness and joy in Christmas and (some) dreams coming true…

Happy Christmas!  I am still celebrating… not quite ready to give it all up.

Tomorrow- New Year’s!!

~Rebecca~

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cookie Day 2018 and Filled Snickerdoodles

 

IMG_20181222_143040478

Sugar cookies

We recently had our very first “Cookie Day” with my brother’s family. It was utterly delightful, and I am so glad I said, “yes!” when the idea came to us both in “relatively” early November. I struggled a bit with some aspects of the implementation and am thankful everyone worked together to make this day a sweet success. At the end, the little ones each got to fill a plate with six cookies- knowing that all the rest were going to head to Ama’s for Christmas Day and the days to come.

IMG_20181222_115152630

I fell completely in love with cookie stamps! I found an Irish claddagh. It is a beautiful, stoneware cookie stamp that is even dishwasher safe. Cookie-making with these stamps was so, so fun!

IMG_20181222_115134983

I was so happy to stumble upon a big sale at Michaels. It can be tricky finding safe sprinkles. The choices are limited. 

We set up three stations for the little ones:

decorating sugar cookies

cut-outs

cookie stamps

IMG_20181222_115130234

Ever grateful for my husband who handles the cut-out station to perfection (orderly, organized, calm, fair, and so on!)

Ryan had the fantastic (cozy) suggestion to have crockpots of chili.

He brought a venison mango/sweet potato chili with a spicy kick. We made our turkey salsa/black bean chili.

While three adults manned the stations, my older kids were able to complete almost all of the rest of our Christmas cookie baking. Nathanael and Asher made their traditional peppermint cookie bark, and Abi made filled snickerdooodles.

We have gotten a lot of requests for our filled Snickerdoodle cookie recipe. These cookies are becoming holiday favorites for our teachers and other people we share them with at Christmas-time. They are definitely a festive treat!

I am sharing the recipe below! Merry Christmas, friends!

Filled Snickerdoodles
Cookie:
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup dairy free margarine or coconut oil
2 eggs
2 3/4 unbleached white flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
3 TB cinnamon
3 TB sugar      {for rolling dough balls in}
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Mix first six ingredients into a dough that forms small balls in your hands
Mix cinnamon/sugar mixture
Roll dough into balls and then in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Place on trays and back for 8-10 minutes.
Notes:
we prefer our cookies slightly soft so we choose the shorter cook time
we have found that baking these cookies on stoneware creates the absolute best cookie
coconut oil has a softer, richer texture than dairy free margarine
Filling:
Best Vanilla Frosting
1 stick dairy free margarine or 1/2 cup coconut oil (softened/melted)
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups confectioners sugar
Water or Vanilla flavored dairy free milk such as almond or rice milk
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and whip together
Notes:
we use our basic vanilla/white icing filling or sugar cookie icing
the icing made with coconut oil seems the most delicious- but it is the trickiest to make. If not careful, you can end up with a lumpy mess that is hard to salvage.
Let cookies cool completely. Fill with a light layer of frosting. Place in freezer or refrigerator until ready to give away or serve!
Note to my children: remember to make the cookies on the small, thin side. 🙂

Thanksgiving 2018

My photos aren’t that crisp or clear this year- and it feels a bit symbolic to me. In some ways, this seems (maybe more than I realize) to capture what is unique for Thanksgiving 2018.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1 NIV

 

Thanksgiving 2018
Appetizers
Halo oranges and pretzels
Wheat Thins and Special Sauce
Rippled Chips
Deviled Eggs
Main Meal
Roasted Turkey
Home-made Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Bake
Cranberry Relish (with way more cranberries and way less sugar this year)
Broccoli Salad
Coleslaw
Cucumber and Red Onion Salad (alas our Spring Mix housed Romaine 😦 )
Crusty (home-made) Rolls with Earth Balance
Desserts
(I think we overdid on our desserts this year! But, we eat much for breakfast the next day (and for days after) with scrambled eggs, and dessert recipes are one of the children’s favorite ways to participate in the feast. Everyone has their favorite(s).) 
Apple Pie (Joshua)
Jewish Apple Cake (Nate)
Pumpkin Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Jonah)
Chocolate Cream Pie (twins)
Pumpkin Roll (Asher/Abi)
Pumpkin Bar (Asher/Abi)
Tofutti “cheese” cake with chocolate swirl and fresh squeezed lemon (Norah)