A Poem for September (Sara Teasdale)

September Midnight

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,
Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,
Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,
Ceaseless, insistent.
The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,
The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence
Under a moon waning and worn, broken,
Tired with summer.
Let me remember you, voices of little insects,
Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,
Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,
Snow-hushed and heavy.
Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,
While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,
As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,
Lest they forget them.
Originally published in Poetry, March 1914.
We have been enjoying this poem during our meeting time…and O! I love it so. I pray you do, too.
~Rebecca

Morning Table 2016.17 (Homeschool Snapshots)

Every morning

(Lord willing… there is always a day or two gone astray -real life here)

at breakfast, we meet around the table for 30 minutes or less.

We light candles.

We sing a hymn.

We read a Proverb that corresponds to the day or another choice of devotional material.

I pray for the children, our family, people we love, requests that have been given to me, etc.

Twice a week, my high school students miss this time but they are experiencing high school Bible at an outside of the home class. I miss them. I continue on.

2016/2017 resources

Hymns:

All Creatures of Our God and King, And Can It Be, Amazing Grace, Morning Has Broken, We Gather Together, Come Thou Fount, Praise to the Lord

Review Hymns: Lord of the Dance, This is My Father’s World

Resources:

A Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade (so so pleased with this! short, sweet, and mighty! Strong impact. Love!)

“What’s for breakfast in the morning?”

-Sometimes, I read something, and then- suddenly, a here-to-fore blurred image is instantly crystal clear; singular dots suddenly streak together in a true north straight line; 
“the flash” of insight illuminates a common daily occurrence; such was today-

Every night, when I tuck her in… she asks, “What’s for breakfast in the morning?” It is a plea. It is sweet little girl eyes beseeching me. It is a small face looking for something to anticipate. It is a heart’s desire to elevate the every day to so much more. Every day, her heart is looking for the day to come to be infused with special meaning; anointed with a certain golden shine; in some way lifted above the common daily, every day.

I get it. I do. At least I thought I did.

Every night, I have tried to answer patiently and I have tried to pull freshness and creativity from the oftentimes tired depths of heart and soul.But I have been confused, too. Why the focus on breakfast? Why the importance and glad happiness when I answer with something yum?

I have answered patiently and I have tried to elevate our breakfast because I myself have lived with the choking taste in my mouth of a daily round of duty. Swallowing it back is hard. It doesn’t have to be that way. While there are very good lessons to be learned in contentment and satisfaction with things not being ‘special’ and my love (Todd) is so good at this and has taught our family and kids some great lessons in this-

there is still an innate longing in this small girl (and in me, too, which might be why I have traveled this small path toward insight)

So when I manage, (even hot oatmeal is a treat when presented prettily, crowned with brown sugar, and adorned with blueberries)- how she alights and what soul satisfaction! And I have swallowed back (and sometimes failed) just hushing the sweet seeking spirit (sometimes, cereal is all we’ve got and there is naught a candle to be lit)… I have fought this little battle with an intuitive understanding of this quest for “special” and a practical, life experience with “no-nonsense.”

A little insight dawned when I read this little post. It sent me to investigate the enneagram (which I had never heard of) and my brief foray brought me to a chart I can no longer find anywhere. I have not yet read the book she links in that above post. Anyway, the chart had a personality type with a motivation toward needing things to be ‘special.’ This clicked for me. Deep inside, I was suspecting my small one’s questions were coming from some sort of need inside of her and I didn’t feel right handling it ascetically (very interesting to me that ascetic and aesthetic are so closely related in letters and opposite meanings and relevant to what I am trying to communicate here!)

Then, today, I read this(from Winnie the Pooh ):

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
A.A. Milne

And, there, the stars aligned.

My little darling. My little mix of Piglet and Pooh. My little one, asking “What’s for breakfast?” And really, she’s saying, “What’s going to happen exciting today?” and when the day starts off with a soul satisfying breakfast- well! It can only get better.

And Oh! the wise A.A. Milne and suddenly I felt, I knew. It is time to go deep into this book. It is time to soak the words. And I will cry. I felt the mist already. Because somehow, it is all mixed up with Christopher Robin and my darlings starting kindergarten and…the very end of The House at Pooh Corner… and my last little girl who has never seemed like a little girl as she is always keeping right up with her sisters and truly keeping all of us always on our toes. Oh!!!

And I felt again, the deep, deep connection stories and books weave in my life and in our family. And I can’t grab it back… I can’t grab back those days with one small boy up above my shoulder and the other next to me…and hours and hours of reading. But I am so glad. I am so glad. And now, I have one small girl above my shoulders and the other pulled close across my chest… and this is the day and the time is now. And I am glad, grateful that He always leads me in books and that will be for me, for always, small ones or big ones. Thank You, Lord.

I can’t remember when now. It was sometime last Spring, I think. When I started to feel that our breakfast table was very important. When I started to know I was supposed to prepare breakfast for my people, light candles, and read Scripture. I resisted this. I grew up in a fend for yourself for breakfast household. And I have read godly advice over the years where a large homeschool family did teach all the children to get their own breakfast while the Mom walked and got started on the school day.And I have spent many years, very, very tired in the morning, raising wee ones and up in the night.

But, it is a new season and I felt the Lord calling me differently. I listened. And I obey…sometimes very imperfectly. But I do. And it does crown our day. And it has satisfied a place in my soul. A beauty-longing place. A place seeking meaning.I am supposed to make breakfast. So I do. And I open the Word, and we sing, and we pray.

And now, whenever, my little girl asks me “What’s for breakfast?” and “What’s happening tomorrow?” I will orient myself even more whole-heartedly to answer her from a place of life-giving. Tomorrow is a day where there will be love, and something tasty, and books to read: there will be life.

There will be the richness of a storied life.

Thank You, Lord.

 

Morning Meeting 2016.2017 (Homeschool Snapshot)

Circle Time. This happens twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Sometimes called Morning Meeting. Sometimes called Afternoon Meeting.

Oftentimes, the most precious time of my week.

Every year, I print myself a little itinerary and I put it in the front of my binder with print-outs of the Scriptures and poems behind. I follow that itinerary doggedly. It is the flashlight shining on the thorny way, at times. It helps keep us moving along, which is needed! I also have benedictions/blessings printed out and placed in there for me to choose from as well as a Scripture prayer I pray over the children at the close of each meeting. I also try to have a sweet treat ready to elevate this gathering and generate anticipation!

Here’s what we are doing this year:

Announcements

Hymn Sing/Prayer Requests

Scripture Memory

24 Family Ways

Gratitude Journal

Poetry Focus

Poetry Review/IEW Poetry (learning level 2 this year)

Compliments

Recitation

Literature Study on Tues/Shakespeare on Fri

Fine Art Appreciation

Composer Appreciation

Prayer & Benediction

* our Scriptures

Psalm 100, Psalm 1, 1 John 3, Phillipians 4:4-13

*our potential hymns

Old Rugged Cross, Fairest Lord Jesus, This Is My Father’s World, A Mighty Fortress, Christmas Hymns

Breakfast Hymns: All Creatures of Our God and King, And Can It Be, Amazing Grace, Morning Has Broken, We Gather Together, Come Thou Fount, Praise to the Lord

*our poems

September Midnight by Sara Teasdale, God’s Grandeur by Gerald Manly Hopkins, A Bird Came Down The Walk by Emily Dickinson, Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost, Children, It’s Spring by Mary Oliver, Autumn by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,Artillery by George Herbert,The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, The Smile by William Blake, The Coming by R.S. Thomas

Poems for Review: If, The Eagle, A Psalm of Life, Tyger, The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls, The Children’s Hour, Bicycle Ride, Weathers, Crossing the Bar, Gratefulnesse, Hope is the thing with feathers, Stopping by Woods, Two Roads Diverged in a Wood, The Wind; IEW Level 1 Poetry

Are you having a circle time/meeting time this year? Has it blessed your school? Do you include any rituals to invite beauty, life, and grace? I am thinking about some fresh rituals for our routine.

~Rebecca

 

First Day 2016/17

We began school on Thursday and all in all, I think it went very well. There is always so much joy in the calling, and I am always surprised and grateful when it floods me. Yet it always does. Such confirmation.

The cuteness of the kindergartners is enough to burst the cheeks from grinning. There are also strong emotions as they figure themselves out side by side with someone else.

We also had ‘waterworks’ as Ama would say because they were denied the ‘right’ to share their little sister’s preschool workbook. I just laughed. They have their own, large, brand new stack of school books. Crying could not sway me.😉

I will try again to start the day with beauty and light. We did today. I think it makes a difference! And coffee. Lots of coffee.🙂

I am thinking about doing a little homeschool series, highlighting different areas of our school, what we are using, and how we are doing it. I always enjoy such posts and learn a lot, even when it is completely different than what I would use.

I am realizing that these are the last two years. The last two years of our school expanding, expanding. In two years, seasons change again, and we start to fledge. I think I will begin to group college aged children together when that time comes and take their photos. Because they will still be my darlings and my ministry even as roles change (they shift each year of life, yes?) I pray God helps me figure it out as I need to.

notebooksgridIMG_20160902_224126firstdaytable

 

 

 

Endless Gifts: Its September

 

Feeling completely underneath the mountain, as I begin to organize next school year. I remember my dear friend who said: you are always just one roll from being on top your game! Just keep rolling that ball. (We have now begun our year and all is *mostly* organized.) It took August. And now, its September and we have begun and I am walking in grace and seeking God. I still have so many piles.

A maybe “final” swim at her house, and what will I remember? All the grace poured out on me, on us, as my children rub elbows with each other. I’ll remember.

Meatballs in the crockpot. Meatballs over rice.

Safe travels for a weekend ‘home’

Milestones:

Joshua swimming in the deep: he graduated.

Norah, jumping off the diving board to Todd. Again, again. She is so brave and courageous. So satisfied with stretching out, stretching herself and these adventures. She goes boldly forward. I love her.

Micah- beat Grandad at basketball. And this is a day to remember.

the electric bicycle

tents in the backyard.

 

A brother, at the grill, in the widest brimmed hat, cranking out the hot dogs and hamburgers

Mini-figure joy and she came home with the ballerina. Love.

Couches with my sister. And a helpful talk.

A surprise for my Mom- that was truly a surprise and a bakery cake after all these years…

and that said… finding a kosher bakery… and how the tastes brought back childhood memories for my Mom

my two aunties and my Mom. I grew up in the sunshine of their love for each other. Still loving after all these years… and the sisterly kiss as they say goodbye and Todd, “its like I am looking at the future…30 years from now” They love. I love.

Me, in the pool, every morning, after long years of no swimming. Thanks to a beloved Aunt and a wonderful, long black swim skirt. And also, babies getting bigger and puddle jumpers! Those things have turned our swim times(with little non-swimmers) around!

time to sit and talk with a dear friend, eat salads and desserts, and hide away from the crowd

Talking til 3 a.m. with my brothers and a french pressed tea pressed deep into my heart. I cupped it like I cup him, to my heart.

Cinnamon Rolls for a first day breakfast, and pictures, and kindergarten and the day my small one sat in my lap for three stories. She is so busy, I treasured the soft weight of her and her sweet head under my chin.

Pretty hair for my girls.

The last summer squash cake. Devoured.

Walks at our “MD greenway” and my favorite are the sunset walks when the trees blacken and the gold streams out across the sky

two sweet girls who held hands with my darlings, listened to their chatter, and added special fun to a walk

the sudden change in air, the weather. Out of nowhere, after a summer so hot, I sometimes felt choked, autumn strokes my cheek in promise. When its 100 degrees, its hard to believe it will ever be crisp and brisk again. It will. It is. And I just can’t get enough. Wind, sun, cool air, freshness. I watch leaves begin to twirl at a house I love and my heart knows its promise.

The butterflies. They are here too. The Swallowtails. They are here. And they soothe my soul and comfort my heart. And the magic of their flutter- what can compare? It is like they bless the days- as they glide by.

I, trying to soak the sunshine, cause I remember so well all those long gray days last winter… when it feels hard to remember the sun can shine so bright. It can. It will.

The seasons roll with a predictability that ought to bring comfort. I am like a child. I can’t see. I need to trust. Trust and rest in each day, each season.. and remember those words she said to me… all the sincerity shining from beautiful eyes, from many goodbyes, from relentless change… “Just treasure each day. Treasure each day. That’s all you can do.” If I live my life, treasuring the days, will I accumulate for myself, a necklace of the most priceless jewels? I will wear it round my heart, and at will and whim, hold one gem to the light, where all the love and beauty will catch the moment’s color. It is the way to make them mine forever.

The hawk gliding, the breeze blowing and all the senses alive, the sounds, the feel, the fresh breeze smells, and his music on the bluetooth, where ever he is, singing our hearts out, … into the summer, this summer that is spinning its glorious self out. Stretching these last golden days… September.

Endless Gifts. Even in the hard. I find You.

~Rebecca

The Things They Say

I am sitting on the floor in the family room. We are in a full out hustle to get the laundry all put away. Three little girls are folding towels like champs. I am impressed with their skill, accuracy, and speed. (I come to learn they have recently been under the tutelage of their Dad in this area.)

Then suddenly, little Aymee announces, loudly:

“One time, when you were going for a walk with Ms. Laney (yes, this is what she said! She got the name wrong in a delightful way and I changed spelling for privacy but too cute not to share!), Melodee made a mistake- (dramatic emphasis!)

“Melodee put the towels in the trash can!!!”

The trash can opens with a foot pedal. The drawer opens with a pull of the hand. I am trying to see the connection here. They are both located in the kitchen.

We are in the family room. Melodee is busily, at this very moment, putting kitchen towels away in the drawer- in the kitchen. She is coming quickly back to the work before us and says,

“Yes, I did.”

And then!

“I picked them out! And I didn’t wash my hands!”

This is said with dramatic emphasis- because they know how I feel about washing hands! Very important in our family. And they are very sure they are completely shocking me.

But! O But.. the next part of this tale…!

Every little girl is brimful of the effect this shock is having upon me. Every little girl is seeing a certain humor in this situation. Eyes bright, cheeks puffed. Tale told.

I am all, all astonishment! Complete astonishment. So then I gently ask,

“What did you do with those towels?”

“I picked them out and I put them in the drawer.”

O my.

So. We had a little chat about what to do should said children ever again accidentally make the mistake of putting towels in the trash can and that we should always WASH OUR HANDS!

Apparently, this was last week some time. So, we made it through all those towels- with no apparent ill effect. Thank You, Lord!

The Things They Say (and do!)

Endless Gifts- Summer

the swirl of hair on the nape of her neck

How she throws her head back and laughs overflowing

Her little cackles, chuckles, delicious giggles

My girl, Mellie, saying, “I want to go outside and smell the air and pick the flowers…”

Norah saying, “So yummy good! And good! And good!”

The Black butterfly, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, that felt so free and comfortable to float round and round us on a Friday morning washed in sunshine

Chocolate Cake

My friend sent me home with a zippy bag of tea, and when I went to the website to find its name- to share it here- I found a Downton Abbey Tea! O! kindred spirit. Too fun!

The recent day she (Aymee) learned to pump and swing all by herself…and how she flies- so high! My heart.

walks at ‘sandy mountain’

haircuts for all us girls, O! “crea clip” how I love thee! And how I love all of our hair and forever the fun of keeping it pretty.

A “spa day” for my little girls with hair cuts and showers and toe nail painting

The hepa filter with UV light on the HVAC that is literally changing my life. I am shocked at the difference in myself. Shocked- and SO so SO so SO happy!

The grand expanse of sky turning gold, flaming rose pink, with always that hint of indigo and blue

Deep and heartfelt talks

Somehow, it all working out for music lessons again for fall

the way the water mirrors the sky and suddenly, I think I might have made a leap… that verse where God separated the waters from the waters…pondering

Open arms of forgiveness and soaking all that it means

Aymee and Mellie folding bath towels- that seem giant next to their five year olds selves… and Mellie, in a firm yet sweet way, exhorting her sister to stay out of her space as she stretches that towel long and works to fold it neatly

candles on my table and yellow squash cake and blueberry bread and goodness

warm teas with collagen, comfort

a swim skirt!!!

a drive in the rain and a comfy cushy couch and a sweet friend’s listening ear and all the rich beauty, and the frog that hopped at my feet, and the way the air was so full of creature song, and the arms of trees

eating the mouthful of bitter, the gravel taste, the choke of it, swallowing it down and finding out, its all okay on the other side, its all okay when the journey takes you longer and farther and harder than you hoped and learning again and again how to give it all to God

looking at the hard and at the regret, and so grateful for the chance to get up again and do it better in His grace

three boys drawers, organized (mostly)

Scout shirts brightened for a new year

always counting all these endless gifts, grace in my days

 

 

 

 

 

Practicing Philippians 4:4-9

I crafted this post awhile ago… and I have mulled over it and pondered it. I am sharing it now. Scripture is so rich. I can study it every day forever and it will still keep revealing itself to my heart again, and again in new ways and with comfortable familiarity that is a refuge to me. Textures and depths. Forever.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.(bold italcs mine -ESV)

This passage of Scripture is one which has been a strength and help to me over many years and in many different seasons. And I have prayed to overcome anxiety and I have laid out my requests one by one…as best I can… and I have built my faith meditating on the supernatural peace of God which surpasses all understanding.

However, Scripture isn’t a band aid that you just slap over a problem and voila! (in this case) – no more anxiety. No.

Yet- It is-

power. It is life. It is hope. It is help. It is guidance. It is light. It is something to practice to elevate our experience from natural to supernatural. (We do not elevate it ourself- it is the Spirit of God)To release the supernatural within us- that is our inheritance through the Spirit of Christ within.

I personally have experienced sometimes constant guilt as I battle anxiety and have been quoted Scripture after Scripture and yet I am not just turning around and walking in peace. It feels wrong to admit how scared, worried, helpless or hopeless you truly feel to other members of the body of Christ.  I ponder: How hard am I willing to battle for the Peace of Christ? I think this is a relevant question for me- because even though all is given freely in Christ- there is still a warfare in our members and the spiritual battle is real. It is a battle just to show up in the morning, in the time and place I have appointed.

How hard are we willing to battle for anything worth having in the Lord? Purity, Love, Holiness, Peace, a rich family life, a Christian heritage- for example.

So, I have pressed hard- and missed the mark, too. Trying to grind my way to righteousness, to holiness-

to peace-

is futile.

God wants everything. Everything is ours to lay before Him. Nothing too futile, too small.

There is gentle simplicity.. There is child-like coming. There is true power. But it is not mine, it is Christ’s. It is released in my obedience and faith.

I love this. ‘Practice’ these things. Be like a little child, doing the same skill over and over and over and over. Simply. Faithfully. Until it becomes a part of you. You own it and its yours.

Do not worry over all the areas that are so far from this perfection. Simply begin and practice one by one. I need that guarding and I need that peace. And more than anything, I need that supernatural peace of God and His ability actively working in my life.

To practice something is to perform an activity or skill regularly in order to gain or maintain proficiency.  We practice to increase our excellence. We practice so that when a time of need arises, the “muscle memory” is there to answer the need.  Practice is needed to learn a new skill and gain mastery. Practice is needed to maintain a skill you have already gained.

Practices are activities we engage in to build virtue, invite an atmosphere, and form a new reality. Practices are also activities we engage in to cement skills.

I practice Philippians 4:4-9 by making it a part of my Bible Time often. Sometimes, I journal it through Scripture journaling. Very helpful. Writing the verse out helps my mind to slow down and focus on each word. And then, I sit with it, working through and applying every verse to my life, myself. It is an exercise I engage in. I practice Philippians 4 when I turn my mind to it in the midst of a battle. I begin choosing the good, lovely, pure, excellent. I put my trust in God. Trust that He will flood me with His reality and answer the petition of His Word. When I get up, and am overwhelmed again by an anxious circumstance… I do not condemn myself. I walk on. Hopefully, the verses rise to the forefront.

And the next day, when I rise,

I am practicing again.

Grace and Peace,

Rebecca

Twins Turn 5

My darlings turned 5 in July and my heart is so full, it overflows my eyes and trickles down my cheeks.Even now, when I try to write their birthday blog post!

I have so many memories and every year, when their birthday rolls around, I can’t help but remember the many weeks of pain and discomfort as they grew inside and we waited and waited. Making enchiladas for Todd’s birthday this year brought back so many memories as that was the meal we had the year they were due.

They had a chicken nugget dinner and they each chose their cake. They love the song Jesus Loves Me and Aymee will often break into the song, “Come Thou Fount” which is so interesting to me because that was the hymn I used to sing to all my babies as I rocked and rocked them.

A friend once said about their much longed for daughter: A dream is a wish your heart makes and you are my dream come true. This is exactly how I feel about my darlings. I remember the day I was driving down a windy road in North Carolina wondering/thinking that maybe my heart desire to have a daughter, a sister for my Abi and a little girl to name after my own beloved sister was just a wish of my own and not the will of God. The special key here is how much of a gift in life and in God my sister is to me.

And how astonished the day, I learned there were two, and then the day I learned they were girls! I remember standing outside our mini-van in Asheville- calling my mom, then my sister. Sharing the astonishing, amazing, wonderful news!

How grateful, beyond grateful I am to have them, to have gone through twin pregnancy safely, to have birthed them safely (first and only c-section), to have been able to nurse them successfully. And now, to begin kindergarten with them!

They are a dream of my heart come true and true to Himself, more than I could ever ask or imagine. Too full for words. So- photos!

 

 

Happy Birthday my darlings!

Ephesians 3:20-21

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.