Western North Carolina

Western North Carolina
 
When we first moved here- one of our adjustments (minor…major… not sure where to qualify it) revolved around dogs. Dogs you say? Yes, I nod. Dogs. Dogs here in rural North Carolina roam free. They can roam in packs. They can be single, solitary, bedraggled pups or old, impaired, foggy eyed mutts. They can also be fierce, territorial Labradors bent on terrorizing you. Really.  We had an experience here with the latter and I was stunned and shocked by the counsel I received to “pack a BB gun” and zing the dogs. Honestly, I had never even seen a BB gun( I still haven’t, actually)- let alone know how to aim and fire one. Wide-eyed, I repeated, “Shoot them with BB guns?” The next question  was concerned with injuring dogs.(strangely concerned it seems, as the dogs certainly showed no such sensibility about hurting me.) Oh- I was assured I wouldn’t injure the dogs- just scare them. Suddenly I realized that every time our landlord was around- even every time his truck started to rumble down the long gravel road- there was nary a dog in sight. Once he was gone- swarms of dogs (and I am not kidding) would come and make their home around the house and in the yard. Turns out he and his brother and father, used to be working on the roof and would aim and fire every time a dog put a paw near the property. They learned and learned well.
Todd nicknamed all the wild dogs that roam free –  “dingoes” and we see dingoes just about every day. Dingoes roaming free. Dingoes running at our car. Seems since we moved here- they have tightened some of the laws surrounding dogs, possession and where they can go when they are “wild” and roaming uncollared and unclaimed. Still- it is very different here than in PA (leash laws, you know) even with the “belt tightened” a little.
Hmmm…
 
Fast forward three years.
 
Tall son is 9. It is time to begin considering 4-H. One of the clubs is called the Sharp-Shooters. My thoughts shift toward BB guns and dogs. In my heart, I purpose. My sons will be in that club. They will learn to “pack a BB.” They won’t experience the inept inadequacy I feel- just trying to walk down our half-mile mountain road to the mailbox.  I can’t teach them how to shoot a “BB” gun. I have no experience. Zero. I don’t want that for them… that terrified feeling that comes because all of us sans Todd were attacked by dogs here in a horrible, tear-stained encounter.
 
I am on the phone with my beloved sister. She tells me about her day. She rear-ended someone in the busy intersection by her house on her way to tutor. I close my eyes. I see that intersection. I see the urban/suburban area where she lives. I know it well.  I see her in the midst of that traffic in PA.  I see myself. Rural, winding mountain roads. An intersection like that is an hour away.
 
Then I start to tell her about 4-H, Micah, and BB guns. I say,”I don’t want him to have to feel scared and unprepared when out on our roads. I want him to know how to “bing” a dog to scare him off. Not hurt him. …just “bing” him a little and he’ll run away. I want him to have that confidence and skill.”  There I am- nonchalantly and seriously talking about BB gun education. She starts to laugh. I laugh and laugh too. Our lives. Hers at intersections, mine with BB guns. I remember how incredulous I was when I was first told to shoot a dog a with a BB gun. Me, a dog, and a BB gun. Somehow those three (that combination)just never seemed to dwell together. Ever. I was shocked. I called home. I told everyone who knew me. They understood my shock. You would too.  Three years later- here I am. Calmly, seriously talking about BB guns and my family in the same sentence.  How things change after just three years. Cause in some ways- BB guns are just part of life.
 
I feel the mountain area working inside of me. From the inside out. Enlarging me, my experiences, our culture, even our lives. That mountain air, that North Carolina climate, that wilderness mountain- wild and free- is leaving its imprint on our hearts.
 
Three years later, BB guns are just a part of the package. Just like waterfalls, glorious color in the fall, and a crazy tax season. Just like an early Spring, “dingoes”, and smoke scarves embracing the mountains.
 
I tell my son about the 4-H. He brings up the Sharp-Shooters. “Mom, I want to learn to shoot a BB gun so we can walk down our mountain road and not be afraid. I won’t hurt them. I just want to scare them off.”
Blue eyes stare at me, serious and straight.  He stands tall, an echo of future man-ness. “Then we’ll walk down our road and not be afraid.” His heart beats strong to protect.  I’m proud of the intent of Micah’s heart. I’m amazed we want the same things with the same goals. I ponder the boy heart yielding to the man heart. I want to do all I can to support the godly instinct to be strong for those who are weak.
 
Then—
 
Inside, I laugh again. I laugh at the changes that have come our way, inside and out. I laugh at the enlargement of our experiences. I laugh at myself, knowing BB gun education is integral here.  A smile plays at the corners of my mouth. .
 
When I drive down my mountain road, I’ll think of my sister in that urban intersection.
I’ll see myself.
I’m learning through all these years.
 

Waterfall

The waterfall is “back” in rushing wonder.
The air- smells- so … fresh and sweet.
I have long wondered about another sound of water that I have often heard since the drought lifted.
Today- I found the source… another waterfall- a rushing stream- banking the side of our property- down below, down the steep, craggy side of our mountain.
 
It is a source of wonder.
We had no idea when we bought this house that there would be a literal, beautiful- personal waterfall… just for us.
The drought was so severe- there was no sign of it- just the steep side of black rock imbedded in the mountain.
All rock up there- the builder said- and so we thought- just a rock face on the side.
But, no, instead,
the runway, the channel,
for a personal waterfall that dances in all its glory- after the rain and rushes down the mountain side and then down again some more.
 
I let the children out today- to joy in the ice cold water. And then in again, to table, working entries in nature journals.
 
This sight of that water did my own soul good. Just beautiful- amazingly near and real. Soothing sound and all…
by tomorrow it will be a trickle-
but today
we gloried
in its gift.

Delicious Banana Muffins

Favorite Banana Muffins

6 bananas

1 1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup oil ( I usually use Canola in this recipe)

6 eggs, well beaten

4 tsp. baking powder

3 tsp. vanilla

4 cups flour (can use a mix of wheat and unbleached white)

This recipe makes 24 muffins plus a one inch or so banana “bread.”

Set oven at 400 degrees. Line Muffin cups. Grease a bread pan. Mash bananas in bottom of extra-large mixing bowl. Add sugar and oil and mix well. Whip eggs thoroughly in small bowl. Add to Mix. Mix thoroughly. Add 4 tsp. baking powder and three tsp. vanilla. Mix. Mix in flour, one cup at a time. Mix batter until smooth.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Add remaining batter into banana bread pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until done at 400 degrees.  Optional yumminess for a special occasion: add 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips before adding flour.

We made these (without chocolate chips and using only unbleached white flour (this time) ) on Friday morning.  Everyone loved them.

Note:  for those who might be interested- yes- you could use applesauce to replace half the oil. No, I have not done it!

Yum!

A New Day

Strong 6 turned 7 one late November day.

Sweet 5 grew in confidence and courage.

Mountain drive bike riding has begun again.

Trike and big wheel have been traded for “Rocket”(child’s bike-no training wheels; flame red) and “Bikey”(purple and white little girl bike;training wheels).

Mountain rides have begun again. Begun in perfect order. No intense racing now. Polite taking of turns as bikes swish down the rocky gravel drive.

Sometimes, even making way, for Little Boy as he braves the gravel on his trike.

7  has learned to balance and maneuver. Sweet 5 feels more confident and brave.

Helmets on, handlebars gripped tight.

He, hopeful to continue on Rocket. (He has lost the privilege a few times due to reckless driving…)

She, testing out those brakes. Still- she’s fast.

She is riding again.

Torpedoes?

Day waxes long.
Rush of children fill home in from outside; ready for lunch.
Lunch. Lunch is late.
Strong 6- now 7
washing up in the bathroom-
Mom hurrying with peanut butter, bread, and jam…
children all around …
7 shouts over his shoulder..
“Mom- when are you going to make those… torpedoes again. I really liked those torpedoes…””
Mom stops spreading peanut butter. Looks across the room- “Torpedoes? What’s a torpedo?”
Tall Son at the table- quickly offers-
“An explosive!”
Second son calls from the play yard where he is supervising baby,”Something shot by air force planes!”
“A weapon of war-“Tall Son calls again…
“No-No” I say- “not torpedoes— he means something else…” I try to get my words out before more accurate descriptions of torpedoes fly across the room.
Second son leaves the play yard. Hurriedly, he reappears holding two favorite air force planes in hand. Begins to offer a detailed explanation of what a torpedo is-complete with a visual.
(Thank you son… I, I know what a torpedo is…)
Strong 7 says- “you know- those rolled up things you make Mom…” the words trail off…
Mom smiles…”Tortillas… you mean tortillas…”
Other boys say “Oh… tortillas.”
I look down at second son.
“I, I know what a torpedo is…”
Takes a little realization for them to understand.
We laugh.
They really thought I didn’t know what a torpedo was.
Boys. The things they say.

Embracing the Day; Embracing the Life

Lyrical words waft through the house. Strains from Sons and Daughters flood the atmosphere-

truth-revealing,

                    mind refreshing,

                                    thought- renewing

“Mercy’s robe, a ring of grace, such favor undeserved…”

I stand- caught in that moment. Caught; Held in a supernatural moment of Grace.

His Reality.

Pause,

I breathe.

Listen.

Open eyes

of my heart.

We have been on this path, homeschooling our children, for at least 5 years now… and each year-

it becomes more real. Real that we have left old things behind and embraced a new and different way. And I have found cupfuls, nay- oceans of His Grace- but I have to stop and listen, pray, and watch to be there to receive it.  I am learning to embrace the imperfection each day brings to me and I am learning to find Him in it.

Each day brings cherished little ones to seek and bigger ones to guide…and each day with its imperfection- shows me more my need of Him. Stepping down this path, at times, feels unfamiliar and uncertain. Other times, we find ourselves in moments of pure joy.

I have found  peace in an embracing of this life. And in an embracing of each very own day with its very own challenges, stresses, and strifes.  

Heart stretched out, with steps of faith, held up by Grace… Embrace the Day!

A Word To Myself

After writing my blog post about my passion for books and developing a heritage library, maintaining reading lists, etc. I found myself in the Word. I have been spending slow time in 1 John.

This succinct verse stopped me short and caused me to ponder.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21 ESV.  O- the tenderness of those words… little children

And… keep yourselves… I must take my part of the responsibilty to guard and watch my heart.

And the note:Keep yourselves from idols means keep yourselves from trusting, obeying, revering, following- that is-in effect, worshiping-anyone or anything other than God Himself, and His Son Jesus Christ. (ESV note on 1 John 5:21)

I consider myself warned. My passion for books (or anything else for that matter) must never override my passion for the Lord. In this I see my need for grace- for my heart is prone to wander…

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.”

third stanza of one of my favorite hymns… Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing

Listening/Write My Heart

Listening…

                I scribble fast —

I hear —

                 I find —

                                    I see

                                     The words, they rush

Then stutter

                        Stop

                                Undone.

 

What’s On My Mind

This past week I read several things in the blogosphere and in real life that have been twirling around my mind. This post is an effort to make sense of it and gather it together- and maybe benefit someone else too!!

At Holy Experience I read this- and felt myself nodding in agreement and sighing too-

I also decided to make her list in The Library under Family my reading list for this year. So many great titles that I have looked at and pondered over before… Seeing that list made me feel like she could be a friend… 😉

On the subject of reading lists… I love to read. I love to study. I love to think deep and meaningful thoughts that then inspire me to live a more excellent life. However, with the addition of all of our children, homeschooling, multi-tasking- I find it hard to find the time I want to read and I had been starting to feel guilty about my desire in this area. I also love books. I love books. We already have a somewhat extensive home library. I was beginning to feel guilty about this, too. I can’t keep my oldest son in books. He is a vacuum. 🙂 It can get very expensive! My second son- is not the same advanced reader as my first- and it is a challenge to find the literature that will engage him and not overwhelm him. He is also extremely visual. So- what has met the needs of my first born- doesn’t meet his needs. He needs a different “diet” of nourishing reading. Anyway- I was beginning to feel worried about this passion of mine… but then this week I happened upon some things that have encouraged me in this direction- that I just seem to take “naturally”…

I followed a link from Coffee, Tea, Books, and Me and found myself here. Copperswife writes an excellent article about developing a Heritage Library! O how encouraged I was! This is a long article that I will return to several times if not again and again. Copperswife also wrote this– an article on why it is important for the Christian woman to commit to and keep up with a varied reading diet. Well- that seemed to answer some of my concerns. The sweet blogger at Passionate Homemaking keeps a committed list of reading too and crosses them off as she completes each one.  I found her list quite inspiring as well. I had been doing some reading at CharlotteMasonHelp.com last week and in her articles on organization she has the Ten Habits of A Happy Homeschool. One of her habits was to keep four books going at all times…

Finally- I just received Sarah Clarkson’s  book  Read for the Heart in the mail. Joy of Joys! What a delight of a book. This book (which I have just begun) has only reaffirmed desires deep within my heart for our family. It has also given me a vision of what intentional reading and parenting can produce in a child. The long-term vision of what my choices and efforts can impart… that has been a motivating vision indeed.

So- there are some of the thoughts swishing through my mind.

Sweet Sunday

How I wanted to throw a dark green or red tablecloth over the table and add to the special festiveness of our Sunday dinner. Most Sundays find us gathered round our table in the evening…with an audio book playing (some I have trouble paying attention to: such as A Child’s History of England by Charles Dickens 🙂 ). Tonight’s choice(made by Dad) was to begin the Focus on the Family Radio Drama of C.S. Lewis The Lion, The Witch, and the Wadrobe. Our family did not enter Narnia lightly. We have taken it seriously and cautiously- dealing with the themes of magic, fantasy, and witches. The boys and I worked through a Christian guide to Narnia with the books we have read thus far and we have approached it as a family- all together. Our Narnia adventure has led to some wonderful discussions!  My little ones have been exposed to more than I would have wished, though. That part grieves me- although they do not seem any worse for wear- thus far- but I must be very intentional in shepherding their precious hearts.

I have been finding entering the world of Tolkein and Lewis to be extremely enlightening. It is amazing how many references are made to C.S. Lewis- whether in a sermon we hear or in a book we are reading. I am finding it helpful for cultural literacy that we are approaching these books and this author (and also Tolkein with my oldest- but that is another post).

Back to our Sweet Sunday…

no tablecloth to be found (yet)… but we gathered round the table all together to enjoy our Sunday dinner. As I mentioned- most Sundays we can be found… feasting… on a more elaborate than usual dinner- and then I have the ease of serving leftovers on Mondays- which is usually one of my hardest days of the week.

Sweet Sunday’s Feast

Country Style Pork Ribs with home-made Barbecue Sauce and Pineapple Rings

Green Salad with vegetables; home-made Honey Mustard dressing(my very favorite and such a treat now that we have eggs!!!), French, or Balsamic Vinagrette

Organic (It really does make such a difference) home-made Mashed Potatoes

Pineapple Upside- Down Biscuits

Natural Applesauce

Ketchup (of course!) those of you who know us are nodding heads and snickering because ketchup is its own food group in our house!

I am inspired to keep the specialness in our Sunday dinner and make our feasts enjoyable.

In Him,

~Rebecca