Endless Gifts #59 – #86

Breathe. Begin counting. Write it down. Cup the days.

59. The first step is always to begin. Begin again, and again, and again.

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60. A custom hot cocoa made by a rapidly growing big small son, crafted just for me

61. The moment when I realize that the “little voice,” the “insistent thought that wouldn’t leave,” “the direction” to hop on the rower to rehabilitate my knee (and possibly my life) is actually and truly a real, a very real thing. In some ways, it was an awakening.

{actually hop is not exactly what I do, I realize, as I read this over- it is more like gingerly place myself and position the sore knee(s)}

62.And the difference is… I commit. Thinking on that long and hard… the commit. And how sometimes, no matter how much I want to, I can’t- and sometimes, no matter how much I don’t want to, I do. Is it timing? Is it Grace? Is it Will? In some ways, it is. But I know when there is no going back. 

63. Rowing to recital video clips (rowing in general) ( the music, a silver lining to a broken monitor with no replacement in sight because of coronavirus.) {Can I just say it again? The erg. Truly, an endless gift (during a pandemic)}

-and-

64. years of Opus recitals, and I remember again why it is all worth it

65. orange ginger mint tea, hot and steaming, again, again, again

66. the building of a life-giving morning routine; I read, I research, I take a small step; I journal, I row, I tidy (a bit); I struggle with myself- and then I realize it is a big thing, and it takes time. One small layer at a time. Do not despise the day of small things.

67. days to sleep with nowhere to go

68. the sweep of the fan on the heat of my skin

69. the reading life, how I love it

70. the way a rough little poem sprung out from the dark, literally

71. working from home

72. the first blooms on the lilac from my grandmother’s plant, and the promise of their grace on the poetry party table

73. a poetry party in which we all participated and all the poems shared from an original work to funny to valiant to serene to dramatic to serious (but I forgot the lilacs… so will have to bring them in for something else!)- and in which I learn a day later, that there were actually *two* original works performed at the party; there is more than one parent poet in this family. 🙂

74. pick-a-party diversions

75. the peaceful hush falling over the house during the rainy afternoon when the children are happy because they’ve participated in something meaningful and so they play in harmony

76. A DUO call with my mom; I watch her face across my screen. There is one moment where I see her: I see myself, I see my sister. We are in the turn of her face, the glint of her eye, we are in the crispness in her laugh as she and I share a moment of solidarity in COVID frustration. Confessions of less than perfect moments where we admit we have been found to talk aloud to phones and screens, to tvs, and computers “shouting” an opinion or a dissenting view in the face of all the pandemic unknowns, shifting news, and so on.  It just bubbles up and out, and in that, we laugh together, indignant and commiserating. We are not alone. Even more, we are in comraderie and in relationship. The realness of the moment captures me. Her brown eyes sparkle, her face- animated. I imprint her face on my mind, her laugh, her animated expression. I miss her.

77. a morning I wake up full of every negative thought racing through my head like a river and… in the bathroom, literally stopped short by a counter melody singing out to me:

 78. “I will build my life upon Your love, it is a firm foundation; I will put my trust in You alone, and I will not be shaken.” The words don’t turn me around, but I keep them close. I keep them through the day. I listen again, and again. I listen while I row. I listen while I type. I think about that great Love and what it means, and what it is…

79. On a day, I admit a struggle- a day I reach out and let the lowness be known, and am answered swiftly with prayer and Scripture and solidarity and grace and comfort and hope

80. On the same low day, there is a knock at the door; there is a doorbell ring. We all freeze. We aren’t expecting anyone. Anyone at all. There is my brother on the doorstep. Masked and all. And in his hand, masks for us. I can’t stop looking at his face, listening to his voice. All week, I had been thinking about how I was feeling desperate to see faces and had pondered standing at the edge of his driveway to call to him on his front stoop. Especially when  I saw photos of my PA family social distancing while “visiting.” And there he was. In the flesh. We talk. We talk awhile. We can’t stop talking. We both talk about said PA family and how we felt seeing those photos and stories. Same. I don’t think I will EVER take in-person visits for granted again. There is something about the physical presence of a person, their warmth, their life, the look on their face, the lift in their voice.

(note, I miss you all- you know who you are)

81. And what is the lesson for me, on my low, low day- with my hair in disarray and my wreck around clothes? I ponder. There is a lesson, and I am thinking hard on it

82. my darlings, who need me, and in whom is so much rich treasure and joy

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83. these days with all my children at home and they way each view the world from their own unique perspective- what they bring to my life; what they bring to us all! I watch the photo slideshow on the big screen (years of our family, a minute a time) and my heart hurts- the way it is often wont to do. How much changes and so very fast? I gasp. What is a family, I wonder? And these children who take so much of us, our very life, to grow up and outward and on. I see the face of the man who has changed along with me, along with all these rapidly growing children, over all these years, and suddenly I see us, a family. He and I. My hand in his.

84. The way I find myself lost, only to be found in Him. Blurry vision comes into focus, and I am grateful!

85. art lessons with Nana; these are a gift

86. This song:

 

 

 

 

 

Notes from Quarantine #1

We are ending week 2 of Social Distancing to protect against Coronavirus in Maryland.  Pictures show stacks of books I have high hopes to imbibe.  Republic of Tea for days at home and – I have since learned- for doctoring up with Vitamin C for sickness immunity boosters. A family favorite chicken soup recipe to nourish sick ones, including me. The view from my bed where I rest as my son puts a mug next to him on his bed. A family that has fallen sick by ones, twos, and threes in a very unexpected way considering that we have been basically home and no where else.

 

Week 1 found me scrambling to adjust to one son going online for college while another was home on a slightly extended spring break. Decisions were being made with literally lightning speed and changed rapidly from one day to the next. On one memorable Thursday, life was changing every two hours until I collapsed into bed just before midnight and learned my homeschool review was postponed (it was supposed to happen the very next morning) just as I was getting ready to try to go to sleep. Before the end of that day, we also knew we would have both our college boys home with us for the duration.

In the midst, it seemed like almost every activity we participate in went online at all different times, and I found myself off-kilter trying to keep track of it all.  Very off-kilter. I got times wrong. I even forgot one lesson altogether. With my smaller children, the Zoom life requires a lot from me. However, with older children, I have all different people zooming in different rooms in different classes and on, on. It makes for very unusual times. It makes me laugh, but it also makes me sigh.

Suddenly, I had all of my normal responsibility  plus much more.

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In general, I gather around myself reading material to nourish my mind, my life. As public activities began to shutdown, I gathered more choices, secretly feeling a delight that I might get to immerse myself in ideas and words and life-shaping thoughts. Then, I couldn’t figure out how to get a bit of reading time regularly partly due to responsibilities/partly due to stress/partly due to anxiety.

I wonder- is it merely the presence of books- or their content that brings me comfort? Because I have certainly gathered a mass around myself, and yet, in the past week, I have struggled to have the centered headspace for the quiet concentration needed to read. Ultimately, I realize it is the words themselves. I am better for time spent with a poem, a chapter, a verse. My mind settles and calms and centers. I find the deep stillness that is at the heart of my soul, that I need so desperately and am for which need I am so often oblivious.

Why is it so hard for me to know (and validate) what I need? Is this an Enneagram 2 thing?  Note: I don’t even know if I am a 2-

Sometimes, I wonder.  

Week 1. I began a practice of three poems a day.  O, how it settled me. Lingering in the language and allowing the beauty to fill me and permeate my mind-  I had hopes of tucked in days building a rhythm, reading, homeschool days, more rest, relationships, Yet, I began a battle with anxiety that scattered my mind and my focus; it has been a dark tunnel and a very much UNwanted companion.  Todd, still going into to the office and working long, long hours. Trying to maintain the normal routines of our homeschool family with the addition of new routines. It was a bit of a bobble.

Week 2. Week two arrived and with it a surprising illness stealthily slinking through our family.  My practice (three poems)- while not entirely by the wayside, certainly fell to inconsistency, as I myself got sick- and to bed, I went with a brain too fatigued to handle much of anything. At this time, we are pretty sure we are merely traveling through a spring virus, but it is no small thing to journey through illness during a pandemic when you have hardly been out of the house and can literally count the days patient zero could have been exposed to anything.  We have been so healthy this year- hardly sick at all. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we went down with so many children with fevers and congestion. O, March. You are definitely putting February to shame.  Todd, now working from home as precaution with illness at home. More changes in the day -to-day routine.

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Grocery shopping for our family of eleven has been an interesting experience. Our most recent venture (just yesterday) was more hopeful and comforting than prior trips as we were able to get produce and frozen veggies and so much – pretty much everything- we need. Keeping two weeks’ worth of food in stock in a huge task with our family size.  We buy giant bags of Mahatma rice at BJs, and we have not been able to find them for a few weeks there. We have never before considered even having more than one of those huge bags on hand at a time, but these days, I think we would have a spare if we could! Especially as we watch the bag on hand diminish each week.

It took us about the two weeks to adjust to the amount of food we need to make for our meals with our two grown sons home full-time, too; I think we’re good now.

One day at a time, for us, right now. The hopeful words of my mom as she reported on her shopping provided the wherewithal for Todd to try the stores again, and it was a good venture. Today, it looks like two or three children will be recovered by tomorrow; hopefully me, too. We have been riding the waves of tax season and with all the new legislation into effect because of the pandemic- the power of those waves has picked up a bit.  With this, there are a lot of unknowns- an extended tax deadline and more.

I try to take time every day or almost every day to tune in to Sarah Clarkson on Instagram Live. I never catch her live. Instead, I listen later when I can. She reads a poem and a psalm for Lent. I feel like a small child as I soak in the absolute beauty of the ten-minute respite her reading provides. She teaches me about beauty and about hope. She teaches me how to analyze poetry and apply it to my day-to-day life; she uncovers inexplicable meaning and beauty. I adore it. This is, I think, the second year she has offered poetry readings for a season. She shares glorious photos, too. Her brother Joel Clarksonalso uses Instagram to witness beauty and truth. His photos and words are a treasure not to be missed. Such grace.

We (me and the children; Todd when he can) have also been tuning in to Andrew Petersonevery night with unabashed delight as he reads aloud from Volume 1 of his Wingfeather Saga (which we all love so much). What a gift this is!

We enjoyed The Gray Havens unplugged Thursday night, too. They streamed from YouTube and Facebook Live, I think- took requests and answered some questions. Such fun and delight to enjoy their music live. These are precious gifts in these unusual and sometimes difficult days.

My older children are experiencing large adjustments and transitions. I am trying to be intentional in my care for them: supporting their learning; acknowledging their adjustments, feeding! them enough and regularly; speaking hope into their futures.

Speaking hope into all our futures: our hope is in Christ, and He is Enough. The days are dark and scary. They are, and it is not foolish to regard it so.

My only centeredness is found in Him; I hope to settle in more fully. With more intention. With more love, joy, and peace. And, I won’t minimize. I won’t minimize the worry or the struggle or the pain or the fear. It’s real; yet, Christ’s power is real, too. I look for Him in the midst of these dark, constricted days.

I spoke to a son about creating rhythms of rest and delight in his daily routine that now involves only home and nowhere else. Build a routine that enriches and delights to provide breaks from the monotony and the feeling of walls closing in.

I need to, too.

Some poems for comfort:

Wendell Berry: Peace of  Wild Things

Cowper: God Moves in a Mysterious Way

If by Rudyard Kipling

My mind has scattered out like the tumbled pieces of a puzzle. But little by little, I can build it back again. One step at a time…

 

There is a sense of wholeness when the pieces all align.  I can build myself back to wholeness through Christ. We have had some drizzled days of gray and even a rocking, wake- from- sleep Thunderstorm. Days of sun are coming; Easter is coming. As everything changes and roils without, Christ remains, and He provides what I need to “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (Psalm 37:1-6 NASB)

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and [a]cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

It is His goodness I want to celebrate.

How are you finding grace in these days?

-Rebecca

The Things They Say: Maryland Edition

Maryland in My Heart- The Things They Say

Sometimes the words don’t work; they don’t work in my mind; they don’t work in my mouth; and they certainly don’t work as I try to etch them across the page – all power and beauty,

or not.

On a dark drive home, a grown son asked an unexpected question:

“So, how are you doing in Maryland?”

Poor son; I don’t think he was expecting the answer he received as I tried to grapple with the different thoughts that spun out like reflecting colors from a prism. I felt a lot of guilt and uneasiness as I tried to lasso the reflecting light- the colors are dark. It is not all golden glimmer for me; it is not- as some close to me say: “rainbows and ponies”-

but in this moment, as I recognize this, I ponder:

Our family. We make our own rainbows.

They spin across our kitchen reflecting off the prism hanging in the window- and dance on the ceiling, floor, and walls. Courtesy of a Christmas gift a few years back for a little daughter who is the most out-of-the-box, colorful, brilliant ambassador of creativity and color. Because of her: Brilliant, bouncing shafts of every color in the world held in one lit reflection all over the room.

Another day, the rainbows flicker off a sequined headband and streak across a music school classroom. Diamond light lit against a canary background. My daughter points them out with a cry of delight as she realizes the rainbow light is coming from her.

Later, rainbows surround us in the car as the light hits the layers of an irridescent sequined ballet bag and spins magical textures all over the car’s interior.

Three little girls are growing up full-out Marylanders. Maryland is all they have ever known; unlike the rest of us.

I sit at the table with one of them who is valiantly learning to read. She is sounding out words with heroic effort. I am leaning over her, trying to assist. She doesn’t want any assistance.

She looks at me over her shoulder, clear-eyed and determined, and she says:

“I’ve got this!”

(Maryland, baby)

-No need to help, Mom. I’ve got it.-

Another day, I am again at the table with another mighty reading warrior at hand. Barton Level 3 Reading System is spread out in front of us. A delightful, determined little girl is next to me- and she says:

“Bring it on!”

(Maryland, baby! (again)

And then she conquers her way through one dyslexic challenge after another in that day’s lesson with aplomb and determination.

I drive down the road and every (single) day experience car aggression. I am cut off, honked at, given the finger, passed on the right at high speeds, cursed at, and more. The day comes when I know the offending opposing driver is definitely 100% in the wrong; I lay on the horn and all the Maryland in me rises up.

And I think to myself: Am I fully Maryland now? I don’t like who I am.

Another day, an older child reaches out with a question or a text- and I answer:

“I’ve got you.”

(It’s Maryland, baby)

Somehow, well- really, by providence, my freshman ends up tripling for next year on his campus. Serendipity. Every one of the young men is from Maryland. Three Marylanders rooming together. He tells me they talk of hanging the flag on their dorm door and putting up some Maryland swag. I feel the full on joy of it all.

And I have one of the moments where I see the carve of grace and the line of light in the path. I am glad for this son for whom all that he gained in Maryland has paved such a way into his future. I’m grateful.

But sometimes, sometimes-

I am not glad.

I think about my life over the years; I think (a bit) about this blog.

I tell the son who asked me so unexpectedly:

So, how are you doing in Maryland?

Honestly, right now I am not sure,

but this one thing I know;

the writing heals.

 

Christmas musings and Eggs Benedict Casserole

We are still celebrating Christmas, and I think there is a part of me that hearkens to the traditional 12 days of Christmas celebration. Yes! Let the days stretch and last and make merry all the way through epiphany. Let the days slow and linger. Contemplate and tuck in. These are my days for pondering and for savoring. The natural rhythm turns to reset for the January start of next semester; for the beginning of the New Year; for the crafting of goals and careful intentions; the fresh, blank page fills me with crisp, clean hope and purpose.

We enjoyed a new recipe on Christmas morning that has become a family favorite and enthusiastically voted to be put on the menu going forward. Here is the link to the original recipe, and I will write below “my recipe” which is how I made it dairy free and with what work(s) for us.

On Christmas morning we have always have Clementines, Cinnamon Rolls, Egg Bake Casserole, Hot Coffee (for Todd and me), Tea (for whoever else would like), Spangler Candy Canes, special chocolates from No Whey!and now….going forward!…..

Eggs Benedict Casserole for Christmas

The night before Christmas:

Grease a large pan. Crumble one cooked package of nitrate free bacon. Slice 6 English muffins in quarters. Distribute English muffin pieces and bacon in pan.

Beat 8 large eggs, 2 cups original (plain) Rice Milk OR 1 Can Coconut milk plus water to make 16 ounces, and 1 teaspoon onion powder together. Spread evenly over the muffin and bacon mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Bake covered at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15- 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes.

While the casserole is baking, prepare the Hollandaise sauce. Melt 1 stick of Earth Balance OR 1/2 Cup Earth Balance in microwave. Allow to cool slightly. Beat four egg yolks separately and then add to Earth Balance. Beat again. Next add 1/2 cream from a can of coconut milk and 2 T lemon juice. Beat until smooth. Heat the mixture in the microwave into 20 second increments, beating rapidly until mixture thickens (1-3 minutes or so). Stir in 1 t. brown mustard.

Drizzle over plated casserole slices.

The sauce is absolutely amazing and good on anything you can imagine!

Delicious!!!

Happy Christmas all!

-Rebecca

The Things They Say (and do)

Note: the rapid pace and change of technology takes my breath away. My little children do not know a world without AI (in the form of Google, Echo, Alexa, and more);  they can ask for music, jokes, weather, and more… it is such an interesting world.

You have to tell Google “Good morning!” when you go downstairs tomorrow- a dear, tech-savvy son informed me. He had an impish grin on his face. “You’ll get a surprise!”- he said. This son has been tech-savvy for years, and this morning, I pondered all that he brings to us with this ability and gift. He has always been my “go-to” person for anything computer related and even machine related.

So- sure enough, when I came down, I got ready to greet Google. The first thing I actually did was tell Google, “Merry Christmas!” because I knew he had set it to greet us back with “Merry Christmas” and play “The Boors head Christmas Carol” which is a comedic delight for my children- which it surely did when I asked. And Jonah and I, who were the two in the kitchen at that moment: laughed and grinned. Nothing like a face-splitting smile on a foggy, cold Monday morning threatening to overwhelm with December.

But then… I called to Google (who has often complimented me on my nice way of asking! too funny) “Hey Google, Good Morning!”

Google then proceeded (programmed) to greet my son (who was not home- away at co-op) by name, call him a handsome devil, and inform (in detail) of the weather, the temperature, and more. Might I add that Google speaks in a lovely British accent! Oh my, how we laughed and laughed. And then…

(which I knew was coming, but still nothing can prepare for the impact)

Morning Has Broken (one of my favorite hymns and a song that has followed me from my childhood) began to stream out of the speaker. It truly is my favorite morning song.

I sat on the chair and cried. I cried because I suddenly felt the impact of all those years and days of Morning Time when I shared my heart; I shared poetry; I shared stories; I shared songs- and now– they are (sometimes) sharing them back to me.

I cried because the song is so precious to me and ministers to my heart, mind, and soul in every way.

I cried because I have been struggling, struggling so greatly in this season to remain faithful to something so simple as Morning Time where I share my heart; where I share goodness, and beauty, and truth; where I share the life-giving words and music that the children will take with them out in the world they will enter. It is so important, and I feel such an intense battle for its place in my day and our life.

I cried because of how much I love this son and the way he brings humor to leaven the day along with (one of) my favorite song(s). I love him so! I cried for the laughter and the beauty and the fierce battle and the loss and the gain. For it all.

And he is handsome- but I wouldn’t call him a devil! (ha ha ha ha!)

Morning Has Broken forever, and this dear son in my heart. And just a note- that this joy combined with Jonah in the kitchen making pumpkin bar for our family- which was also incredible to come down to and find in the kitchen!

HOW BLESSED I AM!

-The Things They Say And Do!

Thanksgiving 2019 (and Endless Gifts)

Thanksgiving 2019

The college boys came home Tuesday night (Tuesday was for driving); Wednesday was for cooking and catching up; Thursday for feasting; Friday (tomorrow) Asher turns 17 and tree decorating; Saturday for Eagle Project work day and community service; Sunday- the boys return to loads of work and finals and the end of the semester- and the rest of us enter on into all that December holds.

I can’t squeeze my boys strong enough. They are both shouldering so much.

I have tapped out this post in the midst of this and that… trying to form a coherent thought- what feels to me- a bit unsuccessfully. I want to wake up to the grace in all the moments. I want to cup the love and life that is mine to treasure and hold. So, here you have my puttered starting and my jolting celebration- as I step forward- as I try:

Thanksgiving comes, and with it- for me, a renewed commitment to count endless gifts.

A collage of Thanksgiving photos and a few Thanksgiving prep photos:

Notes from home: we have a new oven. This caused a bit of a bobble with some of our cooking- ( a couple burnt desserts, for example) but! the sweet potato bake was absolutely the best, most mouthwatering version of itself we have ever encountered. The marshmallows were perfectly toasted, hot, and crispy! It was truly so delicious and such a surprise. We enjoyed our Thanksliving box, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and (for the kids) some football outside.

I want walks to always be a part of our Thanksgiving festivities- and today, the wind almost kept me in- as we are under a wind warning- and it was fierce. But, I did manage to step out for just a bit with Nathanael, and O! I am so very glad that we did. We were treated to soul-filling sky glory via the pink and gold sunset complete with a glowing crescent moon and her shining starry sidekick.

I felt a little non-committed with a couple of recipes this year- and it made me laugh to see the children rally. I wasn’t sure about the deviled eggs or the apple pie. Certain family members were highly appalled- and made sure to make those items first Wednesday morning to my surprised delight. Everybody works together, and it did get a little loud and hectic in the kitchen- but it all sorted itself out alright.

We started out preparation day with George Winston’s December playing on the speaker and the tunes changed throughout the day depending on who was at the helm (per se!)

We almost always enjoy Thanksgiving hymns on Thanksgiving from a FamilyLife CD we have and the Eden String quartet (which I love SO much).

Thanksgiving Menu 2019

Appetizers:

Deviled Eggs (Abi and Jonah)

Ham and Pickles rollups (Abi)

Triscuits and Baby Carrots with Special Sauce to Dip (Rebecca; sauce by Todd)

Main Course:

Tossed Salad with Iceberg, Baby Spinach, and Red Onion (Rebecca)

Roasted Turkey (Todd)

Home-made Mashed Potatoes with a delightful onion twist to them(by Todd)

Green Beans (delicious with nutritional yeast and earth balance) (Rebecca)

Home-made Rolls (Micah- dough; A, M, N- roll making)

Broccoli Salad (Micah)

Cranberry Relish (Nathanael)

Sweet Potato Bake with toasted marshmallows (Rebecca)

Warmed Apple Cider (Todd)

Desserts:

Apple Pie  (Joshua and Melodee)

Banana Bread with white icing (Rebecca, Melodee, Norah)

Pumpkin Roll (Abi)

Pumpkin Bar with Vanilla icing (Asher and Abi)

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie (Jonah and Aymee)

Pumpkin Pies (Asher and Joshua)

Jewish Apple Cake (Nathanael)

*I preside over all cooking and assist in all recipes if and when needed

Endless Gifts

1.safe travels and boys home from college; and I think maybe most of all, their happiness

2.to be welcomed home to steaming chili, and chips, and fresh beds, and time together

3.the big cello nestled once more next to baby cello

4.braided and bun hair fun with girlies

5.time with coffee and thoughts and ponderings in a corner I crafted (just) for me

6.turmeric! this supplement is a wonder!

7.going round the table everyone sharing a favorite (or so) song

8. the way she laughed in such a little girl giggle way at the table singing her song

9. the big boys’ surprise at the little girls singing all the words to the songs they love

10. a sunset walk with Nathanael us both bundled and that glory moon and pink streaked sky

11. photos from my family in Pennsylvania on this Thanksgiving day

12. Asher willingly playing the piano for us Thanksgiving night

13. Micah playing a bit, too the first day(s) home- a bit of summer mummer prep; a bit just for joy, too.

14. The Swan on Cello by Nathanael (Wednesday)

15. Merry (the bunny) romping on and exploring with joy

16. Everything good and delicious loaded on our plates

 

 

 

 

September 1st: End of Summer

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Bonfire Night 

Summer night

that brands our minds

with a rivulet of gold

 

like the ruddy flames

that flicker upward

from the last bonfire

glowing at our feet.

 

The sparks singe

and disappear

pinpoints of light

radiating north

 

unlike the memories

of celebrated days

marked by summer’s

sweetness-

 

which instead, nestle

deeper

aflame forever,

heart, soul, mind, memory:

Bonfire Night 2019.

Endless Gifts

Endless Gifts

winding Maryland roads and the butterflies floating up in glimmering sunlight like the campfire sparks fly up against the backdrop of quickening summer darkness

Cunningham Falls and swimming at Courtney’s and the way she welcomed us in on a day close to a trip

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so many swallowtails this year, so beautiful

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traveling on varied Lehigh Shuttle buses up campus and down and grateful for my brother who successfully got us on one in the nick of time by watching the amazing app that tracks the buses in real time! How things change!!! Everything bigger- but O! the memories -us, wilted with heat and sweat, hanging on for dear life on those wild Lehigh buses, – Campus Connector, MOOV-In, Packer Express- the very names make me laugh out loud

And the sweet lady who chatted us all the way up the mountain and escorted us right to the foot of son’s new dorm- and impressed emphatically upon our VERY MINDS to stress the importance of NOT losing his I.D. card to our son- so, so funny. We show her the ID card holder we bought for him and were about to give him. She nods her approval.

the way I narrowly escape an infamous parking ticket; it’s all grace

Being able to talk math classes and calculus with my brother and my dad- and that one moment rising out of a speech at the Arts and Science convocation that suddenly galvanized me to action

the wonderful “hotel” bed at my mom’s (you know who you are!) and condoling with two long episodes of never before watched Call the Midwife (yes, yes, I did) the night of Move-In Day

Two new Lehigh mugs- and somehow I accidentally like his better than mine. Oops.

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My Dad uncovering an essay from my freshman year of college- that I have often wondered about and remembered- a photo analysis- and the subject was my sister

the deep grief of a certain trouble I can never seem to escape

a big bowl of salty popcorn and Mary Poppins Returns

a recognition of a fleeting deep-seated peace of us all together- I didn’t ask for that peace or even really recognize I was missing it- and I know and knew its very fleetingness- but it was still real. It was still there.

The way he saved three tiny root beers and tossed them out to his brothers in a manly spirit of kind generosity and how he chose to buy snacks for sibs on the car ride home

The way one of them fingerknit a red head band for her cousin, and I came home to little cousin adorned with it

Joshua’s art work

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a visit to Grammy Helen and PopPop John

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Coffee and generous dollops of coconut whip cream on the first, hard day

an orangey sunset and sweetest friend and the way I see her photographic eye and the orange on orange on orange

deep, singing words that feed mind and soul

Enter the Worship Circle playing loud and singing with my heart as we away, away

a silver BAM cello case

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my darlings gather round in strong support- and I wonder how I can keep breaking this heart again, again- they way I broke my body open, the way I laid down my life, I know it will get better as I stumble dimly and wonder why

Asher at the helm with diplomacy and action- I watch in wonder; those little girls joyfully do all the chores with him

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and I am grateful for this gift this particular day was for me

the way, months ago,  my dad told me that no matter what, it would all be alright- and how did he know I would need those words?

the way the light gleams on a tended, tidied houseIMG_20190821_182330276

the way things will never be the same

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Endless Gifts

 

Because cuteness

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she created octopuses all by herself just from seeing a photo

-her original knitted one even has eight legs-

and she drew the sketch

in her quick, creative way

that illuminates

my mind

with delight-

and asked me

to write the words across the top-

(we had a brief debate: octopuses/octopii- in the end

we went with octopii – ill-spelled and all)

she has an entrepreneurial heart

it has shown itself in

more ways than just

this

octopus

with hearts.

Endless Gifts Summer Edition 2019

this spun out longer and longer (than I even intended) and one thing I know for sure is the effectual ability of this habit (of gratitude) to change my life (for the good) and so I didn’t hold back- but let it loose- to roll and lift here/ so much said and so much unsaid– endless gifts… 

the blank page, cursor blinking promise

a dozen (or more) wool bunnies with jaunty hand-made tails

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Coffee with almond whip cream and cinnamon

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the boy who greeted me at the Scout camp pickup with words from Dickens. He said: Let me start by saying: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” – o! my children thrill me.
a trip to OneDish and a burger and fries for my boy
Goldie- the new to us car from Todd’s grandparents, and Micah’s quick and direct recognition of God’s faithful provision
safe trips to Pa, and my family: despite a harrowing drive one journey, and more traffic than I’ve ever encountered another; despite stress and summer heat (of all sorts); I’m left with all the realization that I want to make the most of this one life
for all the beloveds who are opening arms to Nathanael as he moves three hours away (into (what feels like) the arms of our family and friends!) for the coming year- o, my heart.
Nathanael, Lehigh, and everything this is, and all I need to learn (and all I need to understand about myself)
Maker girlies and chains of finger knitting

Simply Classical, and tears, and more tears- this book!

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a tidied bedroom, purged (almost all the way purged) bookshelf, and new, soothing bed linens (and my mom who got the linens for me- thank you)
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the realization and seeking understanding that true rest is of the mind and soul and comes from faithful endeavor (Mystie Winckler) and how can I apply this more to my life and practice it?
tea parties and little girls- and especially one particular little girl- who sets the table with flowers she finds in the yard, and sweets, and water with ice- she is the treat
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trying to squeeze in some lasts with Nathanael- and make it count. Am I?

The little girl who told her sisters they weren’t actually 8 until they were blowing out their candles on their cake(s)
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fruit kabobs
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Blueberry picking in Pennsylvania around the fourth of July. No blueberry ever tasted so good as those luscious, large berries. They went so fast. They were gone in a blink.
phone calls with Micah and a reminder of all that he is
plans for a new school year; plans for two young men at college-
an encounter in the library parking lot with Asher’s Eagle Coach- and I tell Todd- she is inspiration in the flesh-  so uplifting, refreshing, and motivating- so thankful for her
The Barton System- and progress- and most of all the fact that everything I dreaded is NOT true
darlings who love to talk with me and share their thoughts; the one who persuades me out for “soda times” and proceeds to bring such life and creativity with him! #thewritinglife
Reading All the Light We Cannot See— and then reading it again
The Lamplighter Reading Challenge and Todd
SummerMummers at Courtney’s
emailing friends for Abi
Jen and Andrea. Everything their very names mean to me- my sisters in Christ. I want to be more intentional.
car talks with Ali and the realization of God’s provision and promise in her life and the kindred commitment to excellence and drive we share
a date night out with Todd, and long conversations, and the deep-seated recognition of how needed it was
the last CHSF Steering meeting and all the vibrant, soul-filling life there
a reminder that ” All I need is here” (Wendell Berry) 
poem writing, and the life it brings to my soul and…. longing
a cry in the night, in my soul- to “Awake! Awake!” and I pray, help me, Lord. Awake.
one small step in the right direction

Endless Gifts