Sunday, May 14, 2017

Legacy

It's been too long again. Sigh. I miss this space, to tell you the truth. But that's a different story for a different day. It's Mother's Day. It's a time to shower our mothers with love. When I say the word mother, I don't necessarily mean the woman who gave birth to you. She may be a woman who stepped in when your own mother could not or would not fulfill her role.

As pleased as I am to have this special day in honor of mothers, I know that it also comes packed with sorrow for many. Not all of us had mothers in our lives who blessed. Some of us have lost our mothers. Some of us desperately want to be mothers and are unable.

This year I wrote a poem in honor of my mother. It was an opportunity to sit, remember, and reflect. It's small and insignificant on its own, but it packs some powerful memories for me. I suggest you give it a go yourself. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and reflect.

Legacy

A voice most precious
Passes through my dreams.
And I recall
Kisses,
Corrections,
and Caresses.
The honeysuckle scent of White Shoulders.
A sweet soprano vibrato.
Mother
Your hands which once grasped mine
Grasp the Savior's now.
But Love lives forever,
Your legacy lives on
In my children's azure eyes, happy voices
Carefree smiles, and my own
Mother's heart.
Blessings through the generations.
Mom's burial place at Langley Cemetery.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

nativity

You can take the girl out of Kansas, but you can't take Kansas out of the girl...

I have been privileged to have lived in a lot of places. Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, and Florida have all been my home at one time or another. Each and every place holds special memories, but out of them all, there is one place that claims my heart--Kansas.
A Kansas sunset from the back of Dad's Silverado
I was born in this state and spent my childhood here. As I grew up, the roots of my home state grew down and firmly fixed me in place. Even as I moved around, Kansas remained in my heart.

I've returned, albeit briefly. I'm here for a few days, and then it will be time to fly south again, this time with Dad and his camper. But for two days, I can soak in some Kansas vibes.
This morning's tea was drunk in this spot. 

I arrived late in the afternoon in Wichita. Looking from my bird's eye view in the sky, I noticed the capricious winding of the small river (Smoky Hill), the massive center pivot irrigation lines, and the plateaus that jutted up out of the flat expanse of the prairie. And I noticed how sparsely populated the area was. There is still room to breathe in this space.

We landed and immediately headed north to my hometown of Lindsborg, Kansas. As we drove, the sun sank into the horizon and the weather grew colder.

This morning, the weather felt like 11 degrees as we drove to the coffee shop. It was still dark. Arriving first, I sipped on my tea as I watched shop keepers and farmers arrive for their morning cup and conversation. Then we were off again.

This time we turned the truck west, to Langley Cemetery and my mother's burial spot. As we drove, it began to ice over. The truck was warm, but outside was not. It was cold, icy, and mournful. To avoid the slippery K4 highway, we turned off early and drove down dirt roads past my grandparent's old farm. No one lives there at present, so we took the opportunity to drive up the long drive to see the old place.
The railroad went this way. 

Grandma and Grandpa's drive used to be bisected by the railroad tracks. They have long since disappeared, but I can remember a time when my young legs would carry me as fast as they could whenever I would hear the whistle of the train. I knew it was coming down the line, and I would run to watch the monster engine roar past. It was always a special treat to have the conductor wave from his caboose at the end.

The family home, no longer occupied
The tracks are just a memory now, but I saw hints of them as we drove up the lonely drive. They live on in my memory, though.

We didn't spend much time there; technically it is private property, but I just wanted to peek at it one more time. The barn was still standing. We didn't drive down to it, but I remember going down there to see Barney the Bull out in the fields. My sister and I spent hours chasing the feral barn cats. If, by some chance, we were able to catch one, our reward was to be rudely scratched by them. It didn't dissuade us at all. My arms were full of scratches!

Not far from the home is the cemetery. It's small but peaceful. I love it there. The ice was still falling as I got out of the truck and walked around.
New signage! 
It was very cold and very windy. We didn't stay long. I captured a few photos and then we left.



It's good to be back. It feels good to feel cold. It's wonderful to see my father. He has more silver in his hair than the last time I saw him. He wears it well.

I love this state. It feels like home to me. I suspect it always will. But it will be good to get back to my family. I miss them. And warmth!



Sunday, January 15, 2017

Decisions, Decisions!

Every day we are accosted with hundreds of decisions to make—


Can I hit the snooze bar one more time?
Do I wear the jeans or yoga pants?
Should I eat the salad or the burger for lunch?
Should I tackle the garden or tackle the laundry?
Do I take a break, or should I try to accomplish one more task?


Most of the time we make these decisions without hesitation. Daily decisions are ingrained in our daily grind, and reflexively we decide, move on, and forget as we conquer the next task on our perpetual list of to-dos.


Except on some days, the decision is much more significant, a weighty stone in our thoughts that we turn over, linger over, and breathe upon to polish up the possibilities and ponder the potential. These are the decisions that we remember, accompanied as they are with the gravitas of the implications of our decision. They are Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” and they flavor our lives and even the lives of the people with whom we surround ourselves. They change us.


Lately I’ve been pondering one of those decisions I made a long time ago. Twenty years ago at this very moment, I was carrying my first child. My husband and I had prayed for this child, and we were so excited to meet him. One evening, while standing at our kitchen sink washing dishes, I casually threw over my shoulder to my husband the words, “I’ve been thinking about homeschooling.” I didn’t realize it at the time—well, perhaps I actually did, but I couldn’t fully accept it.  I had already decided. I wanted to homeschool, and now I was asking the partner of my heart to bless that decision.


Pause


In the silence of the few seconds while my husband digested my words, I feared. I worried that he would immediately shut me down, citing fears over socialization, fears over academics, fears over our loss of income. Fears over my hubris that I thought I could actually do it. That I could accomplish something that requires such special training.


Pause


Except he didn’t. He looked at me in love. Yes, I had surprised him, and he had justifiable concerns, some of which he did enumerate. But he also said that he trusted me, and that together we would learn about this lifestyle called homeschooling and make a decision together.
And in that moment, I was reminded again about why I loved him so much. I had surprised him, but I hadn’t angered him. And he hadn’t dismissed me.


I began to read about homeschooling, and when our son was born in the summer, we embarked upon a homeschooling lifestyle. Throughout those years I continued to make decisions, some big and some little, that taken together have shaped our family and crafted our children, as well as my husband and me. I have learned over and over (because I am a slow learner!) that I can’t do it all and do it all well. I have learned to let some things go in order to hone in areas that are more critical. I have seen my children come into their own and develop their own passions free of the strictures of a traditional education. And I’ve made more mistakes than I care to admit along the way.


My children are closer to the end of their educational journey in our home. My oldest is now happily ensconced at Stetson University as an Honors Student and Lawson Scholar studying the nuances of literature and philosophy. My middle child is bridging his homeschooling experiences as he explores dual enrollment at St. Johns River State College. He loves participating in the Rotaract Club and has a 4.0 GPA currently. My youngest is the only one still being fully homeschooled. A true Bohemian at heart, she embraces life through her art and her service to the wolves at Big Oak Wolf Sanctuary.


I have no regrets. I have scars from the experience that I will carry with me to my grave. Most often these have arisen out of my own stubbornness, but my mistakes have also been a part of what has shaped our family, and I wouldn’t undo them. Grace has covered us all, and I am so happy to reflect back on our time as a homeschooling family with fond memories. It is not a lifestyle that everyone can or should embrace, but for our family it has been a source of continued blessing.


Would my own children choose a homeschooling lifestyle? Maybe. Maybe not. Whatever path they choose, I will choose to support and love them. We are all on a journey in this life. My journey happened to be a bit unconventional, and that has made all the difference!












Sunday, January 1, 2017

Still

It's a new year, and I begin again. 2017 beckons. 2016 is put away, along with all its joys and disappointments, pleasures and pains.



At this time of year, our church begins its annual fast. For many in the church, that means a Daniel Fast. I have participated in these in prior years, but this year I am feeling pulled in a different direction.

My life is incredibly busy. Homeschooling, tutoring, and working a part-time job sometimes threaten to overwhelm me. I am instead going to carve out daily time for reflection and meditation. Fifteen minutes of every day, I will disconnect from the world to be still, and wait, and listen.

Psalm Forty-Six, verse ten states "Be still, and know that I am God." Stillness, the quality of being still, is not something I do easily. If I sit down for even thirty seconds, I am looking for something to do with my hands. And even if I do sit, my mind whirls with worldly worries. Stillness is elusive.

Yet, it is precisely what I need. For without being still, God's voice cannot reach me. I become deaf and blind as I spin about my tiny sphere. I starve from my hyperactivity.

Fifteen minutes is my aim. Fifteen minutes where I sit in stillness and contemplate Him Who created grass and mountain, sun shine and dew drop. Such a pathetically small amount of time, and yet I worry I will fail even in this modest goal.

And so I forge ahead, full of hope for a new year, newly inspired by resting in Him. And being still.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

A Spin on the Tour in 2016

I skipped out last year. I saw it was coming up and decided to bail at the last second. This year, though, I couldn't wait to get started again. The Tour de Fleece kicked off, just as it always does, with the opening day of the Tour de France.

Lupine helps in his first ever TdF!
I had big plans. After all, it had been almost a full year since I'd spun anything and over a year since I'd spun on my wheel. I had two bumps of Malabrigo Nube top that I figured I'd begin with. I quickly saw I was going to need to change plans, though, when I opened up the bag of my spinning wheel and saw that I'd completed half of an earlier project:  a braid from Edgewood Garden Studio on Etsy. It was a carded preparation that still had some VM in it as well as a few nubs. I liked the rustic feel of it. I began with spinning the other half of it and then plied it on my Majacraft Rose. I love how it turned out. It was very challenging to match the grist and twist of the yarn. After all, it had been nearly two years since I'd spun the first single, but I think I mostly succeeded.
Here is the end result.
I had a small amount of singles left on one bobbin, so I put it on a plying paddle to ply it back against itself.
Plying paddle with singles
Next up, a small braid from Dragon Faery Dyeworks. I believe I picked this little beauty up when I was in Colorado Springs, CO visiting my sister and her family.

This particular braid is a mix of Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) and Silk. It weighs in at only 1.9 ounces. I decided to spin it as a lace weight in order to maximize it, and here is where I'll likely remain for the duration of the Tour, as I am beastly slow at spinning lace. 


There are worse places a person could be stuck. Spinning lace is one of the nicest if you ask me! It is so much fun to see the color changes as I spin the thin thread. I'm spinning in a worsted style to maximize the shine of the silk and BFL, but I'm also focusing on a low twist ratio to have some character imparted to the yarn. If you look at the close-up, you'll see there's almost a bit of haze to it. I don't know how it will translate into the final plied product, but it's an experiment I'm really getting into!

For breaks from the long lace spinning, there's always my perpetual spindle project to break it up.

This particular spindle came from the Trindleman on Etsy. It spins like a dream- long and smooth, and it's making nice work of this Merino!

I don't have nearly as much spinning time as I would like. Despite it being summer, there is still so much I am doing. Tutoring kicks up into high gear in the summer; and with the work I'm doing for IEW and my own homeschool planning, not to mention the basics like laundry and cooking, my spinning time comes in small pockets of time. I am choosing to savor the time and not bemoan the absence of it. After all, life is good!



Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Life Well Loved

Without trying to sound melodramatic, I have to say a major life event like a health scare really changes you. In just a moment, the picture you've created for yourself, of your life and your future is gone. It disintegrates in front of you, and with the ashes left behind, you are forced to create something new.

My pulmonary embolism in March triggered for me a tumbling of my idealized image of the way I thought my life would go. Here at the end of June, I'm still reshaping myself, learning to adjust to the new me, accepting limitations and yet pushing for more freedom. In the process, I've learned a few things.

I've learned that a life is fullest when I fully love the people around me. No matter how long I live, whether that is another day, a year, or longer, I find significance in the people who I stop to love along the way. That's what gives my life meaning. I have always communicated to my children that love is best experienced in the verb sense, and I am seeing those seeds bear fruit now.

What does a life well loved look like? To me, it looks like this:

  1. Listen to others. What does someone care about? What does someone worry about? Listen to that person share his life.
  2. Don't judge. That's a toughie sometimes. As always, Jesus said it best, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged" Matthew 7:1 NIV. Jesus didn't say that I was not to judge unless the person was gay. Jesus didn't say I was not to judge unless the person was Muslim. Jesus didn't say I was not to judge unless the person was of a different political party. And Jesus didn't say that I was not to judge unless the person was different from me. Ever.
  3. Serve others. Serve even if I don't necessarily feel like it. That is the "verb" part of loving. Service, by the way, I believe begins in the home, but it doesn't end there. God gives us many opportunities to serve if we will only observe. Our families, our neighbors, our community, and our church are opportunities. We weren't meant to live in isolation; rather, we were meant to live and love in community.
  4. Accept we can't do it all, and sometimes we need help as well. Beat back pride and allow yourself to be served as well when the time comes. 
  5. Rest in Christ. Read your bible. Pray. By doing so, you will find hope, strength, and encouragement.
I am continuing to mend. Some days are better than others, but I am so thankful to have progressed as well as I have. I pray that I will continue to heal, but if I do not or if things go the other direction in my healing, I pray I will be able to say with all honesty, "Not my will, but Yours be done."

This past weekend, I climbed the St. Augustine Lighthouse. It's one of my husband's and my favorite places to go. It was a challenge. My lungs and legs are not yet fully healed, and they may never fully recover, but I made it up 215 steps and took in the absolutely beautiful view that is St. Augustine. Below me I spied the Castillo de San Marcos, Flagler College, and of course, the Atlantic Ocean. It was a beautiful sight. Such is the Christian journey. It is a climb. At times it is tiring. Often it is painful. In the end, though, all the pain and fear slips away in sight of the Perfection that is before us. 


Enjoy the journey, for however long it lasts. And remember along the way, to love fully those whom God places in your path.

Beloved, let us love one another:  for love is of God; and everyone who loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.
1 John 4: 7-8

Friday, May 20, 2016

Reflections On a Time Warp In Mothering

I am the pleased and proud mama to three awesome homeschooled kiddos. All of them have followed the homeschool path for the duration, at least until they were able to begin their college courses. Tomorrow my oldest graduates, and I can't help but reflect and wonder where all the time has gone.
Three months old
I can't believe that I was chosen to parent this beautiful, brilliant, and resilient soul. I've been blessed beyond measure. We cut our teeth on each other- he, literally, and me, as a first time mother with precious little babysitting experience to bolster her maternal insecurities.

Early life consisted of singing, stories, and lots of NPR while rocking. Oh, and burp clothes, LOTS of burp clothes (to combat the epic GERD). It was a quiet, gentle beginning, and we both thrived in it. And he grew.


Before I knew it, siblings were added into the mix and excitement built. Our house was no longer quiet, but it was filled with love. Preschool began and we both adjusted to having a couple of hours apart. While I enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with his younger siblings, I missed cuddling with my boy. It was always a joy to pick him up and ask him about his morning.

Although at the time the days seemed to slip by slowly, in retrospect they were speeding. Goodnight Moon was replaced by The Boxcar Children, which was replaced by Peter Pan. I caught my breath when I saw he'd moved on to reading independently and fell down the hole that is Rosemary Sutcliff and Brian Jacques. I began to see that I was in a space/time continuum that was misleading. Time was moving too quickly!

Jacob continued to grow, develop, and experience new things. I tried to live in the moment. Too often, my head was spinning and I lost opportunities...to bond, to support, to simply dwell. There were just too many tasks to complete. Jacob moved, seemingly overnight, into teenage years. Astoundingly huge growth spurts, uncomfortable voice changes, and algebra all appeared (and eventually passed). I began to get hints of the future man that he would become, and I smiled then.

Growing up

Tomorrow Jacob graduates from high school. I can honestly say I've enjoyed every bit of the journey- the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've made more mistakes than I would like to admit, and if he ends up in therapy over them, I give him full permission to blame me. I have broad shoulders. I have loved him deeply. I have shared my passion for literature. He has a piece of my soul.
His acceptance letter to Stetson University.
In a very short time he will head to Stetson University where he plans to major in English and either Business or Environmental Science. Whatever he chooses, it will be wonderful. He is heading off to bright horizons. Jacob, I love you, honey. I'm so proud of you, and I will continually pray for you as you make your way in this big and frequently scary world. Make it a better place. Love deeply, serve God, and cultivate friendships. Be blessed. And remember to come home to visit me occasionally!

Love,

Mom