Monday, January 15, 2018

Knit Together


I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me, so that they may be made completely one, that the world may know you have sent me and have loved them as you have loved me.
[John 17:20-23]

Mankind, He has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: 
to act justly, 
to love faithfulness, 
and to walk humbly with your God.
[Micah 6:8]


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Friday, January 12, 2018

Simplify...


As a general rule, I am an apparently disorganized person (I say "apparently" because my husband often despairs of the small stacks I leave in my wake, but I can always find what I'm looking for). But, paradoxically, I function best with a schedule. Not necessarily a "bossy list," but having repetitive routines that I can fall into without thinking, for the days when I'm out of thoughts and spoons and energy.

Structure simplifies my life. One of the "sanity rules" that I established while Adam was gone was that there were certain days for certain things, and only one thing per day - art on Mondays, museum or library on Wednesdays, groceries on Fridays, and so on. Everyone knew and had an expectation for each day, so I didn't have to spend every morning rejecting spontaneous outing suggestions, or come up with something myself. This is not to say that we didn't do unplanned things - just that the planned things were there to fall back on.

It was such a good system (for us) that I decided to miniaturize it for daily use. Our days are now broken into approximately two hour chunks - playing and eating and erranding and resting. Even on a hard day, I can handle life two hours at a time - and even though Brooklyn and Tobin can't tell time yet, we've got a few decorative lights around our house (a technically-Christmas star and a string of tiny lights around my mood board) that are on timers, so they know that certain things happen when the lights go on or off.

It took work to set up - but now that I've got an established routine, it's more or less self-sustaining, and we've all begun to look forward to it. I'm hoping it will also help us move more smoothly into "baby time" in June - not that babies care about schedules, but I'd like the rest of us to start getting used to the concept of doing things in small increments and finding a peaceful rhythm in that.

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday link-up. For more info, more posts, and/or to join in, head here.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Nesting


As part of preparing to welcome another baby Burch sometime in June, I've been trying to make our home a place that I won't mind being at a lot for awhile - I already told Adam that for the duration of his paternity leave, I'm planning on staying in the bedroom with the baby, where I will be willing to occasionally receive visitors and will expect to be fed regularly and well, not to mention wanting to avoid taking three tiny people anywhere for as long as possible.


So as part of those preparations, I've been organizing, cleaning, and redecorating a little. I did pretty well not staring at my phone while nursing Tobin, but failed catastrophically with Brooklyn. I'd like to lay some of the blame on postpartum depression, but I also didn't have any sort of plan in place for not doing that. So, preemptively this time, I'm putting up lots of pretty art to look at, and also trying to collect easy knitting projects and good books with soft covers (thank goodness Agatha Christie was such a prolific writer!)


We're also going ahead and incorporating "baby time" into our schedule, to keep it from being such a shock for Brooklyn and Tobin later. So, in addition to practicing peace every afternoon, we've added "morning peace," which is everyone going to their own rooms for an hour (or two - depending on how early certain persons who shall remain nameless got up that morning). Right now we're still in the practice stages - Brooklyn loves having a little time to herself and can be trusted to set reasonable timers to let her know when to come out, I've managed to take a few naps (growing a baby while taking care of babies is hard work, okay), but Tobin is still learning. The poor little extrovert considers solitude to be a punishment.


I've still got a little way to go - I'd like to get a fluffy footstool to go with my knitting chair, and we'll need to find something for the baby sleep in (I've fallen hard for Moses baskets with dear little wooden stands), and figure out where we're going to put them (somewhere in our room for the first while, since we're at capacity on bedrooms - but Brooklyn has assured me that she'd love to share her room once the baby learns to sleep through the night), things like that. But I should have about 6 more months to work on that - for now, I'm practicing "unforced rhythms of grace" and learning how to rest well.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Motivate...


In order to change your knitting, you must first change yourself. I've lost track of how many times I've said that, or how many people I've said it to. Frustrated new knitters wondering why their work is loose or tight or uneven or really anything less than perfect. But something I love about knitting is that it's a record of your inner dialogue. That swatch knit at the yarn store table with a cozy cup of coffee and a helpful (and more experienced) knitter nearby is going to be a lot more relaxed than the sweater begun a week later while sitting next to a hospital bed - just like the knitter.

Unfortunately, this also applies to my own knitting. For years, I was apparently unaffected by the shifts and turmoils in my own life, so I assumed that I was exempt from the rule - when the reality was, in fact, that I wasn't really experiencing any of those on anything deeper than a surface level because everything was deadened by depression. When I finally started to really feel, my hands and, in turn, my needles, reflected that change.

One relatively recent development in my life has been good, solid community - and the accountability it brings. At a small pre-Christmas gathering, one woman looked at me and said, "Hey, I've got a question. I haven't seen you knitting lately. Why?" I glanced guiltily toward my bag, which held a project I'd been carrying everywhere but seldom getting out for over a month. My reply came slowly. "You're right... I haven't been. I'm having an argument with this project. One of us is struggling, and I'm not sure which one of us it is."

On the last day of last year, I dug my knitting corner out from under the pile of clean laundry that had obscured it for months, cleared the floor of shoes and books and toys, put a tiny string of twinkle lights around my mood board... and sat down to knit for over an hour. I don't think it was the cleaning that motivated me to knit, but whatever it was that sparked the cleaning - having both the time and energy to work on it, as well as the mental clarity to see the light at the end of the tunnel clearly enough to push through a pretty awful mess, instead of being overwhelmed.

In order to change your knitting, you must first change yourself. For the longest time, cleaning that corner felt like a waste of time. So I'd spend any time that I could have used to work on it torn in a paralysis of wanting to do something else, but feeling guilty for wanting that. But for the past three days, I've been able to spend Morning Peace Time sitting in my chair reading or journaling or knitting and not feeling bad about it - and also being able to use every moment of the time actually doing the thing I want to be doing. It's refreshing - and it motivates me to not only maintain that corner, but tackle the other strongholds of chaos in my life, as well.

This post is a part of the weekly Five Minute Friday link up. For more info, more posts, and/or to join in yourself, head here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Trees and Poetry


For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do. [Ephesians 2:10]

I saw a hilltop, green and grassy and unmarred by path or mark of any kind. It sloped down into a deep valley, where a river ran, swift and cold, and it was surrounded by a tall, toothed mountain range. And on top of the hill stood an oak tree - broad and strong and ancient, the sort Druids might have gathered under for a temple.

The mental picture returned to me again and again. I pondered it, fixating on the absence of a path (I'm all about paths and maps and compasses). I explored it from every angle, wondering where I was in this space, and concluded that I stood as an observer and therefore couldn't see myself.

Finally, over a year later, when it arose yet again, I snapped. I've seen this! I know! Why do You keep showing me this?! And the answer came back, clear and kind and with a tinge of patient annoyance, You're the tree.

Oh. Oh! Ohhh. I'm the tree. That actually made perfect sense, and fit in well with last year's word of the year, pacific. To grow deep roots into well-watered soil. That slow growth is okay, because it makes for stronger wood. To shelter and nurture, to add a little acid back into the ground, to send out runners that strengthen the roots of other trees.

I was about six months into exploring the nuances of that when someone asked me what I had always wanted but never asked for. The answer sprang immediately to mind: a voice. I wanted a voice, but secretly suspected that I somehow either didn't deserve or couldn't be trusted with one.  Then, almost as quickly, I was reminded of a poem I'd memorized as a child.

I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day
and lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
a nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
but only God can make a tree.
["Trees" by Joyce Kilmer]

A poem lovely as a tree. I heard once that the word generally translated as "masterpiece" or "handiwork" in Ephesians 2:10 is the Greek word poiÄ“ma, where we get the English word poem from.  A poem written by God, for His glory.

Part of my word for this year, spark, is the idea of following fireflies. I'm not sure how being a tree-poem ties into anything yet, but I'm sure it will become clear eventually. In the mean time, I'll lift my leafy arms to pray, and watch for the twinkles of light that rise from the grass to draw my eyes Heavenward.

What is something you've always wanted but never asked for? Why?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Spark


A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of replacing the traditional list of resolutions with a single word. It appealed to me - I am not a big list person, but I love language and words and meanings and etymology and metaphor and... ahem. Ennyhoo. I liked the idea.

I've never chosen the word. It's always presented itself to me - and last year was no different. Pacific was very insistent, even though I tried to argue with it. Pacific? What does that even mean? What am I supposed to do with that?

But I accepted it, and I'm glad I did. I learned about depth and calm, about storm and nurture, about faith and adventure - and about the unstoppable ocean of God's grace, that overwhelms to fill and cleanse and bring blessings unasked.

So I'm bidding pacific a very fond farewell, and welcoming spark and whatever lessons it would like to bring. I invited it in with a copper wire punctuated with tiny lights and wrapped around my mood board, and I've got an empty jar ready in my soul - last year taught me not to cling too tightly to the idea of a path, so I'm stepping off in search of fireflies.


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Gloaming


The minutes are ticking down to the new year, in my timezone, at least, and 2017 has been quite a year. Adam gone for most of it, returning from his deployment, a new Burch baby on the way, sundry adventures, and (of course) lots of knitting...


Brooklyn enjoying the leaves in our little back yard


Can't complain about a southern winter - hiking in February!


Tiny drummer


I got to visit Adam in April


Volunteering at the Little Craft Show's spring show


Establishing new traditions, with Loblolly's expansion of their vegan flavors


Finding significance in all things oaken


Knitting and knitting along


Tobin's feet with Daddy's feet - back together again, finally


Little man adding some chill to our daily venturing


Brave and beautiful


I've done my yearly tradition of hanging a new calendar (Sherlock!), catching up on missed things that will bother me if left undone, and making an effort to get something cleaned and reset (in this case, the kids' laundry and my knitting area). A word for 2018 presented itself, and I'm at peace with the lessons that pacific taught me - so now I'm signing off on this year and looking forward to whatever surprises await in the next one!