Tuesday, October 06, 2015

silence and response

I sit, trying so hard.

Trying to pray, trying to focus on reading, trying.  Trying.  This doesn't feel right, I can't get into a rhythm or find comfort in the words that used to bring me hope and comfort and peace.  I read because I want to, but what I want, what I'm looking for, is relationship and joy.  What I find is silence.  Distraction.  The clock ticking.  The sun slanting through the slats of the blinds higher and higher.

What is wrong with me? I wonder.

It didn't used to be this way.  I used to pour out my soul to Jesus and that was enough.  To be heard was enough.  Not much listening was required back then; He didn't wait for me to listen in those days, perhaps; maybe He just spoke through my noise.

I shake my head.  It's been like this awhile now.  Not just a dry spell.  Now it's a dry life.  I am frustrated, wondering where I went wrong.  Wondering why my first love seems to be far away even though He promises that He is near me always.

The childrens' catechism rings in my head, "Can I see God?"  Answer: "No, but He always sees me."  But why can't I feel Him?  Was it all an act?  Am I actually His?

With the silence comes

What am I doing this all for?  What has robbed me of joy?


What was it that I found joy in before?

Even the natural beauty of creation, always before a trigger for joy and thanksgiving, even the beauty of His handiwork hardly moves me and how can that be?

I feel lost, alone, directionless.  Who am I?  Is this what the rest of my life will be like?  I know there is so much beauty to be seen and felt and He promises His love is all around - but where is it and why have I lost sight of it?


Then one morning, this, these beautiful, timely words:

"But eventually there comes a time when prayer just doesn't work as it used to. Our intellectual considerations of the mystery of God and our wordy responses no longer feel very satisfying.  For awhile we may try to work harder at prayer the way we have always known it, or we may try to find a better method, but no matter how much effort we put into it or how faithful we are, nothing happens.  While we have surely experienced times of dryness before, they always seemed to pass, and experiences of intimacy with God would return.  But this time is different. This time we seem to have no control over what does or does not happen in our life with God....

"The experience of having our prayers grow cold, as distressing as it is, signals a major transition in the life of prayer and thus in our relationship with God....

"In Christian tradition, there are several signs that indicate we are transitioning into a new phase in the life of prayer: 

1) What you are doing isn't working, no matter how much effort you put into it.  You find yourself asking, "Is this all there is?"

2) Your desire for God continues to be strong, even though you have no desire for anything external...You hunger for intimacy - to just hang out with God - is all there is. 

3) You find yourself enjoying being alone, aware of God's presence without structured activity.  In the deepest part of your being, you know that God alone can satisfy the longings of the human heart, and other things fade in importance..."

"This transitional place in the life of prayer can be frightening because it requires us to let go of what we have known in order to open ourselves to something new.  It can feel as if we are being ripped from the safety and familiarity of a known space and our roots are dangling in midair.... We are left feeling vulnerable and unsure, like a tender sapling exposed to the wind and the elements."

--Quotations taken from Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton

My heart lifts and I have a sense of peace and communion that I have been longing for. I am grateful, so grateful for this gift.  I am reminded that my experiences are not isolated and hope is renewed that maybe this isn't wrong, it's just different and it will lead to something new and beautiful.  There is a whole tradition backing up my experiences - so I'm not alone!  Saints who have gone before have walked this dry valley.  I don't have to try harder (I always knew that, didn't I but what else was there but to seek Him still in the only way I could think of?). As I read this section in this book I am so struck by the almost word-for-word similarity to what I've written in my journal as I grapple with this form of longing to be close to God even if it is in a way I know I can't control.  

Prayer changes.  I now let myself spend more time quietly listening and slowly reading through a few verses of Scripture at a time listening for His voice in His word, no longer "trying" or feeling pressure from within to make something happen.  I remember that He is trustworthy and says He loves me and will meet me, whether I sense His presence or not.  Security returns in a new way and I realize now I just wanted to be with Him all along and He was always there, patient with me.  

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

yarn along: happy raccoon

I finished the little hood for my Millie girl!  Isn't it cute?  I won't be able to replicate it easily for her big sister, who has a major wool aversion and declared it too itchy when she tried it on.  Fortunately, Millie has no such qualms about wool.  (I am more like Lyddie than I thought; I am really sensitive to any itch but I just wear it anyway and try not to scratch.)  Any recommendations for an affordable-but-nice, super soft bulky yarn that won't be itchy? 

I am back to working more on my Hitofude.  I like the drape of the CoBaSi and I'm definitely feeling ready to move onto the next section of knitting. Not too long now. 

I finished Flora and Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures and cried through the ending for its poignant beauty.  I love that DiCamillo can take a ridiculous premise (a superhero squirrel and a lonely girl) and infuse it with truth and beauty and meaning that make sense to every age.  I can't wait to share her books with my kids when they are a little older.  Edward Tulane and The Tale of Despereaux  are high on my favorites list. Oh there are just so many lovely books! 

I also finished Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie.  Sigh.  Incredible.  Loved. 

I haven't read much since finishing those two. I'm listening mostly to The White Moll by Frank L. Packard (Forgotten Classics podcast) and it's so different than my usual book genre; a mob crime drama but the protagonist is a young woman who accidentally gets mixed up in trouble and can't figure out a way to extricate herself.  There's a mystery, and I do like good mysteries to puzzle through and try to predict.  It's different but I like to branch out from, well, childrens and young adult fiction, now and then. 

It's happy Yarn Along day and I look forward to seeing what other goodies are being shared over at Ginny's blog!  

P.S. I have still been trying to figure out how to correctly add the Yarn Along button to my sidebar but I think there must be something wrong with the code of my blog because, when I added it and it didn't show up on the page, I then attempted to add a completely different button from a different website as a test and it didn't work either.  Blogger help forums are completely overwhelming to someone who has practically zero understanding of html and any other computer language whatsoever (i.e., me).  So... if there's anyone reading this who may have the patience to walk me through some troubleshooting, let me know! I'd love to add the button to my blog since it's the only really regular event I participate in!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

glimpses of september

One of the things I am really loving about starting school with Lyddie is that it is helping me make sure to take time to do things I've always wanted to. Since I have a reason to make a specific lesson plan each week, I am being sure to include things that, in the past, I wouldn't do as regularly as I wanted.

One of these things is going on nature walks together.  This is something my girls and I love to do but it has often gotten shuffled to the side.  Since the weather is still beautiful I am making sure to get some of these in now.  I am hoping to continue in the winter with a bit of flexibility around the weather, but since I do not think it's detrimental for kids to be outside in the cold or even the rain as long as they have good clothes and gear, in general I think we should be able to carry on.  Our favorite place is the Yakima Arboretum.  I've written about the arboretum many times but I am continually thankful for this outdoor refuge of beauty.  It is really well maintained and has a beautiful collection of trees and plants, and a bird-watching/bird-feeding screen that we will revisit in the winter to see what kinds of birds we can observe together.  I brought along sketch books for myself and the girls but my theory on sketching nature at this age is to leave it alone unless they initiate pretty much.  Lyddie loves to draw so eventually she took a break from running through paths and bridges of the Japanese garden  and found me under the pagoda with the colored pencils.  Her sketches are so pretty and I love watching her intently study the object she's going to draw and then doing her best to replicate it in her book.  

I plan to go to the Toppenish wildlife refuge, back to the Arboretum a few more times, a couple parks in town, and visit some sites along the Yakima River Canyon.  I think that should get us up through the fall and then I'll decide what we can manage in the cold season after Christmas.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

yarn along: raccoon

The last days of summer are upon us; I thought they were gone a couple weeks ago but have been happy to find that our usually lovely September is indeed here still this year.  The garden is coming to a close; it is nearly time to pick all the green tomatoes to ripen slowly in the root cellar.  The little tiny pumpkins are bright orange against the dying vines (darn squash bugs), and the brussels sprouts are covered in aphids.  I have basically given up, I think, although I really wish to recover my fall garden beds.  Maybe. 

I am nearly finished with Millie's little raccoon hood and I think it's so adorable.  She's really excited about hoods right now and whenever she has a jacket on, her hood is up over her head.  I know I'm biased, but she is extremely beautiful. She is definitely giving me a run for my money this week, though; she is by far my strongest-willed child.  I find I must feed her imagination with fairy tales on a regular basis, because she lives in her own reality no matter what, and at least that way I can direct her little reality toward good and honor and beauty.  I can't wait to see what games ensue when she transforms from a girl into a raccoon.  

I grabbed Flora and Ulysses from the library by my favorite children's book author when I saw it on the shelf.  It is setting up to be, as I expected, a sweet and poignant story about a little girl who-- get this-- finds a squirrel who has just developed superpowers. Flora is a child of divorced parents and lonely with an active imagination and a mother to whom she can't relate.  DiCamillo is so good at developing characters and themes that many children actually deal with in a way that is healthy and beautiful.  

I am still reading Charlotte Mason's  vol. 1 , Home Education,and find it to be repeatedly a thing of deep conviction and at the same time, encouragement and peace.  Ambleside and Charlotte Mason overwhelmingly just feel right to me at this time of my life. 

Sense and Sensibility on CraftLit
King Lear on ChopBard
The White Moll on Forgotten Classics
Peter Pan audiobook cd

Joining with Ginny's Yarn Along and eager to peek at the blogs of so many beautiful crafters!  Happiest of Wednesdays to you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

school days: dreary dun

Our first week of kindergarten was lovely and very simple.  I decided to start our days with "circle time" for all three girls with a bit of Mother Goose (I just heard from Andrew Pudewa in an interview that early reading of Mother Goose indicates later skill with Shakespeare and his sonnets and iambic pentameter - so interesting!), a bit of Scripture, and a song or two.  The Mother Goose is clearly the favorite part of this routine; today we had a rollicking series of 

"Gallop a dreary dun!  With a heighty gaily gamberally higgledy piggledy niggledy niggledy! Gallop a dreary dun!" 

taking turns bouncing around on mommy's knee.  Happy.   This Circle Time will theoretically develop into a longer routine as the children get older and we have additional subjects that we can cover together in a group and will provide a good consistent routine for the beginning of our days, I hope.  For now it's inauspicious and quiet (or squealy, I suppose, as today showed) and not trying to be much of anything. 

Rosie has a surprising skill screwing in screws with the drill.  Power tools: all part of a well-rounded two year old education, right?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

yarn, books, and kindergarten

I have joined the ranks of mothers gasping as if their child is the first to begin kindergarten.  "How can it be?" we ask, "How did the time go so fast?"  My baby is school-aged.  

The sweet little blue dress Millie is wearing was mine when I was young, and I think she looks so completely darling in it.  She chose to keep that one when I was purging many clothes from our storage  Thank you, KonMari, I now have seven (more) trash bags of clothing to donate or consign.

We spent a pretty short time doing our first day of school together; a 10 minute math lesson on odd and even numbers, our very first 20 minute piano lesson, a little poetry read-aloud.  Selections from our composer (Brahms) for this term on in the background much of the morning.  So basic, so sweet and of course they all begged for "More school!"  to which I said, no, it's time to play outside. 

Later, to celebrate this exciting new adventure, I had planned to take the girls to the trampoline park in town for the afternoon.  Oh, they had such fun running across a whole floor of trampolines and foam pits and climbing up trampoline walls, sliding and bouncing their way back down.  We will be going back there again without a doubt. 

So then I got a bit of extra knitting time right in the middle of the day while they jumped; a rare occurrence!  My Hitofude is coming along steadily.  I saw an adorable bear hood on Lisa's blog last week (one of my favorite yarn along friends to keep up with!) and clicked over to Ravelry to see if anything else by designer Heidi May might appeal to my girls.  My Millie got excited when she saw the Ryder Raccoon hood and then decided promptly that she also wanted to be a raccoon for Halloween.  Awesome!  Super bulky yarn for instant gratification!  A sweet winter wear that can also be used as a key component for a costume!  Score!  The really bulky yarn hurts my hands after awhile so in the evening (while now watching X-Files, yikes!) I alternate between the two projects. 
My friends, how did I go so long without audiobooks? When I saw the audiobook of Peter Pan on the shelf at the library, I had to pick it up, having never read it and always meaning to.  I'm halfway through, nearly and the girls enjoy listening to it in the car whenever they're with me too.  

The White Moll on the Forgotten Classics podcast 
Sense and Sensibility on my favorite, CraftLit
King Lear on ChopBard

I am also reading Home Education by Charlotte Mason and will be for a long time.   

I am now back to consistently joining in with the Yarn Along at Ginny's blog; won't you come along too?  Leave a comment so I can visit you back!  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

this man

Because I'm feeling extra mischievous tonight, I thought you might smile to see these pictures of the most amazing man alive.  I mean, really.  This man.  I took him to be my husband for better and for worse and have never once regretted it.  He's walked through miles of shattering bad that we never could have foreseen and miles of blessed good that we could never have foreseen and I am so amazed by him and proud to be his girl .  

Yesterday, when I asked if we could finish the kitchen floor, I really just meant to put in the floor molding and put the floor vent back in, etc... instead he took the entire laminate flooring apart to reinstall it more perfectly because he knew deep down it was going to bother me, and it was going to bother him too.  This was back-breaking and discouraging work but he kept at it all day and succeeded.  I love love love it.

These pictures are him "tolerating" the camera but usually my best pictures of him are covert.  I am so blessed to be his wife and am amazed by how much we have grown and changed together almost since our first meeting eleven years ago.  We are now in our tenth year of marriage and it has been hard work and sometimes discouraging, sometimes disappointing, sometimes exhilarating, sometimes joyful.  Through it all, I am so glad I have someone like this man to walk beside in this life together.  He takes me the way I am, and yet he has never given up on me when I'm being blind.  Can a girl ask for anything more?