Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fridays Unfolded #135: Pies, Salmon, and a New Word

Thanksgiving is knocking down on our door with Christmas following close behind.  For some reason, however, it feels more like January outside than November.

In other words?

It's freezing.  Every day, it is freezing.

I hear we will have some warmer temperatures this weekend.  If they are right, I will sit outside all day and stare at the sun.  I am completely serious.

Around my house, we have been cooking.  The girls and I have been working together creating warm meals and a pie (or two) to help ward off the frost in our bones.  (Did I mention it's cold?)

Let's see what you all have been up to this week...

I think the girls would love to make these little miniature pecan pies from Natasha in Oz.  They look adorable.

This next one is right up my alley.  I adore salmon.  I've never eaten a salmon dish I didn't like and this one from Two Kids and Tired Cooks looks just as good, if not better, than the others I've made.  I can't wait to try it.

This next one is probably my favorite.  It's a new word (we all know how I love those) and is me.  I keep turning my head, reading her titles and trying to decide if I need any of them.  You know.  For my own stack of similarly acquired books.

Which reminds me of this quote that someone sent me a while back:

That's it for my week.  Now it's your turn!

How it works:

  • follow your hostesses in some way 

  • link up as many posts as you like-recipes, decorating, faith, kids, homeschooling, humor, giveaways…whatever unfolded for you lately
  • grab the button and post it or linked text somewhere on your blog
  • visit a few links (it’s a party, people!)
  • pin only from the original posts
  • by joining Fridays Unfolded you are giving us permission to post a linked photo from your shared post
  • try to use nice, big photos in your posts.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fridays Unfolded: The Dawning of Winter

This week it began.

The finality of life
The end of fall
The beginning of the season
That undoes us all.

I know death always brings life and the freezing temperatures, fat socks and toasty fires.  I know there is beauty in the season.  Although the older I get, the more I grieve over the passing of life and the long, cold days ahead.

But there are coffee dates with friends where strangers are nice to your children.  There are peppermint mochas and Christmas trees and presents and glee and warmth and love and books and yarn.  There are hot ovens and hot cookies and hot cocoa.  There are epiphanies about my ministry at home that move in with the frost the same as with the sun.

There is redemption even in the coldest and darkest of days.

And there are always Fridays. The day where the anticipation of nothingness or bustling activity rests.

It's time again to share what unfolded in your week, in your home, in your family.  I have really enjoyed reading your blogs this week and getting to know some of you.  I love how different each of you are from each other and from me.  Just as the snowflake's beauty is one of unique splendor, so your creativity is the sweet piece of you that you share with the world.

Some features from last week:

This salad from My Sweet Mission looks amazing.  I think if I could take pictures of food that made it look this good, my kids might be more inclined to eat the uknown things I put before them.

This journal posted by Amy at Delineate Your Dwelling is genius.  I already have it in my Amazon cart and am excited about this.  And while we're here, let's just say the word "delineate" again.  It's one of my favorites.

And last but not least, there is this adorable headband posted by my friend Liz over at The Quick Journey.  I have the privilege of knowing this lady in person and can speak to the fact that her home, her creations, and her children are just as sweet as they look online.

So that's it for me.  What about you?  What unfolded for you this week?  

How it works:

  • follow your hostesses in some way 

  • link up as many posts as you like-recipes, decorating, faith, kids, homeschooling, humor, giveaways…whatever unfolded for you lately
  • grab the button and post it or linked text somewhere on your blog
  • visit a few links (it’s a party, people!)
  • pin only from the original posts
  • by joining Fridays Unfolded you are giving us permission to post a linked photo from your shared post
  • try to use nice, big photos in your posts.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Ministry Beneath My Window

read this week one of my very favorite picture books to my youngest daughter.  I understand my "very favorite picture books" list quite long.  But this one is near the top.  It is a wonderful little story about Emily Dickinson who, besides being a gifted poet, was also a very fascinating woman.

It was said that she rarely left her house and, eventually, never left at all.  She was ill at times and was quite shy around people.  She took the term "introvert" to a whole new level.

But still she showered the world with beauty.  Well over a thousand pages of beauty, written and preserved for the world.  Right there.  In that house she never left, where it was said she lowered baskets of gingerbread down to neighboring children, she lowered words to the world of which she was so afraid.

So I ask a few questions.  To myself and to mothers everywhere.  

What exactly are we thinking when we begin to assume we have nothing to offer the world when a sickly recluse moved inward to shower the same with beauty? 

Who says there is no ministry right here?  In this house? In this mess of us?  Does anyone else doubt the breadth of their influence when the lessons and the meals and the mess envelop all of our days?

And perhaps it's just me.  Maybe I'm the only one who lies awake at night or walks around aimlessly pondering the depth of the ministry that lies before me.  Have you ever wondered if this eternal work is, in fact, as temporal as it sometimes seems?

It is so easy to forget our family IS our ministry.  That right here, without ever leaving, we can make our mark on this world, lowering baskets of blessings to our families, to our neighbors, to those whom God so strategically places just under our windowsill.

I have a feeling I may have underestimated the power of scribbled words on paper and a freshly baked batch of gingerbread cookies.  I think I definitely have forgotten that God is glorified when I make my kids' favorite soup.  I know I doubt the eternal significance of perfectly removed coffee stains and laundered clothing.  

A dear friend emailed me last week to remind me that this day, every day, is a gift.  Only on this particular day are we able to glorify God in the special way designed for the happenings of now.  Today we can influence our tiny corner of the world for His glory.  Today is a gift, lowered to us from the very Throne of God.  

Will we continue to look outward, for the elusive ministry that lies just out of our reach?  Or perhaps we can remember Emily.  The dreamer who never ventured out beyond her own front yard, but steeped in the beauty thereof. Who took that beauty, spun it into words and gingerbread, and lowered it down to us and our children. 

"Forever is composed of nows."

-Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fridays Unfolded: A Party!

So I'm starting something new this week.

I am not a big participator in link parties or online communities. My time is limited and I am always hesitant to spend a lot of it online.  But a favorite blogger of mine, Alison, threw out an idea on Twitter that actually found me intrigued.

Every week, she hosts a link party entitled Fridays Unfolded.  It is unique from the others I've seen in that the only requirement to post is that it be something that unfolded for YOU this week.  What did you create?  What did you learn?  What would you like to share with the world?   There are no boundaries or limits, just inspiration laced with beauty.

Alison, being a creative writer, decorator, cook, and homeschool rockstar, endeavors to admonish you that your week, your life, is worth writing about AND worth reading.

Her idea, with regard to this link party, is simple.  One party.  Six bloggers.  SIX!  She invited me to participate and I agreed to help her encourage women everywhere to unfold their mess, their beauty, their life, love, photos, and inspiration to the world.

So will you join us?

A few guidelines:

  • follow your hostesses in some way 

  • link up as many posts as you like-recipes, decorating, faith, kids, homeschooling, humor, giveaways…whatever unfolded for you lately
  • grab the button and post it or linked text somewhere on your blog
  • visit a few links (it’s a party, people!)
  • pin only from the original posts
  • by joining Fridays Unfolded you are giving us permission to post a linked photo from your shared post
  • try to use nice, big photos in your posts. 
I had the privilege of reading through the last Fridays Unfolded party and choosing some of my favorites.

A few features for you:

I love apple desserts, and this looked absolutely fabulous. I can't wait to to try these cookies from Elizabeth at Just Following Jesus.

This thrift store crate makeover from Bonnie at Our Secondhand House is cute as a button.  I see these crates at shops frequently and may pick one up next time.

I want to go to Rome myself someday and this synopsis of a day in the life of a traveler was fascinating to read. Beyond that, the pictures are breathtaking.  It also reminds me of a really funny story in a book I read this summer that, as an aside, is well worth reading.  

So that's it!  Let me know if you have any technical difficulties following any links or hostesses.  

Now it's your turn.  What unfolded for you this week?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Musings

The day is overcast and the leaves fleeing. They can only stay so long before they scatter, the leaves. Set ablaze by cold and fire, the cloak inevitably molts.

The wind sounds different now, the air growing quieter as it no longer hums through the tree. The beautiful dying changes everything.

It always does. 

Empty and bare sits the tree and begs us to remember her dress, the shade under which we sat, the beautiful grandeur with which she rustled in the day.  She cries for us to remember the locusts and the caterpillar and how she housed them all. The birds that nested and sang and the life that they bore. 

She is brave and bold and, naked before the world, she stares us down and says beautiful dying is worth the sacrifice. 

And when she brings forth life again and the wind plays longer in her bough, she will want us to remember her barrenness.  The days she spent bearing no fruit have prepared her for this. The lush bursting with life, the sanctuary for all who need rest. She will be bigger and stronger and more lovely than ever before.

You see, the beautiful dying will have changed everything. 

It always does.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Weeping and The Willow

"I wrote a poem about that tree."

I said it thoughtfully as I watched the men clean up the fallen willow.

It weeps no more.  Or it weeps even more.  Who knows how the willow weeps when it's gone?  When its leaves, always reaching for the ground, find themselves lost among it?

The day before, I watched one of my very best friends drive away from my house, into the sunset it seemed, on to new horizons.  Her husband took a job far away, or perhaps not that far, but too far for sledding or painting or leaf-jumping or knitting.   The children, desperate to stay together that day as long as possible, asked us what we wanted to be when we grow up.  They know us.  They anticipated  a very long, drawn out, philosophical conversation during which they could run through the yard and become elusive as mice.  But we just laughed.  And then she thew her arms open wide and yelled it loudly, in the street, "I'm going to be the best friend there ever was!"

And I knew it was true.

The painters work hard outside, re-painting and re-doing all that has been lost to the weather and the midwest temperatures.  I make them cookies, the one with the beard and the one with the toothless smile, and I remind them the dogs will eat the cookies if they do not eat them first.  They laugh.

I wonder how I'll get it all done, and why I do it at all, and a little girl crawls into my lap and I know her childhood is rushing past, faster than I can fathom.

Then I remember.  It all falls apart.  The house deteriorates, the willow weeps its last, the child grows, the friend moves on, and what's left is a shadow of what was.  A silhouette...a still shot of the past, outlined and hazy from years of wear.

A poem of our life bound up in memories and leaves and I wonder about the poetry of days yet to come.

I stare at the place where the tree stood and hope they plant another in its place.  The painters pack up their things and move on to the next house, weathered and beaten down by life.

My friend  leaves in three days and I smile as I think of her new adventures, the poetry she will bring to her new town and the silhouette she leaves here.

It's the past we love or hate, for which we yearn or that which we abhor.  Usually, for most of us, it's a little of both.  But it's the embracing of all that has passed, of loving our today because of those who have made it, that is, perhaps, our most important endeavor.  Whether it's the willow that weeps us into life or the friend that loves us to a place of weeping, may we always love our story, the poetry of life knitted together with words and leaves and experiences cradled deep within us.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Coffee Cake, Mythology, and Misgivings

Every day at around ten a.m., you can find us eating a snack and taking a little break from our lessons.  

On this particular Monday, the break took place indoors, as it was raining outside. We had some coffee cake that had been sent over a few days prior because my husband's grandfather had passed away after short battle with cancer.  I consider my children blessed to have known their great-grandfather, a dedicated man to whom my husband was very close.

Cake is not usually my snack of choice in the middle of the morning, but this day, I made an exception.  They were beside themselves with joy and asked if I would please read to them from our mythology book while they ate.  As if continuing our story of Baucis and Quicksilver would be the proverbial icing on their literal cake. 

I was touched in that moment.  

I was surprised to also find myself a little concerned.

I want to raise educated, cultured children.  I really do.  I am thrilled when they
ask me to read.  

But this day, I took a look around, watched them eat coffee cake while digesting Baucis and I began to feel as though they like were leading some kind of fairy tale life.

What about all the warnings of overprotected children I had dismissed?  Was there merit to this notion that things could be TOO easy?  That mornings spent mulling over mythology were ones not to be experienced in the "real world" and thus detrimental to their fate as contributing members of society?

I began walk down a path of ill contrived panic.  Questions tumbled over one another as the weeds across sand.  

Will they be too sheltered and wonder what in the world this world is made of when they meet a society of people who eat coffee cake for dinner and curse Philemon?  What will they do when they have to walk in the rain when they've been sheltered from it under the roof of a liberal education and a doting mother?  How will they apply the kindness of Philemon and Baucis to the lost in this dying world, when their world was always made so alive?

But this is our story.

Our story, while not perfect, does, in fact, involve a lot of cake and a plethora of words.  Our story involves running in the rain and seeking shelter from the same.  Our Author plans our story, writes it, and smiles as their mouths fill with cinnamon and their minds a sweet story created by another piece of His creation.  

We are all connected through words and food and maybe that's why He called Himself the Word, His flesh bread, and His blood wine.  Did not the disciples that fateful night, as the Servant-Savior washed their feet and their souls and fed them a feast of wine and bread, feel as though they were living a sort of fairy tale?  Rescued, brought to high places, and made new, they relished in their newfound lives.  

Only to turn around and lose it all in a matter of hours and gain it all back at the words of a woman loved fierce and a tomb found empty.  

Fairy tales turn into real life whether we ask them to or not.  The question is never if things will fall apart.  It's a matter of when.  And was the washing of their feet by the lovers of their souls sufficient enough preparation for the grime-encrusted path that awaits?

The days following cake and mythology were spent remembering my grandfather-in-law, a man who lied about his age on an application to a packing plant as a teenager so he could work on the kill-room floor.  He was sent overseas and back again where, eventually, he owned the plant.  He retired at fifty-five and took trips to Europe and I suppose his story, with the blood and the sweat and the mopping, was fairy-tale-esque.  Did he always think so?  Aren't all fairy tales laced with blood, sweat, tears, and a few strategically placed villains?

Don't we all live a fairy tale?  At some point in all of our lives, we are either trapped in a tower, harassed by a witch, or scorned by a family member.  In the end, redemption weaves our story together and, for us, if words being poured over the top of cake is a refuge for the harder days to come, I'll take it.

At the end of our myth, the one about Baucis and Philemon and the Miraculous Pitcher, the hero and heroine get their dying wish and become trees under which the visitors of the land can rest their weary legs.  They become a shelter for the weary, the lost, the deserted, and the broken.  

Maybe my children, having spent their childhood resting in the boughs of well placed words and perfectly portioned ingredients, can become a sort of shelter themselves.  For the weary.  The lost.  The deserted. The broken.  

Let us rejoice in our story, whatever it is, for all stories are His story and the Author, I hear, is one of the best.