The Way of A Man with a Maid

“There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid.” Proverbs 30:19

Eighteen years I have learned the wonders of the ways between a man and a maid.  I have seen love stretched and tested and enduring. I have seen it soaring and flying, I’ve seen it hanging on and surviving.  I’ve seen it come easily and quickly, and other times fought for, bought with heart aches and forgiveness and reconciliation.  I’ve seen it shine like a brand new penny, I’ve seen it flickering bravely in dark places.  I’ve seen it change, over and over.  The endless seasons of love coming and going and transforming us, year after year after year.   It becomes fuller and more bodied as it ages.  It becomes something so difficult to describe that we stop trying.  It becomes so intimate and personal, that you don’t often see movies or novels written about the 18th year of being in love.  But this is a loss to us, as we love past our honeymoons and newlywed days.  Let the world hear, love is rich and amazing and reborn in us a thousand times over our lives. Let this little verse rival the lines of Romeo and Juliet.  Let me challenge Paris and Helen.  What can be known of love can’t be gathered in such brief moments as theirs.  Though truly, even a life time wouldn’t be long enough to know all the wonders of love.

Summer in my heart

Though winter rages ’round

Sunshine on my skin

Though rain keeps falling down.

.

Music in my ears

When fades away the tune,

Stars in my sky,

When hidden is the moon.

.

Sweetness on my lips

Though bitterness may be fed,

Warmth in my bones

Though long the fire dead.

.

Fullness in all my wanting

Safety in all my fears

Joy in every sorrow,

With you in all my years.

Year’s End

I’ve been wanting to write about my brother for about a year now, but I couldn’t do it.  It’s still not easy, to be honest.  As a matter of fact, that’s pretty much why I stopped blogging altogether, because I couldn’t write around it.  I couldn’t write about it, and I couldn’t NOT write about it.  So, I took a break, and just let the ground lie fallow.

But, this is okay.  This feels right.

Sometime in the early summer of 2013, it became obvious that he was on shaky ground again.  We tried reaching out to him, but it didn’t stop it.  He began the slow and painful journey back into his addiction.  It broke my heart, ticked me off, scared me to death.  Every emotion was dragged out into the open, whether I wanted it or not.  There were days that it weighed so heavily on me that I couldn’t breathe.  Some days, I handled it okay.  Some days, I handled it all wrong.  But all the feeling… it didn’t stop the reality of what was happening.  Every day was borrowed time– every phone call had the weight of horrible possibility.  We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know what it would be.

He was arrested a few weeks before Christmas of this year.

He was jobless, homeless, still in the process of breaking himself.  Being arrested saved his life.

So, now instead of laying in bed, wondering where he is sleeping, wondering where he is, what he looks like or how he’s getting food, or if he misses us and remembers any of his old life… I know where he is.  I know what he’s eating.  I know what he’s wearing.  And I know he’s thinking about his life.  With four blank walls around you, there’s no escaping your own thoughts.

I couldn’t write about this while it was happening.  I wanted to give him time and space and quiet– but the truth is, this is part of his story.  There’s no way to bury this.  He’s going through this, we’re going through it.  I want the end of this story to be one of triumph and healing.  But there’s no getting there if we pretend there’s nothing to overcome.  No pain to heal from.

I don’t know what happens from here.  I don’t know if this will be the last time, but I sincerely pray that it is. But I ask God for more than that, more than just my brother’s sobriety.  There are hurts in our family that run deep, hurts we don’t want to acknowledge.  Wounds that have healed over poorly, scars that have left us numb, pieces that don’t fit together as well as they should.  We have not been okay.  We have not been okay.  I’m not sure why that’s important to admit, but it is.  At least for me.  If that’s all I said, though, it wouldn’t be worth much.  We haven’t been okay, but God hasn’t left us.  He suffered with us.  He shared our pain, bore our burdens.  He listened when we cried, He dried our tears.  He was patient as we stumbled through anger and resentment and bitterness.  He upheld us when we were our weakest.  We weren’t okay, but we weren’t alone.  Not for a moment of this hard and terrible thing.  We were never alone.  This didn’t kill us.  The sorrow of our earthly troubles didn’t overcome Him.  He didn’t take the pain away, but it did not extinguish His goodness and mercy and His work within us.  What have we to fear, when He holds us so firmly in His Hand?  He is truly master over all.

So there you have it.  We’re in a quiet place now.  A place to catch our breath.  A place to assess our condition, check that we are still intact, still breathing.  And we are.  He has brought us from 2014, into a whole new year full of possibilities.  May we live in 2015, blessing His name in its highs and lows.

Happy New Year, all.

Hello from the Coop

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One of my favorite things about keeping chickens:  the booty beauty.  Fluffy bottoms abound!  They look like feathery pantaloons or skirts, and I just love ‘em.  I wish I could teach them the Virginia Reel.

This little pillow of chickeny goodness is my very favorite.  She’s so docile and friendly– she’s the one who would always hop on my shoulder when she was smaller.  Now, she lets me pet her like a dog!  I lerv her.

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Chickens are curious creatures.  Especially if there’s a chance you may have a treat for them.  This girl always cracks me up with the tufts around her face, and the feathers parted neatly around her comb..

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Roosters have scary reputations, I’ll give you that.  And honestly, they do cut quite an imposing figure.  But Nemo is very well behaved.  He is a handsome young fella, and his is constantly on patrol.  It’s fun to watch.  And really, when I look at Nemo now, this is what I remember:

Awww…. He was such a runt back then.  Very bottom of the order, but he’s worked his way up.  He will probably never be the big boss though, Prissy has that firmly in hand.  Speaking of Prissy,
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Hasn’t she turned out pretty?  She is fat and happy and lays lotsa eggs.  Good chicken.  She keeps the flock in line.

 

And this girl, visiting the nesting box.  I’m trying to decide if she’s going broody on me!  She’s been in the nesting box for a gooooood long while today.  She’s already fussed at me once for getting her out.  Broodiness can be bad if you don’t want to hatch chicks.  They may accidentally break eggs, which can then be eaten, and start up a bad habit of egg eating hens!  Also, a broody hen can cause other hens to go broody as well.  They won’t get up to eat or drink, they get all drama queen on you.  So we’ll see.  I’ll check again in a little while.

This shy girl is the smallest, meekest of the chickens.  She’s on the very bottom of the pecking order, which means she has to eat last, take the worst roosting positions, and basically yield whatever to the other chickens.  I do try to sneak her secret bites of food and attention when the others aren’t looking. She’s very timid but I love her sweet expressions and quiet personality.

And lastly, guess what?
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More chicken butt.  :)

So there ya have it.  A little chicken for your day.

I Will Tell You a Story

Prologue

Once upon a time, there was a girl who couldn’t remember her name.

Though she had all else she could desire, a warm hearth to eat food, a soft place to lay her head, strong walls to protect against the night, she was bereft.  She sought out the elders of her village, and the wise woman at the meadow’s edge, and the wild men of the forest, but none could tell her who she was or how she had come to be.  Sorrow hollowed out her heart, and just as she had lost her name, she began to lose the simple comforts of a living soul.  Food became tasteless, and the flames of the fire ceased to warm her.  Sleep fled before her tired eyes, and the rising sun did not quicken her spirit.  She was alone, unknown to herself and all living creatures.

With each passing moment, she faded more and more, until one day, her steps began to lose their sound.  Light passed through her, as if she were a pane of glass.  With fearful hands, she touched the world, and felt nothing.  Nameless and forgotten, she slipped away from herself.  With none to see her, or know her, or call her name, she became invisible as the wind.  Like the whisper of a breeze, she blew through the empty halls, hardly stirring even the motes of dust.  She was a ghost of a girl, held together only by the faintest of will.

The wind knows no measure of time.  It simply is, until it isn’t.  It blows, and then it doesn’t.  And so it may have been for the girl, who existed as barely a breath for countless ages.

Except for him.  The one who, though he had desperately lost his own way, would one day, stumble upon hers.

This is their tale.

Turning the Camera Around

So, I’ve been taking selfies lately.  Yeah….

I’m not going through a narcissistic phase, if that’s what you think.  I’m not doing duck faces, and if I DO, then by all means, stage an intervention.  I promise you, I haven’t developed an unhealthy obsession with my good side.

Nah, the truth is, I’m coming out from behind the camera, because I’m way too comfortable back there.  Over the past few years, I’ve been slipping into invisible mode.  Hiding behind my kids, melting into the background, sitting on the sidelines, slipping out the door, whatever.  I think some of it is a natural introversion (why does nobody believe I’m an introvert?) but some of it is probably laziness.  And then there is the fact that I’m not a big fan of pictures of myself.  All terrible excuses for HIDING.

I recognized this shortcoming recently, and I didn’t like it, not one bit.  Life’s too short to hide from it.  What do I have to lose?  Vanity?  Pride?  Am I afraid to look a little foolish, a little fat, a little goofy?  Lord forgive me.  And it’s not just pictures, I tend to hold back in lots of situations, when I should be open and engaging.  I can be there, without really being there.   But I don’t want to be that way.  When I am an old gray mama, I want them to flip through photos of me in their younger days and remember that I was full of life and joy.  I want them to see the happiness on my face, the laughter in my eyes.  I want them to see me engaged in all the moments given to me.  Because if they see anything else, then they are seeing an untruth.  And I can’t bear that thought, that they would ever believe I didn’t love sharing this life with them.  I don’t want to be on the sidelines of Life, out of the picture.  I’m there, and I want them to see it and remember it long after I’m gone.

So now I get it. You can’t suck in your middle and belly laugh at the same time.  You can’t romp in the waves if you’re hiding under a towel.  I mean that literally, AND metaphorically.  You’ve got to let go, and believe in the love of your Father and those who hold your heart. For me, making my way into intentional pictures is a step towards visibility in a bigger sense.  Putting myself out there, embracing the person I am at almost 39, it’s not narcissism.  It’s about NOT letting stupid insecurities hold me back from the fullness of living.  “Hiding” is a disservice to the great blessings I am surrounded with, and the One who gifted it all to me.  So now, you see me a little more…. but hopefully, you’ll know it’s so much more than a “selfie.”  It’s me saying, I’m here, and I’m glad I’m here, and I’m especially glad it’s with you.  That’s worth some time in front of the camera, and in front of the crowd.  My loves deserve it.

[But, I can’t defend the hashtag.  #onceyoustartyoucan’tstop ]

Happy week, all.

 

 

Time for the Traditional Weeping and Mourning Over First Day Photos

Well, it’s here again.  The post where I weep uncontrollably over my children’s relentless and merciless march through childhood.  Or, as everybody else knows it, The First Day of School Pics.  (It’s the side by side that gets ya.  WHY DO I DO THIS???)

So, Czarina last year, in 8th grade:

And this year, in 9th, in HIGH SCHOOL:

Oh, give me strength. 

Last year, here was HeroBoy, in 5th:

And now, knocking out his last year of elementary as a 6th grader:

That’s it, I quit.  I can’t go on.  Make it stop.

Here is the Duke, last year as a 3rd grader:

And here he is, sliding into 4th like a pro:

Deep breaths.

Chipmunk, last year as a 1st grader:

And now, in 2nd:

(I do believe his hair has gotten redder this past year!  I will admit no other changes in this fellar.)

Lastly, here’s Mister, in PK3 last year:

And now, looking sharp for PK4, ready to do this thing:

So, there ya have it, in one sharp blow.  A whole year passed in ten photos.  It’s gonna be a great year!  But more on that in the next post.  Now, I must go drown my sorrows in some strawberry ice cream. 

It’s the only way.

All is Ready

Here we are, on the eve of a new school year.  Lesson plans have been prepared.  Pencils sharpened to fine points.  New books wait to be read, workbooks crisp and empty.  It is quiet and clean in here. 

All is ready.

It’s one of my favorite feelings in the whole world. As much as I enjoy summer, I really do miss schooling with my kids over the break.  I miss teaching them, and learning with them.  I love the converging of the five unique minds and spirits that homeschooling gives us.  I love these faces around the kitchen table.  I am privileged to look upon them, and into them, day after day. True, individual studies throughout our schooling day will scatter us about a bit, especially as some of my students are advancing.  But there are many moments when we are all there, together, and we’re a system in harmony.  Crazy harmony, sometimes.  But we’re US, and there’s nothing else quite like it.  

Homeschooling can be challenging, I’ll not deny that.  There are days of self doubt and anxiety.  Times when I am overwhelmed or frustrated and I desperately need a “do over.”  But those off days are like little gnats I just shoo away.  They can’t spoil the blessing of this long, bright and sunny day.   I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, I really wouldn’t.  I’ll do it, year after year, First Day after First Day, until there are none left to be had. 

And when the Last Day of the Last Days comes (I can hardly even envision that far off moment), I will thank God for the journey He put me on. I will bless Him for the life He destined to me, (because it surely is my life, it is not something that can be done to the side.)

I will praise Him then, as I do right this very moment,  for the strength and patience during the hard days, and the joy and pleasure of the good days.  I will, above all, be grateful for the time He allowed me with His gifts.  Thousands of hours knowing them, making memories with them, sharing in the people they become.  It is an honor I know I am not worthy of, but I will take without hesitation.

As my students lay down in their beds tonight, somewhat moaning the loss of their summer freedoms (and who can blame the poor dears), I will lay on my own pillow with a little flutter in my own heart.  For tomorrow is the First Day of another school year.

And all is ready.


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