Thursday, July 28, 2011

holding on, but not too tight

Yesterday I got scared.

Not the ghost story kind of scared, not the someone startled me kind, not the global warming kind of scared.

The worst kind- the something terrible almost happened to my children kind of scared.

Nothing happened, everything is fine in our family.

But there are hurting, wounded children outside this home that lay heavy on my heart.

And I am struggling with how to love and protect my children without locking them up from the world.

I think of Mary, the mother of Christ and how she carried him in her body for a time and always in her heart. How she followed Him to the the darkest of all places and stayed by His side even at her point of deepest grief. She held onto him, but also let Him go where the Father sent him.

How to do that?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

montessori style applique placemats

and I must have been bitten by the same bug. No, not the mosquito, but I have plenty of those bites too.

The sewing bug has me making things at my machine. I am generally a very slow knitter, but I really enjoy it. I am much quicker at sewing and my projects come out with much fewer mistakes, but I do feel more stress at the machine than sitting with a pair of knitting needles. There is probably some life lesson to learn through each one.

I am almost finished with a project i have had in my head for years. As I attempt to teach table manners to my boys, setting the table has become one of their daily responsibilities. I thought it would be great to have an attractive placemat that would give them reminders of where each item belongs. I found the plain placemats at the grocery store on sale for 25cents each, after thanksgiving. The fabric came from scraps in my stash. I used iron on applique adhesive. I used both wonder under and steam-a-seam. I would recommend the steam-a-seam as it was much easier to work with, but it does come in small packets, but the wonder under comes by the yard. I also didnt try the wonder under heavy duty weight, it may be much better.

After attaching my applique pieces, I zigzagged (is that a word?) the edges with a contrasting thread color. This is both for decoration and as a back up to the applique adhesives, because lets face it, my boys are not delicate with tableware. :)

I finished it off by handsewing with embroidery floss a fork, knife, and spoon. This is honestly the hardest part and the part I have yet to finish. The placemats are stiff and thick and it takes some muscle to get the thread through. Another option would be to use fabric markers or to just not put the cutlery pictures on the placemat.

I hope to finish soon, but this one has been bumped back in the queue by another fun summer sewing project that I am so excited to finish. More on that later. . .

Monday, July 25, 2011

just get up

So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.”
Then the man got up and went home.

Matthew 9:6-7

The guys are gone to a baseball game and I am left with an incredibly huge chunk of time to do whatever I want with. It boggles the mind.

First, I will blog.

Second, I will pay bills. (eat your vegetables!)

Third, I will sew, with this post as my inspiration. (dessert!)

Yesterday we read the wonderful story of the healing of the paralyzed man. As it has many times, the words "Get up and walk" really struck me. I just find it so perfect that Jesus healed but also gave the paralyzed man a command he had to obey to really live in the fullness of his healing. If he had just sat back down and not walked, he would have still been healed, but not received the fulfillment of that miracle.

Earlier this week, I heard about a friend who has fallen. There is brokeness and pain in their life and in some degree, a kind of paralysis. So as I heard this familiar story, I found myself praying the command that Jesus gave.

Get up.
Get up.
Get up and walk.
Healing is available, its right there, but you have to live it out.
You have to get up and walk.
Home is waiting for you.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

take time for wonder

Purchase artworks of Sand grains under the microscope microscopic sand photography art photo microscopy artwork

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
Albert Einstein

For more amazing photos of grains of sand, go to

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I pity the fool

Today the theme is foolishness.

It is the day of Venerable Simeon fool-for-Christ. To read about his remarkable life, you can look here.

The scripture of the day included:
"If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is the foolishness with God." 1 Corinthians 3:18-19

I am not unfamiliar with foolishness. I have been an insecure teenager, doing every goofy thing for attention and really glad I did all before facebook. I have traveled in foreign countries and attempted to communicate in other languages enough that my embarrassment tolerance is pretty high. I have had two children which means I have dealt with just about every kind of bodily fluid in a public place and had to just plaster on a sweet mommy smile to get through it.

But those aren't the things that really seem foolish to me now, just embarrassing. I think of the money I have wasted that I wish I had saved. I think of the hours given to worry instead of prayer. I think of the dozens of woulda coulda shoulda opportunities I missed. Then I feel foolish.

Then there is mercy.

And I start to look at my life through the eyes of a loving God. I see someone trying their best, attempting faithfulness each day. And I begin to see that some things I thought were foolish were actually wise.

Staying at home with my kids isn't just decreasing my income potential, its investing in the stability of my family and future of my children. Living simply (cheaply :) isn't just making me out of style, its placing my resources in what really matters. Lingering over a meal to discuss our feelings isn't inefficiency, its treasuring the gift of a strong marriage.

Lord, may I follow the path of your wisdom, though it may seem like foolishness.

Monday, July 18, 2011

when life gives you lemons...

More accurately titled: When you are a clutz, and spill salad dressing on your shirt. . . redo your shirt!

I am always getting something on me. Usually something oily that leaves a stain. So when I ruined this shirt which was fairly new and nice, I sighed. Then I stumbled upon this piece of knit fabric that I had gotten at a craft swap like 2 years ago (pack rats rock!) that was the exact same color. With the wonder of google (how did we use the internet before it?), I found this great tutorial.
Of course, the location of my stain didnt fit with the around the collar look, so i had to go with the winding flowers motif. There are some other great t-shirt modifications on that site that I want to try. I have attempted this tshirt flower look before and I have found that the key to it looking good is to make the flowers the same color as the underlying tshirt or lighter or darker hue of the same color.

Stay tuned for more creative endeavors I have in the works.

PS. you gotta love the double chin+ biting my lip with concentration look. can you believe this was the best picture of the bunch? sigh

Friday, July 15, 2011

remembering the pleasure of gardening

Love that volunteer basil!

the pumpkin vine that took over the world!

bean pole teepee

these tomatoes are going to be huge!
At the end of last years gardening season, I was discouraged and frustrated. I can't remember why, but I think I had many grand plans and few of them came to fruition. As I faced this coming year, I wanted to get back to the pleasure that gardening brings me. And I think I have found it again. Here is how :

1) Low expectations. I knew this summer would involve lots of travel and that my children would need special attention with their needs. I didn't set out to grow more or bigger or lusher anything. I just wanted to get something in the ground, throw a little water on it and let whatever happened happen. So I didnt buy plants with grand expectations that I would feed our entire family with one small plot.

2) Plan for beauty. As I laid out out the garden plan, I decided to try a little of the idea of edible landscape idea. I planned the paths to go in a diamond shape, not my usual 4 block. I made our bean pole teepee the center of the diamond and lined the paths with onions. It never became the amazing gardens you find in this book, but they did look nicer than normal gardens.

3)Make it child friendly. I want the garden to be a place where the boys come to see whats growing and where I can send them to help out too. As they get older, they can tell most weeds from veggies (clover abounds in our garden), but I have found that using cardboard or newspaper as a mulch between plants helps them know where it is OK to step. The know and tell their friends, "Only step on the stones or the cardboard." This has made me much less stressed to have them out there with me.

4) Volunteer appreciation. At the end of the gardening season, I just pull out as many weeds as i can and dig under all the other plant matter. I add in some compost and manure and park the chicken coop over the garden as it sleeps in the winter. This lazy-boy system resulted in a ton of volunteers, or plants that just come up on their own from seeds fallen to the ground. I have 3-4 tomato plants that I never planted and a HUGE pumpkin/ gourd/ something taking over the back part. It is great. No work and all the fruits of labor.

So this year I go out in my garden when the weather is not too hot and I pull some weeds. I dont fret about bugs or yields, I just inhale that magical basil and tomato fragrance. I enjoy the shadows dancing on the plants and give thanks for my little square of paradise.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

recently heard around these parts

last night. . .

the boys have been tucked in. all is quiet...
S.-- " A. got water on me!"
me-- (thinking of all available water sources) "from where? the fish bowl?"
S.-- "From his mouth!"

this morning. . .

upon finding a garbage bag the cat (maybe dog?) had wet on. . .
me-- "Buttons, why did you do that?
A.-- "That is a question we will never know the answer to."

Monday, July 11, 2011

when facing darkness

Yesterday we remembered St. Joseph of Damascus. His life story is wonderful, but it was the story of his final days that I keep coming back to.

The year is 1860. Conflict in what is now Lebanon and Syria comes to a head and erupts into a wholesale massacre with Christians as the target. Saint Joseph knows the mobs are marching towards Damascus, killing Christians and burning churches, both Catholic and Orthodox.

What do you do when great evil is coming? When the darkness surrounds?
Following the tradition of the priests in Damascus, Father Joseph used to keep the Communion kit at his house. During the massacre of 1860 he hid his communion kit under his sleeves, and went jumping from one roof to another toward the Cathedral. He spent the whole night strengthening and encouraging the Christians
When faced with darkness, we hold onto the Light of the World. When death seems imminent, we receive the Life. It is crazy, but we don't run, we face what comes with hope and faith.
As he walked on the streets, a religious scholar-, who was one of the attackers, recognized Joseph, because the latter had confuted him in a debate between them. Seeing him he shouted: "This is the leader- of Christians. If we kill him, we will kill all the Christians!" When he heard these words, Father Joseph knew that his end had come. He took out his communion kit, and partook of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
I will spare you the details of the end of St. Joseph's life. It is not reading for the faint hearted.

A little girl at our church is facing another round of chemo and a transplant. For such a young one to suffer so is just unimaginable. Yet here it is, as real as the history of St. Joseph. And what do we do when faced with such pain? As Christians, we take the Light of Christ with us and go in the darkest of places. We know that the love of God conquered death. We can walk with this family in the most fearful of places and know that Christ is walking with us.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

work in progress

If you are crafty-minded like me, you are probably familiar with WIPs. You probably have some (several?) laying around your house. When I open my sewing machine cabinet, WIPs fall down on me, begging for my attention.

A WIP is a work-in-progress. A project begun, but not completed. Need some examples?

a collection of old t-shirts and hula hoop that someday will make a rug
a knitted washcloth
an felt ABC book (stopped at about letter R)
a knitted throw blanket
a skirt that needs taking in
another skirt that needs something to make it work, but I don't know what.

I dont know what kind of person has this many projects waiting in the wings but I see her every time I look in the mirror. And those were the ones I can think of just sitting here in the computer. A little searching would produce even more, I'm sure.

In the side bar, I will be adding links to favorite blogs. Some will be friends blogs. Some will be homeschool ones. Some will be Orthodox ones. But today I am going to start with crafty ones. Why? Because they inspire me. They feed a part of me that loves to make something from nothing. When the boys are in bed, I make things and it helps keep me sane. I don't know why, but it does. Strangely, I don't even get upset when they don't turn out as I had hoped. I just try to learn from my mistakes and go on. The process is the fulfilling part for me.

The beautiful thing is, we are all works in progress. None of us has arrived. God has more planned for each of us and is revealing it day by day. Even if our daily routine stays the same, the spiritual journey never ends for us.

I recently had a friend graduate from a program that has helped her begin to overcome many personal struggles. She has been a mother to many and is full of wisdom and strength, yet she still sees the areas God has for her to work on. She sees in herself the need for growth and healing. She doesn't rest on what God has done in her life, but looks ahead to what He wants to do next.

Friday, July 8, 2011


Today I read in Matthew where Jesus gets in trouble with the Pharisees for healing on the sabbath.

I love the idea of sabbath. I love the idea of rhythm to our week and rest in honor of the work done during the week and in acknowledging the supremacy of God.

But for a mother, the sabbath can easily look just like any other day.

Like Jesus, we are presented with pressing needs around us every day. We can't say no to scratched knees and teething babies.

I have read about observant Jews that prepare for the sabbath. They cook a day ahead, make sure laundry it all done before sunset and make it a point to create a home that needs as little care as possible. I so admire the dedication to making a space for sabbath in their week.

The closest I have come to sabbath is this time of the day. The boys are having rest time. The house is quiet and my mind is awake enough to read scripture and pray. Its short, not usually more than a half hour, but it gives structure and rhythm to my day. I can come down to land and catch my breath. I can listen for what God is saying and receive strength for the rest of the day.

It is so short a time, I hate to call it sabbath, but it is a resting, quiet space that helps me to be rooted in what is true.

As I leave this space I go to pay bills and make frustrating phone calls with insurance companies and the tightness in my chest indicates that I am leaving this safe place and being launched into the rough of the world.

May the peace I find here sustain me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

what this blog will be

The fresh feeling of a new school year with a brand new notebook.
Like Ramona and her precious pink pearl eraser.

This blog will be a place where I write about things I need to work out in my mind. Sometimes it will be deep reflections on following Christ. Sometimes it will be the ups and downs of a homeschooling mom. Sometimes it will just be things that I want to share like a recipe, book or craft project.

This will be a space to breath in the quiet hour of my day.

This will be a place where I talk with old and new friends.

This will be plot of land in which I can cultivate relationships, beauty and goodness.