Summer

It is now the beginning of September. It is hard to believe we have already been here 5 months and most of the summer. Virginia is hot and humid like Mexico but it cools off at night and we live in air conditioning which makes life so much more bearable. Even so, I am eager for the cooler temperatures that the forecast is predicting.

We did spend almost a month in North Carolina with my sister and her family. The mountains with so much water it just flows out of the ground and pours down the street. Hot coffee on the deck in the cool shade before the sun makes its way around to heat up our skin. Walks and hikes with babies and we did not sweat. I miss it.

 

We managed once again to get all of us together. Two parents, five children and their spouses, one more son, and now 6 grandbabies! It was a week’s worth of late nights, early mornings, volleyball, hiking, river swimming, and laughter!

family-shot

Life for Ben and I keeps on changing in unanticipated ways. We encourage one another to keep on smiling and do the best we can with what we’ve been given, which is so much grace upon grace. And we get these beautiful gifts all along the way: a warm evening in the lake, snuggling kids into bed with campfire smoke still lingering in their hair, lightning and thunder at night, dew-wet feet in  the mornings. Always good coffee. And crickets.

The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone.” they sang. . . Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into fall. . .
~ from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web

 

 

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Mother of three

Well, here I am. Mother of three. I love it. And I hope I am blessed with a few more babies on top of these ones I love so dearly. Yes, I’ve had a few sleepless night since Liam came into my bed. I have fought to control my frustration with my two older kids as we all adjust to this new normal. I have wanted to snuggle up with my husband at the same moment that Liam decides he wants to nurse. But when I watch my two older kids as  they run laughing through the sprinkler on a hot summer day, or when I hear them apologize to one another without being prompted, or anytime that this new little baby smiles I know I am blessed. My heart overflows.

I feel like I am finally emerging from the post postpartum haze and becoming interested and aware of things again. Christy and I have started meal planning – which is so much fun with all the produce available through the local farms – and working out a rhythm for our collective children. So far the rhythm revolves around meals and an afternoon rest period with plenty of outdoor time. They love any game involving water and Ethan (3) and Willow (now 4!) spend much more time naked than clothed.

The garden is producing broccoli, squash, zucchini, and lettuce. We have lots of herbs that get thrown in everything from pastas and salads, to iced teas. The tomatoes and peppers are getting closer to harvest. We finished up the last of the strawberries just before the strawberry moon of the solstice and are now on to wild blackberries. Our first harvest brought in enough for a night’s dessert, this morning’s blackberry lemon scones, and Sunday’s pie!

Ayden is into superheros these days and runs around in a cape and mask much of the time. Thankfully, his recent superhero power is helpfulness. He is growing up so fast and loves to spend time working with Ben and Dustin. Or just working in general, preferably outside in farm boots. He does well with Liam although he is not always as gentle as I would wish.

Willow is still the princess in the games. But a princess with super powers. She falls in love with one dress at a time and will refuse to wear anything but that dress until I manage to sneak it into the laundry without her knowledge. We went bowling for her 4th birthday and she loved it. She will sit with Liam sleeping on her lap for 30 minutes before she needs to move.

Liam is a darling boy. I think his favorite thing to do is nurse all day, every day. He sleeps pretty well; I have only had a handful of those exhausting and frustrating nights. (Quite the change after Willow, my little fireball.) When he wakes up from a nap he often opens his eyes and starts looking around. Twice now, I have gently said his name as he is laying awake and he smiles, turning his head to look for me. Melts my heart.

Parenting in this community style – two families in one house with 5 children ages 5, 4, 3, 1.5, and a newborn – is a challenge, to say the least. But it is also such a blessing. To have another young mother encourage me when I am having a hard time holding it all together is a gift I have not experienced very often since becoming a mom. I am thoroughly enjoying sharing life with Christy here on the farm.

Family

A new baby boy was brought into the world yesterday. My beautiful, strong sister birthed a handsome little man and all of us have fallen in love already! It’s amazing how fast love happens…

I sat in front of a quiet computer screen, waiting for the words: “He’s here!” And as I whispered prayers of strength and health and hope over one child coming earth side I could feel my own squirming about, safely wrapped up inside my womb.

The sister who sent me the joyful news of a new life from thousands of miles away is waiting to feel the first movements of life within her. It won’t be long now and she will also be experiencing the miracle of life moving within her.

Every baby comes as evidence that God still dreams of Eden. Calvin Miller

 

 

Breathing Grace

I’m still here.

We survived Hurricane Patricia and did our best in the weeks following to help those who got hit harder than we did. DSC01227 (600x800) DSC01231 (800x600) DSC01240 (800x600)

My dad was here for two weeks to help with the aftermath of the hurricane and we were so blessed to have him sleeping on our futon! DSC01268 (600x800) DSC01253 (800x600)

Ben replaced the roof over the cafe this week and we are now cleaning and organizing so we can get open on Monday. The kids are growing and learning at breakneck speed; some days I feel like the proud teacher and other days like an exhausted referee.

I’ve blown through a few books in the last few weeks. There are always dirty dishes on the counter and wash to be dealt with. We celebrated Ben’s birthday with friends and laughter. I am planning our Thanksgiving supper and hoping for cooler temperatures.

I am still here. Still moving ahead. Breathing grace in and out.

As you know, I have not been posting much recently. I guess, honestly, I am just not sure what to say. Our lives have been a whirlwind these last few months. Between wrapping up another season at the cafe, recognizing that we may indeed have lost our court battle over the coffee roaster and equipment confiscated at the border, and coping with increased delinquency and threats from the cartel in our state it has been hard to find rest. I have sort of settled into some of the unknowns of our life as it is now but there are aspects of the uncertainties that still tend to make my head ache and my prayers feel weak.

Pushing outside my own world, I am overwhelmed as I watch the news and the scenes coming out of Nepal. We were camping last weekend and didn’t hear about the catastrophe until a couple days after the fact. Having traveled in Nepal a few times I have streets, buildings, views, tea shops, even a few fuzzy faces, that come to mind when I think of the country. My husband lived there for two years teaching English in a remote village. He has trekked all over the country and knows many villages that are no longer standing. This earthquake is not even close to the only distressing events happening in the world but it hits a little closer to home.

I’m not sure what to say. I feel my heart full of distracted thoughts and questions. It is nothing I can, as of yet, put into words. So I continue doing what I am doing these days which is mostly prepping for, enjoying, and cleaning up from camping trips. Camping is an escape for us right now; a chance to rest and stop checking the news feeds and dealing with dishes piled in the sink. I am also enjoying yoga again with two different communities of women. It is refreshing to leave the kids with Ben, lay out on a mat and listen to the evening birds, stretch these muscles that I tend to keep tense throughout the day. When it is time to meditate I whisper my prayers out into the evening and try to let go of another day.

I

speak the truth

Fear is an interesting thing. It is difficult to grasp and impossible to predict. It also can be a thing of shame and I would be lying if I said I didn’t hesitate before publicizing to the world that I don’t trust God ”enough.” But I am tired of the walls that we hide behind, the make-up we put on that tells those we interact with that everything is fine and dandy. Sometimes that is just not true; sometimes we just want to cry and run away or get furious and swear a blue streak. Thankfully, God is not offended.

It is easy for fear to creep in and grab hold and it is hard to dislodge once it’s there. Erasmus said, ”A nail is driven out by another nail.” At the moment I feel like I’m swinging wildly in the air. . .

Slow me down to keep pace with your steady, refining beat
Keep the hammer constant and grant me the faith
to not escape running but to stop and still and feel
the ring – slowly becoming pure and true –
of your Refiner’s hand against the coarse steal of my heart.

Slow me down to stop and listen to the ancient Good News
made new again
To grasp, fingers flailing, at the horror and joy of the Redemption
that is ringing through the beating,
a faithful, remarkable, blistering and healing truth –
the beat of the Refiner’s hammer.

Psalm 139 is my candle as I read again and again, ”. . .darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. . .You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

And there is so much good, just plain good. I had a weekend full of the goodness of the Lord. We camped on a magical beach where the sun woke us early and warmed our cold bones as we sat drinking hot chocolate and coffee. We baked in the mid-morning sun as the breeze kept us cool. We napped on the sand in the shade and sang around a bonfire at night, watching the stars fall overhead. Snuggles, driftwood, sunscreen smell in soft, blonde curls. Friends, birthday cake, laughter. Rocks, fish, sand castles, yelps and screams of delight in the waves.

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Music I find healing

House of God, Forever
Farther Along
You Make Me Brave
Steady Heart
Strength of My Heart

Art I find inspiring

J. Kirk Richards