Well, It’s About Time

That might be what you’re saying to yourself. The words have certainly crossed my mind as I’ve been preparing this post. This space is long overdue for some pretty pictures. Yes?

MIssion-2

Our family has fled the tentative spring-time of the Rocky Mountains and are relaxing where the sun is bright, the air is warm, and the oxygen is saturated. The Sweetie Pie and the kiddos are busy with almost daily outings to someplace new and fun. Sometimes, if I’m feeling well and if the excursion doesn’t require too much walking, I go along, too. The opportunity to visit a 17th century Spanish mission was hard to pass up.

Mission3 Mission1

While everyone else took a guided tour of the church, the Peanut and I sat in the courtyard and watched the birds. The sky was blue, the breeze was soft, and the cacti were…succulent. All in all, a lovely way to pass the morning.

Making Peace with Lent

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Except for the one day a year when I allow myself a gluten-free, dairy-free, tomato-free pizza (and truthfully perhaps even then), I live Lent in my daily life. Every day with chronic illness is a sacrifice of the foods I want to eat, the places I want to go, and the things I want to do. Since my diagnosis several years ago, I’ve held a seed of bitterness towards Lent. Stupid Lent. With its imposed fasting, and required sacrifices, and manufactured suffering.

I know I’m harsh. Lent can do that to you, when your Easter Day does not hold a basketful of chocolate bunnies, but simply more of the same Lenten fare.

To be clear, I no longer partake of fasts or sacrifices during Lent. My spirit simply won’t bear it. It would break me. And so, I offer up my daily sacrifices during Lent, just as I do during the other days of the year.

This year, a friend asked me what wanted during Lent. I didn’t have to think long. “Mercy,” I replied.

“What would that look like?” she asked.

“A church body that remains outwardly focused.” I was surprised by my answer, because it was completely new to me and because it came so quickly. Like a bolt of clarity sent directly to my heart and then out of my mouth without a moment’s pause to consider it.

I realize now that my biggest frustration during Lent is that we all retreat inside of ourselves. I know I did, before Lent became my life. I’d be so focused on completing my own disciplines that it would get in the way of true ministry. My own perceived, self-inflicted suffering became more important than the true sufferings of those around me.

The more time I spend walking this Christian walk, the more convinced I become of the duality of our existence here on earth. Our earthly actions have eternal consequences. This little babe inside of me already has a full and complete spiritual existence, in spite of his limited physical one. And though the physical existence may change, the spiritual one never will. (Can I get a hallelujah?)

Likewise, events of spiritual growth and significance have both an inward truth and an outward expression. Baptism is an outward expression of something that has already taken place in someone’s spirit. Communion is an outward partaking of something we receive inwardly. Knowing this, I don’t discount the internal truth of Lent. Coming to terms with sacrifice and suffering in one’s own life is a necessarily inward struggle.

But, as someone who is weekly reminded of the importance of the external, not being able to share in the weekly bread and wine due to my limited diet, I also don’t discount the outward expression. And this, to me, is where Lent has always left me feeling a little….dissatisfied. What is the appropriate outward expression of Lent? How do we represent those internal truths of sacrifice in our physical, external reality?

I have seen how living Lent 24/7 has changed me, and I have a suggested answer. How about mercy? And grace? Coming to know, deeply and truly, the pains of life on earth, has made me understand the universal sense of suffering here. We all suffer. We all suffer daily. Our sufferings are all unique and look different. Because of this we’re always tempted to grade our suffering, thinking that someone else isn’t suffering nearly as much as we are and therefore they have no right to complain, or that our suffering is nothing compared to so-and-so’s and therefore doesn’t “count”. But although the outward expression varies, the inward truth of our suffering is the same. And because I suffer in my life, I have something to offer to someone whose suffering looks different from mine.

Words of grace. Acts of mercy.

Sometimes I do these things well, like when I hear the grieving tears of a friend over the phone and I have words to offer. Sometimes my timing is off, like when I offered some words of grace to a tired mom and she looked at me like I had three heads. But I’ve learned to make the offering. And my spirit is soothed when others make the same offering to me.

By all means, spend time on the internal struggle of suffering and sacrifice. But please, don’t let it end there. Our Christian walk is never intended to end at our own skin. These internal truths are only useful if we are able to extract them from ourselves and use them to bless those around us. I’m always amazed at the ways God uses even a hesitant, introverted, over-analyzer like me to reach out and bless His people.

So I’m declaring a truce with Lent this year. Lent is going to demand no more sacrifices and no more turning inward from me, and I am going to have eyes wide open for opportunities to offer to others, on behalf of Lent, the same things I hope to receive–words of grace; acts of mercy.

Convalescing

Being stuck in bed, waiting for one’s body to heal, is much more tolerable when one is wearing something pretty on one’s feet. Even if the rest of one’s body is still dressed in jammies.

heels

Somehow it makes bed rest in the basement feel more like convalescing at Downton Abbey.

Hello, Knitting Stash

It seems that the moment we discovered that I was pregnant, the winter plagues began to invade our home. I don’t recall a winter with more fevers, coughing, sneezing, sniffling, and ear aches. Because we are all uber-sensitive and prone to meaningless bickering, we’ve spent a lot of time distracting ourselves with movies in front of the computer screen.

The one up-side to all these weeks of resting and waiting to heal? Lots and lots of knitting.

I pulled this organic cotton yarn out of my stash and turned it into a baby blanket for the new little one. The yarn has been languishing for years, so soft and squishy and begging to be turned into something cuddly. Destiny fulfilled.

And then there was this gorgeous skein of alpaca that I bought at a wool market last summer–a birthday present for myself. I started off making this jaunty little beret…

hat1

…and then, with three-quarters of the skein leftover, decided I needed a matching cowl.

cowl-wrapped

The cowl is cleverly designed so that it is knit into a bias fabric. It’s hard to see when it’s all wrapped around my neck, but it has the loveliest picot edging, creating the dramatic effect of one of those velvet stage curtains that is lifted with ropes. The stitch pattern combined with the yarn results in a luxurious, drapey neck warmer. Love.

Having finished all of that, I am digging way deep into my yarn stash to find all of those odds and ends of sock yarns and sweater yarns. They are the perfect thing to use up on baby hats and leg warmers and bloomers.

Hoping that the yarn stash will outlast the flu season! Although I’m not above buying new yarn if it doesn’t.

Find pattern details and notes on my Ravelry page. Baby blanket: my own pattern, unknown yarn. Ruche Beret by Susan B. Anderson, knit from Peruvian Tweed Alpaca. Curtain Call Cowl by Thao Nguyen, knit from Peruvian Tweed Alpaca.

Letter to the Unlooked for, Unexpected, and Unborn

My Dearest One,
You are Unexpected. Unlooked for. Unanticipated. But you are not Unwanted.

We thought our lives were full, never knowing the fullness of lives that overflow. We thought our joy was complete, never knowing the completeness of joy that bubbles over. And now that we know these things, there is not a single desire to go back to the emptiness of our fullness, nor the incompleteness of our wholeness.

Yes, your place is at the end of a trail of previous loves–four living in my home, one living in my heart. Yes, the beds are all spoken for, the chairs at the table are all occupied, the coat hooks by the door are all overflowing. Yes, the highchair is sold, the rattles and teething rings given away. But never doubt, there is room for you.

Yes, I am haunted by fears and memories of previous events–of hospitals and grief, heartbreak and sorrow. Yes, I ask myself “What if?” and I tell myself “Never again.” But in the quietness of my heart is the echo of submission, “Yes, Lord.”

There are many Urgent things we do not know, How? Where? When? But there is one Important thing that we do know, Who. Keeping our focus on the Important, we know that the Urgent will fall into place. You were not part of our plans, but you have always been a part of His plan.

“I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Be it unto me…”

With greatest love and affection,
Mama and Papa

Oh.

Mama attempts to walk through the living room and is stopped by a long trail of Legos strewn across the floor.

Mama: “What in the…..Boys! Clean up these Legos! What were you thinking?”
The Pickle: “Mama, that’s the deer bait!”

legos1

Five minutes later, Mama walks through the dining room and notices a glue stick, without its cap, standing glue-side down on the sideboard.

Mama: “Oh, good grief! Boys! What is this doing here?”
The Pickle: “Mama, that’s the dynamite to kill the deer.”

I mean really. What else is there to say to such explanations but,

“Oh.”

The Peanut Goes to the Theater

It’s an annual tradition for the ladies in our family to take in a Nutcracker performance before Christmas. This year, the Peanut was deemed old enough to join us. The Peanut–who has been dancing since she could walk–was beyond thrilled at the news that she was going to a dance performance. Once I clarified that she would not be on the stage dancing, but rather in the audience watching, she was a little less thrilled. But shortly after the screaming and crying ceased, her enthusiasm was quick to rise to the occasion.

She made faces at me before the curtain. A pirate:

pirate-face

A monkey:

monkey-face

She thinks she’s pretty funny:

pre-show

We went to view the symphony. She declared that she liked “the violin lady”, but not “that guy” (the percussionist). 

During the show she was settled in my lap. Her favorite part? The mice! And the cavalier soldiers. 

She got a little bored during the Pas de Deux scenes, but for the most part was enraptured by the whole experience. 

The next day, the Pickle was dancing around. It looked something like this:

The Papa observed that he could be a good candidate for next year’s Nutcracker performance. 

He frowned and said, “Nah. I’m more of a hula hoop kind of guy.”

He may not be a dancer, but it seems he’s destined for the stage all the same.

hulahoop-guy

 

Reckless Abandonment

One of my favorite art venues in town recently exhibited a stellar show with some of the best fiber art I’ve seen in a long time. I found out last Friday that it was closing the next morning.

“Really??” I wrote to the friend who gave me the news. “I haven’t even been to see it yet!”

She promptly replied, “I have keys. Let’s go.”

And so I walked out the door, leaving the children to the care of the grandparents, ignoring school lessons, repressing thoughts of what I should make for dinner, and denying half-finished loads of laundry. It was a reckless, spontaneous kind of day.

fiber2

And then, did I go home?

Nooooooo.

I invited my friend to join me for a cuppa in our favorite bougeois-chic coffee house. But we got side-tracked on the way because we saw this:

planes

And if you see something like that, how can you not do a u-turn to go find a place to take photos of the three Boeing jet bodies lined up on the railroad tracks three blocks from your house? So, of course, we did.

I eventually made it back home (after sipping tea by the fire and having the last of the day-old baked goods bestowed upon us by the coffee-shop owner). The laundry got finished the next day, I made scrambled eggs and toast for dinner, everything worked out fine.

Thanks, F, for joining me in my afternoon of reckless abandonment! You bring out the best in me!

Catching Up

The Sweetie Pie and I are celebrating 14 years of wedded bliss this week. It seems like a lot, but it’s not even halfway to our 50th. I can’t begin to imagine all that will happen in the next 36 years…and beyond.

Sweet friends loaned us the use of their mountain cabin for a weekend. The temperatures stayed well below zero most of the time. Perfect for wrapping up some knitting projects in front of the wood stove. When the temperature rose to a balmy 14 degrees, we decided to head outside to photograph the completed knitting in the snowy pines.

The hat and scarf are a late birthday present for the Sweetie Pie, both of them lined with an old t-shirt for extra coziness. Everything I make for the Sweetie Pie gets “signed” with an embroidered heart.

 

You might recognize the Viajante Shawl from a few earlier posts. It’s finally finished and has been my constant companion this fall. It goes with everything and can be worn a hundred different ways.

We managed to snap a quick photo of the two of us before dashing back inside to slippers, hot tea, and the wood stove.

14years

Yarn and pattern details can be found on my Ravelry page: the hat is here, the scarf is here, and the shawl is here.

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