Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading (though not at the same time!), and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? ~ Ginny Sheller

So, last weekend, I was debating back and forth between which knitting project to bring on the plane. I was fluctuating between 2 of my current projects I'm designing, but in the end, I had the thought.  "Hey, I'm going to be on vacation!  Knit from someone else's pattern!"  After I made socks for the kids for Christmas (that still don't have the ends woven in...ahem...) I've sort of been on this sock kick, and fell in love immediately with the Irish Oats pattern.  I was honestly expecting on getting more done on the plane, but I forgot the flight was only 2 hours each way.  Most of the time I have a connecting flight, and so I wasn't expecting such expediency.  So far I'm loving this pattern.  It's very well written, and of course, I'm using some of my Quince Yarn on stash.  It's my basic, blue jean, goes with every single pattern yarn.

When I was in Colorado, I bought a shameful number of books for the kids and Knut and I...again.  This is one area of my life where I seriously lack self control.  I'll share 3 of them here today.

The Green Ember is a book I've heard about for awhile now, and I got it for Silje.  She loves her rabbits, and rabbits on an adventure seemed like a really good fit for her.  She was handed the book Sunday night, and by Monday afternoon she came to me frantically saying "Tell me there's a sequel!  Tell me there's another one!"  She was so disappointed that this book is relatively new.

We read a lot of classics at our house, mostly because I've really been trying to weed out the "candy books" as I call them.  Candy books are the quick, entertaining but not edifying books we find (usually at the library) that take her 30 minutes to read and she forgets what it was about the next day.  They're not bad/evil, but I've learned that they set a level of easy-entertainment attention span for my kids that my kids resisted higher quality books with depth, which I want them to love.  So I started getting rid of them around the house, and stopped bringing them home from the library.  When good quality books are the only ones you can read, your palate for children's literature changes a bit.

So many modern books are "candy books" in my opinion, but this one was recommended by Sarah Clarkson, and if you know my blog, you know that I haven't struck out with her recommendations for my kids even once.  Every book she recommends for them has been a huge hit with my kids.  So since we read so many classics, Silje hasn't really ever had to wait for another book to come out.  What's out is out.

The rabbits with swords have this story to tell, and you just don't see new books these days that are this epic.  She's already started her 2nd read-through.  I think she just wants to hang out with the rabbits in there a little more.

Now, that's not saying there will be a sequel.  I have no idea. But I posted a picture of her with the book on Instagram yesterday, and the author of the book sent us a message.  I was thrilled.

I got A Time to Keep for the little girls, which is just a precious little book with stunning illustrations and stories of how kids used to play to spur on imagination.  4 year old Solveig loved it, but 2 year old Ingrid kept trying to yank it away from us.  They both love it, and it's such a pretty book.

Little Red Writing ended up being for Elias, not because it's at his level to read by himself, but because I thought it would be a good book to have for our homeschooling library.  He loves all things funny, and this book is really funny as the little red pencil goes through an adventure writing a story, and has to go through forests of adjectives, and adventures with adverbs.  It's full of puns, which is right up his alley, and he laughed pretty hard, and happened to learn many parts of speech and their uses in the meantime.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


I actually lived in Denver, Colorado until my family moved on my 11th birthday to the desert of Arizona.  My whole body relaxes whenever I see the long line of peaks lining the west side of the city.  I was especially thankful I got a room this year facing the mountains.  It was a delight for my heart.  I love the prairie I live on now too, and it has it's own beauty as well, but the mountains will forever feel like I'm coming home.

Saturday night my roommate said her husband went to the most amazing restaurant in Colorado several years ago, and we absolutely had to visit.  It was called the Buckthorn something and was filled with taxidermy to the brim, and served all sorts of meat from bison, to crocodile.  I ordered lamb chops, and my friend had a split platter of elk and buffalo.  Honestly, the food was just okay.  (Keep in mind the friend that I was dining with is a food blogger, about to publish her first cookbook.)  The history of the restaurant being the oldest restaurant in Colorado was pretty cool, as several of the recipes have been unchanged for 125 years.

On the way back from the restaurant (it was about 30 minutes from the hotel) I was driving my rental car, and about 3 miles from our hotel, I lost control of the vehicle.  It seemed to be a flat tire, but somehow more violent than that, as I've had one of those before.  I was in the right lane (as I was going to exit in 3 miles, and I like to plan ahead) and I was able to pull into the median between the highway and the closest exit.

Then I shut down.  I literally lay my head on the steering wheel and started aiming to control my breath to push back a panic attack.  My anxiety took a death grip on my heart.  My mind was flashing back to my car accident 1 1/2 ago, when my kids and I were T-boned when another driver decided to skip a country stop sign by our house.  My companion next to me said, "What do we do?  What do we do?"

Not looking up, I breathed out, "I don't know."

I'm still so thankful that she took over at that point, though she says it wasn't like her and she had no idea how she did it all.  She called 911, and in about 5 minutes a police officer pulled up behind us.  We tried calling the rental car company, and we just got a message on the roadside assistance emergency number saying "We're sorry, our computers are currently down.  Please try again at a later time." over and over again.

The police officer took a look at our car with cars whizzing by on either side of us, and said the tire wasn't just flat.  The tire was gone, and the rim was broken.  It was a brand new car, and obviously some kind of manufacturer error.  There was a black plastic bag under the rim, but there was nothing in it.  I never remember hitting a bag, but the police officer said there's no way a bad could have done that damage.

It was around then that the car's computer monitor started flashing in front of me, "low air pressure in tire.  Please fill soon." Duh.

My friend finally got ahold of the rental car company for me, and during a transfer they dropped our call.  We couldn't get them again for awhile.

So then she called AAA since she was a member.  After the AAA guy yelled at my friend on the phone because we couldn't say more about the car besides that it was a Buick, 4 door sedan, and couldn't find any other model name on the paperwork.  The tow truck was there about 30 minutes later, and the driver was actually really nice.  She cried, "I'm not a car person, I don't know what kind of Buick it is." and he yelled back at her "I'm not a car person either!!"  Yeah, so...

We finally got ahold of the rental car company, and they told us to have the car towed back to the airport where I got it.  The tow truck driver said that he could drop us off at our hotel 3 miles away, after he dropped off the car 35 miles away if we wanted to ride along.  Fortunately for us, the police officer offered to just bring us back to our hotel right then.  In the mean time, I had sent a message to Sally Clarkson, the conference speaker who I had been getting to know, and saying we were stranded and I didn't know what to do.  Her husband Clay called us and offered to help anyway he could, but by then everything was worked out.

When we got back to the hotel, and tried to breathe deep, I realized I wasn't sure how long it would take to work out getting another rental car to the hotel the next day, so that we could get to the airport on time.  I walked down to the front desk, to ask if we could get a late checkout if we needed it.

The 2 concierges at the desk were amazing.  As I started to explain what had happened, the tears finally started to come as I was starting to step out of shock.  They quickly lead me to a sofa on the lobby, and brought me a cup of tea.  They sat me down and said they would work out everything in the morning, calling and yelling at the car rental company if need be.  My only thought right now should be drinking my tea, and going to bed.  The next day they ended up ordering a town car for us to drive us back to the airport for our flight.

Like I said, it was a nice hotel.  I have no idea how the Clarksons arrange for us to rent a room there so cheap.

The morning was slow and peaceful.  I went down to the lobby with my laptop to write for a little while, and ended up running into and talking with Misty Krasawski who was a speaker at the conference last year.  We talked for at least an hour, and I left feeling so encouraged.  Clay and Sally Clarkson who run the conference checked on us, and we got to meet their uber talented sons, one a composer whose music was recently performed at the Vatican, and another just finished producing his first movie coming out in March.  Annalise and I went out for lunch one last time, as all the thoughts from the weekend were slowly sinking in.

I was thinking about how people who make a difference in this world seem to be a target for criticism, especially from other Christians.  I was thinking about what the battle it is to walk by faith. I honestly don't think it's a mistake that when I reach a point of clarity and encouragement, some disaster happens (so far) every time I have gone to this conference, preventing me from returning home rested.

I was thinking about the fight for joy.  This is something I've been talking to my kids about the last few months.  We think that joy should be related to our circumstances.  We don't understand that joy is a battle.  Joy is not attacked through circumstances, joy is attacked through lies.  Joy is rooted in truth, so if you want to attack joy, you start weaving lies.

Usually those lies include, you would have joy if the circumstances change.
If you had more money...
If you had a better spouse...
If you had obedient children...
If you had a nicer house...

The truth is that joy comes from the Lord, not from circumstances.  Joy comes in knowing who we are in him.  It's rooted in our identity.  When we seek the truth, we find joy.  When we don't have joy, we are under attack from lies.  The longer I live, the more I believe this.

And it's a fight.  Because the lies are everywhere.  It's like a constant attack.

We need to be prepped for battle.  Lately, my kids and I have been "putting on the armor of God" from the passage in Ephesians.  We pretend to put on the pieces of armor one by one that is described there.  We talk about how they protect us from attacks.  We have been talking a lot about how we cannot rest our joy on our circumstances, but on truth, which does not change.

Honestly, I'd rather be in the battle than on the sidelines.  I'd rather be fighting for joy than waiting for it.  I'd rather be making a difference than playing it safe.  I desire to be fearless.

I did return home rested actually, though I think I'm still unknotting my stomach.  That in itself was a miracle from several perspectives.  I have been thoroughly enjoying hugs from my kids, and I'm so thankful for Knut who did an amazing job taking care of them all by himself.  I am so grateful for that.

Life is still crazy at home.  Nothing has changed here.  My kids are still sweet but mischievous.  My son still argues with me and my daughter still rolls her eyes.  Ingrid still somehow finds pens we hide and draws on everything, and Solveig still refuses to eat any healthy food.

But thankfully, my joy is still here.  I'm winning that battle.  With the added clarity of who I am in Christ, and the encouragement of how important all I'm doing is, I have joy.

Monday, January 26, 2015


(My next post on rest is nearly ready.  I want another week to make it better.  I'd rather spend another week than put out something that is much too scattered.  It will still be scattered, because that's just my brain, but I'm hoping to at least make it less scattered. )

I was so blessed this last weekend with a trip to Denver, Colorado where I attended a Mom Heart Conference.  I went with my friend Annalise, and we were so blessed.  The conference is held is one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in, and since I went there last year, I knew it was going to be so worth it.

Last year, I went with my friend Sonja, and since there was a blizzard back at home we sort of had to skip around from flight to flight, trying to fly standby on a few flights, and just so barely getting 3 hours from home, and finally 2 days after the conference, we made it home to our exhausted husbands and needy children.

This weekend I was so relieved to see clear weather both at home and at the conference.  I was crossing my fingers everything would go smoothly this time, and I wouldn't come home exhausted.  I decided to rent a car this time instead of a shuttle, as it ended up being cheaper.

I met some amazing people, and cried to total strangers more than once, and the conference ended and I felt so encouraged as it finished.  I will probably be writing from what I learned there for a few months.  Here are some of my favorite blurbs from my frantically written notes:

-Like Esther, we are placed to parent our children for such a time as this.  In this age of technology and global information, and cell phones and instant everything, we were placed here, to parent our children for this time.

-If you are faithful in the hidden places, the hidden places will become the foundation of your story.

-Teach your children to worship God with their mind.  Teach them stories, teach them Scripture, teach them art and music.  Give them a sense of awe.  Show how to worship God with your mind.

-"To believe is to obey, and to obey is to believe." -Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

-The Bible is the Holy Spirit's vocabulary.  He does not violate truth to speak to you, he uses truth to speak to you.

-C.S. Lewis wasn't just a brilliant writer.  He wrote out of the character that was developed in the hidden places.

-What would you do if you weren't afraid?  What dreams have died in my life where I live in disappointment, leaving me with "fumes of faith." What would you do if you had no fear that God would fail you.  

-Revelation 12:11

-God was the perfect father, and Adam and Eve had everything they needed, and yet they still made a bad choice.  We can train and meet needs, but it will boil down to our children making their own choices with the instruction and love that we have given them.

-Love is redeeming.

-Integrity in parenting is your children knowing you are trustworthy.  Consistency=integrity=builds trust.

Ok, so there's so much more I want to write than all of that.  I really had some amazing, amazing quiet times in the word and prayer, and that trumped all of the speakers.  (Sorry Sally. ;) )  I was really looking for some clarity right now in my life, and I came really expecting God to make a way clear for me.  I was fully expecting for this fog to lift on where God is leading me.  I was really expecting that to happen through a person at this weekend.  A specific person actually.  There was someone there who just knows everyone in the blogging world.  She is so well connected, and I had been emailing her, and she was just so sweet and receptive, and I took a step of faith and asked about doing some training with me.

She said she's not doing that right now, but stay connected, and when she does start up training sessions again, hopefully I can nab up that opportunity if I'm fast enough. fog lifted.  No clear path.  Besides "wait" and we all know that's the most frustrating instruction to receive.  I went up to my room and started crying.  (This was one of those times where I cried to someone I barely knew.)  90% of my tears were just because I was tired.  I know I'm not the only lady out there who cries when someone blows on her when she's tired.  It was a late night.  I was away from home.  I was honestly still exhausted and I just started crying.  I went up to my room and started a bath.

As I sat there praying in the bathtub, I asked God why he didn't present the clarity like I had expected?  I was expecting to meet someone here, and someone who knew what the next step would be for me.  God spoke to my heart, gently as always, and said,

"Am I not connected enough for you?  Do I not have a large enough network?  You mean you were looking for a person, who might have some more tangible advice to give you than I would?"

It was a moment of humbling.  It was a moment of clarity.  It was what I had traveled all this way for...for that moment.  Walking by faith is forever frustrating because you can't see.  You can't see 5 years ahead.  You have to trust.  You have to believe.  You have to walk seeing just the step in front of you only.  It's the most beautiful, exciting, thrilling journey, but sometime's it's just hard.

But honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

(And tomorrow, I'll tell you all about how my rental car blew a tire on the way back from a restaurant late at night just after the conference ended, and I was stranded on Interstate 25 for an hour or so with my friend as we were headed back to the hotel, as the rental car company's computers were down and therefore so was roadside assistance   Yes, it appears every Mom Heart Conference I go to has some kind of adventure in store.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Yarn Along

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading (though not at the same time!), and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~ Ginny Sheller for the Yarn Along.

I have paused A Girl of the Limberlost temporarily as I'm reading Own Your Life by Sally Clarkson, in anticipation of Sally's upcoming conference.

I'm having to read this book slowly.  I'm going so slowly because it feels a bit foreign to me.  Oh, how do I put this?  I go to a Lutheran Brethren church.  The preaching is good, and very grace-based messages.  The emphasis is strongly that God has given us this gift of salvation (it's not something we work for) and any works we do are just in response of this gift.

This book is about that response to the gift.  I think it's a big question that Knut and I have been discussing for the last few years: What part do we play in our sanctification (a fancy word for God growing us in our Christian walk)?

So, I guess reading this book has been uncomfortably refreshing.  It's challenging.  It makes you think, and drives me back to the Word.  I'm not sure I've ever described a book that way before.  I'm just so challenged by it, and I so often question my own motives so often in doing works, that I haven't considered the flip side in several years, that God has given me stewardship over this life, and that's not to be overlooked.  God's purposes for our lives are serious business.

This book isn't about making your life what you want it to be.  It's not about directing your life.  It's about realizing what God has called you to do, and doing it...owning it.  It's about taking the portion, or cup that God has given you (and you alone), and drinking it, because he gave it to you for his kingdom purposes.  This life is a gift...a gift with a purpose.  Our lives are not to be buried in the ground, as in the parable of the talents.  It is not ours to fritter away.  It's yours, but will you use it for the purposes it was intended?  So then...what will you do with it?

I've found that in many "Christian Living" books, the first 3 chapters are the only ones that need to be read, and after that you get the gist.  The rest of the book is just supporting what the initial chapters said.

That's not so with this book.  I find that the chapters I just finished, (Part 3) to be my favorite.  Actually no.  The chapter I read in Part 4, about what it means to exercise your faith and it was like I was underlining literally every sentence in the chapter, to the point that I stopped underlining and just put brackets around paragraphs I liked, but then that got redundant too, so I just started staring pages that were good.  They're all stared in that chapter.  The further I'm getting in this book the deeper it gets, and that has me coming back for more.  It's brought about lots of discussions in this house.

As for knitting, I'm back at my color work project, as the simmering didn't take long with this one for me to figure out where I wanted to proceed from this point in the design.  I'm trying to get this piece to a good place so it will be easy to bring on the plane for my trip soon.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Busiest Winter Yet

Winter can be a dark, dreary time of year.  We live way up North, so the sun sets quite early, and the short days, along with my aversion to hanging outside in subzero temps makes days dark sometimes.

Our house is south facing, so on sunny days, regardless of the air temperature, we open up the front door and just let the heat from the sun hit the glass and it floods the whole kitchen with bright light.  The sun reflects off of the glittering snow, and I nearly have to squint as I walk through the house it's so bright.  I love sunny days, with no wind in the winter.  The ski-people in my house get grumbly, but I'm enjoying it.

There's something about being flooded with light, whether on the snow or on the beach that compels me to take a deep breath, and relax my shoulders a bit.

Yesterday I didn't even light the wood burning fireplace which heats most of our house until about 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  I went for a walk on the crunchy icy-gravel driveway, because the air was so...breathable.  You who live here know what I mean.  For very long stretches of time in the winter, breathing outside makes you wonder if you will actually freeze your lungs, and breathing inside becomes this dull, stale, thing.  A walk outside in breathable air was wonderful.

There have been so many decisions to be made lately.  I still have paperwork I'm dealing with for the car accident...a year and a half ago.  I finally bit the bullet and got a YMCA membership for my family.  I agonized a bit too dramatically over that decision.  The fact that I'll be able to drop off some little kids while David is at Tae Kwon Do, and I can go and hide in the sauna or something might have something to do with it.  Actually, I found a little space in a corner that will be perfect for getting some work done.  Getting a membership meant dropping some other things, though, and that made the decision tough.

I've also been running around, preparing for a little weekend getaway coming up with my friend Annalise, whose blog you can find over here.  (She just signed a cookbook deal with a publisher last week, and I cannot wait to hear all the details about that in person!!)  We know each other way back from high school, but like a few of my friends, our friendship really took off after high school.  We'll be meeting up for a conference in Colorado, and I'm busy trying to make sure my kids and husband survive while I'm gone.  Knut has been trying to get as much skiing and Birkie-training in as he can before I leave him, so we've been passing each other for a few days.

Life is going at such a fast pace right now.  Looking at the calendar, I just realized last night that Monday was the only time I would actually be the one to put my kids to bed for the next week.  It's times like this that I'm so thankful that we homeschool, because at least I have the mornings with the kids this week.

I have been trying so hard to discover this magic formula of "how much is too much?" running around and activity for a family.  I feel like I say no to about 90% of the things we get asked to participate in, and yet I still find myself saying things like: "No, we can't do anything that night, because that's the only night we are all at home, and we get to all be home together at least one night a week!!"

But really, I said "no" to almost everything in December.  I try to leave that wide open so that the stress of Christmas doesn't swallow me whole.  We're just starting to get into our new normal.  I've been dreading it, but so far it's been working.  So far my kids have been excited about our new schedule, and new outings.  Except for the few sunny days, winter can be a tough season to get through.

I'm discovering more and more that there is no magic formula.  As my friend Sally says, "we live by faith, not formulas."  The more I pray about this new stage of activities we are in, and worry that I will do it totally wrong, I continually reminded that I can only fix my eyes on Jesus through each step.  That's the only formula I know that works.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Design for Rest

I've been thinking for awhile of writing a more intentional devotional here every Monday.  Sometimes it's well thought out, and more often than not, it's just a hodgepodge of what I'm thankful for, even when everything isn't perfect, because I think that thankfulness is a way to joy.  It's not about having everything you want.  It's about recognizing God at work where you are.

When this blog started, it was a way for my mom and family living across the country to see what was going on with us.  Since then, I've gained readers from all over the world, through 2 main avenues.  One, is through my circle of Christian friends and bloggers, and the other through my knitting friends, and network. 

I have long debated about separating the blog into a knitting blog, and a devotional type blog.  But then do I keep a third blog to document our family's journey through life?  Where does that fit?  My life just isn't compartmentalized like that.  My brain is spaghetti; it's all connected.  I'm reading on these writing sites about finding your niche and staying there with your writing.  I can't just pick one, though.  I love knitting.  I love God.  I love my family.  But some of my readers may not care to read about God, and maybe some of my Christian friends have no desire to read about crafting of any sort.  

So here's what I'm going to do (since it's my blog and no one can stop me).  I really want to start writing some more real, deep, devotional material.  I'm going to try to post that every Monday morning, as that's the morning I typically need the most "pumping up."  If my faith offends you, take this as fair warning to skip reading the blog that morning.  I'm going to pull all the stops and make it really religious and everything.  But don't feel like I want to exclude you to because we don't share the same faith.  You're welcome to stay and read, and hopefully be blessed by it as well.

Other days I'll write about knitting, or life, which may or may not be about my faith.  It will pretty much be like always.  I've also thought about changing the name of blog to something a bit more simple, but can't think of anything right now.  So without further ado:

You've done it.  I've done it.  Every mom I know has been there at one point or another.  You are exhausted.  You are in desperate need of a break.  You want to run away from home.  In an act of tempers flaring, yelling, and/or crying, you get yourself a break, either from a bubble bath, locking yourself in the bathroom, going for a walk, going out with your friends, or if you are really lucky, some sort of retreat/vacation.

You sit there and stew over 2 conflicting boiling emotions: guilt that you are being such a bad mom because you abandoned your work or you feel like your kids are this huge burden, and anger that no one is helping you.  It's isolating.  You feel unseen, unheard, unloved.

You think that if you could just get a breather, or if you could actually have enough energy to spend time in the Bible, you could be doing so much better.  You're running on fumes, and you are very aware of that...and no one around you seems to take notice.

There should be zero guilt in resting.  There is nothing wrong with needing rest.  I know those verses in the Proverbs are filling your head right now, about the sluggard, and the lazy people, and what will befall them.  That's talking about the abuse of rest.  That's not talking about rest.  God designed many good things, but the abuse and twisting of those things is wrong, not the things themselves.

Let's take a look at how God first brought up the topic of rest:

"And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation"
Genesis 2:2-3

It's a bit repetitive, but usually the ancient languages did that to emphasize a thought.

So God made a plan for rest in the beginning.  This planned rest was named the "Sabbath."  Did you notice that rest was a part of the creation, not a part of the fall?  Sin doesn't enter the world until Genesis 3.  Rest was not a product of sin.  It was part of the original creation.  This is key.  You don't need rest because you are somehow flawed.  You need rest because you are God's creation.  If sin never entered the world, and everything was perfect, you would still need rest.

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God.  On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  For in six days, the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."
Exodus 20:8-11.

This verse above is an excerpt from the 10 commandments.  Yep, right there in-between misusing God's name and honoring your parents.  It's listed before do not lie, steal, or murder.  Why do you think that is?

Here's what I think.  I think that when we don't rest, we are saying that God's design must be flawed.  We're saying his method is madness.  We say that his provision isn't enough, and we need to pad it a bit.  It's saying that we know better.  It's saying we have too much to do that we don't have the time to pause and thank God for all he has done.  Why bother?  We're doing all the work anyway. I don't see anyone lined up to help, do you?  It's making yourself the giver and provider of all things good.  Never the receiver.

At it's philosophical core, it's self-centered.  That's the beauty of it, from Satan's perspective.  We think we're sacrificing everything for our work, but in reality, we are saying that we are the Savior, and everything would fall apart if it weren't for us.  We hold the world in our hands, after all.  (There are exceptions, as I'll talk about later, as rest is also a part of community living.  Without a strong community, people are forced to go without rest.)  Notice, the 10 commandments were given to a community, and held accountable as a community.

Let's take a look at some passages on how God felt about people not taking the ordained "Sabbath" that he designed, and commanded:

The prophet Jeremiah also talks about it, in chapter 17.  It's actually a very long frustration God is proclaiming against Judah, and the kings of Judah.  Here is a portion of it:

"This says the LORD: Take care for the sake of your lives, and do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or gates of Jerusalem.  And do not carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath or do any work, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your fathers.  Yet they did not listen or incline their ear, but stiffened  their neck, that they might not hear and receive instruction." Jeremiah 17:21-23.

You can find many other passages like this one.  God was mad at his people very often in the Old Testament because they wouldn't stop working, and honor the Sabbath he ordained.  (Apparently we aren't the only culture of workaholics.)  I want us to ask once again, why was the Sabbath so important to God?  Why did he want his people to obey this commandment, and take a regular day of rest?

Like all of God's laws, it's good for us.  For the sake of our lives it says.  I honestly think (and science supports this) that we work harder and more efficiently when we have regular rest.  Resting makes our work more effective.  We actually get more done.  We are healthier when we have rest.  Most importantly, we are forced to rely on God, and each other when we rest.  Resting out of obedience, not exhaustion, means you stop.  It means you cannot be the savior of all things.  It's an act of placing God on his throne, and stepping back.  It's an act of faith.

Resting is obedience.  It is not an indulgence.  It is part of our original design.

Let's also recognize, that we can't do it.  Let's face it.  We're going to do work on the Sabbath no matter how Orthodox you are.  As Jesus said, (after being criticized for healing on the Sabbath) if your sheep falls into a pit on the Sabbath, you're going to take it out, right?

This might be the most impossible commandment, in my opinion.  Resting is not always easy.  Do you ever sit there, and all the things that need to get done just start eating at you as you think of them?  Do you worry people who are helping you won't get it right?  Do you think the world will fall apart if your bit of work doesn't get done?  This is most especially true if you are a mother.  You're not getting out of dirty diapers, dishes, and disciplining on the Sabbath.  We need some kind of visual of what rest looks like in the context of motherhood. I have been chasing this question for a few years.  How is this done with kids?  Yes, perhaps this is something that we can train them into, but what about until then?   Are we exempt?  Or is everyone exempt, in light of the fact that Jesus is the completion of the law.  And if we are exempt, does that mean we don't need to rest anymore?  I want to share more of these details of what I found in my search in the coming weeks.

There's still so much to add to this topic.  I feel like I'm just getting going.  You'll have to wait for next Monday to read more.  If you want a reminder, you can follow me on Facebook, or sign up for email reminders on the sidebar of the blog.  I'm going to talk about how the Sabbath always had a plan, it wasn't just whenever you felt like it.  There's a method to it.  I'm going to go much, much deeper about what it means for Jesus to be our Sabbath.  Still another day, we'll talk about pseudo-rest, or things that enter our lives under the illusion of rest, as well as what rest means from a community standpoint, not just individuals.  We will talk about legalism surrounding the concept of rest, and how to address rest without a legalistic formula.  Stay tuned.

If you are on social media, I would appreciate (if you're so inclined) you sharing a link to this post (or any of the posts to come) with your friends, most especially those you feel could use a good encouragement and source for rest.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pears and Porcelain

I try to do a morning "tea time" where we sit and have a snack mid-morning.  The kids see this as a break in school, but actually it's a way to do a read-aloud book while everyone is sitting (to eat) and I get little interruptions (because there is food in their mouth).  This is how reading aloud from chapter books works in this house.  It's the only way I've been able to make it work.

We are currently reading our way through Strawberry Girl which is not actually just about a girl, but 2 feuding families, the Boyers and Slaters, living down South I'd say about a hundred years ago, and the children are stuck in the middle of the fight.

One family, the Boyers, hardworking and eager to make all things beautiful, set out to improve their land, and do the unthinkable: farm strawberries.  They are set back several times by their neighbors, the Slaters, who let their cows and pigs roam freely over the untouched land.

The Slaters don't believe in feeding animals, when they can find food themselves in the wilderness.  Their children are unkempt and rude.  The father gambles and drinks away any pocket of money they encounter, leaving the mother to try to fend for herself and the children, which has hardened her greatly.

When the Boyers decide to fence in their strawberry fields, to keep their neighbor's animals out, the feud escalates.  As the Slater family begins to fall apart from within, the Boyer family ends up being there to catch them, with open arms of love and grace.

Yes, it's a heavy children's book, but it teaches compassion in a way that I think kids can understand.  Silje has read it many times, but this is the first time for the other kids.

I said I "try" to do tea-time every day.  It ends up being about 3 times a week---4 times on a excellent week.  Other days I just set a bowl of peanuts on the table and call it good. (Before anyone dares to think that we have such an idyllic homeschool day every day.)

We were having a bit of a rough morning this particular morning, though, so I went all out and brought out the honey-vanilla pears I canned last summer.  I only got 6 jars done, so these are especially precious.  It was actually the first jar we opened of them.  They were good, but the honey was very strong.  The kids had no complaints about that.

We were out of hot chocolate mix, so I made some from ingredients we had around the house.  This, of course, made tea time late, and the last 20 minutes or so were of me saying 73 times "It's not tea time yet!!!  I know what the clock says but it's tea time when I SAY it's tea time!"  Followed by the digging deep for patience: "I'm making something really special!  Hang in there and it will be worth it!"

Ahem.  I was trying.  It all ended well, and with grace.  The kids were delighted at the spread in the end, and sat quietly as I read about the Boyer's trip to town.

My mom gave me this teapot for Christmas.   I made the mugs for the kids around the same time.  I got the children's sized mugs here, and used porcelain pens to draw, so it ended up being a pretty cheap project.  They each got their own little tree (I'm no artist with a pen) as well as their name, and a little heart at the bottom of the mug.  It was really easy, except for the whole, deciding-what-to-draw-without-making-it-look-stupid part.  It required hours of Pinterest study.

To really change the mood from the dreary attitude infecting our house, I brought out my grandma's little china fruit bowls, which they really liked.  There's something about china dishes that makes the kids sit a little taller and feel special.  (Also, I've learned that if I light candles at supper, everyone hushes down and instantly become thoughtful in their speech.  I don't do it often.  It's one of those in-case-of-emergency things in my mom tool box.)

What are some things you do to switch around bad attitudes hanging over the house?