Sunday, July 30, 2017
It turns out that those wild raspberries in our yard are called wine raspberries or rather just wineberries. My daughters and my niece brought a surprising amount in from our backyard.
So then we were inspired to spend the day collecting more from our roadside and then from the nearby state park.
We all came home pleasantly worn out from all the walking, which quickly becomes more like hiking and/ or climbing in this terrain.
After showers and dinner, we all went to bed with books and flashlights or tablets.
It would be absurd to ruin these beauties with sugar if we only had a few cups of berries. But now that we that have several cups, I have agreed to bake something with them today, perhaps a very simple fruit tart. But I don't even have white sugar in my house at this point, so I'll plan to shop a little after church.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
The landscaper and his crew are here to help us subdue our front yard. Trees are being uprooted and rocks are being dug up and placed strategically. Of course, some rocks just aren't going to budge without dynamite and those rocks will stay just where they are.
We do not plan nor even want a traditional looking yard. That's not at all why we moved into the woods. But we'd like to make what we have as beautiful as possible, make its natural beauty easier to appreciate, make it less of the complete wilderness that it is now.
Unfortunately, a large clump of wild raspberries (and even some blackberries) that are growing up to the front and side of our house really must be torn out. They are growing in front of a large rock formation that is far too beautiful to remain covered, even with wild berries. It seems impossible that they must go, but it's true. Luckily, we have more wild raspberries lining the woods in our backyard, too. Otherwise, it would be much harder for me to persuade myself to part with thriving berry bushes.
After the expert assured us they were definitely edible and certainly safe, we asked him to ask all the gardeners to hold off on tearing them out until we had harvested berries at least once. So they worked on the other side of the house, while we gathered some pails from inside, the kind we use to store pencils and the like, and we used those to collect.
It is overcast today and it rained cool drops on us as we picked. There were thorns everywhere and we all suffered pokes, but there was no bleeding, thankfully. The bigger girls worked together to navigate the thorns, but I helped Del. I would walk into the bushes a little ways, trample the branches in front under my heavier feet and thicker shoes, put the handle of the bucket in my mouth, then turn and pick up Adele, setting her in front of my legs to pick with me. We moved like this farther and farther into the bushes and then reversed the process to get out of the bushes.
We all snacked as we went. Even the unripe berries were not too tart to be delicious. And it was especially nice to eat them as came off the bush, cool, damp, having been just freshly washed by the rain.
And we shared the berries with the men working in our yard. They did not speak English, but I held up my bucket, and motioned them over, and it did not take much to understand my intent or make myself persuasive once they got a look at the bright red inside my pail.
They put down their tools, pulled off their gloves, and I gave them honest, heaping handfuls. (I noticed as I poured how much bigger mens' hands are than children or women!)
But it felt good and right to share the berries with the men in the midst of their work when they would be most welcome.
May God make those berry bushes we have left ten times as fruitful!
Saturday, July 22, 2017
First, it was Ruth Bell Graham's Footprints of a Pilgrim. I knew right away, within moments, that the book was divinely put into my hands. To know that such a woman even existed and cared about the things I care about: God, marriage, family, home, it gave me so much strength when I was in my twenties, and I needed to know that it was alright to be pursuing a degree, yet care more for the simple things.
Next, it was Saint Theresa of Avila's Interior Castles. That book came at a time in my life in my thirties, when I was experiencing God in new ways. Even if she who wrote it happened to be a nun who lived on the other side of the world centuries removed, it strengthened me to know someone like I lived, and experienced God in strange ways, too.
And now, it's Walking on Water by Madeline L'Engle. The book comes as I near forty. This woman's internal and external life is eerily similar to mine now. I was beginning to doubt whether it was normal to contemplate the greater things, to play piano, to translate languages, for God to be so real to me, for me to want to make stories that bring people light, and do all these in the presence of children. It's probably not normal, but I feel strengthened to know that someone else lived as I live and thought as I think. It's like time wrinkled and I got to spend a few days in conversation with her.
God's sends me mentors, friends, at the time I need them, and He is not bound by time in doing so.
Friday, July 21, 2017
I have a sensitivity to annoying sounds, so I thought it was going to be painful for me when the kids practiced their piano. Nevertheless, Dwayne and I wanted to give the girls the gift of music, so we started providing them with lessons. To my surprise, the kids' practice is one of the most soul-soothing sounds in my life now. Like birds singing from the trees around our house, or the laughter from upstairs where the girls are playing with their dolls, the sound of our piano serves are a reminder of what is good, true, and beautiful in my life, in all of life! The playing makes me to stop whatever I am doing, even if only for a moment, and acknowledge the Giver of every perfect gift.
Thursday, July 20, 2017
I will often pray while I exercise. The two really go together for me so naturally.
In one case, I am pursuing spiritual goals. In the other case, my goals are physical.
But prayer and exercise, similarly, both take faith and action, then more action and more faith...
So naturally, while lunging with kettlebells, I was talking to God about my dreams today.
I want to accomplish so many true, beautiful, and good things with my life.
All these things are the things God Himself has called me to do, so in faith, I take action, and I expect to be able to do them.
But time keeps passing.
"We have to hurry." I told God. "There isn't much time!"
I felt very mortal there for a moment. One tends to feel their mortality when they are exercising with kettlebells.
At my remark, I heard the Spirit of God offer a sharp rebuke to my spirit,
"We have eternity," God said.
The words totally wrecked the way I was thinking at that moment.
I could almost see my error as a castle in my mind being torn down.
But then, before the same words had even finished entering my mind, and devastating my thinking, they had also, almost at once, filled me with the most complete courage for all the work that God has called me to do.
God can do that. He can tear me down and build me up almost at the exact same time.
His work in my spirit is similar to what weight-lifting does for my body.
Lunges with kettlebells in hands really tear up my legs. But even as they tear, the muscles just come back stronger, more perfect.
God's Spirit works just like that in my soul.
The words, "We have eternity," served to rebuke and encourage me all at once.
I may get it all done before I die. Or I may not.
It doesn't really matter.
I have forever with God to enjoy perfecting the works He has given me to do.
My life is, was, and will be, simply,
the forever with God that has already started for me.
Saturday, July 8, 2017
I have been enjoying seeing what all comes up in my new yard this spring and summer. I consider every single blossom a gift, since I didn't plant them, but nevertheless, here they are!
The previous owners planted hydrangea bushes along our front walk. The bushes are almost as tall as me! (Perhaps they have actually been neglected and need to be tended.) But being so high allows me to see the blossoms from inside the house through the windows and I consider that an advantage. The flowers on the bushes turned from bright white to a delicate violet that subtly grows more saturated with color by the day.
I indulged myself and cut the largest of all the blossoms off and brought it inside to my kitchen table. I didn't know how well it would keep, but I've had it there for a few days now, and it is still fresh and beautiful. Tiny bluish blossoms drop onto the table from the underside of the flower throughout the day, but since I wipe my table free of crumbs once or twice a day as it is, because of my kids, this is no real inconvenience.
Hydrangeas have been a favorite of mine since my teenage years when I saw them in my friend's bridal magazines. So when I got married, I ordered them to go in my assorted wedding bouquet. Back then, I lived in the south and hydrangeas are not common down there, so it was a mystery to me how these flowers even grew! But they are everywhere in New England and it is a joy to have full grown bushes of my own now!