Letting Go.

I had this vision when we bought this house and I learned it already had a garden going in the back…that it was already landscaped out front and around the sides. A vision of beautiful flowers crowning the privilege of owning our own home. I daydreamed of picking these most gorgeous flowers and adorning my tables and Victorian rooms with their beauty. Spring came and plants came to life. The excitement grew as I learned what was planted where. I pictured in my head these Monet-ish bursts of pastel color clouds beckoning me from a long drive home of grocery shopping.

Then reality set in.

I have three boys who like to bash things, two dogs who like to trample things, and three girls who like to pick things. I mean they really like to pick things. And soon my poor, defenseless flowers started looking bare and sparse. There were vases adorning the table but only in a poor attempt to save some of the almost petal-less flowers from their oh-so-shortened lifespan. And we had to get creative on arrangement style as stems were a rare oddity!

At first I seethed inside. I tried reasonable explanations.

You know, if we pick the buds before they bloom then we will never see the pretty flowers they were to create.”

I tried cajoling.

Baby girl, how ’bout we wait till everything blooms and then we can pick some together…just you and me. 

Finally I resorted to sharp, not-very-loving, mamma-commands.

DON’T PICK THE FLOWERS if you want to live!”

Nothing worked. I fretted and worried and my garden just became more naked. I fumed and tried to ignore the smashed down Lily patches with buds that never came to fruition. And then the Lord started speaking to my heart.

Let go.”

NO! I can’t. It’s not fair. These are MY flowers. I’ve waited 37 years to finally have this house and this garden and MY flowers. It’s not fair. Did I mention their mine? I selfishly pouted.

Let go.”

He nudged gently as He reminded me:

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.” ~ Matthew 6:19-20

AND

The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. ~ James 1:11

AND

As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades.” ~ 1 Peter 1:24

Is this what I was doing? Was I holding on to this temporary treasure here on earth, desperately trying to make something so fleeting last longer than it was ever intended?  Was I robbing joy from my girls who already knew the secret of living in the moment? This feeling I had in my heart…it felt very familiar, like my old friend jealousy. When you try and control your hand squeezes until the love is squeezed out with it. It was not until I learned to open up that hand, let go of that control that the jealousy left and allowed love to grow in it’s place. I needed to let this go too. Stop squeezing my possessions. It is all temporal. He made this for us to enjoy in the moment. It was never intended to last beyond that.

I heard Him whispering to me how it was Him who made little girls to love flowers so dearly. He put that desire in them to collect these momentary bursts of beauty. “If that is so, Lord,” I prayed, How do I let go?” 

And the answer was so simple. I have a gift of the lens. A photograph that can capture that first perfect bloom before the physical realm fades. So here are my beauties. A perfect shot of loveliness captured in a singular moment of beauty.

I’ve let my garden go.

Now I snap a picture when I first notice blooming (if they get to that stage) and inhale deeply of any fleeting perfume aroma. And when I drive home from grocery shopping to my balding backyard, I am no longer tense with anxiety. I even left a few weeds to grow around the poor, barren flowers adding some beautiful, unexpected wild flowers into the white space of our lives! Slowly this momma is learning.

 

Living Liturgically Through Nature

 

Some days you wake up overwhelmed and all you see is the mountain in front of you that seems impossible to climb. Sometimes you just can’t get past the next thing that needs to be done because the list seems endless. Nothing stays clean or orderly and life is messy. But sometimes you wake up on a morning like this and are thankful that the ice in your driveway won’t allow you to make it into church.

The kids will be missing the Walk Through Bethlehem, of which I was really hoping we could attend. I think the experience of them being able to time travel back to the city where Jesus was born and experience what that would be like in a very tactile and real way would be such a valuable experience and memory. Instead we were blessed with snow. And in this season of life we are blessed to live in the country. I knew when the sun peeked out that I just had to take advantage of the light and grab my camera for a morning walk. Full of warm carrot muffins and hot coffee, I headed out breathing deep the chill in the air.

There was no need for a temple house of worship this morning. Sabbath was made for man, not man for sabbath. This morning my worship came in being still.

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.” ~ Psalm 46:10

I didn’t have to sing. I didn’t have to read. His creation was my liturgy and I sank deep in it’s beauty. There is the deep sustenance – bread of life – that we are to drink from daily but that never negates the beauty in the fleeting. Sometimes we just need to stop, even when chores beckon, and be a Mary and sit at the feet of His creation. After all, this was for His and our pleasure. How can we enjoy if we don’t stop to even pay attention? Soon cars will spray fumes of gray across the white and sun will melt the soft powder. Crystals that shine brighter than any diamond will fade into the dreary background of life. But here, for this moment only, it is perfect.

As I walked all was silent and I heard the birds trilling praise up towards blue sky. I heard the sound of water softly running in the neighboring river. The only other sound was the crunch of snow beneath my feet. The only sounds of life around me where the fading memories of deer in footprints. Even the grass was silent, heavy with the weight of snow.

Be still and know that I am God. 

This verse whispered over and over in my head and through my heart. Oh thank you for this day. Oh thank you that you gave me eyes to see beyond the ordinary. Thank you that my soul longs to translate this perfection into art to share with others. There is no greater muse than You!!!

 

An Impromptu Art Lesson

My son has been taming a cat. Well, more an adorable fuzzy little ball of black fur kitten. He’s the runt of the country kittens living under our porch. And he’s not doing well. He’s being pushed out by the others and not allowed to feed. He’s learned to trust us, especially Luc, as we’ve tried to supplement him a bit food-wise. But he’s not gaining weight and he’s sick. It’s quickly turning into winter weather and I fear he isn’t going to make it.

Luc has become quite attached. He plays with him daily (don’t worry, we bought him a flea collar). The cat has come to trust him. His name is now Hershey. How could I possible stand by and let him die in front of him? And trust me, if I could I’d run this little bundle of fuzzy joy to the nearest vet, get him his shots and meds and take him inside to become part of the family in an instant. All Luc is asking for is this kitten for Christmas as his pet. He offered to take his portion of Christmas money for presents and give it to little Hershey to pay for vet bills. But there’s this little thing of allergies and a rental agreement standing in our way.

So we did the best thing we could in this situation. We took him to the Humane Society. It was daddy’s idea and I was so thankful that we could take him to a place where he would be cared for and adopted out while giving my kids a chance to see all the other little kitties and animals up for adoption. The kids loved seeing all the little critters. They were making their lists and pleas as to what they wanted when we buy our house.

I’ll admit, Luc held up like a champ. But he lost his friend. He was a sad mess most of the night. He held on to Lily’s little stuffed black cat trying to soothe his heart loss and he cuddled next to mommy a lot and we talked, for the millionth time, about why we couldn’t keep little Hershey and why Santa still can’t bring a real cat for Christmas.

And I’m not sure what inspired the request but suddenly I found myself at the learning table drawing a kitten for Luc. Luc and Lily were amazed at my drawing ability (not stellar, but not bad) and were suddenly inspired to draw something in a realistic way too. Suddenly everyone was drawing and I was reminiscing about drawing when I was little and Lily was oohing and aahhing trying at my old stuff and trying her hand at different techniques. And before we knew it, Drawing in Color (the most amazing kids art book ever) was pulled out and kids were flipping and experimenting.

I was amazed at the results. Here is this 5 year old boy and 8 year old girl just producing these images that blow their usual drawings out of the water. These are the homeschooling moments that I live for! And they never happen when planned! Lily asked if tomorrow she could draw some more. She said she wants to do it for school and even in her free time. I’m looking forward to what their free time will be filled with over the winter. Audio books here we come!

Lily's Cat - 8 years old

Luc's Cat - 5 years old

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Things to be thankful for…deer legs and eggs

My son came home with a deer leg the other day. This momma about had a heart attack. He was so proud as he handed over this body part with exposed joint bone and clotted blood.

“Can we keep it, mom?” eyes big as saucers he wanted to know as the others crowded around in awe. And it was awe-inspiring in the grotesque sort of way. Here we are studying the human body and here before us is a live, first hand speciman. Okay, maybe not human but body part none the less!

And my other son before that had come home with eggs he found at the place where our yard ends and the forest begins. “Can we have a baby chick, mom?” Turkey? Too small, I think. Yet abandoned by mother so no son, no chickies.

“Can we eat it, mom?” Having no idea how fresh, or not, these eggs were I wasn’t going to risk it. But oh how beautiful they were and even this morning, Turkey Day, as I literally see turkeys in our front lawn, I think how lucky we are to be here amidst all this.

What memories will sink deep down from this season of life? I long to capture all on film…deer hooves, mystery eggs, kids chasing turkey amid bikes and toys.

Thank you, God, for your many blessings pouring out to our family this year. You are a God of splendor, majesty, intricacy, and details. You amaze me daily. All I have to do is look around me and I am instantly immersed in Your miracles!

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15

Happy Turkey Day, everyone!!!

Fall Break ~ Caterpillars and Remembering 9/11

We’ve been on fall break around here. For me that entails LOTS of extra cleaning and organizing around the house. (Have you noticed it’s been kind of quiet around here?) For the kids it has entailed caterpillars. You may remember our post about our monarch caterpillars? Well, after several died due to Tachinid fly parasites, only one survived and turned into that beautiful Monarch butterfly.

It was a poignant moment. The morning of 9/11 we had read several stories dealing with the tragedy. The kids decided to make their own drawings based on the illustrations of Andrea Patel in On That Day While processing tragedy through art, our caterpillar died and broke free as a creature new, transformed, and utterly beautiful and full of hope. It was a glorious analogy for the hope that came out of that day for the still living. I’d show you a picture (I took beautiful ones of the butterfly with the kids while they were drawing) but, somehow, those pictures got accidentally deleted before I had a chance to post.

Since then, fall has dried the meadow grasses and we have had a caterpillar bonanza as woolly bears are flocking to the warmth of the concrete street. Everyday my kids are caterpillar hunting and coming home with hundreds of soft little fuzzies. And if you think I am exaggerating, proof is in the pictures. EVER DAY they hunt, EVERY DAY buckets and cups and bowls (even shoes) fill our porch with soft little pets to play with. I never knew there could be so many in one area! I think it is beginning to drive my husband crazy. Every night he dumps them out to escape to the wild or be eaten by birds and every night he finds more bucketfuls to empty. I love it. My kids are outside enjoying fresh air, playing, using imagination, and NOT playing video games. (I literally had to ban them the first week of fall break to even get them out the door.)

For more 9/11 inspiration (never too early to plan for next year…or pin it to visually remember), visit Elizabeth Foss at In The Heart of the Home.

~ 9/11 Stories for Kids ~

On That Day: A Book of Hope For Children

Fireboat

The Day America Cried

America Is Under Attack: The Day the Towers Fell

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

New York’s Bravest

I Was Born on 9/11

September 11 2001: A Simple Account for Children

The Little Chapel That Stood

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Fall in the Meadow

It’s been rainy and dreary all week but the cool air is refreshing from the summer heat. Our windows are open. Our cinnamon candles are lit. And we are playing outside more. Even if it means having to clean the carpets of dragged in mud!!! Because, at the end of the day, who can resist a little girl in a red riding hood? Or grass turning burgundy wine? Or sun gold flowers dappling the countryside with the last bit of bright summer color? And then there is exploring and homemade maps…

Woodland Fairies

A certain pair of aunts heard me say dress up for gift ideas. Dress up conjures up cheap princess style dresses that start raveling at the seams right away and are made up of a conglomerate of synthetic fibers. Not these sisters! They have taste and class. I haven’t the faintest idea where they bought this dress but she hasn’t taken it off in over a week. (We’ve washed it several times already and holds up like a real dress!)

Little sprout didn’t want to be left out either. She just assumed that her stained linen dress was perfect princess apparel for a wooded area. And she’s right!

Thank you, sisters, for making a little girl’s life brighter this past week!