Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Why I Don't Knit Anymore, or, The Miracle of the Empty Net

I don't knit anymore. More precisely, I can't knit anymore, which is a surprising turn of events for someone who led knitting groups, taught people how to knit, and kept several projects going at once.

It all started with a cardigan I cast on nearly three years ago now. It was such a stress-relieving project and it moved along at such a satisfying pace. Then the pain hit. Sharp, burning pain up and down my forearms. What to do?! It wouldn't go away. Wrist splints were ordered and worn faithfully at night. Soon it became clear -- the knitting had to stop. I figured maybe I could stop for a few days, or a few weeks. But then it was months that have turned into years. As someone born with an insatiable need to create, this was a true problem. My creative outlet was suddenly, and totally, gone. Now I had to sit patiently for hours on end helping my kids with their homeschool homework with nothing to occupy my hands or keep me calmly settled in my seat. It was both sad and frustrating, not to mention patience-building!

In the sermon from John 21 this past Sunday our minister (yes, also my husband) said something very enlightening as he spoke about the miracle of the 153 fish the disciples caught. He said, "We forget that it was just as great of a miracle to keep the fish nets EMPTY all night as it was to fill them to bursting at Christ's morning command." Do you know, there was something of a miracle for me in the taking away of the knitting, in keeping my "nets empty" for those months. I didn't realize it until much later: removing the knitting created the vacuum necessary for my interest and focus on painting to develop which led into nature journaling and art classes and workshops and the opening of a whole new world.

As it turns out I didn't have to give up yarn projects entirely. For some reason crochet doesn't cause as much acute pain as knitting! Who knew?! I eventually started crocheting tea cozies during school. This summer, with a bit of a break in my schedule, I even made it on to some bigger crochet projects! I'm just about to finish up a shell-patterned cardigan and have started on a second one! I also managed to make this Linden Bee shawl and am thinking about a few more patterns by Cherry Heart. I also want to try a granny square shawl like this one. I even discovered there are beautiful sock patterns for crochet -- that look like knitted socks!

So that's the story of why I don't knit anymore, and how one of my empty nets actually turned out to contain a beautiful gift. It helps me have hope for those other empty nets I have.....

Friday, August 16, 2019

Finding Margin Again

Margin in my life has been missing for some time, I don't even know how long. But, having hit a brick wall of sorts, margin is coming back. Somewhere this summer I sat down and started crocheting again, and I couldn't believe how good it felt. Then one day I picked myself some flowers and made a tea tray, and it felt like a luxury.

Margin is where the time for these little things that really matter comes from. I am painfully aware that sometimes margin just isn't available, no matter how hard one looks.

Now that I've turned a corner, I'm looking forward to more margin and here's what I want that to include:

Tea Trays
Flowers picked from the garden
Baking a tea time treat
Sitting on the back patio
Watching a movie during the day!
Sewing something for the house
Browsing at Goodwill
Writing a real letter
Reading blogs again
Writing blog posts
Reading more novels
Practicing calligraphy
Buying a nice hand soap for the bathroom
Finding a new tablecloth
Decorating the mantel
Sorting photos
Lighting candles (especially the beeswax ones I got at the fair)
Reading British Country Living magazine
Reading nature writers
Reading gentle writers like DE Stevenson, Rosamund Pilcher, and Elizabeth Goudge

I'm open for more good suggestions if you have some!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A New Season

It's a new season around here: Drew and James are back to high school, Rachel returns to Purdue this weekend, and David and Laura have left our homeschooling world for the new land of traditional Christian school. Our lives look different!

It's going to take awhile to adjust to our new schedules -- who does what chore, and when; how we can make it to four different sporting events, and how do we fit all our puzzle pieces on this table we call life!

I'm looking forward to finding more margin this year. Sometimes I feel like finding margin is a full-time job! It shouldn't be as hard as it is to come by. I'll have to get even better at saying no.

I'd like to find space to come back here to my blog more. I have thousands of pictures and hundreds of memories from my trip to England and Scotland this summer to share. I have so many books to talk about, and recipes to share, and ideas, and art, and beauty, and the list goes on.

In the book of Psalms, the psalmist talks about "singing a new song." He doesn't mean that it's a literal "new song." What he means is that it's a new time in his life, a new day, a new beginning. He's singing the same truths, even the same words, but they have a new significance because of circumstances in his life. So as our family turns this corner into a year of great change I feel like it is a season of "singing a new song" -- who we are and Who we are focused on have not changed, but it's a new beginning and a new starting point from which to move forward.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The History of Christmas -- Available for Pre-Order!!!

  The History of Christmas: 2,000 Years of Faith, Fable and Festivity is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Target, and Barnes & Noble! Hooray! I can't wait to get an actual copy in hand myself!

Please note: this post contains an affiliate link.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Artist in Residency

I am beginning my Artist in Residency program today! I'm excited to be spending a week at the beautiful home of TC Steele -- sharing about his life with others, his love for nature, and hopefully inspiring many adults and children to record their own nature observations for future generations.

The Saturday workshops are filled, but there are drop-in workshops beginning at 11am on Wednesday, May 15 and Friday, May 17. 

I'll look forward to sharing more about this adventure when it's over!

Special thanks to the Indiana Arts Commission for their grant which makes this all possible!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Spring Catch-Up

Spring seems to be here! It feels like I do most of my nature observation as I drive to and fro in my van. It's amazing how much can be noticed! What I saw today (the blooming trees, the fully formed leaves on the bushes, the green haze in the trees) tells me there is no more waiting. The season has changed and with it the calendar just seems to explode with action.

Rachel came home for her spring break two weeks before the rest of us had ours. It was great to have her back with us. She and I managed to find a moment to run to a local coffee shop for the best almond milk lattes and a few St. Patrick's Day treats.

We had our church youth group over for Sunday lunch in March. It coincided with St. Patrick's Day so we had a themed lunch as well as a St. Patrick quiz. The Banoffee Waffles were a hit!

I started a daily nature journal project on the first day of spring. This is in preparation for my Artist in Residency program next month. It's been wonderful to practice this skill each day and I love how much more aware I am when I know I've got to record something in my journal.

Some days I think there won't be anything new to notice (especially with my limited ability to saturate myself in nature). Something is discovered everyday despite my fears.

We had our spring break the last week of March and first week of April. Dear friends from Michigan came down to spend a few days with us. We made sure to visit Eagle Creek, Goodwill Outlet, the Art Museum, and this time we explored Ikea.

We have a brand new trail near our house that takes us right to the edge of Eagle Creek. We tried it out with our friends. If only time allowed this to be walked every day!

Our spring certainly came late, again, this year. I'm watching to see how fast things will catch up.

Spring break also held the funeral of a dear friend and mentor, Dr. Roy Blackwood. Of all the influences in my life, he and his wife have had the biggest influence outside of my immediate family. Part of my grieving involved baking a few pies for the funeral luncheon. It was the final thing I could do for him -- the final pies in a long history of many pies made for Roy over the years. I made his favorites -- the berry pies. Oddly enough, it was the same day that I spent eight hours proofing The History of Christmas. It was Dr. Blackwood that fostered my love of church history, taught me for four years, allowed me to be his "graduate assistant." I wished he could have seen the fruits of all his investment in me.

Spring break also contained a fun birthday party at which I was asked to lead the girls in painting unicorns. Oh it was fun to get back into teaching young children art! The girls did an amazing job -- all 13 or 14 of them!!!

And we did have one more snowfall on March 31! Just to show us how crazy our weather is!

Then April came around the corner and we started to see some true signs of spring.

I continue my work at the flower shop. I loved these two bouquet colors. I've got to figure out something for this Monday -- Easter colors.

We made it to the zoo with cousins! The tiger thought Arthur would be a nice lunch.

The animals were fun but I kept looking for the flowers in bloom since these were my first daffodils to get up close to this year.

And I learned to recognize Siberian Squill and started seeing it everywhere!

Our Art Museum has a Pop Up Tea House right now! How fun is that??!!! We went to celebrate the last day of spring break. David and Laura may be headed off to Christian school in the fall and my days of homeschooling will be over. It's all good, but also I need to savor these last six weeks of our homeschool.

I've been working on three large pieces of art for the flower shop. The last one is on the art table and it is a collection of peonies.

I love peonies, and I'm excited to see this poster when it is done!

By the way, I hope to send out my next newsletter soon and I'll be including some form of peony giveaway in it for my subscribers. If you want to receive the newsletter, and get in on the giveaways that happen each time I write, fill out the little form on the left sidebar of this blog.

One last sweet cousin picture here. Olivia is nearly two! She's a joy to us all.

Easter is just a week away for most of you! I hope you enjoy the rest of this season!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The History of Christmas Book

For those of you who have not heard elsewhere, my mom and I have collaborated on a book, coming out early this summer: The History of Christas: 2000 Years of Faith, Fable, and Festivity. I've written the words, and my mom's painted the illustrations!

In 12 chapters, this book will take you on a journey from Christ's birth in Bethlehem through 2,000 years of church history to our modern day celebrations. It covers all the stuff: the biblical account, the  pagan festivals, the decision for December 25 (or not), the development of Santa Claus, etc. And, it includes discussion questions, suggested Scripture readings, activities and recipes!

The book is filled with my mom's wonderful illustrations!

We hope our book will give you valuable information, entertain you with stories and pictures, enlarge your heart in the knowledge of Christ's love for us, and inspire you to show love to others.

We'll be sure to let you know when this book is available on Amazon! To receive news and updates first, be sure to sign up for my newsletter (form in sidebar).