cloistered away | enjoying simplicity

Monday

11

November 2013

4

COMMENTS

collecting thanksgiving

Written by , Posted in inspiration

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painted leaves | chalkboard | twine | journal

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Have I told you that yet? While of course I love the entire holiday season (Christmas and New Year’s included), I especially love that Thanksgiving causes me–all of us– to stop and reflect. For one day, instead of looking to our wants and needs and TO DOs, we dwell on what we have, on the relationships we’ve been given, and say “thank you.” I’ve had to refocus my own heart in this way regularly the last two years. As life has seemed to size us down (you can read more about that here), it feels easier to focus on the loss, the lack, the want. Finding ways to say “thank you” in those moments seems harder, like trying to lift your arms on a spinning roller coaster with gravity willing against you. No, giving thanks does not always happen naturally. However, when we intentionally seek ways to be thankful regardless of the circumstances, our hearts always grow. That’s the real gift.

The kids and I began collecting thanks a couple of years ago in a journal. Each day we would pass the book around and write something/someone we were thankful for, things like family members and pillow pets and a new bug we discovered and sunlight and fireworks and ideas such as wisdom. I’m writing in past tense because somewhere in the chaos of the last six months, we stopped. We now do it orally each morning with our read-a-loud time, but I miss having the written record. So in light of the season and trying again to be more intentionally grateful, I have been finding easy ways to begin collecting our thanksgiving again. Here’s a few of my favorites. What about you? How do you cultivate thanksgiving during this season? I would love to hear.

 

Thursday

7

November 2013

2

COMMENTS

in praise of fall

Written by , Posted in life lately

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We spent the day at a local event celebrating fall recently. While the event was primarily to help raise money for a local nature conservation project, the kids enjoyed stomping through muddy fields and hills, fishing for catfish (to toss back), riding horses, and of course, using an over-sized sling shot to launch pumpkins into the pond. This is what I call a win-win scenario: quality family time + outdoors + pumpkin carving (something I rarely make time to do at home). It felt like a true tribute to my favorite season.

Monday

4

November 2013

4

COMMENTS

when love makes you vulnerable

Written by , Posted in writing in the margins

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To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Millions of poems and songs and stories and books have been written on love. If we’ve existed for any length of time at all, we’ve already gained some experience, some insight into what love is or isn’t. Although I could fill an entire blog with new things to say on the subject, today, I only wanted to talk about one aspect: the vulnerability love requires, specifically as a parent. Before I became a parent, abstractly, I knew we would encounter difficulties. I knew motherhood would challenge me, even change me.  Some of this knowledge I had gathered listening to and watching other parents (including my own), while some know-how seemed like common sense. Childbirth, for example, I knew would cause me pain. I am familiar with my anatomy enough to know that violent things would have to occur in and to my body for a human to grow inside of me and to ultimately exist apart from me. I knew babies didn’t sleep well or arrive with complete sentences articulating their needs or wants. I knew my children would be different from me, which meant sometimes we would disagree. And I theoretically knew life as Mark and I had known in it in our two brief years together would not be the same. Still, we–the same as millions of other people–chose to have and love children. Almost instinctively, we knew (however theoretically) that what we would give and receive in loving was far greater than what it would cost us. Ten years later, I still agree.

But love does require of us. And it does requires vulnerability. It requires us to give from our depths, to allow someone else into our dreams/plans, to say giving is better than receiving. Love requires vulnerability when we don’t have the answer, when we can’t resolve a situation, to say, “I don’t know.” Each time we say the words, “I love you,” some measure of our heart is exposed, available for rejection, for ridicule. Vulnerable connotes weakness in our culture, that somehow our exposure and availability to scrutiny, to hurt, to loss makes us less.  Yet, as Lewis points out, the alternative to this sort of love is self-preservation, the love of self. This isn’t meaning taking care of yourself or having self-respect or even loving who you are is not important. They are extremely important, but it can’t be the end. Love is many things but insular is not one of them. Love requires an exchange, a transfer, the ability to say in all things, in all attitudes, “I am for you” even if I don’t always have the right words or the immediate solution to your needs.

I’ve had to practice these things (with various success) over the last ten years as a parent, but it’s still difficult. It can hurt me when my child is throwing a tantrum or spews hurtful words or refuses my help. It can be difficult when in their immaturity, they choose to intentionally disobey me. It can be hurtful (and exhausting) when I have spent most of the day addressing heart attitudes. On these days, I might find myself raising my voice or folding my arms across my chest or worse being careless with my words–this is what self-preservation looks like on me. It feels easier in the moment to dwell on the hard, on my own hurt, on what I need. Sometime I have the wisdom in the moment to take a break, to step outside (or inside), to hear the Lord say to me, “I am for you. I see you. I know you. And I am for you.” On those days, when I take that time, suddenly my arms relax and my heart is able to see again, to open. I confess this to my kids  and say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t handle you well when I _____.”  I wish these occurrences didn’t exist that I could say I always respond to my children from a whole heart and with perspective. But I too am human and  it’s good for my kids to understand and know this, to see I am not always right, I don’t always have the right answers or responses, and that as an adult, I’m still learning how to love and be loved. This too is vulnerability, the place where all of our hearts grow.

Blessings to you all this Monday. May you have the courage and grace to walk humbly and love with vulnerability today.

Monday

28

October 2013

0

COMMENTS

on the table | a coconut butter medley

Written by , Posted in on the table

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Kristen and I finished another Whole30 in mid-September, which means for 30 days we strictly ate fruit, veggies, meat, nuts, and seeds. For various reasons, we both decided we needed a cleanse of sorts from grains, alcohol, and of course–sugar! It’s amazing how creative you can get when trying to find ways to combine these groups of food. This coconut butter medley was and still is one of my favorite snacks. It’s dairy-free, grain-free, and free of added sugars. The best part? It only takes about 10-15 minutes from chopping to mouth. You can make these with any concoction of dried fruits or nuts, only try to stick with the unsweetened ones. Enjoy!

servings: approximately 20 quarter-size balls                         time: 10-15 minutes

{ingredients}

  1. unsweetened cacao nibs  (1/4 c.)
  2. dried goji berries (1/2 c.)
  3. coconut butter (1 c.)
  4. dried apricots  (1/2 c.)
  5. dried figs (1/2 c.)
  6. unsweetened vanilla extract (1 Tbsp. — optional, but nice)

{steps}

  1. Chop the figs and apricots.
  2. Combine all of the fruit and cacao together in a bowl.
  3. Add the coconut butter.
  4. Mix together.
  5. Add the vanilla extract.
  6. Spoon quarter size balls onto a baking sheet.
  7. Place in the refrigerator to harden (at least 5 minutes).
  8. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

 

Thursday

24

October 2013

2

COMMENTS

weekend

Written by , Posted in wanderings, writing in the margins

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Rest and be thankful.
― William Wordsworth

Sometimes I think about the early days of our family, when we’d harness babies to our bodies and walk without aim, just to be together. To be. Sometimes we used words and held hands. Sometimes we walked in silence, our footsteps in sync.

Although our walks have since become louder, I love them just the same. Walking aimlessly, together.

fall berries / Saturday morning crafts / studying leaves / shadow play / afternoon light / reading / a football and a walking stick / Sunday morning bike ride / something new / weekend walking / outdoor dinner with friends / a hot chocolate picnic

Tuesday

22

October 2013

0

COMMENTS

inspiration no. 3

Written by , Posted in inspiration

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The cooler weather is finally lingering here, luring me again to warmer tones and clothing. I’m pulling out dusty jackets and remembering sweaters and scarves and boots I haven’t seen in quite a while–I just love this season. Fall beckons me to simplify, to quiet myself, whether in a cozy corner with a book and coffee or outside under a canopy of trees.  I am also finding new ways to experiment with my existing wardrobe, creating new arrangements of layers with what I already own. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. Oh well. Here’s a few things inspiring me this season. You can find more images inspiring me on Pinterest and Tumblr. What’s inspiring you this Fall?

Friday

18

October 2013

6

COMMENTS

watercolor invitations

Written by , Posted in currently making

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In the world of digital everything, receiving real mail (even when hand-delivered) can feel like a gift. E-mail is convenient and free, and with so many digital invitation options (Evite, Paperless post, etc.), it’s often difficult to justify the time and expense for paper. I get it. Believe me, I get it. Time is valuable, which is exactly why a handmade, snail-mailed invitation can be just the right treat for your guests, no matter their age. Of course, an invite tucked in with confetti and wrapped in twine will feel like a mini-party in itself.

I love the variation and imperfection of watercolors for this project. Although similar, each invitation had a slightly different hue and rhythm, but most of all, Blythe made each one. I helped her mix the paints (crimson, with a little white and yellow) and write, but she chose the colors and painted them herself (sadly, I only had my iphone available for that part).  It was such a fun collaboration and a way for Blythe to feel a little ownership in her event. We used them for her birthday, but you could easily adapt this idea for any event or to create a stationery gift. Below, I included the materials and steps for you to do it yourself at home. Enjoy!

{what you need}

  • watercolor paper (postcard size or cut larger sheets)
  • watercolors
  • paint brush/es
  • pen/marker
  • envelopes
  • confetti
  • twine

{steps}

  1. Decide the color/s you want to use and mix your paints. Don’t worry about it being perfect, as I said, the imperfection is part of the beauty.
  2. Fill a glass of water and begin making strokes along your paper. You may choose to cover the entire paper, creating an ombré effect (dark to light) or leave unfinished edges (as Blythe did).
  3. Let them fully dry (at least 24 hours).
  4. Use a fine-tipped marker or pen to write your invitation.
  5. Place completed invites in an envelope with a small bit of confetti.
  6. Seal the envelopes and wrap with twine. (You may skip the twine altogether if you’re sending them in the mail.)