Willa Cather Speaking to My Heart

I just finished reading My Antonia by Willa Cather. Why have I never known this was such a beautiful book? I think I never would have appreciated it as much as now, though. In a beautiful, sad way it spoke to my “adjusting to the prairie heart”. At least I know English and do not take up residence in a dugout. At least “our Papa” has twinkly eyes and is happy. I am so thankful that my babies have been warm and well fed. After living through a winter here, I have a renewed sense of respect for the courage and determination of the women who first came and settled on the lonely, wind swept prairies.

 In the beginning of the book the main character, Jimmy, becomes an orphan and goes to live with his grandparents in Nebraska. This is how he describes his drive from the train station to their farm:

“”Cautiously I slipped from under the buffalo hide, got up on my knees and peered over the side of the wagon. There seemed to be nothing to see; no fences, no creeks or trees, no hills or fields. If there was a road, I could not make it out in the faint starlight. There was nothing but land: not a country at all, but the materials out of which countries are made. No, there was nothing but land……..I had the feeling that the world was left behind, that we had got over the edge of it, and were outside of man’s jurisdiction.  I had never before looked up at the sky when there was not a familiar mountain ridge against it. But this was the complete dome of heaven, all there was of it. I did not believe my dead father and mother were watching me from up there; they would still be looking for me at the sheep-fold down by the creek, or along the white road that lead to the mountain pastures. I had left even their spirits behind me. The wagon jolted on, carrying me I knew not wither. I don’t think I was homesick. If we never arrived anywhere, it did not matter. Between the earth and that sky I felt erased, blotted out. I did not say my prayers that night: Here, I felt, what would be would be.”

I had to choke up when I read that aloud to Blue eyes. Having grown up here, I don’t think he can ever really understand what an adjustment this move has been for me. (But I love him anyways,  and when he takes me in his arms, loves away my sadness, prays for us and tells me it’s going to be ok, I believe him.)

And I am sure that next fall I will think of this description of  the coming of winter:

“The pale, cold light of the winter sunset did not beautify- it was like the light of truth itself. When the smoky clouds hung low in the west and the red sun went down behind them, leaving a pink flush on the snowy roofs and the blue drifts, then the wind sprang up afresh, with a kind of bitter song, as if it said: “This is reality, whether you like it or not. All those frivolities of summer, the light and shadow, the living mask of green that trembled over everything, they were lies, and this is what was underneath. This is the truth.” It was if we were be punished for loving the loveliness of summer.”

That is too sad! But……I will not think of that now, because it is spring, and I am planning to “love the loveliness of summer” with wild abandon. I will let the “living mask of green” fool me. I will deal with the truth of winter when it gets here.

For now I will think of this:

“When spring came, after the hard winter, one could not get enough of the nimble air. Every morning I woke with a fresh consciousness that winter was over. There were none of the signs that I used to watch for in Virginia, no budding woods or blooming gardens. There was only- spring itself; the throb of it, the light restlessness, the vital essence of it everywhere; in the sky, in the swift clouds, in the pale sunshine, in the warm, high wind- rising suddenly, impulsive and playful like a big puppy that pawed you and then lay down to be petted. If I had been tossed down blindfolded on that red prairie, I should have known that it was spring.”

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The Lunar Eclipse; My God How Great Thou Art!

In the wee hours of morning, we woke up our five oldest kids to see the complete lunar eclipse. “The Blood Moon”. The moon was full, the stars shone glittery and bright. They stumbled down stairs, wrapped up in their blankets. We left all the lights off and watched through the window. The dark coziness made us talk in hushed voices.

We watched as the earth’s shadow slowly passed over the moon. And our hearts were full of praise, to think of the celestial bodies, set in their courses and moving in exact precision, like a beautifully wound clock  set by the hand of the Maker.

And I felt in my soul, that I was part of an ancient audience, watching as indeed “the heavens declare His handiwork.” Blue eyes stood with his arms around me and our children clustered in front of us before the window, awed into silent praise.

Earlier in the evening, we had talked of the Passover. Quietly we went back to our beds, knowing that the door posts of our hearts have been sprinkled with the blood of the true Passover Lamb. Knowing that because of this, the angel of death will pass over us and we have life through His name, and like the children of Israel, we are free from bondage and on our way to the promised land! Truly, we have tasted and seen that the Lord is good!

“When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid: thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.” Proverbs 3:24

Now today, my heart and mind is full of Carl Boberg’s

How Great Thou Art  

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power through out the universe displayed!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art, how great Thou art! Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;-That on the cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin;-

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee; How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And on a Lighter, Sweeter Note……Anne of Avonlea

My oldest daughter wrote this excerpt from Anne of Avonlea in her journal this morning, “so she will never forget it.”

“Look, do you see that poem?” she (Anne)  said suddenly,  pointing.

“Where?” Jane and Diana stared, as if expecting to see Runic rhymes on the birch trees.

“There…..down in the brook……that old green, mossy log with the water flowing over it in smooth ripples that look as if they’d been combed, and that single shaft of sunlight falling right athwart it, far down into the pool. Oh, the most beautiful poem I ever saw!”

“I should rather call it a picture,” said Jane, “A poem is lines and verses.”

“Oh dear me, no.” Anne shook her head with its fluffy wild cherry coronal positively. “The lines and verses are only the outward garments of the poem and are no more really it than your ruffles and flounces are you, Jane. The real poem is the soul within it…and that beautiful bit is the soul of an unwritten poem. It is not every day one sees a soul…even of a poem.”

(page 111, chapter 13, Anne of Avonlea by L.M.Montgomary)

I think I shall have to add the Anne books to summer reading list again this year! They are always so good no matter how many times you read them!

April is Sexual Abuse Awareness Month; Together We Can Make the World a Safer Place


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April is Sexual Abuse Awareness month.

Childhood sexual abuse is real.

 It happens and without healing it has the potential to leave emotional and spiritual scars that can last a lifetime.

One out of four women is a survivor. That’s someone you know. That’s someone you love.

Innocence lost. Trust shattered.

Happiness and hope replaced by shame and self hatred.

Don’t let this be your daughter. Or your son.

Know the facts. Be informed. Talk to your kids.

I know, it’s uncomfortable. We’d all rather pretend it doesn’t happen.

But it does.

Childhood sexual abuse is real and it happens.

Suffering through a few uncomfortable conversations with your kids is  nothing compared to what it could prevent.

Being stretched beyond your comfort zone is part of the mom package. Remember labor?

If you won’t get the facts and protect your kids, who will?

Be committed to watching your kids like a hawk.

Most perpetrators are male relatives.

Be alert.

Never put your kids in risky situations. Listen to your kids.

They may not be able to articulate why uncle “so and so” is scary or gives them the creeps but that’s okay.

Respect what they are saying.

Never doubt your mother intuition.

If someone makes you uncomfortable, trust your gut feeling.

Go with it.

Remember you don’t need to explain anything to anyone. You only need to answer to God.

Be known as a mama bear when it comes to protecting your kids.

Most childhood sexual abuse happens between the ages of six and eleven.

Do your kids really need to be having sleep overs and spending much time with other adults without you before then anyway?

You think something like that would never happen in your family?

You’re sure you don’t know or associate with any pedophiles or other kids who are being or have been abused?

One out of every four.

That’s across all demographics and includes religious and nonreligious families.

We are raising up the next generation.

Be brave.

Be committed with me.

Together.

One parent at a time.

Together.

Let’s not let that statistic rise on our watch.

Childhood sexual abuse. It happens.

By being vigilant and proactive we can make the world a safer place.

Be brave.

Please feel free to share this post on your social networks. The first step towards prevention is awareness

Let Me Be a Mom Who Prays

blog 039Years ago when I was a new mom, my Grandmother gave me a book that she said she had enjoyed once upon a time herself. It was printed in 1957 and it has a charming vintage feel about it that I love. Back when life seemed less complex. When it was a given that moms were at home being housewives and raising up the next generation. When fathers provided for their families and a woman endeavored to make her home a haven of rest and comfort for her hardworking man.

The book is held together now by a headband(?!) Don’t ask……it must have been what was handy one night when the binding first started falling apart. I keep it in a vintage suitcase with some other meaningful letters, poems and writings pertaining to motherhood that I have received over the years. Many of them from my same dear Grandmother. I keep the suitcase beside my bed and sometimes when everybody’s tucked in and Blue eyes falls asleep before me and I am not quite feeling sleepy yet I dig around in my “mama encouragement box” for something nice to read.

Several times through out the years when I have been in the mood for something light and encouraging I have picked up this book. I still love it just as much as I did the first time I read it. I wanted to share with you some of what I read last night. It made my eyes fill with tears and my heart swell with inspiration and I fell asleep praying for the precious hardworking man sound asleep beside me and all the babies that the Lord has given to us.

A Mother’s Wages

by Elizabeth Walker Strachan

A Moody Press Publication 1957

Chapter 3: Prayer

“The truly wealthy children, the children to be envied, are those born to praying parents. Even the wisest do not fully understand prayer and all that it does. But one of the many remarkable things about prayer is that those who pray the most are those most convinced of its great potential. ……….And in spite of perplexing times, those who have prayed know that God does answer prayer, and there is a vast difference in prayed-for children and those of nonpraying parents. Prayer prepares a child’s heart for early conversion. Prayer can solve the many difficult problems of child rearing. Prayer enriches every single phase of a child’s life. Prayer brings our children that “blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich and He addeth no sorrow with it.” (Psalm 10:23)

“When should a mother pray? Before the birth of her child until her last breath is spent she should be holding that child before God for His blessing.  However else we may fail our children, may God help us not to fail them in prayer. May He make us women of prayer.”

I woke up still thinking about it this morning. (A little side note: I am getting ready to bring home two dairy goats! I am super excited! Before he fell asleep last night Blue eyes told me that he was sure I would be dreaming of goats and he was right! So after I wiped the cobwebs of dreamy goats who were playing on fancy wooden play structures (thanks to all those dear little goat pins I was pinning on pintrest last night!;) from my mind, I was still thinking about it.)

I was reminded of Job, the Bible tells us that he daily made supplication and offered sacrifices for each of his children “for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” (Job 1:5) I thought of how we are exhorted to pray continually and without ceasing. I thought of my own prayerful Grandparents and the many ways their prayers have blessed my life.

Let us, Lord, be mamas who pray!

“If ye ask anything in my name, I will do it.” John 14:14

A Hello and Goodbye to My Baby Love (A Mother’s Heart After a Miscarriage)

ImageTo my dear baby,

One night in wintry December you were conceived, in the beautiful love that can only take place in a romance that has weathered years of joys and sorrow. A romance that has ripened and matured until the two lovers are truly one and as comfortable with one another as they are in their own skin.

My first Midwestern winter seemed hostile and strange.  My heart has ached for old friends and the life I had before we moved here. When the wintry days got long, too blizzardy and cold to go out I would think about you. I would think about growing round and heavy with child in the sultry days of summer. I would think about the miracle of birth and the sleepy, content feeling of holding my newly born babe to my breast. And I loved you.

We kept our secret as long as we could. My daily afternoon naps and hormonal emotions were giving it away though. I could tell that your two oldest sisters were figuring things out!

Finally we decided to share our exciting news with your brothers and sisters. They were, of course, all excited and, yup, the girls had guessed! Your due date was the day before Isaac’s eleventh birthday and eight days before Moses’s ninth birthday. Since dad’s birthday is also in September they figured for sure they would be getting a brother for their birthday! It was about time, they were thinking, since they already have five sisters!

After a couple weeks we told them they could tell their friends. They all had someone they were waiting to tell. Letters of glad tidings flew off to Grannie and aunties and pen-pals.  Almost every day Olivia wrote in her journal in her newly developed six year old hand writing, ” I can’t wait until our new baby is born!”

Isabelle knit you a hat. They made you a Valentines Day card and they prayed for you every single day. They nicknamed you “Cute-cumber.” ( All except Meredith who would furrow her brow and say, “We are not naming our new baby cucumber!”) She thought a new sister named Sabrina would be perfect!

And so the first trimester was drawing to a close. One day as I was leaving for tea with a friend I noticed some spotting. I was a little worried but knew some light spotting in pregnancy is usually fine so I reassured myself and continued on with my day. Still, later I called the midwife and scheduled an appointment for the next day just to be sure.

She said my uterus was definitely full and pregnant but she wasn’t able to find a heartbeat. I so desperately wanted  to hear your little heart beating! I so wanted you to be in there and be OK! Still she said that she couldn’t say for sure there was no life there without an ultrasound so I was not completely without hope.

With heavy hearts we left, not wanting to say anything to the other kids just yet, hoping it would be alright after all. But alas, during the night I went into labor. I didn’t know it would be like that. My body did not want to let you go but, I knew I must, that I could not fight against the creator of life.

The next day Daddy stayed home. With heavy hearts we ate our breakfast then gathered the kids around us. We told them that we had some sad news. Our baby had died and I had gone into labor during the night. I wasn’t pregnant any more and there would be no new baby in September after all.

Sweet baby, had God willed that you grew and lived there would have been a wonderful place for you in our family. You already had a place! We would have loved you and cherished you as an heritage of  the Lord. We would have showered you with kisses and you would have been snuggled close to someones heart all day.

Just like we did with Meredith and Lucille when they were babies, we would have set the timer so no one hogged you. (Except me, I have hogging rights.) But the rest fair and square, thirty minute turns to lavish you with their love. And you would have blossomed and flourished and been happy here. That was what we wanted but God had something better in mind.

The Proverb says “That hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” We are heart sick. We miss you. Lots of other families in our church community are expecting babies in August and September.I think I will miss you then. Perhaps God will give us a new baby to fill my womb and heart and thoughts but it will not be you. A few short months of existence, a small place in my womb but I will always carry you in my heart.

 Last night we all sat down to sing. We started with ” My Shepherd Will Supply My Needs, Jehovah is His Name”. The second verse says, “When I walk through the shades of death, His presence is my stay. One word of His supporting grace drives all my fears away. His hand in sight of all my foes doth still my table spread, My cup with blessings overflows, His oil anoints my head.” (Isaac Watts)

I love this song! It is so gentle and soothing. At first we were all choosing songs of comfort but then they changed to songs of praise. One by one your siblings took turns coming to sit by Daddy or me and weeping. But they kept on choosing songs so we kept singing.

I told them something I had read before. That our lives are like a tapestry that is being woven by God. When we are here on earth we can only see the back of the tapestry and sometimes we can not make out the design. But we must never doubt that God is good even in sorrow for some day we will see the beautifully completed tapestry. And there you will be, baby, a beautiful and bright part of the tapestry of my life.

I know in heaven, in the Kingdom of Love, you have perfect understanding. You would say, “Of course God is good, Mom!” But last night despite my weary, faltering steps I was able to truly believe that He IS good! BY faith I was able to see that “though weeping may endure for a night joy cometh in the morning.” I know that He WILL “turn our mourning into dancing and exchange my spirit of heaviness for garments of praise.”

And so, my darling baby, I loved you in our hello and I love you even more in our good bye. In the spring we will bury your remains under the lilacs. We will love you and miss you then. Even though you have been the secret happy thought of my heart this long, lonely winter it’s Ok to let you go because truly His presence is my stay. The sun will grow warm again, the lilacs will fill the yard with their fragrance and still God will my table spread. Can you imagine, darling baby, that my cup of blessing overflows and His oil anoints my head? All of my love, dear baby. Good bye for now.

Mom

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I’m Back!

After seven months I am back online! Mostly so I can shop for this and that….. and food. All the gluten free items that were so readily available in the Pacific Northwest are either not here or ridiculously expensive so ordering online is definitely the way to go. And as a wonderful bonus I get to catch up on all my favorite blogs and start keeping mine again!

What a season of refinement this winter has been for me! I have felt like I am stuck in the white witches Narnia, every day for months being bitterly cold, white and glittery. Sometimes feeling like my heart has grown to match the landscape. There is beauty in it, but it is a harsh, surreal kind of beauty. Sometimes feeling like I am loosing sight of myself. There has been days where I am so lonely for the carefree, familiar friendships I moved away from. I miss Starbucks and the library and Safeway being right down the road. I have had to learn to trust that God is good even in sorrow. 

I have wanted to use this quiet time to draw closer to God. I think I have failed BUT He has not! A while ago my mom encouraged me to get back into journaling and as I scribble away my thoughts I realize that, thankfully, I am still here! I am still me and it’s going to be ok. I have off and on for years kept journals written back and forth between my kids and me. We started that back up and it is such a blessing! Olivia is six and pretty much every day in some variation she writes, “Dear Mom, How are you doing? I am doing good. God loves you and God loves me. I love Jesus and Jesus loves me and you. You are pretty and you are nice. Love, Olivia!” She may not know how much that makes my day sometimes! 

Plus I still have good old Blue eyes, who happily goes off to work, outside, even when it’s well below zero. Anyway, isn’t there something endearingly masculine about men who spend their free time outside chopping, splitting, hauling and stacking wood with their little sons in tow? Especially when they come into the house twinkly eyed, smelling like fresh air and wood, with frosty mustaches to give you a cold kiss and get a cup of coffee? I think so! That’s one thing I am sure of, my husband is one hardworking, tough guy!

Most importantly, my Father in heaven always is with me. Even when I become short sighted, He still sees the big picture. And by faith He has helped me to see that, when they are lived inside of His will,  even these hard days,  threaded together by His grace will become something beautiful. 

                                    ” He hath made everything beautiful in His time……” Eccl 3:11