January Yarnalong 2021

I finished Gilead by Marilynne Robinson yesterday. It is beautiful and seemed to speak so much so me. I started reading A Promised Land By Barack Obama before Christmas and I have loved it as far as I’ve gotten although this is not very far at all- maybe 7 chapters. I plan to pick it up again soon.

I am knitting a wee scarf for 13’s teddy bear (that he requested for his birthday) and am attempting a doll or a stuffy or a something that I am a bit unsure about as yet for a purpose that I am just as unsure about (my normal process).

Christmas week we managed to catch planets aligning just so and took what some had dubbed the Star of Bethlehem as a promise that Jesus is with us still. Of course we know that, of course we do- but planets aligning just so the week of Christmas was such a sweet and delightful happening that I took hold of it as such a sign of goodness and hope after this year. I made sure to say it again and again to all of us.

Our Christmas was quite quiet this year. Goodness it was nice. I would have loved to visit family and have a house full to brimming and meet new babies and all that but it was, to us, a kind of soothing balm to all of our scrapes and wounds that this strange year has brought us. I’m not even really speaking about Covid-19 as much as a ton of other really difficult things that happened as well as the wretched virus. We had a lovely Christmas and I am thankful.

We went away to the mountains for a few days after Christmas – very carefully and we were completely on our own. It was such a good break from our house. I did not take any yarn or needles or a hook with me which must have been the very first time since I don’t even know when, and this was a much needed rest for my hands after so long Knitting for Others (HK edition) and all the normal Christmas Knitting.

Three kids asked for socks and three asked for fingerless mitts for Christmas which was nice and easy. I used this sock pattern, and this one– both slightly modified. For the Mitts I used a few patterns (maize, honeycomb and paddle to be precise) from Tin Can Knits – also slightly modified. I made myself a pair of socks and hubby too and knitted several Christmas wash cloths to go into gift baskets but I made those up as I went.

In my journal I wrote that my goal for a certain profile description might someday read, “In between books and work I knit and make.” I don’t feel that the last year had enough completed books or making which is what I call creating things of my own design – in whatever medium I chose- to be able to use that description as yet. Perhaps at the end of this year those words will prove true enough to my heart to use them. I’m half joking but I think that maybe mostly I am not.

I’m not bothering this year with anything even slightly resembling a New Year resolution. I really want to, out of habit perhaps. But nah. Not this time. I’m cherishing my kids and doing my best to give them what they need right here, right now. I’m clinging to my husband, my very best friend ( for real though) as we both struggle – a lot – but not enough to lose faith. I’m shoring up all my edges with only the most necessary. Also cherishing sweet friends in chats and zoom calls and phone coffee dates. I’m biding my time until the day that I can visit family far away. I don’t know what is coming but I do know that He knows. God, I mean and that is a great comfort.

There is yoga in my bathroom and walks at the trail I love and the treadmill although not as often as I should but oh well! There is the sense that I just might use some of the hundred and twenty-seven thousand healthy recipes that I have collected over the years. There is a note in my back pocket (it actually hangs above my desk but I think you get my meaning) that says, “start and don’t stop until you finish.” Also there are quiet times and prayer and I won’t lie, probably too much crying but none of that is new. I don’t spot a resolution in there at all.

All this to say that we are good here. Struggling, hurt, wounded, afraid, anxious, unnerved maybe- probably, for sure. But we are together. We are loved and comforted. We are seen and heard, known and that is huge. We are prayerful and full of hope even in our doubt. I think we know each other better which is a lot, maybe everything. I hope that you are well where you are. I pray that you are comforted when you need comfort and strengthened when you need strength and loved. All of it really. Not to sound too preachy but you are not alone, I hope that is something that we all can know deeply when it matters.

Peace friends, t

PS. I will join Ginny if I don’t forget ūüôā

little

Over the Summer we added two pets to the family. A husky pup because someone had a big birthday and asked at just the right time. And an accidental kitten. Hubby has always wanted puppies or kittens. I have always fought them off because we had babies or little kids and puppies and kittens chew and scratch and bite and do not yet know that they should not. So I’ve managed to dodge hundreds of wee animals in the name of familial safety.

It was however, on a milestone birthday when husband spotted some cute puppies for sale. He sent pictures. Then called. I said no and after we hung up I texted go ahead and then called him to make sure he knew. It was his birthday for goodness sake. He is awesome and he has always wanted a puppy so- yes. The brown one. but he liked the white one who he could name ghost, you know because of Jon Snow. I laughed and then completely caved.

The next week I’m taking wee ghost for his shots- there are kittens in the front waiting area, in cages adorable and frolicking. I’m not tempted. Not in the least. But our youngest kiddo and I are waiting for more than 40 minutes and the cuteness was just too much. That day we came home with Benjamin the cat. He is a mess! He plays and bites. Chews and scurries and darts through the house like an armed missile. But I do love him so maybe mostly because he seems to know that he is my cat.

– he sleeps when we are awake –

So at this time we have five kids and five pets. It is a lot. But everyone loves them. Well not really. Our oldest dog isn’t at all sure about Ghost and Benjamin and the hair on his neck stands up for a long time when they are around- invading his space but eventually he adjusts and seems happy with them. Big dog number two loves them both immediately and is ready to play and pounce and chew. He is with us and them for for a few months until a quick illness takes him to heaven. That was hard for everyone, he was such a good dog. RIP Quinnie boy.

The big cat was not interested in any new friends at all. She is awesome and solitary and only wants your help getting through the cat doors to food and water and litter boxes. And really she doesn’t need anyone’s help- she can go through just fine- she just prefers that someone help her. She is big and fluffy and really only loves daughter 10 and sleeps with her and basically lives in her room. She has yet to warm to them. She is boss. She is queen of all the pets. One feels so special when she comes to say hello.

I’ve introduced you to our family pets for a reason, promise. The kids were so excited. They immediately loved them both. They clamored to hold them, pet them, feed them, love on them. And everyone handled the kitten and the puppy pretty well, except for daughter 8. She loved them and was excited in the same way as the others but where she struggled was this: kittens scratch and puppies bite. It happened with each of them on separate days in different weeks but it was basically the same. I heard her crying.

Checking on her I found her overwhelmed and weepy. She cried out, “Why is he hurting me?” Alligator tears flowing, spit slipping over the edges, mouth open wide and eyes shut tight, she cried hard. “Oh, baby they are babies still and they haven’t learned not to bite and scratch, to them they are just playing with you.” She cried some more, “But I’m just trying to loooove theeeem.”

I comfort her for as long as it took both times. Both times I fought the tears. I hurt for my sweet heart; giant heart girl. I tell her so. I tell her that I love her heart. Hold her and rock her and tell her that time will pass and they will both learn not to hurt us but that it will take time and we will have to teach them. She gets angry at some point and says she won’t play with them or love them ever again. I smooth the hair back from her tear soaked face. I tell her she will feel love for them when her feelings aren’t so hurt.

She reminds me of me, now with some in our family who I chose to love. Mouth open, spit dripping, tears flowing and the immature little girl self in this old woman is wondering why they won’t just let me love them without them hurting me, us. I’ve let the hard years turn me cold and I‚Äôve let negative bias and resentment in often enough to not like myself anymore. I cry out and the Good Father comforts me, my words to my girl ring in my ears as His voice to this mama’s heart.

He tells me that time will pass and they will learn how to let our love in but that it will take time and we will, all of us, need to grow. So often I allow my emotions to run untamed and have felt like I want to throw in towels and run away inside my heart and Father smooths the hair back from my tear soaked face. He tells me how I do love them and will remember this when my feelings aren’t so hurt anymore. As the days pass I sense the deepness and realness of Father’s promise that He is still working in me. Still growing me, moving things around, making me able where I wasn’t able before.

Continue reading little

A Letter To Luke

I don’t often come here. To the quiet place in my room. To the small brown desk with someone else’s name scratched into the bottom of its drawer. But here I am with tablet and pen and coffee hot and strong. I’ve dusted off my working wheels and pulled the pages from my shelf; pen atop my ear. I’ve gathered toys from tables and chairs and counters and placed them into rooms and closed their doors; clutter our of sight.

The sound of the bathroom fan and my breathing in and out. The click of the keys and the dog gnawing on his bone. Helicopter overhead and semi truck passing on the road. These are the sounds that fill my ears while I wait for…something. You put down your cup and look up at me and we see one another better. I understand what you meant by the things that you said last night and you see, in my brown eyes swimming, how it all might have meant very little in the light of this new day. Time and sleep and sunshine and coffee bringing us back to common ground.

What a subtle grace it is to love ones best friend. You hold my hand even though we fight and I call you terrible names. I stand beside you even when you make me feel small and alone. We cling to one another in the battles of the everyday and we don’t let go and we always mean it when we say sorry and when we forgive. Even if its hard, maybe especially when its hard.

When I am weak and tired and don’t think that I can make it you send me trudging onward with such clever words and laughter and strong shoulders to cry on. When you are low and defeated I take your hand and whisper truth and the curtains open or the clouds part and light comes back behind your eyes to hope and to strength and we go on together.

I know that I can smash my face into your chest and weep and you won’t shove me away because you are busy or tired or angry even if you are feeling any of those things. You know (or at least I think that you know, rather hope you know!?) that even if you need to show me how scared you are that I still trust you, still believe in you, still love you.

I am thinking of braids now; picturing them in my mind. Three strands of differing colors and textures folded in over and under and together making something new. One strand of gold, one of silver and one of silk; Father God, you and me; strong, unbreakable. I am thinking that I am so thankful that we met so long ago in those large rooms among the rows of seats and angst filled youth. Thankful that we stayed friends even after you went one way in the world and I went another. Thankful for plain rides and holding hands and waiting for kisses and all the rest of it. This great love, steeped in sweet friendship was worth waiting on love. Thank you.

Yours, t










our road {a promise}

Last month my husband and I went on a trip to another state for six days. It was the very first time we’d both left the kids for more than one night. My husband could have gone on twenty trips without the kids at any point in our marriage because he doesn’t have the insecurities and mama worries that I have had. It took me a bit longer. It took hard work on myself and the building of relationships that we could trust when it comes to care for our kids. It didn’t happen overnight. It took ages. It took a lot of prayers and change and growth and for me, none of it was easy. But it was worth the work. I feel like we are now in a new stage in life. Like we have crossed a road that has always scared me and walk in a place of peace.

The logistics were challenging for this kind of trip. Rather than use respite for our FD9 we asked Hubby’s mom to come and stay at our house for those 5 nights. Two couples from our church, people the kids know and love, came and gave my MIL a rest, took the kids for a walk, did crafts, took the boys to lunch and just teamed up to help care for our six kiddos so that hubby and myself could rest and recharge. It was hard to leave. It was difficult to plan. We had to work hard on the budget to make it happen and I had to let go of trying to control everything and trust God and my friends and family to meet my kiddos needs. Was it perfect? Did it all go super great? no, but it did work. The kids were safe. The team worked together and everyone did so well.

We spent five nights in Seattle and it did not rain once. The sun shone down on us. The water lapped and sparkled along the shores and the snow-caped mountains smiled at us as we drove on freeways, stood on towers and relaxed on waterways. It was splendid. It was refreshing and restful and restorative. We met people like us. Folks who are foster parents and adoptive parents who love Jesus and who struggle and question and persevere. It was so great. At the end we boarded flights and ate great food and enjoyed hot coffee and stout beers and when we landed in our own state we were so surprised to find that it was raining.

Tiny raindrops dotted the cracked windshield of hubby’s old work car as we drove into and over the mountains on our way home. We smiled and laughed that the rain was waiting for us in the desert rather than meeting us in the Pacific North West. We smiled at the thought of all the lovely sunshine that we had enjoyed over the past several days. It felt to my heart like a lesson. Like God had smiled down on us and given us this gift of Sun and rest and peace. Like he was saying that it was not just okay that we take the time for ourselves and for rest, but that we must and that He was pleased with us. I’m not sure where my brain and heart had doubted God’s goodness toward us. Maybe only in that this life is so very hard and we often fail and that terrible feeling that God is disappointed in us and that means that He doesn’t want to give us good gifts. But that is just not true. I know it. I would tell anyone else that it isn’t true for them, but I struggle to believe it for me, for us.

As we started the drive home remembering the blessed days before the clouds moved in, blue-gray and hanging over the mountain tops. The Sun set in a fantastic mix of orange, yellows and red hues behind us. The rain became a little more steady. The end of our day was looking just as beautifully complex as all of our years together. When the sun finally disappeared over the horizon and the darkness closed in around us and the car sped over miles of long straight highway the full moon shone out over us as we went. A large singular light in the skies above us. I remembered God’s chosen people, guided in the dark by fire in the sky. It felt like Father’s gift to us again. The tears burned at the corners of my eyes as I remembered just then what a woman whom I did not know said as we walked out of the church a few days before. She reached out and touched my arm as I passed and when our eyes met she said, “God will give you strength in a time of great need.” The moon looking down through the dark and rain now felt to me like a reminder. It felt like a promise that God would be with us when it was hardest. Things I know, things that I would tell anyone, but such a sweet word to my spirit now as we traveled home.

After more than an hour the moon and its light was swallowed up by the darkness and the clouds were heavy and the rain was hard. Now the roads were narrow and the wind was fierce and my hand gripped the door as we flew across the miles. I was scared. We could not see well through the window and I could feel my husband’s tension build. I have learned that it does not help my husband to ask him to slow down or to be careful. He wasn’t driving that fast but I was filled with fear and as we went I prayed quietly and whispered to myself- God is good and faithful. A reminder that He is trustworthy even when I feel all the terror of my circumstances. The drive through this storm lasted a long time. I fought with myself to hold tight to the truth of who God is even when I felt so much fear. What if we wrecked and the kids were left without us? What if more loss and hurt bled into their lives from all the edges? What if we’d had days full of sunshine and the rest and then the worst would happen an hour or two from home? It had not ever been so clear to me just how fearful for my children I had been. Or how I did not trust in our good God for them. I prayed. I Asked for His forgiveness. On that dark road, our car pelted by rain and wind, I laid them all down and asked Father to keep them and whispered again, God you are good and faithful and I can trust You, no matter what I feel.

It seemed to me, the whole journey, was a picture of the years ahead of us with our children. There will be sunny days and stormy days and days when the darkness and rains last too long but God would always be good and faithful and we can, all of us, trust him.

Selah~

Blessings~ Tina

2019 A List Of Longing

When I close my eyes and think back on this past year I see mud on shoes from days and months of rain. Too much for our soil to take in. Heaps and heaps, rivers of rain. Storms that opened wide the skies and emptied themselves out all over our little lives.

I hear the sound of falling feet smacking the wet earth all around me. Mud splashing, mess making, sticking earth to clothes and skin and hair. Raindrops mixed with burning tears on cheeks, of heads aching and faces flushing. 

I see seedlings, green and stretching, springing up from watery earthy places seeking the sun. I see willows weeping, hanging heavy from too much growth. Branches reaching down from the desert skies so blue and pale. I see muscles expanding and spaces widening. The kind of stretching that can leave us hurt and sore and questioning.

I ache now for sun and warmth and the comforting sounds of gentle springs treading over miles of smooth stone. Of lying body onto soft grass and of sun on cheeks, warm and still. I crave the slow breath of Summer swirling lazily through trees covered in hearty, clinging leaves. Of slow shade traveling across the flat green landscapes, we walk. The sun slowly moving from one end of our earth to the other.

I’m eager for comfort. For warm spaces and cozy pillows and handmade blankets made in every color. I don’t know if 2019 will be so gentle. I hope so very much that it will be though. More than that, I pray for that for this year. Comfort Lord, please.

I won’t be so brave or so foolish as to make a list of resolutions. Every year I fail them. But I’ll make a list of things I long for just now. As I sit in the quiet of my sleeping rooms. Christmas tree lights and the sound of Ray Charles songs sung in his honor by so many different voices on the television screen.

My list is not the kind of list I’ve made before. It is the kind of list that grew from a year of so much deep work and the uncovering of what is really important and the discovery of what is not.

In no particular order, this is my list of longing for 2019.

1. Words. To read them and write them.

2. To do rather than speak about loving others well. Especially when it comes to my kids and husband.

3. To mend. To teach my children to treasure and save rather than the alternative.

4. To make and create with my hands.

5. To slow down and tackle the things that bring me joy, one at a time and finish them.

6. To sing a new song.

7. To love God with all of my heart, mind, and soul.

and just like that

“Once I had gathered Psyche’s bones then, it seemed, all that concerned her would be over and done with. Already, even with the great act still ahead, there was flowing in upon me, from the barren years beyond it, a dejection such as I had never conceived. It was not at all like the agonies I had endured before and have endured since. I did not weep nor wring my hands. It was like water put into a bottle and left in a cellar: utterly motionless, never to be drunk, poured out, spilled or shaken. The days were endless. The very shadows seemed nailed to the ground as if the sun no longer moved.”¬† ‚Äē¬†C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces

I wonder what it means that the words pierce me so.  A dagger between the ribs, ripping its dangerous way to my inner parts. Blood rushing to escape. Face hot and sweating at the shock. Hands desperate to stop the red river from pouring out of my side.

I think that I feel like Orual somehow. Lost, swimming in a past that is agonizing towards an even more agonizing future. Like all that I was ever good for had been done and the rest is only emptiness. Hopeless. But feelings lie; I balk at the setting sun, rebel against the weighted day and the storms that I see coming. I believe that my eyes do deceive me. Because my hope is in the Lord.

Bloodied fingers laying everything at nail-pierced feet. He kisses my brow gently. My hair a sweaty matted mess; His holy lips don’t mind. He loves so very completely- this the only wise God. King of everything. Friend of sinners and lover of such mangled beasts as us.

His grace drapes and covers all my (our) tattered mess. He is ever good and perfect. I am ever His. Servant. Daughter. Friend. Unworthy. He makes me (us) worthy. He and His holy blood. His sacrifice much more than enough for all who were or would ever be. He is enough. And just like that, a tap on the shoulder and a whisper in the ear, I am reminded. All my storms and motionless shadows are nothing in the light of Him. I shall go on.

From March 2016   

things i thought then

and now…
#oldposts #onmovesandnewhomes #churchfamily

new town new church
From January 25, 2016

we came to the old place a little nervously
on a dusty cold Sunday
new places and new faces always terrify me
this introvert who needs to get out of her own rooms

we entered in
there was such sincerity in the worship
faces of all places and the sunlight mingle
the pain that this joy-filled place touched inside us screams

Jesus in these hallways
Him in these rooms
shining back at us in the humble eyes that greet us
crushing the fear and doubt

we won’t be comfortable here
there will be no hiding in pews and finding quick exits
the brain says run away
everything else in us needing to stay

——————————————————————————————————————–

feels like dawn
From February 2016

Heads bowed low. The boy under my right arm. The girl next to him gently puts her hand on his shoulder- trying not to scare the shy boy that he still is. Her kindness makes me smile.

My left¬†hand sits small inside my husband’s hand. His left hand is on the shoulder of the man in front of us.

And I think to myself, “So, this is community.” A quiet statement to myself rather than a question.

During worship, the songs are sung.

All the words are thrown into the air with abandon. I don’t even care if they sound nice. They mean too much. So much that sometimes the words explode into the air dressed in all of their meaning as a shouted whisper spat from my lips.

The song now my cry to the God whom they are meant for.

This Is Worship.

He Is King.

Our Jesus who walks so boldly and so gingerly in these isles. Slipping through us. His hand brushing against this man’s back and that woman’s shoulder. His finger there on that heart, just there in that mind. Changing people. Growing them. Healing them. Loving them.

It is here then when the burdens begin to loosen. They slip from my shoulders like great boulders and I feel the full weight of them leave me. I am weightless. Weightless I say!

Great heaving sighs burst from my lungs. I am free. And all of this sudden freedom feels like dawn. The light from the sun slipping over the horizon and all of the darkness dissipates.

Who said this burden was mine to carry?! What do I even call it? This belief that I must do all. Be all. Never fail. Do better. Hold it all together. Juggle all the balls in the air and never be less than. That I am worthless.

Less than what?! Less than whom?!  Under what lies have I been living!?

But here there is freedom. I feel His love and I am embracing it! It IS for me! I exclaim. It IS for me this perfect, Holy, all-consuming, gift of love. Gift. Because-of-His-Grace-Love!!! My soul is shouting now.

The music plays on. The people sing. My heart remembering something forgotten. There is the red carpet beneath my shoes. Sunlight drifting in. White walls staring. Cars driving past. Dust settling. Heartbeats beating. Trees as still as stones and I AM LOVED by the King of everything. We all are.

Yes. We. Are.

wait

in the line to pick up kids after school
cars moving slowly
seventeen drivers not letting me in
kids on benches and beneath the trees wait
i feel my insides stir and boil

in the check out aisle at the grocery store
slow beeps and long conversations
for the child to find her way to peace when she is upset and on the verge of meltdown
for the child to find the strength to go and look for the shoe that keeps us from leaving the house on time
my impatience does flips inside me

for the man to make the decision that i am biting at the bit to have settled
for the details of the new thing to be laid out on paper and solidly in place
for the winds to lift and turn and flip all my plans upside down
for the peace that i have chosen to be felt
i search for determination somewhere deep

waiting is hard
sometimes it is just life
sometimes it feels like too much
every time it is uncomfortable
i scream for help with my unbelief

more room for patience being made in my small places
i am pushed out on all sides
my capacity to leap stretching into new places
my ability to believe pulled further than it has yet been
grace growing in small hands

waiting is hard but Father is faithful
where i lack, He lacks not at all
my plan is good but His is better
i cling to Him
His right hand upholds me

Long-ish term projects and words {yarnalong}

The ladies from our church and other friends are reading a book together this season rather than doing a Bible study. I love the idea and am looking forward to the time we will all spend together. The book is One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voscamp. I’ve read it before -a few years back- and it wrecked me, in a good way. I hadn’t expected it to really hurt me so badly the second time around but it seems that it just might. When I read this weeks chapter there were tears that I hadn’t anticipated and so many things copied down, things that moved me. Below are just a few…

“But these aren’t things you need to say anyways. Like all beliefs, you simply live them.” pg. 15

“”If I’m ruthlessly honest, I may have said yes to God, yes to Christianity, but really, I have lived the no.” pg. 16

“The singular tear that slips down his cheek carves something out of me.” pg. 19

“And I see it. At least a bit more. When we find ourselves groping along, famished for more, we can choose.” pg. 21

“…our own emptiness, might actually become places to see. To see through to God. That that which tears open our soul, those holes that splatter our sight, might actually become the thin, open places to see through the mess of this place to the heart-aching beauty beyond. To Him. To the God whom we endlessly crave. Maybe so. But how?” pg. 22

But, I reckon I’ll keep ya posted. As it happens I am also reading (more like dabbling) in this¬†one, this one and(at night when the house is quiet devouring)¬†this one it is also my resource of the week! Adoption is a blessing but the road can be hard. We need good resources and community so yeah.
You. Are. Welcome. ūüėČ

Projects made of yarn should go into Yarn Along posts yes? So, I started a sock yarn blanket. Yes. I. Did. Truth be told, it is one of three. The others are pretty but long-neglected and they rest so nicely in beautiful bags on shelves or in baskets. Its okay, someday they will see light and receive attention again. This one was meant to be my book-club-blanket meaning it was meant to be worked up when actually at said book club meetings but it is completely addicting and as it turns out, the only project that I want to work on.

Never mind that though, one mustn’t squelch the creative heart. This particular sock yarn blanket is different than my other ones in that it is not a knitted blanket but rather -I broke out the old crochet hook- and had to look up how to crochet- to do it. I used this recipe to start it as I needed a reminder of how to do it. It has been something like 8 years since I crocheted this kind of blanket. I do love it though and would recommend anyone else to start one.

I’m calling this my February Yarn Along post even if it is early, so I’ve linked it with Ginny. If you like to see what others are making and reading- have a look-see when you get a chance.

Blessing and peace~
Tina

Feb 6, 2018

I’ve added some progress pics below. I do enjoy this project and am afraid if I work on anything else it will join the other sock yarn blankets… but I do need to make some things to raise funds for my Summer Mission Trip so… We. Will. See. ūüė¨ūüė≠ūüėā