Wednesday, June 2, 2021

An Open Book: May 2021 Reads

A new month is here, so it's time to link up with Carolyn Astfalk to talk about the books that have occupied my time lately. As usual, it's a mix of fiction and nonfiction, spiritual and secular. Let's dive in! 


Monday, May 24, 2021

To be Ralph in a despairing world: Hope in Lord of the Flies

This book really speaks to me of hope. I closed the novel, my mind churning at a thousand miles a minute. When I've shared this sentiment with different friends, it's been met with chuckles and raised eyebrows. I can understand these reactions, because hope is not something people generally associate with Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Even people who haven't read the book often (rightly) associate this book with savagery. Yet, while Lord of the Flies depicts young British schoolboys caught up in a "survival of the fittest" scenario in all of its brutality, hope glimmers through. 

When the boys in Lord of the Flies discover that they are stranded an an island, with no adults in sight, they realize that they need certain things to survive. As in any group of imperfect, desperate humans, they argue and divide themselves as they try to create a method for survival. Ultimately, the boys rally behind two leaders, Ralph and Jack. Ralph's priority is to keep a fire burning, so that a passing ship may see them and come to their aid. Jack Merridew, on the other hand, recognizes his immediate hunger, and his priority is hunting pigs. 

Realizing their own hunger and desire for food, more and more boys walk away from Ralph, and slip into Jack's group of hunters. Ralph sees these young boys fall into anonymity and bloodlust as they paint their faces and gather around their prey. He hears the frenzied chant rising from their lips: "Kill the beast! Cut his throat! Spill his blood!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Can I let God surprise me?

"Mom, can I have a little bit of kombucha with my applesauce?" My four-year-old grinned widely as he clung to the fridge door. 

I could not believe what was happening. 

When grocery shopping, it's not unusual for my kids to dance in front of the refrigerated case that holds kombucha, asking if we can buy some. And, it's quite common for my kids to run across the house, hollering "CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME KOMBUCHA?!" the second they hear me open a bottle. 

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice--I mean, kombucha.

The two-year-old generally will only drink a couple of sips, but my four-year-old will sit there and happily drink kombucha until his cup is empty. I am guessing that he only likes it because I've told him how much sugar is used to make it, but who knows? Maybe he's just really, really into drinking a fermented, probiotic rich beverage that contains multitudes of organisms in every sip. I don't know. 

I just loved the color and mix of textures in this big bush at the park. 

I currently find myself with kids who don't understand what soda is, but they will come running for kombucha. I dream of someday owning backyard chickens and diving into sourdough bread. I drank homemade beet kvass with breakfast the other day. We have recently begun driving to a small urban farm each week to pick up fresh vegetables and look longingly at the dozens of chickens that live there.  

Even just five years ago, I never imagined that any of this would be in my reality or my dreams. 

Life has, in many ways, surprised me. 

Old family photos remind me that people change, but they aren't the only ones who change.  Circumstances shift, family cultures develop, and our very homes may look different as the months and years go by. We grow, we change, and new opportunities come. Old opportunities slip away. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Life in the World

The floor-length sheer curtains swish as servers walk across the dining room. Quartz loops around the dim lights, casting a warm, intimate glow. I look around in awe, listening as other people discuss tastes and wine preferences with the waiter, and feel as if I'm peeking into a different world. I carefully swirl duck across my plate, trying to sop up every last bit of raspberry bourbon sauce, and I smile. I am happy to be here with my husband and enjoy this unprecedented weekend without our two oldest  children. 

Afterwards, we grab drinks at a tea lounge and drive home. My dirty vanilla chai propped on my knee, big chunks of boba shoot into my mouth as I sip and tilt my head to the ethereal strains of Purity Ring that blast through the minivan. And I think about the oddness of sitting in a fancy restaurant with applesauce smears on the polyester threads of my thrifted dress, looking into a world that is fun to experience, but knowing that it is not home. We've thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, but this is not our normal sphere of existence. I feel like a newlywed college kid again, stepping into a new life fresh-faced and na├»ve. 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

An Open Book: April 2021 Reads

It's May! That means it's time to link-up with Carolyn Astfalk at An Open Book so we can chat about what crossed my bookshelf in the past month. It was a pretty fun mix of fiction and non-fiction, classic and contemporary. Let's dive in! 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Old MacDonald had a farm: a month in review

"I like our neighborhood," my four-year-old declared. "I like the way it sounds." 

He and my baby sat in my lap as we cuddled under a blanket on our porch. Hearing the chirps of birds, the occasional roar of airplanes, and the buzz of car motors, I asked him what in particular he liked. He shushed me, asking if we could simply sit and listen. Feeling chastened, I held my kids close as we sat and looked at our surroundings and listened to this beautiful world. 

I don't think I will ever stop getting excited over daffodils, especially
when we head downtown and are surrounded by big buildings and businesses. They always
find a way to grow and spread joy and brightness ;) 

I cannot believe it is already May, but the ingredients of Rootleaf stew are sitting in my fridge (in preparation for Star Wars Day on May 4) the Easter chocolate is dwindling, and a recent 80-degree-day reminded us that summer is quickly approaching. These past weeks of Easter have been packed with goodness, joy, and fun, but I am also hoping to grasp a slowness this month, now that much of the joyous holiday frenzy has subsided. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Weaving is slow work--and that's a good thing

 "seven...seven...seven...seven..." I counted silently, focused as I wound string around the warping board on the wall. I counted and re-counted the strands: 33 burgundy, 49 black, 33 yellow. 

Surrounded by large wooden looms and hearing the gentle chatter from the handful of women who worked in the weaving studio, I was overcome with a sense of calm. I could stand here and methodically count threads all by myself! Without a small child asking me questions continually! I smiled and continued my work. Already, I loved weaving class. 

* * * 

Later that evening, I set down the threads of yarn and began to gather my things so I could leave. 

There's a lot of preparatory work in weaving, but when you get going, you just weave! And there's not much work to finish up at the end. It's all in the beginning, the instructor encouraged me. Two hours into my first class, and I hadn't even threaded the loom yet. But, that would come. I just needed to be patient. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

An Open Book: March 2021 Reads

Happy Easter! It's a new month, so I'm joining An Open Book to chat about what I've been reading lately. There are a lot of comic books, as well as a couple great pieces of fiction and a little nonfiction! Let's dive in. 

Monday, April 5, 2021

With Quiet Hearts

I gently rocked my baby as I stood in the church, dark save for the flickering candles that the members of the congregation held. The bonfire had been lit, the Exsultet had been proclaimed, and now we prepared for a marathon of Scripture readings that walk through salvation history. My pastor's voice rang out, instructing us: 

"...let us listen with quiet hearts to the Word of God."

And the question hit me: Can I listen with a quiet heart? 

Sunday, March 28, 2021

A simple flower crown

As I herded the children into the minivan one day, I noticed the purple flowers (weeds) that had sprung up in our yard. Of course! This is the specific time they come each year! I grinned, and informed my children that we would make flower crowns...sometime, maybe later. 

That week flew by with errands and appointments aplenty, and before I knew it, we were driving out of town for the weekend. I looked at the patch of flowers and sighed, sad that we still hadn't made crowns. The next week came, and even though our calendar was emptier, a myriad of things occupied our time. Finally, on the Friday of that week, we went to a park for an informal soccer club. 

As I carried the infant car seat across the grass, I noticed that a section of the field had managed to escape the mower. White flowery weeds swished and swayed in the wind. The other moms followed  the children as they chased each other with soccer balls, and I plopped down. I eagerly pulled at the flowers and began winding and braiding them together. Soon, a flower crown perched atop my son's head as he raced after the soccer ball, declaring: "I'M KING OF THE SPRING!"

Monday, March 22, 2021

Let's Prioritize our Priorities

People will talk about the elaborate foods that they are making for or with their kids. 

I'll see an article with lists of seasonally-appropriate crafts or activities for families to do. 

I'll hear about all of the elaborate homeschooling plans that various moms in my area are crafting...and the mental battle begins. 

Why am I not doing these things too? I'll bemoan my lack of put-together-ness, my disorganization, and my low threshold for becoming overwhelmed with life. But then, I remember:

My priorities are not the same as those of my friends, neighbors, or random bloggers online. 

We expend time, money and effort on the things that are important to us--or do we? I've come to realize that I may know we all have different priorities, but I fail to act like it. All of the times when I compare myself to others and plunge into guilt for not being "that mom" are moments when I forget that all these wonderful things are good, but they aren't my priorities.

It's easy to see something beautiful, exciting, and worthwhile that someone else is doing and believe that we need to be doing that thing too. When we operate under this belief, we can may find ourselves forcing our lives to look like another person's without first questioning if we really want this.