telling the difference

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Two days in a row at the beach means we’ve started swimming regularly here. The weather seems to have finally settled in to a stable spring pattern. After two months of not being able to make up its mind, the air will feel heavenly and energizing for about two weeks, after which the air becomes hot and humid for the rest of the summer and into the beginning of fall.

(At least that’s how it usually goes.)

We continue to discover new plants along the woods. We knew about the blackberries, but next to those bloom a similar looking flower, but a different looking leaf. This one registered as the also edible European dewberry. We started making a list of things we’d like to do this summer, and making blackberry jam and cobblers is on the list. I might try to dry the leaves to have for teas, though that will take more reading to figure out how to do. It’s so much easier to learn when there’s a teacher to teach you.

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The boys are still excited about digging up carrots. I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me to see their wagon of carrots, yes, but to see their joy and confidence in digging them up and bringing them home. It’s one of those gifts that keeps on giving. We experienced the joy of finding those together, and that experience and joy continues to stay with us.

Recently while visiting my father-in-law’s farm, he took me and the kids out to an abandoned cemetery at the edge of his property. The inside was overgrown with weeds, and I saw what looked like ten feet tall carrots or Queen Anne’s lace towering over the tombstones. I’d totally forgotten that I’d read somewhere that Queen Anne’s lace has a poisonous evil twin, apparently one of the deadliest plants in North America, called Poison Hemlock. When I mentioned the huge growing carrots to the kids, my father-in-law corrected me, and Good Lord, set me right in my mistake.

I remember now, and won’t forget. The Queen Anne’s lace has green hairy stems. Poison Hemlock’s stems aren’t hairy, and have purple blotches. Going back to the teacher thing, I like having someone who is smarter than me. Nobody likes to be wrong, it’s true, but there’s something very comforting about being corrected. It’s one of those ways we keep growing and learning.

fool me once

In my area there seems to be a lull in the action. Most people are wearing masks in the stores. Ground beef is currently $5.49/lb for 80/20. The 88 cent single roll of toilet paper from back when this started is up to $1.00. Two times my husband and I waited in a double line marked by upside-down carts, when they were only allowing 100 people into Sam’s Club (they’ve changed it to allow 300 people now). I am used to the blue arrows taped to the floors, showing me which direction the traffic flows in the aisles.

Our church started offering communion slots for groups under 10. We had to call and sign up for a 15 minute slot. Because confirmation never happened, my husband went ahead and met with each of the confirmands privately and finished up their catechism learning and questioning. They were free to take communion with their families, so this past weekend was my daughter’s first communion. It was underwhelming, and when it was all over, I wished I would’ve bought her a gift or done something to make a bigger deal out of another one of our children receiving the Lord’s Supper.

We were not required to wear masks to church, but they encouraged it. The mask thing hasn’t bothered me, but for the first time, when all five of my kids had to stand at the rail, socially distanced from the two other people who were numerically allowed in our group, I felt a tinge of degradation. It’s one thing to experience it myself, but when my children have now experienced a world where they were made to cover their face in church? I’m not convinced my family needs to sign up for that every week.

I’m not convinced either that any of this is over. This whole thing is like a firework that fizzled out and died before it ever went off. I was intensely afraid in the beginning, and I’m still afraid, though I don’t know of what. A killer virus? Economic collapse? Government overreach? A medical draft? In the beginning I was most afraid of 1) starvation, 2) mass deaths and hospital overwhelm, and 3) being drafted and forced to leave my family.

I wouldn’t say these fears were completely irrational. Ever since reading about the horrors of starvation through the story of the Donner Party, I realized starvation is a suffering you would never want to feel or watch anyone go through. The hospital overwhelm was because of all those articles with visuals (propaganda? an honest but extremely wrong first guess?) showing the mountain of cases above the hospital capacity line. The medical draft fear was because the NY gov had mandated that all nurses were required to sign up to help fight (doctors weren’t required, only asked). My state was sending me messages through my phone asking for health workers to “join the fight” and be part of an emergency database.

Obviously I know we’re not supposed to be afraid and that we need, and indeed always have, the Lord Jesus. I know it’s HIM we’re to be always waiting for and looking for, not the next big potential SHTF scenario. The return of Jesus is human history’s Next Big Thing. The advice “Don’t let your guard down” can be interpreted in many different ways, but unless we’re talking about the parable of the ten virgins, I don’t think that’s the advice to be giving. No one knows the future and life is but a breath. That does not, however, change that fact that I love you, friends. I am not afraid to say it.

A lot of people are suffering greatly right now. The world is not spinning as normal right now, and it’s been greatly messing people up, me included.

Please be praying for everyone, friends.

places you’ll go

“All that I hope to say in books,
all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world.”
~E.B. White~

(I read that quote in my goodreads app, I didn’t actually find it in a book myself)

The kids and I are taking the week off school. While I’ve got plenty to do to keep me busy, it does seem to happen that at least at first, the kids tend to look to me for some kind of visionary information regarding what’s going on and what we’re going to do that day. The older two were recruited to work on odd jobs down at main camp. The other boys played downstairs with their Legos. I worked on getting a few loads of laundry through, as well as spent most of the morning outside in the raised beds. I’ve had herbs and tomatoes for several weeks and it was time to stop waiting around for better weather and get the wilting yarrow plants into the ground.

After lunch while the kids cleaned up, I crossed the athletic field to where the potatoes are planted. I had saved a spot for the seeds that need more room to grow. Because I wasn’t going to till up every square inch, I dug fourteen holes spaced about three of my size 9 feet apart. I walked back to the house to get the boys, as well as the seeds for the cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, and squash. The boys hadn’t seen the potatoes since they’d nearly tripled in size, and after they took a little time to walk through them, they helped me scoop fresher soil on the tops of the holes, which weren’t really holes, more like 18in mounds of deeply loosened dirt.

The boys took turns poking holes in each hole. Each hole got three seeds, though we didn’t end up planting the squash. There never seems to be enough room when I’m gardening. The beds need to be bigger, the rows need to be longer. I look around and find more places to plant. The side of the house can hold dill and more cucumbers. The volleyball court that will not be used this summer would make the most absolutely perfect pumpkin patch. After waiting two days so as to not be impulsive, I went ahead and ordered the 100 sweet potato slips that are scheduled to arrive tomorrow.

fighting the blahs

It’s a good thing I don’t write between the hours of 11PM and 3AM. It seems to be the time I’m most vulnerable to waking. It occurred to me recently that the thoughts that keep haunting me and stalking my sleep are actually needing to be dealt with, not ignored. In addition to rebuking dread and anxiety in Jesus’s name, I’ve started writing stuff out in my journal.

The oatmeal packets are still a thing, but on the weekends we have something different. The last time I was at Sam’s I picked up a 2-box case of Lucky Charms. I completely fall for the advertising there. I’ve always loved the colorful box, even though I’ve never really cared for the marshmallows. I always used to pick those out of my bowl. The kids enjoyed them.

In addition to getting creative in the kitchen, they’ve also been creating in front of the camera. It became a weekly tradition to watch John Krasinksky’s Some Good News on YouTube. They made their own episode.

Last night for supper we held an impromptu pizza by candlelight. This was my attempt to cheer a child who’d been seeming rather down. The boys surprised me by dressing up in shirts and ties, and didn’t surprise me by acting ridiculous and laughing at inside jokes the entire time. I eventually said, “Okay, let’s go around and everyone has to ask a question. Then we listen to everybody’s answers.” One of the boys asked, “What do you seek?” in a completely goofy manner. My answer was “togetherness”.

We are doing our piano lessons now over FaceTime. I was not initially thrilled with the arrangement, not wanting to mess with slow country internet and technological difficulties. But it’s actually been working out really well, and it gives the kids something to practice and work on.

Lately I find myself feeling a blah-ness. I don’t feel depressed, and it doesn’t feel heavy, but life just feels too *something* to be light. Sometimes we can change the emotions by actions, but sometimes the only way out is to feel them.

I pray you find what you’re looking for, friends.

widespread

Everyday I’ve been wanting to write. When the morning comes, I’ll choose to go on a walk instead. “This afternoon”, I’ll say to myself. When the afternoon comes, I’ll begin a post, but not finish it. “This evening.” The evening comes, and I’ve told the kids before, that by 8:30, I’ve reached the limits of talking, thinking, or answering questions. I can still say prayers.

The decision was made to cancel camp for the summer. It wasn’t a shock to hear the news, but it still hurt to hear it made officially real. I was eavesdropping outside the door of my husband’s office, listening in on their zoom meeting where the discussion was taking place. Maybe that was wrong, I don’t know. If it was, then I’m sorry, and if it wasn’t, then it stands.

My kids were supposed to be in a wedding next month and my husband was supposed to preach the wedding sermon. Due to the current restrictions in our state, and out of consideration for travel arrangements and safety of guests, the wedding plans were changed to be immediate family only. This one hurt, too. I feel also for the bride and the groom and for their parents. This couple wasn’t supposed to face such things so soon.

In the midst of disappointment, as the picture above shows, there are still beautiful things on the earth. She will still be a beautiful bride and the bridegroom will still be a tender, loving husband. Every single one of those parents will cry, first in sorrow in what wasn’t meant to be, and then the tears of joy will flow, from the purest form of love and pride. Even in sorrow, joy is their story, for joy is what our Father has said will come next.

The kids are still taking all of this pretty well. I worry most about the older, teenage ones, who are suffering more from the lack of social contact. God-willing I plan to keep going with school, though I promised the kids we would also take breaks. I’ve been trying to get my hands on some sweet-potato slips, but am letting them sit in my online shopping cart for a day. It seems my heart is yearning now for a hundred hopes of morning glory.