catching up a little


Our computer broke about a month ago. It ended up being a repair we couldn't afford, and replacing it is out of the question right now, so we've been without a computer now for weeks. A friend may have an older one she can give us, so we're keeping our fingers crossed. In the meantime, I hadn't thought of posting here via phone, but of course, there's an app for that!

Things have been mostly chugging along in a very ordinary way. I have started exercising daily. There's not much to say about that, because it feels very personal to me, but I like it more than I thought I would. So that's all I'll say about it.  

I have hardly had a moment to work on the many knitting projects I have planned, and have felt really discouraged about my knitting in general. Things not coming out in the right sizes despite careful swatching and attentive pattern-following. Things turning out differently than I'd hoped. Not enough time to finish some baby gifts I'd had planned for several months. Just discouraging. 

Parenting has been requiring a lot. It seems to be a season in our family's life. My husband is working nearly non-stop cobbling together various income streams so we can sort of keep afloat. He's frustrated as the amount of work he's doing is still not bringing in the amount of money we really need, and of course he's almost never home, so nearly all the parenting is falling squarely on me. In a way, I'm used to that as he always had to work very long hours when he was a teacher. In another way, it's more difficult now than it ever was: there are more children, they're busier, the older ones are coming into newer, more challenging phases. It's hard and lonely work, and I'm often dead tired. 

February is my birthday month and I've always loved it. But this year, I'm longing for spring and summer in a way I usually don't. I keep hoping that the next season will bring with it a turn for the better for our family. I can't give up that hope even though the last two years (and really, the two years before that, too, in many ways) have been so financially and emotionally trying in so many ways. 

Anyway, I remain here, hanging on and trying to maintain hopefulness. Wishing you all a lovely week.  

on a winter's eve

Just a few more favorite photos from the last couple of days. I am really loving all this wintriness we're enjoying right now, even though right now it's about -6°F and falling. I was thinking today how much I love the crunchy sound of walking, or even driving, on really cold snow. 

Elisabeth has returned to swim team as usual this week, which in some ways really marks our return to "normal" after the holiday, although we'll leave our decorations up for another week or so and continue to listen to Christmas music and probably bake cookies one more time.

I think I'll leave that straw heart up indefinitely when the Christmas decorations get put away. About a month ago, I sort of envisioned it hanging in that spot by the window, and I thought it might be nice there year-round, or at least for a few more months. 

I know I almost never mention movies or shows here, but it's nice sometimes to have something to watch while doing handwork, and with the cold we're having, I realize I need to get some sweaters churned out quickly for several of my crew, and we really need that granny square blanket that I haven't picked up in months. So, I'm looking forward to binge-watching Friends in January when it comes onto Netflix, and my husband and I have been enjoying watching Endeavour lately. I love catching the many Shakespeare references! And of course, here in the US, Downton Abbey returns this coming Sunday. Do you have any favorite things to watch while doing handwork?

on "suffering well"

We have all heard the stories. The cancer patient with a smile on her face. The family who makes up for their lack of money with abundant love. The parents who survive an illness or death of a child with grace. The stories of people who suffer well.

I have not felt I have been suffering well. I have told my mom and my sisters and my friends, in jagged, desperate text messages and emails, that poverty is not making me holier. Reality has often consisted of my numbly scrolling through pages of social media sites with tangled hair, barking at my children, ignoring the state of my house. I have not felt holy. I have not felt like a saint of poverty.

Because, of course, we have examples of saints. Mother Teresa gave up everything not just to serve the poor, but to be one of them. I am not Mother Teresa. I have been fighting my circumstances, not graciously accepting them, and especially not embracing them. I have been envious. I have been ugly.

I have not been suffering well.

Or so I thought.

Christmas is coming, and suddenly we have had offers of help with gifts. People have gone out of their way to tell me that I have inspired them or helped them through their own hard times—not just in the past, but right now. Right now, while I think I am failing.

I sat down today to read Soul Gardening Journal (which, as an aside, you should subscribe to! It's free! And amazing!), and opened it right away to a beautiful piece called "Your Children Are Your Prayer" by Caitlyn Bootsma. Reading it, I realized that "suffering well" doesn't mean what I think it means, just as "praying well" doesn't always mean what we think it does. I have something to offer. An occasional word here, or photo on Instagram. An occasional glimpse through my eyes of good life, being lived, even when things are so hard and so depressing and so desperate. Those things may be a strange juxtaposition, but it's real. Some days I don't feel like getting out of bed, and on the same day, snow is falling and my daughter is playing "Let It Snow" on the piano and I'm reading to my little ones and drinking tea, and on the same day I'm wildly texting my mom that things can't get any worse (and they can't, they truly can't), and at the same time, they can't get any better. Does that make sense? The worst day can also be the best day. 

You guys, it is Love that is holding me up. Love of this little family, love of our broader family and community, love of strangers. Their love for me. My love for them. It's the Love of our Good God.

It should not be such a surprise that suffering is so hard. Because, oh my goodness, it is really, really hard. And I realized that, even in the moments that I do not think I am up to the challenge, that I cannot put one foot in front of the other even one more time, that I am doing it. 

I am not failing as much as I thought.