Fall Festival

Friday was our seventeenth wedding anniversary (which is kind of crazy).  We loosely planned to go out that night, but by the end of the day I was too tired and grouchy.  Really, I think I worked myself into a bad mood because I had some sort of anniversary expectation and I knew that realistically there was no way we were going to do anything.  To make that sort of thing happen, you really have to be deliberate, clear the day and make a plan.  These things don’t just magically happen.  Saturday was a much slower day and we ended up going out for dinner then.  It was really nice and I realized that just like you can celebrate a birthday on a different day if it falls on a bad one, you can also celebrate your anniversary on a different day–hey!

I spent Saturday morning packaging up yarn (thank you for all your orders!!) while the girls prepared some sort of fall festival.  Their only request of me was that I take pictures of their decorations (mostly comprised of beeswax dipped leaves). I’m not sure what made it a festival, but it looked like there was a ring toss.  The weather has been so perfect lately and fall does seem to be at its most beautiful peak, so I understand their desire to celebrate.  On Sunday, Seth baked a pumpkin and made a few pies, well two pies and a crustless square.  I am starting to embrace the idea that I have older kids that can read and execute recipes.  Especially since they are totally motivated to bake desserts.

Time is running out to get Bea’s birthday gifts together.  Well, not really.  I have about three weeks, but there is a lot that I want to do.  I’ve been working on her birthday cape in the evenings, but I was completely distracted over the last few days by a book that arrived in the mail unexpectedly from the publisher.  I immediately recognized the beautiful face on the cover, the face of Chiara Corbella Petrillo, a young mother whose story I was vaguely familiar with.  I began to read and found myself unable to do anything else.  Two of her dear friends wrote the book in cooperation with her husband after her death.  They did a beautiful job making her story, her faith, and her love truly come alive.  It’s been a very long time since someone’s story has affected me so deeply.  Though the subtitle of the book, “A Witness to Joy,” couldn’t be more appropriate, Chiara’s story left me feeling kind of wrecked.   I felt like she became my friend, a friend encouraging me to sink more deeply into my faith, challenging me by her example to let go of false ideas, convinced that I need things to be a certain way in order to live most fully.  And while she was a true witness to joyful suffering and surrender, her message is also of the importance of letting ourselves be loved which then enables us to love.  It seems strange that so many of us struggle with just that:  allowing others to love us.  You’d think it would be easy.  I find myself unable to pick up anything else to read yet, even the Stegner book that I was already caught up in.  But maybe that’s good, because I really need to be working on Bea’s cape.

Life Refuses to Fit Inside a Blog Post

As it should.  Though an aspect of blogging that I have always particularly enjoyed is the visual creation of something cohesive surrounding a moment, an event, or a finished project.  There’s just something satisfying about that and it has always been a nice antidote to the chaotic nature of life.  When everything is messy, I can still craft something tidy and beautiful on the screen.  Not a lie, but a small window.  However, I find that I am rarely able to make my life fit into any tidy thematic blog posts anymore.

For Seth’s birthday, Jonny and Seth took a fossil hunting trip, just the two of them.  During the couple of days they were gone every bad thing happened.  I called my mom to laugh over the ridiculousness of it all.  I spent nearly three hours cleaning up after a sick dog without shedding a tear, but upon discovering beans dumped out on the lower level of the fridge, I sat down in the floor and cried.  The last straw, I guess.  My mom and I talked about all the amazing ways that God brings good from bad.  I laughed and asked what good we thought might come from me cleaning up all that dog crap.  She told me, “Well, your grandaddy used to say, ‘That’s the program and then you get the big surprise.'”  Ha!  A series of hardships and then you die.  My family has an interesting sense of humor.

I told my mom that I am the happiest I’ve been in many years.  This despite the fact that we went broke buying the land around our property to stop it from being developed and then promptly went into debt as everything we owned decided to break in the ensuing months.  Buying that land felt so “grown-up,” though there have certainly been consequences.  I’m dyeing lots of yarn, and while I am doing it for love of the process and just really awed by all the ways that this suits me perfectly, I started selling it in the face of a bill we couldn’t pay.  I don’t think I would have been confident enough to do it if necessity hadn’t played a role.  I’m almost grateful for the debt because it prompted me to explore and expand something that I love.  See!  Good from bad!

Bea fell and cut her wrist a few days ago, then fainted while sitting in Jonny’s lap.  (This was the first time this has happened to her, though it also happens to me.  Something lovely I passed on to her: passing out!)  In those short moments Larkspur thought her “Only sister,” as she retold the experience later, had died and she felt devastated for those few seconds.  She struggled for a couple of days to shake those frightening moments.  It’s possible that in recognizing how much she loves her sister, the sisterly squabbles lessened for a day.  These reminders are good:  we remember how much we love and we are reminded to love.

Life is so fragile, and rarely goes as planned or expected, but we continue to trust that in the end the big surprise will be a very good one.