Saturday, February 28, 2009

Above Rubies

The newest issue of Above Rubies came in the mail today. I always look at this magazine with a bit of amazment when I get it. It represents all that has changed in me in the last year. It represents to me how close we all actually are, despite the illusion of differences.

This magazine is a small magazine published by a woman and her family. A very biblical family. I have always been on the fringes of religious traditions, and publications that involved extensive biblical rhetoric tended to not be on my reading list. And yet here I stand with a magazine saturated with verses and prayers and it is my most cherished reading.

As far as I perceive myself from fundamental Christian movements, I find I am living my life in much the same ways as they. Stephen and I feel whatever souls we are given to care for, we will be honored to do it. We want to raise our family with a permeating spirituality. We want our children to feel sacredness in even the most ordinary tasks. I want my children to know they are more than their material body, and they have higher purposes. We want to make our own place on our own plot of land, growing our own food and building our shelters as a family. We want to homeschool. All the things that these women do, I do or want to do.

But most of all, we have in common the belief that mothering is a sacred calling. That is what the magazine is devoted to: uplifting and inspiring mothers in answering such a calling. And it does that with a vengeance.

The title comes from this verse from Proverbs:

"A capable, intelligent and virtuous woman

Who is he who can find her?

She is far more precious than jewels

And her value is far above rubies or pearls."

When I think of that, I think of all the mothers out there, perhaps wondering what their true purpose is because they have been told mothering is not one, or perhaps wondering if someone else could do their job better, or wondering if the fact that they had a breakdown at lunch means they aren't fit to be a mother. I want to tell them all how precious they are, how beautiful they are, how beautiful what they are doing is. They are loving and teaching the next generation, and those will love and teach the next generation. The more children are loved and taught, the more they will love and teach, until one day the world is love.

"A mother's heart is the child's schoolroom"

Our hearts are our degrees. Our love is our work. Our children are our reward.

And there is no price on what we do.

It is above rubies or pearls.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Baby's First Geocache

Stephen and I are returning to a forgotten but much loved hobby we used to enjoy together in Austin -- geocaching.

Except we are bringing along a new adventurer. A little wanderer. And we are going to keep track of it all on this blog, There is a link at the side of the page, as well.

For those who don't know, geocaching is like a treasure hunt, except the prizes aren't coin but sweeping views, or hidden away groves, or swathes of land one might never see without the search for a cache. Basically, people hide little containers full of odds and ends. They record the coordinates of this treasure and post them here,, for people to enter into their own GPS. Then the hunt begins. It is always surprising and exciting to see where a cache brings you. It is the embodiment of immersing oneself in the journey, rather than the goal. And it is just darn fun.

Our first cache is part of a series bringing us to small, sometimes abandoned, cemeteries around Parker County. It wound us through the less affluent parts of Weatherford which eventually opened into rolling hills and large barb-wired patches of land.

This cemetery actually had more new graves than old. But it still had that peace that always seems to guard the resting places of those who have passed on.

The cache was hidden in the wooden post.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Initiates of the Secret Garden

Here are the pictures of my nieces and nephews from their first visit to the gardens, the Secret Garden, as they call it.

Kaylee doing what I think everyone thinks of doing when they see a waterfall.

Cole contemplating

Emma checking out the pansies.

Mom and baby

Toddlin' Emma

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Walking Tall with Kaylee

Walking Tall

Last week, Noelle's cousins visited the gardens for the first time. Noelle was quite the little hostess and thoroughly enjoyed showing everyone around. She also loved walking to Cole and Kaylee. Since then she has been walking with us nonstop. She has yet to walk far on her own, but she is very close.

It made me realize something about cousins and siblings -- they push each other to new heights. My bravest moments often came from dares handed down from another who knew the depths of my courage better than I, knew I had the stuff to do what was challenged. Or from an emboldening glance that said without I doubt "You can do it. I believe in you."

Either way, it seems to carry more weight when it comes from someone who can stand toe to toe, eye to eye with you.
Someone who doesn't have to say those things because it is their job.
Someone who knows what you are made of and is willing to stand up to you and tell you when you don't.

And somehow all that makes you stand up and walk tall.

Spring Queen

Thursday, February 19, 2009

First Glimpses

We are having the first glimpses of Spring in these parts. Little by little, layer by layer, the earth is being painted in color and bathed in the heady aromas of early spring blooms. The honey sweet touched with a sharp bite of dandelion. The delicate floral 0f violets. The full body of rosemary.

And the first breaths of Earth, soft and rich and moist, settle over thirsty skin. I feel it so keenly I could almost drink the air. My face is already softer, the skin plumper and beginning to show its own signs of new color.

And there is an aliveness that comes with the changing of winter to spring, or summer to fall. The world seems to pulse with life, resonating with the life I am suddenly aware of pulsing through me.

And there is a sort of intoxication of the senses, a giddiness that leaves adults skipping and bright eyed. And you find yourself walking along, warmth swelling from your belly to your throat, fountaining into a smile that never quite leaves until Spring has gone its way.

Last year, Noelle saw all this from the warm confines of her Daddy's sling. It is quite another experience with movin'- and- a- shakin' Noelle. I think she is just as enchanted as her mama.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Helping Hands

I did not have a picture for this post, so I chose a cute one of Noelle and her nana.

As of late, Noelle has been such a little helper. She wants to help with everything.

If she sees trash on the ground that she knows she is not supposed to put in her mouth, she hands it to me. Of course, she may take it back for a taste, and then hand it back again.

She throws all her dirty diapers in the trash, even the poopy ones, on her insistence.

Yesterday, she was trying to throw all the recycling Dad had left all over the floor in the trash.

She helps me take clothes out of the dryer. I was folding laundry and letting her take out the last of them when she came out with a handful of lint. She had cleaned the trap, and done a very thorough job. It was all gone. And she didn't even try to eat it. What a big girl she is becoming.

She has begun to put toys back in after taking them out. Yesterday, her puzzle was on the floor, and after I had put it back together, she placed it back up on the stool it sits upon.

This all makes me very happy, of course, but not just because I might have a helper, but also because it shows me she is learning to enjoy order, learning to enjoy creating order.

Seeing her enjoy the putting back as much as the taking out, I realize work doesn't have to be a chore. It can be play, as well. And I am finding that is more and more true for myself when I do "chores" with Noelle. It becomes fun.

There is something about cooking, or cleaning, or crafting with someone else that softens the whole process, removes the purposiveness behind it, and makes it into idle work.

I imagine this was how it was when people lived in small, close communities, and large extended families. Work was done over stories told, laughs shared, and friends visited. I have heard people actually sang while they worked.
And so when I see Noelle stacking her blocks back in their box, I see us together in the future, singing and laughing, gardening and washing dishes.
I see her having fond memories of work done and time shared with mama.
I see the word work not being such a bad word after all.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

Who's the fairest gnome hat sportin' baby of them all?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beyond the Rainbow: Cardinal

"We are on a journey to where we are." -- Alan Watts


The land breathes mists

of brown and gray

Life has withdrawn

into itself.

Its pulse barely palpable,

it sleeps.

But there, a flicker

there, a lilting cry

Birds sit on branches high.

They are winter's blossoms

there to remind

that even in bleakness

Joy sings.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Noelle has recently discovered one of the great treasures of being a child -- being undercover.

I remember making so many blanket forts with my sister. We used chairs to stretch the blankets, we used large fans to blow them out over us, we used beds to drape them off of. But no matter the method we used, the same thing happened once you went underneath. That place became a sort of sacred ground where the rest of the world ceased to exist. For a child, it is a space of their own, where only their magical laws apply.

And so when Noelle smiles at me to come join her in her sacred place, I am honored. And because I know I am entering her space, the time we share there is so intimate, smiling and laughing under billows of cloth, the soft light filtered through a yellow sky of pink flower stars above us, our eyes twinkling with the magic and mystery of this little gap in time and space.

Oh yes, a very special invitation indeed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beyond the Rainbow: A Series of Nature Poetry

Picture by Stephen

There are so many wonderful glimpses of the natural world that Stephen and I are able to catch on camera, so many images that inspire bursts of different emotions in me that I decided it would be nice to catch those experiences in words, here. I love the song Over the Rainbow -- to me, it embodies the spirit of seeking: seeking meaning, seeking truth, seeking experiences that go deeper than just our five senses. More and more I find, though that what I seek is being found, and not beyond the rainbow, but right here, in my own backyard, in this world.

So, here is the first of that series.
Beyond the Rainbow:

I see you, O Wise Guardian of the Trees
Skittering from branch to branch.

Why do you call me wise?
He asks me.
For I am but a humble servant
Collecting nuts for my winter burrow.
I bow before you, clever human,
For I am neither wise nor guardian

Oh, Great One you take me lightly
And think I cannot see the forest for the trees
For if I have learned one thing in this life
It is that God is never where you expect.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Take It Easy

Today was one of those perfect days, the kind that can lull you into a kind of trance.

And that is just what happened with Noelle.

We spread the blanket on the ground, but she seemed to think she found a much more comfortable place, and she laid there so still on her daddy.

And he forgot all about work and amazon sales. And I forgot all about what I was talking and reading about.

We let the sun cover us in its warm blanket, a breezy lullaby of birds singing and woodpeckers pecking whispered in our ears.

And we took it easy.