Thoughts for Tuesday, January 15th

Outside my windows… it’s crazy-cold, but that means that the night sky has been spectacular these past few nights.

Inside my house… I’ve started sifting through books and packing some to give away. I know, that sounds crazy for someone who adores books as much as I do! But, there are some books that I enjoyed, or helped me at one time, but I don’t need them any longer. I’d rather pass them along to someone who would read them than let them sit on my shelves never to be picked up again.

Counting 1000 gifts… sunshine on the snow. It may be bitterly cold, but it’s still a pretty view.

Prayers of the heart… for upcoming work stuff and good decisions.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… There’s a mix of art projects and trying out a new game that Grandma sent home for them to borrow for a bit!

From my playlist… The main theme to “The Right Stuff” is my track of choice right now because even if you’re just writing a blog post, you still need an epic soundtrack.

From my reading list… Leaving Legalism by Kendra Fletcher. I just finished it and I don’t think I’ve ever highlighted so much of a book in my life. I may have just finished reading it, but I’m reading through it again because it was that good.

From my needlework basket… socks for me, because I only knit for myself at the beginning of the year!

In the learning room… Getting back into our post-holiday routine has been good, and challenging, but maybe more challenging for me than for the kiddos!

Random ramblings… I have some baggage, and I’ve said more than once that Aaron (my IT Staff!) is practically a saint for all he’s put up with and for helping me unpack so much of that baggage. In spite of everything, I have a family I adore, and a home that’s a place where I feel safe. I don’t think think I realize how much of a treasure that is nearly as often as I should.

Profound ponderings… “And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.” — J.R.R. Tolkien (Still think this is the most romantic line I’ve ever read, about my favorite literary couple ever.)

Caught on film…

View this post on Instagram

Mr. Q learning the secret family bisquit recipe!

A post shared by Teish (@teishknits) on

Thoughts for Tuesday, January 8th

Outside my windows… it’s been snowing again today. It’s dark but still snowing, so I don’t know how much has accumulated so far.

Inside my house… my waterbed sprung a leak today. It’s not as bad as it sounds. No sudden tidal wave or anything like that. Just enough work to be a bit of a frustration. At least Amazon offers one day shipping options.

Counting 1000 gifts… online ordering and overnight shipping!

Prayers of the heart… for folks going through tough times, and for my own still-sore back.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… they are working on some perler bead projects. They’ve all been such a huge help while my back is healing, and I’m so thankful for their good attitudes towards helping out!

From my playlist… I’m not listening to music at the moment. Can you believe that?!

From my reading list… I have been listening to an audiobook after the kiddos go to bed though. The Magic Art of Tidying Up. I listened to it first a few years back and go through part of my paring down when life happened. With the kids help, I’ve gone through my clothes, and my IT staff’s and pared those down a bit, though neither of us had a huge amount of clothes to begin with. Some of the stuff in the book is a bit out there, but it is the book that made me finally understand that Mom wouldn’t want me to hold onto stuff that was hers that I didn’t like or use just because it was hers. That was a tremendous shift in how I was thinking about the things I kept!

From my needlework basket… switching off between socks, a sweater, and a shawl. All of them are things I’m knitting for myself. After all of the gift knitting during the last part of the year, I usually start off the new year working on projects that I can wear.

In the learning room… It was back to school last week, and the kids did really well getting back into the groove. It’s sort of nice to be back to a regular routine.

Random ramblings… There’s a cool app for my tablet called ISS HD Live. I’m mesmerized by the live video of Earth as seen from the ISS, and always sad when I check the app and there’s no live stream up at the moment. It’s so beautiful and peaceful to watch. Maybe sometimes we just need a bit of distance from the up close of our daily lives to realize just how good God’s creation is.

Profound ponderings… “There is a place called ‘heaven’ where the good here unfinished is completed; and where the stories unwritten, and the hopes unfulfilled, are continued. We may laugh together yet.” — J.R.R. Tolkien

Caught on film…

View this post on Instagram

Mr. Q learning the secret family bisquit recipe!

A post shared by Teish (@teishknits) on

The Best Laid Plans… And Grace

I had plans.

This was a rare 4-day weekend where I didn’t have to work, and the kids didn’t have school, and I had plans.

Of course, taking down the Christmas tree was at the top of my list. I was going to go through the clothes closet for the adults in our house and get that sorted. I was going to drop several bags of clothes off at the thrift shop. Grocery shopping was definitely in my plans. I would finish my Powersheets goal setting for 2019, maybe do some writing.

Saturday morning, I picked up a bag of coal just like I have about a thousand times since moving into our house. The only difference is that I threw my back out. To the point where, on Tuesday, it still hurts and brushing my teeth is a bit weird since I can’t exactly bend far enough to spit toothpaste into the sink. I do feel better than I did initially, but it’s becoming apparent that this is going to be slow going before I’m back to normal. Let’s just say, I’m not the most patient person ever.

I can sit on my yoga ball office chair the most comfortably, so at least I’ll be able to work on Wednesday. It also means that I’ve been able to sit at the dining room table. I discovered that I enjoy this new diamond art thing, and I have just about gotten my Powersheets prep done. I’m writing a blog post today, so that counts as writing. I feel a bit more productive, but still somewhat grumpy that I’m going to be stuck asking for help and relying on other people to do the heavy lifting for a bit longer.

It’s a little ironic. One of my goal for 2019 is to take better care of my own health. I’m very good at ignoring my health and picking up habits that are less than helpful in this area. I have a tendency to skip meals, get through the day on too much caffeine and sugar, quit exercising because I keep getting interrupted, and pretty much ignore how I don’t feel great until I can’t ignore it any longer. As Mom used to say, “You’re your own worst enemy kiddo.” Mom was usually right about these things. I guess all of those stretches and strengthening exercises that I’ve been neglecting will be going to the top of my to-do list.

I know that it can seem selfish to take time and energy to work on things like your own health, and your own personal and spiritual development. Most of my 2019 goals have to do with these things, and I’ll admit to feeling more than a little guilt! It’s not selfish though. My family will benefit if I’m healthy, if my faith is strong, and if I’m growing as a person. I know we all hear the comparison about putting on your own oxygen mask first, and if you’re like me, you roll your eyes at that point. It’s true though. If I’m not healthy, it not just me who suffers, it’s my family too. If I don’t invest in my faith, I can’t encourage my family in theirs. If I’m not actively pursuing the things that will make me grow and become more like the person God created me to be, then what sort of example am I setting for my kids? I can’t sit here and tell them how important it is for them to deepen their faith, take good care of their health, learn new things, or grow in character if I’m not doing those things too.

All of these “selfish” goals about my health, my faith, and my personal growth are not just about me. They’re about being a better wife and mom too. There’s a reason why Jesus told His followers to get the beam out of their own eye first! How can we build up others in their faith if ours is withering from neglect?

2018 was an interesting year. Hard in some ways, but sometimes you have to face a few of your own dragons to be ready to grow a bit more. I will say, the older I get, the more I realize how much I still have to learn! My desire for 2019 is that it will be a year where I get a little closer to being the version of myself that God has in mind. I’ve spent too many years trying to be the version of myself that will make people happy, and it’s taken me a few decades to understand what an empty pursuit that is. I’ve chased a lot of things looking for peace and fulfillment, and none of them have brought more than a fleeting taste of either. Part of me is ashamed because I know better, but I guess the stubborn part of me just has to learn some lessons the difficult way. Thankfully, there’s grace even for stubborn idiots like me!

What are you looking forward to in 2019? What happened in 2018 that still stands out to you? Let me know in the comments!

Thoughts for Tuesday, October 30th

Outside my windows… we’ve had snow dust my yard a few times now, but it hasn’t stuck around for long. Yet.

Inside my house… the spot next to the coal stove has once again become everyone’s favorite place to sit!

Counting 1000 gifts… Beautiful things — and beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder.

Prayers of the heart… for wisdom and words in November.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… working on sewing projects and playing games while they wait for dinner to finish cooking.

From my playlist… today it’s just the sound of the coal stove and dishwasher humming away that break up the silence.

From my reading list… Little Book of Hygge. I’ll be chipping away at it as I have time in between life and writing this month. Interesting little read so far though.

From my needlework basket… fingerless mitts from my favorite pattern. The perfect project for a special ball of yarn, and tremendously useful to boot. They make lovely little gifts as well! You can find that pattern here: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/maine-morning-mitts

In the learning room… we’re in our last 6-week block of school before Christmas break. The thing that I love most about year-round school is that it allows us to take an extra long break in December!

Random ramblings… NaNoWriMo begins on Thursday, and I’m looking towards it with a mixture of excitement and terror. I said at the beginning of this year that I wanted to “write the hard”. Ironically, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to write about hard things. (I know how foolish that sounds, but my brain works in weird ways…) Hard doesn’t always mean bad though. Doing hard things can be the most rewarding and make the most difference. Sometimes we say hard when we really mean “awful”, and perhaps it was a mistake for me to phrase things as I did. Maybe I should say, “I’m going to write about awful things that happened, and that will be hard to do.” It’s not the hard part that’s bad, because the hard part of that is what will help me find the beautiful mosaic amongst the broken pieces.

Profound ponderings… “The darkest day. The blackest hour. Chin up, shoulders back. Let’s see what we’re made of, you and I.” — The 12th Doctor

Caught on film…

A Thread of Grace

I want to chicken out. I’m berating myself for telling anyone that I was writing a memoir for NaNoWriMo this year because now I can’t chicken out. That’s why I told people, because I knew that my stubborn streak would kick in no matter how badly I wanted to bail if other folks knew my goal.

I’ve read and heard the suggestion in more than one place. Write out the story of the abuse to help you deal with it and heal the old hurts. Writing is how I process. But writing makes it real. If I don’t write it down, maybe I can pack it away into boxes and pretend that since it was in the past it doesn’t have anything to do with my present. The only thing that strategy has gotten me is a pile of health problems and a heart in turmoil over things that I never faced head on. Life throws enough at us without dragging around a bunch of junk from the past because you never bother to sort through it and let the stuff that you don’t need anymore go.

The times when I’ve written little bits and pieces of my story have done more than just allowed me to face the things I’d rather not. In the writing, I start to see the lesson, the miracles, and somewhere along the way, that piece of my past doesn’t seem to hurt me quite as badly as it used to. Some days I wish I was an artist or a musician who could translate all of it into a painting or music. I feel like those mediums can express deep feelings better than mere words. Words are my medium though, and so I pick up the pen or sit at the keyboard. I think it was Steve Saint who said, “God doesn’t waste hurts.” I hope that’s true. Humans are always searching for the meaning in life, and if there’s some meaning, some purpose to the hurts, then maybe it’s easier to make peace with them. I’ve seen God bring beautiful things out of terrible circumstances. There’s something about knowing that a struggle is not in vain that gives us strength and hope. I find myself in need of both at the moment.

And so I’ll write.

I’ll write a story that I desperately wish was fiction. A story not meant to be read by others or published anywhere. Somewhere in that story, I’ll find a thread of grace that runs through the whole tapestry – the handiwork of God in my life. Maybe there’s a reason after all.

I know that I’m not the only one walking around with a bunch of junk from the past. I couldn’t avoid it forever, and neither can you. But if I can decide to deal with it, then so can you. (Really, I’m the biggest chicken in the world, and if I can be brave enough to do this, then you definitely can!) Whatever medium lets you express and process all of the overwhelming feelings you have about what happened, use it. Find that thread of grace in it all, and you’ll find God’s fingerprints all over your life, even in the hard places.

Red Lipstick

Grammy Vivian was a tall woman with dark hair, and I’m told she was always stylish. She passed away when I was only two, and the only memory I have related to her is the hospital bed at our house. Still, I imagine her as one of those tall, effortlessly elegant women like you’d see in the “golden age” of films. My sister is like that too. Tall, gorgeous dark hair, blue eyes, and definitely stylish!

I’m sort of the exact opposite. At 5’ 7”, I’m a tall-ish woman, but not remarkably so. My once-red hair has faded to more of a medium brown with a healthy dose of gray thrown in! If I have a personal style, it’s closer to weird and quirky than effortlessly elegant. I’ve made attempts to look more “grown-up” over the years, but it always left me frustrated and feeling like I needed to be someone that I wasn’t.

Now, I’m a firm believer that Mom was right in the sentiment, “Beauty is as beauty does.” It’s far more important to cultivate our faith, and to be kind to people, than it is to look pretty. We can definitely go overboard and become too obsessed with appearances too. On the flip side, I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with taking some care in our clothing. While I don’t agree with the sentiment that makeup is necessary for all women, there’s certainly nothing wrong with wearing it if you want to. (If you feel like you have to, then I think it’s a good idea to explore why you are so uncomfortable if you’re not wearing it.) Like so much of life, there’s a balance to be found!

I find myself wanting to make an effort in this area again. Blame it on the gorgeous red lipstick that I got a week ago. My mom’s makeup routine consisted of Oil of Olay and bright shades of fuchsia or mauve lipstick. She totally rocked the bright lipstick! In a fit of nostalgia, I decided that I was going to try wearing red lipstick. I hate having to fuss with touching up typical lipstick, not to mention lipstick smudges on my teacups! That led to trying out a popular brand that a number of friends had raved about because it truly stayed put. It’s a bold lip color, but I really like it! Maybe it’s OK to put a little bit of effort into how I look after all. My goal is to develop a simple, pared down wardrobe and a basic makeup routine that doesn’t make me feel like I’m trying to be someone I’m not.

My makeup routine is never going to be complicated. My eyeshadow palette and this stay-put lipstick are the only things I’m interested in keeping in my makeup bag. If Mom could get away with Oil of Olay and lipstick, then just pick the makeup I like to use and skip the rest.

My clothes style is going to be a bit harder to figure out I think. I can’t even walk on high heels. Skinny jeans are absolutely not going to make an appearance in my wardrobe. I don’t like most make-up. When it comes to jewelry, I’m definitely a minimalist. I don’t care if chocolate brown and pumpkin orange are my most flattering colors, because wearing them doesn’t make me smile. If it can’t be tossed in the washer and dryer, then it doesn’t belong in my dresser. (Hand knits are the exception to this rule!) I’m definitely keeping my bright teal crocs, tie-dye, and my favorite graphic tees. Most fashion trends end up looking ridiculous on me. Can we talk about the lack of any kind of rhyme or reason to women’s clothing sizes?!? Not to mention the appalling lack of decent pockets…

As you can imagine, I’m no one’s first choice to take clothes shopping. Unless you want someone to commiserate with you about how much we both hate clothes shopping while on our way to the ice cream shop, that is. In that case, let me know when we’re going out for ice cream!

The idea of these capsule wardrobes where you stick with a limited color scheme and fewer clothes appeals to me though. I prefer to keep my wardrobe pared down enough to fit in just one dresser. Sticking to colors that will pretty much go together has a lot of advantages too. It would be nice to be able to pull together either a casual or dressy outfit out of the same few basics. I’m still not touching skinny jeans or heels, and as much as I’m told I should pick “flattering colors”, I’m going to pick the colors that make me smile when I wear them instead. When I started pruning the clothes in my dresser, I saw a bit of a color scheme emerging. It appears that most of my clothes are black, gray, or navy, with a splash or two of red. I think I’ll add a few basic pieces following this color scheme. Maybe a couple of teal or deep purple items too because those are colors that make me smile!

Munchkin was intrigued by this capsule wardrobe idea, so we spent Sunday afternoon going through her closet. We cleared out a LOT of outgrown clothes, and pared the rest down to reflect her chosen color scheme and a good variety of pieces that she could easily mix and match. It was surprisingly fun, and she was thrilled when she discovered how much easier it was to find the items that she really liked to wear when we cleared out the rest.

I started thinking about what kinds of messages about beauty that I want to pass along to her. I want her to know that you don’t have to have a huge wardrobe with lots of fancy and expensive clothes to look nice, because a few carefully chosen pieces can let you put together an outfit appropriate for just about any occasion. I want her to enjoy experimenting with makeup and hair to find what sort of style she likes, but I don’t want her to ever feel like it’s necessary to wear makeup daily. I want her to be comfortable letting her personal style reflect her personality. I’ve taken a page from Mom’s book too and told her often, “Pretty is as pretty does!” I’ve told her that the prettiest women aren’t always the ones who look traditionally beautiful, but are the ones who have a beautiful faith, and show kindness and compassion to others.

Ultimately, our outside appearance is of much less importance than how our heart looks. It’s our heart that God looks at after all! And while we should take the Bible’s warnings about vanity seriously, thinking a bit about the clothes we wear and using makeup doesn’t automatically mean that we’re flirting with vanity or obsessing over our looks to a sinful or unhealthy degree.

Now I want to hear from you! What’s your favorite wardrobe or makeup tip? How do you keep a balanced view of beauty in your life, and keep it from taking over your life?

White Shores

This week will mark nine years since we celebrated Mom’s last birthday, and also nine years since we said goodbye. I can’t help but be a little sad this time of year. Sometimes more than just a little.

Yet, as the verse in 1 Thessalonians says, I don’t sorrow as one who has no hope. I was reminded of this just a couple of weeks ago when watching Return of the King with my older kids. There is a scene where the hobbit Pippin and Gandalf the White are in the midst of a battle they have little hope of winning. Pippin remarks, rather sadly, to Gandalf that he didn’t think it would end this way. What Gandalf said next has stuck with me.

End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass… then you see it! White shores… and beyond. A far green country, under a swift sunrise.

That sparked my imagination and painted a lovely picture of Heaven in my mind’s eye. Hope. And in Mom’s case, I could quote A Tale of Two Cities, “…it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

If I must miss my mother, then at least I can take solace in knowing that she is at rest, in a place that I could only begin to dream of. That’s why we don’t sorrow as those who have no hope.

As for me, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12b NIV) I’ve been redeemed for a reason, and there’s still more here that He would have me do before I reach the white shores. I will press on, missing Mom, yet reminded that her journey didn’t end here nine years ago.

Top 3 Albums that I Get Sentimental About

It’s been a really long week, so I feel like writing about something completely fluffy!

Am I the only one who misses record stores? Flipping through stacks of CDs in search of just the right one, and then the excitement of pulling off the shrink-wrap and popping it in your CD player? Admittedly, it’s wonderfully convenient to be able to download just about any song instantly onto my phone. There was just something fun about visiting your favorite record store though! Since I’m feeling sentimental, I’m going to list the top 3 albums that I’ve got a sentimental attachment to. Be sure to share your own top 3 list in the comments too. I want to see what other gems my readers listen to with fondness!

3) Apollo 13 Soundtrack – James Horner

This was the very first CD that I ever owned. I was in a records store with my mom, and couldn’t seem to decide which album I wanted. Until I saw this one! I fell in love with the movie the first time that I watched it, and it remains a favorite to this day. The music by James Horner was perfect for the film, and only ever enhanced the movie. This is one of those soundtracks when just listening to the music evokes the same feelings as watching the movie did. I fell asleep listening to this album many times in my teen years!

2) The Rocketeer Soundtrack – James Horner

Are we sensing a theme here? Another soundtrack by James Horner! Again, I love the movie, and the soundtrack is just amazing. The opening credit sequence involves an airplane taking off. The music that accompanies the takeoff is exquisite. I can’t listen to it without a sense of wonder and excitement. The reason why this album is on my list though is because it’s the first CD that Aaron gave me. A group of us friends had gone out together to see a movie and stopped by Boarders after getting out of the theater. Aaron and I were both looking though the (rather skimpy) section of movie scores and I mentioned that I’d like to find the Rocketeer soundtrack someday. Lo and behold, he came across the CD and purchased it for me. At that point, we were still only friends, so it seemed like a particularly thoughtful thing for him to do. I love the music, and listening to it always makes me think of Aaron!

1) The Heart of Chicago – Chicago

This is another album that’s on my list because it was a gift from Aaron! He’s given me quite a few music albums over the past 20 years. This particular one was a gift for my 19th birthday, and the first one he gave me after we started seeing each other. I’ve always secretly thought of “You’re the Inspiration” as a perfect description of what I thought of Aaron, even then. I will always sing along with this song, very loudly. (Much to my family’s chagrin considering my utter lack of vocal talent!)

I think I’ll go listen to some music with my evening cup of tea! Don’t forget to share your favorites too!

Thoughts for Tuesday, September 19th

Outside my windows… everything is halfway between summer and fall. The changing of the guard is upon us.

Inside my house… hot tea and fall scented candles can be found on my desk daily right now.

Counting 1000 gifts… reading my great-aunt’s old journals and getting a glimpse of family history.

Prayers of the heart… that our busy fall will go smoothly.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… a fall scavenger hunt was on the agenda for today, so now they’re making leaf rubbings with the treasures collected.

From my playlist… a track from Future World Music’s newest album titled “Look to the Stars”. No wonder it’s my favorite track from the album!

From my reading list… Finding Spiritual Whitespace and for fun, Aye Robot.

From my needlework basket… lace knitting with Christmas gifts in mind.

In the learning room… our first block of school weeks will be half over by the end of this week. The kids have really gotten back into the rhythm of school days a little easier than I have this year!

Random ramblings… Sometimes the things that you can do are not the things that you should do. Letting go of those things is a hard battle some days, and letting go of the guilt harder still.

Profound ponderings… “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” – Isaac Newton

Caught on film…

It may be in the 70s outside, but I'm embracing fall at my desk! #reasonstolovemaine #grovecollaborative

A post shared by Teish (@teishknits) on

Summer Goals

If you read my blog or follow me on social media, then you’ve probably heard me mention Powersheets a few times this year. It’s a goal-setting workbook that I’ve really enjoyed this year. I absolutely won’t get all the goals I set at the beginning of this year done, but as it’s printed in big letters in the workbook, “Progress, not perfection.”

In addition to my regular Powersheets goal-setting, I also made out a list of Summer Goals and included some ideas from the kids:

Summer planning! #fruitfulsummer

A post shared by Teish (@teishknits) on

  1. Order school books.
  2. Tear up living room carpet.
  3. Paint living room.
  4. Make s’mores with the kiddos.
  5. Plant something!
  6. Sort through books.
  7. Camp out in the back yard.
  8. Write a short story.
  9. Paint and re-cover the dining room chairs.
  10. Go out for ice cream.
  11. Visit a lighthouse.
  12. Replace the kitchen sink.

The lighthouse trip was added because Mr. Q requested that we visit a lighthouse for his birthday. Since we live in Maine, that’s a pretty doable idea. The biggest problem will be picking which lighthouse to go see!

Getting rid of the living room carpet is going to have to be put off due to some things that have come up. It might even be next year before I can tackle it, but I still may end up painting the room anyway. We’ll have to see. The dining room chair project is the last bit of my refresh of that room. I use laminated cotton to cover the seats of the chairs because it’s got to be something that’s easy to keep clean! The chairs are actually much older than I am, bought sometime in the 50s with green stamps I believe! I just use spray paint on the metal, and I like the color from my filing cabinet so much that I think I’ll use that. The kitchen sink replacement is a must before winter though. Drains can definitely freeze up here, and leaky faucets will make it happen that much faster.

Oh, I had grand plans for raised beds this summer… If nothing else, I want to put some pansies in a planter outside though. Mom always loved pansies and planted them just about every summer when I was a kid.

Writing a short story? I want to write something fun and short that’s a cool sci-fi adventure. Something that the kids will enjoy reading too. I’m going for a Tom Corbett: Space Cadet feel to it. (The books are out of print, but you can find them for Kindle. Completely dated science and a distinct lack of girls flying rocketships, but still great fun to read!)

The going for ice cream thing may happen more than once, but we’re definitely getting ice cream this weekend! I promised the kids a fun treat this week, and what’s better than ice cream?

So, have you set any goals for the summer? What are you doing while the weather’s nice?