Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

Whirlwind

These days, every hour counts. The days are rich and full. To-do lists are as endless as laundry but I am rejoicing in the sweetness of it all. I’m sorry that my posts are sporadic, as my opportunities to write peacefully are few and, like now, usually take three times as long as they used to because I am quietly typing one-handed with a sleeping babe on my lap. But life is happier and busier than ever.

Elijah is now a whopping four months old. My squinty, wrinkly newborn is gone and has been replaced by a cooing, plump, joyful little boy. He is a calm and cerious child, but delights in our time together. There’s just nothing that melts my heart like his smile when he sees my face. For that reason alone, I hope time slows down and that he doesn’t grow up too fast. I know my presence won’t always bring immediate joy, so I want to cherish this time when I can make all bad things go away with a comforting word, a smile, a nursing session. I understand now what it truly meant when my own parents would tell me that if they could have protected me from the hurts of the world, they would have. I would do anything to keep this child’s sense of innocent joy.

He is my life, pure and simple. I never knew I could love this much.

And the rest of our lives is a whirlwind of work and play. We now have 5 working hives, 3 of which are in very good shape, and the other two of which the outcome remains to be seen. Our original hive is struggling with typical bee pests–mites and moths–and we are doing our best to manage the problems organically and without chemicals. It is hard.

My little one is stirring so my time draws short, but needless to say that life is good. God has blessed us, and my heart overflows with gratitude every day. I never knew it could be this good.

Gratitude

The weather has finally warmed up around here, and the hills are beginning to slowly shift to a gentle golden color. We’ve spent most of this week assembling our chicken run (hopefully we’ll be done by tonight), and it has been so fun to watch our eight girls learning how to become hens. Their chick peeps morph every once in a while to a sound that Rob has aptly nicknamed “proto-cluck.” They’ve grown bigger in two weeks than I could have ever imagined. And all around our homestead seems to whisper: “Life.”

I can’t help but be filled with a deep sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the friends we’ve made up here so far, gratitude, for the land, gratitude for the animals in our care. Underneath all of it is the ever-present awareness that none of it is really “ours,” but I feel so lucky that we have been entrusted with this little space of earth and life for this small amount of time. I intend to do right by everything that has been put under my care. I intend to do my best in helping it to fulfill as much potential as possible.

We’ve now been in this home for six months. Hard to believe–it seems like only yesterday that we were pulling furniture out of snow-covered trucks. The more we do with the land, and the more we expand our family (we arrived with cats, then added a dog, then bees, now chickens…what will be next?), the more I feel like this is exactly where we were meant to be.

Take, for example, this fine sight:

It’s good to be home.

Knee Day

A couple of years ago St. Patrick’s Day ceased to be a day for green beer and pinching–at least in our family.  March 17, 2008 changed the course of events in our calendar, overwriting St. Patty for the evermore infamous “Knee Day.”

This was the day of my second ACL reconstruction. The final ACL reconstruction, my orthopedic surgeon emphasized. A day that would ensure that I wouldn’t have the recurring pain of bone-on-bone (I have no cartilage or meniscus in that knee, either) or the uncertainty of whether or not my knee would hold together during a fall. The knee reconstruction was also a reconstruction of my future.

Today I’m thinking a lot about my life just two years ago, on Knee Day. Our lives were so different. I hadn’t even started seminary yet; in fact, it was my recovery after the reconstruction that brought me back to theology and study. We didn’t have any intention of moving out of Los Angeles, and backyard chickens were for quirky people who baked their own bread and probably their own granola, too.  Tehachapi? Where was that? And I guarantee that a dog wasn’t anywhere near my husband’s radar.

Today, exactly two years later, I’ve changed the course of my career (or, rather, my vocation) and Rob has changed to a new job that we hope we’ll some day be able to work him out of. We own not only our own home, but the acre and a half that surrounds it. There isn’t the sound of planes or traffic in the morning; rather, there is the silence of a still sunrise…just before a chorus of birds sings its hymn to welcome the day.  I know how to demolish and reconstruct a bathroom. I know how to plant a garden. I’ve had to clean dirt out from under my nails more times that I can count. We’ve expanded our family to include our sweet dog Sugar, and on April 16th we’ll welcome a hive of bees. We’ve planted a cherry tree, an apple tree, an almond tree, asparagus, blueberries, boysenberries, and grapes (syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and chardonnay).  We have lavender seedlings started, and the seeds for our garden are simply waiting until the threat of frost passes soon. We have cows that frequent the hill behind our house. Neighbors always smile and wave when they drive by. We don’t have cable anymore. In fact, we haven’t even unpacked our television.

Life is very different.

The past week or so has been filled with grief, but today I want to focus on the joy. The gratitude of what we do have, rather than the pain of what we lost. I honor that pain, but I need to feel normal again. I need to remember that pain isn’t the sum of this story. It’s only a chapter. And it’s certainly not the final chapter.

Thank you, Knee Day, for reminding me that my life is continually undergoing reconstruction. The recovery can often be painful, but the fruit of the experience is sweet.

Small Tastes and Good Fences

Our weekend was filled with various guests–friends and family, young and old alike. We were blessed to open our home to people from all corners of our lives. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for this place…it was as we had always hoped, even when it was simply a dream of ours: a place of sanctuary, of peace, of warmth and love. It certainly isn’t of our own doing that we have this place (God has been the mapmaker of this plan), but we are going to do the best we can to do it justice.

We’ve had a nice dose of warm weather over the past few weeks.  As a result, we’re getting the first taste of Spring here in Tehachapi.

It’s like the little trumpets are heralding an end to the cold–soon enough, soon enough. I can’t wait for the land to errupt in what everyone has assured me is a dizzying array of flowers, the best of which is a ring of lilacs within our driveway circle.  Our oak trees will become full, and green grass will poke its head through the (temporarily) soft earth. We’ll find out if our fruit trees and grape vines have survived the years previous to us taking stewardship; unfortunately, we’ve been told, they didn’t get enough water or pruning or pest protection. But I have hope.

Finally, we’ve made a lot of progress on our little garden plot. The trenches were dug all the way around, and gopher wire was put about a foot down. Once we filled in the earth around the gopher wire, we began to construct our fence. We’re almost done; all we need to do is construct a gate for each remaining side and finish it off.

Hope everyone has a beautiful, gratitude-filled week.

PS…I’d like to share an inspiring blog that I found earlier this morning. Before Fall of 2008, it was a simply a woman’s joyful musings on motherhood and her life in general. But following a plane crash in which she and her husband barely survived, it has become an inspirational testament of her courage. She embraces every day with a courage that I could only hope to have, and gives me pause when I consider the “stresses” of my daily life.  I encourage you to check it out: http://nieniedialogues.blogspot.com

My Valentine from God

Well, the sun has finally come out and melted all our snow, and my body has decided to respond joyfully by coming down with a cold. 😦 Therefore, I’ve decided to spend the day resting, taking vitamin C, catching up on episodes of “The Office,” and reading old emails from my first few weeks dating my husband.

It’s been four years–it seems like so long ago and yet it seems like such a small amount of time. I kind of divide my life into two sections: Before Rob (B.R.) and After Rob (A.R.). My B.R. years seem to blend together into a mish-mash of preparation, of God’s seed-planting years. My A.R. years seem to be when my life really began to blossom. When I began to become who I was meant to be.

I found this in an email I had written just 10 days after our first date:

I have faith that our paths have crossed with a definite purpose, like I said. There is work we are supposed to do, ways in which we are supposed to help each other. While I am doing my best not to “figure God out” and jump to the conclusions of what that means, I do have a deep intuition that at the heart of it all, we are here to help one another grow.

How my husband has helped me grow. I am stronger, happier, and more in love with life and with God than ever before. I truly feel like I have begun to live out my purpose on this earth, and he has become my partner in doing so. I feel so grateful, so blessed that he is the one that walks this journey with me. God knew so much better than I when he planned out this humble life of mine.

So, on this Valentine’s Day weekend, I’m actually most grateful for the Valentine that God sent to me in the form of a man. Through my husband, I have learned more about how to see the world with God’s eyes; I’ve learned more about how to love whole-heartedly, to be humble, to be compassionate, and to be courageous.  And I’ve learned that God shows the depth of God’s love in ways we could never even imagine for ourselves. That’s why I’m so glad that God never listened to my many, many plans.

The Hillside

 

The other day I was taking Sugar out to the backyard for a break from housework and a little fun throwing ball. As soon as we stepped out the back door, her ears perked up and her back arched. She stood at full attention, eyes fixed on the hillside. The air was still and cold, the clouds hung low, and the light was dimming in the early evening. I squinted, following her gaze, and then the hillside began to move.

There is a herd of cattle that comes down every so often into the area just beyond our back yard. This was the closest I had ever seen them–not twenty feet from where I was standing. And yet they blended so well into the hillside. They were hues of beige and light brown, but it was the calves that drew the most attention. They were snowy white and hopping around happily, completely unaware that potential predators had just walked out a back door just a few feet away.

Of course, the threat to them was, in reality, very low. I was in awe and my dog was a bit frightened by the large, slow moving beasts. But there was a beauty of that shared moment. Together we stood, Sugar and I, breathing in this piece of unhindered nature, of wildness, of countryside. I felt happier and more fulfilled watching a herd of wild cattle on a hillside than I ever did in the fast-paced life of the city.

After an eternal moment, the adult cattle noticed my presence and began to usher the younger ones back up the hillside. The blended back in to the landscape, perceptible only by flashes of moving color. Andthen,  just like that…they were gone. I breathed a word of thanks to them for our brief encounter, and then led Sugar out to the front of the property for a game of fetch.

It’s good to be home.

Bee-coming a Homestead

In the cold months of January, homesteaders around the country are cozied up inside, salivating over seed catalogs and planning for warmer months. We now join the throngs that dream of April chicks, putting up deer fencing and contacting local apiaries for supplies.

Today I took one step closer toward our homesteading goals and ordered our bee supplies. Our little garden hive box and all of the necessary clothing and necessary tools should arrive within 5-7 business days. Then, between April 16th and 30th, we’ll hopefully get a box in the mail that contains our bees and their queen. Whoa.

In some ways this is daunting to me. I’ve never been stung by a bee, and I’ve heard it’s not pleasant. However, I’ve also heard that beekeeping is one of the easiest homesteading activities that one can do, and the side benefit of having our own honey will just be divine. Between now and May we’ll have plenty of time to read our beekeeping books and become well acquainted with all of our equipment. I’m pretty excited about the prospect of really starting our life in the country…somehow this makes it more “real.” After all, not many of my Los Angeles friends have a backyard hive (although I hear it’s possible). Next up: fixing up the chicken coop. We’re ambitiously hoping to order pullets for April or May. We’ll see if we can do it in time.

To be honest, I’m just happy to have something on the horizon other than working on that darned bathroom. The end of our first homeowner’s project is in sight: the tile is laid, the bathtub installed, the walls painted. Now we just have to seal the grout, varnish the wood stuff, and hook up the plumbing. Small potatoes compared to what we’ve faced so far.

My heart continues to overflow with thankfulness. Every day I get to wake up to clean air, beautiful hills and kind people. Years ago I never would have dreamt  that this would be the life that nourishes my soul and gives me a zeal to wake up every morning. But here I am. And if it’s a dream, I hope I never wake up.