Thanksgiving meditation


Thinking ahead to next week, we’ve been reading through a stack of library books about Thanksgiving – simple children’s stories as well as historical and anthropological recountings.

Worked into our everyday conversations is the topic of thankfulness, and what the act of giving thanks looks like.  In light of these conversation with the kids, I’ve been reading some Wendell Berry in the evenings, and was particularly struck by the notion that, no matter how much we toil and struggle, somehow the success of our effort lies upon something Greater.  And so, when we reap success in life, we can see the results of our own hard work, but also reserve the lion’s share of thanks for our Provider who comes alongside us and produces the harvest.



Whatever is forseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

Wendell Berry, Walking Meditations

Cherries and Meditation


The early morning was spent preparing a big batch of Hood River organic cherries for the dehydrator.   We ate oodles fresh, and what is left will go in a batch of  sweet cherry brandy (makes the best fruitcake for Christmas).

If you don’t have a cherry pitter, check out this tip, and these, for how to remove cherry pits.   I like the way the cherries dry better when they’re sliced fully in half, but I do pit them when making brandy, pies, feeding them to the children.

Later this afternoon, we’re going picking for sour cherries (more on that tomorrow).  I’m excited to get some locally – I’ve actually never cooked with them before, and hear they make excellent pie and jam.


I really like preparing stone fruit for jam, drying, etc.  It’s such a rhythmic, meditative process.   Gives me time to think, pray, while slicing the fruit, removing the pits to a separate pile.  It reminds me a bit of traditions that use prayer beads.   It’s a very peaceful thing, really.

A Living Hope


Preparing for our celebration of the Resurrection tomorrow:



The children’s baskets may be put out awaiting little treats from a certain visitor, but our hearts and minds are fixed the redemptive joy of tomorrow.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. – I Peter 1:3


Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12: 1-3

Happy Easter, from our family to yours.

Tossing their branches


The two younger children are still sick, but Little Hen is perfectly healthy, so we dropped her off at homeschool co-op this morning.  On the way home, the rain was pounding and the wind was whipping the trees about.

We came home and curled up on the sofa – me with a mug of coffee and Firecracker with a tangerine and some hot cocoa, and we watched the rain pound, and the wind blow the leaves off the neighbor’s walnut tree.


As we snuggled together looking out the window, I was reminded of something John Muir said –

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship.”


Firecracker said, “It’s pretty cool to think that the trees worship God when the wind blows.”  I can’t see a stormy day and not think how the trees can offer up worship in the midst of being battered by the wind – I am reminded that in all things we are to glorify God.  No matter what storms toss us about, we can still praise the Creator, who is the Father of Lights, who delights in us and will light our way through the darkest, most turbulent times.

The joy of a nursing toddler



Oregon is a wonderful place to be nursing a toddler!  Tum Tum is nearly 18 months old, and I am very grateful to live in a place where doing what is normal and healthy is culturally accepted as normal and healthy.   Granted, this being my third nursling, nursing past the WHO minimum recommendation of 2 years – and comfortably nursing an older baby in public – is an accepted reality for our family.

The other week, we were out at the library, Tum Tum was tired, cranky, and it was naptime, so I sat down to nurse him while the girls looked at books.   A woman actually came up to me and said, “Way to go on breastfeeding your toddler.  I breastfed my daughter until she was 2.  Keep it up!”   Seriously, I love Oregon.

I am glad my son and I can continue to share the benefits of breastfeeding as long as it mutually benefits us both.  (By the way, did you see the CDC’s recommendaton? – Keep breastfeeding to protect your child from H1N1.).


If you haven’t checked out the classic, Mothering Your Nursing Toddler, and also Hilary Flower’s book, Adventures In Tandem Nursing, both are helpful resources.

Tum Tum highly recommends Breastmilk Makes My Tummy Yummy by Cecilia Moen.  🙂

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Scripture verses – I love how God uses the imagery of a nursling and his mother to show His comfort, peace and provision for the people of Israel.

10” Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
all you who love her;
rejoice with her in joy,
all you who mourn over her;
11that you may nurse and be satisfied
from her consoling breast;
that you may drink deeply with delight
from her abundant breast.

12For thus says the LORD: “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
13As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

– Isaiah 6: 10-12

Bartlett Harvest


Saturday,  I was blessed with the opportunity to ride with another family of volunteers out to Mosier, OR (in the beautiful Columbia Gorge) to glean pears for Birch Community Services.   The weather was very rainy, windy, and chilly, so I was grateful that the children could all stay home, snuggled up reading their latest chapter book with Daddy.


The five of us wore large canvas pear-picking bags, and picked 40-50 lbs of Bartletts off of the trees at a time and then unloaded them into large crates.  Due to the windy, rainy conditions, I didn’t get any pictures of the actual picking, but here you can see a fraction of what we picked.  The owner’s of the orchard estimated that we picked close to 2200 lbs of pears!!


You may ask, why were thousands of pounds of beautiful pears sitting unpicked, unwanted on the trees?   Well, the owners explained to me that there isn’t any profit in Bartletts – they cost $120/crate to grow,  but can only get $180/crate on the market – so by the time they pay workers to pick them, and absorb the cost of transporting them, they actually lose money on the Barletts.

The farmer makes his living growing Bosc pears for market.  So, why grow Barletts at all, then??  Bosc pears command a much higher price than Barletts, but the trees are not self-fertile, and require another pear variety for pollination.  So, for every 4 rows of Bosc pear trees planted in the orchard, the farmer must plant a whole row of Barletts in order to reap a crop.  The Barletts are generously left available for the gleaners.


After picking over 8000 pears to donate to BCS, we were allowed to harvest for ourselves as many pears as we could put up  – so I have over 150 lbs of pears sitting on my kitchen floor to ripen over the next week!  I’ll be dehydrating and canning pears and pear butter non-stop late in the week and over the next weekend.   Bring some jars and you’re welcome to join me and take home canned pears for your family, too!   I’d love to have your company!

For more on the culture and history of gleaning, check out my favorite (and oh-so-French!) documentary – Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (The Gleaners and I).








The children and I chasing falling cherry blossoms in the yard, smelling the hyacinths – rejoicing in the beauty of spring and anticipating tomorrow’s Easter celebration.

Wishing you a blessed Easter weekend as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, the hope of our salvation.

Good Friday


But he was wounded for our transgressions;he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

Candle Flame WIP


(Apologies in advance, this is one of my wordier posts.)

Do you ever feel that God brings someone to your mind over and over again for a purpose?  I have been thinking a lot about a friend back on the coast (She’s the one who spun me this incredible yarn from her own sheep).  She doesn’t have e-mail or a phone, so quick communication isn’t possible.  Anyway, I made up my mind to get a care package together for her, and knowing that she loves shawls, I went on a Ravelry hunt for quick, comfy shawl pattern, and I came across  the Candle Flame Shawl.

I hope to have it finished in a week, get a package together (I’ll add in some homemade Raspberry-Lime jam, looseleaf tea, a pair or two of homemade earrings, this CD, and a few books I’ve been meaning to recommend to her.)  Spring and summer nights are often cold and damp on the coast, so maybe she’ll even get some use out of the shawl before the autumn.


The yarn is a soft 100% natural undyed alpaca from Bolivia (I purchased several skeins for $2 total (score!) at an estate sale). It’s a heavy-worsted or aran weight, and is knitting up very nicely on size 9’s (I think it’ll look great once blocked).

If someone’s been on your heart and mind lately, I encourage you to send her a little something to let her know.  I know how uplifting it is for me when a friend from far away sends a little note (or thoroughly spoils me with an amazing package of handmade soap, tea, and TONS of yummy vegan cookies like the one I got this weekend from my old college roommate – totally made my month), and I know how blessed I am to be able to do just a little something for another woman.  In this age of e-mails and texting, the handwritten letter, the care package, these personal, thoughtful things can mean so much in a day of the life of a woman at home.

Wish I could do it more often.  As the girls grow older, I hope we can send off more together.

Little Things

Some little things that have added beauty to my day:

A handmade, fair trade leather ring from 10,000 Villages here in Ft. Myers.

A startling little pitcher plant growing right outside my parents’ front door.


And most of all, a teensy fairy that Little Hen made for me.

Give Presence


With the Christmas season in full swing, I thought I’d give a little nod to Advent Conspiracy. 

I firmly believe in making Christmas simple, homemade, and reverent.  It is a struggle to fit our family’s vision of Christmas in with our extended family and the greater culture.  We made the decision to spend very little and to give homemade as much as possible.  As Christians, we believe that Christ gave his life, and we can at least give a little something personal – something that takes a little sacrifice and a little love – in order to remind ourselves of His great sacrifice for us.

Advent Conspiracy Promo

Advent Conspiracy has a greater vision – not the over used saying “Keep Christ in Christmas”, but something more substantial.  Actually give less junk so that you can save your money and your time for acts of mercy.  And let folks know why you aren’t participating in the ever-escalating orgy of spending and giving of junk that you don’t need.  It’s so that you can give to other who have true needs. 

$1 buys clean, safe drinking water for 1 person for 1 year. 

It’s a four-fold plan – buy less junk so you can 1)increase meaningful giving to those in need 2)give handmade, 3)give your time personally connecting with others and 4) spend the Christmas season reflecting on the priceless gift in the incarnation, sacrifice, and resurrection of Christ.

Giving Thanks

A really lovely Thanksgiving.  A delicious meal, everyone pitched-in for clean up, the family played board games all evening.  The girls tucked themselves in a corner and played and whispered and giggled with their favorite 4 year-old cousin.  The baby and I even got an after supper nap.

Playing with pilgrim dolls.





BLESSING to God, for ever blest,
To God the Master of the feast,
Who hath for us a table spread,
And with his daily bounties fed;
May he with all his gifts impart
The crown of all – a thankful heart!

                     – Traditional Hymn

Tree of Thanks

Lord, for these we thank you


Well said, Little Hen.

Back later with pictures of our thanksgiving!

Thankfulness – Growing

My little Tum Tum…how can you be six months-old already?!!  We are so thankful for you, our smiley, happy boy!  You are a joy and a blessing every day.

God knew that we needed you, and we are so grateful to have you in our family.   Your daddy and I strive every day to be the parents you need and deserve.   

We are thankful for our growing family, for watching you and your sisters grow and develop, learning and accomplishing new things every day! 

But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever;from generation to generation we will recount your praise. – Psalm 79:13

Thankfulness in the present

I had intended to post something special every day this week on the topic of thankfulness.  We have, however, (save my husband) been hit was a bad chest cold.  So, instead of what I had planned, I would rather post about what we experienced in our home today.

Despite not feeling well, we focused on what we can be thankful for right now, in the present.  The thanks we owe to God is not conditional on our how we’re “feeling”, and thankfully, neither is His generosity. 

These are little things, to be sure, but they are the little things that have brought comfort to our day today. 

We are thankful for our ritual of afternoon tea, which felt particularly soothing today.  And being thankful for quiet rest, all snuggled up together listening to this CD our friends made.  And tonight I’ll be grateful for leftovers for supper and a DVD we can all enjoy afterward. 

We are on the mend, and will be thankful to be able to rejoice with our extended family at Thanksgiving (in just two short days!). 

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
   in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

The LORD is the strength of his people;
   he is the saving refuge of his anointed.

                                   – Psalm 26:7-8