What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Porch Dreams

For the past three weeks, if it hasn't been in the single digits it has been in the negative doubles.  The thermometer read -30 this morning, but it is about 8 degrees off so it was in the -20s instead.  (wow.)  It has been a crazy, crazy winter.

Last year it would require a tractor bucket load of wood a week to burn in the woodstove...this winter it has taken TWO buckets a week.  And the house is still cold.  Needless to say, our hefty wood supply piled up this fall was not 'more than plenty' as we had anticipated...we have about two more weeks of wood left and then we are going to have to get creative for the entire month of March and beginning of April.

Logs are piled up, waiting along the edge of the woods- thick with snow and ice but the snow is so deep it is almost impossible to reach it.  We'll figure something out...necessity is the mother of invention, after all.  But it has become very clear to us that something needs to change- a more efficient wood stove, for one.  And more wood needs to be split in the warm months too.  I'd like to have two years of wood, split and stacked so that there will always be an overflow available should extra wood be needed.  Yes,  changes must be made before we go through another winter like this one on this hill.  But for now, the only thing we can do is survive this one.

I could worry about where March's heat is going to come from.  But today I am choosing to dream about sitting on a porch swing on a spacious, wide wrap around porch with a book and a nice tall glass of peppermint iced tea.  The kids will be playing in the flower circle or running around the yard and I'll lift my head every so often to feel the heat soak my face.   I will dream about eating dinner together among candles in canning jars hanging from wire above, just a few steps from the kitchen door after a summer storm when the sky is orangey pink and the grass is soaked but we are warm and dry and filled.  I dream about these children and their Mama stretching legs and spreading themselves out after a long winter of being boxed in by four walls and then gathering together on the warm wood to paint pictures of birds and barns.

They won't be dreams for long.

When we first moved into this house on a hill, I remember telling Matt that this house just begged for a wrap-around porch.  I was one of those lucky girls who grew up writing letters on a wrap-around porch during the rain and eating meals out there every dinnertime.  I grew up knowing the pleasures that porches can bring and this house, with the wide open spaces and views from all sides just begged for someone to perch themselves upon a porch and soak it all in.  The clouds.  The stars.  The wind.  The fields.   Too beautiful not to beckon, to beautiful not to live in.

The very first hole dug resulted in an enormous stone.  Not an encouraging start.  

 I never actually expected a porch, mind you.  I only knew that a porch would be magnificent.   Money. Time.  Priorities.  A porch,  if it were ever to come at all, would surely come in 15 or 20 years when all those precious resources were not stretched so thin and spread out in so many different ways.

When the pipeline went through our property, uprooting hundreds of trees and stacking them in nice neat piles, Matt paid his brother to saw some of them into boards and beams.  I didn't know what they were to be used for until they were already stacked and waiting as Matt announced they were for a porch.

I couldn't believe it.  An amazing, overwhelming, inconceivable gift of love.  Matt had listened to that dream and made it a reality even when I never, ever imagined it would ever become anything more than a dream.

As overjoyed as I was at the prospect of a wonderful porch, I have to admit I baulked a bit.    A million different things calling for Matt's time and attention. But most of all, there is always more pressing needs begging for any extra money we could scratch out.  A more reliable vehicle. Better windows.  A more efficient woodstove.  A cheese press.  A sawmill.  Bills.  Savings.  Pragmatic.  Unfanstastic.  Reasonable.  Boring.

This will ALWAYS be the case, though, won't it?

I am glad for a husband who knows when to be prudent and when to lavish.  A husband who will invest time and money into something that our family can enjoy for the remainder of our years here instead of burning it up with expensive vacations or large, greedy purchases.  A husband whose hands and heart produce beautiful things.  A husband who takes the barely uttered dreams of his wife and makes them reality- for no other reason than to please her.

This porch is more than a 12 foot wide piece of three-season paradise.  It is more than a gathering place, a feasting place, a resting place, a place to admire and enjoy the goodness of the earth and the glory of God.  To me, more than anything else, it will always be a love note from my Mister.


He began the work last fall and finished the decking just as winter came to stay.  A neighbor came to dig holes.  A brother came for a day.  A father helped through it all.  The last few days of work required many hot coffee breaks and steamy soup bowls at lunch to warm up bones before finishing up for the day.  When (if?) the weather finally breaks, work will begin again on the roofing and railings.  Lots more to do.  Plenty more money to scrounge.  But this is a dream IN PROGRESS.

Through these cold winter days, I find myself daydreaming about that porch and being outside with barefeet and sleeveless shirts.  Feeling warm sunshine on my skin and listening to birdsong and the jingle of the cow bells in the field beyond. Swinging away on a porch made of love.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Mister

It was Andrew's idea to get the elk for Papa's birthday cake.  I am thinking the fact that HE loved it so much (and wanted it to play with) had a great deal to do with the decision- but I don't mind saying that I went with it, knowing I'd have it pretty easy with cake design this year if I did.  How many different designs can one make with peanut butter frosting, anyway?  Sheesh.

He's so handsome and strong and hard-working and sweet.  After 12 years of marriage, I've known those things for a long time.  But I learned something new about my Mister this year- something that I can barely (no, not at all) relate to.

On Valentine's Day, I wrote this:

Feb 14th 2015

It has been such a frigid winter this year.  Our hilltop has been blanketed with snow all winter long- more and more inches adding to the already made layers from the many weeks of these cold, bitter, snowy days.  It has been ever so long since I saw any color but white under my feet. 

Tonight the weather is -1 F with wind gusts up to 39 miles per hour…making the outdoor temperatures to feel about -20 F.  Tomorrow’s high is 1 F. The wind howls outside the window and rattles the glass of the windows as I type.  I type only because we have moved the computer downstairs~ the upstairs office was too cold for frozen digits to be productive in any capacity.  The poor windows in this house are fighting a losing battle of keeping warmth IN- you can actually feel a draft and see blankets or curtains move.  There is a winter chill advisory through tonight and into tomorrow evening.  And, oh yes, a few inches of accumulation by morning.

What an odd thing, then, to say goodbye to your husband for the night as he descends into the blustery darkness with camping gear and high hopes for a good nights’ sleep in the woods.  WHAT?!? 

I think Matt and I are a very good match and we relate to each other very well in almost all circumstances…but after 12 years of marriage, I think I have found something in which I cannot relate to him at all.  Really, who in their right mind goes camping in the middle of one of the coldest February nights on record?

He and his twin brother John, both having celebrated 38 years of life just yesterday, are out there right now huddled up around a fire and covered in wool blankets and poncho liners and special sleeping bags and face masks that drawstring up so tight that only your nose can poke through.  Not in the latest Coleman tent, oh no, but with a simple tarp overhead.  Maybe.    

This is something that they have spent many winter nights doing together growing up, so I am told, with a fond nostalgia.

I wonder, though, if they enjoyed that sort of thing as boys because they had not yet experienced the feeling of a woman curled around them in bed at night, keeping them warm and snug the whole night through.  Had this passion just been the foolishness of competitive boys who needed to define their manhood in some way- much like that first puff of a cigarette the cool kid at school offers you?  Will the wild woods and whipping winds at midnight be as enticing now that they have the knowledge of what they are missing and perhaps a bit more wisdom under their belts?

I like to think so.
But I wonder.  

You should have seen the twinkle in Matt’s eye as he prepared his ‘gear’.  You should have heard the stories and reminiscing and joking while we sat around visiting, before they departed outdoors and we women and children departed to our cozy beds, alone for the night.  These men-boys spoke of their plans to cook bacon, sausage, eggs and coffee over the campfire with just the simplest of pans, all hauled in on their backs.  They related the story (between the sniggers and grins) of the time Matt was so cold in the morning, he stood shivering and stomping by the fire when someone laughingly said “Hey Matt.  Your leg is on fire” while flames burnt a dinner plate sized hole in his clothing without his knowledge whatsoever.  Ah, good times.

This is either the moment that they realize that wives are a whole lot better to be in bed with than snowflakes or I learn that this husband of mine, who I have always known to be a serious country boy, is a total nut. 

Husband, come back to me soon.  And with all your digits- and the tip of that handsome nose still rosy.

The verdict is in.

He's a nut.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

There is Love

Have you ever tried making pink scrambled eggs?  If you can trudge through the cooking part, when the eggs most closely resemble bloody organs on a skillet, they aren't half bad.  But, as was said that morning, this was one of Mama's worse ideas.  (I say, that went differently in my head.)

Millions of construction paper cut-outs, a quadruple batch of ValenSLIME and pink organs on a plate.  It must be Valentine's Day.

As it always does, it warmed my heart to see paper plate pockets, filled to the brim, opened up to reveal lots of Valentine drawings and pompom critters and perler bead creatures and rainbow loom gifts pop out from child to child.  The children were busy this year- instigated by a caring big sister who made sure everyone was lavished with love.

I love watching the giver of the gifts, as they excitedly explain just what/how/when the gift came to be but I particularly love watching brothers and sisters receiving gifts.  No matter how humble an attempt by even the littlest children, the receivers are always so complementary and genuinely charmed by the scraps of scribbled paper wrinkled up and shoved in.

It does a Mama heart good.

Do you know how Valentine's Day originated?

Valentine was a third century pastor who was imprisoned for his faith.  While imprisoned, he would write small notes on leaves he was able to pluck from a tree right outside his cell, meant to encourage the members of his congregation.  These little "Valentine Cards" expressed his love for the flock and his hope that they would demonstrate like love toward one another.  Eventually, the tradition grew for Christians to exchange notes of love and encouragement to one another on his birthday, February 14th. **

I printed out that little explanation and included it in my own grown-up valentines because, well, how superior a thing is that than the red hearts and box of chocolates that is now the be all and end all of the day?  How sad to have such a small view of such a great moment in history.

I hope that you found yourself encouraged in your calling, in ways great and small, this Valentine's Day.

 And maybe, from now on, Valentine's Day won't just be about romance but about the truest love there ever was.  And people who may not have any romantic love in their life won't need to feel left out or forlorn.  Because they can be encouraged too- and we can do the encouraging.

** Just another tidbit from that gem of a book The Christian Almanac: A Book of Days Celebrating History's Most Significant People & Events.  An absolute must for every family, in my opinion.  We have loved our copy so much that when I left accidentally left it in the flower circle last summer and it got caught in a downpour (and thus, ruined) I bought another one immediately to replace it.  I have never done that before with a book...I just couldn't imagine our days without it.