Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Seeking To Bring The Kingdom In Small Ways

I saw a meme on Instagram earlier this week that said, "What a year this week has been", and isn't that the truth? When I shared my last post about my Spring Home Blessing, the panic surrounding CoVid19 had yet to hit. I was aware of it, of course, but like so many other viruses over the years, especially those that arise in other parts of the world, I didn't give it much thought. But then late last week my daughter and I were out shopping, when I overhead a number of women say that they had just come back from Walmart, Target, CVS,  and they were all running out of toilet paper. It was then that I realized that perhaps I should give this a little more thought.

Twenty four hours later, life as we knew it had come to an abrupt halt. My husband, who is 65 pre-diabetic and often susceptible to respiratory illnesses, informed his job (a big box retailer), that he would not be returning for the foreseeable future. We made lists, stocked up on food and the necessary items we thought that we will need (no hoarding here, we were considerate), and went into self imposed quarantine. I've  established a daily cleaning protocol, wiping down all surfaces with more frequency, a daily round of cleaning light switches, handles, door knobs, and processing laundry daily. My seasonal home blessing quickly evolved into a daily prayer for protection. So far, we are good. They say there are no reported cases in our area (as of today), but I'm not putting my faith in those numbers. We're assuming it's already here and doing what we can to limit the spread in our home. Our daughter, who is 20, is still required to work, so that does pose some threat. But if I've learned anything over the past fews days it's that I can't control this. All we can do is the best we can do to try to prevent it in our homes and families, and rather than living in fear (I do have my moments), we have to rely on our faith in God. This may have taken us a bit by surprise, but not our Father.

I've been reading from Be Not Afraid by Richard Havermale and in yesterday's reading I came across these words.

"The Lord our God calls us to His service. This is the message of St. Therese of Lisieux, that we are called and we should have great confidence and humility seeking to bring the kingdom in small ways and asking our Lord to multiply our efforts."  


The author goes on to say that the greatest way that we can bring the Kingdom is in our families. He explains that families are under attack from a media that pushes instant gratification, but in light of recent events, I would insert CoVid 19. But I do want to temper that statement by saying that I don't believe that all of the information the media provides is harmful. We just have to injest it with a certain amount of caution, because there are so many conflicting reports and honestly so much that we don't know about this virus. If you aren't careful it can become overwhelming.

I found that happening to me yesterday. I had spent the greater part of the morning seeking out information about the latest statistics and the nation and state's response when suddenly I found myself becoming extremely nauseated, a physical reaction manifested by the stress that was building as I processed the alarming figures. Thankfully I was able to tie the two together pretty quickly, and my husband suggested that we go for a walk to work off some of the stress that we were both feeling by then. I was reluctant at first because it was misty and not as warm as I would have liked, especially since it was damp, but he encouraged me to try and I'm so glad I did. We walked for probably an hour, exploring the neighborhood around our home. There were people out, but we practiced keeping a wide birth between us, and you could tell that others were intent upon doing the same. We've decided for the time being, or at least until we are advised otherwise, to make it a regular part of our day.

As we walked I began thinking about ways that I could "bring the Kingdom" into the midst of our lives during this time, which I believe rests primarily in acts of service to one another. I love my family more than words could adequately express, but I think we all might be a little challenged in the coming weeks, living so closely and with very little time apart. I know for me, an Enneagram 5, it will be particularly hard as I thrive on time alone.And my daughter, who is an Enneagram 7, will have her own struggles as she is the complete opposite and functions best when surrounded by friends. We are going to have to impart a lot of grace in the days ahead to make the best of this.

That being said, in considering the needs of my family, I've jotted down a few ideas for how I can perform small acts of service, or "bring the kingdom", into our home.

- Plan special meals that appeal to the tastes of each family member. My daughter loves meatloaf, mashed pototos and field peas, so I already have that on the rotation. But my husband is much more health-conscious eater and prefers salads, so most of our lunches will satisfy him. I'm a mixture of the two, so I'm good either way!

- Plan for fun! I've already looked though our games and puzzles and I'm hoping that by engaging my daughter in this way that it will help her to ease her anxiety over the lack of social interaction with her friends. Movies are another activity I hope we can enjoy together. My daughter has her own TV in her room, but since we may very well be her only source of socializing, at least face-to-face, this may need to happen with more frequency.

Additionally, I'll need to monitor my own needs and balance them against the needs of my family. That will mean less time alone for me, but I also need to not be afraid to ask for it if and when I need it. The key for me is going to be recognizing that and making sure that I don't wait until I've over extended myself and perhaps become harsh in my communication. To aide me in that I've already thought through how that might be accomplished and arrived on a couple of areas where I can retreat for a bit to unwind and recharge. Thankfully in our planning to be home for the foreseeable future, my husband had the insight to encourage me to buy some plants for our balcony to make it more inviting, and even went as far as to go ahead an make a purchase of some more comfortable chairs. They were already on our list of things to buy for our transition to life on the road (which has obviously been delayed), but he felt it would be good to go ahead and get them now since the chairs we currently have are pretty, but not particularly comfortable. I'm thankful for his insight and willingness to make this happen. It's a perfect example of being sensitive to each other's needs during this time.

I'm sure there are many more things that will come to mind as the days and weeks progress. Even my amped up cleaning routine is an act of service to my family, another way of "bringing the Kingdom down". And I am certain there are some things that will reveal themselves as our needs arise. As I said, we can't control the circumstances in the world today, we can only do our best to make our homes a haven of rest.

Do you have any suggestions? What changes have you made, and how are you adjusting your schedules and expectations to meet the challenge? I'd love to hear your thoughts! We're all in this together friends, so lets encourage each other on! Let's do our best bring the Kingdom into the days and weeks ahead!  I'll be checking back in with updates, and I'd love to hear from you!

Until then,
Kim

Sunday, March 8, 2020

All Of Life And Love

Let there be within these phantom walls
Beauty where the hearth fire's shadow falls . . .
Quiet pictures, books, and welcoming chairs . . .
Music that the very silence shares. . .
Kitchen windows curtained blue and white . . .
Shelves and cupboards built for my delight . . .

Little things that lure and beckon me

With their tranquil joy, and let there be
Lilt of laughter-swift forgotten tears
Woven through the fabric of the years. . .
Strength to guard me, eyes to answer mine
Mutely clear. And though without may shine
Stars of dawn or sunset's wistful glow,
All of life and love my house shall show.

~ Catherine Parmenter Newell

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Blessing The Weekend


Back in December I took a course, Hibernate, with the lovely Heather Bruggeman of North Ridge Farm. If you're not familiar with Heather's blog then I invite you to skip this post for now, pour yourself a cup of something warm and settle in for awhile and peruse her offerings. I've learned so much from Heather over the years, and I hope to be just like her when I grow up!  This is the third class I've taken, and I always learn so much in the time spent gleaning from her wisdom and expertise. I can't praise her classes enough! They are all just so good and I highly recommend taking one, or two!

In the last session of Hibernate, Heather spoke about Blessing The Weekend, a ritual that came about during the years when she was homeschooling her daughter.. Like many homeschooling families, Friday's were a half day, and once they finished with their lessons, they would spend a few hours tidying the home, maybe making up a quick pan of brownies, or.a pot of soup and a few other quick, easy meals. The objective here being to cut down on time spent in the kitchen. She emphasized that she likes to cook, but she also like not having too, as well, and that by  the taking the time to do a little prepping on Friday afternoons, you can easily have one or two meals and snacks ready to carry you through until Monday. Fast food, but at significantly less cost and better for you!

Another thing she did are what I like to refer to as "cozy chores". Changing the sheets on the bed, dusting off furniture, making up a lovely bouquet of flowers for the table. Anything that freshens the space and make things warm and inviting, "cozying up", as I like to say. None of this takes very long at all, especially if you enlist help. But even it its just you, typically within an hour or two you've set the stage o spend intentional time with your family and just be together.

Reading Heather's words reminded me of the Jewish practice of Shabbat, or what I refer to as sabbath. In Jewish homes Shabbat (pronounced SHAH-BAHT or some communities, SHAH-BIS, is a weekly twenty five hour observance that begins just before sundown each Friday and through the completion of nightfall on Saturday. It is a day of physical and spiritual delights highlighting key concept of the Jewish faith. Preparations begin as early as mid-week. As no work is to be done during this time, meals must be prepared ahead of time (similar to what Heather shared), and the observance begins with the a candle lighting ceremony which I think is just lovely and have long intended to incorporate into my own sabbath observance. Jewish tradition mandates three specific shabbat meals, and in addition to special foods, the family spends time singing, studying and celebrating together.
Now I know at this point some of you may be thinking, "Well, this all sounds lovely, but our kids are involved in soccer on the weekend, there's yard work to do, and preparations to be made for church on Sunday.", and let me assure you, I hear you loud and clear! In her book Rhythms of Rest, Shelly Miller shared this thought; "The sabbath isn't about resting perfectly, it's about resting in the one who is perfect." The important thing is not how much time you are able to devote to rest and being together, but that you are intentional about setting aside some time every weekend, to make space to be together. If you still don't see how that might be possible, let me offer a few suggestions.
Begin planning  mid-week for the upcoming weekend. Think through what activities you already have scheduled and then determine how much time you have to devote to rest and relaxation. Mark that time slot off in your calendar so that as you receive invitations you'll already have it reserved. And don't be discouraged if at first you find you can only squeeze in a couple of hours. It also might even take a little encouragement to get other members of the family on board with the idea, but once you begin my guess is you'll enjoy it so much, everyone will want more and before you know you'll be willing to sacrifice more to have this time together.

When doing your weekly meal planning, take this time into consideration. If you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then take a cue from Heather an make up a bit pot of soup or stew that can be enjoyed all weekend. If your budget affords, plan a special meal out, or if the weather is nice, go on a picnic. Maybe you want to bake something together, so take time to do a quick inventory and make sure you have all of the ingredients. Nothing spoils time together like someone having to rush off to the store for eggs or sugar.

Think of other things that will encourage spending time together. Go through the board games in your closet and set out a few favorites. Maybe a deck of cards? Plan a trip to the library together to pick up a few books or maybe a dvd the whole family can watch. But aside from television and maybe a movie, I would recommend you try to limit screen time.This is a time for intentionally being together. You could go on a hike, visit a museum, work on a puzzle. The possibilities are endless, so be creative.

And finally, set the stage. It's hard to be together and not be distracted if the family room is overrun with toys, there's a stack of dirty dishes in the kitchen, the floors need sweeping, you get the picture. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you take the time to tidy things up it makes for a much more inviting and relaxing atmosphere. I like to change the sheets on our bed on Fridays so that after a day of fun everyone has a clean, comfy bed to crawl in to. Another element that is a must in our home is candlelight. And though I don't follow the the ceremony associated with Shabbat.(though I'd like to), it's such an important piece that it's really become the cue. Any time my family comes in to finds candles lit, twinkle lights glowing, and soft music playing (usually some light jazz), I can almost watch the stress from the day wash from their faces, and they are instantly engaged and ready. Setting aside time for rest and for intentionally being together is just the anecdote you and your family need for recovering from the madness and business of the world.

To help you brainstorm through your own sabbath weekend, or weekend hours, with your family, I've created a little printable, of course, **wink**. And again, don't be discouraged if at first you can't find much time to carve out, or if it takes you a few tries before you find your rhythm and figure to what works best. I've allowed space for you to muddle through those thoughts until it becomes a natural and regular part of your routine.  Just click on the link below to download your free copy!



In closing I want to leave you with this lovely passage from one of my favorite children's books, All of a Kind Family.

"At home, the kitchen was warm with the smell of fresh baked white bread. The room sparkled with cleanliness. The table, which wore only an oilcloth covering all through the week, now had a snowy white tablecloth. On it stood the brass candlesticks, gleaming brightly from the polishing that Ella and Sarah had given them the ay before. They were just in time to see Mama saying the prayer over the candles.

The children stood around the table watching her. A lovely feeling of peace and contentment seemed to flow out from Mama to them. First she put a napkin on her head, then placing four white candles in the brass candlesticks, she lit them. She extended her arms to form a circle. One the lighted candles the encircling gesture was repeated. After that Mama covered her eyes with her hands softly murmuring a prayer in Hebrew.

This was Sabbath ushered in."

- Sydney Taylor

To learn more about Shabbat prayers, visit this page.



Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Ordinary Days of Small - Favorite Songs For Spring


It Might As Well Be Spring
Shirley Jones

April in Paris
Doris Day

It Happens Every Spring
Frank Sinatra

Spring Is Here
The King Sisters

Spring, Spring, Spring
Jane Powell

I'll Remember April
Julie London

You Make Me Feel So Young
Frank Sinatra

Younger Than Springtime
Nancy Sinatra

Some Other Spring
Billie Holiday

April In My Heart
Billie Holiday

Paris Is At Her Best In May
Samme Davis Jr.

I'll Remember April
Bobby Darin

Spring Is Here
Anita O'Day

It Happens Every Spring
Kay Starr

After All, It's Spring
Peggy Lee

We'll Gather Lilacs In The Spring
Frank Sinatra

Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most
Ella Fitzgerald

There'll Be Another Spring
Peggy Lee

Easter Parade: Happy Easter
Judy Garland

April Showers
Bing Crosby

Little April Showers - From "Bambi"
Amy Lou Barnes

Let's Spring On
Nat King Cole

Lost April
Nat King Cole Trio

April Love
Pat Boone

When April Comes Again
Mel Torme

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

The Easter Day Keeper - Spring Supplement

I've put together a little supplement to the Spring Day Keeper that focuses on the upcoming days of the Easter season.  Embellished with vintage easter graphics and filled with lovely quotes referring to the season, this supplement will make a wonderful addition to your planning and organization needs. With plenty of room for brainstorming how you are celebrating the season, what traditions and recipes you'll be using, as well as a sheet dedicated to putting together the perfect Easter outfit for each member of your family (just print out as many copies of this page as you need), you'll go into the season feeling prepared and ready!  It's available for **FREE** , just click on the link below!



Monday, March 2, 2020

Spring Quarter Phenology Wheels


I'm a few days late on getting these up and posted, but hopefully it won't be too much trouble to go back and fill in the first few days of March!  Just click on the link below to download your free copy!


Sunday, March 1, 2020

With The Blare of Heaven's Trumpets

The Memorial Garden - Blackwater Creek Trail, Lynchburg, VA

"March begins with the blare of heaven's trumpets. Wind stirred into life by the radiant warmth of the young sun, lashes the budding trees.  As if in keeping with March's martial airs, the night sky announces Auriga, the charioteer. Auriga clatters across the northern skies behind a team of goats led by Capela, a bright star thought by the Greeks to be Almathea, the young she-goat who suckled Zeus as a baby. Young Zeus, unaware of his strength, reached out to grasp Almathea's horn and snapped it off. As reparation, he transformed her lost horn into a magical endless source of food and drink, the cornucopia.

The month's old Saxon name was Hrethmonath, "rough month", after the boisterous winds. The Dutch called it Lentmaand, "the time of Lent". In more ancient days March's winds competed with the bray of martial trumpets which signaled the start of Roman military operations after a winter hiatus and still bears the name of the god of war, mighty, merciless, Mars.

Roman tradition held that Mars with the father of Romulus, and actually instructed him in the creation of the first Roman calendar. Romulus then honored his father by making his month the first of the year. Since the Romans prided themselves on being a nation of sturdy farmers, Mars was also the patron saint of those who tilled the land.

The month and all born in it belonged to that terrible god, who blood red planet was said to drive men to carnage.  The Compost of Ptholomeus, and early almanac from the Middle Ages, claims that unto Mars . . .

"is borne thieves and robbers, nyght walkers and quarrel pikers, boasters, mockers and scoffers and these men of Mars causer war and murther and battle. They will be gladly smythes or workers of iyron, lyers, great swearers."

For a long time, as we have seen, the Roman's celebrated their new year not on the first of January, but in March. Spring had come, and the sere days of winter were already fading into memory. During March the lambs arrived, quivering with hope, and the planting that would bring the next year's harvest was cast into the fields. The arrival of March was good news.

The murder of Julius Caesar changed all that, and gave March a bloody hue. After the assassination, its ides, the fifteenth, became, and thanks largely to William Shakespeare, remains an uneasy watchword for imminent danger.

March is a time of delayed pleasure. Spring still dances over the distant hills, taunting those who have kept faith in spite of all appearances. The month opens in wintry Lenten gloom, but soon seems to soften towards Easter. River ice melts and robins return. The whispered promise of the sun at winter solstice takes full voice as the creeks slowly thaw, and the hard loam melts into butter. Then, suddenly, a bitter wind kills early buds, and the lakes which seemed only days away from welcoming swimmers, harden with new ice. March tests our faith. It can summon all the bluster of its namesake to convince huddled mortals, that the power of winter, like that of any tyrant, is not soon or lightly surrendered. On a night in late March the wind can blow with a force unfelt all winter. Fear not. Beneath the angry skies fragile as parchment but irresistible as time crocuses push their shafts up through the damp earth."

from The Dance of Time
by Michael Judge

March 2020