P-a-a-a-a-a-a-tience (December 6th)

The early winter days have a rhythm all their own…Though the days shorten quickly, with late sunrises and early sunsets, the skies somehow seem more endless…

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More serenely eternal…

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More quietly reflective and enduring…

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The birds seem to notice it too, with a thoughtful far-off gaze about them as they perch with feathers ruffled, or bob pensively on the choppy winter wavetops.

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The forests have settled into a stillness, a lull, not bare exactly because of all the evergreens, but slow and deliberate and like the beginning of a long wait…

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The understories are more open and exposed with all the leaves down, and the forest inhabitants seem drowsy and lazily inquisitive, as if puzzled to find you there…

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This bald eagle led us, treetop to treetop, along the path, always winging ahead just as we drew even, and alighting at the next available branch along the trail, watching us as we were watching him…

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“Why do they keep following me? What are they staring at? What is that clicking sound?” 🙂

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New life still abounds in these warm forests, like this bright fungus which was cheerfully colonizing a recent logging-cut…

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(It’s interesting to see how the ferns and wildflower and mushrooms quickly carpet a logged area, simply setting to work covering everything over with a layer of new life :))

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And this tiniest-of-mosses, which doesn’t seem to be aware that a chunk of quartz is an inhospitable place for plant-life.

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The same golden bay-sunsets bring continuity to the seasons, though several hours separate them from winter to summer.

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My days have a new rhythm now, as well, as a new chapter is unfolding for our family…

It all began just a few short months ago, when I told Joe that I felt in my heart that I should begin to look into moving to…Texas…? See, this was a weird feeling for me because, though I’m from there, I’ve never had a specific desire to move back. And most recently, of course, I’ve know that God planted our family in the Pacific Northwest for a reason, and we have greatly enjoyed being here. My parents, as well, have been enthusiastically supportive of us being here, convinced, especially by the pictures and my writing, that there is no other place on earth where we should be 🙂 So, it was with a big question-mark that I told Joe about this, and asked him what his thoughts were. He immediately agreed that this was in his heart as well, and we both realized that, quite suddenly, our hearts were full of the desire to be in Texas, and that we were both perfectly at peace with packing up and leaving this amazingly beautiful Pacific Northwest which we had planned to call home.

It was a strange feeling, to be sure – and all-the-more convincing that it came from the Lord, because it didn’t seem at all possible that it came from us! And It certainly makes sense in God’s beautiful planning…My father seems to be nearing the end of his days here, and Mom is taking care of him at home. They are in great spirits, both very close to the Lord, and Dad and I have even said some good-byes with the knowledge that we may not see each other in this life, and the joyful certainty that we have eternity to come! But still, it seems absolutely right that we would move to Texas now, for a time…When I told Mom what we had decided, she even tried to convince me not to at first, not wanting us to move purely out of a feeling of obligation or something…But when I explained that God had changed our hearts, she laughed and said “God answers my prayers too!”

And so, we knew we were getting ready to move, but the timing was a complete mystery. Last time we prepared for a cross-country move, it was two years before we departed! This felt like it was going to be sooner, but we really didn’t know anything for sure…Until a few short weeks ago, during a normal day at work, when I suddenly heard and knew that it was time to give my two weeks’ notice the following Monday, with the result that my last day was Friday, November 13th. It was an interesting experience, because I heard this direction clearly, but when I shared it with Joe, he hadn’t heard anything – and honestly, as the spiritual head of our household, we always expect him to hear everything first. It was very uncomfortable for both of us, and we both spent the day Friday praying to understand why this would happen. And we both heard, quite clearly, “Do I need to repeat Myself? Aren’t you one in marriage?” It was pretty funny, and also a great relief. Even more interesting was that, it was very clear to me that my reason for leaving was because “The Lord told me it was time to be at home.” Of course, I explained that we thought we were being called to move to Texas to be with my parents, but with no job lined up and our house still on the market, it was a lot for most people to swallow. So that was good for me – I really dislike making people uncomfortable and might want to gloss over the truth to make things easier for them, so this was good training for my character 🙂

And so I’ve been home for almost a full month now. Our days are surprisingly simple – the kids’ routine is very similar to when I was working, but now I get to be a part of it 🙂 Morning’s start with Bible Study, then breakfast, homeschool, lunch, followed by any special projects, then dinner and evening free time. Special projects right now include sorting, organizing, packing, and loading the trailer; putting things up for sale on Craigslist; trip-planning; some final workshop projects and garden projects; and some writing and drawing and painting, as well. Interestingly, though this lifestyle is not sustainable because our mortgage and bills would eventually exhaust our savings, the days feel so much more natural and right because all work and activities are centered around the family, and the family is centered around Jesus…It’s the intended order of things! 

And what wonderful moments I’ve been a part of, being home full-time…Watching kiddos develop into nature enthusiasts, notebooks and pencils at-the-ready…

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This time of year, there’s great opportunity to spot new backyard passers-by, like this Varied Thrush…

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Or the Ruby-Crowned Kinglet – so shy and so quick that I could’t get a picture at all…But by sitting still and quiet around a fire in the backyard, we did manage to get enough good looks at him buzzing about our apple tree to identify him with our handy local bird-book! 

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What an exciting moment, when you first identify a bird you’ve never seen (or even heard of!) before…All of 4”, quick as lighting and smooth as silk, this spritely little guy was a real thrill to see and a great “I told you so” to our children, who still don’t really believe that you’ll actually see more creatures by sitting still and quiet, lol!

And at any time of year, there are local favorites like the impish blue Stellar’s Jay, and the industrious Red-Headed Sapsucker who makes daily visits to our apple trees. I thought to myself one morning – there probably aren’t that many families that get to experience the delightful cry of “Sapsucker! Sapsucker!” ringing across the house, followed by the pattering feet and excited cries of three little naturalists rushing to the back door! 🙂 it cracks me up every time. “Sapsucker! Sapsucker!” Hahahaha!

Or to be at home during the development of the shaving horse, a foot-operated vise used with hand-tools, as it went from a section of fir-trunk to a beautifully-patterned bench…

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Eventually adopted as the favorite new tool of my little girl, who continually asks for more practice pieces so that she can “Make it smooth!!”

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And, as we found out right at this same time that Spencer is healed of his dairy allergy, there have been a whole host of “firsts” to enjoy, at home and around town…first hot chocolate, first whipped cream, first bagel with cream cheese, first cheeseburger, first slice of regular pizza…Mainly, it’s just extremely pleasant to grocery shop, eat out, and prepare food at home without any thought about dairy!

I have been, in so many moments, very appreciative to be at home.  

And yet somehow, I’ve still found it challenging, in this most enjoyable of all times, to remain patient in the Lord. I mean, shouldn’t I be doing something? Shouldn’t something be happening? I feel hurried at times, though I have no deadlines and no one pressuring me…And that makes me short-tempered 🙂 So my great enjoyment is still punctuated with bouts of frustration! *sigh*

I know that I want to be more joyful, to practice keeping myself focused on the joy of the Lord until it overflows from me all the time (or at least most of the time!). What better time to be joyful than when I get to be at home with my family? What an amazing time, to simply live everyday life together, like I would always want! This is another incredible training ground – having been sent home by the Lord to be with my family, with a new journey about-to-begin that brings peace to my heart, I now have the opportunity to simply and joyfully live out the days in between…Can I do it?

Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him (Psalm 37:7)

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