Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter waiting

I've been seized by the sort of impatience that only seems to creep up at this time of year. We're no longer wrapped up in the busy frenzy of summer, the beginning of the school year and the holidays.  It is just plain winter now.

A few weeks ago, I turned the final page in my calendar and hung the new one.  The promise of the new year makes me anxious to jump into a million new things.  It is a time for do-overs, a time to try things never done.  I looked wistfully back at last summer, mentally playing the past year over in my mind.

I should have spent more time with my family doing things in the evening.  I should have stuck with yoga and healed my foot.  I should have gone on more dates with my husband and camped more with my family. I should have harvested my garden on time and kept my animals from eating the new things I planted.  I should have sold goats and better prevented foot rot in the ones I have.  I should have spun more yarn and read more books. I should have built low tunnels for my winter garden and fed my chickens more regularly.  I should have prepared my son better for the transition from homeschooling to public school.  I should have taken the time to visit more beaches and stood barefoot at the water, just resting.

There are too many should haves, I know.  I also know that there is no need to dwell on them. That's not my job.  I'm a flawed human being with unique talents and quirks, made to fit as a significant piece into the boundless expanse of creation: here to do things only I can do.  A speaker at our church spoke of this, imploring us to find our passion: whatever it is we do and never tire of doing.  When we recognize this, it is simple to find the unique gifts we've been given in ministry and everyday life.

It's easy for me to find these things:  I love to write.  I love to create art, whether it is through photography, wool, clay or paper.  I love to learn, and to share what I have learned.  I love to garden, to be active outdoors and to marvel at the world through the eyes of small children.

During this winter time, I am reminded not to rush into the next thing I would like to try, to teach, to create or to grow.  A dear friend reminded me of this recently:  this winter time has its purpose.   It is a time of rest for the plants and animals, a time of slow growth of roots and preparation for new life.  It is the same for me: for you too.  It's a sort of sabbath that we can only fully appreciate when we are intentional about it.  It is far too easy to spend these dark days lamenting what might have been and worrying about what work lies ahead; what we would like to fix about ourselves or do differently.

So what if we do as my friend says, and rest?  What small joys will we find when, instead of barreling haphazardly into the year, we enter it thoughtfully, taking only one new task on at a time?  This makes sense to me.  I will take her advice.  Would you like to do this too?

So far, I have added yoga into my weekly routine and it has been important to know I'm keeping myself from aging too prematurely.  I'm too young to be unable to sit cross legged on the ground!  Yoga has already enabled me to feel more relaxed and to sit more comfortably on the floor with my four year old playing, and to sit on the ground during Wednesday night church activities with my 6 year old.  I am able to play with my 4 year old and her friends at our homeschool co op, and I don't feel as distracted by my pains and stiffness.  Slowly, I am becoming more able to minister in the ways that I love: playing with children on their own level and showing them how wonderful and important their exuberance really is.

Photography is an important part of the way I express my creative self.  Although I would like to grow my business and to do portraits for many more families than I currently do, I am taking on the challenge instead to focus on my own family in my work.  It is working out so that I do not seem to have more work than I can handle at any time, and I am able to document my family along the way and also to put a little into my blogs now and then.  My children are becoming active participants in my little photography ideas, and we are loving it!  I am able to notice more wonders in our normal days because photography naturally engenders an intense sort of focus.

Writing:  I have added on another blog especially for my photography and am learning to be more intentional about what I post in this blog and that.  It is through my writing, photography and other art that I seek to encourage and inspire.  The reach and impact of this is something I myself cannot measure, but I know without a doubt that they are the passions I've been given.  It follows then they should be shared if I am to be a good steward of them.

If I am slow and careful going into this new season I think I will be ever so much more effective than I would be without taking the sort of sabbath rest that these winter months offer.  What sort of rest do you need?  What are your passions and gifts?  How can they be used to shower love and care on those around you?  These are the questions I will continue to dwell on this winter.  Will you join me?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Beautiful Light

Maybe it's because the sun's so rare around here in the Pacific Northwest. I'm thirty four years old, but it's only recently that I'm recognizing the emotional response beautiful light evokes in my heart. I think we all have this natural response to light. When a room is dark, and a door opens, light pours in and we are drawn to it. I've found though, that sometimes, it's more beautiful when I take the time to marvel in it.

In the picture above, it was morning. The golden light of morning should have shone on the opposite side of this goblet, but for some reason it was coming from the opposite direction. Instead of trying to figure out why, it was more gratifying to notice the grain in the wood and the way it glowed.

Why is wood so beautiful and so varied, even when it is hidden within a tree, beneath bark and bugs? I think it's because our Creator knew. He knew we as humans, who were made in his image, would want in turn to take a piece of His beautiful creation and to create something new. We would peel away the dirt, cut into the wood, shaping it, polishing it. Our new object would reflect the best attributes of the tree it was made from, whether it is endurance and strength or lightness and pliability. The glow of our new object in the light of day would remind us of how glorious that tree seemed at sunrise, and we would be thankful.

This goblet reminds me to notice the light...not only the beautiful light that comes at dawn, or at the golden hour before dusk. I am reminded that there is light throughout each day, whether it is diffuse in heavy fog, refracted through endless raindrops, or dancing like sequins on a frosty gate. It's a taste of heaven, I think. 

And the city has no need of sun or moon, 
for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.  
Revelation 21:23

Monday, January 21, 2013

Handmade Holiday 2012

Our local farmers market hosts an annual event every year just before Christmas, featuring local artisans, farmers, bakers and confectioners.  It's called Handmade Holiday and in its second year, it already drew some loyal customers who remembered products from last year.  Vendors are hand selected for their high quality and people come from all over the county to  shop.  This year, the bazaar was lucky enough to be held in the same place as the Santa pictures, so there was even more traffic!  It was a privilege to be able to take part in this event with my daughter this year.  She sold her lovely crocheted things and I sold my quirky needle felted creations alongside those of my daughter's dear friend.  We're already looking forward to next year.