Sunday, October 17, 2021

Autumn Road

The storm arrived in sleep's deepest hours,

And stayed 'til noon in spitting showers.

Its chilly wind disturbed the weather.

We dashed inside to don our sweaters. 

All along the road the leaves were flying,

They seemed alive and in no way dying.

Fluttering, fighting, and flying down,

Yellow and red, green and brown.

Above it all the gray-blue sky

Was watercolor majesty.

I am skipping along the road,

The wind has loosened my heavy load.

And I am happy that autumn's come,

The sultry days of summer, done.

I am alive and in no way dying,

Like the maple leaves, free and flying.

copyright, M.K. Christiansen

Monday, October 11, 2021

Time to Burst Outdoors!

 It feels like autumn at last! I step onto the back deck, feel the gusty, cool breeze, hear the leaves rattling lightly, smell the damp rain ... and I'm so happy! Summer is over, finally! Now life and joy can begin!

(I deeply apologize to those who cannot identify with this feeling against summer. I know I'm outnumbered.)

I've been physically active recently. My doctor told me that my pre-diabetic situation remains unchanged since last fall, but that my vitamin D levels were very low; this deficiency was likely causing my fatigue and achiness. She gave me a prescription for D2, and voila!!! I'm feeling so much better!

I've been clipping shrubs and suckers on trees. Totally cleaned and rearranged the guest bedroom after our daughter moved out to the Little Dependency. Dismantled a huge drafting table for Adam and cleaned said Dependency. Finished knitting my homespun sweater!! (It's a bit wonky, but I think I love it.)

Loose ends still need to be woven in. The neck opening remains too big in spite of my cinching it up along the back. The bottom hem curls up. (sigh) But it's still a very fun sweater, and I'll enjoy it. I'm working on another mitred square blanket: 
This one will be smaller than the last, and will have a diagonal pattern.

I've tried to keep walking each morning when I'm not doing other physically-challenging farm or house work. Next, I want to paint our front door a bright teal/blue.

Here's a video I made yesterday -- short and sweet. My favorite poem.

Here's another video of ambient music I've been listening to lately. Very soothing.

In two days I'll drive up to West Virginia to see my dear mother, plus son and daughter and baby grandson will be there!!! I can't wait to hold and play with him. I'll be sure to take photos and make a video.

Okay, all you lovelies, venture forth into the brisk beauty of fall and think of all the fun things coming before the year's end. Thank you, Lord!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Pursuing Peace, Part 2

 First, I want to thank all of you who commented on the first "Pursuing Peace" post. Annie, your comment was so wonderful and helpful to me! So much honesty and wisdom in your words. Thank you!

I've spent some time studying Scripture to discover the answer to these two questions: 1) What emotions/internal effects will I experience from reading Scripture? and 2) What does the Bible say about how I can obtain internal peace?

For the first answer, I turned to Psalm 119, the premier passage about God's Word and what it does to God's child. It was a fascinating study! Here's a list of the primary emotional effects that Scripture had on David:
1. delight/joy
2. avoidance of sin/purity
3. revive his fainting soul/sustain him
4. thankfulness
5. meditation
6. longing/desire for God's Word
7. understanding/wisdom
8. fear/reverence of God
10. comfort

I probably missed a few, but that's the basic list. Annie added an important verse from Psalm 119: "Those who love Thy law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble." (119:165) So peace can be a result of loving God's Word. That's important to remember! I need to remember, however, that this verse does NOT say that peace comes from studying God's Word, which is what I tend to do. I love to study it, pick it apart, find connections, treat it like a piece of fascinating, wonderful literature. The love David has for Scripture is not a pedantic thing; he loves it because it reveals God's heart.

I found many other passages helpful in my search for spiritual peace, but none more than Philippians 4. (I'll put the other verses at the bottom of this post, for anybody who's interested.) Paul is addressing church conflict in Phil. 4 -- two women who are fussing with each other, Euodia and Syntyche. He urges them to live harmoniously. (Their names mean sweet-smelling and common goals. Haha!)

In verse 4, Paul tells his friends to be joyful. Then he reminds them to be gentle with everyone. Next he instructs them not to be fearful, "Don't be anxious." To avoid anxiety, they are to pray, asking God and thanking Him. And then ... peace comes as a gift of God, in inexplicable gift that's hard to put one's finger on. It's not something we drum up ourselves, not something we obtain with effort. It's God's work.

I don't know that this is some guaranteed recipe for peace, every time. But it's certainly good practice, and an excellent place to start. Perhaps the hardest step is the beginning: Be joyful! That's very hard when you're anxious and have no peace. I think Paul gives us a clue to being more joyful; what are we filling our minds with? I've always loved verse 8. It's gently convicting about what I expose myself to: is it true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, reputable, excellent, praise-worthy

If I fill my mind with things that are lies, wrong, impure, ugly, disreputable, awful, worthy of derision, then I can expect a troubled spirit. My lack of peace is a choice when I expose myself to such things. I think I should stop reading the news.

It's clear Paul is trying to get these Philippians to find inner peace. They're struggling. "Let your mind dwell on these [good] things." "Practice these things, and the God of peace shall be with you." (9)

It's no wonder that we feel more peaceful when we walk in beautiful nature that God created. Or perhaps we feel peace when we go to worship on Sunday and arrive early to sit in the sanctuary and pray. Or when we remember to thank God for the list of good things He's given us. 

A joyful attitude, a gentle disposition, praying instead of fear, and daily asking God for His peace -- all of these are challenges for me. 

Additional passages: Luke 8:48, Rom. 5:1, John 14:27, Gal. 5:22, Ps. 29:11, Isa. 26: 3, II Tim. 2:22

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Pursuing Peace

 I've been quite busy lately, and remiss about blogging. Isn't the cooler weather delicious? I'm outside a bit more now. I've also had a significant positive change in my health -- I've cut sugar and many carbs out of my diet. Oh My Goodness! It's been about two and a half weeks now, and I feel like my old self (nearly). 

One of our healthy meals

Gradually, I was feeling more and more fatigued, so much so that I could not function well after lunch. I pushed myself, but I had minimal energy. And I hurt so much. My back and torso were achy, and often my legs also.

Now I have good energy all day long and don't hurt anymore. Apparently the pain was caused by inflammation, a result of the sugars and processed foods I was eating. What a difference!

All that to say, I was able to do some real work today. I'm refurbishing a lovely chair that we nearly put on the burn pile. It's large, solid wood, and very loungy. I'll have to buy foam for the cushions, and upholstery fabric, and sew it all up. Quite a challenge! I've never done that before.

I'm also getting a handle on my front porch, which has been wrapped in heavy plastic for years, and is packed to the gills with junk.

I have a new, large storage closet in the little house, and much of this junk is going over there. (It's not junk exactly, of course. The true junk is being thrown away.)
I moved much junk off this side of the porch today!

Here's a youtube video I posted today.

It's about trying to find a bit of peace in a tumultuous world. I've often been told to read Scripture to find peace. And that can work ... but the purpose of Scripture is often to convict me of sin. I'm not sure that its purpose it to give me peace. The Holy Spirit gives peace, but He also convicts. It's a thorny subject. 

I do feel peace when I go outside and walk in the pasture or watch my chickens or fiddle with some project out there. Perhaps summer is difficult because I don't go out in the heat. Spinning is also a lovely, peaceful activity, and my spinning wheel is my new peaceful friend.

I've been walking each morning in a neighborhood, listening to music as I go, and reminding myself that, even though I dislike exercise, walking in a beautiful, peaceful spot is not really exercise, right?

Perhaps I'm better at knowing what doesn't give me peace, than what does. And if I avoid the things fraught with discord, I will be a few steps closer.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Pleasure of Achy Muscles

 I was commiserating with a friend recently about how horrible it's been to be housebound for the past 4-6 weeks. We've been confined in our homes because of the summer heat. By the end of August I begin to question whether I love the outdoors, because I don't go there. I think longingly of farm work on chilly days wearing a barn coat.

The other sad effect of hibernating in front of the air conditioners is a softening of the muscles. I've always been a rather strong girl, from a line of strong West Virginia women. We're an outdoorsy lot and enjoy a bit of physical labor. I enjoy tearing things down, hauling brush to burn piles, clearing limbs, raking leaves, and yanking out weeds -- as long as it's 70 degrees or cooler!

We're nearly there! The last two mornings I've hauled all kinds of debris from our old, massive burn pile. I've dragged tree limbs to a new burn pile location (in the big field). I've dug out lots of rusted metal scraps from items we burned in the old pile. I've dug out and wheel-barrowed away many loads of old ash. It was fun! I wish my body would let me do more of it. 

Why clear out our farm burn pile location? Because we want to transform it into a NICE fire pit, the kind with paving stones around it and camp chairs, where you can safely sit and roast marshmallows. This would be a lovely addition to our pecan grove area, and if we ever do turn that part of the farm into a Hip Camp location, the guests would enjoy it also.

Do you remember the Great Mysterious Hole we found in our house lot? Here's a link, if you want to read about it. In the end we concluded that it was probably a boot-legger's hole from years ago, but we're still not sure. It's become unsafe for Adam to drive the riding mower over, so we decided to uncover it again, fill it with all that metal debris from the burn pile, plus the ash, and close it up again. 

So that's where I've been hauling all the stuff too. Shovel, haul, dump, repeat. I came inside an hour ago and my muscles were not screaming at me. They were humming, awake, saying, "Ah! I remember this work! I've missed this!" It's that gentle achiness that actually feels good, so long as you don't push yourself too far.

I'm much too old for heavy work, but I don't want to become a couch-sitting ball of mush either. I'm ready for the days of barn coat and burn piles and geese calling overhead.

Hello, autumn.

Friday, August 27, 2021

When It Feels Like Fall

It feels like fall
in spite of the date
which tells me it's
August 28th.

It feels like fall
in spite of the sweat,
and the sauna heat
says it's not fall yet.

The corn says it's fall
as it rustles and whispers,
as its poor little stalks
grow crisper and crisper.

The leaves say it's fall
as their greens become brown.
They look tired of summer
and long to fall down.

In the early of morning
when the wild geese call
when the new mist rises
It feels like fall.

by M.K. Christiansen

Thursday, August 19, 2021

We All Learn to Fear

 When I was a young woman I learned to be afraid of the public school system. I was taught this in a variety of ways from a variety of people, from the time I was a school girl all the way into my 40s. People in my "group," my "tribe," convinced me in quiet ways and very vocal ways, that the American public school system was evil, and that at all costs I should try to keep my children out of it. I believed them.

I never attended public schools. I married a man who had attended nothing but public schools until he went to the private college where we met. He did not seem any worse for wear, but he freely admitted that he considered his academic training to be inferior. So we decided to homeschool. Or rather, I decided to homeschool, and he readily agreed with me.

I picked something to fear. Everyone does. Right now, various Americans consider quite a few entities to be Things to Fear:

The government
The church (any denomination, just pick one)
The environmentalists
The young people
The old people
Black people
White people
Any race of people other than your own
City people
Country people
And sadly, Your own family members

All these fearful people have one thing in common: they're terrified, and they cannot be convinced otherwise. It takes a lot for people to change their minds about their fears. They have to admit their fears are unfounded, that they were wrong in their assessment. Then they have to accept the entity they used to fear, and see it as less harmful, perhaps harmless.

I could have saved our family a lot of grief if I hadn't been so afraid of the public school system, and so stubborn in my fear. Some of my kids might have been happier. They would have had more friends. I would have had more friends. We might have stayed settled in one place longer, and we certainly would have felt more a part of the community. Instead we slogged our way through two decades of homeschooling and various teaching stints at private schools. That wasn't all bad either, but we made educational decisions based on fear, which is never a good basis for decisions.

I didn't think I was afraid; I thought I was wise and well-informed. Perhaps the hardest traits in ourselves to admit are fear and stubbornness. When I find myself giving something a very wide berth, I must ask myself, "Am I afraid of it?" If the thing I'm afraid of it a large group of people, an organization, then almost always my fear is unfounded. It's too general. There's no way that all the individuals are evil, in a group of hundreds, or thousands, or tens of thousands of people. If I am afraid of an individual person, I also have to ask myself if my fear is valid, justified. If it is, then the  appropriate response is forgiveness. Forgiving them is the only way to free myself of the damaging effects of my fear.

On social media, I see so much fear, but it is expressed in anger. Usually when people sound angry, they are actually afraid. I'd love to get rid of my fear because then I could feel contentment and peace again. Fear crushes love, and drives out peace, and eats away the soul of the fearful.