Many Thanks

It’s felt a bit like Christmas, gift after gift, and joy to match.  Two friends who faced cancer were healed.  My foster niece will soon legally be my niece after years of waiting and uncertainty.  Two of our children won a school supply raffle.  Family stepped in to help with tutoring fees for another of our kids.  A friend blessed me with a large bag of fabric to use.  Another anonymously sent me a box of fabric as well (thank you, whoever you are!  So sweet!  You blessed my heart!).  Another friend enabled me to attend an amusement park with my toddlers, while yet another had my kids over for the day.  My son got to spend a weekend at a lovely lake house enjoying boat rides and all sorts of fun.  My husband plugged away at our cottage we’re fixing up in the backyard which will be my soap studio and a sometimes airbnb to help with school fees.  My mother-in-law helped me with running kids about, and took them on special outings one-on-one.  A cousin’s wife gave me black raspberries and eggs from her chickens.

There are always hard things happening; our prayer list is ever-full and growing, but too there is joy and peace and encouragement in the midst of sorrows and trials.  20664553_661313794073816_3145693829644866278_n

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Quieted

There was nothing to say, but plenty for the hands to do.  I cut vintage fabric, lace, and paper into long strips and wrapped them around rough-cut bars of soap, finishing with jute or sea grass tied in a simple bow, the ends dangling over the side.  I cut the craft paper labels and affixed those.  Piles and piles of “dressed” soaps, tucked into paper bundles, swaddled in bubble wrap, and sent to all over the United States.

And just like that the weeks passed with the smell of hot glue and essential oils, with the continual littering below my drafting table of paper and fabric bits.  With the baby continually sniffing at the soaps, crinkling his nose with delight.  And my soap shelves grew bare and sparse and I marveled at it all; this unexpected provision from a hobby gone madhouse.

image1-6 image2-3 IMG_2728 Though we were unable to establish an online shop yet, the email orders came flooding in.  It was good timing; I’ve been ordered to rest and all but my hands have obeyed.  I sat at my drafting table and worked and worked without tiring out my heavily pregnant body.  And it’s been a good distraction from counting down the weeks until baby’s arrival.

It’s quiet and fulfilling work and it feels like a gift.  There’s flexibility and variety and creativity, and remarkably, a profit margin.  Usually my work in this world brings every good thing except a paycheck.

I was surprised as the days passed that I had no words for here; I had my quiet work and a quiet heart.  The snow is falling outside, the children playing there turning it all into a magical blank canvas upon which to create.  The baby sleeps deep and the turkey bakes with the smell of orange zest and rosemary.  And my words are few, but come from a grateful, quieted heart.

 

On Hard-wearing Joy

IMG_2382I sit in the quiet hours of Henrik’s nap.  I should be canning tomatoes and getting the diapers out on the clothesline, but for now I let the stillness have sway.  Yesterday we celebrated Sophia’s birthday with a four-course meal on our best plates for her and ten of her dear friends.  There was an embroidery lesson, there was sparkle slime made, there were huge bubbles blown on a homemade wand.  There was the that daughter at day’s end thanking me for my hard work to make her birthday so special.

I melted into my bed last night, and my husband massaged my aching feet, and we talked in that easy-exhausted-contented way that we do after a big day.

Joy.  That is the word my thoughts keep circling back to.  How much joy is in this life we’ve been given.

IMG_2346A naked baby in an old enamel pot having a bath in a stained laundry room sink kind of joy.  It’s astounding, really.  We’re broke and I just crazy-glued my wedding ring back together because we can’t afford to get it repaired, but we’re madly happy.  God wraps joy in and through all our mess and holds us together.

IMG_2309 IMG_2323 IMG_2336 IMG_2298IMG_2409IMG_2441IMG_2407IMG_2384Yes, I am astounded.  Astounded by His mercy…by all this joy in the midst of day-to-day hardships.  Yes, our world is mad; outright brimming with suffering and violence and death.  How can I believe in God?  Because the world is beautiful too; outright brimming with joy and kindness and children and smiles and tastes and flowers and redemption.  How can I not?