January Yarnalong 2021

I finished Gilead by Marilynne Robinson yesterday. It is beautiful and seemed to speak so much so me. I started reading A Promised Land By Barack Obama before Christmas and I have loved it as far as I’ve gotten although this is not very far at all- maybe 7 chapters. I plan to pick it up again soon.

I am knitting a wee scarf for 13’s teddy bear (that he requested for his birthday) and am attempting a doll or a stuffy or a something that I am a bit unsure about as yet for a purpose that I am just as unsure about (my normal process).

Christmas week we managed to catch planets aligning just so and took what some had dubbed the Star of Bethlehem as a promise that Jesus is with us still. Of course we know that, of course we do- but planets aligning just so the week of Christmas was such a sweet and delightful happening that I took hold of it as such a sign of goodness and hope after this year. I made sure to say it again and again to all of us.

Our Christmas was quite quiet this year. Goodness it was nice. I would have loved to visit family and have a house full to brimming and meet new babies and all that but it was, to us, a kind of soothing balm to all of our scrapes and wounds that this strange year has brought us. I’m not even really speaking about Covid-19 as much as a ton of other really difficult things that happened as well as the wretched virus. We had a lovely Christmas and I am thankful.

We went away to the mountains for a few days after Christmas – very carefully and we were completely on our own. It was such a good break from our house. I did not take any yarn or needles or a hook with me which must have been the very first time since I don’t even know when, and this was a much needed rest for my hands after so long Knitting for Others (HK edition) and all the normal Christmas Knitting.

Three kids asked for socks and three asked for fingerless mitts for Christmas which was nice and easy. I used this sock pattern, and this one– both slightly modified. For the Mitts I used a few patterns (maize, honeycomb and paddle to be precise) from Tin Can Knits – also slightly modified. I made myself a pair of socks and hubby too and knitted several Christmas wash cloths to go into gift baskets but I made those up as I went.

In my journal I wrote that my goal for a certain profile description might someday read, “In between books and work I knit and make.” I don’t feel that the last year had enough completed books or making which is what I call creating things of my own design – in whatever medium I chose- to be able to use that description as yet. Perhaps at the end of this year those words will prove true enough to my heart to use them. I’m half joking but I think that maybe mostly I am not.

I’m not bothering this year with anything even slightly resembling a New Year resolution. I really want to, out of habit perhaps. But nah. Not this time. I’m cherishing my kids and doing my best to give them what they need right here, right now. I’m clinging to my husband, my very best friend ( for real though) as we both struggle – a lot – but not enough to lose faith. I’m shoring up all my edges with only the most necessary. Also cherishing sweet friends in chats and zoom calls and phone coffee dates. I’m biding my time until the day that I can visit family far away. I don’t know what is coming but I do know that He knows. God, I mean and that is a great comfort.

There is yoga in my bathroom and walks at the trail I love and the treadmill although not as often as I should but oh well! There is the sense that I just might use some of the hundred and twenty-seven thousand healthy recipes that I have collected over the years. There is a note in my back pocket (it actually hangs above my desk but I think you get my meaning) that says, “start and don’t stop until you finish.” Also there are quiet times and prayer and I won’t lie, probably too much crying but none of that is new. I don’t spot a resolution in there at all.

All this to say that we are good here. Struggling, hurt, wounded, afraid, anxious, unnerved maybe- probably, for sure. But we are together. We are loved and comforted. We are seen and heard, known and that is huge. We are prayerful and full of hope even in our doubt. I think we know each other better which is a lot, maybe everything. I hope that you are well where you are. I pray that you are comforted when you need comfort and strengthened when you need strength and loved. All of it really. Not to sound too preachy but you are not alone, I hope that is something that we all can know deeply when it matters.

Peace friends, t

PS. I will join Ginny if I don’t forget 🙂

Making For Others {HK edition}

I’m having trouble starting this post. I hope you are well. It’s been such a strange Spring. We are well, although our season was hard. Hard. Hard. We’ve made it back to solid ground now. Standing on solid surfaces holding hands with each other now and Jesus. Maybe someday I’ll say here why this season was so difficult. Maybe not.

I haven’t been reading a lot at all. I did listen to The Waiting, It stirred a lot of surprising emotions and made me think deeper about my kids birth moms which is a good thing I think. I picked up Father Brown off my shelf but haven’t read more than a few pages. I seem to be in a bit of a reading rut but now that school is officially out for all the kids (as of Friday) maybe I’ll add a “reading hour” to our daily routine and join them. I’m knitting the Be Brave Wrap and have cast on Rye Light socks. I’’m going to link this post to Ginny’s May Yarnalong, I know— it’s a miracle.

We are so near Summer that I can almost feel the heat. Soon we will all start our mornings outside and stay as long as we can stand it before retreating to the cool indoors for the remainder of the day. I’ve been thinking about how we’ll shape our days here. We all need routine to feel some safety, some calm. Something solid to soothe our wondering.

But this year is not like any other year. I can’t see us coming out into crowds in the near future. I’m still content to go out for groceries on my own or even better asking hubby to bring them after work. We are staying in on purpose, I’m thankful that we can and mindful that not everyone can.

I am acutely aware of a few groups of people far away who cannot just go out in the near empty streets to play before returning to the cool comfort of large rooms. Of elderly men and women who work all through the day in whatever season it is. They push large stacks of cardboard that they collect in the streets of their city. It is their occupation. It is the way they make very little money that they will try to live on in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

When they are able to return home it is often to tiny and uncomfortable spaces (cage homes) stuffed with all of their belonging. Sometimes they never get to leave the elements. Never get to get in out of the heat or cold. Never get to leave the wind or the rain completely. Some (and more than you might think) will tuck themselves behind or beneath stacks of their bags and belonging tucked under bridges or corners outside. No matter how harsh the weather.

All of their circumstances add up to a terribly hard way of life. Some have been known to sleep at tables where families gather to happily eat their French fries in the daytime hours. Although I am not sure those dining rooms are open for those nights of restless sleep these days.

This faithful group serves these elderly poor (and many others in Asia) everyday.

I am also thinking of children who’ve moved into the same city with their families. Moved from other countries into the full to overflowing city that is Hong Kong. These children have their own first language but in school, and to be able to do school, they learn Chinese and English all at the same time. Their lessons are hard. The places they live are often full and are always small. But it is a blessing that there is an indoors to go to.

My friend and his family serve these children, and others. They offer tutoring after school, even during breaks when other kids get a respite from schoolwork. They offer kid’s clubs of all sorts, neighbor ministries and vacation Bible schools along with the near daily tutoring. They offer care, support, resources and prayers to these children and their families and in this season masks, gloves and sanitizer when they have them to give. Shanti (which means peace in Hindi) Ministries serves so well asylum seekers and ethnic minorities in Hong King everyday.

This season I am putting my fingers to work for the elderly poor in Honk Kong. Things to keep them warmer next Winter. And also for the children in my friends clubs and for their mamas or aunties. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time.

I think I’ve been overwhelmed before the start. Decided my little bit is not enough. But setting that aside I’ve set to work and My process has always been something akin to what Elizabeth Chanin says about infusing the thread in her hand sewn creations with good intentions, rather my solitary work will also be filled with slow and intentional prayers for the ones who will wear them.

This is how I tend work. Praying for who would receive the gift. I’m not fast but in every stitch of the handmade thing there is also love and prayers. Hope and redemption is prayed for. That hearts would know the love of God and seek Him. Health and freedom and strength in the good and bad. Grace and mercy and peace. All good things from heaven for them.

Edited June 2020: I’m using a few free patterns to make these works- or at least that is the plan today. I’ve cast on going to focus on hats. I like this free two-by-two hat pattern and This similar free hat pattern. The rib makes for a stretchy comfy fit for any size head.

Here are a few free patterns that you might like to use: This is the pattern for mittens. This is the pattern for a hat. This is the pattern for super warm woolen socks. I like this one for the mamas and aunties. I also like this hat a lot. I made for one of the boys on his birthday. It’s very stretchy so I reckon it would fit many heads. I’ll add other patterns here if I need to.

Feel free to join me. Or rather, would you consider joining me? You can send them straight to the ministries in HK (linked above) or send them here and I will send in the later days of Fall November, whichever you prefer.

Please pray. And remember that you can always send them financial donations if you prefer. It will not be wasted. Promise. Inquire about any of this and share as you like and thanks for stopping in.

Blessings, t

little

Over the Summer we added two pets to the family. A husky pup because someone had a big birthday and asked at just the right time. And an accidental kitten. Hubby has always wanted puppies or kittens. I have always fought them off because we had babies or little kids and puppies and kittens chew and scratch and bite and do not yet know that they should not. So I’ve managed to dodge hundreds of wee animals in the name of familial safety.

It was however, on a milestone birthday when husband spotted some cute puppies for sale. He sent pictures. Then called. I said no and after we hung up I texted go ahead and then called him to make sure he knew. It was his birthday for goodness sake. He is awesome and he has always wanted a puppy so- yes. The brown one. but he liked the white one who he could name ghost, you know because of Jon Snow. I laughed and then completely caved.

The next week I’m taking wee ghost for his shots- there are kittens in the front waiting area, in cages adorable and frolicking. I’m not tempted. Not in the least. But our youngest kiddo and I are waiting for more than 40 minutes and the cuteness was just too much. That day we came home with Benjamin the cat. He is a mess! He plays and bites. Chews and scurries and darts through the house like an armed missile. But I do love him so maybe mostly because he seems to know that he is my cat.

– he sleeps when we are awake –

So at this time we have five kids and five pets. It is a lot. But everyone loves them. Well not really. Our oldest dog isn’t at all sure about Ghost and Benjamin and the hair on his neck stands up for a long time when they are around- invading his space but eventually he adjusts and seems happy with them. Big dog number two loves them both immediately and is ready to play and pounce and chew. He is with us and them for for a few months until a quick illness takes him to heaven. That was hard for everyone, he was such a good dog. RIP Quinnie boy.

The big cat was not interested in any new friends at all. She is awesome and solitary and only wants your help getting through the cat doors to food and water and litter boxes. And really she doesn’t need anyone’s help- she can go through just fine- she just prefers that someone help her. She is big and fluffy and really only loves daughter 10 and sleeps with her and basically lives in her room. She has yet to warm to them. She is boss. She is queen of all the pets. One feels so special when she comes to say hello.

I’ve introduced you to our family pets for a reason, promise. The kids were so excited. They immediately loved them both. They clamored to hold them, pet them, feed them, love on them. And everyone handled the kitten and the puppy pretty well, except for daughter 8. She loved them and was excited in the same way as the others but where she struggled was this: kittens scratch and puppies bite. It happened with each of them on separate days in different weeks but it was basically the same. I heard her crying.

Checking on her I found her overwhelmed and weepy. She cried out, “Why is he hurting me?” Alligator tears flowing, spit slipping over the edges, mouth open wide and eyes shut tight, she cried hard. “Oh, baby they are babies still and they haven’t learned not to bite and scratch, to them they are just playing with you.” She cried some more, “But I’m just trying to loooove theeeem.”

I comfort her for as long as it took both times. Both times I fought the tears. I hurt for my sweet heart; giant heart girl. I tell her so. I tell her that I love her heart. Hold her and rock her and tell her that time will pass and they will both learn not to hurt us but that it will take time and we will have to teach them. She gets angry at some point and says she won’t play with them or love them ever again. I smooth the hair back from her tear soaked face. I tell her she will feel love for them when her feelings aren’t so hurt.

She reminds me of me, now with some in our family who I chose to love. Mouth open, spit dripping, tears flowing and the immature little girl self in this old woman is wondering why they won’t just let me love them without them hurting me, us. I’ve let the hard years turn me cold and I’ve let negative bias and resentment in often enough to not like myself anymore. I cry out and the Good Father comforts me, my words to my girl ring in my ears as His voice to this mama’s heart.

He tells me that time will pass and they will learn how to let our love in but that it will take time and we will, all of us, need to grow. So often I allow my emotions to run untamed and have felt like I want to throw in towels and run away inside my heart and Father smooths the hair back from my tear soaked face. He tells me how I do love them and will remember this when my feelings aren’t so hurt anymore. As the days pass I sense the deepness and realness of Father’s promise that He is still working in me. Still growing me, moving things around, making me able where I wasn’t able before.

Continue reading “little”

all the heavy hard

If I could just not feel like a failure that would be good. That would be such a nice change of pace. I have struggled with not being okay for decades. Decades. And that is just not fair. I sound like such a baby. I’m just so tired. Why does healing take so long?

Why can’t I just be better already? This inner battle has ruined me. It has made me a bad friend, parent, wife. Why can’t I just be even keeled and patient? I am so angry and frustrated- most of the time. I think I am worse as a person as I ever have been.

I’ve looked back at my childhood traumas. I’ve forgiven. I’ve prayed. I’ve searched for meaning and tried and decades have passed and I am still so stupidly needy for your affirmation and admiration and I don’t even know you.

I need a stranger to tell me that I am okay or good or something significant to be those things. Not my husband though. Or my friend. Or Jesus because I just can’t believe them. I’m broken. There is something wrong with me and I just cannot figure out what it is and frankly, I am just so tired of trying to figure it out.

I try. I work hard. I delve and listen and read and try and nothing. Just more words inside my head. I am no different. I am still a mess. No better. In fact all these decades of all this work leaves me more frustrated than ever. Makes me angry. Makes me worse than I was before.

And here I am. Unable to really change. Unable to really be enough. Unable to really believe. And done. Lord, I think I am just done. I don’t know what it means. I don’t know where it takes me. I know that for decades I have been trying to be okay. Satisfied. Enough. And I am still none of those things.

I also know- somehow- that for the decades and all the time before and for all the time after- You, Lord. The God who made everything- have been and will always be faithful. And for me. And I don’t really know how I can hold on to this as truth and feel the way that I feel today but there it is.

This. Is. All. I’ve. Got.

And then it is not. Hope slips up into my limbs from my dry ground like dew covering so much grass. There was nothing and then there was so much. I am not my feelings. I am not my feelings. I am not my feelings. Sometimes feelings lie. Like the devil. Like my hungry stomach. Like my woman body. Like my sleepy head. Like my fears. Like my weary soul.

Lord, take all of this. I lay it down. These worries for my kids. For my marriage. For all the heavy hard in the world. How I never feel good enough. Your work on the cross made me good enough. Not anything I do or have done. None of it. You answer all my prayers. I know you have healed me. The ashes proof of so much fire. I trust in Your Holy love. I do. I’m just tired Lord. I know that You know it and that You can handle my weary whiny messiness.

You are Lord. You are Lord. You are Lord. Jesus and I put my trust in You.

A Letter To Luke

I don’t often come here. To the quiet place in my room. To the small brown desk with someone else’s name scratched into the bottom of its drawer. But here I am with tablet and pen and coffee hot and strong. I’ve dusted off my working wheels and pulled the pages from my shelf; pen atop my ear. I’ve gathered toys from tables and chairs and counters and placed them into rooms and closed their doors; clutter our of sight.

The sound of the bathroom fan and my breathing in and out. The click of the keys and the dog gnawing on his bone. Helicopter overhead and semi truck passing on the road. These are the sounds that fill my ears while I wait for…something. You put down your cup and look up at me and we see one another better. I understand what you meant by the things that you said last night and you see, in my brown eyes swimming, how it all might have meant very little in the light of this new day. Time and sleep and sunshine and coffee bringing us back to common ground.

What a subtle grace it is to love ones best friend. You hold my hand even though we fight and I call you terrible names. I stand beside you even when you make me feel small and alone. We cling to one another in the battles of the everyday and we don’t let go and we always mean it when we say sorry and when we forgive. Even if its hard, maybe especially when its hard.

When I am weak and tired and don’t think that I can make it you send me trudging onward with such clever words and laughter and strong shoulders to cry on. When you are low and defeated I take your hand and whisper truth and the curtains open or the clouds part and light comes back behind your eyes to hope and to strength and we go on together.

I know that I can smash my face into your chest and weep and you won’t shove me away because you are busy or tired or angry even if you are feeling any of those things. You know (or at least I think that you know, rather hope you know!?) that even if you need to show me how scared you are that I still trust you, still believe in you, still love you.

I am thinking of braids now; picturing them in my mind. Three strands of differing colors and textures folded in over and under and together making something new. One strand of gold, one of silver and one of silk; Father God, you and me; strong, unbreakable. I am thinking that I am so thankful that we met so long ago in those large rooms among the rows of seats and angst filled youth. Thankful that we stayed friends even after you went one way in the world and I went another. Thankful for plain rides and holding hands and waiting for kisses and all the rest of it. This great love, steeped in sweet friendship was worth waiting on love. Thank you.

Yours, t










our road {a promise}

Last month my husband and I went on a trip to another state for six days. It was the very first time we’d both left the kids for more than one night. My husband could have gone on twenty trips without the kids at any point in our marriage because he doesn’t have the insecurities and mama worries that I have had. It took me a bit longer. It took hard work on myself and the building of relationships that we could trust when it comes to care for our kids. It didn’t happen overnight. It took ages. It took a lot of prayers and change and growth and for me, none of it was easy. But it was worth the work. I feel like we are now in a new stage in life. Like we have crossed a road that has always scared me and walk in a place of peace.

The logistics were challenging for this kind of trip. Rather than use respite for our FD9 we asked Hubby’s mom to come and stay at our house for those 5 nights. Two couples from our church, people the kids know and love, came and gave my MIL a rest, took the kids for a walk, did crafts, took the boys to lunch and just teamed up to help care for our six kiddos so that hubby and myself could rest and recharge. It was hard to leave. It was difficult to plan. We had to work hard on the budget to make it happen and I had to let go of trying to control everything and trust God and my friends and family to meet my kiddos needs. Was it perfect? Did it all go super great? no, but it did work. The kids were safe. The team worked together and everyone did so well.

We spent five nights in Seattle and it did not rain once. The sun shone down on us. The water lapped and sparkled along the shores and the snow-caped mountains smiled at us as we drove on freeways, stood on towers and relaxed on waterways. It was splendid. It was refreshing and restful and restorative. We met people like us. Folks who are foster parents and adoptive parents who love Jesus and who struggle and question and persevere. It was so great. At the end we boarded flights and ate great food and enjoyed hot coffee and stout beers and when we landed in our own state we were so surprised to find that it was raining.

Tiny raindrops dotted the cracked windshield of hubby’s old work car as we drove into and over the mountains on our way home. We smiled and laughed that the rain was waiting for us in the desert rather than meeting us in the Pacific North West. We smiled at the thought of all the lovely sunshine that we had enjoyed over the past several days. It felt to my heart like a lesson. Like God had smiled down on us and given us this gift of Sun and rest and peace. Like he was saying that it was not just okay that we take the time for ourselves and for rest, but that we must and that He was pleased with us. I’m not sure where my brain and heart had doubted God’s goodness toward us. Maybe only in that this life is so very hard and we often fail and that terrible feeling that God is disappointed in us and that means that He doesn’t want to give us good gifts. But that is just not true. I know it. I would tell anyone else that it isn’t true for them, but I struggle to believe it for me, for us.

As we started the drive home remembering the blessed days before the clouds moved in, blue-gray and hanging over the mountain tops. The Sun set in a fantastic mix of orange, yellows and red hues behind us. The rain became a little more steady. The end of our day was looking just as beautifully complex as all of our years together. When the sun finally disappeared over the horizon and the darkness closed in around us and the car sped over miles of long straight highway the full moon shone out over us as we went. A large singular light in the skies above us. I remembered God’s chosen people, guided in the dark by fire in the sky. It felt like Father’s gift to us again. The tears burned at the corners of my eyes as I remembered just then what a woman whom I did not know said as we walked out of the church a few days before. She reached out and touched my arm as I passed and when our eyes met she said, “God will give you strength in a time of great need.” The moon looking down through the dark and rain now felt to me like a reminder. It felt like a promise that God would be with us when it was hardest. Things I know, things that I would tell anyone, but such a sweet word to my spirit now as we traveled home.

After more than an hour the moon and its light was swallowed up by the darkness and the clouds were heavy and the rain was hard. Now the roads were narrow and the wind was fierce and my hand gripped the door as we flew across the miles. I was scared. We could not see well through the window and I could feel my husband’s tension build. I have learned that it does not help my husband to ask him to slow down or to be careful. He wasn’t driving that fast but I was filled with fear and as we went I prayed quietly and whispered to myself- God is good and faithful. A reminder that He is trustworthy even when I feel all the terror of my circumstances. The drive through this storm lasted a long time. I fought with myself to hold tight to the truth of who God is even when I felt so much fear. What if we wrecked and the kids were left without us? What if more loss and hurt bled into their lives from all the edges? What if we’d had days full of sunshine and the rest and then the worst would happen an hour or two from home? It had not ever been so clear to me just how fearful for my children I had been. Or how I did not trust in our good God for them. I prayed. I Asked for His forgiveness. On that dark road, our car pelted by rain and wind, I laid them all down and asked Father to keep them and whispered again, God you are good and faithful and I can trust You, no matter what I feel.

It seemed to me, the whole journey, was a picture of the years ahead of us with our children. There will be sunny days and stormy days and days when the darkness and rains last too long but God would always be good and faithful and we can, all of us, trust him.

Selah~

Blessings~ Tina