Thursday, March 26, 2015

Giving Birth to Easter


We're almost there.
Holy Week.
The transition to Easter.

If Easter is about bringing new life into the world, then it is a kind of birth.  It is the Birth.  And any woman who has been in labor knows that the end is the hardest.  It's when things get real and it's when women panic or begin saying things like, "I can't do this anymore."  It's when many women who were set on a natural birth begin to waver or give up all together.  The avowed atheist begins to call out God's name and the most anti-medical asks for medicine.  It's the point that every birth educator, midwife, and doula looks for, recognizes immediately, and tries to prep mom for before she's there to help her better understand and recognize it when it comes.
Transition.

Easter is birth and it's about to get harder.
In so many ways it will be more beautiful, too.  But it will be more raw, more vulnerable, and demand more of us than Lent has up to this point.  And it might not feel all that beautiful while we're in it.  There will be long liturgies with squirmy (and maybe even naughty) children.  There will be more tests of our patience.  There will be more temptations to give up in despair.  The evil one will surely be active with his whispers of defeat.  There will be more interior pressure to run to the nearest distraction or earthly comfort.  The demands will seem like too much and we will doubt that any of it is worth it.  The abundance of grace in the week will be overshadowed by just how hard it all feels in the moment.  Sometimes the best line of defense is just recognizing the reality before it hits.

And, if I may, I'm putting on my Lenten doula hat:

You can do this.
It will be worth it.
This is normal.
I know it hurts.
Easter is coming and it is so close.
Keep going.
Trust that He knows just what He's doing.
One moment at a time.

All those reasons you wanted to make this a great Lent?  They're still there.  Even if we begin to be blinded to them in the moment when things get hardest.

I think, sometimes, we are so quick to want to fix something that makes us uncomfortable.  When we see someone choosing something difficult, we want to tell them they don't need to do that.  When we see someone in pain, we naturally want to make it better.  The first birth I attended as a doula I was surprised at how hard it is to see someone in pain, especially since there was a way out.  Especially since I had done it before myself several times.  And yet on the outside, it was still disconcerting to just BE with someone in their pain and support them in that choice.  We so often do this in the spiritual life, too, don't we?  It's uncomfortable for us to watch someone pick up a cross.  It's especially hard to not want to give them reasons to put it down or to see them choosing disciplines that are not obligatory but that they've discerned would be good for them and not want to talk them out of it.

But perhaps as true brothers and sisters in Christ, we need to encourage one another to keep going.  We need to tell them that it will be worth it and do what we can to help them work through their transition.  Perhaps in order to reach Easter with the fullest of graces and to experience that post-birth surge of divine life in our souls, we need to prep ourselves for the hard part and we need to find our Lenten doula and the interior motivation (always through His grace) to get us to the end.

Perhaps we can look to the One who did it all first and ponder how much He must have wanted to give up.  How in the moments of agony up Calvary, there must have been points where it seemed dark and the pain just too much.  How at any point He could have stopped and chosen to give up.  Perhaps He can be, and longs to be, the One to get us through the transition.

You can do this and better yet, He's right here next to you doing it with you.
A blessed and beautiful Easter awaits.



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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Floating Built-In Kitchen Bench


When I first told Brian that I would love to have a bench built in to the kitchen wall, he asked me how I wanted it to look.  

"How about one of those ones built right in without any legs or supports?  That would be so great for sweeping and keeping the room feeling open…you can do that, right?"
He looked at me (again) like I was crazy.  I'm very used to that look.

Apparently doing something like that is not quite as easy as I would like to think.  

And the lack of any examples or photos or how-tos on the internet was proving him right.  
But even after I relented and gave in to the need for some floor supports (multiple times, for the record), he still went ahead and figured out just how to float them.  
(I knew he could.)
(I always do.)


We outgrew our kitchen table several years ago and our cheapy kitchen chairs were quite literally falling apart.  The five and three year old were still sitting in makeshift high chairs.  It was time.  

Look at all that room!  No chair legs!  The ease of the sweeping!  You know you'd be excited, too.

Anyone with multiple children learns quickly that a bench fits more bottoms and makes cleaning so much easier (both on and under).  We can now probably double the amount of kids that can fit here which will make get togethers more manageable.

The boys have been oddly excited about it.


So there it is!  The new bench which is one more thing to check off the before-baby list.  Yay!

In case you happened to click on over here thinking about making one of your own (or you just like DIY pics and/or cute pictures of my children), below are a whole lot of pictures of the process.  If you happen to have specific questions about measurements and supports and all the details, I can ask my builder and get back to you in the comments...

Wood delivery :)










The process was complicated a bit by the present (necessary) radiators.





Every worker needs a devoted assistant...



Two coats of primer than two of paint to match the rest of the woodwork.

Brian wanted to be sure to make it seamless to prevent crumbs and junk from getting lost forever between and behind boards.  So he did an excellent job with seaming and added a piece of trim to the back.




Next up a kitchen table. 

Because…yeah.
Not quite charming rustic.  More like "preschool arts and crafts table" rustic.



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For All the St. Joseph Novena Pray-ers


My updates for our novena were mostly on Facebook but I just wanted to pop in briefly and give a thank you to all who were praying with me.  I need some novena closure here, too ;)  It is truly a privilege and honor to pray for your intentions and hear your stories.  Plus, the accountability here is very very good for me.

So thank you for praying with me.  I prayed for each of the men you gave me by name every day.  I wrote every name down and ended up with my (super fancy) pages long list.  I pray that through the grace of us all praying together and the intercession of the great St. Joseph that all the men we were praying for will be abundantly blessed and drawn deeper into a profound love of our Lord.  I hope your St. Joseph day was blessed and that the grace of these prayers will extend far beyond the past few weeks.

If you have them, I'd love to hear your stories of how the novena has been a blessing to your family.  And please know that I will especially continue to pray for all those with some of the bigger intentions.  
May the rest of your Lent be blessed and holy.  And thank you, again.

St. Joseph, thank you for your prayers and please continue to intercede for all these special men.




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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

It Worked! We Made Syrup! (Just Call Us Ingalls)


Just call us Ingalls because we did it!  

And by "we" I, of course, mean not me but the rest of my family.  I watched a bit and cheered them on but I had pressing work inside spinning yarn and churning and such.  Or not.

But our little experiment worked!  Do you see that beauty?  Real syrup from our own real trees!  

We bought six taps.  We have about a dozen maple trees but I convinced Brian that six was more than enough.  The first tree tapped wasn't giving anything so the next night Brian and John Paul went out and picked different ones.  We tapped a total of five trees, placing two in one of the bigger ones.

Twice a day John Paul has been going out and checking on them, emptying them into a larger bucket as necessary.  (I know, you already saw these two pics but you can't write a "we made syrup" post without a couple pics of the actual tapping now, can you?)

On Sunday, yet another frigid cold day, Brian set up the fire pit and boiling stove.  

Like so.
Old cinder blocks, a couple of pieces of metal from the store, old wood and pallets for fuel.  And my canning stock pot which he promised he wouldn't ruin.

The boys were out there much of the time because fire.  And Papa.  And wood.  And fire.  All the things the boys love most.

The fire went from about noon til dusk as the sap boiled and boiled and boiled.

This one petered out the earliest.  

A few more stove shots...


  

Tasting the sap (and warming up!)

Love how into it this guy has been.


Commemorating the occasion...

The sap still wasn't done by sundown so Brian boiled it a few more hours inside.  Then strained and funneled it into the jar.  We still have lots of sap dripping so I think the plan is to make another batch or two.  We have a whole lot of other pressing chores to take care of before baby but most of them can't happen before the snow melts and yard dries anyway which may take a good long while.  But hopefully not because I'm starting to get antsy.  I mean, I can't exactly play Carolyn without my clothesline fixed and garden tilled, can I??

Isn't it pretty?  
And seriously, not even pretending, it is SO good.  Better than the store without doubt.  We all took a taste but the rest is being saved for after Easter…then y'all are invited over for some buttermilk pancakes.  Maybe I'll even churn the butter for you :)



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