autumn

 

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A wordless autumn — or an autumn that needs no words?

I guess if I have any, they would be that I’m living simply and quietly these days, no real need for lots of words…. ::  Loving my family and enjoying the revelation of God through the natural world :: Giving thanks in all things, both good and hard, knowing our time on earth is a mere whisper in the wind :: Making the most of each moment as an offering back to the Creator :: (for the very first time) Embracing self-compassion — the very deep work of that — and true grace for myself, my husband, my children.

There has been (and still is) so much to heal, but the path is set and my brain is relearning (or learning for the first time, really) how to integrate (as opposed to disintegrate).  Did you know that no matter what trauma you experience in life, your brain can literally be healed from it?  You might never forget the trauma itself, but your brain is capable of burrowing new pathways so that you can relate to it in a new way– a way that does not haunt nor continue to destroy yourself or others.

I am re-wiring my brain from early traumas, which deeply (wrongly) shaped my brain and concept of self.  And I have been doing so for the past year and a half since Silas’s traumatic birth (when I finally realized in stark clarity what has always been wrong) — Finally finding my voice (especially after my near-death hospitalization in February with an initially misdiagnosed retropharyngeal abscess).  Not quite a calendar year of two out-of-the- blue emergency hospitalizations with potentially very dire consequences was the catalyst for my reaching for the full embrace of God in all of my life (and brain) —  to be set free (for the first time in my whole life) to begin to attend to my own needs (this is not selfish!) and to begin to undo the lies I had been told by others (and then my own looping inside voice).

The beauty of all that re-wiring, re-training of thoughts, telling myself the truth about myself, praying for healing, working through memories and feelings long stuffed away (all with professional help), embracing my feelings as good things (and not things to be afraid of because I was told they were “wrong” or I “shouldn’t be feeling them”, whether spoken or implied), I am, for the very first time, beginning to like who God has made me to be….  which is so big and so long-in-coming that there are really no words.  Love and peace and joy (for the first time, truly) has begun to replace decades of anguish.

So there are not a lot of outside words this autumn.  All the words are inside, finding new paths, new ways, new integration of all the crummy, hurtful, deep wounds with all the staggering beauty and love and blessings.  And in this season of autumn, where all is falling and preparing for the cold, I find myself twirling in the leaves, playing with my children, unafraid for the first time in my life!,  knowing that there is so much love and warmth inside and around me that can no longer be withheld or taken away.  It is there for me always.  It is there for you too.  For all of us.

 

 

 

last rose of summer

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I have knit non-stop this summer — all items given as gifts for dear friends.  But this last shawl has me pausing for some reason, this one I am calling “The Last Rose of Summer”….though I am not sure why, other than the colors, the timing and the sentiment.  This is the last of my Liberty Wool, purchased by my husband for me while on one of many jaunts to the actual Liberty of London department store in London, and I finished knitting this shawl just a few days ago, literally right at the last rose of summer this now September’s end.  I guess it has me thinking about how fleeting things are and how I wish to pay better attention to the fullness of the blooming beauty around me each moment, this very happy season in my life.

It is a reminder, a pillar:  that when life and love are in full bloom, it is precious!

here

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We live, for now, on a large forested lot, literally down the road from a National Park yet only a short drive from the National Mall and Smithsonian museums.  There is abundant wildlife in our view at various points in the day, and though most people think of deer and squirrels and birds (there is a red fox too) as pests, it is such a gift to get to watch them through our windows and while outside.  The light through the leaves is beautiful no matter the time of day or the weather, and the types of trees and shrubs, layered in texture and sheen, create breathtaking visual snapshots for the soul.  There are cardinals everywhere — darts of magnificent red among green — and blue jays and woodpeckers.  There are dragonflies and lightening bugs, butterflies and frogs.  There are stars at night and there are peepers in the creek and a variety of woodland mushrooms in the grass.  I love it here.  It is an ideal spot to watch my children grow, each of  them finding a special place and activity outside for themselves– trees to climb, ferns to pick, sticks to gather, stoops to occupy.  It is a place for our small family to exhale all of our recent past, to find peace after so many big changes and to create memories we will always cherish.  And with the woodland life teeming outside our door, we are blessed with the constant reminder that God takes care of us all.

knitting a life

 

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Not a week after I posted my last note here about our finally having landed in a safe home and finding peace after a great deal of turmoil and transition in service to our country did we end up in perhaps the most traumatic and tumultuous situation of our family’s life thus far.  And it changed everything.

Working hard at unpacking our home for the second time this winter as a heavily pregnant woman and while caring for my small family, one night in the late hush of sleeping children and exhaustion, I was quietly talking with my husband about all we had come through together and how God had seen us through so much — when sarcastically I commented, standing there in front of him in the dim light, ‘I wonder what shoe will drop next’ — when literally, something did drop and the drop came from me and it was blood and I saw that I was 32 weeks pregnant and having a massive bleed.

He dialed 911, they arrived and I was wheeled out of our unpacked living room on a stretcher, bleeding and shaking, aching for my small children who would awaken in the morning to a new house and a missing mama, terrified the much prayed for and loved baby inside me was dead or dying.  It was snowing in the dark of that midnight, icy flakes drifting down in front of the ambulance lights, falling cold on my face, melting in drops along with my tears.

The ER nurses and doctor spoke life giving yet cautious words:  My baby was alive and well, the bleeding stopped (for now).  But the ultrasound revealed a complete placenta previa that was not going to resolve. It was definitely going to be an early delivery and definitely a surgical one and possibly a very premature baby.  And it was too dangerous for me to return home until the birth.

In what felt like a whirlwind, I was immediately wheeled up and admitted to the high-risk pregnancy ward to a private room looking out to a gazebo and roof-top garden and helicopter landing pad, the snow blowing down, dizzy and swirling in the night, my own mind swirling dizzy.  And I was afraid.

That one night turned into five weeks and two days of hospital bed rest — of life away from my husband and little ones, who, until then, had never ever spent a night away from me.  Five weeks away from my small two year old daughter who had just recently weaned and who had never not slept in her mothers arms, all while knowing it was possible I might not return.  I had never felt such profound sadness.

Five weeks of aloneness, of waiting, of praying, of laying still on my left side– of knitting a baby in my womb and knitting a pile of wool yarn into a layette, the layette a talisman for a baby born big enough, healthy enough to actually wear.  The layette a symbol of hope, the act of knitting a continuous prayer and meditation.

Five weeks of knitting love, stitch by stitch, breath by breath, prayer by prayer, hour by hour, watching the winter snow turn warm spring breeze through the windows, trying to not be afraid and deeply aching to be home with my husband and children.

My heart hurts just remembering.

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But do you know the kindness of nurses?  And of the lady who cleaned my room, mopped the floor, smiled at me while emptying the trash?  Of the people who brought me meals to eat and water to drink and fresh towels and changed my linens and took away all the dirty things?

I knew them– I saw them.  They eased my ache, comforted my fears–and I could weep for each one of them, for their care and love and hard work, for everything that actually matters and yet everything that goes unnoticed and unrecognized.  I could weep in gratefulness for everything that everyone did that let my body knit my baby, everything that kept me pregnant for just another day longer, for every ounce of love and service that knit a life.

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In spite of more bleeds, we miraculously made it to full term, to 37 weeks and 1 day.  His April birth day arrived, sunny and blue, the world welcoming my beautiful new baby with flowering dogwoods and azaleas, celebrating him with the color and beauty of an awakening spring.

The doctor exclaimed, “I see a little head”, and up he came from my womb, immediately sputtering and crying and pink and robust and loud! and 7 pounds 5 ounces of healthy little baby, double chin and all.  And I could not stop the tears of relief, the tears of utter joy–  I am alive and he is here! and we are together still.  In that one moment, that first cry, all my fears — the labor pains of this birth — were replaced with perfect love.

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I don’t know the reason for this story and will never understand why this happened– why I had to abandon our home waterbirth plan for a life-saving surgical birth, why this baby needed to be born so differently from my others, why I had to be separated from my family for so long.  But through it I saw, for the first time in my life, that the presence and service of love is the very thing that changes and saves lives, that each small thing contributes to the whole.

I saw the people willing to do the work, the people showing up in the flesh to help at a moments notice, of coming to the ER to comfort me in the dead of night in a snowstorm.  The few quiet people who came with encouraging words,  help with my children, delivering meals.  I saw the people cleaning my hospital bathroom, taking my vitals, checking my baby.  I saw the people willing to be the very hands and feet of Love, of God.

And each moment of waiting in such care, each action of service a stitch in the fabric of God’s work, was the tangible knitting together of His hands in an embracing love for us, my baby and I.

It is that stitch by stitch service that knits the whole of the world together in a perfect fabric of Love — the very Love that saves us all.

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peace

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IMG_4820Our most recent (and epic) household move began right after Thanksgiving — crash-landing us into Virginia under great stress — forcing us, in all our fatigue and overwhelm, to pick ourselves up off the floor in desperation, to dust off, start again, and (thankfully) move again (completely by ourselves) to this wonderful house we now call ‘home’.  If I sound dramatic, it is because the whole experience was dramatic and very frightening — but I will just tell you that all is well that ends well.  Truly.  And Glory be to God.

So now we are slowly wending our way into the creation and decoration and rhythm of a new home, a lovely process this time, largely because this house is so big and beautiful and so beyond what we ever thought we would ever have the opportunity to live in.  And to think we are stationed here for three years? The flood of relief is tangible.

I am actually not a fan of large homes at all, to be honest.  I am much more the small old-fashioned New England salt box colonial or Pacific Northwest craftsman cabin type, surrounded by land or ocean and definitely a lot of privacy — a home that looks and feels more like it sprung from the ground itself like a tree.  But when it comes to moving, and moving and moving, and with small children, I have to say that having a large, clean and bright space for right now is really incredible.  Even though I had to move this time heavily pregnant with my fourth child and work slowly and achingly, overall it has been much easier to get ourselves situated into this house (as opposed to living in the 940 square foot apartment we occupied in Germany for 5 years with ultimately 5 people) and much easier to put things out of my minds eye until I am ready to tackle them.  When boxes and items pile up we just quickly trek it all into the full basement to deal with later, creating space in our minds and space to make dinner.  (It helps too, that we dramatically cut down on clutter and ‘stuff’ from our four household moves in 18 months — Definitely the silver lining in all of this!)

It is lovely, so lovely, to be back ‘home’ on the east coast, to be near all of my dearest friends again, to be amongst trees and insects and colors that are familiar to me and to finally have this special, quiet spot tucked away on its’ own, yet so close to all the great activities and museums downtown, all of them free, to boot.

It all feels like a great gift.