Six Months in New Hamsphire!

8.10.2019



In a few short days we get to celebrate six whole months of living in New Hampshire! Those photos above are from our hotel stay. They're an effort in finding joy during the in between of not knowing where we'll live and going a wee bit crazy from living in a hotel! They're a sweet reminder. To see how God has provided for us is quite a sweet thing. We have a home! a garden! budding friendships! 

If you have talked with me in the flesh as of late, I will have undoubtedly said how absolutely lovely this state is. In a million ways, New Hampshire is a meshing of all the places we hold dear (they even have a store that sells Finnish Fazer chocolate! and a pub that sells Guinness Stew that tastes similar to the stew from our honeymoon!) The one thing it does lack, of course, is the people that made our hearts tethered to the places we've called home.

Quite some time ago, I read a book called Born to Wander. It was an excellent read. It gave permission to understand that this feeling, this ache, isn't one to remedy. We're not home yet and it's okay-no, it's good-that we know this.  We haven't arrived yet at home.

Over the past decade of moving to and fro, there are several things I've found worth the while to ponder on, to find comfort in. Here's three: 

1.) God's omnipresence includes this space here.

While its anecdotal, I have yet to find a place that God is absent. I, as many a fellow believer, have felt seasons of such absence (and what a heavy season those are to those who call Christ their all,)  I have yet to be abandoned.  

When we first move and we hit an inevitable moment of recognizing loss, it can be easy to panic and wonder if we made the wrong call. It's easy to say we 'felt lead,' in good Christian fashion. Yet, there is quite a bit of moving our own feet in front of the other, of volunteering to move; of choosing to say yes. While there is what we call God's leading, there's also the fact that we chose it. Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I can feel like we may have missed where we should have gone or said 'yes' too prematurely. But this isn't the case, and even if it was!  God's here too. Which leads to my next thing.

2) He has good work prepared for this place. 

When we first moved back stateside - I assume as part of the culture shock of the return - I had a bit of a distaste for Americans. Sorry friends. "Oh, they're so loud! Oh! They always have so many opinions!" (says the american having an opinion. ) Especially the "American Jesus" (I still have feelings about this....) caused such a deep struggle in me. It took me a bit to realize how wrong I was in my position.  All people are treasured, immortal souls worth the time of knowing and caring and loving on. Even if they in good southern fashion, 'bless my heart.' ;)

 Whenever we move to a place, and I begin to feel disappointed or discouraged, I remember Ephesians 2:10.  "For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

While my work as a home school parent is largely unmeasurable, God's been kind in showing me just how much the role of caretaker is akin to the role he took. In some very small way, functioning like this-as a servant giving up my right to stay in one place or be seen- means I get to do what he did>  Namely serve, leave his home, lay his life down for his friends.

I've grown to see the random flat mate that becomes a dear friend, the grocery worker who I get the chance to make legitimate conversation with, the mama at the park, the cynic that gives me the time of day...  All precious reminders of a God who sees; of a God who asks his people to show up and love his image bearers. This here. This all matters in time and space. For me it's a perpetual nod to what C.S Lewis says: 

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”

It helps me frame my days in a new city and an old role. It assigns worth to what I normally, as a human prone to fear of man, productivity and performance, would assign little worth to. I treasure people in a way I don't know I would have had I not been a stranger so many times.

And lastly, when the ache of losing out on what could have been feels suffocating, I remember this:

3.) God has created a specific beauty reserved for this space.

 And I get the privilege of seeing it.

I have never seen the bio-diversity in such short distance like I have here in New Hampshire. I have mountains and oceans, Goldfinches and foxes and bears! and whales and big cities all within an hour.  In Alabama, the wonders of the insect population (seriously some of the coolest bugs I've ever seen.) and those magnolias....the gift of a good southern woman checking in on someone who's she's decided is one of her babies. There is no beauty quite like it. In Finland, goodness paragraphs have already been assigned, and the Midwest holds us as it's our treasured origin story. Colorado is just a whole separate world of wonder.... I could go on and on about each place we've had the chance to breath in and call home. There are wonders God has specifically reserved for each of his places. A note in the melody. And I've gotten to hear a few. I'm working hard to not take that for granted.

Rather than mourning the fact that I often do not get to hear the notes as long as I like, I try to relish the reality that I get a greater glimpse at the symphony.


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This six month mark is always a very bitter sweet mark for me and Ben. It typically is a heavy month of realizing that friendships take time, that real life is still here with its sorrows, that we're not on vacation (ha!) and that we have work to do here. Right now it means overtime and homeschooling and feeling a little weary and lonely.

But I saw a goldfinch yesterday eating my sunflower seeds. My tomatoes are ripening. I swear the Trader Joes cashiers are straight up certified counselors and we've grown. a lot.

Ben and I-with having to build and rebuild and build and rebuild a life have formed into creatures I don't know we'd recognize from the onset. It's been hard. I sometimes hate it. But it reminds me a lot of Eustace (ya'll know C.S. Lewis is my celebrity dinner guest forever.)

“Then the lion said—but I don’t know if it spoke—’You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off….
“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off—just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt—and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me—I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on—and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.

We're both a bit of Eustace, and Aslan is continuing his work.

Before we moved anywhere - in our first year of marriage- we had a rocky time of things. A lot of hurts and poor communication. For whatever reason, Eustace continued to come to mind and so I hung this quote from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader on our old fridge:

“It would be nice and fairly nearly true, to say that 'from that time forth, Eustace was a different boy.' To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.”

The cure had begun.

It became a mantra of sorts when I wanted to give up on us (I'm sure I've written it on this blog a million times over.) And it still comes into my mind time to time.

The cure has begun.

I now know that as with every cup we're called to drink, there's God doing good work in us. Despite its changing taste, he continues to complete what he began. And I see it. The first six months feel like a painful pruning every. single. time. It hurts emotionally sometimes to a point there's a physical ache. Yet, it isn't void of growth. The cure has begun.

What a gift to have a regular reminder that God is at work and that he sustains; That we can't do the work, but He can; That he doesn't just send, but walks with us into where he calls us.

I hope that after all these years of going who knows where, I can rest in knowing that I've seen a few places and in each of them, we found Him there. So far, that has been the one truth I am convinced of. I remember telling Ben that. As a Christian who is prone to skepticism, I remember telling Ben how much I hope when I get close to dying that I would feel more confident that God is who He said He is. At the time, I wasn't sure.

Ten years later, and a million desperate prayers in between, I'm seeing that God's answering that hope bit by bit. I've grown confident like David  " I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

I'm seeing it.

Cheers to six months! For however many more 'six months' we get, I'm grateful to call this place home.

The Flume Gorge :: New England Adventures

7.16.2019


When my dear friend from Montgomery came for a visit, I took advantage of her kind heart and adventurous spirit to check out some local places before Ben's family came. One of the places that has been on my list since before we moved was The Flume Gorge up in Fraconia area. It did not disappoint. 


When Ben's family arrived, the first adventure we went on was to the Flume. it's such a beautiful space and is significantly cooler due to the waterfall and walking between two rock faces. If you ever find yourself in NH and are looking for something to do, this is well worth your time. It's very kid friendly, although it isn't stroller friendly (stairs and waterfalls don't mix well with strollers.) but our kids loved the adventure of it.  (Ages: 2,4,6)


 Plants are very well identified as you walk along, and if you go the Flume website, they have a scavenger hunt that you can print out and later take to the information desk where they give stamps and stickers for completion (much to the delight of our little people!) There's a sweet gift shop and cafe of sorts. For tired little legs there's a bus that will take you up to the beginning of the flume gorge trail. Our kids quickly learned this and liked the adventure of the bus.

I think the Flume is one of our favorite places to date. We'll definitely take you this way if you come stay at the Sprague Bnb!



Garden Updates: Year TWO!

7.12.2019


When we first moved back to the north country, I was excited to return back to Zone 5. While the Midwest and the northeast are a decent ways a part, sharing the same zone has brought a familiarity and a boldness to my gardening endeavors. Last year we had about a 30% success rate growing all the things we set out to grow in Alabama (we learned a thing or two about hot weather loving plants!) This year we've taken what we learned and tried our hand at gardening in zone 5! Here are a few snippets of our garden updates:

To give a bit of a preface, Ben made four raised garden beds for me this spring. They're 4 X 8 and we filled them with plant based compost. We hoped to just use our acre of land, but since it was literally encompassed with knotweed, the soil is terribly acidic, so we'll be working on removing it and the like for years to come. (fun, we know.) The benefit to raised bed is that everything is growing incredibly well. We found a local farmer (and a local lumberjack) and actually had it all delivered with the exception of a few things needed from Home Depot.



The struggle we've faced is just how well things are growing! weeds included. I'm not quite sure if the compost truly sat long enough for the weed seeds  to die out (?) so when it came to things like the zinnias, bells of Ireland, and celosia I planted, I wasn't really able to distinguish what was weed and what was flower. So the cut garden I had hoped for isn't going to really be a reality, as I've either a)pulled out the seedlings while pulling out the weeds, or b) the garden I left alone to just see how it would fare has done what you would expect a bed filled with weeds to do. Grow more weeds. Plans for next year are to tarp the beds and kill of any remaining seeds (and put a bit more compost over the beds next year that we're making ourselves.)

In the first bed we have a herb garden, bok choi (which we've left too long and then in flowered. womp) Onions, bunching onions, two pumpkins the kids secretly snuck in, and carrots. We have a lot in that 8 foot bed, so we'll see how we can trellis some things and harvest others.

The second bed has some sweet potatoes, about 9 pepper plants, and 8 tomato plants. all are thriving.

The third bed has watermelon, some beans on a trellis, and two varieties of dinner plate dahlias.

and lastly the final bed has sunflowers and what was supposed to be all sorts of little rows of zinnias and bells of Ireland. A few amaranthus and a few straw flowers are thriving.


We planted other things here and there and they've brought smiles all around. If we thought we were inexperienced before, this year, with having a good growth year , we are learning just how much the flip side of it also offers a good dose of humility. (I now get the joke about locking your front door during zucchini season! its everywhere!) and am learning a thing or two about companion planting.

That being said, its been a real joy getting familiar with each leaf and each flower, seeing things grow and figuring out their harvest date. It's fun seeing the bees pollinate and the beetles all over (some are not so fun, but even still, it at least provides a homeschool opportunity!) To fail and to succeed, to troubleshoot and to leave alone. It's given quite a gift to me, going out in the cool of the day to check on everything. I'm thinking this garden thing might follow me well into the future.

In the front of our house I threw some lupine and poppies half hazardly with the kids. It isn't a very pretty garden bed (the lupines I hoped for never did flower-but it may be because we have neighborhood groundhog) and yet those poppies that did bloom are perhaps the thing giving me the most joy at the moment.



I greatly look forward to the day when all of this is second nature. Our kids are loving trying things from the garden and Eli is getting quite good at identifying different leafs and such.

Originally, I had decided that since this was our first year in the house, we wouldn't take on the task of the garden. But then I remembered the nature of our life, and how precious even a single season is. We don't know how long we'll get to be here, so use up those summers! I'm SO glad we did.

Keeping notes on what I'm doing wrong and how to better plan. Year by year I think we'll get the hang of it! Finding which seed companies I like best, and learning about soil types and harvest dates. It all is good fun.

This was the first year we grew everything from seed, with the exception of a few raspberries, blackberries (that didn't thrive in our knotweed area) and a peony plant. It's been really rewarding seeing it start from a little seedling in the dead of winter all the way to now.

What a hopeful way to begin each year-seed catalogues and planting seeds in dirt before the dirt outside is even workable. I'm excited to let each year be welcomed this way.

Year Two of the garden is going pretty well so far!