Friday, April 13, 2018

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Hello friends!

Since I'm in an eclectic mood at the moment, I've decided to use the Simple Woman's Daybook format to get back into the swing of things here at this blog! I'll link this up up to the TSW Daybook blog hop next month. Maybe you'd like to give it a try too? It's SIMPLE! I'm just following the prompts!

For Today...


Looking out my window...

This isn't out my window, but I love the way the light hit the net curtains and the sill.

This next one isn't exactly my window, but it's one I want to share!

This is a skylight window surrounded by stained glass panels at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum in Winter Park, Florida. Admission is free on Friday evenings this month, so I took the two younger kids for an hour or so tonight. We've all been there many times! They have the most  comprehensive collection of stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as a lot of American folk art. My late mother was a stained glass artist, and I inherited her tools and glass. Someday, I'll give it a whirl.

I am thinking...

I've been thinking a lot about the future, and what I'm doing to move forward. I've had a lot of transitions in recent years, with old chapters ending and new ones beginning.  I'm thinking BIG GOALS (I've applied to seminary and now I'm in wait mode!) and I'm thinking about smaller daily stuff, like keeping up with dishes, laundry, groceries, budgeting... Oh, and driving kids everywhere. I am perpetually tweaking my systems, trying to think of ways to make things run smoother. And I'm pondering my direction. I want to know that I'm doing what I'm essentially meant to do in this life, and that I'll leave a legacy for the future.

Oddly, this future thinking also takes me to the past. I've picked up researching genealogy again, though only through the family tree of my maternal grandfather this time. As I click back through the centuries and continents on, it fascinates me to think about back then and over there. What were the hopes and dreams of my foremothers Mary, Sancha, Delia, Appolonie, Hawise, Maud, Metje, Maria Magdalena, Agnes, Giovanni, Thankful, Deliverance, Comfort, and the hundreds of others on my list? What were their big goals in life? What life lessons did they teach their children? This week I discovered that some of my ancestors were banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony along with Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams. And funny thing is, a friend who subs at a public school brought over a few books they were discarding. This was the top one....

I am thankful...

I'm thankful for my family. We had all 10 kids and most of the grandchildren over for Easter dinner. I forgot to take pictures until after some of them had left, but I did get this one later on with several of the middle kids.

And here are my dear friends Molly and Patricia on Easter morning at church. I am so thankful for these ladies and their warm welcome! Patricia is graduating from Asbury Seminary soon and she has been a wonderful mentor for me.

One of my favorite things...

A year ago, I made a large blue writing table using the existing base of a small tilting table. It's well worn by now, but I still love it. You will see little bits of it in this post. The bottom edge of the desk is wood burned with the words: "Fill your soul with all good things and let the beauty pour forth." That's my motto for life.

I am creating...

Though I dabble in many forms of art, right now I am mainly focusing on photography and blogging. You can see both in these posts on my Watch the Shepherd blog:

I'm also trying to learn calligraphy.  I have a bunch of calligraphy markers. It took several tries to get this right. It's not super recent (from late last year) but it's my favorite piece.

I am wearing...

I love stained glass, especially rose windows. The one on this shirt is from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I wore this tonight when we were visiting the Morse Museum. The photo at the top of this post is a rose window in the chapel at the Morse. I can't always travel to Europe to see castles and cathedrals, but I can appreciate the beauty around me!

I'm not much of a clothes person, but last week I spent a whole day shopping for business professional clothes, mainly for my seminary counseling department group interview. I settled on a mid length black skirt and jacket, with a short sleeve blue sweater that I already had. Whatever I end up doing - going to grad school or going back to work - I'm going to need some decent non-mommyish clothes.

I am reading... 

I decided when I applied to seminary that whether I go or not, I am still going to apply myself to studying theology by reading real books (especially old ones) and not just blog posts and other online resources. 

Church history is a deep love of mine (or a dark hobby if you consider how much I research dysfunction in religious movements), so I just finished up biographies of John Wesley (British founder of the Methodist church) and his contemporary Hannah More (British poet, educator, abolitionist, reformer). Then I polished off Booked, the literary memoir by Karen Swallow Prior, who also wrote the More bio. 

Now I'm finishing up In Search of Deep Faith by Jim Belcher, who took his family on a pilgrimage to Europe to learn about the people and places of our Christian heritage. Today I read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor executed for his part in the Resistance movement during World War II; I need to find a full length biography of him, too. 

And along with all of this, because I love vintage theology so much, I've been reading through a daily devotional that's over a century old.

And lastly, I just ordered these books by Vinita Hampton Wright, and have already started dipping into them...

In the Bible, I'm currently working through the book of Hebrews. 

I am listening...

A short playlist of beauty, joy, and authenticity...

I am hoping...

... that I figure out what I'm doing soon! Being in the limbo of waiting can be uncomfortable. But I've learned to keep moving forward and to work toward a variety of possibilities in the meantime. I've blown already through Plan A, Plan B, Plan C... Or should I say Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3? It's all good. No matter what, I know that God is always with me, and he's not done working in my life yet! This quote is from that devotional book.

I am learning...

...slowly, to find that sweet spot between rest and work. Even within the realm of work, I have to discern when to do brain work (study and writing) and when to do manual work (taking care of my home and my health). I want to be productive rather than lazy, but I don't want to be driven to busy-ness by unrealistic expectations, comparisons with others, or shame at not being enough. There is a time to sit and think, and a time to get up and do. You'd think at age 54, I would have figured all of this out by now. But life changes, doesn't it? 

I do know I need to exercise more. This mini-gym makes it much easier for me. Nothing complicated. Hand weights and resistance bands, step, foam roller, balance board, and a small pedal machine.

In my kitchen...

One of my recent goals has been to start cooking more real meals for my family instead of relying so much on convenience foods and fast food. Yesterday was National Grilled Cheese Day, so that was easy enough. Tonight I set out a southern feast of leftover chili, warm cornbread with butter, hash browns, fried ham, and fresh pineapple. Ben said, "BET!" That's slang: he likes it. I still have to clean up the remains...

I often make protein smoothies for myself. I was getting tired of our blender jar always being dirty when I needed it, so I bought myself an immersion mixer which is really easy to rinse off right after I used it. I'm not sure why I didn't think of this before!

Post script...

This is the part of the daybook where we're encouraged to pass along a favorite link. I want to feature the blog of my brave friend Susan Moore, who is a survivor, an artist, and an encourager. She recently did a similar daybook post with a slightly different format. You can find it here: Currently. I started using the Day One journal app after reading about it on her blog.

Shared quote...

Quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German martyr...

“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.”

“We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?"

“The blessedness of waiting is lost on those who cannot wait, and the fulfillment of promise is never theirs. They want quick answers to the deepest questions of life and miss the value of those times of anxious waiting, seeking with patient uncertainties until the answers come. They lose the moment when the answers are revealed in dazzling clarity.”

“The awareness of a spiritual tradition that reaches through the centuries gives one a certain feeling of security in the face of all transitory difficulties.”

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

A moment from my day

Here we are to share a photo of the daily-ness of our lives.

A few weeks ago I decided I needed to consolidate most of my files into one cabinet. Having all of my papers handy and organized makes a lot of sense in my every day  life. The bottom drawer is logistical stuff like bills, warranties, schedules, health records, van repair receipts, and budgets. I labeled it "la vie quotidienne avec ma famille" which means "daily life with my family." The other drawer is "belle renaissance du coeur" which means "beautiful rebirth of heart" - and it has more spiritually oriented papers on spiritual growth, church, theology, ministry, social justice, writing, and speaking. This two drawer system is kind of like a picture of my life. I have both things to think about and work on. Eek. How do I integrate all of it without compromising any of it? 

0h, and truth be told, I do not even speak much French. It just seemed more elegant. :-) That's where Google Translate comes in handy, oui? 

Closing Notes
Wow! This has been a long post! Thanks for reading these snippets of my life. Can you please pray for me and for my family, that we will walk our journey well, with faith and hope and joy?

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Sunday, January 21, 2018

"Over Utah in January" - 10 Years Later

Ten years ago today, I attended the funeral of my grandmother Margaret Driggs in Salt Lake City, Utah. I had little idea what to expect, since I had never met any of the extended family via her second marriage. (My dad's stepfather, Dr. Howard R. Driggs, was much older than Grandma. He was born in the 1870s into a polygamous Mormon family with 22 children. I have never been Mormon.) And all I could think of, as far as Utah terrain goes, were the salt flats we had driven through way back in 1976 on a family vacation. I was in for a surprise! On the airplane, looking down over Colorado and Utah, my breath was taken away by the gorgeous snow covered mountains. I took out my journal and started writing, and my poem "Over Utah in January" was born. 

Today, I post this with love for my step-second cousins whom I met at the funeral and reception near Salt Lake City. (Thank you to Dan Christensen for reminding me of the anniversary of the funeral.)

Over Utah in January 

by Virginia Knowles

I am in the sky looking down on
Vast speechless stretches 

  of frozen white
Curved round and round by
Slicing crevices and streams
And human roads 

  abandoned though they be
Foothills then soaring 

  mountains beyond
Majestic tall yet distant small
From the sky where I look down

Clustering pines 

  (wilderness steeples)
Defer to barren ground below
Shedding to it cumbering, 

  nurturing snow

Upright spires green
Evergreen over branches, trunks, 

  rough and woody brown
Rooted deeply into ascending slope
Yet as living arrows aiming high
To the sky where I look down 

Up and over mountain towers, fly
Peering through mottled fog outstretched

Amid earthy upturned layers, variegated ripples

Shadow clouds now upwisping 

  sharply angled peaks

Oh! These are of no human 

  construct or design
Not even marked by 

  footprints in pristine snow
Just fingerprints, signatures divine
Where winter earth meets winter sky

Yet in the valley 

  I see manly habitation
In patterned rows, casual curves beneath the mist
Nestled in yet beckoned 

  to a deep and high communion

Only bold ones venture 

  beyond certain fringes
Strive upward, breathe hard, 

  ascending steep, behold
Some faithful cannot climb 

  but still lift souls to see
To know and long to know

Others seem content merely to stroll 

   in evenness beneath, below
Oblivious to wonder
I am in the sky looking down
Then gazing up in awe at Him
Who gazes down in grace on me below
On me, who sees and longs to know

Friday, December 22, 2017

God of Joy, I See Thee (Advent 2017 Poem)

God of Joy, I See Thee
by Virginia Quarrier Knowles
Advent 2017

God of Joy, I see Thee at Creation’s dawn
Gloriously gleeful, beauty rippling forth
“Let there be…” and “It was very good!”
And there was joy in this world.

God of Joy, I see Thee at Incarnation’s dawn
Small babe, star-shine, angel song, shepherd awe
“God with us!” and “Peace on earth!”
And there was joy in this world.

God of Joy, I see Thee at Resurrection’s dawn
Victorious over the power of sin and death
“It is finished!” and “He is risen!”
And there was joy in this world.

God of Joy, I see Thee at Jubilation’s dawn
Saints gathered in eternal celestial bliss
“Worthy is the Lamb!” and “Hallelujah!”
And there will be joy forevermore.

I took all of these photos at the Washington National Cathedral in December 2017. I wish I could have spent hours more wandering around there, all by myself, especially with their extensive nativity display during the Christmas season. My father and youngest daughter and I took the Highlights tour; next time I am in DC, I will take the Behind the Scenes tour.

Here are some more photos, and at the bottom are links to my other Advent poems and to my other cathedral photo posts.

My other Advent poems...
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