Life on the Hill

We Named our Home

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Life on the Hill | 1 comment

Rosemary in the planters on the porch seems happy.

Our house has a street address, but Rob and I recently decided we wanted to give it a name.

Much has happened in our family since we moved here almost four years ago. Most importantly, three babies have come along, one of whom celebrates his first birthday today!  (Happy birthday to our sweet Eli!) Already the walls here seem more full of the laughter the grands bring to us than they can hold, but the plaster and paint contain it all so nicely and I like to think that any cracks that appear are only because of the bulging those walls endure thanks to the happy spirit dwelling within.

The porch has added more rockers (Cracker Barrel gifts) and two benches (fine craftsmanship from Longleaf Woodworking). Dear husband and I sit there in the early evening to review the day and catch up. It the sun is too bright and hot, a shift to cushioned chairs on the New Orleans style patio out back is in order and we enjoy hearing the fountain gurgle as the birds chirp overhead.  A warm Valentine’s Day afforded the excuse to dine alfresco by candlelight this year. The old lamp on the post outside was replaced a while back and we use the older one to hold candles at the table out there now.

A rehearsal dinner, baby showers, and birthdays have been celebrated here with family and friends gathered. Meals with friends accommodate happy and full hearts over fellowship. And the ability to comfort the tired and hurting happens here also. Lunches occur most Sundays following church as we gather around and devour the fare of the day.

This older home, built in 1950 by Dr. and Mrs. Thompson, has its charm and quirks, and I yearn to know more of its story from its beginning and then through a few more owners.

Birds and squirrels count the feeders and baths their own. A family of owls graces us most evenings with their hoot calls. The greenery tells a story of past owners’ garden favorites in the tiered beds with tucked away spots for sitting. Camellia varieties and hydrangeas take up yard space along with boxwoods, hollies, gardenias, a tea olive, magnolias, oaks, cedars, and pines. There’s even a peony on the premises. Delight!  It seems only fair that our name for the place relate to a favorite plant that we are incorporating into the landscape.

My husband named it and I approved of it.

Welcome to Rosemary Hill.

Rosemary is a luscious and fragrant herb, the oils of which linger on the hands almost as long as chopped garlic or onion would, but without the offense. This particular herb is a way to mark remembrance in bouquets. As roses mark love and affection based on color, so rosemary signifies remembering of another. In our case, we cite rosemary as a standing stone of remembrance to God’s goodness and faithfulness to us as his children.

For now we have rosemary in the porch planters and a few varieties of rosemary planted around the property. All are useful for culinary enhancement and I am enjoying the stew out of them. Young grandson Quentin is even aware of the plant and how the fragrance brings me such pleasure. He’s been taking our front porch day’s end review time with us this week as his baby sister Sarah Joy spends some time mending in the hospital and he runs his fingers over the green-filled stems then sniffs letting out an excited, “Ahhhh, Mamy, smell!”

And I happily oblige the opportunity to stop and smell the rosemary. Thanks be to God for his goodness and his grace that we experience at Rosemary Hill.

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A Day at Home

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in Blog Posts, Life on the Hill | 0 comments

Nowhere to go, but plenty to do!

Nowhere to go, but plenty to do!

It has been a while since I have had a day like this one. My planner has no directives for places to go. My list of things to do is small and so I plan to knock out those couple of penned plans, and then enjoy catching up on those back burner ones which have been simmering in my mind.

Perhaps like you, I have been seriously duped into believing that the empty nest equals an empty calendar. So a word of advice to you younger women about your seasonal busyness and dreaming of lazy days ahead-

It takes work ahead of time and a commitment to your spirit and your sanity to get those lazy days worked in on your calendar no matter the season in which you find yourself.

Still lounging in my pjs and writing this post past noon, I am pondering things like:

  • compiling ideas for upcoming blog posts
  • listing publications to submit writing queries
  • making yet another list of potential items to make for my Etsy shop
  • continuing reading Missional Motherhood
  • working on recipes for my personal summer cookbook
  • lingering in my Bible with my prayer journal in hand
  • eventually making a supper of stir fry of chicken and napa cabbage.

I am not sure how I let myself get too stretched and then stressed like a weakening rubber band bundling way more than its cylindrical strength will accommodate. Like that rubber band stretching farther than it should before snapping and releasing all of its hold down to the floor, I can also be stretched past the point of allowance and burst. When that occurs it manifests itself in ugly ways like judgmental thoughts and comments, criticism, sarcasm, short words with Rob, mindless munching, and a huge desire to drop everything and hide.

Then I make promises to God, Rob, and myself that I will never ever overdo my schedule again. Ever. Ever.

Then I go to bed, get a solid eight (most nights), and awaken to a renewed sense of being helpful and following through with great joy on those commitments.

So it is on a rare day like today that I sense the Lord saying to me to build in space for empty time. Granted when I was a college student that looked like a nap between classes. Then as a working wife outside the home, it was Saturday watching PBS with my husband while taking care of laundry. As a young mom and homemaker, it was a 15-minute bath with pen and journal in hand. Building in some time came easier when the boys were in school. Now that I’m a mom to adult sons and their wives and now their children, my free time is still limited as my time to get more involved in ministering to women has opened up. It is also my pleasure to be available to help my family, much like I remember specific women in our families who could assist us at a moment’s notice when the boys were little.

Yet, I am still learning repeatedly that if I am not careful to protect some quality down time to refresh and refuel my spirit, then I will be of no value to those in my family, in ministry, and friendships.

I rarely build in blank space on my calendar. And I want to be more intentional to do so in order to be a happier helper of those to whom I’ve committed my time. Today, God has been gracious to remind me that it is a good and necessary thing for this child of his.

Are days like this rare for you? If so, how do you sense God is directing you?

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Empty Next?

Posted by on Dec 31, 2014 in Life on the Hill | 4 comments

Grandson sunlight

{As 2015 becomes part of our years, I share this piece adapted from a writing I submitted for a small group of bloggers who have been writing one another during the Christmas season. They read the gist of this yesterday. Today, I share it with you in hopes that it will encourage you as you face whatever leaves you wondering what is next. My prayer for you, kind reader, is that God will fill your year with good things that prove to you he has not left you in the mire of sadness, emptiness, or loneliness. He is certainly pointing out all the ways he has planned to give you a full life. Let’s open our eyes each morning to his new and fresh mercies with much joy for his glory. Read Lamentations 3:21-24. Happy new year!}

Are you familiar with the empty nest? Maybe you are in it or maybe you are the reason someone else is all too familiar with it. Perhaps you are dreading it?

It’s funny, but for some reason, when I type those two words for years now, they most often come out as E M P T Y  N E X T.

Are you facing an empty next? What do you dread? Why?

I find it rather ironic that I do this so often because I believe something deep inside of me has a dread of this season that has moved me from being a full-time wife and mom at home to doing whatever is next.

That was the problem, though. I had put my identity in my being wife and mom at home and had made it an idol. For 25 years I had been clinging tightly to that idol.

A sure sign of bowing down to the bugger was that as I was in the midst of the emptying season, I wondered what would go on next? Would it be full? What would I do now that I was eliminating my position as full-time mom? How would my marriage move forward? What was I to do with all my time?

Surely, my life was going to be empty and not just my nest.

Have you talked with God about this empty next? Perhaps he has been trying to show you the root of this?

One particular morning during my prayer time I came to the above realization of where I had placed my identity for so long. That’s when I concurred with God that I had made it that ugly idol. Was it any wonder I couldn’t fathom moving forward? That’s what idols do, you know. They hold us hostage until we suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and serve and yearn for that slavery from our captors with whom we’ve fallen in love.

That day, by God’s grace, I remembered my identity is found in God through Jesus Christ.

He made me a woman with gifts, talents, callings, and gave me responsibilities to handle for his designated time. Season after season, if I focus on honoring him day by day, when the next phase in life comes, I can proceed more at ease if I keep him as my focus rather than myself or my title.

Thankfully, God has warmed up my heart and mind to the thought of moving forward into the next phase of life.

The nest might be empty, but life in this next season is abundant with blessings.

I have more time with my husband and we finish sentences, whole conversations even, with no interruptions.
I get to volunteer for things other than room mom.
Spending time with our first grand baby is pure bliss.
Seeing our sons and their wives in marriages that hold up the Gospel is rewarding.
I have time to assist our four parents when necessary.
Hobbies that were dormant or nonexistent are finding their way into my life.

My sons and daughters-in-love need me in a new capacity. I’m enjoying focusing on being their sister in Christ who encourages rather than their mom who oversees and disciplines.

My fear of the N E X T was because of my sin of idolizing that season’s main role for me. I had to let it go.

What might you have been gripping that needs to be released? How can your perspective change for the better? Have you thanked God for your past, your present, and your future?

Just as there were blessings before children arrived and while they shared our home, there are blessings in this next season. I don’t want to miss one of them mourning over something that I’m no longer called to do. It’s time to move forward excited and trusting God in what he has planned next for me.

E M P T Y  N E X T? Not a chance when our focus is on him.

 

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After Christmas Ponderings

Posted by on Dec 26, 2014 in Life on the Hill | 0 comments

Dec 26 2014It’s the day after Christmas and as I sit on the couch next to my husband with the fire going, the sun shining, the dog snoring, and Pandora Christmas radio playing I am thankfully pondering.

For the first time in a long time, I think I have to say this was the best Christmas ever, and to no offense to those we love (our parents, siblings, and our children).

The pace was that for which we had been yearning for many years. Slow and with concentrated time in our own home here on the hill, we knew it existed somewhere in the reality of life and not just in day after Christmas dreams.

Even in the time leading up to the big day, I was more relaxed this year. Other things occupied our time this fall (our youngest son’s wedding, opening an Etsy shop featuring custom knitted and crocheted goods, and helping my parents clear out their attic), and somewhere in the midst of it all, I just knew it would get done this year and that I didn’t have to stress as I have in years past.

I even had time to read and enjoy Ann VosKamp’s The Greatest Gift:Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas, this Advent. I’m only on December 23, by the way, but that’s okay. If I wanted to, I could relish it until Epiphany, or Easter, for that matter. The coordinating ornaments are on sale here if you want to nab your own set. I plan to incorporate the Jesse Tree next year.

Now, another Christmas has come and gone and we have memories of some firsts for us as the folks who live on the hill:

  • empty nest Christmas
  • grand baby Quentin
  • new daughter-in-love Valerie
  • Christmas lunch at our house with my in-loves
  • staying home most of the day.

As my next birthday approaches, I’m pondering my prayer-filled Holy Spirit prompts of some changes I believe this is the year to do and not just hope will magically happen without my own part in making them work – blogging here being one of them.

So, on this day after Christmas, what has you pondering?

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Why I Crochet

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Life on the Hill | 8 comments

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

Yesterday’s post was about why I knit. Today’s is about my picking up crocheting a year ago.

For all the same reasons as wanting to learn to knit, such are the ones for learning to crochet with one additional reason.

It seems that crocheting goes faster, especially when it concerns a hat.

While waiting at two appointments on Monday, I completed a simple hat out of bulky yarn that reminded me of the color of straw, but is way more comfortable for a scalp that has lost hair due to chemotherapy. I just need to add a flower to finish it.

It was convenient to tote along and once the increases were done, I didn’t have to look at the pattern again. Single crochet stitch is the only stitch required for this one.

I didn’t stress about the wait, and I got something done while I waited.

My sister Louann taught me how to crochet last summer at our annual Sister Retreat, and I have enjoyed it ever since.

Other projects I’ve completed since then are a plethora of hats for cancer patients, some baby blankets, sachet pouches, coasters, and flowers for embellishing the gray baby hat below.

For pictures of most of my completed projects (knitted and crocheted) join Ravelry and you can see them all. My Ravelry link is in the sidebar.

You ready to crochet yet? Craftsy has classes for that, too. Click on the link below. (I’m an affiliate for Craftsy, so if you purchase from them through my blog, I get a little compensation and I’m required to let you know that.)

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

copyright Amy Ward 2014

Another installment in…Hill life

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Why I Knit

Posted by on Jun 17, 2014 in Life on the Hill | 6 comments

Unsaved Preview DocumentThis is Knit in Public Week. Worldwide.  I tweeted about it. I posted it on Facebook. I’m an affiliate for Craftsy because I think you might want to take a class there after you read this post. I’ll link to it below.

And you thought the World Cup was big! (laugh)

Although it’s not a big deal in the eternal scheme of things, I thought I’d spin a yarn today about why I knit.

While going through cancer in 2010, I had little energy to do anything creative and when I would attempt to sew (a long-time hobby), my work was substandard. But at times I NEEDED to do something creative.

Also in that year, my sister made me lots of cute hats. I preferred them over my wig and store bought wide brimmed hats. She could take my head measurements, my yarn preferences, and favorite styles that would hide my bare hair line and make things that were comfortable and expressive. Hats that stayed on my head were a must and she knew how to accommodate that as well. (I had a store-bought brim fly off on a windy day after a ladies’ tea and although I lived to tell the story, I didn’t want that happening again. EVER. Thinking back on it, I still get an embarrassed feeling come over me.)

So, after I recovered and regained the mental energy to pursue creative outlets, I needed to create with my hands. More than a meal. More than a blog post. I needed to make something beautiful that wouldn’t shut me off in a room alone thinking, but give me something to do with my hands and still engage in time with my husband in the evenings. I needed something portable. I needed something affordable.

So, in 2012, I piled my daughter-in-law, and other son’s sweetheart into the car and we headed for Franklin, TN, to spend a few days with my sister Louann learning how to knit.

Mind you, this was my third attempt at learning it. Twice before my sister had taught me but I was a little girl first, then a teenager entering college. I had no time to continue what I learned so I never picked it up.

Something this time stuck with me and I have enjoyed it ever since. I love the colors of yarn, and the variety of textures that travel through fingers. I love the choosing of a project based on what I know I can do and what I want to learn to do. It’s a challenge to me mentally to think through and figure things and with the help of YouTube videos, texts and phone calls, my sister continues to help.

Walking into a local yarn shop rather than a big box chain store with a few aisles of yarn does something to my spirit as I see all the colors, textures, and completed samples ready for the feeling.

Sometimes, I even think about how neat (but oh so hard) it would be to open a local yarn shop right here in my community. But I don’t have the resources nor the freedom to do that, so I scour places online within a reasonable drive to visit.  Then, I hit the road solo usually for some thinking and praying time in the car.

I’ve even taken a “mystery knit along” class online through Craftsy to learn how to knit a scarf and the yarn was included in the class that I could move through at my own pace. That was awesome! They have quite a variety of classes for various skills in lots of things besides knitting, too.

I also enjoy knitting so I can make knitted hats for others coming through the cancer center where I volunteer. Shortly after I learned, I made the hat pictured at the top for a lady and had it ready the week I supposed she would be coming in with a scarf. Her eyes were beautiful blue and this seemed to suit her.

When I don’t have a specific patient in mind, I’ll knit a hat and take it to the center for placing on the ledge for any patient to pick up who has a need for one.

Hill lifeSo, knitting for me met the need to:

  • learn something
  • connect with my sister (and others)
  • CREATE (probably the biggest need at first for me)
  • touch and see beautiful yarn
  • give back
  • sit still

Have you considered learning to knit? Hmmm?

Maybe I should do like my sister did, and pass along what I know so next year, you can knit in public too. Craftsy has a class for that. Anybody want to learn?
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