Another thought about John Wesley - this time his marriage

This may prove to be an ill-considered post, possibly too much of a rant.  But something in me really loves John Wesley, and I felt very very angry when I read this.

It seemed to me to have all the usual feminist unfair bias towards women and incapacity to perceive the plain facts of what lies before us that I have come to associate with the world of psycho-tinkering.

The writer of the article quotes a letter from Wesley to his appalling wife in which he says:
‘Know me and know yourself. Suspect me no more, asperse me no more, provoke me no more: do not any longer contend for mastery…be content to be a private insignificant person, known and loved by God and me.’

The article describes these words as hostile and scathing.
Scathing? Hostile? Is it? To go on steadily telling someone that you love them and that God loves them too, even when they have done their utmost to ruin your reputation and even behaved violently towards you?  Why?

It reads to me like a simple, humble plea.  True he speaks plain, and maybe a person would have to understand plain speech to see where he's coming from.  But what a man!  I honour him.

The article describes with sympathy Molly's cause for disgruntlement:
At first Molly accompanied him but his travel schedule (by any standard through all church history) was relentless, and she, as a newly married 40 year old woman, was clearly hoping for some normal domestic joys.

But, did she not pause to consider whom she would be marrying?  Did she not realise that Christ was his first love and deepest passion?  What did she imagine marriage to John Wesley would be like?

The writer describes the Wesleys' home life as very unhappy, saying that Molly left home on more than one occasion, and John Wesley begged her repeatedly to return - in spite of her violence towards him; the article cites a diarist of the time who entered their home to find Molly dragging John across the floor by his hair.

He did his best.  The article says that when Molly finally walked out on him, John recorded in his diary - 'wryly' the article says, I don't know why:
 ‘I did not forsake her, I did not dismiss her, I will not recall her.’

But what enveloped me in red mist was the paragraph in which the writer concludes:
He should have consulted with Charles. He should have asked for the wisdom of other leaders. He should have been prepared for marriage. He should have considered his wife’s needs more than his own.

And his wife?  Oh yes, poor lamb!  She should have had everything exactly her own way and it was all John's fault, of course!

Tchah!!!!  Spit!!!!

At the end of this piece, the writer suggests that if we, too are experiencing difficulties in our marriage we might like to apply to Holy Trinity Church Marriage Course to be further immersed in more of the same.

You can see it now, can't you... a whole classroom full of whingeing disaffected violent women whose lives are SO unfair because unlike John Wesley their husbands had the temerity to get a haircut and can't be dragged anywhere.

You know what?  I would have married him.  I would have been PROUD to be married to a man who loved the Lord as much as John Wesley did, even if he was just the tiniest bit bonkers.

Rant over.

Endeavouring to wind my bottom around the year - Thinking about John Wesley

John Wesley, who inspired, founded and led the people called Methodists, preached a very practical word and lived a very practical Gospel.  In one of his sermons he goes in detail into his own experiments in maximising the time available to him for the work of God by decreasing his allotment of sleep to the least he could bear and still function – “redeeming the time,” as he said.  John Wesley took his responsibilities as steward of life's blessing with absolute seriousness.  During one patch of his life he tried a mono-diet (I think he went for bread) to decrease the amount of time, thought and expense he spent on food.  Samuel… er… was it Johnson or Pepys… Johnson, I think – it was the one who did the dictionary, the accurist who, when his wife came in and found him doing that which he ought not with the maid and exclaimed in reproach “Sir!  I am surprised at you!” replied in the interests of clear definition: “No, madam.  I am surprised – you are astonished.”  Anyway, him – one of you will know which one I mean – must have been Samuel Johnson: he complained that John Wesley was no fun as a dinner guest because he would never stay to relax and chat – it was just eat the food, bid a courteous goodnight; then boot, saddle, to horse and away on the good works of the Lord.  He had work to do indeed.  Beau Brummel didn’t have much time for him as you can imagine (it was mutual), but historians looking back on the social impact of the preaching of John Wesley and the movement he founded are of the opinion that what he did in the power of the Gospel saved England from civil war as bloody as the revolution they lived through in France.  He showed a better way to take command of one’s own life and rise out of poverty, and God bless him for it.

John Wesley wrote pamphlets about the kingdom of God and the power of the Gospel, and these pamphlets sold very well – so well in fact that without really meaning to he accumulated quite a stash.

He preached on more than one occasion about money.  Wesley’s oft-quoted phrase, “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can,” comes from one of his sermons, and has been hi-jacked in error by more than one economically focused individual who doesn’t understand eighteen-century English.  They take it as the hallowing of the principle of hoarding, but it ain’t.  When Wesley said “save all you can”, he didn’t mean “store up as much as you can”, he meant “do without all you can”.  “Save” in this context is an injunction to restraint, frugality, thrift.  In an age when the fashion was for a man to keep his hair cropped and wear a wig, John Wesley grew his own hair and encouraged his friends to do the same.  Wigs were an extravagance he frowned upon; so were ribbons and bows and lace and abundant ruffles, and all such unseemly feminine frippery in the women of his congregation – as he let them know from the pulpit in no uncertain terms!

As a young man bounding down the stairs from his lodgings one frosty morning, Wesley encountered the chamber maid starving (as they say in Yorkshire where “starving” means not hungry but cold) and shivering in a thin cotton dress, and he urged her to add a warm coat, or at least wear a warmer dress.  Though he was himself one of a large family where they were put to it to make the money go round and his father spent some portion of his life in the debtors’ prison, Wesley was nonetheless both shocked and upset to learn that the girl was wearing the only dress she had.  Wesley’s mother, Susanna Wesley, would have seen to it that her own offspring were warmly clad, I think; this practical man came of a practical mother.  Anyway, his automatic response was to reach into his pocket to give her some money for a shawl, only to find it empty and realise with a pang of shame that he’d spent the last of what he had on books for himself, and was consequently without the means of charity for another’s need – and of this he was deeply ashamed.  And he preached about it: “Earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can” – earn the money, refrain from spending it, give it away – that was John Wesley.

But because he wrote these excellent pamphlets that sold so well, his critics thought they had something to fasten onto – Mr Wesley, advising frugality in others while raking in the dosh very nicely himself.  So in one of his sermons on the use of money he feels moved to give account of his own management of earnings.  This makes very interesting reading, but when I first came across it some twenty years ago I stopped at his phrase in defense of his financial habits: “I endeavour to wind my bottom round the year.”  What?
I asked here and there among clergy friends what this might mean, and nobody seemed to know.  Oddly it was my second husband Bernard – wild woodsman who hated the church but loved Jesus and His Gospel, and refused to let the Methodist clergy meet in his cottage – who solved the mystery for me one day when he was ruminating about the etymology of the words “dignity” and “gravity”.  I wish I could remember what he said now – probably something he had dug up in the writings of Patrick O’Brien or Robert Louis Stevenson or Rudyard Kipling or other well-travelled and informative mind.  But the connection suddenly clicked into place for me between gravitas, dignitas, substance and bottom.  These were all terms expressive of wealth or influence.  Actually dignitas in its Roman origins was descriptive of non-material substance: I come across it in a modern context when I hear Quakers describe a venerable and venerated member of the Society as “a seasoned and weighty Friend” – a soul of dignitas, gravitas, substance. 
So the word “bottom” implies substance – what you’ve got at the back of you, what you’ve got behind or underneath you (hence its migration to the slang usage of “what you’re sitting on”).

When Wesley said “I endeavour to wind my bottom round the year”, he meant that he did his best to eke out his financial means so that he didn’t incur any kind of debt.  It also (I think) can carry an implication of fundamental provision (hence “fundament”, like “bottom”, expressing “lowest place” then “posterior/sit-upon”) rather than abundance.  So it’s a well-chose word for a sermon on money, heard by the poor and the wealthy alike.  The wealthy man might be considered a man of considerable bottom (substance, got a lot behind him), but the poor man might be down to his bottom dollar – his having reduced to very little.  To both alike the example of “endeavouring to wind my bottom round the year” will speak: to the wealthy man it recommends prudence and thrift, to the poor man it recommends avoidance of debt where at all possible.  Wesley had a keen personal awareness of what it meant to struggle financially, and his advice is heartfelt as well as shrewd.

It's a good pointer to a sensible way of financial simplicity, because it's provident in the widest sense.  The Buddhists say all people are selfish but there are two kinds of selfishness: there are foolish selfish people who only look out for themselves and there are wise selfish people who look out for others as well - because we all belong to one another, so if the umbrella of provision shelters everyone it inevitable shelters thee too.

Wesley's way, with its huge impact on the whole of society, created a framework of stability and responsibility that served his country well in offering a good political base in a time of considerable unrest and inequality, and served his Lord well in the effective communication of an honest and practical preaching of the Gospel and the faithful example of a converted and sanctified daily life

That’s all; just happened to be thinking about it and thought thee might be interested.

To Do List... Done.

I walk almost daily. We live out in the country, so my walks are quiet and peaceful. I use them to clear my mind, a walking meditation most days. Yesterday was a different story. I had so many loose ends flying around in my head, I knew a walk would help me sort them all out! So, I leashed up Willie and off we went.
 This is Willie, collapsed in the front yard, soaking up the sun upon our return.
He is a fabulous walker, but his stamina leaves something to be desired!

 Willie is the best walker ever! I'm short, never quite made that 5 foot mark so my strides are pretty short too (go figure!). Willie matches my pace perfectly, we're a great team.

Anyway, first I had to decide what to do about my daughter's birthday which is... next week!! I confess to having burnt out on birthday parties. My oldest will turn 15 this year, and I've planned enough parties to last me a lifetime! ;)  However, after thinking about it carefully, I came up with a small party idea for Riley Mae, who'll be 11 next week. It'll be an intimate gathering, but I promised Riley a scavenger hunt, and she was all for it! I threw together the invitations last night and sent them off today. They were simple, but I was kind of running out of time!

Since we homeschool, our parties are always during the day, which is good for me because I like to leave my weekends wide open. So, great, one thing crossed off my list! Next, I tackled a doll outfit that I'm working on. I'm attempting a little velor running suit. Yes, I'm still going crazy with the doll outfits, I just listed 3 in my Artfire shop this morning (I pay Jordan a dollar an outfit to photograph them for me, she does a great job and enjoys is so much more than I do!)

I was struggling with how to make the velor sweatshirt, but I think I may have figured it out. We'll see when I next get a chance to sit down at my machine. I love the jacket above with the button closures, that was a finshed product I was thrilled with. However, that little jean jacket/mini skirt makes me giddy when I look at it too! I find coming up with these new designs to be such a stimulating challenge, I'm having great fun with it!

I also decided while walking, that today would have to be a catch-up morning. The sewing machine would stay silent, until I caught up on my chores. I wrote out all my birthday thank yous, figured out my food coop order, listed those outfits, did some picking up (I don't work well surrounded by clutter. My desk was a disgrace after pulling those invites together last night!) and now I'm blogging.The only thing left on my list is to help my Jordan henna her hair after lunch. I'm afraid of what'll happen without my help... ;) All in all I'm feeling pretty great. I think my machine will be back in business tomorrow morning! :)

One last thing before I sign off~ if you haven't voted for your favorite undiscovered shop, don't miss out on the fun! Here's the link to the post "I'm Smitten... with Etsy" with the poll on the left of your screen. I know that each of these new Etsians will appreciate your support! It's a pretty exciting race, the needle-felted bird is head to head with the Mermaid Crown... ooohhh, the excitement! :)

Happy, happy Tuesday one and all! Peace ~ Melinda

I'm Smitten... with Etsy!

This morning I was doing some catching up on blogs that I follow. I decided from the beginning, that if I wanted others to read what I have to say, I should extend the same courtesy. So, I don't just read (yes, the whole way through!), but I always comment too. I mean, it's nice to know that someone was visiting, right? And I've learned new things, seen some amazing creations (I saw the coolest things made from ribbon this morning!), and met some totally awesome people.

As I was wandering this morning, I came across Linda B's Beaded Jewelry. Some of you may know the blog, she has a vast amount of followers and awhile back I was featured on a poll of hers, and shamelessly begged you for your votes! ;) She calls her feature: Linda B's Top Etsy Finds and the 'winner' of the poll gets a Blog Feature Interview. Boy, did I want that interview! I didn't win, but that's okay, it wasn't meant for me. But, you know what? I thought it looked like such a great idea, I thought I'd give it a whirl!

I used to spend time in Etsy, browsing through the undiscovered shops in Pounce. I would find one that appealed to me, feature it on my Facebook page and hope I gave this new shop a boost of confidence, after all, at least I had seen their store, and now my handful of FB fans had also. I remember in the beginning waiting, just waiting for that first sale, and how exciting it was when it finally happened. I would love to help create that same joy in a fellow Etsian. :) So, I went hunting, and of course I found some gems! I was only going to include 6 in my poll, but I found another that I couldn't resist. So, here's the deal: I'll post pics of the 7 items I discovered and each photo will link to their shop if you'd like to check it out closer. Feel free to spread the love and favorite what you like, I checked my 'heart' status daily in the beginning and felt so warm and fuzzy when someone bestowed a precious heart on me! I'll leave the poll open for... let's see, 5 days, and the winner will get an interview on this blog. We're bound to meet some great artists! So, let's begin~
I'm always impressed by artists, and how they can create such beauty with the stroke of a brush. I'd love to fill my home with works of art like this, it makes me feel peaceful just to gaze at it. It can be found at MagGallery

This is from AquadarWatercolors. I've always been in awe of painters, it's an art I'd love to learn one day. Doesn't this fruit look good enough to eat? This was my favorite in the shop, but it was a hard choice, there were many others to choose from, and I thought the prices were great!

RootFamilyFarm is the name of this shop, and I always get a little bit giddy when I find a beauty care product that I will actually use. Many of you probably aren't aware that most soaps are chock full of chemicals, known toxic additives and artificial fragrances and dyes, it's enough to make you shudder. There's only one thing that would make this simple soap even better, think I can convince them to make a bar using organic ingredients? ;)

I have made my share of quilts and know how many hours go into creating one. This one was so adorable it caught my eye right away. It can be found in TwoBuddsTotShop. I had trouble deciding on my favorite...

I've spent some time needlefelting, I even sold them in my shop for awhile. But the sheer amount of time involved made me decide they weren't something I could keep stocked! So, when you look at one of these needlefelted creations and may possibly be surprised at the price, assume they took hours and hours to create! The price on this birdy was excellent, and he's so cute I want to eat him up! You can find him at NoaJordan on Etsy.

Okay, not a clue where I would wear this, but isn't it cool? I can kind of picture me shoveling out the goat shed, feeling like a queen... ;) You can find it at GarlandCrowns, along with several other equally bold designs!

Yes, another quilt, and isn't it beautiful? Those colors are so soft and cozy, I just want to snuggle up in it! You can find this, and other gorgeous quilts at ClaudiaRoseDesign
Yes, once again I had fun hunting through Etsy Pounce. The little booties made from deerskin and bunny fur didn't make the cut, in fact, I think I gasped when I saw what they were made of!
So please, cast your vote, let's see how this goes! (Basically that means... let's see if I can keep up with myself! ;) Poll's open ~ let the voting begin!
Have a great night all! Peace ~ Melinda

The Disconnect

I'm sure we all have had experiences where our thinking was disconnected from, say, common sense and reality. Much of this involves risks and consequences. When you're young and want a tan, you have a disconnect about melanoma and wrinkles. When you avoid brushing and flossing your teeth, you have a disconnect about how unappealing it is to see the dentist. People who smoke and drink excessively have temporary memory loss of what it means to get lung cancer, liver disease, or a ticket for OUI. You know that eating junk is going to lead to ill health and will eventually show up on the scale, but you focus on the immediate pleasure. For some reason, human logic and calculation is undermined when the temptation of the moment is strong.

Some of this, I think, ironically is just self preservation and protection. If you really and truly realized the risks and consequences of what you were doing, your emotions would probably explode with the horrible understanding. It is also human nature to want to minimize pain and maximize pleasure, concentrating on the here-and-now pleasure as opposed to future pain.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when we talk about death - or don't talk about it. I was listening to a financial show on public radio a few weeks ago in which some experts were debating the necessity of buying long-term health care insurance, e.g., nursing home insurance. After much discussion, basically the recommendation came down to this: How long do you think you will live and how healthy do you think you will be?

I don't know a whole lot of people who like to sit around and wonder at what age they will die. It's not something high on the "feel good" list of things to daydream about. We don't like to think about our own deaths and we certainly don't like to think about deaths of those we love. And there's the disconnect. Our brains tell us that these things will happen, but if we seriously thought about the reality of it, our emotions would overpower us and we would end up angry, depressed, anxious, or even emotionally paralyzed.

I remember when Ed was at the bed of a dying AIDS patient in Tennessee. They had several discussions about what was to come, what to expect, fear, loss, pain, disappointment - the works. I remember Ed telling the young man, "You know, I'm going to die too. The only difference is, you know when it's coming for you."

It seems in the last few years, I've had some female friends die who I thought would be here forever. You know the kind - independent, sassy, overcoming-all-odds people. You can't imagine the world without their presence. These were strong women, all involved in music and highly talented, who would, I thought, would just each shake their fist at Death and say, "Not for me, buddy!" But it didn't happen. They lived long, productive lives (in one case, however, cut short), made so much a difference in their world, but Death finally took them and never once asked me for my opinion about the matter.

This week, my daughter-in-law's Gram died, and also my sister's dog Abbey died. Both were old, both had long, energetic, fruitful lives surrounded by people who loved them, and both were such presences that their families can't fathom a world without them. I remember I felt that way when my best friend, Bernie, died at age 49. I remember thinking several times that I needed to call her to tell her something, then it crushed me to remember she had passed on. Same thing with my wonderful dad - your parents gave you life and love - they will always be here....won't they? People (and pets) like these are so much a part of us that you just know they will be here forever. You've never known life without their love and care, and you can't imagine how empty and useless life will seem without their physical being here to hug and touch and talk to.

Death has been called The Great Equalizer, but it can also be called The Great Disconnect - and not because it disconnects us from our loved ones, but because when viewing death, we have a habit of disconnecting our brains from reality. But in my heart, I believe there is another reality. I believe that the souls of these people and pets live on, that Death is not the final answer, and that that love cannot die, even when the physical body has left us. Sure, it hurts to love when things like this happen, but this is the way life works. Memories are precious and healing. I think that is one of the cruelties of Alzheimer's and other dementias: They take away the victim's ability to recognize loved ones, and they erase all their beautiful memories that make her/him a human being.

I wish somehow as a society we could look upon Death as something natural, not necessarily welcome (but in some cases, it is), but inevitable. Death gives us a great gift. Knowing it will come, it makes life all the more precious, gives us realization that life itself is a fragile commodity, gives us the desire to define our legacy, and give us an opportunity to form and cherish the belief that it doesn't have the last word.

Today... Let's Go Primal!

Time for another wonderfully talented Etsian feature! I 'met' Laurie from As the Warped World Turns when my daughter told me about a blogger she had discovered while we were both getting established in the land of blogs. I found Laurie to be witty, original, honest and supremely talented. Her Etsy shop ~ Primal Painter ~ opened in July of 2010. Here you'll find "wall sculptures, modern abstract art, healing energy art, original paintings and wall decor that are sometimes psychedelic, sometimes spiritual and always cool!" I had a ton of questions for her, so let's get started! You may want to get comfy, I got carried away as usual... ;)

"I'm laid back, as a matter of fact, it's been said that if I were any more laid back, I'd be in a coma! I'm an artist inside and out and always have been. I'm a creative, intuitive, sensitive loner. I'm half hippie, half hillbilly and half rebellious kid... so apparently I'm one and a half people. I'm a small town country girl who's spiritual, practices reiki and is fascinated with energy work and healing. I'm a fantasy lover, an avid reader, cartoon lover, animal lover, nature lover, sun lover, comedy lover and giggler. I'm a little spacey, a little serious and maybe a little flakey. I'm flawed and wounded but I'm working on it. I can't cook, but I can fix lawn mowers." Now, isn't this someone you would love to get to know better? Her honesty and directness are so refreshing, I knew this would be fun!

Where's her favorite place to showcase and sell her creations? " Right now Etsy is my fave, alhthough I'm in the process of getting an Artfire shop set up too. I'm new to Etsy and all online marketing, so I've had to put myself through a crash course in computers... all that technical sutff, man, what a drag!"Like many artists, she's experimented with different selling avenues, and while some were more successful income-wise, they weren't as fulfilling Laurie-wise "I've also done a million shows and had a million wholesale accounts, well, maybe not a million, but lots. Both of those were more profitable than Etsy, but I became a one-person production line which sucked, and eventually got burned out despite the good money. Plus, I started designing products just for their sales potential, and while there's nothing wrong with doing that, it took me too far away from being real and true to myself."

After reading Laurie's blog and Etsy profile, I see that she isn't afraid to change and morph her art in new and different directions. I asked her when she knows a change is imminent ~ " I can always tell when I'm getting restless because when I think about working in the studio, I'll moan and groan, drap my feet, and get distracted by the flowers, the pretty rocks, and all the faces, images, and patterns I start seeing in practically everything I look at. If I actually make it up to the studio, I'll sigh a lot and feel sorry for myself, maybe I'll bang my forehead on the table and groan. At some point, I'll accidentally stumble onto somethng that gives me that tingley goosebumps feeling, and then I'll head in that direction, twisting this way, and turning that way until I feel inspired again." Here I must add in that I intended to edit Laurie's answers, just adding in bits and pieces of the answers she gave me, so that the feature wasn't so long that I scared people away. But as usual, she had me laughing out loud, and I didn't want to deprive you of the same pleasure!

My favorite pieces of Laurie's are her chakra paintings. I believe that she sold both of them in her Etsy shop, and I'm not surprised, they are amazing. I've seen and felt the difference in myself when I take the time to balance and clean my chakras, so I wanted to find out more about what inspired her to do these paintings. "I'm determined to work my way up the chakras, slowly but surely, no matter how daunting it is to face the issues and wounding that might exist in that particular chakra. I'm ready to start on my fourth chakra painting right now, the heart chakra. (I'm skeeered!) I have the wood cut and prepped, all I need is the right timing. Timing is important with these chakra paintings, I notice." The heart can be a tough one, good luck Laurie! :)

Her chakra work isn't only intended for her own healing, but also those who view her art "My intention in doing these paintings is to open and clean my own chakras, and I believe that it would do the same thing for anyone who's open to it. My chakra paintings are energy art intended for healing, each one is attuned to reiki energy. I set my intention and stay focused on that intention throughout the whole process."

As to whether or not she has seen or felt any changes since working her way up through the chakras ~ "I've noticed a definite improvement in my overall energetic, emotional, and physical health... I still have a lot of work to do, though, healing seems to take place in layers, so I can see the chakra series continuing on for a long time. Creating art that has meaning, purpose and connects to people on an emotional and energetic level is exactly the kind of thing that will hold my attention and serve a higher purpose, which is my goal right now."

I've found how much easier and smoother to navigate this creative journey is if we are able to receive love and support from somone(s). I always wonder who is behind the artist, cheering them on, encouraging them, maybe softening the disappointment should it come. For Laurie, her daughter Andi is her biggest fan and supporter. "She promotes me.... always has suggestions and feedback for me. I'll send her photos of what I'm working on and ask her what she thinks, and being an artist herself, she gives great critiques."

Laurie has some new ideas in mind, "my brain has been percolating for a few weeks on a whole new perspective for my artwork. I haven't listed anything new in my Etsy shop for awhile, but it's coming." Here's an idea she has that I'm eager for her to get started on, I will be first in line... "One thing I'm sure about is that I'm going to create some cool, affordable, chakra pendants and more chakra paintings." I would definitely wear one of those pendants, save one for me!

"I believe that the world is poised for a transformation in consciousness, and I want to go along for the ride with my contribution being healing energy art." Thank you Laurie, beautifully said.
Laurie can also be found at:

I hope you enjoyed meeting Laurie, her blog is a must-follow! Happy, happy Friday everyone! Peace ~ Melinda

Prayer for the journey

Oh living Lord Jesus
I am not doing so well on this journey.
Please may I travel with Thee instead, and go the way Thee is going?  Take me with Thee, dearest of Friends.

Where I would run on ahead, warn me of dangers and be ready to help me up – for Thee knows how I fail to see the rabbit hole, the bramble and the treacherous ice on the road.

Where I am afraid to follow Thee, talk to me gently – reason with me, explain to me, hold my hand. If necessary pick me up and carry me, only for God’s sake do not leave me or let me stray from Thee, for without Thee I have not the smallest atom of hope at all.  Without Thee I am lost and I shall never make it home.  I need Thee.  It is as simple as that.

When I am bored and discontented, be patient with me; call me beyond myself.  Point out to me the beauties of the journey, the flowers and the animals, the glories of the sky and the great trees, the wonders of the landscape.  Please may we go by the places where I can see the sparkle of light on the ocean, and the geese taking flight from the lake, and the tumble of the beck high in the lovely spring woods.  Please may we see these things together, and take delight in them as we go, Thee and I.

When we sit down to eat, oh Lord Jesus remember Thee is wiser than I am.  Teach me, open my eyes, help me to learn what will feed and strengthen my body, and even give stability and serenity to my soul.  Remind me that what we have in our lunch pack is sourced from the whole world, and help me to choose from what there is a selection that will bring blessing to its source as well as to the one who enjoys the fruit.

I would say “When I am lonely”, but I shall not be lonely with Thee.  Still, when there are pastimes and gatherings Thee and I must pass by, for they are not on our Way, remind me where we are going and who we are, so that I harbour neither blame nor regret.

When I am tired, please, please don’t go on without me.  Curl up and rest with me and wake me when it is time we were moving on.

When the Way gets too difficult, too frightening, and I cannot even see the path when Thee points it out to me, oh Lord Jesus then I beg Thee to pick me up and carry me – just do not leave me, whatever betide.

Talk to me as we go, and will Thee also sing to me?  I love the songs of heaven, and the words are harder to remember without the music.

I have asked Thee for so much, and maybe Thee has noticed I have promised Thee nothing.  Maybe Thee was hoping that I might offer something constructive in return for all Thy patient love and faithful Friendship.  I feel ashamed to say it, but there is no point.  My promises are like soap bubbles that last until they hit a thorn and then are forgotten. I’ve known two-year-olds with more resolve than I.  Even my imagination writhes and screams and runs when I think about the cross, the lions, the torture chamber; may I never have to know what I would do faced with the real thing.  No, I have nothing to offer Thee except myself, all of myself – my need of Thee, my longing for Thee, and my certain knowledge that without Thy hand holding mine I am entirely desolate.

Let me go with Thee, oh Lord Jesus, not today only but every day.  Fit Thy pace to mine except when Thee carries me.  Hush me when I prattle and when I complain.  Thee has heard me before; I think Thee knows what I mean.  Oh – and I am hoping Thee knows some good jokes, and some more stories as well as the ones I have heard.  The old ones are good too.  Tell me them again.  They sound different when I hear them in Thy voice.

When we come to the gates of Heaven, I think Thee might find they will not be straining their eyes looking out for me in great excitement.  I am no hero and no saint, and am not even the kind of sinner that people find interesting.  I am lazy and I complain a lot, and am very inclined to criticise.  And I can be cruel.  That’s not the kind of person they will be looking out for, is it? I have not been a credit to Thee, and if Thee had not come searching and found me, I should never have managed to get there by myself at all.  I am pinning my hopes on them opening the gate for Thee, and that they will let me in because I am with Thee.

I have no idea what Heaven is really like.  What people have told me sounds terrible.  I am hoping there might still be grass and trees and flowers, mountains and birds, rocks with moss on them, watermelon and mango and oranges.  And grapes.  I am hoping that I might be able to play with the animals in Heaven – not own them there, or take them about on leads, neutered and separated from their own kind and trained to obey us like they were here – just play with them.  I am hoping there will be guitars and campfires to go with all the singing.
But before any of that, I know there is my Judgement.  Lord Jesus, when that comes, will Thee still hold my hand?  There are things I have done in this life I cannot bear to think about, that haunt me still.  Things I am so ashamed of, even though Thee has forgiven me.  I guess there must be lots of other things too, of which I was cheerfully oblivious until we get to that Judgement Day.  Without Thee beside me, I shall not be able to bear it Lord Jesus.  I don’t care what Thee knows about me, what Thee sees that I have done, just don’t leave me is all I ask.

Anyway, we’re not there yet.  Today is just beginning.  When I woke up this morning, I found Thee here with me still.  Let’s make a start then, on this day.  If Thee’s not already wishing I’d shut up finally, there’s about a million things I want to thank Thee for . . .

Fly Home Gertie

Today we said farewell to our old friend Gertie.

We adopted Gertie in 2001 from a pet rescue, and to be honest, she wasn't the sweetest dog we've ever called our own! ;) She may have been abused, she may just have been ignored, or maybe she ruled the roost in her previous home. Whatever the case might have been, my girls (little at the time) weren't allowed near here unless I was present to monitor. It wasn't long before she realized that I was the alpha dog in this house and I began to trust her... kind of.

She was an awkward little pooch. That long, round, low body (Corgi) and those incredibly short legs supporting it all. With those ears, she could fly away. She had a lovely coat though, soft and clean. She rarely required baths, she always smelled kind of... fresh.

Over the years she became my daughter's dog. She slept in Tay's room and received the most love and affection from my eldest. One year, Tay threw her an elaborate birthday party, complete with cake, festive hats and probably even goodie bags! Cousins and Grampa rounded out her guest list.

Over the years Gertie grew more calm, gentle and tolerant. She had settled into this easy life, and I think she liked it just fine! :)

This past Christmas Taylor asked for a pet portrait of her goofy little dog. I had been watching her for awhile and knew that things weren't quite right with Gertie's health. I had a feeling it wouldn't be much longer, and Tay wanted a beautiful keepsake. She discoverd an artist on Etsy, passed along the info to me, and I went hunting for a good pic. I found this one from several years ago and sent it along to In All Things - Art! . When the portrait came I was blown away, Johnni had done an amazing job. It was a stunning watercolor. I joked that it made Gertie look more endearing than she ever had during her long life! ;) We all thought it was beautiful.

Letting her go wasn't a sad thing, it was a gift we could give her after a long journey. I'm one of those weird people who doesn't fear death, or see it as an ending. Instead, I see it as a joyful beginning, and as I held her, I could feel her spirit soar free. On the way home I felt an overwhelming surge of joy. I turned to Taylor and told her that Gertie was home. I could feel it. I think that I smiled the whole drive home.

Fly free Gertie, someday we'll meet again. :)

Let's Talk Trash

Isn't this a gorgeous shot? You can find it in my daughter's Etsy shop ~ Spring ShowersI thought it was perfect for an eco-tip post!

Wow, two days in a row... I seem to be on a roll! Of course, this has been my goal all along, but life has a funny way of interfering. ;) Here's a new feature I've been thinking about for awhile, I'm excited to finally get around to sharing it! Anyone who knows me, knows I care deeply about the environment. It isn't just talk, I walk the walk. I can't see any other option, really. I realize this is not the concern of all, and I can respect we each need to do what speaks to us on this journey. If the Earth and how we take care of it, doesn't appeal to you at all... this may not be the post for you! ;)

However, I think that while it may not be at the top of everyone's priority list, many do want to make a difference. But how?
The problems we face can seem terribly overwhelming, I mean look how we treat the Earth on a daily basis. I can't even believe we still manufacture styrofoam, I mean, really????

But, I believe wholeheartedly that the small things make a huge difference. I don't concern myself with whether or not my neighbor is composting, I just do it myself. I don't check to see if my friends are faithfully recycling, I just worry about myself. And everyday that I live cleanly, I have done no harm. It's a great feeling, a peace of mind, knowing that I am not part of the problem, I am part of the solution. In both my Etsy shop, Simply Smitten, and my Artfire shop, Inspiration-Earth, I sell quite a few green, earth friendly choices. Every bottle I sell gives me a thrill, I am doing what I can.

So, enough of the page long intro, I'd like to introduce my eco-friendly tip of the day (improvise drumroll please...) Compostable, biodegradable garbage bags!
Click on the photo above to be taken directly to BioBag website

Yes, I'm talking garbage bags people, and oh, what a treasure! They are made by the company BioBag, and come in three sizes: tall kitchen, food waste (perfect size for those small bathroom garbages!) and lawn. I've been using them for a couple of years now, and I am in love! I've even gotten my mom hooked, feels so good to spread the green!

Fair warning ~ these are not your typical, plastic, indestructible garbage bags, which is exactly why I love them. They are designed to compost and break down, not last through all of eternity. We probably treat them more gently than we would other bags, don't overpack them (although trust me, they can hold quite a bit!) and we're careful in the summer not to let them sit around for more than a week, they may start to break down in the right conditions. I know it probably doesn't please my husband when this happens, but it tells me that they're doing exactly what they're designed to do. They are produced from GMO free crops which is a big deal for someone like me, who avoids GMO foods like the plague, and they contain no polyethylene (which is a very good thing).

"Regular polyethylene-based plasic bags can take over 100 years to degrade and are not compostable. Less than 2% of all plastic bags ever get recycled... Studies indicate that 100,000 marine animals and 2 million birds die every year from ingesting or being caught up in plastic debris." (BioBag website)

So, a very simple thing you can change and feel great about. You are no longer part of this problem. Easy, right? I buy my bags by the case through my local food co-op, but they can be found online at, and I have seen them in other random shops that I frequent. There you have it, my first eco-tip. I think most would find that pretty painless. So, what are you waiting for? Time to go shopping... :)

I didn't even realize they made these awesome dog waste bags! How cool!
Have a truly lovely evening. Peace ~ Melinda

Odds & Ends

I have tons of little things I've been meaning to mention, enough that I figured they were a post of their own! First, my daughter Taylor, of Dreams of Fae, is having a super giveaway! She's been planning the details out for at least a week now, she's very excited! If you want details, click on the photo above to be taken directly to her blog post explaining all of the details. I'd love to enter, but knowing Tay, she would't think that was 'fair'. I'll have to ask her... ;)

Secondly, my daughter Jordan just turned 13, and as a birthday gift to herself, she got herself set up blogging. I know that reading the ramblings of a 13 year old may not sound appealing (my journals from when I was 13 are horrendous!!), but really, they are a fun read! She has had her own Etsy shop for almost as long as I have, making her a fellow small business owner. :) You can find her at Spring Showers on Etsy. She loves to follow blogs, and I know if you become a reader of hers, she will return the favor. Her last post describe a 'muddy adventure' that she and her 10 year old sister had. Just a day in the life around here... Click on the photo above to be taken directly to her blog 'Rainbow Veins'.

Okay, now we're back to Tay. She's attempting to raise money and help out those struggling in Japan. We never feel that any kindess is too small, and anything she is able to make can help someone in need. Right now, in her Etsy shop, The Forest Faery, she has several listings for friendship bracelets, with 100% of the proceeds heading over to Japan. We're not sure which charity we'll be using yet, we'll keep you posted. These bracelets are simple and fun! She has tons made up, just waiting for someone... maybe you! $6.00 for 3 bracelets (free shipping!), it's an inexpensive way to feel like you're doing something good. Click on the photo to be taken to her blogpost about the details, or her shop link if you'd like to purchase some bracelets.

And now, on to my youngest, Riley Mae. She recently opened up her own Etsy shop, I guess she felt left out! ;) And the exciting news... she just made her first sale!! Well, actually, it would be her second sale, her Grampa bought two sprouts to show his support right away, thanks Dad! :) This, however, is her first sale through The Poisoned Apple! It's so much fun for me because the Paypal info is hooked up to my account, so I get all of the notifications once a payment goes through. I check in to my email often (always checking for 'Etsy Transactions' ;) and I often see before they do that they've made a sale. I usually can't contain my excitement and have to whisper the news to one of my other girls while we wait for anxiously for the other to check their email... such torture, but such fun! Anyway, congrats to Riley.
Well, I think that'll do it for tonight. Phew, feels great to be caught up! :) Wishing you all a lovely evening. Peace ~ Melinda

Sew Adorable!

I can't begin to tell you how many itty, bitty doll outfits I've made over the years. When my girls were younger I had my husband build each of them a doll wardrobe, and I proceeded to fill it to overflowing with doll ensembles!

Since only my youngest still occasionally plays with dolls, I had to find a new outlet. There's just something about taking nothing (a piece of square, flat fabric) and creating a product that is so cute! After Christmas I was bit by the sewing bug and listed quite a few outfits in my etsy shop, Simply Smitten. I sold this curdoroy jacket with matching hat and mittens that I so loved!
My outfits have improved dramatically, mostly because of the awesome sewing machine I treated myself to. It has 50 different stitches, and since my old machine only had 2, this is quite a treat!

I love to embellish with buttons and ribbon. Each outfit takes me forever, because each detail has to be "just right". I can't tell you how often I tear apart something for a "defect" so small that only I can see it! I feel so great about each one though, they've been created with such love and care and attention to detail.
I haven't sold this skirt and shirt with matching bolero yet. Could be because I had it inactive for awhile. ;) It's just waiting for some little girl...

This was one of my favorites, it sold to a woman in Canada who bought 5 of my sets. That was a happy day. :)
So, I seem to be on a doll clothing kick again. It works in on/off cycles. I'll sew like crazy for a couple of weeks, and then I'll start to miss my clipboards, or come up with a new air freshener scent... time to get back to work!
Happy Sunday to you all.
Peace ~ Melinda

Cooking dinner

Today is cold and grey.  Relentless rain.  Dismal.  Praise the Lord (that’s what we have to do, innit)!  Cold days make a person hungry, so by half an hour past noon I was feeling peckish and went down from my garret, where I was checking the proofs for The Hardest Thing To Do, to see what we had in the fridge.

Now, when I cook I don’t start with a recipe.  I start with what there is.

We had some cold cooked quinoa from yesterday.  We had some mushrooms that needed using.  We had some oil left from a pot of artichoke hearts marinaded in sunflower oil infused with garlic and thyme.  A few bits of artichoke still there.  So far so good.

We have a frying pan but I don’t cook with that because it’s Teflon coated and I like Teflon scrapings left right outside of my body.  I have a sweet little iron wok but the leftovers were too big for that.  So I took the lid from the blue enamelled cast-iron pot.  It can double as a frying pan.
I put in the oil with the last 3 or 4 bits of artichoke heart, and broke the mushrooms up into it – lovely big open field mushrooms, firm and hearty.  Yum.  I fried them gently in the oil for a while, then added the cold quinoa.  The mushrooms had soaked up most of the oil and weren’t giving off any liquid (that pan is very open, so the frying is drier), so I stir-fried the mixture around for a bit, but it was sticking, so I added a little water.  No more oil.  Oil and I are antagonistic companions.  A little is plenty for me – too much and I have agonising heartburn and a bilious white-coated tongue.  Noooo!

Something else was needed now to make this tasty, so I chopped a scallion in and a handful of slivers cut from a ripe red bell pepper I found in the fridge.  I mixed in some concentrated tomato paste from one of those squirty tubes like toothpaste, and to finally make it tasty enough to eat I added a few shakes of tamari.  Done.  Delicious.

As I sat down to eat it, I noticed how substantial and hearty it both looked and tasted.  The mushrooms were as beefy as meat, the colour was deep and inviting and the flavour was savoury and had a good blend.  It had the same feeling to it as eating steak pie.

I’ve met people who puzzled me by saying they disliked vegetables because veggies are so bland and watery and tasteless.  What? Tasteless?  But then I discovered that what they meant by a carrot was not the same as what I meant by a carrot.  I meant a vegetable that had grown in someone’s garden or on an organic farm.  They meant the budget range from the supermarket.  When I ate their vegetables, I could see what they meant at once.  And their mushrooms looked like cunning fake fungi made from spongy polystyrene.

Tell it not in Gath, but my grandson (the Wretched Wretch) eats mud.  As he roves around the garden at the back of his family’s little cottage, he nibbles the grass and the herbs, and the mud.  This is not because he is a mineral-deprived starving vegan.  Don’t confuse their household with ours, please!  His daddy grew up in Georgia and knows how to cook!  It has taken all the might of the Wretched Wretch’s mummy applying her English brakes to slow him down from eating not one type of meat in a casserole but two or three.  The Wretched Wretch snacks on sausages and no block of cheese is safe with his mother.  Vegan they ain’t.  But he still eats mud.

However, before puckering thy face in horror and saying “Ewww!” let me point out we all eat mud.  Mud is the tastiness in vegetables.  If we grow vegetables in sterilised compost or water with chemicals added; then, by gum, that’s what they’ll taste of.  Thee can tell this in Gath, because the Philistines need to know it: mud is what makes veggies tasty – organic mud that the worms and beetles have mixed and enriched, mud that has had plenty of well-rotted poo dug in.  The potatoes and carrots and lettuce that grow in that, loved by sunshine and blessed by rain, are firm and full of flavour, with a good dense texture.
Quinoa, artichokes, mushrooms, peppers, scallions – one might say those are just the middle-men.  What I ate really was rainclouds and sunbeams and a hefty spadeful of good earth.  It was delicious.

The way earth grows veggies is clever as clever;
I think I’ll stay vegan for ever and ever.

With apologies to A.A.Milne, God rest him.


Disturbing similarities

It would seem . . .

. . . that after adjustments and some months living with headcovering and Plainish dress, I have settled down into a way of doing it that also feels like me.

But the thing is . . .

. . . it would also seem that others 
     . . . have been there before me . . .

St Patrick's Day

I really liked this entry that Nonna Jennifer-Anne Buckley posted on her blog today.

Though this is not normally a "Let's show each other our tattoos" blog (!) I thought I'd show y'all the tatto that I have on my left arm.

This tattoo is not decoration, it's a kind of luggage label.  When I had it done, I was thinking of Paddington Bear, the small brown spectacled bear who was discovered at Paddington Station with his suitcase of marmalade sandwiches and his label put round his neck by his auntie saying "Please look after this bear".

Back at the end of the 1990s a series of terrible events was set in motion in my life.  It has taken us until this year to repair finally and completely the damage that was done in my life and the lives of my children as a result; but now God has restored the years the locust has eaten.

At one time, I guess around March 2002, I reached absolute rock bottom.  I was very suicidal, and only one thing kept me going - the sure knowledge that if I committed suicide the person who would find my body would be the daughter who lived with me - we were all scattered, because we had lost our home.  

At that time, living hand to mouth, working nights as a care assistant with a nurse who wouldn't speak to me because I was not the (young, handsome, male) staff member she had hoped to be teamed with, I descended into a sort of nightmare of exhaustion and semi-illness.  I am not able to describe the events that happened to us, because that would involve giving inappropriate information about the lives of others; but I lost our family home, my job, and my marriage.  Had my mother not given me the money to buy a tiny 2-roomed apartment and take care of our girls (still at school) while I got back on my feet, I don't know what would have become of us.  My marriage and family had been immensely precious to me, and the loss of all this dealt me such a blow that I felt I, myself, had in fact died, and all that was left was a body with a destroyed soul.

It was then that I took the name Ember.  My soul felt like a crater of ashes, everything completely gone.  'Ember' meant the hope that, as I raked through the ashes, eventually I might come across some core of life on which God's breath could blow, and something new and living could begin - which indeed proved to be the case.  Today, a bit like Job, I am married to the most wonderful man in the world, and live in a house that can accommodate all our family - two of my girls are settled in their own homes with their own good men, but if they had not been, there would be room for them here.

Anyway, during the crater-of-ashes time, a number of people asked me about my faith, marvelling that all I had been through had not shaken my faith in God.  But, why would it?  Nothing had changed as far as I knew about God - only my life circumstances had changed.  My faith was founded on Him, not on me.  

But I did have a fear that I would fail or deny him.  I loved Elie Wiesel's prayer (from The Town Beyond The Wall): "O God, be with me when I have need of you, but above all else do not leave me when I deny you."

And so I decided to attach to myself a kind of lost-luggage label - so that if I lost my reason or my faith, nonetheless, indelibly upon my body would be inscribed that I am the property of the living God.

I prayed often at that time Cecil Frances Alexander's version of the Prayer of St Patrick, that is called St Patrick's Breastplate:

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
I bind this day to me for ever,
by power of faith, Christ's Incarnation;
his baptism in Jordan river;
his death on cross for my salvation;
his bursting from the spic├Ęd tomb;
his riding up the heavenly way;
his coming at the day of doom:
I bind unto myself today.

I bind unto myself the power
of the great love of cherubim;
the sweet "Well done" in judgment hour;
the service of the seraphim;
confessors' faith, apostles' word,
the patriarchs' prayers, the prophets' scrolls;
all good deeds done unto the Lord,
and purity of virgin souls.

I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

I bind unto myself today
the power of God to hold and lead,
his eye to watch, his might to stay,
his ear to hearken, to my need;
the wisdom of my God to teach,
his hand to guide, his shield to ward;
the word of God to give me speech,
his heavenly host to be my guard.

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort
and restore me.
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of
all that love me,
Christ in mouth of
friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

And so, on St Patrick's Day 2002, I was tattooed with this sign that, whatever I think or don't think, believe or don't believe, whether I am a credit or an embarrassment to Him, under all circumstances of life and even in death, I am the property of Jesus Christ, Son of the Most High God.  And it will always be so.