Mrs. Thistle’s Almanac: An introduction

“How many things by season season’d are to their right praise and true perfection!”

-William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (Act V, Sc 1)

Why is it so important to celebrate the season we’re in? It seems as though society is always rushing to the next thing, everything a little earlier, a little faster, a little more commercial. We can have strawberries in January and Christmas trees before Halloween. But just because we can, does that mean we should? Some things can get lost in the hustle and bustle. We can lose our connection to the natural world around us.

Psalm 90:12 encourages, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”

The human soul longs for balance. Mother Nature, Father Time, The Great Mystery, all call us to a deeper connection to the world around us. In a society driven by bigger, faster, cheaper, and flashier, it can be hard to order our day with intention. We rush hither and thither, trying to catch our breath, until at last we crash onto our pillow and wonder where the day went.

We are, by nature, rhythmic beings. We breathe in, we breathe out. Our hearts beat rhythmically. We wake, we eat, and we sleep. We are born and we die. We see the same rhythms in the natural world. Spring breathes out and flowers burst forth in bloom. New life begins. Summer is the height of vibrancy and energy for flora and fauna alike. Autumn brings a season of harvest, transition, and a storing up. Winter breathes in. It is quiet, cold, and dark. Animals are cozied up in their dens for a long rest. The old has passed away, covered under a blanket of white. The world sleeps.

And it begins again.

There’s something reassuring about the divine orderliness of a chaotic world rife with wars, famine, political strife, and natural disasters. The night of our world can seem never-ending. But still the dawn comes. Winter always gives way to spring. We live in a fallen, upside-down world but if we stop and look around, the Lord has provided a solace in the rhythm of the seasons. It might seem hard sometimes to find peace in such a broken world. But we can have peace in knowing the Lord built order into our world even where strife and confusion exist. We need only slow down and look for him in His Creation. From the tiny ladybug to marvelous nebula to our seemingly plain old Thursday morning, the Lord has provided an order to it all.

It’s important to see each day as a gift. How might we better accomplish that? By ordering our days in a way that keeps us mindful rather than simply busy, we can better recognize each day as a gift even when it seems chaotic or even ordinary. Some days are easier to receive as a gift than others. Reaping a harvest is often preferred over the hard work of sowing in tears. But every day presents a gift if we can only recognize it. Nothing in life is static and every moment prepares us for the next.

I don’t know about you, but I often find myself a day late for everything I want to do. A fun festival comes to my town but it was last week and I missed it. I meant to get that birthday card in the mail but the time passed and now it’s just embarrassing. I neglect to prepare for the week’s meals so each night is a struggle to get dinner on the table. I’m not the most organized person but I know that the Lord wants me to use my time wisely. So, I designed a planner filled with wisdom I’ve gleaned from many mamas and organized people over the years to help get our household in order. This planner is not meant to be a burden. It’s meant to be a tool for embracing the season. The goal is to fill it up with rich seasonal offerings and pick from a few. No one can do everything so create those seasonal bucket lists here but let them guide your days, not rule them.

Each month starts with a visual representation of that month’s offerings. There’s a list of flora and fauna applicable to that particular month to encourage an awareness of what might be happening in your backyard or somewhere else in the country (you won’t find narwhals in Ohio or polar bears in Florida in any season but it’s still valuable to learn about the seasons as they might apply to our distant neighbors). These are great for nature journaling.

Each weekly spread includes an open-ended theme. You can use it or not. Do not let the themes rule your life. They’re simply another prompting to help you know what is in season and anticipate any activities you might want to do with your family. A simple craft or family outing or themed recipe can serve as way to notice the natural world around you. But there will be weeks when you simply can’t do any of those. Again, they are suggestions not rules. And, if some of the themes seem a bit out of place (like bats in August rather than October), do a little digging and you might be surprised to find that what we associate with a particular season is quite applicable in another.

At the end of each month’s pages you’ll find month-at-a-glance pages for dinner menu planning and recording very basic nature notes like sunrise/sunset times, temperature, weather conditions, or seasonal sightings like first birds of spring or migrations. These pages are meant for quick notes to get an idea of your whole month at once, not for detailed plans, so the boxes are quite small for that reason.

The planner has a heavy dose of liturgical living with feast days and saints but don’t let that deter you if you aren’t familiar with liturgy. A study of Christians who came before us does not have to be denominational or catholic.  A saint of the month has been included to encourage the study of christian virtues as well as human weaknesses, something we can all aspire to and often relate to whether we are baptist, catholic, or non-denominational.

My hope is that this planner helps you accomplish your big goals and dreams while actually enjoying and savoring the ordinary days in between. Please let me know how it can be more useful to you.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain have the workers from their toil?  I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with.  He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.  I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil.  I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.

– Ecclesiastes 3: 1-15

 

Mrs. Thistle’s Almanac: An Introduction (You are here)

Mrs. Thistle’s Almanac: The Pages

Mrs. Thistle’s Almanac: The Seasons

Mrs. Thistle’s Almanac: Printing

Mrs. Thistle’s Almanac: The Future (coming soon)

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