Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thinking Biblically About Technology

If you're like me, navigating the ever-growing ocean of technology can be a daunting task. Computers, smart phones, ipods, oh my! Especially when it comes to setting boundaries for ourselves and our children regarding social media and gaming.

Technology itself is not only not inherently evil, it can be a tremendous blessing -- who hasn't searched google for a last-minute recipe, reconnected with a long lost friend on facebook, shared photos with family online, or simplified Christmas by shopping websites? It would be foolish to scorn these blessings by avoiding technology altogether. And as the Socialnomics video below points out ... whether you like it or not, you *can't* avoid it. Technology is part of our world and we can't escape it.

My dear friend Wendy has shared her family's new Technology Policy as a guest post on Daily On My Way to Heaven. As Wendy says, we do our children a disservice by sheltering them from technology, rather than train them to think Biblically and be wise in their use of it. But I'm stealing her thunder -- you should just go read her post here:


While you're there, take time to enjoy the other lovely posts Daily On My Way to Heaven has to offer.


And when you're done reading, come back and watch this video for some perspective on life in the 21st century. We need a plan. Avoidance is not an option!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Keepin it real

I love this post from the Femina blog. So familiar. We are in the midst of our own festive happy chaos. Decorating & redecorating (after kids/cats un-decorate.) Baking cookies instead of dinner. Too many events. But rejoicing - the King of Heaven humbled himself to be born a poor, human baby, live in our broken world, and die for the forgiveness of sins. So ... let's whoop it up and embrace the chaos!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dressing up a t-shirt...

A friend on Facebook posted this brilliant video on 25 ways to tie a scarf. At the end, you can click the thumbnail of your favorite and get a tutorial. Love! (If you're like me, you have a bunch of scarves folks have given you as gifts. Now go grab one, put on your fave plain black tee, and get to work!)
Now, anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I'm NOT a fashionista. Like every mom, I'm busy - comfort and practicality determine most of my wardrobe. That doesn't mean I don't want to look pretty and feminine. I like to think of my style as cute-chubby-feminine-casual. ;-) By taking advantage of the pretty scarves I've collected, I can wear the comfy white tee AND look "put together." How easy is THAT?

Here I am sporting the "DIY Infinity" (photo creds to 17yo son S)
Since it's rainy, my go-to cute flannel flats are out. And clearance boots from Tarjay are in. (a size bigger b/c they didn't have my size in the clearance style. Fabulous AND Frugal.)
Completed with the "messy ponytail" picked up from this cute blog. (yikes! pardon the gray hairs - I don't usually see my own head from this point of view. :-o )

Now... off to homeschool and carpool, but with my own little dash of sunshine and a merry heart!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More Than Conquerors

Ran across this jewel from my favorite Amy Carmichael Devotional today and was so encouraged:

Rom. 8:37 - 'more than conquerors'
James 1:2 R.V. - 'Count it all joy...when ye fall into manifold temptations.'

Amy says, "Sometimes when we read the words of those who have been more than conquerors, we feel almost despondent. 'I shall never be like that,' we feel. But they won through, step by step, by little acts of will, little denials of self, little inward victories, by faithfulness in very little things they became what they are. No one sees these little hidden steps, they only see the accomplishment; but even so, those small steps were taken. There is no sudden triumph, no spiritual maturity that is the work of a moment. So let us all take courage; not one of us is too weak to be made more than a conqueror."

She goes on to compare God's sanctifying us through trials to the physical training of "lifting heavy burdens" -- weight training. To put it in a modern way: some of us grow by bench-pressing very heavy burdens slowly; others of us grow by lifting lighter weights, but over and over, day by day. Nevertheless, each of us grows. "There is something in trial which God uses to perfect strength. Let us leave God to do His own work. He will not allow us to suffer in vain."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How Did We Get Here So Fast?

Celebrated two birthdays this week: C (left) turned 15 and got his learner's permit; and my firstborn, S, (right) turned 17. Hard to believe he'll be voting in the next presidential election!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Random Thoughts on Cutting With the Grain

I don't have time to blog - I shouldn't be sitting here at the computer. School is in full swing and my time is not my own. I feel led to share something, however, on the chance that it might just resonate with someone out there.

I heard Nancy Wilson speak this summer about "cutting with the grain" when raising kids - allowing them to explore and pursue what naturally interests them. For example, one of her daughters was always buying fabric and sewing as a teenager...yet with few finished products to show for it. That same daughter now has her own clothing line and is designer of some really beautiful textiles.

"Cutting with the grain" ... even when it seems like more trouble than it's worth, makes a big mess, and takes up precious time.
  • One child spends his free time poking around the computer and "writing code" for seemingly silly programs. Yet when he used Flash to compose a program that makes a rocket ship dance around the screen with the arrow keys ... I had to admit I was impressed.
  • One child has spent hours this week editing stock photos and discovering what happens when you alter hue, contrast, saturation, etc.
  • One child can't stop building pillow forts and obstacle courses - out of anything and everything. In every.single.room of the house.
  • One child enjoys cooking and when she "plays," she plays with real ingredients and makes real recipes. She's quite good, actually. It's just that I don't always want a strawberry lassi right before lasagne for dinner.
It's so tempting to dismiss these things as mess-makers and time-wasters. (Not to mention a whole container of orange juice!) But I step out in faith, trusting that all this "exploring" will nourish their young souls. Hopeful that even if nothing else comes of it, at least my kids will know that their Mom is their encourager.

That's it for now. My 7yo "box man" has just delivered his fifth package in half an hour. I must go unwrap and see which of my own belongings is my gift .... ;)
{It was a roll of toilet paper, btw. Signed with the initials of the deliverer. I knew something was up when I heard a sibling yell, "What are you doing?!? Why are you writing on toilet paper!? LOL}

Monday, August 8, 2011

Yes Yes YESSS!

Desiring God has a great post up about C.S. Lewis and how "Narnia helps us live better here." Perfect timing for some transforming thoughts going on inside my head and within our family - what we've been calling our "Hobbit Revolution." Not the blissfully ignorant, always cheery Hobbits of The Shire that know nothing of the evils of the world beyond their borders. But Hobbits like Frodo, Samwise, Merry, and Pippin - the ones who went on a great adventure, suffered terrible evils, grew stronger (and taller ;) in ways they didn't know they could, and returned to the beloved Shire with a deeper understanding of its simple joys and sweet fellowship. Longing for the Grey Havens, but whole-heartedly enjoying the good things this life has to offer in the meantime.

We are like those Hobbits - the walking wounded who know our citizenship is in Heaven. Yet we also know that every good and perfect gift comes from our Father (James 1:17) and that there is much joy to be had on our earthly journey. To live is Christ, to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21) So, as C.S. Lewis says, "As long as we live in merry middle earth, it is necessary to have merry middle things. " We've been broken by grief, suffering, sickness, stress, and heartache. Even so, by God's grace, we still enjoy 'merry middle things' like the sweet fellowship of friendship and hospitality, or the transport of corporate worship. We whoop it up at Christmas and birthdays. We let the kids make pillowforts and lick the spoon. We stay up past bedtime and catch fireflies in a jar. We wonder at bumblebees and bubble baths. We take delight in the satisfaction of hard work and breaking a good sweat; almost-burnt cookies and the laughter of our children; frail hugs from grandparents ... and roller coasters, both real and metaphorical. Like Hobbits. Deeper joy because of the pain we've suffered. Deeper joy because of the pain HE suffered.
oops! I've been rambling -- it's too late to be blogging! I meant to link you to Deisring God's post, not tire you out reading mine! So follow this link to read the whole post, and in the meantime I leave you this tease:

By creating Narnia, Lewis invites us out of our own skin and into that of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy (and later Caspian, Eustace, Jill, Shasta, and the rest). The challenges we face are Narnian challenges. The victories we win are Narnian victories. But our time in Narnia is not an end in itself. We go there so that we can then live better here. By taking us out of this world, Lewis enables us to become something that we weren’t before, something greater and grander, so that, when we return out of the wardrobe, we face our own Giants of Despair differently. We face them as true Narnians.

Or Hobbits. Either one works. Gnostics, may we never be!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Let's Review


Tuesday: 1.5mi. very very hot. legs like lead

Wednesday: 2.2mi. very very hot. awful migraine. did i learn my lesson?

Thursday: crosstrain indoors - 5.2 mi on stationary bike with my book. aaaahhh :)

Saturday: 4mi. moderate heat/partly cloudy. first decent 'long run' all summer. encouraged and motivated by waves & nods from other runners, going the opposite direction, as we passed on our loops. offered broken prayers and recited verses in my head when my brain didn't have to stop & remind my lungs to breathe or my legs to take the next step. Philippians 4:13!

Not the most impressive week, but the first one in a long time with anything resembling consistency.

(this cheery vine gave me motivation for another mile...)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I think I can...I think I can... I think I can...

I wrote an eloquent blog post in my head yesterday about running, as I ... ran. But the heat must have evaporated it right out and left in its place jumbled thoughts and rambling words. Oh well! :)

My blogging/running friend, Wendy, once encouraged me that 'the hardest part of running is getting out the door.' (see her repeat that encouragement in this cute, motivational post.) That's certainly been true this summer! So many days I don't make it out until the heat is unbearable and running isn't fun.

Yesterday, I tried to beat the heat. It was only 77 when I decided to run, but 86 by the time I fed the kids, found all my gear, and hit the trail. It was 91 before I was done. (and approaching triple digits by the end of the day - yowza!) Makes a huge difference when this sun-beaten, windy, 1/4 mile uphill section of the trail is in your loop! (the pic doesn't do it justice - it's a beast and I felt a sense of accomplishment when I conquered it twice yesterday!)

It is a small victory - only hashed out 2.5 miles with a disappointing time - but I'm proud of myself for hanging in there. And I'm thankful for so many things: that I'm healthy enough to run, for strong legs to run with, beautiful park trails, teenagers that babysit, and even for the heat. Yes, the heat. As another friend (also named Wendy :) reminded me this morning, the seasons are a blessing - one that God promises will continue until the Lord comes (see Gen 8). And the heat of summer reminds us to be thankful for the refreshing cold of winter, and vice versa. "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I Thessalonians 5:18

(I found a race. It's a 5k, and sooner than I'd like. But my husband has some business that will take him to my hometown over Labor Day, and it's for a great cause, so I signed up! Still shopping for a late-fall/ cooler temps road race close to home.)

(Oh, another funny side note - yesterday was a first for me: I spat on the trail! [not on the trail of course, ha ha] I'm always amused by the evidence of spitting runners - never thought I'd be one!)

Monday, August 1, 2011

I Need a Race!

It's been very hard to find time to run this summer, even though I enjoy it. I'm getting squishy. Turning into Garfield! I need the motivation and accountability that training for a race provides. 10k would be nice. Maybe a half. Long about October or November. Affordable, fun. Close to home. Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Good Walk

Never be within doors when you can rightly be without -- Charlotte Mason

Friday, July 15, 2011

Small Lesson

"New" bike found after weeks of praying and searching thrift stores: $15.15
6yo boy learning to wait for God's perfect timing and provision: Priceless
His joy & gratitude were genuine and overflowing.

How Do We Represent the Gospel to Our Children?

"The question here is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. Have you given your life to your children resentfully? Do you tally every thing you do for them like a loan shark tallies debts? Or do you give them life the way God gave it to us—freely?"

"Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine." -- Rachel Jankovic

Read more in this article at Desiring God.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Glimpses of a Summer Day

We haven't had as many of these sweet days at home as I had hoped for. But when they come, they are very welcome!

Nothing says "fun breakfast snack" like Easy Cheese on Triscuits. Yep, breakfast. That's her pj shirt there. Only in summertime. There are special rules for summertime.
M (12) spent some time sketching. And because she takes after her mama, the little shutterbug had to document her efforts on film.
A quick jaunt to Goodwill produced some white treasures. I'm working on a project, and have been collecting pretty white things. More on that in a future post...
What A's (6) room looked like after room time. I wondered what all those crashing sounds were.
The other half of the room. Needless to say, the young man had some regret when he spent much of the afternoon putting that mess back in order!
Out of the blue, M said, "Mom, can I make a pillow?" I saw this as an opportunity to 'say yes' and put aside my afternoon plans for some girl time. Eventually the other two redheads joined the fun. Three hours later, our scraps from the fabric box were transformed into "look what I did" treasures.
Since we spent so much time on our pillows, I enlisted every free hand to help prepare dinner. A & K (5) gave each ear of corn a name. When we were eating, A proclaimed, "I got Hairy Bob!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Woman of Understanding




"A man of understanding remains silent." -- Proverbs 11:12 b






I've been thinking about journaling lately. Mainly because I've recently read an article by Nancy Wilson on the subject, and also heard her mention it in a workshop she gave at the ACCS Conference on "Raising a Writer." Nancy admonished us to "not write anything down that we wouldn't want everyone to read." That's a tall order! A challenge to be careful what we put in emails or on the web ... you never know when you might hit the wrong button (or how someone else may share or forward your words); and to be careful about what/how you journal.

I'll link Nancy's original article below. But first, I wanted to highlight her daughter Rebekah's post on the topic. Rebekah mentions the pitfall of using a journal as a form of venting. She writes (emphasis mine):
The thing is, writing it down is NOT the same thing as confessing it. But it can give a sort of counterfeit feeling of relief. It’s not the relief of having your sins washed away, erased, and removed as far as the east is from the west. It’s the relief of having vented and gotten something off your chest – and that’s not the same thing, although it could be mistaken for it. ---Rebekah Merkle on Femina blog

(This fits well with Elisabeth Elliot's 'Rule of Contentment' #1: Allow yourself to complain of nothing, not even the weather.)
Read Rebekah's post here; then go back and read Nancy's original post. Thanks, Femina gals, for this bit of wisdom. May we all strive to be women of understanding, who have the discernment to know when & what to share with others, and when to keep our confidence and pray instead.

***update***Nancy just posted a great follow-up article. Check it out here!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Homecoming

We traveled up to see my family for the holiday weekend. Though I've made a couple of trips up there with the kids, this was the first time in at least 18 months that all seven of us went as a family. We had a glorious time! When it's just me and a couple kids, and my husband stays here at home, I get homesick for my Georgia nest and love to flutter back to it. This time was different. Maybe because my husband was with me and I wasn't missing him. Maybe because we had the chance to do some classic Franklin/Nashville things. Maybe it was the precious time with family. Maybe it was the unforgettable experience of seeing U2 together. Maybe it was the gorgeous weather, highlighting the beauty of the land around the West Harpeth River. Whatever the cause, we suddenly became a little homesick for Tennessee.

As Psalm 16 (my favorite Psalm) says, the lines have fallen in pleasant places for us here in Georgia. We are very attached to the covenant community we've found here at church and at school. We're content and not going anywhere anytime soon. But in my heart, I'll always be a Tennessean.

Some of my favorite moments:
  • Working with hubby & my boys as they helped my Mom do some landscaping on her hill. My parents have 3 acres, situated in the woods on a steep hill that can prove a challenge to cars, lawnmowers, and growing things. It was fun to see their hard work bring beauty.
  • Eating a black bean salad at one of our favorite Nashville cafes. One we've not visited in over five years. Yummy!
  • Strolling the Franklin Farmers Market with dh, my Mom, and a couple kids. Goat cheese samples, italian ice, kettle corn, and yes, live music.
  • Going to the U2 360 concert, not only with my favorite U2 fan (whom I happen to be married to ;), but also my sister and brother. It was an amazing show - I think the guys knew they needed to show Music City a good time. They paid a little homage to Johnny Cash, and even gave away Bono's Ireland-green guitar to a blind guy that they pulled on stage for the encore to play 'All I Want is You' with them. U2 was the music of our courtship, and seeing those songs performed live & holding my baby's hand was very special. Unforgettable.
  • Running 2 miles along the Harpeth River with my little man, A. (almost 7yo) It was HOT and he was a trooper. It was kind of a run/walk/talk -- every now and then he'd stop, drink some water, and say, "I need to go over here and discover!" He kept hoping a cave would pop up along the river, but alas, not many caves in Franklin. ;)
  • Lots and lots and lots of cousin time! There are 12 of them, and they are all close friends.
  • Sitting on my brother's deck, all us grown-ups, talking late into the night while children scampered all over the house and yard.
  • Celebrating Independence Day with the whole family. We had a glorious feast, prepared by my sweet parents, managed to get a family photo with the camera timer, and shot off a zillion fireworks at the bottom of my parents' hill. The dads & teen boys did the pyrotechnics, and the rest of us sat in lawn chairs eating popsicles and spectating. Bliss! (Except for the mosquito bites - we're all covered!)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Poetic Wisdom

Wisdom gleaned from Father Tim this morning.
"Life" by Paul Laurence Dunbar.
A crust of bread and a corner to sleep in,
A minute to smile and an hour to weep in,
A pint of joy to a peck of trouble,
And never a laugh but the moans come double.
And that is life.
A crust and a corner that love makes precious,
With a smile to warm and tears to refresh us,
And joy seems sweeter when cares come after,
And a moan is the finest of foils for laughter.
And that is life.




Wisely paired (by Father Tim) with this quote from Samuel Rutherford:
"Whenever I find myself in the cellar of affliction, I always look about for the wine."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Running Update


A few weeks ago, I posed the question, "Am I a warrior?" I forgot to mention that yes, yes I am a Warrior! Back in May, my brother and I completed the Warrior Dash together. It
was fun. It was hard. It challenged me in ways I didn't expect (like when I almost chickened out of going over the extremely vertical, quite daunting, 12-foot 'Warrior Wall' with nothing but a knotted rope to help me. I didn't let that wall win, though - on 'take two' I was up and over.) My bro and I had a great, sweaty, muddy day in the North Georgia Mountains.

Here's the rundown for this week. :)
Monday: 1.5 miles w/ S (16). Like Kate, we keep going out too close to noon. It was hot and we struggled to catch our breath.
Tuesday-Friday: life. Someone once said the hardest part of running is getting out the door. Definitely true this week. Focusing more on being a home-keeper than a runner.
Saturday: 3.5 miles alone at the park. Did two miles on the hilly off-road trail, and the rest on the pavement. All hilly, though - and once again too close to noon!
Total: 5 miles. and that's ok. :)


Friday, June 24, 2011

On the Mission Field


So far summer break has been surprisingly busy. There seems to be no end to the duties required to wrap up the school year we just finished, as well as prepare for the one ahead. Yesterday was no exception - I put a lot of miles on the car, juggled many things, and fell in the bed exhausted. Definitely "must be Thursday." The turn-around time between things like VBS, summer trips, and summer visitors seems to be short - and makes me fiercely protect the quiet family times we have in the middle.

By God's grace, this week we've found time to enjoy the pleasure of each other's company and even slow down a little bit. A (6) has become quite the reader, and I've had fun sitting down with him each afternoon with a pile of library books. We both were fascinated by Roly-Poly Pillbugs and had to go on a hunt around our woods to find some. The girls and I finally planted the impatiens that have been sitting on the deck since I bought them in May (and miraculously survived!). We made playdough, did yard work, went swimming, and mopped the kitchen
(yes - that was fun family time, perhaps only b/c it was such a novelty. ;) I've shared alone time with each of my young men -had some good chats. Glad I took the time to listen to the new guitar tab S (16) has been learning -- he was so proud.

Even still, most of the house remains a mess, my time seems to run out too fast, there is a seemingly constant need to correct for character issues and sibling conflicts, and I wonder if I'll ever get around to all those projects I put off
during the school year thinking I'll have more time in the summer.

Below is a link to a great post on Desiring God to put it all in perspective. (By Rachel Jankovic, author of Loving the Little Years. Again, I tell you, a must-read!)

read the article here:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chapter 297, In Which We Enjoy God's Creation and Work on Relationship and a Good Sweat

Well, I recently said that I would like to build up my weekly mileage base and work on increasing my speed. But in the weeks since school let out, I've noticed that some of my kiddo's emotional tanks are running a wee bit low. So for now, I'm putting aside building mileage and instead I'm building relationships. I've been taking one child with me on my weekday runs, and have enjoyed the rare one-on-one time.

This week is VBS week at our church, and my exercise routine is limited to marching like penguins with 4-year-olds while reciting memory verses. But here is how the new plan went last week:

Monday - said 'Godspeed' to my sister and her family after a great weekend visit. Started reading Heidi with 12yo M. My heart has been burdened to find a way to build her up and enjoy her company. She looks up to me so much - even has her own matching
pair of Nike Tempos. She was the inspiration for the new Mom Time Running Plan.

Tuesday - 1.5 HOT miles with M at the park. About half & half running/walking. Nice mother-daughter chat at Smoothie King afterward.

Wednesday - 1.5 miles with A (6) at a different park. We didn't run as far, but when we ran we went all out! That boy holds nothing back. Chatted the whole time, too. I was very thankful for time to answer his questions on every topic under the sun and join in his sense of wonder. We visited the creek and surprised 2 water moccasins - and they surprised us! No real danger, but just enough of a thrill to make for a good tale.

Later Wednesday - My time with A was fun, but I was itching for a bigger run. So I hit the Greenway for another 3 miles. I was surprised at how deserted it was -- I guess there aren't many crazies willing to run in
the humid 93+ degrees at 3pm! The solitude was nice, however - left my ipod in the car and enjoyed nature's playlist instead.

Thursday - pool day with some friends, so no running. Just lots of splashing, laughing, and good fellowship.

Friday - another hot 1.5 miles. This time with KL (5.) Took the jog stroller just in case. Walked a little, rode a little, ran a little- and so on. Isn't she a cutie?

Saturday - 2.5 miles at the park -my "long run" turned out to be much shorter than I had plann
ed. I just didn't have it in me. Maybe the late night before. Maybe the heat -even at 9am it was getting hot, especially doing hills in the sun.

With my disappointing Saturday run, I was surprised that my weekly total made it to 10 miles! That's my mini-goal for now: consistently hit 10mi/week for a while, then try to build up to 15 by the end of the summer.

(My feet were extra happy on these runs, because I used some more of my gift card to get a cute new pair of NB 860s. I feel so much lighter on my feet - hadn't realized how heavy the old ones had gotten!)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

30/30 RIP Odysseus


We had to say good-bye to a friend this week. We adopted Odysseus 3 1/2 years ago and he's been a good kitty. We all miss him very much.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thoughts on Mothering for Mother's Day


Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

We find those instructions on nearly every bottle of shampoo. I don’t know about you, but I rarely follow those instructions. It occurred to me recently, however, that it is a good description of motherhood. No matter how many times a day you nurse the baby, he will still need to be fed tomorrow. There is no such thing as a ‘once for all’ diaper change in which you wipe the bottom, clean up the mess, and poof! You’re done with that one. Check it off the list!

As children grow up, it’s more of the same – disciplining for the same offense over and over, washing the same clothes, sweeping the same kitchen floor, teaching the same lessons to child number 4 that you’ve already been through at least three times. And as the number of children increases, the tasks and challenges seem to increase exponentially along with them. Rachel Jankovic, in Loving the Little Years, calls this “Motherhood in the Trenches.”

But while we’re in the trenches, let’s be encouraged and challenged by this: Galatians 6:9 reads “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Mothering IS hard work. At times wearisome. Often repetitive. Mothering draws on all our skills and resources as we not only nourish our babies with milk, but nourish the fat souls of our children with wisdom, training, and love. Yet the sacrifice and work is minute compared to the blessings and joy we reap if we do not give up.

God did not leave us to do this on our own. What He calls us to do, He will equip us to do. Not by our own strength, but only by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us can we love our children as we ought. That is an encouraging thought – the moment I surrender my own will, my own plans, my own ideas of the perfect home --- that’s the moment I begin to truly be used by God in the lives of my children. Only when we ask Him for the grace that He promises is sufficient will we be able to supernaturally love and serve our families.

On a practical level, this means dying to ourselves every day and asking the Lord to show us what He wants us to do with this day. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Mothering is not only a life of sacrifice, but a life of interruptions. Only, we realize at some point, that the ‘interruptions’ are not interruptions at all, but the very deeds our Sovereign Lord has ordained for us to do this day.

I was a pretty organized and ‘put-together’ Mom a few years back. When I only had 3 children. To some degree, even after baby number 4 arrived, but was still too young to cause much trouble. I think I had become a bit puffed up in my own ability to keep it all under control. I had a good working schedule for the homeschooling and housework, a master grocery list, and a home-cooked meal most nights.

And then there were five. I think the Lord knew I needed some humbling and had some growing to do. Because five children has brought me to the very limit of myself and my own ability to cope without that supernatural grace. I have had to learn that sometimes meeting God’s standard for mothering my children actually means lowering my own. I have had to learn that the atmosphere of our home – and my attitude in it – are more important than the messes made there as a troupe of seven goes about daily life. I have had to learn to throw myself at the foot of the cross daily and ask for grace and energy and wisdom needed. I’ve learned to prioritize and when I feel overwhelmed, to just do the next thing.

While the challenges abound, the blessings abound even more. Nights around our dinner table can be quite the circus, and though we make a glorious mess, we have a great time. And the good thing about having seven folks to make a mess, is that you have seven folks to work together to clean it up! I’ve had the joy of watching my older children read to the younger ones, play with them, and after many years of ‘sowing’ am now reaping the fruit of built-in babysitters! A noteworthy bonus to a large family!

I also have the privilege of watching the Lord bless our efforts and take five eternal souls, with five different personalities, grow and mature, and occasionally surprise me with their humor and insight. I’m beginning to enjoy the journey from childhood to adulthood as my relationship with my older children increasingly resembles a friendship.

And I am reminded, daily, as I look around and count my blessings, that mothering is a privilege that is worth every bit of it!

Proverbs 31:28 says that our children will rise up and call us blessed. I’m convinced that when we rely on God’s grace to not grow weary in well-doing, we will reap a harvest of blessing in the days to come.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

28/30

Still trying to get the hang of it...


"Must be Thursday. I never could get the hang of Thursdays." - Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

For some reason, that has been the case many a Thursday this school year. I think I'm still learning to adapt my homebody temperament to the day-school lifestyle, while still juggling two homeschoolers and one preschooler. By Thursday, the treadmill seems to speed up, just as my reserves feel depleted. This week is no different. But as end-of-year things begin to pile on, and my strength wavers, God, who is rich in mercy, sends a reminder that His "grace all-sufficient shall be my supply."

Our solitary, neglected climbing rose bloomed this week, and the Little Ones delighted themselves by plucking nearly every bloom and presenting them to me. As I placed them in the kitchen window, my courage returned and I felt I had just enough in me to do the next thing. (The dirty window in the photo above provides humility and protection from the Martha Stewart Pedestal of Perfection.)

Now ... onward and upward to science fair projects, elementary art galleries, Shakespeare showcase, baby showers, out-of-town company, field day, family birthdays, ballet recital, and so on....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Random Thoughts on Doing the Next Thing when it's the "Same Old Thing."

We enjoyed a glorious Easter celebrating the Risen Lord with family and friends. We worked hard for days to prepare. Some unexpected things popped up, needing attention in the beginning of the week, so I again found myself with a longer-than-I-wished To Do list at the end of Holy Week. But it was ok, because the anticipation of the joyful event pushed me on with a cheerful heart.

Each of the five kiddos were assigned their own zones in the house in which to become a 'cleaning tornado,' and they all met the challenge. We cleaned, we cooked, we decorated. And then, on Easter Sunday, we celebrated! (Or as I like to say, we 'feasted like Hobbits.')

Of course, in spite of my 4yo's proclamation that "I wish it could be Easter every day!" ... it's not. Monday was a school day, and I had art class to prepare for and teach. Which meant, for the time being, ignoring the fact that the house looked like this:
Today was my first real day to have a chance to tackle the "after." It was tempting to groan inwardly and think, "boy! I just cleaned all these very same rooms and now they're an atrocious mess!" I reminded myself that 1. I have limits. I'm not omnipotent. Only God gets His entire to-do list done; and 2. I need to prioritize - what needs to be done in order to shuffle the family through the basic activities of a school week? The rest can be done "line upon line, here a little, there a little." (Is 28:10)

I also found this little nugget from Above Rubies, and I thought it summed up the challenge most moms face at some point or another:
I caught myself getting tired of doing the same old chores again. The Lord reminded me that He too does the same old things for me, over and over again. He forgives me the same sins over and over again, He hears my pleas and answers me over and over again, He comforts me over and over again, He is patient with me over and over again.
Isn't that so true? And encouraging? Cleaning up after a holiday IS a big challenge. But what about cleaning up after everyday? How can we cheerfully clean the bathroom for the third time in a day when the potty-training toddler does his thing? How can we read The Tale of Jemima Puddle Duck - again - when our brains feel like mush? Or help the high-schooler finish his debate rebuttal when it's well after 10pm and all we want to do is s.l.e.e.p? How can we fold four loads of laundry, sweep the kitchen, make another PB & J, pick up the toys on the family room floor -- when we know we will just have to do it all again tomorrow? By remembering the simple fact of our Heavenly Father's love for us and how every small, messy, repetitive job we do brings glory to Him, when done with a right spirit!

But what if we don't have the right spirit? Ask for it! "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." (Matt. 7:7-8) Obviously, we have to ask humbly and according to His will - in this case, the grace and strength to walk in the good works God has planned for us this day.

Jesus - this same Jesus who died on the cross as an Atonement for our sins; who raised from the dead; ascended into Heaven; and will come again -- this Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Do we believe that? If so, then we need to live like we believe it! Ask Him to equip you for the task. Repent of any resentment that *this* is your job. And then ... do the next thing! :)

27/30

Any guesses where this pic was taken?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Am I A Warrior?

My brother and I have had a momentary lapse of sanity and registered for the Warrior Dash. Actually, it looks like a lot of fun and we're not taking it too seriously. But ... since my money has been paid, the frugal side of myself is insisting the lazy side of myself get busy training!

So today I went to my favorite local park for a "long run." (That's in quotes, because since it's been over 2 weeks since my last run of any kind, 'long' is a relative thing.) I did three miles.

I know that's not a very impressive long run for someone who 15 months ago completed a half marathon. But that was 15 months ago, and a lot of life has happened in between and I'm a little de-conditioned. So three miles was good for me today. And it was three hard-working miles.

I did the big 1.38mi outer loop first, for a good, slow warm-up. Walked much of it, ran the last bit. Then I hit the "soft surface" loop in the middle. This one is just over a mile long and undulates beautifully through the woods and around the disc golf course. The trail is crushed gravel, some of it packed and hard; some fresher and looser. I thought the squishy surface and the short, steep hills would be good practice for these 40-year-old legs to prepare for whatever kind of crazy trail the Dash will be on. I did the loop in just under 13 min, which is not bad considering the steep hills and turns and the short walk break I took to drink my water. (Don't know about you, but I can't drink while running. ;)

I finished the run on the paved trail, and had a good stretch afterward. It was a great workout and really burned off some stress. I'm thankful for the sunshine, for nice parks, and my family's cheerful attitude about my running. And for the gift of being healthy enough to run.

As for the race - My bro is going to kick my butt! He can already run 3mi in 26min! And he's five years younger. But we're going to have a great time enjoying each other's company in what a friend calls a "random act of fitness."

Next up: keep running the soft trail once a week; do some speed drills to try to shave some time off my 3 miles; find some things to practice climbing over; lots and lots of push ups so I don't embarrass myself going over the vertical obstacles. :o

**my 6yo son just read some of this over my shoulder and said, "you gotta speed up, man!" thanks for the vote of confidence, son.


*** i forgot to mention that the run was even.more.fun b/c i was wearing my new Nike tempo shorts (in vivid pink), thanks to a gift cert. to my fave running store. woo hoo!

26/30 Date Night!