Wednesday, June 30, 2010

counting them again--and a prayer

A short list of blessings.  Tired tonight.

- Blueberry picking today with homeschool friends.

- Mary telling me so sweetly, "I really like picking berries with you, Mommy."

- Beth's passion for all things berry.  She was either eating them from our picking containers while being carried, or wriggling out of our arms to eat some from the bushes. All told, we picked twenty dollars worth.  I guess the farmer still made out.  Beth sure livened and lightened things up.

- Husband and wife cleaving to one another more than ever, in response to our circumstances.

- My boys--again in response to our circumstances--learning to pray in earnest.  Husband went on an interview recently.  A decision will be made soon, so much prayer happening here.

- Baby Beth naming body parts and flirting with me instead of falling to sleep.  Frustrating, but a blessing nonetheless, to have special time with her.  I read that at eighteen months they begin to resist sleeping.

This next matter is not a blessing--just something I'm trying to figure out.  I'm horrified sometimes at the difference between how I feel on the inside, and what I project on the outside.  I adore being a mom and wouldn't change anything.  And yet, I yell.  Not all day, certainly.  But enough that I feel frustrated and sorrowful.  I want to be a pleasant aroma, projecting all my positive mom feelings onto my family.  But I'm soooo busy!   Just getting a drink of water sometimes is a challenge.  I apparently need to put tape over my mouth to remind me to be slow to speak.  Otherwise, I don't know how to keep my spirit quiet.

Repeating myself wears on me.

"You forgot to put your pajamas in the hamper."  Five minutes later.  "Your pajamas are still not in the hamper."

"Who forgot to flush the toilet?"

"I can't get that drink yet...still hanging clothes from the dryer."  Three minutes later.  "I'll get the drink in just a minute. I still have some things to hang."  Five minutes later.  Yelling now, "I said wait!  You're being rude.   They'll get wrinkled if I don't finish; it's an energy waste to keep fluffing them."

Having an ADHD child around means there's often no breathing room.  He follows me to the bathroom even, to either ask for something or tell me something.  ADHD children have an insatiable desire for adult attention.  I've taken to locking the bathroom door.

Anyhow, my job is to love them, point them to Jesus, and help them develop independence and confidence.  For their part, the goal is remaining well cared for ( primarily the boys).  Surely they must suffer from this wishful-thinking point of view: "Getting my own drink is not nearly as fulfilling as being served."

My daughter is much different in this regard, by the way.  She craves togetherness, but also independence in everyday living matters.

I need to revamp the chore list, obviously, and stay on schedule myself somehow, to keep those boys on track.

Lord, thank you for making me a mom.  I love you, and I love being a mom.   Help me have a gentle and quiet spirit, no matter how many times I encounter an unflushed toilet.  May they know how much I love them, despite my frustrated demeanor.  Flood them with grace for their imperfect Mommy.  And flood me with grace for their childish ways.  We're in the same boat....needing you for everything...for every success.  If I must remain so flawed, please use my flaws to point them to you.

In your precious name, Amen.

Please pray for Shannon today, from the Exploring Holland blog.  She is feeling isolated, on top of everything else.

Monday, June 28, 2010

he who seeks finds

I escaped today.  Can you believe it?

No, I didn't get a pedicure.  Or a manicure.  Or a chocolate malt.  Or a haircut.  Or use that Olive Garden giftcard (the one my sister gave us for Christmas).

It was better than that!

I went thrifting!

Mary's new/used twin bed required bedding--just something to last until she is sharing a room with her sister, at which time they will hopefully get matching bedding.

No bedspreads or comforters were available.  A pink and blue crocheted quilt will have to do.  It's not especially nice looking for a little girl, but we can use it later for cuddling on the couch.

The trip was not a disappointment, by any stretch.

'Cause guess what I found?  I was so excited about it I could hardly remember to make full stops--and heed red lights--on my way home.

I'm not the only parent who gets excited about blessing my children with good gifts, am I?

Matthew 7:7-11 "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 he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your 
, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

A gift!  For my newly potty-taught preschooler--proud owner of size 4T Dora panties.

$8.00 in good used condition.  I perused several garage sales this spring, to no avail.  I didn't question that God would provide.  I just hoped it would be before winter set in!

Just in time for her big-girl debut, the bike appeared at my local Goodwill.  And on the same day, my mother happened to have sent a little money.  Her kind gift money will be put away for our county fair visit later this summer, but I couldn't resist spending some on this bike.  

John 21:6  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

2 Corinthians 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Philippians 4:19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus

Romans 8:28   And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

And this is Peter's Monarch--a gift from the caterpillar found at the ice cream stand a couple weeks ago.  He enjoyed it for a few hours, and then let it go.  My boy is growing up!  

Saturday, June 26, 2010

some blessings and wonders

- steady laughter from the kiddy pool

- Shivering pool bodies, needing Momma's warmth

- Joy and wonder-filled firefly jaunts

- Momma Robin feeding her second family

- Eight-year-old son, who carefully chooses where to put the kiddy pool, so as not to upset Momma Robin's nearby nesting

- Multiple bug containers, filled, on the living room Armour (out of baby's reach)

- Tired, sun-drenched kids, ripe for afternoon cuddles

- Baby soft lips on my breast, taking in God-designed sustenance with a side dish of love and comfort

- A baby who felt better, seemed happier, calmer, gifting me with sweet smiles, tender kisses, tickled-out giggles

- A suddenly potty-taught preschooler, living as though she'd donned Dora panties all her life

- Helping preschooler put her panties right side out, after each potty visit

- My boys, no longer given to bed wetting

- My boys sharing a fascinating journey with me through Dr. Dolittle and the Green Canary - Hugh Lofting weaves a tale like no other.  My new favorite children's author (deceased, sadly).

- Hard-loving, hard-working husband, who passes through the kitchen and tells me my legs are beautiful (not mentioning or apparently noticing the extensive varicosities on my shins)
- I've warned my husband that when Beth is finished nursing, my *reasts will look like those out of National Geographic.  He doesn't believe me, but says that even if it's true, he'll still love them.  I keep trying to prepare him, and he keeps trying to brush it off.  I'm not sure I can even call this a blessing.  Hope so.  Time will tell.  All other nursings were followed by new pregnancies, hiding the effects.

- Mary and Paul, who wake up in cuddling moods (the other two wake up on the move).

- Beth's bedroom cleaned out today, spruced up for sister-in-law's (Lorrie's) July 4th weekend visit

- Excited kids, eager to enjoy Auntie's gentle love

- Boys' room cleaned out today, spruced up for husband's best friend, who drives from PA with Lorrie this visit.  A physically-handicapped man (hand and arm), he never found a wife, sadly.  He lived with his mother always, whom he just lost.  He has a lonely journey ahead, as deteriorating health forced him on disability, which will be isolating.  Please pray for him?  He is churched, but doesn't put his faith directly in Christ.

Friday, June 25, 2010

my new blogging buddy

I read this post this morning, which brought tears to my eyes.  My new blogging buddy, Michelle, penned the post.  I'm so happy to have met her!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

See The People

Most of us are either task-oriented or people-oriented.  Mary or Martha.  I'm sure there are caveats for the Marys among you, but I wouldn't know about those.  I'm a Martha.

If you're a Martha, it'll be reflected in how your daughter talks to her dolls.  You'll hear the words "busy" and "work" somewhere in there.

Will you smile the first time you hear your daughter say to her dolly, "Not now.  Momma's got work to do."

Or will you mourn?

When your daughter and son grow up, what props will they overwhelmingly associate with the word Momma?  A broom, dishtowel, Windex bottle, and vacuum cleaner?

Or a storybook, ready hug, spontaneous walk, and impromptu batch of cookies?

Leave them with fond memories.

Learn to pass through a room and see the people, not the mess.

You can't keep up with the messes anyway, so why focus on them?  Do the dishes and laundry.  Wipe sticky stuff off the floors, and anything pale-yellow looking.  Forget the rest until your kids are old enough to help--which is sooner than you think.  It takes consistent training for a month or so to get kids over six helping quite a bit.

Your future happiness, and theirs, depends on Martha's development of selective vision--the people, not the tasks.

my parenting flaws exposed

After six tries, this was the best picture taken of my "darlings"  sitting on a friend's swing.   It was hot, humid, cloudy, buggy, and they had no interest in a picture for posterity sake.  

See the two on the right?  They sharpen me.  Stretch me.  Remind me that I'm a sinner, too.  I overreact to their intense personalities.  Uh, duh......where'd they get that intensity?  From me, though I hate to admit it.  I'm a unique combination of meek and hot-temper, but the public never sees the heat.  I reserve that ugliness for my beloved family.  Isn't that a rotten way to live?  Why do we do that?

Here's my hot-tempered eighteen-month-old daughter, who takes her tray of preschool beans and tosses them onto the floor with an evil smile--after she's done amusing herself and wants out of her booster seat.  Will she still do this when she can say, "I'm done Mommy.  Please get me out."  How much of her intense personality has to do with not being able to communicate well with words, and not having any control over her day? Does she need more time to play with Mommy one-on-one?

This same daughter makes a habit of biting her siblings and pulling their hair, all for the love of power and effect.  They make it worse by laughing and enticing her to chase them, mouth open and ready.  I have to confess that lately I worry about her.  What is this meanness?  Teething angst?  Over tiredness?  Why does she have so little interest in pleasing us?  Will she grow out of this, or will we be on our knees a lot, as we raise her?

I took both girls to a clinic appointment today.  They got their skin pricked for an iron test, and Baby Beth got upset and tried to push the nurse away.  The nurse commented on how different the two girls' personalities are.  Beth, she remarked, is hot-tempered, and Mary, so mild-mannered.

That stung.  The nurse wasn't finding fault exactly, but I felt for Beth anyway.  Beth doesn't choose to have a hot temper, any more than I do.  I really hate having a temper.  It makes me feel awful. We don't get to choose our faults, or our virtues.  God gets to choose.

James 1:19-20  Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Galatians 6:1-3 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgressions, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

After the appointment I dropped the girls off at home and had one hour to rush through Super Walmart to get groceries, before husband had to leave for work.  Talk about tag-team parenting!  

Thunder, lightening, and the heaviest downpour I've ever seen awaited me as I prepared to leave the store, full cart in front of me.  The employees offered to watch my groceries while I pulled the van up to the building.  

The high wind and rushing rain shocked me.  Just running to my van resulted in completely drenched clothes, hair, face and shoes.  Did someone say wet t-shirt contest?  Mascara ran down my face, even though I'd applied very little.  I was a sight.  The employees insisted on helping me load the van, even though I desperately wanted to be invisible.

While driving home from the clinic appointment, and while I shopped, I brooded about Baby Beth's temper and her hyperactive ways.  God was giving me another angry, hyper child to raise?  How would I manage?  Was this fair, to be given two difficult children? (Don't answer that.  I know it's an extremely childish question to ask God, when others have children who suffer horrible physical/mental things, in comparison.)

By the time I'd reached home in my drenched, rushed, stressed state, I didn't know it, but my own temper was ripe for an explosion.

Afterwards, I felt so convicted.  All I could focus on was this:   I'm no better than my two angry children!  

God was showing me something big today.  My approach to handling the kids' anger has been all wrong, all along. 

 "Just who do you think you are, behaving like that?!"   Yes, I've been know to get angry at their anger.  Peter has heard this statement from me many a time.

The Galatians passage tells me, "You who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness....for if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself."  

As the parent I am nothing, thinking I am something.  I am not gentle, bearing with my children in love, except on the easiest of days.  They look to me for direction in how to tame their tempers, and instead of providing them with tools, I answer them with my own anger (raising my voice).  

I know the Galatians passage doesn't mean we shouldn't discipline our children firmly.  I'm not starting a discussion on discipline techniques.  Children need firmness, but one can be firm and gentle, at the same time.  We would do well to remember that our children don't choose their flaws.  They don't set out to punish us, or exasperate us.  

They are simply weak--sinners, like us, in need of parental grace and gentle restoration.

Are we as gentle with them as our Lord is with us?  What punishment do we get for our fits?  In our parenting, do we see ourselves as something, when we are nothing?  Do we aim to punish our children for making us miserable (punishment mentality)?  Or are we more interested in having them humble themselves before God, confessing their sins, and asking Him for strength?  

These are all questions for me, not for you, mind you.

These two have their moments, but raising them is essentially a breeze.  They have Daddy's mild-mannered temperament.  He is easily frustrated, but still, he's slow to anger, easy to calm, bearing with others in love.  Not given to brooding or selfishness, these two, like my husband, will be the better half in their marriages someday.

We went to visit my friend Phyllis (left), who was here visiting her sister in Ohio.  I taught first grade with Phyllis in California for several years.  She brought me to the Lord, so there is a special bond between us.  I like to think of her as my spiritual mother (she's 66 years old...a widow for twenty years...husband committed suicide).  She was a missionary in China for two years recently, and just got back a few months ago from a short-term mission trip in Africa, where she taught second grade in an orphanage.  She intends on returning to Africa for a four-month mission trip later this year.

 Her sister has an enormous backyard, full of foliage.  She visits once a year and my children love catching insects on this lovely property. Peter caught his first praying mantis of the season.  He is still so excited a day later that school was a wash today--except for science, of course.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Had I Been Warned

Do you feel disconnected from God?  Not sure how to reconnect, or why you even feel a disconnect?  Could it be overuse of technology?  A thoughtful discussion on this here-- Push Button Faith.  One of Tozer's works is quoted.  The post is quite a good read, including the comment section.

A week ago we ordered some more Hugh Lofting works--author of The Story of Dr. Doolittle.  The library staff responds quickly; we're now halfway through Doctor Dolittle and the Green Canary.

Oh, Mr. Lofting!  Can you ever weave a good tale!  We're mesmerized by the adventures of this little green canary, world traveler.

My six year old wasn't pleased at first.  Chapter one dragged along.  Highly visual, Paul still prefers picture books for the most part.  I reminded him that authors appreciate our patience as they warm us toward their characters.

Sure enough, Hugh Lofting had my boy's heart midway through chapter 2.

I am blessed.  Tucking the boys in tonight--their heads full of the green canary's wild, human-like adventures--I had an epiphany about my life, my circumstances.

Had I been warned five years ago about the cost of going down to one income, I would have given up my dream of being a stay-at-home mom.  Fear would have gripped me.

The warning would read thus:

- You'll be down to one car, stuck at home with four children.

- You'll repeat the same chores almost hourly.  You'll rarely rest.  No lunch breaks.

- You'll never go on a vacation, or on a weekend away, or even to a movie.  You might dine out with a giftcard once a year.  You'll afford McDonald's hamburgers when on the run, but will have to forgo the drinks; you'll share one fry order.

- You'll never own the latest fashions.  You'll likely never buy a new garment.  You'll scramble to keep your lips lipsticked.  Every additional garment in the house will be from a thrift store, as well as most of the toys, books and decorations.  You'll never make another full-price bookstore purchase, or own a new book.

- You'll have no financial security.  You won't make enough to save.  Retirement plan?  What's that?  Each month, the financial math will scream red.

- Your vehicle will always be on the brink of extinction.  Every spare penny will go into it.

- People will wonder how you can live in such a fashion, and will secretly think you're a simpleton.

- When a child asks for something, such as sand for the sandbox, you'll have to repeatedly say, "Not yet.  Pray about it.  God decides what we should have."

- A store bought card will be too expensive.  You will not buy your extended family any more gifts, and yet they might continue giving gifts, making you feel small.

Hearing all this, I would have abandoned my dream of being a stay-at-home mom.  Fear would have enveloped my small-faithed, entrenched-in-the-culture heart.  My children would have gone to daycare; I wouldn't have any daughters.

But wow!  The lifestyle above has come to pass.  Slowly.

God didn't spring all the change on me at once.  He meets us where we're at--never overburdening.  This is precisely why we mustn't judge others.  We can't know where they're at.  Only God can.

God slowly:

Built my faith.

Changed my heart.

Imparted wisdom.

Extracted me from the culture.

Filled me with Himself.

Gave me joy in simple things, like bird nests in my yard, a tale expertly woven, a meal thoughtfully prepared.

He taught me about togetherness.

About the richness of family relationship.

About the joys of breaking bread together.  Reading the Word together.  Dancing to Jesus songs together.

Creating together.

He made a huge dent in my self-consciousness.  And in my selfishness.

He blessed.  And blessed.  And blessed.

He's still blessing.

No, not in ways recognized by the culture.

Only my heart recognizes the blessings.  Savors them.  Counts them.

The loveliest change?

I've learned that every day is Thanksgiving day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

my pantry lessons

If you're going to cook and bake from scratch, have a well-stocked pantry.  I'm learning.

They loved the brownies.  More!  Let's make them again!

But no cocoa powder left for the frosting recipe.  No chocolate chips to melt.  Only unsweetened baking chocolate squares in the cupboard.

We finally used a recipe that called for melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, and just added extra (powered) sugar to sweeten up the baking squares.  Chocolate is horrible tasting.  Really horrible.  Without the sugar.  Notice that?  Good for you though.

Anyhow, the frosting recipe we planned on altering called for 2 cups of sugar.  Regular sugar.  I didn't notice this oddity as I was quickly mixing it up.

Then, I noticed.  Eeeww.  Grainy.  There is a reason frosting should be made with powdered sugar, rather than granulated.

We added this and that, trying to take away the grainy taste.  Then we stopped adding and decided to settle. They liked it; I was the one with the problem.

Momma:  "What a bother!  I will surely never print such a stupid frosting recipe again.  Who puts granulated sugar in frosting?

I was mostly talking to myself.  It was getting late and I was irritated.  I didn't intend on spending so much time on the baking.

Peter:  "Mommy!  You said stupid!  That's not nice."


Notes to self:

- Buy every type of sugar, every type of chocolate (melting squares, cocoa powder, chips),  and every type of flour.

- Find a website on cooking/baking substitutions.

- Don't be a perfectionist!  It's frosting!  Just frosting!  Not some sculpture or painting.

- Don't call a recipe stupid, even if you've just spent half an hour doctoring it up.

- Use a thesaurus to come up with fancy words for stupid.  Tape the list to the cupboard if necessary.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Saturday, June 19, 2010

counting my blessings

Counting my blessings, crying tears over them:

- Many hands together in the Saturday pancake batter.

- Holding my Beth during dinner prep, because she smells good, her cheeks are soft for kissing, she is curious and happy when observing kitchen chaos work.

- My Paul, telling me tonight, "I'm sorry my voice is loud, Mommy.  I just get so excited sometimes.  I think I can't help it."

- My children, who kiss their daddy happily before he leaves for work.

- My husband, who never forgets my kiss.

- Many hands in the brownie frosting, cocoa powder and powdered sugar all over the kitchen.  "This is the best frosting I have ever tasted!"--shouted, loudly! by Paul.  See above.

- My Peter, who loves food so much he can barely contain himself on dessert nights.  He finishes first, jumps up, and says, "I'll go get the brownies and some plates!"  Meanwhile, the rest of us are only half-way through our dinner.  At eight years old, he eats far more than I do and burns every calorie.  I love his passion--for insects, for amphibians, for food, for cooking and baking, for life.

- For my Mary, who went in the kiddy pool without a swimmy diaper.  "Be sure and come back if you have to go potty", Momma reminds.  "Don't go in the pool."  Mary is fully capable, but she's holding on to diapers to preserve something special between Momma and herself.  She wants to be a big girl...she is a big girl in many ways....but to do all the potty things herself is to say goodbye to a relationship.  Diapering is a relationship.  I sense her letting go.  My guess is in about six weeks, she'll never look back.

She ran in the house needing to go, but someone had locked the door to the bathroom accidentally, and the delay meant she peed on the floor by the toilet.

"Mommy, I accidentally peed on the floor."  She waits.  Studies my face.

"Okay", said Momma.  "Go ahead and wash your hands in the other bathroom while I clean this up."

"Are you mad at me, Mommy?"  (Mary is my sweetest child at this time.  So sensitive and lovely.)

"No, my love.  This wasn't your fault.  You came in just like Momma asked you to."

"Thank you, Mommy."

Thank you, Mary.  Thank you.

I love you, my precious ones!  All of you!

Friday, June 18, 2010

my hovering persona

Kristin, from We Are That Family, posted a great story and link regarding rescuing girls from human trafficking.  There are few things as horrid and as wrong in this world.  I'm sure even five dollars would help.

Sundays have become far busier.  Additional part-time work hours were up for grabs, and of course husband took them immediately, since we're scrambling to make house payments nowadays.  He now works at least nine Sunday hours.

We had to find an evening church service, since our little church has only one option--10:45 a.m--which breaks up the day quite a bit.  Without a second car, our options were limited.  The kids will still stay in Wednesday AWANA at our current church, when it starts up again.

The only thing we could find was the same semi-mega church we had been to a couple years ago.  I took Beth to the nursery, because there was no cry room and because the music was too loud for her in the sanctuary.

I noticed their sign.  They don't allow parents in the nursery.

Forgive my rebelliousness, but that didn't set well with me.  I'm all for kids enjoying themselves and making new friends apart from mom, when appropriate.  But to say that I'm not allowed in, period?  As though I were the enemy?  As though I didn't know what's best for my own child, in terms of adjustment?  And even when the workers were complete strangers to me?  What's the world coming to, I asked myself.  Government-school mentality has taken over churches!  Hello Big Brother.

Before I could think further, they gave me a pager.  I felt somewhat more comfortable.   If she didn't settle down shortly, they would page me and I would come for her.  Or so I thought.

They never paged.  I figured she fell in love with the jumbo sized balls they had in there.   I was praying for her quite a bit.

After service we went to get her, and I found out that she never started playing, and she never entirely calmed down.  They seemed underwhelmed by her, which makes me wonder if she had one of her stubborn fits.  Her eyes were swollen.  She looked a mess.

Can I just say, I WAS FURIOUS!  (No, I didn't show it outwardly.) How dare they?  What was the pager for, for heaven's sake!  Eighty-five minutes had gone by!

They told me the kids usually have to cry the first few visits to get used to the nursery.

For eighty-five minutes?  And upset all the other children?  How pleasant is that?  How often do new kids come and "cry it out"?  This was a huge church; they probably took new children frequently.

I didn't say much, since I had no intention of ever using their nursery again.  We are stuck at their evening service, but I will just pace the halls alone with my baby, or stay home while the others go.

I hate all my options.

On the way home, I mentioned to my husband the possibility of starting a home church.  I was depressed and discouraged.

 I also really like the family-integrated church idea, in which the whole family worships together the entire service.  The opposite of this idea has permeated most churches, in which the whole family arrives together, but then goes off into different areas of the church campus.  I think worship should bring a family closer.  Nowadays, it does anything but this.

Family Integrated Churches (cropping up in many cities and states) probably have cry rooms, which you don't see much anymore.   I would definitely see other Mommas parenting their active toddlers or nursing their babies.  Nowadays I always feel alone when I keep my baby with me.  An outcast.  A helicopter parent.

See me hover!

Which two people did God entrust these children with, after all?  Who was uniquely chosen as their spiritual trainer and as the lover of their soul?

Okay, off my soapbox about that now.

But alas.  There are no integrated churches within fifty miles.  And husband is too overwhelmed with job searches and multiple part-time jobs and money worries to think about starting our own living-room church.  Plus, he thinks at this point it would be too isolating, since we would start out as the only attendees.  He's a big people person, although not in a salesmen sense.

I say put a sign on the lawn and let them come!

Home churches, too, are becoming common as more and more families decide contemporary corporate worship has lost much of its value, with the family scattering upon arrival.  They are an option preferred by larger families, partly due to the burden of dressing up so many children.  At least that's my hunch.

Anyhow, Sunday is coming soon and I dread it.

My two middle kids love their classes, and they are looking forward to tomorrow.  My oldest still has his anxiety due to that fateful day last summer in which my husband accidentally left Mary in the church nursery after Vacation Bible School.  He drove immediately back to get her and she wasn't fazed in the least.  But Peter has never gotten over it.  His anxiety-riddled mind convinces him that he will be left (forgotten) in a building without his family.  So he attends with us in the sanctuary, but would rather be in a class.  We would like him to face his fears, but otherwise we like that he worships with us, obviously.  We're letting him make the decision.

I certainly hope your family enjoys services tomorrow!  Happy Sunday!

I'll work through this, surely.

Find a Family Integrated Church near you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

no recollection = grace

The flavor of your parenting experience depends in large part, it seems to me, on the spacing of your children, and on the sex of the eldest children.

Having a girl first is easier.  Girls are mature enough at young ages to help Momma quite a bit.  It's not that boys can't be systematically trained, just that girls need far less training at younger ages.  My three-year-old daughter is much more mature than her brothers were at the same age.  Really, no comparison.  She has a natural drive to mature, while the boys seemed to have a natural drive to let Mom do everything for them, when they could swing it.

Natural birth control facilitated by on-demand breastfeeding lasts between 6 and 18 months.   Consequently, some women can have babies 15 months apart, while others experience a rhythm of 18 to 27 months apart.

I find myself in an incredibly busy season, so I think of these spacing issues frequently.  Most days I scratch my head and think, "How does anyone do this well?  I am over my head!"  Basic hygiene and nutrition needs take up most of my day.

And then there's the laundry.

Never mind the dust bunnies and the various surfaces in need of a good wiping.

I keep coming back to this thought:  There simply must be a way to do this well!  After all, our Lord created our womanly bodies.  He knows the childrearing rhythm he had in mind.  Having children every two years or so, or more often, can make for a very frazzled Momma.

So, what exactly was he thinking?

All I know is this.  And I think of it often--guilty, overwhelmed mom that I am.

By the time a child is ten years old, she doesn't remember the details of her life before the age of four or five.

Tell me God, is that Grace in action for us overwhelmed Mommas?  They actually lose the memory of Momma having an eye-rolling frenzy over spilt milk....over fingers in the diaper poo.....over a wet diaper right after a potty visit.....over food flung to the floor by a tired baby?  They have no recollection of my worst moments?

Good.  Then I can start from scratch tomorrow, making self-control a part of my persona?   I haven't ruined them?

I can hope.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Links and Quotes

Public school health center facilitated a teen's abortion during school hours, without parent knowledge.

"I have seen kids dismantle one another, while parents and teachers stood passively by and observed the 'socialization' process.  I've seen the socialization theory in action,  and it doesn't hold much water."

- Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family

The Nehemiah Institute's worldview PEERS test shows that 83% of the children from committed Christian families in public schools adopt a secular humanist or Marxist socialist worldview by the time they graduate. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

great father's day ideas

I found these wonderful ideas on the Simple Kid's Blog.

why we must count

It's never a good idea for me to cry.  Turns out it's a migraine trigger.  But Ann Voskamp simply doesn't care about my migraines, darn her.  She's gone and written an incredibly beautiful piece about why we must count our blessings.  Why we must.  We. simply. must.

It's a life boat essential.

My blessings:

- a husband who is true

- a husband full of grace

- a husband who loves me, in all my hormonal negativity (God help me--I become wholly different in my view of life for at least 48 hours.  I can't find hope.)

- a nursing baby

- writers like Ann

- writing, to tell Jesus about the hurts

- four children who live passionately

- sufferers, taught by Jesus to comfort us, specifically

- monarch caterpillars and my son and husband who love them

- the ice cream stand behind which we can always find monarch caterpillars on the milkweed

- my food-loving, boy-chef eight year old who I sent to Google a homemade brownie recipe.  Instead he brought me something with beef that he wants to make for dinner tonight (smile).

- the job interview my husband had today (no matter the outcome, interviews are good practice)

- my three-year-old sweetie, who pointed to a train picture and asked, "Does this begin with T?"

- rain, rain, more rain.  It can be miserable, but it makes things

- meal-time Scripture


As part of our meal-time Scripture, we've gone through Proverbs, Matthew, and we're still making our way through Psalms.  Recently we also started Luke.

Today we came across this:

Luke 10:3,4
Go!  I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.  Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.

Can you imagine?  What faith!  Think of it for a moment.

Question:  Would you have stuffed something in your pocket?

What would it have been?

- water?
- lipstick?
- chocolate?
- money?
- a knife?

I'm curious.

dad's day

I never love my man more than when he's reading to the children.  It always makes my heart whisper to my Lord, "Thank you, God, for a good man."

Bible verses about fathers, in honor of Father's Day.

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” [Malachi 4:6 ESV]

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. [Proverbs 3:11-12 ESV]

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. [Ephesians 6:4 ESV]

The righteous who walks in his integrity– blessed are his children after him! [Proverbs 20:7 ESV]

When Father Reads the Book – By G.E. Foster
When we hurry off to work,
I’m reminded of those early times
When father read the Book.
When father read the Book
As we each our places took
Round the dear old family altar
When father read the Book
O those dear old Bible stories,
Psalms that flowed like rippling brook;
Warnings, promises, and precepts
Lived, as father read the Book.
As father read the Book.
Satan’s kingdom round us shook,
And our savior early claimed us
Because father read the Book.
O they say it was old-fashioned,
And what waste of time ‘twould look
To now take half-an-hour
To let father read the Book,
But as father read the Book,
Blessed thought in our minds stuck;
And the day went so much better
Just ’cause father read the Book.
Oft I’m troubled as I journey
On toward heav’n with upward look,
To see families all about me
Grow up without father’s Book
Let father read the Book;
Your home will be so different
If your father reads the Book.

I found the poem and verses here.

In the photo they are actually reading Backyard Detective, Critters Up Close, by Nic Bishop.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Right Where God Wants You




In my non-Christian past, I thought of pride as a mostly positive thing.  It compelled me to fix my flat, lifeless hair with a curling iron....for thirty minutes.  It compelled me to use make up and iron my clothes.  Egad!  Even my jeans.  Yes, I was one of those girls, in days gone by.  I never just pulled on any old thing.

Pride kept me at my best.....personally, professionally.  Always.

You now the funny thing though?

I was so lost then.  
Not outwardly so, but inwardly, very much.  I didn't understand God.  He was in the picture, but I didn't answer to him or know him or draw comfort, strength or wisdom from him.

Lost.  Empty.

As I look back at that twenty-something woman, I remember a shy but mostly confident professional.  A happy, but sometimes lonely, woman.  Strong.  Capable.  Smart.

My old self certainly didn't look or seem broken.

Now for the kicker.  The jaw dropper.

I actually feel, look, and seem more broken now, thirteen years into this Christian thingy.

- My husband is underemployed with an unimpressive resume that keeps getting more unimpressive the longer he remains underemployed.

- One of my kids has a disability that keeps us all on edge 24/7.

- My baby stopped sleeping for all practical purposes, and my six-year-old is revisiting a fear of monsters.

- My husband, as part of the working-poor segment of the population, works a whole lot and is gone a whole lot, all to bring home shockingly low wages.

- His schedule, and the sharing of a vehicle, means we can barely make time to go to a park--still a free activity--with our kids.

- We own a house but I don't know for how much longer.

- My children--the boys especially--are increasingly aware that things aren't going well, and I worry how that knowledge will affect their health, their happiness, and their relationships with God and with us.

- I am increasingly embarrassed and ashamed of our circumstances.  I feel like I'm losing all my dignity.

- I went for several months without contact with my unsaved mother, and now we are occasionally e-mailing.  She is appalled at our circumstances.  And I, for my part, am wondering why God wouldn't want to impress the woman a little more, what with this Christian thingy going on in her daughter's life.  Don't you want her saved, God?  Shouldn't you give her a little hope that being a Christian is maybe a good thing?

- When this whole fiasco started in March, 2009, I went through shock and depression.  But then I remembered that struggling builds character.  And character is a great thing.  A wonderful thing.  I can handle this.  I am strong.  I can build character and be happy about it.

- I. am. so. over. that.

Once upon a time, I was a giddy new Christian.  Peace and joy.  It's all about peace and joy.  I wanted to shout from the rooftops--PEACE AND JOY!  Love God so you can have PEACE AND JOY.

- I. am. so. over. that.

Yes, I do still have peace and joy.  And yes, they are a gift from God.  Definitely not of myself.

But I no longer think the Christian life is about peace and joy, or at least not all the time.

So.  What is it about, then?

Brokenness.  My brokenness.  My husband's brokenness.  Our children's brokenness.

God gives the seasoned Christian clear vision.  Very clear vision.  Of our brokenness....of our utter hopeless state.

You know he's really getting to you, when you feel so broken you just want to run to your heavenly Daddy, and cry at his feet.   

That is right where he wants you.  He created you for His glory, not for your own.  He created you to fellowship with Him.  That is all he wants from you, in the final analysis.

So give it to Him.  And be refreshed.  You'll have that peace and joy thingy going on in no time, girl!  Get up, right now.  Go sit at his feet.

And later, read this really good piece about brokenness.

In love with summer? Not.

It took my nursing toddler ninety minutes to fall asleep tonight!  Consequently the boys didn't get their book time with Mommy.  They barely got a kiss and tuck in, in fact, which makes me feel awful.

My now six-year-old boy, Paul, was just like this as a toddler.  I consider him my easiest child to raise; let me say that up front.  He took the lead with sleep issues for a long time, and it didn't spoil him.  He is well liked by everyone and is just generally a great kid--very smart too.  He works about two years above grade level and pretty much schools himself.  He likes it that way.

I say all this not to brag, but to put to rest the notion that if you let your child lead in sleep issues, you'll end up with a spoiled child who has his parents wrapped around his tyrannical finger.  Of the four children, Paul is the least spoiled.

Anyhow, Paul co-slept and night-nursed until two, which is when he began sleeping through the night.  From six months old to two years old, he nursed every two hours at night.  At two years old I put him in a twin bed with rail, sleeping in the same room as big brother.  I would lie in his twin bed with him while he nursed to sleep.  This worked fine, but at some point he began taking a very long time to fall asleep--60 to 90 minutes.  He would get close to sleep, then make some movements to rouse himself.  It was like my presence began to be a distraction, rather than a blessing.  He wanted to stay awake to be with me, perhaps?  This sudden sleep on-set problem wasn't related to a late nap, or to a lengthy nap, or to being overtired.

Once I was sure it was my presence, I had to began a program of bathing, reading, praying, singing, and nursing, then leaving the room with a final kiss and hug.  Most of this routine was not new.  We had been doing much of it for a while, except that he used to fall asleep nursing.

After we started this new procedure, he would come out to get me many times at first, sometimes crying.  We got through it within a couple weeks.  I just kept telling him I loved him and putting him back in bed with a kiss.  This method is called the broken record routine, in which you calmly keep putting the child back in bed, with just a kiss, no matter how many times he comes out.  He gave up nursing entirely at 2.5, due to my new pregnancy and significant morning sickness; there was no milk left.  At that time we did everything else in the routine, leaving out the nursing.  The sleep onset problem worked itself out.

Paul is an introspective person, like his Momma, and he occasionally still has trouble falling asleep, due to "thinking too much".  He tells me he can't slow his thoughts down.   95% of the time however, he is asleep within fifteen minutes.

I have been an insomniac for many years off and on, although it rarely occurs when I'm nursing a baby, due to the relaxation hormones released during nursing.

Now back to my current baby, Beth.  She was nearly sleeping through the night until recently, with the arrival of another teething bout.  She also fell asleep easily until recently.  Everything has changed; it's quite puzzling.  It could just be the teeth, but I don't think that would cause such restlessness at bedtime.  Her naps are reduced to about 45 minutes each, which is probably not enough daytime sleep.  I will move her to one nap this week, to see if I can get her better rested.  One nap of about 2 hours seems ideal for an 18-month-old baby, I would think, as long as bedtime falls early (around seven).

There was a period of about 8 days when she naturally moved to one nap of three hours, between 11:30 and 2:30.  It vanished as suddenly as it appeared, about six weeks ago.

Anyhow, lately when I lie down to nurse her at bedtime, she is trying to rouse herself awake when she gets close to sleep, much like her brother did.  Tossing, turning, laughing, talking, flirting.  I think my presence is becoming a distraction for her as well.

She sleeps in a queen bed with a wall bordering one side of it, and a crib on the other side, to keep her from falling out.  I nurse her to sleep, then go about my business in the evenings, going back in to nurse her back to sleep if she wakes.  I also sleep in there all night to keep her from wandering the house and waking others.  She climbs out of cribs readily, and has for a while, so the queen bed was the only solution; it is our only extra bed.

Her sister, Mary, sleeps in a twin bed in her brothers' room.  There are three twin beds in there so it's crowded, but that arrangement will have to do until Mary is old enough to share a room with her little sister.  At 3.5, we don't think Mary is mature enough.   We're paranoid of an accidental smothering or something of that nature.

If I must let Beth begin to put herself to sleep, I will have to remove the box spring and frame and put the queen bed on the floor.  I will have to get rid of the crib and take out a bookshelf and maybe a dresser, to make sure the room is completely baby-proofed.  All of that will be a nightmare, since we don't have a garage or a basement.  All three of the bedrooms are jam packed, as well as the closets.

Oh, bother.  I hate sleep issues!  They are so tedious.  And with summer upon us, I am having issues with the boys too.  They take longer to fall asleep in the summer.  They love fireflies but the little buggers don't come out readily until 9:20 p.m., which makes for a late night for a 6 and 8 year old.

I let them catch fireflies last night, and they didn't fall asleep until 10:00 p.m, due to excitement and wanting to watch their two fireflies light up.  Then this morning the eight year old got up at 6 a.m. instead of his usual 7:15 - 7:30 a.m.  Being overtired worsened his ADHD today.

Really, to be honest?  I can't wait for fall!  I try to love summer for their sakes, but I just don't.  Hassles abound, what with the sunscreen and the conflicting reports of which is best, and the wet towels, shoes, swimsuits, hats, and, of course, the ever-present mud and grass.  Then there are the lemonade popsicles and juice boxes and the pleading to drink more water instead.

It can all add up to give Momma a big headache!  Which I feel guilty about, since they absolutely love summer! I do enjoy seeing them so happy--don't get me wrong.

Anyhow, those are my issues.  Thank you for listening.  I hope things are smoother at your house.

Friday, June 11, 2010

authentic writing

I picked up a good literary article from Amy's Humble Musings.  It discusses the relationships between a writer and himself, and between the writer and his audience, emphasizing that writing is a very personal act in which the author's disorganized thoughts miraculously organize themselves on paper (or on keyboard, as the case may be.)

I loved the article.  I also loved the confirmation about what my own writing must be.  My own.  The value of writing is in the gift it gives the writer--clarification of thought.  Sometimes, that gift of clarified thought blesses others, as well.  More often it does not, which is why most writers don't make a living from their craft.  The moment an author starts writing for an audience, authenticity is lost.  And with that authenticity, value.

This is not to say that if you have a magazine writing gig, or other commercial gig, that you can't still manage  authentic writing.  If you have a passion for your topic, you can.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

creating from scratch, and other musings

Things currently blessing me, and some random musings:

- Kiddos and I made our first homemade (from scratch) chocolate cake.  You'll never eat a boxed cake again!  Try homemade.  Really.  It is so easy.  Faster than a batch of cookies.  Any old recipe will do.  We used a recipe called "Basic Chocolate Cake".  We love recipes that have the word "basic" in them.  "Basic" works well when you have eight little hands helping.

Best part about the cake?  I was depressed (hormonal onslaught already upon me again) for half the day.  (Yes, I realize that my mentioning "hormonal onslaught" every month means my blog will not grow in readership.  Besides, to grow a famous blog you have to (A) be funny  (B) never whine unless you're only joking about whining, and (C) take a picture of a really hunky, Wrangler-Jean clad hiney, and make it real prominent like, on your sidebar.)

Let me just say, if posting my husband's hiney in some Wranglers would get me invited on a  Compassion International sponsorship mission trip, I would do it.  I really want to go.  Ann Voskamp is going in Sept. to Guatemala.  Ann is quite famous as a blogger.  And, true, she is decidedly not funny.  But she is so exceptional in every literary sense, they invited her anyway.  I can't wait to read her beautiful, inspiring words--about abject poverty, no less!

Since I am too lazy to go through my posts and replace is, are, was, were, and been with beefy, colorful verbs, I will never be exceptional.  But at least I'll be sane.  Stream-of-consciousness blogging keeps me sane.

And so....about that cake.  I discovered that throwing myself into a creation really helped with the depression.  I'm learning why so many people enjoy cooking.  Some, of course, just love food.  I'm an eat-to-live type person, so for me it isn't the food.  It is the act of creating something from nothing.  Another perk is that my creations bless my family.  Okay.  Usually, they bless my family.  I still make soggy or burnt fruit crisps, to my utter frustration.  I finally own a pastry cutter, so maybe that's the ticket.

Now, if I can only get a sifter.  Cakes, I learned, require a sifter.  But guess what?  Shhh.  Don't tell.  My cake turned out quite delicious without one.  But I'm generally a rule follower, so I'll probably get one.

A note about creating.  I am not crafty.  I do not sew, knit, paint, draw, make hanging wreaths, do needle point, or crochet.  I don't dislike them.  I just wasn't taught, and have no time to take lessons.  So, cooking is my creative thing now.  We have to eat.  And following recipes isn't all that hard.  Once you learn to read through the entire recipe first.  Before jumping in.

- It's 11:22  p.m. and my baby hasn't awoken.  Yet.

- When you make a chocolate cake, you can say to your witching-hour-affected sweeties:   "If I don't get cooperation during __________, you will not get a piece of the cake tomorrow.  For as long as the cake lasts, you can say it every night.  Works like a charm, I tell ya.

- I love nursing.  Love it!  But when my nurslings reach eighteen months, they pick at my moles while they nurse.  Ouch.  Can't they find some other comfort fixation, while they partake?  This is no small problem.  If you have a perfectly moleless torso, I congratulate you.  Toddler nursing will delight you.  I highly recommend it, either way.

And that said, I just now hear my little sweety (mole picker that she is).

Sweet dreams, friends!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

flesh-and-blood comforters

Random musings, probably poorly written and poorly organized, and in no particular order:

I've scratched my head at some behavior issues recently, going over possible solutions in my rare quiet moments.  My conclusion?  I am the problem.  Beth's teething and sleeping issues have changed my parenting.  Survival mode crept in, and certainly not with my permission.  A stressed, depleted Momma unsettles her children.  And unsettled children make more mistakes, much like a depleted Momma does.


 In times like these, we learn to pour it out generously.  And not because we are Holy.

Grace flows out of our own failures....out of our weaknesses.  

Think about it.  Highly successful go-getter types?  They think they're hot stuff.......think they have all the answers.....judge others harshly.

As much as I hate failing, I'll gladly take it over puffed-up pride.  Hurray for failure!  Hallelujah!

Yes, I'm a bit off the deep end.


I started nursing my overtired, teething baby to sleep, at 6:45 p.m.  At 7:30 p.m. she finally drifted off.  Only to wake up again an hour later.  I nursed her back to sleep, which took fifteen minutes.   An hour later, up again.  I nursed her back to sleep.  Another hour, another wake up.  I nursed her again.

It's been like this for about two weeks, with a worsening in the last 48 hours.  It's definitely the teething.  The boys seemed to teethe effortlessly, but both my girls struggled.

Some of this time, I've been guilty of an unattractive, internal whine.  "What's the meaning of this!  I have enough stress to manage.  Can't one thing go right?"

But the more she woke up each day, the more I softened.  I yielded my agenda, my wants, far easier after the fourth wake up.   Whatever, said I.  The dishes might not get done tonight.  School prep is a loss.  School itself might not get entirely finished today.  (Naps have been horrible too).  That load of towels might stink from being in the washer too long.  I'll have to run them again.  Tomorrow morning probably won't be smooth.

Legacy-leaving parenting requires that we deny ourselves--our agendas--day in and day out.  That is so hard for us.  Often God has to force us to deny ourselves.  That is what colic and teething are about, as well as a host of other parenting issues. Baby is whiny and needy?  Use the extra time with her to pray over her.  For her future husband, for her in-laws, for her fertility, her purity, for her children, for her teenage years.

If something isn't going well in my parenting, I know now to ask myself.....have I been selfish?  Have I clung to my desires and to my agenda too tightly?

And another random thing.

I've learned something in the last year that probably seems obvious to most people.

When someone asks you how you are, answer carefully.  If you're going through hell on a certain front, keep it to yourself, unless you know for a fact that the person standing across from you has experienced the same hell.  Human nature is often to give shallow advice, find fault, or wonder what is "wrong" with the suffering person.  When you truly need support and understanding, pray that God strategically places the right flesh-and-blood person in your midst.

And know that you will be that flesh-and-blood person for someone else, someday.  Be ready to let the grace, and the comfort, flow.

Dear Paula, thank you!  You've been that flesh-and-blood comforter.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (King James Version)

 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Rest Well, Momma

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved. (Psalm 127:1-2)

It rained buckets today.  This was taken last weekend--no blue skies since.  We hope the pepper and tomato plants survive the flood.

We are trying so hard to raise these kids!  There are days, like today, when every ounce of me has been poured out.  Come bathtime, I am empty.  The emotional fatigue hit a new high lately; my baby has been the worst sleeper for the last two weeks.  Two incisor teeth are coming in, with the other two fast on their heals.  When the active toddler in your midst suddenly stops sleeping, life feels like a marathon, no matter how blessed you are in every moment.

And bedtime prep, at which time Mommy is empty?  It brings some of the most annoying behavior.  Like the bathroom floor getting soaked by splashes, yet again.  Like the baby who flails in anger while I wrestle her out of the tub and into a diaper.  Like the boys who giggle, waste time, misplace the pajamas they brought out, beg for snacks and drinks, wrestle at inopportune moments.  

If I were a good parent, I would crack jokes, make light, play footsie games, during all these escapades.  Just my good cheer would distract them from their naughtiness.  But a good parent I am not.  Past 6:30 p.m.  I don't know what humor is when I walk into a soaked bathroom at 6:45 p.m.

Thank God for storytime: I am good at that.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain."  Somehow the children get tucked in feeling loved and nurtured, eighty percent of the time, despite my emptiness.  When I really think about that, it is amazing.  So often God takes over and I don't even realize it, until I have a moment to acknowledge my emptiness.  

All four children woke up after tuck-in time tonight.  At different times.  Just as I was beginning to unwind, again.

I did not come unglued, though I was raging inside.  

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

So beautiful they are!  My blessings.  When looking at photos, one can scarcely imagine how much hard work these sweeties are.  Someday I'll be sitting in an easy chair at 6:45 p.m.   Dishes done.  House clean.   Laundry folded and put away.  I'll be ready to enjoy a novel, or look at family photos. 

Staring at the photos then, I won't remember the hard work that preceded and followed each frame.  I'll just remember my delight at being their Momma.  And I'll wish they were back under my roof, taking up all my time and energy.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11: 28-31)

The Geo Trac is making a comeback recently.  They created this today, all cooperative and sweet like with each other.  Have to capture these moments, when their togetherness, their siblingness, blesses them more than they realize.

It was horribly humid, so I said yes to the sprinkler, even though the temperature was in the mid-seventies.  They promptly got a torrential downpour from God, so they turned off the sprinkler.  They are shivering in this pic. The three drippies, I called them.  Totally soaked.

Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:4-5,7,10)

She rarely plays with dolls, though here she is carrying baby in a sling.

Every Saturday night is pancake night.  Pancakes are a piece of heaven, don't you know.  They're made from scratch, mostly by the eight-year-old chef, who has practically memorized the recipe.  It amazes me how just the routine of certain meals on certain nights lends joy and order and anticipation to a child's life. 

Well Lord, I am blessed.  Poured out.  Tired out.  Not understanding your plan, what with the ADHD for son and husband, and the financial stress that never ends.  But nevertheless, I say I am blessed.  And I am.  Even though things remain undone tonight, I will choose sleep.  And I will rest well, knowing you are Sovereign.