Thursday, July 29, 2010

just hear him

"Are they all yours?", she asked from her peaceful reading chair, amidst the herb garden.

My troops descended upon her, all different sizes, all equally loud.

 "Did you have them one right after the other?", she asked next.

Running after Beth, I could only manage a yes and a smile.

"What a woman!", she laughed.

This morning, the children and I headed out the door as fast as we could dress, packing whole-wheat tortillas and Clementine oranges for breakfast.  Daddy worked all night long, arriving home at 6:00 a.m.  Thursday is the day I must keep them quiet until at least noon, so husband can sleep.

Finally, their ages allow me to take them places without Daddy's help.  Still, Beth keeps me running.  God forbid I ever have to go to the restroom on these outings!   I try to plan my drinking so this doesn't happen, believe it or not.

Insect hunting.  These two live for it.  Mary is in love with butterflies, especially.
Doesn't this just scream of God's love for us, that he would create such a beautiful scene?  Okay, so it's not as beautiful as the same scene with Mt. Lassen in the background (which I've seen).   But still, quite beautiful, peaceful.  Rest for the soul.

This is a State Park near us, which I've photographed before.  A mere twenty minutes away, it's a blessing we marvel at again and again.  

Today, we ate wild blackberries here, much to Beth's delight.  And mine.   

As soon as we left the pond area, I let her run around the rest of the trip, which was ninety more minutes.  She's quite the hiker already.  They all are.  

Mt. Whitney, here we come!  We plan to hike it as a family some day. Daddy has already been to the top, with a church singles' group--right before I met him, in fact.

Beth and I both have a couple of skorts, found at thrift stores in good condition.  But boy, they are hot, with the double layer of fabric.  Not such a good choice for summer, I'm finding.  Husband likes them better than shorts--a leg man, you know.

I told myself that this summer, I would learn more about my camera.  I am trying out all the buttons and levers, just for fun.  Gotta start somewhere.

Running after a beautiful Monarch Butterfly. Yeah, butterfly!  You win.  

Momentarily caught.  The butterfly of the day--Swallowtail.  Saw at least twenty of them.

They wanted me to get a jumping shot, but as you can see, I needed to keep up with that little Missy in the background.  Gotta go, boys!

My heart is all aflutter, looking at these.  Especially this one.  Siblings are a blessing beyond measure--borrowed or born.

The children and I played baseball and soccer back at home, later in the day.  I've played with them daily for three days running.  And you know what?  Behavior has been superb!  What a blessing, to listen and hear God's wisdom.  They needed me to dwell with them more--to play.

And I noticed that after they've gone to bed these three days, I have not been emotionally exhausted, which means I'm better able to do chores after their bedtime.  Things are smoothing out nicely, even in the midst of great turmoil. 

Why does it take great upheaval in our lives, before we get really still before our Lord, on a regular basis?  I don't mean Bible reading or prayer.  I mean just being still, and listening for his Holy Spirit voice.  Such wisdom, such help and blessing, comes from that.

Won't you sit a spell, too, and hear Him?

the football moment

The football rolled haphazardly, landing at my feet.

Meaning to go back into the house after bringing the boys their hats, I stopped instead and picked up the football.

Me, who rarely ever plays.  I drew back my arm, smiled at my Paul, and tossed it to him.

Oh, I wish you could have seen his face!  I made his day.  His serious but loving Momma, who always seemed to have things to do, took the time to toss him a football in the yard.

What followed filled me up.  And them.  Immensely.  We played football, then baseball, for an hour together.  Including Miss Beth, who I carried, running and giggling, around the bases to home plate, after she hit the ball off the tee.

As I played with my children, offering them my time and my giggles, my heart melted.  My body destressed.  My mind cleared.

Why don't I do this everyday?  Of course this is what I should be doing!  I'm a stay-at-home mom.  The dream of a lifetime.  This is why people stay home!  Not to do laundry and dishes--although doing them blesses a family too.

The next day I read this post about the pairing of wisdom and play.  It spoke to me.  Hadn't I lived it just the day before?  Laura's words, always so beautiful, captured it perfectly.  Wisdom and play are connected.

The intensity of our situation has changed me these last few weeks.  My heart wants nothing but to savor what I have--what I have for now.  There are no guarantees.  Never mind that our mortgage is lower than the rent on a standard, three-bedroom home.  Downscaling is the answer for many in our situation.  But for us?  Downscaling means homelessness.  Even an apartment wouldn't be much less than what we're paying.

When mortgage payments are behind, you naturally think that every able-bodied person should get a job.  Fast!  Including the still-nursing Momma.  But logistics--one car and other difficulties--make it impossible for both of us to work outside the home.

As I asked God what I should do to help, he made it clear.

Be a blessing at home.  Really bless there.  Take the family's pulse. Respond. 

I've never quite thought of my role that way before.

Take the family's pulse.

Slowly, he filled me in about what that really means.  Dwell close--really close--and know my family.  Feel its pulse for signs of wellness or illness.  Is there physical exhaustion at foot?  Is there restlessness?  Is it time for something creative?  Something spiritual?  Something physical?  Something mental?  Anticipate.  How can we stay well? Focused on his Kingdom?  Joyous?

A robot can feed, change, clean up.  Sometimes, it feels like that's all I am.  A bee-like robot.  Buzzing around this room, that room.  No time for feelings.  Gotta keep moving.  People are hungry, thirsty, in need of clean, dry, matching clothing.  In need of some clutter-free, sticky-free, crumb-free space.

Robotics don't work.  Efficiency doesn't work.  The result?   A family experiences stress, crankiness, emotional exhaustion.

I must still my body, resist its efficiency, and dwell with my family.  Know them.  Know their hearts, their dreams, their fears.

Play and laughter are a part of that.  They must be.  They're binding, healing, forgiving, nourishing.

Paul remarked at tuck-in time, 

"You didn't have to do much work today.   I really liked it.  I had a great day, starting with our bike ride."

How did I miss this, all these months...years?  Yes, I've known that children are most blessed by my time.  But my mind wrangled with the play-resistance in me.  I fought play.  I thought I was too grown up.  Or that I needed a few minutes alone instead.

Today, high heat and humidity returned, so no rigorous play after our morning walk.  But I did dwell with my children, reading story after story in the playroom this afternoon.  Giggling at Mrs. Pigglewiggle.  Marveling at the Children's Almanac, which Paul discovered in our shelves.  Cuddling, talking--as much as the jealous toddler allowed.

I don't know what tomorrow holds.  We can only move forward on what seems like the right path--plowing through open doors.  In the end, I want to know that I listened to Him.  Really listened, and responded like a good and faithful servant.  House or no house, my fulfillment will come from that.

Psalm 19:21  
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tuesday's Blessings

Currently blessing me is....

...this window in the playroom (a.k.a. the observation deck).  I love standing in the kitchen, catching a glimpse of this: curious kids watching birds and squirrels and the ever-changing Ohio weather.  I try to freeze frame it in my mind, to remember the scene years from now.

...the site of my new, able bike rider, Mary.  She's fast!  Momma has to do a little jogging with the jogging stroller to catch up, at times.

...being at the end of the line, watching three incredible blessings in front of me, and pushing another blessing. As nerve-wracking as my life is right now, there are moments when I feel an all encompassing, powerful sense of gratitude.  Gratitude is the only thing sustaining me right now.  Truly.

...the extent to which these kids work together.  Peter and Daddy found a Swallowtail caterpillar on some Queens Anne's Lace over the weekend, and another Monarch caterpillar on a milkweed plant.  During our morning walk/ride, we went into a wooded area to find more Queen Anne's Lace to fatten up the Swallowtail caterpillar.  They all looked equally hard for this particular plant, even though this is mainly Peter and Daddy's project.

It was hot and buggy in there!  They found it quickly...good thing for Momma.  Mosquitoes like me the best.

....water, water, and more water.  We are having a HOT summer!

....the site of my Peter, running joyously toward me, to tell me he saw a new kind of bee.  Wish I could remember the name of it now.  My boy is a real "Dr. John Dolittle" naturalist--studying his insect field guide frequently, and displaying no small amount of excitement when he discovers something new (to him).

...the site of the kids busily making Daddy a banner for his birthday.  Never mind that the balloons are upside down.

....Miss Beth contributing a watercolor picture.  I was amazed at her attention span--for painting.

...the Easy Chocolate Cake recipe we used yesterday for Daddy's cake.  The moistest cake I've ever eaten, people!  You must make this.  And here is the frosting.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I'm thankful...

... for this little girl, who steals my heart hourly--especially when she plays dress up.

...for this man, who spends his free moments pouring out to his children. Yes, those are athletic socks, worn with Dockers to school that day.  Yikes!  I guess I need to lay out the socks too.  Tell me I'm not the only wife who does this!  

When he told his PA buddies that he was moving to California (thirteen years ago), they laughed and told him that his clothes would never make it in CA.  

Actually, I love that he thinks there are better things to do in life than worry about clothing choices.

...for my home, a haven of rest and worship.

...for a neighborhood conducive to walks.

...for my little boy, who knots leaf stems while we walk.  I guess it takes his mind off the humidity?  Like his Momma,  he can't take real heat.

...for neighborhood flowers to gaze at while we walk.

...for cold water.

...for my little boy, who gives me dandelions as presents.

...for the jogging stroller.  Without it, I couldn't control all four of them on a street.

...for curious boys, who collect nature specimens while we walk.  He's hoping for a frog, actually.

...for this little Missy, who sings "Rain, rain, go away.  Come again another day", with her Momma.  Or at least she tries to sing the words.

...for a playroom, which for half an hour today was clean.  Ah, what a sight!

...for the privilege of having this little girl in the kitchen with me, while I made meatloaf.

...for little girls' laundry.  What a blessing!