Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A sign of the Times

Today I am hanging a sign over the kitchen sink.

A sign I have seen in Amish country.

A thousand times.

And today I think on it.

Steal it's thought,

Learn from Simple sweet folk

and remember to stop and enjoy.

"Slow. Children at Play."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The best laid plans of mice and men often go array....

Just checking in with you all to remind you that we are all still works in progress friends.

Today we had plans.

And usually when we have plans that means a quick toast breakfast leaving jam smudges on seats, hands and usually garments and cheeks. It means rushing to the car, frequent runs back into the house to retrieve blankets, glasses of water, left footed shoes and diapers.

You pack sandwiches because you do want to be frugal and hey, who couldn’t do with more jam smudges? You tell yourself that it is ok because by- standers will see the smudges and you will have the opportunity to tell them that those smudges did not come from STORE BOUGHT jam. No Sir. You wait. You bask in this moment. You inhale. You exhale and with a wisp of Motherly confidence you tell the not so lucky by- stander with an annoying sing-songy voice that you made that jam. You climbed half a mountain to get those precious dew covered blackberries. You tickled them with sugar. You boiled them into deliciousness. You still scratch at the scabs on your arms from being dumb enough to go berry picking with short sleeves.

You conveniently leave that part out.

And if you do not have occasion to find that lucky by- stander, you can always blog about what you would say given the opportunity. (big smile)

Ahem. Back to the van…

You tell yourself you will knit and sing Spiritual Songs with your brood while you travel to your destination.

You lie.

You end up yelling at third son for licking Fritos and promise to have Dad pull the car over if child number six unbuckles her seatbelt ONE.MORE.TIME.

Almost like knitting……

Your dear husband ends up pulling through a fast food drive through and humoring Mom who would rather drown in chicken nuggets than eat her own jam. In a moment of complete abandonment you hear Hubby order five hot fudge sundaes and you instantly feel the blood drain out your toes. I cannot comment further on this part of the day….. I think I chose to block this part of my day out.


We reach destination and begin to hope that as the mass exodus from the van begins, more children then take out trash falls out of mentioned van.

A small success.

You don lip gloss and head into the ABEKA homeschool display area of the swanky hotel. You smile the “I so have it all together-----ok really I am so frayed at the edges that I am barely hanging on, but I sure hope you don’t catch on,” smile.

You sit in the corner where the nice Representative has his company’s video curriculum showing.

“This will be fun.” I think.

I thought wrong.

We are watching the classic ABEKA Kindergarten classroom.

The chalkboard is FULL of colored pictures, charts, numbers, and a HUGE heart, meticulously drawn in chalk, with great attention to detail. The upstairs/downstairs/basement house is in the heart and she is teaching the letter “V.” Hence the “Valentine,” which she so sweetly says in her Southern accent a dozen or so times and points to her chalkboard heart.

By “Her” I mean Mrs. Bear.

She is divine.

I watch her and secretly wish I could steal her and take her home with me.

Well I not so secretly say that out loud.

And the kids look at me. One even hugs me and says, “Mom, you can be like that.”

Thanks Mrs. Bear.

So we watch and more parents gather and I am feeling like a big zero with the ring rubbed out, and Mrs. Bear gets nicer and I get more agitated that I do not have the gift of teaching and in this mess third son comes to me and says,

“Mom. I think I’ve seen Christopher Columbus.”

Second son comes and notes, pointing at the screen, “ Mom. They’re doing cursive. I didn’t learn cursive in Kindergarten…”

I look at third son and in my best Mrs. Bear voice I reply, “ You probably saw a picture of Christopher Columbus before..”

“No Mom. I SAW him.”

First daughter chimes in, “He’s dead.”

Third son proceeds to persuade his sister that he did indeed see Christopher Columbus and I amazingly find a way to excuse myself giving that afore mentioned smile to each mother I pass as I head to the other corner of the room…….

We order, we leave, we head to bookstore across the street that is going out of business.

And 20 minutes later Hubby finds me loaded with books like Pilgrim and his burden, ranging from, “Cooking on a Budget” to “Managing your own Homestead.” And it is at this moment that I wonder how I got here.

How did I get into this schlump (ok not recognized as a word by this computer, but recognized by every homeschooling Mom of littles… I digress…) where a Kindergarten teacher with 80’s hair is competing with me? Where my kids knowing cursive would make me a better Mother?


Sometimes saying things out loud shows you just how silly you have become.

Why does the world have to know how far I walked to pick blackberries for jam, or how many articles of clothing I have stored under my bed for the sole purpose of cutting into quilt squares?

I don’t know why.

I just know it happens.

And in the middle of the “self help” section of the 60 percent off books it hits me.

Not a book, a thought….. just in case you were wondering…..

“God knows.”

He knows I don’t feel good enough, sweet enough, lovely enough to teach.

He knows I try to do so much in my own strength to my own detriment several times a day.

He knows I forget that all the power and strength and help I could ever need is already at my disposal through Christ.

Who lives in me.

Who goes with me to the self help section.

Who hears me stack the cards between me and Mrs. Bear.

And knows that I need just claim HIS help, strength, peace, wisdom, strength and joy.

I walk to the front of the store to join my family who have suffered long waiting for me.

They have waited for me to set down self help books and pick up a book and read to them on long Summer afternoons.

They have waited for me to seep God’s love out of my life, my tongue and give them a little of that Mrs. Bear graciousness that I do have while walking in the Spirit.

They have waited for me to stop caring who sees, who knows and what someone thinks of me and make jam just for the sheer joy of making it.

I set book after book down on the shelves as I pass them, eyes on my family waiting at the front of the store.

I choose a crockpot recipe book.

I smile at them.

We head home.

And on the way home dear Dad sees two black bears on the side of the road and pulls over.

On my side.

To see them better.

And I hit the power lock.

And I tell myself that I have picked enough blackberries for the year.

Or two.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Mid-Summer Memories

Hello you lovely folks, you.

It is August already and I am enjoying some much needed quietness at the local library which has almost turned back the hands of the clock and stopped in years past, when men ran libraries with full suits on, card catalogs still gathered dust, and air conditioning rattled false ceiling.

And I am thinking about this wonderful life that has ebbed and flowed for us this Summer.

Abby got new glasses. Seeing her fiddle with them reminds me of 4th grade, and wishing for glasses and braces so I could fit in. I wish and pray for her to love however God alters her eyes, teeth, hair and height. Just love her and her scars from stitches from falling out of trees.

Just like I did when I was her age.

Lately the Lord has seen fit to bring me through a period of rest. I am back to testing for various and sundry things that make my heart skip, my energy just out of grasp, and my mind fuzzy.

I have been through this a few times and each time I am an emotional wreck.

Except for this time.

This time I am resting in Him who knows the end from the beginning. I am praying over appointments, over stressful situations, over dishes for strength and at bedtime for sleep.

God is more than enough for me.

For you too.

I am sitting next to the magazine section where various titles jump out at me regarding what was innocent turned cancer. I used to shy from even seeing the word. Who wouldn't?

But I am realizing that God is here with me.

In me.

He alone gives us the strength we need for each day. I am letting Him guide me with His eye.

Yesterday I was feeling particularly miserable in body and spirit and I decided to enjoy the kids.

Yes, I decided.

I picked beans with them, and as one son commented on how he needed to grab this weed he found from the root or it would only grow back, I had the great privilege to also remind him that the soil of our hearts can become filled with weeds that needed a good pulling.

From the root.

We sweat, pick and I take them to the porch where I sit and snap beans and watch them put on a play for me in the front yard. The cars look on as they pass by, some older folks, some young.

And for a second it hits me that they might see me snapping beans and the kids frolicking and want to stop a while and enjoy this wonderful life with me.

It has been a while since I have enjoyed children……… my children.

The workers at the bank, the store, the library, tell them how lovely they are.

Do I tell them too?

I laugh at the myriad of funny faces they are giving me. They interview each other with a paintbrush, asking one another what makes a good family.

I smile.

Have I shown them?

Am I showing them?

Joel told me the other day that corn is one of the only plants that he knows of that doesn't droop when it needs water.

I look at him puzzled.

"It points up when it needs rain."

It felt like he, not even meaning to, saw into my heart in the midst of drought.

I turned so he wouldn't see the tear falling and whispered into the car window,

"It knows where it's help comes from."

The Lord Himself answered,


My mind just swirled.

The sparrow, the lily of the field,

the.... corn?

All of them fret not, nor toil, nor spin.

Their heavenly father knows what they need.

He knows we need a good soft rain.

He knows I need a good soft rain.

And He reminds me to look up.

Look up.

And so I begin to take my eyes off of the unknown and worrisome now, and look up.

We put the kids in a tent in the yard and roast marshmallows.


I shouldn't.

But I do.

And I eat and let the marshmallow kids kiss my cheek and we laugh as our daughter keeps losing hers to the fire and we just keep laughing until it is time to go to sleep.

We sit out by the fire and comfort son who keeps poking his nose out because of fear.

So much like me.

We answer the "What if's."

I think of God.

And how much more patient He is with me, than I am with my son, who is so like me.

We sit and decide to watch for falling stars.

Joel has seen so many in his life already.

He is accustomed to looking up.

I am not.

I have never seen one.

And then almost taking my breath away it happens.

It jets across the sky!

I am in awe.

This is commonplace to Joel.

This is life altering to me.

I thank God and clap my hands together. I think of Job, who in great affliction and trial hears God tell him of his greatness and all that He created, reminding him that He can be trusted again and again.

We map out the constellations and enjoy life. Together.

I look at my sweet husband, all loving and patient, look at my tent of kids and at a star filled night and my heart is full.

I will decide to stop looking for answers.

I will keep looking up.

Sweet Mid Summer's to you all!