The Short Month is Over

Who woulda’ thunk it? I left the last day until the last minute, but I can’t give up now, seeing as I almost made my goal. I will leave you to imagine how many times I rather scraped bottom in this challenge I put up for myself. I am well aware that sometimes what oozed up from the bottom was sub-par filler, but I actually enjoyed the discipline. However, it is as Journey Mama says, “Being a writer means being away, dreaming of another place. And mothering requires absolute presence.” I probably can’t afford to do this too often. Eyes rolled at times when Mama needed to write. Nobody was actually bodily neglected, but still…

As for the scrapbooking challenge? I did do Rita’s book, from birth to age 4. May I mention that RIta absolutely loves her book. She pores over it, asking me to read the journaling again and again. “And that was the time I picked all your roses, wasn’t it?” It amuses me that they “remember” their babyhood through these albums, which is the whole point. I did not do all 295 photos, though. I put the rest into a drawer and cleared up all the paraphernalia in my reading room, and now I can sit and dawdle March away. Or not.

This morning I told the children we are going to take a day off the textbooks. Instead, we did one hour of work, then one hour of reading, then another hour of work, etc. It was really fun and we got a lot done. It is Gabe’s weekend to work in the ER, so we will do school tomorrow instead of today. I have to keep a firm grip on myself, or I completely lose track of what day it is. Since our schedule no longer revolves around the weekend, our “Saturday” will be on Tuesday when he next has a day off. See what I mean?

Tonight was our church’s annual couple’s night. As always, the ambiance and the food were amazing. It was an oasis, dropping off the children at the schoolhouse and having a leisurely meal and grown-up conversations with friends in a candlelit room.

All week my little guys were anticipating it, “Couple’s night is so much fun!” They were referring to the babysitters’ efforts to keep a large herd of little people occupied and happy. To the youth who invested in them tonight: God bless you, every one! Someday my children will babysit yours. :O

That pretty much concludes my stream of consciousness for the last evening in February. Thank you for being such loyal friends to me and encouraging me along the way.

More Sage Advice…

…from Oswald Chambers. I like him, can you tell? This excerpt is from February 19 in My Utmost for His Highest.

If we will arise and shine, drudgery becomes divinely transfigured. Drudgery is one of the finest touchstones of character there is. Drudgery is work that is very far removed from anything to do with the ideal- the utterly mean grubby things; and when we come in contact with them we know instantly whether or not we are spiritually real.

Read John 13. We see the Incarnate God doing the most desperate piece of drudgery, washing fishermen’s feet, and He says- “If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”

It requires the inspiration of God to go through drudgery with the light of God upon it. Some people do a certain thing and the way in which they do it hallows that thing for ever afterwards. It may be the most commonplace thing, but after we have seen them do it, it becomes different. When the Lord does a thing through us, He always transfigures it…

I have seen people do ordinary things with great joy and flair. I don’t think I ever associated it with being spiritually real. May Jesus give you joy today, whether you are serving Him by chopping vegetables, washing toilets, sweeping up sawdust, grading papers, or running cash registers. Let’s have fun doing our work. 🙂 It all counts.

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Ecc. 9:10

That sounds just  a tad morbid, but I sometimes need to be reminded that I only get one shot at this. Do you have any secrets for learning to enjoy “drudgery”?

Things My Husband Taught Me

  • You are more than you think you are.
  • You should not beat yourself up when you don’t think you have done well enough. Get up and go on. You give grace to others, now accept grace for yourself.
  • When you don’t think you can go on, you probably need to sleep. Just go to bed and see how much better everything will be in the morning.
  • Your value is not determined by how many things you scratch off your to-do list.
  • Your beauty is not calculated by someone else’s pre-measured ideal.
  • You are a word warrior. You need to write.
  • You need to try things that are out of your comfort zone, even things that terrify you sometimes.
  • You should have some really nice things, like insulated outer-wear so that you don’t get too cold when you are doing scary things like glissading down mountain sides.
  • You are not the one who will keep your children in the evil day. Lay that burden down and trust God.
  • You don’t have to cook gourmet meals to impress. Just be happy when you serve the food.
  • You are juggling too many things. Let’s try an alternate route with school.
  • You are getting better at this thing called life.

I know that I am really, really blessed. I told you how I used to be afraid of the high swing. The desire to be safe would have sabotaged so many sources of joy in my life if Gabe hadn’t encouraged me to try them. I probably wouldn’t have the courage to blog without his support. 😀

Here’s to my good man! I am truly grateful for all the things I have learned in these years of sharing the graces of life.

On the Mountaintop

Did I need my pep talk? Yes, I did. I had a mountain of laundry to climb today, probably due to having never caught up last week. And I scaled it, all the way to the top. Well, it isn’t folded yet, but that is downhill work. I did get to the summit and planted my victory flag.

When I went downstairs to start the boys on school, I had to fight the impulse to turn tail and run from the chaos in the basement. Their school stations are inside the door where all winter activity comes and goes. Booted, mittened, snow-panted, muffled, coated, hatted activity flows through that area, and they were sure that they put their stuff on the register to dry, but there it was, muddled on the floor in the worst melee ever. There is no way one could do math in that atmosphere, so we spent a good half hour cleaning up and sorting out. I was exasperated, and I didn’t scale that challenge so well.

Then. Time for school. And I find that the boys had done the last DVD lesson that we had. Apparently the company only sends 2/3 of the lessons at the beginning of the school term, then doesn’t send the last 50 lessons until they receive the first 1/3 back. As the teacher, I should have known this, but I completely forgot. So today I taught the lessons, and I remembered how much I really like to teach. I also realized again that it is quite the dance, looking after tots and teaching. And doing laundry.

Gabe was putting in a ski patrol shift and called to say the snow was fine. Patrollers get paid with passes. Did I want to bring the three oldest children and join him? I had known that he might call, so I had lined up a babysitter for the little girls just in case. I made them eat lunch fast, left all the washing and dishes and leftover school lessons, stuffed everybody into extra layers-hats-gloves-pants-coats-mufflers-boots, sent the little girls to the neighbors, and hauled the crew up the mountain.

I really like adventure. Oh, the thrills I experience at a used book sale! I like finding painted turtles on nature walks and I like wading in shallow creeks. An adrenaline junkie I am not. Today I decided that I am still just like the little girl who used to climb up the hay bales in the barn for a long, thrilling swing ride on a rope hung high on the beams of the hayloft. I would stand there, daring myself to let go, then when the other children got too impatient to wait, I would just get off and let them take turns. After a while I couldn’t stand them having so much fun and would fling caution to the wind and after that I wouldn’t give up my place in the line.

I feel that way about skiing. I stand at the top of the slope, mildly terrified. But there is only one way down, and that is to push off and try. The first run is the worst, trying to get the feel of this thing that I only do once a year. There is a great deal more flailing than finesse for a while, but then I start to feel like I can handle these skis and make them go where I want them to go. Slowly, I have very careful fun. I only fell three times on that first run down.

There was hardly anyone on the slopes for the first two hours. Gabe put Olivia on a tether and showed her the moves. She zipped off like nobody’s business, and I was grateful she was tethered! I was always the last in the line. Then the school busses came and emptied their loads of cocky young snowboarders onto the mountain. I know exactly what they think of the cautious lady V plowing down the steep spots as they flash past in a kaleidoscope of colors. Boarders tend to run in herds so that they can show their stuff to everybody on the jumps and more technical places. And they swoosh past with terrible swiftness. All I can think is, “If their mothers would see them! And where are their helmets? And who goes up to the top of a mountain in 20* weather in only a hoodie?” I wonder if they can guess what I think?


That is the slope that I am happy to stay on. I have nothing to prove more than staying upright and having fun. The sun went down and the mountain got blitzing cold. Livvy and I took two runs down the easiest slope without the tether. As we were creaking slowly up on the lift, suspended 40 feet in the air with the mountain chuffing and puffing frigid blasts at us, we decided that we had enough.

We left the guys up there, still going strong, and came home for hot drinks and baths. Apparently the water heater isn’t working. So we are really down in the valley again. But at least there is heat even if the views aren’t so grand.

My Pre-Monday-Morning Pep Talk…

… from Oswald Chambers, that is. I certainly have plenty to learn about rising and shining. Today we had lunch with friends at our pastor’s house, and we ladies had a discussion about early risers, night owls, is it inborn or trained into us, etc. All of us admitted to leaning toward one direction or another.

I was amused tonight to read this from Oswald Chambers. He first stated that living beings go through natural cycles of depression and happiness; it is only inanimate stuff that has no soaring and crashing of feelings. While we are in this world, there will always be things that are “of the nature of death” that tend to depress us. Things we won’t have in heaven, like huge piles of laundry and long to-do lists and bed sheets that got wet on and mud could come to mind. (My loose paraphrase. Chamber’s is much more eloquent… and wordy. 🙂 ) Then he goes on to show how God gave so many simple admonitions. Take Elijah, sitting under a tree, wishing he were dead due to his unpopularity with the current king and queen. God’s angel came to him and just told him, “Rise and eat.” No profound revelations just then. Only simple instructions.

“He tells us to do the most ordinary things conceivable. Depression is apt to turn us away from the ordinary commonplace things of God’s creation, but whenever God comes, the inspiration is to do the most natural simple things- the things we would never have imagined God was in, and as we do them we find He is there. The inspiration which comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression; we have to do the next thing and do it in the inspiration of God. .. Immediately we arise and obey, we enter on a higher plane of life.” My Utmost for His Highest, Feb. 17        (and yes, I am aware that I am a few days behind.   🙄 )

Well, so there we have it… the way to soar tomorrow!

The Eyes of the Lord

IMG_0163Gabriel and I have started reading the Bible in different translations, especially the English Standard Version and NIV. If this offends you, I apologize in advance, but we have found it to be very refreshing. Both of us were raised in circumstances where all scripture was read in King James Version. I will go on record as saying that the KJV is beautiful, poetic, authoritative, and deeply meaningful to me. However I found myself with a tendency to read the familiar passages and skip right over some of the most amazing truths, which is why I like to switch it up and spend my devotional reading in a different version.

This morning I started reading some Psalms and after a while I started seeing all the references to the eyes of God. As a child I was taught repeatedly that God sees everything I do, “Be sure your sin will find you out” and that sort of thing. It took all the fun out of doing naughty stuff and probably kept my hand out of the cookie jar more than once. I was also taught that God can see in the dark and I don’t ever need to be afraid because He is with me and by some divine ability will never lose track of me. These are amazing truths that didn’t really sink in, especially over the time period where my brother and I were convinced that a scary person named Viola would come out of the hole in the floor of our room while we were sleeping.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.” Ps. 32:8, 9

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all humankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth- he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do”. Ps. 33:13-15

Obviously, this is not a comforting fact for those who really don’t want God to see what they do, but for those who want to be in a relationship with the Most High, it is the solid ground on which they tread: God sees me; He is with me. What I noticed for the first time this morning is the connection between His seeing me and my responsive looking up to Him. Many times this is referred to as guidance. David said, “So don’t be like the horse or mule.” Look up into His face. He can look down on you all the time but it doesn’t make a bit of difference unless you look up and respond. He won’t put a bit and bridle on you. You have a choice about following His guidance.

This is a very apt picture for me just now. I dislike intensely when I am trying to instruct one of my children and they continue what they are doing with only a mumble of assent. It is very frustrating when I ask my child why he didn’t do what I asked and he says, “I didn’t hear you.” I am trying hard to train my children to look at my face, repeat the instruction I gave, or at least make a verbal assent that they heard me. Does anyone else see the parallel here? I see my own mulishness quite clearly. I see that I can require from my children what I myself forget to do for my Lord. Just look up.

Here is what happens when I do this face-to-face, what-do-you-want-to-say-to-me attentive listening.

“I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man cried and the Lord heard him; he saved him from all his troubles.” Ps.34:4,5

That radiance comes from seeing the love, the smile in His eyes. You don’t see that with a scurrying lifestyle of mumbling quick assent to what you think He wants you to do. You see it when you really look up and absorb His radiance. Oh, I do so want that!

A Little Something

I have nothing interesting to say, so I will just be kind and post a link to an author who has lots of interesting things to say. I stumbled across Rachel Devenish Ford’s writings a while ago. Our lives are lived on different continents, but she has a string of children and I have a string of children, so it’s not so different. I really enjoy her descriptive writing. And her first book is free for download on Amazon. Happy day!

A Question

I have a son (not mentioning names here or anything) who baffles me and delights me and makes me howl with laughter and irritates me terribly by turns.

How is it that the person who last brushed his teeth “the day after tomorrow” (he was serious) can tell me long involved stories about the digestive processes of owls?

How can a child who forgot every day where his seat was at the table even though it never changed, be able to show me the perfect little chef delineated by Minnesota, Wisconsin, and so on, ending with the Kentucky frying pan where he is making chicken?

And today when I told him to put the gloves away “where they belong”, he said, “I am going to need latitude and longitude for that.” Yet he could quote verbatim a long Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

Can somebody tell me what is up with that?

Can somebody tell me whether I should continually pull him ruthlessly back to reality and the job at hand, or should I laugh and let it go?

A Little Linky Love

When we took our long trip out west last fall, we made sure to have a goodly supply of audiobooks along. We have been collecting them for quite a while, and if you watch what you are doing, you can actually get a lot of them free. We have been favorably impressed with the quality of the recordings on Audible. You get a free month trial right now, which would put you right into March and springtime. How is that for a deal? My highest recommendation from Audible is God’s Smuggler, by Brother Andrew. It is almost 9 hours long, and all of them are worthwhile hours.

We also like Christian audio, which has a free book featured every month. Sometimes they feature biographies, like Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place. We have bought books at both of these places, and have no complaints. Some of the books are on both sites, but this is two ways of getting free ones and deciding whether you want to buy more. 😉

And finally, I have a link for episodes of Adventures in Odyssey. The ones on this site are free samples from their CDs. (Thank-you so much, P.D. and Leeny, for telling us about this. 🙂 ) Our children have listened for hours this winter, and they never tire of them. I want to buy them some of the CDs in time, but for now they are happy with the partial stories.

The time to listen to audios is… anytime. We do it while we cook or while we fold clothes or even while we pick up the stuff around the living room. If the work slows down too much because of how absorbing the story is, I just pause it and everybody jolts right back to reality quickly so that Mama starts the story again. Happy listening!