Why it is Okay to Think Your Kids Are Pretty Special

That last post about individuality in a pile of kittens and how the eyes of love see them… well, here is where I am going with that.

I believe strongly that our children need to know that we see them, who they are, their gifts and natural abilities, as distinguished from all the other grey kittens in the pile. They need to know that Mom and Dad are on their side, cheering them on to success, despite the fits and starts that accompany budding attempts at growing up.

One of my sons is having a bit of a wobbly time right now, struggling to relate to friends, not always sure he likes himself or anybody else, even. Oh dear, I think, here we go into adolescence, and I have no idea what I am doing parenting this age. I have seen his step lighten after I just casually put my arm around him and tell him (one cannot be too deliberate with affection at this stage, it seems) how proud I am that he is my son. I tell him that he is learning to walk upright, and that is sometimes really, really hard, but I know that someday it will help him to be a real man because he fought battles when he was young. I explain that it is all right to mess up, as long as one admits the mistake and makes amends where it is needed. I want my son to know that he is special, he has gifts, he makes me happy, so I tell him those things, even when, or maybe especially when he sorely tries my patience. I do hope and pray that this will help him to have confidence and steadiness when the waters get even rougher.

In parenting, there are so many moments of correction, reproof, instruction… so many times we need to discipline and pull back an erring child. We certainly don’t want them to run wild without the stability of boundaries. But it is much too easy to forget that they do not automatically know how much we love them, how delightful they are to us.

The eyes of love notice the hidden talent that will be a tremendous asset as the person emerges. They see under the surface of sameness and assure the little ones that they are unique, telling them small specifics that are evident in the child’s life, like little buds waiting for the right season. This is what breaks my heart about orphanages. No matter how clean and well fed a child may be, every child needs someone who really sees them as invaluable. My deepest respect goes to those who make it their life goal to provide that for parentless children.

The old thinking was that too much praise would make a proud child. Humility is a beautiful virtue, but there were entire generations of children who grew up straining for approval and yearning to hear just once that their parents love them. That is just tragic, and not a mistake that we need to repeat. Surely we can show our children how much we like them without turning them into stuck-up snobs.

Parents are notorious braggers. We don’t mean to be, but it happens because we are besotted with these children that we love endlessly. I honestly think this is okay. I have heard some obnoxious bragging, but generally I love to hear people talk about their children. It means that they are noticing them, really looking at them, delighting in them.

This is why I also love pet names for children. It is like a personal tie, a more intimate connection than you have with just anyone. I love secrets with children, whispering in their ears. When my babies were nursing infants, I made up songs for them with their names and sang them in the dead of the night, just me and the babe. I make no apologies for being completely dotty over my children, and neither should you.

After all, God delights over His children too! Far from making me feel proud, that fact raises in me a reciprocation of delight in Him and cements in me a confidence in His love that takes me through the storm.

 

But the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
    in those who hope in his steadfast love. Ps. 147:11

Empty Bowls, a Book List, and a Lot of Links

This winter I tried to find different ways to make my children aware of the hungry, homeless, less fortunate, even beggars. Sometimes it is hard to know how much information about the sadness and brokenness of the world I should share with my little guys. Yet I believe that they need to learn compassion and thankfulness, and one of the best way to learn this is to help them see how hard life is for many others.

We read A Single Shard, the story of a homeless orphan in 12th century Korea. The main character spends his days scrounging for scraps of food and longingly watching the master potters in the village. Eventually he persuades one of them to take him on as an apprentice, receiving for his wages a bowl of food every day.

The Family Under the Bridge is another book I highly recommend for children. It is the story of a crusty old hobo who has his own favorite spot to live under the bridge. He has chosen his lifestyle because he likes it, but one day a desperate mother with her little children invades his space. Slowly he starts to thaw and become more kindly to the people around him. Almost against his will, he learns to care about them and does his best to help the mother keep her little family intact. It is a book with humor and grace mixed into the sad bits.

Another book we really like is Star of Light, a story of little beggars shamefully misused by their stepfather. It is a beautiful tale of how they find the love of a Heavenly Father.

I also have a photojournalist’s collection of portraits of titled Precious in His Sight. It is a powerful visual aid… What if I were the little girl selling bananas in the middle of that crush of cars at the intersection? Suppose I was the little farmer boy in Malawi who spends days and days alone, herding the family’s cows so they don’t wander off or get stolen.

ImageA percentage of  the sale of this book goes to Compassion.

And there is yet one more photo journey that I suggest for little children. It is titled Where Children Sleep. It is an expensive book, but I am glad I bought it. We have discussed why it is that some of the poorest little children with only one little car to play with and a bed of filthy blankets on the floor look just as happy in their photos as the children with everything their hearts desire. You can find a lot of the images from the book here.

So, how did this post turn into a book list? I suppose it may be because they are my main tools for instructing my children. 🙂 But aside from books, how do we do something that makes a difference? That is the real question. The boys helped me cut patches out of fabric scraps and sew them into comfort tops for the ladies at church to turn into warm blankets for somebody cold.

I hoped to find a soup kitchen that needs volunteers, but the only local thing I could come up with was a fund raiser called Empty Bowls. This is a grassroots movement to help feed the hungry. Local potters hold workshops where volunteers get to make soup bowls to sell at the supper they host. That immediately caught my attention because of my pottery making dreams. We made pinch pots, starting with a ball of clay that became the base of our soup bowl, then adding coils of clay and smoothing them out to form the sides and rim. It was a lot of fun. We decided we wanted our own bowls back, so we went to the supper and claimed them.

All the food was donated by local restaurants and businesses, the proceeds benefitting our local food pantry. It was a lot of fun, an event I hope to make an annual thing for us. Here are the girls with our bowls.

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So far I don’t feel like I have accomplished much except helping my crew to notice inequity and to want to help. I need more practical ideas. 🙂

Mama with a Cause

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(photo source)

That question I asked at the end of yesterday’s post? I know the answer, and so do you. Of course our assignments as mothers are important. They just don’t always feel that way. There are a lot of very worthy causes for women to pour their energies and passions into, making a difference and all that. It just so happens that my calling has placed me into a spot where I believe it is in everyone’s best interest if I stay home and do it. There are days when I have had an overload of domesticity and I could rally about as much enthusiasm to Save the Turtles as I “feel” about Making a Home.

I remember one day I had a bit of an epiphany. There had been a night of interrupted sleep, the third baby uncomfortable in my womb, and my little boys were doing laps around me, full of impulsive ideas to have fun. Clear as a bell, the thought came: If I am going to be a mother, I might as well give it everything I have. The truth of the matter was that I wasn’t giving it everything. I was spending too much time trying to figure out ways to make this job less demanding on me. This attitude was sucking all the joy out of my days.

That was when I decided to quit keeping a mental tally of the hours of sleep I got, the numbers of times I had to lay down my book to get a drink, the tons of laundry I pulled up and down stairs and in and out of machines. I stopped resenting wiping noses and concentrated on how cute the noses were. I love children’s literature, and now I got to read it out loud, all the time! Things became funny, my own private comic strip. They actually became fun (most of the time). Joy came back.

I am not going to pretend that the adjustment to whole-hearted momming was easy for me. I have an insidious desire to spare myself from too much hard stuff that didn’t die its final death in one instant. There have been many times when I have thought longingly of the English and their nannies. On the days when I am overwhelmed with the vastness of the job of raising my children, I need to pull my head out of the sand and remember my credo.

I have been given this job as a sacred charge, and I am going to give it everything I have, by the grace of God. I am a Mama With a Cause!

Girls With Dreams

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(forwallpaper dot com)

Sometimes the oddest things bring up a blog post. This morning’s trigger was when I sent my man out the door, early, with coffee and an Advanced Trauma Life Support textbook for a class at the Altoona Trauma Center. Suddenly I remembered a post I struggled and struggled to write, and finally ditched this spring. Here it is again, trying to get out, so I will give it another shot.

“Do you married women dream?” a sweet young lady asked me after a discussion on life choices/destiny. “Of course,” I said, although I can only speak for myself and the few friends I cornered for my unofficial survey. Consensus: Our husbands dream. We go along for the ride. 🙂 If you think that is impossibly restricting, stay with me. I am not done yet.

Not so very long ago, the larger percentage of the female population dreamed of marriage, homes, children. There were very few respectable options available, unless they wanted to be governesses. A hundred years later the world is wide open for women to travel without chaperones, pursue degrees, buy their own homes, etc. The modern barrage of choices can be downright bewildering, especially considering that it is inappropriate for a girl to initiate the fulfillment of the dream for a husband. (Yup, I am that old fashioned.)

Women in the Congo dream about owning a sewing machine so they can get out of a life of prostitution. Haitian women dream of having enough food so they don’t have to give their babies away. Young girls in Afghanistan dream of becoming teachers so that they can teach other young girls in the remoter villages where there are no female teachers. I am afraid a lot of American girls dream about being thin super star actors. Our dreams are as varied as our lives.

I am going to have to zoom way, way in to one aspect. Let’s bring this subject down just to girls who want to honor God, who have noble aspirations. How should they dream, when should they pursue their dreams, and what about if they get sidetracked? I am sorry, I don’t know all those things.

But I do know a girl who was absolutely sure she was going to be a missionary (or a missionary’s wife… how romantic…). Her cherished dream was to work in an orphanage, to rescue and love children who were scrapped by everybody else (how fulfilling). She also hoped to continue her education (what fun). She traveled enough to see how vast the world is, how unending the needs. Then she proceeded to foster one little baby, teach school to well-adjusted, secure little church children, and she fell in love with  her co-teacher and married him (how predictable 😛 ). She had babies, she stayed home with the babies, and she kept house. Hey, what are you looking at? Oh, you think you recognize her? Well, maybe you do.

Sometimes after she had spent a day of nurturing babies and preparing good food for her husband, she would think about her orphanage dream and wonder where it had come from. Where had it gone? And when her life felt narrow and restricted she would wonder for a few fleeting seconds if she had chosen the wrong path? Oh, she loved her husband and her children fanatically, but it felt so… ordinary?

…to be continued…

A Different Sort of Weird

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It had been a fun, field tripping sort of day in the Upper Peninsula. Because lunch was beef jerky and cheese sticks with apples, everyone was on the grouchy side of hungry by five o’clock. There were no fast food restaurants, and most of the diners were closed for the season. We were forty minutes from our cabin where there was abundant food, uncooked, of course. So we kept searching.

Finally the GPS directed us to Jack’s Eats. Now Gabe and I make fun of any food establishment with the word “eat” in the name, but this would have to do. The parking lot was completely full. As we were piling out of our vehicle, an elderly lady watched us with frank astonishment. “Are these?.. All?.. Yours?” she asked, dumbfounded. I looked around and assumed she must be talking to me, since there was nobody else in the vicinity. (What do you mean? There are only five!) I didn’t say it, but my children snickered. “Five isn’t even many!” they said to each other, wondering at the silly lady’s perception.

We entered the diner, a seat-yourself place, and started threading our way to the back dining room in quest of a table. The talking din became noticeably quieter as the entire crowded roomful craned to watch us. There was, in fact, not a single table available. I resisted the urge to quack loudly as we threaded our way back out past all those full tables. Five miles further down the road we found an even greasier diner with a bit of space. So the hunger crisis was averted, and all was well.

I like this story because of my children’s amusement and the total lack of embarrassment they showed in being such an enigma. Sometimes I shrivel a bit under the disapproving vibe: the sheer audacity of having more children than is considered normal… must be some kind of freaks without many smarts. “Wow! It must take a lot of food at your house! How do you ever reach around to them all? You raising a bunch of kids to do all the work?” I think the comments are slight admiration with occasional undertones of sarcasm about the huge carbon footprint we are leaving. I also think they are a little unmannerly, don’t you?

Recently I met a lovely Indian lady at a park and we chatted about our children, our cultures, our values, etc. She told me how incredibly difficult it was for her to come to America to study with her husband. They found themselves without people, so far away from all the connections that were completely vital to living in their culture in India. When they had a baby, her mother-in-law came for 4 months to  help with the baby. The grandfather of the child got to choose her name as a mark of honor. “It is sad that America does not value family and children,” she concluded.

I couldn’t agree more. In our society, it is more important to get a thirty year mortgage on a McMansion than to fill it with people. Garages are packed with ATV’s, boats, snowmobiles, you name it, but we can’t afford to have children. There are endless jokes about how inconvenient/expensive/disruptive the kids are. I am just getting up on my soap box to tell you that I am sick and tired of it!

It isn’t so much the number of children we have as the attitude we display. This sad old world needs to see us happily visiting with our little guys while we walk into the grocery store. It needs to see us smile into their faces, listen to their stories, laugh with them at the ducks gobbling the bread at the park. It needs to see us bending down to their level to explain why they may not run across the parking lot. It even needs to see a kindly firm “No” when our children beg for candy. Our society needs to see that we Christians will not subscribe to the hip and modern notion that pouring out our lives for the sake of the next generation is much too sacrificial and time consuming.

I think something in me has been growing up and getting bolder about the fact that we are living counter-culture. When the lady in the pottery shop told me, “I only had two and boy, was it tough!” I simply said, “I decided when I became a mother that I was going to make it my career.” Maybe she thought it was rude, but like I said, I am fed up with feeling slightly apologetic about my values.

Recently there was media buzz about a woman who chose to stay home with her family, describing her as a person “who never worked a day in her life”. Wow.

So… here we are, living on one income, stacked into our little house, wearing our second hand clothes, sporting our home-style haircuts, working hard to grow a lot of our food, (go ahead and measure our carbon footprint), trying to stay out of debt, having a string of children, spending our very lives to teach them well. So what if it is hard. You got a problem with that?

I am calling all Christian parents to rally together and show the twisted world we live in that we really do believe our children are our greatest investment.

What We Didn’t Know

Yesterday was our 12th anniversary. See, here we are, after about 8 hours of just the two of us. It’s still there – that magic my friend, the preacher’s daughter, called “the glue when Dad puts their hands together in marriage”.

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Twelve years ago we could not have imagined awakening on our anniversary to conspiratorial whispers and clinks of crockery in the kitchen as our children made a surprise breakfast. We pretended to sleep while someone slipped loudly into our room with a lighted candle which he set directly under the lampshade, which I hastily rescued. The little sister got sent in at least three times to check if we are awake yet, seeing as the eggs were getting cold. The waiters brought in plates with pancakes and eggs, excellently cooked. My pancake was a teddy bear, Gabe’s was a penguin with its feet chewed off. Then came the crowning touch of a breakfast tray with steaming mugs of tea, a bowl of sugar and a pitcher of syrup, along with a funny little music box tinkling out a merry tune.

The children had gone to the neighbor’s yard sale the day before and picked out some anniversary presents. One was the holder for the lighted candle. Twelve years ago I wouldn’t have thought that I would ever cherish a rather unusual porcelain bird/flower candle holder painted in various astonishing, pearly colors. Another gift was a small pot with a lid that clasps, “for special things”. (Why do I think of Pooh?) I love it! And the music box… which someone made it their business to wind and rewind the entire time we ate our breakfast, because everyone knows there should be romantic music on an anniversary. On our honeymoon, we would have laughed at the idea of having an audience of five watching us eat our breakfast in bed, but we didn’t have the heart to send them away, seeing as they were so exceedingly pleased with themselves. It was actually quite romantic, when you consider that out of our love sprang these dear little people sprinkled all around us.

Twelve years ago we would not have been thinking in terms of going on a date in a rather large Suburban with very high miles, seeing as the tiny red Mazda was working just great for us. In fact, I believe we made merciless jokes about those family vehicles. Now we are poster children for those jokes. Guess what, we don’t even care! Neither would we have known how rejuvenating it is to a marriage to just spend time with each other, even if you are grocery shopping or ambling through the mall, hand-in-hand, checking out the clearance racks.

Sometimes we look back and laugh at those kids that got married, with all their ideas and plans. We hadn’t a clue that there were career switches for Gabe, from deck builder to teacher to nurse. We hoped for children, but we didn’t know. Sometimes through the years we would look at each other and say, “What do we think we are doing? We don’t even know what we are doing!” When the questions get too big, we have learned to just leave them to Providence and say, “At any rate, I’m with you.”

Essentials for Parents

When I was expecting our first baby, I got a free subscription to a couple of those baby/parent magazines. Nearly every issue had lists of essentials: Things to Buy Before Baby Comes. They included the obvious, like diapers and wipes, but there were also lists of gear, the best gear for the job. There were clothing lists: 10 onesies, 7 pairs of socks, 14 bibs, 5 blankets, etc.

By the time my fifth child was imminent, I just chucked the magazines into the trash can as soon as they came in the mail. It wasn’t all pish-posh, but most of the advice and current parenting trends just didn’t seem relevant at all to the lady who already had 14 bibs and rarely used them. I didn’t need pacifier sanitizing wash or enormous exercise saucers that would fill all the space in my living room where we usually walk. Please, don’t even get me started on the advice for parents when the child is angry/pitching a fit/making needs known. And those gorgeous pictures of model babies wearing designer clothes…hello! Who spends 70 dollars on a jumper for a 10 month old?

If I were to make a list for the baby mag, it would look more like this:

  • Sense of Humor. You will need it every single day. Just last week, my 2 year old dropped a small deposit out of her undies onto the floor of the library. She is supposed to be potty trained, but still in that stage where squatting down to look at shelves of books tends to complicate things. You simply cannot make up the stuff that happens with small children around. You might as well laugh. I often feel like I live in The Family Circus.  Hey, it is funny!family-circus-0011
  • Grace for the times that aren’t funny. When I feel like shaking and scolding, it is good to remember how graciously I have been dealt with in my failures and idiosyncrasies. Instead of saying, “You LOST YOUR SHOES AGAIN?” I might remember how often the whole crew looks for my lost cell phone. “Okay, sonny, they can’t walk off by themselves. Where did you last wear them?” Did you know grace doesn’t roll eyes at her children, either?
  • Persistence. Parenting is another word for repeating. You know the verses in Isaiah 28:10 where he is talking about teaching knowledge, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, Line upon line, line upon line, Here a little, there a little.” It really is that way. Sometimes it feels like the things I am trying to teach my children are dotted lines, and the children are not connecting the dots. They just never are going to get it. But they do! They grow, they learn, and eventually they get it! It just blesses my soul when my child takes the smaller piece of cake and lets a sibling have the one with more icing surface area.
  • A pen and paper. This comes in really handy when you are having one of those dotted line struggles where you feel like you will never connect. Keep a private journal of the joys as well as of the issues you are facing. One day you will be heartened when you look back at what you wrote and realize that you have indeed passed that milepost.  My mom kept a baby book for each of us, even though she also had a cow to milk and hens to feed and innumerable duties on the farm, not to mention raising 4 kids born in 5 years. We always cherished those books, laughing about our first words, comparing our records to see who walked first, and who hated eating peas, etc. Pen and paper doesn’t have to be fancy, but it has an amazing way of making a child feel celebrated. “Mom noticed me!” A friend of mine makes quick notes on her calendar when something noteworthy happens with the children. You might think you will never forget that hilarious thing the 3 year old said, but it could be gone by supper time if you don’t jot it down.
  • Flexibility, sometimes a complete U-turn. Also known as humility, this is an essential that is sometimes so hard to come by. You can get so invested in winning every battle, being the authority, having the answers, that  you forget all about the little person you are dealing with. We have always had a strict bedtime policy. Once you are in bed, you don’t get out unless you are about to wet the bed, or maybe if the house is on fire. 🙂 It took a bit of training for the toddlers, but they caught on. This last toddler, however, still has not gotten the memo, even though we have been working on this since spring. She comes crying, wanting a drink, a vitamin, a different blanket, a story. It is too dark, too light, she fell out of her toddler bed. For the first few months, we steadfastly clung to our usual training routine, and much as I dislike saying this, it didn’t work. It didn’t work ten times a night. I began praying for enlightenment. Finally we decided that she simply wasn’t tired enough to fall asleep at the usual bedtime, so we let her stay up an extra hour or two. She sits on the couch and looks at books, then we have a little cuddle and off she goes! The little offspring of the bedtime absolutists has taught them a bit about flexibility. I would like to assure you earnest young parents out there that needing to change your mind on an issue is not a sign of weakness. We all need to grow, not just the children.
  • Wisdom. Pray for it. God has promised to give it…liberally! Don’t knuckle under when the problems seem too daunting. I think back to a contrary streak one of my sons went through. To be honest, there were days when I just wanted to give him away, let someone else raise him for a while. I felt so totally unprepared for this task.  One day I was dumping out my questions to God, and He clearly showed me that I needed to first get rid of my own bad attitude. “This is your job. You were given this child because you are supposed to be his parent. Embrace it, even when it is hard. I will give you the wisdom you need.” Things went quite a bit better when I got my own sinful attitude cleansed. Wisdom, I might add, is not a fail proof system that you use to ensure good outcomes. Wisdom is a relationship with the One who knows all the facts and guides the person who seeks to walk His ways.

While not essential in the strictest sense, this list is Frivolous Things Every Parent May Need.

  • Chocolate. Really good chocolate, hidden for quiet moments alone in the bedroom. Just don’t hide it so hard that you can’t remember where you put it when you really need it!
  • Lysol wipes. Children is another word for messes. It is supposed to be that way. The wipes just make a lot of cleanup so much easier. And they smell nice.
  • Audiobooks. Books are gateways out of our little worlds and worries. They help us to soar serenely above the mundane. 🙂 Any parent knows that after you read The Curious Little Kitten, The Biggest Bear, and Fox in Socks for the 40th time, you don’t have an abundance of time to read your own level. (Unless, of course, you barricade yourself in the bathroom and ignore all sounds of disaster outside the door.) This is where audiobooks are so helpful. You can listen to them while you cook, while you drive to the dentist, while you fold laundry. Bonus points go to the audios that capture your children’s attention, too. We are currently on the umpteenth listening of God’s Smuggler.
  • Band aids. Lots of them. They make everything better.
  • Friends. It is nice if some of your friends also have drool on their shoulders and cheerios on the floor of their mini vans. I have been so blessed with beautiful friends who have my back. We do not walk alone, thank God!

I am sure I missed some essentials, especially frivolous essentials. I would love to hear what yours are.

Edit: how in the world did friends get put on the frivolous list? Just so you know, it is in the wrong place up there.

External Vexations Vs. Eternal Verities

Sorry about the ponderous title. It was fun to extract it word-by-word from the Thesaurus, especially now that it sounds like some sort of article from the 1800’s .  🙂

I wouldn’t really say it was a good day. But it wasn’t a bad day, exactly. I sometimes think I am getting more skilled at rolling with the punches, but occasionally the punches come more fast and furious than usual. It leaves me feeling, at the end of the day, like I have not lived it very well.

I was thinking about this in the shower, and suddenly I just burst out laughing. Gabe has a week of night shift, so I shall tell you about the day.

It started last night with a late iced coffee, and it was so good, so very effective at wiring me that I stayed up until 1 AM catching up with Facebook  posting our checking account and credit card data in our budget program. At that hour I even entertained a brief notion of surprising the boys with a day of school today! Haha. We have all our supplies, all our books, shiny new desks that Gabe made. Everything is ready except the teacher. I decided to wait another week or two, make tomato sauce instead.

We all had breakfast together before my hubby needed to go sleep. Then it was daily chores, little girls getting dressed in whatever picturesque outfit tickled their fancy, boys cutting up tomatoes. Everything went just fine, except for the fact that doing food preserving in a small kitchen, where every time you turn around you stumble over a fresh configuration of the chairs and people, becomes a little wearing. Also there was a small matter of literally sticking to the floor when I walked. I am trying hard to break the habit of saying, “That gets on my nerves,”  because my children repeat it. But I will just tell you, in confidence, a sticky floor really gets on my nerves. 

Lunch was very dry sandwiches lovingly prepared by the little boy who hates mayo. And a bit of chocolate on the sly for me. Then I shooed them all out while I washed up all those dishes and the sauce simmered on the stove and burned slightly on the bottom for lack of stirring. About then the littlest tot complained, “I NEEDS to go to bed!” Me too, tot, me too! Not an option, of course, but a nice thought.

We needed to go pick up milk from our friendly farmer. Even though Gabe was fast asleep, I took just one person with me. The van didn’t start, but the car worked. All but the AC. While we were over in horse and buggy country anyway, I had some kind of lapse and thought we should maybe do some sweet corn for the freezer yet today, the floor being already sticky and all… But God was merciful and the produce stand was sold out of corn. When we got home, I discovered the food coloring/homemade paint project crossed with cleanup involving a new white towel.

The house was hot and reeked of garlic and tomatoes. Unfortunately, our AC unit fried. All the females around here had a bad hair day due to the humidity. I found it mildly depressing to know that I looked exactly the same sort of hoodlum as my girls. 🙂 Then it rained and poured. Somehow there were two carseats out in the lane that got soaked. The little girls listened to the same story CD for the tenth time and I was feeling ready to write a scathing letter to the producers. The kiddos ran in and out, let the flies in. It was just drip, drip, drip. On and on and on my nerves. Oops.

Two hours after lunch everybody was hungry again. The tot bit chunks out of all the plums. The self sufficient little girl found a lunch box, filled it with an apple and pretzels. Then she poured milk and cleaned up her drips with a tea towel.

They were bored. They were housebound. They dragged folding chairs into their bunk beds. So I set them on the couch and they howled mirthfully at  Dennis the Menace until a very uninspired supper of spiral pasta and fresh tomato sauce. But the sauce was really good!

I sent my man off again with a lunch packed for his midnight snack. One boy took out the trash and folded the laundry while the other washed the kitchen floor. He missed a few spots, but it was a definite improvement.

Someone emptied a can of shaving cream into the tub. The baby deliberately puddled onto the floor. And they were all hungry again after our bedtime story. The tot got out of her bed five times. The girls were hot with their hair on their necks and giggled while I made them really high pony tails.

Downstairs there were dehumidifiers to empty and reset, some last instructions about the proper placement of dirty clothes, and NO, you may not wear that shirt again tomorrow, even if it is your favorite. And then…

There was the kitten under the blankets. That was the last, the final drip that turned it all from just driving me nuts to hilarious.

What was that I read just this morning? It sounded so ideal, so peaceful… I just found it again in Isaiah 54:13.

“And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;

and great shall be the peace of thy children…”

I ask myself, in this very ordinary, hilarious, sometimes frustrating life…when at times I am ashamed to hear my voice, provoked to high pitchedness about food coloring on a white towel and chairs in my way… how does He turn my very flawed efforts into children “taught of the Lord…”?

I asked God the same question, and this is what He said, “My grace is sufficient for you… really. Not just sufficient in the middle of a hard place, but sufficient, too, at the end of the day, when you have messed up and been impatient and irritated. My grace is sufficient for you… and your children!”

Here are some more of the verses in Isaiah 54. They make a very fine resting place, even a reason to laugh in the shower!

“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper;

and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,

and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”