Thursday, May 25, 2017

Survive or Thrive

So much pain all around me; so much hard, excruciating pain. I am one little person and right off the top of my head I can think of a whole string of people who are dealing with pain - a freak accident that ended in the death of a loved one; the news of aggressive brain cancer in a father; the death of a mother who suffered from cancer; a tiny foster baby with a loving family hoping to adopt, who's father now wants custody - the list feels endless.

How do you even begin praying for all the pain?

I've had this theme going on here lately of treasuring the moments; of realizing how little time I have with the people I love. All the pain makes me long for the land of rest and that, in turn, makes me long to live life well while I'm here.

How do you make the connection between that longing and the actual nuts and bolts of your life?

Summer vacation has begun. Monday I sat in utter frustration with two of my five, trying unsuccessfully to settle a fuss. I finally lit on this bit of motherly wisdom, "The bottom line is, the two of you don't really care about each other. All you are thinking about is yourselves. I can make the two of you do the 'right thing' but I'm not really fixing the problem."

True. So true, mother. But you want to know the real truth? The real truth is, the mother has the same problem. The mother thinks mostly of herself and wants to just say, "Straighten up and behave!"

This began a battle in my heart. Was I going to think about myself all summer and struggle with lazy, fussing, bored children or was I going to lay down my selfishness and be engaged in teaching and training and learning together. I confess, I kicked pretty hard against the pricks. I hate it when I know in my heart what the solution is but I'd rather try to pretend I need one, ya know?

Tuesday I got a call from the library that a book I had on hold was in, so we did a library run Tuesday afternoon and I came home with this:

I don't read books very often these days. If I get a book, I have no self restraint - I'll stay up into the wee hours, I'll sit and not get my work done, I'll ignore my children... So I just don't get books; pathetic, I know.

It so happened that Tuesday night the two oldest were gone on a school privilege trip and the next two were invited away for the night. This left me with one little boy and one husband and I valiantly kept it to three chapters and went to bed like a good girl. But Wednesday morning? Wednesday morning there was just one little boy and I fed him poptarts and gave him smiles and nods and.... I finished the whole book.

Don't judge me; you would have too. It's just that kind of book! I laughed out loud and I wiped tears. I've always said I love Chip and Joanna because they remind me of us, and they do. And I needed to learn some lessons from Jo.

One of those came to me with a torrent of tears and kleenex when I read how she sat on her couch with it's white slipcover and saw all the little black fingerprints her children had left. I don't have a white couch cover and I'm not trying to keep everything perfect like she was but I needed the epiphany she received when she suddenly asked herself, "Am I going to just survive or am I going to thrive?"

Some of you aren't selfish, like me, and maybe this seems like "duh, hello!" but it came to me like a flash through the tears that this was really my struggle. I could hang on to my selfishness and get through this summer (this life) and survive or I could engage with my children and lay down my selfishness and we could all thrive.

How that should look, I don't have all figured out. I know that it will mean less me time. I know it will mean being more intentional and having some structure. I know it will mean doing the harder things that will reap benefits in the long run. I'm not sharing this because I have it all figured out; I'm sharing it because I need it. I need to admit my problem and I need to figure out how to make that connection between the longing and working it out in the nuts and bolts of my life. Sometimes, for me, putting it in writing is the first step.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Bits Of Random

I'm not feeling very wordy these days. We're in the midst of last-week-of-school busyness and getting ready for all the out-of-school adjustments and I'm not feeling very wise or philosphical about anything. I'm mostly feeling like I need to figure out how to do this all better instead of just living in survival mode.

Anyway. Thought maybe I would just flip back through pictures and give you a little {mostly} wordless post. Let's see what we find.

Him. I'm going to miss my days 
with just him!

The girls and their 
woodland houses!

Check out these homemade clothespins?
Love it.

There are scads of these bushes in the woods, anyone know their name?

Isaac turned 15 on May 11.
How that is possible
I do not know.

This Miss can now see the world 
clearly again! 


The dream of quilts for the girl's beds has not completely died.

Covered diaper boxes

Make great little storage containers!

First on the To Do list once school is officially out? Go through your song folder and sing every song 
at the top of your lungs! 
Christmas program included.

The weather this week felt like summer. I caved to the pleading one day and we made a quick lake run after school!
The water was fa-reezing.


Just my favoritest wall in my house...

Go enjoy your moments this weekend.
Snap a few pictures while you're at it!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Three Cookies

The skies are quietly weeping this morning. In the distance, fog is rolling in over the hills. My bright, airy house with it's row of big windows which often means I don't need any artificial lighting, feels dim and dreary. All of this matches my mood.


There are numerous reasons for the drippy, grey mood; one of them might be the weather itself. Another, undoubtedly, is the flurry of busyness and the coming and going of the past several weeks. A smaller one, is that today my oldest son turns 15 and that knowledge suddenly pierced through my brain fog last night and with it, the realization that we had planned no gift, no nothing for today. The compilation of all these things could possibly be to blame for my irrational annoyance with my husband this morning over a container holding only three cookies.

I have four school lunches to pack every morning, see. Any of you fellow lunch packers understands the ongoing difficulty of keeping lunch packing material available. I do my best to keep homemade cookies or bars in the freezer so there is something quick and easy to grab for desserts in lunches. Once the baked goods are in the freezer, they are not available for non-lunch-box consumption unless granted specific permission.

Unless you're the husband, and you like to consume frozen chocolate chip cookies by the stack.

There were three left in the container I so confidently pulled out of the freezer this morning, three. Three is not enough for four lunches, no matter how you try to stretch it. Those three cookies put me over the edge. So annoying. Just utterly thoughtless. I'd told him before that I didn't care if he ate them but I needed enough for lunches! And he didn't even say he was sorry.

I knew it was silly and I finished the lunches and he went out the door with a kiss but it was tinged with annoyance that colored my outlook on the day. Then I read the blog post. "Pray for my husband. Headaches. MRI shows a growth. Quite possibly cancer."

Suddenly I thought I would choke on my breakfast. The granola that had been so delicious was too sweet and the coffee nearly made me gag. All I could think of was my uncalled for annoyance over three cookies in a container.

Why do I take life so for granted? The third anniversary of my mom's sudden death was only days ago; I have first hand knowledge of how fleeting life is. I'm the one who thinks about death and knows that it is not if, but when I will need to say goodbye. Still, I take life so for granted.

I suppose it is just human nature to get caught up in the dailyness of the now. Still, there are people who have learned to better cherish each moment and they live their lives a bit differently than your status quo; I want to be one of those. Sometimes it takes startling news to give us a reality check. None of us are immune; one day the startling news might be a phone call of my own.

I hope I remember that, the next time I pull out a container with only three cookies.


Two years ago I shared Gina and Ed's "How We Met" story. Gina and I have never met, except through email and blogposts, but I feel like she is a friend. They are currently facing the reality of a growth on Ed's brain and, I'm sure, would appreciate your prayers.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Five Minute Friday: 10 Tips For Teaching Little Children

*This post is the result of a rather unusual Five Minute Friday prompt to tell the group something you are knowledgeable about or good at. We discovered how hard it is to just honestly talk about something we think we're good at!

One of the things I told them was, "I know quite a bit about handling young children and am pretty good at keeping a class of 10-12 kiddos quiet, orderly and interested." Then I got to thinking it might be fun to come up with ten tips. 

These come from years of teaching VBS and Sunday School as a youth and I'm feeling quite shy about sharing them but here goes:

#1. Expect them to behave. A lot of people expect little children to be a naughty, unmanageable handful. Guess what? They get exactly what they expect! Children live up to what is expected of them.

#2. Be firm; don't make empty threats. Children will test your boundaries. They figure out very quickly whether you are going to keep your word. I was once a young, VBS teacher to a little boy who simply wouldn't listen. I told him if he talked again he would need to sit with the superintendent. He talked. It took all my gumption to carry out my threat but that little boy was as good as gold the rest of the two weeks of VBS. Guess what else? He told me he liked me!

#3. Choose your battles carefully. Children are little people; they are not going to act like adults. Don't pick a battle about everything but stick with the battles you choose.

#4. Come to class fully prepared. It's easy to think you don't need to study much for a class of little children. The better you know your material and the more organized you are with your plan, the better your class time will go. Children recognize a lack of confidence and will take every advantage of it.

#5. Be as creative as possible. The more visual aids you can come up with, the better. Children love interactive lessons. Never read the story to them, tell it with great expression! Bring a Bible story tape if you have one; help them act the story out; find an object lesson to pique their interest.

#6. Make learning fun. Whisper the verse three times; say it with your eyes closed; make up motions to go with it. There's no reason for learning to be boring.

#7. Take an interest in their stories. Little children love to talk. Try to give them an opportunity to tell their stories; listen, and ask questions. They are little people who love to be heard.

#8. Reward good behaviour. This doesn't have to mean candy or stickers, although those are sometimes good incentives too. Let the person who isn't clamouring to go first be first in line. Ignore the person who yelled the answer and choose the one who raised their hand. Ask the quiet child to pass out the books.

#9. Have fun together. Sometimes we're trying so hard to be in charge that we forget to have fun. I remember a particular class when a child wanted my sticky tack, so I showed him how far it could be stretched and we ended up taking turns stretching it across the room and laughing.

#10. Keep it orderly. Children can be orderly but they aren't naturally that way. Have them line up at the door and pretend to be a train when they are dismissed; a sleeping train. If you need to walk together somewhere, take a rope or string and have everyone take hold and march. If it's getting loud, have everyone whisper for a bit or have them all be quiet enough to hear a pin drop on the table.

I enjoy little children and the challenge of the naughty ones usually makes them the most endearing to me ☺ 

Now, go think of something you're knowledgeable about or good at and give your Creator some praise!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sentiments From A Busy Weekend

After a busy weekend spent hosting family, I am left with piles of dirty laundry, bleary eyes from lack of sleep, tired children who overslept this morning and came home from school in various stages of complete meltdown and a heart full of warm, sentimental feelings. 

For some reason, in the quiet left after the hubbub of activities and meal prep and chatter, I am left with a deep impression to cherish the moment.

We only have today. Truly. Are my petty grievances and annoyances really worth it? Are my to do list and my appearance and my house really that important? 

I'm not promised unlimited time with these people that I love. Am I loving them well? Do they know that I love them?

I'm not promised another chance to make good memories. Am I making the most of the opportunities I have? Am I taking notice of the gift of today? Am I placing importance on the most valuable things?

Someday these little people will be the big people. Someday today will be the past; the heritage my children look back on. My time here is short and fleeting.

What I do today is important. It might not seem like much in the moment but it is a whole string of todays that make up the future. What I do today will matter.

I might not get another chance to stop and listen. I might not get another chance to do something special. I might not get another chance to say I love you.

Don't take today, and the people who are in it, for granted.