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All That I Have Done

So many days have flown by recently; the days, slipping away at an ever increasing rate, quicken my heart.

Each night comes, and I am very aware of the things I have not done.  I didn’t get to the dishes or the laundry.  I didn’t sweep the kitchen.  I forgot to remind the kids to do their after-dinner chores.  I need to remember to pay that bill tomorrow . . . or get up early to take out the trash . . . or find that lost treasure . . . or do that other task.

So much to do in these fleeting days.

However, it (by divine inspiration, I am sure) has occurred to me that I should be counting the things I did get done.  And so, today I held one of my girls on my lap, and I braided the blond one’s hair.  I snuggled with Little Man – right there after swim class in the middle of the hall and a conversation with a friend.  Which reminds me – I got the kids to swim class . . . and home.  I fixed three nutritious meals and two (mostly) healthy snacks.  I ran to the big box store and bought toilet paper (high on the list of things not to run out of!) and all the other things on the list – even if I did forget the coupons.  I made a point to set aside the list of things that needed to be done and to listen to the questions of my children.  I sat with Dimples while he drew and colored three pictures of Bible stories.  I called a friend and asked her to speak truth into my life and hung up grateful for friends who will listen and tell me what I need to hear.  I took fifteen minutes and prayed.  Sat down and spent time with the Lord – right there in the midst of the chaos.  I found the energy to say yes to another friend who needed me.

And these things, these are my victories.  Little things, all of them.  But they are mine, the things that I did get done.

How about you – what is your victory today?

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Thoughts on Sugar

Little Man:  “This [really overly sugary cereal that we bought to make a special treat] is a great source of Vitamin C!”

Me:  “Well, I wouldn’t call it a good source.”

What I was really thinking:  Who taught him to read?  I guess we need to work on letters too, because that clearly says vitamin D.  And while we’re working on letters let’s maybe define hyperbole.

——-

Why is it that I can give my children a little bit of candy and they have energy to spare for the rest of the day, but the only things I get out of a little bit of candy are a sugar coma, a headache, and bigger thighs?

——-

My grandpa doesn’t believe that sugar has any effect on kids.  He apparently hasn’t met mine.

——-

What do you do to get rid of the pile of Halloween candy (besides eat it all when the kids aren’t looking. . . see note above)?

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On Faith and Vegetables

“We think we need the whole plan; God thinks we need faith.”  –my pastor, on Sunday, during his sermon about Abram

“Promises are made on the mountain, but saints are forged in the desert.”  –same pastor, same sermon

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to him.”  –James 1, memorized it in high school, still rattling around in there and popping out at helpful times, so thankful for that!

These veggies were harvested from our garden recently.  We’ve had a lot of sun and warmer weather than usual.  After a very buggy, low-yield garden summer for us, how unexpected these blessings are!  Like these vegetables, God’s blessings always seem to come most/biggest when I expect them the least.

 

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I Used to Think . . .

that I wanted to be a potter when I grew up.

Now I know.

But I also want to be a writer.

And a knitter.

And a painter.

And a hiker.

And a biker. (The peddling kind, not the loud kind.)

And a runner.

And a peacekeeper.

And a drawer. (The pencil kind, not the dresser kind.)

And a teacher.

And a dyer.

And a designer.

And a sewer. (Both the garden kind and the fabric kind.)

And a mother.

And a lover.

And a follower. (The Jesus kind.)

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All Full!

Recently, Handsome’s Bible study group met and watched a leadership video.  I didn’t see it, so I can’t tell you all of the great details, but one of the things that man in the video said was that we all need to take time to do the things that fill us up.

That comment has inspired a discussion around here; we’ve been naming/listing things that fill us up.  I’m not just talking about things that you find to be fun, but these are the things that make you feel deeply satisfied, encouraged, and ready to take on the world.

Here are some of the things that fill me up:

  • reading the Bible regularly and having the opportunity to discuss it with peers (like in my Community Bible Study group)
  • spending time with Handsome
  • spending the day with my kids doing things that we all enjoy – hiking, bike riding, enjoying a picnic, walking around the zoo, etc.  (This is distinctively different than the days that we do stuff that the kids like – playing at the children’s museum and the like, because I get to be active and enjoy verses just watching the kids enjoy.  Also when we go hiking, bike riding, etc. we often have great conversations with the kids; that fills me up!)
  • being creative
  • having a clean, well-organized home (since having four kids, I only ever get vague glimpses of this…but I know it is something I enjoy immensely)
  • playing games/laughing with friends
  • long runs while listening to praise music
  • baking marathons (Before Christmas I had one day that I dedicated to baking.  I made about a bazillion things, all of them recipes that I enjoy making.  Various family members helped at different times of the day.  By the end I was totally physically exhausted, but I felt so satisfied!)

What fills you up?  (Leave some things in the comments or leave me a link to your own blog post that answers the question.)

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Resolutely Not Resolute

Been thinking about all the things I want to be this year.

I want to be in shape.

I want to be more sure of myself, less given to the whims of others.

I want to be a woman who is learning and growing, not just stagnating while I keep up with laundry and dishes and dusting.

I want to be caught up.  I want the kids’ scrapbooks to be up to date (a goal that I’ve been working on since the adoption, and I’m almost there).

I want to be organized. (closets and all)

I want to be creative.  For a long time I have set aside my creative side in favor of the practical side who could save money or time by doing things efficiently.  I think this year might just have a little room for creativity.

***

I am blessed to have this family, the one that makes the mountains of laundry and needs to be fed.  I am so blessed to have this husband who is my best friend and a huge distraction.  I have friends who are wonderful and fun and creative, and I want to please them.  I am blessed to live in a beautiful place with changing seasons and many parks/museums/fun places that need visiting.  I am blessed to have the opportunity and time to homeschool my children (and I’m fairly certain that I could be a lot more organized without homeschooling!).

With every “I want” comes an “I have.”  While I firmly believe that it is good to set goals and work toward them, sometimes I get so lost in the goal making that I forget to look around and see all that is good right in front of me.  Sometimes I loose perspective and start to see my blessings as hurdles, as stumbling blocks between me and whatever goal I have set.  “If only I didn’t have to plan for school next week, I could take some time to learn to use my camera better.”  “If I didn’t have all this laundry, I would have tons of time to make gourmet meals and clean out the closets.”  “If only I didn’t have four kids at home, I could take a class at the community college or work out more or. . . or. . . or”

But this year, even more than I want to be a better me, I want to get my thinking right.

Perhaps I should just resolve to be content this year.

(Oh, and come back tomorrow to see a fun little adventure in creativity; I’m doing something I’ve never done before!  Eek!)

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Not too long ago, I read a great post about an adoptive family.  One of the ways they are working to teach their daughter to be content is teaching her to say, “I have enough” at times when she was tempted to fret over how much of something she has or doesn’t have.

“I have enough.  I have enough.  I have enough.” she will say, and this helps her to remember that she really does have enough.

——-

I have a December birthday.  This year, a couple days before my day, one child fell ill.  At 2:30 am, the day of my birthday I woke up to the sound of another child calling to me in his pitiful-I-really-don’t-feel-good voice.  I was heartbroken for him as I stumbled to his room in the dark, felt his head, and immediately determined that he too had succumbed to the “plague.”

A little bit later, I crawled back into my own bed, husband (who often shares these duties with me) says, “Crappy Birthday!”  And that is how my day started.

At one point during the day, I opened the card that way laying on the breakfast table.  It was a sweet card from my husband, but there were no accompanying gifts.  (I had inadvertently learned earlier in the week that my husband had renewed a magazine for me, and I had already received a few gifts from him.)

A little later I put together a veggie tray, put the finishing touches on a white chocolate cheesecake with dark chocolate ganache and a double chocolate Oreo crust, and pureed strawberries from our frozen stash of spring bounty; then I sent them out the door with Handsome, on his way to a party…a party that I really wanted to go to.  (It was his colleagues that were throwing the party, so it wasn’t something that I felt comfortable attending on my own.)  Someone had to stay at home with the sick kids; that was me.

I had told my husband that I didn’t want a cake – not right now, with all of the other Christmas goodies in the house.  More sugar doesn’t even sound good.  Plus there’s just never time to go out and enjoy a leisurely dinner…and there’s always a billion shoppers in the restaurants this time of year; I said I’d rather wait to go out too.

When a friend called and asked how my day was, I just laughed and shared that it was a non-event.

——-

In the time since my birthday I have thought about this day a lot.

Last month, my dear husband spent a lot of time and money buying us a new laptop and me an iPod to use as my calendar.  He has installed games and all sorts of other things that he thought I would use/like.

We also recently went out to eat at a restaurant that was my choice; I even splurged and got the strawberry lemonade!

I have a newly finished basement (pictures to come) and all of the decorations/furnishings that it can hold.  I was able to spend the money to have a few things custom-framed and money to have pictures printed.

Since we have new room in the basement much of the other floors of our house has been rearranged too.  New picture frames, new paint, new touches here and there.

I lack for nothing.

I have an amazing husband who shares middle of the night sick kid duty and four awesome children whom I adore.

Yet I had the nerve to be the slightest bit disappointed on my birthday when things didn’t turn out how I wanted them to.

(And I wonder why on earth my children stuggle to find contentment!)

I’ve decided that I need to start telling myself, “I have enough. I have enough.  I have enough.”  I need to remember to be thankful for what I have rather than sad for what I didn’t get.  I need to write my blessings on my arms and wear short sleeved shirts, maybe.

I know it’s a human struggle.  I know it’s normal for my head to think logically and my heart to lag behind, yearning for something that isn’t meant to be.  Yet I long for that to change.

Lord, To you I offer my sincerest thanks for all that I have – for the amazing husband and the wonderful children, for shelter and clothes, for abundance and for health and for so much more.  Please forgive me for forgetting that, forgive me for not looking to you, my richest blessing.  Please, please allow my heart to match my head.  Please help me remember that enough really is enough.

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Type A, Married to Type B

So this morning handsome and I were discussing the whereabouts of an item that is mine.  He casually mentioned that he had seen it with his stuff.  I, laughing, asked why he didn’t move it to put it with my stuff.  He said that he just figured I had found a new home for it.

Type A:  A place for everything and everything in its place. . . and when it’s not in it’s place, I pick it up and move it there.

Type B:  Everything is in its place whether it’s in its place or not . . . no need to pick anything up and move it.

I always say that I’ll bet his world is a very happy place with very little stress!  Some days I would like to be a little a lot more like that!

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Five for Friday

Oh, how I love, love, love Friday.  I’m giving a spelling test as I type, so forgive me if I don’t finish a sentence!

1. In school news:  We have been doing math for three weeks, spelling for two, and language for one.  We have also continued phonics.  The kids have learned to use their binders, where they will keep track of what they have done each day.  I’ve been to the copy store approximately 1, 247 times, and I have made at least 469 copies each time I was there.  I have at least one field trip booked for each month from September through December.  Tapestry of Grace posted their supplements to the year four, unit one plan (the plan we are using); I have downloaded those.  I am feeling completely ready to start the year which is a good thing, because Monday is our official start date (the date that I was hoping to start doing all of our subjects) – woohoo!

2.  The man who is going to turn our basement from a cave into a room delivered a big pile of wood yesterday, and he is going to start hammering it all together on Monday…did I also mention that Monday the day we are going to start doing all of our school stuff???   Ha!  So funny how these things work out!

3.  Soccer season officially begins this weekend.  The kids have been practicing for a few weeks already, but games start this weekend.  No kidding, we have six – SIX – games on the schedule this weekend.

4.  I stepped on the scale yesterday and gasped at the number that it stopped at.  I just figured out that if I loose one pound a week, I will be at my goal weight by the beginning of December.  Here’s hoping I can say no to the Halloween candy and Thanksgiving fare and the end of the summer ice cream and the apple dumplings and the last-of-the-peaches peach crisp!  And here’s hoping the weather stays nice enough for me to work out outside, since there is a man working in our basement, where the treadmill usually lives.  (It’s already not looking so good.)

5.  There was a dead (and flattened and mostly-dried out) toad on our driveway yesterday.  All of the boys on our street (including mine) and Gus all crowded around it to poke at it with hockey sticks and oh and ah over it’s deadishness.  Bubba stood at the back of the crowd and made very realistic gagging noises.  I’m guessing medical school isn’t in her future.

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On Being Real

I have this friend.

She is an incredible mom.  She’s one of those moms who always knows just what to say to her kids, who always has a perky answer, and who makes it a point to spend a little one on one time with each of her children every day…and she usually accomplishes this goal!

This mom is also a great friend.  I am blessed to say that she’s one of the women that is in my inner circle, the group of women that I share my real prayer requests with.  She’s one of the ones that was on my front step, willing to help, when we came home with two new children who.didn’t.speak.English then a few months later when my grandma died.  She’s the real deal.  Love her bunches!

But today we were talking, and she said something that mystified me.

We were talking about the fact that I homeschool my kids, and she said, “But you are a gifted teacher!  Teaching is obviously your gift!”

And I laughed.  Then I thought about this quote from A Sane Woman’s Guide to Raising A Large Family, which I got for Mother’s Day and read from cover to cover last weekend (I had tons of time, thanks to the raging fever that took over my body and didn’t allow me to do anything but sit on the couch like a blob.)

“I’d love it if my insides matched my outsides all the time.  I’d love it if I could actually feel serene all the time instead of just faking serenity.  But despite what others assume about me, endless serenity is not my personal reality as a mother.”

And a couple pages later, she quotes Jenni, saying, “As the mother of almost twelve, I can say with all certainty that the most amazing part of having a large family is the fact that it drives you to your knees before the Father so often.  There is no self-delusion that you can somehow “be enough” for your children…that you can somehow meet their needs…because it’s apparent 24/7 that you can’t.”

Quick plug:  Loved the book and would recommend it to any mom with more than one child even though it calls itself a book for large families…and Mary doesn’t even know I am typing these things.

Back to my conversation with my friend:  I began to wonder how on earth she thinks that I am gifted in this area.  I’m really not.  Need me to organize or sort or plan, SURE!  I am your woman.  I’ll even take on a classroom of kids, but that is so much more about organization and just getting through the day without anyone bleeding than it is really about teaching.  One of the things that impressed me (in a not so good way) about my college education was that more of my classes had to do with classroom management than about actually teaching or how to teach or teaching theory.

I have been pondering.

I think one of the things that we moms do quite well is to sell ourselves short.  We say, “Oh, I could never do that; she’s doing really well, because she’s gifted in that area!”  She has a great house, because she is a gifted decorator, or she has a great yard, because she knows everything there is to know about gardening.  When the reality is perhaps that she has a great yard, because she is willing to get outside and sweat it out every day to weed and prune.  Perhaps she reads books or online about what and how to prune.

And sometimes it is the gardener’s fault that others think she is so great.  When compliments come her way, it is entirely possible that she feigns ignorance…it seems the polite thing to do.  We moms do it all the time!  “Oh, this old thing!” or “I don’t really know what I am doing!” (never mind that you have devoured a hundred books about the subject and spent hours thinking about it.)

So I’m saying I don’t really know how I got here.  How is it that one of my close friends thinks I am able to homeschool because I am gifted…the reality is that I am gifted at picking out and organizing curriculum and bossing my kids around, but most days I am just a s0-so teacher who is putting 200% of herself into the lesson.  And I’m saying to you bloggy friend, don’t be deceived; I don’t intend to put on any front.  I do what I do by working hard at it…and I fail a lot.

But I also say to you (and to me), mom, stop selling yourself short!  Take on that task that you’ve been wondering about; stop waiting to be gifted.  Try it.  Get your big toe wet, at least.  And I’m saying, stop ignoring your strengths.  I’m also saying stop wondering what that mom has that you don’t have.  Her garden might look great, but her breakfast dishes are still in the sink…or perhaps her kids are sunburnt from playing in the sun without sunscreen.  But you know what, both of us would be happier if we could move beyond what we think of each other and to a place to mutual respect – real respect, not the kind that forgets that a lot of work went into remembering to just water the flowers!  And I would be a lot happier if I could remember that I don’t have to be great at everything I do, nor do I have to make excuses for the things that I do that I am not great at.

(stepping down from my soap box now, thankyouverymuch)

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