Friday, February 27, 2015

Like Iron

"Iron sharpens iron,
So one man sharpens another."
Proverbs 27:17
 
I've had the privilege to be sharpened and hopefully, sharpen others lately.  It's got me thinking.  I don't want to say this, but I feel compelled to be honest.  I like to sharpen.  I don't like needing to be sharpened.  I believe that I am strong.  I don't like anyone to know about any of my weaknesses, but I don't think that's really what God had in mind.  And, I can see that to always be the one sharpening can sometimes be rooted in pride.  Is it because I think I am "too spiritual" or "too mature" to need anyone to sharpen me?  Lately I've been reminded that it takes a measure of humility to allow yourself to be sharpened.  And, close your mouth.  Yep, I said it.  Sometimes we simply need to be quiet. 
 
You can not be sharpened by what you never make time to hear! 
 
You can not be sharpened by what you never bother to hear.  Sometimes we're so caught up in what we have to say, what we WANT to say, our agenda, our ideas, our thoughts, our beliefs and our convictions.  (I think you all know that I have lots of those.)  Sometimes there's even the idea that if we don't talk, there might be that "awkward silence."  Did we ever consider that some folks need more than a few seconds to gather the courage (or their thoughts) enough to speak up?  Many times those are the words most worth hearing. 
 
I've been challenged lately to be quiet and to be humble.  Won't you join me in this journey?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What kind of Normal???

Sometimes I think people try to embrace everybody else's normal.  They pursue it, they compare and they are disappointed.  Hey, we are a unique family here.  We're trying to serve God and raise four very unique little girls.  Our normal isn't your normal and I'm cool with that.  You should be too. 

For instance, today, there is a toothbrush suctioned smack dab in the middle of the bathroom mirror. (I have no idea why.)  Everybody was up by 6:15am (or earlier) because King Crow, our infamous award-winning rooster wasn't feeling well.  So, he has been relocated to a pen in the basement.  Every half hour or so, King belts out an announcement crow. 

"Hey y'all, I'm still down here.  Where are my hens?  Bring me some apples, will ya?"

I drop my hand from the keyboard a second and Rory, our 9 week old Bernese Mountain Puppy promptly nuzzles me and gnaws on my hand.  He also whines when everyone has congregated on Mommy's bed for devotions and he was not invited on to the bed.  Yes and King announces (again) that he is STILL in the basement.  Blossom4 pronounces, "ROOTER, ROOTER, ROOTER!!!!!!" and then flips out because she doesn't like the Bible story book that Blossom3 brought for her to browse while we read our Bibles. 

Eventually, Blossom1 updates me on the status of all the healthy animals, as well as the recovering King.  I try to call the Rugged Mountain Man to get his opinion on reintegrating King to coop life.  Blossom3 and Blossom4 are galloping through the house, King crows again and I'm standing at the back door keeping an eye on Rory as he "parks."  I hear distant strains of "ROOTER, ROOTER, ROOTER" and Blossom3's trademark giggles.  Jake just watches this whole thing with his best "sage" and "noble" imitation... until I say the word "treat" and then he's all about some yummy homemade Jake's Cakes.  Blossom2 sticks to her seat during the chaos, doing her schoolwork and tries to convince me to do a science experiment today, something about bouncing popcorn kernels.  I FEEL like the bouncing popcorn kernels - kinda happy, kinda zany and all over the place.

When I'm confident Blossom1 and Blossom2 are well on their way with schoolwork, I try to make some Toffee Bark for a friend.  The Blossoms keep sneaking in and eating all the chocolate chips, until I get out the mini Reese's Pieces and their are shouts of "M&Ms, MAMA!!!!!!!" to which I respond, "Hands off, there won't be enough!"  (cock a doodle dooooooooooo)

Blossom3 decides that today is a terrific day to play with blue water in the kitchen sink.  Blossom4 thinks that she isn't going to be included.  Oh man, does she let me know about it.  Thankfully, King is settling into his quiet time of day.  As we round up plastic people and animals for blue water time, I think that at least we've accomplished a lot thus far today.  Getting up early does that to you.  I mean, school is well under way.  There isn't TOO much blue water on the floor and now Rory and Jake are napping. 

You see, God's grace is for the normal He orchestrates in THIS house, not what I find in your home.  He graces you for that.  I just try to trust and obey here in the Hollow.  I'd say that King would crow to that!

Monday, February 23, 2015

What is today?

"If today is a God-directed day,
today will be a blessed day."

My friend shared this to all of us at church today.  As a mom, it really resonated.  I do have lots of things that need to be done.  I'm serving the Lord as I do all these insignificant looking things.  But, I love that verse that says that the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.  It just goes to show you that I may plan my way - I may plan those little things that must be done - but I still always ought to be following His leading.  My day must be God-directed in all things.  Then, it will truly be a blessed day.

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Few Thoughts

This week was busy - dentist appointments, presentation practice, piano, 4-H presentation, gym class, first day of co-op, first day of a class at the library, plus a viewing, funeral, travel and a new puppy.  Now I know why I was so tired!  That doesn't even count all the school we did this week.  During weeks like this, I like to sort through my thoughts.

My husband's Uncle Ron passed away on Valentines Day.  We are sad, of course, but oh, how wonderful it is when a Godly man leaves a solid, holy legacy.  I know that we and his children and grandchildren grieve.  The memories!  They are sweet.  They are untainted.  This is the blessing of a holy life.  This is the beauty of that Godliness.  It is priceless.  And these thoughts I share now are only the part of the legacy that I can see on this side of Eternity.  I can only anticipate the beauty of the rewards of a Godly life on the Heavenly side of Eternity!

On another note, I've thought this week a bit about intimidation.  I feel like the Lord has helped me to grow up even more in recent years.  Standing on principle and not allowing myself to be cowed by louder voices and opinions is a good thing.  Long ago, our church suffered from a very manipulating woman who wreaked much havoc in people's lives.  I was a teenager at the time.  Aside from the pain it caused in my own broken friendships, I realized that intimidating and manipulating people is wrong.  However, the person allowing themselves to be intimidated or manipulated holds a responsibility as well.  This lesson comes to my mind when I find myself in intimidating situations.  I don't "buck," just to "buck."  I stand up for right. 

I also felt the Holy Spirit reminding me not to be a braggart.  Because I like to talk, it is easiest to share all that encompasses my life.  While some folks genuinely enjoy listening to "the details of me," I must make an effort to draw other folks out, whether they be old friends or new.  I may not mean to brag, but I have realized it is much easier to chatter on about the Blossoms, Rory and our week.  It takes extra effort to draw other folks out in conversation, to hear about them.  I think most folks who like to talk need to be extra careful about this.  I don't think the Holy Spirit wants me to walk away from a conversation thinking, "I wonder how they are doing?" simply because I was too caught up in the details of me to find out for myself. 

So, God is doing good things this week.  I am thankful that He continues to work in me.  After all, the Lord disciplines the child He loves!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Deep-Seated

Deep-Seated Scarf Revenge:


When one ties one's scarf perfectly the very first time and the scarf plots and executes revenge by proudly displaying its tag front and center despite all attempts to hide said tag.  At last, scarf scores when scarf must be re-tied numerous times in an effort to relegate tag to appropriate position - hidden.  If it's happened to you, you've been a victim of Deep-seated Scarf Revenge.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Up to Rory

What have we been up to lately, you ask? 


We've been up to our ears in Rory!!!  That's what!


I think domesticated dogs are proof positive that God likes critters.  I mean the studies confirm time and again that having dogs are good for you. 


That's because having dogs gets you outside (Have you seen the stars at 1am??!!), gets you moving and gets you thinking of something other than yourself. 


Rory is 8 1/2 weeks old and he's a Bernese Mountain Dog.


He is docile and sweet. 


We're tickled that he's a part of our family!


Friday, February 13, 2015

Super Heros?

The girlies were invited to a super hero birthday party.  They were encouraged to dress up as their favorite super hero.  Super heros are not a big deal here.  (Now if you had said, dress up like a princess, that'd be a completely different matter.) 

 
In fact, I believe their exact words were, "Do we have to dress up like a super hero?"  Of course, my response was no, but I actually thought they might regret it if they got to the party and saw everyone else dressed up.

 
 I realized that I have my dependable stash of felt, material and dollar store glitter glue just waiting for a quick little project.  And though the Blossoms don't love super heroes, they DO love a good craft session.  Since it had been a busy week, I figured a fun crafty session was in order. 
Ladies and Gents, meet Blue Streak!
 
 
 
And, here's Leopard Girl!


 

And watch out for 4-H Girl!


 
It was a slapstick project.  They painted quickly and desperately tried to keep Blossom4 out of the supplies.  (That was a lost cause.  Thank goodness that glitter glue is nontoxic.)  We snipped and pinned and such.  I dried the glitter glue on low heat in the oven, which was probably the lightbulb moment of the DAY.  If I'd wanted the logos to be a bit more Pinterest friendly, I would have used the nice glitter paint from the 90s craft craze.  But, I knew we didn't have time for that stuff to dry.  The Dollar Store stuff was just fine.  What a super fun project!


The next time you're in trouble, why not call on 4-H Girl, Blue Streak and Leopard Girl?!?!  They are sweet super heroes!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

It's a random house...

I am not interested in a magazine perfect house.  A friend of mine once mentioned that our home was so welcoming and lived in.  I took it as a compliment; I felt she meant it as such (especially since she has five children and would understand these things.)


Look closely.  Who put the fork in the fireplace so perfectly and then carefully closed the glass door?  The mystery is still unsolved. 

 
The girls and I went to see a professional Russian Ballet Troupe perform Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake a week ago.  During our Swan Lake research, we made these pretty Ballerina Snowflakes.  (Check them out from Krokotak, via Pinterest!)  They charmed all the girly-ness in this house, and were easy too!   


Jake and Daddy felt the same way about Swan Lake, so they stayed home and watched Blossom4, probably reading Pouch! by David Ezra Stein, numerous times.  It's one of her favorite books!


Blossom4 just wanted to demonstrate what all Steelers fans feel like right now.  Packer fans at least can take the bag off their heads, since they made it a little further than the Steelers... he he he.  

 
Have a good day, my friends... from a random, lived-in house.  :)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Words from a friend

I spent some time with a friend of my mine the other day.  I enjoyed seeing her home for the first time.  I was marveling at the beauty of their place, which is tucked in to a charming, delicious wooded kettle.  After exclaiming at the neatest rustic Dutch door I'd ever seen, I was evaluating her home décor style, as compared with her style of dress.  (For the record, styles of décor and styles of dress do not necessarily have to be congruent in a person.)  I wouldn't necessarily label my friend as rustic in her mode of dress, yet her home was decidedly rustic.  She is more a jeans, cozy and chunky sweater and offbeat, original earrings kinda gal.  So, I was probing her on the difference in her dress and home décor.  She mentioned, "I am not rustic,

...But I love my husband."

That may very well have been the single most impactful statement of the entire afternoon.  And it did my heart good to hear such a strong stance of love from a fellow believer.  I feel inspired to finish my sentences like that this week.

I planned a certain meal on the menu...
"Because I love my husband."

I chose what he preferred,
"Because I love my husband."

I wore a certain outfit,
"Because I love my husband."

I did what he wanted me to,
"Because I love my husband."

I'm inspired.  I hope you are too.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thoughts of compassion

Sometimes it stinks being on the outside looking in.  Sometimes, though, being on the outside enables you to see the poignant beauty, the innate value in something. 


Just ask an excluded introvert about the value of friends... or a young wife that can't conceive... or a child whose parents ignore them. 


Those "impossible" things become the one thing of utmost value to that person. 


And when I start to put myself in those people's shoes, I feel compassion.  I love Matthew 9:36. 

 "Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd."

He looked and he saw the people.  When you look, do you see?  

Do you understand what that person lacks and yet values?  
Do you offer the words of encouragement and Truth?  
Are they just another person to make small talk with while you wait for your children?Are they just another body to glaze past in the aisle?

I don't want to be the person who is too busy to care - to care about others.  Jesus looked.  He saw and He cared.

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Day In the Life here...

Hello friends,

I thought you might like a peek into an "average" day in our lives.  I say "average" because our days seem like they are anything but that.  I mean, anytime you've got a family that has to retrieve their pet cockatiel from the rooftop in the middle of winter, you know there very rarely is an average day.  Just in case you don't know, we have four daughters, aged 9 (Blossom1), 7 (Blossom2), just turned 5 (Blossom3) and 21 months (Blossom4).  (You can check out last year's day in the life post here.)

5:30am - Daddy's alarm goes off.  I roll over and nurse Blossom4.  She's sleeping great most nights, and is weaning.  We try to catch a little more shut-eye until

6:30am - Daddy leaves for the day.  Saying "bye" helps me start to become conscious.

7:00am - The girlies' alarm clock goes off.  We usually pile into Mommy & Daddy's bed where we all have some devotional time separately but together.  Blossom1 and Blossom2 read their Bibles.  Blossom3 listens to the audio Bible and Blossom4, well, she's all over the place!  I share a little word or snippet, we pray (for more unity and love in our family!) and sing and then hit the ground running for chores. 

8:00am - Usually by now, I have Blossom4 ready to go and we head to the kitchen.  I pull out whatever needs to thaw for supper, tidy the kitchen, throw in some wash, start breakfast and supervise chores.  Oh yes and I peel Blossom4 off of counters, end tables, pianos, etc. 

As part of her their chores, Blossom1 takes care of the outside animals, while Blossom2 and Blossom3 take care of the inside animals.  They bring out hampers, make beds and such - the types of things that keep Mommy from going crazy.  Running a household of six requires assistance from everyone (and, as we say around here, if you don't work, you don't eat.  Just sayin.) 


 
 
9:00 am - Once breakfast is cleaned up, we migrate to the schoolroom.  This is our sacred block of schooltime.  I work with Blossom1 and Blossom2 individually. Their work is already separated into individual and assisted work, so that I can send them to their desks to do a big chunk of stuff without me.  We get together on the couch to do the assisted work. 
 
I work with Blossom3 in this chunk of time too.  I know lots of people believe in delayed academics, but that just doesn't cut it around here.  Thus far, the Blossoms have been very motivated to learn, especially to read.  I do what I like to call, "Floor School" with Blossom3 and Blossom4.  We camp out on the floor of the schoolroom with flashcards, number charts and blend books.  Blossom4 climbs on me, plays with her own set of flashcards and repeats her vowels with Blossom3.  She feels involved, we aren't too disruptive for the older Blossoms and we get it done.  I can't argue with that.  Eventually, we move over to the Littles' table so that we can quench Blossom3's thirst for workbooks.  Oftentimes, Blossom4 will scribble a while.  Either that, or she'll insist on nursing for a minute or two.  Since I follow my babies' lead on weaning, I'm good with that.
 
I occasionally will send a few emails during this time, IF Blossom1 and Blossom2 are good to go.  Otherwise, I try to keep my email minimized, so the internet doesn't suck my day away. 
 
When Blossom3 and Blossom4 aren't being worked with, they're off to play dress-up, play with little play sets, play a designated blanket time or something else non-interruptive I've planned for them.  Lots of times the schoolroom floor is littered with miscellaneous items, but I try not to let it bother me until it's time to clean it up and move on to lunch.


Noon - We try to wrap up the morning session of school around now and hit the chores again.  This really helps to keep the house from getting completely out of control.  I get lunch going, tie up loose ends and tidy the kitchen (it seems like I'm doing this constantly :)  Sometimes during lunch I read aloud from our current read-aloud, sometimes not.  It depends on how cooperative Blossom4 is being.  After all, she's getting drowsy by now.  The Blossoms help me obliterate the traces of lunch in the kitchen and then...


1:00pm - Glory, Hallelujah, IT'S NAPTIME!  Blossom1 and Blossom2 get a rest time to read and play quietly in their room.  The length depends on how much schoolwork they've accomplished - "almost done" and they get a longer time, "too much goofing around this morning" and they get a 20 minute rest and then back at it!  I tuck in Blossom3 with her books and then I nurse Blossom4 to sleep.  If the morning was too crazy, I sometimes have quiet time with the Lord now, but otherwise, I read, rest my mind or nap too.  The door to my room is open.  This took some getting used to, but I found it necessary to making sure that Blossom3 follows the naptime rules, "Lay still and be quiet" and to have a slight handle on the progress in the schoolroom.  Overall, Blossom1 and Blossom2 are trustworthy enough to get busy at the appointed time, while I continue to rest. 

2:15pm-ish - Brownie in a Mug time!  Just kidding.  I do often come out and grab a bite of chocolate.  I tie up loose ends, see to the wash, the kitchen, the schoolroom, etc.  This is normallly when I check schoolwork and make sure mistakes get corrected.  If needed, I'll "crack the whip" to make sure that schoolwork is finished or being finished up for the day.  We used to faithfully have tea time around now.  It seems like we've only been hitting that occasionally lately.  I loved reconnecting with my daughters again during the afternoon.  I'm not worried about it.  There are seasons in raising children.  Right now, Blossom4 takes up lots of time (have I mentioned peeling her off counters, pianos, etc?), but I know we eventually come back around to things. 


3:30pm - Usually after I've gotten all the schoolwork corrected and the goals written for everyone for the next day, I will do computer work or whatever extra projects I need to delve into on that day.  It could be an email for our local homeschool co-op, an article my brother needs me to edit, some sewing to finish for a friend, etc.  By now all Blossoms are awake and/or done with schoolwork, so they are off on their own pursuits.  Reading is always a number one choice, heading outside to play with each other and the animals or scheming up another entrepreneurial endeavor.  The girlies and I usually straighten up the house a little now too.  I try to hit my house-cleaning rotation now too.  Sometimes though schoolwork takes precedence so I have to squeeze a chunk of cleaning in here and a chunk in there til it's done.


4:30pm - Someone sings out, "Daddy's home" and shouts of delight, a veritable stampede, shrieking (from the girlies and the cockatiel) and barking (from Jake, the Golden Retriever) ensue.  Mommy meanders to the kitchen and gets supper going.  Daddy and I pow-wow (with lots of excited interruptions) about what's on his agenda for that evening.  I get the Blossoms to help me with supper and we sit down to eat by 


 
5pm-ish - Supper time and someday I will get a word in edgewise!  :)  Lots of chatter and banter, honestly, it's one of my favorite times of day!  Daddy and I usually adjourn to the living room to chat while the Blossoms finish up.  They clean up the kitchen too - yes really.  I gotta say that I really appreciate this.  They even pack Daddy's lunch!  The evening seems to get muddled for here.  There's playing on the floor in the living room.  There's wash that gets folded.  There's hanging out as a family.  There are any of my daily house-cleaning tasks that didn't get done in the afternoon.  Sometimes I have to tie up loose ends on things (I think this is the definition of being a mom), but overall by...
 
7:30pm - I have the Blossoms put away clothes and head to showers.  I lay out Daddy's breakfast stuff, clothes and anything else that needs to be figured out for the next day.  The girlies hit up their bedtime routine of tidying up and doing personal hygiene stuff. 
 
8:30pm - Mommy is tired of corralling, so Daddy corrals the older three back to do the "ritual" of praying together, singing a song and talking about their day.  There may be tickling and giggling, but I hear it from afar.  I am nursing Blossom4 to sleep while I'm reading.  (and probably repenting for my 8:00pm digression of patience.)
 
9:00pm - Mommy and Daddy retire to the living room to wind down.  It's go-go-go here so we appreciate the time to read and chat and stare.  We usually listen for footfalls and reassure Blossom3 that she really has to go to bed now and remind her what comes if she doesn't...
 
9:30pm or 10pm-ish - We head back to bed.  The house is usually basically tidy by now.  I do my tour gathering missed items as we head back.  While my Rugged Mountain Man of a husband tends the fire and shuts the chickens in for the night, I check all the children, try to remember to brush my teeth and wash my face and then crawl into bed, praying for grace to live holy and be Godly again tomorrow.

A Crocheted Masterpiece and a Legacy

Sometimes a little surprise in a day is like a springboard.  I received a mysterious package in the mail from my aunt.  It turns out she decided to pass on the handmade coverlet that was daily displayed on top of my Grandma's cedar chest.  It is a crocheted wonder, especially to an amateur crochetist like me. 

 
We believe it to have been a wedding present to my Grandmother in 1950. 


Such beautiful work.  Such a treasure for me to possess.  What Aunt Gale did not know is that I had already been given a matching table-runner and doily a few years back when some of Grandma's things were given to the children and grand-children.  Unknowingly, Aunt Gale helped me achieve a full matched set!  It was meant to be!  :)


It was the kind of surprise that makes you grin to yourself every time you think of it. 

I realize that this is one of those earthly treasures that won't go be with me in Eternity, but when I look at it, the word "legacy" immediately comes to mind.  For some reason, it reminds me to think those sobering thoughts. 

"What legacy am I leaving my children?" 

"What are the true treasures I'm passing to them?" 

A beautiful piece that jogs such important reflections is worth having around.  I'm leaning toward draping it over the armoire in our bedroom.  When I awake to enjoy quiet time with the Lord, it will remind me to share Eternal things with our Blossoms.