Thursday, December 19, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #4

They are easily excitable.

True story. We can't buy presents this year. Now, before you start feeling sorry for my children, don't worry. They will get presents, but not from me. I've done my best to make this a memorable time for them. I simply cannot spend a whole lot of money. So something came up today and I needed them occupied. They wanted a movie. A new movie. I start to sweat. I wanted to give it to them, but I started thinking about my bank account and adding up the bills that were still due. I tried to entice them with cheap online rentals, but nothing seemed worthy of $2.99 or less.

So finally, I gave in. I said, "What the heck. You guys know I can't give you presents this year, but I will buy the movie you really want. Will you accept this as your Christmas present?"

You would have thought we were going to Disneyland.
"This is the best day of my life!" one exclaimed.

Do you know how many best days of their lives we've had? In Savannah's exaggerative spirit, about a million. At least a whole lot.

And we've never been to Disneyland.

Take joy in small things. Value things by what gives them joy, not by price. Know that above all, they want experiences- with you. Follow through with promises- don't discourage the excitement. Movies are great when used in moderation. Avoid excess. Learn things together. Get excited about nature. Celebrate personal victories. Visit local attractions. Get to know interesting people along with your kids. Read together. Read some more. Scroll through Pinterest together. Dream together. Pray together. Never, ever feel guilty for not giving them more stuff. Give when you can, but have peace when you can't. Children are cool like that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #3


I am terribly guilty of looking at circumstances and forecasting doom. I speak hope, but my heart faints. This past year, every day has been a battle for me to get to the place that I can smile with ease- for my children's sake. If they start to lose their optimism, woe is me. Countless times their innocence has saved me.

They ask if we can go out to eat, we say we can't afford it.
They ask if we can buy such and such,  we say there is not enough money.
They ask if we can go stay in a hotel, we say when Daddy gets a better job.
They ask when we can go to Hawaii, or Iceland, or Australia, or Laos, we say... uh, someday, I'm sure.

Oh, but their optimism is priceless.

Brooke offered to contribute her collection of pennies.
Savannah and Summer are on the search to find something they could sell.
Max told me he could buy more money for us. He also said that when he is big like Daddy he would go to work and buy me Pepsi.

Last week was bad. Really bad. I was pretty low when Brooke said, "My sisters and I think this has been the week of funniness." in the middle of her cartwheel. I thought, "humor might do me some good too."

Savannah told me that God told her that her and her sisters would be cartoon artists someday. I am certain that this is possible, for they are creative and determined. It is not my position to question that. They spend their days scripting and playing with their stuffed animals, developing characters, and decorating their room according to the appropriate scenes, all because they don't doubt their dream. Even if it doesn't turn out as they imagine, the skills they are developing are more than I could teach them with any book.

Go for it. Shoot for the moon. Renew your hope. Trust in God. Be careful in what you discourage. Find the beauty in what they do, there is always something praiseworthy. Find ways for them to develop their dreams. If something doesn't work out right away, encourage practice and perseverance. Join them. Let them see you step out of the box. No matter what, fight discouragement and depression with all of your strength. It has no place in the presence of children.

If you want to see my other posts in this series, click on the links below:
Quality #1
Quality #2

And a special treat: The internet premiere of "Porkupine" from "Porkupine's Lessons"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #2

Truth: Having children has done so much for me. Mostly it has made me more human. No child should ever be disregarded as insignificant. They are significant because they are children, and children possess qualities that make each and every individual one greatly significant. If you want to read my Quality #1: They love us, you can find it here.

#2: Children are great at failing.

The younger, the better. They fail all the time. When they learn to eat, walk, talk, write, you name it. They are constantly failing, and unless someone convinces them that they should be ashamed, they aren't.

A few months ago, Brooke came to me and explained that when she draws something, its okay to mess up because she can always make it into something else. So when it was time to make a poster for Trunks of Treats, the theme being scary scene with spider webs and such, she ended up with a submarine in the middle of it.

This caused instant outrage from her sisters. They were convinced she deliberately ruined their artwork. In tears, she came to me and said, "I was trying to paint a spider, but it didn't work so I made it into a submarine!"

Seriously. Who can't love that rationale? Well, at least this mother does. Not so much her sisters. Anyway, we got over it and she has not stopped drawing and painting.

And I hope she doesn't. I am scared to think of what my fear of failure has discouraged.

Cheerlead. Encourage. Defend if needed. For goodness sakes, don't be perfect. Fail with them. Teach them about the great people who failed. Praise them for learning something when they've failed. Give them grace, be patient, not critical. Teach them to laugh at themselves but don't push it to humiliation. Correct them without insult. Problem solve with them. Celebrate successes, no matter how small. Let them be good failures.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Child Qualities We Should Take Advantage Of #1

So simple, yet so overlooked. Probably because I'm too tired for twenty hugs a night and too frazzled for one more "helper" to make bread and so ready for them to learn to be independent. I've realized there are such qualities in young children that we wish we would have never unlearned, so it may be a benefit for them if I encourage it as long as possible.

I have not written a lot lately, partly because I don't have time, partly because I lost some desire. This, however, I think may be worthy of writing if for no other reason than for my own contemplation. I think I'll just take one at a time.

#1 They love us.

Even the ones that have not been treated so well, they love their parents in a way that will baffle those looking from the outside. Kids love their parents when they are young. That is a good thing. Lets let them love us.

Enjoy their gifts. Take their nagging for you to play a game with them as a compliment. Give them words of wisdom, they may listen better now than later. Make time with them a priority, they will be happier people. Tell them jokes. When everyone falls apart at once, fix it with hugs- or couch cuddles- maybe with a movie and popcorn.

Let loose. They think your jokes are funny, they think our nuances are necessary. They expect their daddy to come home and jump out from behind the door every night. They await my comic relief in the middle of an intense lesson. They anticipate a twirl hug after a time out.

Teach them what it looks like to love... to obey, to help out, to talk to them with respect. Teach them that we still get irritated with each other, but our love doesn't fade. They will get disciplined right along with unconditional love.

And take comfort, because they do love us. But beware, because they won't be children forever.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Get outside.

Breathe in fresh air, find a place for the kids to climb, find another lonely mom to talk to, and take in the remarkable beauty of nature.

Gather acorns. Take them home to paint. "Feed" the geese with dried up leaves. See who can swing the highest. Laugh at their silly jokes.

Walk away from the news.

Look at the small things like the veins in leaves.

Refrain from being overly protective. Let them have fun.

Don't worry if someone overhears them and thinks they are weird.

Let them make a few messes.

Messes are easier to clean when they are happy. Be thankful. Be happy.

Allow yourself to enjoy life. Teach them to enjoy it, too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I've Learned About Faith

So, a few years back, I wrote on how I planned to simply trust and obey. I've done my best, only it wasn't so simple.

It isn't so simple. For some of us, there is the knowledge that we are to do something, and this something is so incredibly exciting yet terrifying. For others, that something is waiting for it to be found. I believe there is this adventure waiting for us all.

In no way am I saying that what I have been through comes close to what others have- it is not about a comparison. That is what is so wonderful about God! He knows exactly where we need to be stretched, and he knows what we can take without being crushed. Meanwhile, he offers us really good things. These things will be missed if we are not looking for them.

I did and am doing what I believe God told me to do, I did it in a terrible world where we are dealing with really messed up people. One of those being myself. I did it, making myself a target for worry, anger, doubt, and the temptation to take a whole lot of revenge. My goal, however, was trust and live as close to Christ's example as possible.

Have you been there? Are you there now?

At the beginning of the journey, faith is romantic. It is exciting because you know how wonderful God is and how he will bring you through anything.

The seed is planted, but the weeds start to grow. They shoot up, choking out the light. They suffocate us and poke at us. They are so ugly. They are so strong and overpowering. And we think we might die. Literally, figuratively, physically, spiritually....mentally. Any one of these. We might just be goners, and our romantic story seems to suddenly stop with no good conclusion.

We think our faith has failed.
Others might see it as well.
God knows better.

My story is not over. I don't know my conclusion yet, and honestly, I hope it won't be for a while. This is my personal belief and experience.

What are we worried about? What do we think will be the end of us? Let me just put this thought in your mind.... What if there was a twist to the ending? What if at the very last second, we are saved? And what if everything that we'd suffered came together for good? What if it turned out to be the best story ever told? I think it may be. And that is the thought that will keep me going.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Good Things

When I was a kid, I would lie awake at night for what seemed like hours. It's not really a problem anymore (big surprise). However, it is funny how the strange kid struggles affect our decisions as parents. I cannot go to sleep knowing that my children are awake.

This little boy is wide awake, therefore, so am I. I am too tired to do something productive, so I watch him. He makes things with his plastic tools and makes mouth sounds with every move. Mouth sounds are very important. When he gives me a present to open, if I do not do the mouth sounds, he corrects me and just opens the darn thing for me.

Max: Now I am going to make a cake. (mouth sounds) Now I am going to put glue on it.
Me: On your cake?
Max: No. It's your cake. (mouth sounds) now I use a saw.

I'm tired, but amused. He loves to cook. He also loves his tools. Such a dude.

Four is a great age, in my opinion. He is mature enough to observe so much, and still a cutie pie.

He is also a stinker.

 (He just built me a table so I can eat my cake)

If there is a point to this, I'd like to tell you about some good things in my life, smack dab in the poorest days I've had.

1. My kids barely feel it. Whether it be hand-me-down clothes, (we home school- yeah, they think hand-me-downs are awesome), a fun outing with friends, Grandma and Grandpa's (a list of its own), or excitement out of doing things we have to in order to survive- like baking our own bread. Lots of bread. They are not at a loss for good times. This is due to people that are intentionally or unintentionally used by God, I have no doubt.

2. We get to be more creative. It's funny what we complained about when we had what we wish we had now. Thank God he put it on my heart before this struck to learn to be content. Now, we just roll up our sleeves and get creative. That is kinda fun. I hope it is not forgotten soon.

3. We are better at prioritizing. All of our resources have purpose when used correctly. Like time, money, and the things I bought when I had money. For example, in the past I might have made two trips away from home on a day like today: one to run errands and one to go to the birthday party. Instead, we did them all in one trip and saved a little gas.

4. I am more understanding to others that are hurting. That is self explanatory, I believe. Maybe God will use this when I am filled again.

5. I get to see God at work. He speaks, then he works. Sometimes he is quiet. I wonder if he is waiting to see if I will give up or gear up. Then, he speaks, he works. My redeemer speaks, than works. Job 19:25. Yes, God's word is alive and active in me. Is there anything more exciting?

I don't write these things to put a spotlight on my trials. I write because I know there is victory.

I think my boy is sleeping, and so must I. Here are some beautiful moments from September:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Few times in my life have been reserved for this feeling. I believe anguish is a symptom of hopelessness. Hopelessness is a result of unfulfilled expectations.

During those times, though, I would flip furiously through my Bible and search for treasures that would get me through the next few moments. I found bunches of them, underlining scriptures, writing thoughts, and wearing out the covers in the process.

That is where I fell in love with Him. In anguish.

This is what He told me, over and over:
"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither my ways your ways", says the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9

I did not understand how appropriate these verses were at the time.

In the middle of it all, nothing makes sense and I would give anything for something to stand on.

Then, after so long a time, something changes. Sometimes it is circumstances. Sometimes it is perspective. Sometimes, expectations.

We have lost the ability to look at things with a long term conclusion. After all, the best stories are the ones where we cannot figure out the ending, where we think there is no hope and suddenly there is. Can we trust that the ending is good?

In our recent hardship, we have had unbelievable peace. Most of the time. However, anguish has appeared to me in small doses. I don't want to talk about those times. But this is what God told me:

You prayed for this. You did not want a life of selfish, barely getting by. You wanted to learn to live fully, to not be dependent on material things. Trust me: you will get through this, and you will come out better than when you started.

In no way am I saying God is responsible for the bad things in our lives, but he does have a way of letting us see how bad things can be without trusting Him, which will eventually deepen our love for Him. I also think He delights in giving us a challenge to strengthen our own faith. We are still in this horrible world. The beauty of it all, though, is that He says that He will work all things for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). And yes, I love Him. And yes, when I come out of my anguish, I see things differently. I see the bigger picture. I see the joy that is greater than the pain of anguish.

I wonder, while it breaks His heart to see us in pain, how does God feel when we have a triumphant victory? We cannot have that victory if there is no pain.

From what we know, this time is not completely over for us. But we also know that this is a small speck on the timeline of our lives and eternity. This is part of our story, our adventure, our quest to understand what is the fullest life possible. What is it like to not fear? How far can we go thinking like that? How many great stories will we be able to tell when it is all said and done? If this is accomplished, my anguish is worth it. My scars are precious.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What I Wish I Would Ignore

In my thoughts the other day, I asked God why it was so hard for moms, particularly (but not limited to) stay at home moms, to understand their own value. We say it, some of us, but to really believe that doing dishes and laundry and making sure everyone brushed their teeth day after day is a noble task is nearly impossible.

The answer was clear as a bell to my soul, but less likely as eloquent coming from my fingertips. It was more of a picture than a sentence. But at my attempt to interpret, I think it is because we are looking for the wrong results.

We seek approval or evidence of accomplishment. A paycheck is nearly instant gratification, even an annual eval is something to work toward. But here I sit after a day much longer than 8.5 hours with no physical evidence of accomplishment and completely exhausted.

But God reminded me that He did not create us for deadlines and paychecks. He didn't make our children to become star athletes or make the honor roll. Even though these things are not bad, that is not how He measures our worth.

"Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created."- Revelations 4:11

Our lives are for a fairly simple purpose. To just be the creation that we were meant to be. Can we take pleasure in simply being? Working out of necessity, yes. But in the midst of simply being? Can we let God take pleasure in that? I think it sounds delightful.

Incidentally, immediately after God answered the question that I was certain would take weeks to answer, our art class solidified my celestial conversation. The lesson began by comparing Hans Christian Anderson's The Emperor's New Clothes to modern art. Rather than thinking for themselves, people have depended on the popular vote to dictate what is good.  The author continues:

"Art was intended to be sublime, to make us feel better about ourselves and to be uplifting, elevating man to a higher level. Art was intended to touch our hearts; to inspire us to think on those things which are good an pure. It seems as if with today's art, our hearts are set aside. Instead, the mind, or the intellect is what art strives to captivate."- Berry Stebbing, God and the History of Art
In light of viewing ourselves as the creation and God as the artist, our critics, including ourselves, are taking the focus off the original intent of who we were made to be. My friends, there is glory in the seemingly dull repetition of our days.

Our lives are a story- the best kind, where the climax proves to be uncertain to the mind, but to the heart, relentless hope that the ending will be sweeter than imagined. An annual evaluation only would ruin the ending, and assigning an hourly wage would cheapen the experience, no matter the price.

And God takes pleasure in it, if we will let Him.

I want to ignore the opinions of others screaming the foolishness of this. I want to erase the magazine-inspired standards of homemaking, the process of success, the intellectual analysis of every stinking thing. Why do we need full articles written about a celebrity's choice of shoes? It is ruining this canvas.

I want to escape the need get a pat on the back or double digit "likes" on a post. God doesn't care about these things. Instead, HE is worthy of glory and honor produced in our lives by simply basking in the act of being.

In typical God fashion, this principle is inescapable if any value is put on His written word. I am reminded of one of my favorite verses:

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? - Matthew 6:28-30
Let us have faith that in being who God created us to be, and living the story He has written for us, we will be bringing glory to God, and living an incredibly beautiful life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Annual Homeschool Blog Post

Every year, there is a brief homeschool/ non-homeschool mama pecking of the wounds.

It's kinda like being a dietitian. You tell someone, then they think you're a food Nazi.

You tell someone you homeschool, they get defensive because they think you think you are superior.

So here's the truth. This is why I homeschool:

God told me to. Yep, God talks to me. He told me to. Maybe He told you to, maybe not. If He did not, don't do it. I didn't grow up dreaming of having four children surround me fifteen hours a day and messing up any hope of sanity. One day, I walked into a meeting, rolling my eyes at the homeschooling speaker, and coming out a believer.  My mind was made up and I have never regretted it. That's my story.

You see, there are some things I didn't know about myself when my oldest was four. I didn't know it, but God did.

First, I didn't know that I would love teaching- and that I am good at it. I remember thinking how hard teaching must be. Truth is, I'd rather teach than clean. Homeschooling is great cleaning procrastination.

Second, I was spared elementary school Post Traumatic Stress. I'm pretty sure if I had to drop off any of my kids at a school, I'd go home and curl up in a fetal position. I'd rather avoid that than spend some time in peace and quiet. I have issues.

In addition, I failed school the first time around- not literally, but relatively speaking. I could have done so much better under different circumstances. Now I get to know-- really, really know what I missed. I also get to know that I am than I thought I was. God knows I needed that.

To be brutally honest, I'm introverted and I would rather avoid highly social activities. Birthday parties of classmates, listening to moms sitting around, talking about how their kids are too smart for the gifted program, while my son sticks straws up his nose and my daughter tells me one of her favorite hobbies is making funny faces at strangers. I like my little bubble. I like that I don't even subconsciously compare my kids with others. I like it that I can almost always hand pick the social activities we participate in. I'm in my comfort zone. And my kids are free to be completely goofy. I like that because.... well, it's free entertainment.

I have an excuse to buy paint and Sharpies, because any, and I mean any lesson can be turned into an art project. I can color with Sharpies and call it serious business.

Free labor. I teach cooking classes so they will make their own lunch. And they think it's fun.

I'm not a morning person.

No one is telling me where to be and when to be there. And if I get bored or overwhelmed, I can pack everyone up and go on a spontaneous field trip. Or a spontaneous trip to Grandma's for a few days.

My kids don't see what all the other kids have and want it, so I save a lot of money.

My kids love me and show it openly. You see, they don't know there is any other option, because I have brainwashed them.

There are a few other reasons like my kids get to learn at their own pace and I get to choose what and when they learn.... but mostly, it's because God loved me so much and knew exactly what I needed. It may look like a holier than thou sacrifice, but it really is just what was best for me, which is different than most of the people surrounding us.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Some Days, All I See is Gray Hair

And cellulite.  And then I worry about it and because of my worry I am absolutely sure that more gray hair just popped through my scalp.

How did I get to be such a negative thinker? How do I channel all kinds of negative and dooms day predictions on myself?

Well, I could tell you of all my bad experiences. They tend to justify my fears. Then, they make them worse. Indulging in self pity is like digging further down in a dark cave when you could just turn around and walk out.

You know what? What should have been the best years of my life were stolen away and replaced with blurs of sleepless nights, too little money, and a constant mess. Now, I have gray hair. In fact, I don't even remember how to "do" hair. And to think, all of my woes were due to four (and sometimes five) babies.

Wait. What? The moment I regret one second of not being a young beauty queen with a spotless house as a result of the ones I love... well, that means something is wrong. I would never hit the restart button if that meant living without one of these children (or my husband..).

I see beautiful, gray-haired women all of the time. I also see beautiful blonds and brunettes that have gray hair under that color. Life is not over.

This summer has had the potential of being one of the worst ever- and some days I give in and fall into my self pity. But for the most part, thank God, I have had joy.

Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice!- Phil 4:4

I love how Paul can say this, even when his circumstances didn't look great. Worse than mine, in fact.

And he wouldn't have said it if it were not possible.

On the fourth of July, we went to my parents' house. We had a cookout, waited for dark, and shot off some fireworks. It was a moonless night... very black. We were in the country, away from the house. I could see more stars than one can in the city, or even on a typical night in the country. They were everywhere. But something else caught my eye. Fireflies. Not just one here or there, but near the creek and around the cottonwoods, thousands. Tens of thousands, likely. I have never seen anything like it. I stood there for a good ten minutes in awe. The fireworks were fabulous. But the stars and fireflies were majestic.

And all I had to do was be in the right place and be still.

I wonder how many blessings I miss out on because I refuse to be still and prefer to worry. My biggest enemy steals my joy, kills my peace, and destroys goodness. And that is why it is better to rejoice always. That is the way to abundant life.

And now, because I could not get a picture,
and because of my firefly friends,
and because worry is a lie,
and with it everything is never as it seems (even while awake),
and just because it makes me happy:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


What is one thing that always needs to be done?

Dishes. And laundry, but I'm tackling one thing at a time.

Every appliance in my house is old, including my dishwasher. One day I was fretting over the fact it will finally fail soon- and then it hit me. Dishwashers are really a luxury. A want, not a need.

Slowly, I began to accept the idea of hand washing my dishes instead of using the dishwasher. I have to wash them ahead of time, anyway, and if I don't, the whole load ends up dirtier than before the machine washed them.

Then I started to get excited about it. Before we had a dishwasher growing up, I gained memories of drying dishes next to my mom- I remember kind of liking it :)

Currently, our mission is to wash dishes after each meal. I have reduced their chores to three a day after meals in order to focus on developing this habit. One girl sweeps the kitchen, one cleans off the table (everyone is responsible for taking their own plate to the sink), and one helps me do the dishes. Max vacuums under the table.

The very first thing we do is rinse and scrape as clean as possible, stacking dishes according to wash order.

If something- especially pots and pans- are extra greasy, I sprinkle some baking soda on it to soak up the grease. ( I put it in a small mason jar with a few holes poked in the lid).

We use this homemade soap.

The first sink is for washing. I like to soak them a few minutes before washing if needed. The water is as hot as tolerated, with a few squirts of soap.

Glasses first, silverware second, then dishes and baking pans.

Second sink is for rinse. I pour a little vinegar in the hot water because it helps with reducing water marks and greasy dishes. I love my soap, but it is not sudsy like the store brand and does not always get rid of grease. Vinegar does help. Lemon juice works as well.

Place on racks to dry. If possible, it is most sanitary to air dry. It's also less work :) Otherwise, towel dry. Make sure they are completely dry before putting dishes away in order to prevent bacteria growth.

It is best when we put some music on and work together, and then it is done- no waiting for the dishwasher to finish. I'm loving the elimination of the dishwasher!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Why I Love Refried Beans

When we would go to Wichita, dinner was at La Chanitas. I would get some sort of combo including refried beans with shredded lettuce and mild salsa. Since then, I've always loved refried beans.

Pork burgers. Like hamburgers but oh my gosh so much better at the county fair in the Pork Producer's booth.

Grilled T-bones. I seldom eat these at a restaurant because his were always the best.

I also blame him for my unhealthy love for ice cream. Braum's.

Dads make great memories.

I had a preventative talk with Savannah about boys the other day. I said she didn't need to worry about dating and boys until she was ready to get married, which will be for a while.
She shrugged her shoulders and said, "That's okay, I'll just date Daddy until then".

For them, it will be eggrolls or sticky rice.

Dos Reales' chicken salad.

Drinks with things floating around in them.

And ice cream.

Friday, June 7, 2013

These Things I Know

My children, excited about our vacation starting very early in the morning, decided to go to bed at 7:00 so they would be well rested.

It's 11:00 and they are still awake. And so am I, very much so.

I have not blogged much lately. Partly because I am too tired, because I've spewed my heart out into cyberspace enough, and because I don't know how to properly communicate burning thoughts and lessons my life brings.

Max will turn four in a week. I started this blog a few months after he was born. Was there life before Max? My world was changed at that point. Not just because of him, but because that was when I started homeschool. That was when my niece, Ellie came to stay with me. Since then, she's left but will forever be a part of our family. We've had little, we've had more... dreams fulfilled and dreams still in expectations. Dreams that died out. It's been hard. It's been a blast. It was and still is the desires of my heart. All of it.

I feel like a completely different person than Wendi four years ago. I have a long way to go.

I have resigned to teetering between being a teacher at heart and reluctant to open my mouth. I want to study and teach homemaking for the mother that has all odds against her, but I can't do this until my heart is right. God has shown me homemaking is a matter of the heart. Mine must have been in need of much training, because he just keeps showing me things. And I appear to be failing at homemaking.

This are the things, however, I know:

  • There is always something to be thankful about, and those are the things you must set your mind on, or joy will not have power in your life. Joy is essential. So is thanksgiving. If you cannot think of anything, ask God.

  • You cannot expect God to bless your plans. Learn His plans, obey, and expect abundant blessings. If you don't know what His plans are, ask God.

  • Learn to be content in the present with an expectation of future increase. Be who you were made to be, tuning out the standards of anyone else and looking to God's word as a user manual for your life. Disesteem the world's opinion of you and delve into the reality of who you really are. If you don't know who you are, ask God.

  • Accept God's grace. He knows where you are. Grace when you miss a payment. Grace when you can't keep up with the laundry. Grace when you are not sure how to handle a child. Accept the grace and then ask for wisdom. There has been no perfect wife or mother yet, and you won't be the first. Need wisdom? Ask God.

  • Don't expect your children to fit into your busy life. Slow down and be there for them when and where they need you... and loosen up when and where they need you. They are not here for you, but you are here for them. This is like planting seeds that will produce much good in the future.

  • Allow the Holy Spirit to work in every area, especially when you cannot do it yourself. Watch to see what He will do.

  • Involve the kids. Let them help when they are willing. Expect them to even if they are not willing. It starts as an added chore for us, but ends as great help for us and good work ethic for them. Inviting them to follow our example is priceless.

  • No matter how much chaos surrounds us, keep yourself in perfect peace. Peace is where the life of the home starts.

  • Bad things will happen. These are temporary. To handle them, see above.

  • Good things will happen. Celebrate them, then repeat above.

  • Above all, magnify God. Study His word, and resolve to live in it as truth. This seems radical since we've been lied to so much. It is, however, essential for the very same reason.
Good night and God bless.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Messy Goodness

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of Lights, who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17

God is good. He gives us good things. The good things are from God. These things, however, are not safe. They are not the easy route, and common sense may question them.

Not everything is good, but the good things are from God. And God makes good things come out of the things that are not good.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Romans 8:28

These truths I know. But to be quite honest, I just don't understand God. If God is good, things should be good. And by that, my understanding would convince me that good means easy. But it doesn't. It should mean safe. But that's not it.

It should mean that anyone that calls themselves a follower of God is good, but they are not. But God delights in them and passionately cheers them on, tirelessly encouraging the failures.

It should mean that this is a beautiful world- and it is. Yet it is the most horrible of worlds.

There is no neat and perfect box to put my faith in. This is messy. Still, God is my refuge and Jesus is my Savior.

"But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?” - J.R.R. Tolkien, Return of the King

May I humbly suggest this thought to anyone who can relate to the mess I'm in? Find something good and thank God for it. Not something safe. Not something that makes sense. Something good.

When your messy, quarreling children cut off your lilacs and give you a bouquet, be thankful.

At the end of a long, confusing day, watch the sunset, hear the birds, smell the lilacs, and be thankful. These things are from God. They are good. There is good. We need to see it.

"And Little Child understood that the more he told the stories about the King and the King's people, the less fear he felt and the less fear was in the dark room. Amanda was right: SIGHTERS ARE NOT AFRAID." -David and Karen Burton Mains, Tales of the Restoration

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Joy Killers: Mom Wars

I was having a wonderful day at the park a few weeks ago. It was warm and swarming with children. Mine wanted to climb the rock wall. All four of them climb up and jumped off the 5 ft. ledge- except for Max, whom we carried off after each accomplished climb.

Some parents with young children told them they were too young to try. It took all I had to not roll my eyes. Why wouldn't you let them? As I sat in judgment, a three or four year old girl ran past. She must have been 50+ pounds. She couldn't even lift her little legs high enough to climb without help from her mom I started thinking of all kinds of health problems this child will have due to her condition.

Then God whispered, "You don't know what that mom has been through. Pray and don't judge."

As someone who is infuriated with parents that complain about the inconvenience of children,  I find myself being far too judgmental. I see them missing out on all they joy kids bring and leaving a less then favorable legacy. However, I don't know the whole story. After all, parenting is hard for me and I have a participating husband and an occasional grandparent to help. I have my pet peeves, but then again, I have been judged as well.

I'm not careful enough.
I shelter my kids too much.
I'm denying them of a social life.
They are not in enough activities.

In fact, the more I judge, the more I feel judged. Matthew 7:1 anyone?

It doesn't matter which side I'm on, it just doesn't feel good.

To stay at home or to work.
Private, Public, or home education.
Natural food vs. at least they are fed.
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate.

Really, the fact was that day, that there were parents who cared enough to take their kids to the park. That is something to be thankful for.

Is it possible to train our minds to encourage before judging? To see that our situations are unique and each family must make the right decision for them? To know that we are not God?

From where I stand, I seems to me that the number one reason for discouragement and depression as a parent is the inability to meet other people's expectations. This is time and effort wasted in the areas not meant for us. It is a joy killer. In fact, it is bondage. It is an inability to flourish in our unique gifts as a family. We set made-up and unrealistic expectations that will always leave us as failures.

But God's expectations are full of freedom and joy. They fit right into our very makeup. They were written for us by our creator. Oh, to live each day delighting in Him, letting Him direct us.

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 37:4-6

Moms, we will enjoy or job much more and do a better job at it if we stop letting others blindly influence our family decision and refrain from having all the answers for someone else. Godly council is good, but it is void of judgment and pride.

Let's encourage each other instead.

Monday, April 29, 2013


I love how, as students of the Bible, we can read over and over something our whole life and one day we suddenly get it.

His mercies are new every morning.

Mercy= already paid for.

Each morning presents a whole new pile of unwrapped packages, filled with grace (undeserved favor), dreams, opportunities, and forgiveness. Today didn't go so well for you? That's okay, tomorrow presents new mercies. Already paid for.

Lamentations 3:22-23

New King James Version (NKJV)
22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
If we woke up each morning knowing this, how would it change our day? How would we treat others different? How would it affect the mood of our household?
It reminds me of spring; a new start, a fresh perspective.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Super Momma

Our family is quietly in crisis mode. Thank God He is Almighty cause we'd be up a creek if He wasn't.

James says to "count it all joy"...."endurance produces perfection"....

I say, "enough already".

Which is probably why I need the testing of my faith.

So, I've been thinking a bunch about God's will. What is it? Why doesn't it just fall into our laps?

God answered with this little love note:

Romans 8:28-39.

I'd like to share some thoughts with you.

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

I just want to clear this up- If you are a Mom, that is currently your purpose. At least one of them. Even if those kiddos weren't planned. They are yours, you are theirs, and God has promised to cause everything to work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to that purpose.

29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory. 31 What can we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won't God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else? 

Can I just say here that there are those that try to come against us moms: Critics. Those that compare. Gossipers. Standard setters. Perfectionists. Our own thoughts. These are some of our worst enemies. But knowing God's love overcomes them all.            

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? Will God? No! He is the one who has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? Will Christ Jesus? No, for he is the one who died for us and was raised to life for us and is sitting at the place of highest honor next to God, pleading for us.    

I was doing exercises and saying scripture this morning as I looked up at my ceiling fan, which happened to be covered in dust. Again. I'm sure it's been a while since I've cleaned it, but it's such a big deal to do that I feel like it is too often! It bummed me out for a second. I started to replace my scripture with self criticism.

Oh, you'd better believe that was not a thought from Jesus, my savior! He died for me, for goodness sakes! Why would He die to justify me and then condemn me for some dust on a ceiling fan? Instead, He reminded me not to let some dust get in the way of all the goodness He planned for today. My savior's love covers dust, dirty dishes, stains on the carpet, parenting failures, late payments, and messy hair.

         35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? 36 (Even the Scriptures say, "For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep." ) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away. 39 Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.   

You know what? I think God created us to be super moms. Even better than, in fact. Our worldly idea of a super mom is instant defeat, but trusting in His glory, justification, and love will result in successful completion of the task we are purposed for, without the burnout. Think about it. If we are working though the knowledge of His favor and unquenchable love, our love will not be drained, but rather replenished, which results in an even greater realization of His love for us.

Purpose that has results, undeserved favor, and unquenchable, unconditional love. Isn't that what women desire?

Go rock your day, super mom.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Homemaking Psych 101

My work made me go to this class to help us understand how to handle relationships better.

If you work in a psychiatric facility, you tend to self diagnose- and many times even get solicited or unsolicited diagnosis from co-workers. This class had me self analyzing the entire time.

This is one thing I learned. If there is something wrong- stress, worry, fear, anger- your frontal lobe does not work properly. Now, they were talking about kids and school, but I was self diagnosing. I am not a psychiatrist or any kind of doctor, so this is all just a mom that thinks too much. NOT PROFESSIONAL. And I threw away my notes. But, maybe I have a point.

According to eHow, the frontal lobe controls planning, organizing, speech and language production, movement, emotions, and problem solving.

Moms (homemakers) tend to worry about a million things. This job employs a person that tends toward taking on stress and fear, which often leads to anger. Do you see where I am going?

So, I tested out my theory. (with a little conviction for encouragement)

Instead of waking and thinking about all of the problems and to-do lists, before any of that is allowed to enter my mind, before my feet hit the floor, I did this.

1) Magnified God in my thoughts.
2) Handed the day over to Him.
3) Recognized that He has a perfect plan for my day, and I just have to be close to Him so I can hear what it is. Resolved to obey it.
4) Be blessed with contentment.
5) Be filled with the Holy Spirit and it's fruit. (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, and self control.)


My house is not any cleaner, but I do clean more. Maybe over time it will be, we shall see.
Even so, I'm just at peace.
I have less brain fog.
I know what I should be doing, and if I don't I know exactly how to find out.
I'm accomplishing things I couldn't have before.
Things just work out for good.

I like my theory.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Very Own

"Mom, I wanna read the Yo-Yo book." (book about the letter Y)

"Ok, go get it."

(Brings back 2 books)

"No, I want TWO books."


(We read two books)

"Alright, we are done."

"No, no. I want....(holds up fingers: one, two, three, four) I want FOUR books. That's one more."

"No, that's two more."

(BIG smile..)

"TWO more?"

(Runs over to get his two books)

We have our very own blessings that God gives us. They are unique and intentional, but often missed because we are too busy coveting a blessing meant for someone else.

My very own gift wrapped blessing from God (besides the blessing of my family) is the fact that I have been able to spend so much time with my children. Laughing with them, reading with them, teaching them, and just seeing them as people. People that will soon discover what their very own blessing is. No amount of money could ever replace the joy this fact has given me.

I thank God for my family and the gift of being a (mostly) stay at home mom, that my husband shares my desire for this, and that I have a loving, personal God that planned this just for me.

What is the blessing that God intended for you?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Joy Breaks

I woke up pondering... to go to work or not to go... the forecast said it should have been drizzling freezing rain, but it was not. Work is 35 minutes away, and one windshield wiper needed to be replaced. I did not want to turn around once I got there... I played it safe. The snow did not start until 4:30.

I need to work. Suddenly, our income has dropped to next to nothing. Then a snowstorm hits. Missed opportunities.

Meanwhile, plans are in the works. Big plans. Big changes. They are almost so real it's hard to believe it has not happened yet.

Roller coasters of emotions have consumed me the last two weeks. Not the kiddie roller coasters.. the ginormous ones that drop hundreds of feet and loop-de-loop upside down.

And life goes on. Sore throats and late meals. Fights. Laundry.

Today, I am numb. I see messes of snowflake cut outs and snow ice cream spills, no clean pj's and unfinished projects.

Yet life does go on. Children need to play and smile and laugh and move around. And so do I.

I don't really know how it happens, but gloom seems to creep up like a shadow and follow me around until a ridiculous amount of time has passed and I have accepted that I need to simply make it until bedtime.

But I don't. I can choose joy. I love the realization (that I have to re-learn daily) that I don't have to be depressed about a lack of money or a disorganized home. So what? I can, at most any time, stop and accept my joy. I can read something funny or pillow fight my girls or eat cookies. Or ice cream.

I can eat my ice cream and stare at my gloom with a smile on my face.

"You prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies..."-Psalm 123:5

You know, that ice cream tastes even better when it is a victory celebration. Pillow fights are sweeter. Jokes are better. Don't forget to take joy breaks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

More Than Conquerors

Maybe my problem is just that I think too much.

I used to think that it was honoring God to talk about my shortcomings and show how He still came through for me. Then I was perceived as someone who needed therapy. Or at least encouragement for some self esteem elevation. Somehow I managed to draw the attention back on to myself and not to exalt God.

My self esteem is just fine- if that's what you want to call it. I know well what my strengths are as well as my weaknesses. I also know I am so far from perfection in my own self. I probably know this because I think too much.

I know that even if I am good at something, I can still learn something more to do better. Always. So I will never attain perfection even in my strengths. I know that if I am around a group of critical people and leave before anyone else, they will discuss my downfalls. I know my enthusiasm is sometimes mistaken for boastfulness. I know I am misunderstood at times, and at times I fail those that put too much faith in my works. I know that I am learning day by day, so if I think that I have figured out one thing that works, it may be only for that season in my life- just for where I am currently. In a few years, however, a greater wisdom will have carried me forward. Therefore I cannot assume myself an expert on anything.

And even though these things bother me from time to time, I know that none of them matter. At least I know that now that I have had a glimpse of God's love for me.

From Ephesians 3:
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

And know that I have an idea of God's love, I can have confidence that I have an all powerful, all loving God in my corner. It is no longer an obligation to live for Him, but a privilege to take part in the adventure of faith that is a sure win and exhausts all doubts.

"I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way he loves us."

I want nothing more. So when an opportunity presents itself to give, combined with compassion and passion from the Holy Spirit... oh, what an honor to be a part of blessing the socks off someone else.

And if the particular method of blessing is giving, I am relieved because giving does not take beautiful words or the right appearance. The action itself says it all. This is when God takes what I have to give and makes it something beyond measure to someone else.

I think too much. I know all too well what is against me. And none of it matters.

From Romans 8:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[j]
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Loving Where We Are

Loving Kansas (and some of Missouri) the last few weeks... these are in no particular order.

Kauffman Museum Newton, KS

Kansas City Zoo, Africa

Kanza Prairie, Manhattan, KS

Zoo again

Kanza again

Pillsbury Crossings, Manhattan, KS

KSU/KU Women's basketball

Cartoon Network exhibit, Exploration Place, Wichita, KS

Wichita HS North sculpture art (live owl on roof)

Great Plains Nature Center, Wichita, KS

More Exploration Place

More Kansas Day activities at Kauffman Museum