Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Give Us This Day


We're out of eggs. My grocery planning didn't account for having to make a second cake this weekend due to a kitchen mishap (read: toddler "helper" accidentally dumping batter all over the floor). As a result, no eggs. It's Wednesday and my little three are a tangle around my legs while I pour three bowls of cheerios and still my heart for a moment of gratitude. Food for my babies and babies to feed. Blessings.

Our day is going to ramp up soon, but while they eat I scroll facebook, pick out a few articles to read. It's a tough time to be on social media and I need to tread carefully here, knowing how the news can affect my heart/day/family. A friend keeps telling me to focus on the light and, for me, that might just mean keeping the outside world at an arms length today. Striking balance between informed concern and self preservation is a tricky balance I'm still building. Focus on the light. Turn toward the light.

Today, the light is three bowls of cheerios, the children they are for and the milky way she grins at me from her high chair, calling to me to come get her. I'm thinking about the daily bread of God and how it comes to us in many forms. In the meeting of basic needs, sure - but also in the tender holding of hearts. The people He places in our lives to speak truth, be love, stand sentry. The gift of children. Hope.

The daily bread of God is the promise of God with us. God in this, with us. Even here. This day, these kids, my weary and splintered heart. Held and counted, redeemed and comforted.

Don't forget, not for one day, one moment, one second - that there is something more. Something bigger than this election, news cycle. Something more abounding in good than this world is steeped in evil. Something that promises to redeem the howling ache of every human soul. 

After breakfast, we'll start school. Beginning it as always with His words, His heart for us. Abiding just there. Asking, knowing the answer. 

Give us this day your daily bread.

Give us You. 

Your words, your hope, your presence, your comfort.

And He does.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Never Easier, Every Day Better

Monday morning and I'm knee deep. Every day just flows right on into the next. If at one time I felt like I had a bit of time to take a breath each evening, a stop gap between one full day and the next - yeah, those days are behind me.

That's the thing no one tells you about the kids growing older. In a great many ways, the benefits are huge. Yes, I have a child old enough to babysit - something my friends with only littles look to enviously. I know, because I've been there. I know because I remember being awestruck at a friends home when her teen made our kids pb&j with a baby on her hip while we visited and sipped lattes. I thought wow - you've arrived. She assured me, though I doubt I believed her - Ha! No. I haven't. It's still difficult - just a different sort of difficult.

I feel that these days where my kids aren't all tucked in and fast asleep at 8 pm, and I'm not getting that "break" I spent years getting used to. Where the school days are longer and much more intense, where we roll into 5 pm barely done with schoolwork and I still have a 9 person family worth of housework ahead. Where the concerns aren't so much a toddler losing their mind in the middle of the grocery store half as much as how this culture is affecting my kids and what on earth I can do about it. There's a lot less knitting, sewing, baking and writing for me these days. I haven't arrived. Not by a long shot. But I'm beginning to embrace that maybe that was never really the point.

This life, it's never been about "set it and forget it." I can know this intellectually, but in practice it still smarts a bit. It starts in the beginning, where we want a baby to sleep through the night - and maybe they do. For a while. Until they don't. On and on with parenting we go, ironing out this or that issue, thinking - yes! There! Done! Until it's undone. Or something else crops up. On and on and on. Add more kids, and it's that doubly, or triply, or x7 more. We want that because it seems easier. Less work. We want to be done with difficulty so we can just sit back and relax.

But, as He always does, God gives us all these maddening opportunities along with a gift. The gift of growth, of sanctification. Instead of allowing us to stagnate, to atrophy in our lives - He uses life to invite us further. Deeper. Beyond what we could have ever fathomed possible.

It's that hook that I can hang my hat on. How I can look out on a Monday morning, with yesterday's laundry in a pile at the foot of my bed, with last weeks bills on my desk, with tomorrow's unfinished homework looming, next week's lesson planning untouched, today's toddler tantrums ramping up and 7 kids worth of Halloween costumes in the back of my mind - and believe that He is present in this chaos.

It's never going to get easier. But every day is better.

He has a plan here.

Every day. For His glory and our good.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Begin Again

We've started back in that way we do, both resisting and loving the restructuring of our days into something a bit more productive, at least in the literal, pen-to-paper sense. Truthfully we've been producing things all summer - things like rest and contentment, things like space to breathe, things like friendships. It has been good, but it is time now, again, to get back to it. So we do - reluctantly at first, but getting better all the time. This year, 5 of my kids are being formally schooled. 8th grade, 6th, 4th, 2nd and Kindergarten.

On the first day, just after bible and prayers were hollered over the din of shrieking toddlers (isn't that how everyone prays?), I cracked open "A Wrinkle In Time" to share with my kids. This is my very favorite part of homeschooling. When I get to pull something dearly loved out of my past and hand it right over to my kids, like the precious heirloom it is. It has been many years since I've found myself in the pages of one of Madeleine L'Engle's award winning children's books but oh, it very nearly felt like the first time.

They just don't make books like this anymore. Not that I've seen for kids. The beautiful writing. The sophistication of ideas and plot lines and the grand supposition that, yes, you, little one, you can hang with a quick little lesson on quantum physics right smack dab in the middle of a child's fantasy. This type of book elevates thinking. It inspires and challenges, yet it avoids boredom by being unspeakably beautiful. It's real, good, thoughtful. It is art, life, science and faith all wrapped into one. It's a work of art, a labor of love.

Long after I closed the book and slid it into it's spot on the living room shelf, it stayed with me - just like a good book does. We went about our day with the usual swirl of laundry and personalities and meal time drama that consume our days, but my thoughts kept turning back. I think I know why.

Everything that I love about that book? Those are the things I love about our life. The things I want to cultivate in our days here together. A place where kids can be kids, but are spurred onward to be curious, to push themselves, to take on more and more responsibility, to ask questions. To seek the good, know the truth, rise above and claim rightness. To love life, art, science and faith. It's everything I want for my kids and, truthfully - myself. To know what it is to experience beauty in the every day.

To walk with God. To love one another.

It's the beginning of another school year and my friend tells me - "I feel like I've been run over." Yeah. That. But also? This:

Life is raw, real, relentless. People aren't perfect. Plans are almost certainly made to fall through and there never seems to be enough time.


And it's a good, good life.

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