Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If You Give a Mom Some Laundry

If you give a mom some laundry, she’s going to want a tidy dresser drawer to go with it. So, she’ll go to the boys’ room and open the drawer.

Opening the drawer, she’ll notice that some of the clothes are too small. So, she’ll go down to the basement to get the storage bins.

Rummaging through the storage area, she’ll notice how hard it is to maneuver in such a messy place. She’ll want a shelf to put things on. Right away. So, she’ll run up to the computer to see if there’s anything on Craigslist.

Finding two storage shelves in Vancouver will make her so excited that she’ll hop in the van and go pick them up.

Coming back home again, she’ll determine that the games should go on the large shelf. Arranging the games on the shelf will inspire her to organize the toys, too. She might get carried away and rearrange every shelf in the basement.

When she’s done, she’ll probably want to take a nap. Thinking about naps will make her wonder if the boys’ beds have been made. So, she’ll run back up to their room.

Seeing the beds will remind her that the sheets need to be washed. She’ll have to wad up the sheets and haul them back down to the laundry room. When she opens the washing machine, she’ll see that there’s already a load waiting to be dried.

Thinking about dry clothes will remind her that she still has laundry that needs to be folded. So, she’ll run back upstairs to her basket and fold the laundry. And chances are, if she has a basket of folded laundry, she’s going to want a tidy drawer to go with it.

Content inspired by my crazy life, rhythm inspired by Laura Joffe Numeroff's irresistible children's book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Food Edition

I find comfort in the knowledge that my children, if left to their own devices, will not go hungry. While up to my elbows sorting through the kids' summer clothes yesterday, the dinner hour slipped by. Aidan, not wanting to disturb me, made a "salad" for everyone to share. The ingredients? Rice cake crumbs, pretzel twists, banana chunks and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. He passed around spoons, pleased with the fact that he was feeding his siblings and not putting pressure on mom. They enjoyed their little feast on the front porch and then merrily continued their play with no further dinner expectations. I was tempted to call it good. After all, the "salad" did include items from three food groups . . . . Not to worry, though. We eventually had a real sit-down meal -- Jamie furthered the kind gesture by picking up Papa Murphy's. I love summer.
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Saturday, June 20, 2009


The stomping of eight little feet was followed by a sudden crash and then an ominous silence. Jamie and I listened (snickering, I’ll admit), waiting for penitent children to find us and confess. As we waited, we were given an interesting glimpse into the personalities of our fascinating and remarkably diverse little people.

Drew, ready to take responsibility, commandeered his troops with the charge, “C’mon, guys, we need to go tell Mom and Dad.” Bethie, the minimizer, downplayed the catastrophe: “Well, at least we know it can be fixed . . . .” (Hmm. It must have been Avery’s picture -- it’s happened before.) And then there was Aidan, who came up with the brilliant, panic-laden suggestion, “No -- we've got to HIDE it!!!” (Oh, my son . . . .) Finally, Miss Avery Kate (I can just see her with hands on hips) prepared the crew with the dreaded reality, “Mom’s gonna be ANGRY.”

Well, it was the picture, it was repaired, and it was confessed (well, actually “tattled” is the more appropriate verb). Mom was not so angry after all, but instead painfully aware that a little bit of extra training might need to happen in the area of taking responsibility for our actions!
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Because I Love You

The slip of paper caught my eye as I hastily gathered a stack of mail from the kitchen counter. I grasped the message and read again. How could I have forgotten so quickly? How terribly human I am. It had been so profound, so life-giving at the time. It brought me back to that morning in early June . . . .

I had come downstairs, expecting to find solitude. Instead I was greeted by my Aidan-boy, sitting in the sunny kitchen nook with a smile on his face. Not a bad way to start the day. As I prepared water to boil and scooped the usual two cups of oats, I noticed that I had a shadow. A shadow shaped like a happy six-year-old boy. When I turned, he turned. When I stepped, he stepped. "Do you know what I'm doing, Mommy?" he asked, giggling. "What are you doing, Aidan-boy?" I smiled in return. "I'm following you because I love you." My mother-heart melted. "Oh, Aidan. I love you, too." I could have gobbled the child up on the spot.

And then his words struck something deep within. Because I love you. Of course. We follow because we love. I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and recorded Aidan's words, eager to revisit the thought later. But, according to its custom, the day meandered on. We ate our oatmeal, we moved forward into the day, the week, the month, and somehow that piece of paper, that glimpse of truth, got mixed up in the mess of life . . . and I forgot.

I forgot that I follow because I love. I follow not because anyone has told me to do so, not even because I've decided on my own that it's the best thing to do, but because His love compels me. He has made His love so attractive, so completely holy and desirable, that it is folly to follow after anything else. I know the oatmeal mornings will continue to slip by one by one, and I know the weeks and months will continue to startle me with their brevity. Yet I also know that the Lord will gently nudge my forgetful, human heart that I may proclaim again and again, I'm following You because I love You.
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Friday, June 12, 2009

Cultivating Weeds

"But Mommy, they're so pretty!" Bethie insists. I, Mother Killjoy, am not blinded. They must go, lest they invade our precious vegetable garden. I yank mercilessly at the morning glory. It doesn't stand a chance. "Can't I just keep one?" she begs. I relent. "Yes, you may keep one." She gently gathers the roots and transfers her plant to a little dish. She waters it daily, and it survives. Because morning glory always survives.

I must admit, the bright white trumpets that greet me in the morning are attractive, and it almost seems a pity to wipe out the seemingly innocent population. Until I remember what happens when I let them go. They simply don't stop -- at least not around here. Their greedy little roots grab onto anything that resembles soil, and their vines twine hungrily around every plant, bush and tree. It's just not worth it. The work they create far outweighs any pleasure they bring in the morning.

My aunt, who lives in Nevada, is horrified that morning glory is considered a weed in my small corner of the world. She actually buys the stuff, waters it, and tends to it very carefully, that it may survive the desert climate. And, because it isn't an invasive, mutant nuisance in Nevada, there's nothing unlovely about them at all. On the contrary. The beautiful purple blossoms bring much joy and satisfaction, and we triumph in her success.

I'm pretty quick now to recognize the emerging green shoots here in Camas, and I pull them up as early as I can without a second thought -- at least the little shoots in my yard. The morning glory in my life, well that's a different story. I'm startled when I consider the number of blossoms that I might be cultivating. The blossoms that seem innocent and attractive on the surface, but might have actually become . . . weeds.

Every time I let something take over -- even something "good" -- I run the risk of squeezing the life out of surrounding plants. For instance, reading is a good thing, right? It's good in Camas, it's good in Nevada. However, is reading "good" when my children desperately need my attention? At that point it ceases to be "good" for me in Camas (no matter how edifying the material), because it has negatively affected the growth of my children. It may still be perfectly "good" for my aunt in Nevada, but not for me, not for that particular moment.

This translates to so many other areas that I'm a bit scared to look at my life square in the face and fess up. What about homeschooling? It's a good thing for my family right now. But not when I let it take over . . . . Not when it squeezes out relationships with the neighborhood children, and not when the idealization of it overshadows my relationship with my own children.

How about my computer? (Yikes!) Email? Facebook? Craigslist? Netflix? . . . . My blog? . . . . They can all be good and fun and useful. But they can also take over. Before I know it, the frantic work and worry outweighs the pleasure and goodness, and the other "good" in my life is neglected. Soon I'm tending a garden that may appear on the surface to be pretty, but has really become overrun with relentless, life-sapping weeds. It's just not worth it.

In the checkout line at the grocery store last week, my cashier sighed. I jokingly asked him if he'd rather be somewhere else. (It was such a beautiful day -- I certainly wished to be elsewhere!) "Yeah," he said. "In front of my computer." No hesitation. His first choice, given all options. The computer. Something good turned into a weed.

As I gaze across my life garden, I'm painfully aware that I may have some neglected weeding to do. Thankfully -- oh, thankfully -- I don't have to do it alone. My Father, the One who gardens with such tender expertise, will guide me. When I spend time with Him in the garden, my eyes are so clear, so focused. I can see the shoots that need to be pulled, recognizing them for the weeds that they are, and I can see the plants that should be cultivated because of their goodness and beauty. I will be like a well-watered garden, my frame will be strengthened, and I will find my joy in the Lord (Isaiah 58). Now that's worth it.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Morning Whisper

I tiptoe quietly down the stairs, my hand skimming the rail. Bare feet touch the cool hardwood floor, and I step even more strategically lest the cranky floorboards disturb the blissful slumber of four small people. Just a few quiet moments in the morning; a prayer on the porch, a cup of tea, a chorus of songbirds . . . a whisper from the Lord. Not far into that whisper, a little jammie-and-flip-flop clad girl joins me. Her warm body snuggles deep into my lap and I stroke the fuzzy braids that remain from the day before. Rubbing her eyes, she quickly decides to join the morning chorus and falls to chattering like a little chickadee. The birdie blythely finishes off my tea (without so much as a by-your-leave), then skips off to visit her favorite climbing tree . . . . Yet somehow my communion has not been disturbed. Because I am at peace, my morning has been enriched. And, most precious of all, I am given the chance to share that peace with a wee, small friend.
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