Gratefulness 13

I am grateful for child training.

Laundry at my house–I start it usually with a four or two year old helper. Depending on what’s in the load, I hang up the things that can’t or don’t go in the dryer. In the summer, we hang everything on the clothesline, but in the winter I use hangers and a couple of big drying racks. I dry all the little stuff that annoys me to hang or that we don’t have room to hang. One of the girls hangs diapers and what not that goes on the drying rack they can reach. One of the girls switches the laundry. One of the girls pulls out the clothes from the dryer. They fold and put away all the children clothing. It’s easy peasy pie with the family closet system.

I am so thankful because now laundry is not the overwhelming chore it used to be, nor is it all on me.

Meals at our house–I have a kid of the day helper–Five weekdays and five kiddlets. I couldn’t have planned it better. We ‘cast lots’ (eeny-meeny-miney-moe) to help with big desserts like the gingerbread pumpkin trifle Brielle is making or extra meals. It pays off in spades to let a two year old help you in the kitchen because then by the time they are six, they can make your and Dada’s panini all by themselves when you get accosted by a ravenous infant.

What? Doesn’t everyone make pizza without pants?

Chores at our house–generally speaking, the chiddlers are just expected to do whatever is asked of them with a joyful heart. Aviana is responsible for care of our rabbit and feeding the barn cats in the morning. Brielle is in charge in the evening. Cadrian and Brielle are responsible for emptying the dishwasher. Aviana, the clean dishes off the counter and loading it. My policy is don’t ask an older child to do a job that a younger child is capable of doing. 
Of course, you have to teach it to them and show them carefully, and it may be faster to do it yourself initially, but I’m telling you, it is worth it! I am so thankful for child training.
***This post is dedicated to Barbara Curtis. She is the one who emphasized to me the importance of child training. She has been a mentor to me ever since I first became a mom. . She died at the end of October due to a sudden and massive stroke. (Now would be a good time to make sure you are right with God because you never know when the ailments and accidents of our fallen world would come to you. Please know that God loves you beyond all measure and wants you to put yourself under His authority–it’s all His anyway but He gave us free will to choose Him. Feel free to email me if you would like to know more.) She left behind a husband, 12 children, four of whom have Down’s syndrome, children-in-law and grandchildren. She also left behind a wealth of knowledge, information, help, advice and truth in her books and blog. She will be sorely missed.***
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Happiness Factor

Sunny morning spent with friends. Prayers, tears, lots of laughter (even some snorting), chatting, affirming. Wonderful food. Filling my tummy, my head and my heart (not necessarily in that order).

I was so fulfilled this morning. Kevin and one of the other dads took our kids on a playdate manly outing, while the mamas enjoyed one another’s company and celebrated the impending adoption (after 3 long years) of one of our dear friends.

Plus I feel GOOD. Not totally bounding out of bed bright eyed and bushy tailed good –but who are we kidding?–I don’t think I’ve done that since my age got into double digits.

Even eggs are happier when they look good.

The month of February was plagued with so much illness and pain that I didn’t really enjoy myself or my life. I’m ashamed to say that my joy was hard to come by, and still, even though I try to give thanks in all circumstances and rejoice in the Lord, my happiness seems largely dependent on my circumstances. I am better than I used to be, and with God’s grace and strength, I am going to keep getting better.

What boys do on a playdate manly outing

Regardless, I’m so thankful that today’s happiness factor is

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Are you tired or lazy?

This was the subject line in an email I received from a trusted faithful woman. It’s supposed to be motivational as she’s doing a series on moving from lazy to self-disciplined which is a good thing. In truth, her email was rather encouraging, and as well as honest.
But it was the subject line that got my attention and my point is that our worth isn’t measured by what we accomplish.

We live in such an achievement oriented society. It’s ridiculous.

Now granted, I have moments of selfishness and times when I want to do absolutely nothing. Sometimes I give in to the urge like yesterday when I watched several episodes of a show on Netflix without even knitting or mending or nursing while doing so. Sometimes I don’t.
But I don’t think that makes me lazy.
It’s frustrating because I look around this house and all the picking up that needs to be done, the vacuuming, the wiping, the corner scrubbing and flat surface dusting.
Here are some of things I did today:
Picked up and put away several things in my creativity studio
Made bread
Read aloud for a really long time with many many interruptions and
Kept my temper
Made Italian stew with fresh vegetables from my garden
Played a learning game with my girls
Made a couple of fabric covered magazine bins out of a diaper box
Cut up some tomatoes and put them in the freezer
Sharked the kitchen
Had a Jingle Bell Rock dance party with my boys
Roughhoused with my children
Organized a couple of cabinets
Did all the dishes
Now–the chiddlers are all in bed. I am done. Tired. Mentally worn out. Ready for some relaxing. But there is still a ton to be done. Everywhere I look there are things to put away at the bare minimum, not to mention the cinnamon in the bathroom sink or the shredded cheese on my kitchen floor.
If I don’t do it, am I lazy?
Thankfully, God loves me with an overwhelming love and doesn’t base that love on my achievements, paltry as they may be. If I can only truly grasp that concept, really ‘get it’ into the core of my spirit, it would be a lot easier to let go of what I haven’t gotten done.

(pictures in this post are purely gratuitous)
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Changing Church

I just finished an amazing book called Finding Organic Church. I’d never heard the term before, but I was looking into “house church” and came across it in my library’s system.

It. Is. an. Amazing. Concept.
Most likely that’s because it’s from God. 🙂 It’s church like in Acts. It’s church with God as the author and designer, when men get themselves out of the way. It’s church like the ones Paul planted (and you may have noticed, they were not without their problems). It’s not perfect, because anything with us involved never is. It’s just more Him, less us. NO one teaching, everyone listening to God’s leading. Living close. Living raw. Living Him.
It’s hard to describe because we think of church as a place we go. We don’t think of church as a way of being. We’ve completely altered God’s plan for church. Googling “Organic Church” will bring you to many places that can tell you about it more eloquently than I, but I’ll give it a try (with my notes from the book), since you’re here anyway.
Organic church is basically a group of Christians who are living as a shared-life community under the headship of Jesus. Not a Bible study, prayer meeting, song fest, pot luck. No one dominating. No one passive. No one leading.
The church meets to reveal and display Jesus Christ together out of a real, experiential life-giving encounter with the Lord.
I so want that.
I would think that it wouldn’t be possible, except the author has been living it for the past 20+ years.
I love my home church, don’t get me wrong. But I do think that institutional church isn’t what God has in mind for me anymore.
I’m just waiting to find out what exactly His plan is.
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You can’t always choose

what will happen to you, but you can choose your response to it.

Today’s sermon and then our new home group discussing it was so so very good. We talked about life In Between.
The Israelites left Egypt, a green lush area and were being led by God to Canaan, another area blooming with life. In Between, however, they wandered the desert. They were brought near death many times. They whined. They complained. They cried out in their misery. They were In Between.
I’m not In Between right now, but I’ve been there. And I’m sure I will be again.
Even though there isn’t a Big Thing hanging over my head right now, doesn’t mean I don’t have a choice to make. I still am choosing my response to the little things.
How will I respond when two children are fighting over who gets to help me at the counter, a third is crying, a fourth is asking over and over where the velcro is, and the husband is pestering me about the same dadblamed velcro while I’m trying to make pizza crust?
How will I respond when the two year old starts his sock and my $1500 vacuum on fire?
How will I respond when the husband promised me he would be in from choring in time for me to make my favorite class at the gym sans children, and then he isn’t?
How will I respond when I literally cannot walk without tripping over something from one side of the room to the other and the baby has been fussing all morning?
How will I respond when someone maligns my husband?
It’s true, that your character is built in the land In Between. It’s true that you have to rely more on God when something big and catastrophic happens and your life is never the same. It’s true that you can feel God more, see Him move when you’re In Between, you grow more because you know you can’t do it alone.
I contend however, that it’s those little decisions I make every day that are even more character building. Luke says, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”
But if you aren’t faithful in the little things, how can you expect your response to the big ones to be any different?
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This is so sad.

One of my facebook friends shared this article. It’s a truly sad commentary of how we are shunting aside God’s blessing. Go read it, and then come right back. I’ll wait.

All Joy and No Fun: Why Parents Hate Parenting

I think a lot of why people feel so negatively about parenting is because of the way we as a culture parent, and what has become important to us as a culture.

Granted, there are TOUGH things about parenthood. I could whine about how Cadrian is in a tantrum throwing phase, how he actually headbutted me yesterday, how I always seem to have a foot digging into my rib and my husband teases me that it may be easier if I just moved into the bathroom or about how Brielle is in an argumentative phase, one that seems to have gone on for a REALLY. long. time or that my house is usually a wreck and it bugs me.

But that would be robbing myself of the truly great blessing that parenthood is. Children truly are a gift from the Lord. Where else is one forced to come face to face with one’s selfishness on a regular basis? How else would I be able to gain a servant’s heart in such a tangible way?

My perspective might be completely different from the author of this article, because my goal is probably different than hers. I want to be like Jesus. He was a servant. I’m generally, a selfish beast (although my cuteness somewhat makes up for it :-)). My goal for my children is probably different. I want them to see Jesus through me. I’ve talked ad nauseum about my colossal failures in that regard, but still I keep trying. God wants us to take the Self off the throne of our lives and put Him there instead. And in this all about me culture, that is no easy task.

The sacrifices one makes in parenting are staggering. The attitude one has toward those sacrifices can make you love or hate the calling.

The other part of what I see is missing is discipline. The argument that the mom on video was having with her eight year old is ludicrous. Parents, in my opinion, should be the authority in their home. We are not raising little autocrats, although it seems like that’s what many families end up with. The training in the early years to point a child’s heart toward Jesus is a toilsome task. Absolutely arduous.

But the dividends for putting the rigorous effort into demanding obedience and teaching one’s children about true authority, enabling them to then have a Godward orientation, are boundless.

Aviana was an exceedingly difficult baby, toddler, and preschooler, but I can attest for the payoff of all the hard work of disciplining her in the early years. She is a delight. Granted, she can still be a foolish child and all is not by any means perfect, but I am so proud of how she genuinely wants God’s best for her life. This is not my doing. It’s only through prayer and God’s power, and an utter dependence on Him we were able to get this far.

I’m convinced though, that training a child to know that God demands obedience to authority and that there are consequences for defiance will serve the entire family the way God intended.

The people represented by the surveys, studies and interviews referred to in the All Joy and No Fun article have missed opportunities. They have missed the chance to come face to face with and obliterate their own selfishness. They have missed the chance to teach children that defying authority will bring about consequences. They have denied themselves the opportunity to confront their own failed human nature. They have missed a chance to rely on the grace of God in providing a solution to not only their needs but also the needs of their children.

Disclaimer: I often miss these opportunities myself. I am in no way saying that I am a perfect parent or have it all figured out. I am saying that because of God–the missing element in this article–, I do find myself having blissful days among the chores, mess, work, mucus, noise, hubbub and general stickiness that makes up my life.

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Completely sold out…

In “Christian-ese” there is a term called “sold out”.

It means you are completely totally 100% passionate about Jesus and His teachings. You want to show other people how to find Him. You live, breathe, love Him. You pray and listen to the Holy Spirit about every decision. You’re so filled with God and what His word says, you just know what He would want you to do.
Being a Christian is living a life of continual transformation, a life that demonstrates how you are becoming more and more like Christ with every step, every leap, every choice.
Here’s where I get hung up. I’m really good at knowing what God would have me do with the big things. Like, of course I don’t cheat on my handsome husband or steal from a department store. I don’t even need to be a Christian to know that’s wrong.
It’s the little things. The little every day minutia. It’s when Cadrian is screaming ear-piercing blood curdling screams and kicking and flailing and I’m trying to get him dressed and the girls are supposed to be picking up their room and need to be re-directed at the same time and need their hair combed yet and I’m still in my nightgown and we need to be leaving for church in 10 minutes and I’m working up a sweat and very literally losing my cool. That’s when I need to MOST demonstrate my faith, how Christ-like I am.
In those moments, I more often than not don’t act like I’m completely sold out. I don’t act like I have the Holy Spirit whispering into my soul, infusing me with His peace. In fact, I CAN’T EVEN HEAR HIM OVER THE SCREAMING!
I do know He’s transforming me. I do know the tone in my voice is less sharp than last time, or I handled it more admirably for longer than last time. I do know I can go to Him again and again and He makes those shards of anger and frustration smaller and smaller every time.
Even though I walk out of the house already exhausted, on the verge of tears, wondering what it is I’m teaching my precious family with my attitude because I know I can do it better, I have to try and be pleased knowing that I’m “sold out” and my mind and spirit are continually works in progress.
Slow progress. But progress, nonetheless.
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Some days are just like that…

even in Australia.

I love that book.

More than that, I have been trying to count my blessings.
Count my blessings, name them one by one.
Count my many blessings, see what God has done.

Yes, perhaps I have had more than my fair share of diarrhea today with 2/3 of my children suffering some stomach ailment, but at least I don’t have to worry about them dying from it.

Perhaps I don’t get to go to the home school conference I was looking forward to, but at least I have the freedom to educate my children at home.

Perhaps my husband and I haven’t really seen each other this week, but at least I know how much he loves me and our family and how hard he works for us.

Perhaps I haven’t been feeling the best, but at least I am not bedridden and can still take (mostly) good care of my family, and I’m grateful to be having another child.

Yes, perhaps people close to me may disapprove of me and my choices, but at least most of my loved ones know me and support me.

Perhaps the whining is still echoing in my head, but at least I have some time to myself now.

Perhaps I was disappointed with some people I’m trying to buy stuff from on eBay and Etsy, but at least they are going to rectify the situation and I can buy the items in the first place.

Perhaps I had a temper tantrum today and acted like a spoiled child, but at least my children were quick to forgive me and love me regardless.

Yes, perhaps this was not the best day in the world.

But after all, tomorrow is another day.

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Kevin and I are marriage mentors through our church and tonight, while discussing faith and values and premarital issues, I really felt like the Holy Spirit was saying the fiancé just needed to be asked if he was ready to commit his life to Christ.

So I did.

He was.

Angels rejoice!

And so do I!

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Today, I slept in (once I pawned the baby off to Dada at sunrise).

I had cake for breakfast.

And a coffee.

I was awestruck by God’s handiwork above and below the ground. His attention to detail is breathtaking.

Special thanks to Jon Flavel for these photos, since I forgot my camera.

I laughed a lot.

I had some serious heart-to-heart with my parents. And it was a balm to my soul.

I watched a cicada hatching from its nymph case.

Thank you Anita363 for this staggering photo.

I lolled on a porch swing while marveling a dragonfly’s flight engineering. Isn’t the Creator amazing?

I headed off several near tantrums.

I made dinner without a recipe!

I nursed. I snuggled. I read. I kissed. I listened. I loved.

And today, I did it well. Thank you God.

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