pray with me for jack?

Tonight we cut out hearts. Three little girls and a mama, rolling and cutting. And praying for my nephew, who continues to need a miracle. Praying so much. Saying our current memory verse together — Isaiah 53:5 — and praying some more.

And thinking, as I prayed and cut hearts, about love. The love of God. Love poured out richly, abundantly, lavishly, into our hearts. Love that overcomes.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love wins.

january: convalescence

January was going to be a great return to scholastic endeavors and household industry. It was going to be fantastic! We would be hemmed in by snowstorms without, and gathered near around great books and warm fires within. Can you picture it? I could. I thought it was a grand idea.

And then one week in, and I was on the couch with strange aches. Nearly three weeks later, I have cared for all of the children and currently am still on that couch, holding a feverish, napping baby.

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.” — C. S. Lewis

This little bit of a flu is hardly a trial worth even mentioning, but it is nevertheless just that: a trial. And the nature of trials is to tempt us into a poor response. We encounter the unpleasant or difficult thing, and are faced with the decision: how will we respond? Will we take the bait and fall into temptation, doubting and fearing (or just petulant and whining)? Or will we recognize the opportunity to grow in obedience and faith as we walk through the less than ideal?

*****

Weeks ago, maybe even months ago, I read a paragraph in “The Lifegiving Home” that struck me as an area I needed to grow in. I mulled over it and prayed about it quite a bit at the time, I recall. A few days ago, after many hours of snuggling children and planning ways to bless them in their sickness, I remembered reading this and was again refreshed in my care for these babies of mine:

In our hurried age, we have little time for frailty of body or soul. Sickness is an inconvenience we resist with the popping of pills and the forcing of will. . . What we rarely consider is the value of convalescence, the gentleness we sometimes need to offer ourselves and those who are weary and worn around us. Sickness is a space in which the uneasiness (dis-ease) of the body alerts us to the need for margin, rest, and special quiet.

*****

I’m reminded, too, as these fevers and runny noses have hemmed me in and curtailed almost all outside activity, that my YES to being a mother has a cost. It requires me to reaffirm that yes regularly, and to say no to much as a result. But I’m never so glad for those boundaries and focus as when my children suddenly need so much from me. It is so important to keep the commitments of life as simple as possible, able to quickly adapt to the constant and changing flow of needs. That’s not just for me as a mother, but I think in general. Certainly, whatever one’s calling or season in life, when Christ says, “Come,” we don’t want to be bogged down with unnecessary commitments and entanglements.

*****

Most of all, I marvel at the way learning to not fret about days gone awry, but instead pressing harder and harder into trust and obedience, has yielded peace and productivity. Oh, we may not have done all I’d envisioned us to do this month, but you know? Pretty close. And with more smiles and fond memories than if I’d pushed us through the rigors of my plans.

Yes, this month, with its fevers and tears and long nights, has also given me movies with my boys, books with my girls, hours of cuddling with my usually-on-the-go baby, easy mornings that gently unfolded, afternoons of quiet table work, and three proud school kids who are turning out reports and drawings and projects for their history deadline (while I hold that baby and read to my toddler.)

*****


Fiona’s newly discovered talent: drawing people!

*****

But just before it gets too grass-is-greener over here, I am exhausted. Ha!

a day in the life

Sometimes I wonder how everyone’s life really looks. Like, where do they put those piles of bills and catalogs and stuff that appear on the counter just around the time dinner is boiling over and the baby is crying? No, really. It makes me want to banish all horizontal surfaces in my house! (Ryan and I are both “pile” people. Usually we know where stuff is — it’s in that pile that looks like a mess to you, but in reality is my carefully saved collection of “things I need to return,” next to my pile of “papers relevant for today,” etc.)

But we learn so much from peeking into someone’s life and seeing how they do things. It’s never exactly how I would or could do my own life, but humility allows me to grow by their example. Isn’t that amazing? My mother was just recently saying how much she learned by just peeking into a friend’s spice cupboard –how did they organize their kitchen inventory? I watch my friend’s children follow a little routine each time they come inside and gain ideas for how to improve our home environment. My sisters and I are always asking, “How do you budget for ____? What’s the best way to clean xyz? What do you do when your 2yo does [fill in the blank with a 2yo antic]?”

And of course, probably my most favorite thing to catch a glimpse of is a homeschool day! Books and supplies to store, children to manage, meals to prepare, and self to care for — how does everyone do it, because surely there are some creative ideas I could capitalize on!

Someone asked me recently what our days looked like, and it made think I should write this post — A Day in the Life of Us. So, without further adieu, for anyone curious, here it is. Mind you, this is one day. And as a friend with a recently added fifth child said to me, No two days are created equal! (Which, as an aside, is so important to remember when we’re evaluating “good” days and “bad” days. Too often, “good” just means that it went the way we desired and preferred it to go. God is bigger than that — thank goodness!)

Here is the basic idea we’re working with. A few times this year, it has all happened! But only a few. Mostly, it’s to help us all see that there’s a time for everything, and for the most part, work and school precede play. Also, I have built in a couple of “hard stops” into our day: Circle Time, Outdoor Time, and a school-kid-and-Mama-together afternoon activity. No matter how the rest is going, I find that having those few spot in our day to prioritize and come together helps keep us from spinning out of control. Oh! And a pre-dinner “All hands on deck!” that I yell out around 5pm. That’s a crucial one!

And, in photos, here’s how this played out last Thursday:


Early, dark morning, and reaching for my quiet time “pile”.


Heading out for a walk, and listening to Dad’s sermon


Extra on the ball that morning! Breakfast set out for the kids before they woke.


Jameson took a picture while I did some chores.


Breakfast over and cleaned up, we gather for Circle Time. And here’s my corralled Circle Time basket [pile]!


Girls climbing on me to go over our verse.


It was science day!


And then break into independent book work. I love this picture with all five!


Holding a baby on my hip all through school and chore time = this snuggly moment.


Piles for pick up after chore time!


And lunch!


Outdoor time, and then rests. Two sweet girls fast asleep.


Setting up a tea party for the three eldest — which will actually be another Etiquette Lesson


Three kids ready for the tea party! (They had to knock and practice entering as polite visitors.)


Filling the rest of the afternoon with things like piano.


And a favorite moment to end our day: Daddy.

november 5

Oh, autumn. How I love thee.

This year, in no particular order, some of the moments to remember:


No words.


Finishing her second book


Nightgowns and little rocking chairs, favorite books and blonde ponytails.


The cutest profile ever made


Sudden warm days with favorite people


My favorite little-girl freckles on a sweet face that is getting older every day


A few days with special family


Running in long shadows of a fall evening.


Making wishes.


Two Papas to love


Discovering windows, watching the snow


The year’s first snowflakes


Dress up, always dress up


Our annual trek with these wonderful kiddos


This munchkin is more lovable every day


Making me laugh


One amazing sunrise…


After another.


Winter foods appearing


Gathering close in the dark evenings.


Making memories.

Memories of the special things, but most of all, memories of the everyday. That’s my favorite thing about fall: the memories I have tucked away of school on a blanket, altogether; of days falling into a rhythm of books and work and play; of lighting candles on the table each night just because it’s dark and we like cozy; of life together.

It’s so far from perfect — I am so far from perfect!! — but it is so rich.

october: celebrating daddy

Before October’s close, there are birthdays to note.

Ryan. He’s not much for parties, gifts are impossible (he knows what I got him before I’ve even looked for or bought it!), and this year there wasn’t even dessert we could make for him. But still we celebrated with anticipation and joy. I loved being home with the children that day, seeing their love for him spill out in cards and special table settings and general “buzz” as the afternoon stretched into evening and we awaited his homecoming.

Fiona stood and watched for him, and it made my heart squeeze. My kids have a daddy who loves them so much.

They made cards, and I made dinner, and that was our gift. Somehow the kids even found that pink goblet way up high on a pantry shelf, given to us by Dr. Wilson at our wedding. Anything to say, “My dad is the best!”

We gave him our words, trying our best to communicate what he means to each of us. I had them all pile on the couch to capture this moment of our lives: a father who loves, and five children who adore.

saying goodbye to august

We said goodbye to August this week.

Ryan came home as we were eating dinner and said, surprise! We’re going to spend a couple nights at a lake house nearby! The kids could not contain their excitement. William spent the next hour and a half cleaning up and packing and talking about how “two hours ago we thought we were just going to bed, and now we’re going to the Lake!

It was just 48 hours, but it was really a blessing. There’s nothing quite like “waking up, and just boom, put your swimsuit on and jump in!”, as Beatrice said. Not to mention Daddy being with us for those two days. Jameson played and laughed with him out on the paddle board. William played his first solo game of chess against him. Beatrice and Fiona swam out to the dock and jumped to him. It was wonderful.

Jameson built a fire almost by himself. Fiona devoured a s’more. Cecily hated the boat ride! I got to spend a few minutes alone with each boy as others slept, watching them in the quiet take in the peaceful surroundings.

Goodbye, August.