for when the days are long and you need a cup of lemonade.

It is nigh to July.

And I can feel the itch to school-plan. Which makes no sense to my I’m-relaxing-and-it’s-still-summer self.

Nevertheless, the itch is there and mostly it’s because when I’m not pressured to get a lesson done or feeling the push to “do school”, I remember why I love homeschooling in the first place.

This morning I let the kiddos play outside with no chores; feeling rather out of sorts and trying to come up with something fun to do that wouldn’t involve a.) packing anyone or anything up or b.)much effort.

I’m pretty sure that both a and b are synonymous.

All I really wanted to do was sit in the cool and quiet with no noise and knit peacefully, thinking lots of profound thoughts and sipping cold brew.

However, there were chickens dead because some unknown predator had gotten into the chicken house (again!) and beheaded more of our dwindling brood. Due to said circumstances there was one very upset 11 year old who wanted to find said predator and do away with him Once and For All.

There was also a puppy and various cats/kittens who continued to sneak in through all the various doors left open and I  said/yelled (I could seriously use a foghorn.) for the 12 billionth time for ALL THE PEOPLE TO SHUT THE DOORS PLEASE AND THANK YOU.  I may or may not have added those last four words but surely one of the 12 billion times I did.

I continued wearily brainstorming to come up with a plan. Weary at 10:30? Yup. Sadly.

Going to get ice cream for lunch? While I love the idea…Nope.  That involves effort and packing. And it also involves risking a sugar-high naptime encounter. Regardless of effort and packing I Was Not going to go there.

bingo.

My mind settled on the best idea yet.

Lemonade and a read aloud.

Oh yes. Along with some almost freezer-burnt banana chocolate chip muffins that have been languishing in my freezer. No one minded them, since they all wanted at least two.

I squeezed a whole bunch of lemon juice in a gallon jug, dumped some stevia in, (no sugar! Woot!) added a BUNCH of ice, filled it with water, and poured 5 cups full. And sweaty kids sat down with eyes lit up like it was Christmas when I pulled out the read aloud that had also been languishing, though not in my freezer.

(Confession: there are way too many read alouds we have begun, and not finished.)

This one was “The Treasure Seekers” by Edith Nesbitt, and the munchkins settled into munching and then drawing/coloring/water beads. Water beads! Go get some! Now! Even if you aren’t a kid! (Again, I digress. But these things are awesome. I didn’t want to stop playing with them while I read out loud.)

We read a couple chapters, and it was awesome. And it was what kindled the reminder-fire of why I love this.

At the end of the school year it seems like all my good intentions fly right out the window and the kids are way more on their own, math, copywork, math, copywork, over and over.

It wears us all out and it’s boring.

Morning Time, with it’s prayers and singing and memorizing and read alouds and fun science facts and mapwork and nature drawings and poetry, all but disappeared from March/April on.

And Morning Time is what I love.  It’s what draws us together. To begin our day with prayer centers all of us, and reminds me of my most important work, teaching truth, goodness, and beauty.

Funny poems, sometimes just one, that make everyone laugh. Sometimes we can’t stop and there are choruses of “one more! Read one more!”

The excitement of knowing one or 5 more states, the standing and singing the doxology. The tea time and the satisfaction of another verse tucked into our memories.

This is why I love to homeschool. Because of the relationships. The time spent together. The learning together.

We have been in somewhat of a survival mode for a few months, and it’s so much easier to just send them off to play, or to do their math, and that’s ok too. Sometimes you really do need to sit quietly with cold brew and knitting on the couch.

But for today, I am realizing that the fun got drained away and it’s time to come back to coming back together.

We read at least two chapters and by then it was lunch time and we were hungry but full-up with all the good. Yes, the 3 year old got bored for part of the time and went back and forth between multiple activites.  Yes the water  beads were fought over and hoarded  by the 9 year old.  And then while I was in the middle of the second chapter, his two sisters were struck with some sort of strange benevolence and decided that their big bother needed multiple spoonfuls of their water beads.

I kept on reading, saying a silent prayer of thanks for the sweetness that shows up at the oddest moments and for the sheepish, knowing grin that spread across the one who didn’t deserve to have kindness given.

And I thought of the days when God gives me lemonade and refreshing joy from various things like connected friendship and prayers said out loud just for you that make tears slip down your cheek. And the knowing that you are prayed for, often, and always  by a heart-sister.

For when He amazes me with kindnesses like lunches with friends who’ve known each other for years and can always pick up where we’ve left off. For 6 am coffee with other friends who have felt the same pain, and know how to read between all the lines of what you say.

I thought of the ways we grow up into Him that so obviously couldn’t be manufactured by our good behavior and the fruit that sprouts and grows, so surprisingly, on simple and once-bare branches.

Truly, there is much treasure to seek and find in this life..

And I’m thrilled with the reminder that simple joys and blue Tupperware cups full of lemonade can make smiles spread wide.

He fills our cups, for sure. 

 

 

 

 

yarn along: ordinary beauty + truth reminders

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After a day of morale-busting parenting yesterday, which I won’t detail, I decided it was time for a day at the creek.  There really aren’t words to describe some days.  When the force of your child’s will just nearly lays you flat.  When your brain can’t keep up with the swirl of noise and questions and needs and arguements.  To sum it up – I simply just have to say that I really never knew parenting would be this hard.  And I never knew the depth of love I was capable of, either.  Or how much this mothering journey would teach me about my Abba’s patient love for me.

We have a lovely creek at the back of our property, and Mr  E mowed the path last night down through the field.  It’s a gorgeous day, around 70 degrees, and the sound of the creek rushing over the rocks and the splashing of happy children makes my heart dance. I have to be realistic and tell you that the children weren’t always happy, there was the screaming-3yo-stumbling and the grouchy-9yo-who-chose-to-be-selfish and the puppy who wouldn’t stop trying to get into my bag.

But overall? The scenery and the joy overwhelmed the minor irritation. They were building dams and splashing hard and singing loud and the dogs companionably joined in with all the excitement.  It’s fun to have two dogs, romping along with us, and Shadrach (our nearly 12 year old Husky/Border Collie mix) is tolerating Trigger the Puppy quite well.  If dogs could roll their eyes, I’m pretty sure Shadrach would, while Trigger bounces around him, teasing and being generally annoying.

I’ve gotten to the lace part of this shawl/blanket that I’m working on.  The pattern is Gaia by Marie Adeline Boyer, and I’m using Tosh Merino Light in Antler.  This yarn.  This yarn is so amazing… it’s been awhile since I’ve knit with it, and it’s lovely.  The pattern says it will take 3 skeins, and I’m on skein #2.  It’s simple and classic, and a very enjoyable knit.  I’m working on it some in the afternoons while my children have rest time with books or take naps, and in the evenings after they are in bed.  It’s been easy to pick up or put down, and once I take a glance at the pattern for each row, it’s not hard to memorize the repeats.

….

As I said earlier, yesterday was rough.  So this morning, I sat down with my coffee, thankful for the moments of quiet still to be had, and opened this book that my friend gave me, Mom Enough.  By page 2, I stopped.  There was so much truth and hope and good reminders packed in, that I knew I had plenty to chew on.  I quickly called my husband to read out loud to him what I was reading…

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This was written by Rachel Jancovik, and perfectly spoke to me about the perspective that had gone missing from my heart in the middle of the chaos.  This laying down of one’s life for another… it is a privilege.  Lay down your life.  As soon as I read this, my heart ignited again.  I remembered Who I am serving every time I lay my life down for my children.  I remembered that Jesus laid His life down for me.  I remembered that it is a joy to do the same for others, most specifically the Littles and the man I have been given.  I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that all this is a gift.  But I’ll have to admit…When things go south it’s pretty easy to let these beautiful thoughts slip right on out the window.  I want to lay down my grievances about the life I am living, not cling to them with ferocious tenacity.

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.

A beautiful example in Scripture.. That Jesus Himself din’t come for people to serve Him, but to serve others.  And to lay down His life.

I get to serve these precious people in my home.  I get to fix the meal, listen to the stories (so easy to tune them out, so important to listen), to hug the child, to kiss the ouchie, to bathe the dirt off tiny feet.

It’s a fine work of refining, this mothering journey.  

And in the spirit of full disclosure I must admit, I heard the sound of waking girls from nap time.  First response? “Phooey.  They are up already.” 

And then they walk in.  These blonde and brown-headed beauties, complete with kittens and blankies.  

Be still my heart.  Thank you Jesus.  They are a gift. 

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Joining Nicole from Frontier Dreams

All is Well

These days.

They are so fleeting and the lump in my throat bears witness to how I feel about that.

Quick, rush, chaos, dirt on my hallway floor.

Laundry piles in moldering mountains and there are fingerprint swirl smudges on every surface.

I break up the arguments and kiss the finger and close my eyes when she does what she always does…

Those two tiny girl-hands wrapping soft and pulling my neck in so her kisses land on my face.

She is all fire and glorious honey curls. Sweet as they come, and just as strong-willed too.  Or maybe more.
Freedom, space, relief when the daddy walks in through the back door, home from a long day and I’m twofold glad to see him.

Glad because he is still my love, more than ever, and glad for the relief of not being the sole parent in the moment.

….

I’m learning the art of savoring the small.  Just a newbie in that, though, but I’m grasping hold of the moments and closing my eyes more often in thanks-giving.

Our days continue the tightrope walk of breathless wondering at what behavior challenge might be next, (and there is so.much. I am not saying when I say that) my thoughts continue to come back to the fact that I wasn’t ever promised a perfect life, or always lovely days.

So as I learn to savor the blessings I’ve taken for granted at times, it helps to remember that I’m held and kept safe through the hard, and the hard things are gifts in their own right.  Hard is a blessing, it amplifies the blessing of what’s seemed insignificant, but most of all, it draws me to Him.

Draws me to look up, not in.

To look away from myself, and to know that my sufficiency and my okay-ness never once has to come from whether things are easy or fun.

 

True joy comes from my Saviour.  From obedience to Him. It comes from knowing, nodding yes to the truth that He never leaves, He always carries, and my worship and heart is all He desires from me.

So I’m thankful for the hard things, thankful for the small things, thankful for the heart-stopping beauty of children playing carefree together.  Each moment where there is sunshine, enough food, savory and sweet treats, hugs and clean water, the kiss and strong hand of my Dear Man, the admittance of wrong and “I’m sorry”, the gas in the car, the shoes on our feet, the Bible.

Most of all, I’m thankful there is a Giver.  And an Enthroned Majestic Ruler of all of life, who isn’t surprised, disturbed or dismayed by any of the things that so easily attempt to do so to me. He is the Giver of all Good, so I’m taking deep breaths and knowing that all things work together for just that.

Thank you Jesus.
All is Well

I’m looking up, You’re reaching out.

With outstretched hand and knowing smile, 

You fill me up, you make my cup

Just overflow and all the while…

I know my pain is felt by you,

The bitter tears, the fear that shakes

My quaking heart, but it is true – 

You’re never shaken, never moved

You’re never caught off guard by what I’m going through.

All is well.



I look to you, and lift my eyes

To One whose heart was broken first

By what breaks mine, and now I find

That when I let it go and let my soul

Take rest and find it’s home in You

I’m not alone, I’m never left —

A blessed refuge, oh, it’s true.

Jesus, You’re not shaken, You’re not moved.

You’re never caught off guard by what I’m going through. 

All is well.



You formed me, You know all my days –

You knew this morning what I’d face

In chaos rush, or quiet hush,

The truth you arrow-spear my heart,

All things, yes all things can be done

Through You, the God of  Earth and Sky

The power that raised you, rolled the stone

It lives and dwells and breathes in me.

You’re here, this Holy Power, it reigns…. 

In heaven above and in my heart and home….

Never shaken. Never moved.  Your Holy Sameness, making all things well.



What You went through, the cross that crucified True Love

And then the grave and death that couldn’t hold You there…

And now the Spirit whole and filling me,

Whatever I walk through has first been walked by You –

That I may know You.

Fuller, wholly, well and true.

And  Resurrection Power and Suffering Fellowship…

If what I’m going through makes me conformed to death,

Then Saviour, send whatever You deem best.

Send rain, send storms, send sunshine, warm and soft

But most of all, keep sending Power that overcomes the dark, 

You’re never shaken, never moved. 

And You do all things well.

Desperate. Dairy Queen. And a Good God.

The last two days culminated in a desperate plea to my dear husband for a break, just an hour run to Walmart –by myself —because I somehow managed to completely run out of deodorant. And with the way these days have gone, it seemed imperative that I head the Walmart direction. Immediately.  He graciously said go – take all the time you need – and I spent the next hour and a half nursing a salted caramel truffle blizzard from DQ, and walking down aisles in Walmart that I rarely spend time in.

Kids say mean things.  They know what buttons to push. Fears swirl.  All the truths I have talked about about, written about and believed leak right out my heart and I’m left with this panicked, ugly desperation that suffocates.

I texted several people to please pray.  It was hard to do that.  Who really wants people know that my family is a whole lot less than perfect? Again?

So I was rolling around in my head whether to write about it here, and I decided that real is good.  Real is important. And it’s on my heart that moms and women everywhere deal with the fear of not being enough and what if my kids don’t turn out well and what if God’s plan includes a whole lot more pain and how in the world could I be ok if it does?

So I’m being real here.  Motherhood is really hard.

But I wouldn’t trade it in a heartbeat.

By the time I got home my heart’s bruised and ragged edges were beginning to heal up with the bandage of truth, prayer and love.. and it was time finish our evening with supper and bedtime.

My husband read from the Chronicles of Narnia aloud. We are on “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.  All of us are entranced with the beauty of this story.  I made coffee and sat down to spin for a little bit… and even though it took the girls ’til 10:00 pm to fall asleep, somehow the world seemed to slowly right itself again. The hugs from children and the weight of the sweet toddler on my shoulder and the I’m sorry’s and the husband embrace and the texts of grace and love from my own mom felt like beautiful God-breath on my weary soul.

A bad day does not equal failure.

Picture perfect families don’t exist.

God knows. And He is the Wound-Healer – my own and my children’s.

Truth is from him, all that is not true is straight from the father of lies.  There is no middle ground, no other possible authors.  There are only two. And one of them longs for my defeat, plots my downfall.

But the Other? The One who is so other?

“He is not safe.. but He is good.” 

This quote pours healing over my soreness.  Gently touching, filling, and reminding me that God doesn’t promise safe. He doesn’t promise easy.  But – HE IS GOOD.

Good.

So good.

 

what are you thankful for today?

I asked my children what they are thankful for today.

J (who is 8) said “a warm house”.

A  (who is 3) said “yogurt! Cottage cheese! And I’m thankful for oatmeal!” – she is hungry. Can you tell?

And little miss E (who is not quite 2) said “Ma-maw!!”

And just now, miss A came waltzing past with a mouth full of peanuts and said “I’m thankful for NUTS.” – except it was much more garbled than that. Trust me.  I am not sure that the way she said it is even spellable.

 

I am homeschooling differently this week.

For the last several months I have been pushing. Pushing. Pushing.  Do. Do. Do.  Because of something in my head that said we weren’t doing near enough. And it didn’t really seem to matter what I required, I still felt this way. And the attitudes and anger thrived and grew.

Somewhere in the last week or two, I realized it was time to relax. And that a relationship with my children just happens to be much, much more important than whether my 10 year old knows his math facts.

So this week? We haven’t gotten as many math facts memorized.  But J is working on taking apart an old mixer. “I’m almost to the motor Mommy!”  — and speaking of education, he now understands quite well this interesting phenomenon :

lone plug cut off with exposed wires + electrical outlet + hands = OUCH!

Biggest E has recently discovered Trixie Belden books and can be found with his nose in a book at the table, in the chair, or wherever else.

And when we were in the middle of math and we saw Molly the cat walking on the front porch with a much smaller tummy, we abandoned rounding, borrowing and carrying to go on a baby-kitty-finding-expedition.  After searching several different places, we all came in except Mr. E.  And within about 10 minutes we heard a victorious yell -“I FOUND THE KITTENS!!!!!”

Sure enough, Mama Molly had found a very good spot for her babies – in a drawer in T.’s shop amid sandpaper and sawdust.

Mr. E said “I prayed, and asked God where she had them and then I found them!!”

Someone else said “Wow, she sure found a good place to lay them!” – (yes, we have chickens too.)

Immediately the naming and claiming began.  A said hers was Fancy Nancy.  J suggested Danny and Tom. Mr. E thinks Boots or Socks would be a good name for the one with white feet.

It was so much fun.  We were sad about the two kittens that were dead.  We talked about why, and how sometimes they are born sick.  We talked about what a good mama Molly is being.  And somehow math got trumped and it was totally ok.

The other thing we are doing a lot more of is reading out loud and listening to audiobooks.  We love the Your Story Hour audio dramas.. and lately we have heard about Sojourner Truth, Hudson Taylor, and now we are listening to a four part series on John Newton.  And for Miss A. we have been listening to Beatrix Potter.  Squirrel Nutkin, Peter Rabbit, etc.

While relaxing in our homeschool doesn’t mean everything’s perfect – absolutely not – it’s so much more fun. For everyone. And you know what?

We are learning.

About kittens. And godly examples from history.  And how to treat each other. And how to cook. And how to be diligent.  Because when I don’t push my children to their absolute limit, there is space and margin in our day for me to teach them how to be, rather than be upset constantly for how they are not coming up to the standard I desire for them.

Definitely more important than math facts.

Oh and me? I’m thankful today for laughter.  For every good and perfect gift. For redemption and fresh starts and new chances.

And especially for a note written to me after a rough time with one of my big littles that said :

“I’m sre for not being diligent. we love ech othr.”

yes we do, son. Yes, we do.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.