Category Archives: thinking

You Can’t Have It All

I’ve been pondering life’s direction a lot lately.
     Maybe it’s because I just gave birth to my seventh child.
          Maybe it’s because my second child just left our nest, maybe for a year, maybe forever.
               Maybe it’s because of the uncertainty of the economy and The Builder’s job.
                    Maybe it’s because I spend a large part of my day nursing Silas and thinking about life.

I remember a writing assignment in a college class I took long ago. The assignment was “Your View of Life’s Choices – Is There Only One Right Way”. Or something like that. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember comparing life to water flowing. You see water flowing in a brook, and that water can flow along many different paths of the brook, or it might come to a “dead end” and go under ground for a while, but it will resurface. The brook might only flow as a trickle, barely visible unless you’re looking for it. Or it might join with a larger stream and then a river and flow along in a fast current. No matter which path the water takes, it still all ends up in the ocean. (Work with me here.) Is the fast current on a better path than the slow trickling brook?

Is there only One Right Way? God’s One Perfect Plan for our lives and anything else is second best? I don’t think so. I think He teaches us what we need to know wherever we are. Oh, sure, we can definitely make choices that are plainly wrong, but if there are two or more paths to choose that appear equally right, does it really matter which one we pick? I think we can apply that to the big things (career choices) and to the little things (where to spend Saturday afternoon).  We need to realize that saying yes to one path means saying no to others. You simply can’t have it all.  The important thing is to live your life with joy, faith, love, kindness, honesty, integrity, patience and humility. That’s the hard part.

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Mother’s Day Blessings

Reminiscing. Thinking of all the mothers in my family. My great-grandmothers, most of whom I never met, but still are such a big part of who I am. The one who had to leave one of her children in another country for years because they didn’t have the money to bring her home. The ones who left home for new lands and new opportunities. The one who lost a son in WWII. Strong women, all of them.

My Great-Grandmother, Amelia, is the second on the left. My grandfather is the handsome blond sailor in the back on the right.

My grandmothers. I love them dearly. One who told me on her 83rd (or 84th?) birthday that her biggest regret in life was not having more children. One who never talked about children until after my third child was born and just mentioned that she always wanted more but had many miscarriages. No one ever knew. One leaving home and family to marry the man of her dreams, the other marrying after a brief 6-week courtship and then sending her husband off to war, not seeing him again for 2-3 years. Strong women, both of them.

My still beautiful grandmother.

My mother. Raising two children as a single mom. Warm and creative. Working to provide the best she could. A strong woman.

My grandmother, my mom, my oldest daughter, and me.

I’m next on the family mother tree. I am a blessed woman. Abundantly blessed. I think about each child of mine. Each one so precious.

The oldest, Kate, a mama herself now and living too far away, preparing to move to an even greater distance in a week. Born when I was so young, and didn’t know the first thing about being a good mother, but wanting to giver her the best of me that I possibly could. She is the fierce protector of her baby I always knew she’d be. Graceful, passionate, beautiful.

The next one, Josh, now a man preparing to leave our nest. He spends less and less time here. I miss him already, but I’m so honored to be his mother and I look forward to watching the next few years. Gifted, humble, a quiet and strong leader.

And then my quirky, particular, and oh-so-funny Zach, the boy who is quickly growing out of boyhood, loving books and dragons and legos and swords, still giving me swift hugs when he passes me in the kitchen. 

Sweet Maddie, so tender hearted and kind. Probably the one most like me in likes, but so much like her Papa in personality. Dress wearing, tractor driving, loving to knit and bake and sew and run barefoot and splash in the creek and care for the animals.

Little Emma, a princess. Blond-haired beauty with a quick smile. Dumping toys from boxes so she can stand taller next to me to play with my hair – her habit when she’s tired. So wanting to be in charge, but just barely 3 years old and the 5th child makes it hard to be the boss.

Sophia Rosebud, the current littlest, but not for much longer. Dark, curly hair and a deep belly laugh. Such a petite little body, but such a big personality, a fearless monkey imitating everyone around. Curious, climbing, busy.

And the soon to come littlest. A boy? A girl? Blond or dark? Serious or fun-loving?

Each one is such a gift, a treasure. I did nothing to deserve them. So much love in this little cottage of a home. Oh, yes. I am a very blessed woman. And I’m so grateful to be the descendant of so many strong women. I hope I am able to honor them in the way I live my life.

Adjustments

I’m home from church again. My two littles are with me. Between Sophie’s still runny nose (though she is getting better and is fever free. Thank you, Jesus!) and Emma’s German Shepherd barking cough, and my too tight to really breathe well without coughing and coughing even if I try to take little breaths, we decided it was best for the three of us to stay home. I’ll tell you, it has been a Very Long Time since the whole family has been able to worship together. But what a blessing to be home today – the sun is shining beautifully outside (melt that snow!), the little girls are playing nicely together, I’m enjoying another cup of coffee, and I’m spending some much needed time with God. 

I have a confession to make:  I’ve been a grump lately. Not just a little. I’ve turned into the type of person I don’t like to be around. Grumpy, negative, persnickety, crabby, bad-tempered, testy… Well, you get the picture. In short, I’ve been focusing entirely too much on me. But this morning I’ve had a chance to count my blessings.

Yes, it has been a Very Long Winter with A Lot of Sickness. 
BUT, our sickness is temporary. We’ll get over it. It isn’t terminal, so what am I complaining about? 
Yes, I’ve been pretty tired and still nauseous from this pregnancy.
BUT, I’m carrying a treasure. What a gift! And every time I feel this little one move I’m reminded of how blessed I am to be given this gift.
 
My oldest son will be leaving in a few months to grow his musical gift. We need to come up with money for tuition, housing, food, etc.  I don’t know where the money will come from. 
BUT, my God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He gave Josh this gift, He will provide. 
 
My husband has been working A Lot, and told me this week that he has two business trips coming up soon that will take him away for a few nights. 
BUT, my husband has a job, and he gets paid on a regular basis. And he provides very well for us.

My list can go on and on. We have a home. We have food. We have children. We have a sweet granddaughter. We have Jesus. See? I just needed to look beyond me. (And I think the sunshine helped just a little.)

So now that my attitude has been adjusted, please forgive me for my very whiny last post.

And now that I’m feeling much more like myself, I think I’ll go clean something, bake something, organize something and sew something. Oh yes, that’s more like it.

Fighting the Battle

Thought I’d share a few interesting things I’ve been learning lately.

  • The cold and flu viruses die at about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • These viruses survive best and are transmitted fastest in low humidity and cool or cold temperatures.
  • A cough or sneeze can spread germs up to 8 feet.
  • People with a cold are contagious for the first 3 days and up to 10 days after the start of cold symptoms – for most cold viruses. There are exceptions. People with the flu are contagious for even longer. 
  • Most colds go away 7 – 10 days after the start of symptoms, but the symptoms may last longer.
  • There are over 200 different viruses that cause colds. That’s why the same person can catch a different cold frequently.
  • Once sick, you can do things to relieve symptoms, you can do things to help rebuild your immune system, but the cold still needs to run its course.
  • Cold and flu germs can live on some surfaces up to 48 hours. 

Why have I done all this research you ask? Because our family has, once again, been stricken with yet another version of the wonderful cold. This is round 5 for us this winter. That’s the most we’ve ever been sick.  I’m tired. Really tired. Adding joy to the wonderful cold, is the very unpleasant and lingering morning (well, mostly evening these days) sickness that I’m still battling. Every time I cough, by stomach does flip flops. I won’t tell you any more than that. It isn’t very pretty and doesn’t need to be blogged about, but it’s the worst weight-loss plan I’ve ever been on. We missed church (again) on Sunday. We’re missing our homeschool co-op day (again) tomorrow. We’re staying in and containing our germs. You’re welcome.

So here’s my advice for everyone else. If you or your child are coughing, stay home. If you or your child are sneezing, stay home. If you or your child has a fever, stay home. (And by the way, reducing the fever with medication does NOT mean “fever-free”. The fever needs to be gone on its own for 24 hours.) A low grade fever does not need to be medicated. It is your body’s nature way of killing germs. 

Why is it so important that you stay home? Because your germs spread. A cough or sneeze (see above) spreads germs up to 8 feet. The germs can live (see above) for up to 48 hours. So think about it. If you go anywhere when you’re sick, you just gave anyone who, for the next 2 days, touches anything within 8 feet of where you or your child coughed your wonderful cold. This may not mean much to you. But to a family of 7, it can mean a very long time of feeling very unwell. To my 9 year old, it means several doses on the nebulizer, and frequently a trip to the emergency room because she’s struggling to breathe. To a 91-year-old great, great grandfather, it can mean hospitalization (my grandpa’s in the hospital because someone didn’t stay home). To a person, like my granddaughter, who has a suppressed immune system, it can mean hospitalization, or rejection of her heart, or worse.

So really, is that trip out of the house worth it? Do you really need milk that badly? Can a neighbor or a friend pick it up for you? Do you really need to send your children to school or church or to co-op?  It may not seem like it, but to some people a cold really is a life or death battle.

So much to learn, so little time

There’s a phrase that is not allowed to be used in our home. (Okay, there are quite a few of them – swearing is not allowed either). It’s one of my pet peeves – I can’t stand it when someone uses it:

“I’m bored.”
You must be joking! There is an entire world waiting to be discovered. You obviously have free time. Go explore! Discover! Learn something new!  
I started thinking about all the things I’d love to be able to do in my “free” time. I thought about making a list, but it would be pretty long. Here’s a start:
Learn to play the violin
Learn to play the piano
Learn to play the guitar
Read a book (I have about 500 that I know of that I’d like to read someday)
Sew
Make a quilt
Make clothes for my children
Design a pattern
Write a book
Cook
Bake
Make a difference for someone
Learn to draw (oh, how I wish I could draw, or paint, or sketch!)
Take better pictures
Sleep (seriously!)
Learn ballroom dancing
Start a business (or 8)
Learn about History
Learn about my ancestry
Be active in politics
Design a curriculum
Learn about herbs and herbal healing
Organize my house
Sell the extra stuff
Learn about the plants on our land
Have tea with my children
Learn to weave
Learn to make soap
Learn to make candles
Organize my recipes
Learn French
Learn Latin
Learn Greek
Learn Hebrew
Learn almost anything!
My aunt (who was a teacher) used to tell her students and her children “You’re boring” whenever they would dare complain of boredom to her. I think she’s right. If someone is “bored” they either think they’ve accomplished all there is to accomplish in this life (I can’t even imagine that), or they have no ambition whatsoever to learn something new.  I think it’s the same as watching television. If you have time to sit in front of a box for hours a week (or hours a day! How can you do that?), then you must have LOTS of free time and no ambition to DO something. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great movie as much as anyone, but sitting for hours on end being entertained seems like a huge waste of time, not to mention the personality drain that occurs.
So I’m curious, what’s on your list of things to do when you have so much free time that you might even consider saying “I’m bored”? Or is it okay to be bored?

Where is the Me I want to Be?

I think I’m schizophrenic. (No offense meant to those who truly are.)  You see, there are two Me’s. There’s the Me I am. And there’s the Me I want to be. The Me I am: short tempered, impatient, flustered, clumsy, average intelligence, not very creative… well, you get the picture. Then there’s the Me I want to be. I dream of being graceful, wise, mild mannered, creative.

I want to have dinner on the table when my husband comes home from work. Not just any table, but a beautifully set table. With candles, a tablecloth, flowers, cloth napkins.(These days I can barely pull a meal together.) Dressed in something beautiful and soft (instead of denim capri’s and a comfy shirt I can nurse in modestly.) Maybe with my hair done and makeup on (instead of a headband and hairclip). I want to be able to comfort him after a hard day at work (instead of comparing his bad day to mine). I want the house to be cleaned up whenever he comes home. I want to be organized so everything has a place (instead of moving from one organizing project to another in the hope that somehow I’ll find more space for less stuff).

I want to be patient with my children. Able to soothe the little ones with music and singing (instead if sighs of frustration). Baker of fabulous comfort foods when they don’t feel well. And when they do. Block stacker and castle builder extraordinaire. Game player. Sewer of amazing dress up clothes and regular clothes. Designer of my own patterns (and maybe my own fabric).Creator of wonderful memories of home that will be with them always.

I want my home to be a place of comfort for my family and for others. I want people to want to be here. To enjoy visiting. Stopping by just to see what delectable creation we made. I want to be able to share earthly comforts and spiritual comforts with them. The “wise one” who can say just the right thing at just the right time.

The Me of my dreams confidently faces every day and every hardship with grace, dignity, and faith.

But the Me that I am keeps getting in the way. I stumble through my life, making more mistakes than I care to admit. But then God whispers that He loves me. The real Me. And the Me that I dream of becoming? Well, He is a worker of miracles. Maybe I can slowly become her, one step, one day, at a time.

Dancing in the Minefields

This Friday, a sweet young couple we know is getting married. Yesterday they were baptized together. They were each baptized before, but wanted to be baptized as adults to show their commitment to each other and to God as they begin their lives together. What a beautiful illustration of love. I can’t tell you how blessed us “old married folks” have been by them. Every time we see the soon-to-be-husband he tells us how many more days until they are married. I’ll say that again. Every time we see the soon-to-be-HUSBAND he tells us how many more days until they are married. Usually we see the bride counting down the days, and she is, but it is so beautiful to see a man who is anxious to claim his bride.

I saw this video, what a beautiful song. We are dancing in the minefields. It made me think of my own wedding day so many years ago.  No, it’s not easy, but the promise is there for us to claim.

Just a few minutes ago I called my husband to see how he’s doing at work and let him know I’m thinking of him (it will be a rough week for him this week).  He told me of a friend whose wife left him yesterday. She took his children and left. She called him this morning and told him she wanted to talk to him.  As far as I know, they are not believers, but please pray for them. They are truly in the minefields. I hope and pray they’ll dance again.

Theological Thinking

Yesterday’s discussion at home was interesting. Here’s the question: Can you back up all your decisions with scripture? The topic came up because the author of a blog I read posted the statement that “I think it is wrong for Christians in America to have their children in government controlled schools”. I’ll let you read the most recent post, the original posts, and the comments on your own. There were several things I read that prompted the discussion we had. It was even more interesting because my oldest son told us of a big decision made by someone we know. This person said she “felt called” to do something. So on top of the scripture-backing-up-your-decisions-discussion, we had the you’re-not-supposed-to-make-decisions-based-on-feelings-so-how-can-you-tell-if-you’re-called discussion. Whoa! Deep stuff! Needless to say, it was a very late night. But a good night.

So I’m curious. What do you think? Can you (or should you be able to) back up all your decisions with scripture? How do you know when God has called you to do something?

We Are Home Makers

Being a Home Maker is by far the hardest job I’ve ever had. Even when I was working 16 hour days, living on double cappuccino’s with a shot of vanilla because I couldn’t get sleep, my job was easier than it is now. But my “job” now is absolutely, by far, the most fulfilling one I’ve ever had. What I do makes a difference in the world. I make a difference in the lives of my husband and my children. I forget that sometimes. Kelly, from Generation Cedar wrote something that reminded me. I think I’ll print it out and hang it on a wall so I can see it often and be reminded of who I am, what I do, and Who I serve.

We are a culture of real women, with real families and problems, but also a real understanding of the importance of our work in and among our homes and communities. We see a desperate need to return to a more simplistic way of living–for the health and good of all.
We are sharp; we are thinking women; we read; we have voracious appetites for learning, and for teaching our children those things.
We value education, and also sitting in the quiet of a day.
We believe that “the greatest among you is the servant of all”.
We utilize our computers to assist us with diagnosing an illness, and when we’re done, we hang our laundry on the clothesline to save money.
We learn to cook from scratch because it’s cheaper, healthier and wiser.
We make homemade laundry detergent (sometimes ;-) ).
We are on a never-ending quest to save money because “a dollar saved is more than a dollar earned”, and our husbands treasure that quality in us.
We believe motherhood is a vocation that comes with responsibilities, and we do what is necessary to fulfill them.
We delight in serving our husbands a cold glass of tea; not because he demands it or because we are subservient, but because we love him and cherish the smallest opportunity to communicate it. After all, he spends all day “speaking love to us” working hard, making sure the oil is changed, unstopping the clogged pipes, and all sorts of other ways. We don’t feel we’re in competition, but rather, we are “heirs together in the grace of life”.
We understand the very real fact that humans need serenity, and we make it one of our jobs to create that for as many as we can around us.
We try to look around us and see if we can meet the practical needs of others.
We think generationally….beyond today…into our great-grand-children’s lives. We journal about things we want our granddaughters to remember.
We teach our girls about strength and dignity, and our boys about honor and protection. We also believe in equality, and in a beautiful array of differences.
We care deeply about politics and what happens to our world; and that is why we are home MAKERS.

I am proud to be one of them. Read the rest here.

He said what?


I know my husband. One of the things I know about him is that he doesn’t say much. I’ll ramble on about almost anything, talk thoughts out as they pop into my head, express my oh-so-many opinions at any time. Not my husband. He talks, but he’s more careful about what he says. So I know when he says something that seems to be “out of the blue”, it isn’t just a thought that just popped into his head. He’s been thinking about it. So the other day when he said something, I knew I needed to pay attention. What did he say? He said, “Maybe we should look for land closer to town.” He said it two days in a row. I guess that means he’s really thinking about it.

Just for kicks and giggles, I thought I’d figure out how much it would cost or save us in gas – closer to work and church, but farther from where Josh goes to school. Enter google maps. Guess what! It is the exact same distance to school as it is from here (think of a triangle). But it’s a LOT closer to work and church. Just in gas alone we’d be saving about $300 a month. And that doesn’t include oil changes, tires, and other wear and tear on the cars. Of course, property taxes are much higher in that part of our state than in this part of our state, so our savings will probably go to a higher tax bill. But my husband would get about an hour a day back.

We don’t feel like God is calling us to move right now. Which is good, because I LOVE our land and our home. But we do think that God is telling us to get things in order, because you never know. So I have some unfinished projects to take care of around here. Just in case I didn’t hear God correctly, I looked online at the current listings. There really isn’t anything for us right now. And we’re not putting our house on the market. We’re just exploring options.

You know, it’s almost funny. Every time I’ve felt settled and content, God gives us big changes. Maybe I should try to feel discontented for a while. Then we can stay put. Maybe?