Magic in the Mundane

Today….as I stood and viewed the pile I so affectionately call Mt. Laundry…a temptation crossed my mind…just the sweetest and smallest of temptations. To leave the mountain of stinky socks…dirty under garments and sweaty workout clothes till tomorrow…or perhaps the next day.pile of clothesPerhaps just a peek at how many people liked my last post on Facebook or just a not so quick look on Pinterest for Christmas present ideas. After all Christmas is soon to come!

But then I walked back into my kitchen….I stood and viewed the piles untitledof dirty dishes on the kitchen counter…remnants of breakfast that needed cleaned up and put away…..sighing….the temptation was shifting from small to great. I looked at the clock. Thirty minutes until our scheduled time to start a new week of school.

Walking back to the  laundry room, I pulled up my self control and started a load of smelly garments. School, underway shortly after….no stopping until it is complete…except to replenish my cup with a fresh brew of “Heaven’s Goodness”. And then the clock struck 11:30! Time for a run!! My children didn’t seem to respond with the same enthusiasm that I felt. But three miles complete…thirty minutes later….sweat…and a good stretch seemed to make everyone in a better mood.

As I walked back into the laundry room to switch loads from washer to dryer….I began to think. You have already read my thoughts on schooling and being at home, but I feel as though I am in a fairly constant state of adjusting my priorities. Growing up as the youngest of four, I recall my mom always seemingly being content with being at home…cleaning….cooking….doing laundry, and then still having time to sit and read and snuggle with me. Her home and her kids were her only priority during the day, and then add my dad to the mix in the evenings. She managed to have on nice clothes, hair nice and lipstick on when my dad walked through the door. She always said she didn’t want him to have to be tempted to look else where for beauty. Now lest you roll your eyes, thinking I am living in a fantasy memory, it probably was not all that straight forward, and mom probably had her itch to get out and do something “exciting” at times.

This simply prompted me into further evaluating my heart in my priorities. I can always make a to do list and through shear will power muscle my way through that list….not making anyone feel particularly valued and making myself exhausted from the stress of it all. Or I can adjust my heart to have value and JOY in my priorities…..this seems to be a lot more rewarding and a lot less exhausting in the end. Joy is strength, in fact, in the Bible, the only way to get strength is to have Joy! But there are days when I don’t feel joy. I want to thrust my responsibilities aside, looking for a distraction from what truly will be fruitful.

In today’s society, structure, discipline, mundane….almost seem to be dirty words. Everywhere we look, individuals are looking for fun, excitement….”out of the ordinary” experiences. I am not against fun and having adventure, but when it is used as a drug or an escape from the real of life it becomes problematic. The simple, sweet temptation of Facebook and Pinterest, are simply time sappers and escapes from the mundane. But actually, in the mundane, magic happens, the magic of accomplishment, there is magic in real life. Discipline in excersize allows me energy and health. Structure in the mundane facilitates an orderly home, happy children, a husband who is happy to come home and be with me! To me that is magical. Often I hear others longingly wish for a bigger house or to have far more money than they possess, or wish for vacations and all that seems glamorous. Yet these same wishers would rather sit and watch hours of TV or play on the computer rather than clean what they already have. Wanting more money rather than stewarding the little they have to create a lot. Perhaps this seems a little critical, but it is not meant to be, I have been having get real moments with myself and these are some areas that I have had to work on. Wishing for the more rather than stewarding the bit I have. Going shopping for new clothes, rather than wash the ones I already have. Eating out instead of cooking what is in my refrigerator…lol….. Going out with friends, instead of creating relationship and intimacy with my spouse and my children. Yes, I could go on, but you get the point. I am convinced, that in eternity we will be rewarded for how we stewarded our time here on earth. Time is a non-renewable resource, yet we or maybe I should say…. I, have wasted so much on it looking for something that brings momentary magic and a break from the mundane. But from here on out….I am going to start looking for the magic and beauty in the mundane…in the structure….in the discipline….I will choose Joy in the boring, so that I will be full of strength for the ordinary, because so much of our time is made up of the ordinary, and time is to short not to be extraordinary! 268b0976a4614eaa57d724af9830c21f

She Is Free

Dark spaces, corners actually, corners of the heart that rarely get a glimpse of the soft glow and warmth of light. Spaces…. that one would rather stay hidden in darkness, but knowing freedom only comes from the warmth of light. As if hidden in the long corridors of a castle dungeon, out of sight, out of mind, one would have to purpose to visit such a place. There is no welcome mat left out in front of the door beckoning visitors to come in. Rather a “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING” sign hap-hazardously perched upon the door, complete with a small window with cell bars running straight up and down, as if to say……”Behold, the resident of this cell has been tried and found guilty.” A small trap door sits towards the bottom of the door, for the keeper of the jail to slide food and water through…enabling the guilty one within to “survive”….rather than live life in thrive mode….in the clarity of light.

But then, almost in one miraculous moment the guilty verdict is over turned…..the sounds of the declaration “NOT GUILTY!”echoes through the corridors of the castle dungeon. The echo of those words unlocking the jail cell door, the vibration of freedom knocks the “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING”sign from its precarious perch, as doors swing wide open, the light of freedom comes pouring in.

Startled, dazed, and overwhelmed by the brightness of light infiltrating the darkness of the guilt filled cell….the prisoner sits….not sure what to do next. The echoes and whispers of “NOT GUILTY” still bouncing off the cell walls like a rubber ball bouncing out of control. The prisoner….who in the beginning…knew she was not guilty, forgot what freedom looked like and began living life as if the guilty verdict was her identity. But as the warmth of light soaked into the skin, warming it, as the chills of darkness became saturated and soon to be forgotten, She remembers who she is. Stirring from her sedate position, she rises feeling strengthened by the light.

Leaving the cell, she turns and takes a last look at where she has spent a good portion of her years. She asks herself, “How did I get here? Why was I locked up for so long?” Images pass in her minds eye….the should be’s…I should be taller….I should be thinner…I should be kinder….I should be, I should be, I should be. A pang of guilt pierces her heart, but then she remembers….she is not guilty. Then the pictures of the you should have been’s  dance across her memory…You should have been a doctor, you should have been popular, you should have been more glamourous…stinging her soul. Shame tries to come with its hideously heavy blanket….but then… She remembers she has been declared free!

Her lock up, she realizes, came through ever so clever little lies….I should be, is a nasty lie that locks the heart right up…padlock…security lock…on top of the strength of chains. Shame might as well be the key of should have beens. She realizes that it was a team effort taken to lock her up tight, seemingly never to be free. Some of the fault lay within herself, telling herself she should be something other than what she was  created for. Some of the fault lay with others….society, friends, enemies, all having opinions of who she should have been created to be. But then the “NOT GUILTY” verdict, the light…it came.

She turns to wind her way through the passage way to complete freedom. Her foot knocks something and it skids across the floor…looking down she sees the “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING” sign that had once been the banner on her cell. She pauses, bends over, picks up the sign. Realizing that in the dimness of the surroundings,099fe0484d7264cb8b8982275881936a the sign actually had something else written on it in bold print. “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING” was simply written with a finger through the grime that time had built up. She wipes the layers of dirt off….LOVE….in big bold letters!!!!! It said, LOVE….His banner over me is Love. She throws her head back and laughs. His love came and unlocked the chained up, dark places of her heart. The Light of Love came and warmed her….LOVE FREED HER!!!

Reviewing Purpose

83e23a804928eed714179a0cc3e9c506Well, here we are…three weeks into school and I must say…it seems to be going fairly smoothly. Of course, there is noise never ceasing….snickers, snorts, burps, giggles, and toots…sometimes I think they just want to see who can make the last noise. But I would have to say overall, I am happy with our choice to home educate.

And then comes the dark…lights out…my thoughts are not quite as sleepy as my body. So they stay awake and revisit the day and all the what if’s and what could be’s

They say confession is good for the soul…so here is a confession….I have been rather on the sharp edge with my words and emotions of late. Not a great way to spend the days teaching children whom you hope will have the law of kindness on their own tongues. Something was amiss in my heart – I just couldn’t quite pinpoint the origin of the sharpness. But then came the lights out a week or so ago. And my heart became honest with my thoughts and it dawned on me what the problem was.

We all want to know our purpose….to know that we matter….that we are needed….to belong….and when seasons change or jobs shift or we find ourselves with an empty nest, it can become extremely displacing emotionally. We tend to gain our identity from what we can do or how we can do….rather than from simply just being us.

I realized that this was the source of my sharp-edged tongue. I was feeling a bit displaced and needed to remind myself that my identity is who God created me to be, not what I could do for others or what I could create. With this choice of education has come personal sacrifice. I have privately taught music lessons for nearly the past five years of which had its own joys and tears…but mainly joy. But that has been something I needed to set aside so that I would have the time to invest into my children. I have also spent the past ten years playing in some capacity with a band. That too, because of time, health reasons and a shift of seasons has been set aside. The season of being completely needed by Little Boy has come to an end and now we have moved into a season of instruction. All the familiar ways to feel needed and important has shifted and now I feel like I am driving in a different gear. At times it feels foreign and uncomfortable, and to be honest a little lonely.

But with the “little bit” quieter season I find myself….I also see so many things that I truly used to love doing that I had set aside in the hustle and bustle of the last while. I have found a little bit of time to run, have quiet devotions, bake, cook and just sit and enjoy each of my children. Of course, things are there own new kind of crazy, but its a better kind of crazy and busy. I love reading and learning new things, talking about current events….and every conversation in our house generally ends up in politics….but I LOVE IT…..EVERY CRAZY, NOISY, BUSY moment….because I have found a new account of memories being made with my tribe. And then I remind my heart there is no reason to feel displaced or lonely….because, according to my children I am the best mom in the world. I belong right where I am….no need to worry about what I am missing out on. I am never alone….lol…(not even when I need to use the bathroom). I have a purpose and that purpose is to shape the hearts of these CRAZY, NOISY, BUSY kids, inspiring them to live life to the fullest, take chances and live free from fear.

Ready, Set, Go

The aisles are laden with new packages of pencils, cap erasers, notebooks and all sorts of educational tools and goodies. Back to school signs seem to be everywhere.

There always  seem to be an excitement and anticipation in the air this time of year. With the beginning of school, comes the promise of cooler temperatures and fall festivities. As my hairdresser mentioned today, ” And then the holidays are upon us!” YIKES…..but, back to school starting…a few weeks ago, The Husband and I made the decision to keep all four of our children home this year…YIKES! AGAIN! Although I am not a newbie to homeschooling….as I am a product of such an education…I still have had some anx. The Big Boy enters high school, Big Girl is entering seventh grade, Little Girl…third and Little Boy…second. I felt a little overwhelmed in the planning and purchasing of curriculum, but I decided to stop fretting, roll up my sleeves and decorate! LOL…I figured nothing gets my creative juices flowing and makes me think clearer than when I am cleaning and decorating.

We have a room that has changed uses multiple times since purchasing our home four years ago. It was a media room, then a craft room, and then a rented room, and then a guest room (very briefly) and now it serves as the office for The Husband’s business, with a desk for me to use to blog and sew.

Going back to my motto this past year….use what you have…I gave the room new life…by rearranging so I would have a place to shelve newly acquired curriculum and school the children when The Husband is out doing business.

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Perhaps there is still a wee bit of anx, but mainly excitement now that I have cleaned my doubts away. We stand on the threshold of new opportunities, new concepts and fresh adventures! 20150820_153014

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The Season of Yesteryear

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This past weekend marked year seven….seven years ago Little Boy came quickly into the world…all 8lbs 2oz…chubby and already needing a haircut. Joy and celebration marked his entrance. We celebrated him with balloons, cake, his favorite foods and gifts. Little Boy is a constant reminder of restoration and that life has many little moments to savor and treasure. And above all else….Joy does come in the morning!

Reflecting on his birth cannot come without reflection on all the other circumstances swirling around his joyous entry. Life seemed to quickly spin out of control with no grace for catching ones breath.

2007, seemed to be a year of much celebration….The husband and I welcomed our third child at the dawn of the new year. We purchased our first home. Along with a huge celebration for my parents 50th wedding anniversary. Old friends, and family gathered to bestow blessing and cheer. Four children and their spouses, twelve grandchildren, all dressed in the colors of fall…standing in a row….to witness the renewal of vows that carried through half a century.

Thanksgiving was glorious, complete with snow. White graced the ground that winter. December came and so did the flu. Thinking the stomach bug was lingering a little to long…finding I was pregnant with child number four. A little overwhelmed and excited, Christmas came and went.

January 2008 was all abuzz. Last year was good, business was booming, baby number three came and number four was on the way, a new house….it was going to be great in 2008!

Only after two weeks “great” came to a screeching halt. My dad calls informed me he was taking my mom to the hospital…fever of 104..she was talking crazy.

Running test…lots of phone call…second opinions…breast cancer….stage 4…chemo the only option…she says “no”. Trip to California for other treatment options, mid February. An then both parents coming to stay in Texas for six weeks for alternative medicine. Belly growing bigger…trips to the doctor each day for mom…some improvement…cancer looked to be retreating. My dad decides to go home to prepare for mom’s return. Six weeks came and went, mid July sneaks in the heat, and so does a bad case on pneumonia for mom. It was as if someone flipped an hourglass over and we watched as each grain of sand slipped through, so did her health and life.

By the end of July my emotions frazzled…I started to experience labor pains. August 2 rolled in in the darkness and so did Little Boy. He decided to come in such a hurry without the help of the midwives, leaving delivery up to the skills of my visiting aunt.

Friends came to bring food, gifts, warm wishes and to snuggle with our new bundle of joy. Having a baby around seemed to lift even my mom’s spirits despite her fragile health. And then…. almost as if Little Boy’s birth was a cam in the storm….the winds began to howl and blow…shaking us to our foundations.

Several days after our new arrival, my aunt, Little Girl, who was 18 months, and I went to run some errands. While loading everyone into the shopping cart, Little Girl took a tumble….head first. Weeping…managements concern…no lumps or bruising appeared. Waking the next morning to my dad’s return, not realizing that it would be the beginning of the end. That evening, my mom requesting a trip to the bathroom, was unable to stand…. calling the ambulance to come take her to the hospital…never to move her legs again. Within 24 hours of being admitted, she coded and was resuscitated. Hospital called…the request to please come quickly….change in status, I noticed Little Girl’s eye turning in….unable to straighten it. Finding a sitter, I quickly rushed off to the hospital with my dad, unsure of what we would find. ICU…ventilator…doctors and more doctors…consultations….no hope…should call in family to say goodbye. Bone weary, and emotionally depleted, I went to pick up Little Girl from the sitter. Only to find her eye worse and the sitter extremely concerned. Calling the doctor, promptly finding I needed to take her to the emergency room, CT Scan inconclusive, brain tumor could not be ruled out…needed to schedule an MRI.

I felt as if a hurricane had come to sweep me away…to be honest…at times I wish it would have.

September 8,2008 came and so did graduation day for my sweet momma….suffering complete…good fight of faith fought well….she went to be with the lover of her soul.

The next day, sitting in a different hospital, Little Girl, weary of doctors, gets the report of no tumor but additional testing needed.

As grief and exhaustion settled in, we packed our family, my dad, and aunt and headed to Ohio for final goodbyes.

As I write this, my heart swells with gratitude, for the spirit of comfort and how we were kept through a very traumatic season….this was just a thumbnail sketch. I write this story today, only because today I have so much hope and my heart is filled with joy. There may be someone reading this, who has or is walking through a very difficult season….even a hopeless season. But I want to speak courage to your heart, weeping may be for the night, but joy comes in the morning. You will be better because of this challenge as long as you do not become bitter. I realize that sounds a bit cliché, but it is truth.Four Seasons Glass Wall Art: Anne Nye: Art Glass Wall Art | Artful Home

History has a list on its resume, of individuals and cultures that faced trauma, adversity. and heartbreak, yet they made their mark in History for the good….not allowing the difficult season to dictate who and what they became. History also has the list of those who allowed bitterness to be their companion and only perpetuated their bitterness in the form of pain and suffering on others.

Let’s be in the ranks of those who rise out of the ashes of past seasons with beauty, and joy as our strength, wearing gratitude and praise as the latest fashion, so we can take our place as encouragement and strength to others who come behind.

Painting by Artful Home

When I Grow Up

20150614_122338 The roses on the trellis are spectacular in their dark pink glory. The geraniums, and all the purples, reds, yellows, and pinks showing off. It’s just as I remember. A different house, but the keepers are the same, The air lacks the suffocating humidity that Florida possesses…dry air…hot sun…are swift to jolt my memory and remind me of who they are.20150614_122346

Walking through the back door into the house…sights and smells are just as I left them neatly tucked in my memory seven years ago.

The Keepers of the house, kind and welcoming, are perhaps a wee bit greyer, but that simply means they are wiser. Their hospitality, warmth, nurture and love are just as I remember as well!

20150614_122357Scents that stir….teasing the taste buds..as if to whisper…”Come on, Wake up, we are about to celebrate!” Taste buds coming to life are not disappointed in the least, remembering well the flavors they enjoy.

Soft, friendly and silky she greets me at the door…”Come play”, she beacons, with a stuffed squirrel complete with a squeaker hanging from her mouth. The dog, Jamaica, is quick to become my friend.

The Keepers, Coach and Momma as I shall affectionately call them are of the highest caliber of individuals. Coach…who is inspiring and compassionate, generous, encouraging, fatherly, and full of good council…seems to be the same as when I packed my bags and said good-by last. Quickly and easily we pick up where we left off, where last we saw each other. Advice, council and prayer is always good when Coach is offering them.20150614_123825

And then there is Momma…I think I have heard myself say on several occasions since walking into the house… I want to be like you when I grow up! Strength, stability, grace, love, compassion, creativity and safety are simply a few words that come to mind as I write about her. Godliness, standards, protection, council all belong on the bio of who she is. I have known only one other individual such as Momma in my lifetime. I supposes the earth can only handle two of the caliber at the same time. There is something deep in her that inspires me to want to love, nurture, bless, create and like her. She creates safety…safety for one to simply be themselves without air or false pretense….to simply be me. She should start a restaurant and call it “LOVE MADE FROM SCRATCH”, because it not only sums up her talents in the kitchen, but her life as well. Her love is like a homemade meal made from scratch…it is food to the soul and nourishment to the body!

When I Grow Up….I want to look like her!

Ponderings of a Mother’s Heart

As I sit here blogging away…Big Boy practices a piece of music on the ivories…a little too rushed for my taste, but at least he is practicing. Big Girl, Little Girl, and Little Boy sit snuggled up in front of the TV playing Minecraft. Rain is pouring down, thunder cracking, electric going out for a few minutes. Adventures of slow and relaxed to be had on days like this….a winters pace, mid summer.

Just returning home from a trip to the grocery store, cleaning out the refrigerator, putting away newly purchased items, my mind reviews a struggle that’s been going on in my heart for quite some time. There is nothing like molded food to get one’s thought processes going! That struggle is this….what does it look like to be a mom in todays society? It seems to be getting redefined. I feel as though, at times I am losing the battle to remain a nurturer.

Standing in line, the shelves grace pictures of The Royal Princess, the new baby princess, and the latest gossip that lives in her world. Then there is the man who is now a woman, poised in a provocative stance. And what really did kill Joan Rivers? This inquiring mind doesn’t want to know.  She was a person, she deserves a little privacy even in her death. After a morning of looking at the masses in their swim suites, some leaving really nothing for the imagination, I wonder, is there any such thing as true femininity left? The language my ears hear would make a sailor blush. Has it all come down to women gaining freedom so they can be even more sexualized, disrespected, even in death, and gossiped about in a moment of motherhood? Is it ok for women to look like men and men look like women? The lines of femininity and nurturing are being blurred…or are they?….or do I simply need to adjust my perspective…perhaps what I need is a new pair of perspecticles. This is the struggle that seems to be constantly in the peripheral of my mind. I realize that there has always been a battle over the value of women and their roles even all the way back to the beginning of time, in The Garden of Eden.

Do I want to try to make my pre-menopausal body, that has miraculously created four healthy babies, into something that looks like what is on the cover of the magazines?  By the way…how many promises of lose thirty pounds in ten days have I seen now:) Or do I embrace my widening hips and extra padding as comfort for my crying child or squoosh for the snuggler? I know that perhaps this all seems like ramblings…but I would venture to guess that thousands of women think similar thoughts regularly. As if the check out lines aren’t enough…now we have Pinterest.  Please do not get me wrong….I LOVE PINTEREST. It’s an amazing tool for ideas, but ever so sneaky. It can begin the thought process of man, why don’t I have abs like that 25 year old that only has one child…I do the same work out??? Or why doesn’t my house look like that, or why can’t my kids dress like that…or..or..or!!

So in order to still my mind and encourage my heart, I looked up what nurture means. Is it out of style? Or too old fashioned? Maybe it is. This is what the online dictionary said nurture means – to feed, to protect, to support, encourage as in a period of training or development, to bring up, educate, something that nourishes. Well if feeding and protecting, educating, supporting and encouraging are out of style then we are all most miserable! I felt super excited about these definitions!! Rather than getting discouraged by what I see, I have decided to stand out from the crowd. And be a NURTURER and be FEMININE. I am bringing nurture and femininity back…(chuckle). I realize that there are all kinds of amazing moms out there that nurture and protect, but they sometimes seem hidden from the mainstream view. I say we start a movement…cover up our bodies so no one else’s husband has to struggle with impure thoughts. Speak honorably, without crude language. Leave gossip to the tabloids…they are better at it anyways, who needs the drama? Rather than wasting our time wishing for houses, husbands, wardrobes, and bodies that are Pinterest worthy, lets use what we have and make the most of it….but above all else, lets lay aside the stressed out, high strung, helicopter, smother mother persona. Lets be protectors, educators, supporters, encouragers, and feeders of our children’s souls…Making them stand out in contrast to the fabric our society has become. Equipping them to stand tall and with confidence. Becoming the world’s problem solvers and solution creators. Leading with integrity and with honor, in return causing them to become leaders of integrity and honor.  I would love it said of me, when I am 120 years old and I graduate, that I was a depositor into the souls of the next generation. A depositor of grace, love, generosity, identity and joy. My eyes have seen and my heart has felt the ache for the generation of kids whose adult parents have been withdrawlers, creating deficits within the souls of their children. Once that deficit is created, its a real challenge to recover ones soul from always feeling like they are missing something, incomplete.

Nurture goes a long way. I have found myself surrounded not only by my children, but neighbor children, students and my children’s friends….they all love kindness, food, encouragement, support, and a good joke or two. Lets bring nurture back in style.