Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Celebratory Thursday

Today was an unschool-homeschool day. We had planned to go to the apple orchard in the mountains but the forecast was hot and muggy so we postponed our trip to a day that's more Fall-like.

My kids, however, had anticipated a field trip all week. So I decided we'd make today one of those homeschool days that I intend to have but never do. A day of baking cookies and playing games. A day of real-life activities that teach, engage, and promote blissful togetherness.

We stayed in our pajamas. We baked 6 dozen of the best chocolate chip cookies ever. We did not brush our teeth until late in the day...which is gross, of course, yet a luxury by kid standards.

It was, in a word, fantastic. The kids loved breaking out of their pencil and paper routine. I loved being one of those cool hands-on moms. Cupcake loved getting in on all the big kid fun and eating unhealthy amounts of cookie dough.

He even celebrated the day by learning to undress himself, diaper included. I discovered him naked and full of glee. {I am quite sure this new-found independence is going to make my life increasingly difficult but all the more blogworthy.}

He's wearing nothing but cookie here.

I learned something today. It's something I already knew...but more in theory than in practice. Intentional spontaneity. These little ones are growing up before my eyes. Moments race by like wild horses. I can grab hold and enjoy the ride or stay safe and live with regret. By nature, I tend to do more of the latter.

Yes, math and writing are necessary parts of life...but a day off every now and then will not relegate children to a life of ignorance and squalor. They will not remember every day of multiplication and phonics rules; they will {hopefully} remember the occasional days of cookies and pajamas and monopoly.

When I reflect on my own childhood, the days of school and homework all run together in a monotonous flow of routine and drudgery. But I still remember the excitement I felt when my dad announced we were going to see a late movie together one Sunday evening...a school night. How delightfully scandalous.

I remember when he took all four of us out of school for an ENTIRE week to go to Washington, D.C. for a presidential inauguration and all the free festivities and attractions our nation's capital had to offer. I was a sophomore in high school at the time. {And I do remember being more than a little behind after missing a week of genetics in biology class...not that any of it matters now.}

I remember my very patient mother giving me free reign in the kitchen to make cookies and messes. I remember watching TV movies together while picnicking on a blanket in the carpeted living room. As it turns out, much of the best stuff I remember is the stuff of spontaneity and togetherness. Stuff that typically wasn't allowed. Stuff that was free or nearly free.

I want those little-big things for my own kids. Though it sounds simplistic and even cliche, I'm learning that little things make big impressions...and hopefully lasting memories.

My kids told me it was one of the best days ever. It was for me too.


I also learned that 3 sticks of butter in a batch of chocolate-chip cookies is worth every single calorie.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Lately I've felt like this photo. After going through difficult seasons of drought and pruning and feeling stuck forever in the dirt, I've enjoyed freedom and beauty and the sun on my face.

In the midst of stress and busy-ness and still-tough circumstances, I have felt a oneness with my Creator and enjoyed the glorious perspective that comes from peace. Seasons like this are precious. For every moment He allows me to rise above my no-good self, I'm crazy grateful.

But this world is broken and glory is fleeting.

Just as I am feeling extra-radiant, the rapid fire of one harsh element after another pummels my blooming self. Nothing earth-shattering. Just a series of everyday-variety scattered storms not even on my radar only moments before they touch down. Suddenly I am a withered, near-unrecognizable version of my former self, face-down in the all-too-familiar dirt.

People push buttons. I react with uglyness, even if just on the inside. My inner monologues are eloquent and harsh and put offenders in their rightful place, this heart going from pure to punitive in 2 seconds.

My eyes gaze upon a pretty picture and the contentment I've striven so hard for vanishes in a cloud of envy and idolatry, this contented spirit going from have to have-not instantaneously.

I do for someone again and the joyful love and service I'd just grabbed hold of spirals out of control, colliding head-on with resentment and I-deserve-better-ness. We need some respect up in this place, I want to scream.

No longer beautiful or flowering, I can't believe I fell so far so fast. I want to kick the dog but we don't have one. I'm tempted to pull out sad coffee house tunes and wallow in maudlin melody.

But I know there's only one road back to the wondrous place I've just toppled from. A road whose well-worn path these calloused feet have traversed countless times.

Humility. Confession. Repentance. Praying for more water, more light, even more pruning...though I wince from the pain every. single. time. I beg for grace and strength and supernatural to rain down life abundant.

This withered soul clings desperately to the hope, the good and perfect promise, that mercies are new every from ashes propping me back up to my glorious place in the sun.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Story

I love to read. Evidently I learned pretty early, some of my first memories being those of my Grandaddy and me on the sofa reading Beatrix Potter stories, tiny books just perfect for a young child's hands.

I assumed that my own children would form early and lasting relationships with words, just as I did. But for my oldest child, this has not been the case. Everyone told me it would simply "click" one day. I smiled and nodded and hoped desperately they were right. She just started 3rd grade and I've watched her book-loving peers leave her in the dust. She has too.

The issue became even more complicated when her 5-year-old brother started reading circles around her months ago. As their mother, I've walked the tightrope of encouraging one while comforting the other, baffled that two children from the same parents have brains that process so differently.

I've waited for the elusive "click." I've talked with anyone who will listen, trying to pinpoint possible disabilities. I've researched and talked with school district people about reading services for home-schooled kids. There are none. And while I could hire private tutors and specialists, it requires money we do not have.

I reluctantly began talking to God about it (yes, after I'd done everything else first.) She is, after all, His child. He formed her down to the very last cell. I asked Him to send me experts and answers and money. I've prayed for wisdom. I've asked Him to multiply my time and energy so I can provide what she needs.

God can be dramatic. I love that. {It's further proof that I'm created in His image.} Sometimes stuff happens and I know that it could only come from Him. One good thing about being a skeptic like me is that you get to witness His bigness quite a bit...evidently that's the only way I get it. He moves big so I'll finally believe big. I imagine Him saying, Girl, I see your pleas for experts and money but I have something bigger and better. Again.

We are in the last chapters of The Trumpet of the Swan, a book I loved as a child. The older two and I piled on my bed with our book while Cupcake napped. After a chapter, I decided to rest for "just a few minutes," promptly falling asleep with seconds.

You will not believe what happened. This child who can hardly sit still for more than five minutes stayed beside me and picked up the book. While I napped, she proceeded to read the entire next chapter of the book...9 pages of small print with words like "civilization," "balustrade," and "cygnets." It took her an hour but she did it. When I woke up, I saw this:

She had indeed read the whole chapter. {She nonchalantly told me all about it, down to the details of Serena nearly having her wings pinioned if not for the brave and true Louis coming to her rescue.}

It was, undoubtedly, a miracle. I don't know if things have permanently "clicked"; time will tell. But today was a breakthrough.

As she walked away, I cried at the kitchen sink, overjoyed and shamefully surprised that God would answer so lavishly. Again.

Sometimes I'm reluctant to pray for certain things because, well, it could always be worse. I don't ask God to help my child read because she could be terminally ill or have a devastating disability instead. I should just be grateful that it's not the worst. All too often, that's how I look at my problems. My apologetic and guilt-laced prayers are timidly tossed up to Him and I don't really expect much in return because...It could always be worse.

After all He's done for me (and oh, there are stories), I'm embarrassed that my faith can still be so anemic.

I am slowly getting bolder though...and He is infinitely patient with me.

I haven't shared with her yet that I've been praying for her, that just this morning I begged the Father to help us with this whole reading thing.

But I can't wait to tell her what He's been up to.


"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Last night I snuggled tight with Brownie in his bunk. It was late, time for tucking in and prayer. And make it quick, I thought, because I will soon fall asleep and there is still a sticky, piled-up kitchen yet to clean.

The prayer was much the same as I've heard before. Thankfulness for the day, please no bad dreams tonight. And then, it was different...

Thank you for your commandments and help me to obey and help me to be perfect.

The air went out of me.

I asked myself a million questions all at once. What have I done wrong? I rarely even utter the word "perfect." Our church doesn't preach perfect.

Yet somehow, in his almost six years here on Earth, he has believed a lie: perfection is possible. It is, in fact, the goal.

He finished the prayer and I scrambled to recover, grasping for magical mommy words to snuff out the lie.

Baby, there was only One who was perfect. Please don't ever think we expect you to be perfect. All the trying in the world won't make you perfect. It's why we need Jesus.

And then I told the same thing to myself.


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