Monday, February 22, 2010

The Messy Truth

My mothering skills last week rivaled Joan Crawford's performance in Mommy Dearest. Sadly, it wasn't acting for me. It was real life. It was one of those weeks in which stress, sickness, sleep deprivation, and selfishness created a perfect storm.

I snapped...more times than I can remember.

By Thursday I collapsed on my bed in tears. I said to myself, I can't do this. I don't want to do this.I wondered why God gave me these precious children to teach and nurture. Surely someone else could do better.

Too enraged and distraught to even pray, I did the worst thing I could do...I went on about my day, trying and failing time and again in my own strength.

And every time I failed, every time I said and did things that were wrong and harsh and uncalled for, I sipped the toxic brew of failure. By week's end I was drunk on guilt and self-loathing, too inebriated to grasp for any rational thought whatsoever.

I tried to write and couldn't even string two words together. I was a mess.

Friday morning I read this post of Emily's. Her words couldn't have been more timely.

Shame is what happens when we let guilt fester and sink deeper and don't deal with it. Shame seeps into our skin when we aren't looking and takes our spirit hostage. And then she sits down heavy and masks herself as us so we can't tell the difference between the two. {excerpt}

I realized then that Shame had taken up residence in me, kicking Grace right on out and locking the door. The two cannot coexist. No house is big enough for the both of them.

Sometimes I think failure isn't an option when you're old enough to know better. And while I am certainly old enough, I was reminded through the words of a song that I am still very much like a child, a baby even. A child who stubbornly believes she shouldn't need to be picked up and dusted off so often still by her Father.

The words coated my still-fresh wounds with healing truth...

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes you
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live.*

Some falls are worse than others. At times it's the sheer frequency of the falls that make it so hard. Some weeks I feel as if I never make it up off the floor before I stumble again, tripping over the mess I haven't allowed Grace to clean up.

So I'm in the process of cleaning house. And like some of those hoarders you see on TV, I'm finding that it can be hard to let go of the stuff that caused the clutter and mess in the first place. Ironic.

Thankfully, Grace doesn't care how messy it is. In fact, Grace works best in a mess...and she never says that you're old enough to know better.

And thank you, Emily. Your words helped give voice to my own and enabled me to at last string two words together...and then some.


*Come to Jesus by Chris Rice

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Slaying the Loch Ness Mommy

I don't know a single homeschooling mom who keeps a clean house, day in and day out. I've heard she exists, much like the mythical Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot. People talk of her, some believe they've even caught a glimpse, but I fear she's simply legend.

Her elusiveness both troubles and comforts me. If she is real, that means it is actually possible to simultaneously home-educate and maintain cleanliness and order. Sigh. Yet another reminder that I do not have it nearly as together as I could. Or should.

But ultimately, the fact that she is probably {mostly} mythical, comforts me. It means I'm believing in the impossible. It frees me up to relax, to let go, to settle in and cozy up with a simple yet profound reality:

I can enjoy a clean and orderly home. I can enjoy my children. I cannot enjoy both of them {to the utmost} at the same time.

I choose children.

I choose to slay the mythical Loch Ness within and simply rest in the mess.

There. I've said it. I mostly believe it...but I am still making peace with my resolution.

And if by chance you are the Clean-House-Homeschooler-Loch-Ness-Bigfoot, I beg you, please do not leave a comment telling me that you exist...

It's much better if I believe that you don't.

Monday, February 15, 2010

O Minivan, Minivan, Wherefore Art Thou Minivan?

You can refer to me as "Dr. Scooper" from here on out. I have a PhD in Minivanology.

We are happily and safely home, transported to this much-loved place by our much-loved, new-to-us minivan. Thanks for your kind thoughts and prayers on our behalf. {If you've no idea what I'm talking about, just read my last post.}

My body is weary and my mind is spent. I've realized in recent years that my graduate-school research skills have an annoying tendency to hijack everyday decisions. Our latest quandry regarding an unexpected minivan purchase was just another example of my OTD {Over-Thinking Disorder} run-a-muck.

I can tell you more than you {or I} ever wanted to know about minivans...everything from the transmission of a Dodge Caravan to the A/C specs of a Nissan Quest.

How we reached any sort of decision in a timely manner is, in fact, a small miracle...especially when you are shopping with three children and one of them says directly to the sales agent: I hope our new van lasts a really long time because our old one just left us stranded on the side of the road at like, 3 in the morning. It was out before I could even pinch her.

So much for The Man's professional attempt to keep that information on the down-low. We should have just walked in wearing signs that said: Desperate for minivan today. Name your price.

We are thankful for God's faithful provision and relieved to have finally completed our unplanned mission, truth-telling youngsters notwithstanding.

The Scooper, PhD

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


The Man and I have a penchant for spontaneity and adventure. We have delightful memories from the myriad last-minute treks and trips during the 18 years we've known each other. And I've decided our many mishaps along the way sweeten the stories immensely.

But in recent years it's become harder to live life the way we used to. Kids and grown-up responsibilities have a way of changing things. Last week, however, a spontaneity front came through our region and carried us off to faraway family for a snow-filled weekend.

It was fun to feel free and crazy, to look at each other repeatedly and ask, Are we really doing this? It was fun to talk to my husband in the dark, early-morning quiet while the kids slept, lulled to sleep by engine hum against their I'm-going-to-stay-awake-til-4-am wishes. It was fun to giggle and talk about dreams and what-if's while we munched on too many salt and vinegar chips and drank Coke.

It was fun until our van died on an Indiana interstate exit at 4 a.m. At that point, "free" and "crazy" was not fun. It was a regrettable whim.

As the tow-truck pulled us to a nearby dealership and we prayed and I wiped my leaky eyes, Blondie busted out with an impromptu remake of a recent hit: Van broke down. Van broke down. Lookin' like a fool with your van broke down. Thank the Lord for those moments when tears give way to comic relief. I laughed until I cried. Again.

So, it's one of those weekends turned weeks when you simply make do, when you embrace adventure of a different sort.

I'd like to say I'm good at that. I did, after all, just do a little series on the topic. But this "making do" is harder...and I'm no good at it. I prefer the kind that involves spray paint.

After a weekend of snow and sledding and hanging out {everything I had planned}, I am now faced with the reality of a week that is not at all what I'd had in mind...

A week away from home and husband, a week of doing school without our books and supplies, a week of hunting for a new van, a week of hoping that we are not imposing entirely too much on another {very gracious} family...whose plans we have now trampled all over.

{I am beginning to feel like the Cousin Eddie of the family: Now don't you going fallin' in love with that RV, Clark. We're takin' it with us when we leave here next month.}

Plans gone awry have turned me to mush. I fight back tears as I meander through Kroger and munch on illegal amounts of sample cheese. I dab eyes as I can't seem to find a body-wash poof {because exfoliating makes everything better} and pay too much for diapers. My mind is clearly elsewhere as I try to remove Cupcake from the shopping cart four times and finally yank off his snow boots to get him out...only to discover that he's still buckled in.

After the dust of spontaneity has settled and the adrenaline of crisis has worn off, I realize that I do not like having to alter my plans so much. I selfishly grip my oh-so-commonplace agenda like my toddler grips his favorite toy and when it's ripped from my hands, I fall apart.

I'm realizing that spontaneity is fun...but only when I'm the one planning it.

And in my rare moments of clarity, I know that this mishap too will one day "sweeten the story."

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Making Do Part 3 {A Series}: Chalk It Up

A high half-wall / unusable bar separates our eating area from the kitchen. Since we have one of those really open floor plans, builders do things like that to delineate one space from another I suppose.

{Here's an old picture to show you the "Before."}

I like the half-wall. And I would like the really high bar if I had a ladder to sit on while I drink my coffee. Bar stools tall enough for my bar simply do not exist in real life. The Man and I have discussed modifying the Empire State bar but that would require expertise and supplies. We're a little short on those at the moment.

So, we have just made do without it.

Unfortunately, the half-wall is prone to being bludgeoned by kitchen chairs and sneaker-shod kid feet. It was streaked and smudged and scratched only days after a fresh coat of paint.

{Yes, that is a llama. She joins us for school and meals on a regular basis.}

Recently I traded something I no longer wanted for a half-full can of chalkboard paint my neighbor no longer wanted. It was exactly enough to paint the dented and smudged half-wall. Yay!


{I write our Classical Conversations weekly memory work up here...until Cupcake sees fit to do a little work of his own.}

I don't know why I didn't chalk it up sooner. It took 45 minutes for 2 coats of paint. It's perfect for the space since the kitchen table is also our homeschool area. Best of all, it was free and can be painted over when when I tire of it.


So that concludes my mini-series on "Making Do." It wasn't until I finished these little projects that I realized the blessing and provision inherent in all of them. The wall and the rug rehab didn't cost me a dime. The hutch needed only paint and a few supplies.

All of them made me crazy happy and met very real needs.

Sometimes I'm completely without the means to make the changes I want...or so I think. It's one thing to have $50 to spend on a rug instead of $500. Fifty dollars is still fifty dollars. But sometimes I have zero.

I'm learning that times of want almost always provide magical options I would have never considered during times of relative plenty. Funny how that works.

I'll bet you have a neighbor who will gladly give you some paint in exchange for a lamp. You may even have a rug with Kool-Aid stains that's just begging to be flipped...

And if you do, I want to hear all about it.


{Linked up with Kimba's DIY Day {A Soft Place to Land}

{Linked up with Melissa at The Inspired Room.}

Monday, February 1, 2010

Recipe for a Redneck Snow Day

  • Handful of Southern children who rarely see snow
  • Light dusting of wintry mix
  • Roasting pan
Mix together and enjoy!


On a totally different note, last night I was blessed to attend a concert by Christian singer-songwriter Laura Story.

In the midst of our wintry weekend, her music warmed my soul and lifted my weary spirit. Go check her'll be glad you did.



Blog Widget by LinkWithin