Weird But True

I just had to get away this afternoon; packing and preparing for our trip to Virginia had me a bit rattled. When I am alone in the van, it is so quiet and I am aware of all the sounds the carriage and doors make. There was a strange scratching sound today, which reminded me of the mice. A few weeks ago, Luke was leaving to take the kids to cross country practice. As he backed out of the driveway, ahead of the van in the rocks was a mouse with a baby in its mouth. It sat there a second, as if in shock, then ran with its cargo into the weeds. I was convinced that it must have fallen out of the van when Luke left. This was confirmed a few days later when I was sitting at a light in town, and all of the sudden there is a mouse on my windshield! I turned on the wipers and made it jump off and escape behind a streetlight. We have had mice chew through wires in previous vehicles, so seeing these creatures nest in our van concerns me. But Luke doesn’t seem worried. Just wait until one comes to meet him while he’s driving, this time on the inside of the windshield.

Last week we got a strange package in the mail. It was an ordinary brown box, and weighed next to nothing. Curiosity was killing me, waiting for Luke to come home and open it. He wasn’t expecting anything, and frowned when he pulled out 200 pairs of earplugs, the kind you’d use in factories or around heavy machines. What? He called the company, which wasn’t all that helpful. “I guess it’s your lucky day!” The operator responded. What were we to do with all these earplugs? Aliyah was headed to a Tenth Avenue North concert that weekend, so Luke planned on trying to sell some there. When they got there, they saw that the event was giving earplugs away for free. Oh, well. We are set for life as far as healthy hearing goes.

 

Where We Are

I’ve been well so long that I forget what it’s like to be sick. Last night a (rare, now) headache started, and I’m slowly recovering from it this morning. Sitting and walking slowly around the house, I see it all in a new light. Do we really live in such a mess? I read once where the author assured that we have to decide what level of tidiness we can manage, and try to keep things there. Well, I must have dropped the bar; this place needs work! With the older kids gone Saturdays at meets, and me not even able to boss the littles effectively today, I see how much I do and how not much I delegate. Not good, says Jethro to Moses. True, true.

Life itself seems to be in a state of disorder and confusion for us right now. We have not found a church that we feel ‘fits’, though I know this takes time, and goes both ways. You get when you give. But  ‘a girl without a church home’ has never described me. I mean, I was in church before I was born. The closest thing to a wilderness I’ve experienced before this was our brief try at a church plant, but even then I had my married family to surround me, if not many church family members. (Luke’s dad was the pastor and his brother in law the associate pastor/elder. We rarely had more than twenty at a service, as I only had four children then.😃) But God is my portion.

My mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. While it was not a surprise, it still signals the closing of a door on some things in life, and ushering in a new season of uncertainty. We would like my dad and mom to move closer to us so that we can help with her care, but that means even more changes for my dad, who is feeling a bit overwhelmed already. All in God’s time.

So, that’s where we are. Lots of tangled messes waiting for God’s deft fingers to work them out.

 

Good Things

Martha Stewart likes to promote the fun, fanciful, and fine with the above phrase. From vegetable noodlers to warm slippers, these are the things to have right now, to enjoy life to the fullest. I read something today that reminded me what the true ‘good things’ really are.

I guess a woman with cancer refused treatment because she was pregnant. Then, the baby, a girl, had to be taken at 24 weeks and did not survive. Then, the mom died, two days later. She leaves behind a husband and five children. Man, right there is a couple of people I would just love to hug. I will look for her in Heaven, but him? He’s got a very difficult row to hoe. I doubt it is feeling very much like a good thing to this husband and father that his wife and baby are gone.

A BSF lesson question ties into this, too, in a strange way. It says, “What results of suppressing the truth (see Romans 1) do you see in your own life and what will you ask God to help you do about it?”

I wrestled a bit with this thought, then concluded that maybe a good place to start would be to isolate some problem or issue I am having right now; perhaps this difficulty is a result of me suppressing God’s truth. But then I thought, that isn’t the only reason we have trouble in our lives. It may be just as likely the bad thing is not a result of my sin, if we’re talking averages.

And let’s not forget these dear ones who hardly know how to move forward without their sacrificial wife and mother. Nothing in this says, they must have suppressed the truth to get here. In fact, this has God’s truth written all over it, but it still hurts. So. Badly.

Sigh. But who of us really know if we would trade a single tear, a single blow, a single loss, if we could see it all the way He does. I would be willing to bet we’d see them as Good Things to rival Martha’s any day.

Be Anxious For Nothing

I was praying this morning that I could avoid being anxious about something, only to hear news about something else later today that caused more worry than that thing before. (I’ve been mentioning prayer often, but that shouldn’t give anyone the impression I’m very far along on this spiritual journey.)

Maybe the bigger thing WAS my answer, as if to say, you think that was a stressor? Try this. And remember that some people deal with even worse, every day.

The kids are at cross country practice. I’ve got the younger six with me at home. It is so pleasant outside right now, with a cool breeze and approaching clouds to take away the sun’s brightness and heat. The bugs are so loud you can make out little else. I love the sounds, and the smells, of fall. Anticipating a new season never disappoints.

Today is Aliyah’s birthday. She’s 17! I remember much about her birth, and bits from her childhood, but not as much as I would expect. We just live life with each other, day by day, and those early days get farther away. She’s a great young lady, in spite of my many sins raising her. This, of all things, should encourage me not to worry about tomorrow. For seventeen years now, and more, it has been out of my hands.

 

Next Big Break

My prayer this morning was, please help us to be gentle. Anna gets a tooth knocked last week, then this week begins with Julia and her sore arm. The kids were playing outside last night, and she came in crying and not using her arm. She has done this before, both falling and favoring her arm, but it is usually better by morning. This morning she was still in a lot of pain, so I took her to Urgent Care, knowing from Adon’s visit there that they would do an x ray. The doctor there simply manipulated her arm a bit- twisting, bending, moving, which Julia hated, of course. But then I noticed she wasn’t crying a whole lot about the x ray, and when she returned to the exam room she started reaching for books and Sarah’s water bottle! I think the doctor popped something into place. Maybe it was a waste of money to go there just for her to touch her arm, but I didn’t feel like I should ignore symptoms of a sprain or break, and I know I may not have had the confidence to move her arm like that.

So, I’m happy. Julia’s running around, back to being busy. Hopefully we can have a more normal day here soon. These injuries are exhausting.

Fortuitous

So said my soft spoken yet verbose dentist of the break in her front tooth. It didn’t go so far as the central tissue being involved, and didn’t damage the root. I almost burst into tears when I heard him say that word, as if it were just the right stroke of luck. No, it was God, working in mercy, as He so often does. I don’t know if my dentist is a believer in God; he serves enough pastors and sheep in our community not to be familiar with all that. I hope he was struck once again with the mysterious ways of Him tonight. That would truly be fortuitous.

I’m Back

A few months ago, my blog was hacked. Luke fixed it for me rather quickly (my hero), but it was a long time before I felt safe logging into my blog. I mean, wouldn’t that be throwing open the gates once again to the hackers? But I have concluded that I must not go on cow-towing to such fears. I have my three readers to consider, and some free time in my day that should be used productively.

The Bellville Street Fair starts today, that fanciful event we have in our closest village. The kids drew pictures for the art show (the day of:), Sarah entered her crochet finery, Abbie baked brownies, and Aliyah submitted some beautiful photos. I will try to post some pictures of all the entries in the next post.

Mommy Is Mean

That’s where we are already, only day two of being a single mom. Elijah said that this afternoon when he was supposed to stay upstairs and didn’t.

But seriously. Things are going pretty good with Luke and the big kids gone. We went to the library this morning, and each kid was able to turn in a reading sheet. I couldn’t turn in the babies’ sheets, though, because when I looked at the options for reading and encouraging reading on the back of it, I couldn’t honestly say I’d done that five times this past week. So the list is now on the fridge, and we are counting raisins when we wake up.

I didn’t mean to, but I got two books read this past week! One was A Man Called Ove, the other Only The River Runs Free.  Ove was okay, but judging from the praise for it on the front and back covers, you’d think it was a Pulitzer. As I read it I kept thinking of stories it mimicked, like the grumpy old man in the movie Up and the children from the movie Despicable Me, even the plots from my beloved Mitford books (man is alone- man gets pet- man meets interesting and challenging people- man ends up changing many lives). Is nothing original anymore?

Only The River was pretty good. It takes place in Ireland at a time when the Irish are under England’s thumb, and (at least in this story) the Catholics are the good guys and Protestants greedy and dishonest. There was a neat part where two of the characters, children, were in possession of a key and were overwhelmed with fear lest it be found. In a book given them by a godly man, it said the only place for burdens was the feet of Jesus. So they took the key to the church and hid it in a wooden carving of Jesus crucified, in the space between his feet and the cross. What a great picture for all of us, and the burdens we cannot bear. This book is our ladies’ book club selection this month, and I’d like to make something for each lady that represents a way of laying our burdens at His feet. Maybe a small box with Jesus’ feet painted on the lid, where one can put paper bits of prayers and praises? Any ideas you all have are welcome.

 

My Thing

The kids and Luke left to run just a bit ago, and I was left holding the sauce spoon, holding down the fort, holding in my complaints about the way of things sometimes. Even with bigger kids, a lot is left to me, and some days it gets hard to keep a good attitude. Part of the game is learning to love it, learning how to do, whatever my hand finds to do, with all my heart.

The other day I was moaning to Luke that I didn’t have a ‘thing’, an activity that fulfilled me, gave me some joy (I mean apart from marriage and family; that wasn’t the origin of this conversation. I can’t remember what was, ha). Luke immediately returned, “Homeschooling! You have that!” and it was like a light bulb went on, one that has been screwed in the hole for some time, just not screwed in all the way. Luke wants me to embrace homeschooling, to take it seriously, to work at it with all my heart. All these years I have tried to have as little to do with it as possible, like an acquaintance I would only see occasionally, but never dream of having into my home for dinner. Something is clicking with me. I’m not allowed to hate homeschooling. It is hurting my children, but it is hurting me more not to be all in, and allow myself to be changed through the process of teaching my children. I want to repent of this spirit asap, and am working on making time each day even this summer to get up close and personal with what the Lord might want to do in and through us next fall.

Luke and the older four leave for Lynchburg Monday for a week. While I will miss my biggest helpers (see griping above), I am looking forward to having some extra time to myself. The calendar is empty, since much of the to-dos these days involve these five. My to-do list can be a little more focused:

Read to the littles every day and take them to the library

Clean house

Read

Paint

Blog

Cook yummy things that Luke hates

Soak up some sun

If I get any of that done, the week will be well spent.

I’m learning that at this stage of my life, my ‘thing’ needs to be me enabling others to have their thing. It will likely be my most rewarding work.

“Well done, thou good and faithful servant…”

 

The Hope of Temporary

Don’t be jealous that I now have a tiny bedroom in the northern, moldy corner of our house. Actually, I was so excited to be making the change- much of our set up in our home was meant to be temporary, and any time we move forward in our house projects, I feel like I can breathe a little more deeply. But that first night in our new room, I couldn’t get to sleep. Maybe it was the hot cocoa, maybe the thoughts of all that there still is to do to get Carol settled into her room and us into ours. It didn’t end up being as wonderful as I thought it would be.

We visited a church on Sunday for the second time, one we are seriously thinking about attending long term. Realistically, we can’t visit many churches this summer: Luke and I are seasoned enough to reject most denominations in our area as not being for us, and even visiting the church we did was exhausting. People are friendly, but we are answering the same questions over and over (where we live, do we homeschool, are we related to —- Burton, etc). I thought it would be great if we just could go up to the pulpit and introduce ourselves, get it all out at once. It seems like a lot of work if we are only going to be there temporarily.

The pastor’s sermon was timely, though. The Sadducees were trying to trap Jesus with a question about a woman marrying all seven brothers of a family, and Jesus gives us insight into the nature of Heaven and eternity. This, all this, is temporary, except the Word of God, and people. I want to spend more of my day focused on these two things.

Our church problems center on these two things, in many ways. We want to be part of a church body where the Word of God is studied, where people are discipled, and where good relationships can develop that spur us each on to love and good works. Sometimes it seems like there is no place for us, if we are to be sticklers on these details. Are we too hard-nosed? I think it comes back to what is temporary, and what is eternal. We have to major on these things that last forever. There has to be a way to cultivate this in our family.