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.

 

Monday Breeze

I got up early this morning, and stayed up. This is difficult to do, but even more difficult was getting Aliyah, Sam, and Noah up by 6:30 and out the door by 7:30. It was BMV time.

Aliyah needed to renew her temps, Sam and Noah needed an id card, and I needed to renew my driver’s license. Have I ever talked about my many mishaps resulting from an expired license here on the blog? Every. Four. Years. But who says a forty year old dog can’t learn new tricks? I’m a month early.

We got to the BMV at 8 on the dot, only to find that their server was down, and most of the services they render, renewals and photo-taking among them, were not working. I decided we would wait at least until nine, since leaving and coming another day would just be another hassle. It was rather ironic to see all of these BMV employees having to ‘wait’ for their computers to work. Ha! At one point a BMV cashier got everyone’s attention (“Okay, People…”) and explained that even they did not know when the computers would be online again. “It may be five more minutes, it may be five days.” Really? You’re telling me the State of Ohio is going to let their servers be down for five days? That would make national news. Drama Queen.

I must say I haven’t had to wait like I did this morning in forever. I can’t remember a time I was in line. Part of that is I let my license expire and don’t come as often as I should (hee), part is because I try to come right when they open in the morning. One time I came and the sun was just coming up as I emerged with my renewed license (which means it wasn’t spring or summer). It was a beautiful sight, the warm orange light peeking over the brick buildings of downtown Mansfield. I thought of a wonderful opening line to a book:

“Sunrise is beautiful in my city, and I am the only one who stirs.”

 

When To Call It

The most often asked question this week is, “Are you done with school yet?” And the answer is easy or difficult. Easy because we can be done anytime I say we are, difficult because I have felt especially bad about this year- ‘homeschool fails’. The boys made some videos during track meets and called them ‘Football Fails’, films that were particularly funny to their age group or younger. This year, similarly, felt to me like me acting out the wrong way to do everything, from getting up in the morning (late) to going to bed at night (late). But, there is light on the horizon- I’ve been reading a couple of books that I think will prove helpful to this summer and next school year: Teaching From Rest, and The Literacy Cookbook. Both have some wonderful insights, talk to me without making me feel guilty, and make me want to do better next year. With no baby on the way, I already feel some space to do that I didn’t have this year. Whatever circumstance I am in, however, is an opportunity to follow Jesus, so I can’t really make excuses.

Aliyah is doing a college-credit program in the fall, and Luke was drawing up a record of ‘courses’ she has done for high school so far. This is actually a good thing, because we can think ahead for Sarah, Sam, and Noah and have a plan for where we want them to be when their turn comes to apply for this program. I’ll appreciate having a checklist of sorts, and the challenge to have them work more and more independently.

I went over to a friend’s house last night to pick up some eggs. She invited me to stay and rest on the porch, and I took her up on the offer. It was a lovely evening, and just the right amount of adventure and offroading for me. I hadn’t ever been to her house, but it wasn’t that far out of the nearest town and I couldn’t have gotten lost, something I do many times in that area. She also has elaborate landscaping, added-to each year, and I found it very inspiring as we are planning to do something around our porch (finally!)

We have decided to take a break from our church for the summer. Some disturbing things have happened in recent years, and we’re just not sure if this is the place to be right now in our family’s life, with many children and the philosophies we have about serving them and serving in the church. It was hard to say what we were doing out loud, when I had to find subs for nursery and such. But not too many people have said anything to me about it, and my friend last night didn’t say a word. Maybe that is a good thing- there isn’t really anything to say right now- my hope is to be quiet and listen these next few months.  The Lord will show us what to do.

 

Reaching Out

I read a blog post today where the lady was very critical of “trendy churches”, with their “coffee bars”, as missing the point when it came to truly reaching those who are hurting. She described the loss of her husband to cancer and noted that it wasn’t her trendy church she credited with helping her get through her difficult time, it was Jesus.

While I wholeheartedly agree that our church programs may or may not be hitting the target, this article seemed to be a little disjointed, if not running on parallel tracks. On the one hand, this woman has experienced a great loss. But to say the things she did about megachurches didn’t seem to go with that. Maybe her own church was unthoughtful or absent while her husband was suffering, and she is now resentful. But it almost seems as if the article is a ‘fake news’ type of publication, where someone grabbed this woman’s story and decided to make it a bash on modern church growth strategies.

This blog post did get me thinking, though. Is it really up to the church at large, the administration, to reach out to those suffering and widows? Yes, James tells us to look after widows and orphans, and no good church would ignore them. But I thought about how those who are hurting would typically be touched: if I met up with such a person, I might invite them over to my house, or to join me in a small group of people with something in common (mommy group, men’s group, etc). I probably wouldn’t invite them to church right away, keeping the connection one on one for a while. In this model, the person would be experiencing the love of Jesus, and the love of the church, but through an individual member of it. At this point in our relationship, my church’s coffee bar or salad bar wouldn’t have much to do with it.

I’m sorry for this woman’s loss, but I don’t see how her church’s flaws play into it. And yet, she now has a deeper awareness of others in their suffering, and Christ’s strength is made manifest in her weakness. In this she can delight.