Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Adventures on a Horse Farm

We enjoyed a beautiful fall afternoon visiting some friends of my dear momma's. There were barns to explore and horses to ride, sunshine to stroll in and fresh air to breath. This all made for some very happy children as well a delighted mother and grandmother.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Training a Child

"Training a child is the highest and holiest and most fascinating of all occupations. And it takes the most heart power and brain power combined of any, too."

~S.D. Gordon, 1859-1936

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Artists

"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up"
~Picasso~ "Art is a fruit that grows in man, like a fruit on a plant, or a child in its mother’s womb."
~Jean Arp~
"Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures."
~Henry Ward Beecher~
"The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist."
~A.K. Coomaraswamy~

*As a side note, may I confess my detest for crafts? I'm terrible! I dread the set up, the clean up and the mess that occurs between the two. I am learning. My children LOVE anything that even comes close to appearing to be a craft. So I drag out the arts and crafts totes and resist the urge to stand over them, wringing my hands and fretting. Instead, I sit down with them and join in. And you know what? We ALL end up having a marvelous time, each and every time. Also, may I confess my deep admiration for all of you mommas who do well in this area? I aspire to be more like you!

Don't Turn Your Staff In!!!!!

More thoughts on "shepherding your flock":

So what about those moments, even days, when a mother might find herself willing to trade in her staff for Starbuck's and her green pastures for a nice, hot bath? What about those trying times, when shepherding feels downright hazardous to your health, like an old warning on a cigarette ad? Or those occasions when exhaustion, emotional turmoil, physical discomforts, etc., make shepherding seem about as feasible as climbing Mt. Everest. Couldn't one such mother just temporarily hang her rod and staff, let her little lambs fend for themselves, 'freeze' her responsibilities to her flock for just a moment?

Well, certainly a mother CAN, and many a mothers do, but at what cost? A flock without a shepherd, especially a flock of little lambs, is truly the epitome of vulnerability. When a mother relinquishes her responsibility as a shepherd to her flock, she essentially offers them up to wolves and other predators, to hunger and dehydration, to becoming lost or at the very least, to mindless wanderings, to diseases and ailments, to treacherous terrain, and ultimately, to death. All of this likely not literally, but most certainly figuratively. Oh, no mother does this intentionally. And yes, I have taken it to the extreme. Or have I?

I am recognizing in my own life a selfishness, a self-pursuit, that is oh, so very subtle. But it lures me away from tending to my flock, tempts me to trade in that staff for a moment of peace and quiet, battles with my desire and ability to shepherd my flock. Sometimes it comes in the form of fatigue, sometimes in the form of a monthly storm that wages war on my patience and gentleness, sometimes in the form of feeling overwhelmed or incapable. At other times, it has come in the form of morning sickness or 'every child's sick all at once' sickness. Regardless of it's presentation, the temptation is the same: This shepherding business is too hard; it requires too much of me; I'm not fit to be a shepherd; I can't do it anymore.

Surely, shepherds get sick. They most definitely get tired. I'm certain they have bad days and stormy weather and sick lambs. But rather than handing in their staff and running for the hills, perhaps they have other ways of making it through those hard times.

Perhaps they enlist the help of their "Co-Shepherd" (in most cases, this would be our husbands!). Maybe their "Co-Shepherd" would tend the flock for a bit while they find refreshment for their weary souls (the Word of God beats out Starbucks on this one, but combining the two is a lovely thing!). Or maybe they take a break from their usual route and lead their flock to a lush, green field where they may romp and play while the shepherds rest beneath a shade tree and soak in the beauty of their flock. A shepherd can fight fatigue and other physical detriments with good nutrition, good sleep, and good exercise. In fact, a shepherd owes it to her flock to be as healthy as is within her control. If a storm finds the flock every month, the shepherd may consider its predictability a blessing and plan for it, fastening the hatches and tightening the sails so as to be as unaffected as possible by its raging winds and tormenting rains. And ultimately, the shepherd makes it through the trying times by clinging tight to THEIR master, who's name is The Good Shepherd.

Abating our privilege of shepherding a flock, absolving ourselves of our responsibilities to our's simply not an option. It's too dangerous, too harmful, and they are simply too precious. So, mothers, hold fast to your staffs, take your shepherding up a notch, hunker down through the storm, and press on. These little lambs need us!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Innovative Resourcefulness

Noah, having recently learned to play Mancala, found himself in the 'unfortunate' position of being without a Mancala board. Or perhaps it was actually quite a fortunate position he found himself in! He went to work amidst Legos (nice and clean Legos, thanks to his youngest sister!) and created his very own Mancala board. We've all been enjoying his innovative resourcefulness! Good job, Noah:)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Autumn's Stroll

Care to join us for an afternoon stroll in this glorious season we call Autumn?


Sarah Grace, you've learned to hug. I mean, down and dirty, arms wrapped tightly around my neck, squeezing as hard as your little muscles can possibly squeeze, hug. Oh, it makes me giggle with happiness, which then provokes you to issue another one, and another and another. And I try desperately to memorize the way your arms feel, your little body snuggled up against mine. For you will follow the pattern of those who have gone before you.... and you will grow up!
Your hugs will remain treasured moments of pure sweetness, but they will become fewer in frequency and perhaps not quite as tight as they are now. They will not come in rapid succession but I will count myself blessed if you find the time for just one!
Your arms will grow and wrap easily around my neck where as now they must stretch to circle about it. Sooner or later, your legs will not dangle down during such an encounter. No, they will instead be planted firmly on the ground, daughter and mother closing the chasm between child and adult. And oh, how precious your hugs will be then, too.
I love you, Sarah Grace!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Capable: Endued with power competent to the object; qualified for; susceptible of.
(Definition courtesy of Webster's 1828 Dictionary).

This word has been knocking around in my head lately. It began as I was driving home from the retreat, feeling humbled by the gift of children the Lord has blessed Craig and I with and feeling inadequate to 'shepherd' them in the shadow of the Good Shepherd. I honestly felt the Lord speak to this thick-headed heart of mine. You know, the kind of speaking that reduces you to tears in nothing flat! I often feel undeserving of the children the Lord has given me, as if they were a privilege I needed to earn first by attaining some sort of high-level perfection. Like I needed to 'try out' for motherhood, to see if I could make the team, before I was handed my MOM badge. It is incomprehensible to me that the Lord chose to give me children, on purpose, knowing all too well my weaknesses and failures, my temptations and incapacities. But that afternoon, with a mind swirling like the golden leaves on the highway, God reminded me that first and foremost, His grace is sufficient. But secondly, He is a God of potential! When He chose to give me the joy and responsibility of children, He didn't do it because of who I was at the time, but of who He knew I was capable of being. He created me, He knows me inside and out; He knows, far better than I do, my potential and what I am capable of doing. The Bible is full of stories of people who felt they were not able to do what God had called them to do and yet God, in His divine wisdom, had created them to be CAPABLE to do what He was asking them to do. They were not to do a self-evaluation and then determine whether or not they could or would obey. No, no, no!!! Do we not do this as mothers all too often? They, instead, were to trust that their Creator had made them capable to do anything and everything He put before them. And so it is with me, and with you! We, as mothers, have nothing in ourselves to boast of, nothing to put confidence in. Were we to attend a try-out for mothering, none of us would make the team. However, the God who fashioned me in my dear mamma's womb crafted me with the capabilities to mother a certain builder and analyzer, a certain base-jumper and Energizer-bunny, a certain princess and Anne of Green Gables rolled all into one, and a certain spit-fire, show-stopping, sweetest-Pete Goose. If I were to self-evaluate my ability (as Moses did!), I'd be running the other way as fast as possible. But there is no need for self-evaluation. I am capable because God is God; I am capable to mother these precious children and to shepherd the Fabulous Four.

Mothers, are you shying away from what the Lord is challenging you to do in the realm of mothering? Are you feeling ill-equipped and insecure in your abilities? Are you settling for mediocrity in your parenting because you feel incapacitated and overwhelmed? If so, you are believing a lie of Satan. Its all a lie! The Lord who brought your children into your life (via your womb or the womb of 'another-mother') has fully equipped you and made you capable. Go forth with confidence, not in yourself, but in the God who made you, Who's grace is sufficient, and knows who you are and who you will be. Rejoice in His gifts to you: the gift of children and the promise that He who started a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. You are CAPABLE!!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Many Hands...Turn a Corner

Yesterday, we turned a corner! It was a simple corner, and yet it came as such a blessing! I have a friend with six lambs in her flock, as Nancy Campbell would say. She visited the library once and may have only had five at the time, but she took only the youngest two. She came home exhausted and a bit exasperated and told me that going to the library with five was far easier than going to the library with one or two. Honestly, I'll admit that I thought that she was crazy, that perhaps growing five placentas had proven to deplete her head of each and every brain cell contained within. It could not be true that toting along five children could possibly be easier than toting along two. Surely there must be some law of physics that could disprove her belief! May I say that if such a law exists, it is a false law. Yesterday I took my four children to the grocery store to supply our pantry with food. Noah was the keeper of the pencil and clipboard with our grocery list on it. He crossed off things as we went and kept me informed of what we needed next. Kaleb kept Hannah company while Noah and I claimed various food items as our own. Hannah enjoyed his company as well as chatting away with me about the sundries of life. Sarah Grace snuggled sweetly to my back in the Ergo. We made short, and efficient, order of the grocery store. Then the potential chaos at the check out began. But, alas, the chaos was abated by helping hands emptying the cart on one end while I bagged groceries on the other. As we exited the store with a full load of groceries, a crazy thought entered my mind and a corner was turned on this journey called parenting: "That shopping trip was easier with four children that it would have been with only one or two!!!". Either there's truth there, or I, too, am brain-cell deficient. "Many hands make light work". If it's not a proven law of physics yet, it should be!

So to the Fabulous Four: thank you for being such a blessing to this one momma. You are a delight, an absolute delight.

And to Michelle: thank you! You were right:)!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Gentle Shepherd

My goodness, was that retreat good!!! I am home now (we returned home Sunday evening) and would love to give you a good, hearty recap of the weekend. However, I am still chewing and chewing and chewing. Yes, it was that good! Nancy Campbell spoke on "Shepherding Your Flock" in reference to mothers. She made so many good, scriptural points. So very many! But the one, if I HAD to choose just one, that spoke to me loudest on first impression was that of being a gentle shepherd. She made the statement that a good shepherd does not drive his sheep but instead gently leads them. I understood completely what she was talking about. Sadly, I think I more often bulldoze my children rather than gently lead them. So many times she mentioned that we have the potential to reveal characteristics and attributes of God by the way we mother. God is not a bulldozer; He is a gentle shepherd and I want to reveal that part of God when I am relating to my children!
It was so wonderful to be with so many other mothers who are on the journey, as well. Mothers who are striving to grasp that motherhood really is a high calling; a world-changing ministry design by God. It was refreshing to dwell with like-minded ladies.
And so I return to laundry and math lessons and meal preparation and sibling negotiations and all the other details of this high calling. Praise the Lord that I get to do it with a renewed vision. If you ever have the opportunity to attend an Above Rubies retreat, I strongly encourage you to seize that opportunity!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Retreating, I Will Go

If all goes well, I will be attending the Above Rubies retreat this weekend near Silverton, Oregon. I am very excited and, honestly, a bit nervous. Craig and the kids will be fine, I know. And we will be staying with some dear friends that live near there so I will get to come home to them at night. But still.... I certainly would not mind your prayers, for a smooth sailing ship on the 'home front' and for those ladies attending the retreat (including ME!) that the Lord will work in our hearts. Nancy Campbell has said that she plans on speaking about "Shepherding Your Flock". Sounds fantastic to me!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Room with a View

As Craig continues to update windows in our house as time and finances permit, he proves once again that he CAN do almost anything, even with Baby in tow:

And Autumn's "Hallelujahs" from my back door. What a fine Creator He is!