beginning again

So many days have passed since my last blog entry, I’ve needed desperately to begin again. Words… too many words unwritten. 

I stumble, unfocused. It’s fun to live free and easy, but the burden of being unprepared fetters these pretty wings. 

Focus is my Mecca. I sort of fall into it here and there, and it gives me flight; and then I lose it and wander aimlessly. This seems so scattered, even writing it. I know I’m not alone in the wandering, though. I feel like our culture lends itself to a drastic lack of focus. Every mode of entertainment is fast moving, if not only in duration. The art of focus is lost on a generation gone by. 

I’m reading “Little House in the Big Woods” to my littles and finding myself yearning for a little house in the middle of trees for miles. There is something comforting about having a plan to survive the winter and working hard to achieve it. I kept drifting from the words on the page to my own kitchen, dreaming of ways to simplify, plan ahead, be engaged in saving, conserving, and living on less.

Check these guys out. 


Since setting this Ant Farm up a few days ago, I’m completely fascinated by them. I watch them and think about the Proverb that says, “Consider the ants…” They haven’t stopped working since they arrived in our house. They all have a job, and they are busting their tails to do it and do it well! I’ve got to be diligent in my pursuits of the things that matter in this life, just like these guys, even if only for the integrity of hard work.

Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.

C.T. Stud

Lvb

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Interception

It’s worth mentioning, mostly for myself, that I have what is probably diagnosable as Parental Onset ADD. I became a parent, and I lost the ability to focus. Chances are that I was always in a war for this coveted  gift of focus, but I didn’t notice until I had someone to blame it on. What’s more, my focus is intercepted and rerouted, as if my mind is a TV and a man is holding the remote. You know why I’m saying: Flip. Flip. Flip.

My attention is interrupted, roughly, 367 times a day. I literally cannot do anything without an interruption, which has effected me in two ways. One, I have this que in my mind that houses interrupted thoughts, conversations, and tasks. It’s as efficient as the old Netflix cue in its early stages. For example, I was having a conversation with Dale today that was interrupted, and it went into the cue. Four hours later, it popped up randomly in my mind, and we were able to finish the conversation. 

The word that I lost, the one that drove the conversation into the cue was AMBITION. Sweet irony… leads me to the second effect. I feel like I’m losing my mind sometimes. When the cue is full, the thoughts swim around in a flurry in my mind causing white noise, which is paralyzing for me. I wake up, the house is in disarray from the parties that happen when I go to bed, I think of what needs to be done, what needs to be fixed, this kids issues, then the fighting begins as children crawl out of bed, someone spills the milk, the dog gets into the trash, I can’t find the book I need for school and… I have to drop a kid off at work, which feeds the urge to run far far away from the noise. Therein, any ambition I may have had in a moment of clarity dissipates and leaves me batting at the air for direction. It’s unsettling.

Tell me I’m not alone here. It’s survival of those most able to keep their cool in, shall we say, extenuating circumstances? How much duress can one person erndure before there is a mutiny of the mind? Hopefully a lot because I’m still looking at decades here. 😅

Lvb

mere motherhood

I finished For the Children’s Sake by Susan McCauley Schaeffer last week and immediately began Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins. …oh my heart. It’s like I’m reading my story by someone else’s hand. 


Every page, my heart aches and soul surges with contrition. It’s never as romantic as it appears from the outside. Motherhood is a process of sanctification from the very first moments after conception new facets with each addition and change of scenery. Sanctification is the process God uses to press ugliness out of us. It’s endless.

There’s a kinship amongst large families that is shared in the moment of discovery. I was at the bank customer appreciation day (free hot dogs and chips, for the whole crew! Woohoo!) and a bank employee, fascinated by “all the redheads” approached me with a barrage of questions. She was the 7th of 9 children. Our common ground was uncanny.

It’s not just big families though. Mothers share this common long haul burden for those in our care. It’s soul-satisfying and soul-stripping in unison. The lie is that we’re not enough. We must, absolutely must cling to what is true! The truth is that God chose for this, and HE makes up the differences where we fall so desperately short. 

I’m finding such great joy in reading these books on my front porch in June with a cool breeze gracing my own private morning time. ❤️ 

My admonition to you is to find joy in your daily life, right where you are. Create margins in the chaos by filling it with truth, goodness and beauty. See if you don’t blossom like a flower between two heavy slabs of concrete in the blazing sun. 

Lvb

God made dirt…

…so dirt don’t hurt.

The summer after high school, I moved to Chicago to help with an inner city mission. The family I lived with had several other families on their team, and we were a very tight-knit community. I felt very close to all of them and observed carefully. 

Their were two couples that had new babies in the group. They were probably in their mid-twenties. I was 17 so everyone over that seeemd sooooo old. The babies were named Tabitha and Samuel. 

Tabitha was born first. Her parents brought her to our church in Uptown as soon as her mama felt good enough to be out and about. She was passed around constantly, even our homeless church members held her despite their dirty clothes and faces. She crawled on the old, rundown church floor, licked the ancient pews, and found joy and wonder in every new discovery.

Samuel was born at home and didn’t leave until he was 3 months old. He was kept in his car seat or his mamas arms long after that. He was allowed to be held at 4 months old only if hands were washed and in the confines of his own home. 

Tabitha was a hearty, healthy and happy baby girl. Samuel was fussy and sick almost all the time. 

I can’t say circumstances completely dictated Tabitha’s good fortune, but it made sense. Babies that aren’t exposed to dirt and people from very early on have a more difficult time acclimating to them later.

We live in a fear-driven society. I never used hand sanitizer when I was a kid. We went from playing on the monkey bars straight to the picnic table eating hot dogs with our hands. I don’t remember ever really being sick as a kid. It was rare to get a cold or stomach bug in my house, and we had 5 kids. Life is too short to obsess about germs. It has the potential to become bondage. Don’t let it. 

Let your kids get dirty. It’s good for them. 

Lvb

modeling

We were watching a series called The Hunt last night. I was completely enthralled by the way a cheetah trains her cubs to hunt. 

As the massive herd wildebeests moved toward the water, she watched patiently, waiting for a moment to catch a stray. As one of the enormous animals began to separate from safety, she moved closer, still watching. As soon as the moment arrived, she seized it and tore off after the animal. The cubs watched intently.

There were no words exchanged, it was pure primordial instinct. And yet, the lesson was taught and learned in these brief moments.

My mind has been consumed with education. Fundamental understanding. Being present. Seizing opportunities. But this lesson, as I observed, taught me nearly as much as it taught the cubs. 

We are training our children how to be us. Everything we do is being observed so that they will become just like us. It’s a weighty realization. Unless we are diligent in working out our own virtues, they will become the more raw form of us. Raising children is exasperating. It draws out the very worst in us, as well as the very best. 

Be mindful, sweet friend. It’s their primal instinct to observe and mimic. We must observe and mimic Christ if we are efficiently lay the path for these little lives!! 

Lvb

home

There is a heavy fog looming over the city lights of 6th Street. A man passes under a streetlight with his hand in his pocket, a casual swag in his gate. The funeral home lights beam like those of a lighthouse in the fog. A car roars down the main drag, alone on the road in the depth of the night. In the distance the gentle whistle of the train sounds like the heartbeat of the city. Now you hear it, now it’s gone. My eyes drift closed, and my heart is full.

seasons change 

Someone recently asked me how I managed the clothing issue with all these kids. I laughed, and then decided to write about it. 


I’m very low maintenance in the clothing department. (See photo.) Last year I gave away almost all my hand-me-downs. Four huge totes. What kept happening was this. In May we would be leaving for vacation so I’d head into my storehouse to dig for summer clothes, and I’d find 6,000 outfits for Moses that he was already too big for. Dumb. Did I save said 6,000 outfits for Clinton and risk repeating my very predictive history? Heck to the niz-o!! Instead, I headed over to Hillcrest on half-priced clothing day to pick up a few pairs of shorts and t-shirts when summer came. Best thing ever.

Clothes are practically disposable these days. It’s difficult to get stains out of cheap fabric, and it gets holes very easily. I’ll never buy junk clothing retail again, if I can avoid it. 

The thing I keep thinking about is this. It’s good to have a basic idea of when you’re going to change out clothes seasonally. I used to wait until the weather demanded the full shift, which kept me in limbo for months here in bi-polar Missouri. No more of that. 

My scheduled change-out happens in May and September. I keep a jacket and a pair of jeans in each wardrobe for cooler weather in the summer. I keep a pair of shorts and several short sleeved shirts for warm weather in the fall. This isn’t black and white, obviously, but it’s something to consider. I’m giving giving clothes away at the end of each season, so no big deal if we have extra transition clothes. The object here is to keep things simple, have less, and have less mess.

My bigger kids have dressers, but my little boys, 2 and 4, have these little cloth totes, two each. It’s easy for them to get dressed in the morning because they can reach their clothes and find what they want without a lot of digging. I’m all about them doing stuff for themselves, you know. 

So anywayss, happy clothing your crew and may your life be filled with smiles and sunny days!! 

Lvb

independence 


I’m a big believer in what I call “life conditioning”. These people in my home are eventually going to have to get their own drinks and put on their own underwear. It’s up to me to give them the opportunity to do those things as they are able. 

This morning Moses wanted to wash his hands at the kitchen sink, which is way too tall for him. I said, “Get the step ladder out and put it next to the sink.”

He struggled to get out the step ladder. First he whined, then he yelled, then he cried, “I can’t get it!” 

My instinct was to end the noise by doing it for him, instead I said, “Mose, stop yelling and listen to Mama. You need to lift it up off the hooks. Slow down and try again.” 

He did it and was able to wash his hands at the kitchen sink like a boss. 

These are little things, but the philosophy is critical. If we are always doing for the child, the expectation will remain that he should be served. 

You know the old saying, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to put on his own underwear, save yourself five minutes a day!

Let the littles do stuff. It’s good for them and for you.


Lvb

abundance

This morning I got up early enough to drink in the dawn. It gave me a few minutes to start the day with a clear head and a good perspective. The Lord is good, and all that He does is good. 

To say that we are imperfect is an understatement of mass proportions. To say that we live in a fallen world is devastatingly minimal in its reach. There is brokenness and awfulness in every direction. That doesn’t dictate our perspective though. There is good in the midst of it all. Jesus promised us abundant life, and friends, I’ve found it anew. 

In my pursuit of the best education for my people, I’ve stumbled upon a feast spread wide and deep. Truth. Goodness. Beauty. The more I seek it, the more I see it. 


I am sorting through my boxes and stacks of schoolbooks this morning to begin again in July, and these words, in the midst of the mess, called to me from the page.


I’ve never read poetry for the sheer joy of it, not until now. It trumps the work that lies ahead. It brings me such pleasure to take in the literary lace of emotion and experience. 

Seek it out. You will find it for yourself.

Lvb

when you stay caught up, you stay caught up

I tend to be extremely forgetful. I would say it’s from overstimulation, too many things happening at once, too many things to remember, too many people talking, and that could be legit. However, I can remember being a teenager when my mom asked me to go get the vacuum from the second floor. I danced up the stairs, sang a beautiful crescendo when I reached the top, went to the bathroom, and returned downstairs. 

“Where’s the vacuum, Becca?” My mom asked patiently. She knew I was going to forget it, I just bet. I laughed hilariously and went back up the stairs after it. 

I’m forgetful. During the day things pile up in my house. We are here 24/7. There are very few hours of the day, in any, when no one is home making some kind of mess. My response to that is to “do a little along the way” all day long.

In the kitchen, I gather dishes, wipe surfaces, and collect things that belong in the basement in a laundry basket or a pile and set it in front of the basement door. When I go downstairs, I take the pile. 

I don’t like to be in a cluttered living space. Messy stuff is like noise, crazy chaotic noise. I can’t stand it. That’s why this technique is so effective. That basket of laundry that needs to be folded, I set on the table so that when I walk in the room, it has my attention. I want it taken care of ASAP!!

If I need to run a load of laundry that has a deadline, like if Dale needs something done by the end of the day, I’ll set the hamper in front of the garage door where my laundry is.

It work! 

another day in paradise and a mom hack or two


Krispy Kreme was giving away free doughnuts today. Every person that walked in the door got a free doughnut of their choice. So exciting!!

Granted, it was 30 minutes away. I could have walked into Casey’s and gotten them each a doughnut and spent less than we did for the freebies, when you figure the dozen I paid for and the gas to get there and home. BUT, I love special occasions! I try to find them as often as possible. Free Doughnut Day is most definitely an occasion worthy of our full attention.

Our weeks are full, to the brim, with busyness and chores. I am MUCH better, as a person, when I have something to look forward to. So give yourself these little landmarks and find joy in them!

In other news, 


Oh boy. We got a pool. It’s a blow up. It’s under a tree. Who wants to take dibs on how long we can keep it functional? I’m hoping it will last for a month, but I’m shooting for two weeks. Let’s keep it real, mamas. This baby is worth every minute that my kids want to be outside in the sunshine. (Shade, actually. 😂) (We’re redheads, you know.) 


I wasn’t going to get a pool. It’s very stressful for me. However, my children are endlessly happy to have a little piece of heaven in the front yard. That, my friends, makes me equally as happy. 

Sometimes you do the thing just because it will be fun for them.

Lvb