Play With Me

The stack of correcting on my desk loomed ominously before me. No cup of coffee was going to motivate me enough for that task.

Behind me lay a stack of dirty pots and pans waiting to be washed, and the dryer buzzed its signal for the third time, rudely reminding me of my duties in the laundry room.

He grinned up at me, blissfully unaware of the tugs and pulls on my time.

“I know, Little Man, but Daddy will be home soon, and…”

My voice trailed off as his little face beamed even wider.

“Please, Mama!”

I looked around. The girls no longer begged me to play with them. Some were gone to Bible School classes. My girls–little ones who, just yesterday, were bringing dolls to me–now sitting in a classroom next to teenagers and adults. How had we gotten to this point so quickly?

The dishes could wait. The correcting would eventually get done. And that laundry certainly wasn’t going anywhere. But my boy? All too soon, he will stop asking me to play with him. And I will miss his big, beautiful, brown eyes pleading for my time.

“Ok, Little Man,” I smiled.

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High Calling

His deep brown eyes sparkled. With gentle hands he brushed my cheek.

“Love ya!” he whispered and disappeared into the pre-dawn blackness of another Monday morning.

I felt the weight of what lay before me. His complete trust and confidence in me was overwhelming.

Raise his children. Educate them. Love them unconditionally. Teach them the Word of God. Model righteousness.

Lord, I am not equal to this task!

In the quiet that only early morning can know, the Lord strengthens my mind and feeds my soul.

“…bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord…”

“And these words…shall be in thine heart…and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…”

His words. In my heart. That still small voice whispered into the depths of my heart.

“How can you teach diligently that which is neglected in your own heart and life?”

Simply reading the words across a page is not enough. His words must penetrate my heart and change my life. I cannot model righteousness if I do not continually set righteousness before my eyes.

No. I am not equal to the task I have been given–this high calling of shaping the next generation. But the Word of God, and His Spirit are.

As the last drops of coffee disappear, I hear stirrings from the bedrooms. My day has officially begun. By God’s grace, may I live this day in His strength.

Gone Home

I can still see her in my mind’s eye. That mischievous twinkle, nearly imperceptible to my six-year-old self.

“No snacks after school,” my father had sternly told me. But that was quickly forgotten when plates of peanut butter and fluff sandwiches were placed on the table, complete with cookies and fruit punch.

Seated between my cousins, I contentedly began my contraband feast. Suddenly, mid-bite, a thunderous call rang through the house. Dad was home! Gram looked at me and I looked at her.

“Hurry!” She whispered. “Give the rest to them!”

I don’t think he missed our guilty looks at each other. The extra plate on the table didn’t help much, either.

But that was Gram. Quiet on the outside. Spunky, mischievous, and funny on the inside.

Grandpa was a whirlwind of noise and activity. She cleaned up after his storms. She would quietly wait for a well-placed verbal jab, sending everyone into gales of laughter.

I can still hear his Sousa marches blaring from the car, his short, somewhat rounded form moving animatedly back and forth to the beat. Gram would grimace as his gravely voice tried to keep pitch at top volume with his favorite brass bands. They were a funny pair, the two of them.

I know I took her for granted as a child–she was always there. She waited for me at the bus stop, took me swimming, or to the library. She patiently taught me how to sew, and let me pick strawberries from her little patch.

Now I understand her sacrifices and labor of love to make her house the home it was. Grandpa’s thunderous laugh, bellowing throughout the living room. Cousins running in all directions. Food on every table. Gram was the glue that held it all together.

“A wise woman buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” Gram built her family. I can still hear her encouraging voice as she sat and listened to my latest piano lesson. “Very good, Honey.” I will miss that voice and the love behind it.

But I could never wish her back. Back to a world of pain, sorrow, and difficulty. Her life had been wrapped in caring for Gramp.

She looked so frail and forlorn the day we buried him. Together for 74 years, torn apart by man’s most ancient enemy.

Together again through new life in Christ. This time, never to part again.

No separation, no matter how brief it may be, is a joyous affair.

Yet my heart does rejoice. Her pain-wracked body no longer imprisons her youthful soul. The effects of sin have been erased. She is reunited with those who have gone on before.

She has gone home.

And sweetest of all, she is face to face with God Himself. Her Savior. The Lamb of God who saved her soul. How I long to join her there!

Some Day

Eight years.  It’s a blink of the eye.  It’s a lifetime.

In eight years, nothing has changed.  We still carry on with our daily lives–work, school, routines…  And, yet, everything has changed.  A 1,200-mile move, births, deaths; each circumstance etching its effect deep into our lives and permanently changing who we are.

For eight years, in the memory of a loved one, time stood still.  The occasional phone call, letter, or picture could not impress upon our mind’s eye all that had changed.

Eight years in Sierra Leone turned his hair white and carved fine lines across his face.  But I would know that voice, that smile, those eyes anywhere

Eight added years expanded our little tribe.  But no distance or time could keep him from being his Pa’s little man.

This boy hangs on his every word. Love and adoration just emanate from his glow whenever they are together.

Time spent together has blurred the lines between the routine and the exceptional. Ordinary occurrences become noteworthy when shared with a long-absent loved one.

Eight years is particularly evident in the area of technology–“What’s an iPad?!”

While we settle back into our routine, we’re reminded to take time for that which matters most.

Family–God’s family unified in charity–is as close to the fellowship of Heaven as mortal flesh can experience.

My frail, human heart cannot imagine what rejoicing there will be when the Lord calls his children home, never more to part ways.

Some day.

Maybe today.

Time

Time.

That unyielding  chain which binds mortals to the present.

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The past lingers tantalizingly  just outside our grasp.  Memories, pleasant or otherwise, are all that is left.  The future rises like a dark mist before us.  Uncertain.  Unknown. Truly, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”

 

Yet those who have gone on before urge us on to a higher calling.  One not bound so cruelly by Time’s steely grasp.  Down through the dusty halls of ages past we hear them call, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God…”

Some have not the knowledge of God.  Eternal souls trapped in a mortal shell of sinful flesh while the incessant hand sweeps across the clock of life. “…For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  Our vapor–and theirs–will soon be spent.  Eternity is at stake.  So, for centuries, Christians have bade their families tearful goodbyes, and taken the Gospel around the world.

For those who stay, there is a different “sorrow.”  All of the missed birthday parties.  All of the family gatherings with an empty place at the table.  The quiet moment of a once-shared memory.   We who send our loved ones away know a quiet, nagging fear.  Weeks pass.  Lines of communication are silent.  Then the phone rings, accompanied by a moment of strange dread–is all still well?  Yet the sacrifice of time and distance for the sake of the Gospel seem so petty when placed next to eternity.

Some day, that awful news will come.  Not of death itself, but of our present grief and loss.  Our loved one’s vapor will have vanished.  But it is not in vain if it is spent to the furtherance of the Gospel.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
I Corinthians 15:51-58

First Day of School…

…posted three months late!!

 

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My knight

Our spontaneous summer break was officially over on August 8th–the day after Vacation Bible School.  Crazy, I know!  But, ready or not, it was time to jump in.

There’s really no words for what takes place under our roof at any given time.  After assuring him that hiding under the covers would not exempt him from school, Sir Strange O’Lot appeared, ready for the day.  Or at least the morning.  I never know to whom I am speaking or for how long.

“Mama.  I’m not a soldier anymore.  I’m an underwater welder, now.”  Oh.  Right.  So sorry!

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My welder

I’ve never been able to start the school day with a disorganized house.  I might not leave the schoolroom for three hours, but I cannot concentrate with dirty dishes in the sink!  The kids work through their Job Packs first thing.

I’ve been asked many times how I “get it all done.”  For one thing–I don’t!  There are many little things that simply wait.  For a long time.

But a large factor in my house not falling apart is my little tribe of willing helpers.  I have always needed their help. And they know that.  We have fun together.  And of course, a good, loud motivating  music playlist helps!  As they get older, their responsibilities increase, as does their satisfaction with knowing the key role they play in our household.

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Another aspect of our fairly smooth school days is found in our curricular choices.  There are so many choices available, now!  The styles vary greatly, and each style has its ardent supporters–each with very valid points.  I have learned to apply the realistic to its fullest potential rather than continually reach for, but never obtain, the ideal.

All of my girls are very independent in their schooling, now.  They have cultivated a love for reading which makes learning far more enjoyable and natural to them.  I include them in the curricular choices, following their interests whenever reasonable (such as computer

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Only a boy!!

programming for a semester of science) and requiring those aspects most would rather leave undone (Pre-Algebra, anyone?!).  No day runs perfectly.  But the bumpy days are now in the minority.

I enjoy seeing each child’s creativity and personality throughout the day, each one unique and unafraid to be who they are.

One morning girl chooses to rise at a most ridiculous hour make use of the early solitude.  Most of her school work is finished before I’m even functioning.  She knows not to ask me any math questions before my cup of coffee is gone!  This early start to her day gives her ample opportunity to have fun!

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A worn out dress gets a new look

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Our “Baby Girl,” as we call her, is our ray of sunshine.  Incredibly expressive, and full of personality, she keeps us all laughing and loving life.IMG_0092

As we move forward with our new school year, I am continually reminded of how

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blessed I am.  The younger years are so much work.  A few, short years feel like a lifetime.  But the difficult work of training children from the start pays richly.  Just a short time ago, this “little girl” was testing me, and trying me in ways I didn’t think a three-year-old could.  Now, at thirteen, she is a great asset and blessing to this family.  And she loves her babies!  I so enjoy watching her grow into a sweet, caring young lady.

We have way too much fun!  Some day the house will be clean and quiet.  And I will miss the chaos.  The sticky watermelon drips.  The laughter.  But a love rooted firmly in the Word of God–that lasts longer than a life time.  That’s forever.

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Every girl needs a school buddy!

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He loves his map studies

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Once Upon a Summer

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Enjoying a Church Fellowship Night

We don’t typically take a summer break from school.  But this year, we took two months off.  With their Grammie unexpectedly back from Sierra Leone, my organizational overhaul of the school room, and a whirlwind trip to New England, time off was exactly what we all needed.  Our time, however, was far from empty!

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I have often said that these kids know how to make the

dull and routine quite memorable.  I’m never sure just how they’ll accomplish this, but more often than not, Small Son’s antics are somehow involved.  He very decidedly does not like shopping.  But living with four girls has taught him to make the best of it!

 

Days filled with the ordinary and the exciting–days making memories of their all-too-fleeting childhood–each and every day is another gift from God.  Gifts that I would not trade for anything.

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My Goofy Girl

 

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Chic-Fil-A!

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He left a tooth in his sandwich

 

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The Takamine TB-10–way too much fun!

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Graduated to half-size cello

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Fixing Mama’s Sink…

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…Ever the clown!

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Fun with Friends

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Good Little Babysitter

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It’s a long trip to New England!

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Official Fire Tenders

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Watching all her great-grandchildren loving life

 

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Breakfast Buddies

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Gram’s Girl

 

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Birthday Date

 

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Psalm 127:3