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

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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

 

More Than These

“Give them to Mama.”

He looked at me solemnly.  His beautiful brown eyes betrayed the unspoken battle taking place within.  He wanted to obey my voice.  But he also deeply desired his prized possession.

“Give them to Mama.”

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Tears welled up within his eyes.  Correction and instruction.

“Give them to Mama.”

The grubby fist slowly opened to release a treasure that only a toddler could love–filthy, soggy Cheerios discovered under the breakfast table.

Amidst ample praise and smothering kisses for his obedience, I offered him a muchcleaner, fresher version of his cereal.  His big toothy grin emerged behind the tear streaks.

Then I heard it.

“Lovest thou me more than these?”

A piercing question.  More than these?  More than the little trinkets of this world?   More than the little things that steal my time, tightly gripped in the fist of my heart?

“Lovest thou me more than these?”

“These”.  Not sin.  Cheerios are not bad.  Yet I expected him to trust and obey me.  And when he did, I rewarded him with something better.

How much we learn about the Father’s great love through the lives of our children!  As I slowly release my grip on the soggy, worn-out things of this world, he lovingly replaces them with that which is eternal.

“Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.”

“Feed my sheep.”

Yes, Lord.  These little lambs belong to you.  Help me to feed them your Word and show them your love.

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The Facebook Phenomenon

Facebook is a strange thing.  As with most such inventions, it is simply a tool in the hands of man, whether used for good or for bad.  What began as a way to easily share pictures with old college friends and parents living on another continent, slowly morphed into a book of drama.

The more I tried to clean up my news feed, the more ridiculous and petty the onslaught of “viral” videos and news stories.  I must confess that I find it difficult to take interest in the latest, greatest, super-cool sandwich building recipe.  Or why vaccines kill people….or cure people.

But, still I kept my account.  I enjoy seeing pictures of friends.  I enjoy sharing the random piece of kid-logic I encounter throughout the day.

Then the entire country seemingly took to FB to vent their political feelings over a particularly sad group of candidates.  I was told that I couldn’t possibly be a Christian if I had voted for a particular candidate.  The very next user would be just as certain that no person could possibly be a follower of Christ unless they had voted for the candidate in question.  And I had enough.

The eternal security of my soul, and the out working of the Word of God in my life, thankfully, does not rest upon the shifting sands of my fellow-man’s minds.  But such pettiness is rather wearisome.  I have more important ways to spend my limited time.

But if you know anything about my family, you know we enjoy music.  In today’s world of social media and the Facebook frenzy, there are many groups that we enjoy, that are only accessible on Facebook.  Want to find out when a singing family is going to be in your area?  Check their FB page.  Want to know when the next recording is available?  Look it up on FB.

So my account stayed active, if largely unused.

Knowing  that the majority of people connect only via FB, I’ve reached an understanding.    A compromise, perhaps.  I will not read every pancake and sandwich recipe that gets posted.  I won’t follow every vaccine link.  Political posts?  Forget about it!!

Sharing a verse?  Great!  Posting an encouraging article?  I’m all over it.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Philippians 4:8

With my own girl testing the writing waters, she needs people to write for.  FB is the most available platform.  Is she a skilled writer at thirteen?  Not yet.  But she enjoys writing, and I want to cultivate that love, and help her grow it to maturity amongst a safe audience.  The best, controlled method for sharing blog posts remains squarely on Facebook.

Social media is a tool.  An aggravating one, certainly.  But useful nonetheless.  So if you see me lurking in the corners of the online world, please don’t think me rude or antisocial.  I’m simply trying, the best way I know how, to guard my heart and thoughts, while still staying connected with the far-flung body of believers.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.  Ephesians 4:29–32

The Industrious Wife

career womanOur culture places an extreme emphasis on careers as a measure of success.  While it is important (and biblical!) to provide for one’s family, it is not God’s measure of success.  The Bible teaches that a relationship with him, honoring his Word, and godly character are of greater value than money.

But beyond all that, there is great, undue pressure placed upon the women and girls of our society.  We are told to be everything that men are.  We’re told to be independent.  With the rising costs of living, many are convinced that they cannot raise a family on a single income–especially if that income is blue-collar.

The conservative Christian community has done a rather good job of countering this clamor for supposed equality between the sexes.  (Ask any honest construction worker–men and women are neither equal, nor treated equally, and it’s not necessarily the way the news clips portray the picture!).

But in the quest to free women’s consciences to stay home to raise their children, we Mother and baby in home officehave created another problem.  The cost of living is rising.  Homeschooling is a financial burden.  Growing children Never. Stop. Eating!  So we wives got to work.  We sewed modest clothing to sell.  We learned digital photography.  We taught music lessons.  We sold our unwanted items on eBay.  We put our computers and phones to work.

And this became our own measure of success–a source of pride, perhaps.  I’m homeschooling, keeping the house, and earning money.  All of these are good, noble things and are not inherently the problem.  The problem is our own hearts–the human tendency to compare ourselves among ourselves, thereby being unwise.  Unconsciously, Christian women have placed their own measure of success upon themselves.  A truly industrious, Proverbs-31-wife will be able to do it all!

We must remember that, as Christian wives and mothers, our first priority is obedience to the Lord.  Under that umbrella, we find honoring our own husband, and guiding the house.  My primary, physical responsibility is to be my husband’s help.  If he needs me to devote my time in an area other than earning money, then that is all I need in order to find success and fulfillment.

God did not place the weight of financial burden upon the woman.  He placed it squarely on the broad, firm shoulders of my husband.  When I try to take that burden upon myself, I am unduly weighed down.  My spirit is grieved, and I am no longer the help to my husband that he needs.

After spending ten to twelve hours a day with ungodly, cursing, lying men, my husband needs to come home to a happy, godly household.  He needs that time of refreshment.  An overly stressed wife and under-nurtured children clamoring for attention are not going to refresh him.  He would rather do without the extra money, and know that his family is spiritually and emotionally sound.  The work-at-home job is excellent.  But so is not working at home.

I still teach music lessons.  But I know that I will drop it (again) when I am no longer able to juggle teaching someone else’s children as well as my own.  We might have to cut back on some things (books and music are my undoing!) but this season of raising children is so brief.
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Ladies, we have a high calling.  Let us find our worth and measure of success from God’s eyes, not our own!

 

Spreading Wings

Sometimes it’s the little things. A moment of kindness toward a sibling. Picking up a dropped item for a stranger. A growing sense of humor. The little things that remind me: they’re growing. Growing up. They are dreaming of their own future. Little by little, those dreams become more and more independent.

The little ones tell me they’ll always live at home–“I’m never leaving, Mama!” they insist. I just smile and hug them. The older ones assure me they’ll always live “close by.” Then they begin to talk of faraway lands, and bigger dreams. My mama-heart wants to both hold them close forever, never letting them go, and give them wings to fly. Knowing the former is neither possible nor beneficial, I try to daily choose the latter.

Again, it’s the little things. Continually letting go. It’s a process. And while we have much to work on, I am so blessed by the young ladies my girls are becoming. I love watching them grow.

A blog–such a little thing. Hours of choosing just the right pictures. Agonizing over what to say. Remembering to spell-check. It is difficult for me to not fix formatting and improve wording. But this is her project. I know the pressure of a broader audience will push her to new heights.

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Her latest project: Maiden Of Virtue

I was surprised at what was in her heart.  I know she would appreciate your time in reading her blog.  But remember–she is spreading her wings!