Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Heavy Jar

Being a mama is a very isolating thing for me at times. Even in my own home and around my people.

I'm always biting my tongue and guarding this and that. That I find myself so completely blocked up that I realize that I'm hiding myself just in order to maintain, survive and keep functioning. 

Hiding from my kids, husband and the world. Trying to maintain.

My daily life isn't robotic, institutional... but I do, with out a doubt place a far too high emphasis of productivity, management and basically even just trying to keep on top of laundry and piles and bills.

Recently, I realize this mechanism of mine is nothing more than a idol of sorts. 
It's an idol of control... whether well intentioned or not.
It's an idol of pride... which is just ugly and sinful at it's core.

In addition, to this I tend to get easily distracted... not by my sweet children or by a moment or event of life but by things that fleetingly "fill me" with a dash of approval on things like Facebook or Instagram. But like any shallow thing, it's never filling for long. 

I was reading about the woman at the well not that long ago and one thing stuck with me... 
Here's a woman doing her chores, undoubtably very intent on getting her task done, a very monotonous, daily and burdensome task... and she encounters the Lord. 

After her interactions with Jesus it says, "the woman left her water jar and went away into the town and said to the people, 'Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" 

That part, "left her water jar" has been a reoccurring and nagging thought for me. She left her burdens, she left her monotonous duties, she left her preconceived ideas about her needs, she left what she had in reserve for herself, and considered it absolutely obsolete considering the good things she found in Christ! 

The very water she needed for her daily allotment of cooking, cleaning, bathing, sustenance was worthy of forgetting and abandoning so that she could run to do the will of the Lord. 

Laundry must be done. Dishes, cooking, cleaning, wiping of baby bottoms... it's all good... even holy. But, it's not the point. Doing it, checking it off, managing it, mechanizing and mastering it is NOT the point. Keeping the plates spinning... 

Later on Jesus continues talking about work and "duties"... he tells the disciples, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work..." He expounds and goes on about how the work of harvest is near... and how some planted and sowed and others will reap... but it's all labor. And how both are brought together because "the sower and the reaper may rejoice together" because "they gathered fruit for eternal life." 

So poetic. But, in it I see that I'm very much a sower. At least right now. Motherhood is a sower's job. All day long... seeding, tending, weeding... repeat. It's easy to feel as if you are a slave or a slave to it when you don't see the harvest... or when you don't lift of your eyes beyond your row... or when you don't lay down your burdening water jar and "do the will of the him who sent us."

But, it's all a part of this thing. 

Laying down my jar now. 

Digging my hands into the dirt and feeling it's coolness. 

Realizing that this endless sowing is also going to end in rejoicing!











Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Best Baby Girl Name List EVER!

I'm finally doing it... 

I'm sharing our "list". 



Because ... its fairly likely that we are "done".

Awk! That hurt to write!

But, even if we weren't we'd not be able to use every name on our list anyway... right?

With four beautiful baby girls these were the names that didn't make it (for various reasons). Because, my husband doesn't like long or very "flowery" names like I do. He likes things more "honest" and simple.  So we went with Adelynn, Cora, Thea Agnes and Whitley. Which were my favorites anyway!

You all know how much I love baby names! And this is really "my list" and has a lot of the names that were vetoed by you-know-who.

So, with out further ado...

The Best Girl Name List EVER!

Alaida - “Laida” - Little wings
Alice - Nobel
Amiris - Given by God
Anora - Grace
Beatrice “Bea” - Bringer of joy!
Colette - “Lettie” - Victorious
Della - Bright
Docia - (Doe-SHE-uh) - Given to God
Elodie - “Loddie” or “Elle” - Foreign riches
Elouisa - “Lou” “Louisa” - God is my warrior
Elora - God is my light
Fairyn - Fair faced child
Favour - God’s rich favor
Gracyn - God’s grace
Gail -  Exaltation
Glory - God’s glory
Hadassah - “Haddie”, “Dassa” - Myrtle Tree
Hazel - Hazel tree
Isanna - (Is-ZAN-uh) - A variant of Hosanna - God is Praised!
Ivy - Resilient plant
Iris - Purple flower
Jane - “Janie” - God’s gracious gift
Jovia - “Jovy” - Joyful
Laurel or Laurelle - “Laure” -  Victorious
Lizette - “Ettie” “Lizzy” - my God is bountiful
Lucille - “Lu” “Lucy” “Cille” - light
Maesie - “Mae” - Pearl
McCay - Daughter of fire
Mercy - God is merciful.
Milly - Short for Camille - Servant in the temple.
Miriam - Wished for child or bitter.
Molly - Wished for child
Opal - Precious gem
Prossy (short for Proscovia) - Ancient of days (my interpretation)
Sparrow - Little bird
Viola - Violet




Friday, April 8, 2016

A Memory About an Event in Uganda

When I was in Uganda bringing home Thea. I took her to a clinic to be tested for parasites and to make sure she was generally well. She and I were still working out a lot, getting aquainted and building trust. I was paralyzingly lonely and "on my own". 

While we waited at a bed in a corner of this facility to have her blood drawn, a middle aged Indian couple walked in (Uganda has a fairly large Indian population). The husband was visibly very unwell. His lovely wife, wearing western clothes, half  supported, half carried him to the bed directly next to us. Her eyes said it all as they locked with mine. She was afraid and sad. She looked down at little Thea and then back at me and gave me a weak smile. 

An old, yet clean curtain separated our beds... Just feet apart. Through the muggy air that hung between us I heard her lovingly helping him into bed and getting her skeletal husband as comfortable as possible. 

I'm a people watcher and while in Uganda my curiosity and wonder was indulged, except for today. People watching was painful and scary this day because it was raw and real stuff.

While following a nurse from one area to another for a stool sample deposite I looked in a "hospital room" and saw a woman who was all skin and bones balanced on a too high bed. The nurse anticipated my curiosity and offered an explanation, "She is the mother of triplets, her children had to go to Watoto (a community based orphanage that seeks to keep children in Uganda) but she has AIDS and didn't take her antivirals because some pastor convinced her she was healed. Now she's come back to us for help because she is dying. It's too bad, her children will be orphans despite our help and the hope we gave them." 

Back at our bed, still waiting I begin to pray that God would help us out of this purgatory of waiting. I begin to feel germiphobic and like showering. Just then I see a doctor stride up and my hopes rise, but then I see he isn't slowing down and is looking beyond us. I feel deflated and Thea is getting fussy in my arms, unwilling to soften or relax or trust as I worry and dwell on "our struggles."

The doctor enters the curtain next to us, the Indian couple greet him and explain what is happening. Time has dimmed a lot of my memory of what took place, it's fuzzy, undoubtably because I didn't want to remember... What took place just feet from me was haunting. 

The man had cancer and something was not well on his body and required fixing... I suppose a drain or port of some sort. I think perhaps some infection. The doctor set about fixing it, right there. Right next to us with only that curtain between. A nurse was called. To hold him down. 

It was excusiating to hear. I can't imagine how it felt! 

He begged for help. 

It made me tear up. It made me want to ask them to stop and give him something for the pain. But I reasoned that surely if they had something to give him they would have... I hoped. 

I felt dizzy listened to his screams and I just tried to keep Thea for being scared or start to cry... by his sounds of pain. 

After it was over his wife apologized to me from around the curtain. She wasn't embarrassed, maybe just concerned it was horrifying to others. 

 I said, "No, ma'am... There is nothing to be sorry for. I'm sorry that things are so hard and he's hurting." And I added, "I've praying for you..." I had at one point realized that me getting out of this day long appointment was trivial in comparison... And changed my prayers to mercy for the hurting around me. I stink at compassion. 

Immediately her eyes welled up and she said, "Thank you. I know Jesus too (she whispered this) ... and I know he helps us in our needs." She smiled sadly again and my less than quick wit failed me (as it so often does) as I pondered that she was a sister in faith and wondering if her husband was too... Or should I help her or what should I say? 

It was then, all too quickly, our turn to be helped and my baby cried and squirmed.  I never saw her again, and yet I wonder how she is. Is she a widow? Did she stay in Uganda? How did she manage? 

I remembered this all today, only, because I saw on BBC Africa that the ONLY cancer radiation machine in Uganda broke beyond repair. This one machine serves 44,000 people from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan every year. One machine... For FOUR nations worth of cancer patients! It will cost $1.8 million dollars to buy a new one. It just triggered this memory. 

I've been thinking that it's easy to ignore others misery when they aren't standing right next to you, a foot away, screaming in suffering. Even then, it's paralyzing to know how to help... 

No pitch, just pondering and processing. 








Sunday, April 3, 2016

Writers Block

A few days ago Tim said... "Wow! It's been 2 months since you've blogged! What's going on?"

A few months before that he said, "When you first started blogging you wrote for us  and not for your readers... I liked that better."

I've known this for awhile but didn't know what to do. 

I've written a lot this year ... but haven't felt they were "worthy" of posting. 

Ive also been afraid to post them. 

I said, "Sometimes I'm afraid people will read what I write." 

"Isn't that the point?" Observed Tim. 

I said with a  laugh and an eye roll, "Well, yes... And no." After thinking, "I just feel like what I have to really say isn't what people want to read." 

He says, "Well, I don't think that is the point, write about our life and your thoughts and who wants or needs to read it will..." 

Well, thanks a bunch! 

So, I'm starting over. 

I use to write a lot about just what's on my heart... That was the point of blogging back in its genesis... But then things change, as they always do and people started getting paid to do it and it lost some of its genuineness and that sort of made me feel I had to match how other people do things. But I don't. I realize that... 

This is mostly just our story and about the time when Eli peed out the car window and the story about how Allan and Thea came home and about how I grew up as they grew. It's about marriage and babies and mothering and teaching and camp. 

So, I'll try to push aside my block or  climb over it and be a bit more genuine and less "Mrs Fix-it". 

More to come... In time. 

Read, if you like... Or don't. 😊





Monday, January 18, 2016

Making Things {Kids} Work

As I shared, things haven't been working real well in our home recently... functionally. Thankfully, with the new year came increased motivation to find solutions. Here are some of our changes and new things!

Daily

We lightened the daily chores to personal care, picking up and tidying the areas used most, laundry and care of animals. Circled days indicate showers and dot is laundry day.


After each meal clean up is done the following way...
Breakfast - Boys Kitchen, Girls Dining Room
Lunch - Girls Kitchen, Boys Dining Room
Dinner - Everyone Kitchen, Thea Dining Room


Weekly

We then switched up our deep cleaning to a once a week rotation of 4 weeks. On Friday afternoons we all pitch in and do the dirty work! I help and work along side our littlest. The main idea is that the picking up has occurred all week long and we just need to do the deep cleaning that one day a week. 
Every child starts by deep cleaning their room or closet (in shared room situations). Then they move on to other cleaning jobs like: clean the car, clean a bathroom, school room... then they end with cleaning out their "locker" which is a catch all for items left around the house.


Both of the above are required and our children don't get an allowance... because we figure that they help make the messes, eat the food and take up space... so they have an obligation to help manage, clean and organize it as well. Haha! 

But...

We are starting another method of home management to also learn about diligence, work ethic and money management called "Jobs for Hire".  The idea behind Jobs for Hire is that they can (but don't have to) do jobs that are on tickets in a jar for payment.  These are generally harder jobs and require some time... and that, honestly, I struggle to get done on a regular basis (or that only need to be done a few times a year).


There are some policies attached to Jobs for Hire... 
~ They must ask permission to do a job (to make sure it's suitable for the child).
~ They must get a time limit to do it... no dragging it out over 2 months.
~ They must do it to the highest standards the 1st time... Do it right the 1st time!
~ They will be paid for the job within a week.
~ More than one kid can go in on a job together... but the amount paid doesn't increase... they have to split it 50/50 despite circumstances like a sibling not doing as much as the other.



But there's a bonus... at the end of every month if a child decides to put their earned money in the bank for savings Dad will match the amount being saved... This lit up many eyes in our home! 

I will keep you posted on how it all goes... because things change and sometimes things aren't successful! 

Happy housekeeping!

Friday, January 15, 2016

6 Reasons Why Having a 6th Child is More Awesome than the 1st

It was mildly annoying and sort of surprising that the most common question I was asked when expecting our 6th was ...
"Are you excited?" 

As if, it was questionable that I might NOT be. Sad day! Excitement is totally expected when having your 1st or 2nd, but totally worthy of questioning when having any beyond that point. Sort of silly in my opinion... and sad.

But, to put all at ease, I felt implored to share why having #6 is just as awesome that having your 1st... because it is JUST as worthy of excitement!



#1 - Having your 6th is more awesome because you are already broken in. You have no delusions of a baby who sleeps all night long or rarely fusses or works around your life and schedule. You realize that you are there to serve them, help them and nurture them. This isn't about you and you know it!

#2 - Number 6th will most likely be a pretty chill person (but, maybe sometimes they aren't). They've been bombarded from the womb with loud sounds of siblings, jostlings from the outside, and such ... you're already mothering and it's not all revolving around them. They naturally just begin life going with the flow that is surrounding them. They sort of just slip in and find their little niche!

#3 - You already know what to do. It's fairly unlikely that you haven't had a colic baby or one who wouldn't gain weight well, or any number of other things. You've dealt with countless cases of croup, fevers, flus and childhood dilemmas. It might not make you worry less, but you know how to do what you need to do or where to find answers. And if something new crops up you can always say, "Well, this is new... but I'm sure we'll be ok!"

#4 - You know what you need and will use and you don't stress about getting every thing all set up. You likely have all the clothes a baby could ever wear, a hefty stash of cloth diapers and toys galore! We didn't even have a carseat until I was 37 weeks pregnant... I knew I'd most likely go "overdue" {again} and I needn't worry about getting it. We also didn't put together our crib until just a few days before I was 40 weeks, because I wouldn't need to use it "for weeks"... really all I knew I needed was a few blankets, some diapers and wipes and... well, that's {really} all we'd NEED!

#5 - Number 6th is a walk in the park when you have bigger kids around! I've always said a baby should come with a resident 10 year old! They can hold, sooth, love, entertain and even diaper a baby (if trained well). The baby sees it's older siblings as helpers and authorities too... a stern look from a bigger sibling thwarts a tantrum and a baby can look to a sibling when it scared or unsure. It pretty much ROCKS!

#6 - Having your 6th is most awesome because you get to share the joy! As a family of 7 nearly everyone can delight in the ultrasound, your growing girth and baby kicks. Everyone can't wait to find out if they are getting a brother or sister! Everyone has ideas about names or how to decorate. Who will it look most like??? Its all wonderful! And then after the baby arrives everyone delights in all the wonders of the baby... how sweet, how big, how lovely!!!  Baby is a joy giver to all and all share in it!



That's just some of the reasons why #6 is amazingly, sweetly and wonderfully AWESOME ... 
and worthy of excitement, joy and peaceful feelings!

{Not to imply that #1-5 aren't!}
Wink. 









Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When Things Aren't Working: People ~ Process ~ Purpose


My husband enjoys the show The Profit... in short, its a reality show where a wealthy investor (Marcus Lemonis) takes over struggling businesses and makes them profitable and functional again! It's good TV.



I watch on while I knit.
Many of his ideas have been slowly filtering through my mind. Lemonis' main mantra is "People, process, profit..." when anyone of those things are out of whack businesses generally don't succeed. Some times the issue is with the people, or how people are treated. Other times its the process of the business, the day to day functioning of the business ... and both issues usually impact the profitability of the business. It's interesting stuff.

I'm a miserably poor manager. Well, I take that back. I ran a very well managed classroom when I taught... because school is VERY controllable, reliable and systematic... sadly, at the cost of people... but it has to be. This however, can't always be the case in homes ... in families and in homeschools. And I'm not sure I want to treat my home and family like a school or business.

However...

Every day I wake up and I feel (in part) like I am running a struggling business (home). Now, this illustration all breaks down because our goal as a family isn't to make a profit. I guess you could use that word, but I've found that really "purpose" is a better word and end result of having our people and process in better alignment.

When they are functional we all are able to explore, create, learn and grow in depth of purpose!


Right now, nothing is working in our home... 

My process (the managing systems of our home) are NOT running smoothly. Chores aren't done, rules are not obeyed (even though we are consistent and correct). Guidelines are not acknowledged. Chaos rules us all.

People aren't doing the process (systems of management) that we've trained and taught them in.  Our people are at each otter's throats, fighting, arguments and generally not connecting on heart levels.

We fail to be able to create, explore and grow in the purpose God's designed us for and for what our hearts feel called.

Sometimes life looks more like a photo where no one is looking the same
 direction and people are talking to each other through gritted teeth. 


It stinks. It makes us all hurt.

Some people here feel this keenly. Others seem like they desire to add to the chaos or are reactionary to what surrounds them.


Each day I get up with renewed purpose all to have it fall by the wayside just moments after I take my 1st sip of chai and look at my surroundings... I see that a person has failed to do chores, or got into fish food and it now is ground into carpet or to be told someone doesn't have clothes to wear (because they failed to do their laundry like they were told.)

Our process is broken.
People are feeling disunited and on their own.
As the leader I feel defeated and have lack of motivation.

I can't say that I have a solution to this yet... but it feels better just voicing it, and realizing that people, process and purpose are all interconnected.

It's not always like this. It seem like we have a season like this ever few years... growing pains. New things. Life just being a bit "too big" for us... then we rally, come together and grow. It's still hard.

It's helpful for me to realize that leading a family, training children and managing a home is a REAL job (profession) and also a very worthwhile investment.

It might not glean returns in income (ha!), but I will reap returns in functionality, interconnectedness and be able to grow deeper in the purposes I was created for, and to see others around me benefit from personal investment in it as well!


Some of my goals...

~ To encourage personal connections and relationship building. If the process has to wait because people are connecting that is worth it! I want to connect on heart levels with each of my people. If I elevate the process I fear pushing them farther away or if all we do is think about the process then we end up serving it instead of it serving us.

~ To minimize and simplify... both "stuff" and for me mental clarity and distractions. I crave simplicity right now!

~ To take baby steps on improving our process... to update what isn't working and reinstate what is or has worked.

~ To fix me. I am the tone and weather of my home. When I am well and have direction that filters down to others.


Thanks for walking with me!
Feel free to share.