Reveling in the glory and beauty of everyday life... all the mess and chaos of raising five little girls!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Who is Jesus?

Early yesterday morning, as her older sisters savored the last moments of school-day slumber, and I emptied the dishwasher in preparation for the load of dirty breakfast dishes I would soon fill it with, little Hope toddled about my legs, hugging me, laughing, and carrying on a lisped and joyful conversation.

I laughed with her. "Hope-girl, who loves you, sweet one?" 

She tipped her head back. "Mommy loves me."  She grinned.  "And Jesus." 

I smiled back at her.  "Jesus loves you so much! Even more than Mommy does.  Who is Jesus, little one?" 

She wrinkled her cute nose. "I tan't answer you dat, Mommy." 

I laughed.  Oh, how I laughed.  

Of course she couldn't answer that.  She's barely two.  She knows Jesus loves her, because I tell her every day.  She knows the Bible is all about Jesus, and she loves to read stories from the Jesus Calling Bible we bought her for her birthday.   But, she doesn't know how to answer the question, "who is Jesus?" She doesn't have a face or personality to match the concept.  

"I tan't answer you dat, Mommy." 

My precious girl.  

I was praying this morning, curled up on the window seat this time, asking God to help me see Him.  To know Him.  To really have genuine intimacy with Him and to know His heart.  It is easy to go through the motions of the Christian faith, but do we really know Jesus? As we study Scripture, do we see God's character? Do we learn of who He is and grow to love Him more?  Or do we just check a chapter off our day's to-do?

God's character is unfathomable.  I attempted to write a chapter a few months ago about who God is, and why He is worthy of our fear.   But I realized my words were so feeble!  God's bigness is not describable! He is set-apart, so different from us.   He is perfect, and good, and so merciful and kind that we can't begin to understand.  We can't wrap up a description of our great God in concise, tidy terms.   

Like Hope, we have to admit, "I can't answer that." 

But, let's try! Let's dive deep.  Let's ask God to reveal Himself to us as we study His Word, as we pray.  Let us seek knowing God - and loving Him more, every day. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Perfection vs. Holiness



This morning, sitting in pre-dawn chill with my cup of milky tea and my books spread helter-skelter over the glossy wood of our farmhouse-style table, I felt the Lord press onto my open heart new words for an old struggle.   

“Do you see the ways you are still focusing on external perfection, instead of internal holiness?” the Spirit nudged my heart. 

My heart beat faster as that clear phrase clicked in my muddied early morning thoughts.  The puzzle pieces snapped together. 

Yes.  That is what I do.  It is what I have done since I was a small girl, and it is what I still do, today.  

I have been the cup – the one scrubbed spotless on the outside and yet ringed with oily filth on the inside. 

I have spotless kitchen counters.  And I have jumbled, disorderly dresser drawers. 

I was the girl who cared more about the report card “A” than about having knowledge and wisdom stored in my head and heart.

And I am still the one who struggles with wanting my kiddos to be “good” so that others will think I am a good parent. 

I beg God – daily – to remake my heart, to purify my motives, and make me care only about His glory – not my own. 

But old habits die hard, and I still want to be perfect. 

It’s funny… the things God uses to refine our hearts.   I knew that I would wrestle with putting my kids in school for the first time.  I have been their only teacher, and anything they don’t know, any areas they are behind in, point to my deficiencies.  If they are not perfect, it means that I am not either. 

Believe me, I know I am not.  And I know they are not.  But it’s easy to want to be a cup, scrubbed clean. 

The writing project that has kept me for so long away from blogging is about shedding the fear of man by growing a right fear of the Lord.  I have studied, researched, read, and prayed my way through this topic in the last nine months.  But I haven’t conquered it.   I still chase after “looking good,” when I should be pursuing inner holiness.  

It doesn’t matter if my sweet girls score a perfect grade on a math test.  It doesn’t matter if toys mutate and reproduce on my stained carpet before I have a chance to clean them up.  God doesn’t demand worldly perfection from us.  He doesn’t ask us to be the best at everything.  He doesn’t require that we vacuum our floors after every meal or that we never flub a phonics quiz. 

He wants our hearts.  He wants them to be pure, set-apart for His use.  He wants us to confess our sins, receive His forgiveness, and rest in His grace.  He wants us to pursue holiness, honesty, humility, and love.  The untidy heap of shoes in my entryway is not a sin.  My attitude about it might be. 

Life is not always going to come easy – for me, or my kids. There are things we are going to struggle with – whether it is math, or reading, or athletics, or crocheting (I can’t seem to learn).  We aren’t perfect. 

And we aren’t called to be.  We are called to be holy.   

There is a difference. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Week of School

So... obviously I am not keeping up with the blog. :) Yup, life happens.  I decided to start a larger writing project, and I have not been doing any short posts.  I will let you know when that project is done.  

But, I did want to post pictures of my girls on the morning of their first day of school.  Most of you know that our older two are attending a private classical school this year.  They are loving it! They have wonderful teachers, small classes (Sadie's is 9 kids, Ellie's is 10), and rich curriculum.  I am already seeing improvement in some of Elisa's struggle areas.  We have had some tough homework moments -- but we are working out the kinks in a new schedule.  This is all new to me, too! The breakfasts, the lunches to pack, the scurry...  the afternoon welcome and the need to transfer to my attention from little ones who have had all of me, all day, onto big ones who suddenly need me - and who I have missed! 




You will notice that Raina tried hard to match the big girls' uniforms for the first day.   You might also notice that Sadie-girl cut her hair eight days before the start of school.  Growing out bangs, now. :)  

We are thankful and excited for the year ahead!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hope-isms

My sweet Hope is getting big.  She is a constant source of laughter at our house, as her vocabulary and understanding grow daily.  Quickly -- a few favorites. 

Hope loves to write.  She scribbles and scribbles and tells me over and over, "I, I, A, A, O."  Then she will hand me a pen and say, "Hopie," indicating that I should write her name for her on the page.  

She loves her sissies.  If she is up first, she will walk around saying, "Ell-yee, Sa-dee, Rain-ee," until her three sisters all join her downstairs. 

She is a little selfish with her mama's attention and pushes anyone else out of my lap. "Yappee!" 

She likes Bibles. "Bib-ee."  All other books are "read-ee." 

She calls any thing with a button a "beep." 

She tells her sisters when they should say sorry.  If someone is mean, she will say, "mean." And then point and say "Yorry." 

She likes sharing a room with Raina.  It has made going to bed much easier for her. 

She doesn't like to be dirty. "Dir-tee! Wite!" 

She always wants to drink  "tea." Luckily, she is just as happy with a cup of warm water as she is with real tea.  She usually gets warm water and a splash of milk. 

She is not used to having a bit warmer weather, and still wants a hat, mittens and boots to go outside, even if we are all in shirtsleeves.  And, okay, today it is snowing. 

Loving life with my littles!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Marriage, Part Two

Twelve years ago, I got a letter in the mail from a boy I had long thought was too handsome and confident to ever be interested in me.  It was a kind letter, an informative and thoughtful letter, and it invited a response.  I took a chance, and I responded.  :) And for months, we cautiously responded to words sent over oceans....  slowing giving our hearts to one another on pages of white printer paper and lined sheets torn from yellow legal pads or college notebooks.   

We were reminiscing about those days, and I realized that I am so thankful that I have more than words on a page to know my husband by.  Now, nine years into marriage, I know the contours of his hands, and the different tones of his deep voice.  I know exactly how he takes his morning tea, and I can (finally) fold his Carhaart pants with just the right creases.  The slow opening of our hearts was good.  But this day-to-day knowing one another is better.

As we prepared for marriage, we promised to keep a constant watch on the wall of our marriage.  To maintain closeness built by a thousand small strands of every day togetherness.  Sometimes I get annoyed when I hear someone say that "date night" is a requirement for a good marriage.  Date night is good. It's (as author Courtney Joseph says,) "the cherry on top of the marriage sundae."  But, nights out with your mate are not a requirement.   They are a blessing.  Personally, we go out together only a couple of times a year.  But, we cultivate closeness through daily togetherness.  Through connecting every evening with a kiss and the words, "Tell me about your day." Often Erik will say, "What made you laugh today?" I think that connecting with each other daily through affectionate touch and honest conversation is a key strand.  

One of the things that I feel has helped our marriage is that we are both pretty light on technology.  That sounds silly, but I think it's actually been a blessing to us.  Neither of us has an i-phone.  We don't have a laptop - just a desktop computer in our office. We don't have television.   Because we don't have those things, our time together is not distracted by the pull of them.  When the kids go to bed, we finish cleaning up the kitchen, gather misplaced toys and coats and shoes, and then, we spend our evening (short though it might be) talking, reading, and being together.  There are times when one of us needs to use the computer for a project - to prep the next day's schoolwork, or to write a meeting agenda for the elder board...   but our unspoken commitment is that we don't use the computer for recreation or amusement when we are together.  I am not saying that devices are bad.  I am sure that they are very helpful in many ways.  But, I do think, that for us, being device-free allows us to have more uncluttered time together. It keeps us undistracted in our time together. 

We also go to bed together nearly every night.  We are on the same sleep schedule, and I think that is a blessing to us, as well. We climb under the covers together, talk, snuggle, and turn out the lights at the same time.  It is lonely to climb into bed without my husband, and I am thankful that both of us are early to bed - although not always as early to rise as I wish we were!

We have grown to enjoy many of the same activities.  I had never cross-country skied before our marriage, and I chose to enter my husband's world and learn something new.  I am so glad that we are a Nordic family.  I love, love, love skiing, now.  Together, we also enjoy hiking, canoeing, camping.... all things I had done, but to a lesser extent than Erik had.  As I bent towards him in our recreational choices, I found I loved each of those things.  And Erik has bent, too.  He has discovered he really enjoys ice skating. And tea. He is way more of a connoisseur than I am these days. I think our marriage has been blessed by choosing to recreate together - by learning new things and joining in, rather than taking turns doing our own thing.   

As a wife, I find that our marriage is blessed when I a) put my husband's interests before my own, and b) make his priorities mine.  Sometimes I think I am doing something important with my time and resources, only to realize that Erik would prefer I handle things differently.  As an example, I have tried, at times, to be very rigid with our grocery budget, and I thought he would be blessed.  It turned out that he preferred a well-stocked refrigerator to my end of the month frugality.  My choice to make do with what we had because the budget for the month was gone made him feel that he was not providing for us, when in fact the money was available.  Recently I asked Erik to think through his top priorities for how I spend my time.  I want the way I order our days at home to be pleasing to him.  I also want to serve and give to him without expecting an even reciprocation. God calls us to lay down our lives, and sometimes I only want to do that if I am "getting" in return.  The truth is that he is consciously seeking to serve me, too, and both of us reap  greatly from sowing unselfishness.  But my motivation should be to love God and serve Him as I serve my husband and submit to his leadership.

Here is an area we don't do as well, and oh, how we wish we did! We have always talked about making it a priority, and it has continued to be a challenge.  Praying together. When we pray together - heads bend, hand-holding - we draw closer together and closer to God.  We have struggled to find the "right" time of day, and simply to be consistent.  Anyone have suggestions about how this works in your marriages?

West Yellowstone

 Last weekend, our family packed up coolers and bags and skis (read: our car was very FULL) and drove two and a half hours to stay in the little town of West Yellowstone.  Erik was signed up to race his second annual 50K ski marathon, while Elisa was excited to join other kiddos in a 2K. She has really blossomed in her skate ski ability this year, and racing has become fun for her.  She was proud to wear her West Yellowstone hat (bought on an earlier trip) bedecked with her new race pin.  

And the rest of us?  Well, thanks to the kind help of my friend Dancy (her husband is Erik's racing and training partner), I actually jumped in my first ever ski race - a 10K.   The funny thing about ski race distances....   the "good" skiers, the well-trained ones, the ones who have done this before.... well, they race big.  Like my husband.  So I joined a race filled with high-schoolers (Yup. They are faster than me), and a large group of older ladies and gentlemen who were (mostly) out for a Saturday morning jaunt.  :)  I knew that I was not going to compete against the 15 and 16 year-olds, so I just started at the back next to people who looked older than me, and then concentrated on slowly working my way up during the race.  It was actually really fun! I enjoyed just skiing on the varied terrain of the course, and paying attention to technique on the downhills, which are challenging for me. I beat my goal of finishing under forty-five minutes, and I didn't fall.  And, because all the fast 30 year-olds ski in the endurance races, I got a medal for my age group! I would love to race again next year, but maybe I'll be really brave and try the 25K! I can guarantee you there would be no medal.
 At the finish line.....  the kiddos played and played on a giant snowplow mound with their friends.  The two daddies came in at 2 hours and 25 minutes, and 2 hours and 30 minutes, so there was plenty of time running, skiing, and sledding on their bellies.  I love this photo of Raina with her buddy Jonathan.
 Sadie sledding with Olivia.
 Grinning at the start line after the start of Mom's race. Elisa and her friend James started their 2K five minutes after my race began, so sweet Dancy was in charge of getting them to their places while juggling six other kiddos.  She's pretty amazing. 
 At the start.
Cheering on Daddy as he comes to the finish.  He had a great race -- he improved his time by 20 minutes and he said he felt strong and ornery - which I took as a good thing. :) Doesn't he look handsome in his mid-nineties race suit? :)  I love that he is bright and easy to identify on the course.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Proud To Be His

Valentines Day passed almost two weeks ago. And while we were not particularly romantic in our celebrations (we ate pasta, and then I tucked the children into bed while Erik headed to the garage to wax three pairs of skis for the next morning's race), I was still so reminded of how blessed I am to be married to my wonderful husband.  I am so thankful for him. And I am so proud to be his wife!

 Erik has been on the leadership team for our church's men's ministry for several years, and each week, as I've mentioned, he spends Wednesday mornings with a group of 30 or so men, watching Robert Lewis videos, eating sausage, and praying.  As he has been involved in this group, he has had several opportunities to offer counsel and encouragement to men in hurting marriages.  Often, at 8:00 on Wednesday mornings, my phone beeps with a text, and my hubby is telling me how deeply he loves me and how thankful he is for how I love him in return.   He is reminded - both by the instructional video and by the discussion around the table - that our love is strong. And good. And he - and I - never want to take one another or our marriage for granted.  We want to be always striving to love each other better....  to give more and bend more and serve more.  To - more and more - display the beauty of the Gospel through how we love and honor one another.   


Most of you know our story.  A courtship by snail mail (and email, too) for nine months. Then, long-distance phone calls and bi-monthly weekend visits. By the time we married, the longest consecutive time we had spent (as a dating or engaged couple) in the same state was 9 days.  Many friends warned me that it would be hard adjustment.  People cautioned us to try living in the same town for a while before we got married.  We were told "the first year will so tough, but don't give up."  We stubbornly ignored any words of caution we received.  Instead we plotted our own course with purposeful hearts - and our first year was blissful.  I honestly do not remember any arguments or moments when we wondered whether we had done the "right thing" by marrying one another.  I am sure we disagreed at times, but, even with an unplanned (but much delighted in) pregnancy four months into our marriage, our memories of that year are filled with joy and discovery as day-to-day life gave flesh and form to the souls we had fallen in love with through letters and words.

My Valentine's card this year was a simple Excel graph. A bit tongue in cheek from my engi-"nerd" husband.  It showed the years of our marriage along the bottom of the graph, while numerical "love values" scaled vertically.  At one year, our love was a value of 5 to the 10th or something like that.  And, then, he had created a line of exponential growth, showing that by 50 years of marriage, he would love me 500 to the 10th (or whatever the actual number was).  It was funny, and heartfelt, and it made me smile to think that the love we share now is nothing compared to how much we will love each other when we are 80. Erik's parents laughed when they saw the card, and then teased us by telling us  how much more they must love each other than we do.  I know that my parents lived their marriage that way, too, and it makes me teary to realize that the love-graph of their life together was cut-off too early by my dad's death. 

So why am so sappy about loving my man this morning? Well, my plan had been to share some of the ways we intentionally keep our marriage strong.  Not because we have it all figured out, but because we are two flawed individuals, two sinners, who by God's grace truly are better together than we are apart. I also wanted to share some "love your husband" challenges adapted from the book Women Living Well by Courtney Joseph.  She had a list of ten simple ways to honor your husband, and several of the them really challenged me to reevaluate my daily priorities.  I ran out of time, so this morning, you just get the sap.  Maybe next week..... 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Cave!

In the last few weeks, we have finally gotten some much needed snow.  Unfortunately, the forecast is calling for a rain and snow mix over the next couple days, and I know much of our snow will condense and melt.  But, we are thankful for the moisture and the new snow to play in.  We managed to ski a few times in the soft powder before the weather warmed.  With the new snow, we finally had a decent snowplow pile in our driveway, and at temperatures of 5 and 10 degrees F, my bravehearted adventurers began building tunnels and forts. By Saturday it was in the 30s, and they enlisted the help of their big strong daddy. With an extra six inches from the night before, there was plenty of white stuff to work with.



 Daddy's feet sticking out from the cave as he digs.
 The hard working cave diggers
 And one little goof-ball. :)
 Inside the cave!
 Catching snow on her tongue.
 Wild girl!




So, after a day of digging, the snow fort was big enough to sleep in! Daddy carried out a tarp, pads, and sleeping bags, and the older two dressed warmly.  They headed out late - after making cookies, and reading stories, and tiring themselves out with general silliness. :) And then Daddy tucked them in warm and snug - and they didn't emerge until 7:30, when we hurriedly dressed for church!  They had so much fun making a special memory with Dad - and I slept warm in my own soft bed.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Harmony Homeschool

 Last fall, we began our third official year of homeschooling, with Sadie beginning kindergarten, and Elisa starting second grade work. This year, we decided to join our local classical homeschooling community - called Classical Conversations.  CC is a national organization that gives students an opportunity to be tutored each week at a co-op style meeting.  My older girls are in different classes, each with a a tutor they love. I currently teach the preschool/nursery group while they go to their classes, but most parents sit in the back of the classrooms, so that they are being "mentored" by the tutor in how to teach the material the rest of the week.  If you are not familiar with classical education, the grammar being taught seems a little bizarre, so hang in there with me. :) Each week the kids memorize seven different pieces of information (Math, English, Latin, Geography, History, Science, and seven pegs in a world timeline). During the week, we review the memory work, and try to delve into each subject a bit deeper. For example, this week they memorize Newton's First Law of Motion, the area of a rectangle, the definition of a verb, the Balkans, a sentence about World War Two, Latin verb endings, and timeline pieces beginning with the Industrial Revolution.  Our school day yesterday went a little haywire, but we are currently enjoying a WWII read-aloud, and maybe today we can do some map-tracing and explore what it actually means that an object at rest stays at rest until....
 There are things I really like about CC. I love that my kids interact with other homeschoolers and are taught by other mamas. I love that they give a weekly presentation, get to do a science experiment, and art, and have lunch once a week with their friends.  I love that if I accomplish nothing else in a given week... well, they've still memorized those informational "pegs." 

But it has been a tough year for us, too. I named our homeschool this year, after several fruitless attempts last year. I dubbed our learning space "Harmony Homeschool," because my prayer was that our home learning would be filled with grace, peace, unity and order.   I still pray for that, but there are definitely days - most days - when idealism shifts into survival mode. Because a toddler dumped 5 pounds of rice on the carpet, and my 8-year-old is yelling in anger and frustration for reasons I don't totally understand.  And  I am trying to work with a kindergartner who legitimately needs help, but Raina is begging for a story above the din. Not exactly harmonious.   

It is genuinely hard to be pulled in so many directions, to have four needy little ones (who, by the way, I think are precious gifts from God!) and I just want to nurture them and love them...  but there are tasks, and work, and we are accountable for the work we do and what we learn and how many days we spend doing it.  Yes, I could snuggle and read and play all day, but then math wouldn't be learned.   And while I don't homeschool in order to have academically accelerated kids, the academics matter.  And the hard work of learning gives way to lessons of character that are not easily taught.  Some days I feel like I spend 75% of my time in character training, and the other quarter on school.  And it doesn't sink in in a day, so we start over the next day. 

In case you are a fellow homeschooling mama, and you are interested, we teamed CC with Horizons Math, All About Spelling, All About Reading (for Sadie), Drawn Into the Heart of Reading (for Elisa), First Language Lessons, Writing With Ease, A Reason for Handwriting, and the read-alouds from Sonlight Core A. We also used Ann Voskamp's A Child's Geography the first semester, and we are using Our 24 Family Ways for devotionals while studying Grandpa's Box for some Bible History.

When I say this has been a tough year, please also hear me say that God is so gracious to meet our needs.  Right when I was feeling discouraged about some of my failings, a sweet veteran homeschool mom invited us to her house once a week for art lessons. Free. It's awesome. God is so good to encourage my heart through an older mama who has been there and "done that." 

My girls are so different. Sadie is flighty and fluttery - my dreamy little princess.  But she is motivated to read, and even though she forgets things, and sometimes needs reminders to follow directions, she takes pride in her work and is always eager to tell Dad what she has learned or done.  Sometimes her needs get lost in the shuffle, because she is the easy-going one. She doesn't demand my help or attention; she just waits for it.  She still loves story time with Mom, and she enjoys math.  She likes doing copywork, and even though reading lessons sometimes seem tedious to her, she wants the skills, so she perseveres. A cup of cocoa and a snuggle help, so we wait until the little ones are napping. 

Elisa is a bright and determined. She reads a 200 page book in an hour, and, when she is motivated to focus, she can race through her math assignments. She skis fast, and she has the athletic endurance of her daddy. But, she has always been my strong-willed one. The one to push buttons, and test, and rebel.  So, sometimes, she chooses to do her work poorly. Or not at all.  And then we find ourselves in a character-training session that involves screaming and flailing. And prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.   I adore my strong-hearted child. And I am thankful for every opportunity to try and reach her heart through tender correction.  This year, God has reminded me that her strong personality is how He made her. And He fashioned her for His glory. It's not something He did so I could learn patience, at least not JUST so I could learn patience.  He made her because her unique character traits can be used for His purposes to make Him known in the world.   So, as the mama of this out-of the-box and often challenging sweet one, I need to both accept who she is, and lovingly help her turn those stubborn traits in God-honoring directions.

Little Raina is my energizer bunny. She never stops moving, but she is tender and sweet and snuggly, too.   She has great fine-motor skills, and she revels in doing school with Mommy.  Give her a handwriting page, and she is a happy little scholar. 


 I don't know what will happen next year. We are in the midst of some decisions.  Two new classical, Christian schools are opening in the fall, both with opportunities for scholarships.  We may try to send Elisa. I am beginning to think she would thrive with more structure than I can give in our home.  And, the schools offer so much more academically than I am capable of - not to mention the enrichment activities available.  I don't know about Sadie-girl.  I would kind of like to teach her one more year at home, but it also makes sense to keep them together....   We don't know.  I don't want to give up homeschooling because it is hard. That isn't a good reason. Every good thing is hard.   But, if God is showing us that His purposes for their lives might be better accomplished in a different setting... well, I want to listen to His voice.  I want to follow His lead.  I want to send them if it is God's best.  If He wants me to keep them at home and grow and learn together through the hard stuff, then I want to do that.   I love the idea of having my sweet ones with me.  But I don't want to cling to my ideals if they are not also God's ideals.  So....  we press on. One day and one decision at a time!




Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Morning

So...  Wednesday mornings aren't going so well around here. :) At least in terms of Mama blogging while children sleep peacefully.  Hope has decided that Tuesday nights are her "off" night for sleep, I think. The last two weeks she has been up for an hour in the middle of the night, just wanting her mommy, and then started her day far too early. Right now she is on my lap - having been up since 5:20 after sharing some mom-time from 3:30 - 4:15.  And while I love having my sweet, snuggly princess sitting with me,  her mop of messy blonde hair tickling my chin, it is not easy to type, or to think deeply, or even to reach the mouse around her squirmy little body.

In lieu of any particularly thoughtful musings today -- I will just try to post a few photos.

 Raina hanging on the back of the Chariot. Her favorite spot for speed.
 At the ice skating rink.
 Aunt Michelle skating with us over New Years.
 Michelle and I together on a New Years Day ski into Brooks Lake Lodge. It was a five mile ski on a cold and snowy morning, then we feasted in the warm lodge before skiing the downhill leg back to the car under perfectly still and blue skies.


 Elisa blazing her own trail and finding some hills to ski down.


 Determined.  She is much braver on the downhills than I am.
 Sadie's second time on skate skis.
Family picture.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Absence

It has been so many months since I sat down and blogged that it took a moment to remember which button to click to create a new post.  I realize that anyone who used to check in our family now has dropped our address off their bookmarks tab.  I have been absent, and perhaps no one will read my ramblings this morning.  That's okay. I just decided, in the wake of celebrating the New Year, that writing is important to me. And I need to do it. So. Once a week.  That's my goal. Not because any one else needs to see pictures of my cute girls, or because I have any unique wisdom to share, but because God made me a writer, and I haven't been using that skill or enjoying that hobby for many months. 

One of the challenges is time, of course. When? I have early risers, and I have to get up before 6 just to get a shower  and sneak in five minutes of Bible reading and prayer before my precious ones are climbing in my lap and sipping my tea. While I still mandate afternoon rests, the older girls are only required about 45 minutes of silent reading - and I use most of that time settling the younger ones and then racing through the lunch dishes and a load of laundry.  Evenings belong to my hubby - whether it's sharing chores, conversation on the couch, dessert at the table, or -on occasion -watching a Duck Dynasty episode on DVD. :) 

Wednesday mornings are Erik's early day. He heads to church by 5:45, and if I can manage to roll out of bed with him, I think I can spend an uninterrupted while typing out my thoughts or updates.  So - look to see me on Wednesdays. That's the plan.

When I clicked into my blog this morning, I smiled at the aptness of its title. Yup - we are still a household of many messes and miracles.  A self-feeding one-year-old is a constant mess. Homeschooling my girls without the buffer of a morning nap for the baby is a constant mess (how do you keep babies from scribbling on furniture while teaching math?) Life is messy.  Behavior is messy. But there are still miracles, too.  Like my six-year-old slicing and seasoning potatoes for dinner - all by herself. Like my struggling almost eight-year-old laying the aside the anger and attitude that has marked our day and showing genuine compassion to a hurting sister.  Like a baby laughing and grabbing my legs and squealing, "Mommy! Ho me!" Like Raina kissing my face a "google" times, and Sadie telling me she wants to read better because she can't read all the words in her new big girl Bible. 

.... I planned to do a longer update about our homeschool year, and the girls, and maybe even some pictures of the adventures we do still manage to fit in, but the pitter-patter of little feet calls me to the kitchen to make breakfast and give morning tickles.  Stay tuned for next Wednesday! :)