Friday, May 31, 2013

Launch Day, 2013

(What follows is an approximate version of a speech given by me to our 8th grade graduates on May 30)

Launch Day, 2013

One of my favorite things to do in the mornings is to take my little boys and “go watch car line.” You may have seen us there, me with my coffee, them with their bug keepers and swords. What you may not know is this: They are keeping you safe. They are constantly on the lookout for bad guys, and especially coyotes.  This is why they bring their swords and guns, and why my son Marcus rarely leaves home without his slingshot.

I’ve been thinking about slingshots this week.  No, we have not had any broken windows yet.  Marcus has been very responsible with his toy so far, and it helps that he is still learning how to use it. I’ve been thinking about slingshot because I’ve been thinking about graduation- your graduation. I’ve been thinking about times of transition, times when everything ‘normal’ is about to change, and it’s a bit like being in the seat of a slingshot. 

My oldest daughter is just finishing fourth grade, so I have yet to experience this kind of launch day with one of my own children. But we have had mini-launches. First steps, first overnight, first day of kindergarten, first week of camp.  I remember when Seth first learned to ride his bike.  He asked me to help him out of the blue one day.  He hopped on, and I walked beside him. “Go, go, go!” Soon I was running “go go  go” and he was off!  And then, “wait, slow down!” I wanted to say, but suddenly  he was out of my reach. That feeling- the “go go go!” mixed with “wait for me I’m not ready!” is one I feel all the time when my children wizz by milestones. I imagine your parents, grandparents, and teachers can relate to these mixed feelings on this day. We are cheering you on, but we are trying to catch up. We are proud of you, but we are nervous for you, too.

You graduates may not have these same feelings, but I am sure your feelings today are mixed.  I messaged many of you on facebook last week( those I could find), and asked you for three words to describe your feelings about graduation.  Excited. Sad. Ready. Relieved. Nervous. Ambitious. Appreciative. Blessed. Will. Miss. Girls.  (that was Nick)

Sitting in the seat of a slingshot may sound like a pretty fun thing to you, or it may be terrifying. Maybe it’s a bit of both.   Just about everything that makes up your normal day right now is about to change. Your commute. The friends you see at lunch. Your weekly chapel service. Normal is changing, and you are in the seat of the sling shot. Scarier still, you are not 100% sure where you are going to land.

I remember when we moved here to White Creek. Our families are from Michigan, and on call night I was hoping for a call somewhere near home. “Columbus, Indiana,” they said, and the first thing I said was, “Where? That’s Northern Indiana, right?”  Turns out it was not. I had mixed feelings, and we left many things behind when we climbed into that launch seat. But God was faithful, and that made all the difference.  We landed in a place far from family, where God sent us our fifth child, and then our sixth. But He was faithful. We landed in a place that included sickness, seizures and a brain tumor, and we were forced to learn to be weak and loved. But God was faithful, and that made all the difference.

Graduates, you are now being released from White Creek. Wherever you land, it will be in a place where more is expected of you. You will learn more, you will become more responsible, more capable. You will become more independent. We celebrate this with you, and we cheer you on. And yet, we hesitate. We might not be completely ready for this.  It might take us some time to catch up.

Awhile ago I was looking through some old clothes and I found a dress that fit my oldest daughter when she was two. She saw it and cried, “Oh mama! I wish this could still fit me!”
“Well, you shoulda thought of that before you grew up, young lady,” I joked.
“Mama, I couldn’t help it! God made me grow!”  And it’s true, God made her grow, and God made you grow. You can’t help it, and we can’t help it either. So we (your parents grandparents and teachers- all of us who love you) take comfort in this- the God who made you grow bigger will take care of you in the next stage of your life.

You know this already, I’m sure. We hope the years you have spent at White Creek have taught you these things- surely, God is gracious and merciful. Surely he will care for you. Surely He forgives sins, helps sinners, and cares for his children.

So we celebrate this milestone with you, trusting that God will continue to care for you.  But, I have to ask this one thing of you.  Please, don’t grow up too much.  (It was Tuesday, when I was here for recess with my boys, that I saw you all playing duck duck goose. Perhaps this will not be a problem!)

As you learn responsibility, remember how to be a child- especially a child before God.  Remember that you are welcomed into His presence, a loving Father welcomes His children with open arms. Remember to drink the pure milk of His Word, to gather together with your church family.  Remember the needs of your soul, which you will never outgrow. Remember to be fed by Word and Sacrament as often as you possibly can.  Remember that no matter how big and capable you become, you are free, before God and because of His grace, to be weak and loved.

Graduates, as we release you into your next stage of life, we know that we release you into the hands of God, the trustworthy, loving hands of God. 

Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all of your days.

Congratulations, class of 2013.

Links, recommended

First, the funnies:

33 Teachers who got the last laugh
Loved this!

Worst End of School Year Mom Ever
This post has had me giggling all day. Love the reality, here. Moms, we were so awesome.... back in October.

Other posts I loved this week:

 my temptation is to look so far ahead that I forget that my feet are not where my eyes are.  (Me too, Kristen.)

Love as a Reference Point

Let's face it, we need to know that what we do matters. 

Two Funerals

On grief and true comfort

The Drop Box
Heart-breakingly beautiful. God use my hands to make a difference in this broken world, too.

End of the Year Interview Questions for kids

I updated this post from last year, and I look forward to interviewing my kids again this week!

And now, welcome summertime.

Tween Girls, flowers mid-bloom

Girlhood is the opening flower of womanhood. 
It has charms all its own. 
The wonderful blossoming of young, healthy girlhood, 
will ever be God’s great miracle in life’s garden. 

Girlhood is like a half-open rose. 
We are charmed, 
both by the beauty of the bud and by the wonderful coloring of the rose. 

We behold the familiar traits of childhood 
that have always charmed us and held our affections, 
but blended with these in ever changing variety 
are the graces and powers of womanhood.

--Beautiful Girlhood, 
by Mabel Hale, revised and expanded by Karen Andreola

Remember to stop and admire your children, even if they are mid-bloom today.
Do you have a 'tween daughter? 
 Read more and suggest topics: Growing up Togehter

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wonderfully Made (Guest post by Angie Durnil)

Today, Angie Durnil joins us again- read on for some inspiration, weak and lovely ladies!

Wonderfully Made

Spring has sprung and with it the vibrant colors of my rose bush. Every year since I have planted the roses, I anxiously await their arrival. The bright fuchsia blossoms against the green leaves are so pretty and refreshing after the dull winter has passed. I welcomed the spring rains and warm weather early this year after the long, cold winter that has chilled even my spirit.

I didn't prune the bushes last fall. Instead I left the bare stems as a reminder of what will be, once the weather breaks. Now, the bushes have grown taller than me and very full, so much so, that I have had to tie them up to keep them from falling to the ground because they are so heavy with flower buds. The blossoms are exploding with color and it warms me to see God's creation.

God didn't just create the things in nature to behold. He also created each and every human, in His own likeness. He used just as much finesse in creating us as he created the plants and trees around us. So, why is it easier to marvel at the beauty in nature, than in our own selves? Why is it acceptable to stare in total amazement at the green grass, rolling hills, flowers and trees and see the beauty, and call it what it is; but stare in the mirror in disgust or contempt because things just don't look right? God made me for a purpose, and it may not be to win a beauty pageant, but He didn't take any less time to make me than He took to make the beauty queen.

Matthew 6:25-26 tells it beautifully. "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?"

Sin clouds our eyes with discontent and makes our minds distrust what is true and good. Instead we try to convince ourselves that we need to lose more weight, we need more makeup, we need more exercise or product or accessories. We tend to forget, that God created man and woman naked, and without diets and exercise equipment, and they were happy, that is, until Satan stepped in.

Much like Satan attacks me, the caterpillars have attacked my roses. So I have to protect them with Sevin or chili powder and garlic spray. The roses also have thorns to deter animals from munching on their leaves. My natural defenses are more awesome than chemicals. Whenever the lies fill my head, I turn to God, either in scripture or prayer. He tells me the truth and frees me from Satan. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Pray for strength and wisdom in your struggles to be healthy, but don’t give up.  That’s what Satan wants.  Instead, honor your body with good food choices and exercise.  It helps me to remember that God made me too, just as he carefully crafted the roses. If He cares for flowers that much, imagine the love and compassion He has for me!  This creation should not be my undoing.   It's time to stop listening to the lies that Satan is telling me. I need to remember God's word that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" and start believing the truth.

Fearfully and wonderfully made.

And you.

(This post is part of a series on living Weak and Lovely)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Exercise (Weak and Lovely- Guest Post!)

Welcome, to today's guest-poster, Mary Anne Schneider!


I have no motivation when it comes to exercise. I hate to exercise. A dozen or so work out videos sit collecting dust in my entertainment center. Billy Blanks, Cheryl Burke, Jillian Michaels, and Bob Harper (just to name a few) have promised fun, motivation, and a healthier lifestyle if I will follow their tried and true workout program. The last DVD I bought stayed in the wrapper for 4 weeks. Since its grand opening, I have used the video a total of two times.
This is my kind of exercise: LOL!

Research proves that exercise is good for you. According to the Mayo Clinic website, exercise can boost your mood, increase your energy, and lower your risk of disease, help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce stress, and improve sleep. All my friends seem to be doing it. I know I should do it, too. There are opportunities all around our community to become involved in exercise programs. I should not have any excuse not to be exercising. Why is it then that here I am, a little after 4:00 p.m., sitting on my couch with no intention of popping one of those 12 DVDs in the player?

Is it because I am on my feet most of the day at work? Around 3:00 p.m. my thoughts turn to my couch and sitting down. I can’t wait to set my toes free from my suffocating shoes and put my feet up. For some people it is a lack of extra time to fit in exercise. I should not use time as an excuse. I could fit it in if I really wanted to do it. Does anyone else fight this battle?

My challenge for the week:
  • Make a list of exercises I could easily do. Include exercises that do not require extra work, money or extra effort to go somewhere.
  • Exercise two times this week. (baby steps)
  • Remind myself that I am worth the effort!

What is your favorite form of exercise?
What motivates you to exercise? 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial day

From Abraham Lincoln:

As was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

  With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Read this too- and remember!
tiny flags with big meaning.

The things they carry
We don't understand, but we give thanks.

Memorial Mondays
My heart, remembering our army days.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

best of this week

Recent favorites, in no particular order, for your reading enjoyment!

Succeeding in Just Being
Just being, not running everywhere and doing everything. Sounds like this mama is much better at this than I am!

The Death of the Generalist

On Motherhood: "I have the benefit of being the ultimate generalist: life is never boring, and I get to follow my passions and whimsies to see them benefit my family."

Children in church

know that your family - with all of its noise, struggle, commotion, and joy – are not simply tolerated, you are a vital part of the community gathered in worship.


Jenny's advice for the days when there is no joy. And guess what (oh, the scandal!) she sees a therapist! I love how she describes this other way of receiving grace with skin on:

therapist – Yep, I said it.  THER - A – PIST!  That “shush-shush” word.  That “Oh my, you’re not quite normal, are you?” word.  There is a stigma that goes with seeing a therapist.  A stigma that says I cannot handle my life on my own.  I cannot cope.  I need help.  Funny thing is, that’s the same reason I go to church; the same reason I receive the Lord’s Supper; the same reason I receive absolution.  Because I cannot deal with this earthly life on my own.

Splashing, Wading, Drowning

What depression feels like. I feel understood as I read this, even though it still makes no sense.

Faith and Life

Be of Good Cheer

There is nothing more annoying than forced cheerfulness. No, wait. Yes there is:genuine cheerfulness.

of bombs and tornados
Satan loves that feeling of panic. He thrives on the fear that causes your throat to constrict. He rejoices at the knot in your stomach. 

Mortifying Mortification
In a particularly hilarious episode of "Mr. Bean," played by the elastic faced Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean attempts to wash and dress while driving to work with predictably humorous results. As laudable as being properly groomed and dressed for work might be, Mr. Bean simply cannot drive properly while putting on his pants. So it is for those who attempt to keep their eyes on their own piety instead of upon the Word of God. By focusing on their own righteousness they will easily fail to see the true righteousness of God in the Word of God. As laudable as scrutinizing our own behavior may be, it will easily get us entirely off the track and with a less humorous outcome than befalls Mr. Bean.

And just because, here's a picture of my girls' bedroom, all clean. With special thanks to Grammy Pammy for making it pretty.

And now, children be warned. Mama's dusting off the clutter jail!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Five Minute Friday: View

Five Minute Friday

The word: VIEW


How can a view be breathtaking and terrible all at once? Back and forth I go in my view. I see it clearly- how they grow and change, the wonders they are.  I breathe in the fleeting moment, sad to think of the day when they will fly.

Then I something else clearly, so clear it is red.
The elbow in the side, the tattle, the "he hit me," and "he did it first," the spitting of milk for the fun of it, the way I can't leave the room for thirty seconds without a fight or a broken something.  The "I should be able to _____ without you guys doing _________ !" said in so many ways to little ears that don't care to hear.

I see red. Inconvenience, disobedience, and frustration, and it seems like that is all there is to see in this place. 

And the that other view comes back. A preschool graduation, an old photo, and a repentant heart, and a mommy lap that welcomes the little ones while she still can.

God help me to number my days.


When little lips speak of things buried inside a mother-heart

My little girl is in tears, in the arms of her daddy. 

I have gone to bed early, before my husband, before even the oldest children. My body simply gave out, and I had no choice but to lay down.  I am frustrated that my body refused to live up to the standards in my head. There is a frying pan covered in hamburger grease in my kitchen, and I hate that I will wake up to it tomorrow. 

Daddy sent the girls to bed, but one did not go quietly. Teeth brushed, she rushed back into his arms, in tears.  It's bedtime, but she has two more math problems to do.  She thinks her father is heartless, unfair, for making her go to bed with things undone. 

He and I have talked about this- how her wonderful work-ethic pushes her near perfectionism. 

He sits with her on the end of our bed.

"Honey, it's ok to go to bed with two problems left undone. You will have plenty of time in the morning."  She doesn't believe him, though the problems are simple.  Leaving loose ends, even if they can be tied in under three minutes, is torture to her little soul. "Your body needs rest my dear. It's OK not to have everything done. Daddy still loves you, and mommy.  And Jesus loves you too, and he wouldn't love you any more if your jobs were done.  Go to bed, dear.  It really is OK.."  

She sniffs and nods.  
She tries to believe. 
She hugs her mother and rushes off to bed.

I imagine her crying small tears while she waits for those words to take root in her heart.

I love my husband and those words of comfort he speaks.
But still, I almost ask him if he wouldn't mind going back into the kitchen and cleaning that disgusting frying pan.  But I know he would laugh, thinking I must be kidding. How can such a request come after such a lesson?  

Motherhood, like taking your heart out of your chest and watching it walk around, indeed.  These walking hearts of mine, they say things I couldn't say. Is it pride or the forgetfulness of age that causes me to keep these things buried? 

I put my head back on my pillow, and I wait for those words to sink down into my heart.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Part of me made an Overly Ambitious Reading List, while the other part of me is making fun of her.

After screen-free week, I am determined to carve out some technology-free time this summer.
I want to make reading a priority.

Well, part of me does. Part of me is making big plans, setting goals and gathering ideas and making lists.  Part of me is looking forward to summer. Part of me thinks I will actually finished the unabridged version of Les Miserables AND read several chapter books to the children. Part of me can't wait to potty train the 2 1/2 year-old, give drawing lessons to the 7 year-old, help the 8 year-old run her cleaning business, learn how to bind books with the 10 year-old, work on fair projects, tend to my garden, etc etc...

The other part of me is laughing-
you can't even keep your house clean? Why bother coming up with all this other stuff?

Our summer routines will be decided by the winner of the wrestling match between my two selves.

Or, more likely, my two selves will take turns being in charge, and we will all live in confusion.
So basically, summer will be normal.

But part of me is still hopeful that "normal"includes lots of reading this summer.
So I thought I'd share my reading lists with you.

My overly ambitious reading lists

To Read (All by myself, preferably in a lawn chair while I soak my feet in cold water)
To-Read to kids (chapter books)

Need more ideas for your lists?
Books I love (you can browse by category)
Pictures Books we love
Children's Chapter Books We Love

Can we read them ALL?
What's on your reading list?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Desperate for sunshine

It was raining, and the morning crawled along.  
How can it be only 8:00?

I sipped coffee, and made a hearty effort to be fun mommy. The activity was a good one, in theory, but someone hit someone, and the markers spilled, and one was in tears, and nobody was listening to me, and then, my patience was completely gone.  

It was 8:05.

God, how are we going to make it through this morning?

But God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. 
And so, by grace alone, the rain stopped and the sun came out.  

Desperately we went out into the rain-soaked world.
And, as He so often does, God distracted us from our complaints by overwhelming us with beauty.

It was everywhere.

I took a picture of him smelling the flowers, and he consented, 
but then he made sure that I stopped to smell them for myself, too.
I love when they care for me in this way.

And to me, the smell of roses mixes in my memories with the taste of red raspberries,
because my Grandmother nurtured both in her yard,
and she shared the sweetness and the beauty with me.
Raspberries and roses.

Why is this one different than the others?
Wonderfully odd.

I never get tired of the beauty of water on things.
Thirst quenched.

And mine is, too.

My heart expands again, as I behold His works.

 My  heart expands, 
filled with the beauty of spring around me, 
and once again,
filled and grateful for the beauty
 of the little hands and noses and feet that explore this world with me. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Messy Mommy Jobs #11 & Link Up

Messes. I wish I could ban them while my foot heals. 
But no. They want to paint.

That helpless feeling 
when your kid is covered in paint,
and you can't move quickly!

Good thing this girl is kind to her mama.

And she cleaned up her mess, too.


fun to drink, even more fun to spit all over your brother.

 Hey boys wanna help me make bread?
(Yay, mama!)
Ok just let me put away these 2 dishes....
(What? They were bored for those 5 seconds. They had to do something!)

Ok, now help me carry the wheat.
Don't spill it, don't spill it, don't spill it, don't....

If you have a blog, link up with me below! ( Links back are always appreciated!)
Your post can be anything at all mess-related; cleaning tips, organizing tips, thoughts on a messy life, a messy craft project, or just fun pictures of your kids doing something messy!

Friday, May 17, 2013


Food for thought this weekend...

What I learned from a Buddhist monk
The word "mono-tasking" will forever stick in my brain.  I pray that God help me learn to do this!
It may not be possible all of the time (especially with small children!) but perhaps I will learn to be this way  at least some of the time!

And now, I am turning off online distractions for the weekend.

When I mother, I shall mother.
And when I eat, I shall eat.
When I nap, I will nap.
And when I see their little gifts, I shall truly see them.

(with the help of God!)

Join me?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The perfect dose

Afternoon sun, children playing, but my Little Man is grumpy.
He climbs up, snot-covered, begging for a place on my lap. I wrap him in my arms and my jacket.
He rests, a content comfort-taker, in my arms.

He is wrapped in the warmth of mom and God.

We hide together from the cool breeze.  The perfect dose of sunshine rests on us, and we see no reason to move.  My wedding ring reflects rainbows, but I think of this boy, and his forever-life, made to last longer even than the diamond I wear.  I hold this life in its small beginnings, this little, eternal life.  

A gust of wind reaches his bare legs, and he complains.  I fix his small problem, gladly, and he rests again.

On my lap and in my care I feel the light weight of a little boy. But what is the weight of his life, his eternal soul?  I cannot comprehend the gravity of this moment, this vocation. I fear it would crush me if I could.

Yet at this moment, his heaviness does not oppress.
My son and my God have surrounded me with gentle, forever-warmth.

I receive the sun in its perfect dose, and I am also a comfort-taker.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

(Book Review: The Shallows)

The Shallows by Nicholas G. CarrDo the tools we use change us even as we use them?

The author makes a compelling case that they do, and he urges us consider how the Net is changing our brains.

He provides a brief and fascinating overview of major technological changes throughout history- the map, the clock, the printing press- and explains how these inventions have forever changed society and even the way we think. He explains neuro-plasticity and argues that new technologies even change the physical shape of our brains- as we learn new abilities, we lose old ones.

”Our indulgence in the pleasures of informality and immediacy has led to a narrowing of expressiveness and a loss of eloquence.” 108

The author is not an alarmist or a radical. He is not urging his readers to unplug, move to the mountains, and hide from the evil Net. 

However, he makes a strong case that our online lives are changing the way we think and interact, and some of these changes are not good. He urges us to reflect on these things, and even as we use this technology, to use it wisely. We must guard our ability to read deeply, to connect emotionally, and to think logically about complicated issues. 

A personal note: As I read this I wanted to prove the author wrong, to focus completely on his ideas with all my attention, to prove to him that though I am almost always online, I am still capable of "deep reading." Yet, I found the urge to share what I am reading with those online IMMEDIATELY impossible to resist (hence my frequent goodreads updates and a few facebook quotes.) I also typed notes as I read, as I know that I rarely retain more difficult ideas if I do not get them "down." 

Yes, I am as he says, a word processor.

As I read through chapter 3, I also answered five texts, put in a movie for my children, and handed the kindle to the 2yr old because he was bored with the movie.

And I asked myself, is this just life nowadays? Why should I fight it? 

After reading this book, I have decided that yes, this is modern life, and yes, I should fight it. I will not hide from it, but I am newly motivated to fight it with strict boundaries, and to exercise my brain in more focused ways. I do not want to be one of those thoughtful people who "comfortably into the permanent state of distraction that defines the online life." p.112

Do you relate? Read this book. 

And now, a few of my favorite quotes- with my comments in italics.

Whether I’m online or not, my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski. 7

And the speed is exhilarating, isn't it?

It wasn’t just that so many of my habits and routines were changing as I became more accustomed to and dependent on the sites and services of the Net. The very way my brain worked seem to be changing. It was then that I began worrying about my inability to pay attention to one thing for more than a couple of minutes. At first I’d figured that the problem was a symptom of middle-age mind rot. But my brain, I realized, wasn’t just drifting. It was hungry. It was demanding to be fed the way the Net fed it—and the more it was fed, the hungrier it became. 16

Hungry for data, for connection, for fast-paced life... even if my real life around me is fast paced already!

Even the earliest silent readers recognized the striking change in their consciousness that took place as they immersed themselves in the pages of a book. The medieval bishop Isaac of Syria described how, whenever he read to himself, “as in a dream, I enter a state when my sense and thoughts are concentrated. Then, when with prolonging of this silence the turmoil of my memories is stilled in my heart, ceaseless waves of joy are sent me by inner thoughts, beyond expectation suddenly arising to delight my heart.” Reading a book was a meditative act, but it didn’t involve a clearing of the mind. It involved a filling, or replenishing, of the mind. Readers disengaged their attention from the outward flow of passing stimuli in order to engage it more deeply with an inward flow of words, ideas, and emotions. That was—and is—the essence of the unique mental process of deep reading. 65

Yes! and this is why an hour of surfing around the internet does not refresh me like an hour of reading a book!  

“The Net’s interactivity gives us powerful new tools for finding information, expressing ourselves, and conversing with others. It also turns into lab rats constantly pressing levers to get tiny pellets of social or intellectual nourishment.” 117

They are yummy, but  yes, they are tiny.

Imagine filling a bathtub with a thimble; that’s the challenge involved in transferring information from working memory into long-term memory. By regulating the velocity and intensity of information flow, media exert a strong influence on this process. When we read a book, the information faucet provides a steady drip, which we can control by the pace of our reading. Through our single-minded concentration on the text, w e can transfer all or most of the information thimbleful by thimbleful, into long-term memory and force the rich associations essential to the creation of schemas. With the Net, we face many information faucets, all going full blast. Our little thimble overflows as we rush from one faucet to the next. We're able to transfer only a small portion of the information to long-term memory, and what we do transfer is a jumble of drops from different faucets, not a continuous, coherent stream from one source. 125

What an analogy. This makes me think.... I often do feel like the one rushing from faucet to faucet...

The development of a well-rounded mind requires both an ability to find and quickly parse a wide range of information and a capacity for open-ended reflection. There needs to be time for efficient data collection and time for inefficient contemplation, time to operate the machine and time to sit idly in the garden. We need to work in Google's "world of numbers," but we also need to be able to retreat to Sleepy Hollow. The problem today is that we're losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we're in perpetual locomotion. 168

What do you think?
The Net is here to stay, and there are many reasons to celebrate this.  But consider the possible negative effects as stated above- are you noticing similar things in your own life? Is it worth fighting against the tide, or shall we just learn to be content here in the shallows?

Read this review, too.
and also, read the book

Monday, May 13, 2013

His Words make good earplugs. (Hobbling Mama #2)

There are books on the floor, but I need to ice my foot. I sit here, trying to quiet the voices of things left undone in this house. They don't understand why I'm not listening to their demands. I usually do. The crooked, broken, sticky messy things nag me, not caring about my injury.

The little boys are aware of my injury, so much so that they are using it to their advantage.  A mom who cannot move quickly does not have to be obeyed quickly.  A mom on crutches might let it go, just this one time, and maybe a few more.

Things are slipping out of control.

Yet they are finally sleeping, and it is raining.
I sit with my Bible and my laptop, and I try to grab just one little moment of peace.

The things undone laugh at me.
Peace cannot be found in all this clutter.

But distraction can.
I open my email, my blogger dashboard, my facebook.
And it feels like more clutter.  More nagging. No peace.
I close the laptop.


1 Peter
Peter, and apostle of Jesus Christ,
to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen....

To those who reside as aliens, who are scattered- yes, I am part of this. I am part of God's family, promised life but living in a dying world.  I am not at home here.

Who are chosen.
Chosen.  My thoughts rest in this word for a moment.
I am chosen. Loved.

...according to the foreknowledge of God the father, by the sanctifying word of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace by yours in the fullest measure.

Yes, His precious blood, His body given for me.  His death means forgiveness for me. His blood means grace. His grip on me...
His grip means peace.
I am caught up in the work of the Trinity.

The boys sleep. The rain from heaven falls gently, and from my window I see the thirst of the earth satisfied.  I see quiet growth, and green, cared-for life.

And I want to take a picture of it, but my foot and my God remind me to be still.

I am still.
And my ears are full of His Word, so I cannot hear the jeers of the things undone.
I listen to the soft rain shower, watch His kindness to the earth.  I consider how much more He cares for me.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God, through faith, for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials...

1 Peter 1:1-6

Thank you Father, for the joy and peace that is found in Your grip.
Love, your daughter.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Troll Mama Workout

Troll mama workout (by Carrie Cook)

1. Move sofa out of the way.
2. Replace Disney DVD with exercise video.
3. Explain to biggest troll that the ladies on the video aren't being naughty, exercise clothes sometimes show bellies like bathing suits.
4. Shoo baby troll away from cords.
5. Praise middle troll for trying to exercise too.
6. Pry baby troll off of your legs any time you stand still for longer than 2 seconds.
7. Answer no fewer than 15 questions (some repeated) for middle troll.
8. Request that the biggest troll pull the baby troll off your back.
9. Keep reminding big trolls that you need space so you don't injure them.
10. Restart DVD when baby troll commandeers the remote.
11. Chase down weights / any other gear that trolls have confiscated when you're not looking.
12. Watch out for trolls using you as a tunnel.
13. Hug any trolls you accidentally bump or knock over.
13. Perform various exercises throughout while the big trolls tell you that's not what the fitness ladies are doing.
14. Collapse on the floor at the end of the cool-down with exhaustion that has little to do with exercise.

The Trolls

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hobbling mama #1

Here I am, with my foot in the air, resting.
A minor stress fracture or muscle strain, I think.
Rest is in order.

This wouldn't be so bad if I could actually handle it with grace.

It barely hurts.
I am helped by my children, husband, friends.
I am commanded to be still.
It wouldn't be so bad, if only I could handle it with grace.

Yet I am restless in my rest.
Last week, slowing down and turning off the screens, was rest for my soul even in the busyness that filled our days. This week, my body is not allowed the normal busyness, but my soul wiggles and fights within me.

I sit with my feet up while my daughter makes dinner.
While my friend cleans my kitchen.
While my husband puts children to bed,
and children go to sleep without mommy tucks. And they understand, sort of.
They bring me stuffed animals to comfort me, and I feel forgiven for not getting up.

I receive grace with skin on, and I am grateful, but I hate it.

The Martha in me writhes in agony. 
And I could go to the screens, I could busy myself with countless digital distractions.
It almost feels like a way to rebel from this forced rest.
Artificial busy-ness. But it is not rest, nor is it productivity.

I lost myself in a wonderful novel yesterday, and that was good.
But it was not rest.

I try to rely on the little people for this and that, but it requires so many words. I am worn out from parenting from an armchair.  "Please bring me the red book on the floor, on the FLOOR, the BOOK, the RED book, no THE RED ONE!"
If only they knew how difficult it was, perhaps they would not wrestle around like kids instead of listening, and perhaps I would not erupt in angry words, words directed at them but anger flowing from my unrest.

And I fear even putting words to the emotions because they are ridiculous, overblown, sinful.  Yet I find myself angry:

at the "injustice" of being less than 100% healthy and mobile.
at a family for not seeing what I see in this house, the never-ending list of things to be done, for stopping to chat with me instead of doing, doing, doing the things that should be done around here.
at the ridiculous sympathy offered to me by others.
at being an object of help, of charity
at the fact that I actually need that help and charity.

I am cared-for.
And I fight it like a baby fighting a nap.
I contort my body in all directions, squirming and moving away from the help I need.

This is a minor inconvenience, and I am a big, big girl.
I should be able to handle this without my sin flaring up so bad.

This wouldn't be so bad if I could actually handle it with grace.

And it's funny, in a way.
One would think I would know how to be weak and loved by now;
to worry less about "handling it with grace" and lean more heavily on His grace.

Sometimes, I think the Christian life is simply learning the same lessons over and over again.
Ever feel that way?

be a charity case


Wrecked by Jeff GoinsJeff Goins, in his newest book, urges us to get Wrecked- to allow our lives to be shattered by the needs of others.

His writing is captivating and his goal is noble.  He does not shield the reader from the suffering that comes when one allows their own heart to be pierced.  He is not offering a secret path to a happier life; rather, he is encourages us to stop obsessing about our own happiness, and instead, to love.

"When we intersect with the needs of a dying world, we realize our talents, gifts, and passions are not merely ours to enjoy; they are intended as sacrifices. “You think the people of this country exist to provide you with position,” the brave William Wallace
told a group of cowardly Scottish nobles. “I think your position exists to provide those people with freedom.” p13

"We want our lives to mean something. We want to be able to make our parents and children proud. We want to be able to stand before God with confidence when He asks us how we spent our time here. Maybe accomplishing this is messier than we thought. Maybe something can only be born when something else dies.  Maybe our “coming alive” feels like being dragged through the dirt. Maybe you and I are hanging by a thread of grace for most of our lives and we’re expected to be humble, not haughty, with the breaks we've been given. Maybe we’re supposed to pay good deeds forward. Maybe we’re supposed to think what’s in it for me? far less than we do. Maybe we need to sacrifice more. Maybe it won’t feel like a sacrifice at all, but more like the sensation of becoming unnumbed." (p.41)

Though he mentions Christ, Jesus is largely presented as our example to follow in this book. I would have liked to see the author encourage God's children (who are wounded and wrecked on behalf of others)  to run to Him, to His Word, over and over, for the strength and help they need to suffer-with.  This will not make the suffering go away, of course, but it is the only refuge and hope for a child of God in this life.

We will not stand before God with confidence based on our actions of our compassion, noble as they may be. Our confidence comes only from Christ and rests completely on His grace towards us on the cross.  He forgives, and He loves, and He teaches us to love. I agree with Jeff, that this is a messy process.  This un-numbing, the loving, will be nothing like we expect.

Maybe you and I are hanging by a thread of grace for most of our lives...
I am sure this is true... we hang, or we live pridefully unaware that we are hanging, and we go about our days. If we understood, really understood how dependent we are on His love, His grace, and every moment, we would be terrified. And yet, if we understood how strong is that thread by which we hang, how great is his love for us that holds us steady, well, that would change everything.

God, keep changing my everything.

Have you been wrecked-- have you had your life shattered by the needs of others? 
 I'd love to hear your story.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I didn't mean it. (Screen-free week reflections.)

Mamas need to have down time: We need time with God, and we also need time just for ourselves.
So what was I thinking when I took away my favorite way to spend my down time?
Isn't my life challenging enough without trying to go “screen-free” for a week?
I knew it would be harder.
I thought it would be nearly impossible.

Monday, 8:05 am, I thought, Oh no, is is really only 8:05 am?
Tuesday afternoon I realized: The internet is a good source of calorie- free entertainment. I’d better watch it or I’m going to gain ten pounds this week.

But now, at the end of screen-free week, I wonder:
Why does everything seem to be going so smoothly?

We’ve had fights, but also, adventures. 
We’ve made memories. We’ve been busy.

And instead of feeling crazy and drained, I feel… refreshed. Calm. Grateful.

And I almost don’t want to feel like this.
I didn't mean for this to be a lifestyle change.
I just wanted to do a little experiment.
I just wanted to try something new for a week.
I wanted to shake up our normal. To force the kids to play outside.
To hear them singing silly songs on the trampoline instead of the theme song to Johnny Test.

I wanted them to learn and grow and interact and really see each other.
And yet, I’m the one who sees.

A normal morning
In the morning, after I send the big kids to school, I usually let the little ones watch cartoons while I regroup.
I relax with my coffee, in front of the computer, checking in with my calendar and my email and my social network and my blog and (theoretically) God too, at least if there happens to be nothing interesting on the internet. They watch a cartoon or two, until I am ready to engage with them again, or until they are fighting. They are almost always naughty before I am “ready.” And so it goes.

A screen-free morning
I wake up with a healthy fear of the new day.
It’s going to be more of a challenge without TV, I think. I immediately pray for patience and energy, and I form a game plan. Lately it has been warmer, so I dress the preschoolers while the big kids get ready for school. When they are ready, we are ready— at least, ready enough. I have a cup of coffee by then. I may or may not have brushed my hair. No matter. We go out, while the sun is barely up, and we walk the big kids to school. We walk slow, collect bugs, wave to the school bus. And the big kids hug the little ones, one by one. Then I hold my coffee out to the side when they run at me for a goodbye tackle-hug. Coffee spills on the sidewalk. Little ones have discovered an earthworm, or a birds’ nest, or a piece of bark that looks like a dagger. And they tell mommy, because everything must be told to mommy when you are little. And mommy is not in a hurry, so she listens. She really listens.

flower snow

I just wanted to force my kids to play in the treehouse, to get fresh air, to imagine.
I didn’t mean to breathe it in with them.
I just wanted them to read more books, hear the birds, notice the sunset.
I didn’t want to be swept up with them.
I didn’t want to realize I’d been missing things, too.
I didn’t want to… repent.

Saturday came, and with it rain. A movie night was in order, and the children were newly grateful for the privilege.
And I am grateful, too, for a week of moments to cherish, for a fresh perspective.
For spring.
For the mercy of God.
For technology, and for moments without technology.
For my vocation in this tiny home, and for the freedom to let headlines and social networking go for a time.
For the freedom to just be who I am in this little life, to these little people, and for His grace that makes that enough.

What I had thought would be a challenge ended up being (mostly) a break for my scattered mind.
It was a slow pace, and fewer things pulling me.
It was a week of ears, eyes, and heart opening.

All good things are gifts from God, and technology is certainly good.
But I start this new week with new motivation to keep boundaries around this good, that it does not crowd out those things that are better. 

How do you balance these things in your life?
Did anyone else go scree- free this week?

I know this isn't a typical health/fitness post, but I'm filing it under Weak and Lovely, too. This is the best thing I've done for my mental health in a long time.
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