Better…

Tonight was a night that called for copious amounts of chocolate.  But I didn’t have any.  So instead I am going to pause and be grateful for more of the countless undeserved gifts…

1944.  oldest child off to her very first retreat

1945.  releasing the burden of more belongings, weight lifted from house, life

1946.  lying awake listening for God, looking for rest

1947.  cleaning out more clutter

1948.  Apples to Apples and the ballet recital on DVD – time with my girls

1949.  snuggling on the couch with my beloved

1950.  hearing all about the oldest child’s first junior high retreat

1951.  house full with extra kids, friends

1952.  rain!!!

1953.  kids who sleep long

1954.  free Chick-fil-A

1955.  a day to celebrate our marriage

1956.  the gift of marriage

1957.  pastor’s current sermon series

1958.  rest

1959.  a nice day with my bookend girls

1960.  Camp Enosh

1961.  thirteen years of marriage

1962.  computers and software that just won’t cooperate

1963.  anniversary lunch

1964.  the company of my oldest child

1965.  sidewalk sale with two of my girls

1966.  resting in the afternoon

1967.  talking with others who are called and going to serve

1968.  an unexpected family night at home

1969.  Skyping with our girl

1970.  seeing her eyes light up, that big smile

1971.  seeking God on hard days

1972.  a new day, a new week, a new start

1973.  Ann’s words of late

1974.  not being able to find my own

1975.  this hope, an anchor

1976.  words of hope everywhere I turn

1977.  rain

1978.  cooler temps

1979.  furry dog

1980.  new computer for school

1981.  new-to-us bedroom furniture

1982.  family taco run on Sunday evening

1983.  watching the Olympics together

And I ask look back on these, just some of His good gifts the past two weeks, my heart is turned from frustration and impatience to thanksgiving and praise and that too is a gift.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Still here…

I really am still here and so many words are bottled up inside but no matter how I try I cannot seem to make them come out right.  For now I seem to be working out my thoughts on life with old furniture and paint.  I will be back.  The words will come when the time is right.  Until then, I hope you are continuing to enjoy your summer.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Large Family Logistics – My Take Away

So it’s summer, my normal season for serious reading.  I feel like this year painting has taken the place of reading, but I’ve been able to do a fair amount, just the same.  Today I want to share about a book that I started at the beginning of the year and just finished in May or early June.  It was very inspirational and full of good, even if not personally applicable, ideas.  The book is Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family by Kim Brenneman.  I will preface by saying that when judged by the size of my husband’s family or my father’s family, I in no way feel like we have a “large” family.  I do know, however, that by societal standards, we do, and that there are some real logistics that go in to making our home and lives run smoothly and I’m always looking for ways to make it run more efficiently.

I first saw this book at a friend’s house and was intrigued by it.  The cover is lovely and the layout makes it very readable.

The author begins by discussing the Wise Woman of Proverbs and the blessing she is to her husband and household.  “It is difficult to underestimate the value of the encouragement we bring when we speak kind words to our family.  Be Christ to your family and others.  Praise them for the good things they do.  Bless them with uplifting words.  Show His love through the kindness of your tongue.” (p. 34)  Also, “When we look at our work, we need to see it for what it is:  serving the Lord, our husbands, our children, and all those who visit our home.  Caring for others is an awesome responsibility.  There is beauty in the necessary mechanics, and we need not look at them as something to just endure so that we  can move on to the next thing.  By all means, make your work efficient, but while you do what you have to do, learn to embrace it as work done unto the Lord that will impact generations for eternity!” (p. 36)

She then moves on to Goals, Systems, and Self-Discipline where she says, “If we want our home to be characterized by order and tranquility, we must lead by example.” (p. 53)

In the chapter on attitude, she addresses the phrase “I can’t” – not only when it comes from discouraged children, but when it comes from discouraged moms.  She says, “I can’t is something we don’t say.  I can’t gets replaced by praying without ceasing.” (p. 58)

She talks about making a plan and submitting that plan to God.  “Plans are a guide, not a master.  A plan serves you.  You do not serve the plan.  A plan gives you confidence. You know how to plan ahead and you know how to recover from an event.”  (p. 66)  This is a good reminder for this task-driven home maker – the plan is a tool, not a task-master.  “An interrupted day is God’s plan for the life of a mother (see Proverbs 16:1-9).  We cannot know what He wills for us and for our children ahead of time.  But when interruptions come, we can say with confidence, ‘This is God’s will.  He must have something to teach me, or the children, or maybe He is blessing me and the children with this.’ Or ‘Somehow, God is being glorified in this event.  I need to live obediently and not grump about it or fight it.’ Being upset about interrupted plans is, in essence, fighting with God.” (p.66)

She talks about teaching children to work and redeeming the time we have alone, instructing a child in a new chore, and life with little children.  In this practical section of the book, she gives tips on how to most efficiently clean a room, a house, and how to involve the children in the process.  She divides her week up into days, and while I think this is a wonderful idea, it does not apply well to us personally.  But it is a good spring board for having our own routine of “days”, even if they have to be shuffled around from week to week.  A “baking day”, a “grocery day”, a “computer day”, etc.

One thing she advocates is a “Laundry Day”.  Again, this one doesn’t work for us personally in this season of life.  But within the chapter on laundry she talks about “Four Loads by Four”, wherein you want to complete four loads of laundry by 4 p.m.  I really liked that little phrase and changed it to “Three Loads by Three”, since I rarely do four loads in one day.  It does help me stay on track!

She goes on to discuss morning and evening routines, as well as mealtime management, afternoon chore time, and the blessed Quiet Hour.  I love the quiet hour.  We’ve done this since the beginning of time and cannot imagine life without it.

As a mama who does not always possess a gentle tongue, the author’s words on page 307 were encouraging, “Every single time you talk to them (your children), force yourself to smile.  ‘Fake it ’til you make it.’  When you speak while you’re smiling, your tone of voice changes, and you will find that the words that come out of your mouth are more gracious.”

Large Family Logistics has been a great blessing to me, not only for the practical tips offered in managing my home, but for the encouragement provided by a seasoned mother in the areas of being a wife, mother, home maker, and home educator.

Starting Again with Giving Thanks

It’s been so long since I’ve written consistently, I don’t know where to start.  Life bubbles up around, books waiting to be read and reviewed, photos long to be posted and shared.  Summer days find some paradoxical mixture of leisure and frenzy and I long for the routine of the school year while simultaneously denying its return.

As is the habit, though, the best place to start seems to be with giving thanks, by continuing to list the gifts, even when it begins to seem routine.  For this wonderful listing of gifts serves as its own sort of journal of our lives and these crazy, joy-filled days.

1895.  a new day

1896.  fresh starts

1897.  a clean fridge with one less glass shelf

1898.  cold a/c

1899.  school ordered for next year

1900.  playing cards with my kiddos

1901.  painting with the second born

1902.  summer fruit

1903.  children working and playing so well together

1904.  sounds of a summer storm

1905.  another cast removed

1906.  a water slide that won’t inflate

1907.  starting early

1908.  a found wallet

1909.  a truly restful Sunday

1910.  enjoying the Olympic trials with my girls

1911.  just spending time together

1912.  vegetables chopped up in large summer salad

1913.  warm bread out of the oven

1914.  more work done alongside the children

1915.  more furniture painted, given fresh face

1916.  watching husband splash and play with our children at the local pool

1917.  third born turning 9

1918.   Legos, nerf guns, purse and dress – gifts for a girl of varied interests

1919.  {accidentally skipping a number in listing the gifts}

1920.  being bone tired and falling into bed after a long, hot day

1921.  hot summer days

1922.  time in the Word

1923.  staying up too late talking with my beloved

1924.  house picked up

1925.  hours by the pool

1926.  children learning, in a non-dangerous way, that not everyone who claims to be a friend really is

1927.  swim lessons

1928.  budgets

1929.  80* mornings

1930.  all of these hot hot mornings

1931.  laughing hard over Haiti tales

1932. wondering when she will be home with us

1933.  July 4th

1934.  freedom

1935.  sleepy, slow moving kiddos

1936.  watching the youngest find confidence in the water

1937.  teacher friend who encourages, pushes, never gives up

1938.  kitchen scrubbed clean

1939.  dad who comes to help bury hamster on a hot summer day

1940.  spending the evening with my parents

1941.  getting our money’s worth at the pool

1942.  another restful Sunday

1943.  husband home, time together

I hope you are also finding time to remember the gifts He daily gives.  What a wonderful legacy to list His gifts, and look back on His hand, His presence in each day.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara