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Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mother's Piety

In the interest of full disclosure, let me tell you that what you are about to read isn't my normal attitude.  But it is, for real, one I had today.  It is all well and good to write when I have nice things to say.  When my words will challenge, convict and inspire.  The words I wrote in frustration today I will put below so you can enjoy my full-blown honesty.  This may give you a glimpse into my 'not-so-rosy' days.  It may discourage you.  I don't know.  Take it or leave it.

So I had arranged all the kids to be doing something that might keep them occupied (and it didn't work).  I decided I needed to catch up some on my reading through the Bible AGENDA.  Yeah, I put 'agenda' in CAPS because that's all it seems to be - some lofty goal and virtuous aspiration.  Bible reading can't hurt, I muse.  So why not?  Maybe this could help my soul.  Maybe I will change.  Maybe I will become more...inspiring?  Gracious?  Kind?  Patient?  Like Jesus?  I don't know.  Stranger things have happened.  So here I go...

I pick up the Bible.  I am in Mark.  I get to the end of chapter 2.  It is about them picking grains when that was a no-no on the Sabbath.  'Tut tut' said the Pharisees.  Jesus retorts: "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."  In other words, "Lay off - you guys don't have a clue."  So I'm all like - yeah, He's right on that one.

At that moment squabbles erupt from the dining room where Timo has taken it upon himself to sweep and mop and arrange the chairs in the living room to make his job easier.  Andrew wants to cross but is penned in.  I tell them to quit it.  I'm reading my Bible after all.  I don't want to be bothered with such lowly squabbles.  My virtue is put to the test.

They don't quit it.  I get frustrated.  Surely, this is not what God intends for my pious Bible reading time.

I start fuming.  I have a noble goal.  A good goal.  A 'I'll-be-a-better-person-for-doing-this' goal.  I will understand God better.  I will be softer, gentler, more peaceful, calmer.  And all that good stuff.

But it isn't working.  The AGENDA starts to irritate me.

I quickly pray, "Oh God, isn't this what you want for me?!  To read and take in Your Word and not gripe at my kids?!"  I don't hear an audible answer but somehow I sense that this isn't His place for me.  Not here, not now - I am needed as a Mother - not a Bible-toting-aggravated-pious-grump who can't handle a squabble or two.

Somehow I realize that His calling a this very moment is to be a MOTHER.  Not a pious meditator by the fire-place.

I quickly scribble my nasty thoughts and they go as follows:
"Forget Bible reading!  It's useless.  I just read regarding rules and here I try following some 'rule' and it ruins my day and attitude.  Kids don't co-operate.  Hannah needs a change.  My calling isn't to sit reading Scripture while I lose it with the kids.  My attitude and temper are the WORSE for sitting here, not better.  All this piety and holy Bible reading is going to drive me nuts.  If God wants me to read the Bible He needs to make it clear and possible.  This just isn't working.  I am more crabby and temperamental... Agendas, schedules, and plans CAN help.  But right now they're just DUMB.  I'm so done with this.  Fed up.  Angry, even.  Pious Bible reading doesn't work for me.  Sure, I picked the wrong time and place.  Sure, my kids aren't well prepared.  Whatever.  Criticize if that's what you want.  [Who was I writing this to?!?!]  I'm not a legalist, nor will I be.  God doesn't want me to aim at Bible reading if it includes agitation and losing my temper.  'Nuff said."

Okay, so I wrote that in frustration.  And in a calmer frame of mind, yes I can see the error of my ways and thoughts.  But I'll put it out there for all to see - because I know I must not be alone in I?  Because if I am, oops.

I hope I'm not alone.  I know I don't do it all right - don't plan enough for this stuff.  But when the virtues of Bible reading are touted right, left and center - it can come back to bite you.  'Cuz it did me today.

And I'm done in.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

20 Things You Didn't Know About My Sister

1.  She was the first to arrive in our family while also the second oldest.  (My brother joined us later, though he is older).

2.  She was always my 'big' sister even though I overtook her in height.  She could always put me in my place because she had every right to (by her example and older-ness).

3.  We used to have knock-out drag-down fights - especially with hair pulling and wrestling over the t.v. remote (which in our family was always called 'the button-pusher').

4.  She knew how to stay out of the worst conflicts in our home.  She got a lot more homework done this way, I think.

5.  In our teens I was always jealous of how popular she was.  Boys were smitten with her.  Some would follow her home just to be in her presence.  I was amazed by the hold she had over them, even though she didn't give them much time or attention.

6.  As a kid she really detested family picnics.

7.  Whenever we're in Florida she doesn't feel her time is complete without a visit to the Manatees.  We bond over our love-affair with Manatees.

8.  When we were little her hair was always longer than mine.  It was a point of pride for her and a point of jealousy for me.  One day, in her teens, she voluntarily had it all cut off.  When it grew back a bit, she got a perm - which made it very poofy.  My brother and I labelled her 'mushroom head' for quite some time.  Not sure she ever forgave us for our mockery.

9.  She is fluent in French and Spanish (and certified to teach both).

10.  She is the coupon/bargain queen.  She's great at finding stuff at garage sales.  She even figures out how to get money from using a coupon.  It always baffles my mind.  But out of her collections and freebies, she loves to stock the local food-pantry/women's shelter with items they could use.

11.  She loves to enter contests and rarely wins.  But one time she won $20,000 and I thought she was joking.  She wasn't.  We quit teasing her after that.

12.  She is a cleanie.  I, on the other hand, well... (I guess I have a thing or two to learn from her).

13.  She was always dilligent in practicing piano.  I wasn't.  She was always a level or two ahead of me.  I always wanted to be like her - in piano and everything else.  In fact, I chose my elective subjects in high school based on what she chose.

14.  After we quit our fighting phase, sometime in college, we got along great.  I don't think we've had any fights since then - she even let me live with her after college - which was a huge step (for her, not me!)

15.  She loves Chik-fil-A and McDonalds.

16.  She prays every day with her kids for her family.

17.  She faithfully attends a small church with her family each week.  Her presence is an encouragement to all.

18.  Relationships have always been important to her - she always has an open heart to a friend from any time in her life.  Her welcoming and warm spirit are appreciated and a blessing to all who know her.

19.  She doesn't like conflict but when she reaches the limit, watch out.  She will put you in your place, and you probably deserve it, so you can't argue with her.

20.  On today, her birthday I want to tell her how much I love her and am thankful for God putting her in our family - to be the glue for our family, and the glaze which smooths out all our quirky personalities.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Toothbrush Holder Extensions - Tea parties with Grandma

Here are more pics of Caleb's invention:

It now features a back compartment for storing your toothpaste!

And this morning Andrew and Hannah had a tea party with Grandma - Look!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Caleb's Toothbrush Holder

Another piece of randomness for my blog:  Caleb loves Lego and has put his designing talents to good use.  He is deciding to do something useful with his Legos rather than just to play with as a toy...  Hence our family's toothbrushes were always getting soggy in a cup or one was getting lost and such - he made us a toothbrush holder.  This is the first of many inventions to come in the future.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Pleases God

I was looking up a certain poem I remember learning once.  It took me a while to find the exact version, since apparently Paul Gerhardt wrote things in German so there are a number of different renderings and translations and such.  So, in case you too were looking for this obscure but most helpful, wise poem, I will stick it here in my blog to assist your search :)

Perhaps it will bless you as it has me.

What pleaseth God with joy receive;
Though storm-winds rage and billows heave
And earth’s foundations all be rent,
Be comforted; to thee is sent

What pleaseth God.
God’s will is best; to this resigned,
How sweetly rests the weary mind!
Seek, then, this blessed conformity,
Desiring but to do and be

What pleaseth God.
God’s thoughts are wisest; human schemes
Are vain delusions, idle dreams;
Our purposes are frail and weak;
With earthly mind we seldom seek

What pleaseth God.
God is the holiest; and his ways
Are full of kindness, truth, and grace;
His blessing crowns our earnest prayer,
While worldlings scorn, and little care

What pleaseth God.
God’s is the truest heart; his love
Nor time, nor life, nor death, can move;
To those his mercies daily flow,
Whose chief concern it is to know

What pleaseth God.
Omnipotent he reigns on high
And watcheth o’er thy destiny;
While sea, and earth, and air produce
For daily pleasure, daily use,

What pleaseth God.
He loves his sheep, and when they stray
He leads them back to wisdom’s way;
Their faithless, wandering hearts to turn,
Gently chastising, till they learn

What pleaseth God.
He knows our every need, and grants
A rich supply to all our wants;
No good withholds from those whose mind
Is bent with earnest zeal to find

What pleaseth God.
Then let the world, with stubborn will,
Its earthborn pleasures follow still;
Be this, my soul, thy constant aim,
Thy riches, honor, glory, fame,

What pleaseth God.
Should care and grief thy portion be,
To thy strong refuge ever flee;
For all his creatures but perform,
In peace and tumult, calm and storm,

What pleaseth God.
Faith lays her hand on God’s rich grace,
And hope gives patience for the race;
These virtues in thy heart enshrined,
Thy portion thou wilt surely find,

What pleaseth God.
In heaven thy glorious portion is;
There is thy throne, thy crown, thy bliss;
There shalt thou taste, and hear, and see,
There shalt thou ever do and be,

What pleaseth God.
Paul Gerhardt.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snooty Graceless People

Got a bee in my bonnet... Gonna let it fly.

Snooty graceless people run around putting others under their particular microscope.  It is not a microscope of virtue or righteousness according to actual moral standards.  Oh no.  It is the microscope of 'my own personal standards'.  Generally this applies to external things like:
diet and exercise habits (or lack thereof)
financial choices
(add your own here)

They are the most miserable, unhappy people.  They purse their lips and sigh and think to themselves, "If only they would do what I would do, life would be so much better for them."  They pat themselves on the back and think of themselves as more righteous, holy, with-it, together...  They sadly look at others and think, "If only..." they could be as happy as I am... Sour, judgemental as I am.

Snooty graceless people burden others with their opinion (value-less might I add) of them.  They think it actually matters what they think of others and their behaviour, habits, etc.

They think God put them on this earth to wander around with 'eyes to see' - what others graciously overlook.  They see the dirty pile of dishes in the sink and judge: "If she would only do those dishes she would make her life so much better."  "If she made her bed every day she could be deemed righteous by me."

They like to judge every detail of the lives of those about them.  They apply personal standards as litmus tests of holiness.  They evaluate and nit-pick to see if their judgements could be increased or improved upon.  In fact, they have a hard time keeping their gleeful gavel-slamming opinions to themselves.  It would be so much more enjoyable to at least meet with one other person to compare notes and receive affirmations of what has obviously taken so much work to ponder.

Sometimes snooty graceless people do just that.  They involve others in their note-taking.  This is often under the guise of 'concerns' or 'prayer requests'.

I'd just like to give them a stern talking to and shake them out of their own self-imposed misery.  I'd like to dispense with self-control and yell at them, but I won't.

I'll just write this blog to get this bee out of my bonnet.