Saturday, February 19, 2011

why {bed by 9pm} is so maddeningly elusive

To all you young moms out there who find getting up early (or just getting up) nigh unto impossible:

Does anyone else find your rising time extremely contingent on your bed time? Like me, have you found a big difference between days started early with Jesus (while the house is still and quiet) and days you're plunged into with the first "Mommy I have to go pee-pee" or "Mommy, I'm hungreeee!" ?

By the time the kids are in bed and I clean up the kitchen, it's 8:00. That leaves me (if I stick to my goal of being in bed with a book or my Bible by 9:00) with 60 delicious fleeting minutes in which to:
-connect with my husband...
-visit a friend who doesn't get home from work until 7pm...
-check email (and decide how many to actually answer)-- or flag it altogether...
-actually read my emails...
-post here maybe? or write a post for later?
-click on just one more website...
-wait for our incredibly slow Internet and bemoan the wasted minutes slipping by...
-buy things on Amazon... or do any other online business (and isn't our whole life lived online these days?)
-call my Mom, or a teammate, or a neighbor...
-read just one more chapter in a compelling book...
-maybe watch something to unwind?
-take a shower? (novel idea!)

and a myriad of other projects that never make the short list but hover persistently in the back of my mind...

What to do? How to put the lid on, seek the important over the urgent, use my evenings to unwind and relax, and still get enough sleep to wake up rested before the kiddos?

I don't have the answer yet... praying for wisdom... I'm just staring good and hard at the "whys", hoping knowing why will lead to knowing how to succeed at this life-altering, day-transforming discipline of:

early to bed --> early to rise --> to start my day quietly with Jesus (Who fills my cup and bathes my heart in peace) --> so I can love my boys and serve my family with pleasure, patience, and peace...

Any ideas?

Friday, February 18, 2011

when sneezing is a blessing in disguise

Gripe keldi ("greep"). The flu has come. Ben, me, almost Will, hopefully not James... one by one we're falling prey to itchy-sneezy-scratchy-throat-drippy-nose-miserable-stuffy February colds.

Today was a stay-at-home-watch-lots-of-TV day, and I thought I'd feel depressed and out of sorts all day. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised. My body being subdued and quiet, I let myself take a day off from laundry, dishes, cooking, tidying up... and I realized how much rest there is in just sitting quietly and playing with my boys. Setting myself free to enjoy them. Eating Cups-of-Soup and toast for lunch, thawing lasagna for dinner, watching kids programs and playing with trains.

Sometimes our bodies and our souls just need a day off. A day to sleep in late, take long naps, leave the chores til tomorrow (they'll still be there-- what's the rush?). And that's when we reconnect with time itself, the flow of it, the fact that in the grand scheme of things one 24-hour day is not really that important (in the laundry sense), and at the same time is vitally important in the don't-miss-a-moment-of-your-kids-growing-up sense.

When I flipped open my computer just now, there was a post quietly slipped into my inbox. Reading it, I felt my soul relax. The remnants of guilt for my sink full of dishes and my laundry basket piled high dissolved away. I read about big boys who once were little like mine, about time being a river, about learning how to slow down and attend to each moment. And the two little "flashing instants" I am mothering are metamorphosing before my eyes...

So I'm thankful, actually, for my sneezing, itchy throat and stuffy nose--

they strongly urged me to take the day off to pay attention.

Other links I've enjoyed lately:

If you're feeling like quitting... come and read this and be encouraged.

For more encouragement to play... read this and be inspired.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear Aunt Susanna...

I want to tell you a story.

Three weeks ago, on our first morning back in our home here, I rummaged around in a not-yet-unpacked suitcase for the little children's verse calendar you gave me, one verse for each day of the year. I called Will and showed it to him, and said, "Will, this says 'Big Promises for Little People'. Are you a little person?" Yes, he nodded. "Then these are God's big promises for you!" Big smile. I pulled him up on my lap and we read the verse for January 23. I read it with him again before naptime, and again before bedtime. And after two or three mornings of starting the day this way, he started coming to find me in the Quiet Chair first thing when he woke up-- still rubbing the sleep from his eyes-- "Mommy, yet's read our verse." Crawls up in my lap, notices the lighted candle, reaches for the little calendar. Watches me follow the words with my finger, points to the tiny reference at the bottom which I haven't read. "That, Mommy-- that." I read it, and explain that's where the verse is found in the Bible. He nods, pondering.

And today-- up at 6:20, wanting to read his verse first thing. Disappointed when I said he had to go back to bed and wait until 7-- never went back to sleep, bounced back in again at 7 for his verse. Wouldn't lay down at naptime until we'd gone in and read his verse. Marched right across at bedtime to read his verse after stories, before sleep.

It's already a part of his life. That fast. He loves that it's his, loves the simplicity of the words, loves the routine, loves having me all to himself three times a day.

Thank. you. so. much.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

my new {favorite} quote

{favorite} not because they make me feel warm and fuzzy, but because her words are the most heart-convicting I have read in a while:

"If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted."

-Amy Carmichael

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

to be joyful, give thanks...

...and get up early!

In my world, getting up early has become the pathway to a new lease on life.

Not that I haven't tried to get up early before-- it's just that this time, things have all coalesced: no newborn, children sleeping through the night (more or less), using jetlag as a jumping off point to get my body to go to bed earlier, buying a new alarm clock, using my new alarm clock... I've been able to get myself out of bed at 6am almost every day for the past couple weeks, and it feels GREAT! (And I am NOT a morning person-- ask my husband.)

And what do I do with this whole glorious hour of free time before the kids wake up?

Today I exercised, meditated on Colossians 1:1-11, had a shower, got dressed and started making pancakes-- all before the first sound from the boys' room! I couldn't believe how alert, and ready for them, I felt. And one thing led to another-- we had the best day we've had yet. Nothing abnormal--

yet everything grace-filled.

#161-173 of the numberless gifts

a great couple hours "studying" Russian through play with Will this morning, with my friend and her little boy... Will repeated "hippo" and "giraffe" to me before his nap-- of his own accord!

Will and Ben were so tractable and obedient all day-- mostly because I didn't lose my temper and stayed in control of the boundaries... thanks to Colossians and exercise!

good food, good friends, a new cupboard, candles...

a husband who is appreciative, playful, gentle, understanding, patient (I could go on)...

this. life.

(Sounds trite? A day like this doesn't seem to come along very often...
or maybe, they do, and I just haven't noticed?)

Saturday, February 5, 2011


[the pictures for the last three posts are now in place... thank you for bearing with Central Asian technical difficulties!]

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

how to see, feel, taste… grace

I tried, I tried to let grace cover me into my bed, let me lie there with squares of winter sunlight streaming over my quilt, let my closed eyes rest, dream… I tried to breathe in sleep. But my mind is teeming with words, grace-filled words, strings and phrases and necklaces of words that need unrolling, need ink.

I remember when I was a little girl, and the world’s colors were vivid, vibrant. I saw everything through the romantic haze of fairyland and dress-up, loved wandering around outside with my sister being princesses together. My world was beautiful, if undefined, and maybe a bit idealistic.

And then came the day my mom took me toget my first pair of glasses. I walked outside wearing them, looked through the lenses, and saw framed a perfect, waving tree: with leaves. I used to see trees as blobs of beautiful shades of green: now this had leaves, leaves. Individual, outlined, distinctly detailed leaves. I could see each leaf. I marveled. I took my glasses off, I put them on again. “Mom, the tree has leaves!”

Such an ordinary thing, suddenly miraculous.

I want the suddenly miraculous to fill my days. I want to learn to see grace, not just know about it, or sense it vaguely there as a beautiful blob in the background. I want grace to come into sharp focus.

I saw [grace] today, three times:

Fresh snow, sticking only to the rough places on the tree bark, covering all the pokes with soft whiteness, turning roughness into a poem of white and dark.

My son holding out his little red cup for more cocoa (after gulping it down in one long draught); me pouring from my own mug into his (once, and then again); imagining - knowing - my mug of grace is bottomless, being filled continually. I can pour, endlessly, into my son’s little cup until his, too, overflows.

A multi-colored balloon bouncing lightly on the top of Ben’s head, surprised him (though he’d just tossed it up, seconds before); he turned delightedly to reach it, catch it, smile at me, hold it out to me… The bounce, the colors, the surprise, the sharing-- all spoke grace to me.

I saw it. I saw how grace can be visible, can be seen, held; felt in the hands, tasted in the mouth-- like a sip of fine wine, like a bird alighting on your finger. Grace is real. Present. And it can only be experienced in the present.

I want my trees to have leaves.

I want my days to be moments lived like a string of pearls, one after another. Even if some are blackened with sin-soot or dragged through muddy selfishness, I still want to string them together one after another so I can see the white pearly grace shining through. Receive grace, see grace, live grace.

I want to live aware. In focus. Receive one moment after another from Jesus’ own hand, filled with grace and truth.

My dad says if you try to capture the moment, you profane it. He thinks we steal the spontaneity from life when we try to write it down, photograph it, preserve it. But then, he lives in joyful headlong abandon, flinging himself from moment tomoment, draining them dry one after another, not looking back. And his life is magnetic. I think some are meant to lead by example. And maybe some are meant to write down the moments, record the leaves on the trees and each miraculously green blade of grass, so others who want to love life and live in grace can learn how.

And how is... to be thankful. Thankful for each grace-filled moment, and the graces that fill them.

Even while writing this and posting it, two more grace-pictures:

My eldest, just awake, still damp and drowsy-warm from sleep, snuggles into a lap. And my littlest, the one who all morning has destroyed train tracks and stolen favorite cars, comes close, nestles in. And big brother, instead of pushing him away, leans forward and-- kiss! on the little forehead. Grace.

And then, parked right outside our house, oh glory of glories! a huge semi-truck filling the whole window! “Guck! Guck!” Ben exclaims in delight. And we all stare delighted-- the boys with the object, and me with the symbol:

an entire semi-truckload of grace parked right outside our door, just waiting to be unloaded.

[POSTCRIPT: For a few awful moments, I thought the semi-truck and the crane that arrived with it were going to cut down the big beautiful tree across the street. Soon I saw it was quite different: they actually unloaded the container and left it sitting in the empty lot, right in front of our house!

So every day, I can look out and see-- grace, by the truckload.]