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  • Top Time Management Secrets to Know

    On Thursday, April 19 th, 2012
    ‘God gives us time. But who has time for God? This may not make  any good sense. A well-known pastor, he was was once asked what was his most profound regret in life? “Being in a hurry.” That is what he said. “Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry.” “But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.… Through all that haste I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.” In our rushing, bulls in china shops, we break our own lives. Haste makes waste. The hurry makes us hurt. Whatever the pace, time will keep it and there’s no outrunning it, only speeding it up and pounding the feet harder; the minutes pound faster too. Race for more and you’ll snag on time and leak empty. Hurry always empties a soul. In a world with cows to buy and fields to see and work to do, in the beep and blink of the twenty-first century, with its “live in the moment” buzz phrase that none of the whirl-weary seem to know how to do, who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync? I think of this often, words of another woman seeking: “On every level of life, from housework to heights of
  • Why Be Crazy Enough to Homeschool?

    On Friday, March 30 th, 2012
    Why be crazy enough to homeschool? So a series of questions land in the inbox for a print article on homeschooling, asking how a Christian family makes educational choices for their family? {Why would anyone really be crazy enough to homeshool?}… And I smile and nod… and tentatively, prayerfully, attempt to meander through some of these queries…. but only with no small trembling, and this very tentative humble preface: I don’t write specifically about homeschooling often, as I’m not an expert and I’m very concerned that the topic can sadly be divisive and too we are still deeply in process … by His grace, still growing, changing. So to say from the outset, that I do not think in any way that homeschooling makes a family virtuous — and there are a myriad of very good educational choices. Homeschooling is not a formula for perfection, nor is homeschooling a panacea for all the sin in this world. We’re all messy and fallen and sin-scraped. We and our children are born sinners. Homeschooling will not fix any of that. Only Jesus and His grace can. It’s scary to share that we homeschool. But it’s part of who we are and I am praying for your grace, in just taking us anyways. And we’re all big, gracious folks here. Learning from each other, knowing we are all called differently, but all for the singular purpose of His Glory. May  we all be gracious and supportive of educational choices? Mamas are all just
  • when you are looking for His steadying hand

    On Thursday, March 29 th, 2012
    That is what came at the end. At the end of the day, after the pots soaked in the sink and the books and the remnants of the day stacked high in baskets. After she washed the eggs and threaded that needle for her mama doing up mending. After the raucous and rowdy finally stilled and the pansies drowsed heavy out under that Big  Dipper swinging high. That is what came to her sitting there on the far edge of grace. That when she needed His hand, she only had to reach out with a hymn. :: :::: :::: Related Post: Best Advice for Hard Times
  • When You’re Feeling Unseen & Unappreciated {Words for Lent}

    On Wednesday, March 21 st, 2012
    It’s hard to know what that is — when it’s a spotlight that heats up a prophet’s fervor.   When ardency kindles with a microphone and holiness is this blazing performance for audience and applause.   But what is that, that zealous ember in the dark, when a woman wipes the drool from her father’s chin and carries him down the hall to the toilet, when a mother lays down bits of her singular life to wash the bowls and the underwear of the teenager calling her a whore and a missionary bends in a jungle, a brothel, a slum and nobody applauds?   Are sacrifices the secret, sacred rites that are gifts offered with no thought of return on investment, given in the dark when the only light is His and your one flaming heart?   Who’s defining the terms when it’s an honor to be awarded and a sacrifice to be called by God?   I do confess to wondering this – if  the call isn’t so much about carrying your Cross across a lit stage but down the Via Dolorosa and if the truth of it is that the word altar comes from the Latin ‘altus’ meaning high — because the realest altars burn where only Heaven sees. :: :: :: :: button code here Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.To read the entire series of spiritual practices Next week, as we walk with Him towards Easter, might
  • Why Everybody Needs to Make Art Everyday … {7 Keys to Creativity}

    On Tuesday, March 20 th, 2012
    Malakai and his paints sprawl across the table like a bit of the sky run all down. These thousand colors in rain. That’s the way Malakai paints, dabbing in the underbelly of the darks, lining the greys with white light. He pulls this rainbow of colors back tight and he shoots for stars, right there on canvas. Even his hands boldly wear it, shades of the sky. I don’t know how he knows it already — to make art out of messy storms. I’ve got out the cutting board and have these squash split in half in the kitchen when he dangles off the edge of the sink, washing out a brush. “I never done this before — I mean, painted with oil like this — but it’s working out alright.” He grins over at me, spraying water everywhere, his own bow in a stainless sink. “It doesn’t really matter that my clouds don’t look like Mr. Ross‘s — I still like them.” He’s got blue right under his fingernails and this crazy glint in his eyes. This must be how all the brave become artists: Quit trying to fit. Why try to squeeze all your extraordinary into ordinary? He’s squeezed blue paint everywhere. “You know how you do it, don’t you, Mom?” He’s got his feet on the floor now, waving the brush at me, like he’s trying to direct an orchestra … like he’s trying to direct me. “You take a blank canvas and you start brushing across
  • The Importance of Being the Prodigal Parent

    On Thursday, March 15 th, 2012
    I don’t know who said you couldn’t, but they were dead wrong. You could be death wish over a toilet, a flagrant sinner over a credit card, a Pharisee over a pulpit, and it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter a hill of beans. And it’s a hill I’d die on, because that’s exactly why a Carpenter really did: Whoever you are, wherever you’ve been, whatever you’ve done and whatever story you own — you can always come home again. Waiting at the gate, looking for him, it’s why I’m thinking about a bone marrow transplant – so he knows the truth of that right in the center of his bones too. I keep craning the neck every time that automatic door slides open, looking for those blue eyes of his behind ever swollen suitcase. Watch the arriving flights blink up on the screen. Heart ballooning joy when I see that the Indonesian flight via Seoul flight had landed and he’s here. He’s somewhere in the building. It’s like labor and delivery all over again and I just need a door to open up so I can behold his face. Why hadn’t someone told me that a mother’s labor and delivery never ends and you never stop having to remember to breathe? He should be at baggage claim by now. Did the father of the Prodigal son, did his neck strain like this? What if a son comes home with no news that any father wants to know?   Continue reading
  • A Prayer for Your Home

    On Thursday, February 16 th, 2012
    Bless this nest, Lord, of fragile things, encircling the breakable and broken in grace, in the ever warmth of Your wing, in the sheltering shadow of Your face, us the clinging ones, You our clutch of hope, singing to us the song of home.     Resource: Bless Our Nest
  • The Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift for a Mother

    On Tuesday, February 14 th, 2012
    When he asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day? I’d grinned and said all I wanted was a clean house.   I mean, National Geographics wave across the study like a sea. Boys erupt here, lego this lava everywhere. There are dolls, two girl in this blast of boys, and their stream of scissors, and papers, and scraps. There are days I’m the volcano on the verge. Come Valentine’s Day, I’m standing in the kitchen icing mounds of cupcakes. Smooth out the pink icing. Reach for another cinnamon heart. Augustine had said that in The City of God: All vice is but disordered love. It’s the house that’s in disarray. And there’s the Valentine’s flag to be hung. And the Valentine’s cards to hide — lopsided and gloriously over-glued. And the Valentine table to be set. That is the thing: Everything in the world is love — just right-ordered or wrong-ordered.  Turn the cupcake in hand. Smooth out the icing.  The work of a life is to reorder the love — to turn all things towards the True Lover. Forget how disordered the house is — how’s my heart?  If I moved a stack of books, reached over dishes and pencils and crayons, I could get to the music, turn on something lovely. Turn. Turn. I try not to get icing on the home-made hearts on the counter. I try to write my own Valentine’s. This is what a mother can do –Remind herself how to reorder her love and I should
  • Best Advice for Hard Times

    On Friday, February 10 th, 2012
    It’s what I sang over dishes. Sang on the days when I felt too weary to take another step, clean up another mess, change another diaper. It’s what I sing when the enemy attacks with lies, when I feel alone and scared, when I fear the future and whispers in the shadows. It’s what my mother-in-law, a Dutch farmer’s wife and mother of nine, godly and with these big calloused work hands, said to do. What she told me once hunched over this row of peas we were picking out in a June twilight: “It’s what my mother said too, Ann: When it is hardest — that is when you sing the loudest. The devil flees at a hymn.” At the last, when the cancer wound tighter, folks would ask how she was — and my father-in-law would say, “Good! She’s singing all the time.” And we knew how hard it was — and how good she knew He is. She sang this and it’s what we sang to her at the last, all around the bed with hymn books open, and it is what I keep singing: {Consider pausing the blog music by clicking the black slider arrow directly under the header? If reading in a reader or via email, click here to view? } Abandon the worries…  and Abide in the Word. Abandon the fears…  and Abide in the Father. Abandon the hurts… and Abide in His heart. Abandon the cares…  because Christ will never abandon you. It’s
  • How to Build a House {into a Family}

    On Tuesday, February 07 th, 2012
    They build it with their own hands. They build it in the angling sun and they are loud and happy and they pack in in all the gaps with handfuls of snow spraying like sweet sugar everywhere. They talk of sleeping under stars and sleeping in coats under blankets and with a flashlight and candles and the dog, the dog right there at the door. When one lies down, they nudge on; they have this vision. They say that this will be like nothing ever before, the most beautiful one ever. Levi pulls off his touque, hot and sweaty, and piles his snow high on the wall. They build this snow house. They hand me a shovel. ‘There needs to be a homemaker exercising some measure of skill, imagination, creativity, desire to fulfill needs and give pleasure to others in the family. How precious a thing is the human family….  Does anything come forth without work? The family is an art form. And if human relationships are to be beautiful on a wider form, the individual families making up a society have to be really worked on by someone who understands that artists have to work to produce their art.” ~ Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family? They tell me that – how they have sculpted something that will last beyond the next thaw. That they have made a memory and what can erode that and wasn’t it worth it? If we build companies but lose the company of family and
  • For the Hard Days {& real weather forecasts}

    On Thursday, February 02 nd, 2012
    We’re not sure exactly who walked across the boy’s bedroom carpet with green paint on their heel. There is an Everest pile of laundry to be folded in the mudroom and another 3 to be washed and kids are making wigs and mustaches with yarn and the oven is begging me to come clean it. I may or may not acquiesce. I am not sure who keeps peeling out of snow-soggy socks throughout the house, molting out of winter skins. The Farmer says it to me, washing his hands up at the sink after this morning’s barn chores, “Looks like we’ve got another one today, eh?” I glance out the window — What’s supposed to blow in hard today? He’s grinning, drying his hands. “Yet another grace day.” And I stand in the kitchen. A farmer knows: Isn’t that always our weather? When is it ever not right to wear worship: “For from Him and through Him and for him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” Life is only all our moments slipped on in a row, one after the other — and if you turn slow in the light, the moments might shine translucent. And the surprise of it catches you and releases you and it is what you always hoped and always knew. There is glory in every now. Strange —- how you can turn, turn direction a bit like the wind — and all this grit becomes such startling grace… :: :: ::
  • How Your Work Today Can Last Forever

    On Friday, January 20 th, 2012
    remembering this, this week… When the Farmer slumps against the door frame, slides to the floor, mumbles that he needs me to take him to Emergency, I nod mute. I haven’t the faintest idea how I’m going to get him there. In that exact moment, four of our six children wage desperate tummy revolts. I shuttle to each squirmish with cold cloths, courage words, a prayer whispered in the ear of the weary and I keep breathing and I keep thanking that I alone am well, here, willing. Sickness can unveil a healthy love. The Farmer’s six foot frame trembles, his lips purple blue, his skin ashen. He writhes and shudders, the flu turning him limp green from the inside out. He lays on the floor, waiting for me, the help meet, to help. I must clear the head, I must think. I do what wise women do. I call my mama. It’s 12:30 am and I don’t know if Mama sleeps, but she answers on the second ring and I remember my manners and I say please. Yes, she’ll come, she’ll take him, she’ll be right there. Wisps of her white hair peeking out from under her hat, she slips in here in the black of a winter night. His bulk leans on her white age and she helps him to her car. I stand at the window, their headlights threading away. I tend to babies here. I think of him and Mama there. I wipe a little one’s curls
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