1 comment | published by Linda | December 31, 2010
She knew I was coming. She had grabbed his puzzle with intent to disturb and destroy, a risk to see if she actually was all powerful. When she caught my eye, she hopped into the bathroom and quickly sat on the potty, calling out that she needed more toilet paper. She figured that no sort of discipline could ever take place there. She was safe, so she thought.

Looking down upon her, I reminded her of the five before her that taught me of such tricks. I had figured out that little people were not dumb. They are brilliant in fact. 

Finding that the potty wasn't necessarily a safe zone, she learned once again that she actually was not all powerful. 

Little minds with big ideas are no match for a cheerful mom who is on her game.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Safe Zone
0 comments | published by Linda | December 23, 2010
Good things come in small packages. At least this is what I was told. It didn't really matter to me, I would always hope that the largest box behind the tree was for me. 

Christmas brings hope, expectations, and anticipation. For the smaller ones in our lives, such big emotions are a bit much to handle. Like balloons, the thrill of sitting around the tree makes them float. As they wait, their hope builds. 

Christmas carols paint the picture of the love and joy that is to be expected on this long awaited morning. Kids float, we dream. 

As Christmas day arrives, and the celebrating begins, we will notice who is sitting around our tree. These aren't figurines from some decoration, with plastic smiles. These are our children. Yet, not just our children, but our children in an extreme situation, which can take all of our emotions for quite a ride, and even bring sins to the surface.  We've all witnessed a birthday party melt down, and know what it's like to see gravity take its affect on that floating balloon. 

We have the privilege of guarding these hearts, filling them with candy canes and laughter, as we help them to keep balance. Knowing their emotions are on overdrive will help us to be proactive as we navigate our way through the crazy.

What's under the tree, doesn't matter. Who is sitting around it, does. These are our gifts. 

Good things do come in small packages. 
Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Hope Floats
6 comments | published by Linda | November 24, 2010
It didn't scare me, it was where I wanted to be. The storm held the drama, so that's where you'd find me. When I heard the sound of the rain pounding on the roof, I ran through the front door, across the lawn and into the center of the street. My hair would slowly wrap around my head, and stick to my face, as my clothes began to feel like armor that draped across me. The wind pushed and pulled, I laughed. I danced. 

There's something magical about a dance in the rain. The unpredictable winds, matched by the inescapable down poor, it's all good. The finale was the best, as I would watch the rainbow wrap across the sky, I was reminded. I knew He was reminded. I smiled.

I now watch my kids run into the storm. Thoughts go through my mind as I watch them dance of the extra laundry, and puddles on the floor that would be ahead, but the dance is worth it. They are fearless in the storm, it's all good.

Pointing their eyes to the arch in the sky, I want them to be reminded. 

No matter how hard the storm may blow, they can trust, they can know, they can dance. The rainbow, although untouchable, is something they can hold onto. They can trust him through any storm that he brings. He has made a promise, and they can dance.

People often long for what's at the end of the rainbow, or somewhere over it, but for me, it's somewhere under the rainbow. That's where you'll find me.

Posted in Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: Somewhere Under the Rainbow
3 comments | published by Linda | November 13, 2010
There is a certain look, that if used well, can have quite an impact. Parents know how to use it, kids fear it... at least for a time.

As I walk into their bedroom, it is easy to show my frustration, disappointment, and a touch of unnecessary judgment through my eyes as I scan across the piles of laundry and scattered stuff across their dresser. I'm a mom. I like clean. I also like to be listened to. I know that one request to have a job done is enough. If it doesn't get my desired response, I have a choice.

Nagging has never been my style, yet I know some choose it. I, however have a built in power that comes through my expression. It can pierce straight through my children if I use it, and is certain to cause some serious damage. 

God never intended for such manipulation, guilt, and shame to be used as a consequence as I train them up. These can break the relationship I want to have with them into the future, and drapes them with shame that will only discourage them. Why would I ever want to shelter them from life that is sure to hit them hard if they don't know how to take responsibility for their lives?

They must reap what they sow, plain and simple. If a child's job is not completed, they must lose, somehow. This is their problem, not mine. I can be empathetic with them as they face the consequences of the poor choices they might make, but I must let them happen. 

It is important, however, that their problem doesn't shift...and become me.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Their Problem
4 comments | published by Linda | October 18, 2010

She twirled. Dressed in pink, with arms stretched out and her chin high, she twirled. Only five, it didn't take much for her to lose her balance anyhow, so spinning was a challenge. Yet, in ballet class she was taught to twirl.


Her feet, hidden inside tights and slippers, seemed somehow confused, and became almost tangled. The more she spun around, the further across the room she would go. Losing balance her form unraveled, knees bent, and she tumbled to the floor.


Her gentle teacher grabbed her hand, lifted her to her feet and pointed up to the picture at the highest point in the room. Being reminded of where her eyes were to be as she twirled, in order to keep balance, she started again.


With every turn, she now only focused on the picture she was told to lock her eyes on. She no longer roamed aimlessly across the room, but with every twirl she returned where she belonged, and kept her balance.


Where are our eyes? Do we look up to the highest point, in order to keep our balance? If not, we know that our gentle teacher will grab our hands, lift us to our feet, and remind us where to lock our eyes, and we will start to twirl.


Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Taught to Twirl
2 comments | published by Linda | October 11, 2010

To my eyes, it was perfect. After spending hours moving furniture and reorganizing their room, I shined up their shelves, hung their art back on the wall, and stood back to take it all in. Oh, so proud of a job well done.


Viewing the openness as a sort of blank canvas, my little guys rushed in and began grabbing their treasures from their boxes. Within moments there were miniature skateboards, tiny eraser people, model airplanes, toy trucks and blocks gathered tightly across their dressers and windowsills. Amazing. The quickest infestation I have possibly ever witnessed first hand.


My initial response? Not good. My repaired response was one of helping my boys to creatively keep their room looking pleasing, while being careful to let them be boys with some domain.


If they are to learn how to be responsible for their space and their stuff, not to mention enjoy them, showing and teaching, followed by not jumping back in to do it myself, offers something they can keep forever.


As I learn to embrace the fact that tiny little eraser people are an important part of the decor, I will learn to enjoy what makes my boys so happy.


Someday these little treasures won't be lining the shelves, but I hope my boys will leave me one, in order to help me remember what matters.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Eraser People
3 comments | published by Linda | September 07, 2010
When I heard the loud crack come from their bedroom, I knew they had chosen to use the last one in their box. Night surrounded them, so this was the best time to break it, and use it to light up the darkness. Those crazy little glow sticks had spent the full day in their hands as they would hunch over them in the back seat of the car, or run into a closet, or find a dark space in the garage. When it was snapped in the center, the light was able to show through, and brighten up their way. Once broken, it worked.

It is frustrating to be in a period of time where we can't seem to get to the light. The worries of life can overtake us. Feelings of panic can even come upon us as we try to rest at night. How can we continue if we feel so broken?

Like the loud crack I heard from their bedroom, when we have the privilege of becoming broken, God is able to light up the darkness. He can then show through, be our strength, and light up our way. Something happens that is a mystery to us, as there is a certain glory that shines through brokenness, as we become filled with his strength. Once broken, we are strong.  
Posted in Play Room, Master Bedroom    |   Tags: Once Broken
2 comments | published by Linda | September 03, 2010
Running to meet me after school, he had much to tell. A field trip to the fire station filled him with stories that carried us from the parking lot all the way back home. The excitement seemed to build as we stepped inside. He had to show me how to stop, drop and roll. He spent the rest of the afternoon stopping, dropping and rolling. If there was a fire, he knew what to do.

This evening as I was busily putting dinner together, I listened to stories of their day, solved arguments, encouraged tired, frazzled emotions, and held my crying daughter. I had two wrapped around the bottom of my legs, and one with arms wrapped around my waist. Crazy filled my kitchen. Mom was needed by all...all at once. I knew I needed to put my full attention on them alone.

Remembering the techniques he taught me years ago, I stopped, dropped and rolled. Running to the nearest bed, I flopped down in the center. Within seconds, I had one son on my right, one on my left, my little daughter on my stomach, another sitting on the foot board, with my two oldest sitting nearby. It was a mom pile. There was a fire, and I knew what to do.
Posted in Kitchen & Dining, Play Room    |   Tags: Stop, Drop and Roll
2 comments | published by Linda | August 31, 2010
Psalm 127:3
"Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him."

She must have wondered why there were six broken sticks in my purse. It made perfect sense to me. My children also knew of why. As I shuffled past the sticks, and loose gum wrappers, I smiled. There would be no other explanation of why, if it weren't for them. They are the reason for rubber bands, shells, and gum, and why they matter to me so.

As she moved my items across the scanner, she noticed the three standing beside me. She commented how amazed she was that I have three kids. Feeling like pulling out the line that seems to slay them all, I told her this was only half of my crew. As she tried to compose a calm response, she couldn't help but ask me why.

Returning home, I was chased by little arms that wrapped around my waist so tight, that I could hardly breathe, and was covered with a thousand kisses...yet people ask me why.

Later in the night, her tiny hand rubbed across my face as she slowly fell asleep. I thought again of the people that often ask me why.  

There is no simple answer for the one who asks, just a hope that someday they will come to know the reason for sticks, wrappers, and such things, and come to undersand the mystery of why.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: The Mystery of Why
3 comments | published by Linda | August 26, 2010
After our towels were folded, our beach toys put back in the bucket, we slipped on our sandals. With arms filled, we headed on our way. Listening for their sounds behind me, I was keeping track that no one was falling behind. The trail of children behind me seemed to stretch out across the beach. The wind was blowing unusually strong, and the crowds had grown. As we weaved our way through the different groupings of people, my feet began to burn. I could hear the kids struggling to hold onto all that they had gathered, and an occasional shovel or or sunscreen bottle was dropped. 

Glancing back, I noticed my youngest was falling way behind. Being so far back, she had given up. There she stood, having dropped her doll and her bucket, she figured she was done. She had no hope. 

Walking back to her, I picked up her toys, put them back under her arm, and took ahold of her hand. She looked up at me and smiled. She had been rescued.

As we continued on our way, the wind was still blowing, the sand was still hot. The people and their towels were not easy to work our way around, and the sun was burning my skin. Her surroundings had not changed, her journey was the same, and yet, it wasn't. She had my hand. I had offered myself, and she knew I would lead her out.

How often we can feel overwhelmed by what surrounds us, and we stop, drop our toys, and loose our hope. Yet, our Lord, knowing our frame, doesn't ever leave us there. He comes, takes our hand, offers himself to us, and we can smile. We are rescued. The journey is still before us, the sand is still hot, the wind blows, but now we can have hope. Holding onto his hand, we know he will lead us out. 
Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Holding onto Hope
0 comments | published by Linda | August 19, 2010
Hunched down, hovering over the colorful pieces that were scattered across the floor in front of her, she was obviously focused. It was as though she was unaware I was even in the room. After some time, she sighed, and looked up to find me. That's where I am. I'm up. In order to see my face, her head falls back, her eyes are raised, and she finds me. Holding her arms straight up toward me, I lift her up. Now, she can stare directly at me, and she smiles.

Taking a walk, I noticed as I was strolling across the sidewalk that the lines would seem to come and go as I made my way down the street. Sometimes a bush off to the side seemed to intrude over the sidewalk and make it more difficult for me to make my steps straight. A crack in the cement, a piece of trash that was carelessly dropped spilled soda right where I was going to step. I was focused. My head was down. After some time, I looked up to the sky, and I was somehow refreshed. 

As my head fell back, and my eyes were raised I thought of my Lord. This is where he is. My Lord is up. It's so easy to become focused on what is before me, and around me. Sometimes the ground before me is cracked, and trash has been carelessly dropped right where I need to step.

Where am I looking? Where is my focus? What surrounds my feet, whatever circumstances that might seem all consuming shouldn't bring my head down low, or keep my attention. My eyes belong locked on my Lord, and his intense love for me. If I daily lift my arms straight up toward him, he will lift me up, and I will be able to smile.

For a time, I am given the privilege of showing my children how to be loved, to trust, and to look up. God made it this way. For my children, I am up. I am also a mere picture for them of how their Lord will care for them for the rest of their lives. Oh, to show them how to let their heads fall back, raise their eyes, and to be lifted up. 
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Looking Up
3 comments | published by Linda | July 08, 2010
She stepped into the emergency room and called his name. We all stood up to follow, but were told only one could come with him. We looked at each other, and without words, decided I would go. Only six, he held my hand, and found comfort in me.

There's something about following your little son as he is being pushed through the hallways of a hospital on a bed. Still my son, now a patient, under the care of others, as I observe and make the best decisions possible.

Sitting beside him, hanging over the bars on the side of his bed I rubbed his forehead with a wet cloth. When he looked at me, he found peace. 

It amazes me when we are put on the front lines, in a circumstance that has every reason to bring us to our knees in fear, how we are completely filled with confidence, peace, and joy. As moms, when we are drained of any strength, God refills us, abundantly. Being able to pour calmness on my son, while making the doctors and nurses around me laugh did not come from any part of me. Feeling His power come through me is an experience unmatched.

We waited. We were informed that within moments, the room would be filled with doctors, nurses and specialists, ready to care for him. I was the only one allowed to stay, as there would be no space for anyone else to stand. While waiting for their arrival, we prayed. God's presence was all encompassing, and His angels were surrounding my son's bed. The doctors thought the space would be limited, but we knew, even before they arrived, that our room was already filled. 
Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: The Room was Filled
3 comments | published by Linda | July 01, 2010
Ah, the beauty of the TV shows in the 70's. Growing up watching "The Brady Bunch," I was led to believe that children in a large family encountered problems one at a time. Every week, a different child took the spotlight as they journeyed through some type of trial or difficulty. Somehow brothers and sisters quietly kept behind the scenes in order for the parents to appropriately focus on the problem at hand. No one dare overlap the plot, as that might have been too much to handle. 

Having six kids, I'm here to testify that there is no such order, as convenient as it might have been. Instead, I have found myself in moments where one has a dilemma to talk through with me, another is having a temper tantrum, two have stories they are trying to tell me at the same time, one is mysteriously quiet, and the other is running to me with a skinned knee. This is normal. This is real life. 

I have noticed however that there is a certain parallel to my old 70's show. At times there tends to be one, who shows they need attention most through a bad attitude. This can make them less cuddly, desirable and lovable. It can be tempting to put my focus on the cheerful ones, and hope the cranky one will just work it out on their own, yet it doesn't work that way. The more needy a child becomes, the more I must run to them, in order to fill them up, and bring them back. 

A stinky attitude is a clear sign that I have overlooked a little heart, and need to direct my focus, joy, and love on them in order to bring them back. Better yet, I can avoid such attitudes by knowing and acting daily on the fact that they need to be filled with hugs and love constantly in order to keep them at peak performance. If I am constantly working way ahead of the game, keeping them filled, I won't find myself reacting to them falling apart through attitudes and behaviors.  

Although our children don't encounter problems one at a time, God is kind and uses a sort of spotlight to show us where our attention must be. Likewise, He does not overlap the main plot, as that might be too much to handle.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: The Brady Bunch
2 comments | published by Linda | May 24, 2010
As I closed the laundry machine door, I turned toward the kitchen. Before the machine clicked on, I was handed a light saber. There he stood. Wearing a smile, and holding his light saber up high, I was apparently being called to battle. My hands were caught empty, and now they were filled.

There is a gas station on the corner that we pass on our way home. This station is always congested. Cars pull in from every direction and fill every space available. The gas pumps are used continuously throughout each day. The purpose of this station is not to have the hoses neatly pulled up, the grounds swept, and the space cleared. It was designed for congestion, built for filling empty tanks.

The space around me is often congested. I have six kids, and sometimes their friends, that pass by to be filled. Some seem to need more frequent fill ups, while others come by less often but take more time filling their large tanks. 

I was built to handle such congestion. Time I spend with each, filling them up with love is my purpose. Hugs, laughter, talks, and encouragement are needed by them in order to function. They can quickly notice a space by me available that fits them perfectly, like my son noticing my hands were empty. I have been called to battle. My children's hearts are worth fighting for. 

I have found that when my hands remain empty, so are my children.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Empty Hands
3 comments | published by Linda | May 18, 2010
While struggling to manage keeping my daughter on my hip, along with my diaper bag and purse over my shoulder, we made our way through the airport. I knew there must be a better way to orchestrate my line of children as we stretched out across the airport terminal. My little son kept loosing his grip on his suitcase with wheels. He would have to stop, sit down, put his jacket on straighter, turn his suitcase around, and get back up. My husband continued to grab different items from the kids in order to lighten their load until it looked as though he was carrying the luggage for a lifetime journey.

Out of the kindness, and brilliance of someone, down the long airport terminal, we noticed a moving sidewalk. The children ran with delight to hop on the entertaining strip. Stepping onto it was quite the attraction for onlookers. With that one step, they lost balance, dropped what they were carrying, got in each other's way, and proceeded to become a spectacle.

As we continued our same pace, it was a strange sensation that overtook me as we quickly passed by the people who chose not to walk on this fast moving trail. I could take what felt like small steps, and we were still cruising down the long airport terminal at record speeds.

Noticing that my children needed to get reorganized, and were apparently not able to handle their personal loads, I wished for a rest stop. There wasn't one. Once the choice was made to get on this trail, the decision was made.

Raising children is no different. Once that precious child is placed in our arms, we are moving. Every day they change. My children are growing, learning, changing, and drinking in who I am every day. There is no time to stop. If I find it's time for a tune up, time to stop, rethink, regroup and improve, I must do so as we move. 

Children grow quickly, and like a conveyor belt, they continue to grow whether I have it together or not. Improvements must happen, but they must happen now as time doesn't stop.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: The Conveyor Belt of Life
3 comments | published by Linda | May 10, 2010
Commercials annoy me. Right when the show has my full attention, I'm interrupted. How can I change my focus from a story to a display of flawless women dancing on the beach with colorful razors? How rude.

It's easy to forget that those time wasting commercials are actually the support system to keep my shows on TV. Still, I don't want them to switch my focus, I liked where it was.

These irritating commercials are significant reminders of what my focal point should be. I get busy. It's easy for me to get wrapped up in a project, even if it's just cleaning a sink. It becomes clear to me when my children interrupt me, and I become frustrated, I've lost touch with what my priority is. I have reversed my story and commercial. 

The cleaning, or projects I find important to do can support a smooth life in ways, but I must never get them confused with what really matters. The show, my kids, should never feel like interruptions. If they do, it must be time to refocus.

As I watch another commercial of an overly happy family eating their morning breakfast, I can smile and know that my show has my full attention. 

Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Commercial Interruptions
4 comments | published by Linda | May 04, 2010
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
"But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Yesterday was windy. This was not your usual wind, this was the type of wind that was blowing outdoor furniture off the deck, and the neighbor's trampoline over their fence. My two youngest boys couldn't have been more thrilled. This was boyhood adventure at its finest. I watched as they quickly folded up paper airplanes and ran out the door. Soon after, they would run back in with red faces, laughing hysterically with no planes in hand. Back to the table, they folded up the next venturers and were out the door. 

Wind has power. Paper is weak. The bang of watching the paper become swept up by the force of the wind, and being taken to where the wind lead was fascinating. 

God is power. We are weak. It's easy to think that we can't. We can fall into the belief that we are too flimsy to carry out His plans for our life, or to even carry on. Yet, when we are weak, he can use his power. He can lift us to high places. His power is made perfect in our weakness. Our weakness is filled with his strength like the paper plane that was filled with the wind, and taken.

My boys spent much time in the wind experimenting with its strength. Boyhood is amusing. My six year old wanted to see what would happen if he relieved himself upwind. Lessons learned. Laughter accomplished.

God is not your usual wind, it is our privilege to soar in his power.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Gone With The Wind
2 comments | published by Linda | April 20, 2010
It makes no sense. She likes it. For days on end she wants to wear her Snoopy t-shirt. It doesn't seem to bother her that it is three sizes too small, and continuously leaves her belly uncovered. It's what she's used to, grown comfortable with, and the only choice she sees as an option. With five days of collected dirt, chocolate milk, food smudges and crayon marks, I have clearly let this go too far.

I remember as a little girl, dragging my blanket with me wherever I went. It was security for me. The thought of washing it would sacrifice more time away from it than I was willing to give. Must have looked terrible, but to me, it felt great.

Watching her run around the house in her shirt of collected dirt and wear, I am reminded of those thoughts that I have refused to change. Bitterness digs in, and becomes a repetitious forum in which we relive how we have been hurt in the past. No one makes us put it on when we get up in the morning, it's just habit. It's what we're used to, and grown comfortable with.

When we become truly bitter, we live in the thoughts of how we've been harmed, going over it detail by detail. We are actually just continuing the harm to ourselves that our offender started. Likewise, we have no interest in getting it cleaned up. The thought of washing it would sacrifice more time away from it than we are willing to give.

We need to clean it up, let it go, and accept responsibility for it as though we were the only ones at fault. Only then will we find ourselves dressed in new clothes that our Lord has waiting and ready for us. 

Bitterness makes no sense, yet we like it. We must remember that it's not our only choice. Those food smudges and crayon marks show us that we've clearly let this go too far. 

 

Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Smudges and Marks
3 comments | published by Linda | April 17, 2010
With a tight grip on the bright engine, she pushed her train across the hardwood floor. Being plastic, it was built to last. Up and over furniture, whipping around corners, she was taking this train for quite the ride. Never as concerned about the cars following behind, she was just assuming they were following without a problem.

Making too close of a turn around the corner, she lost her grip, and the train tumbled down the stairs. The engine might have been the first to land at the bottom, but the loyal cars were close behind, and followed at a fast pace. Running down to the rescue, she quickly and carefully reassembled her train, and was back on another adventure. 

I am the engine. Through each day I lead this train of six children. Whipping around corners, and climbing over furniture is an understatement for where our tracks lead us. I focus on where I'm going. My thoughts are often wrapped up in what's ahead, and what I'm dealing with.

If I'm not careful, I might forget that these cars are connected behind me. When I tumble, it's inevitable that I will be followed. It might not be immediate, but they will most definitely feel the turns, and the drops that I experience. We are connected. I am the engine.

Watching as my daughter cuts a corner too tight, I am reminded of the responsibilities that follow me. I can't pretend they aren't there, and won't feel the consequences of where I lead. Each of my children will feel any pain I experience, and each in their own way. As I look ahead, and behind me, I'm set for another adventure. My train was built to last. I count on that. 
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Built to Last
4 comments | published by Linda | April 13, 2010
Ephesians 5:20
"Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

While wiping down the kitchen counters, I noticed a sticker on the floor. Bending down and scraping it off, my two year old came running in the kitchen shouting, "Holdju!" As she climbed on my back, my twelve year old walked in continuing a conversation we had been in an hour ago. Discussing who she should invite to the mall, my two year old was hanging from my neck. Walking slowly, but curiously through the kitchen, my six year old walked passed me as though he was definitely up to something.

After solving my twelve year olds dilemma, my seventeen year old hopped up the stairs announcing his hunger. Again, my six year old passed by me, but this time with only his pants on. My two year old, still clinging to my back like a monkey was now laughing hysterically. My nine year old asked a question about his report on Texas from around the corner as I finally had success with that sticker.

My fourteen year old daughter came and dropped a pile of books on the kitchen sink, and sat at the barstool. She began to explain the tales of her day. Off to the side, I noticed my six year old walking even slower through the kitchen, but this time, only in underwear with a mischievous smile across his face. I was noticing a pattern, one that would need to be stopped.

This wasn't an instance in my life, it is a picture of my life. Multitasking and multi-tracking are not options, they are survival techniques.

How should my heart be? Thankful. I've found that thankfulness is filling, just like how my kids fill my home, and my day. When I'm looking around, smiling, and thanking the Lord for all that surrounds and invades my space, there's simply no room for complaining or whining. 

My children don't leave much room for me to even have a thought of my own. Thankfulness is the same. It doesn't share space.

Standing in the middle of dreams, with a giggling monkey on my back, God is definitely up to something, and it is good.
Posted in Kitchen & Dining, Play Room    |   Tags: Monkey on my Back
3 comments | published by Linda | April 11, 2010
It's not easy being twelve. The tales she brings home of the school day drama between her girlfriends is enough to fill a full length movie. Wondering why her friend said this or that, and being bothered that a call has not been returned, frustration overwhelms.

As I help her untangle the emotional confusion, I must admit to myself that I fall into the same temptation with my friends. It's easy to assume hurtful intentions on another. We even write full stories about our friends as if we know. How could we?

Like the old saying of having to wear someone's moccasins before we cast judgment, we just don't know.

God's grace can be used like a heavy quilt that can be tossed over our friendships.
Being covered in such warmth we don't need to be overwhelmed by any coldness.
Likewise, we can offer our friends a blanket of understanding as we stop searching for reasons.

His grace covers us, and we must offer the same love, regardless of our imaginations and insecurities. We simply don't know our friend's story, or their troubles.

It's hard to be twelve. Face it, it's hard to be a woman. As our Lord untangles our
emotional confusion, we can let Him cover us with His grace as we learn to do the
same.
Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: It's Not Easy
5 comments | published by Linda | March 28, 2010
Sitting at the booth across from us, the tiny boy was refusing to eat his peas. Both parents sitting on each side of him were trying all sorts of creative ways to encourage him to accept the spoon filled with green goop. He would swing his head back and forth, and tightly clench his lips. As the mom was pretending the spoon was a plane coming in for a landing, the dad was telling him what a big, strong boy he was. As I watched the little guy, it was clear to me that although the parents thought the food was paramount, the peas were actually unimportant.

Later that night, my two year old daughter did not like the clothes that I picked out for her. She cried, and struggled to submit. She thought the polka dot dress would be a far better choice. Although I loved the stripes, it was again clear to me, that the outfit was unimportant.

I know the feeling. I've held a strong resemblance to the little guy with the green goop. I know what I want, and likewise, what I don't. Finding it hard at times to trust the choices God has made for me, I fight. God knows, whatever my circumstances are, they are actually unimportant.

It's the fight, the battle, the refusal and the stubbornness within me that matters to my Lord. When I get discontent and battle over what He has chosen for me in my life in any situation, He goes right to my heart, to what matters.

A heart of thankful submission and joy in whatever He has set before me, whether sunny or cloudy, should be my attitude. As He makes me aware of my stubborn heart, and I become soft before Him, I am once again thankful that He is a God that knows that the peas in my life are unimportant.
Posted in Kitchen & Dining, Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Unimportant Peas
7 comments | published by Linda | March 26, 2010
Whah whah, whah whah whah whah"... Charlie Brown's School Teacher

I would unroll my flannel lined sleeping bag, and spread it out across the shag carpet on the den floor in preparation of the much awaited episode of "The Peanuts". Something about watching Snoopy and the gang brought me smiles and peace. I remember how the words of the school teachers were never understood, almost as if they were too boring and monotonous to be important.

Years later, I noticed my children standing only a few feet away from me didn't seem to be aware that I was talking to them. I was probably repeating myself with some instructions they were uninterested in. It is always a pleasure to be the only one to hear your own voice in a room filled with little people who should be listening to you. I've used this as a scale to measure my communication when the audience I'm trying to hit is unaware of my words. Resembling Charlie Brown's school teacher is not a goal.

I've visited friends homes where the talking and laughter was so robust at the dinner table that it seemed no one took a breath. All chiming in at the same time, they found complete delight in hearing from the others and getting their opinion in when they could. It was clear their family was strong, they were close. I also have childhood memories of visiting a home where everyone went to eat their meal in their own room. They were busy with their own interests, seemingly uninterested in each other.  

Keeping strong communication lines open to my children is imperative. Having constant conversations with them about life is necessary. Even when we seem to debate about a subject, I am certain that when they are confronted on the issue, my words will be there, and they will stand behind them. 

Everyday I want to prepare for the daily much awaited episode of my children's lives, and have open ears and clear words to bring them smiles and peace. 

Posted in Kitchen & Dining, Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: Peanuts
7 comments | published by Linda | March 21, 2010
While watching my son and daughter on the merry-go-round, I held my baby girl. I noticed an old woman walking toward me. She sat beside me on the bench, and began to speak. "You better enjoy these times, because they fly by. Before you know it, they will be teenagers, and it will never be the same." I gently rubbed my daughters head.

Years passed, and just as she said, they flew by. I had three more children since that day. So many little feet running through my house, leaving their marks on my floors, and my heart. Outgrown jeans, teddy bears and lego pieces fill old boxes as time has passed. I remembered what the old woman had said, and wondered what life would be like as they grew older.

Stopping at a merry-go-round recently, I stood with my older three as we watched the younger ones. While my oldest son, who now stands so tall was talking to me, one of my daughters was leaning on me as the other came up behind me and gently rubbed my hair.

I remembered the old woman's warnings, and smiled. I realized I had raised my three best friends, and knew it would never be the same. 

Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: The Old Woman
3 comments | published by Linda | March 15, 2010
Sitting beside her on the plane, my stillness was kept busy just by watching her. She is two. Exploring her surroundings, she didn't stop. The seatbelt was different. This made it necessary to buckle, and unbuckle over and over again, until it pinched her belly, and found it was no longer fun.

There was a window. A small one, yet just the right size for her little face to fill. As the other planes would pass by her view she had to let out a scream of delight. So much to take in. After a bit, she noticed a pocket of treasures just in front of her. What was that bag all about? Pulling it out of the pouch, and putting it back again was entertainment for her. An emergency card found in the pouch had three flaps that could be opened and closed. Too much to handle. The pictures on the card were bright, and they belonged to her.

She was on an airplane, and there was much to take in. She had no part in preparing the plane for take off. She had absolutely no knowledge of the many checks that took place to insure the safe flight. Being completely unaware of what was going on in the front of the plane, she just was a passenger.

The captain in the front knew. He was responsible. He was taking care of the many controls in the front. She was able to sit back, and focus on her surroundings.

Our Lord is our captain. It is his plan to take full responsibility for our flight. He never intended for us to ask, worry, or even know.

The cockpit in the front of the plane is sealed off. As passengers, we cannot even see inside, or know of the decisions being made. We have no need to. There is enough surrounding us to keep our focus. How unnecessary for my little two year old to fill her mind with concerns of why, how, and what if.  She's been given a window, a seat belt and the joy of the flight. Oh, to simply delight in what God has set before me, and to let Him be captain.
Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Simple Delight
1 comment | published by Linda | March 10, 2010
Proverbs 2:1-5

"My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if  you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."

Starting from the middle of the story, he talks to me. Being entertained by a memory of something he saw, or what he did, he begins to laugh. Realizing he has left the volume off in the beginning of his story, he fills me in. It usually includes a visual description where I find it necessary to stop what I am doing in order to receive the full multi sensory show that he is portraying for me. 

Sometimes it's a scene from a cartoon, or a part of a song he heard. I assume that once he tells it to me, it may very well be forgotten. The subject might be the simplicity of a moment, yet the subject is not what draws me to him as he speaks. His voice, animation, and desire to share with me will hold me as a captive audience as long as the curtain is open, and the words are spoken. I have been invited into the middle of his thoughts.

There are times we discuss issues of life. Our communication is open. Stopping what I am doing in order to give my full attention is a small price to pay for an open communication line to my son's heart. I soak in these moments when I can watch him delight in his surroundings, and desires for me to enjoy them with him.

Never knowing what might come up, or what questions might be asked, I am ready. He knows he can ask. Being a young man now, I know my time with him by my side is becoming shorter. As he grows, and breaks into more life experiences, I will be here. He will know that I will listen. He will have learned that we can talk.

The conversations will not include the content of cartoons, but I will always rejoice when I see him coming to me. He might already be laughing, and I will know I am being invited to the middle of his thoughts. 
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Talk to Me
3 comments | published by Linda | March 08, 2010
Psalm 73:23-24

"Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory."

Miles away from home, my children and I had completed our tasks in town and were ready to head home. I began to search through my purse for my keys. After some time, my son noticed them sitting inside on his sisters car seat.

Calling for help, the quiet voice on the line asked, "Are you in a safe place?" I looked around at my surroundings and replied, "I have a bunch of kids with me, a baby, and it's snowing. I'm as safe as can be expected." She laughed and promised it wouldn't be long.

My God uses such opportunities to bring my focus back on Him. As patience is not a quality I am known for, I am continually given clever opportunities to work in this area.

There have been too many times when I seem to think my busy days somehow give me the right to treat my relationship with God as I do a call to emergency road service. In a stressful moment I quickly toss up a prayer expecting an immediate rescue.

When I rush to Him in desperation I can almost hear the words, "Are you in a safe place?" I am reminded of who He is. As I look at my surroundings my only response can be one of thankfulness.

My days must never cause me to lose my focus on the safe place I am in, with Him, wrapped in His wings. 

The road service didn't arrive for almost two hours, not as fast as I would have wanted. Likewise, God's timing is His own, and I am His.

Am I in a safe place? I must wait.
Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: A Safe Place
4 comments | published by Linda | March 04, 2010
Hearing the Lego crash once again, I peeked into the room. There he stood, completely distraught. His baby sister was sitting beside him with a guilty grin on her face. She had done it. 

After lifting my little destroyer from the scene, I turned to my son. Like before, I've encouraged him to continue loving her, even though right then he didn't feel like it. I realize how hard it must be for him at times to do what he knows to be right when his heart is not in it.  Yet loving her, is what's required.

When my husband walks through the door, I know what is right. I know what I'd like to offer. To be a wife that greets him with happy. To be ready to hear about his day, encourage him, laugh with him and love him completely. My head knows what to do. 

Likewise, as I look at the children around me, there is much I know I should do. But, what if I don't want to change that diaper, clean up the spilled milk again or fold yet another load of laundry? What if I don't feel like it? Does that mean I can switch gears, and follow my feelings, rather than my head?

The heart follows the head. Doing what is right is what will cause the feelings to flow more positively than I could imagine. Waiting until I feel good enough by my own standard to fulfill my roll, only stops the blessings, the joy, and the relationships with those around me.

We've been given an example of how this is to be. Our Lord was not thrilled with the idea of dying on the cross. He spent a whole night overwhelmed with strong feelings of not wanting the next day to come. He was even sweating blood. Luke 22:42 says, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." 

He was asking for relief from what God wanted of Him. Yet, not letting his feelings be his guide, he obeyed, he gave. After his death, his resurrection came. This is the picture we've been given. If we want to truly live, we have to die. 

As we look at our husbands and children, what should we do? We know. 

If we don't feel like it, and refuse to give, we miss out on the huge happy life He has designed for us.

There are Legos on the floor. How do we feel?
Posted in Living Room, Play Room, Master Bedroom    |   Tags: To Truly Live
2 comments | published by Linda | March 02, 2010
I would look forward to hearing her little sounds in the night. I knew that when she needed  me in those dark hours, I would be able to sit, hold her, and drink in her wonder.

The smell of her skin was intoxicating. I would stroke her hair, and feel her tiny hand tightly grip my finger. I became lost in her. As she found all that she needed in my presence, I found my delight in her. She had done nothing  to deserve my deep affection. She just was. 

Softly singing over her, so thankful for such moments, she would quietly drift back to sleep.

As mothers, we have the privilege to truly rejoice over our infants with all that we are. These moments cannot be forgotten. We know what it is to sing over one that we love. 

Zephaniah 3:17 says, "The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."

Are we listening? Do we hear?
 
We have done nothing to deserve His deep affection. We just are. We can rest, listen to His singing, and find all that we need in His presence. 
Posted in Play Room, Master Bedroom    |   Tags: Over Me
2 comments | published by Linda | February 28, 2010
Psalm 139:23-24
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

After being kicked down on the pavement of the playground, he caught his breath. Seeming to be okay, he was quiet. Yet, after a glance down at his knee, he noticed the scrape, and the many onlookers that were around him. The wails began. The kids and adults from all corners came over to see the the injury. My son, standing at my side looked up at me and grinned. It suddenly became clear to him why I have encouraged him to smile, get up, and keep on playing. Growing him to be a man does not include allowing him to roll on the ground and sob endlessly over a skinned knee.

We get hurt. Likewise, most of our serious injuries are caused by the ones we love. It's important to remember to smile, get up, and keep on playing when we've been offended by someone. Forgiveness is a blessing to the one who has offended, and also offers us a freedom to carry on with joy.

When we have been deeply hurt, more than a mild scrape on the knee, it's also important that we acknowledge the wound. It's not necessary, or even pleasing to God to pretend that it never happened, ignoring the pain and the injury. As Christians, the difference is in how we deal with the wound, not in living as though the pain is not real. 

Once forgiveness has been extended, we must continue to treat the wound. Keeping it clean from infection such as bitterness and resentment is necessary in order for us to heal, and for the relationship to be restored as God intended. 

The pain is real. The wound can be serious. If cared for and kept clean, we will be able to get up, smile, and keep on playing. 
Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Smile, and Keep on Playing
1 comment | published by Linda | February 20, 2010
Proverbs 19:18
"Chasten your son while there is hope, and do not set your heart on his destruction."

Somewhere between the aisle filled with princess dress up clothes and the Barbie dolls, I watched as she threw herself on the floor. Kicking her legs as if she was trying to ride a bike in the air, her little dress flew back and a diaper that was drooping to her knees was revealed. Screaming out the torment of her life, while her pacifier fell to the floor, she had drawn a crowd.

The tired mother beside her tried to explain to the onlookers that it was past her nap time as she attempted to pick up her flailing daughter, and any fragments of her dignity that could be found.

I've experienced the arching, angry child, and wished I could just disappear. It's tempting to blame it on age, yet, excusing such behavior is like closing your eyes when a roller coaster ride gets scary. This isn't a sign of age, it's an opportunity for God to humble us parents and bring to our attention some areas neglected. Brushing it off as a stage is like pushing the crumbs on the kitchen floor under my rug, figuring it will be cleaned in due time.

Children are born into sin. This is evident in the little princess doing her dance on the floor. Tiny children have the ability to make adults jump to their service at the first sign of discomfort. Is it any wonder why most children continue to believe that they are the prince or princess of their castle?

It is a God given privilege and requirement to love and train these little throne sitters into joyful submission and humility before their King. It's necessary to move their eyes off of themselves in order for them to catch a glimpse of the King they serve, the King who belongs on the throne of their hearts. They must come to understand that this castle, their life, is all about their King, His love, and the joy they can bring Him.

These dances are reminders that it's time to get back to the training ground at home, practicing cheerful, immediate obedience and changing an attitude from self indulgence to giving with thankfulness.

A true dance of joy will come later, and I'm certain it will not take place on the floor of a toy store.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Dance of Joy
4 comments | published by Linda | February 18, 2010
Philippians 1:6

"For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

God would be able to create a baby in less than a day. He created the world just by speaking. Yet, He chose to grow a tiny baby inside of us over a period of about nine months. This time frame has nothing to do with God needing time to bring a baby to the point of birth. Quite possibly, this time is to bring us to the point of motherhood.

Over my six pregnancies, I have experienced various trials through each one, yet these have been some of the best months of my life.  There's nothing that compares with the first time of feeling those tiny feet kicking inside. Although I haven't been one to breeze through a pregnancy with a gentle glowing about my skin, the physical challenges only made me stronger. 

It has taken me awhile to come to the realization that the baby growing inside of me is not the only one that is being formed by the Master's hand. Through a pregnancy we can acquire the necessary qualities and tools needed as children will soon surround our days. Endurance, patience, and sacrifice are slowly built into our lives. John 15:13 says, "And here is how to measure it, the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends." Pregnancy offers us an opportunity to completely sacrifice our bodies for another. Our bodies are completely changed and practically torn apart as we bring a new baby into the world.

Nine months seem at the time more like nine years, yet we must remember all of the work our Lord must do to prepare us for our future of raising these precious children. It's the perfect amount of time. I remember how my first child completely knocked me off my feet. What would have happened if He hadn't done some preparing in me beforehand?

Our God is in control. He could have had children conceived and born in the same day, yet He has blessed us with nine months. As we feel our baby growing inside, He can introduce us slowly to our new role and privilege, motherhood.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: 9 Months to Motherhood
1 comment | published by Linda | February 09, 2010
Psalm 16:11
"You will show me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

He waits for me. It makes no difference to him if he is cold, tired, or the last to leave, he waits for me. At such a young age, he is already quite the gentleman.

As I reach through the car for my purse and my jacket knowing that the others have already run inside, I notice my little man that has once again waited for me. As I thank him for his loyalty, and companionship toward me, he consistently responds, "I will always wait for you Mommy, because I like you." For him, my presence is more valuable than rushing anywhere, leaving me behind.

As with most mom's, I am the last to leave the home, and the last to leave the car at the end of the journey. So many items to collect, light switches to turn off, and doors to check that postpone my departure for those extra moments. For him, to hold my hand, and to walk with me is what matters. Where we are headed is irrelevant. Therefore, he waits.

When I take the time to acknowledge the Holy presence that surrounds me, and I focus on Him, I can attain fullness of joy. When my destination and my schedule become paramount, my joy fades as my priorities have slipped. Far better it would be for me to wait for my Lord in quietness, to be still, and wait even when everyone around me is in a hurry, to find stillness there. 

God's plan for my life is not always fast. There are things He needs to do, and have done first, although I might not understand. I want to always have the patience my little son has, as he stands and waits for me, knowing that what matters to him is remaining in my presence. I can learn from his desire, of the need in me to consistently stand in my Lord's presence. Our destination is irrelevant, as long as we are together. Therefore, I wait.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: He Waits for Me
3 comments | published by Linda | January 21, 2010
Proverbs 17:17
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
How is it that brothers and sisters seem to transform from friends to enemies once placed beside each other in the back seat? The children once laughing and playing outside experience a huge temperature change between them once set in close proximity in the car. Suddenly the other seems stinky, and has a leaning problem.

I have also noticed it is easy for children to share their toys happily with a friend that has come to visit, yet nearly impossible to come up with this sharing concept if dealing with a brother. Knowing how special a brother is, and respecting their place in our lives is easy to understand, yet hard to act on. Why is it easier to be more polite to someone on the phone that we don’t know than to someone we are with throughout the day?

Apparently, Solomon filled with God’s wisdom was aware of the sandpaper that we would be dealing with for centuries to come. Brothers and sisters have the opportunity to rub up against each other throughout the day.

I have reminded them about the use of sandpaper. It plainly can’t work if it’s not touching something. Owning sheets of sandpaper and having them sit on a shelf will not do any good to the rough wood in the house. It will only work if it is rubbed up against the wood. Brothers and sisters are no different. We live closely beside one another and rub up against each other continually. God planned it this way. It’s easy to be comfortable with the smoothness of a friendship, and difficult to rub up against the sandpaper in the car beside you.

My children only have a season of their lives where they live with each other in the same house. These are the days where God will gently sand away their rough edges. Sometimes he uses their brothers and sisters to reach those areas most needing work. Friends are blessings, and have strong impacts on our lives, yet the closeness of a brother is incomparable. Our brothers and sisters change our lives forever because the work is done by our Master Craftsman.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Sandpaper in the Backseat
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