0 comments | published by Linda | December 30, 2011

After lying beside him as he slowly drifted off to sleep, I would quietly turn the monitor on and sneak out. I cleaned the dishes, and did other odd chores quickly that were much more difficult to do with one arm when he was awake. 

If I moved around the house, I clipped the monitor to my clothes. I was always listening. There was peace because I was listening, and knew how he was doing. If he stirred, I knew. If he cried, he knew I would be there for him.

He struggled to fall asleep at night. Yet, he found peace in my presence. My closeness made it possible for him to rest. Knowing that parents are to be an example of God’s love, I chose to stay. I spent endless time holding him close as he fell asleep. I knew I could have made it a bit easier on myself by closing the door. I could have let him learn to fall asleep alone, crying it out until he understood that no one was coming.

My home now also has both little ones and teenagers. Sometimes my older kids like to rest in their rooms, and close the door in order to have quiet. I have found it to be necessary to keep a mental monitor clipped to my clothes. This way, if they stir, I will know. If I don't hear them stir, it’s safe to assume they are, and I will be there for them.

Babies call on us in the middle of the night. Teens are no different. These are my children to love no matter their age, no matter what time. I must keep my eyes open, and my ears tuned in. Their times of need don’t happen at convenient times for me, as midnight talks happen. My baby wants to feel my love. My teens are no different.

Although teens look as though they are complete, they aren't. Their needs are deep, their questions many. They stir as they wrestle with the world around them. I have found it to be necessary to talk to them like an adult, but continue to love them like a baby. 

If their door is closed, the monitor turned off, we won’t hear. I suppose we could let them cry it out until they understand that no one is coming, but imagine if our Lord did the same to us? 

Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: I'm Listening
1 comment | published by Linda | September 20, 2011
It's more exciting than the contents of the box. The race isn't to figure out what came to them today, but to grab that crazy bubble wrap that sits on top. As I'm quickly left with an opened box, the bubble wrap flies. Within moments the jumping begins and the absurdly loud pops fill the room.

When I think the popping has finally finished, another blast goes off. Walking into the room, I find the remains of deflated plastic carcasses spread across the floor.

In the next room I heard a new outburst of laughter. Curious to find what brought this second surge of happy, I investigate. There I find my two youngest boys, one wrapped in bubble wrap, the other whacking on the bubbles to see if it hurts. Their test proved that with the wrap, the laughter continued.

We are to choose joy, consistently. Joy comes when we realize our relationship with Him is all we need. Whether times are difficult or easy, we can be surrounded by joy. Joy acts like a protection for us against the bangs and bumps along the way. 

Much like the bubble wrap, we should wrap it around ourselves. Life will hurt less, and there will be far more reasons to laugh. Remember, the race isn't to find out what might come to us today, or why, but to grab the crazy bubble wrap that sits on top.

Posted in Living Room, Play Room    |   Tags: Bubble Wrap
0 comments | published by Linda | August 03, 2011
She hollered across the beach. Everyone looked up at her except for her son. She continued. "Stop throwing sand at your sister! You know better!"

Do you think she knows better than to yell at her son, and strip herself of all dignity? Still, she continued. "I have taught you better than that! What are you thinking?"

He might know. He also knows that he can ignore her. He knows that eventually she will stop, so he doesn't have to.

Where is the break down from what we know and what we do? We somehow let our emotions disguise what we know to be right to do. We behave opposite. It's easier, and way more fun...or so we think, until we see the ugliness of such a choice in the behavior of our kids.

Sadly though, our little people will follow what we do, not what we know. They will show the same amount of self control that we display. As we teach them how to behave, we sometimes offer an example of pure emotional stupidity.

We can't expect them to do what they know to be right if we aren't ready to look at ourselves, and realize we know better.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: We Know Better
0 comments | published by Linda | August 01, 2011
The door is closed. It's easy to assume they want to be alone. Maybe. Yet usually the door is closed in order to be opened. There is a handle. We need to use it.

Our teens can quickly drop into a stinky mood. Without help, and some focused digging, they might spend too much time there. It's our job to see them when they disappear.

Far easier to get back to what we were doing. Incredibly easier, actually. Yet, we aren't raising children in order to have easy.

They need to have their words heard, and their chin lifted. Teens can have a small supply of hope, as their eyes drop and they forget what's up ahead. They are on a road, a rocky one. Fill their hope bucket. We must remind them who has their hand, and what is at the end of their journey.

Get in there. Knocking on their door will also result in them desiring to come to yours in years to come. Blessings yet to come as we lead with hope.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Hope Bucket
0 comments | published by Linda | July 15, 2011
Standing in front of the glass, I couldn't blink. Of course I couldn't. There they sat, right in front of me lined in neat rows with each leaning back on the next. So many colors. So many shapes. They were all so different, and yet I had to choose. We liked choosing to fill a box one by one with the variety of our favorites. Assortment is the best. There's nothing quite like a donut...or at least at the age of seven that's what I believed.

People marvel at my children with their big brown eyes. They are all the same. Well, they came from the same bakery.

Yet, it's taken me awhile to put together the fact that even though they can be lumped under the title, "my children"...they are each their own. Most shockingly, they are not me. It's easy to assume that they must think like me, like what I like, and be able to do what I can. Not so much. 

I might think it would be fantastic to go out for the day, yet one might rather be home alone in the quiet. Do I force a change? Should I require each to cooperate with what inspires me? That might be as silly as wanting a chocolate donut to taste like a berry filled one. Impossible. Not only that, but frustrating and crushing to my kids. 

Character qualities are not up for discussion, but personality differences must be. To build into each one to be the very best at who they are is a way of glorifying God. After all, He made them just the way they are. Good thing they aren't a bunch of my clones. God is more creative than that. He likes assortment.

Like the box of donuts, I want to appreciate and enjoy each one for what they are...after all, there's nothing quite like a child.
Posted in Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: The Box of Donuts
0 comments | published by Linda | June 28, 2011
They try to explain to me how this pile isn't theirs. Therefore, there is simply no reason for them to clean it up. If I took on that opinion, there wouldn't be much for me to do around here.  No dishes to clean, laundry to wash, counters to wipe, and tidying to do. I suppose I might leave a trail, but seriously, there would be a lot more time to relax.

They stand over the pile of random shoes, toys, and trash as they continue on with their explanations of why they don't need to touch it. Nothing belongs to them.  No one wants to clean it up if they can't identify anything that belongs to them. Feeling exempt from this chore, they think they should be free to get back to playing. What would happen if we did this with their sins?

Not many kids enjoy cleaning. Most kids fight against it even more if it's doing what they think someone else should be doing. They quickly fall into selfishness, pride and envy. That's okay, we're ready. Just as they now have a mess to clean up that isn't theirs, we can see that we do too.
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Messes
0 comments | published by Linda | June 20, 2011
Storms happen in my home. I can feel the darkness closing in from someone's attitude. The mist comes, followed by a downpour, and sometimes sharp chips of ice are tossed about the room. It is my job to bring this child from the storm, quickly.

However, to attempt to sit, teach and instruct in the midst of a storm is useless, and even aggravating. The soil of the child's heart is much too hard. We must bring an end to the storm, but the time for talk is later. Far better to wait until well after the storm has passed and head to the soil that is moist, soft, and ready for planting.

Keeping a heart of laughter in the eye of the storm is also quite handy. Having a calm joy in the hailstorm helps to keep perspective, and offers a place of sun for my child to return to. 
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: After the Storm
1 comment | published by Linda | June 08, 2011
I had to lift my head off of my towel long enough to take a look at where all the ruckus was coming from. She had been shouting for a full ten minutes, and it didn't seem like it would end soon. It was almost as if her little girl had completely blocked her voice out as she wasn't in the least disturbed by her voice. She continued building her sand castle in complete peace. And then it happened. The great mathematical style of parenting. This mom not only had no problem humiliating herself in front of the general public, she now is advertising her counting skills. 

What is it with the 1-2-3? How have parents fallen into this mathematical problem? (No pun intended..) For some reason parents seem to think that it is important to give their child an extra moment to stay in their sin, before they try to make it stop. Sometimes, a parent even has the need to show a higher level of math knowledge by getting into fractions. Three and a half...three and three quarters..

If a child falls into sin, you must get him out and back to joy...immediately. No extra room for rolling around in it for awhile longer is necessary, while the parent starts into the number line. Children aren't happy without boundaries. They need to bounce up against them once in a while to keep their security in tact. They know you know how to count, can they count on you?
Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: 1-2-3
0 comments | published by Linda | June 02, 2011
There should be a rule that temper tantrums and petty arguments cannot happen before a mom has her morning coffee. It would be impossible for me to put out so much energy so early in the day, not for them. It almost seems that the morning fog that blurs their minds only intensifies the ridiculousness of the battle. I suppose foolishness knows no clock.

Sin happens. Children can quickly get tangled, and are unable to break themselves loose. It's easy to become irritated by the crankiness, and find ourselves quickly becoming tangled as well. In these times we are simply unqualified to help them. We can only offer help in those moments that we are not emotionally involved, like in the morning fog.

As I try to figure out who was playing with it first, and attempt to bring joy back to the bunch, I smile. The random arguments must be seen for what they are, a pure comedy of foolishness. If I don't see it that way, back to bed I go.  
Posted in Kitchen & Dining, Play Room, Master Bedroom    |   Tags: Morning Fog
1 comment | published by Linda | May 31, 2011
Little milk bottles halfway filled can be found on the floor of my closet. I wouldn't recommend opening them, as they were dropped by little hands some time ago. As she comes to me for more, I begin my search. Trying to find a clean bottle in the kitchen drawers can be a scavenger hunt. Finding each piece is not easy. There is a feeling of accomplishment when I am able to put one together, fill it up, and hand it over to the little one that needs the constant refill.

It would be entirely possible for me to remain in the kitchen throughout the day, and never leave. Their hunger is constant, and their thirst is never completely satisfied. Multiplying these needs by six provides a picture of the constant feeding and serving that is needed.

They keep coming back. Once is not enough. God has designed it this way. No doubt this is a representation of our hunger for Him. He wants us to continually come to Him to be filled up with His peace. It's a daily need, a constant thirst that He wants to quench for us...again and again. He has designed us to need Him every moment.

A bottle half filled with sour milk found elsewhere was never meant for us to drink. He's waiting. Be filled.
Posted in Kitchen & Dining, Play Room    |   Tags: Milk Bottles
3 comments | published by Linda | April 13, 2011

Heading home, I had to merge onto the freeway. The cars were racing by me as the kids were calling from the backseat. His voice was in my ear. With my cel phone tucked in my pocket, the chord strung through my jacket, my earphones made it seem as though he was sitting right beside me. He was listening. I knew he was there. I couldn't see him, but even in the crazy we were together. That's all that mattered.

I remember a time when I would sit in the corner of my quiet room, with my Bible in my lap, and journal right beside me. Uninterrupted, I could find my Lord there.

Now, with a house full of six children, quiet rarely exists. There is much to do, and so many assuming I have enough ears to hear them all, and the aptitude to answer skillfully. Busy and noise follow me. Tasks and routines seem to lead the way.

If there is no quiet, is it imposible to spend time with our Lord? Could it be our quest to find Him in the midst of the clutter and crazy that fill our days? After all, what makes a day victorious and successful only comes when we are in constant communication with Him. Our closeness with Him is paramount. 

We are heading home, and sometimes need to travel on the freeway. Find him, even there.

Posted in Living Room, Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: In the Midst of the Clutter
2 comments | published by Linda | April 07, 2011
Nobody wanted to stop it. I did. There was no way to control it without stepping into it, no matter how crazy it seemed. Being seven, it was with great courage that I ran to the center, and turned the water off. 

I spent days in the summer on the front lawn. My neighbor and I would dance in the water as the random swinging sprinkler bounced across the grass shooting water in every unexpected direction. The higher we turned up the water, the more berserk it would move. If we wanted to redirect it, or switch it off, we had to get wet. The only way to grab it and move it was by running directly into the water. I suppose turning off the water would have been as effective, but there were times when it was so out of control that it was moving toward something it shouldn't. We had to stop it. It needed to be redirected, and the only way we could do it was by running into the center of the downpour.

Watching over children is no different. When they become filled with happy, and are playing hard, it's not uncommon for things to unravel, to get out of control. When kids clash with each other, it's tempting to run the other direction, hoping it will just simmer down on its own. Being called to the position of judge and jury is one that is easy to want to avoid.

I have found however, that the only way to bring peace to the crazy is by running directly into it. Avoiding it is pointless. Moving into the center of the downpour, and redirecting or stopping the problem brings peace, and protects what must stay dry.

Children can run into every unexpected direction. We are called to have courage, and to be willing to get a bit soaked as we direct them. We must be determined to run into the center of the downpour, as it's the only place to keep dry.
Posted in Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: The Center of the Downpour
2 comments | published by Linda | March 13, 2011

My favorite part was the marshmallows. Sitting beside the campfire with cold, dirty hands and face, I was warmed. It was where I wanted to be. It seemed to draw a crowd. We all wanted to be huddled around the fire, feeling the warmth and atmosphere it created.

Some days come to me and I my energy cannot be found. Responsibilities haven't changed, my kids still have their needs, yet I have not much to offer.

My list can wait. I can sit. This somehow seems to put priorities into place, as what energy I have is not waisted on what doesn't matter. What does matter, however, gathers around me with cold, dirty faces. They are warmed. 

As mom's, we mustn't fall into the trap of believing that accomplishing our duties is what benefits our family the most. Sitting still, being available, and creating an atmosphere for conversations and quiet can be what is remembered most. 

Just being with my kids is where I want to be, and it will build a bond with them and memories that will end up warming me on any cold night that might come.

Posted in Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: Campfire
1 comment | published by Linda | March 03, 2011
Mine was hot pink and white. There was something about that hoop that made me smile. It seemed as though my happiness and dancing kept it wrapped around my waist. Feeling so accomplished with my hoop, I was able to keep that ring moving around me while doing other things. I could move around the house, read a book, or talk on the phone. My hula hoop spent most of its time leaning against the wall of the garage, but when it was moved, I moved. Keeping up the dance was the only way to keep it working. 

My dance has continued, yet my hoop is no longer hot pink and white. It is made up of the arms of a seven year old boy. From out of nowhere, he appears. Instantly his arms lock around me, creating a ring. He doesn't let go, no matter what. The key for me is to continue dancing. I can wrap one hand on his, and we can move about the house.

It's joy that has attracted him to me, and keeps his arms wrapped around my waist. If the dancing were to stop, the ring would fall. May I always keep a rhythm of joy that draws my children around me.

Posted in Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: Hula Hoop
3 comments | published by Linda | January 19, 2011

I could hear her feet behind me pressing into the sand as she danced. There was no direction in her dance, just an explosion of happy. With arms flailing about, and random drops to the sand, she was in the moment. I remained still on my towel, feeling the sun drape over me. The oil on my skin made me a magnet for the sand that she was tossing about, but it didn't matter. I was in the moment. 

Suddenly her giggles turned to an outburst of screaming, as the sand had rained down and landed in her eyes. Jumping to her rescue, I began brushing the sand from her face. Her tears made the sand cling to her cheeks, and the more I tried to wipe, it only got worse. I seemed to be covering her face with more sand, the more I worked. 

The realization that I was only adding to the problem struck me. I had come to her with hands that were also covered in sand, and only compounded the problem and the pain. I was unqualified to help. I, her mom, was adding to her agony. 

This story has also played out in the car, as I have become annoyed by the arguments in the backseat. Instead of cheerfully helping them untangle, my attitude only offered more sand. Their sticky attitudes were made worse because of the reflection from the front seat. I was unqualified. I, their mom, was only adding to the agony.

Best to look in the rear- view mirror at myself before I turn back to them, and try to help with their tangle. I need to be corrected before I am qualified to correct. 

Sand will be tossed about. Not being a magnet for it will allow our kids to dance in an explosion of happy.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Rear-View
2 comments | published by Linda | January 07, 2011
Stretching myself across the hot pavement, I would peak under the leaves. It was a certain type of plant where I could find those silent treasures. Other kids would pass by me loudly, playing in the yard, as I would keep my attention on my search. There was something fascinating about the shells they carried on their backs. I figured they must be heavy, as they moved so slowly. 

Pulling one from the back side of the leaf was not easy. Like glue, it seemed to be permanently stuck, but I pulled, and it finally let go. Each snail I held, I wanted to keep. I wanted it to notice me, and enjoy living in the palm of my hand. 

Hidden tightly in his shell, I figured he thought he had disappeared, and I would leave him alone. Yet, after time, he poked his head out, and started his journey. With just a touch from my finger, he would hide once again. My disappearing friend, fascinating.

I now live in a home where kids pass by me loudly, playing in the yard. Quiet is not my home. Yet, I remember searching for my silent, slow moving friend that I studied as a child. I think back at how he would disappear into his shell, becoming unnoticed. Studying this tiny creature as a child prepared me, as I now have a child who resembles him. If I get lost in the noise, and the crazy, I would miss the one who slowly moves to a quiet place and pulls into his shell. 

Quiet sins do match the loud ones, you just need to be willing to search them out. Working one out of a child is tricky at best. Once trusting in the conversation, they might peak their heads out, but so quickly the disappearing can happen if we let it. The shell must be used for protection, not hiding and festering in self pity and bitterness.

Children can seem permanently stuck in an attitude, yet pulling him from it is a must. There is a journey before them, and we want them to enjoy living it in the palm of His hand.
Posted in Play Room, Attic    |   Tags: My Disappearing Friend
4 comments | published by Linda | January 02, 2011

With long legs, and black body, it slowly crept across my bathroom rug. Noticing the intruder, my six year old son quickly turned from sweet little guy into a warrior within seconds. He lifted his foot, and finished off the enemy. So proud of a job well done, he sighed heavily, put his hands in his pockets, looked up at me and grinned.

Little boys are made this way. Growing into manhood requires things like swords, skateboards, bug killing and the likes. They dream of conquering, saving and inventing. Building strength and confidence into our boys is a must if we want them to grow into capable, successful and happy men.

Gathering courage to wipe up the remains of the latest victim, I realize the strength that is also needed as a mom. How much easier it would be to calm the crazy, the mess, and  the noise. Yet, growing a man isn't an arena of softness and quiet, it's construction at its finest. It includes falling, bruises and bumps, and requires a mom with strength enough to be willing to get him back on his feet to keep on playing.

While little girls busy themselves with the happenings in the home, which is natural for us, our boys must keep their focus outward. Are we strong enough to let them? These are to be future warriors, not to be confused with future sweet little guys.

Posted in Play Room    |   Tags: Bugs and Stuff