Friday, October 9, 2009

Six Sick Kids

Is it the title of a new Dr. Seuss book.

1 kid - 2 kids
sick kid - flu kid

No, it is the story of my day. All six of my children are in somewhere in the flu maze. Some very sick, some recovering. Some take illness well and become quieter and more thoughtful. Some have to be...well...quarantined to another part of the house for the good of all :) I'm tending their sickness with home remedies. The cats are playing. The chickens are gathered under the heat lamp in the barn (it's cccooolllddd outside!). There's just something so nice about caring for the needs of my family with what I'm able to produce myself. The chicken soup, the elderberry syrup, cough tincture, all made here with my own hands. I am also thankful that we live in a time where other alternatives are available if the need arises and that I don't have to watch my little ones perish from easily remedied complications.

Praise be to our Lord the Great Physician!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Proverbs 31 Woman - The Next Generation

Most of us mothers grew up with "forward thinking" mom's. You know, the burn your bra type. The "question everything" type. Before the rebellion of the 60's there was a known moral IQ which, at least on the surface of things, was followed by the majority of America. Our mothers generation was the first to completely and blatantly disregard the instruction of the previous generation. They wanted to raise their children differently, and they did. They raised their children with a sense of entitlement the previous generation hadn't known. They raised their daughters to view motherhood as something you settled for not something your hoped to attain. They taught us submission was a nasty word and to be avoided at all costs. The picture most people have when they think of a submissive wife is a dejected woman unable to think for herself. They picture a door mat, a woman with little or no self worth and perhaps even a punching bag for a legalistic abusive husband. Even in the Christian world I think the Proverbs 31 woman is portrayed with a little less backbone than she actually has. As I walk this path of submission to my husband and embrace my role as his help meet I am viewing the Biblical model in a new way.

Proverbs 31:13-28 talks about all the deeds she does. This woman is wise and industrious and strong. She isn't wimpering at the door waiting for her husband to come home and tell her how to think. She sucks it up and pushes forward. She is the "sub-contractor" in her home and builds it up by honoring her husband. Now there is a difference between building up ones home; going forward in confidence with the duties that need to be accomplished and disregarding the leadership of ones husband, however that leadership may manifest itself.

In one of my wonderful Character Sketches books the animal chosen to represent the character trait of meekness is a horse. When I think of a horse I don't think of a weak animal. I think of the strong muscles in the legs and back and the stamina. We are supposed to be "discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed" according to Titus 2. Our strength should be reigned in to the obedience of Christ as a blessing and gift to our husbands. We should be spirit, that is. A quiet spirit does not mean a bland personality. We are the next generation of mothers. though we may be walking blindly due to a severe shortage of mentors. Let us be strong godly women ready for the work the Lord has for us in our homes, with and for our husbands and children. Let us roll up our sleeves and strengthen our arms through good works, faith and perseverance. Let us help build up the Kingdom without being sorry for our strength. Let us embrace that quiet spirit with joy. Let us embrace our position as nurturer and lover and teacher. Embracing our role with joy is not a sign of takes great strength.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Playing Tag in the Kitchen

Some days it's so hard to get up especially when you know a little one, or not so little one, is going to disagree, complain, disobey, pout, stomp...the list goes on. From the time he could speak my youngest has always started the day asking what he can eat. No "good morning mama." No "thank you for investing your time and life into mine." HA! It can certainly feel like running the race for our salvation in quick sand.

This morning my eldest was walking through the hallway as we were preparing to head out. As I passed her I bumped her shoulder and said "you're it" quietly. She then went and tagged her younger sister and the games began. There was squealing and running, yelling "no tag backs" and overall chaos in the kitchen as we all made laps around the island then into the living room trying to avoid whoever was "it". That 5 minutes of morning set a wonderful tone for the day. We sang all the way to our destination finishing with the Beach Boys blaring in Mom's Hot Rod. Those few seconds were dedicated to joy and laughter and closeness. A shared moment. A memory.

When I spend time with my Lord I tend to be like my youngest child asking Him what I get. Sometimes I'm sulking down the hall uncomfortable in my own skin like my 15 year old. But sometimes I really hear the words I'm praying. Sometimes I let Him set the tone for the day. Sometimes I let Him create a memory in my heart and share His moment with Him. All of our moments with the Lord are not this way however, but these moments help us during the dark times, the disconnected times, the times of despair. These moments are the torches in the darkness that help us along the path to His glory.

For our families, the Kitchen moments are the ones that anchor us to our foundation so we can grow and learn and succeed...and fail...without becoming utterly lost in this world. The complaining will continue, the bickering, the stomping...but our hearts are changed just a little each time a memory is shared and we feel secure and can walk forward with a little more confidence. May God grant us strength as we run this race. If we are indeed running in quick sand...well...we'll have great quads by the time we're done.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The 15 Passenger Van Goes on Vacation

Oh, the wonderful dream of driving cross country with my children. The wonderful homeschooling opportunities would abound. Historical landmarks, singing educational songs, listening to audio books for further enrichment...right:) How about the counting opportunities for the little ones "how many times has Junior said are we there yet?" Or word problems for the older ones "if passenger A drinks a 16 ounce soda in Utah how many times will we need to stop to use the bathroom by the time we cross the Nevada state line?" It could be discouraging when you realize your youngest didn't bring shoes or your 12 year old, who should know better by now, only brought two pairs of underwear for a two week journey. This wasn't what we had planned. This wasn't the picture perfect life sharing experience I'd imagined.

Our Christian walk is much the same. We make plans and have the greatest ideas. We can picture in our minds eye what our perfect family should look like and are often disappointed at the lack of progression we see in our children, our husbands, ourselves. We've read all the parenting books, started all the new miracle chore programs and poured through all the home school catalogs. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." We often forget that the plans we should have are His plans. We will always fall short if we are expecting Him to sign off on our agenda. Let me tell you, it's terrifying to truly trust in the Lord for your family and the direction He has for it. Some things may not seem to make sense or perhaps they won't fit at all within the planning parameters you've designed so carefully for your home and family.

It reminds me of the ropes course I did as a teenager. At the end of the course was a ledge high up in a tree. The rope I was attached to seemed much too thin and the harness seemed much too flimsy. Then I looked down and the ground seemed much further away and much harder than I remembered it being earlier in the course. As I looked up, suspended in mid air was a bar that I was told I was supposed jump to from the little ledge. A weakling of a boy was standing on the ground with his floss sized rope telling me to jump, he'll lower me down easy. At that moment I had two thoughts "There's no other way down from here" and "I didn't think I'd die this way". But after a few minutes I finally realized my only option was to jump. I had to trust my life to the one holding the rope. So I jumped with arms outstretched and, to my amazement, clasped the bar in front of me! God wants us to jump. He is not only the one belaying, He made the rope and the tree and the ledge. He knows exactly how far the bar needs to be for us to be able to grab it. His plan truly is for our good and not our harm.

So our van trip was not super educational. So what if at times I wished the van came with a sound proof window feature like they have in limousines. So what if I wondered if there were any monasteries along the way that would take children 5-15. I had the wonderful, and at times sobering, opportunity to have a glimpse into the hearts of my children. I was given a little peek into their strengths and weaknesses, their dreams and fears. I gained insight from wonderful friends and looked a little further into my strengths and weaknesses; my dreams and fears. We may not know or understand the ways of the Lord, but they are good. His is a Great Adventure!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Don't say "just" when it comes to children

Being a mother of a few more than the national average, I'm often surprised at the response I get from the "one and done" or "two and through" crowd. I'm not so surprised when they say "oh I could never do what you do! I have enough trouble with the two I have." But I am surprised when they timidly reveal how many children they have by saying, "I just have one" or "I just have two." There is never a "just" when it comes to children. Whether you have one or 69 (world record) you have a high calling as a wife and mother. You are responsible for training and directing a little soul for Christ. Having children is not a race to see how many "warriors" we can pop out for Christ, but to receive with gladness whom He chooses to give us and prepare them to be in this world but not of it. The mother of John the Baptist had no less of a calling and responsibility than the mother of Samuel or Judah. We are running a race as Christians and we are told to run with perseverance the race set before us. We may be running the race with strollers or ergos. We may be making hard choices in our parenting and running with a reluctant child slowing the pace, but we keep moving forward toward the goal. Some of our children will be our running mates, others will stand at the starting line for a long time before daring to truly enter the race. "He who wrestles is still held fast, but it is enough for him that he has not fallen. When we depart hence, then, and not til then, will the glorieous victory be achieved. For instnace, take the case of some evil lust (or other passion). The extraordinary thing would be not event o entertain it, but to stifle it. If, however, this be not possible, then though we ma have to wrestle with it and retain it to the last, yet if we depart still wrestling we are conquerors." ~St. John Chrysostom. So whether you have one or many, run with perseverence for your salvation and to lead whomever Christ has placed in your care to a living relationship with Him.

May Christs peace reign in your heart and home

Friday, October 2, 2009

A mom by any other name...

There are many endearing names children call their mothers. I was called "Honey" by my eldest until she was 5 because that's what daddy called me. My second one called me "Money" for a while because she couldn't decide whether she wanted to call me Honey or Mommy. When our two forever boys came the older called me mom and the younger wanted to call me Isabella, even though my name is Annalisa. He chose Super Mom for a while and has finally settled on Mommy or Mom. Occasionally I get the Mama or "Hey!" But they're all sweet words. Now keep in mind this is what I'm called in my own house. When I go out with all of my children I am called other names. Most popular is The Old Woman in the Shoe. I know other Mama's of many who have been ridiculed for their large brood with people even going so far as to place birth control pills on their front porch. Does it bother me? Not really. Maybe the "old" part:) I think I'm in good company. I think of Abraham and Sarah... The Old Woman in the Tent. Then there's Zechariah and Elizabeth...The Old Woman in the Temple. And finally Mary the mother of our Lord...the Young Woman and the Scandal. But with all of the challenges that came with these miraculous births blessings abounded even to the Salvation of our souls!

So here is a new version of the rhyme.
There was a sweet mama who lived in a shoe
She was blessed with many children and knew just what to do
She taught them of Jesus and made them warm bread
Then kissed them all gently and sang them to bed

May you be blessed!

The 15 Passenger Van...Mom's Hot Rod

I'm writing this only because my sweet mama suggested I share musings about having a large, everchanging, CRAZY homeschooling family. I'll start with an introduction.

I am an Orthodox Christian, professional volunteer wife, mother to 6 children (bio and adopted) and foster children (17 to date), self proclaimed doula, accidental midwife, closet herbalist, budding homesteader, author, bread baker, toffee maker and connoisseur of fine tea. We live in a brick house on1 acre with 16 chickens, 2 mice (store bought...many more sharing the property though), 2 cats and a ferret. We have homeschooled our children from the beginning and have yet to figure out a way to fit into that picture perfect homeschool mold. But...we're us:)