Friday, June 30, 2017

She Walks in Darkness...and Chooses Light



This girl here has been my girl's bestie since they were giggly girls in pigtails reading Laura Ingalls Wilder side by side. This week we took it a step further; we headed into the frontier. We talked about Laura and her daughter as we hiked. We also talked about Indians, black bears, tornadoes, the differences of growing up in the 70s, 80's and 90s, and Monte Cristo sandwiches. And we checked for ticks in each other's unbraided hair.


Speaking of checking one's daughter's hair for ticks...Keisha will readily tell you she never wanted to be a mother and, as a millennial, tell you in the same breath: "Don't judge me!"  Yet here she is, pregnant with numbers three and four (five and six if you count her miscarriages).


And she is living between darkness and light. This trip was not only a Mother-Daughter vacation into the stillness, for her it was a chance to take her two baby boys on a little hiking adventure...together. Collin will not remember it but years from now he'll be able to point at these pictures of their momma with excitement and joy, and laugh at the wonder of it all. He'll be able to tell others that he got to go hiking in the woods with his brother while their momma watched for big black bears that could have gobbled them up and spit them out...in the way little boys talk, you know. It's a memory planted in the stillness of a mother's life and in the deep recess of the beautiful Ozark woods. My daughter walked quietly next to her, silently supportive. Silently mapping out the journey. A silent witness.





 

I learned that walking and talking for miles in the woods beats social media spouting any day. I also learned that walking for miles in the woods with a girl who has been told her baby will die at birth offers more depth of soul and perspective of life's nectar than anything social media can offer. I watched how respectful listening does more healing and ministry than active talking and twittering and face-timing can ever do.

I also learned that, for the most part, when one's children reach adulthood, as mothers we must take a backseat (sometimes literally) and become silent witnesses. Learning to not insert ourselves into every conversation is difficult...especially for mothers. Our children are such a big part of us that it is really hard to not make it about us and insert ourselves into the story. But learning to watch the story and listen in stillness is its own reward. There is a tranquil peace found in the shade of the forest...even when we must helplessly watch and follow from a distance. Her mother, Margaret, is a true witness to this and I'm humbled for her teaching me this lesson.


And when we walk down those shady spots of observation...did you know that narrow trails laid out with wildflowers make the path less threatening to navigate? It makes the path almost tempting to wander. You don't know what's at the end of it but you know that beauty and life begets beauty and life. In fact, these wild things of the valley invite us to wander down to the edge. They lighten the way and the mood and make light the uncertainty of a distant cliff. It's a real thing. Really.





And often they lead us to the majesty of God...



The doctor offered to cut off baby Joseph's blood supply. Keisha made the decision, as a mother would, to defend, protect, and "embrace both my babies" (her words). She knows she can do nothing for her baby boy who will die at birth. He is only alive because of her, through her. One would think she is powerless. And yet...she knows God is more merciful than that.



She knows she is the lifeline to that little one and it is a line no one else can hold. She is life to Joseph...for a day, a week, a month, nine months!...she is life. And she embraces the power and exclusiveness of the mission only she can do. She gets to hold the wildflower before it fades. Grateful? She spoke of how much, in five short months Joseph has changed her. She is not made weak in her very vulnerable state. She is empowered. She said the thought of being able to keep him alive makes her feel like an warrior. I told her that's because she is...an Amazon warrior...in a very real way. She is defying the darkness, daring the looming shadow, standing up to a force she knows will threaten to engulf her little family. She faces the darkness while bearing a torch which God has given women for generations to carry to the next generation...the light of life. And she carries it so well.




And so the week passed with walking and talking...pretty much the things women are also good at. ;-) And Kei told us how her six-year-old daughter prayers over her baby brothers and "tells them secrets" and how these are the moments she lives for, the moments that make life breathable and endearing and precious. We spoke about what a privilege it is to prepare for this birth and have the waters of baptism refresh him in a way he is denied the life-giving water now due to his condition. She spoke of the kindness of others...the tiny name-knitted hats someone is making for the boys to wear, the offers from family and friends to watch their girls so they can focus on their boys, the beauty in having her wedding dress made into two tiny baptism outfits which Joseph will be buried in after his hospital baptism and Collin will wear as he is brought into God's family, and the five generous photographers (including my sweet daughter-in-law Tavyn) who called and offered to memorialize the twins' birth and wrap it up as a gift for the parents to treasure always. Kei spoke of how much they struggled with the privacy of it all yet how she wants people to know about her baby and how much she is really and truly (minus the times the darkness hangs like a shroud in the night) enjoying this time with both her baby boys. She isn't somber and sad, she's joyful and embracing this short time-warp. She wants it known how good a baby he is, giving her less trouble than the back kicks and pokes his brother enjoys giving her. She wants you to know how chill he is and how he pushes his little bootie into the air when his brother invades his space. She wants everyone to know his name: Joseph! She wants it known that...for today...both her boys, all four of her children, are alive and happy...and that makes her happy! She wants it known that she will have as many children in the bosom of Christ as she has in the bosom of her home. She speaks so joyfully of her two boys that her children will always know who Joseph is. Respect for life begins with these moments. She has embraced, not only her boys, but the gift of living in the moment and knowing that tomorrow is promised to none of us. The wisdom learned through this experience is a gift if one sees it as such.


She knows the storm will pass and the darkness will evaporate. And she will emerge from the woods, stronger and more life-giving and able to face the darkness and at every Eastertide will be able to say ...


51"BEHOLD! I TELL YOU A MYSTERY.



We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:



“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O grave, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”



56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:51-57


And who doesn't love a mystery!


Monday, May 22, 2017

The Seasonal UPDATE


Almost two years ago I set out to create something that was family-friendly and mom-inspiring. I wanted something simple yet visually appealing. I aimed high...and had to step back a couple of times to create something I could manage. As someone who, through the years, has felt too boxed in by planners-at-large, I sought to create something more in the journaling style with inspirational articles and visually appealing lists.  I wasn't sure what to call it: journal, devotional, organizer??? 
I debated that simple issue and asked for suggestions. I'm pretty sure I over-thought this...over-asked...and over-analyzed.

Originally it was just the Seasonal Beehive, comparable to a beehive of goodness and inside workings. It consisted of a compilation of articles, ideas, lists, and note pages. It is not, never was, and never will be "just a calendar." But I was worried too much would paralyze people's use of it. Upon description, many people took to calling it a planner so it became a Seasonal Planner.

Still, many times I worried it was too much of too much. I didn't want anyone feeling like they had something more to check off in a sea of online and paper options that planned their days for them. We're all looking so hard for simplicity and, in doing so, we're adding so much to our lives in an attempt to condense. I didn't want to add to the buzzing busy-ness. This was to be...had to be.... a calming, reflective journaling...something to help them (YOU!) reflect seasonally on their (your) spiritual health, their (your) mental health, their (your) emotional health and...through that...their (your) physical health.

Two years worth of tweaking and adding and improving, I finally sat down and demanded of myself that if I stayed true to what this was intended to be,  it should be at home within your home as well as in mine.

So by now you probably know that there will not be a summer edition coming out. I want to get that out of the way.

There are plenty of things online I see coming out that could be a blessing to you this summer. Perhaps we can share things we're looking at over on our Facebook Page: The Seasonal

In the meantime, we are working on a graphically designed, prettier, and more eloquently simplified version now known simply as The Seasonal.

Our goal is to have it ready for this autumn season but we beg forgiveness in advance if it isn't ready until the winter season.

It will still be separated by seasons but a year's worth of seasons will be combined into one book, still sized to fit inside your purse or book bag, with a year's worth of liturgical grace and goodness because, while our seasons change and flux, faith is the one thing no season can be void of. There will be changes but the things we've found to be tried and true will remain, in a style easier to read, easier to navigate, and easier on the eyes.

For those of you who so generously ordered the year's worth of The Seasonal at our Etsy Shoppe and are now wondering what is going to happen to their purchase....no worries. :-) You will receive a brand-new Seasonal at no additional charge...because you already paid and we want to make sure you get what you paid for.

I'm excited (and anxious) to get this back in circulation to you. I always want to make sure we are offering something that is not presently out there or presently in existence. It's hard to define and describe it but The Seasonal will continue to focus on the seasonal change within the home and the heart stirrings of faith within the home. It will continue to have liturgical faith overtures.
It will continue to layout your months and days with intentional ideas and tasks.

It's our prayer that it continues to bless you and build an awareness of what truly matters in your life and where your heart lies.

Please join our FB group to stay in touch with us and share the blessings of the seasons.



Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Defeatedness of Holy Week

So...

33 years ago I moved from my parent's house into their sideyard apartment...FUNNEST move ever!

30 years ago I moved from that sideyard apartment into my first starter home as a newly married woman....most intentional, lovest, treasured time ever...my HAPPILY EVER had arrived.

26 years ago we moved into our new-to-us country home with two babies...my FOREVER had arrived.

13 years ago and 5 kiddos later life derailed us...we packed up and moved into my husband's CHILDHOOD home. Life has a way of recentering us.

For a year, with the help of family, we cared for a father who had always been there for us. I learned a thing or two about home and hearths and hearts and kitchen tables and living in a house with aging parents, toddlers and teenagers.

For a year we lived out of boxes stacked under the carport as family came and went, taking family items with them and I meshed my stuff alongside my mother-in-law's stuff. It was a year of STUFF. Medicine bottles were religiously locked up in a safe box and dispensed at night and in the morning. We never had a young one get a hold of a loose pill. Tonight I had a nine month old choke on a candy wrapper. Family, as a community of shuffling feet, is not for the faint of hospitality.

Then the year shifted. That father left a bedroom empty and our three girls who had slept together in the same room all their lives, three headboards back to foot, slept together one last time.

There is always one last time.

Then a few years later a son moved in the backyard mini-apartment and that helped with polar-opposite brothers who bunkered together long enough to rub off traits (both good and bad) onto each other.

Fast forward 13 years later...we're remodeling the last room of this old house...the KITCHEN. It's taking longer than when we remodeled with four kids under the age of 10 in our FOREVER home. I find myself no more at home fulltime than I was back then; I'm still chauffeuring kids to ball and dance and schooling opportunities and church work and doctor appointments and orthodontist appointments and grocery store runs.

Today three kids have gotten married and moved out and there is no new house to run away to or spacious carport to put boxes under. One would think I'd have already weeded out by now, but the past 13 years have been the toughest 13 years of living I've ever lived. I'm living in the middle of it. 

I've watched my parents declutter their lives and box themselves into our backyard apartment (about the size of the one they let me live in 30 years ago). In the decluttering and life transition they are perfectly content.

Perhaps when I'm their age I'll be content too; for today I write about the deep longing for contentment...yet being grateful to be living life in the middle. I have to find the balance, no one can find it but me. I have to be committed to finding it. I have to find it in the midst of the living. And I have to be grateful when I find it, even when it doesn't look like what I thought it would look like.

And so...why not start with an old homeschool cabinet since my last student is in high school and this cabinet has lived for years with conveniently closed doors.

This cabinet has too much of yesterday's junk in it. Today I went through piece by piece, enjoying yesterday's school work, reminiscing over unit studies and field trips, flipping through old nature notebooks, observing history notebooks, sorting and cleansing and boxing even more, bagging unused craft projects and puzzles. 

On days like today I'm not sentimental at all. I found it draining, mentally and emotionally draining. I also cursed the sum of money being thrown away or given away that could have been better used and I'm "as-God-is-my-witness" serious not to mis-spend or mis-use or mis-manage our funds to the point of cluttering our lives again.



And it was at that point... at my clearest point of discouragement today (because the cabinet is still a shelf full and nothing has a place to call home)...I realized (in a Scarlet O'Hara moment of defeat) that I still have two children living under this roof and I'm fighting a loosing battle called life. And life comes with STUFF. It's known logic. We create lives of stuff to fill up our existence.

The reality came as my girls beat egg whites and shifted flour to the beat of Disney's "Be Our Guest". Their attempt was to make birthday macaroons for me in a kitchen that had no sink, no plumbing, not stovetop vent, and countertops that are not fixed in place under the drawer slides can be attached. The initial onset was joyful and upbeat. I knew the reality. There would dishes to organize and a mess to clean. But they proceeded onward with the flair of youthful hope and dreamy buttercream on their lips. When I shared with a friend what my girls were doing she bravo-ed them with, "You will never forget this birthday or these memories with those girls! Remember that time we made mom macaroons for her birthday in the kitchen with no sink or countertops. What were we thinking."

Hearing my own ideals spoken through a friend's voice does not sound as peaceful as it does when I give a friend that same advice. But I decided it was in my best interest to cling to it today.

As almond flour dreams spun through my non-functioning kitchen and tasty sweet ideas of macroons deflated and got dumped into the trash can and life's vanilla sugar got repurposed, I realized that houses are only catatonic when they are unlived in. There comes a time in life you don't need stuff to make you content. Having good health as a birthday rolls around, holding a warm cup of coffee (with or without macaroons) in your hands and listening to the rain fall with a roof over your head are blessings of the fullest. The fact that this clutter and living aren't going away any time soon is as fine as almond powder...and perhaps just as heavy.


It's life...from dust you were made, to dust you shall return. There is no getting away from life's dust and clutter. Life brings it to us and settles it around us and coats us in it. It's a life my husband and I willing embraced and conceived and created and cultured. It surrounds us in a fine layer of clutter. I can't escape it, nor do I want to. Gaining control of it all is a different matter. At some point we realize that as Americans we have too much stuff. And too much is too much. It swallows us. It gnaws away our peace. My husband and I want to have days ahead of us to enjoy family and not work to accumulate stuff, nor clean up after the stuff. We don't want to constantly swim above the clutter. I certainly don't want to have to weed out life every 13 years. Macaroons are nice, but they are not necessary.

Still, for peace, I must find the gift that is in the clutter...

* The cake box my brother-in-law left in my kitchen with the half-eaten birthday cake in it is gift.
* The baking supplies found in boxes all over the house, then dirtied and cleaned in the bathroom sink and the evidence of forsaken macaroons treats is gift (though at one point I declared it a mess that best be cleaned up and not left on my watch).
* The stained coffee pot with constant coffee grounds is gift.
* The paper plates and plastic forks by the microwave are gift.
* The avalanche of stuff and junk in that cabinet, bought on a promise and a prayer, were gifts...some of it to be gifted to others.
* The macaroons were gift...the clean-up afterwards was an even bigger gift.

We are constantly trying to rise above everyone else's "stuff." It's engulfing and it's a brutal reality of how greedy we, as individuals, are; for, in complaining about everyone else's "stuff", we overlook the baggage that we carry into the kitchen.

Good stewardship then!

Yes, this Holy Week cries for me to declutter and dejunk. Holy Week brings me to my knees in contrition for all the times I've mis-spent, mis-used, mis-managed our household income. Holy Week whips me into addressing my sinful nature, my greed, my want, my wasted desires. Holy Week begs me to realize that I will never be satisfied this side of heaven; I will only desire more and my heart will be restless until it rests in Thee.  That is how God wants us: spent, used, deflated, raw, void...realizing that nothing on earth will grant us the peace and fullness that He alone can give. He is Gift. He alone. Do we come to the table with empty hands open wide? Thankful for the gifts but knowing we don't need them in our search towards contentment.

The gift I make to myself this Holy Week, even as I admit defeat, is to accept it all as gift and pray that I find the contentedness in life's messes and clutter as much as I find it in the peace and stillness..all the while knowing that everything I receive is His gift to me yet my emptying of self is my gift to Him.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Box of Hope that Women Hold

Like Eve of the Old Testament with a forbidden fruit, Pandora was curious and peeked inside a forbidden box of ills that allowed disease and illness, wounds and scars, hurt and pain to escape over the earth.

But, as a woman, she was able to capture one small thing that remained with that box.

The Gift of Hope.

Woman is her own worse enemy. We are tempted, and curious. We find fault, We stir up discussion and controvery. We gossip. We are prideful. We are painfully and collectively possessive of our own. We can be tyrants. We are bossy. We are guarded. We are suspicious of other women.

We are also soul bearers and gift bearers. We demand justice like no other and we deliver mercy like no other. We are community builders. We are the delivers of messages that are sent out to a time we will not live to see.

Today is International Woman Day and one website sells us quite a different image. It tells us that TODAY...

"WE STRIKE FROM:
Paid jobs, Emotional Labor, Childcare, Diapers, Housework, Cooking, Sweeping, Laundry, Dishes, Errands, Groceries, Fake smiles, Flirting, Makeup, Laundry, Shaving."

And yet, as women, should we ever deny ourselves and others the opportunity to be the best versions of ourselves? A very strong feature that women possess is the power to make things right. And we must...WE MUST...remember that we are the life-bearers to the world. We hold the Gift of Hope within our hands.

My life is blessed with such women...women I am privileged to call family and friends and daughters.

And so...

TODAY...

In recognition of these women I love...

One of us is cleaning house, caring for her children and a sick husband, and praying for healthier days in order to enable her family to be the best they can be to a larger society. Goodness knows she's doing laundry! Yes! clean bedsheets in a sick house! The most necessary thing in the world TODAY! That is important. And, when she gets time to huddle low and breathe deep, in the mist of her sick household and all the worry that goes with that, she will take a moment to invite beauty and life into her home. She will edit light and ambience and prayer into bridal photos of another woman in order to make sure that lovely woman knows how truly beautiful she is. Her work is hidden behind the doors of her home, but she is making a difference that matters in the lives of others. Whether holding a medicine box of Tamiflu, her camera, or her computer on her lap, she bears the Gift of Hope in her hands. And she passes that gift on to another...

( T. Gibson Photography  https://www.facebook.com/tgibsonphotography/ )

TODAY...

One of us is swabbing the mouths of other people's children, collecting urine samples from nervous mothers, and observing small drops of blood under a microscope in order to heal these children and empower other women to heal families. She wipes her hands clean and prays for her children and the good women who care for them. Her work is hidden behind the doors of a lab, but she is making a difference that matters in the lives of others. Whether holding a urine cup over a sink or a vial over a slide, she bears the Gift of Hope in her hands. And she passes that gift on to another.

TODAY...

One of us is entering the tomb doors of the oncology floor at the hospital where she works. She changes fluid bags and medicate wounds of another woman whose wounds run deep. She will give a soft smile to a worried relative and she will say quiet prayers that bleed real hope to the patients she serves. Her work is hidden behind tomb doors that others prayer they will never have to open nor walk through, but she is making a difference that matters in the lives of others. Whether holding a box of bandaids or a potent bag of cancer-killing agents, she bears the Gift of Hope in her hands. And she passes that gift of hope on to another.


TODAY...

Some women who are near and dear to me leave the quiet, peaceful reprieve of their retired lives and enter into a old building filled with almost 200 children ages K thru High School. They give freely and joyfully their time in running off papers, listening to problems, cutting and slicing art projects, passing out messages, typing and filing, and doing anything else they are asked to do for the good of families who, with expectant hope, drop off their children and pray that we can share with these innocent minds our love of something greater and more beautiful than what this world offers because, as parents, they have seen what the world has to offer and they know it is not good nor beautiful. There has to be something more. Their work is hidden behind the doors of an old-paneled, dusty supply room and humming copier machine, but they are making a difference in the lives of others. Whether they are transporting a box of crayons to a classroom or cutting laminated prayer cards or placing a bandaid on a hurt finger, they bear the Gift of Hope in their hands.

TODAY...

A number of women...too many to name...will walk through these same church doors for religious education. They will leave their regular school work, come off bus runs, leave doctor offices, find sitters for their own children at home or for the parent in their care, pay extra workers to replace them at their place of business, arrive still in their work clothes, ask their families to wait that extra hour for supper, and overcome their own health-riddled bodies to come and freely offer emotional and spiritual guidance and healing to a hurting world. I watch them come through those doors and hope they know how grateful we are for the smiles they offer all of us. Whether holding a prayer book or Bible or the hands of a child, they bear the Gift of Hope in their hands.

TODAY...

My husband, or my son or my daughter-in-law, will have supper waiting for me when I get home late tonight. This work is hidden as well, but not to me and I include my husband because without him I would not be the best version of myself...even though I could be...but I wouldn't be. My husband completes me, and that very language is what angers the cries of some who write websites as listed above. But I don't, for a second, believe I must annihilate the men in my life to prove my own value. In their hidden work they show me their support, their belief, their hope in and their love for me. They lift me up. That is what we should be doing for one another. They know that tonight I serve a greater community than just my family at home and they support me. In this small weekly offering, they offer me the Gift of Hope.

Going on strike does nothing but ferment self-righteous pride and anger. The Gift of Hope is in the hands of each other and we must assure ourselves that we hold it and keep it well-guarded and protectively within our hands. And then, in turn, offer it back to a hurting world who needs the nurturing force of women to remind us of who we are and who we serve and what we are capable of doing. Through the power of the second Eve, we have the power to make somethings right in this world despite the fall of the first Eve.

This small piece does not recognize all the women in my life who I admire and love and who are crashing the world TODAY with their productivity and positivity but I have work to do and I know you do as well. This sharing must end as we go forward to proudly show the world the boxes in our hands and share with them the Gift of Hope.

A Day Without Women?

Goodness, I hope not. I pray not. Serve others proudly and I'll see you on the streets. :-)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The NEW Spring Planner/Daybook is Ready


PreOrder is in our Etsy Shoppe through January 31st.
You have three options:
(2) The Daybook Version (minus daily planner pages)
(3) A Year's Worth of Seasons
* * * * *
Be sure to join us at
Instagram and Facebook for continued support.
We all need a place we can share the beauty and richness about our homes, families, seasonal celebrations, and lives of faith...you know, the things humankind turns to for rest and reprieve and happiness? I like to think of this as the free version of the Seasonal Planner/Daybook where we can gather to find support and inspiration for these things we so love and which gives our lives meaning...the things that truly make us Rise Up! to a new day and a promising future. Much love and blessings for a beautiful weekend!


Table of Contents

Seasonal Proposal………………..3

Table of Contents……………………….4-5

The Beehive………………..6

Springtime List…………………….7

Welcome to Spring………………………..8

Seasonal Virtue---Diligence………………..9-10

Open Your Bible……………..11

Scripture Count………………….12-13

A Mother Who Tells Stories (Alice Gunther)……..14-15

Hidden Corners……..16

The Gift of the Irish……………………17

March Calendar……………..18-19

Prayer Page…………………20

Planner Pages for March………..21-36

March Page……………….37

Daydreams and Doodles…………………38

March Recipe/Menu Pages…………………39-42

Lent Offerings………………..43

March Daybooks…………………44-47

I Took a Walk in March…………………..48

Nature Sketch……………….49

Prayerful Pondering……………….50

April Calendar………………….51-52

Prayer Page………….53

Planner Pages for April……………………….54-68

April Page………....69-70

Daydreams & Doodles……………………..71

April Recipe/Menu Pages……………………..72-74

Resurrection Joy…………………….75

April Daybooks…………………….76-79

I Took a Walk in April…………………….80

Nature Sketch…………………….81

Prayerful Pondering………………..82-83

May Calendar…………………..84-85

Planner Pages for May………………………..86-101

Nature Scavenger Hunt………………..102

May Page………………..103

Daydreams & Doodles……………….104

May Recipe/Menu Pages………………105-106

Memory Page ……………………..107

May Daybooks…………………………108-111

I Took a Walk in May……………..112

Nature Sketch…………………113

Prayerful Pondering……………………114

Gardening Our Soul………………………..115-118

We Walk with Christ Devotional……………….119-133

Easter Thoughts……………….134

Gardening Experience…………………..135

Irish Treasures Booklist ………………..136

Home Cabinet…………………….137

Be Aware……………………138-140

15-Minute Classroom Notes………………..141-142

Seasonal Reading Log ………………..143

Poetry Pause…………………………...……144-145

Book Pause………………..146

10-Day Personal Challenge……………………..147-150

Spring Cleaning………………………………..151

Extra Journaling………………………….152-155

Summer Planning……………….153

Spring’s Story……………………….155

Our Mission………….156-158

Features………………………159-162

Credits………………………..163-164



Why I've Never Fought for Rights


If you don't have time to read...or don't care to read...the ramblings of a stay-at-home/work-at-home wife and mother in the backwoods of Louisiana then I'll cut straight to the point.

I haven't "fought" for my rights because I was too busy "working" for them.

For those who are sitting in waiting rooms or bus lines or whose Monday has soured already on their newsfeed, here's my story.

When I was of childbearing years, I married a man who not only shared my values and loved me but one who committed his life to me and my children. And he put a ring on it.

For the past thirty years he's gotten up every single morning to go to work. He has worked two jobs. Then comes home to help with the kids and the house and the yard. Thirty years later, he's still doing it. I've already written about him (and that embarrasses him) so I'll just leave you with this: An Ode to My Husband

Like me, there were things he had to let slide or didn't do well. The demands (especially with what society considers a large family) are great and time is short. We couldn't do it all, or even that well, but we never gave up on each other or our family. And we did not seek true happiness outside of our family.

This might seem simple-minded and of a provincial mindset but truly it's more far-reaching than that.

We didn't demand the government to support us. We didn't get mad at the government when we didn't get what our neighbors had. We didn't fight anybody. We didn't throw bottles and rock. We didn't curse the police.

What did we do?

We got up and we showed up. We showed up to work. We showed up to table. We showed up to family get-togethers. We showed up to our kids' school events and outside activities.



And we worked. I mean, praying only gets you so far. You've been given the ability to work. God wants to see what you'll do with it. I worked through our  first four pregnancies in order to have maternity insurance and, when I was able stay home while pregnant with the last one, I had an insurance clerk at the hospital (while seeing that I was a stay-at-home mom without knowing my full story) have the gumption to say, "Must be nice."

I didn't reply at the time. I didn't know how to answer because...only a few years before...I was in her shoes, sitting behind that desk, worried about money and if I'd have a job to have and provide for the babies I desired to have.



Life!?! Nice!?!

Yes, sometimes life is very nice. But not always. Don't ever fool yourself into thinking someone else's life is better or easier than your own.

She didn't know about my vehicle breaking down when I was nine months pregnant and needing a new transmission. She didn't see me cry right there in the office, swollen belly and swollen face. She didn't know about our parents both offering to loan us the money and how arrogantly stoic we were determined to pay our own way through life without their help. She didn't know how my husband upped his salesman skill and got us that $500 commission check in order to pay for that transmission (this was in 1987). But, at that time, our parents extended us help when the government wasn't there.

She didn't know about the plight of my car stalling on me or not starting in the icy cold mornings when I had to get to work with an eight month old baby and me sitting behind the wheel crying while the baby screamed in the backseat (no cell phones in those days).

There was even the time, one week into our marriage when the old burgundy Chrysler my brother-in-law fixed up for us so we'd have a second vehicle broke down on us in the backwoods of northern Louisiana. I sat in an old gas station/bar/burger joint in the middle-of-no-wheres as my new husband (who had just absent-mindedly introduced me by my maiden name) worked with the owner of the joint trying to get it to work. But that was before kids... ;-)  That bar owner extended his help when the government wasn't there.

She didn't know that when I was newly pregnant with our second baby (our totally unplanned pregnancy) that I had severe bleeding and was out of work for a week, not knowing if the baby would keep, not knowing if I'd be able to go back to work or be stuck on bedrest for the remainder and not be able to work for that maternity insurance I was working to pay for. She didn't know about the time I was called in to a finance committee at work, eight months pregnant with that same child, and having to go that whole week not knowing if I'd have a job at the end of the week or not. How did that that pregnancy turn out? I wrote about that too and, in a few years, our family might have our very own Nurse Practitioner (God willing): I Know a Nurse Like This


She didn't know about the hold-your-breath lifestyle we lived being open to God's plan and welcoming each child we were given...me working part-time and in-house jobs in order to have extra and my husband putting in large amounts of overtime just to feed and educate those children. She didn't see the six times we've had to listen to people think how naive and stupid we were for getting pregnant...again...despite the fact we cared, raised, loved and tended to these little people without government assistance that was meant for those who truly needed it. 

She didn't see the miscarriage of our third pregnancy.

She didn't know about my scare during my fourth pregnancy of being told I measured too small for the gestational period and might need to go to Baton Rouge to a prenatal specialists if the baby was not growing properly. Three weeks later and more measuring and more ultrasounds, my ob-gyn was satisfied enough to just continue watching the slow growth and see what happened. That baby came four days early and weighed 9 lbs 11 oz.

Then there was the fifth pregnancy where my oldest daughter's teacher (and much of her class) came down with Fifth Disease. So did our young son. I knew from talk with another mother that there were risks to my unborn baby.

"In a relatively small percentage of cases, parvovirus infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, fetal anemia, and sometimes inflammation of the baby's heart."  http://www.babycenter.com/0_fifth-disease-parvovirus-b19-during-pregnancy_1463060.bc

I was not aware how incredibly small the risks were; only that I'd been exposed to them. And, something I don't see listed anymore but was told could happen was that if the virus was transferred to the baby, she could be born with the birth defect known as a "waterhead" baby. That scared me more than anything. The whole illness in our family and school and the scare that insured all came to nothing but it sure raised the stress-level of that pregnancy.

Then there was the time...probably the most stressful year of my life...when I was eight months postpartum, working, homeschooling, tending to four little ones, and running around clueless; that I hit rock bottom and fell into a deep dark hole. I was physically knocked down with a broken ankle and left to heal on the sofa with an eight month old baby prowling the floor and three older ones involved in All-State baseball tournaments and VBS. Help came in the form of morning phone calls from my mother reminding me to smile and laugh daily, a good friend who physically cleaned my house and took me to the doctor, and grandpas who came daily to pick-up the older kids up and bring them to where they needed to be.

The clerk didn't see the old ranch home we live in today, a place we've held onto because we didn't want to be saddled with a mortgage in our ancient years. It's not new or fancy but it's paid for and that, in and of itself, is a freedom...a freedom we earned. We did not build up more debt expecting anyone or the government to pay it off.

That girl behind the desk also didn't see the year of caring for a parent sick with Alzheimer's while caring for five little people in the same home...the year that stretched our marriage further than we wanted to stretch. The year I realized (after 20 years) that when you marry, you do indeed marry the family. I've written about that too: Pro-life Isn't Always Pretty

Brokenness, you see, isn't about loss; it's about allowing others to rebuild us into another version of ourselves.

That girl doesn't see that our pre-retirement years aren't for sailing on cruise ships and traveling the world but, instead, we're still taxing teens around, still schooling, making ourselves open to help with the newer generation.
If I truly wished to make a statement I'd do something else instead of just writing my story on my page. Personal stories are pretty boring afterall. And people really don't care for martyrs anyway. And I am not a martyr. I rather like my quiet boring life in this old ranch house.



We simply welcomed these children, believing that they would bless us in our old age and that they would become productive citizens and hardworking men and woman of God. And we never looked at it being anyone else's job to raise them. We asked for them. We had them. We raised them.

If someone watched them while I worked, we paid them. We never filed for government assistance or food stamps. We stood in checkout lines watching food stamps recipients get foods that was too expensive for our weekly budget to afford. And we listened to our children wonder why we bought the store-brand pizza when so-and-so got Digiorno pizza. We worked to buy diapers. We worked to pay off our house. We used tax money to catch up on bills. My husband sold two boats he dearly wanted because fees and his children's happiness meant more to him.

We were never rich; we just didn't quit working. We never had it all, but who does?

Instead of fighting and arguing and whining and complaining, we worked. We worked so that we would not become a slave to someone else. We worked so that we would become a master of our own future. We worked so that we would not have to be enslaved by the whims and decisions of the government. We worked so that we could respect ourselves. We worked so that our children would respect us. We worked so that they would always have a place to call home. We worked in order to sympathize with our fellow human beings and take nothing for granted. We worked so that our parents would be proud of us.

My point is there is no need to fight life. Life might be a ba-tie (fight/battle) as my old Cajun French mawmaw would say, but there's no reason to fight the world that is battling their own ba-tie. We all have work to do and, if we were actually doing it, we'd be serving others instead of condemning them.

Appreciate the little things...notice how the little things are large moments of gratitude for us...that were done as and when they could be done. No one can do all, but most the time we can do something.


Do you look for the small things? Are you grateful for them?

Expect nothing but be grateful for all and count it all Grace! 

And that's when we go to church. Something hidden and still.



We went. every. single. Sunday. And expected our children to do the same.

This isn't some heroic essay. Please, bare with me. Remember, I am no martyr. I also don't want it to be a moan and groan piece with people saying Nobody told you that you had to live that life! It also isn't a suffrage post tooting what a hard life we've had and how we stayed the course to victory.

There is no victory; there's a just a older ranch house where too sinners live with too many kids and too many dogs. The only victory here lies in the crucifix that hangs upon our wall.

We always believed that there was something greater than ourselves to give worship, thanks and praise to and that one hour a week was something the Faith of Our Fathers had been doing for centuries and centuries before we were a piece of dust in the universe. Just because we were born in the 21st century didn't give us an excuse to stop.

And we thanked God for all our blessings, all our hurts, all our decisions, all our anguishes, all our losses, and all our gifts.

That's when we prayed. After the work, we laid it down at the feet of Christ and we prayed. And that gave meaning to the new morning when we had to get up and show up and go back to work.

In giving it all, God blessed it.

* * * * *

* I often think of that young girl working behind that hospital desk and I hope she found the same contentedness and peace that I have found. The first step though is not looking for Oz any further than your own back door.

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