"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No More Work

It may not be very spiritual but this gave me a good laugh when a friend passed it on to me. (Thank you Shannon :) I sure spend a lot of energy "not working." What a grand adventure our lives are!

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's Life, Not an Interruption

I am sure our HUGE following (that's right, all three of you :-) have been checking your computers diligently every morning in hopeful anticipation of another post here, and wondering where we have disappeared to. (wink, wink)

We've disappeared straight into normal life. Sometimes in the midst of doing the laundry, sweeping the floor, cleaning the bathroom, dressing children, kissing owees, cutting tiny finger nails, washing windows, making our husbands lunch, actually stopping and talking to our husband, sitting down to read a book to our children, kissing sweet baby faces, changing stinky baby diapers, cooking dinner, etc it is hard to find the time to write a blog post about "vocation" or "normal life" but we're right here living it. :-)

Just your everyday, run of the mill trip to the grocery store

When it fits into these vocations it IS fun to post on this blog - but in the long periods of blog-silence you can know that we're "right there with you", in the same position as you, fulfilling the same vocations, living the life of "continual interruptions", and serving the Lord by serving our husband and children. Peace to you as you are in your home, where the Lord has placed you, living the life with the people He has placed you with.

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own,' or 'real' life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life -- the life God is sending one day by day.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Collected Works of C.S. Lewis

Monday, July 21, 2014

*MY* Oxen Are In

After that last post, "The Oxen Are In", I just had to share the exciting happenings of my own little oxen stall this morning.

I was feeding my 2 month old baby girl at 6:00am, after Daddy left for work. She's a very smiley, sweet baby who still wakes every 2 or 3 hours through the night to eat. Now that's a LOT of special "bonding time". Then I heard my 1 1/2 year old son's cheerful, wide awake voice calling "momma, Momma, MOMMA". Another special experience, since he's the first of my children to wake up cheerfully everyday. Truthfully, somedays I just don't feel ready for THAT much exuberance THAT early, but to continue on...  Next I heard my "just-turned-three year old" daughter moving around in her room.

Her morning ritual is to wake up and instantly begin gathering every doll, stuffed animal, blanket, bottle, and doll brush from her room to carry out to the living room. If she had a motto I believe it might be "start the day prepared to play" or something like that. but to continue on with the story...

I got my little boy up and changed his diaper, and then I thought I'd get an early jump start on the day. (good decision, considering I really had no choice in the matter, right?) so I started the bathtub filling with a nice bubble bath for the kids. As always, my little boy came in to reach into the tub and help stir those bubbles in anticipation for his much loved bath. So sweet.

From down the hall came my 3 olds wailing (yes, she "wails", doesn't usually cry or scream but moans and wails - very unique). I ran to find out the reason for her grief and alas, she had inadvertently locked herself into her bedroom, when she had tried to turn the door knob while juggling all her babies and animals... Now she doesn't know how to unlock the door by herself and try as I might I've never got that little poky metal door-unlocky thingy to work on that particular door so the only solution seemed to be to wake up my oldest, the peacefully sleeping 4 year old girl in that same very room, and have her unlock the door. Sounds like a simple solution, right? Only if you don't know my oldest daughter. She has the amazing gift of being able to sleep through practically anything, and once she does finally begin to wake up it's a few minutes before she is actually a functioning little person. I won't expand on how long I called, sang, and yelled through the door until she was up and able to understand the problem and walk over and unlock the door. Yay! A small victory.

But wait - why is my little boy suddenly SCREAMING from the bathroom? Another quick jaunt back down the hall to discover he had leaned just a little too far over the bathtub edge trying to reach that elusive rubber ducky. He was fine - just standing in the tub crying, with pj's and diaper soaking wet. The second I undressed him and put him back in the bath he was overjoyed and started laughing and playing. In went the other two girls and lastly baby girl, and tada - I had four happy children playing (or laying in baby's case) happily in the tub together.

What an organized systematic Mama I must be to have things going so well by 7:30 in the morning ;-)

This was an extreme - though not too out-of-the-ordinary - morning for me, and once again I was thankful for all the words we hear on vocation. Just last week a friend showed me another quote from the Book "Luther on the Christian Home" by William Lazareth. (same book this post is based on)

"Coming to know and love Christ does not necessarily change what we do, but rather how, why, and for whom we do it. 
Faith transforms our occupations into Christian vocations." 
William Lazareth

Since some people asked about this book I thought I'd let you know I ordered mine from Amazon. It's pricey but I think it's worth it. So far I've only read the chapter "The Common Life" ~ I skipped right up to it ~ but I'm planning on going back and reading the book through. (maybe during some of those middle of the night "bonding" times with my baby ;-)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Poured From A Steady Hand

I miss the Concordian Sisters of Perpetual Parturition. One post in particular comes to my mind a lot.  Poured From A Steady Hand. You will surely be edified and inspired to thankfulness. It's a stunningly beautiful tribute to God's faithfulness and His generosity toward us.

Here's how it starts:

"The other day I sat and rocked my baby for an entire hour. My fifthborn--Can you imagine? I just sat and rocked him...." Then further in she says, "So I snuggled my nursling under a fleece blanket, and he settled, and sighed, and periodically shuddered in utter contentment." Then even further in she says, "And I thought, My Life is impossibly rich." 

Painting: Sweet Dreams by Firmin Baes (1874-1945, Belgian) 
My Pastor has continually over the years reminded us mothers to just sit and rock our babies and look at them. Enjoy them. Don't be too busy. 
And lately he's been asking, How rich are you? Don't be tricked into thinking about what you don't have and what God hasn't done (that you think He should have). Adam and Eve were given an entire garden full of trees--but what did they think about? The one tree they weren't given. Instead, think about all you've been given, and all that God has done for you. You are very, very rich. As one woman said, "All this, and Christ too!"

Here's a link to the complete post  Poured From a Steady Hand ,  on the CSPP blog. 
(Thank you, Concordian Sisters, and may the Lord bless you.)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Matching Game... for Moms

Sometimes I feel like I'm playing "Matching." Only in real life. You remember the game where you flip two cards face up at a time within neatly laid rows of face down cards and try to match the cards with their doubles by remembering where each previous card you've flipped lies?

Well with me it goes like this. While taking the laundry upstairs, out of the corner of my eye I spy, under the upstairs couch, the DVD case to the "Elijah" video that we've been missing.
(Good Elijah video for kids by the way. Especially if you like opera. You can find it here or here.)

I don't have time out pull the case out at that precise moment so I move on.

Later, while cleaning my bedroom, I see the Elijah DVD that belongs to said case on the stack of books on the changing table.  The matching game begins. "Oooh! Now where did I see that case? I know. I know. It's on the tip of my brain." I mentally re-track, but to no avail. There's been too much water under the bridge since then. Too much other stuff too.

No match. Try flipping again on the next upstairs laundry haul.

It goes the same with shoes. Oh, there's my daughter's right sandal. Can't grab it now cause I have too many dishes in my hand, and of course, every available child to which I could hand over this sandal recovery mission has suddenly vanished from the room. So I tell myself, remember, it's under the side table in the living room.
Days later, I find the left sandal, in the garage.  But the memory of where the right was spotted or has been moved to since is forever beyond my reach.

Thus it goes.
So you see, moms get to play fun games too.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Oxen are In

I am no stranger to household messes.  My husband and I had our first five babies in six years. Lots of messes there. Then we continued on, to have six more babies.   Five children plus six more children equals eleven, which equals mess after mess, and messes on top of messes!  Our oldest was 21 when our youngest was born, so even when we had older children that weren't still making messes, we also always had younger children that were. I remember sometimes, back then, I would think of  Proverbs 14:4 (Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, but much increase is by the strength of the ox) and I would comfort myself those words.  Not that our children were oxen, or our house  a barn.  But somehow I drew comfort from the fact that all my hard work wouldn't be in vain. Someday much increase would come through those little mess makers. So when this title caught my eye, on the Femina blog, I had to smile. I knew what it would be about.  The Oxen Are In.  Read it here on the Femina blog.

                                                                He looks innocent enough.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Good Friday

William Adolphe Bouguereau (William Bouguereau)
 Painting: William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Pieta

And Simeon blessed them,
and said unto Mary his mother, 

Behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many  in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A children's alternative to YouTube

Here is a helpful app if you ever let your young children  watch videos from YouTube on your iPhone or iPad.  If you're like me you cringe at all the "related videos" that are on the side or bottom of the screen.  Try this app.  It is called KidsTube.  
Step 1. Search for the videos you want for you child and click the add button - these will be added to your child's library
Step 2. Lock the library - passcode so no videos can be added or deleted with out you
Step. 3 let your child watch the videos you selected without additional content bombarding them. 

There is also a feature to save the videos to your device for future playing when not connected to the internet. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Enjoying God's Creaturely Gifts

"...In believing that  'All things are pure to the pure in heart,'  Luther's faith was simple enough to trust that after a conscientious day's labor, a Christian father could come home and eat his sausage, drink his beer, play his flute, sing with his children, and make love to his wife -- all to the glory of God!..."

 Quote from From Luther on the Christian Home by William H. Lazareth.
Painting: Fredrick George Cotman (1850-1920) One of the Family

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Bold Assertion for the Day

Stress and strife and un-forgiveness are worse for your body and your home than food not made from scratch.

So while I'm on a roll learning how to create a more healthy lifestyle for my husband and children, there's always this as the bigger picture: that man does not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4) and that it is not what goes into a man's mouth that defiles him, but what comes out of his mouth (Matthew 15:11). 

We live on the mercy of God. Our lives, temporally and eternally, are staked on Him alone.
And in that we can rest and enjoy the life we are living and the food we are making, or not, this day. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Christian Perspective on Children

These are excerpts from a lecture given by Anthony Esolen. You can watch it here onYouTube.

"Do you remember when you were growing up, back in the day when there were these things called children? And they ran around in what used to be called yards and streets. And they engaged in an activity called play

...[As a culture] We have become the kinds of people who do not like children. Why do I say we do not like children? We have few. If you really do like children, you have them. And if you can, you have quite a few of them. You like them. You like their company. You like their ways. You find them somehow to brighten your life. You enjoy them.

...Children remind us of our weakness and destroy our illusion of choice.

...People are afraid of children because they think that children will destroy their lives.They are absolutely right! Children will destroy their lives. That's why God gave us them. Because otherwise our lives are like little hard kernels of selfishness. Kernels of egotism. And it's really hard to break through that shell. But God sends children, as invaders, precisely to do that. To break open that hardest substance in the universe, the human heart. The child comes to break open our dead lives, and to show us what life is, and life in abundance. And that’s what the Christ child came to do."  

Paintings: Theolphile-Emmanuel Duverger (1821-1901) Hopscotch, and  Gaetano Belli (1857-1922) Grandmother

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Children Are an Heritage of the LORD

"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate."     Psalm 127:3-5

Congratulations Ben & Mary,
on the birth of you wonderful daughter!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Swamped By Soaking

Between the laundry thing and the whole foods from scratch thing,
I'm swamped.

So are all my counter tops.

Just when I thought I was being a super awesome healthy mom (and so proud of my tired self ;) for grinding all my flour fresh for all my bread items for the past few months, I get the memo that soaking your grains first is actually needed for the break down of the phytic acid in the grains that inhibit enzymes needed for digestion and vitamin and mineral absorption and all that good stuff.

Yeah, who knew?
Well, I guess all kinds of people do, all over the world! And many others used to know.
But for the majority of modern Americans, like me, a vast knowledge of healthy ways of eating, cooking, baking, and living was lost in generational translation somewhere along the line. But never fear! We can recover it, slowly, steadily, and happily.

I'm just beginning to learn about sprouting grains and nuts, and even some legumes.  And then there's fermenting! Worlds within worlds, I'm telling you.

So on my counter and stove top at this moment I've got black beans soaking (for the next day or two, breaking down the sugars in them that cause gas and bloating and give beans a bad name) to be cooked all day for dinner Thursday night.

I've got the starter and the sponge for some whole wheat bread that's been soaking since yesterday that I'm going to bake pretty quick here.

I mean, when the laundry's done.

Or maybe not.

And last but not least I've got nuts soaking for my grainless granola (which I will be hopefully posting soon on my food blog).  You'll like it.  I promise!  (Ok, I don't promise.)

A whole lot of soaking going on.
Now off to the laundry room.  Cheers!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

USA Pans

A few of my friends told me about the USA pan about a year ago and I'm so glad they did!
These pans are made with aluminized steel and have a thin coating of silicone on top.
You never use cooking spray and hardly anything sticks to them.

Just turn the pan over and the baked good usually just slides right out. I made cupcakes in my USA muffin pan without muffin liners and not one of them stuck and all I had to do was wipe a few crumbs out of the pan afterwards.  (The photos below are of the pan before washing it.)

I don't have a picture of any of my bread loaves but I have the one pound and two pound loaf pans
(one of my friends very generously got me two for a present last year ;) and I use them all the time.
No sticking, and hardly any clean up. (On the pans, that is... the counter top and floor are another matter.)

So if you want to invest in something that will make your baking life a whole lot easier 
(and they are an investment, somewhere around $20 a pan) these would be worth considering.  
Or just hint to someone to get you a couple for your next birthday!

Okay, so I bake a lot.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This Is It

As a young woman I would daydream from time to time of what my married life with children would be like someday.  I did not yet know who my husband would be or what my future children would look like, but vague visions of them occasionally filled my mind. I would see myself reading stories to happy children while we sat in a circle on a sunshine strewn living room floor, or perhaps, an adorable dirty cheeked little boy, a football set down on the chair beside him, reading his schoolbook aloud to me while I kneaded the bread for dinner, or maybe we'd be taking a walk together on a crisp autumn afternoon, or singing together at the piano, or even cleaning the house together. But there would be laughter, appreciation, discipline, joy, wonder, and love.

It seemed realistic. I'd witnessed bits and pieces of those things happening in families I admired.  I had good examples of Christian women, wives, and mothers around me. I knew they worked hard (although I could never have known then just how hard), yet they loved and were loved. I looked forward to being like my idea of them. My future life was like a distant rainbow, just on the other side of the meadow.  Sometime, in the years to come I would reach it, I hoped.

Fast Forward.

Now here I am, just having passed my seventeenth wedding anniversary, with seven children.

A few months ago I was doing what I do every morning after having sent the older children to school and finishing the continuously interrupted breakfast clean up.  I was giving my youngest three children (we'll just call them numbers 1, 2, and 3) their morning bath. It went something like this. Undress children, 1, 2, 3. Place children in tub, 1, 2, 3. Dump in toys. Wet down hair, 1, 2, 3. Wash hair, 1, 2, 3. Wash faces. Wash noses. Let's get on with it. Tell children to put toys back in bin.  Grab towels. Lift children out, 1, 2, 3. Dry....  and on as usual.

But this time, as I watched my children laughing and splashing, pouring cup into cup, and rolling out their washcloths with make believe rolling pins, it struck me.

This is it.
This is your life, your real married life, with your real children. Now.

That future life you imagined all those years ago? It's been here for a while now.  That rainbow you saw across the meadow of coming years? Those storytimes, bathtimes, laughtertimes, lovetimes? That's now. You're in it. You're under it. The sunshine and the rain that fall on you in so many ways each day that make that rainbow.  This moment with these innocent, lively, trusting children is the pot of gold.  If you don't see it now, you never will.  Because this is it.

So if you find yourself like I do at times, being driven forward through your day's routine and shuffling your children along in your strife to "get this done" so you can move onto the next thing and then "get that done" so you can move onto the next, then hopefully, by the grace of God, you can be stopped dead in your tracks. Dead enough to see those bright little eyes right in front of you, and gaze at them in wonder, and realize, "this is it." There's no next thing.  There's nothing better in this life than this.  This moment, this bathtime, is made for you and for them. This is, as they say, the stuff life is made of. It's to enjoy, not get through. These are sons and daughters of God growing up before your very eyes, unique and incomparable gifts, made in His image, and also miraculously procreatively made in the image of your husband, the man God has given you to care for in this life, and yourself.

Yes, there is suffering and there is joy. There is rain and there is sunshine. And when they come together in just the right way, then is made visible the seven vibrant colors that were in the light all along.  Sometimes we just don't see it... because we're in it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Too Many Straws In My Milkshake-- Interview with Rachel Jankovic

 Rachel Jankovic  started using the phrase "too many straws in my milkshake"  as a description of feeling like you don't have anything left to give because it's early in the morning and you're already feeling sucked dry.

"At our house we always find it better to think it's funny: too many straws in my milkshake, became a saying for us, because it's a more cheerful way of looking at it than, I feel wasted right now..."

And if you've read this, you know her desire is to honor God and lean on Him through all the joys and trials of the vocation of motherhood.

She  warns about cleaning the house, but leaving the hearts cluttered, if your whole motive is to make sure that you look like the best mother/baker/cleaner/whatever.

I really like that she often says, "And I was talking with my husband about this, and he was helping me see..."

The above quotes are from these video clips. I really enjoyed listening to them while I was working in the kitchen. And great for busy moms: they're just little snippets, about six minutes long.

The Vocation of Motherhood
The Conservative Tendency to Over-romanticize Motherhood
How to Instill Loyalty in Your Children

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lucidity, Where Art Thou?

"Human intellect is incurably abstract....
Yet the only realities we experience are concrete - this pain, this pleasure, this dog, this man.
When we are loving the man, bearing the pain, enjoying the pleasure, 
we are not intellectually apprehending Pleasure, Pain, or Personality.... 
This is our dilemma - either to taste and not to know or to know and not to taste - 
or, more strictly to lack one kind of knowledge because we are in an experience 
or to lack another kind because we are outside it.

As thinkers we are cut off from what we think about;
as tasting, touching, willing, loving, hating, we do not clearly understand.
The more lucidly we think, the more we are cut off:
the more deeply we enter into reality, the less we can think."

Myth Became Fact, C. S. Lewis  (reprinted in God in the Dock)

Gerrit Dou, Girl Chopping Onions, 1646

Hey, wild-eyed lady in the painting, surely that's a perfect time to think, right?  
I mean, you're just chopping onions? What's so hard about that? 
Well (apart from the flood of tears and smeared mascara that would grace my face at such a time) there's also the little boy, saying, "Mom? Mom? Could I have this onion for an experiment?"
And then you try to think. You try. Can he? What experiment?  I don't like experiments. Why does he make me have to think about this right now, when I'm getting ready to instruct the little person setting the table about which side to put the fork on, for the tenth time. And listening to that same wrong piano note from the other room. Can he? Think... think.