Trace the thought back

A couple Fridays ago, I wiped down a very small portion of the bathroom. And I felt rather proud that on this, my designated Bathroom Cleaning Day, I was, in fact, cleaning the bathroom. I decided to own that pride, to boast in the Lord, so to speak. I was grateful to him that I was being faithful to getting something done. All my strength and goodness is, after all, in Him.

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And then I remembered guilt.

I experience much guilt over something I have never before put in print, or even perhaps said out loud. So here it is:

You guys, I often, actually, nearly always, have dirty dishes in the kitchen. And I go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink, often including pots and pans from the day, or two, or three, before.

It’s shameful enough that I had to “whisper” it in gray.

On that Friday a couple of weeks back, I asked myself why I give myself so much grief over this fact. It seriously stresses me out, and I am loath to admit this state of affairs in public. It seems downright slovenly to me.

But actually, it is not that gross. I always keep the dishes clean enough to maintain sanitation, and when I need room on the counters to cook, I wash dishes. So, when I look impartially at our life, kitchen matters are actually going well. The fact that I don’t wash dishes every day has not proven to be a problem. Continue reading

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coming soon: book recommendations

Dear friends, here is a short blog post to say hello and that I am working on an AMAZING blog post that will probably take another week to write (mostly because I only find time to write on Tuesdays!).  I’m compiling a list of book recommendations from my last five years of voracious reading.  It will be awesome … but to hold you over until then, let me just say, read something by Anne Patchett or Anne Tyler … and you will be pretty happy.

See you next week (maybe?) with at least fifty more ideas for you!

I AM a Good Mum (and so are you)!

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Mums! Top of the morning to you!

My absences from the blog have been very, very long. I am indeed sorry for them. But I am also certain that this trend will not be changing in the near future. Rest assured that I think of you often as I keep up with the posts that my fellow mama-bloggers are writing – and most importantly that I take to heart the things that are being written. I am delighted to have the taking-of-things-to-heart in common with you.

I have been trying to focus and narrow what I want to write about…and to (maybe!) possibly…perhaps try and write a shorter post for once. Maybe.  So I tried to look past the moments and experiences and all that we have had going on in life to find the common thread that is weaving through all these things. I found it! It’s mercy. Continue reading

A lawn mower, a random play date, and hangry-ness.

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Feeling quite discouraged about not being a light to my neighbors, I hurried to church with our almost two year old. (Ask me sometime about the beached whale style dive I made into my car instead of introducing myself to the new family on the block. And other graceful stories.) Back to the current story: we walk the block and a half to get there, and we are always late. He stopped to check out a lawnmower on the sidewalk, and as he fascinates over it the owner comes up, apologizes, asks if we are going to church (yes), asks what I think of it (I like it. They have a cry room, and they are welcoming), and says he’s been getting an itch to maybe start going back. Turns out he was a lifelong, faithful churchgoer until his dad died.

I felt encouraged that I was there to talk with the guy. As a friend put it, “I think the Lord meets us where we are at.” Continue reading

resting with my children

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The house was quiet … well, not totally.  My number one chatterbox was at my side, but the seven-month-old and the drama-queen toddler were down for naps, so the house was relatively peaceful.  I could have taken a nap, I could have worked on dinner, I could have cleaned the bathroom, but instead I sat at the dining room table helping Maggie cut out flower petals.

She had done the same craft the day before, and had done an excellent job.  Preschool last year gave her some great cutting and pasting skills!  But she wanted it to be a little better … and more than that, she wanted me to do it with her.  Not just because I can cut out a more intricate flower than she can, but also because she just wanted me.

Jenny at Mama Needs Coffee wrote a beautiful post a few days ago about “The Motherly Art of Rest” – go read that, and then come back here – and she hit the nail on the head: rest is necessary and makes us better mothers.  The catch is, how can I get that rest when there’s perpetually someone needing me?

I’ve been very lucky to have an oldest child who still naps, even as she approaches her fifth birthday.  But she goes through phases of not-napping, and those have been hard for me.  I’ve tried to get through it by enforcing “Mama’s quiet time,” giving her activities to do while I do my own thing – but it’s not usually very successful.  Attempting to enforce quiet time really means fruitlessly pursuing my own quiet activity (nap or prayer or reading or computer work), and snapping at my poor sweet oldest child whenever she interrupts me.  Which is … all the time.  By the end of “quiet time” I am more tired and tapped out than when we’d begun – and Maggie is feeling unhappy and rejected.

Recently, though, my eyes have been opened to the ways that I can rest with my children.  Setting up a very, very simple craft for Maggie, and then sitting with her while she works on it.  Folding laundry in whatever room my kids are using to play pretend, so they can chat with me and tell me all about their imaginary world while I am sorting socks.  Reading stories while I finish my coffee, or pushing someone on the swing with one hand while I hold my beer in the other.  And of course there’s also the sweet gift of pausing in the middle of a hectic day to sit down with the baby for a quiet nursing session.

I think the trick is to plan on these oases of rest with my kids – to plan for it to be with them.  If my plan is to fold laundry while listening to a podcast, I’m setting myself up for disappointment.  Praying, reading, or blogging are likewise ill-advised when there’s a child needing my attention.  Those are not bad things to do, and I still take whatever opportunity I can to do them!  But when my kids need me, the most restful and peaceful thing I can do for them and myself is to rest together.  To choose a quiet activity and intentionally open my heart to my daughters.  When I can let go of all the other things I want to do, we are both filled up by the time we spend together.