Songs & a Sermon for Holy Week

Hello busy mamas! I’ve started a YouTube playlist of excellent Good Friday songs. Particularly Thief by Third Day. I play on listening to this today in the midst of our hustle and bustle. I’ve always found that something like this helps to preserve the solemnity of this particular day.

Also, tomorrow, I’m looking forward to meditating on the Holy Saturday sermon that I posted last year.

Have a blessed remainder of this Holy Week.



Potty Talk

We are potty training our 4 year old, and I want to share about it, being careful to stick to the mothering side of it, and to speak well of her. She could be reading this in a couple of years!

A couple quick observations, as this is all we have time for:

  1. Dedicating time to this is of course essential. I had to decide to be willing to sit with her for up to an hour at a time, reading, singing, waiting, encouraging, etc.
  2. This is my Lenten penance. And I keep telling myself that it isn’t petty or choosing the “easy”, “obvious” thing. Choosing love in ordinary circumstances is harder, for me, than choosing some heroic deprivation that isn’t related to my friends and relations.
  3. The Holy Spirit is awesome on the subject of potty training. For instance, I prayed/yelped out to the Lord several weeks ago: ‘I have NO IDEA what to do! The date to start is coming and I’m FREAKING out!!! This will be the hardest child to train IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE!’ And, behold, The One Day Method popped into my mind. From the little I had heard, I suddenly realized that it would be perfect for the personality of our daughter. More planning/prep for me, but perfect. I didn’t think of it until I prayed, and I wouldn’t have had the confidence to choose it (procrastinator that I am), if it hadn’t been presented through prayer.
  4. Day 3, I penciled in a visit to friends if ‘things were going well’. The day before, I sent that mama a text saying we were good to go. Day of, that didn’t seem to be the case (I’ll spare you the details), but, again, I thought it had been an inspiration of the Holy Spirit the day before to decide to go, so after waffling for 3 hours that morning, I went ahead and got us out the door. It turned out to be helpful to my social butterfly, even though getting out of the house on day 3 does not strictly follow the method.
  5. The Spirit blows where it wills.

Gotta run. Pray for us, as we are praying for you!

Happy Lent!

Mary Clare


Where in the World

…have I been? Well, so distracted that I don’t remember if I told you all that I have started working outside the home. And by “working”, I mean 4-7 hours per week. Sound do-able? I thought so too! I mean, that’s really not a lot of time. It was a fascinating and strange process to discern whether to do this.

Here’re some rambling observations…maybe there are others out there with similar experience…

  • The job is for Marriage in Christ, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Attend a seminar!
  • We did one 3 years ago, and the fruit just goes on and on. For instance, I have [nearly] ceased [almost] all of my Erik Improvement Projects. If you have ever thought that you knew what your husband should be doing or should be like, you know what I mean. It is slow and subtle personal poison.
  • Priorities: God comes first, our spouse second, kids third, and then everything else comes after that.
  • So, what’s a gal to do when a job is for God? Does that make it a #4 or a #1 priority?!
  • In fact, even if you are not working directly for a religion-based program/church…isn’t everything we do missional?
  • Isn’t “missional” a word? Spell check is yelling at me right now.
  • Even at only 5 hours a week, and even if I do most of it while they nap, I still feel divided. My attention is divided. The kids are affected by this.
  • Exactly a week ago plus 2.18 hours [this means dinner prep time and is also known as
    “the witching hour”. Anyone with young kids knows what I mean.], I was helping my daughter tape something, but all I could think about was washing lettuce for dinner. When I finally headed into the kitchen I just HAD to call our babysitter’s mother first to set something up for Monday. She happened to ring me at that second, and we talked about Monday and 2 other things (by the way, about Monday I had to call her TWO more times to clarify because I was so distracted by unwashed lettuce the first time), and all the sudden I look down, and one of the kids is whining loudly and hitting me.

    • For how long had they been hitting me?
    • For how long had they been whining?
    • I don’t know.
    • In what other occupation can a person be abused, and not even notice it?

Motherhood is interesting.

The end, and God bless you!


Best Home Hacks of 2016


Ladies (and gentlemen), I am thrilled to pieces over this kitchen hack:  (I found it first through this article, through Pinterest.)

No more hand shredding of chicken!!! It totally works to get it all nicely shredded in your stand mixer using this paddle attachment, and I used the same method for pulled pork last week. The above tip advises that the chicken be still warm when you let it whirl. I have found over the last year that barely warm is best, or else too much steam escapes and the chicken gets dry.

Oh, and I know you’re wondering if it’s worth hauling out and cleaning your Kitchen Aid simply to shred chicken. For me, it totally is. I am the world’s slowest shredder, and also prone to carpel tunnel syndrome. This trick accomplishes the same thing in 5 minutes (including cleaning time), without the ache and hand damage.


And then there’s this book holder, reversed to hold a tablet that is courtesy of yours truly. My kids can have a little screen time without being couch potatoes, because they have to stand in order to see it. Reversing it accomplishes the needed angle. Also, it is too high for them to reach, which in turn frees up MORE dinner prep time since I don’t have to run in and reverse anything little fingers have accomplished on the tablet. Win. Win. Win. Win.





God bless you all this season. Hope you are closing the year with some real gratitude, some accomplishments under your homemaking belt, etc. If it’s been too tough to think of or do anything (been there!), sneak one of these in before Jan 1, and BAM!, successful 2016. 😀 (I say this somewhat sarcastically, and at the risk of sounding shallow. But really, it has helped me personally to look back at easy things I learned that have made a positive difference in our lives this year. A week or so ago, I couldn’t think of anything. It’s weird how easy it is to forget good things. These here in this post are little things, but still so very helpful, and completely worth celebrating.)


Frumpy Friday Summary

Door county welcomed us magnificently last week. Can you spot the moon? It appeared triple in size, so the photo doesn’t translate fully, but is still lovely, I feel. Honey lost his job the day before we took this planned vacation (his new company appears to be trimming after a merger). I am weighing supporting the family and serving the Lord (at least a little bit), by doing some work outside the home. Apparently, women for centuries and in cultures all over the world have contributed to economic needs. Whether this is God’s will for our specific family at this specific time is a major question. It would be so much easier if I had planted a bigger garden! Then, I would be canning veggies right now, and BOOM, economic contribution would be in the bag, er, jar. 😉

Little man explores his newly-lengthened pj’s. I found a relatively simple, DIY way to extend the life of footy pajamas by cutting them near the feet and inserting a new swatch of fabric. It’s something of a hack job, and when I accidentally put the first couple of seams on the outside instead of in, it became more so. : D Oh,well! The net effect is the same, and so much better than spending an abominable amount of time with a seam ripper.

The art on the wall is cut cardboard and paint. Wow! So simple, so effective. It did a lot for the medical waiting room that we were in a few days back. Again, the picture doesn’t do it justice.

We did plant a few rows of carrots. Not only did these two come up white, but check out the one on the right! The weave of the stems was intricate and lovely, just like our Lord’s quiet plan for us. I know he holds us in the inner palm of his hand, and so why, then, shall I worry about money?

God love you,


Perfect Prayer


Yesterday, I hustled the kids outside for a walk before dinner time, all the while checking my watch and calculating how long it would take to heat leftovers, for how long we could therefore walk, and whether I could somehow successfully avoid parks, the cemetary, and hills. (I knew we didn’t have time to play at a park or the cemetery. I knew I lacked the fortitude for hills. Tell me you know what I mean! I’m not the only one, right? Right?)

Anywho, Surprisingly, one child was really having a hard time with this particular walk. There was lots of whining, and this is highly unusual, so we headed early for home, and I got busy raking pine needles. They have blanketed our entire yard in this lovely buttery-apricot color. Despite the unpleasant whining, I wasn’t going to waste the time we took getting ready to go out for one measly little turn about two hill-less blocks! Little man got out of the stroller and began exploring. My daughter stayed in.

Eventually, she got interested enough to climb out and grab a stick, so as to imitate Mommy raking. The two of them made up some games involving sticks. No-ones’ eye was poked out. And eventually, we had to go back inside to start microwaving things for Weft-over Wednesday, as I like to dub our mid-week dinner. 😉

I’m getting to the point: when Daddy got home, somehow, instead of everyone else ending up banished from the madhouse of my kitchen so that I can scurry around, Daddy and little man ended up squarely in the middle, Joshy in his arms. Our two year old is normally less cuddly at this time of day. It’s all about running around, and trains. But yesterday, around the time I was turning from the sink towards the microwave for round 3 of dinner prep, I catch Joshy spontaneously saying to daddy, “I had a weally good time outside today.”

And it just really caught my attention and my heart. It came unbidden out of the sweet mouth of a goofy kid who we like to call “Mr. Pleasant”. He wanted to share with his daddy that he ‘had a weally good time outside today’. That’s all he said, and it might sound trivial or ordinary, but it looked and sounded just like prayer to me. A son, secure in his father’s arms, shared with his father something that mattered to him. His Daddy was there to and listen and to get an idea of the what makes up the being of this kid. And sharing that all with his Daddy is just exactly what mattered to this boy at the time. It was a moment when the two seemed as one.

Now, does this mean I had a similarly revealing talk with my heavenly father this morning in prayer? Not remotely! I somehow managed to distract myself, even with the loveliest of examples before me. Still, I want to record it for posterity. Eventually, that freedom and giving has gotta have some seapage effect on this busy mama. Right? Right!? Well, anyways, until I can learn to pray well through osmosis, I am thinking seriously about doing meditations on the life of Jesus, in order to get to know him better and get to a place where we can talk as close friends. The German side of me is really struggling with the logistics, considering that I will need to find a solid hour (after making coffee) during which the house is quiet and the soul is willing.

Are there any other moms out there who pray for an hour plus? How do you do it? Is it even possible? I need any and all ideas. Thank you!



The Danger of {over} Psychologizing, Part 1

wp_20160902_013So, the thing is, we are human. (Just call me Captain Obvious!) We are physical, emotional, psychological beings who have loves, tastes, capabilities, weaknesses, and commitments. We also have work and accomplishments (the work of our hands), bodies, a thought life, homes, relationships, and a million other things that make up our selves and our days. Oh, and then there’s God. We have a heavenly Father who sent his Son as a human, just like us (I mean, as us. As in, he’s really a human. A real one. Who gets earthy and gross and has a definable personality. But, I digress), to  do a big work and to get us loving and working with him through the power of the Holy Spirit. wp_20160826_009When someone asks me “how are you”, I blubber around, trying to find a way to express a cohesive answer. I rarely want to express how I am right now, or even how I’ve been over a long period. It’s like I think the answer requires computation: take an average, starting from when I last saw them, until now, of “how I’ve been“. Then, boil it down into either “fine”, “great!”, or “bad”. Huh? Hence, the blubbering.

It seems to me that it is most often asked in order to get at my psychological state.  And, don’t get me wrong, psychology matters. But you know, I’m pretty sure it’s not the only thing that matters. When I see a dear friend who hasn’t been with me all day (ie: most of you, and my husband), what they really want to know is the state of me, as a Spirit filled human, and this encompasses much more than my psychological state of “ok”,”well”, “bad”, “annoyed”, “bitter-over-the-past”, “frazzled”, “angry-that-naps were-sub-par”, etc. wp_20160909_007

When Honey comes home from work and everything and everyone is a big, huge, tired mess, and dinner isn’t ready, I can honestly answer the question “How are you?” with, “HORRIBLE!” In the moment (actually, I admit, for at least an hour), it’s my psychological reality. I feel horrible. But that’s not all of reality! I mean, come on! Let’s look at the whole picture. We haven’t seen each other all day. I could mention an interesting thought that I had in prayer that morning. I could share an adorable video that I took of the kids. Heck, this would be awesome: I could simply hug the guy. And here’s the other end of the spectrum: I could reach way back in memory and say that 3 hours ago, I cleaned the toilet and was tickled pink over the accomplishment. I could thank him for taking out the trash without being asked. I could ask him how they are solving that one problem at work. Sometimes, I say something like “I don’t know how I am, but are we free on Saturday morning to help the Smiths move?”


In conclusion, I want to say that I am currently quite frazzled, have almost cried 4 times today, and feeling very over committed. However, what I scheduled for this time is to de-clutter the basement, and, if possible, clean the bathroom. So, THAT is how I am doing. Right now. How I am doing is what I am doing.


Love, MMC


Learning about Toddler Sleep


Good morning!

Our son turns 2 very soon, and we recently experienced an epiphany regarding his sleep. The nurse practitioner at Target confirmed that an ear infection had cleared, but that fluid remained in one ear. He suggested that I contact our pediatrician about allergy medication to help dry him out and, hopefully, remove the discomfort that the fluid can cause. We did, and she agreed that it may not only prevent his frequent midnight wakings, but put him in a better spot to eat well and (finally) gain weight. You see, his weight has been under the curve for his age for much of his life.

I am happy to report that he is waking less often at night, and also that he is growing! Praise God!

Another thing I am remembering from when our daughter was 18 – 36 months old: she frequently woke early in the morning, fussing. Too early, according to her parent’s gauge. (I know you all know how important our sleep gauges are!) My husband finally figured out that she didn’t need comfort, she didn’t need questions about how she was doing and cajoling to just go back to sleep, already. She needed to be told, firmly that she was still tired, that it was still *night time* (again, we as the parents were the gauge of that 😉 ), and that she needed, right now, to lie down and go back to sleep.

It totally worked. Each time he was firm, she slept for at least another 30 minutes. It was a welcome reprieve for all.

I want to share these couple of items in case they help another family.

That’s all for now, folks!

Blessings to you,



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