Father, May I?

Father, May I?

TD peered over the counter and eyed the last slice of quiche—which just happened to be on my plate. “Can I have it?” Before I could hand it over, albeit grudgingly, Hubby stepped in. “You really have to start telling TD ‘No.’ Just ‘No,’ with no explanation.” Saying “no.” As if I needed help with that phrase in this, my “Year of the No.” Well…I guess a little reminder won’t hurt. As you know, I don’t do resolutions, but this year, I did make a decision to downsize my commitments, to deliberately say “no” more than I say “yes” so that I can rest more, write more, and invest more quality time in my family. I wanted to be more intentional about my commitments, to prayerfully consider requests for and usage of my time. But it’s hard to say no—not necessarily to TD’s request for quiche. My little people can attest to my ability to sing “No” in several keys and languages. It’s the world outside my door that I find hard to resist. How do you say no to play dates, lunch dates, and your friends’ requests for help? How do you withdraw from ministry, classes, and leadership opportunities? Sometimes I feel like I’m slapping the well-meaning hands that feed me and binding my own helpful hands that want to return the favor. There are so many good things. Yet I know they aren’t all good for me. And I also know I’m not the only one who struggles handling too much of a good thing. There’s a passel of beleaguered moms and dads, ministers, and well-intentioned believers who think...
You Talkin’ to Me?

You Talkin’ to Me?

Remember the understood you? That parenthetical, unwritten word reigns supreme here in my house, and not just when we’re diagramming sentences. When I say, “Stop!” TD knows just who I’m talking about. He stops lapping up his milk like Oscar or hopping down the stairs or doing whatever it is he shouldn’t. If I say, “Take out the trash,” everyone looks at Think Tank. They know it’s his job (even though he tries to forget). “You” will moan after dinner because she knows it’s her dish week. If I say, “Outside!” Oscar runs for the door. When Hubby lectures about leaving the basement refrigerator door open, the first thing a little person says is “It wasn’t me!” or “I didn’t do it.” Hubby’s response? “Then I wasn’t talking to you.” On the other hand, I can call Maven by every name but hers—and you know I’ve got seven to choose from, eight including the dog (believe me, I’ve done it)—but she knows exactly who I’m talking to. Get the picture? It’s understood. Now, there’s another teeny word that’s understood around here, and it’s now. I’ve told the little people when I say something, assume there’s a “now” in parentheses. In other words, “Sit down (now),” “Do your work (now),” “Stop running! (now),” “Turn off the television (now).” That “now” means immediately or as soon as possible—not after the episode goes off or when you finish playing Clash of Clans or after you’ve hit Lone Ranger. Who knows, maybe there’s a truck barreling down on you? Again, it’s understood. But we’re all somebody’s child. He has something for us all to understand....
The Gift of the Magi…Revisited

The Gift of the Magi…Revisited

Four tickets to a college basketball tournament fell into our laps at the last minute. Hubby and I thought about it for a moment, trying to reason through who would go. Both he and I love college ball, so ✔️️ and ✔️️ . Then we thought, “Who else has college in the blood?” Crusader,✔️️ , and Songbird,✔️️. We knew the girls would rather have movie night at home and whither they goeth, TD followeth. So, we were all set. But not so fast…What about Think Tank? He’s not a basketball fan, and college isn’t on his radar, but spending time with Crusader is always within his sights. There was no storybook ending here. The best option for this mom? Giving up my ticket and sending Think Tank in my place. But Songbird couldn’t bear the thought of crashing my “date night” with Hubby, especially since she’s not really a basketball fan and she didn’t like either of the colleges represented. So, Songbird opted to stay and send me in her place. But the love story doesn’t end there. Think Tank hated to unseat someone, and so he refused to go. We stood there looking at each other, at an impasse, until Songbird and I prayed about it. And after much hemming and hawing and sacrifice we worked it out, and we four Cinderellas—Hubby, Crusader, Think Tank, and I—laced up our glass slippers, hopped into our coach, and headed to the ball…game. Now, if this really was a Disney story, it would have ended with Hubby finding a fifth ticket and my best friend stopping by on a whim to invite the younger ones over for a...
Eyes on His Prize

Eyes on His Prize

Yesterday, TD stood there sobbing, looking out the back door. “They’re already swinging!” Sure enough, Brown Sugar and Lone Ranger were churning away. We’ve dismantled part of the playset, so at the moment, we have just two working seats. TD was late to the party and had missed the opportunity to nab a swing. “Why don’t you go out anyway? I’m sure you’ll get a turn.” As I encouraged him, I prayed that that would be the case. While God might extend goodness and mercy, it’s not guaranteed to flow from the little people. But out he went, and I watched from the window as he stood there in the yard in all his hopeless misery while Brown Sugar and Lone Ranger pumped harder and higher. Please, Lord, touch their hearts. A minute later, Lone Ranger leaped to the ground in mid-swing and skipped over. She wrapped her arm around TD and guided him over to one of the now-empty swings—with only one glance at the window where I happened to stand. For good measure, Brown Sugar hopped from hers, too. All was right with the world, at least for a minute. Now, the jaded among us would say Lone Ranger only sacrificed her seat because she knew I was watching. Maybe so. But don’t we choose certain paths because we know God our Father has His eyes and hands on us? I mean…really. It’s not out of my inner sainthood that I once gave up my Prince concert tickets because of missing choir rehearsal. It’s not out of the goodness of my heart that I walk farther to return...
The Comfort Zone

The Comfort Zone

Maven and I can hang. We’re comfy sitting in the same room, with her lounging on one end of the sofa and me on the other, reading, writing, drawing. We share the same space, if not the same orbit, without saying a word to each other. All alone…together. The Earth and Mars. Sadly, there hasn’t been much tent pitching around here this week. She’s had to go out a lot for classes, field trips, museum visits, Bible study, and play dates, and I’ve been spinning crazily right there alongside her. It’s all good stuff, and it satisfies the needs of the extroverted among us. Maven and I, on the other hand are done, physically and emotionally. The sofa is surely calling our name. But God has been calling us by our full name, like what my mama uses when she really wants my attention. He knows how I like my comfort zone. I’m productive there. And my voice and index finger work quite well from there—there’s even wi-fi. But if He’d left me in my comfort zone I never would’ve had seven children, I wouldn’t be homeschooling, I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful—and not-so-wonderful—people in my life, I wouldn’t be counseling other homeschool moms, I would never have tried hummus, I wouldn’t have ridden a horse up a mountain while holding an infant, I wouldn’t have been inspired to work on another book. I wouldn’t have had the courage or the means to tell you all about any of this. Perhaps God is calling you to step out of that safe place, to start traveling in different circles,...
A Balanced Meal

A Balanced Meal

While we’re on food… We’ve been changing our way of eating. Normally, that would be a good thing, but in our family’s case we’re all going in different directions. Brown Sugar is learning that there are other food groups besides “sweets.” Today she added omelets to her breakfast fare. Last week she ate her first sandwich. But then she cried over her roasted cauliflower and she tried to hide her grilled chicken under her plate last night. This child will help cut and chop, stir and measure all day long, and she can cook the dickens out of her Play-Doh and felt food, but actually eat what she makes? Perish the thought and the plate it’s served on. On the other end of the dining spectrum munches Think Tank, who’ll devour everything that sits still long enough, and at least two helpings of it. He eats a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich as an appetizer and another as his dessert. In between he’ll inhale two or three bowls of spaghetti with meat sauce. I’m trying to figure out where it all goes. Chunky toes, maybe? Maven, Songbird, TD, and Lone Ranger reside somewhere in the middle of the table, depending on the menu and time of day. Maven, reigning Carbohydrate Queen, can swallow a whole Italian loaf in one sitting, TD discovers his appetite at bedtime, and Songbird takes her name to heart, only eating bits of this and that. Lone Ranger would make my Grandma happy because she loves her leafy veggies. Watch out, collard greens! Hubby and I want our food to be “less filling” and “taste great” instead of one...