Monthly Archives: October 2007

A Story For Encouragement

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A friend sent me this story recently, and I was so encouraged by it. It’s a bit of a long read, but I thought it was a beautiful picture of motherhood:

I’m invisible…….
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response,
the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the
phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, "Can’t
you see I’m on the phone?"

Obviously not. No one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or
sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner,
because no one can see me at all. I’m invisible.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this?
Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of
hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, "What time is
it?" I’m a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney
Channel?" I’m a car to order, "Pick me up right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the
eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum
laude — but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never
to be seen again.

She’s going … she’s going … she’s gone!
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return
of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a
fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she
stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put
together so well.

It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked
down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find
that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and
I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it. I was
feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully
wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this."

It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn’t exactly
sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: "To
Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are
building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read — no, devour — the book. And I
would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths,
after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the
great cathedrals– we have no record of their names. These builders gave
their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They
made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their
building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw
everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit
the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving
a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the
man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a
beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it."
And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was
almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte.
I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you
does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no
cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.
You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what
it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a
disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of
my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn
pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder.
As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see
finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The
writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could
ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people
willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend
he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at
4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a
turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table."

That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just
want him to want to come home.
And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add,
"You’re gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if
we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the
world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty
that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

 

By Nicole Johnson

Melissa Recommends

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I’d like to recommend to you all a couple of things we’ve been enjoying lately. One is the audio version of a book we’ve loved for awhile. Canon Press put out a cd of Wise Words by Peter Leithart. It’s a wonderful collection of eighteen fairy tales, each of which illustrates a Proverb.  We love to read them aloud, but as they are a bit longer than picture books, I often forget to grab this book off the shelf. Toby Sumpter did a great job reading these stories aloud, so now the girls can listen to them while I make dinner!

The other thing I’ve been really pleased with is the videos we’ve watched from Nest Family Learning. I actually became a distributor for them, so if you’d like to buy any of their things I’d be happy to help (shameless little plug there ). They have a ton of other products as well, but the ones I’ve particularly enjoyed and have the most desire to collect more of are the Animated Hero Classics biographies. The girls get to enjoy a movie and learn a true story at the same time – always a nice combo! In any case, please stop by and feel free to browse around my NestFamilyLearning site, as they do have so many wonderful products and movies for little ones.

Size Doesn't Matter

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Juliette’s been amusing me this week in the way she plays with toys- she plays with something based on what it is, with no thought at all to how small it is. I’m sure that doesn’t make sense yet. All of my girls at some point have enjoyed playing with little toys (dollhouse dolls, etc) or big toys (big teddy bear), but they usually play with them in reference to their size- the dollhouse dolls go in the tiny beds, the tiny shoes go on the dolls’ feet, the big bear goes in a big crib, etc.  I had to take a few pictures of Juli playing this week, as I kept seeing her playing with teeny tiny things in a different way . . .

Found a little doll, she must want to go in the baby’s bouncy seat . . .

Just riding the horse, but if you look closely . . .

She’s taking this eensy-weesy baby for a ride!

"Found a shoe; it must be for me to wear. I’ll just put it on . . ."

No matter that the shoe is a whopping 1/2 inch long!

So anyway, I’m sure I’m being easily amused, but I think she’s cute!

A Bit Tired Tonight. . .

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Well, I am quite tired right now! Miss Alyssa (who thankfully has been sleeping through the night for the last few weeks) decided the past two nights were not so much intended for sleeping. Thus I have been up quite a bit in the nights, and thus I’m pooped!  Anyway, I know you all have left such sweet comments for me lately, and I wanted to thank you. I truly am encouraged and blessed by all your words, and I wish I had the time to visit blogs more and return the encouragement!  Alas it’s just not my season in life to have much time for reading – lately I’ve barely had time for writing! Also I lack memory lately, so if you asked me a question which I neglected to answer, I’m so sorry – please feel free to email me and ask again! I do remember someone had asked about deep cleaning and grocery shopping, and wondered where I fit that in.  I will say those were two of my most difficult parts of the week prior to a month ago. I used to just try to fit them each into a naptime on Matt’s days off, or pick away at cleaning throughout a weekend – but I always ended up tired, stressed, and not finished with everything. But God is faithful, and will not give us more than we can handle. Specifically for me, that’s meant my wonderful and sacrificial husband stepping in. He started giving the girls all their baths, and he’s also begun doing all of my grocery shopping. He takes all four of the older girls (I think he’s amazing – I always tried to do it during naps so I’d just have a couple!) to Winco and Walmart once a week. Though I sometimes end up with a different brand of enchilada sauce, this is such a blessing to me. I use that time to do my deep cleaning. Every other Monday I do a "deeper" deep cleaning, and every other week I do a lighter deep cleaning, wash sheets and such, and clean any brushes/makeup brushes that need it. Basically I use this time to catch up on those random household cleaning things I otherwise can’t seem to get to.  And every few months or so, we switch and Matt cleans the whole house because of an important difference between us: I’m a tidier, he’s a DEEP cleaner. When he cleans the house, it’s like spring cleaning has arrived – he moves furniture to vaccuum and dust, scrubs tubs, etc – he does such a better job than me! Anyway, hopefully that answers the question which was asked. So, my solution to those things I can’t figure out how to do in my week is usually to ask Matt what I should do. And he’s faithful to help me figure out a way, or if needed, help me do it himself – and remind me not to feel guilty for that. God has blessed me with a GOOD man!

I haven’t taken too many pictures lately, but here are a couple:

Glorious Autumn!

Sweet baby Lys

 

snuggles with mommy

 

Isabelle and my early Christmas present from above-mentioned wonderful husband – a new kitchen floor!

One Of Those Days

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Before I write this little story of our day, so that you might be able to appreciate it better, I must tell you something about Hannah : she LOVES food! The thing that often consoles her when she’s sad is smelling something yummy. What she thinks of as the perfect dream at night is cupcakes and sprinkles and candy. When given the chance to pray for "what’s on her heart", she prays (without fail) for some grandma to have her birthday cake come soon. She is always the first to ask with a sleepy morning voice what she will eat that day for breakfast. After nap, again in a sleepy voice, she wonders "what food and drinks will we have for dinner?" She loves her food! So, on to the story, which provided a much needed laugh today.

Today was one of those days. The days when I feel like I’m doing nothing but playing referee. . . or drill sergeant, perhaps. The inside of our house seemed to match the gloomy weather outside (though I hate to call it gloomy, as I actually love the rain.) Our house was full of fussies and fights today, and it was not helped by the fact that my normally mellow Alyssa was apparently having tummy issues – she could go from asleep to screaming, nursing to screaming, cooing to screaming in the space of a second. When she cries, something in my brain shuts off and I feel instant stress. I can’t read aloud, I can’t answer toddlers’ questions, I can’t make lunch – you get the picture, I pretty much can’t seem to do anything else when she’s crying except try to console her (unless of course she’s just needing to cry to sleep, which for her takes no more than two minutes flat when it’s even necessary). So I was feeling pretty stressed today by all the crying little ones, bickering over silly things, interruptions to practically everything I tried to do, and lack of order! Not sure why, just one of those days that’s more difficult than others! I’m sure God was teaching me patience . . . Anyway, at a particularly frustrating and loud moment – I think had one daughter crying because of some unknown owie, one crying from discipline, one trying to ask me some question which I couldn’t even hear, and the baby just crying – I happened to look over and see how Hannah apparently deals with loud stressful moments:

She had her little eyes squeezed shut, her fingers stuffed into her ears, and she was smiling and humming to herself over and over: "food and drinks, food and drinks, food and drinks . . . "

Life Lessons From Little Babies And Storybooks

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Well, I think I learned a good lesson today  – funny how God can use the most mundane or simple things to teach us something very important. I’ve been slowly reading through Keeping Our Children’s Hearts by Teri Maxwell, and one of the things she talks about is the importance of smiling at our little ones. While the need to do this so much more convicted me when I read the book, I don’t think this lesson really sunk in until today. I will admit it takes conscious effort for me to smile – especially when I’m tired (which is often, it seems!) I don’t do it naturally. And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but my Naomi is a little watcher. She watches me like a hawk, no matter what I’m doing. I can feel her penetrating gaze, and sometimes it makes me nervous (oh goodness, am I doing well here? Because if not, she’ll spot it!) Today I was changing Alyssa’s diaper, with Nao standing on the stepstool, and watching me (she usually watches my face, not what I’m doing). Alyssa has just reached the age where she smiles quite often if she’s smiled at. So of course, we all want to make her smile. While I was changing her diaper this afternoon, I was beaming down at her with a huge smile – somehow it comes naturally to smile at wee babies who are just learning (adorably) to smile back. As I was grinning away at her, I felt Naomi’s little eyes, and was struck with a pang of guilt that I don’t beam and smile in her little face nearly as often!

Flash forward to our storytime: We were reading an old Eloise Wilkin Golden Book called Guess Who Lives Here. On the page where the book gives you "clues" about the mommy, this is how it describes her: "Somebody lives in this house. She has curly hair and she smiles very often. . . " As I read that I asked myself if it could describe me. So often it doesn’t, but I truly want it to. I long for God’s joy to be ever present in my heart, and ever clear on my face. When I don’t *feel* like smiling (feelings can be such deceptive little stinkers, can’t they?), I want to learn the discipline of smiling anyway, and at the same time asking God to put that happy smile into my heart as well. So much of this Christian walk (and warfare) seems to be doing what is right even when we don’t *feel* like it. Not as under grudging compulsion, for that would make us hypocrites. But as God says, we show we love Him when we obey. One way for me to obey is to give my children the simple, visible and loving joy of a smile – even when it’s not easy. As I sought to smile more and more at my girls tonight – especially my older ones (as with the babies it’s so easy, somehow) it was amazing to see how much more joyful they were – and how many loving smiles I received in return!

Now for some more smiles in picture form – some posed, some caught by surprise, but it’s been awhile, so there might be quite a few:

Pretty baby – actually the pictures never do justice to her cuteness for some reason.

 Fun and tickles with daddy

Attempting to climb a cherry tree

Autumn walks

Nothing better than a plastic shopping cart to collect autumn treasures – sticks, leaves and such.

These boots are made for walking . . .

I managed to get a great action shot of Hannah in focus for once.

Love the leaves!

Also love our new circle time rug

Mommy and Belle

I’ve officially started making cookies (never have before, believe it or not), and found the perfect place to keep them.

It’s funny how I go through hair phases with the girls. I’m currently loving piggy tails for the blondies . . .

. . . and more freedom for Naomi’s lovely fluffy curls (again, the picture doesn’t do justice to how cute her hair looks in person – in my own humble opinion of course!)

Also loving my Moby D wrap (Alyssa’s sleeping in there!) – thanks Christine!

 

 

Quote For The Night

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Hi all – sorry it’s been so long since I’ve written anything!  It’s been a very busy couple of weeks with family visiting (good times!), getting apples picked and firewood stacked, setting my oven on fire (in my opinion the most embarassing way to meet all the firemen in a small town!), catching a couple of colds, sorting out our school days and a few other odds and ends!  I feel like I barely have time for anything lately, and I need to get to bed pretty quickly tonight, but I wanted to post something I read in The Treasury Of David by C H Spurgeon. I am very much enjoying his writings on the Psalms, and loving having a more purposeful time reading the Word. I highly recommend this book for any who would love to study the Psalms more deeply. Anyway, this quote (from his thoughts on Psalm 1) really struck me as I am one who loves her routines. I’ve reminded myself of it many times over the past few weeks and days, when it gets so busy that I don’t have time for what I had planned on that day – it’s a joy to remember that my day went exactly as God wanted it to.

"The ungodly have their stated days, stated times, certain works, and certain places; to which they stick so closely, that if their neighbors were perishing with hunger, they could not be torn from them. But the blessed man, being free at all times, in all places, for every work, and to every person, will serve you whenever an opportunity is offered him. "

I pray God will make me a person who serves at any opportunity – particularly serving my family and others when it may not be easy or convenient, but is God’s rich work for me at that moment. May you all be blessed this week as you serve Him where He’s placed you!