What is Your Calling?

Today is cleaning day, and shopping day, and laundry day, and remodel the upstairs bathroom day. It’s busy. I am pacing myself. Or at least that’s what I told my husband when he walked into our room and caught me reading a book. Pacing! Honest! 

I have found in this marathon called life, I have to go slow and steady. So, I had already cooked breakfast for the family, cleared the table, taken two daughters with me and done a week’s worth of grocery shopping, came home, unloaded the car, supervised groceries being put away, checked to make sure that the kids’ bedrooms got cleaned…it was time for a break. And eventually, I put the book down, supervised lunch, got that cleaned up, set everyone to work on cleaning their “zones” (everyone gets a room or area that they have to clean), checked progress on that, and now, it’s time for a break again. 

This kind of leads into what I’ve been thinking about. How should we let the chaos in our country affect our everyday lives? 

I’ve been observing on social media the different ways that people have been responding to the recent chaos. Some people have completely withdrawn. Deleted their accounts, either to set up in a new place or be done with it once and for all. Some people are ignoring the situation completely, posting fun memes and things designed to uplift the soul. (I appreciate these posts!) Some people are sharing intelligent articles or essays that explain their positions in well thought-out prose. And some people are just very angry and it leaks out in everything that they say and post. 

In the last couple years, I have made it a point to tell my kids that it’s ok to be angry. Being angry is normal. Sometimes things happen that deserve our anger. But, you have to be careful what you do with your anger. You need to find a safe way to vent your anger that doesn’t hurt other people. Mockery, derision, name-calling, screaming, hurting…these are not appropriate ways to deal with your anger. Or at least, that’s what I tell my kids. I sometimes kind of want to tell other people that too. 

All of us are different. We all have different callings on our lives. I think this is a really good time to have an understanding of what God has called you to do. Are you a protector, an educator, a prophet, a nurturer, a peacemaker? A politician? We all have our callings. Me? My day job is a homemaker. I am a peacemaker by nature. I seem to have an inclination towards interceding through prayer. I try to encourage people through my blog. I keep an eye on what’s happening on the political scene. I write letters to my representatives about issues that are important to me. 

I have come to the conclusion that the things that are happening in Washington DC are not in my sphere of influence. While I continue to pray for our country, LORD! Your kingdom come! Your will be done! I have not felt led to join a political party or try to convince other people to join my way of thinking. I have not been put in a position to affect the federal government in any way except through prayer and my vote, and an occasional letter to my Senator or Representative. That’s me. Everyone is different. 

My sphere of influence includes my family of eleven children. My husband. My home. The social workers and various therapists and lawyers I have met on our fostering journey. The teachers and staff at my kids’ schools. My church family. My blogging audience. My social media friends. This is the circle God has put me in. This particular circle does not need to hear my views on Trump and Biden. They need to hear that I love them, respect them, care for them. They need to hear that Jesus is always the answer. They need to hear that I am present in their lives and that I hope that I can help them in some way. 

This is my calling. 

So, how do I let the chaos in government affect my life? More time in prayer, and then focus on doing my calling to the best of my ability. It’s all I can do. 

The Spinning Clock

It’s Wednesday. Only two more days till the weekend. The weekend will go quickly. Then another week. Before we know it, that week will be over and then September will be coming to an end. My oldest child is turning twenty at the end of this month. And while I try to grapple with this landmark in parenting, I sit back and view the years. 

I have an image of a large clock and the hands on the clock are spinning, spinning, spinning. And I am walking in a circle, washing the clothes, cooking the food, cleaning the house, changing diapers, hugging babies, and the clock keeps spinning, and the cycle keeps repeating over and over and over again. Buy the groceries, fold the clothes, hug a child. Mow the lawn, drive to church, Christmas, hug a teenager. Celebrate a birthday, sweep the floors, scrub the toilet, wave at the young adult as they head off to college. Turn on the heater, turn on the air conditioner, pack up all the childhood memories in a box, send them off with the young adult who used to be your baby and is now moving across the country ready to start their own life. And the clock keeps spinning and spinning. 

And occasionally I yell STOP! I try to hit pause. I make a survey of my life, our lives. Where are we? What’s happening? My almost twenty year old is firmly established far away, working, going to school. My eighteen year old just let us know that he is also heading out of state soon, pursuing his dreams. I have a junior in high school who is starting to make more solid plans about her future after high school. I have a freshman in high school who might start driving soon. My baby boy has now joined the youth group, stepping into the ranks of TEENAGERS. My elementary kids are rushing through the grades, climbing, climbing steadily up the ladder. My little five year old is reading like a big boy, the three year old no longer needs diapers and he is starting to engage in some pretty grown up conversations. And the clock has been spinning and spinning. And even as I try to get a good grasp on where we are right now, it keeps spinning. The kids keep growing, time keeps zooming past. 

And I think about the book of Ecclesiastes. (1:4-7)

Generations come and generations go,

    but the earth remains forever.

The sun rises and the sun sets,

    and hurries back to where it rises. 

The wind blows to the south

    and turns to the north;

round and round it goes,

    ever returning on its course. 

All streams flow into the sea,

    yet the sea is never full.

To the place the streams come from,

    there they return again.

But, as I was imagining that clock spinning and spinning, the cycle of life, never-ending, I also saw something else. As I was cleaning, and cooking, and washing, and drying, there was a song on my lips that floated above everything else. A song of praise. A song of worship. And it was continually floating upwards, a beautiful melody going up to the heavens. 

And I think, this is life. We are on a treadmill that we can’t get off. The seasons continue to change. We have babies and they turn into adults, then they have children of their own, the cycle never-ending. Governments rise and fall, cultures change, times of plenty come, times of going without, and the clock keeps spinning. Every day we do our part, feed our bodies, sleep, get up and do it again. 

But there is beauty. There is purpose. There is gentleness, and passion. There is comfort and joy. There is the wonder that as we tread out our paths, we are not alone. We are loved by our God. And our work and toil is pleasing to him. The compassion we show others is beautiful to him. Our perseverance is acceptable. And though sometimes we can only see a never ending grinding of daily tasks, our lives are like a fragrant offering drifting up to heaven. 

And even as my children seem to be slipping out of my hands, gone to the world of adulthood, even as the clock hands seem to be spinning faster and faster, even as I straighten my spine and tackle yet another day of cooking and cleaning and washing and folding, I can still have joy. Knowing that contrary to the sentiments of the author of Ecclisiastes, life is not meaningless. My life is a drink offering poured out on the altar. My life is a noble journey. My life is a Holy Quest.

So. spin clock. Fly past, time. Each day is another day to serve God through the works of my hands, the love I share with others, and the faithfulness in the small things. 

The Perfect Day

Today has been one of those “Perfect” days. The kind where nothing overly impressive happens, you just feel connected with the goodness around you. 

We slept in this morning. Eight o’clock! Amazing! If you have a house full of small children, eight in the morning is late! 

We lazed around in our pajamas, reading books, kids playing busily. And then, sometime around eleven the kids gave me a list of things they wanted to do: go to the library, go to the park. 

Not till we get our chores done. 

So, we divided everything up and the house got clean pretty quickly. I put on my new cover for my futon couch and pulled a couple chairs from other parts of the house so I could have a living room with furniture again. (Got rid of the couches a while back, and haven’t been in a rush to put things back together again.)

I made a menu for the week and then went shopping and stayed within my budget. (Not sure why, but that is always So Satisfying!) And I bought some flowers to put on my mantel in the living room. 

The weather today is about ten degrees cooler than it has been the past month and suddenly my kids are willing to play outside again. And other neighborhood kids have emerged from their air conditioning as well and so I have a yard full of children all happily playing together. 

This coming Monday is a holiday so I don’t feel as pressured to get everything done immediately. 

My washing machine is busily doing it’s job. By Monday I will have a big mountain of clean clothes to fold and sort and put away.

One of the neighborhood kids was talking to me earlier, he’s new, never been in my house before. He looked around. 

You know, this place kind of reminds me of a mansion. 

I was startled and then laughed.

Well, it’s big, but it isn’t very fancy like a mansion. 

And I sit in my old, faded worn chair in my living room. The walls need painting, the trim has never been painted or finished in any way, still showing the marks of over a hundred years of use. My bookshelves are over-run with books. The floors have also not been finished in the past one hundred years, and my kids skating and scootering and shoving furniture all over the place has done nothing to improve their appearance. 

But things are tidy. There are bright flowers, the soothing sound of water bubbling in the fish tank, the hum of a fan. Silence. And then thunder as a horde of children run down the stairs and out the door. The sun is shining in through the windows. My fridge and pantry are full. I’ve run all my errands. We have plans to play at the park after supper. Tomorrow we get to go to church. 

Yes. It is one of those “Perfect” days. 

And it occurs to me, that most days have the potential to be perfect. It just takes an eye to see, and a heart to be thankful.

One List at a Time

We are back from vacation! I think the drive home hit our world record for least eventful, fastest, calmest drive we’ve ever had.  We did twenty hours straight, drove through the night. Only stopped for bathroom breaks and to get gas, one pass through the drive thru. Kids didn’t fight. No complaints about being bored. We didn’t even watch any movies, just listened to music. I do not have any idea why everything went so well. It’s never happened before. 

 

So, after this amazing trip, I walk into my home. And I’m greeted by an old musty house that is pretty messy. No couches in the living room cause they were nasty and I threw them out a couple weeks before vacation. Stacks of homeschooling books. Clutter. Lots of unfinished projects. My daughter runs up to me, When are we going school shopping? Can we go right now? (What??) No, we JUST got home. We are not going shopping. (School starts the middle of August here.) 

 

I look through the mail. Bills. People needing information from me. Phone calls I need to make. 

 

Mom, when are we taking our kittens to the vet? Uh..soon. Not today. 

 

What’s for supper Mom? Uh, let’s see what’s in the freezer, I need to go grocery shopping. 

 

Mom! The fish tank needs more water! Yes, I will fix it tomorrow. 

 

I sink into my chair. Yikes. Deep breath. Today. Focus on today. Today, I’m going to unpack a couple things, take a shower. Go to bed. 

 

This morning I woke up and again had to fight off the urge to get overwhelmed. One step at a time. In order to get myself from fretting, I sat down and wrote a list of goals. Things I want to happen sometime this Fall. 

 

Personal goals: Exercise every day, get my blood sugar under control.

 

Spiritual goals: family devotions, bible memory.

 

Household goals: buy couches, get a homeschooling space set up.

 

School goals: get everyone ready for the school year, get a school routine going.

 

Nothing unrealistic. All stuff that needs to happen. Writing it down makes me feel better.  When it’s all written down, it feels possible. Like, one day, I will wake up, and all these things will be checked off this list! 

 

I am feeling optimistic about the future. Homeschooling is actually sounding fun. It helps that it will only be three kids, not seven.  I ordered some books for the coming year and I was flipping through them today, How many chapters? How many months do we have? How many pages do we need to get done a day to finish this on time? And it was fun. I’m feeling ready to hit the stores and buy out the school supply department. 🙂 

 

This coming school year, with kids in public school, doing virtual school (one highschooler decided to stay home and do virtual school instead), and homeschool, it is going to be weird, and unnatural, and uncomfortable, and alarming at times. But right now, coming from a place of rest and refreshment, I just have the attitude of Bring it On. I’m ready. One step at a time. One list at a time. 

 

My Tank is on Low

Some days you are Spiritual and Aware, and marching along, knocking problems off your path right and left as you confidently push forward. And then other days, you are huddled in a corner in your room, yelling at kids to go away and just give you TEN MINUTES FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE!!

 

In the past 60 seconds I have told the five year old to stop talking about “butt cheeks”, told the three year old to get his biscuit out of my bedroom and take it to the table, and told another child that it’s not appropriate to kick people. 

 

I’ve just told a little girl that No, she can’t store her artwork in my window sill. And if you leave it on the floor of my bedroom, I WILL throw it away. Please stop winding up my music box. Stop wrestling on my bed. Have you finished your chores?? Did you do your homework? Why are you eating a biscuit on my bed? Go finish your chores!!!

 

It’s that crazy time of day when I’m supposed to be making supper, the kids are supposed to be doing their chores and their homework while I cook, and my husband is supposed to arrive home sometime in the middle of all this. Hopefully after the house has been tidied up. And of course, this is the time of day when everyone needs my input on something. 

 

And I have been running full-steam since 6 am this morning and my nerves are feeling rattled. I have a pot of soup cooking and so I had hoped to sneak away for TEN MINUTES and maybe write a bit while everyone busily did their business. Right. 

 

Today I have dealt with sick kids staying home, a child at school getting hives, talked to therapists and social workers and doctors, chauffeured my daughter to work, cooked a lot of food from scratch because I need to go grocery shopping, and I’m out of all the quick easy stuff. I’ve arranged complicated plans for tomorrow, paid a giant pile of bills (Yay!), took care of banking business with a new teller at the bank who happens to take three times as long as normal, and looked up recipes for soup and how to treat hives. 

 

Right now I am feeling frazzled and tired and wondering how I can shed off some of my responsibilities to lighten the load, and at the same time, trying to not get discouraged. 

 

So, what’s the difference between today and say, two days ago? 

 

I think I need recharging. 

 

Time changes, major crisis, sickness, kids crawling in my bed at night cause they’re scared…it’s all been draining my resources. I need to refill the tank. 

Hmmm. I’m thinking I need a date night Thursday night. That sounds like a plan. A light shining at the end of the tunnel. Something fun and NON-kid to look forward to. So, my dear husband, who is reading this blog right now…I am going to set up the babysitting, you’re in charge of planning the evening. 🙂 

There. I’m feeling better. 

 

Oh wait..Thursday won’t work…Friday? Saturday?

 

A Lovely Evening for a Drive

This evening I had to drive my teenager to her job. It’s a chore I’ve had to take over since my son has been gone away at school. At first I was pretty irritated at having to uproot myself three times a week to drive her to and from work. But, now I’ve just gotten used to it and it’s part of the weekly routine. Sometimes we talk. Sometimes I turn on the public radio station. Usually, I just drive in silence. Living with ten kids makes me cherish my moments of silence. 

 

Today, as we pulled out of our neighborhood, heading towards the ramp to get on the interstate, I was suddenly very aware of the sky and the trees and the light. The sky was winter grey, heavy with coming rain. The trees’ fall colors were muted, covered in a wispy mist. The light was at that wonderful, pre-dusk level, where you can see clearly, but you know darkness is coming soon. 

 

As I pulled onto the interstate the lights of other cars rushed past me. I wondered at how fast the seasons change here in our neck of the woods. A month earlier I was pulling on my sunglasses when I made this drive, squinting against the bright light. Now, everything around me was making me think about cozy winter days, snuggling up in front of a fireplace, playing holiday music in the background. 

 

Our little city is tucked into lots of little hills and mountain ridges and every available ground is covered in trees. This makes driving around town especially enjoyable in the fall as we are surrounded by red and yellow and gold. But today, as I follow the interstate North, weaving through the hills as I coast along with the traffic, the trees all seem to have hunkered down for the night. The sun has already left the sky, their leaves have nothing else to say, a grey blanket  is tucking them in for a peaceful rest. The sky seems to sink lower as the clouds can no longer hold their burden and rain starts to fall onto my windshield. 

 

Inside my car I am in my own little cocoon of warmth, the heater blows it’s hot air, the only sound the slight squeak of the windshield wipers. 

 

I make the whole circuit and finally approach the exit to my neighborhood. I pull over to the far right exit lane, getting out of the way of the three lanes of traffic that are bustling down the interstate, everyone heading home after a long day. I see the red lights on the cars, little beacons disappearing into the distance, and just for a moment, I wish that I was still with them. Driving. Somewhere. Perhaps on a long journey. Part of the great migration. But then I remember my warm fireplace waiting at home, and I smile as leave the interstate and turn into my little neighborhood streets. Slow, meandering roads. Weaving around cars parked on the wrong side of the road as people in this neighborhood interpret the NO PARKING signs as simple suggestions instead of actual orders needing to be obeyed. 

 

I come over a small rise and right there in front of me is a tall tree, Bright Red, leaning over the road. It’s like seeing one of those glamour photos where everything is black and white and then the model is wearing a bright red dress. This tree does not care that it is almost dark. It doesn’t care that all the other trees have decided to turn in for the night, muting their colors. This tree stands bold and tall, flashing it’s bright red leaves for all to see. I slow my car as I pass underneath it. Crane my neck to look up through my window at this shining rainbow.  

 

The last minutes of my drive are quiet. Darkness is here. I pull into my driveway, the house is ablaze with lights shining out of all the windows. Smoke is rising out of the chimney. 

 

What a lovely evening for a drive. 

 

NOT a Bad Day

I needed to write. So you all get a bonus Blog today. 

 

My lifetime enemy, depression, has been rearing its ugly head lately. I’ve been in denial. I’m fine. I’ve got this. I’m ok. Then today, when I found myself glued to my chair, not wanting to move, except to climb into bed and sleep, I realized, oh, yes, I recognize this pattern. 

 

I’ve decided to fight back a bit. The worst thing about depression is that it whispers, “Failure!” in my ear, constantly. So, I have decided to compile a list of ways that I did not fail today. Speak a bit of truth. 

 

First, my two and five year old boys, who were in my charge all day, are alive and well. They ate, got cleaned, played, watched tv, went outside. As far as they are concerned, it was a great day.

I got all my school age kids to and from school without a hitch, and they are all in a good mood, playing with friends.

Supper is cooking. The dishes are caught up. The laundry is doing ok. The downstairs of the house is clean. Sure, I paid the kids to clean it because I wasn’t able to force myself to do it. But, the kids got some pocket money, they’re happy, it was cheaper than hiring a maid, and I can say that I used my delegating skills.

I also signed our family up for health insurance for the next year on Healthcare.gov, which is a soul-sucking experience in itself. It actually took me two days to finish the whole application. But, it’s done! 

 

I kept the fire going in the woodstove. 

 

I’m getting along with my husband. 

 

My pets are happy. 

 

It wasn’t a failure day.

 

So, for all my friends out there fighting depression and anxiety, this is actually a pretty good tool. Write down everything that was right in the day, even if you have to grasp at straws, like, The sun came up today and set as normal. No tornadoes blew my house down. My car didn’t explode. I didn’t catch the plague… See! It works! I’m feeling better already. 🙂 

 

Thanks for listening.