let me tell you a story about a very stubborn woman (that would be me!)

stubborn

I haven’t had much to say around here lately.  I’d like to claim it’s because I’ve been otherwise occupied, but it would be a lie.  Actually, maybe it wouldn’t.  I have been fully occupied by bitterness.

I’ll start at the beginning.  Don’t worry, I’ll edit so it doesn’t get too long.

We moved about 3 1/2 months ago into a house just a town over from the Walton’s Mountain home.  The house wasn’t aesthetically pleasing but it was on a well, could be heated by wood and sat on 15 acres.  This added up to a huge savings in utility expense and a great outdoor space for our active kiddos.

Only we quickly learned the well water was a wreck.  It stunk (let me be clear, it still stinks!!), tasted horrible and discolored our belongings.  It was a dream come true.  I know, I know.  Sarcasm-liness is not next to godliness.  It’s something I’ve been begging the Lord to help me work on.

We asked the landlord if something might be done about the water situation.  We were (and still are) having to buy bottled water for drinking and cooking purposes.  And apparently our children are a very rare, pale and skinny breed of water buffalo.  Who knew?  The expense was adding up.

The landlord came by with a sandwich baggie and collected a sample from the sink.  She assured me while she was there, that she believed the water to be just fine and that all it likely needed was bleach poured into the well.  This is called a shock.  Believe me, I was shocked.

After two weeks and no word on the sample, we called and asked about it.  She wouldn’t disclose the findings but instructed that we needed to shock the well.  We have our flaws but we’re generally obedient and so we did.

The stink changed to a different kind of stink and our belongings weren’t being as badly discolored.  However, our kids started getting a rash when exposed to the water for more than a few minutes.  This, by the way, is an excellent excuse for a child looking to get out of doing kitchen duty or looking to avoid bathing. We have children of both kinds.

However, being slow to connect the dots between the bleach and the rashes, we shocked the well again two weeks later after being instructed to do so, since the effects of the first had worn off.  I believe I failed to mention that each shock process leaves us without water for 24 hours or more.  I don’t have to tell you how much fun that is with 9 people living here.

Anyway, after the second time we finally made the connection to the bleach being added to the well causing the rashes.  I’m not even going to lie…I was pretty much livid.  I’d struggled through 3 months of dealing with gross water that we weren’t warned about and now this?

Skipping over some details that would bring no glory to God, I’ll just say we received a very unfavorable response to our written request for something to be done about the undisclosed water situation or for our rent to be adjusted to make provision for the additional expense and hardship of dealing with it .  Things swiftly spun out of control as the landlord became more volatile by the day and within little more than a week we were informed we were being evicted

We were being evicted for asking for clean, usable water in our rental house.  Unbelievable.

After our attempts to talk through our differences was met with flat denial, we finally contracted legal counsel in order to protect ourselves from an unjust lawsuit.  That meeting was on Monday of this week.  We’d been beaten (figuratively speaking), badgered, bullied and threatened.  We were exhausted, stressed and angry.

Did I mention we were angry?  Because we were.  But that brings me to this morning.

I woke around 4 am, just before my husband had to leave for his shift at the station.  We’d been dealt another blow last night and we’d had enough.  After talking briefly and saying goodbye, I sat down to my Bible study.  Comfortable with the knowledge that in just a few hours we were contacting our attorney to let her know we would not be caving to the landlord’s demands and that we’d be filing a countersuit if she chose to pursue it, I opened my Bible.

As God would have it, though it wasn’t in the study plan for today, I read 1 Peter 3:9.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. (KJV)

I began to waver.  Was it possible we were wrong?

We weren’t wrong about the water, of that I was certain.  Whether it was considered a health hazard or not, it was not clean or usable and that is a basic right of a tenant.  At the very least we had the right to be warned of those conditions before being bound by a lease.  What could we be wrong about?

Determined to assure myself of our rightness, I dared to type into the google search bar the following:  is it ever right for a Christian to sue?

And up popped good ol’ John Piper with a video, not just on lawsuits, but offering an example of people who had bought a house with undisclosed issues.  I’m not even terribly familiar with Piper but I nearly cried watching the video because it was so very much like God was speaking directly to me.  Wait a minute, let me rephrase that.  God was speaking to me as He lead my morning study into areas I hadn’t intended.  And I felt Him asking, “Why aren’t you willing to be wronged?”

My husband called when he reached work and we talked about it. He agreed that we needed to proceed as Christ would have us rather than as our emotions were beginning to lead.

We will not be having this go through the courts.  We will pack our belongings and move all 9 plus 1 of us out of here.  We will leave the house in excellent, better than we found it condition.  We won’t stand and fight for a home that can’t meet our needs anyway.  We surrender.  We’re over here waving the white flag.  Not because we’re weak but because He is strong.

He’s strong enough to find us a new home and provide us with the money we need to secure it.  He’s strong enough to help us through a separation as the children and I likely head to another state to stay with family as my husband remains here for work.  He’s strong enough to get me through the rest of this pregnancy even under such circumstances.

But mostly, He’s strong enough to use this situation to work for good in the life of a woman who may not know Him.  And He’s strong enough to help us walk away, pride in check and heads held high as we extend forgiveness and trust that He has a plan.  A really, really good one.

This is the prayer I wrote in my journal this morning.  I share in case any of you are needing to be emptied of pride or bitterness.

Dear Lord,

I am a prideful, sinful woman.  I am filled with a bitterness I don’t even recognize.  I anger easily and want my way.  Subdue me.  Save me from myself.  Give me a desire to be more, better.  Equip me with a heart for that which is right and empty me of this darkness that has me chasing down my rights.  Help me learn to be willing to be wronged and teach me to be able to return evil with kindness.  Thank you for not discarding me, as I do others when I can’t find the good in them.  Amen.

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probably we should be bored a little more often

bored

Don’t worry, I’m not going to thump you over the head with all the reasons you should get rid of (or use drastically less of) the television, computer, iPod, iPad, iPhone, etc.  Okay, so maybe I am.  A little.

I’m not anti-electronics and I’m not going to climb onto my roof and start screaming about the evils of technology.  Because technology is not inherently evil.  It would be ridiculous for me to pretend I thought it was considering I’m tapping out this post on my laptop and will publish it through an electronic transmission at the touch of a button.  Pretty cool, if you ask me.

That said, abuse of any kind is not good and we, as a society, absolutely and totally abuse technology.  Period. The end.

Well, it’s not really the end, I guess, because I’m just getting started.

I’m going to be honest and to be honest, I’d have to admit that sometimes honesty isn’t my favorite thing.  Like when I’m having to rat myself out.  Like I’m about to do.  Here goes.

In our home we have 2 laptops, 1 desktop, 5 iPad minis, 1 iPad, 2 iPods and 3 cell phones.  Oy, I think I need a minute after throwing that out there.  Even I think that sounds ridiculous.  In my defense, however:

  • The iPad mini’s were gifted to our 5 oldest children as a means to enhance their homeschool experience.  They are able to download books and other learning tools using this electronic resource.
  • The iPad (of regular size) belongs to my hard-working husband who uses it for his schooling.  He’s a career firefighter but he’s also working toward his Fire Science degree.
  • The desktop is my husband’s and it actually doesn’t really work too well.
  • One of the laptops belongs to me and the other belongs to our oldest son who uses it for his online academy.
  • The iPods were gifts several years ago from doting grandparents because our teenagers had not yet been permitted to have phones.   It was a nice compromise.
  • The cell phones belong to my husband, myself and our oldest, who is nearing 17.

Now that I’ve so nicely defended myself allow me to throw myself under the bus.  There is no question that electronics abuse is an ongoing struggle in our home.  No matter what the intended use of each one of those gadgets mentioned might have been, there is temptation lying right outside the realm of intended use.  Lots and lots of temptation.

Here are some guidelines we are implementing:

  • No electronics between the hours of 9am and 3:30pm, which are our school hours.
  • If schoolwork is completed before 3:30pm, as it is for many of the children, you still may not use the electronics.
  • If you are bored during the hours of the electronics ban, find something creative to do.  Read, craft, climb a tree, ride a bike, make a fort, be a kid.
  • Electronics are to be shut down at 9pm if you are one of the children still up at that hour.  This does NOT mean we will expect or allow their faces to be glued to the screen between the hours of 3:30-9pm.  Moderation.
  • All electronics are to be placed on the office desk for overnight storage.

Frankly, I’d love for my kids not to own a single device.  If we could go back, we’d do things differently.  But since the horse is already out of the gate, we’ve decided the best path is to train them (and ourselves) to practice self-control.  One day they will be on their own with full access to all the technology they want.  We want them to be prepared for that onslaught so we’re walking this path with them while they are yet in the fold.

bored2

When I think back on my own childhood, I remember scraped knees and dirty fingernails.  I have fond memories of my favorite doll and my make-believe family, of which I was the matriarch.  I remember playing ball and riding bikes and laughing.

But mostly I remember that I didn’t spend time staring at a screen.

My imagination was fully engaged and if I lacked for something to play, I could always find something to read.  That is what I want for my kids.  For them to know how to work hard, play well and live life.

I want them to know reality from the photoshopped lies and glossed-over deceptions fed to them from most every online portal.  I want them to know boredom so they can hear that sweet voice of Jesus that often calls in a whisper.

And for the record, that’s exactly what I want for myself, too!  How about you?

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Join me on Thursday when I’ll share the online and social media parameters we have for our children at various ages.

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hope for the mediocre mom

mediocre

Because that would be me and if there’s one thing I need, it is hope.  Oh, how I need hope.

The online world is pretty one dimensional so in case you’ve never picked up on how dire my case is, allow me to take just a moment to give you the CliffNotes version of my mediocrity…

  • I’ve cooked 3 meals in the past two months.  Three.  Exactly three.
  • They weren’t great meals.  In my defense, I’ve been battling pregnancy sickness.
  • When filling out a form recently, I had to ask several of my children what grade they were in.
  • I’m not known for my exceptional skill as a laundress.  I’ll leave it at that.
  • I’ve never seen a real problem with cold cereal on occasion.  Even if that occasion spans the three meals of the day.
  • Dry cereal also works just fine in a pinch, if you ask me.  Just don’t ask my kids.
  • It is not humanly possible to keep my fridge stocked with milk.  It just isn’t.  Hence, the dry cereal.
  • Homeschooling sometimes looks an awful lot like, well, I dunno what it looks like.  I can tell you that sometimes it just ain’t purty.
  • I was always opposed to locking myself in the bathroom to cry.  Then I had kids.
  • I once told my toddler that a chocolate milkshake was my medicine.  I honestly didn’t feel too badly about it since I wasn’t lying.
  • My bedroom closet.  Um, yeah…next topic.
  • Yesterday I slept till 9.  My toddlers got up at 7:30.  I’m eternally grateful for teenagers who love me.
  • I had my first five children within 6 years.  I don’t remember much from those 6 years.
  • My husband adores me.  I always knew there was something a little off about that guy. ;)

Okay, I’m going to stop there.  You probably get the idea.  I’ve never been nominated for Mother of the Year.  In fact, I’m pretty sure one year I even saw someone glance my way and snicker as they were discussing nominees for the award.  Whatever.

But here’s the thing…I’ve grown.  The Lord saw fit to reach a loving hand out and make me able to prepare an edible casserole and serve it with homemade bread and a side of greens.  That, in and of itself, is a homemaking miracle considering I came into marriage not realizing food was actually prepared in a kitchen.  I grew up thinking you bought it frozen and just used that large room to heat it.  See how far I’ve come?  The kids may get excited when my teenage son is in the kitchen instead of me but his cinnamon rolls don’t hold a candle to mine, so there’s that.  I’m clinging to that, by the way.

I have days where I don’t want to get up.  Days where I don’t want to fill the many roles a mother must.  Times I feel I might need a sedative to deal with all the simultaneous Hey, mama, look at this!  and Watch me’s and Mama, I found a black widow. Can I keep it as a pet?

Yes, I have lots of those days.  But I get up and do it anyway.  I laugh with my kids and sometimes I cry with them.  We play and tease and romp and wrestle.  They fight for the seat next to me and each night finds my cheek covered in kisses, from the little ones all the way to my almost-men.

Because my beautiful children don’t realize I’m mediocre.  To them I am safety, security, a warm smile and unconditional love.  And that, my friends, is nothing short of exceptional….because God made it so while I was busy tallying up my flaws.

Flaws my children keep no record of.

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Raising Daughters Who Are Worthy of a Good Man

RH1

I’m raising five boys.  Three of them are already journeying through the teen years, but that part doesn’t scare me.  You know what does, though?

The fact that we’re inching ever nearer to the day they will be ready to consider marriage.

I’m not afraid of them marrying, exactly, but it’s a bit concerning when I look around and see a world full of young women who are terrifyingly bold and assertive.  Even more so, however, is the fact that girls are no longer being taught to respect themselves as the treasures they were created to be but are being encouraged to seek full and complete liberation from Biblical roles.

And this is not simply a “worldly” epidemic.  It is totally infiltrating the church from every corner.

I’m not impressed by the flesh-baring, egocentric, selfie-obsessed society I find myself raising children in.  Not impressed, yet it is my reality and it does me no good to sit and complain about what is or pining for what isn’t.  My time is much better spent helping my children navigate their way carefully toward what will be.

My hope and my prayer is that each of their will be’s include Jesus every step of the way.  Even the step that leads toward marriage, if one is in His respective plan for them.  But what kind of girl will be suited to walk beside my guys as they continue on in their faith experience?  As the mother of boys who is also raising girls, this is something I have thought about often.  Here are some critical components to their “princess” training we are striving for…

 

Join me over at Raising Homemakers for the rest of the article.

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3 things i feel you should know about me

Taking a step back from blogging has made me realize a few things, some of them not so pretty.  The most concerning to me is that I’m not entirely sure I present myself in writing as I am in real life.  I’ve decided that I either need to hang up blogging or get back to my roots with authenticity.  Because as things stand right now, I have completely lost interest and have no desire to write from this platform.  Why?  Let me explain a few things you may not know about me from my writing…

A bin full of crumpled pieces of paper.

1) I’m a homeschooler but I have never been hard core about it.  Meaning I don’t feel that passion to induce others to follow my path.  Yes, I believe it affords my family an opportunity to grow in ways I’m not sure we could or would in another schooling scenerio.  But what I believe in is passionate parenting.  I believe in throwing our whole selves into loving and raising God-fearing children with a moral and spiritual compass firmly within their grasp as they step across the threshold into adulthood.  I have two friends, semi-locally, who choose homeschooling.  Two.  Every other of the friends around me has felt led to school in a more “traditional” environment.  But you know what strikes me?  These families take their job seriously.  They are fully invested in the task at hand.  And it is evident when we spend time with them that their hearts are knit together.  They certainly have more outside influence to deal with than we do as homeschoolers but they are dealing with it wisely.

The bottom line is, I believe in homeschooling.  I choose to stick with it because that is how we feel led to proceed.  It is the path we believe God has placed before us.  But it isn’t up to me to decide if it is the same path God has placed before others.  That puts me on the blogging fringe of some of the other conservative-minded homeschool bloggers (although I have never met with anything but kindness from them) and can create a bit of friction among readers.  I have no desire to be divisive but I feel almost dishonest not laying it out there.

2) I have 7 children and am about 3 1/2 months along with my 8th, but I have never managed to embrace that “quiverful” mindset.  I struggle through pregnancy and the older I get the more I struggle after pregnancy.  I firmly believe each baby is a blessing but I have spent more of my child-bearing years trying to prevent those blessings than waiting in anticipation for the next one to show itself in two pink lines.  My current pregnancy has already been riddled with emotion as I have gone swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other.  I am dealing with absolute fear.  I keep having to take those fears to His feet and I’m grateful to have friends, family and an AMAZING husband who remind me to keep my eyes on the big picture.  But while I get excited when I hear the heartbeat or feel those first flutterings of movement, I still have moments of doubt and fear.  I’m a work in progress and mostly the progress just feels awful slow.

3)  I’m not much of an activist.  I don’t typically launch a boycott and I don’t feel my hackles rise when I see news reports that only testify to the fact that we are sitting on the precipice of time…time that is running out.  Things are bad but we were told they were going to be.  The world at large is clueless and, for the most part, it seems perfectly content to remain so.  I detest evil and the evil workings of the dark one as much as the next girl, but my thought is that we should fight evil with good.  I don’t boycott Walmart because of the magazines that line the check-out and if a sweet little girl scout were to knock on my door with cookies, you can be pretty sure I’d hand over a few dollars to support her, not Planned Parenthood.  I have no problem with people following their honest to goodness convictions…in fact, I encourage it.  My issue comes when people look for things to be “convicted” about and then respond in ungoldly ways to unsuspecting people caught in the crossfire.  If I began to boycott every place that had unsavory ties I’d be left with pretty much nowhere to spend a dollar.  And for me (maybe not you) I don’t have the time to figure out who supports what in this world rapidly filling with evil.

So, as I timidly step a toe back into blogging, I wanted you to have a glimpse of what is inside my head and my heart.  And I’d love to hear your own thoughts.  I have absolutely no problem with people disagreeing with me, I just think it does all of us well to speak through a filter of love.

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because moms need to know they’re okay

pianohands

It was the middle of the dark night and I was sleeping alone, my husband tucked snug into his bunk at the station.  The bed felt cold and big and sleep was slow to come.  When it finally found me, it didn’t keep me long.

A little blonde head with big brown eyes and a raggedy teddy bear reach out a questioning hand to touch my face.  In the gentle glow from the night lantern I made out his tiny pale face and watched as he popped his thumb in his mouth, uncertain.

quinnandbear

He wanted in.  He wanted me.  He needed to be close and to know he was safe and to feel he was loved.

I reached out a sleep-weak arm and helped him climb up.

He settled in, snuggled up close.  I rested my chin on the top of his soft head, ready for sleep.  But then I felt his sweet mouth touch my cheek and heard the whispered words, I love you so much, Mama.  A moment later he was asleep.

But those words stole my tired.  They left me almost breathless with a racing heart.  And as I laid there listening to the gentle breathing of my contented child, it hit me.

He just flat loves me.  He doesn’t keep score of all the times I fail.  He doesn’t lie awake thinking how mama fed him cold cereal for supper, again.  He doesn’t cling to a grudge when I deny his request for pancakes and french fries.  And he isn’t horrified to find me sleeping in the same pajamas I’d worn all day.

His heart is pure and wide open.  And it needs me to fill those places only a mother can fill.

Imperfect mothers fill little boys hearts everywhere.  Working class mothers.  Single mothers.  Exhausted and cranky mothers.  Mothers with too much on their plates and mothers who feel they have no plate at all.  Mothers with stained clothes and stretched out underclothing.  Mothers who want a hot shower without frantic pounding on the door.

Just every kind of mother out there.

Me?  Well, I’m a little piece of all those mothers wrapped into one very inadequate woman who beats herself silly for not being more.

Because who needs enemies when you have those voices in your head, you know?  The ones who tell you to slow down and hurry up….like that mom over there.

Only that mom isn’t real.  She’s a badly photoshopped version of a mother without even one pretty little toe dipped in reality. Yet, we feel threatened by her.

She’s the shadow that chases us and the fuel behind the voices which tear us down until we give up.  Defeated.

We’re not good moms, we tell ourselves.  We’re terrible, horrible, selfish, impatient women who have been given a job we can’t fill.  We’re getting it all wrong and everybody knows it.  Everybody, that is, except our children.

Because they think we’re beautiful.  They love our smile more than anything in the world and the sound of our laughter is like tinkling bells of joy.  They thrive in our presence, especially when we slow down enough to catch the sparkle in their eye and their need to be noticed.

quinndimple

It’s like a flood of light pouring into my weary soul just to know I am loved so purely by another human.  To know that He’s standing in the gaps of my failure, not insisting I be flawless to win the heart of my precious child.

Weary from the battle I had just waged within my mind and soul, I felt myself give into sleep once again.  And as I caressed the sweet hand so warm in my own, I breathed the only prayer I could muster in that moment…

Thank you for making me his mom.

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