Sunday, April 29, 2007

Reflecting Redemption

The girls and I have been contemplating Fa's blog post from last week, in which she talks about victory over sin being the birthright of the child of grace. She brought it right down to daily living, too. When we bring order to something, whether it be the kitchen, the garden or our thoughts, we are fighting sin, reflecting redemption. That has helped me even more than remembering kindness. Each time I need to clean something, I find myself having a mini-celebration:

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!
Redeemed through His excellent mercy
His child, and forever, I am!

Oh, how I want to hold onto this thought with both hands!

Thursday, April 26, 2007



Perfect love casteth out fear. - I Jn 4:18

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. -Jn 15:13


Before honor is humility. -Prov. 18:12

Be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble. -I Pet. 5:5


I will love thee O Lord, my strength. -Ps. 18:1

Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. -Prov. 31:25


Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. -Ps. 27:14

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Housekeeping A-ha

Sometimes I feel like I really catch a clue more slowly than other people. I am sharing this a-ha moment with that feeling. One of those, "I coulda had a V-8" moments. As in, how could I have missed this obvious truth for so many years?

So here it is.

I have known for a long time that it is better to enjoy what you do than to do what you enjoy.

(Think about that for a moment.)

Well, the other day a good friend shared a portion of the book Ourselves, which she is reading with her teen:

The office of Kindness is simply to make everyday life pleasant and comfortable to others, whether the others be our pets which we feed and attend to, our dog which we play with and take for a scamper, our horse which we not only feed and care for, but cheer and encourage with friendly hand and friendly word, or our family and neighbours, rich and poor, who offer a large field for our Kindness.

I have been attempting to have a better attitude as I keep the house running lately, and have been reading (and reading, and reading) books on contentment, housekeeping, showing love, etc., hoping that I would bump into something that would turn a light on in my heart where housecleaning is concerned. I have not been able to enjoy what I do rather than do what I enjoy where housekeeping is concerned. I have walked around wondering how to regain the excitement and pleasure of making a home that I felt when I was a new homeowner. So when I read this quote, I read it through the lens of my own personal struggle.

And I received instruction. I tend to look around the house and think of the people who have live in the house and make the messes, and subsequently a little resentment builds up. What does this have to do with kindness? I realized I have not been kindly in my keeping of the house. I have been more the person who demands her rights and doesn't want to do any more than her "fair share", whatever that is. (Have you ever tried to figure out "fair share" where housecleaning is concerned? It gives me a headache very quickly.) I have known for a long time that this is the wrong approach, but have been stymied in my attempts to figure out what the right approach is.

It's kindness!!

Kindness is making everyday life more pleasant and comfortable for others. If that isn't homemaking, I don't know what is.

My new idea, which lines up with enjoying what you do rather than doing what you enjoy, is this:

Cheerful housekeeping thinks of the people who are coming after, rather than the people who were there before.

(Okay, so it's not such a great catchphrase. Perhaps I will think of a better way to phrase it in the next few days. I just wanted to get it on the blog so I wouldn't forget and go back to my Eeyore-style housekeeping ways.)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Practice What You Preach

When I teach piano, one thing I find myself constantly repeating to my students is that a person should only play a piece as quickly as she can play accurately. If there are mistakes being made, the piece is not being played slowly enough. Accuracy is much more important than speed.

So this morning I was playing through some old pieces, attempting to daydream my way into some cohesion of ideas for the next school year. (Does anyone else ever do this? Play an instrument as a way to access the hidden corners of the mind, where solutions are sure to be found, but are not plainly available in regular life? I also clean as a way to access those thoughts. Typing on the computer helps too, sometimes.)

My youngest piano student, six-year-old Cornflower, came to listen. I was playing Rondo a la Turk by Mozart, and I was rusty, having to slow down during transitions, occasionally missing the fingering in the runs, etc.

This sweet child watched and listened for a little while, then thoughtfully said, "Mom, I think you need to play that piece more slowly."

At least I know she's paying attention.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


I am really not a big fan of dirty laundry. Actually, clothing of any kind not actually in drawers, hanging in closets, or being worn, inspires a slight dread in my mind, a nagging guilt in my conscience.

Sunday I was talking with a dear sister in Christ about laundry. She has the same size utility room as I do, and I asked her if she ever had trouble with the laundry overflowing its bounds and covering the floor of the room (this is a frequent challenge at our house). She said she did have that problem, and when it happens, she simply steps over the pile to get to the garage. I have been looking for new ways to organize the laundry room so it isn't such a mess when the piles get big, and asked my friend if she had any suggestions. She said she didn't, but that it was temporary.


She said the problem of overflowing laundry was a temporary one. She remarked that she had relatives with the same size utility room as she and I each have, and their utility room is always organized and the laundry caught up-- because there are only two people in their household! Eventually my friend and her husband and Mr. Honey and I will have beautifully tidy utility rooms and caught up laundry also-- when the children leave home.


At first I thought, that's a long definition of temporary!! Then I saw the truth of the statement, and realized my vision is too small. I look at the laundry and see lots of work for today, and I need to make the kids help, and I am a bad mother if no one can find any jeans to wear. She looks at the laundry and sees that when the laundry is no longer a big chore, it will be because the children are grown and out of the house.

Again With The Rock Candy

Mariel and I followed another rock candy experiment a couple of weeks ago, the one with the wooden spoon and cotton string and glass jar.

(Small break for the singing of the Stirring Song.)

Just keep stirring
Just keep stirring
Just keep stirring, stirring, stirring
What do we do? We stir, stir

Oh, I lo-o-ove to stir
When you w-a-a-nt to stir
You take a spoon and a bowl
And pour something in
And stir-r-r-r!

We had to seed the cotton strings by dipping them in the sugar water and leaving them out on a paper towel to dry for a couple of days. Then we put the strings in the jar and now we are waiting. And waiting. It has been two weeks, like I said.

This. Is. The. Last. Time. I. Am. Doing. This. Experiment.

Dwelling in Safety

"Mommy, if I were a little bug with a t-shirt on that said 'Cornflower', would you look to make sure the bug you were swatting didn't have on a t-shirt before you swatted it?"

(Well, of course!)

(And I should probably also mention that the child sleeps in a bedroom decorated with fairy wings, larger-than-life flowers and a leaf-- for a bed canopy-- that is bigger than she is.)


(I like this word because of the way it is pronounced-- too-muhlt.)

And its friend, tumultuous. (tuh-muhl-chew-uhs)

I know the word is meant to describe chaos and turbulence, but I still like it.

My Girls

In your blue eyes, O reckless child,
I saw today many little wild wishes,
Eager as the great morning.

--Carl Sandburg

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

In Honor of Liviu Lebrescu

Please go and read Blest With Son's post about the Virginia Tech massacre. Thank the sheepdogs in your life.

And God bless Mr. Liviu Lebrescu. He saw an awful lot of violence in his lifetime, and gave his life protecting others.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Happy Land

There is a happy land
Far, far away;
Where saints in glory stand,
Bright, bright as day;
Oh, how they sweetly sing,
"Worthy is our Saviour King!
Loud let His praises ring,
Praise, praise for aye!"

Oh, to that happy land,
Christ went away;
Who does in glory stand,
While we delay;
Oh, we shall happy be,
When from sin and sorrow free;
Lord, we shall live with Thee,
Blest, blest for aye!

Bright in that happy land,
Beams ev'ry eye;
Kept by a Father's hand,
Love cannot die;
Oh, then to glory run,
Saints shall share a glorious home,
And bright above the sun,
We'll reign for aye!

--Andrew Young (1807-1889)

National Birthday Week

Wednesday was my birthday! (Just thought I'd let you know.)

It was fun.

National Birthday Week is a family tradition at our house, but even so this birthday went way beyond the bounds of custom.

Over the course of a week I had shrimp and lobster, and shoes, and shopping, and clothing, and (extra-loving) household help, and quiche, and cake, and ice cream, and singing, and earrings, and coffee, cards, and books, and visits, and phone calls, and emails, and love, and love, and love...

It was a good week to be me.

And in the course of (the same) week our family had:

1 violin adjudication (she got a Superior)
2 constructive cases to write for debate
2 day-long meetings with corporate bigwigs
2 speeches to work on (one was Mr. Honey's for work)
1 Girl Scout Bronze Award work evening

A very full and exciting week! I'm glad not all weeks are this work-full, though. I can't wait for summer.


My mind is so full tonight.

Triss and I are working hard to finish her constructive cases for debate on Monday, and we have bitten off more than we can chew. We could use at least another week (or a few). I really dislike missing a deadline, but I am not sure we are going to make it. This way of researching and writing, and indeed the entire research topic, is very new to Triss, and the only way she is keeping her head above water is because of the reading of good literature she has done over the last few years. The majority of her proofs are literary allusions. I am helping her find quotes from authorities in the field. What is the field? Homeschooling. The resolution is:

Resolved: Socialization should take precedence over academic achievement for homeschooled students.

She has to defend the affirmative position, and then the negative position. Somehow we agreed for her to debate both sides (in two separate debates, lol) on Monday. We are suckers for punishment. Thankfully, she has a partner for the negative case. But they are each writing their own case and then deciding which one to use.

The thought processes required for this kind of composition are almost beyond what Triss is capable of. I have been very excited about Lincoln Douglas Values Debate because establishing solid principles that apply to life is a big goal we have for our kids, and it is time for Triss to begin thinking analytically about them. But she is only on the edge of beginning that process, and as we have worked (and worked and worked) on the writing of these cases, it has become more and more obvious to me that LD debate is probably too much pressure for her at this time. As a result, I have been connecting the dots for her occasionally, rather than simply presenting the material and discussing it with her. (I'm doing that, too.) The process tends to go like this:

1. I pre-research the topic, finding things I want her to read about it, to give her a starting place.
2. She reads those things and writes about them (with a time limit).
3. We discuss what she has read and brainstorm, doing more research as needed.
4. I have her write about what we talked about (with a time limit).
5. I show her some good places to research online, and give her a specific sub-topic to research (with a time limit).
6. I read what she has written and offer my critique. We discuss it and she changes the things she thinks should be changed.
7. Then we start over. She has spent about an hour each day on this, sometimes two.

We have determined values, criteria, and contentions, very slowly, in this way.

But I am thankful that we both are having this experience. It is opening Triss' eyes to the idea that there is more than one side to a question; we have had lots of great conversations about homeschooling and what is important in life and education; and the process has enhanced my ideas for schoolwork in the years ahead.

I do wish we had another couple of weeks, though.

Update 4/15: We managed to finish both of her constructive cases. Yes! Now on to the actual debates tomorrow. Mariel is about ready to present her speech for tomorrow's tournament as well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Please Pray for Heather

One of the ladies who is organizing the 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards, Heather of Especially Heather, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor in the last couple of days. This is startling and troubling news, but we serve a God Who is the Master Healer. Please offer a prayer for her as you go about your day. And, for Heather: I do not know what you are going through. Nothing like that has ever happened to me. But I do know the Lord, and I have seen Him work glorious things through immense struggles. I pray you will see Him move mightily in your situation, and be comforted by His love and power.

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform
He plants his footsteps in the sea
He rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never-failing skill
He treasures up his bright designs
And works his sovereign will.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

His purposes will ripen fast
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste
But sweet will be the flower.

Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter
And he will make it plain.

--William Cowper (1731-1800)

How I Find Time To Blog

A friend asked me today how I have time for blogging and reading blogs, and I thought my eight readers might be interested in knowing how blogging works at my house. So here is my reply.

Sleep is what gives, lol!! (And some household projects.)

Um... the kids help me a lot with housework, and I also do housework while they do schoolwork, in between helping them. So I tend to have an hour or so in the evening where they are occupied with their sisterly pretend games and Mr. Honey is doing paperwork. When I am not planning school stuff or helping the kids with a project, blogging and reading posts/articles actually fills up a little bit of loneliness that might otherwise be spent watching TV or reading. (I could probably be catching up on reading the kids' schoolbooks during this time, and I do that too, but sometimes I just need to get away from the obligatory reading-so-I-can-be-responsible. It wears me out.)

As for blogging itself, I only blog when I have something to say that is screaming to get out, and then the words come so fast that it doesn't take very long. I read through the post a couple of times before I post it, but other than that I do not save as draft and rewrite like some other bloggers. (I just don't have time, and blogging is not my main work, so folks are just going to have to suffer with stream of consciousness posts. I try to be organized in my thoughts from the beginning so the posts aren't too hard to follow.)

And sometimes I get distracted and mess myself up and wonder where all the time went in the day, and it is because I was checking emails and blogs too much. Then I have to turn the computer off for a couple of hours or a day, and remember how to exist without up-to-the-minute information. ;o)

(I forgot to add that I also use a feed to read other folks' blogs, and that is *such* a timesaver. I can read posts from dozens of different blogs all on the same web page and don't have to wait for all the graphics and things to load. Another way this helps is that I don't have to go all over checking to see who has a new post. The blogs with posts I haven't read are in bold when I pull up my feed. I use Bloglines.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Please go read this essay by Fa-so-la-la at The Beehive. It is the one she submitted with her college application, and after reading it all I can say is no wonder they not only accepted her, but gave her a full four-year scholarship. Way to go, Fa!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

2006 Homeschool Blog Awards!

It is time to vote for the 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards! The ladies have done such a good job setting it up and organizing it. (I didn't even have to figure out on my own how to get this graphic into my post, as they told me how to do it at the bottom of the voting post. Very nice.)

Some kind folks have nominated this blog in two categories~ Best NEW Homeschool Blog and Best Nitty Gritty Homeschool Blog. And all this right after receiving the Thinking Blogger Award meme! I'm very flattered and trying to keep it from going to my head. And thank you!

(Honesty compels me to point out that, while this blog on Blogspot is new in the last year, having been started in March of 2006, I have been blogging since July of 2005. You can find my old blog here. I emailed the ladies at the contest and have not received a reply, so I imagine it is fine, since this blog was started in 2006.)

(Also, our fine friends at the Beehive were nominated for Best Homeschool Group or Family Blog, but as of right now their blog is not listed in the voting category. They are feeling rather gloomy about it. I did notice there is a bullet without a blog in the Best Homeschool Group of Family Blog category, so maybe that is their spot. I hope it will be fixed, because those folks have a wonderfully diverse and literary blog that ought to be rewarded. Go over and see.)

I have been over to the awards and attempted to vote, but it is going to be hard. There is a long list of choices, and I have found multiple blogs I would like to vote for in each category.

The deadline for voting is April 15th. That is this coming Sunday, for those of you who, like me, have a hard time remembering where we are in the month. So go vote!

Monday, April 09, 2007

A Milestone

Cornflower lost her first tooth today.

She has had a grown-up tooth coming in crooked, behind one of her front bottom teeth, for a few weeks now, although the baby tooth was not at all loose. Today the dentist pulled the baby tooth.

He was very clever. We were in there on other business, and I just asked him to look at it spur-of-the-moment. When he saw it, he agreed that it needed to come out, and asked if we wanted to make an appointment or have it pulled today. I said today.

We have a wonderful dentist, and the kids have always enjoyed-- nay, looked forward with eager anticipation to-- visiting the dentist. This is so important to me, because I never liked going to the dentist until we were blessed to find this wonderful family dentistry staff six years ago. Well, I was a little worried today (although I didn't think I was showing it) because I could see that this visit could easily turn the tide of Cornflower's fondness for dental visits, and I really didn't want that to happen.

But I should have known better. Dr. Rossen is such a pro. He visited with Cornflower about sleepy juice that would make her tooth and lip go to sleep, engaging her in banter as the anesthetic worked its way in. He showed her the tool he would use, and how he was going to use it. He pulled her tooth while showing her how the tool worked, and she never even noticed. He then asked if Cornflower thought we should pull the tooth today or wait. Cornflower said to wait, and Dr. Rossen said, "Really? But I've already pulled it!" Cornflower thought that was a big joke. She didn't believe him. He had to show her the tooth!


I was relieved and thought the visit was a big success. One of the dental assistants told me, "She got an A+, Mom-- but you got an F! You looked so worried!" I didn't even know that! I was really stressing about whether Cornflower would still enjoy dental visits, and it must have shown on my face!

Cornflower called her daddy and her Goggy to tell them about her tooth. (She thought Goggy would be disappointed because he had planned to pull the tooth when it got a little looser.) We went to Sonic for celebratory ice cream (the residual effects of the anesthetic prompting Cornflower to remark, "Mom, my lip feels like it has tape on it!"), and then went home.

She is expecting a visit from the tooth fairy tonight, and has planned accordingly: her tooth, in its little plastic box; a cookie in a ziploc bag; and a note, are all hidden under her pillow.

And she gave me the pink carnation she got from the dentist office.

:warm fuzzy:

I like this job.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


One spring wind unbinds the mountain snow
And comforts violets in their hermitage.

My beloved spake, and said unto me,
Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

--Song of Solomon 2:10-13

My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the sweet though far off hymn
That hails a new creation:
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul—
How can I keep from singing?
--Robert Lowry

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thinking Blogger Award

Tim's Mom has nominated me for the Thinking Blogger Award. What fun! She is very kind. It is more of a survey than an award, and I have enjoyed watching it go through the blogs I read. I even added a few new blogs to my feeds based on some recommendations received through this meme.

(There is a badge that says Thinking Blogger, but I cannot get it to appear on this post, so I will do without.)

Here are the rules:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote (there is an alternative silver version if gold doesn’t fit your blog).

Here are the most recent folks who have made me think:

First, I have to name Javamom over at Take Time To Smell The Coffee. She is the list-and-coffeehouse-discussion-mom of our local book club and is good at drawing out thoughtful discussion (and keeping it on topic too!). She also takes old books and makes them beautiful again, a process that I am fascinated with.

Second (and I know she has been nominated already but she just really makes me think), Krakovianka at U Krakovianki. I enjoy her book posts and her posts on Poland, and I especially enjoy her insights on CM method and Classical method.

Another person who makes me think, and whose blogs I have only recently found, is Willa at In A Spacious Place. Her posts on life, and even her journal of what is accomplished daily at her house (at Every Waking Hour) encourage me to continue to contemplate, but to relax as well.

And someone who challenges me to step out of my box of "craftily challenged person" and stretch beyond counted cross-stitch is Mrs. Happy Housewife. She searches out tutorials of things she hasn't done and tries them. I watch and admire and think, "I should do that." But I never do. Perhaps someday.

And I can only have five. I have several more, most of whom have already been nominated, and I cannot decide which one to pick for the last. So I will leave this final choice as a tie between these other thoughtful spots. (It makes me wonder, how is it all going to end? Will the Thinking Blogger meme go on and on, and on and on? Or will it someday fizzle out and die? How do memes live and die anyway? What is the general life expectancy of a meme? And why is it called a meme? What is a meme, anyway? Hmm.)

Trees in the Forest and the Forest of Trees

I think one of the struggles I have with monastery bells is that they all seem to go off at once at my house. Javamom and I were just talking about this via email yesterday.

I am really good at focusing on just one thing, down to the smallest microcosm of thought. I can think one thing to death. That is my problem. I can get down to kindergarten level and identify completely with the young child-mind, and live there all day-- but don't ask me to talk about past participles or Plutarch. Or I can commiserate with the difficulty of third grade math, and rejoice to be learning the exploits of British kings-- but then it is hard to be understanding of my kindergartner's position when she begins doing whatever she can to get my attention after being by herself for an hour. Or I can attempt to understand Plato and Shakespeare and have a theoretical discussion on the virtues of socialization versus academic achievement (with my sixth grader), but if my 3rd grader approaches me wanting help with her basic division facts I have to "climb out of a pit" in order to remember how to explain it.

And I'm very good at homemaking-- as long as that is all I am doing. I can clean and pay bills and have lovely dinners and peaceful evenings-- but during school seasons I'm thinking of other things. Or I can be a fun summer Mom, but I will most likely forget to have the oil changed in the car.

Javamom said that I am global. I have thought for a long time that I am the opposite-- I examine every tree and forget about the forest. But after disagreeing with her, I thought of something Krakovianka said once in a conversation about synthesis versus analysis (which I think is the same thing as global versus analytical): it depends on how you define the whole and the parts. She had a conversation with someone once about synthesis and analysis in studying art, and they both agreed that children ought to go from whole to parts-- synthesis to analysis-- as they progress through their learning in art appreciation. But one (I think it was Krakovianka) believed the forest was being immersed in the art world of one artist, while the other looked at the whole as being the entire art realm-- giving the child an overview of the entire history of art before focusing on individuals.

I think my conversation with Javamom must have some similarities. I deeply immerse myself in whatever I am doing-- wholly. I go as deep as my mind can get (and get turned upside down and in circles a lot, because my reasoning ability is not of the best). So whatever I am doing could be considered the forest. Or it could be considered just one tree-- after all, there are so many things a mother must immerse herself in. Then the forest would be the whole of my life.

I get scattered and do not know which tree (forest? bell?) to focus on. For instance, as I sit here blogging this morning, I can hear the children getting ready. Or rather, making ice skating plans rather than getting ready. I ought to go move them along a little. And before I sat down with these thoughts, I was beginning to make oatmeal, but not a bit of water nor oats have made it to the pot. I have gotten myself almost ready for the day already, which is good-- but I still have my makeup to put on. And it is now time for Bible lesson. There are numerous other duties at the back of my mind as well, each jostling for the position of importance, and it is puzzling which one to place in front. This is one reason I find housekeeping systems like Flylady and Sidetracked Home Executives very comforting-- until I rebel at my own stringency in following them to the letter.

Each thing is a world I could immerse myself in. So I blog about them instead.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Paying My Devotions in Parts That are New

Last night I had a conversation with a dear sister in Christ about mothering, devotion and family time. I admire this young mother, who has a toddler and a preschooler, for the way she handles her boys. I, of course, am an older mom with older children, but I often watch my friend and wish that we had started the mothering journey at the same time, because I learn so many lessons from watching her with her sons.

We were talking about quiet time. It's hard to have any of that when you have a four year old and a one year old. I get some now because my youngest is six and I can just say, "I need to do some things now, so run along and play," and she generally does.

As we talked, I remembered what it was like when my girls were very young. Around the time Triss was four and Mariel was one, I decided it was important that I have a quiet time every morning. I had been reading Elizabeth George's _Beautiful in God's Eyes_ and I was inspired and motivated by her vision of a woman who met the Proverbs 31 criteria. (That's another post entirely!)

For some reason, forty-five minutes was the amount I thought necessary for a good daily quiet time. Thirty minutes for reading and fifteen minutes for prayer, you know. So, I started getting up a little earlier than the girls to have my time.

Little Triss thought it was great. More time to spend visiting with Mommy! She has never needed a whole lot of sleep, so often she would follow me out to the living room in the morning. And she would talk. And talk. And talk. Sometimes so loudly that baby Mariel woke up and needed to be with people. Urgently. (Mariel has always preferred company to being by herself.) It became a child-training time instead of a mommy quiet time.

So I struggled along for a few years. Sometimes I got my time and sometimes I didn't. I felt guilty for not having a consistent reading and praying time. I felt upset that these precious young blessings and their father did not accomodate me more. (They really did, but I had a very stringent standard of accomodation. As in, either give me all the time I want or it doesn't count as accomodation. Please do not try this at home.) Then I attended a Wholehearted Mother Conference and heard Sally Clarkson speak. She was telling one of her stories about her time at home with her family, and she said, "I sat down with my cup of tea for thirty minutes, or whatever time the Lord allowed me that day..." And my poor mind went, "Oh. It doesn't always have to be forty-five minutes!" Silly me. Of course it doesn't. But that little phrase opened my eyes to the fact that I was the one who had imposed the Forty-Five Minute Rule For Devotions, not the Lord.

So I made allowance for life in the midst of devotions, which eased my mind a little(as well as my family's life).

Then this year, I found Willa's blogs. I "met" Willa through AO yahoo groups a couple of years ago, and greatly appreciated her thoughtful posts and insights. I just discovered a couple of months ago that she has blogs, and added her to my feeds right away. A few weeks ago she linked to an article where the author talks about monastery bells. I do not know a whole lot about monasticism, but it appears we mothers may know a bit about monastic living.

Moreover, the demands of young children also provide her with what St. Bernard, one of the great architects of monasticism, called the "monastic bell". All monasteries have a bell. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism, told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang, they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. He was adamant that they respond immediately, stating that if they were writing a letter they were to stop in mid-sentence when the bell rang. The idea in his mind was that when the bell called, it called you to the next task and you were to respond immediately, not because you want to, but because it's time for that task and time isn't your time, it's God's time. For him, the monastic bell was intended as a discipline to stretch the heart by always taking you beyond your own agenda to God's agenda.

Hence, a mother raising children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative, is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart. For years, while raising children, her time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place, and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. She hears the monastic bell many times during the day and she has to drop things in mid-sentence and respond, not because she wants to, but because it's time for that activity and time isn't her time, but God's time.

Isn't that an amazing thought? Time isn't my time, it's God's time. How about that? (More amazing that it took me this long to realize it!)

As soon as I read that, I realized the meaning of this verse in an old hymn I've sung in church my whole life:

Dear bow'r, I must leave you and bid you adieu
And pay my devotions in parts that are new
For Jesus, my Savior, resides everywhere
And can, in all places, give answer to prayer

Willa writes of "listening to her monastery bells". I like that. We can be instant in season and out of season, taking in our fellowship with the Lord whether constantly helping little ones, or able to sit with a cup of tea and the Bible.

Nowadays, rather than babies in cribs and preschoolers with lots to say, I am more likely to be called by the dishes or the laundry or the vacuum. Or the child with the division problems, or the child with the debate case, or the little kindergartner who hasn't had any attention for an hour. But I have realized that the time isn't mine, it really is God's. It makes more sense for Him to have charge of it, because He knows all things. And I don't. And after all, it is all about Him and not me. Oh, that I could remember this in the midst of the day.

Here is the entire text of the old hymn I quoted above. (This person's bower sounds like a lovely place, but my bower is usually one of our big blue La-z-boy recliners):

To leave my dear friends and from neighbors to part
And go from my home, it afflicts not my heart
Like thoughts of absenting myself for a day
From that blessed retreat where I've chosen to pray

Dear bow'r, where the pine and the poplar have spread
And wove with their branches a roof o'er my head
How oft have I knelt on the evergreen there
And poured out my soul to my Savior in prayer

The early shrill notes of the loved nightingale
That dwelt in my bow'r I observed as my bell
To call me to duty while birds of the air
Sang anthems of praises as I went to prayer

How sweet were the zephyrs perfumed by the pine
The ivy, the balsam and wild eglantine
But sweeter, ah! sweeter, superlative were
The joys I have tasted in answer to prayer

For Jesus, my Savior, oft deigned there to meet
And blessed with His presence my humble retreat
Oft filled me with rapture and blessedness there
Inditing in Heaven's own language my prayer.

Dear bow'r, I must leave you and bid you adieu
And pay my devotions in parts that are new,
For Jesus, my Savior, resides everywhere
And can, in all places, give answer to prayer.

--Author Unknown

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Yesterday when I posted excerpts of Psalm 139, I left this out, but it is so wonderful I just really need to post it:

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number
Than the sand:
When I awake, I am still with thee.
Psalm 139:17-18

Isn't that comforting?

Monday, April 02, 2007


Some really wonderful quotes on honesty:

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried." --G.K. Chesterton

"I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider that most enviable of all titles, the character of an 'Honest Man.'" --George Washington

"A little integrity is better than any career." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity, than straightforward and simple integrity in another." --Charles Caleb Colton

"You cannot drive straight on a twisting lane." --Russian Proverb

And a very humbling thought:

"O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me.
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising,
Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou compassest my path and my lying down,
And art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo,
O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Whither shall I go from thy spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

--Psalm 139:1-7, 23-24