Friday, April 29, 2011

Weeping and Rejoicing

My ten-year-old woke me up at five this morning to watch Kate Middleton walk down the aisle at Westminster Abbey and become Princess Catherine. The wedding was understated (for a royal wedding), elegant and beautiful. The music and speeches were good, too. I especially liked when the British commentator told Katie Couric to hush. She did talk rather more than she should have.

We really enjoyed watching that wedding. I am not normally one for following celebrities, but we study a lot of British history (since British law forms one of the foundations of U.S. government), and it is thrilling to witness something so very British as a royal wedding.

Some of our friends thought it might be wrong to rejoice at the wedding when we have had so much destruction lately. Earthquakes, tornadoes, a raging wildfire, even a murder in a nearby town. People are going through trials, both public and private. We certainly have our share. But I still think it is appropriate to rejoice that something good and decent and beautiful happened in London today.

The tornadoes this spring are unbelievable. Nineteen nights ago my family and I stood in the center of our house listening to a barrage of hail. Cornflower was pretty frightened. It sounded like giants were throwing baseballs at our windows. We are very thankful to only be replacing a roof, gutters, a fence, and a window. As severe weather ripped through communities of loved ones all over the south these last few weeks, I received reports from them. I let the kids know that these folks are fine, or those folks lost some property but they are fine, or these folks are not fine. Every single time I mention something like that, my kids are silent. We watched coverage of the devastation in Alabama yesterday and wondered about some friends we hadn’t heard from. The kids were very quiet and still.

So I was happy to wake up this morning with my ten-year-old and watch an elegant lady and a handsome man get married. The princess was modest, the prince was strong. They honored the institution of marriage. It was beautiful. I’m still sad about the horrible things that happen in this world. I want to help, too. But sorrow is always with us, as ten-year-old Cornflower is beginning to learn. We have to enjoy the good bits when we can.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cast Down, But Not Destroyed

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed;

we are perplexed, but not in despair;

persecuted, but not forsaken;

cast down, but not destroyed...

2 Corinthians 4:6-9

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


We live in a broken world. And, at our house, lots of things have been breaking. First it was the ignition in the van. The Warrior Poet, in a massive show of ingenuity, uninstalled the ignition, took it to a locksmith and had it retooled, then reinstalled it. He saved us around $200.

Then it was our wireless router. No, modem. No, router. AT&T keeps telling us it couldn't possibly be the modem they provided, but we have tried three new routers, and our wireless still goes off-line. Two of the three girls do their math lessons online.

Aravis' phone has been intermittently breaking, too. (This is unrelated to the router.) She uses the phone to contact us whenever she drives somewhere, and yes, I know when I was sixteen my parents were not able to give us cell phones to keep us in contact with them, but we have them now. Sometimes I think all this technology is a ruse to suck us into more bondage to stuff.

Then, with a brief flash and a sizzle, our oven's heating element went out. We had nine little girls over for the night, and I was just opening the door to bake some brownies. No one was hurt.

Then... our van broke again. Smoke started coming from the hood, which is never a good sign. We paid off this van last July, and it now breaks down every two to three months. We took it to our favorite auto repairman and he said it was the something-manifold. (I'd have to look at the paperwork to give the proper name-- those things go right out of my head as soon as they are spoken.) He had to remove the engine in order to fix it, so that was a very, very big deal. It cost one arm and one leg. But I will say that even with this and other repairs, we are still coming out ahead of a car payment. (Not much ahead, but still.)

Then we had a big hail storm, which broke one storm window (outside pane only) and damaged our fence. We aren't sure about the roof yet. We're waiting for the insurance person to come out. It also pockmarked the van, which, as you will recall, has a pristine new something-manifold. There is a slim possibility the vehicle will be totalled, but I don't think that will happen. The marks aren't very deep. Surprisingly, the van being totalled would be a good thing for us, making us able, without going into debt, to purchase another beater vehicle with fewer miles and perhaps a better internal outlook. Haha. Ours has around 160,000 miles. Such are the twists and turns of the world.

(The Warrior Poet said to be sure and mention our Blue Ice packs that leaked and then broke. He says he was very traumatized when that happened. Lol.)

This has been since the end of March. Most of these things are small. There are a lot of them, though. After the oven, one of my friend said, "These things come in threes, so you are probably done for now." I think they come in a slow trickle at times, often in a shower, and occasionally as a deluge.

Of course these things will happen. We live in a broken world. I don't know why I expect things to work all the time. We have a plaque hanging in our house that says, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's learning to dance in the rain." I love that, because when I look at our life in one way, it's always raining.

But looked at in another way, I see the gorgeous blessings in which I can revel if I have eyes to see. Here are some of the good things that have happened since the end of March.

We had a time of celebration and worship with our church during our annual meeting, which is a three-day series of services with meals in between. The girls invited their friends home after the Friday night service and I got to treat them to a slumber party before bringing them back to church on Saturday morning. And we got to see one of the little girls join the church on Sunday morning.

My mother, who just retired, and my dad, who is rejoicing in Mom's retirement, came over and fixed us breakfast one morning on a school day. Just because they love us.

Aravis went to the state science and engineering fair and actually placed fifth in her category. I didn't even think she would go to state. When they called her name I blurted out, "No WAY," embarrassing my family and drawing stares from the people around us. It just popped out, honest.

During that trip, we had a great time visiting with my mother as well as some family and friends. We were especially delighted with our little cousin, a laughing, friendly one-year-old boy.

My dad had the opportunity to visit Botswana and preach and study with folks who are interested in our doctrine. As he sent his updates, we got to learn about another culture and also rejoice in the teachings of the Lord.

Cornflower and Mariel got to participate in a special performance for relief efforts in Japan. The concert raised around $4,000, and Mariel had her first experience as concertmaster.

THEN, a year's worth of hard work and creativity culminated in two terrific performances of Peter Pan by our homeschool drama club. All three girls got to be involved in the production. The sets, directing, everything was done by students (with adult guidance), and it was fabulous.

Occasionally, I considered fretting over the broken things, but so many blessings occurred at the same time that it seemed ungrateful to pout. Besides, it's more fun to dance in the rain than to sit at the window waiting for it to stop.

Monday, April 18, 2011


"In meeting crowds of people at public gatherings, there is one type of individual that I dread. I mean the crank. I have become so accustomed to these people now that I can pick them out at a distance when I see them elbowing their way up to me... They usually have some process for curing all the ills of the world at once." --Booker T. Washington

Friday, April 15, 2011


I love my mother for all the times she said absolutely nothing. . . . Thinking back on it all, it must have been the most difficult part of mothering she ever had to do: knowing the outcome, yet feeling she had no right to keep me from charting my own path. I thank her for all her virtues, but mostly for never once having said, "I told you so." --Erma Bombeck


We must go on praying for everything, for everything, so that God may know we do not forget that it all comes from Him. If we forget God, then He lets us go our own way and we get into trouble; grandmamma told me so. And if He does not give us what we ask for we must not think that He has not heard us and leave off praying, but we must still pray and say, I am sure, dear God, that Thou art keeping something better for me, and I will not be unhappy, for I know that Thou wilt make everything right in the end.

from the novel, Heidi, by Johanna Spyri

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Several years ago-- probably around six years ago, but it feels like a lifetime-- I went through a spell of reading learning-style books. I liked those books. They helped me look at the kids as their own persons rather than as little extensions of the Warrior Poet and me. Also, like a med student that examines himself for every disease he studies, I discovered that I had 'symptoms' of almost every disposition and talent listed.

I recovered from most of them. Haha. But I did discover a tendency within myself that I had never before understood as a talent. One day, as we sat discussing how to identify spiritual gifts, I told a friend about it.

"I've been reading this book called, Discover Your Child's Learning Style, that has a long list of talents to look for in your kids. There are a whole bunch listed, but two I found interesting were "Interpersonal-Others" and "Interpersonal-Self". The 'self' talent is understanding what you are thinking, how you tick, etc. I think that is one of my talents."

"Oh... so you're self-centered?"

I love my friends. They keep me grounded.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I am letting the kids sleep in today. They have had late rehearsals the last two nights, and performances for the next three nights, so I am letting them sleep in. I have stretched our school schedule out to July 1st in order to make life a little more rational for us. One of the advantages of homeschooling. :)

The reason I have not been blogging all that much this year is because this year is crazy busy. I did it myself. Oh yes, the kids wanted all these activities, but I am the one who agreed, and the Warrior Poet just shook his head and let me. He likes us to learn from experience.

This week is similar to a week we had in October, and one more we will have at the end of this month. It is tech week for the homeschool drama club's production of Peter Pan, and at the last minute Mariel and Aravis Cornflower (see how tired I am?) were given the opportunity to perform at a benefit for Japan relief with their orchestra. And Friday and Saturday the kids have rehearsals for the Texas history play they will be performing at the end of the month.

I love all this busyness. I admit it. I love theater and music and performing. I love the excitement of helping them get their skills and inspiration together, and then cheering them on. What I don't love is running out of sandwich bags and feeling like I don't have time to call the insurance agent about hail damage and finding out one of my family members just ran out of underwear.

So we can't live like this next year. I'm pretty sure this lifestyle is not God's will for our family because He never gives us more than we can handle, and I can't handle quite this many commitments without dropping the ball on basic duties I signed up for when I became a wife and mother.

One of my pet peeves is when folks back out of commitments. As in, I agreed to do this, or participate in this, etc., but it has become hard for me, or I don't like the way it is organized, or I don't like the people, so I am going to drop out. I have a very hard time respecting someone who does this. And people do it all the time.

The other day I self-righteously looked up the Bible reference regarding "swearing to your own hurt" so I could glory in my own determination to see our commitments through this year, and guess what? That verse has context. And the Lord has a sense of humor. It sure took the wind out of my sails.

Here it is-- Psalm 15 in its entirety:

1Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?

2He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

3He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.

4In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.

5He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.

Who then can be saved, right? As I gloried in swearing to my own hurt and changing not, I was thinking ill of my neighbor, who in all probability was trying to meet other, older commitments by backing out of newer ones. Ouch. Besides, I love keeping these new commitments, so where is the honor in that?

I will say that I have seen improvement in the habits of my lackadaisical child this year-- the busyness and her desire to participate has upped her commitment to get her schoolwork done, keep her room clean, etc. This is a great thing. We need to back off of some of these activities next year, but I do not want to eliminate them altogether, especially since it seems this particular child (who will remain nameless) is energized by performing and interacting with friends. (She must be an extrovert.) So I want to have my 'budgeting eyes' on regarding time and energy and do a cost-benefit analysis as I pick and choose next year's activities. The Lord teaches something similar in Luke 14 regarding discipleship, but I think it applies to planning a year too:

28For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

29Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

30Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

I want to finish, and finish well. But it isn't only about homeschooling, or giving the kids opportunities, or even raising them. It is about living together and loving one another and glorifying God. I want to continue excellently in my old commitments, and only add new ones as they can be added without neglect for my 'ancient' vows.