Tag Archive | gospel

Human rain delay


This one is actually a sports reference.

Beanie is a very deliberate little girl in nearly everything she does.  When collecting leaves for a school project, she examines each leaf minutely to ensure that it has characteristics that are pleasing to her; when performing the forbidden “couchy-couch” jump, she carefully surveys the floor where she’ll land if she misses as well as her landing spot, to ensure that no obstacles or siblings might cause her a harder landing than she intends.

This tendency, while wonderful in terms of her work habits (you should see her cleaning the kitchen baseboards, which is one of her chores), can occasionally cause a little friction in other areas.  There are six people and two dogs who live at our house, in a total of just under 1400 finished square feet, and we have two bathrooms.

We had a busy afternoon and evening planned yesterday, which meant that, in order to not have a profoundly grouchy tribe halfway through everything, I had to snuggle everyone down for naps by around noon so we could be mobile by about 3:30.  Baby Guy and Mr. Man obligingly curled up in their beds and fell asleep as soon as their blankets were tucked in around them, Bugaboo brought a pillow, blanket, and pair of stuffed penguins out to her preferred napping spot on the loveseat, and Beanie . . . well, I reminded Beanie that she needed to go to the potty before she cuddled up to her big Funshine Bear for her nap.

Beanie is also a world-class lollygagger when there’s something she does not want to do on tap.  One thing my precious perpetual-motion machine does not like to do is nap.

Five minutes after I sent her into the upstairs bathroom, Bugaboo informed me that she needed to go, too.  I sent her downstairs and, since I also needed a rest stop, went in to check on Beanie.  A pile of uneven shreds of toilet paper lay on the floor between her dangling feet, and the loose end of the roll was torn into a triangle with a hypotenuse of about 18 inches.  I tore that off, handed it to her, and said, “Okay, Beanie, are you done going potty?  If you are, it’s time to wipe and get off the potty so other people can use it.”

What seemed a perfectly reasonable request to me was met with an ear-splitting howl of, “I DON’T WANT TO USE THE RIPPED PAPER I WANT TO USE THE STRAIGHT PAPER IT WON’T RIP RIGHT,” tears, and emphatic gesticulations at the pile of toilet paper scraps on the floor.  Her problem was threefold:  firstly, that she desperately NEEDED a nap, secondly, that she did not WANT to take the needed nap, thirdly, that she couldn’t get the toilet paper to tear neatly along the perforations.  Imperfect toilet paper squares are not acceptable at certain times in Beanie-land.

Carefully tearing off a few squares and handing them to her, I soothed, “Okay, Beanie, time to wipe and flush now.”

“I can’t.  Another drop of pee got made while I was trying to get the toilet paper to behave, and I want it to come out in the potty so it doesn’t get in my panties.”

At this point, I realized that going downstairs to use the other bathroom, which a flushing sound indicated had just been vacated by Bugaboo, was probably not a good idea, as it would start a new battle between Beanie and the toilet paper.  I turned around and started wiping the vanity top while waiting for Beanie to finish.  Some moments later, I heard the sweet sound of two little feet hitting the floor and turned around to, I hoped, use the pot myself.

Beanie, upon descending from her throne, had stationed herself at an angle that made it impossible for me to sit on the fixture without sitting on her.  I asked her if she was done, and smiled at her chirpy, “Yep!” before asking her to please move just a little bit.

“I need to pull up my pants first so I don’t trip.”

Reasonable enough.

It seemed a little less reasonable five minutes later, when she was still pulling up her underwear . . . one . . . millimeter . . . per . . . elastic . . . gather . . . at . . . a . . . time . . .

“Beanie, HONEY, Mommy really needs to use the potty.  Could you shuffle over a step or two for me, please?”

She shuffled right into the doorway — the very doorway I needed to walk through to get to the commode.

“Beanie, do you need some help?”

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!  I’m a big girl.  I’m being careful ’cause I don’t want wrinkles in my panties.”

Okay, at least that was a new one.

“Sweetie, you’re blocking the doorway.  And you really need to pull up your pants and snuggle Funshine in your cozy bed.”

“Funshine would be sad if I was wiggly because my panties have wrinkles.  I don’t want Funshine to be sad.”

I remembered to pray before I said, or did, anything else.  My thoughts were a little poisonous at that point.

“Honey, Mommy’s going to be sad if she pees in her panties because she can’t get to the potty.”

“Yeah, and then you’d have to get a towel and clean it up, too.  That would be yucky.”

Deep breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth, really is a highly effective relaxation technique.  I did so a couple of times as she meticulously continued to raise her completely unwrinkled panties.  I have seen freshly ironed shirts with more wrinkles.  Finally, I gently picked her up and moved her just enough to gain access to the toilet.

She turned around and looked at me, and said, “Mommy, we’re supposed to be patient with each other, especially if we’re trying to get something just right.”

“You are correct, Beanie, but we’re also supposed to be considerate of each other, especially when someone has a big need.”

“I have a big need to keep the wrinkles out of my panties.”

Twenty minutes later (no, really), I finally tucked her blankets around her, silently fuming at the insane amount of time it had taken her to use the potty and get into her bed.  After snuggling her in and giving her a kiss and a whispered admonition to take a nap, I closed her door and, wearily, walked over to the couch to lay down for a few minutes myself.  Bugaboo had taken advantage of the delay to build a village for her penguins on the loveseat, and after requesting that she deconstruct it so she would have enough room to lay down for her own nap, I plopped down on the sofa to rest and think.

I cracked a wide grin as I remembered the many times I had prayed for children, for patience, and for the time of their childhood to slow down so we could savor it.  Well, He certainly does answer my prayers, and does so with a great sense of humor.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have lovingly given me those things I have asked for in faith.  Please fill my heart with the same amount of patience with Your blessings that You have shown me, and when I must correct or reprove, keep my voice gentle and my face mild.  Make me a teacher to them who instructs gently and joyfully, responding to trials with love and grace.

Fish heads


Here’s the song reference.

Bugaboo, Beanie and I passed a pleasant hour this morning reading the story of Jesus multiplying the loaves and fishes.  It’s a perennial favorite around here, partly because we are a fish-loving family, partly because it’s a good reminder that Our Lord always provides us with more than we need, but does not want us to waste a crumb of it.   The girls and Baby Guy, who was up early and making merry mayhem as his sisters worked, enjoyed slices of bread as an after-breakfast snack while they colored.

After we had finished the day’s assignments, we decided to make tuna melts for lunch, since we had been talking about the loaves and fishes.  Bugaboo piped up, “Mommy, it will be kind of like we’re having lunch with Jesus!”  It’s a favorite meal around here, and an easy one for little hands to help prepare . . . unless, of course, those little hands are busy digging through the dress-up bin.

While we ate, I asked the girls if they remembered whether Jesus had anything other than bread and fish with which to feed everyone, including himself, that day.  They both shook their heads in the negative, so I followed up by asking them what we had that Jesus did not that day.  Beanie pointed out that our fish had mayonnaise and cheese on it, and Bugaboo noted that we had yummy fruit cocktail to go with our meal.

“Girls, did Jesus complain about only having bread and fish to eat?”

“No, they story just said they had lots of leftovers.”

“Look at your plates, and think about what you just told me about our lunch.  Think about it for a minute.  Jesus provided something better for us than he provided for Himself.”

“He must love us a lot.”

“Indeed.  Can we tell people we love them by giving them the best we have?”

“Yeah, but what if we like what we have?”

“That’s okay, too, but always remember that Jesus gave us His best.  Can we remember to give our best, too, whether it’s sharing our food or doing our chores or our schoolwork?”

“Okay.  Did Jesus have to sweep the hallway?”

“I’ll bet He helped His mother, Mary.”

“Yeah, He probably did.  He was a good little boy. He probably didn’t complain about it, either.”

Our little blessings amaze me sometimes.

Later that afternoon, we set about making feathers for our annual “turkey of thanks.”  I cut orange construction paper feathers until my fingers got numb, and had to ask Bugaboo and Beanie to save some of their gratitude for tomorrow.

Turkey of thanks

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for Your abundant provision for us, and for little blessings who give praise and thanks to You for Your bounty. You feed us when we are weary with living bread, and quench all our thirsts with Your living water.  Thank You for never having let our children know hunger, not for food, not for love, not for comfort.  Please enrich our hearts with humble gratitude and a fervent desire to share Your blessings with all those who hunger and despair; open our eyes to their sufferings and their eyes to Your love.

 

Hello, I love you


Here’s the song reference.

Taking kids to vote

We voted as a bloc, as it were, yesterday.

Before we disembarked from Fran the Van, I reminded Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man, and Baby Guy that we would greet each and every person we met with a warm, “Good morning, sir,” or, “Good morning, ma’am,” and an honest smile.  We spent the drive to our precinct singing selections from “Wee Sing America” and talking about how the Lord gives us free will.  We had talked about choices earlier in the day, and even took a vote on what we would have for breakfast (President Pancakes and Vice President Sausage were the victors).

As we walked the gauntlet of electioneers, Bugaboo, Beanie, Mr. Man and I greeted every poll worker for every candidate exactly as we had discussed.  Baby Guy chimed in with giggles and waves.  Each man and woman returned our greeting warmly and offered us sample ballots, which we politely declined.  Mr. Man hopefully extended his hand to each one, and was rewarded by at least a dozen smiling handshakes.

Inside the precinct, we continued greeting the people we met, from the election judges to the other voters.  People smiled, and told the tiny people what nice children they were, and commended me on their good manners.  With the exception of a minor Beanie meltdown, they weathered the 45 minute wait to cast our ballot beautifully, and made a couple of new little friends along the way.  After we voted, one of the electioneers was kind enough to take our picture.  Once we returned home, we taped a sign to the door of our little house in a swing neighborhood of a swing state so some very weary children could take their afternoon nap.

Deterring doorknockers

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for little blessings who rejoice in being salt and light to the world.  Help me teach them always, in my words, in my deeds, and in my silences, that we owe our first allegiance always to You, Who sacrificed Your life for ours.  Let my words and deeds also show them that we render unto our temporal leaders the respect they are due, and we love all of our neighbors, not just the ones who agree with us.  Lord, we serve You first, and we serve You best by being Your face to this world, in hopes of bringing others into the warm embrace of Your friendship.  We do this because we love You; grant us the strength, the courage, and the grace to share that authentic love, which does not fall into easy, feel-good gestures, but which daringly passes through the narrow gate.

Little eyes and ears


My election day plea is not a pitch for any candidate, but a simple request:  Many people bring their children to the polls with them.  Please do everything you can to ensure that the quality of adult social behavior those impressionable eyes see is the quality of behavior you would want them to emulate.

John 13:34-35

Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

34 A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

35 By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.

Peace be with you all.

— Kelly

All we need is just a little patience


Here’s the song reference.

No specific tales of the tribe today, but I wanted to share something I’ve learned from this particular political season, a lesson I’m incorporating into every formal subject we study and the rest of life, too.  I have been terribly discouraged by the willingness of so many people to rely on soundbites for information, and assume the information thus presented is accurate simply because it confirms their own opinion.  With only a minor amount of diligence, and an Internet connection, it’s pretty easy to separate fact from fiction.  This is basic research of a type my generation conducted in the library, looking up periodicals on microfilm or microfiche.  The technique and its utility transcend time and technology.

Unfortunately, the whole story usually doesn’t fit neatly into 140 characters.  Thought, logic, and reason are required to find out what is true, and a humble acknowledgement of one’s own biases is a prerequisite for recognizing truths that may be unpleasant or disagreeable, that contradict what we desperately want to believe.

In the end, this is a thoroughly Christian concept; Christ Himself admonished us, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.  How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”

I desperately want to teach my children to enter through the narrow gate in all things.  Everywhere from Scripture to Alcoholics Anonymous, the folly of choosing the easier, softer way is decried.  No matter where their hearts or political leanings may lead them, I want them to hold and defend their convictions with rigorous honesty and humility, and with the deepest respect for the humanity and dignity of all their interlocutors.  Sometimes, even following Christ’s commandment to love one another as He loved us is a part of that narrow gate.

Peace be with you.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, create humble hearts in us, and grant us the grace of understanding the difference between intelligence and wisdom.  Please help us teach Your blessings that it pleases You when we are diligent in every endeavor, but never more so than when we are in pursuit of truth.  Lord, You are all-good and all-knowing, and You never lie.  Help us to walk in Your paths in all things, and when we have choices to make, let us look first to Your guidance.

Slime, slime, everywhere there’s slime


Here’s the song reference.

One of the great Halloween traditions at our house, and the one perhaps most eagerly anticipated by the tribe, is the presentation of gifts to our wee tribe that are, shall we say, not suitable for polite company.  There are gummy body parts, toy bugs, snakes, and spiders, and other treats that verge on the vile.  The kids, of course, think this is perhaps the coolest set of little surprises they receive all year, and as a result, we rarely have any trouble getting them to eat dinner on Halloween night — the brown paper bags will not appear if so much as a morsel remains on their plates.

This year’s offerings, in addition to ghoulishly blue ring pops and pumpkin-shaped marshmallows, included little canisters of glow-in-the-dark slime.  My husband and I remember the goo fondly from our own childhoods, and giggled madly when we discovered it in the dollar bin at Target.  We rationalized giving this to a kindergartner and two preschoolers by considering the possibility of a science lesson about non-Newtonian fluids.  Homeschooling has its perks, you know.

The slime in question was the surprise hit of Halloween.  As soon as each child finishes breakfast in the morning, she or he sets about clamoring for a tub of slime. Beanie is particularly enamored of her wee vat of green goo, and has merry adventures with it and her little Care Bears toys.  This morning, while Bugaboo was curled up on the couch watching her Saturday morning cartoons, Beanie meandered into the kitchen, where I was attempting to assemble a grocery list, and plumped her rump into her chair.

“Mommy, I want to play with my slime, please.”

“Okay, Beanie.  Please keep it out of my coupons, okay?”

“Can I get a Care Bear to hide in it?”

“Sure, why not?”

As she pelted out of the kitchen to retrieve a toy, she chortled back over her shoulder, “I’m getting Share Bear, because slime is more fun when you share it, and Share Bear knows lots about sharing!”

For the next hour, a curly-haired, shining-eyed little blessing of a girl played contentedly with her pool of slime and a pink plastic bear, narrating the bear’s adventures as she went.   First the slime was a mud puddle, then a sleeping bag to wrap around the bear, then a skating rink, then a green donut, then a meadow, then a frisbee, then a pizza, then a BIG GOOEY MONSTER that would have eaten the poor bear had Beanie not rescued her from its evil clutches.

I could sit and listen to Beanie tell stories for hours.  She is completely unselfconscious about it, and equally oblivious to anything that’s going on around her.  Give her a pile of confetti, and she names the pieces and sends them on quests.  The common thread in all of her adventures is kindness — everyone has to share and use nice words.  I love that about her.

Today’s prayer: Lord, thank You for this little blessing who cannot abide ugliness. Help me teach her that she must show the same love towards others that she insists upon in her play, the same gentleness of manner and speech that You used.  Cleanse my heart of anger and rancor, that I may be Your face to her and thus teach her with more than words.

Turkey in the hall


Here’s the song reference.

Every November, we have a tradition of drawing a big picture of a turkey and adding construction paper feathers to it throughout the month.  We inscribe each feather with something for which we wish to give thanks to God.  The kids love it; when Bugaboo burbled out of her bed this morning, she accosted me in the kitchen, demanding, “Mommy, where’s our turkey?  It’s November, and we still have Halloween stuff on the closet door (the turkey lives on the door of our hall closet).

Since Manie decided to take off work for the latter half of this week, he was home to help supervise lessons and toddlers while I worked on the turkey.  The giant avian is my major creative endeavor for the  year. For the record, I failed exactly one class in my entire academic career.  That class was art, as it happens.

At any rate, we had an uncharacteristically mellow morning at our house; the girls worked on their lessons which, by happy coincidence, happened to involve a lot of coloring today, Baby Guy wandered in and out of the kitchen bringing us various objects to admire, and collecting the occasional hug and kiss.  Mr. Man decided that this was not a good coloring morning for him and claimed the most sought-after thing at our house — a room full of toys all to himself.  He camped out in the family room, watching Fireman Sam and “rescuing” stuffed animals that he hurled onto the computer desk and bookshelf.  When his show was over, he pored over a stack of picture books, gleefully calling out the names of things he recognized, including the letters that made up the words and the numbers on the pages.  We checked in on him every ten minutes or so, and tried to persuade and/or bribe him to come join us upstairs, but he was having too much fun being able to do whatever he wanted in peace.  He didn’t come upstairs until lunchtime!

In the meantime, Manie had found a Dover coloring book, “Famous Lovers From Literature,” and decided to model proper coloring and crayon-sharing techniques with Bugaboo and Beanie.  Beanie actually colored all her pictures without having a meltdown over her crayons this morning, and Bugaboo was completely agog at Daddy’s ability to stay completely within little tiny lines.  I love the days when he’s around to add his own gentle instruction to the girls’ lessons, especially where art is concerned.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the quiet, gentle mornings we spend together, for the stout roof and walls that protect us from the cold, wind, and rain.  Thank You for the infinite number of colors with which You graced Your creation, and for eyes to see and marvel at every subtle hue.  Help us kindle a love for every shade on the spectrum in Your blessings, and please help us teach them that every color has its own special loveliness.  And Lord, please help us remember that while it is not good for man to be alone, even You sought out solitude.  We thank You for building such a family as this for us, and ask for the grace and wisdom to shepherd it as You would.

This is Halloween, this is Halloween


Here’s the song reference.

Tonight’s post will be short of necessity; it’s late, and I’m very tired.  That said, we had a wonderful day with the tribe.  We made butternut squash bisque and pumpkin pie from scratch, roasted a pork loin in cider and cumin, mashed potatoes the old-fashioned way, and enjoyed a visit from Grandma before costumes were donned and candy was cadged.  One of Bugaboo’s friends joined us for trick-or-treating, and Grandma graciously volunteered for treat-giving detail so we could take all four of them out to see the costumes and fill their plastic pumpkins with sweets.

I am well and respectfully aware of the objections to Halloween festivities.  To our kids, it’s a grand dress-up party and an opportunity to give candy and toys to all their friends in the neighborhood (we give out goody bags with a couple of small sweets and a couple of small toys — this year, we also gave out lightstick bracelets, to the grand delight of kids of all ages) and collect a few of their own.  When they are older, we will teach them about the sort of idolatry that one characterized the day, and why we don’t do evil character costumes.

Enjoy the pictures — and if you partook of the festivities, I hope all of your candy was the kind you like best.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the time spent with family, for the joyful work of our hands that created meals to share and assembled bags of sweets and toys for the neighborhood children.  Please help us cultivate innocent imaginations in our tribe, the kinds that lead to heroic dreams, and bless them with friends who dance when they sing and weep when they grieve.

Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile


Here’s the song reference.

Beanie is a notorious grump when she rolls out of bed in the morning; like her father, she is not a morning person, and she is not bashful about letting the entire world know her feelings about the hours before noon.  She shambled out around eight o’clock, grumbling unintelligibly and whining a plaintive, “Nooooooooooooooooooo, I don’t want anything to drink,” when I offered her a choice between milk and cider for a waking-up beverage.

About half an hour later, as I was emptying the dishwasher and trying not to wake up the Y-chromosomed contingent, all of whom enjoy a good opportunity to sleep in, she stomped into the kitchen and announced, “I’m hungry now.  I want scrambled eggies, please.”

I patiently explained, at least five times, that we only have a couple of eggs left, and I needed those for something I’ll be cooking later today.  This state of affairs was quite unacceptable to Beanie, and she proceeded to spend the next fifteen minutes whining wordlessly about the injustice of it all.  Finally, after I had baked a batch of cheese biscuits, she complained that she did not WANT biscuits, she WANTED her breakfast to smile at her.  I reminded her that I only respond to properly phrased requests.

“Will you make me a breakfast that smiles at me, please?”

“That’s better.  I have apples and yogurt.”

“I DON’T WANT APPLES AND YOGURT!”

After I sighed, prayed, and counted to ten, I explained to her that today is the day we need to eat what we have in the refrigerator, since there is a storm coming that might knock out our power for a few days.  I also explained that we should thank God for what we have, and that it is completely possible to turn apples and yogurt into a smiling plate of breakfast.  What sealed the deal was getting her to understand that she could dip her apples in her yogurt.  Beanie is an inveterate dipper.

“Okay.  I just want to make sure it smiles at me.”

Sure, I could be stern and tell her she’ll eat what she’s given and like it, but it’s been a stressful few days around here for reasons that have little to do with the coming weather event; Nonno is in the hospital again, and we’re all worried about him and Deedaw.  I’m also trying not to fall into the habit of commanding instead of persuading; I don’t want to set a dictatorial example for our little blessings, the eldest of whom is bossy enough as it is.

Moments later, I presented her with a plate:

This was quite acceptable to Beanie.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You have provided abundantly for all our needs.  Help me teach Your blessings to give thanks always for your bounty, but grant me the wisdom and grace to teach the lesson with gentleness and love.  Grant that I may make our home a peaceful haven no matter what storms may rage in the skies or the streets, and keep me mindful that we are saved in You.

Lord, please comfort, guard, and strengthen the emergency responders and the utility linemen, and all those who seek shelter or flee from the coming storm.  Open our eyes to those who need a share of the blessings You have given us.

 

Enjoy the silence


Here’s the song reference.

After a day full of chaos involving four tiny people, a lot of yard work, not nearly enough laundry, three home-cooked meals, one emergency birthday cake delivery, several heated arguments, almost no football, and probably too much watching of and listening to news, my husband and I are curled up on the couch, dipping Oreos in chocolate milk and listening to “When the Levee Breaks.”

One of the lessons we’re trying to teach the bairn brigade is that when you know a storm is coming, you watch for the opportunity for quiet the Lord will send before it hits.  Tonight is that quiet, and we will spend it reading and listening to some of our favorite music, after passing the earlier part of the evening reading the children’s favorite books to them.  This is our moment of peace, and it is a treasure.

Several people chimed in after yesterday’s post with a few things I neglected to mention, and I forgot a big one myself.  Here are the odds and ends:

– Avoid irony, buy a good fire extinguisher.
– If emergency management officials tell you to stay off the roads, please listen to them.
– Spend a little time making sure you know what your local radio stations are, and that you can tune to them on your radio.
– After a storm, some communities open their libraries as emergency shelters.  Check with your local library.
– Pack a “bug-out bag” just in case you have to evacuate.  Make sure you have one for each member of your family, including each pet.
– Remember that electric chain saws don’t work without electricity.  Apparently, there are such things as electric chain saws.
– Keep a pair of sturdy shoes on of near each member of your family at all times, along with heavyweight pants, shirts, and outerwear.
– Know the most direct route to the nearest fire station or hospital, along with at least one alternate route.  Do not use these routes during the storm unless there is no way for you to communicate and you will otherwise die without immediate medical attention.
– Pray for wisdom and grace, and not just for yourself.
– If you’re completely ready, call a local organization serving people who are homeless, elderly, or have disabilities, and see if anyone near you could use some help.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, Your disciples cried out to You in fear in the midst of a storm; You calmed the storm and comforted them.  Help us teach Your blessings that there is no storm, no crisis, through which You cannot guide us.  Please make our house a peaceful refuge for Your blessings and for any friends or family who seek shelter here, and let us never confuse the words “peaceful” and “quiet.”  Please place Your protective arm around all the first responders and utility crews who will most certainly find every kind of strength taxed over the next few days, and grant them the company of many people who believe in the love for neighbor You taught us.