Thursday, March 25, 2010

Six-Year Plan

Journal for Christa—
Since we’re heading off for Albuquerque in a couple of hours, I pulled out an old journal from 1996. Looking around the house this morning, I don’t think much has really changed; it’s just quieter.

I’m on the six-year plan. I find myself telling that to myself, my husband, and anyone else nosy enough to wonder why the carpets aren’t always vacuumed and things haven’t been dusted around here for awhile. You see, we have four teenagers and in six years they’ll all be off to college.

Six years--- I remember when six years (from birth to first grade) seemed like a mathematical line headed into infinity. But six years now is little more than a baby’s whimper.

Last Sunday I was chatting with one of the young mothers at church. Her fatigue and the reiteration of uncompleted chores brought back memories— old  memories. I remember going to bed feeling guilty every night. No matter how hard I worked, there was always another load of laundry to do. But that was then and now is now, and now I’m on the six-year plan.

In six years I intend to clean the closets really well, organize the files, and put all the pictures in photo albums. In six years we might be able to buy new carpeting and finally get some new furniture for the family room.

In the mean time, we divide up the chores and what gets done gets done and what doesn’t is left for the next week. When the kids all flop down on our bed to talk, I usually push the grading aside. We shuttle people to practices, watch track meets, soccer games, and wrestling matches. We attend every concert. We also withhold supper when the work's not done and yell a lot.

We don’t let kids run around aimlessly, and we’ve accepted being the “meanest parents in the school” and “not understanding teenagers” (though combined, we teach nearly 300 a day). We eat a lot, tease a lot, laugh a lot— and at times we pull together and pray a lot.

Some weeks are tough; some months are tough. We’ve even had a few tough years, but it’s all worth it. Gone are the days of wiping noses and bathing children. However, the laundry still isn’t done, but I never go to bed feeling guilty.

Hope you have a good week! 

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Journal for Christa—

When Joy got married, Breck (not quite 3) had one job: to walk down the aisle with Aunt Mel and give the ringless pillow to Shane. He was so serious and focused and bashfully slow, that I almost missed Joy coming down the aisle at her big moment.

He stole my attention away as well before Melody’s wedding. After setting up everything for an Anne of Green Gables outdoor style ceremony, I rushed into the dressing room where then baby Breck sat in his pack and play. Instead of throwing on my dress, I reached down, picked him up, and thought: “Well, they won’t start this wedding without the mother of the bride, so I’m going to just hold this baby for a moment,” and I did.

Even in spite of much preparation, I failed at my one public responsibility: Pastor Mark had to ask the congregation to rise both times. Everyone has her moments of failing. Some are public; some are private. Some are petty; some are unfortunately quite significant. Some are personal; some affect the people we love most.

As much as we try not to fail—and try we should—failure is a part of the human experience. When I look back at the years of caring for little ones, I so often felt like a mess, which I probably actually was. And the house: it was always a mess, no doubt about that. I wish I hadn’t been so easily frustrated. I wish I’d never been grumpy. I wish I’d never been discontented. But, I was all those things—more often than I hope my children remember. It’s so hard in the mist of pressure to simply rest.

To rest—I’m not sure even now what that actually looks like. Maybe it can’t always be a place we go and stay. Maybe, sometimes, it’s catching a moment—noticing the birds chirping, glancing up at the mountain, hearing 3-year-old Helen say to Jay on Skype, “Where’s Granny?” when she doesn’t see me in her computer screen.  It’s probably different things for different people. Mrs. Martin (my college voice teacher) used to say, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap!” So, whether a nap or holding a baby, take a moment to rest today—even if it’s just a moment. No one is going to eat supper without you. Someone has to put it on the table first.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Paying Attention

Journal for Christa—

About a year ago, I wrote you about walking the greenway and looking up at Pikes Peak. Today being the first nice Saturday of the year—sunny, kind of warm, and not too breezy, I scrawled Jay a note, in case he came home while I was still gone—
“Walking the hill—TWICE”

While enjoying the view of the snow capped peak and thinking how nice this walk would be, I tripped over an uneven sidewalk slab and went sprawling. My only witness, I think, was Tina—the 6th grader from around the corner. I can only imagine what she thought, “Oh my gosh, that old lady just wiped out.” But, what she said was, “Are you okay?”

In my younger days, when I fretted more over what other people thought of me, I would have bounded to my feet instantaneously. Instead, I sat on the curb and inspected my hand, after reassuring Tina that I was quite fine.

Only being a block from home, I got up, walked back, cleaned the grit and blood from the hand that had taken the brunt of the fall, applied 2 band-aids, and walked the hill, twice—this time in a more realistic than romantic frame of mind.
We give and get all kinds of advice, but in the end, it’s probably best to simply pay attention to what we’re doing. —seems I need to work on that.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Journal for Christa—
If I wanted to sit in the dark (which I don’t), I could watch the snow gently cover the pond and fill up the yard. If it’s going to be winter and cold, I guess it might as well snow. It has snowed a lot this year. One morning last week, while suiting up to help Jay shovel the drive, I noticed a little, single robin sitting on the patio out back. He was all poofed out, feet buried in the cold downy softness.
“Oh, little bird,” I wondered, “why have you come home so soon? Colorado winters are long. Surely you’ve been some place warm and nice.” He did look a little perplexed just sitting there all fluffed out. I kind of felt bad for him.
I have noticed, though, that robins seem to have their babies first in the spring. While other birds are flitting around building nests, baby robins are busy trying out their wings. Perhaps, robins come back early to prepare for laying eggs. It won’t be easy this year.
I wonder where the little guy is tonight. I would go back south if it were me, but I’m sure he’s around here somewhere, huddled under some shelter, fluffed out in the cold.

Solitary, all alone,
The robin bird
Stands on the patio—
Tiny feet submerged
In white,
Silent, still with
Feathers poofed
Amidst the
Falling snow—
He glances up
And spies a spot
Where the nest
Will go.