Everyone line up

I just can’t keep all the ducks in a row anymore.

When my kids were little I used to tell them make like ducks and we’d get in a single file line to walk through the grocery store (because how obnoxious to walk 5-wide down the aisle). They were good kids, obedient for the most part, and they’d line right up behind me and march along.

This, of course, was once they were too big to be in the shopping cart. Carts are the best place to contain small children in a store, but at some point you have to transition them to Walking Nicely. A good time to teach Walking Nicely in the Store is after your child stands on the side of the cart and tips it completely over – spilling the other toddler, the baby in the infant seat, and the groceries you had squeezed in around them. In Walmart, no less.


So keeping the ducks in a row helped me cope with the growing brood and the expanding groceries. Ducks-in-a-row gives a mom a sense of accomplishment and maybe an extra gold star, because kids all lined up like that just look so darn cute! and how obedient! and my, you’ve got your hands full!  

That last one especially, because as a mom of little you always have something in your hand – a spoon, a cup of coffee, your head, the scruff of a small child’s neck.

The other awkward thing was being in the store with this brood in the middle of a school day, and the inevitable questions about what grade are you in that homeschooled children can never answer.

“I’m in 5th grade math but my spelling is 4th grade and I read at a 10th grade level…so I’m 8?” Sheesh.

Or, even worse – “Grade?”.

We’ve come a long way. When my daughter turned 12 I called the police station to ask at what age it was legal to leave a child home alone. I learned that there is no age – this is an arbitrary decision made by parents according to the child’s maturity level and the situation.

Hello, Freedom. 

And trust me, the kids were just as happy about this change as I was. It seems no one enjoys long trips to town or that crazy cycle of loading carts, unloading carts, loading carts, unloading carts; loading the van, unloading the van, loading the cupboards.

Someone has to come up with a better system.

So my ducks don’t line up anymore and being that gold-star mom has turned into something more elusive and beyond my control. My parenting awesomeness isn’t evident in quiet toddlers, easily pleased and scheduled and managed.

Maybe there never was any awesomeness and I’m just imagining – the way we do – that things used to be easier and they used to be better and everything is different now.

It’s also likely that God uses kids to work out all the kinks in parents because we’re just big kids ourselves, throwing tantrums about the ways we want to spend our time. Likely.


We encountered a bit of homeschooler-profiling the other day. The associate at the Sports Authority was shocked to learn that my daughter was homeschooled because she walked into the store alone (this is multi-tasking: you look for your shoes while I run to Staples), asked for specific help with an item she was looking for, conversed knowledgeably and even joked with the associate, and wasn’t at all awkward or sheltered about it. I showed up towards the end of the transaction, just in time to hear him ask what school she went to and to witness his surprise. It was a different kind of shopping-with-homeschooled-children experience. Maybe a full circle?

I’m not earning points or trying to keep the ducks lined up anymore, and there are so many things we could be doing more of and doing better at – my kids, for the most part, would rather be on a screen than reading a great work of literature; the older ones watch movies with us and they get some of the jokes now, if you know what I mean; I feel like a World Class Nagger when it comes to bedroom floors and chores and did-you-finish-your-school; and for the life of me, I can’t seem to sit with my youngest and patiently read The Boxcar Children again.

But I feel like we’re winning at a lot of important things – great conversations, hard talks about real things, silly inside jokes. We are working and praying through mistakes. We are living with needy people and seeing how we can help meet those needs. We’re talking about scriptures and song lyrics and worldview and eye-rolls, and we’re noticing God together.

There aren’t actually gold stars for moms, you know. There’s just a lot guilt to battle down, lies to defeat, mistakes to mend. Hopefully there are also glory days with glimpses of all your mothering-dreams and parental schemes, coming to light before you.




Fire and water

The waters parted for you.

Split in two

Right down the path home, and you came back.

Came right.

Came around to who was waiting.


I waited.


The fire to burn you,

Never touched.

Never singed.

And you walked right through the flame

To me.


IMG_8187 IMG_2632


I gave the world -

All its cares and wares.

I gave it all to gather you up from the corners.

You came, you keep coming,

And it’s worth it.


Doubt and fear crouch

On stealthy haunches along the way,

And they say it’s in vain -

The way you strain,

The way you pull against the grain and the warp of this life, this death.


But you do.


And I wait but also,

I am with you. I am for youI am in you.

And together in one yoke,

Together in one soul,

We pull a lighter load.


Thoughts on getting your own education

We have this idea that our teachers should know everything and then dispense that everything to us in bite-size bits, easily digested.

When I say ‘teachers’, I include people like pastors, politicians, authors, or mentors – anyone you might listen to with the hope of learning from, which actually ought to be everyone.

We learn at home and I also tutor a class of 12-15 year olds once a week, and I’ve lost track of the number of shocked responses I’ve gotten over the years from kids (mostly my own) who were appalled to hear that I was giving them questions that I, myself, didn’t know the answer to.


We expect the teachers to be experts, but should they be expert teachers, or experts in a particular field of study?

And does being an expert in a particular field necessarily make you the best teacher of that subject?

I suppose you can be both – an expert and a teacher. But maybe a teacher ought to be more of an instigator, someone who pushes you to find the experts or become one yourself.

I’m no expert on teaching or education. I’m just a mom who wants to keep learning.

My goal as a mom and a teacher is always to convince them to get knowledge for themselves, to gather it like honey – hard fought and rewarding.  I’m a facilitator and the best education is the one you search out for yourself, I tell them. Give them tools and set them to digging.

It’s hard work, searching for answers. We all want to know stuff but sometimes the effort to know weighs heavy and we would rather google it or ask an expert, which are not the same thing. At all. Anyone can be an expert online, but fewer are experts off the web, in real life.

Sometimes I’m a lazy consumer-of-information, myself, and I don’t think googling answers is always wrong. I have to choose what topics to spend my time on and sometimes I just need to know what year Oregon gained statehood, to see if my husband was correct. (1859. He was.)

Jesus had a way of thinning out the lazy, quick-answer people. He spoke in parables that required you to think deeper, stick around longer, listen better for the unfolding of the lesson. He used everyday things the people were familiar with but He paired them with spiritual lessons that they were unaccustomed to.

Now sheep and seeds and vines and bread had spiritual meaning. This ordinary stuff had real significance in Jesus’ words. He took their occupations, their duties, their common and familiar things, and served them back with eternal lessons.

Because we need real life to relate to our real soul. 

And they got it, but only the ones who stuck around, only the people who wanted to learn and not just be taught, the ones who were willing to stretch beyond what was easy and familiar.

I wonder if I would have stuck around.

We still need parables to stretch us. We need a reason beyond mere fact-finding to listen to the news or the pastor or the professor.

We need to stick around long enough and dig one thing deep enough to mine real answers for our real life – the one we’ll have forever.

The reason? And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ who You have sent. (John 17:3)  The reason is that our eternal life has already begun and God is waiting to be known by us. That is the end of our education, all of us spending our eternity knowing God for ourselves and not just the interpretations of God we get the easy way.

We can have great teachers and experienced experts but if we are not students ourselves, we are the most uneducated of all people – starving at a feast because no one will bring us a plate.




Weekend Words 1.17.15


That Hideous Weakness at The Rabbit Room

I love how Andrew Peterson talks about books and real life and wanting to be cool and the oneness of singing, all in one post. And this paragraph towards the end:

“If you’re reading this and you think there’s some secret we all know that you don’t, or that you’d be happier if you could hang out with the Right People, or if we’re purposely structuring things to keep you out, then rest assured that we’re all knuckle-headed and glorious men and women fumbling about in the palace of this great paradox: by Christ’s mercy we see that we’re beggars at the door, and by Christ’s mercy we discover that we’re children of the King—wonder of wonders, there’s a seat reserved for us at the feast.”

You are what you share by Seth Godin

Share what you love and why you love it.

“Sharing an idea you care about is a generous way to change your world for the better.”

Calm by Hope

My friend Hope writes about a week-gone-awry and she reminds me of the rest we have in Christ. Truly, faith has to meet the pavement of real life and broken washing machines.

“I walked in and out of the issues learning this truth in a new way:

‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.’  James 4 : 8″


Help me to do great things as though they were small,

Because I do them with Your power;

And small things as though they were great,

Because I do them in Your name. ~ Blaise Pascal

Sneaking, slinking, catching you unaware. That’s how it happens to me on a Monday when I had planned to be calm, planned to look up, planned to be peaceful while busy and pleasant while positive. I was going to count my blessings and do small things as though they were great.

I was all ready to take joy in the things I didn’t want to do and those things were going to be my gateway drug, my open door to a holy life of thanksgiving in all things. All things.


Trouble is, all the things ganged up on my mindset and thumped me right down, and I was naive I suppose – to think I could tackle the first full-Monday back to school with grace and good attitudes.

Truly, life is easy when it’s put to words. It’s the Monday mornings and excess of words that get you.

A friend and I commiserated with one another over text messages, and we could have written some amazing country songs about lost school books, lost confidence, lost enthusiasm and the short-comings of our morning coffee. Everything was bad and I may have at least wanted to kick the dog.

Oh the drama.

Around lunch time I noticed four check boxes in my bullet journal. On my daily schedule, I draw a box for Bible (have I been in the Word), Exercise (did I move in some sort of strenuous way), Read Aloud (did I read to the kids from our current story), and Write (did I put anything into written words, other than lists and assignments).

All my boxes had been checked for the day and I’d even made pancakes for breakfast, and it was still crummy. These are the four things I had deemed most important, most rewarding, most soul-feeding, and having all the boxes checked wasn’t curing me.

I was fractured and scattered.

I just want to be able to focus on one thing I thought. And the good Christian in me said focus on Jesus! and she’s right, but this isn’t Sunday School and for some reason, sometimes, I think I really prefer a bad attitude.

I want to wallow in self-pity and overwhelming circumstances.

I realized in my head that everything was not all that bad, that I had so much to be thankful for and I really had done some important things that day. But honestly, there was no tidy wrap-up to a Monday like this and no lesson to learn that hadn’t already been hammered in a thousand times.

I didn’t need a lesson and sometimes you don’t need to be told what you already know, for crying out loud.

Sometimes the only bow to tie on the day is bedtime. Let’s just try this again tomorrow.

So today is Tuesday. I have the same boxes to check, the same dozen directions to go, the same needs to meet. I have the same skills I had yesterday and even a little less sleep, because I thought stewing over the day would be a good idea last night.

The only consolation I can offer for those days is a hearty me, too, and Jesus knows.  I hope that’s enough.

I hope I’m better suited for Tuesday than I was for Monday, and I’m making all the preparations I can. I’ll try less fight today and more surrender, because it’s possible that the Lord wants to redirect my well-ordered intentions. Possible.





Weekend Words 1.10.15

A surprising thing that creates the best kind of freedom by Tsh Oxenreider

“My word of the year is limits. It’s a lot more freeing than it sounds. See, I’ve realized that even though I’ve got an inner autono-monster, I don’t always need to feed it. It can sometimes be harnessed for good, but there are ways where I still tend towards childishness, and autonomy only exacerbates it.”

Fight Back with Joy by Jennifer Dukes Lee

“And maybe we could remember that days are mere blips,
and that we could live more poetry in our own skin,
and color outside the lines,
and not despise the crooked paths of our lives.
And remember that the wind blows hard, but it also blows soft and sweet.”

Change your feed reader. Change your life. at Modern Mrs. Darcy

Some good tips about tailoring your online reading to line up with your goals for 2015, and how to add organize your favorite blogs. Click here to add moi to your feedly (my reader of choice).

Sacrifice of Thanksgiving by Kara Tippetts

I don’t cry much, really. But this woman, every time I see her face or read her words, she gets me crying. This is why I appreciate the internet – because I’d never know her story or be strengthened by her faith without it.

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