He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9



Building Cathedrals

Thank you, Regina, for sending this. I needed it today.
"I'm invisible.... It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going... she's going ... she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean. My unwashed hair was pulled up in a banana clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.

I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything. A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." And the workman replied, "Because God sees." I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become." At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.
The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there." As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.
Great Job!!!!!"
Now THAT'S encouraging....

Bedtime Song


The last one to respond

Well, I’ve was “tagged” weeks ago by Bobbie, Jenny and Michelle. Hmmm…..lets see.

First, the most hilarious blog about this whole tagging frenzy can be found here. And now, the random facts about me you've all been waiting for with bated breath. (That makes it sound like you've been eating worms or something.) As if I don't already tell you more about me than you would ever care to know......

1. I was planning to be a medical Doctor, and my husband was planning to be a Lawyer. But we decided to make lots of money instead. (Part of my heart is still in the medical field. Part of it’s on the mission field. I’m bad with decisions.)

2. I love to snorkel & bungee jump. Actually, I love all kinds of exercise (biking, jogging, aerobics, kickboxing, hiking) but you wouldn’t know it by looking at my unique 4’10” x 4’10” frame. They say it’s humanly impossible to be as wide as you are tall. Witness, my friends, a walking miracle.

3. I used to be a star football player. One day, the ball landed in my arms and I took off running toward the goal. What a feeling - the wind whipping past my speedy form as the teams struggled to keep up. Then I turned around and saw them literally falling on the ground with laughter. Yes - I was running towards the opposite team's goal. On that very same playground I had another embarrassing moment. I had borrowed somone's slip for the day. While I was doing my recess thing, my slip began to slip and continued slipping all the way around my ankles. My trusty girlfriends created a huddle of protection around me while I tried to figure out if I should pull it up or take it off. The guys told me later the huddle concealed nothing.

4. I’m disgusted by gossip (loosely defined by me as: unnecessarily saying something that does not lift a person up to someone else.)

5. I’m REALLY bad at drawing. Like terrible. Can’t even draw stick figures. I’m also really terrible at potty training.

6. I used to be very into Victorian decorating. My decorating style has made a pretty drastic turn around. I don't think you could find a piece of lace in my house if you tried. My entire pepto-bismal-pink room used to be draped in it. I just think it’s weird that I’ve changed so much. (Not at ALL bashing this rich and timeless style...I think I just burnt myself out on it and started experimenting.)

7. I have (blush) secretly dreamed of singing for a Disney movie. (But not the ones with witches and demons and homosexuality and stuff...)

7 ½ I’ve always been a scaredy-cat. I actually prop things up against the doors and create these noisy barricades sometimes when my husband is out of town. (Great - now the bad guys know my trick.)

7 ¾ My son just walked in chewing on a razor. I love motherhood.

Okay. That’s totally enough self-disclosure for the moment.

If you haven't yet embarrassed yourself with 7 random facts on the world wide web, consider yourself tagged by Sarah. I can't keep track of who's tagged and who's not.

A little poem for your wall....

One of my life’s greatest frustrations is my desire to keep my house "company-ready, magazine-clean" all the time. I work at it – I stay up late staying on top of it. And I have a really cool flylady schedule that keeps me decluttering and deep-cleaning in a different “zone” every week.

But why in the world doesn’t anybody come over when my whole house is clean?

Instead, my house fills up on Sundays and Wednesdays when I’ve been doing church and school projects and trying to fit the baby’s socks on the 5-year old and getting 3 and a half heads of hair fixed and diaper bags packed and 40 fingernails clipped. I faithfully wash dishes – lots of them! But anytime anyone drops over, there seems to be a sink (or two) full.

Tell you what……You’re all invited to come over on a Friday or Saturday evening after my “Home Blessing” when the whole house is tidy at the same time.

Really, though - David can vouch that one of the top things I agonize over is people seeing my house when it is in its “lived-in” state. Bills on the desk. Dishes in the sink. Toys on the floor. Crumbs on the table. But nobody bothers to look under my bed and comment how nice it looks without any dust or clutter (I’m in the master bedroom zone this week.)

So this morning when I couldn’t sleep, it dawned on me that I have GOT to come to terms with the fact that I am going to live in a sometimes or often messy house for the next 10-15 years! We’re constantly training our kids to clean up after themselves (who would know!). I work hard at keeping house and will continue. But spending quality time with them and having a happy mama are so much more important than impressing you. Why can’t I get that through my thick skull?

One reason is that I’ve been deeply hurt by gossip, so I don’t trust people to be kind anymore. The other reason is that all of your houses seem to be so company-ready when I come over! The other reason is that I’m just more peaceful when everything is put away. But I’m trying to learn that I have got to accept that the days of babies and diapers and toys come with a large dose of realness.

So I wrote this poem for myself and my guests…..my first step in coming to grips with my real house. I plan to frame it and hang it in a prominent place in my entryway. Enjoy! :)
Our House
Our house is clean - we sweep and dust
and put away and mop
But it is rarely perfect
from bottom to the top!

You see, we’re busy living here -
We read and dance and sing
And give our hands to little ones –
the most important thing!

So if it gives you worries
that you see things on our floor
You may just want to turn around
and walk back out that door!
I'm in a paranoid mood (probably because it's 11:18, I'm still up trying to get things done, I'm behind on my sleep and I left my vitamins and happy pills in Cincy at my mom's), and I've always tended to apologize all over myself. So here go my disclaimers for the night.
#1 The purpose of this blog is NOT to gripe about visitors. I LOVE friendly visitors. Please visit me. (Call first so I can throw everything in a laundry basket and light a candle real quick. Thanks, Char, for this great advice.)
#2 I do not always (or ever) have a perfect house. Nor is it a junkyard. It is real. It is lived-in. It is happy.
#3 I'm sorry if you're offended or grossed out because I said p**p on the internet in a recent post.
#4 I'm sorry if I wear you out by my real-life posts. I'm really a very happy person and enjoy life immensely. But I tend to want to share my thoughtful thoughts if I ever think some. Not in any way trying to hang out "soiled laundry", as they say.
#5 I'm sorry for saying I'm sorry so much. : )
#6 I have a friend who shares my affinity for apologizing. When he was little, he worked out a system with his family. He'd go from one to the next saying "BEEP....BEEP" They understood that it was shorthand for: "I'm- sorry- for- anything- I- said- or- maybe- did- that- I- shouldn't- have- today."

Your Story Hour

Happy Discovery!

You can listen to Your Story Hour for free online! (click the link to listen)

I was browsing oneplace.com for something to listen to as I finish my packing, and there waited Uncle Dan and Aunt Carole with their wonderful stories from my childhood. I am the current holder of our family's Your Story Hour albums (until someone else has some babies around here), but I was so excited to find that you can also listen online and purchase their products! We're listening to "A Boy's Amazing Lunch" right now. (We turn it on all the speakers around the house so we don't have to stay in one room to follow what we're listening to.)

AND they have a website http://www.yourstoryhour.org/. You can sign up for the free Adventures Bible lessons they send you Bible quizzes and each time you return one you get a free Bible story cassette - when you get all 13 free cassettes, they send you a free storage album. All free. I can't wait to sign up for my kids. You can get started just by downloading the first lessons and mailing them back after you complete them.

I'm very excited to see all of these wonderful albums are still for sale! You can buy them in mp3 format, too.

Yes, Cassie - this has reminded me to check my albums for the stories you are missing. Did you find them? If not, send me the missing numbers and I'll check to see if we have them. (They're unpacked now!)

Ironing and Parenting

I really love being a housewife. I enjoy taking care of the things my family needs, going through my morning routine – getting things in order.

Today as I ironed, I was praying over my husband’s shirts. (Not because I’m super spiritual. I haven’t remembered to do this for…well, maybe never. But I’ve heard of praying over laundry and I think it’s a great idea). So..I started cracking up because I prayed something like…”Lord, help David to be smart and successful when he wears this shirt.” Duh. I guess it doesn’t take much faith to pray that prayer. Anyone who knows him very well knows he is incredibly smart and extremely with it. Maybe I should pray…”Lord, help my husband to buy me expensive flowers and write me a long mushy letter when he wears this shirt.” Now THAT would be a prayer of faith. Hee hee. I crack myself up.

Anyway….As I ironed one of Kayla’s uniform jumpers I got to the pleats in the front. How appropriate that some call them kick pleats. “Lord…PLEASE help her to stop kicking things at school!”

She’s been – uh – having some challenges at school, you see.

Kayla and I were reading about the right kind of popularity in her devotions the other night. She doesn’t think the kids at school like her. I said,
“Well so-and-so ­­­­­­­likes you!”
“ Huh-UH!”
“Well, he likes to be with you and he tried to kiss you the other day”
“But I didn’t WANT him to!”

(So she bit his shirt!)

Kayla in one of her favorite climbing trees.
This is the self-controlled child I have raised.

I feel like I need to iron all the clothes in my closet and pray over myself! “Dear God, Please help me to know what to do with this child!

The other day David and I went to Purdue on our date. As we drove through the campus, I had this vision of my grown-up, gorgeous, blonde, smart daughter at a university. Far away from her hovering parents. Far away from family devotions. Far away from the safety of our home. I asked David, What will we do if one of our kids wants to come somewhere like this? What if Kayla is supposed to be a doctor and gets a scholarship at a university in California? (We are firm believers that God calls some people to follow their gifts into full-time ministry in a secular environment.)

I can’t even raise a kid who acts right in Kindergarten! How in the world do I think she could survive a secular university?

David simply doesn’t waste words. When he finally gave his thoughts on the subject, it was one word…. “PRAY.”

That’s really so true. I have talked to my friend and coworker about various parenting issues, and she repeatedly reminds me that prayer is our best tool in parenting.

I was talking to my mother-in-law the other day about parenting, and she recalled over the years seeing many mothers sobbing at the altar – grieving over a lost child or their own perceived parenting mistakes.

I recently told someone that I realize I am right now making the parenting mistakes that I’ll someday regret. How’s THAT for positive thinking? But it’s true!

It’s inevitable. I am not going to get it all right. In spite of all my books and schedules and plans and incentives and spankings and creative corrections, my kids are going to have problems and weaknesses. And choices.

As my parenting weaknesses become apparent, trust me – I’m very interested in improving. But I find myself just wanting to figure out a way get it all right! To parent in a way that guarantees the production of 4-6 healthy-eating, emotionally-balanced, hard-working, manners-keeping, scripture-using, creed-quoting children who bless the world, pick up their toys and - of course - never kick or bite their classmates.

But I can’t. And it’s sinking in.

It is once again driving me to my proverbial knees. (Mothers of young ones know that it is a rare occasion we actually make it to the kneeling position and remain awake to tell about it.)

It is helping me, I hope, to be more patient with all the other parents I come into contact with. Someone else’s kid calls my kid a name? “ Lord, help them!” Someone else has a rebellious child? “Lord, give them wisdom!” Someone else’s kid throws a fit in the middle of the store? “Thank you, Lord, that my child would never do that!!” Kidding.

And so I’ll keep reading and praying and trying to do better.
And I’ll keep reminding and reproving and repairing.
And I’ll have to trust my Abba to make up the difference. To correct me where I’m wrong. To feed the hunger for Himself in our kids. To redeem our weaknesses.

(Excuse me…..Right now, at this very minute, my 3-year-old daughter with blonde roots is telling some story about poop as she eats her snack at the table. She’s NOT allowed to do that. How many TIMES must we train them until they get it?!)

I guess I’m encouraging myself in the Lord and letting you listen in. Better get back to my ironing.

Sowing Fall Seed

Having a “mud pie party” before we seed a new lawn in the back yard. PLEASE don't tell my husband that one of these delicious mudpies ended up in the fridge....but she put foil over it first! And also, please don't tell him that Karissa actually took a spoonful on her plate and tasted it!

This "lawn" (the bare spot in our back yard left after an old garage was torn down) is destined for bigger and better things – an addition to the church parking lot is planned in this spot. But we’ll just see what we can grow until then….

Mom did the ground prep when my folks were here recently.

Sowing the seed

Spreading the straw

But soon my helpers deserted me for more interesting activities:

Making a “straw house” (oh, that tummies stayed that cute!)

Making a birds nest – which happened to get some eggs, which hatched into two baby birds.

They named them Andrew and Sally.

As they were arguing over which was which, I heard Kayla say:

"No I pick. I’m the mommy and the mommy is the boss!" (She’s still developing her theology of submission. What can I say....?)

And of course, we had to all play in the water as we soaked the seed.

the finished product…

Now all we have to do is water daily, sit back and wait. (But don’t get your hopes up too high….I have a black thumb.)

We went inside itchy, dirty and that happy ‘outside-tired’ – the kind of tired you get after swimming or hiking.

Ahhh…warm baths, sweet-smelling babies and story time!

Need a good laugh?

It's been quite a day. Caiden and I got a good laugh out of this while the girls were sleeping.


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