Season of the Soul

by sarahmfry, October 29, 2017

“I notice that Autumn is more
the season of the soul than of nature.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

Photo by Cala

I love autumn so much.  When I walk outside and the chilly air hits me, it actually baffles me how much instantly happens inside me.  Melancholy.  Excitement.  Longing.  Comfort. Memories.  Futures.   (It's all pretty confusing, come to think of it. I should stay inside more)   It carries the promise of the Christmas season.  It ushers in coziness.  In our family, that means fires, hot chocolate, cuddles on the couch under blankets.  It means dark mornings and dark evenings.  Which is great on weekends and awful on school days. 

Autumn thoughts on winter

by sarahmfry, October 29, 2017

Photo by Adarsh Kummur

I was looking out my kitchen window at some beautiful autumn leaves and bare branches.  And thinking of what we hear so often about autumn being the season of letting go.  And how beautiful that is, to let go.... blah blah blah.  Letting go of things is painful and hard and most of us don't do it very gracefully, to be honest.  We ugly cry and thrash around a bit first.  And by we I mean me, of course.

Pretty sure the leaves don't choose to let go.  The wind and the rain and the chilly changes knock them around until they just fall.  And die. 

They die.  They lay there and get covered up and turn back into dirt.

But I was actually thinking more about what happens after the letting go. After the beautiful letting go and the ugly dying.  There is barrenness.  Branches and twigs all sharp and gangly and naked against the vivid blue and murky grey autumn skies. 

Next is Winter. 

And frankly, if you live in Indiana, you never know WHAT in the world winter might bring.  It might snow once in October and then not again until February and snow its brains out until Easter!  And I'm not even exaggerating - can I get a witness from the Hoosiers? 

And the whole time, the branches are barren and ugly and worthless.

And I thought about how sometimes I feel like gangly branch - barren and ugly and worthless.  Sometimes there are those seasons, you know?  And you dream of sometime having the new bright green bursts of fruitfulness popping out all over.  But right now you're just....kinda hanging in there and not really accomplishing much?

Sometimes that looks like:
Dishes and laundry and laundry and dishes.
Being displaced.  And not in a fun way.
Having things removed from your life.
Losing relationships.
Losing loved ones.
Losing health.
Death of dreams.
Sense of failure.
Loss of identity.
Feeling stuck.

You can fill in the blanks.

So what in the world are we supposed to do during the harsh loneliness of winter?

1.  Hang in there. 

Be the best naked branch you can be. Do the next thing. Take the next step.  Be present.

2.  Focus inward. 

Winter is a powerful cycle for nature.  It allows new life that simply could not happen without the freeze.  I want to allow these winter times to draw me inward, to the steadfast work of my core.  Looking after things and putting them into place.  Letting quiet set things right.

3.  Rest. 

It gives me great comfort to think of the quiet, frozen winters of life as seasons of rest.  I love harvest in the Midwest.  There is a flurry of activity that is thrilling and exhausting.  (In our churches, homes and the fields around them!)  I really believe that in God's great economy of rest, sometimes he brings seasons into our lives that are meant to be quiet and restful.  But we perceive them as failure or boredom.

Autumn is in the air!

by sarahmfry, September 07, 2017


in , , , , by sarahmfry, September 07, 2017
Have you ever met that woman who tries to hold everything in place - and has a tendency to make other women feel her disapproval? She grew up with an alcoholic father 

Have you met the one who works her tail off all the time, and says yes too much and no too much, then can't figure out why she's worn out and a little cranky?  her husband is a workaholic

Joan's husband functions on a very cerebral level, and even after years of trying to understand one another, he does not give her even the most basic affection. 

Mary's husband has wandering eyes and will make little comments about how attractive other women are

Katherine's husband has a temper and randomly raises his voice in anger and frustration at her and the kids

Nina will never give her opinion about anything, and she just sits quietly in the corner when she is in a group.  Her husband is moody and will walk around the house in silent somberness for 3 days at a time if there is any conflict that makes him feel threatened.

Donna's husband has unrealistically high expectations, and shows his disapproval in various ways if the house is not clean enough or things are not just as he wants them

Don't get nervous - This is a mixed up list of hypothetical marriages.  They aren't real.

But they are real.  You've met them and I have met them.  We have been them.

I want to get hold of the shoulders of my 4 boys and look them in the eye and tell them what an incredibly responsibility it is to be a husband. 

But sisters - we have to put on our big-girl bloomers and realize that we made one huge mistake when we got married.  We married humans.  These men who stole our hearts and won our hands are godly and brilliant and funny and handsome and sexy and tender and strong.  But they are not perfect.  Some of them are running from God - but even those who are fully surrendered Christians still bear the marks of sin and are growing up in Christ into the men they should be. 

It is painful when they aren't what we want.

But we have a responsibility to not make gods of them.

We want them to take the place of God, really.  To fill that longing in our souls. To gaze deeply into our eyes and know us as no one else. To see our faults through  grace and forgiveness and treat us as if we were wearing royal robes even when we have bed hair and dirty t-shirts.

So sometimes we fight against it over and over - for years, even - this need for our husbands to be what we need.  When all the time, God is waiting to fill up that hole with Himself.

photo creds:  Karissa Fry

Daybook :: April 29

in , , , by sarahmfry, April 29, 2017

One of the pictures Kayla took for Competition next week

We are having the most amazing thunderstorm right now.  Sheets of rain, whole-sky flashes of lightening.  It's awesome.  I even let the boys come down after bedtime. They wrapped up in blankets and we snuggled on the porch swing.  

Storm outside, Dryer running, Odyssey playing in the boys' room.

Buying a farm!

The comfort of knowing God says no when it is best.
A very productive day of cleaning.  I worked the kids extra hard this morning, so we had pizza and movie night tonight!

I was eating breakfast this week with some friends at a retirement center. I noticed there are two kinds of people:  Happy ones and Negative ones.
I want to be a Happy One.

Tonight we read about fireflies.  I am remembering the amazing, sparkling display of thousands and thousands of fireflies at my parents' house. 



Image result for quotes on spiritual growth
I am excited about learning with my kids.  I have been working on planning things together - attending events, classes, etc. - that allow us to learn more together about things we love to do. More to come on all that!!

I can't remember what's happening without my calendar.  I have doing a lot of decluttering, so I'm hoping to continue that.  My focus has been very sharpened by some recent events, and that always helps.  I need to go through and sort the mountain of stuff waiting to be donated, sold, etc.

I also plan to do some:
Freezer cooking for May
Monthly Mvelopes Budgeting for May
Make our "Summer Fun" schedule
Finish projects & send Kayla off to ACE Student Convention (maybe join her...)
Begin writing my sessions for a retreat coming up.


Image result for quotes about rain

Learning from teaching

in , , by sarahmfry, February 15, 2017

All day long  -every Thursday - I listen and I teach and I demonstrate.  And I say the same things over again.  Every week.  And they ring in my own ears...lessons for my own busy life.

You need to breathe on purpose.
Your posture seems like a small matter to you, but it matters more than you realize.
If you let the tension creep in here, it will affect the beauty and impair your freedom to move.
When it's too hard, break it down into baby steps.
Practice it slow first.  You can't play it well unless you can play it slow.
Hands separately first, then together when you've mastered it.
Your piece is only as strong as the weakest link - Isolate, analyze &  fix the hard places!

But today I hear myself saying this one again and it sticks - playing back and back and making me uncomfortable.  "If this doesn't become YOURS - if you don't decide that you want to make this piece sound good, your mamma can't make you do it.  She's paying way too much money for that.  She's wasting her money if you don't decide you're going to do this right."

They pay a high price - these moms and dads.  Money and books and some of them even the time to be attentive to practice and to ensure discipline.  But kids are kids, and sometimes it doesn't sink in and practice is put off or not done with gusto and discipline.

And so I try to balance law and grace as a teacher....enough law  for the proper fear and respect, but enough grace to avoid burnout.

I think today about the price that was paid for me.  Am I doing it justice?  I am not under law that requires me to earn the price He paid.  I cannot.  But it does require a certain proper response.....that response being everything I can muster.  Am I playing this grace-music half-heartedly?  Taking His forgiveness and this peace and this freedom for granted? 

The Well Behaved Child

in , , by sarahmfry, January 30, 2017
(This is a post from the archives waaay back that never got posted)

I mentioned that I had started this book awhile back...and then got distracted.  Meanwhile, David read it and immediately wanted to implement some of the ideas.  However, I wasn't entirely on board mentally and that made it hard to implement effectively.  I hadn't read the whole thing, and we needed to have some more conversations to refine our ideas.  I am feeling more and more "on board" as we have narrowed some things down and my brain is more in gear.

Basically, we have implemented a "strike" discipline system for targeting certain behaviors and habits.  Each child has 3 target behaviors or habits.  If they violate the goal, they get a strike.  After 3 strikes something very bad happens to them (Rosemond is big on the punishment being bigger than the crime. It has to hurt bad enough to work.)   Currently, the punishment here for 3 strikes is complete loss of all electronic privileges for the next day.  (What?! No listening to adventures in odyssey during breakfast with the other kids?!  Oh shock! Oh horror!)   Another option is going to bed directly after supper (not our current choice because of schedule and logistical challenges of being consistent.)

 As I read things, I tend to read with the critical voice of others in my head.  (i.e.  “If you would just SPANK them with a switch or paddle more you wouldn’t have any negative behaviors to target!  Train them like you train a mule and they will always obey without hesitation”….etc.)  And perhaps there is always room for criticism if reading with a tunnel vision mindset, but it is proving to be a valuable tool for us for several reasons.  I have found myself in that mode before (with multiple little ones) where the only thing I could think of to do is spank bottoms!  Certainly a good and biblical option, but there are so many other creative and sometimes more effective ways of training that can leave spanking for some heavier things (in our opinion:  disobedience, rebellion, lying).   

One of the big things this system is helping me with is focus.   I tend to get overwhelmed by all the things I want to "work on" with my kids.  It seems to be a never ending process! Sometimes I feel like I’m slinging mud on the wall trying to fix everything at once (and wearing us all out) instead of purposefully & strategically targeting a specific behavior or habit until it is conquered. Issues like:  Saying "yes ma'am" and “no sir” without being reminded,   not leaving their room until it meets the clean standards we have set up, always speaking kindly, coming directly back to me if they need assistance to complete a command, using self control when a sibling is driving you bonkers, picking up after yourself, keeping a good attitude (including facial expressions and body language),  not dawdling during chores, etc.   This system is helping me to be able to focus with more purpose on the target behaviors we have chosen, knowing that consistency is the key and we will soon be able to move on to new things on the target list.

Rosemond has also helped me to remind me of the ever-present most important thing:  stay calm & be consistent!  And to think my way around some other ideas….you don’t always have to discipline the same offense with the same punishment.  You just have to discipline consistently.  And…you don’t have to do the punishment in that very moment (except for younger years when they need immediate results).  Rosemond says, ‘Do what you can, when you can.’   This has helped.  If a kid is unkind to their siblings at a busy time (before church or at the store, for instance) when we can’t exactly administer a discipline, later when everyone else is doing something fun or when they ask to do something, we can say….no…you were very harsh with your brother yesterday at the store, so you won’t be having that privilege today.

Another thing I really needed was the “alpha talk” talk.  Be matter of fact.  Speak what you expect – with authority - like you mean it, then walk away.  Short and sweet, administer without emotion. Less explanation.  Fewer words is better.  Not exactly my forte.  : 0 But I am listening and learning.  : )
As with any reading, you have to read with a sifter in hand.  Sift out what doesn’t apply to you and keep the good nuggets that can help you to think better.  Some of this book is about severely out-of-hand or rebellious children.  (A good tool to know about when a friend or someone at church or school comes to you desperate with a rebellious child.)  Not all of it applies to us, but there is enough good to be gained and applied in our own way.

Another good book (our first Rosemond book) is the Six-Point Plan.

Middle of the Night Daybook

in , , by sarahmfry, January 26, 2017

Snow!  It has stopped snowing, but there is a light dusting.  I am honestly, seriously craving a good big cozy snow.  The kind that makes the world quiet and the house cozy.  I even prayed for it today.  Haters gonna hate, but snow is magic to me.

The sound of Caiden's story playing quietly and the incredible comfort of our big, noisy box fan.

I am dreaming of taking sailing lessons for my 40th birthday this summer.

Hope.  And Joy.
The brain (again).  This time, particularly the mystery of memory and how it works.  I often have completely random memories pop into my brain.  The lake by my Grandma's house.  The sound of the diving board in the neighborhood pool outside my window.  A comment from someone from years and years ago.  Weird, random, non-related snippets of memory that come up while I'm teaching or sitting in church or doing life.  The mystery is:  what triggers these memories?  What determines when they pop up? I need to get a book about it.

Speaking of remembering....the memory of sitting on the front step with my Grandma Parsons taking tiny sips of her early morning coffee after checking on the dew-damp garden.  Precious.  Priceless. Random.


I have been sitting here for a long time, fingers on keys, trying to decide what to write for this section tonight.  This is the section where I reflect on things God is teaching me.  Weak areas to tackle.  Going "farther up and farther in."  But I honestly don't know where to begin here tonight. I am thankful for spiritual peace.  I am convicted by Truth and comforted by Grace.  One of the things I am trying to do is make reading the Word a more consistent priority.  I am enjoying reading the Chronological Bible (above) in NIV.  This is not usually our translation of choice, but the language is bringing out so many things to me this time. Questions.  Lots of questions.  Thankfully I sleep with a PhD in Theology who values the Word more than anything else in His life and knows it precisely.
I consider myself an "afterschooler".  Past preschool and kindergarten, it has never been the right decision for us to homeschool.  But we have homeschooler hearts.  I used to have nature notebooks and all sorts of grand plans.  These days my biggest learning goal for my kids is pretty simple:  READ GOOD BOOKS!

David has been gone to the Phillippines, speaking at Pastors conferences for a couple of weeks.  He comes home on Tuesday night! 

Friday (Homeschooling & Family Day):  Eye exams for kids, homework/reading/practice time, and something fun. The kids are saying they want to stay home tomorrow.  So I'm hoping to do some Valentiney activities.
Saturday (Cleaning and Church Prep)
Sunday:  Worship with our amazing Church Family.  Love them. so much.
Monday:  (Date Day):  No hubby here to date, so I am spending these Mondays he is gone trying to make some serious headway on my desk.  I am not good at paper management.
Tuesday:  (Errands Day):  I am thinking of trying out a new Weight Watchers meeting on Tuesdays instead of Wednesdays.  I don't like doing my errands on Wednesdays because Wednesday nights are cray-cray around here.