Cup of Contentment


The temperatures are slowly dropping.  My beloved cherry tree is, at last, shedding its leaves as the wind curls around its branches.  We wrapped up five soccer seasons and a football season on Saturday.  I baked a pumpkin dessert on Sunday.  My fall-ish quilts have been unpacked and tonight every one of them was wrapped around the body of a child as they snuggled together on couches and the floor listening to their Dad read aloud to them.  He read all of them to sleep except our almost 16 year old daughter, who sat laughing at the story.  She was dubious when we began, but now insists the book should be hers for the night so she can finish it.  Her obstacle is her father, who won’t surrender it to her keeping because he, too, wants to read ahead.  I’m soaking it all in – the sight of quilts everywhere – quilts I made – warming them all.  The sound of my littlest’s gentle breathing as she sleeps curled in a ball on my lap.  The feeling of being warm and safe and nourished while the dark and the cold deepen.  My husband’s voice as he reads aloud to his family.   Who cares about the shoes scattered all over the room?  This is heaven, right here, with my family.  A sentence from a book I’m currently reading came to mind:  “They were cups of acceptance.”

I feel like a cup of contentment.

Contentment has been a foreign feeling lately, at least where family management is concerned.  The last couple of months have been an exercise in survival with far too much time spent in the car driving children from practice to game to lesson to school and everything in between.   I cannot count the number of times I’ve tried to compose a paragraph – or even a sentence – that captures what it’s been like with all of the children in school, each of them experiencing their own life challenges and battles; me trying to be the glue and the cook and the housekeeper, the taxi, the secretary, the everything for all of them and still maintain some sense of my own personhood – without rambling on and on like a lunatic.  The only words I have to describe it somehow make it sound trivial, or like a badge, when really it represents the greatest effort of my life.  It’s my greatest effort at consecration, organization, humility and love; the very best I have to offer.  So it’s hard when it sounds so ridiculous, because I am giving it everything.  Of course, my everything is badly flawed, but it’s all I have to give.  I believe in the power and importance of the family.  I choose motherhood.  It brings all sorts of hidden costs I didn’t know I was choosing as well, but I do my best to take them in stride, make peace with them, and keep working.  And praying.  I’m praying my way through every single day.   Life has felt totally out of balance and the ironic thing is that every time I’m desperate for wisdom to fix it, on my knees praying to know what we can cut, the Lord usually gives me something more to do.  This month has been no different as a new assignment at church has come my way, pushing other worthy things aside.   My patience has been tried by coaches who change schedules without warning and by the occasional child who refuses to work with the schedule at all.  I have prayed for help and strength more times than I can count and repeatedly seen the Lord take 20 minutes of my life and expand them to fill far more than seems humanly possible.   I testify that His grace is, indeed, sufficient for the day.  Amazingly, He faints not and is not weary, and miraculously has a fresh supply of forgiveness for me every morning.  I have felt stretched, drained and empowered all at once.  I like knowing I have the capacity (with God’s help)  to do all of this, but hate the price it comes with.  I’m being more honest with myself in the tally this year, and there is much to consider and weigh.

Tonight I am asking nothing more of myself than to live in the moment.  Forgetting the unfinished tasks of motherhood, ignoring the piles of clutter.  A couple of weeks ago I had the strong feeling that we need to re-enthrone family read-aloud time in the evenings so we chose a new book and began.  It feels SO good.

Tomorrow’s demands are already at the door, clamouring for attention.  But tonight, I choose contentment.  And it’s glorious.

So Many Things


I’m loving so many things lately.  Spring does that to most of us, I believe.  The light in the mornings when we leave for school, the tulips in my yard.  It’s that time when everything happens quickly.   All of a sudden the trees have leaves, the grass is green, the weeds are everywhere (in my yard, at least) and it seems appropriate, for that’s what happens inside our house as well.  It’s the season when you don’t want to blink because you’ll miss something wonderful!  The world of nature and the growth of my children seem to be pacing each other, transforming into newer versions of themselves so quickly its like I’m watching a time lapse video.  Just as there are blooms today where I saw only stalks yesterday, so also freckles appear on noses and new words show up in vocabularies.  In a few short, frantic weeks we’ll bid farewell to this year’s school teachers and my children will essentially be pronounced one year older.  I look around me and see that we’re all experiencing age and stage appropriate growth, opportunities and challenges.  Who they’re becoming is such a discovery and yet they’re more “them” every day.  I love trying to abandon myself to the joy of it, but quiet moments occasionally bring a stabbing sense of loss.   Sometimes “time” feels so unnatural.

Today has been much quieter than usual.  An over-booked week and family movie night last night left us all tired.  Even the younger ones slept in this morning,  a rare thing, and also a reminder that we’re moving into a new stage as a family.   My oldest son, who now stands six feet tall and is heavier than his Dad, is getting close to his 17th birthday.  I looked at him today, on the other end of the church pew, and marveled again that someone so big could be my child.  How strange it seems and yet how my heart swells with love as I watch him bump into unexpected corners of the adult life he’s fast approaching and do his best to deal with it.  My oldest daughter also seems so grown.  This afternoon I heard her confidently and decisively discuss her academic plans for high school and beyond with another adult and for a moment she took my breath away.  They will be gone so soon.  On the other end of the family I’m treasuring every second with my youngest daughter, holding her precious face between my hands more often as we talk to one another.  She’s the last one with traces of chubby fingers and round cheeks.  I look at my youngest son, eight years old last month, and want to jump for joy.  Kindergarten and first grade were so hard for him, as he simply couldn’t read the words on the page in front of him.  We found an uncommon vision problem, got glasses, and in the last 8 months he’s improved his reading by more than 60 words per minute, now testing at the expected level for exiting 2nd grade.  His teachers and I can’t stop talking about it, smiling about it, marveling at him.  I look at that boy and see a miracle and think that for this blessing alone I’m forever indebted to the Lord.   Like he’s been rescued.  Like I’ve been rescued.  Which we have.   Last week I was helping in the classroom with my six year old when it was her turn to be the song leader.  I looked through her school papers and saw the change in her handwriting – straight, confident, neat.  She’ll be in first grade next year and it makes me want to cry.  I TRULY never thought I would be HERE.  I thought I’d have little ones at home forever, and now I’m a few months away from a couple of hours of quiet each day.  It scares me a little.

As I type this, the middle group runs around upstairs instead of getting ready for bed while our youngest sits on Dad’s lap to listen to Winnie the Pooh stories.  The oldest two wandered into the room and stayed to listen, and are now laughing hysterically at the dry humor of A. A. Milne.  I don’t want tomorrow to come.  I wish I could freeze this moment and keep us all here, safe and happy, a little longer.

The middle ones are keeping me grounded.  Somehow watching all of them makes me feel like things will turn out, and like my heart might even make it out in one piece.  My thirteen year old son suddenly gets up from the dinner table and does the dishes at night without being asked, even volunteering to do them alone sometimes.  He’s made choices lately that make me proud and I’m excited to see the young man he will become.  My nine and eleven year old daughters get prettier every day.  I love that they let me dry their hair in the mornings; I watch them get taller as it gets longer.  They are all so much fun right now, quick to laugh and run and play, daily creating new worlds of imagination to inhabit together.   Oh, how I love the “together” they’ve created for themselves.  It is one of my greatest joys.  I don’t know how I’d handle the bittersweet of the oldest and youngest ones without the safety of the middle group right now.  They’re my anchor.


Our days are full of end-of-year reports, shots, registration for next year’s everything, soccer games, book reports, school programs, working out the summer calendar.  I forgot some things this week and felt foolish; I remembered so much.  The frequency with which my eyes fill with tears sometimes alarms me yet I’m grateful to feel alive and sensitive.

In the past six weeks I’ve felt a yearning for home that is strong.  It’s not a yearning for anything I have here on earth, and not homesickness, but the yearning of a little girl who wants to run home for a quick hug.  It washes over me unexpectedly, as if to remind me of my true identity and purpose as a daughter of God.  I miss Him.  It’s nice to be reminded that he misses me too, and understands that even as I try to oversee the journey of my children, I’m still experiencing my own, complete with things I’ve never faced before.  He understands and loves me anyway, or perhaps, because.

Life is good.  Moving at lightning speed, but good.

Number Eleven


Eleven years ago we became the parents of four children.   Her birth was swift and frightening, and at the end of the experience we were grateful beyond words for good doctors and a baby who made it.  A beautiful baby girl – the biggest of all eight – weighing in at 9 lbs 4 oz.  On the way home from the hospital we stopped to buy a birthday cake at the insistence of our toddlers at home awaiting her.  I vividly remember walking into Dairy Queen with a two day old baby to buy a little ice cream cake and have her name put on it in frosting.  My mom laughed when we arrived, but her older brothers and sister had been talking for weeks about how a baby couldn’t be born without having a birthday cake!

Now she is eleven, and I must say that the same word I used to describe her as a baby and toddler still fits today, and has fit every day of her life.  She is a delight.


She requested the lunch that has become a birthday tradition in our family.  I purchased her favorite snacks, foods and treats and wrapped each one individually, putting it in a gift bag for her lunch.  For dinner, her first request is a dish that has, in my mind, become connected with thoughts of her.  She wanted black bean tart , and as it is one of my best but most time consuming recipes, she has been my #1 helper with this recipe for at least a year now, often making it herself.  I made four of them today for dinner, and must confess to accomplishing little else this afternoon.  Was it worth it?  For her smile of surprise and joy, yes it was.


And while she never tasted that first ice cream cake eleven years ago, it continues to be her request EVERY year.



A kind and gracious sister, it was sweet to watch her open gifts.  I realized tonight how pleasant it is to give gifts to one who is naturally inclined to be appreciative.


She is so many things:  helpful, hard working, thoughtful, sharing, intelligent, responsible.  I am so blessed to know this dear, dear girl.  And so happy for all the delightful years we still have with her.


Happy birthday to my beautiful, precious daughter.

I love you, Mom

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