Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Little Peace & Quiet

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A little look at how things have changed.

China, 2003
9am

The water I put on to boil is starting to steam, which is easy to see in our shared-kitchen.  It’s nearly always cold in here this time of year.  I scuffle over to the old wooden armoire we use as a pantry and pull out the coffee.  Measuring it into the french press, I shake off the shivers and move to warm my hands over the whistling kettle before turning off the flame.

Coffee grounds swirl around in hot water and I let it settle while I sit at the scratched-up table and gaze out the kitchen window.  Elephant hill is in the distance.  It’s mostly brown now.  Some of the others will be hiking it this morning, but I don’t expect them to call me for an invite.  They know it’s my day of rest, so I’ll see them later in the afternoon.

I pour the coffee into my favorite mug I brought back from Thailand.  I can see I made it pretty strong today.  One sip tells me I’m happy with it.  I shut the door to the kitchen and walk past the courtyard and let myself into my room.  The fly screen falls in place behind me before I shut out the cold.

Ah, my room is cozy.  I sit in my chair and prop my socked feet up on the radiator, beside another pair of socks drying toasty warm.  I grab my Bible off the coffee table (it’s really my footlocker with a pretty piece of fabric draped over it).  This is my favorite day of the week.  Here, in my small, simple room.  I shut out the world and loose myself in the Word.  Here I wait for the Lord to speak to my heart; I wait to be filled and refueled.  Hours, if that’s what it takes.  I relish this… it’s nice to have a little peace and quiet…

*****
Texas, 2012

6:30am

I awake to find a little blonde boy has found his way into our bed again.  His feet in my ribs let me know it is morning.  Jeff’s pillow has been cool since 4am.  I am exhausted.  Was it midnight when we finally made it to bed?  Maybe later.  Too many nights in a row of staying up late to catch up with each other, do some writing, maybe some minimal cleaning in the kitchen.  Skip the laundry.  What’s one more day of it being piled on the couch?  The little sleep catching up with me.  But just as I’m drifting off to dream again, the baby starts to fuss in her corner crib.

By the time I finish nursing her, Mr. Blondie pops up awake.

“Hi, Mommy!”

How is he so immediately chipper?

“Oh hi, Baby Wivia” his little sing-song voice continues.

She cranes her neck to see him and smiles.  Rewarded, he continues his cooing at her until he suddenly is up on his knees.

“Mommy, go tee tee!”

Out of the bed we go.  And so our day begins.

The little blonde boy chatters and the bigger kids make their way out of beds.  Some bouncy.  Others slow and sleepy.  All of them hungry.
I am just trying to get the coffee poured.

The baby squirms in my lap as I try to read the open Bible laid beside me on the couch.  I lay her down on the quilt on the floor and the coffee mug takes up residence in my hands.
After the baby spits up, the blonde boy has to tee tee again, two bigger kids ask if they can draw at the table, and four children ask what’s for breakfast – I give up and close the Bible on the coffee table.  I whisper half a prayer as I move the baby to her seat by the kitchen and begin the breakfast preparations.

My phone buzzes and I notice a message.  My friend has sent me a scripture in a text.  Thankful, I repeat the words to myself as I start the water boiling in the kettle.  Willing those words – the Word – to get down into my Spirit.  Where I need a stirring.  I need to be filled.  Refueled.  I need to hear Him.

Even if there isn’t going to be any peace and quiet.

 

 

Giveaway!

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Some of you already decided to get your own copy of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids Giveawaywith the Love of Jesus, which I briefly reviewed here.  If you haven’t already ordered your copy, here’s your chance to win it!  Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway.  Winner will be announced Tuesday, October 30th.

If you couldn’t wait, and – like me – decided to read it right away on Kindle – let me know what you think!

Blessings!
Shannon

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Read This

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So, there’s a book I had heard about for quite a while – lots of buzz about it on different websites and blogs I tend to read.  It’s called Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson.

 

It took me a while to get around to reading it, but once I was in several pages, I quickly realized this was not just another formula-to-get-your-kids-to-behave book.

Before I even finished sipping afternoon coffee, I was facing a pivotal question that didn’t have as much to do with my children or their behavior, as it did with my own heart and my foundation with Jesus:

What about your parenting makes it uniquely Christian?

Up until now, my own parenting has looked something like this:

 “You are going to obey, because you’re supposed to be good – God is [and I am] pleased with you when you obey.”

That doesn’t sound too terrible, until you realize that could have come from a muslim parent.  Or a mormon parent.  Or a Jewish parent.  Or just a moral parent.  It isn’t uniquely Christian.

Before I was halfway through the book, I was realizing not only were my children in need of grace – but I am.  Desperately.

This book isn’t full of foolproof disciplinary techniques – its full to the brim of the gospel.

Like this:

What does the Bible mean that we’re to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord?”

 “[it means] that parents are to think about and remember Jesus Christ and then train their children to understand how everything in their life – their joys and sorrows, their trials and labors, their doubts, sin, and shame – is to be understood and approached in the light of Jesus Christ, who descended from David rather than from Levi, died, and rose from the dead.  That is the best news any child could hear.  Distinctively Christian parenting must be accomplished in the environment of the good news about Jesus Christ, or it is not Christian parenting… it is not ‘of the Lord’.”  (page 93)

I love that I’ve found a parenting book that drives me back to Jesus and the Word with nearly every page I turn.  This is one I highly recommend.

And tomorrow, you can come back for a chance to win it!

 {I was going to post the giveaway tonight, but the 6-month-old is teething and just now stayed asleep when I laid her in the crib – for the 5th time.}

<<yawn>>

Be Blessed!
Shannon

You Made It!

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Lots of Late Night Blogging

Welcome to the new blog… it was time for a remodel, and some re-thinking in the layout, but hopefully things still look familiar to you.  I tried to make it feel as comfy and familiar as my old blogspot, just polished up a bit.

I guess you’ve noticed the name change, too.

Yeah, I have a bit to share with you about that…

But first take a look around.  Check out my About page… read Our Story if you haven’t had a chance before now… don’t worry, I’ll be right here when you come back.  Enjoy yourself….

***** (whistling)**** 

You back?  Okay then.  So let me tell you what’s been going on.

Why the Name Change?

I felt it was time to do some spring cleaning around here (the blog, that is… my house will have to wait – as usual)… and after seven years of blogging, I was ready to take the leap and get my own domain.  But when it came right down to it, OurBlessedLife didn’t seem to exactly fit.

We are definitely blessed!  And thankful, absolutely.  But that name, combined with happy smiling photos of ridiculously cute kiddos plastered all over this blog – I wondered if it would come across as if we had it all together.

And let me say right now, for the record, we do not.

We are {quite often- and in no particular order} selfish, grumbly, lazy, grouchy, discouraged, fussy, greedy, crabby, prideful, and in a word, sinful.

Broken.

There.  That’s us.  OurBlessed{Broken}Life.

Just like Jesus took the bread, and as a metaphor for Himself – and us – blessed it, broke it, and then gave it away.

That.  That is us.

And that is why you arrived at a new address today.

There is much – so much – to share with you. But for today just know that I’m so happy you’re here.  So blessed that you’ve read this far (go, you!)  And so hopeful that the Good Shepherd will somehow bless you if you come along for the ride with me.

And to celebrate, we’re having a giveaway!  I’m reading a book right now that I’m excited to tell you about and one blessed person will win a copy of it.

See you back here tomorrow?

Be Blessed!
Shannon

The Healing

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It’s late in the afternoon.  

The morning was productive only because our good friend Anna (11 years old) spent the early part of the day with us and helped the kids with school work while I did a load of laundry (yes, one load is all I accomplished), cleaned the kitchen, heated lunch, and made a bulk batch of muffins for next week’s breakfasts.

Between those tasks and tending to the little ones, I never would have been able to get any school work done with the older ones.  So after Lena did her reading lesson with me, she and the other three big kids forged ahead through their pace work under Anna’s supervision.  

Poor girl was a champ – relaying back and forth between questions and checking work, and Carson – who is an ever-moving mini-machine, bent on wearing you down with his combination of cute, repetitious chatter and his command of your full attention.  

At one point she looked up at me a little exasperated, “Mrs. Hazleton, I don’t know what to do with him!”  {I giggled a little inside, the way I always do when being called “Mrs. Hazleton” in such a sincere young voice.} 

Poor girl. She’d already set him up with two or more activities, and within seconds he either lost interest or melted into frustration because something wasn’t working quite right for him.  

For good measure, he balanced out his tantrums with cheerful requests for Anna to “come pay wid me?” in his sing-song voice.  

I felt for Anna.  She was catching a glimpse of what I experience. 

Every waking moment.  

The full morning only added to the mix of jumbled thoughts and emotions in my head.  I felt the growing need to sort them out.  Lay them on the table and assess each one.  So many needsIdeasRamblings.  So tightly wound up inside my head, to have them come unfurled would only mean a slow dripping like sap from a pine tree.  

The tightness I felt inside at the urgent needs to which I have no answers – the jumble of ideas to which I have no direction – the growing tension, for which I have no outlet… it all left me feeling more laid low and scrunched up, as if ready to pop out of the box like Jack at any given second.  

But having no release, I had no option but to move forward in the late afternoon.  

Daddy’s coming home; church dinner will start soon; nothing for it.  

Scrunched up insides will have to wait.

Get the hair brushed, the feet covered in five pairs of shoes.  Get the ducks aligned.  Change the diaper.  

It was in this moment – in changing Olivia’s diaper that the warmth began to seep into my cracks again. My fingers went through the motions of the diaper change and clothing change quite automatically while my eyes stared off at the chickens outside the window… my mind wandering through a dozen thoughts.  

Then, when the task was complete, there she was.  Lying in her little bed all chubby and neatly clothed.  Her eyes so bright.  That puff of strawberry hair that I know will turn blonde on me.  

Her smile so unassuming.  Her squeals and cooing now coming into focus for my wandering ears.

The corners of my mouth couldn’t help themselves, turning up into a returning smile. Involuntarily.  And that one change.  The beginning of a smile that warmed my lips spread through me.  

I gathered her up in my arms, her fat body cradled against me and then lifted her above me, to her delight.  

And bringing her close again, her tiny soft hands grabbing my neck.  Her cheek to my nose, I breathed in her sweet baby smell and felt her drool on my lips.  I sighed as it filled me up inside.  “Your kisses are like medicine.”

And I knew the truth of what I had just said.

A happy heart doeth good like a medicine.