Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Part 3} “Couch Time”

{Counting down to 20th anniversary}

The first memory I have of Jeff’s dad is seeing him on the kitchen floor with the refrigerator pulled out.  At first, I assumed he was looking for something that had fallen behind but then I saw tools ~not just a screwdriver and a wrench but serious tools.  He was actually repairing the refrigerator.  This did not happen in my home.  I didn’t know it was legal to tinker with your own appliances.  People were trained to do that, right?  Evidently, Mr. Sanders was because it worked just fine the rest of the weekend.  It may have been the first thing I told my parents when I got home from Atlanta.

Thankfully, his dad’s handiness was not lost on Jeff.  From what I’ve experienced, Jeff watched closely or Mr. Sanders was a good teacher. {Or it’s really not all that difficult and my Daddy was playing the hooky card all those years.}  I’ve seen Jeff fix loads of things I thought that were beyond fixing and as a result, saved us thousands of dollars over the years.  He’s a hard worker and determined to give a broken thing a good shot.  He likes to stay busy and keep his hands working, but the best thing about Jeff?

He knows when to stop working. 

And that is hard to do.  You should try it sometime.

I am not sure when it happened but over time, he basically invited me to rest, to be still at night after the kids were in bed.  Sounds great, yes?  But I know the question because I asked it too.  When will I ever get anything done??  Jeff had a simple answer for that. 


There will always be tasks tomorrow.  And the next day and the next day and the next....
I fought it for a while under the banner of, “See?? My work never stops!  What I do is too important for me to be still at night!  This house will come undone if I don’t keep all this going until I fall into bed.”  He was quick to validate my pride my role in our home, the value of what I do for our family but also quick to remind me that it will never ALL BE FINISHED.  Our lists never end because new ones are constantly starting up either in our mind or on paper.  So even if I work until bedtime, the lists are NOT all checked off.  And, he would remind me that there is hardly any task that cannot wait until tomorrow.  Guess what I have found out?

He’s right.  And it’s a lot more fun to live this way.

Kids all tucked in.  Dinner dishes put away.  Picked up house {the den, at least}  Fresh pot of coffee.  Kitchen closed.  Comfy clothes.  Quiet.  On the couch.  To talk, to read, to watch, to dream, to whatever.

Now, why in the world would I want to fold clothes?  The refresh cycle on my dryer works fine the next day. 

Some nights are significant.  Some are not, but I promise you that life altering decisions ~ for at least four people~ have been made because we chose to sit down and actually visit.  We know things about each other’s days that carves out a place for understanding and empathy.  I know him better and his ministry more fully for having said “yes” to his invitation to putting down the work I thought was so important for me to complete.   Jeff knows me better and our kids more fully for having sat down with me at night.  And just like your husband, Jeff has plenty of things he could be doing.  It was a choice he made for us ~ putting down his own agenda, his own list. 

When Brighton was three, I remember he asked me where he would live when he got married.  Of course, at three, I teased him and said we’d buy the, then, empty lot next door and he and his wife could live there.  He liked that okay but then said, “But Mommy, I want to live upstairs in Carrie’s {now Em’s} apartment so I can come down at night to have coffee with you and talk.”   It certainly benefits Jeff and me but it blesses our children in ways we don’t even know right now. 

Any time we invest in each other, we cannot go wrong.  Jeff led in this and I am so grateful.  It’s given me perspective on my work, my time, my relationship with the kids and my relationship with him.  It only makes sense.  Our “couch time” is one of the highlights of my day.  I look forward to it from the time I get up, one because it’s fun, two because all the work can stop and three because I know it’s right.

{And the coffee is really good.}
{gifts 1118-1131}

that podcasts continue to bless me

a few minutes doing what B loves to do

sister on similar journey and I understand

Craig’s List date

Em’s practicality

B’s hits

avocados in all their glory

boxes of memories in Julia’s attic and that Jeff says “keep them all”

Erica’s grace

school’s pace slowing down

that B can watch RJ play baseball online

my Mom’s group-- sharing stuff that really matters

minutes to sit in day’s end long shadows

couch time with Jeff

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Enemy to Influence

I have a friend who, it seems, will spout out, “I was listening to this podcast the other day and ......” like, twice a week.  After the 17th time, over a few weeks, I had to get a clear picture in my mind.  So I asked the big question.  “When?  When are you getting all this listening in?”  She has twice the kids, so half the time.  That’s how I see it anyway.  Honestly, I cannot remember what she said so that means, it didn’t look like my schedule so I continued to wander about in my podcast-less, unenlightened existence.  I consider myself pretty tech savvy but I could not figure out the EASY way to get WHAT I wanted to listen to on the right device at the right time.  Until I found this app: Focus Daily.  You’ve probably had it since its release date last fall, but I’ve just found it.  It is EASY and it’s with me all the time. I sleep better at night because I’ve joined ranks of cool podcast listeners...... noisy girl.

Ok, so??

Now I get to say, I was listening to this podcast the other day and..... I can’t remember who was speaking but one of the hosts, Julie, said this:

“By trying to control, I lose influence.”

I think the nice words for control are structure and organization.  You know, control covered with French Laundry fabric or packaged in Container Store...... well, containers.  Lovely.  Tidy.  I like that.

A lot.

{And, for the record, regretfully, none of this is French Laundry....} 
{But this is Sanders’ Laundry}
Systems create order and kids know where they fit in and they know where things are supposed to be when they need them or when they need to put something away and they know what is expected of them as vital members of the family.  Order should diminish stress to an extent-- fewer frantic episodes of running around looking for things that need to be in the car as we leave or that someone needs “RIGHT NOW!”  In general, organization cuts down on the chaos to sort through which is guaranteed to drain our energy.  Those cute duckies  birdies all lined up look very appealing.

Good organization skills are valuable to a home, to marriage, and to parenting.  Control is detrimental to all three.  When smart organization falls off the wagon, it erupts and smothers like control.  And, Julie said it, all influence is lost.  Why?  Our intentions are good.  Good intentions count for something, right?

I find the line easily blurs between homemaking, training and discipline of children, control, creating order, healthy structures and house rules.  If my need to control becomes dominant, things go awry.  When others see our home, they might think “Impressive”.  When my family experiences my desire to control, they think “Run!”

If the structure of organization I construct for my family is not built on the foundation of love and expressed in love for them, my structures will feel like a prison.  Run.  Escape.  Flee.  Stay away as much as possible.  I’ve lost the gift.... the privilege of influence.

A need to control mars it all, but love redeems it all.

I read somewhere, love doesn’t drive.  It leads.  Love has influence.  And by the power of the Holy Spirit, influence can have a part in the shaping of a life.  Right now, Julia has a piece of notebook paper tucked away on her nightstand full of blush-worthy questions for me.  She pulls it out every few nights and each time, I have had the opportunity to influence because there have been times in our home that Love has conquered my need for control.  By His grace, I am allowed that privilege with my 10 year old girl.  Huge. To. Me.

“By trying to control, I lose influence.”

I’ve got one shot at this parenting thing.  If Julia leaves our home at eighteen, I’ve already had more than half of my time with her.  I want to love her well and for her to leave our home with as little “baggage” as possible.  Light and free.  I want her to value the way our home was run, not resent it.  I want her to experience Love, not control.

Love.... His, mine, ours.

{gifts 1102- 1117}

days for this

time for this

sibling snuggle

the Fort Worth Children’s Opera

drive-in with friends

kids sleeping in = quiet mornings

RJ’s first college homerun!

Brighton, taking initiative, even in a hard thing

sewing girls silly with new quilts {I LOVE these girls!!!}

Julia moving out of her comfort zone

Plan C-- much better than A and B

giving the Holy Spirit “space” in my silence

kids swimming in March

conference freshman of the week for RJ

the privilege of influence

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Island

When we walk into my parent’s back door in South Georgia, I can smell the clean and I can see the clean.  There is no evidence of kids or company, just a tidy, sparkling clean home.  We change all that within minutes of walking through the door and the kitchen always pulls the most weight when it comes to handling our stuff.

As I sat at the end of the island Friday morning after the kids had breakfast, I looked down the island thinking it had looked much different the night before.  That morning, Julia had already been busy cutting flowers from the yard.  I had left my empty Starbucks cup there from the day before coming from the airport.  The container of sugar came out of the open cabinet in the background that evidently I didn’t close after I fixed morning coffee.  The griddle was out because Mom knew she would use it every morning of our visit making “Nanna bacon” ~ a.k.a. bacon {not turkey bacon}.  And the thing you see in the cake keeper?  It’s pure Momma goodness, her whipping cream poundcake. Wait a minute.  Let me capitalize that~ Whipping Cream Poundcake.  The recipe calls for 2 sticks of butter, 6 eggs and of course, whipping cream.  It’s divine and the only way to improve on it is to spread a slice with butter {as if there isn’t enough in it} and pop it in the toaster.  That’s exactly what I had for lunch yesterday and it was my breakfast many mornings growing up.  Right in front of me were these things which Brighton found in my brother Blake’s room.  The Dark Side’s Tie Fighter model which he used 3 rolls of tape to put together, unsuccessfully, and a Luke Skywalker doll he excavated from somewhere.  And that was just Friday morning.  We’d barely been there 12 hours.

This island works hard all the time...but overtime when we come around.

I know my parents wouldn’t have it any other way.

{gifts 1081-1103}

uneventful travel- no delays, safety

parents at baggage claim

homemade chocolate chips cookies in Mom’s back seat

dining table full {but missing one or two and feeling it}

B filling role of Papa’s sidekick almost all weekend {and Papa letting him}

that Hunter’s soccer game wasn’t rained out {and they won!}

azaleas in vases

the country

time with just Blake and Adele

double headers under a beautiful blue sky {and winning both games!}

that he heard her cheering and came out of the dugout to see her

that Brighton got to chase foul balls all day

that her picture was hanging in his dorm room

that Angie actually had an extra phone cover in her purse for my shattered phone

Mom playing, Julia singing

a place for Sunday brunch like this

with a buffet like this

still serving Coke like this

getting to hang out with Molly and her two boys Monday morning {She and her husband are ministering together beautifully and effectively in my home church.}

Mary Alice

that she wanted to go see JuJu

these four, so far apart in age, are making memories together anyway {best cousins ever!!}

being home with Jeff

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pericope II {parts of the whole}

When days string together and before you know it, it’s March 1st when you feel like maybe you are just getting in the groove of the new school year, you have to trust Someone is working in the background making some sense, some headway of all you hope to accomplish.  Not the homework, not the housework but the heart work.  I am trusting Him for that-- that as we live these days together, we sense His Presence, His Peace and His Pleasure, putting the pieces together to make a wonderful story for His glory.  May He produce much fruit in the mundane workings of our home.

B’s Big Opinion

These writing assignments in Shurley Grammar are my worst enemy and sometimes the funniest part of my day.  Each one is a “keeper” but this one from yesterday was so relatable, that I had to share.  Brighton’s eight, so don’t get bogged down~ like I do ~ in his tenses and forms and his obvious effort to get finished with this thing as soon as possible.  He followed his “Three Point Expository Paragraph” outline to a T.  Just go with his content.

My Least Favorite Food
I have three reasons why I do not like broccoli.  These things are it is green, it tastes funny and I do not like the trunk.  My first reason why I do not like broccoli is it is green.  I don’t like it because it is the color of a witch’s nose.  My second reason is it tastes funny.  I don’t like the taste of it.  My last reason is the trunk.  I do not like the trunk because it is gross.  That is why I do not like broccoli.  

And there you have it.  B’s big opinion.  {He eats it twice a week..... with a little drama.}


I have written entire posts on pencils so I won’t go into much here except that they disappear quicker than ponytail holders and socks..... or maybe a close tie.  I think each child started out with 24 pencils in their desks in August and by January, no one could find a pencil.  That’s almost 2 pencils a week- MIA.  Oh, they’d figure out something---  find one in the door jamb or a windowsill or on the kitchen floor.  But that takes time and time is precious, not to be wasted on looking for pencils.  {!!!!!!!!}
We had a big weekend of cleaning out, retiring toys they have outgrown and finding new homes for the lonely ones that stay in the closet.  All spaces were exposed, emptied and thinned out.........and the mystery of the pencils was solved.

And for the record, I also found seven~yes, SEVEN~ pairs of scissors between their rooms.  I can’t EVEN comment on that.

Taking Care of Business

I remember Julia telling me there was a big hole in her sheet, so large that her foot would go through it during the night.  Easy fix, right?  Just change the sheet.  I could not remember if the extra twin sheet for her bed was in the upstairs closet or in the lake tote in the garage..........so I didn’t take care of it right then.  She mentioned a couple of more times when I was doing something critical, I am sure.  I kept giving her the infamous Mom answer, “I’ll get it.”  Last week, when I was helping her clean up  her room, I remembered her worn out sheet.  I threw back the quilt to remove her sheets and was startled by this.

She’d finally given up on my “I’ll get it” and just did what she could.  She now has NEW sheets on her bed.

Three knots in our string of days this last week..... can He redeem pencil hoarders??  Momma’s who neglect laundry?  Boys fixated on witch’s noses?

{gifts 1061-1080}

flowers from their walks

supper cooked by someone else

B humming Andy Griffith

quick repentance

Julia taking care of the tear in her sheet

Goodwill bags

these girls together


gifts of grace, overlooking and understanding

Em at Sabbath meal

washed car

being called out to see these colors

seeds of hope

Whitney’s cobbler made over her fire

somehow being ahead of school schedule

B picking out Mendelssohn’s Wedding March

celebrating someone else’s Daddy

these kiddos.... growing up

that God knows the whole of our lives and is ordering our steps