Friday, March 19, 2010

Thinking lots, about over-population

I do think a lot about the concept of over-population.


I think about it every time I drive to see my parents.


I think about it when really smart
professors tell me that I have too many kids.
Yeah, out here in farm country 
-and in much of the US-
that over-crowding thing sure is a big concern.
Truth is, towns are wondering HOW to keep
their young people close, HOW to fund the schools
and HOW to meet the budgets if there aren't more kids.
(Sorry for the blurry photos.  I'm in a hurry.
No way that I'm slowing down.
The traffic is horrendous.)


Nothin' but field, after field, after field...
and a few farmhouses and barns and churches.
Cemeteries, too, I guess.


It's flat and brown now, but within
a few weeks the winter wheat will
have colored these fields a verdant green.
By July, the corn will be waving knee-high, at least.
Question:  If the farmers stop having kids,
who in turn want to farm...
Who grows the food?


It's an hour's drive from my house to my parent's home.
I took pictures about every 10 minutes or so.
Thing is, I could drive in three different directions
from my home, and never hit much more population
than this - it would take two hours to reach a major town.
Most of the towns are little, boasting only a few hundred people.
Outside of 6 months in Minneapolis, I've never lived in
a huge city.  Most of the towns
have only had 600 or so.


Makes me wonder.
Maybe over-population isn't really the problem.
Maybe people just need to spread out more.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

God *IS* Love.


I sat awhile
this morning and
watched my little girl twirl.
Sometimes, I can't help myself,
and it's not just her,
the little one,
it is all of them.

I stare at their faces, 
trying to memorize
and record
and remember.
When I do,
I can't believe how 
much I love them
and how much good I want
for them.


Last week,
I had a very
disturbing
conversation
with an older man
who was very set in his views of God.
(I've been told that he is a respected Bible teacher.)
Hmmm.
He angrily assured me
via several scripture passages
and circumstances that at times
God is indeed deceptive,
and lies, and promulgates violence,
and kills people ~ and that,
at times, God commands 
us to do the same.
(Not allows, not forgives, but commands.)
His comments were so
scathing they virtually
stunk of fire and brimstone.
No love, there, for a fellow believer.
No humility, either.
 
I came away from that conversation
shaken for days.  Not shaken 
in my own view of God,
but shaken by the
wrath and anger of one
who thinks He knows God
but has missed the
most unique and powerful
Love Story 
of the world.
I determined to continue
to live that Love Story,
but to never again 
engage in contentious debate
with someone who views
God as Hateful.
I will never again
entertain a conversation
which says
that I am an enemy
of God or that
God chooses certain
people over others
(and condemns some to eternal
punishment and leaves them
without choice.)
Because of His good pleasure,
of course.
I, rather, believe
that God loves all,
and offers relationship
to all who would receive Him.
Jesus was the reconciliation,
the sign and sacrifice of
deep, forever, love.
His life, His death, His resurrection
fill us with hope,
not brimstone.


God created.
God was driven by love, 
from the very beginning.
Love creates.  He can't do otherwise.

I watch my children,
and I know my thoughts toward them.
It seems impossible to me
that some people think
that they are a better parent than
God.  They casually assign things
to God that can not be true,
for if they were, 
if He were human,
He would be a monster.

I believe that
God
is so much more than 
only a "type" of parent,
even more than a Creator.

And yet - he certainly is never 
less.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Driven by decluttering


I am so happy.  I'm almost done with the bi-annual clothing "change-over."  It's never limited to clothing - I usually include the bookshelves and the toy stash and the paper piles and the cupboards and the kid's rooms.

The only places that remain to be sorted and straightened are the big guys' room and the shed.  Yes, I plan to tackle the shed.  I usually give fair warning.

The big guys' room may pose a problem.  I think there are seven computer hard-drives and at least a few spare monitors, along with box after box of extra cords and cables.  (There are hazards to living with computer geeks.  They don't part with old equipment easily.  The upside is that they can construct a computer for you at any given moment.  Handy, that.)

Then there are the legos.  Oh, the legos.  Any mother with boys of a certain size knows what I'm talking about.

The big girls worked hard to declutter their room.  Some bits of their childhood were boxed up and placed in the attic.  I am sure that was hard for them, but it is a part of growing up and they enjoy the extra space.  I think they enjoy their room a lot more now that they have room to breathe.

We are a family of ten that lives in a 1800 square foot house.  I'm aware that for some this means that we have no room at all, and for others we have room to squander.  We're very grateful that God has provided it for us, and that it is paid for.

I will say that without a garage, a basement, and only one room with a very small closet, I have to stay on top of the junk.  (We have a wet cellar.)

My husband has worked hard over the last two weekends to modify a little walk-in "attic" under the eaves of one side of our roof.  Before his work, it was grungy, had missing boards, and nails that were sticking out everywhere.  A real hazard for me every time I ventured in to find the next size of shoes or a particular clothing item.

Now, the "attic" has solid floorboards and the sloping roof is paneled (taken from another remodeling project, of course) and there is even carpet on the flooring.  This morning I spent an hour or so in the attic, labeling totes and tucking in last minute items to hand down to the next child.  Man.  That felt GOOD! 

Little by little we continue to settle into this over 100 year old house and make it work for us.

As I pulled out the children's clothing for this spring and summer, I realized that other than a pair of sandals and church shoes for Mariam, we have everything that we truly need.  Sure, a family's needs are on-going, but when we pare down our concept of "need," it is much easier to accept and be thankful for what we have been given.  Once again, God has provided all that we need.  I'm not sure why that amazes me year after year, but it still does.

I spent a few moments kneeling in my attic this morning (well, really, that's all you CAN do in there....) just saying, "Wow!  Thank you Lord.  You've taken care of these material things.  I don't even need to worry about a thing.  That means we can focus on You, on the things that will please you and on how to serve you."

C'mon Spring.  We're ready.  :)

As usual, none of my photos are my own.
They're all my Emily girl's.  This photo was taken
at my parent's farm.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Calling me back

Every time I think that I
am the most important person
in this world,
He
lovingly calls me back
to
these.
 




Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In-between days

Digging compost: Last year's trash to this year's gardening treasure.
 
We're in between seasons 
here in Indiana.  There are still
mittens forlornly hanging out
on my back porch and spilling
out of my van when we open the doors...
but the kids are desperately seeking short-sleeves
and I realize that I'm behind on 
planting early Spring vegetables.
At least I found my flip flops.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I will be here for you

  Human comfort - such a need from our beginnings.

My babies have always wanted to be close to my side.  In the early days, they snuggled close to the hollow in my throat as we slept.

At six months - stranger anxiety.  By toddlerhood, they were hesitant to detach from security.  Not even cheerios or new toys could persuade them that these could be a good trade-off for the comfort of the familiar.

Of course, most of them eventually outgrew the need to have me so close.  Only my youngest two mind if I leave a classroom, and only the youngest four need a hand to hold to cross the street.


 My husband tells me that I have job security.  I'm needed!  
You are too!  We all have job security in God's Kingdom!

My oldest ones need me now in different ways - but they do still need the assurance that I am "here" for them.  They need to know that I am here to make a warm supper most nights.  They need to know that I am waiting for them when they come home from work, or that I am here to prompt them to finish an essay or to clean their room.

The mother's role does change as children grow.  But people never do outgrow their need to know that someone will always be there for them.



I see it in my parents:  We talk about the future when they may not be able to live alone or when they might need care for their daily tasks.  They are loathe to ask, dare not impose - yet they fear the unknown, fear losing their lives' savings in a matter of months via nursing home care.



I tell them, "I can not see for sure how things will unfold as time passes.  Maybe you won't need me as much at all.  But I WILL BE HERE FOR YOU.  This is why we moved to live close to you." 

I see the relief wash over them as they consider the implications.  "We are not alone.  We do not need to face the future without human companionship and comfort."

 Now, that's comfort!

I swallow hard, sometimes, because I honestly do not know how we will pull it all off.  Eight kids.  Home-educators.  I can not think too far ahead, can not stress out.  I must give it over to God as soon as it enters my mind.  Yet I mean what I say, to my husband, to my kids, to my parents..."I will be here for you."  (There is always the underlying knowledge of "As God allows, and as He gives strength...", for He is under all and over all, enabling all that we do...)

Until a few weeks ago, I spent a few nights a week staying with an elderly woman, first in her home and then in the hospital.  She gained so much comfort simply by my presence.  We need to know that someone "is there," from newborn days until our last breath.

God is this for me, for you.  He is always here, always with us.  He is ultimately the love that we feel beneath our deepest of relationships.  He is the real comfort, the real support, our true life-line.

  Now, here's a little bit of something that gives me 
"non-human" comfort.  (Photo of coffee and the cat by Em.)

Even if, even when, our mothers may fail us:  may leave us in the nursery (oh, the horrible offense!) or neglect the warm supper, even when we as mothers may fail our own children (and we will...), even when we as children fail our parents or when we fail our friends...

God never will, never does.  We may think He has left us, we may not feel His presence, but He is always, always with us.  Here is what God says in Isaiah 49:15-16.  (I think that these are some of the most powerful words in the Bible.  They tell us so much about God and how He feels for His creation!)

Can a mother forget her nursing child?
      Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
   But even if that were possible,
      I would not forget you!
  See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.

Within our human selves, we are born with a need to be loved, no matter how inwardly ugly or wretched we may know ourselves to be.  We need to know that we are not alone, will not be left alone - devoid of love and friendship - no matter what our condition.  We  - you and I - do not take from God's role when we give strength and comfort and say to another, "I will be here for you.  I will be with you."  We are echoing His words, His love, His promise. 

Don't underestimate the role that you - through God's love - can have in the life of another.  Don't hold back from one another out of fear, or lack of ability, or even the knowledge that at times you will fail.  God provides.  Together, we share in His love and bring great strength and comfort to each other. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Just waiting for the cold weather to flee.....

The least I could do is post, eh?

Okay, I'll do an update and sprinkle in a few of Emily's pictures.  (Emily is my 14 year old daughter.)  Maybe they'll give those of us still dwelling in cold weather a little hope that spring and summer will return.

What can I say?  At heart I am a very constant person.  My children eat three meals a day and the laundry is always done.  (Not always finished....always done.  At some point.)  When it comes to *spare moments, however, I go in spurts.  January and February were spent by reading, reading, reading and knitting, knitting, knitting.  (*Spare moments?  Ha Ha.  Spare moments mean STILL doing 4 or 5 things at once.  Spare moments really mean that I should be doing something else, but choose to do something more fun.  That's just how life is, and I think it's good!)

As March approached, the books and the yarn fell by the wayside and I have been CONSUMED by my decluttering gene.  (Apparently, it is a gene that only becomes dominant as Spring approaches.  The decluttering gene is not to be confused with the cleaning gene.  They are not one and the same.  My house can be orderly yet still have spiderwebs on the ceilings.)



I've spent hours sorting through our bookshelves.  I decided that no family needs 15 books on personal budgeting, particularly when 12 of those books were written in the 1980s.  A few of my books will make it to a grand and gloriously new future on ebay, the rest are finding their destiny via Paperback Swap.  Paperback Swap has proven profitable - for the people who want my books.  I've mailed out a ton in just a few days.  Now, I can't think of any books that I want to request in return.  Help me out, here.  What do I want to read?  Too bad I already went through my reading kick.  I need to coordinate myself better.



As I sort and list, I'm tentatively and mentally working out curriculum for my kids next year.  My oldest son will have graduated, but I will have added a kindergartener.  I'll still be at 5 school-aged children.  I thought I had the entire high school curriculum figured out, then through trial and error realized that what worked for my oldest would not work (not even remotely) for the next kid in line.  It is back to the drawing board for me, and at the high school level this feels daunting.  I know what I want, and what I do not want - but locating it seems difficult.  I don't really want to put together our own curriculum, but will if I must.



The lady that I was providing night time care for is now out of the hospital.  She is in a nursing home for rehab and therapy, so that job has ended.  I knew when I began that it was likely just for a time, and the time was right for it to be over.  I believe that I have been a comfort for her.  I am glad to be home again for all of my evenings.  It was something that I needed to do to help out, and I'm grateful to have found a way to do so without compromising time with my children.  I'm equally as grateful to be home and able to focus more fully while here.  I'm a smidgen less tired than I was.



That's all, I think.  Just wanted to say hello.  No promises (as always) about regular blogging.  When the blogging gene reasserts its dominance, I'll be back.

God bless you.  If you stop by be sure and say hello!