How I thrive (survive/stay alive) with 5!

“I don’t know how you do it.”

I hear that sentence about once a week. From friends. Family. Even strangers.

And I know what they mean. What they’re really saying.

“I don’t know how you put up with so many kids for so many hours a day.”

Why would a sane person have 5 of them? Why would they choose to stay home with them? And how in the world do they do it?

Okay. Here’s the answer. For any of you considering 5 kids. Considering homeschooling. Considering jumping out of a plane with a mended parachute.

One-God. Honestly. I couldn’t do it without my morning time in the closet (literally) with Him. Tucked away from the world. Cramming verses into my head. Scribbling prayers that often end with “help me.”

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Two-Quiet time. “Do not come out of your rooms till 3:00.” This house shuts down from 2:00-3:00 every day. Not kidding. The introvert in me craves this hour of silence. It’s golden. Do not speak to me. Do not cry. Do not come near my bedroom door.

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Three-Video games. Judge me. It’s fine. But our kids get an hour of “screen time” every day after quiet time. They come up, get a snack, then waste their brains for an hour. So in total, I get (count it) 2 hours of “me time” every afternoon. And it’s glorious!

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Four-Schedule. Things run like clockwork around here. I’m a legalist when it comes to routine. A little OCD maybe. The big boys know what to do when. They know when  it’s their “school with Mom time,” “watch Esther/Kenan time,” and “alone time.”

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Five-Trampoline. “Everybody outside right now.” I say it almost every day. “Go. Just go. Everybody on the trampoline.” Because we all (me included) need fresh air. We need to jump. Throw balls at each other. Curl up in blankets and read books.

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That’s just 5. I could name tons more. Helpful friends. Jeremy’s support. Family close by. Simple curriculum. Crockpots. Audio books. Minimal expectations. Ritz crackers.

Is this the life my 18 year old self envisioned?

Not a chance. Not a single piece of my current reality matches up with my original plans.

And that could scare me to death. Make me doubt.

Or it could make me humble. Reliant. Leaning hard into the only One who really knows.

God doesn’t make mistakes. With our jobs, families, locations, or callings. With our kid-count. Money-count. Achievement-count.

He just keeps loving us. And strengthening us. And being extra gracious to us.

And in the irony of it all, I find myself echoing these same words back to Him.

“I don’t know how You do it.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:1-3)

 

 

 

 

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Going too quickly…

He comes around the corner, and I catch my breath. It seems with the change of seasons he has changed. Grew maybe. Holds himself a little more like a man than a boy.

I could cry.

His shoes are bigger than mine. I can borrow his sweatshirts. It really is going quickly.

I’ve cringed when people would tell me, “Enjoy it. It goes by fast.” Sometimes I’ve wanted to respond, “Good. I’m tired. I’ve been changing diapers for over 10 years. Let it go on by…quickly please.”

But not today. Not when I have a moment to stop and notice. To look at him. To realize my firstborn has less time left in this home than he’s spent in it thus far.

Is he ready to be sent out? Is he sharp like an arrow? Have we done enough? Taught enough? Prayed enough?

I’m sweating now.

Stop! God loves him more than me. He has a plan for his life. A good plan. I’m sure he’ll struggle. Didn’t I? But I’m also confident God is faithful. To this Mama. To the maturing boy in our home.

“God, help me not to worry. Or be fearful. But more than anything, help me not to miss it! Not to miss one more moment of tangibly watching grace. Of seeing You working and shaping him into who You’ve created him to be.”

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah. Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!” (Psalm 39:4-6)

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Savor Like Chocolate

If I could only love these crazy little years like our youngest loves chocolate, things would be much different around here.  He eats it so slowly and meticulously, enjoying every bite.  I wonder if it’s because he feels like he doesn’t get much.  And honestly, he doesn’t get much as lots of it ends up on his hands, face, even on his arms and legs!  I can’t seem to grasp how quickly these years of my kids being little are going to pass.

Just like Jonathan’s chocolate, I imagine it will be gone, and I’ll wonder where it all went.  Some will pass here and some there, and we’ll be left with sweet memories.  This thought challenges me to show and teach my boys the Gospel every chance I get.  But it also reminds me to savor this time; to enjoy it to the last bite.  And I can only do this as I trust that our Father has plans to “prosper and not [harm] them; to give them a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)