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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Flexing or Fighting?

I’ll often ask myself when disciplining our kids, “Am I flexing my muscles or fighting for their heart?”

When things seem crazy, and I feel like I’ve lost any semblance of control in this house, I’m more tempted to flex.

Because I can make them obey with my threats. And I can feel in control again.

Or when time is short because of the demands of other kids, I’m tempted to flex. Fighting for the heart takes time. And well, sometimes it seems like I don’t have it.

“The task God has given you is not one that can be conveniently scheduled. It is a pervasive task. Training and shepherding are going on whenever you are with your children.” (Shepherding a Child’s Heart)

Could the most important thing I do today not be great meals or read books or neatly written spelling words? Could the most important thing today be tending to their souls? Could it be listening?  Could it be unscheduled?

Christ came to fight for my heart. He could have “flexed.” He could have stopped Calvary in a second. But He didn’t. He stayed the course.

And even now He’s faithful. He’s patient. He shepherds me.

We fight because we’ve been fought for.

Maybe today fighting for their hearts will feel a little more like grace.

” You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)

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January has become treehouse building weather!

 

When you go back…

The last time we were here I got the phone call with the referral for Amelia. The referral we turned down. The baby girl I wept for. The one I now know was not ours.

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This week we went back. Same park. Same me. Same 3 crazy boys.

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And I breathed deeply. Accepted that today, as it is, is God’s best for me.

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We went letterboxing. Followed clue after clue til we found the little box buried under a rock. Stamped our hands. Signed our names.

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A journey. A search. Finding joy along the way. Over bridges. Up hills. Around trees. Not really knowing the destination but being sure it’s there.

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“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 123:1-3)

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