Thursday, May 23, 2013


I have a few quiet moments before heading off to bed.  These moments are rare and they are precious.  I decide to peruse some of the decorating blogs I used to visit daily.  The photos I see are of such beautiful homes.  They are pristine and perfect.  Every pillow is perfectly fluffed.  Every wall color picked to perfection. Even the laundry rooms I see look more like a boutique.

Then I look around my house and want to cry.  The basement carpet is so badly stained I don't even want to have people over anymore.  Despite my best efforts at cleaning and picking up, it looks like someone has ransacked every room.  There are toys scattered.  Schoolbooks piled.  Dishes in the sink (and on the table).  Laundry spewing out of the laundry room. A boutique it is not.

I think when I started my motherhood journey, and later my homeschooling journey, I didn't realize how these decisions would impact every part of my life, even how my house looks (especially how my house looks).  I am someone who loves perfection, particularly in my home.  It is far, far, far from that.  And sometimes (OK, alot of times), it really gets to me.  Having a beautiful, always clean and organized home is something I have had to sacrifice for this lifestyle I have chosen.  There are lots of homeschooling moms out there who will tell you differently.  They will tell you that they have come up with a ten point chore system for every child in the family, and they are able to maintain a perfectly clean and organized home, do school, make delicious and nutritious meals for their family, run a successful and profitable home business, juggle knives that are on fire, stand on their head and sing the national anthem while brushing their teeth, and have their children perform a musical number that would rival the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.  I am not that homeschooling mom. I live in reality.  There are days I am exhausted (most days) and all I want to do is sleep. My children seem to have a real knack for messing up a room as quickly as I can pick it up.  I often let my toddler watch television just so I can clean the bathroom or do the dishes. I am lazy sometimes, too.  Those dishes in the sink will just have to stay there overnight...I am too tired to deal with them.

I have a few more moments before I head off to dreamland.  Today was our last day of school for the year, and I take a moment to read over the goals I set for our homeschool last fall.  I realize that every single one of them has either been met, exceeded or is very close to being met.  I thumb through Isaac's Language Arts workbook, and look at every line filled in, every page completed.  I take in just how much he learned this year and how far we have come.  And so many ways he far exceeded my expectations of him academically.  And best of all, he asked Jesus into his heart this year. That is more important to me than any perfect house you could hand me the keys to.

This messy house will not always be messy.  Maybe someday I can have my perfect house.  For now, there are three precious boys to raise and to love. This life...this one I have... in it's imperfection, it is perfect.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Queen of the World

In 65 minutes from the moment I started composing this blog posting, I will officially be 37 years old. I can hardly believe I am this age. It really does seem like yesterday that I was 16 years old. I can remember SO many things, down to small details, about my growing up years. I am not sure when I became this woman when I really just feel like a girl.

A few weeks ago, the boys and I headed over for a quick visit with my mom. She sat on the couch, looking beautiful with her bald head and cancer body and we loved on her for a few moments. When we left, she called out her frequent reminder to me, "Remember, these are your best years."

They don't feel like it sometimes. Often I am bogged down by the stress and constant demands of family life. There are moments I want to be 16 again, and have few cares in the world. And then when I truly do immerse myself in a moment and enjoy it, I worry if I am enjoying it enough. Or I worry I will forget it. I keep a computer file of precious or funny things my kids said or did that I want to remember. I start to panic when I think I have forgotten some things before I was able to get them recorded. Those moments are gone now. They are forever lost to me.

I rocked my baby two nights ago. He sat on my lap with his cup and blankie, and I sang to him. He turned his head into me in such a way that he was nestled perfectly in my arms. I asked God if I could relive this moment in heaven someday. These are the moments my mama is talking about. I am the queen of their world. I look at the handful of dandelions on my window sill that my precious Graham brings me almost every day, and I want to freeze this time. It's going too fast already, and I know that someday soon I won't be their queen anymore. This time will pass as fast as my window-sill dandelions wilt.

Of all the things I have done in my life so far, of any accomplishments I can call my own, my best is being a mother. It is my life's work, my divine calling. Everything else pales in comparison to this one role in my life. I love my boys with a fierce love that I didn't even know I was capable of. So, would I turn back the clock to be 16 again if given that choice? No, I would not. I want to be their queen for as long as time will let me.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Master

A few days ago, my boys and I visited a local museum as part of a field trip with our homeschooling group. Because I had understood the description of the field trip to have something to do with the history of electricity, I was completely unprepared for the experience that I had once we arrived. The first exhibit the guide took us through was on women pioneer artists of the Red River Valley. The exhibit primarily featured two women, one whose name was Annie Stein. As I began looking through the photos, paintings and historical artifacts, something about Annie Stein's life seemed eerily similar to my own. Annie did not view herself as a "professional" artist. She never received formal art education, and anything she learned about her art (which started with oil paintings and morphed into photography, among other things), she learned on her own by trial and error. While other, more notorious artists were gaining experience and inspiration from classically trained master artists, Annie was being trained and inspired by The Master. One of her quotes was,
"Do not criticize me harshly, for God is my Master."
Annie began her career by painting portraits of her family members from photographs. Eventually, she became interested in portrait photography and set up a studio in her home (at the exhibit, there were even photos of her makeshift home-studio, as well as a display of some of the furniture she had in her studio!). She was inspired by the things around her in her world, and by things she saw in magazines and books. She would keep a record of the things that inspired her in scrapbooks. I felt like Annie and I were kindred spirits, separated by 100 years. I have never considered myself a "professional". When it comes to my photography, I have always felt like maybe I ended up here through some circumstances I did not provoke.

I will never forget the story relayed to me by my Isaac. At church one night, he heard about a recent missions trip some of the attenders had went on to Nepal. One of them told a story about a woman who had children and whose husband had left the family. She had no way to support herself or her children. Unable to become employed, her and her children would surely die in poverty. One night, this woman described that Jesus appeared to her in a dream and taught her how to weave. After this dream, the woman was able to put this skill to use to support her family by selling the items she had woven. Somehow, this woman, too, is my sister. We are not separated by years, but by an ocean.  I know I am not living in poverty.  I know I am blessed to live here in America, surrounded by family who can help us when need be. However, like this young woman in Nepal, I needed a way to help provide for my family. God gave me this gift. So many times I look at the portraits I create and think to myself, "I shouldn't be able to do this." He has made me better than I would be without Him, I know this is true. Truly, "God is my Master."

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