Thursday, September 29, 2011

Struggle for Simple - Part 4

We've thought a lot about our kids' involvement in sports and other activities.  Just this past summer, only our oldest was involved in baseball - simple, non-traveling 2nd grade baseball - and it was a BIG deal and took away two weekday evenings from home life.  In another 5 years or so, we could potentially have 5 children involved in one thing or another and never see each other.  Even if they each just chose one thing.  

Families are so busy nowadays.  I wonder what Jesus thinks of this.  A century ago, I would have been washing everyone's clothes by hand, cooking dinner over a woodburning stove, washing each dish by hand, and saddling up the horse whenever I needed to go somewhere.  Yet with all the time saved by all of our modern conveniences, we lead almost frantically busy lives.  

It's a ploy, you know.  A subtle, well-planned ploy from the enemy to distract us from what's important (the time is shorter each day) and to pull us away from family, a hugely attacked, God-ordained and designed function.

We've decided as a family that for the foreseeable future, our children will not be involved in any outside activities with the exception of the occasional church-related one (this year, it's Children's Choir) and swimming lessons.

Swimming lessons are my exception to our rule because it's a life skill, it's a passion for the boys, and the lessons are once a week in the morning so it doesn't take away from family time.  We all go to watch, except Daddy who's at work.  And come January, all five boys will be swimming at the exact same time.  A blessing in itself that helps the plan for family time work.  In fact, since we are a homeschooling family, we often get the privilege of private lessons because we're the only one who's signed up for that particular time slot.

So our boys will be in sports.  They will just take place in our own backyard with each other as teammates.  Eventually I'm sure one or more will be interested in learning another instrument besides piano, but we'll deal with that when it comes.  For the most part, we're trying to hold our weekday evenings sacred as family together time that happens regularly enough not to be awkward and to be able to hold to somewhat of a routine, like singing time or prayer time or Bible time.  It provides us with the time to get to know each other and how we function as a group.  Yes, I get stir-crazy sometimes.  But I've found that the more I'm away - and away includes drive time for the boys - the more I want to be away - because away is easy.  Away gives you the sense that you're doing more for your kids as a parent than you actually are.  It's easy to feel like you're sacrificing for them when you're spending your days running them here and there, making sure they have this gear and that, anxiously filling their schedules so they don't miss out on something important.

There will always be things that seem so important, so critical to your child's development and future career path.  

The one thing necessary is the family.

It's so hard.  I mean, really really hard.  But in saying no to temptation and yes to what the Lord wants for our family, I have faith that He will bless it.  In spite of us.

So now, I'd like to present our 2-year-old gymnastics class.  


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Do I have to wait till heaven?

Have you ever noticed that the typical American Church is more affluent than influential?

It seems more concerned with a seat full than a heart full.

It has the means to pay many working within the building, but the workers in the field are in want.

It puts something called worship on display, where a passion for culturally relevant overrides passion for the Creator.

It uses prayer as an opener and a closer articulated by those designated for the privilege.

It dictates to the Holy Spirit rather than listens.

It looks to fresh and often witty quotes to drive the truth home rather than the Word of Truth.

It seeks to provide the emotional equivalent of a recliner for its attenders/spectators.

It seeks to soften the offensiveness of the gospel for sensitive listeners/hearers.

As we follow and act on the leading of the Holy Spirit, as we speak His Truth boldly, as we love each other irrationally and radically, as we heap out grace, yet discern with wisdom, as we joyfully proclaim the love of Jesus within and without the church, we function as the body of Christ.  The church becomes the Church.

And the church shares everything they have.  Within the body and without.

And each seat is full and it doesn't make sense because there haven't even been any special programs!  

And everyone gives what God has put into their heart to give because lives are being changed with each dollar.

And corporate worship has never felt more holy and intimate and family-like.

And prayer flows freely from each mouth with faith that the Father wants to give us our requests.

And the filling of the Spirit is evident in the joy that is radiating from each face.

And the thirsty are quenched with the Word of Truth which truly satisfies.

And it's both hard to come and hard to go, because the words are challenging and awakening to the soul.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Struggle for Simple - Part 3

We eat together as a family.  More often than not, it's like dining with a bunch of untrained monkeys.  Or at least a traveling circus.

This is what he calls his "farmer hat".  

Anyway, imagine trying to have a conversation with this bunch.  I actually tried to explain what it meant to have one and they tried to be obliging for one meal.  We talked about what kind of pet we'd like to have and what we'd name it.  Noah wants a frog.  Sam wants a dog.  Josiah wants a cow.  We talked about what we thought heaven would be like.  Noah told us that there would be just one tree in heaven - the tree of life.  I'm hoping that's a small sign of some spiritual awakening or at least of some paying attention from my four-year-old.

We want the boys to grow up recalling the joys of family meals.  I hope they remember more than just, "Would you please lean over??!", "You may be excused.  Right now!", or, "Please do not touch your brother with any part of your body!"  We're trying hard to make the time edifying, joyful, and enjoyable for all who take part in the meal.  Most of the time, the clown comes in telling jokes and making wild faces just as we're getting to something interesting (the clown sits two to the right of Mom at the table).  It's easy to see why this is so hard - at least, right now it is, as I'm thinking clearly and not fed up (what appropriate table-talk!)  For Satan surely wishes to thwart our efforts at family togetherness and sweet, joyful moments every chance he gets.  

Most of the time it feels like he's winning.

But then I look at that sweet face under the sombrero and I see the joy of the Lord in his eyes, I remember that salvation isn't contingent on how much food is dropped on the floor or how some people take delight in viewing the contents of another's well-chewed bite, and I'm ready to don my spiritual armour and try again.  

Only by the grace of God, He will claim the victory!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What we did last week

We visited Papa Louie and Grandma Kris and Uncle Daniel in Arizona for a week.  All five boys were occupied while we waited to board the plane.  The pilot of the plane even waved to them.

 I love Puddlejumpers!  We strapped this certified lifejacket on Isaac, and he happily floated and kicked around the pool totally independently.

Coloring requires a certain amount of concentration that involves tongue muscles.

Sam rarely took his swim gear off, even for a tramp through the desert.  Isaac, watch out for prickers!!

Uncle Daniel and all his adorable nephews.  And Josiah with a big orange nose.

Perfectly sized lifeboat!

Oh to be that happy and innocent!

If you stare long enough at this picture, you should be able to see five boys.

This is my favorite grandson!

This is my favorite grandson!

This is my favorite grandson!

This is my favorite...wait, we've already done you!

This is my favorite grandson!

This is my favorite grandson!

All the boys make such huge strides in their swimming when they practically live in the pool for a week.  We were spending at least five hours a day out in the pool and even Josiah got to the point where he was swimming underwater and loving it!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Acts 2:38 - Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.