Category Archives: Introspection

The Old Oak Tree

Photo Credit


We seem to be establishing a pattern here recently. It looks a little something like this:

Wake up, coffee for me, cereal or oatmeal for the kids.

(I don’t cook breakfast during the week… I’m terrible, I know!)

Throw on some play clothes.

Pretend to do chores, while not accomplishing anything.

Pretend to do school while not accomplishing anything.

Run outside the first chance we get.

Stay there until supper time.

Today, the children have discovered the joys of climbing trees. Not that they haven’t climbed trees before, but there is a huge oak tree sitting in the middle of the field in front of an old cattle barn behind our house and I’ve given them permission to go to it.

The six of them have been in that tree or directly under it for the last three hours. The two youngest have been steadily riding their bikes or chasing butterflies while the others brave the tree heights. They don’t need much to occupy them, do they?


Just 50 years of tree growth.  Smile


Isn’t that just the way things go? Someone, sometime left that little seedling to grow in the middle of a cattle field, not knowing how much joy it would one day bring these six little children who are lucky enough to live near it.

Someone, sometime decided that it was perfectly placed in front of the old cattle barn… perfect enough to leave it and it’s given this exhausted momma have a couple of hours to relax thanks to it’s presence.

Sometimes, we just have to remember these little decisions, the smallest moments of passing compassion will reach far beyond what we could ever imagine.

It was probably more trouble then it was worth for whoever let it grow.

He’d have to mow around it.

It blocks any hope of a straight-shot to the barn doors with a vehicle.

I have no idea who he was or what he thought about it, or why he left it there.

But I’m grateful. 


A Refreshing Breeze

Photo Credit

It smells wonderful here.

Aren’t you jealous? You just don’t know. Imagine you’re walking down that little path, the sky getting darker, the rain clouds about to burst. The wind teasing the ends of your hair. Can you smell it yet?

It’s fantastic!

I always love the rain. It’s so simple, so pure.

I always use the rain outside as an excuse to be lazy inside. That may be part of the reason I love it so much. But, in my house, rain is an excuse to relax, sleep, rest, and refresh.

Living as the mother of a big family is never what you’d call easy. Much less so by whenever your house is under remodeling and your schedule is thrown for a loop.

Which around here is every day!

I used to beat myself up about days like these. Yeah, I enjoyed them, but I’d spend the next several days trying to play catch up with this imaginary deadline that I’d have to meet. Of course, that deadline was always just out of reach.

Then I’d push it closer.

Call me a glutton for punishment, but I really did that to myself! I don’t know why… I had to keep up with all these imaginary perfect people in my head. Failure to do so was a complete violation of my …. everything. I actually lived with the motto “Fake it ‘till you make it” for years.

I can’t say that I’m all better, because I’m not. I still stress out about little things like we didn’t do all the pages I assigned or I didn’t get to cleaning out the refrigerator (again- I hate cleaning out the refrigerator!) But I’ve learned I will eventually get to it. We’ll eventually cover that dreaded spelling lesson. I’ll eventually clean out the fridge before it’s entirely gross. I’ll eventually wake up and make my bed before 9 am. (maybe).

But I have learned that it’s alright to focus and do things right. It’s alright that we spend entire weeks working on nothing but phonics and writing. We’ll get to the other stuff. It’s alright to call off school for the day to go outside and smell the flowers and learn to ride a bicycle with no training wheels. It’s alright if we abandon the books for a day to loaf around at the train museum. It’s alright to sleep until noon on Saturdays.

But it’s a requirement to sit outside and enjoy the breeze before the rain.

Define ‘Character’

I am always hesitant to describe what a typical day in our household looks like. With six children, they are bound to be a little chaotic at any rate. When you add in two ADHD children, and ADHD teenage nephew, a child with cerebral palsy, and three hyperactive toddlers, the recipe looks like disaster!

For years, I’ve struggled with this. It’s not easy. I look at my friends’ and families’ lives and they look like beacons of peace. I know, in my head, that they feel like they don’t have control over a lot of things, that their days almost never go as planned. That doesn’t help in my heart when I just feel like locking myself in a closet to cry because I’ve lost all control over everything and feel like I can’t breathe.

Their lives look like perfection.

I put my head in my heads and wail “Why, God?! Why can’t we be normal? Why do I have to deal with all of this by myself?”

“It’s not fair!”

Then, of course, the tap-tap-tapping starts at the door and I dry my eyes and soldier on.

When I was a teenager, my youth group did a very intensive study on what makes up character. Character, by definition, is the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.

It’s everything that makes us who we are.

It defines us.

My youth pastor had a better definition though. He said, “Character is what you do when no one is looking.”

That puts it into perspective, doesn’t it? What am I doing when no one is around? Am I sitting around feeling sorry for myself because my life is challenging? Am I holding pity parties for myself because because everything is not easy? Am I whining and complaining because I used my time to feel sorry for myself instead of cleaning the house or tending to the children?

That’s not a character to be proud of.

It’s not one you want to be remembered for.

Instead, when life gets difficult, I should look out instead of in. I’m not doing anyone a bit of good by dwelling on things that I cannot change. This is the hand I’ve been dealt. I should work to make it a better experience, to get more joy out of precious moments.

I can’t control many aspects of this crazy life that I lead, but I can control the small things. I can smile more, laugh more, love more. I can spend my free time bettering myself instead of dwelling on how ‘rough’ I have it.

I can control more than I realize.

And I can start with myself.