Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Importance of Making Space for Quiet

I always bristle when someone comments my life, or our home must be chaotic. I think they are saying it will be messy, unruly or somehow lacking peace.

I think the intent is amazement and tiny bit dis belief. The idea of putting yourself with 10 kids who are not your own is not a calm image, I get that!

I have worked very hard to create space, create chore expectations, create rhythms that allow for calm. The nights that are explosive with events, energy and need throw off the balance for sure. But overall this house of 12 does make room for the quiet.

It took me a long time to understand I am an extroverted introvert. I love my kids around me, but I desperately need everyone to be quiet and read a book, immediately! My favorite days are when everyone is engaged in a project, a book or coloring but silently sharing space. It does happen!

We use "active breaks" for L. Rather than sitting for a time out, she is a high spirited child! We have her do something genuinely useful but that uses her body, or run the stairs on a timer. It allows for her brain to clear, get some breath and re start calmly.
Less stuff overall helps with creating a sense of calm. Clutter stresses me out, sunshine, open floor space is always soothing. My kids complain we have less toys than other families (it is true) and that their friends have bedrooms that are FUN. We have bedrooms that are usually pretty tidy, quilts, stacks of books and coloring things, some stuffed animals and a bin of toys, that is it. And of course a sibling or three to share your room. We play outside, every day. We use the big kitchen space together for homework, for prayer, for spending time together. We don't encourage endless hours in bedrooms, doesn't seem to lead to calm energy, it leads to angst and anxiety.

Being introverted together, being stubborn about wanting things clean and having less things, insisting on regular chores and individual responsibility creates a peaceful atmosphere. Of course there are nights, like last night, that remind me why we try to take on less! Remind me I need to make peace and down time together a priority even if it means swimming against the tide.

For now I am going to read my devotional, put some laundry on the line and wash my floors. A precious moment with 8 at school and two sleeping is very rare...and peaceful!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weeping, Laughter and Grace

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 
Ecclesiastes 3 1-8

What a beautiful verse this is. Although I know we cannot choose our moments I have spent countless hours trying to! It is impossible to know when healing comes as much as you wish for it. The times I fall apart as a mother are not when I expect. Those small tipping points that in retrospect seem vivid, are in the moment painful and unexpected. This verse is a reminder of the importance to be holistic, the importance to allow for the dark and the light to be included in our walk with prayer and life.

I weep not knowing if this sweet foster baby will stay in my arms, not because he is mine or because I am a better mother, but because I love him. I weep because limbo for babies is life changing and it is my job to advocate without knowing all the facts. I weep because some days I am bone tired and need to make sure ten children feel loved wholly and completely. I weep because I want to do things perfectly and somedays I don't get even close. 

I laugh at those hilarious first steps a toddler takes. I laugh at those first crooked smiles. I laugh at my husband in his tough work clothes accepting a tiny cup of imaginary tea. I laugh at my teenagers ribbing each other in a way that only siblings can; the sweetness of family. 

I am finding I need to make time to laugh, set work down to embrace the biggest and the littlest children, make time to be ok with some weeping and amen to casting away stones. The beauty of living knee deep in imperfection is Grace with a capital G. Thank you God for mess, truly it is in the clean up I see the details. Imperfection that leads to laughter, the beauty of a full, well loved life.