Saturday, May 12, 2012


My husband rarely has a negative word to say about anyone.  He works hard, and when his work isn't getting him anywhere, he has no qualms about moving on to a more promising and ultimately more successful project.  He has an exciting and contagious sense of adventure.  He can always make time for a nap.  He doesn't worry about what other people think of him, but moves forward with choices he has made and because of this, people respect him.  They admire him wonder how he does what he does.

My brother Danny is very organized.  I have not once seen his car messy.  He is careful with his money and sets up a budget with his wife.  He has led a men's group at his church and prays faithfully for our family.

My brother Matt thinks carefully about every decision he makes, even consulting the family on the very difficult ones.  He has been on a mission trip to Africa, showing people Jesus' love through the work of his hands.

My sister in law, Emma is very encouraging.  If you're down on yourself, she can always talk you back up and out of your stinking thinking.  She is positive.  She is unfailingly loving and kind.

My dad has a sensitive heart and cares very deeply for everyone around him.

My friend Josie is a people magnet.  Wherever she is, there are people gathered around her, eager to hear her great stories and attracted by her upbeat outlook on life.

My friends Joscelyn and Heather have a way of making you feel like they've been waiting all day to see you whenever you bump into them, and are willing to take the time to chat.

My friend Wendy makes some of the best desserts I've ever tasted and always checks in to make sure I'm doing ok.

My friend Julie is a gifted storyteller and born leader.

My friend Lisa has a smile and a hug that are good medicine that can't be found anywhere.  Her unwavering trust in God and confidence in Him are inspiring and comforting.

And me?  I'm not afraid to go to the bathroom with the door wide open, and I can mentally calculate the discount when something is 25% off.  I'm not concerned with buying new clothes and I don't relish spending money.  I like to stay home, and I'm cold all the time.  I will stay up late with my kids and I love when they talk to me, even when it's about nothing much.  I have a small repertoire of meals, but I'd love to find new ones.  I love to find grammatical and spelling errors and I don't like to make decisions.  People say I'm sweet and I try to be nice to everyone around me, but I can't stand injustice and don't mind speaking up about it.  I love God and see His wonder all around me and like playing praise music loudly when I clean.  Also, I can recover dining room chairs.

All of us have mothers.  Whether we see them often, get along with them, or have never met them, somehow they have shaped some bit of ourselves.  Whenever I meet a friend's mother, I look for that familiar nod or gesture, figure of speech or sparkle in the eye.  Usually I find it.  I find pieces of my dear friends in the eyes and hearts of their mothers.

Often, the qualities I love best about my friends and family members can link somehow back to their mother.  My husband might not be the confident, self motivated man his is without having watched the way his mom works.  My brothers might not be as finance savvy or as strongly committed to teaching those around them about Christ without the influence of our mom.

My grandma Jean was just like my dad:  a walking heart of gold.

Emma, Joscelyn, Heather and Lisa have moms who feel to me like they must be my long lost extra moms...they remind me so much of my mom, and I can see their fingerprints on the sweet fragrance of their daughters' personalities.  Josie's positive outlook and contagious enthusiasm stem right from her mom Carla, and Wendy's mom is retired but selling bread and playing a consistently positive role in the lives of those around her.  I haven't met Julie's mom, but I know she too is a born leader.

And my mom?  Marcia Jo Kirk lives thousands of miles away from me, but she's right here in my mind and in my heart.  She's there when I'm agonizing over the 20cent difference in cheese prices.  She's rolling her eyes at the errors in a major publication.  She's outraged at the massive loss of life in our country through the sad deception that is abortion.  She's dedicated to her family and prays for us regularly.  Her simple, intentional way of living influences my daily life, and I am grateful for her.

I am thankful for each womb that carried each life that has intersected with mine.  I am thankful for each mother.  I am thankful for each varicose vein, each stretch mark, each case of mastitis.  I am thankful for every late night feeding, every sleepless night of worried prayer.  I am thankful for every hug, and every band-aid, every kiss on the forehead and every goodnight prayer.

I am thankful that God gave us mothers, because they are a daily reminder that we do not make ourselves, but are shaped by a hand larger than our own.  God knowingly gave each of us the mother that we have, seeing clearly her influence in his larger plan for our lives.

Psalm 100:3 "Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of his pasture."
(now you can see why the title of this post is "Maaaaa!"  :)

Happy Mother's Day to you and your mother

Friday, May 11, 2012

Le Camp Francais, day one!

Madame Bass is one of those teachers my kids will probably remember all their lives.  She's fun, upbeat, positive and creative.  She knows how to introduce subject matter in a variety of ways that appeal to all learning styles.  Kids never have a chance to be bored in her myriad classes, from french to  forensic science.  She puts together a 3 day french immersion camp each year that is hosted at a local retreat center.  For the first time, I felt like I could help out this year.  I was the camp photographer and was amazed at the amount of learning and activities that were packed into each day.  The theme was kings and queens in the middle ages.  Here's day one.

the kids each made a person to represent themeselves

a game of capture the something.

french camp t-shirts
making castles

goofy fly guy

good reading

remnants of delicious snacks

Spring Tea Birthday

Last month, one of Saraiah's best friends turned 9.  I've known her mom all that time.  I was even at her baby shower.  To see her turn into a young lady is hard for me, but sweet too.  She's the youngest of 6 kids but doesn't act like the baby of the family.  Instead, she's careful to be a little mother to everyone around her, and I think that's why she and Saraiah are so close.  Both of them love to make art, are very positive, and love to give gifts.  The dandelions had just begun to bloom, and they were the perfect centerpiece for her special celebration.  She's a bright ray of sunshine to everyone she meets.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

We're all spinning 'round

I had seen this leaf floating in our creek beneath the bridge for several days and thought I should take a picture.  This afternoon, I finally did.
One of my most favorite memories from college was going out into the main lawn in the middle of the night and spinning around and around in circles alongside my friends.  The real world is an overwhelming place, and for some of us, college was the first place we were completely slammed with the reality of this. Spinning around in circles was childish fun that freed us from the every day tension and drama we were encountering.  Oftentimes as an adult I feel like I've begun to spin around in circles for fun, but then, somewhere along the way I forgot to stop, and I begin to feel sick.  My world is upside down, and the adventure and freedom I sought in my many diversions is again elusive.  I feel stuck.

The many spinning plate analogy is a favorite one lately.  If you haven't heard of it, a person who has too many things they are committed to is said to be "spinning too many plates."  Have you ever seen someone do this in real life?  They are actually spinning dinner plates or bowls at the tip of a bowl, which they must constantly move at the right speed to keep the bowl spinning.  It sounds pointless, doesn't it?  But it's entertaining at least, right?

It's usually this time of year that I really notice how many plates I've decided to spin.  It happens very gradually, because you don't plan on looking like an insane maniac doing aimless spinning of dishware on poles.  And of course, once you notice you're doing something that you've really been doing without thinking it just gets harder.  The plates start to wobble, and your brain goes berserk as it frantically tries to decide how to keep them going.  Then it starts to question why those plates were up there in the first place.  "It's craziness!!!," you shout as you stand there paralyzed.

So here are the choices:

1)  let them fall

2)  figure out how to gently put them down

3)  get people to join you in the madness

4) wait for someone to come and take them from you

5)  just keep them going.

6) add more plates

6)  any creative combination of the above

You would think I'd learn, but I guess my weakness is overcommitment.  What about you?  What activities or commitments are you juggling that should maybe be reconsidered?  Are you doing things just because you've always done them?  Are you stressed and snapping at people around you?  It might be time to stop and reflect.

black and white version of the same beautiful leaf and reflection.  Today, literally staring into the water of the creek helped put things into perspective for me.

Thankfully, there are several commitments that are being taken from me from the natural progression of the school year.  Awana and co-op are ending.  Swimming lessons can take a break after this month.    I've been getting better at asking people to help me with shuttling children to activities and putting my foot down and declaring at-home days when it seems all I do is drive in circles in my minivan.

Right now, there are seasonal commitments like goat milking, goat kid bottle feeding, gardening and general outdoor maintenance that are beginning to eclipse my fall and winter commitments.  It's when they overlap that my life begins to feel like a whirl pool and I begin to despair.
maia relaxes on the bridge over the creek
I've been snapping at the kids, my husband, and this morning one of my very best friends.  I realized it was time to sit and do nothing.  Literally.  This afternoon, I sat in the sunshine with the baby goats and my little girls with the alpacas hovering and sniffing us all.  We did nothing, but we did everything we needed to.

delicious mud brownies  ---("ooh, there's a worm in one!"--maia )
We read books on the trampoline, then lay back in the cool spring sunshine with a blanket tent over our heads.  We took care of our great grandma goat, who seems to be having some mobility issues and gave her a special suite in our old barn.  I gathered some alders for poles for our beans.  They played in the mud and made mud brownies.  We made soup and ate it.  I cancelled commitments I had made with several people because I realized that in the state I was in, I was not pleasant to be around.

figuring out the hose in the afternoon light
There are still plates upon my poles, but I'm looking at them carefully, evaluating their purpose so that I can give each one the best attention it needs.  I want to be spinning for fun, not out of habit.  How about you?  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Busy as bees

A lupine, looking a little like a palm tree.
We've all been as busy as the bees are because of the time of year.  I've seem them out there, as well as the spiders, wasps, flies, ladybugs, beetles and earthworms.  They are rushing through the gameplan their DNA has laid out for this season of their lives.  The woods are loud with the noises of squirrels, jays and robins.  The creeks are swarming with mosquitos and the tree and bullfrogs are busy calling for mates.  Similarly, we try to keep up with the plans we've made for the time of year, all the while learning to flow with the detours that inevitably come our way.

Our yard echoes with the sounds of children playing until it's nearly nine-o-clock, making muddy versions of slip and slides and spinning around in circles.  Meanwhile, I'm watering plants in our little greenhouse, milking the goat, then working with Eva to get the baby goats to take to the bottle.  Honey, our mama goat, had mastitis, but we've treated that.  

Today I was brave enough to crack open the eggs our hatchy hen incubating for the past 24 days.  Sadly, they were duds.  Strangely enough, we seem to have another broody hen on our hands, so I may need to get  a suitable rooster to give her the babies she wants.  Our banty fellow must not be quite up to the job.

In the garden, I've planted all the plants we started indoors, some as early as January.  It's been a humbling year in that realm already.  I've had lots of failures, but in them, I've learned so much about plants and how similar they are to us in design.  When I get overtired, drink too much coffee and get dehydrated, my skin shows it, by peeling, getting redder and breaking out.  I'm exhausted and get sick easily.

Likewise, plants become weak when they are crowded, over or under watered, or given the wrong nutrients to grow in.  Things like aphids and fungus gnats will plague them,  When I'm careful to think in this way about our garden plants, I think I'm able to understand more what they need, because I'm understanding a little more intimately the design God has laid out for each of them, just as He has for me.

So tomorrow when we plant our beans, corn, squash and other things, I'll try to slow down my pace a little bit, reminding myself about the bees and ladybugs, my skin and my plant starts, and I will do my best to create a nurturing and stress free environment for those little plants.   That way all they have left to do is to grow well and strong, providing our family with some good and nourishing things so that we can grow too.

insect launch pad!

out to catch some dinner
Red clover.  Wow!