Watching Them Grow

"The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves.  The resolution not to twist them, to fit our own image.  If loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them.  We only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them." -Thomas Merton

          I was making my bed and listening to a podcast and when I heard that quote I literally had to stop what I was doing and listen to those words again. That knocked me off my feet, so to speak.  To let those I love, my children, be perfectly themselves, not twisting them to fit my own image of who I think they should be...even worse, that the should be like me. Ouch.
          I passionately love my children, there is no doubt about that.  So why do I avoid certain children of mine at times, while am drawn to others?  Why do I get so red faced, tight liped mad at them?  Because it's easy to parent the kids who do what I say, act how I want them to act, are interested in what I want them to be interested in.  I've fallen into that trap of loving the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

          I really don't want to get to the end of my parenting days only to wish that I could do it all over.  To wish for the chance to try again in the areas where I failed to be patient, kind. respectful, accepting, and embracing of their differences. To wish that I hadn't yelled constantly out of anger and frustration.  My biggest hope is that in the midst of raising six children... six different personalities, six different souls....is that I will know with great certainty that I loved each one of them.  No  matter what. That I didn't try to mold them into becoming what I think they should be. That I looked daily into each of their eyes to see that person whom God created them to be and embrace that with them.
          Were getting to that stage in life where talk of their vocation and what they want to be when they grow up is starting to get a bit more real. I'm praying that I can gracefully guide them with figuring out who they are and what they want to do.  We often talk about their gifts and talents that God has blessed each one of them with.  How they are different from the sibling sitting next to them at the table or from the friend in their class.  And that is okay.  I want to reinforce to them that it is okay to like and dislike certain things.  God didn't make each of us an Olympic athlete or an Opera singer.
          He does however want us to use the gifts and talents that are unique to each one of us. And I believe He is asking me, as their mother, to be better at this.  To realize, accept, and embrace the characteristics of each one of my children.  To give them room to grow and explore the beautiful person God created them to be.


Home as a Haven

           “Victorian women were the moral, spiritual, and physical center of the home, responsible for creating a welcome retreat of beauty, comfort, and contentment that would protect, nurture, and sustain those they loved,”  says ban Breathnach. How beautiful is that?  Or better yet, how do I do that?  Make my home a welcome retreat.  Ban Breathnach goes on to say that “women approached the domestic arts of cooking, decorating, gardening, handicrafts and entertaining not as burdens but as a form of personal expression and a means of persuasion.”  Not as burdens.   Now that is something to ponder.  Setting the table, cleaning the house, changing out seasonal decorations, making available books and crafts and games so that the kids reach for those rather than electronics.  Those are the extras, the things I can do when I have time, that seem to get pushed aside because, let’s be real, I’m a busy mom with six kids. This season of life for us right now is a lot of busy.  Kids in different schools, school activities, sports, interests of each of our children, time for Tj and for myself… Life is very full right now.  I too easily get caught up in the list, the checking off of each activity as it flies by.  But it wasn’t that long ago that I was giving more time to our home. Bringing out holiday decorations and setting up our home for each of the seasons.  Its fun for me to do.  I enjoy it. It brings me joy to entertain people in our home.  I can’t forget that.

          I have the beautiful picture painted in my head of how I want the atmosphere of our home to feel as the kids walk in the door from school, and when Tj comes home from work. I want to welcome our family into a peaceful home, not a chaotic one. I know it was a lot easier to accomplish this when the kids were younger and less involved in activities. Its much easier to create a peaceful atmosphere in your home when everyone is actually there and not off in a million directions.  Though I do love to think back to that simpler time of life.  But, I must also remember that one day I will look back on TODAY and wish for it back. I think living in the present will help me.  Realizing what our life looks like now, and finding pockets of time amidst the busy running around, to just be.  To decorate, create, bake, garden, whatever that creative home caring task may be.
          Today I'm baking cookies and will welcome my children home from school with a smile and  sugar!

Taking a moment today to make one little space beautiful!  


Starting Today

          I havn't been on this blog for almost two and a half years.  Two and a half years... that's a long time.  But lately I've been having this feeling of wanting to go back.  Back to taking the time to sit and write about it all.  What I see and feel and think about each day.  Mostly to remind myself of the beauty of my life.
          This morning after getting the kids off to school, I was feeling particularly nostalgic.  Maybe its the weather finally changing over to spring.  Maybe its the warmer morning air, pregnant with the rain that is to come later today.  Maybe its the tulips poking out of the ground with their beautiful heads of color.  Or the scent of the blossoming trees in the air and the pink, white and purple flowers on them.  All of this made me desire to sit on the front porch and open one of my most treasured books.  Coffee in hand, I thumbed the pages of "Simple Abundance" until I reached today's date, May 2nd.
          Simple Abundance A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sarah Ban Breathnach is a book I started reading in 1997.  A woman I babysat for was given it as a gift and she passed it along to me.  Asked me if I'd like to read it, to keep it.  Always loving to get a good book, I happily took it. The book is comprised of 365 entries, one for each day of the year.  It so beautifully goes through each month, each day, each season, with a meditation of how to live each day, each season with fullness.  Gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty, and joy are the principles she walks the reader through.  It has been one of the most formative books I have ever read, truly helping me to see the beauty and joy of my daily life.  I have so  many memories of reading this book outside in the morning.  All the way back to when I was a college student living in my apartment, I would take my stack of daily reads outside on our deck and begin my mornings with prayer and reading.  I've continued that to this day.  I like to think back to the different houses I've lived in, each one with their own special spot outside where I read and prayed in the mornings.  This book has been a part of that habit.  I've read the same entries over and over for the past 20 years. Though there are years when I haven't picked up the book.  Seasons of life when this book collects dust on the shelf.  I havn't read it probably in the last 5 years and I'm realizing that I miss it.  So today I picked it up.
          When I started this blog 8 years ago, the task of naming it was daunting for me.  What was the title? Why was a writing a blog anyway?  I remembered reading something from Simple Abundance that had stuck with me.  Ban Breathnach quotes Rumer Godden by saying, "the secret to living an authentic life seems to have been dwelling, no matter where she actually kept house, in the House of Spirit.  There is an Indian proverb or axiom that says that everyone is a house with four rooms, a physical, a mental, an emotional and a spiritual.  Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room every day, we are not a complete person."  That really struck me as so important. How necessary it is for me to do exactly that.  To take time each day for myself mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  There it was.  The name I had been looking for.  If I was going to writing about my life, this fit perfectly.  I named my blog, A House With Four Rooms.
          And so, here I am this morning sitting on my porch with the dusty Simple Abundance book in hand.  I flip to today's date May 2nd, and guess what its about?  Rumor Godden's quote on a house with four rooms.  Yep.  I'll take that as a little nudge to get back here, to this place where I can write and remember and record all the beautiful ways my life is so full.



First day of school 2015

All set to go tomorrow!  I love this pew we have.  It's held MANY "night before" outfits!  Better remember to take off the tag on Thomas' shirt!!

Third grade

First grade

Sixth grade

Seventh grade.  I think he's the one who has physically changed the most since last year.  He looks so grown up!  We are so relieved that he is starting the school year, with last years crazy health issues.  Praise God!

Thomas had to try out to be in student council.  After not being in school for months, he came back in May, tried out and got it!  There were only three seventh graders, and he is one of them! 

A Summer Weekend

Swim meet...



and sleeping!  A full summer weekend!


He Loves to Swim

This kid has no fear in the water. His favorite thing to do now is go off the diving board and the slide.  He is much too cute!



I was looking through all the hundreds of pictures I have snapped just in the last few months.  Hundreds of them.  I love that each picture has a story behind it.  How when I asked Pete and George to sit down so I can take their picture, this is what they looked like.

I love when I pose them and tell them to all "look up" or when I catch them all coloring at the table. 

Time is flying by.  They are growing at amazing speed.  Days can be long, but when I look through pictures I am reminded how grateful I am to have them.