Keeper of the seasons

“It seems we find it hard to learn
Seasons will always turn and turn
When it feels like the die’s been cast
I have to know that this too shall pass
God’s the Keeper of the Seasons
The author and the guide of all the many changes
And when I don’t understand the reasons
I’ll just lay down my head and rest in the Keeper of the Seasons”

Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays

Confession: When I stepped across the baby gate and found more stuff, an explosion of supplies gathered and abandoned by small people, I thumped down the laundry hamper I was carrying and huffed, “Ryan, I work s.o. h.a.r.d. and we live in a pigpen. We do. We live in a pigpen. Am I just lazy, or what?”

“No,” he said. “You’re not lazy. You’re just—up against steep odds.”


It seems we find it hard to learn

I sewed eleven small dresses in the past month, and sorted through the rooms of my house: every closet, every drawer, every cubby. But while I work in one room another implodes, and I am too hard on my children while I am getting it done. I wish I knew how to mix flexibility with order.

Seasons will always turn and turn

I have this idol called All The Things Done At Once, and while I don’t bow down and worship it (because I never behold it), I spend my days in hot pursuit, chasing after the golden image of perfection.


When it feels like the die’s been cast

Until I became a mother I didn’t know how much I treasured the quiet and orderly. By the end of the day I long to move to a quiet hillside in Italy and live like a peasant and look down at the sea and think of no one but Shari J. Zook.

(Somewhere in Italy there is a peasant girl dreaming of being an American housewife with a green dell to live in and a minivan and a big comfortable home and a passel of children.)

high chairs_6320

I have to know that this too shall pass

The crying of speech-delayed toddlers echoes in my head, piercing, calling. My oldest uses a Tone with me. There are four heads of hair to comb before we go anywhere. My daughter cries when I hug her dad, because she wants the hugs and kisses too. My boy comes to me in tears with a story about his day. My baby needs her nap.

God’s the Keeper of the Seasons

Twin A started bringing me beheaded dandelions. Twin B, watching and imitating her, progressed in a week from offering handfuls of grass to presenting darling little bouquets of forget-me-nots and bluets. The only problem is, she presents another three stems every five minutes, opening the door and pad-pad-padding her little crocs across the kitchen floor. Again. Oh sweet Jesus, help me to smile and thank her and not lose my mind.

The author and the guide of all the many changes

Big decisions and small ones haunt us. We seek the prayers and advice of those we love. We cry a lot. Six kids ten and under are no walk in the park.


And when I don’t understand the reasons

I always thought that moms stopped talking about their children’s problems because they outgrew them and things got easier. I didn’t know you couldn’t talk about the big kid problems. It hurts too much, and the big kids know.

I’ll just lay down my head and rest in the Keeper of the Seasons.

I’ll look back on these days and wonder how we did it, but I’m pretty sure I won’t wonder why. I might wonder why I cared so much about the cobwebs, and the outgrown pairs of pants I thought I had to donate to the Salvation Army asap.

Oh Jesus, help me.

I’ll remember the time I spent with my sweet piglets—

knee deep in the heaven-kissed mess.


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8 years ago

Love you, Shari.

Lucinda J
8 years ago


Bethany F
8 years ago

This is just good. Hopeful and honest.
I fall back on the thought that we probably aren’t meant to do it all. I’ve been thinking about this a lot (and have written about it here ) You know that village we talk about, Mennonites have some of that down pat, but we still think that one woman should be able to care for a house and family and not go crazy. Just because some can do that well, doesn’t mean we all should be able to. It’s hard, and it’s good to love a family well, to be a family who loves well, but let’s not be scared to use all available resources and invent more if we can.

8 years ago
Reply to  Bethany F

Yes this!

8 years ago

Keep going! Your children shall rise up and call you blessed. God has promised.

Jo Yoder
8 years ago

“Knee-deep in the heaven-kissed mess.”
Girl, you have a beautiful way with words. I’m so glad that I took time to read this today.

8 years ago

Thank you for one of the best blog posts ever! I can so relate to the fruitless pursuit of perfection in keeping house, and it’s so so good to know I’m not standing alone! Thank you, thank you for taking precious time to compose your thoughts in this beautiful way to bless your readers.

Tina Z
8 years ago

This is beautiful (for some reason!:)). I love it. It resonates with me, yes, it sure does. We have a houseful too. And I know while I feel like I may ‘lose my mind’ or what? sometimes, when the babies come no more and when the children are no longer children, I might feel like crying. Because I love babies and children. But, oh, the stressfulness of it all! Yes, help me, Jesus! Beautiful!:)

8 years ago

“I have this idol called All The Things Done At Once, and while I don’t bow down and worship it (because I never behold it), I spend my days in hot pursuit, chasing after the golden image of perfection.”
Oh my. So well put. This post made me first laugh and then feel choked up… you captured so much of the struggle to keep perspective. God give you a special measure of grace today.

8 years ago

I can so identify with that pursuit for “All Things Done At Once.” And some days just wishing for the little house by the ocean where I can just take care of ME. A pastor’s wife once told me that some days when she hears the train go by she just LONGS to run and jump on it and go far far away and never come back. That helped me so much, to know I wasn’t the only one who wants to run from all the work and stress and just ESCAPE. I love your honesty.

Bethany F
8 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

Oh, that’s good!

8 years ago

If it’s financially feasible, how about hiring out your laundry, and/or someone to do the weekly bathroom-scrubbing and floor-cleaning?…

8 years ago

I could so identify with so many things about this post. 5 children 9 and under, and I feel much the same things. Add another to that and I think your arms are full to bursting. Though in your heart there is always room for them all. Because Jesus makes our hearts big enough for all of them. Blessings to you and your “pig pen” we have one over here in Oregon of our own. Hope you come visit us soon!

8 years ago

“Until I became a mother I didn’t know how much I treasured the quiet and orderly.” oh yes!

8 years ago

Oh yes. You’re up against steep odds. If it’s any comfort, we were just at our Resource Parent Banquet and the opening speaker is a foster and biological parent to seven kids age 9 and under. I looked at Art and just shuddered.

8 years ago

“But while I work in one room another implodes” This happens so consistently in my house that sometimes I can hardly bear it. I really liked this everyday post. This is real life. And here is a poem my husband read to me once because when the house implodes he is the one I EXplode to.

Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake, or plant a seed;
Ponder the difference between want and need?

Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear and books to read;
Friends to cherish and life to lead.

Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
With the sun in your eyes, and the wind in your hair;
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
This day will not come around again.

Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go (and go you must)
You, yourself, will make more dust.

8 years ago

I want to comment on each line. 🙂 🙂

I’ll refrain.

I just wonder someday if I’ll look back and say “I didn’t realize how much I loved all the activity, noise and chaos until I didn’t have it anymore.”

It’s a joy to do this mothering thing along with you, in all its joys and griefs. You inspire me.

8 years ago

I’m impressed that you sewed eleven dresses in a month!

Yes, the mess and intensity of life is hard. Thank you for taking time to write!

8 years ago

Thank-you, Shari. I am deeply touched. I am feeling the passing of one season and it hurts even while I am happy about the next season.

I thought of you today when the moms were at school for lunch. It seemed you should have been there too.

I pray for God’s grace for you in the middle of the busy season that you are in now.

Wendy Zook
8 years ago

So much of this resonates! Some days are a very deliberate march and the next a wonderful dance.

The opening poem needs to go on a chalkboard or else painted on a wooden sign. I love it! 🙂

8 years ago

Dear heart, I will join you in Italy.

This is just so beautiful. I identified incredibly, even though I’m not helping my world by caring for extra babies like you are. Liesl is 6 and the bouquets never end right now. They wilt, they drop pollen and petals. I walked into the garage today and wanted to curl up and die right there in the pigpen. Instead I got meat out of the freezer and walked back out.

I’m mostly in the part where I can’t talk about the big kid problems because it hurts too much and they know. My outer world should at least be orderly, but it’s not. The dandelions swirl about reseeding themselves, the dusty field jeans never end, and I can’t seem to cook enough food. My life has been such a muddle that I haven’t even been reading your posts. That is a crying shame.

But 11 dresses? And the rooms in your house sorted through? And a beautiful blog post? I’d say you’re just amazing.

Grace to your day. I pray for a bit of quiet and order and a chance for you to talk to the Keeper of the seasons. Thanks for encouraging us.

8 years ago

Haha. Just read the link you posted to Voskamp. The dirty jeans. There they are!!

And the rest? Tears!

8 years ago

Oh Shari, I can identify so well. Yvonne sent me here, probably thinking about my ever messy house. I bore 5 sons in 7 years and have never been able to get on top since. One of my sisters commented on my house when the boys were very young. She said that I thrive in chaos. I told Thomas, If she only knew how it drives me crazy! The best we can do is act like we’re thriving I guess. At least we should make our children feel loved and important even when we feel accusing looks as people enter our messy dwellings. I love to write also and sometimes it’s our outside interests that keep us from keeping up with the mess. But I feel like I’ll die inside if I don’t read and write so I’ll just do it in the mess and realize that one day the mess AND the children will be gone. That makes me want to cry. I wanted a dozen. At least I got 5. 🙂 If you want to follow my scribbles hop over to Also- I’ve found incredible strength in being a part of a group of 4 sisters in the Lord with whom I can share big child problems and we can pray for one another (and our children) knowing our sharing is safe with one another. Bless you!

8 years ago

So true! From a fellow mother in the trenches… 4 littles 5 and under is no walk in the park! I am so grateful for God’s Grace to get us through and for the many blessings along the way.

8 years ago

Love this! So much truth, and beautifully written!

8 years ago

Oh Shari, here’s a big hug! I’ve been wanting to write all week but I’m not sure where to stop and start. I could write an entire email. It is so intense. You are caring for Jesus’s children, being His hands and feet and lap. How many can a mother hold at one time? I would love to bring a meal then sit down and talk with sweet tea, unless you don’t like sweet tea. I’m a Southerner. We had a school picnic tonight; I had a little time with each child before he/she went to bed but I’m still hanging out in the garage even if it’s 10:52 so if I’m out of sight, I may be out of mind. ?? Hey, it’s working so far;) We have six, two boys, 4 girls including twin girls:). And our oldest turned 10 yesterday.

8 years ago

Well said!
And a small tip on the never ending bouquets… I finally hit upon the idea of an ongoing “potpourri basket” and the problem was solved.

8 years ago

My blog got quieter too as my “big kid” problems just shouldn’t go on the blog, but it doesn’t mean that life just got quiet. Teens bring a different kind of “noise”. As to thriving in chaos, one day I might have a grandma-orderly house, but by then I might be so used to the mess that I don’t see it.

8 years ago

I like this post a lot. It feels like I’m always a step or 2 behind all the mess. I am also guilty of wanting everything done now and get frustrated because the baby needs to be fed again and the 3 year old is throwing a tantrum. May God give you grace in every moment and may we raise a good next generation!

8 years ago

Shari. You are simply amazing if you can get 11 dresses made (even t-shirt ones), every room cleaned, and 6 children kept alive.

I have one child and haven’t had the guts to start spring cleaning because I fear the frustration and head-banging that will accompany it.

8 years ago
Reply to  Rebekah

I had one dear sister say to me once when I lamented not being able to get my spring cleaning done, Think about your childhood days. When your mother spring- cleaned the house- were those happy times? Were they peaceful times? No, I replied. Well? was her rejoinder. She was not a dirty person but realistic.

8 years ago
Reply to  Marie Lapp

Aww, sorry! I actually have great memories of spring cleaning with my mom and sis… usually of laughing ourselves silly over nothing, with our heads stuck into the cupboards… But that was when I was a lot older than my children are, maybe 13 to 17. I tell myself the time is not now. 🙂

8 years ago

I wanted a nice, tidy, normal, neatly-spaced family.

Instead I got kids. Lots of them, all of a sudden. Adoption, birth, foster care.

6, 2.5, 2 (with delays), almost 1, 39 weeks.

I don’t know much, but I do know that praying for grace brings results (as in, actual people who come to my house and ask to clean my bathroom.) I know that simplifying everything helps. I know that lowering expectations helps. I know that routines and a simple schedule and decluttering helps. Dividing and conquering helps (you go in that room and play with the dollhouse. You go to the basement and tear around. You go outside and take care of the chickens. You go in your crib and sleep.) I know that giving them work to do helps.

It is hard, but this is my assignment from God. I said “yes.” I signed up for this.

“Mama, do you need gwace?” Yes, my little girlie, every day and every hour.

And by His gwace, we do survive seasons like this.

8 years ago

SO many things I could say about this post . . . . but I’ll comment on this one:

“I always thought that moms stopped talking about their children’s problems because they outgrew them and things got easier. I didn’t know you couldn’t talk about the big kid problems. It hurts too much, and the big kids know.”

Yes. Yes. Yes. We try to be really careful but sometimes it makes it a lonely place, especially with one kiddo who we suspect almost certainly has issues from FAE (Fetal Alcohol Effect). It’s hard and scary and the future is so uncertain but for their privacy we don’t talk much about it usually.

As to the rest of it . . . I used to think I couldn’t pull off ‘perfect’ any more because I wasn’t good enough. Now I know I will never come close to having my home in perfect order again–a child who falls apart many times a day and who needs to be kept busy so they don’t detoriate means I’m not even home enough to keep things even basically done often. Hello, parks, walks and keeping the kiddo MOVING which means we are gone a lot, using our home as a “drive through” often. We won’t even mention the many trips to Doctors and such! So I try to keep the house in good enough shape that we won’t develop any diseases and die and the rest . . . just has to go for this season. Some day . . . maybe.

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