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.”

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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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How do you rate what’s important?

Two experiments

Confession: I’ve been meaning to organize the closets and corners of my house for weeks and weeks now. I kept scheduling it in my planner and it kept getting bumped. This couldn’t possibly be my fault… surely someone else is to blame?

With the holidays approaching and a schedule that is unrelenting, I decided to give my house an organizing once-over today and call it good.

Here were my guidelines:

  • Set a timer and spend 15 minutes per room
  • Ask “What drives me nuts here?” and work only on that
  • Keep three containers handy for
    • Trash
    • Donations
    • Items to mend or put away elsewhere
  • Keep a clipboard handy for notes: what clothing is needed, what tasks to return to later

It worked pretty well.

Except the fifteen minutes.

By then I was just getting started…! Sigh. But some rooms took only five, and so it evened out okay. I managed a serious overhaul in some trouble spots: my pantry, my hallway, and my daughter’s bedroom. I have two or three rooms to finish up tomorrow, and I feel quite happy about this.

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In other news…

We have some major sibling rivalry going on in our house. Son #2 is full of ire toward his little sister. She cannot do anything right; she is small and stupid; she doesn’t even know the words to that song!

I could try to put a light spin on this and make you think I’m laughing, but I actually feel very worried and discouraged about it. We have instructed and disciplined and praised and interceded to no avail.

We are trying one thing, remembering it was a helpful analogy for him a year ago, with a school friend he was scornful and jealous of—the same one who is now his best friend! We told him a relationship is like a tree, and must be tended… that harsh words and bad attitudes are like pouring salt on the tree and snipping its leaves… that kind actions, gentle words, and a giving heart are like the rain, the sun and the fertilizer that make the tree grow. We made him a poster to illustrate this. When he is unkind to her, he must hang a withered leaf on the tree. When he is kind, he may hang a green leaf or pluck off a withered one.

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He grumbled the whole time we cut out leaves together, but as soon as the poster hung on the fridge he was smiling and ran off to invite his sister to a peaceable game of Life.

We shall see… It seems such a small thread, but I don’t know what else to do.

How did you train your children to love each other?