Crafting Little Joys

Even the car ride to our homeschool community day, with four of our seven blessings loaded up, is busy. We rehearse each of their presentations, we drill their memory work, and go through all the new material once. Then as we’re almost arriving, there’s a stop light we always find red, and we pray while we wait. I pray for them to be respectful and preferring of their classmates. I pray for them to honor and obey their teachers. To listen and learn. But this week, in the midst of all of this mental and physical hustle, I saw beyond the road; I was struck by the beauty of a swath of fog lingering in the treetops. I recognized it as one of God’s many paintings, and the awe of it filled me with a sense of worship. My heart rejoicing in the wonder that He is not only the oxygen of my every moment, but He is the artistry of each moment too. Why my Tuesday morning story? Because we all need to find His pleasure and rejoice in it!

In the midst of daily rhythms and routines, we need to purpose to find and create small pleasures in our days. I know that you and I long to give our families our everything, but the discipline of reveling in moments will help us be faithful in our mundane. Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint, and filling our hearts with little joys helps us persevere and thrive, not just cope. Here are some ideas of small things to help us craft little joys in our days:

~Write down an encouraging verse on a card (chalkboard?) and color a border or pretty flowers on it (some ideas at the end of the post)

~Light a seasonal candle

~Fill an essential oil diffuser with a calming blend (chamomile+lavender+sandalwood)

~Sneak a few minutes alone to make a batch of muffins or scones

~Brew a cup of coffee and enjoy it in a special mug

~Use a scented soap or gel in the shower

~Take a bath with salts for 10 minutes

~Flip through the pages of a lovely magazine

~Buy some flowers and split up the bouquet in small vases all over the house

~Sip an aromatic tea while enjoying your favorite view from a window

~Take a 10 minute walk

What about you? What would you add to this list that gives you that respite to savor?

You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Isaiah 26:3

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John16:33

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

with love. Damaris

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A Slow-Down Ritual

The flavors of Saturday mornings are pure and simple. The aroma of coffee brewing beckons, and that’s just the beginning. Sliced juicy strawberries in the summer or aromatic oranges in the winter, sweet smells fill the kitchen. Always to the tunes of Celtic music.

I enjoy eating Saturday’s morning meal without ever getting out of my pajamas. It also happens to be the only breakfast in the week that we can eat together without a rush. Since we don’t do school in the summers, Nathan is gone to work before we’re up and going (we pack his breakfast and lunch). Of course, you already know that Sunday mornings are pretty fast paced around here (you can read about it). So Saturday mornings are reserved for a little lingering, a silky scramble of many eggs and bacon sizzling on the skillet.

The aroma of spice and vanilla inspires me to revel in the comforting slow home, and make some joyful noise in the kitchen. Sometimes I call upstairs for a helper, and sometimes I just surprise them! Everybody likes to wake up to the music of eggs cracking, batter hissing at the griddle, and of course that heavenly smell of frying bacon! Major disclosure: If Nathan is going to cook up a meal, Saturday morning is the best! His delicious French doughnuts can’t be but devoured in two bites, although I think he’d prefer us to take our time and savor the luscious crumbs.

Teetering stacks of steaming pancakes, thick slabs of French toast, maple drenched golden waffles, and Dutch babies all puffed up are some of the deliciousness enjoyed with a couple cups of coffee and frothed cream. We serve all the sleepy-heads. We cut soft pats of sweet butter. We spread, drizzle, and fuss about how much maple syrup a couple of the children used! Sure we’re fond of our maple syrup, but allowing it to cascade until the pool reaches the rim of your breakfast plate may be too much!

We relish at the table and talk about our day – long mornings when we must slow down. After we eat, while we sit with empty plates, Nathan reads and speaks God’s Truth into our minds and hearts.

I have been tempted many a times over the years to give it up – to trade the slow for the simple, the traditional for the convenient. But I refuse to let go! I am the happiest when my people are gathered, and they’re being filled with my love.

This is our way, and I plan to hold on to it for a long, long time.

What do you enjoy on Saturday mornings?

with love. Damaris


Spoiled Manna

As a wife, I try to be a kind help to my husband. As a mother, I try hard to nurture, instruct, and provide for my children. As a daughter, I look for ways to encourage and help my parents and my in-laws. As a sister, I seek to serve and bless others. While, I’m sure you would agree, these labors are good and worthwhile, it could be that they are not all excellent – they may not be the things that I am called to do in this season of life.

Most of us can relate to these sometimes-competing responsibilities. It’s easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless number of things we can be pursuing – and we try so hard! We try hard to be prepared, and see the needs in advance – we work everyday for those around us to have comfort, joy, and delight! Not too long ago, God began showing me some of my errors when approaching decisions about these callings. He used a story that some of us are familiar with from the Old Testament…

One of the more famous recordings of God’s teaching the Israelites a lesson in obedience and faith while they wandered through the wilderness was when He provided their sole means of nourishment through sending manna each day down from the sky. Manna was bread. With God’s gift of this bread from heaven came some stipulations of how they were to collect and use the manna.

One of these conditions was that they were not supposed to glean more manna than they could use that day. Contrary to God’s clear instruction, the Israelites tried their best to preserve the manna. They gathered more than their share for the day. They were trying so hard to be prepared for tomorrow that they put their efforts into storing up the heavenly goodness (sound familiar?). But, as the account records, their labors were found to be full of worms, literally! The manna that they stored up for the next day had spoiled! God had laid out His plan, but the Israeilites thought they could try harder – could improve on it. All that the Israelites needed to do was trust and simply obey. They would have had enough.

I’m sure that when I trivialize God’s instruction and fail to obey, my labors often end up as spoiled manna. They become foul. They breed worms and stink. Well, this is pretty much the place where God stopped me – just as the Israelites were doing something seemingly good in gathering extra manna for future needs, I had been focusing too much on what more I could be doing, instead of simply what God had called me to do.

All of my efforts to do the right thing are spoiled manna unless I listen to God’s voice! Trying hard, of course, isn’t bad or wrong, but if it isn’t what God is calling me to do – if I’m not walking in obedience, then all I have to offer stinks.

My friend, I pray for both of us, that we listen to God’s voice as we labor in our callings!

with love. Damaris

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If Every Night I Did This

Last night I sat on the porch swing alone and took in a breath of serene. I had nothing in my hands but rest. The fireflies’ intermittent glow was mesmerizing, as I listened to the cicadas’ serenade. My thoughts came to rest on goodness – even my weariness is a daily reminder of my dependence on God. I sighed a short prayer. My Father’s good pleasure allows me the lives of these babies that I so delight in!

In the clear air above me the stars hung low. I felt small, but not insignificant – the day had been a sacrifice of love. Everyday, it seems, my life is imperfectly offered to others. My body was a chair, my body was a cradle, my body was a soft and gentle comfort. I am used, fulfilled, and content.

It was not that yesterday was harder than other days. There was nothing exceptionally draining about it. I craved the tranquility and stillness of that porch-swing moment – the quietness to pray and reflect. Evening solitudes help me get my heart and mind ready for the beautiful mess of the tomorrows.

On that swing, my heart overflowed as I continued to pray for the children – for the moments of the day that they probably will never even remember. I pray for the big one who needs to lean on God to overcome, for the child that didn’t listen to instruction, for the boy who asks questions and tells jokes, for the one who was unkind and needed discipline, for the girl that can’t sit still long enough to eat her breakfast, for the little one that had a difficult time smiling at a kind stranger with a complement. They may never remember these days, but the moments shape me and make me grateful. Mine certainly isn’t an extra-ordinary life, but a life filled with Extra-ordinary Grace.

May my children know today how deeply they are known by God.

with love. Damaris