A Tale of Two Carpets

Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you for the glory of God.

“Backbone of the community” described how long the building stood with snow-white steeple stretching into the blue.

But the carpet needed replacing.

Martha took on the task. Over the next seven months she organized at least forty conversations about carpets. She gathered donations, outlawed red kool-aid, and requested suggestions about carpet installers.

One long-time church member suggested a life-long friend running a decades-old carpet business in the local community. Martha had raised enough funds to meet his quote. So she held another carpet meeting and tore apart the installer’s quote and guarantees. As Martha suggested attendees voted unanimously to gather three more quotes before making a decision.

An installer from two hours away gave the cheapest bid. He installed a new carpet and did a satisfactory job. Perhaps now the church could talk about something else?

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. ~John 11:5

Spring rains arrived. Some neighborhood children entered the building with muddy shoes. Their parents never attended, but the kids liked the donuts Miz Deborah served during Sunday School. She also taught Bible verses and songs and gave high fives and hugs.

But the mud! On the new carpet! Deborah heard the whispering words and saw the ludicrous looks. She quietly cleaned the carpet and made a game out of wiping muddy feet with the neighborhood children. They would do better, and carpet cleaning was a good time to pray.

Still her mother’s tongue burned within her, and during one service she stood before the congregation to speak of soles and souls.

Some hearts softened. Others became stone.

“Awake, awake, Deborah! Awake, awake, break out in a song!” ~Judges 5:‬12a

~~~

Elizabeth had finished raising her family. Her home started small years ago, but many hands helped build it larger as her family grew until they started growing right out of the nest. She never thought her home would seem too big.

So Elizabeth started hosting Sunday afternoon potlucks and invited everyone she met. Young people set up tables and chairs all over including a buffet table through the living room that filled with casseroles and crock pots every week. Someone donated trays so the mamas with hands full of children could carry multiple plates with a bit more ease. Teens watched for chances to help fill plates, move chairs, or sweep up messes. Elizabeth’s oldest son led a simple Bible study.

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, ~Luke 1:41

Rachel’s family moved into the neighborhood. She had three young children and a husband that worked a lot. Elizabeth visited with cookies and bubbles. “You’re welcome to add to our feast,” Elizabeth invited, “but if getting your littles out the door takes all you’ve got to give please come anyway. Us older folks always bring extra.”

The first time Rachel came Elizabeth walked and talked with her through the buffet line. Rachel’s children clung to her legs. Even with all her hard-earned balancing skills Rachel watched in horror as a sauce-covered meatball rolled off a plate and onto Elizabeth’s living room carpet. Rachel threw a panicked and apologetic glance at Elizabeth before searching for a place to set the tray of four plates so she could clean up the mess.

Elizabeth laughed and used her cane to knock the meatball under the buffet table. “Someone will get it later, Child. Besides, carpets were not designed to last forever.”

Then all the people who were at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah, who together built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in Ephrathah and be renowned in Bethlehem,” ~Ruth 4:11

~~~

Four women. Distinct personalities. Fully known and deeply loved.

~Read Psalm 139~

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” ~John 6:35

Labor Day – Rest is a Gift

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We’re starting our school year with Labor Day. (Day one is always about taking pictures and goofing off. I’m considering a weenie roast. We’ll see.)

Each school year I intend to study each holiday as we come to it. It’s a hit or miss kind of thing, but time marches on.

We begin again. Do my kids know why our corner of the world takes a three-day weekend each September? Maybe slightly.

With the help of pinterest, I found a simple and free printable packet about Why We Celebrate Labor Day by another blogger named Rebecca. It’s not exhaustive, but it’s enough. We aim to visit the library every week. My children are perfectly capable to exploring more information if they would like. I really appreciate that I don’t have to subscribe in order to get the free printable. I will explore her blog, Miniature Masterminds, further in the future.

Of course, looking at her stuff made me want to add a little something to the resources we’ll use. So I put together a quick printable about God’s gift of rest AND work. It includes a chance to record your child’s hand print. Those hands grow so fast! A new school year is a good time to capture them. Please enjoy using My Working Hands this Labor Day or any other day you need a little help explaining to the short (and not so short!) people in your home about the importance of work AND rest.

How does your family celebrate Labor Day?

Do you enjoy my brainstorms? Please allow me to point out my tip jar.

Earth’s Rotation

We’ve been slightly sick, and that’s afforded more writing time than I’ve found all year.


nausea worse on my right

than my left

dislike sleeping on my back

Dreams.

“She’s a street rat in need of a lamp.”

fingers itch and buzz

must save her

No! No! No! Not allowed!

Her trajectory nears an end.

Must Save Her!

Not Allowed! . . . but do it

oil-dipped fingers: Light her lamp.

She didn’t know she had it

All Along

~future presents past with ocean waves~

Consciousness.

She attends the tutoring center.

She doesn’t know.

Always. She was born into wealth

that affords math help. Always.

No itching, buzzing, oil-dipped fingers

Yet we grow her number sense.

~a different kind of magic~

privately I wonder

Is this trajectory better?

wealth cannot avoid tragedy;

sometimes security skips adventures

Child! Don’t lose your lamp.


Remember How We Forgot


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Oh, Lord, I Thank Thee – A Motherhood Poem

Happy Mother’s Day!

I thank thee for the little fingers

that get into everything

for without these little fingers

to whom else would I sing?

~~~

Sing of your praises

And sing of birds and bees

Sing to my little ones

Songs of elephants and fleas

~~~

I thank thee for the little voices

that sometimes whine and cry

for without these little voices

I would never wonder why

~~~

Why is the sky blue?

And why do You start us small?

Why must we eat vegetables

to grow up strong and tall?

~~~

I thank thee for the little eyes

that peep when they should be sleeping

for without these little eyes

what dreams would be worth keeping?

~~~

Keeping dreams of a big house

with laughter in each room

love and hugs and tiny dreams

you stitched together in my womb

~~~

I thank thee for these little children

you have placed in my care

for without these little children

joyous moments would be rare


If you are looking for a last minute Mother’s Day craft, please allow me to save the day! (Affiliate Links Ahead – Thanks for supporting my brainstorms!)

For the craft pictured at the top of this post you need the following:

Steps:

  1. Pick a background color from the construction paper.
  2. Cut out the poem.
  3. Pick a hand color.
  4. Trace and cut out your each child’s hand.
  5. Write three things on the construction hand cut out
    1. Child’s Name
    2. Child’s Age
    3. Year
  6. Paste poem and hand print onto background paper.
  7. Write “Happy Mother’s Day!”

And, voila! Thirteen students and I were able to make the completed projects above in about half an hour, and some students made extras for grandmothers. The glue would be dry before Mom finishes her breakfast-in-bed.

Now, if you have extra time, or you’re willing to pass out gifts late, one year I used larger construction paper, one poem, hand prints for each kid, and a group picture. Then I laminated the whole project. For the local grandmothers we put it together like a big poster for in-person delivery, and for the far-off grandmothers we folded the construction paper like an extra large card and mailed them in extra-large envelopes. I even managed hand and feet prints from my newborn nephew for grandmothers and sent one back to his mother. I wish I could manage something that elaborate every year, but hopefully scarcity drives up the value, right?

If you can, hug your mother today, or call her, or write her, or draw her a pretty picture!

And if you can’t do any of those things, find a bit of quiet and a comforting drink, and remember. Remember why you would love to call or write or draw her a pretty picture.

And, maybe . . . draw that picture anyway.

Valleys – A Sonnet

High School Ends: broken-record boyfriend no

more. Loneliness and Change I can’t embrace

yearbook signing day I finally know:

Not Alone! with His People race this race

Baby Butterfly: I hold a blessing

yet crumble to the bathroom floor; distraught

Must help myself! no; B’s aunties questing:

prayer hugs hold up the arms I cannot

Surgery, Job Loss, More: Life – panic’s edge

impossible math; God’s people, “Praying!”

“Need food?” “Praying!” “I’ll help mow.” “Praying!” Hedge:

we eat, drive, more – God’s glory displaying

for us – too deep for words – the Spirit groans

Please! Let us rejoice in these broken bones.


Our family walks through a valley right now, and I see God’s people circling us. As someone counseled my husband today, the Lord seeks to teach us something in this valley. He’ll bring us through it, and the next mountain top will be all the sweeter.

God didn’t have to make creation beautiful! Beauty is a gift of common grace.


Sonnet, verse illustrations, and photograph by Rebecca Burgener. Please respect my brainstorms, and give credit where credit is due. If you would like your own custom poetry or illustrated verses, please contact me at RebeccaBurgener@Gmail.com.

Mud and Rainbows

Today marks one year since we moved into our home – our first home that we are paying for, that belongs to us, that we can do what we want with, that is ours.

Wildflower Bouquet

Well, after it’s paid for, which we’re on track to do in around a decade.

During the last year . . .

We’ve watched the loan principal drop by $7,323.52.

We’ve dealt with a series of unfortunate events regarding our vehicles, just yesterday learning the hard way that our new-to-us SUV does not have a reliable gas gauge.

We’ve replaced the refrigerator, heating element on the oven, handle to the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, torn down and put up drywall, painted, created a closet out of what was once a doorway, made other closets more functional, and most recently discovered our heating and air unit needs replaced.

We’ve installed a fence for the dogs, planted three trees, morning glories, roses, buckets of mint, etc, and planned forty-seven acres worth of outdoor wishes for our little acre of dreams.

Blueberry Bush, Roses, Mint, Lemon Trees

We’ve gained a table that seats eight and set up an outdoor table that we sometimes use for schoolwork though I hope to use it for building community.

Outdoor Table

We’ve met sweet neighbors who willingly share life wisdom, their talents and time, and extra garden produce.

We’ve explored a small section of nearby woods, named a few places, found evidence of blackberries in the area, and brought home mazes of scratches.

We’ve studied the largest moth in North America, spiders and their prey, a wiggling lizard tail, and the difference between granddaddy longlegs and daddy long-legs spiders. We’ve spent nearly two hours watching tree trimmers and discussing why they must remove branches from growing close to the power lines.

Largest Moth in North America - Hyalophora cecropiaSpiders

Seven people have celebrated birthdays. We were sick for Mother’s Day, and Easter celebrations stretched out a couple weeks. I gave each of the dogs an Easter egg after the short one snuck out behind me and helped himself. My husband built five toy boxes for Christmas.

Frozen and Transformers Birthday Cakes Dogs Eating Easter EggsChristmas Toy Boxes

One kid got stitches, and I no longer have children who have never had antibiotics. (Three cheers for probiotics!)

After a decade of changing diapers my youngest is now potty-trained. Mostly.

Twelve years of marriage.

I’m creating bigger pockets of writing time and adding pennies to the family budget with my logophilia.

Last month, we started family goals meetings, and <3 <3 <3 <3 <3. (I heart goals and goal setting.)

This school year we’ll only have one kid not officially in school.

I’ve been planning for months to share future plans in celebration of this first anniversary. I told myself to pick just five things for now. The fixing-up on this fixer-upper will never end.

But we’ve lived a lot of life this past year. Mud and rainbows and the space between.

Rainbow Over Cow Field

The ABCs of Summer

asking adventure, biting bugs, camping cookouts,
dirty days, explore everything, fishing, fires,
growing gardens, hammocks, hikes, ice cream, independence, jumping for joy!

kids, kites, lakeside laughter, moonlight magic,
never-ending nature, open ocean, parents peeking,
quiet quests, rains, rainbows, sprinkler shrieking, tubing trips!

underwater unknowns, vacation views, wild warmth,
x-tra x-rays? yelling youths, zig zag the zoo!

~~~

I wrote this poem today for a friend. If you would like a custom poem written for you, contact me at RebeccaBurgener@gmail.com.

Shakespearean style sonnets work great for storytelling, and I like haiku for capturing a snapshot moment. I can try my hand at anything though

Metamorphosis of a Poem

*Blog post originally written November 2, 2009 on an old blog.*

About a month ago on a warm and wet night while walking the dog, I wrote a poem. Here is the “finished” piece.

Rain splashes my skin
Night air breathes clean
Run, Legs, Run!
*
If Hunter were alive
They’d never catch us

Now, once upon a yesteryear, I thought that poetry was somehow sacred and couldn’t be edited. Now, I do believe that God can divinely inspire my writing or anyone else’s, but I’m not writing additions to the Bible, and I am aware that I sometimes get in my own way. That being said I have learned that changing things can almost always bring about improvements in any piece of writing.

I can’t share the “original” piece here because that was composed in my head while walking the dog, but here is what first tumbled onto paper.

The rain is falling gently
The night air smells so fresh
I want to run, run, run
Home to the hillside
If Hunter were still alive
They would never catch us

Then I began editing and rewriting and editing as I rewrote. I marked out “is falling” and wrote in “falls down.” I inserted a blank line before the last two lines. Then came the second version still editing as I wrote:

The rain falls^splashes down gently
The night air breathes clean
I want to run
Run
Run
to the hillside
*
If Hunter were still alive
troubles would never catch us

My biggest writing sin is wordiness. I talk too much. Say too much. Explain too much. I knew this version wasn’t really catching the moment correctly, but I went to bed. (Adequate rest is sometimes the best muse. Other times, sleeplessness, but considering three children need me to function each day, I use the adequate rest muse more often.)

While falling asleep I decided that I was definitely explaining too much with my “to the hillside” line. Only my readers that know me well enough to hear me talk about where I grew up would have any idea what I was talking about, and honestly, who cares where I want to run to? Again, very few people. That detail was better left for the imagination. Sometime between that night and the next morning, I also decided to change troubles back to they.

The next day, this spilled out onto the paper.

Rain splashes my skin
Night air breathes clean
Run, Legs, Run!
*
If Hunter were still alive
They’d never catch us

Then I spent the next couple of days looking for a decent picture of Hunter and enjoying memories of that dog. I did find a couple pics. I’ll try to get one scanned and posted sometime in the near future.

I left this poem alone for nearly a month and decided to share it tonight. Still editing as I typed I took out the word still in the second to last line for the “finished” product.

What do you do with your poems? Is every word sacred, or are you open to making changes?

Happy SIMPLE Habits

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~~~

*Knock. Knock. Knock.*

*Wrestle past the barking dogs to open the door.*

“Hello! And Welcome! Come on in!”

Okay, so maybe you’re not quite feeling this way when someone shows up unexpectedly at your home, but perhaps you are feeling so much better than you used to. I hope so. I know I’m feeling much more hope about the state of my house. Doing the dishes makes that happen.

I’ve noticed another benefit too of a cleaner kitchen. I have more mental energy to mess it up again. 🙂

Common Grace Brownies

Those are Common Grace Brownies with Double-Stuff Chocolate and Mint Oreos. I stashed most of them in the freezer so we don’t eat them all in one day.

Have you done your habits yet today? I aim to tackle mine after the kids are in bed each evening. Sometimes it takes the will power of swimming through mud.

The Habits:

  • Do the dishes. All of them.
  • Sweep the kitchen. Yes, every single day.
  • Check the bathrooms for clutter. You don’t want your kid’s undies on the floor when a guest needs to use the loo.
  • Do a five-minute pick-up. Don’t waste your breath telling me that can’t make a difference. Just do it. What are you scared of?

Are you still struggling with these four things? Yeah, me too. So does Nony.

It’s okay. Just do it anyway. If you don’t believe you have the time, then just start with the dishes.

You know what I like most about Nony’s system? It’s simple! I’ve tried other methods, and I end up despairing and trying to catch back up by day two, but with 28 Days to Hope for Your Home, I don’t have to catch up or start over. If my house is a disaster, and I’m determined to fix it today, it’s kinda possible to make a real amount of progress by just doing the four habits.

So, what now? Keep doing the habits until they are as thoughtlessly done as brushing your teeth. Enjoy that kitchen smiling at you each morning. Perhaps you can also take some time figuring out when to do laundry or meal plan or clean the bathrooms. Nony has some great checklists for further ideas. You might also benefit from understanding the difference of “cleanies and messies.”

And maybe not. Maybe you just need more time. That’s okay. I didn’t schedule the white glove inspection today anyway. Perhaps tomorrow.

Jump up, right now, complete all four habits on your list, and then come back to tell me how your house feels.

Battling the Laundry Monster

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~~~

So, how has the past week been? Are you finding Hope for your Home? Did you fall off the wagon? GO DO YOUR DISHES! We’ll wait.

Time to add a new habit! Guess what that habit is not! Laundry. (Seriously, I could only dream of not doing laundry.)

Nony does talk about this habit on her blog, and I love the idea of only doing laundry once a week. Except for the part of our home drowning in laundry. Maybe it would be different if we had a laundry room instead of a laundry hallway between the kids’ rooms. But we don’t so let’s not beat that poor horse.

It is a war without end, but we must battle anyway! Because people want, no demand, clean clothes to wear. Perhaps it truly is a “need.”

I used to struggle much more with laundry than I do now. I have fabulous laundry ideas pinned, but the first order of business is always the same when serving others.

Smile. You are blessing those you love. They may not thank you enough for clean underwear, but smile anyway.

After that, my biggest struggle with laundry used to be aiming for the bottom of the basket. Every Single Day. Yeah, in a house with five kids under the age of ten, we go from empty to overflowing in 4.5 seconds. It’s about as quick as me saying, “Kids! Pick up your rooms!”

Recently, I learned from my sister that she tries to find the bottom of the basket each weekend and just does a bit throughout the week. So smart, she is.

Somewhere, perhaps on a mom of many blog, I read that you need to do one load of laundry per day for every three people in your house. I round up to three loads a day to account for extra laundry that often comes with little ones and to give me two or three days “off” each week. But I can never let that be two days in a row!

It really helps. Even if I’m so behind on laundry that we need to declare a “Wear A Dirty Bathrobe” day, I know that if I complete three loads we’ll probably all have something to wear the next day. If I do another three loads the next day, we might even have choices in what we wear the day after that. 🙂

Ideally, I fold on my bed while the kids finish after-dinner chores and prepare for bed. Even the three year old puts away her own laundry with a bit of help from her big sister. I listen to podcasts while folding if the kids are too busy to come talk to me.

Mating Socks

Often lately, I’ve been folding laundry after everyone but me has hit the hay. (Hubby works late. He only wishes he was sleeping too.) So I fold on the kitchen table, and laundry must be put away before breakfast. I don’t like this system as much, but it works for this season. We plan to move next Spring, and a laundry room is on the wish list. I hope to build or have someone else build a few of these. It’s also about time to teach my oldest two to help with laundry more. I need to deliberately do some training in that area. Perhaps we’ll start with coloring this page and feeling thankful for a washer and dryer.

I nearly never iron and rarely hand wash. I just don’t ever get to it. So we go for clothes that don’t need such extra care. We also attempt to keep clothes decluttered. Going through kids’ clothes regularly poses a huge challenge for me. Kudos to you moms who do a seasonal clothing switch! I never do. I also aim not to store clothes that won’t be used within two years aside from really special items. Someone else can benefit.

So that’s the method of my madness at the moment. How do you handle laundry at your house?

*Disclaimer: We have never declared “Wear A Dirty Bathrobe” Day. Not everyone in my home actually owns a robe. 😀