No able-bodied human or animal would live in my house without contributing in some way to our household
Our pet guinea pig pushed his luck one day when I discovered why Guinea pigs are called PIGS. It is because they eat just like real pigs that’s why.
I was losing patience with ours; every time I opened the fridge that little rodent would squeak like crazy, begging for another vegetable.
One day, I marched out into our garden and pulled out an entire stalk of broccoli and stuffed it in the guinea pig’s cage. I stuffed the entire cage with greens, mini broccoli and a thick, fibrous stalk. The wire door didn’t even close completely.
The next morning the entire plant was gone, only a few tough, stringy fibers left. When I opened the fridge door, that guinea pig started squeaking for food once more. I couldn’t believe it; his stomach should have burst open.
Then I made a decision.
No able-bodied human or animal would live in my house without contributing in some way to our household. I decided that this particular animal was going to trim the grass around the house. I gathered the oldest four kids together and explained that we were taking the bottom off the cage and placing it right beside the house where there were no gardens. Every few hours, someone would move the cage.
It was a brilliant idea.
The kids thought it was hilarious that a guinea pig would have a household chore and I was quite pleased to have a little more peace in the kitchen.
However, I forgot to consider that we lived in the country. Foxes, coyotes, wolves and even owls love to snack on rodents. One morning the cage was knocked over and all that was left of this little guinea pig was his gizzard. David was sure that it was no ordinary predator that had attacked our guinea pig. No, it was a big, black bear and he knew that to be a fact because he could see,
Our happiness depends on our perception of the world.
Even on bleak days
there are certain facts that I stand on
I am alive,
not living on the street
but in a large old, quirky house
with acres of gardens, trees and meadows.
I am still married after almost 35 years
with 9 healthy, successful adult kids and 5 grandkids
loved by my family and God,
even if I drive them crazy with my eccentricity
I have a computer,
two hands with all my fingers to type
and time to write for the first time in three decades.
reasons to rejoice
reasons that I stand on every day’
even on bad days
How you answer the old question, “Is the glass half full or half empty” really does matter. It is amazing how I can turn my misery switch on and off and my joy button on and off. It really does matter how I view the world. It is a matter of taking a step back and looking at the big picture.
Do I choose to squint and focus on the thorns or do I step back and see the beauty of the entire bush. Do I focus on every miserable detail that goes wrong in my life or do I step back and thank God for everything that is right with it.
“I tried and tried but it just won’t stay together.”
“Mum, can we talk?”
“Would you help me edit this essay? It’s due tomorrow.”
“Let’s do something together.”
No matter what our occupation, we tend to think that our work, our agenda is important. It is almost in our nature to let ambition and drive push other people to the fringes of our awareness while we toil in an isolated bubble of self-importance. There are many methods that can shake us out of this selfish obsession but for me as a mother, it was my children.
Of course sometimes children need to learn patience, learn to wait but I discovered that usually their needs were immediate. Even if a problem seemed minor to me, it was monumental to one of my little people. A block tower which took 30 minutes to build and 30 seconds for a toddler to destroy was equal to an adult’s business deal that took 3 weeks to set up and a day to fall apart.
Brushing off their concerns was often a temptation.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Don’t over react.”
“Not now. I am busy.”
“Can’t you see that what I am doing is more important?”
To respond to my kids or in the case of any adult, to respond to interruptions to work, requires surrendering to the duty of the moment. To respond to an interruption often means we must put our agenda to the side for a moment and embrace the agenda of another person, especially if it is a mere child.
The biggest stumbling block to truly listening, especially to children, is our self-important business. Henri Nouwen SJ, a Jesuit author and university professor, complained to God about all the undergraduate students who knocked on his office door, interrupting his important writing. God’s answer?
“I just gave you that book to write to keep you busy in between appointments;
Advertisers have tapped into a universal craving to stop the relentless ravages of time in the human body by pushing countless gimmicks to keep us youthful. These products keep us healthy but the secret fountain of youth is not a thing to buy but rather an attitude, an inner way of living in Christ.
Youth is not found in a bottle of vitamins or in a jar of face cream.
Youth is found when we connect with the source of all life deep within,in the ground of our being.
There are countless ways to connect with the Holy Spirit but as a mother, I discovered a secret, a secret few people seem to recognize.
Living with little people keeps you young.
Children live in the present moment, filled with awe at the discovery of a ladybug, fascinated with observing how sand spills through their fingers or completely absorbed as they create a clay sculpture. Mothers concentrate on giving love and nurture to their offspring but if we don’t allow our little ones to nurture us we can become tired, empty and even resentful.
An infant touches our hearts when we gaze into their guileless eyes but there is much more grace that we can receive if we relax and allow their their love to flow into us!
In the early, hectic years I would focus on trying to carve out quiet time to sit and replenish myself.
One day while nursing one of my babies, I experienced a powerful surge of love pouring into my heart from my baby to me. I started smiling, heaviness and exhaustion lifted and joy started to bubble up from deep within me! In fact I discovered how to let my infant’s love, in union with the Love of God, fill me, replenish me, energize me and infuse my heart with a fountain of youth.
“creativity is intelligence having fun” albert einstein
I love to create something out of nothing. Perhaps it is a God complex or better yet, a sense of cooperating with the Holy Spirit. I discovered how to upcycle old sheets into crocheted rag rugs. It went so quickly and was so much fun that I actually smiled the entire 3 hours it took to make a beautiful circular rug.
Since I used a huge crochet hook and made the stitches loose, the rug is soft and puffy. I am thrilled to realize that I can make house-warming gifts for two daughters as they move into new apartments as they start the university term and for a third daughter who has just moved. They will make great, gifts for my grandchildren to play on AND will cost me nothing more than a box of fabric dye.