Sometimes You Need a Little Olympic Fire

Olympic Torch

I am not really a sports fan. Sure, I'll watch a big game if there's a party, but I don't follow teams, or get emotionally involved.

My dad is a massive football fan, so I learned the rules of football in my childhood. But my husband doesn't care for organized sports. Except maybe ice hockey, which is not the most wildly popular sport in Texas.

Televised sports are just not part of our family culture.


The Olympics are a different story. I love to watch the Olympics. Summer or Winter, it doesn't matter. I love it all.

It seems like a disconnect doesn't it? It's not like I am scanning the TV schedule for the National Championships in gymnastics, or the Olympic Trials in diving. But once THE Games begin, I have to tear myself away from the television.

I think it's my fascination with human beings. I search for people who truly inspire me, for people who have boldly persevered.

Don't we all want to be someone who does amazing things despite obstacles?

This year I have been thinking a lot about what it took for each of the Olympic athletes to get where they are. I know genetic blessing plays a role in it, but nobody gets to the Olympics without work. A lot of work.

And sacrifice. Every one of them had to give something up to be the athletes they are today. Parties with friends. Going out for ice cream. Sleeping in. In some cases even the towns they lived in. They each made a choice, then followed through.

The relentless, daily demands of training require such self-discipline.

I am not idealizing these people. I am sure that each one of them has failed at their own standards, has had days of dejection and wanting to give up. But they didn't. That's what inspires me.

I think about this in my own life. I want to do a lot. A LOT.

I want to be the best wife, mother, daughter, teacher, writer, homesteader, housekeeper, cook, mentor, friend (and more) in the whole world. And my definition of best is often a little lofty. I do push myself... sometimes... but more often I let that definition discourage me instead of inspire me.

The athletes? They have picked their one thing. I don't think you have to give up relationships to be the best you can be at your one thing (though your relationships will be affected), but you do have to give up other pursuits.

That's what I don't do. I don't pick one thing. Let's face it, if my priority is people over things (which it is), I am not going to be an amazing chef and author and farmer.

Seems I have a choice. I can pick one of those things and focus with intensity and achieve great things with it, or I can continue the way I have been going and have a well-rounded average life.

Truthfully, I'm on the fence! I suppose I have given up on some of those lofty goals already... by simplifying our meals, shifting to a more family-driven model of homesteading and so on. But still, I think I spread myself pretty thin.

If I don't focus more now, when I look back on my life will I be disappointed with my performance in the kitchen? Probably not. Maybe homesteading. Quite likely writing is the place where I will feel most disappointment if I don't put a little Olympic enthusiasm behind it.

But I am not willing to sacrifice serving others for that to happen. So I keep this in mind:

People first.

Yet I think I do still need to apply what I learn from these amazing Olympic athletes.

There are sacrifices I can make. I don't really need to check my email six times a day.

I can do the work. As Jane Yolen says, BIC! I can sit my self down every day and just write.

And self-discipline, oh that elusive fruit of the Spirit! I do lack self-discipline in more than one area. Like filing papers. Ugh. My desk would be a much more inviting place to sit and write if I didn't have these stacks of paper around me.

Olympic athletes lift weights and run to tone their bodies, even if their sport is not weight-lifting or running. My toning? Comes from time on my knees.

I really can't achieve the great things God has in mind for me, without Him. I can't be the person He wants me to be, and grow in self-discipline, without stretching my mind and spirit in His Word.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

So if God has called me to it, who am I to turn away?  If I am really meant to write, as part of the fabric of who He made me to be, then I must press on.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14) Because when we do what we were created to do, we glorify Him.

What about you? Do you have a hidden avocation that you need a little Olympic fire lit under? How can I pray for you?

Reaching for His gold,

Turning a Crazy Homeschooling Day Around

New York October 08: Central Park Carousel
flickr photo by Pete

Fellow blogger Donna is embarking on her first year of homeschooling, and to celebrate the beginning of a new phase of life for her family, she has asked a few seasoned homeschooling moms to share some thoughts.

I feel pretty comfortable sharing about weeks like this:
You’ve embarked on your first year of homeschooling with enthusiasm, color-coded schedule in one hand, book list in the other. The school room is decorated, the craft supplies lined up in a tidy row, and you just know that the whole family is going to have a blast!
The first day of school arrives. Everything goes fairly well, but not quite according to schedule. The next day the five-year-old pops up and down from the table like a jack-in-the-box, and the schedule slips a bit more. Before the week is out you’re on the phone to another homeschooling mom wailing, “This is impossible! These kids can’t sit still! I feel like I’m going crazy!!”

I am seasoned in this area. Heheh.

Now you've probably never felt this way. But on the off chance this scenario is familiar, maybe I can help. I haven't actually gone crazy yet (or so my friends assure me), so you might glean an idea or two for managing your own homeschooling carnival of fun.

And really, homeschooling is fun! I promise!

Read 5 Ways to Turn a Crazy Homeschooling Day Around


The Gift of Girlfriends

Roller Coaster at Circus Circus
flickr photo by fleecetraveler

Sometimes I wonder if I'm God's favorite.

Maybe He keeps my picture in His wallet. And thinks of ways to make me smile, just because He likes me.

It's just that I've had a pretty rough few weeks. Seems my body has turned into an amusement park for hormones. Do you think they giggle as my moods race up the roller coaster and then whoosh! over the top, down down down... the whole ride ending in a nice big sobbing pity-party?


I wasn't giggling so much.

So the days have been challenging, but they have also been sprinkled with sweetness.

Like the sun breaking through the clouds at the right moment. Or impossible solutions that just come out of nowhere.

But frankly, I'm pretty sure I'm His favorite because of the girlfriends.

The abundance of listening caring women in my world is just over the top. He must like me. Really like me.

Last Monday it was a play date, and tea on the couch.

Tuesday it was praying over Skype. Then a friend who drove an hour through the rain for dinner at a restaurant with tablecloths.

Thursday? A bonanza... eight women, bible study... tears, prayer, laughter.

Even Friday at the park, gentle eyes asking questions.

And Sunday, two sweet sisters at church, and several more online, with hard-won practical advice for weathering the hormonal storms. Even more moving... their tender understanding of those feelings that made me wonder if maybe I was edging toward lunacy.

What a treasure. To have women in my life who really hear me and care enough to respond. Women who don't live life shallow, who look hard in the face of pain, for Jesus.

These are women who I want to be like. I don't deserve them.

We girls, we do need our men. We were made that way. But we also need our sisters. I don't have biological sisters. But I have some truly incredible sisters in Christ. Women who walk the humble and the hard, and strain each day for holiness.

These are women who make me want to be better. They love me, the real me... all messy and wondering and passionate and confused. They are all about grace. They are safe.

I know. There are blessings in loneliness. There are seasons of growing with only Him, only turning to Him.

But I think our amazingly creative sunset-painting Father thought up girlfriends just because He thinks we're swell.

I'm glad He's so smart.

And you? You're His favorite too.  xoxoxoxo

(This song, this week?  Oh yes.  Go ahead... listen... Christa Wells is another gift)

Frame the Clouds
Oh friend what a great listener you are
You sit across the table with your coffee long gone
And I am talking about the books that I’ve been reading
when the house is dark and still
All the words, all the words
all the words, they are my fingers on a face
oh the words
looking for patterns in the shapes
You’re so good
to be a witness to my sounds
trying to frame the clouds
My feet are stepping on new earth all the time
discovery lights the fraying wires of my mind
for every one good answer, two more questions
and it all feels incomplete
‘til the words,’ til the words
Well I wish I had more show for the years I’ve been alive
there’s more to learn before I go than there is time
So friends don’t take me wrong on those days when I sound too sure
of the things I say, I say
I’m trying to frame the clouds

To Dominica, Sandy, Teresa, Pat, Misty, Dawn, Jenn and more... thank you. You breathed life and hope into my week.


Yielding in Conflict = Love in Action!


I mostly write here about my kids and the homestead and the things I am learning in this beautiful life.

But I do have a husband. Without him, I wouldn't be homeschooling, or on this land, or writing these words. He has been my provider and encourager for 19 years now.

We are blessed to have those years of story-making behind us, and many more ahead. Our story has been at times romantic, at times peaceful, and at times passionate. We've had our share of disagreements.

One day a few years back I was thinking about some now-lost fuss and it hit me... someone has to yield here. And why not me?

It's kind of simple... I mean, when you think about it, how many disagreements actually have eternal impact?

Not many.

The lovely Julie Sanders of Come Have a Peace (and fellow author at Do Not Depart) graciously allowed me to share her "Marriage Mondays" space to talk about the idea of yielding in marriage.

So my itchy fingers typed away about all this a few weeks back, but I neglected to let you friends here know! Come read something a little different from my usual fare!

Then tell me... what do you think? Are you willing to be the one who yields?


What Freedom Meant to a Pioneer Girl

photo credit

One of our favorite read alouds is Laura Ingalls Wilder's series about her childhood and early adult life as a pioneer.

I was reminded* today of a passage in Little Town on the Prairie, when Laura is attending Fourth of July festivities in town with Pa and Carrie. Laura is a young teenager at the time, around 14 years old. There were firecrackers and smoked herring and lemonade and even carriage races with dashing young men from New York.

In the middle of it all, a man stood up and read the Declaration of Independence aloud. Then Pa started a round of "My Country 'tis of Thee."

The crowd was scattering away then, but Laura stood stock still. Suddenly she had a completely new thought. The Declaration and the song came together in her mind, and she thought: God is America's king.
She thought: Americans won't obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. No king bosses Pa; he has to boss himself. Why (she thought), when I'm a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn't anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good.
Her whole mind seemed to be lighted up by that thought. This is what it means to be free. It means, you have to be good. "Our father's God, author of liberty-" The laws of Nature and of Nature's God endow you with a right to life and liberty. Then you have to keep the laws of God, for God's law is the only thing that gives you a right to be free.

Today, and every day, I am thankful for the true and abiding freedom we have in Christ. "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!" (John 8:36)

*Thank you for the reminder of this inspiring passage from LIW, Mariah!

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