Generation Cedar

Our fast-paced, over-stimulated, distracted lifestyle is not only unhealthy on a number of levels, it’s unfortunately tragic; because it prevents us from grasping one huge, profound reality that shapes the way we live: our lives here are but a breath.

Depressing? Not if you have the right perspective. Heaven is what we are living for. And as much as we may love this life, Heaven is way better. Like the difference between liver-flavored ice cream and fudge brownie ice cream, as I’ve told my children. And so this life is about storing up all the heavenly treasure we can.

I was watching my children today. I know you’ve done this too: watched and wondered when they got so big, reaching, with all your might, into your memory to remember them as babies and probably couldn’t. Such a drastic difference from then to now, and yet you don’t really realize it happened because it was so gradual.

As I watched them I reflected that half my life is likely over.

I don’t want that to be a source of discouragement, but of inspiration. I want to realize that in these frenzied moments of daily tasks that do have to be done, there is still a far more important thing happening, and happening fast.

Little babies given to me are quickly becoming men and women. I have this short window to talk to them, listen to them, sit with them, hold them, teach them, read to them and invest in them in a way that will go with them when they leave here.

A small window to store up treasures in Heaven.

Hardly a person alive will deny that at the end of this life, all that really mattered was the people. Yet we seem to forget that in the moments that make up the span of life.

I don’t want to miss the people. And not just my children but my friend, my neighbor, my parents–whoever is in front of me.

The simple act of giving another your undivided attention has never been a greater challenge as we fight against ring tones and message alerts and being “on call” 24 hours through our devices. (A good way to avoid that, by the way, is to have a phone that only calls people. You’re welcome.)

We can also get sidetracked majoring on the minors (raising my hand). How many times have I snapped lost it over shoes strewn all over the floor (again), ignoring the greater job of patiently training little people who aren’t concerned with aesthetics the way I am.

We are over-booked, over-loaded and over-exerted. It is a deliberate choice to ask, “teach me to number my days.” Sometimes we just need to plant ourselves in front of the steam-roller of life, throw up a hand and say, “stop while I plant the seeds that matter.”

As a woman who struggles with anxiety and the desire to do everything NOW, I have to purpose to stop and remind myself that there are very few real emergencies and the world isn’t going to end over windows that haven’t been cleaned for two weeks (yes, I know).

Right now, in fact, there are three bamboo tee-pees on my front porch, smack in the middle of the walkway. Not on the end of the porch, neatly out of the way, but right in the middle.

I have this quirky thing. I have a strong need for visual order and beauty. Hilarious, isn’t it, that God gave me 10 children? Yes, I think so too.

The thing is, it’s a mess, but they had the most fun building it and since we no longer have any shade trees, the porch was a logical place. They learned some problem-solving lessons and I’m going to resist the urge to have them hurriedly destroy what they spent half a day building, just because it would be prettier if they cleaned up. Don’t pat me on the back, though.

I don’t always make the right choice. But today, I choose tee pees the treasure.

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32 Responses

  1. Lovely, Kelly. What’s also awesome is that God has given you plenty more wonderful time on earth with these blessings before the ultimate life 🙂

  2. I sat watching my 3 1/2 year old son sleeping this morning and wondered where the time went. My day didn’t go as planned starting this morning as I had a whole host of things to do. After lunch, I decided to embrace the day it turned out to be instead and spent extra time playing outside, kicking balls and picking grapes with my children. We read a little more than we usually do at naptime and I read my Bible again after laying my babes down for a nap. My to do list is still huge, but my day is much better.

    I love the tee pees! I made a cardboard house one time with my son with this massive box that took up half the living room. It was, um, not pretty but lots of fun. I let be kept in our house for a couple weeks even (though it was hard, LOL)

    Your post reminds me of the book of Ecclessiastes, it was one of my favorite books of the Bible last year. It seems almost depressing to read, but it is truth and helps us find our focus, and also to remember God gives us temporal pleasures here on Earth too.

  3. Oh my goodness we are not only sisters in the Lord but twins in the Spirit! And He has been saying the same things to me. 🙂
    Have a lovely, slow as the south, weekend.

  4. The best part of a porch is the firm foundation for tents and tepees! 🙂 Beautiful post, Kelly and great exhortation. I recently turned my smart phone into a stupid phone and have felt such f.r.e.e.d.o.m.

    Love you!

  5. Loved this!

    I can relate to the “smack in the middle of the walkway” part, except here it’s a double mattress on our very small living room floor, smack in the middle between our couch and love seat, and taking up almost the entire floor space! And it’s been there for over two weeks now. 😉

    The thing about that mattress, though…

    We brought it and the other mattress from the bunk bed in the basement up to the living room when our college daughter was home for a few days a couple weeks ago. She and our youngest two kids had a “campout” in the living room the nights she was home. But what has been really neat about mattresses on the living room floor is how much it has fostered such a relaxed feeling of family togetherness.

    When our daughter arrived home the first “day”, it was actually almost 10:00 at night. But it was cool because all eight of us could be together again. My husband was able to leave work early that night, our adult son didn’t have to work, and our younger children all stayed up, excited to greet their oldest sister.

    Now, we could have all stood around the kitchen, talking. Or sat at the dining room table. Or even simply sat in the living room, as we had other times when she’d come home, without needing any mattresses on the floor.

    Ah, but those mattresses… 😉 We gathered in the living room, some of us on the couch and love seat, and others reclining on the mattresses on the floor. Something about their presence there encouraged us to linger as a family. Just us, this family God built, talking, listening, slowly getting tired as it drew toward 11:00 pm, but still just wanting to linger.

    The memories of that night are so special. It was unlike any of the other times our daughter had come home, even though those times were also nice, of course. I think memories are made stronger and more precious by taking what may be ordinary and adding a new element to it, like a mattress or a teepee. 😉

    Well, our daughter is back at school now, and the smaller mattress is downstairs again on the top bunk, but the bottom bunk mattress has found a new home on our living room floor. (My husband reminded me that since other cultures often use rooms for varied purposes, why couldn’t we also embrace the living room by day/bedroom by night concept?)

    So we have. And you know what? This mom, who likes an open, neat living room has come to see the beauty of family life since that mattress took up residence in our living room. Just like the first night it was there, it still seems to beckon us, with all the things we have to do, to simply come enjoy some nice quiet time there periodically, to connect as a family (even when the whole family isn’t there).

    I’ve always done my morning Bible reading in the living room. Now I can go there and start the day with two little sleepyheads asleep on the mattress in the room. A beautiful reminder right at the start of the day of some of the precious gifts my husband and I have received from the hand of the Lord.

    And the children seem to delight more in each other’s presence now, spending time together in the living room more often than they had, rather than being off, scattered throughout various parts of the house.

    And yes, my living room often looks messy during the day. Pattern blocks on (and falling off) the mattress, toy tractors on the table or in the little bit of floor space that remains, etc., etc. It’s not always pretty, but it IS always beautiful, if that makes sense. 🙂

    It’s the place I gather with my children at the end of the day, little ones in their pj’s, tucked in for the night, with the middle ones sitting on the couch or loveseat, as I read to them from the Word. We didn’t use to do that together at the end of the day until the living room started doubling as a bedroom, of sorts. Of course, my husband leads our family Bible time in the mornings because he is home then, but there is just something about also ending the day in the Word with those who are home. It’s a very peaceful time, and I think a lot of long-lasting memories are being built in the process.

    Anyway, sorry about the long ramble. 😉 Your children will treasure the memories they’re making right now, too, with their teepees and all!

    Really precious post. 🙂

  6. Thank you for this post, it is such a blessing! My baby boy is 2 weeks shy of turning one year old, and I nanny a 6 month old girl. My hubby and I are praying for another baby, God willing, and I am SO encouraged by women like you!

    May our loving, strong, gracious Father continue to bless you, speak to you, fill you with His peace and comfort!

    Oh, and thank you for reminding me that I am human. Sometimes I feel like such a failure for not being full of superhero (supermama) powers.

  7. What a great post! And guess what I did…. I deactivated my face-book (not that there’s anything wrong with it, but I needed to do it!), so now I can actually have more time for these kinds of things.

      1. Well, the deactivated facebook lasted maybe a week, but hopefully I learned my lesson to practice some major self control. 🙂

  8. I love the idea of order and pretty pretty! But I love little lives more! I love tents and teepees and riding scooters and riding toys all around the house! I love the barbie dream house right in front of the door in the foyer! Granted, they cannot stay out long (days) but I love enjoying them while they are up! It isn’t a mess (when it is play time)! I would’ve loved to have been a guest at your home on teepee day! LIFE!

  9. Seeing those teepees on the front porch reminds me of Proverbs 14:4, a passage that I really like and with which I console myself when the house is a mess, even though I only have four. “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean: but much increase comes by the strength of the ox.” As always, thank you for your encouraging words.

  10. Oh Kelly, I can completely relate! It often times make me giggle inside to think of what an introvert I am. And here I am with five little ones and never a moment to myself. And OCD would describe me very well, except that it bugs me that OCD isn’t in alphabetical order! I know…
    It’s what we need though, to see beauty in the “tee pees” and I’m sure I’ll one day miss the visits from my 2yr old when I’m just trying to take a bathroom break. 😛

    1. That is hilarious! I too am introverted. I assumed (falsely) that most moms of multiple children are extroverted and can naturally deal better with the constant upsetting of order, LOL.
      I like order, peace, and harmony. No conflict, please :).
      The Lord has blessed us with 4 boys. I praise him that he does not leave us where we can become too comfortable. I am daily reminded of my desperate need of grace!
      I woke up this morning thinking that everything I see will burn one day, these things do not matter(duh, but I have to be reminded!). The hearts of my children are my mission field…not the order of the home.

      1. No, you’re not alone. I, too, am a classic introvert (another part of the “hilarious God gave me 10 kids) and too much noise or busyness can be crushing. But it’s good how the Lord uses our jobs as mothers to balance out those parts of our personalities. I’ve learned I will always be an introvert, and that it’s OK, but still I must die to self too, and learn to stretch those parts of me that tend to be selfish.

  11. I worked for 18 years in a high-end furniture store, so seeing what my special needs little boys have wrought in my previously lovely living room could bring me to tears. But it doesn’t, because I know that they are more precious than gold, and someday they’ll be grown up and won’t smear applesauce on things. In the meantime, their – ahem – “decorating skills” seem to be God’s very effective way of teaching me to die to self!!

    And I think anyone who survives motherhood IS a superhero!

  12. What I’ve often discovered is that it is necessary for me to turn to the Lord if I want to avoid bitterness… It can be so easy in the huge task of “serving” (ie 2-4 loads of laundry a day, 3 meals to prep and clean up, school work to plan and oversee, housecleaning etc)it can be easy to start feeling like you are everyone’s personal slave and that you don’t matter as an individual human being beyond your ability to give everyone what they need… And only the Lord can keep your mind and heart refreshed so as not to lapse into that mentality. By the way, at what age should children have their own hamper and be responsible for their own laundry? I have a nine year old who 1) is horrid about dropping his clothes on the floor and leaving them there 2)hates to be corrected for it(ie interupted to go pick them up)…should there be a private hamper in which he must now do his own laundry?

    1. Hi Laura!

      If I ever start the Blog that I’ve been thinking about, my first Post would honestly be on LAUNDRY and what the Lord has taught me through it. Honestly!!

      I’m not sure of the ages of all your children. A nine year old is plenty old enough to put clothes in his own hamper. As you are teaching and training him to do it, remember to “Keep that smile on your face”. Also, remember-He’s a kid and they do act like kids and forget or just plain old don’t want to do it. KEEP AT IT..With that smile on your face.

      It was always easier for me when my kids were younger to have them help me with the laundry.They would collect the laundry, help me sort it, and put it from the washer to the dryer and help fold and put away. When they got close to teen years, they could do their own laundry but the problem with that was that it would be a small load and I always try to encourage them to throw in a few things of others who may need things done.

      I have had many good laundry systems over the years that have worked well. My problem was when my older kids started working outside the home, they literally did not have time to do the laundry so I started doing it and you want to talk about a grumbling mother. I won’t even go there!

      Well, maybe just so none of you do this. I would gripe and I mean big time if they would do their own laundry and no one else’s. I would gripe if they threw the laundry that was in the washer on top of the dryer so they could do their own. I would gripe if they threw my clothes in the dryer on the couch. You get the idea. I was miserable over laundry.

      I don’t want my kids to leave home some day and remember me being a “Crazy Woman” over laundry. Four of mine are in there 20’s. The Lord has helped me with all of this and I just wanted to share so you would not make this mistake. Learn from mine…lol..Blessings!!

    2. I agree with Keri, that he is old enough to at least begin helping with laundry and/or being required to do his own laundry, especially in the case where he doesn’t want to help make it as easy as possible on the one who is doing it 😉

      Also, about the constant need for keeping our perspective right…stay tuned for my review on the FABULOUS new book by Rachel Jankovic where she has a profound word on this very thing.

      Basically, Christ gave to us (more than we can ever begin to give) so that we could give to others freely. And when we *give*, it isn’t “taken” from us and that changes the way we view our job.

  13. I Love It!! Many years ago my sister came to pick up my nephew (I was babysitting him that day)and saw the “fort” in the living room and said “What the heck is that”. Seriously!! I said “Have you never made a fort in the living room? She said “NO WAY”!

    It’s been a few years since they’ve made a fort but they still remember the Awesome Ones and have talked about it recently which cracked me up because they are in their 20’s now.

    Have tons of fun doing this while you can! Thanks for the Pictures Kelly!!

  14. Thank you Kelly. I needed to read this today.I am paralysed by disorder, messes do to me what foul stenches do to perfumers. Now that I am fully at home with our 4 little ones, aged 8 to 1, I am really struggling to find a new “normal”. I used to have our house professionally cleaned every Wednesday and we were rarely at home and had only 2 children so the house was spic and span. Now, I am the cleaning lady and the we have grown in numbers, and we homeschool so although we are getting more bang for our buck, I am struggling to get the good old days our of my mind. Days when things stayed where I put them until I moved them again. Everyone else is happy, DH is laid back and helps me around the house, he assures me that it only a season but I still clean around the clock and I am EXHAUSTED. Pray for me.

  15. Thank you Kelly! I really needed this. It is so easy to get caught up in the “urgent” the “emergencies” of life and all of the surface stuff. Nearly 19 years of military life, moving constantly, 9 kids and homeschooling them has worn me out. I’m exhausted, but….I’m loving the sweet lesson God is teaching me now (and has been trying to for a while) to slow down, rest in Him, and savor the sweet moments He gives….and to recognize the sweet moment. 😉

    I love the tee pees! Right now my entry way is filled with snow pants, boots, coats etc…yesterday’s blizzard dumped FEET of snow on us. As much as I’d love all of that cleared out (the entry and the snow) I LOVED watching my children play and sled together yesterday afternoon and I know they are going to head right out today and do the same. In and out all day dumping all of their gear in the entry as they come in to eat etc. It’ll all get cleaned up eventually and they’ll have the sweet memories, the mess doesn’t matter right now. 🙂

    1. Such good lessons to learn, even if we can be slow learning them. Maybe that’s why grandparents are so great–they finally figured out how to chill. 😀

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