A Desert of Busyness

Life gets complicated, sometimes.

First off, we did move again, so here we are in a new state. We actually left North Carolina on the very day that we traveled there last year, in an odd, unplanned coincidence. Now, we’re in the middle of all the unpacking, the tortuous paperwork, and errands involved with relocating the entire existence of ten people. Again. And I’m learning to navigate a new city. Again.

I’ve mentioned before (more than once!) that we are in the middle of a lot of transition. A major faith change from Protestant to Catholic, two cross-country moves in a year, a new job landed and lost, multiple child health issues, a new high school graduate, a house bought and now on the market out of state, and looming financial issues as a stopgap job cuts our already-tight budget in half. My two oldest are learning to drive, too. (Gulp.)

If that weren’t enough upheaval, we might not be homeschooling all the kids this year, for the first time ever. We have gradually felt more and more overwhelmed with the homeschooling, what with all the other craziness, and we’re feeling like perhaps a different path would be better for our family at this tumultuous point in our lives. And so, in a last-minute scramble, we are trying to get our 4 elementary aged kiddos into the local Catholic school, in a town we just moved to a week and a half ago. School starts next week, and they probably don’t have spots for all of them, but it’s likely that at least the younger ones will get in, and Rebecca may homeschool a while longer and enter whenever a spot opens up for her. I’m more than a little nervous, though, about how this new schedule may bring even more upheaval and busyness to our lives as we adjust. Will it be harder or easier? I don’t even know. I just think it’s the road we’re being led to.

So I have kind of found myself longing for just a little blank space in my life. My days are packed full, every minute, every day. But, as I went to bed the other night lamenting to myself about my lack of down time, rest, vacation, about my breakneck firehose life that won’t seem to let up for the last few years, I thought of the Israelites complaining in the desert.

In the desert, God was leading Israel from enslavement to the Promised Land. In between lay the desert, with all its uncertainty, privation, and discomfort. The Israelites did what we all do in such a place, of course – complain. Rebel, even. They were probably really tired and no little afraid. But God wasn’t honored in their complaints, let alone their rebellion.

This long season of nonstop busyness is, for me, a kind of desert – and not the one I’m still homesick for back in Utah, either. I don’t thrive on this kind of thing – I like to smell the roses, rock my babies, and drink tea.  I like to change the diapers, do the laundry, cook tasty things, and mind my own business. I tear up a little, actually, thinking of years past when that is exactly what I did with many of my days. Those quiet days seem so long ago. Simplicity, hygge…these are the things I thrive on.

But, I have to be present where I am. God has put me in this season, this wasteland of an over-crammed schedule and endless crisis management. I can’t change this busyness, right now; all these things I’m doing have to happen, and they have to happen now. They can’t be responsibly set aside. In this my desert, I can only be faithful each day, fulfilling the responsibilities and needs before me, keeping Jesus at the center, attending to my own care as best I can, and trusting God that His manna is on its way, and that he will make a road for our sojourn here.

How about you, reader-friends? If you are in your own desert journey, leave a comment and let me know how I can pray for you. 

 

 

 

 

 

{SQT} Simple, Frugal Lenten Decor, Tofu, and Learning as I Go

~1~

Since I’m learning to incorporate the liturgical year into family life at the same time I’m adjusting to being a new Catholic, living in a new state, being a first-time homeowner, homeschooling with some unique challenges, and recovering from a serious financial slump, I’m keeping it simple. And cheap. I spent about 20 minutes on our Lent decor, if you include the time it took to figure out where they keep the plastic flowers at Walmart.

Of course, I’d probably keep it simple and cheap no matter what. I like it that way.

~2~

First up: our Lenten front door wreath, pictured above. I love having something on the front door! I picked up a grapevine wreath for $5 at Walmart, and I got the purple flower at the same time for $2.50. I don’t have a glue gun, or florist wire, or the ability to care about that, so I just cut the stem to a good length and wove it into the wreath. It took about two minutes, minus the Walmart-roving, and this way the flower could be readily removed to make way for some other seasonal whim.

Cost: $7.50

~3~

Next, the dresser in our dining room, which houses playdoh, school games, art stuff, and various junk that I shove in there when company is coming.  I put our Advent wreath on it this Advent past, and liked it so much I decided to just leave the space for “liturgical year stuff.” (There’s probably a lent 1better name for that).

Anyway, the purple cloth is actually just my favorite t-shirt (which is at least 10 years old). On top of that is Lenten Sacrifice Beans.  I got both the idea and the free printable from Lacy at Catholic Icing. The only thing I bought for this was the purple ribbon and the flowers.

Cost: $5.00

~4~

We “buried the alleuia” this year, too. This idea I got from Haley at Carrots for Michaelmas – both talleuiahe idea itself and the inspiration to keep it simple. I was happy that I was able to fancy up the Sharpie with some glitter paint that I borrowed from the three year old, though.

I made this on Ash Wednesday, but we forgot to bury it till the Tuesday following.

Cost: free

~5~

The last thing I did was change the top of the bookshelf by the door. It’s only vaguely Lenten, with purple candles and a plain basket, which I recently snagged at the thrift store for a couple bucks. Thelent 2 rest I already had.

Cost: about $2

~6~

Lenten cooking is on my mind, and we tried tofu for the first time in years this week. Last time I made it, it was awful; I think I tried putting it in lasagna, or something equally egregious. This time, I fried it and put sweet and sour sauce on it, and it was actually quite tasty. I have a Pinterest board for Meatless and Fish dishes, come on over and visit for some new Friday ideas.

~7~

Lent seems long, just now, as sacrifices already grow tiresome and I become forgetful of the positive additions I am trying to make to my day during this time. One thing I have learned to appreciate, though, in becoming Catholic, is the sense of the value of time. The value of waiting, of walking through the process instead of skipping to the end. Honestly, I don’t fully intuitively grasp the value of fasting (and I mean fasting in a broad sense) yet, though I have read enough about it by now that I should. I don’t understand it, or why it is beneficial, but I do accept that it is, and I hope to gain a clearer vision of that in this season.

Incorporating the liturgical year into our family uncovers these kinds of gaps in understanding. It brings to mind how, as a Protestant, I would not do something I did not understand the value of or see the Biblical mandate for. Each hymn I sang, each prayer I read, all had to be screened – by me, of course. I love that I can learn by doing, by following the ancient practices of the Church and discovering the richness of it as I go.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

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Breakfast for 10: Simple Tips to Feed a Crowd without Losing Your Mind

I love to cook. It’s really one of my favorite things to do.

And it seems a little ironic that now that I have so many people to cook for, I have so little time to do it. I’ve got 10 people eating most of their meals at home; I have to simplify.

Especially when you consider that Timothy is grumpy at all mealtimes. I don’t know if he hates the confinement of his chair, or wishes he could just live on ketchup. But that kid yells a lot at meals. Around here we call that “ambience.” 

So, while I have a killer whole wheat pancake recipe, and we love muffins and scones, these days breakfast is a little more slapdash than that. Sometimes I make a more involved meal, but…not real often.

Method 1: You’re on your own

What’s for breakfast?  Whatever you can find or fix yourself, that is healthy enough to count as a meal. Unless you are too little for that – which is under 4ish. If you are 4, you can get yourself cereal or talk a sibling into making you toast. Bigger kids know how to fry and scramble eggs, get themselves bagels, smoothies, etc. This strategy means that I am only feeding 2 kids breakfast – the littlest – instead of a mob. And it teaches them good skills. They can care for themselves, contribute, make choices, plan, and appreciate that food involves work. They are also anxious to learn how to make new things so they can increase their options for these days. Unless things (or people) are totally crazy, I’m happy to teach new skills upon request. If I try to plan a time to do that, it never happens.

Method 2: Have one big batch of something simple

Um, oatmeal. That is what that means. Or possibly overnight pancakes, where the batter was in the fridge and the griddle is out and ready to go. Or maybe eggs, but eggs is pushing it because if you give a kid eggs, he’s gonna want some toast. And bacon. And cheese. And more eggs. So we do that sometimes, but not if we want to keep it simple.

Method 3: The hybrid of methods 1 & 2

This is my favorite, and I do it often. I like to throw a skillet full of sausages on the stove first thing when I get up, and then I just leave them on a plate on the counter. As sleepy, p.j.-clad kids stumble in asking for breakfast, I tell them that there’s sausage. They get some, and fix themselves whatever else sounds good to complete things.

I also might do this with yogurt, or boiled eggs, etc. Anything that is easy to leave out for people to help themselves. I prefer to make it protein, because that is what they don’t tend to get for themselves as easily.

Bam. Done. Go play. 🙂

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