Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the month “February, 2012”

The Dirt

People are like dirt. They can either nourish you and help you grow as a person or they can stunt your growth and make you wilt and die. ~ Plato

Some of the best dirt takes years to develop.  Yards of compost, manure, lawn clippings.  All the yuck combined and rolled and seasoned into fertile ground.  Adam had this humus available right away in the garden.  The Landscaper left him in charge of something already living and thriving.  Like a heavenly roll-a-lawn.

But for us, after the fall, after the yuck has come in…we sometimes wait years for produce.  Sometimes all we can see is the leftovers thrown at us and the rotting, stinking mess of it all.  Sometimes we look for nourishment in others and find only disappointment.  Others might look for it in us, too.  The food they need, are we filled so we can be empty?

The pastor reminds us on Sunday that we can give words that have power.

And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority. – Luke 4:32 NKJV

The living, active, powerful, piercing Word is ours for the wielding.  Do we leave others with the dust-and-vapor words?  Do we comfort with scraps of our compost pile?  We have Words of life at our fingertips – words that can astonish.  What people need is not our wisdom or stunted-view, but nourishment.  Daily bread, living water.

We are also reminded that the most powerful time is time spent in prayer.  Jesus rose early to get connected.  Do we need anything less?  Do those in our lives need anything less (or more) than our prayers?

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.  If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death.  – 1Jo 5:14-16 NKJV

So I commit to spend more time praying and listening.  And as I pray for my friends and family, I also ask that my words would be nourishing.  That time spent with me would feed them and not stunt their growth.  I repent of my idle words, the ones that don’t break down in the soil of good fellowship to feed souls.  Plastic words, they’re no good.

I have good-dirt people in my life.  I’m so thankful for them, for God’s mercy to me through them, and for the common compost of all our combined years, feeding us all.

Still counting to 1000…

155.  My brother and how he blessed us

156.  Sisters who pray for me

157. Pictures of Ethan on his first solo bike ride

158. $25 gift

159. Mommy making cheesy noodles, finally

160. a little sister who thinks big sister doing her hair is cool

161. Brookie’s bday!

162. Bravo’s for lunch

163. cinnamon rolls

164. four-wheeler rides

165. siblings playing board games together

166. Jacob, creating his own board game

167. sleeping til 7:30

168. sunny day with possibility of photography

169. getting my Nascar game

170. a house protected from the storm

171. little girls on four-wheeler

172. homemade playdough in bright colors

173. chocolate mousse cheesecake (finally)

174. sheetrock, after almost 6 years of bare framing

175. early morning Bible discussions

176. easy Mondays

177. impromptu visits



I have five minutes to put some words down.  So I set my watch and set out to capture something from the swirl in my head…


Just do it.  Just see the thing and tackle it.  Don’t whine about how difficult, how impossible, how painful it is.  Knuckle down, buckle down, do it do it do it!

Grit.  I want to have the grit to follow my own advice.  I tell my kids all the above, but what do I preach to myself?  I am a recovering-procrastinator, and as with most addictions, we tend to say that recovery is a life-long process.  But I want to be over it.  I want to rid myself of the weight of all the undones that loom over me, because they suck the life out of me.

I want grit.

But Iwant plush, downy compassion, too.  I want it for others (my kids) and I want others to have it for me.  Some things are just too hard.  Some things take more compassion and less push.

God lived in the grit.  He who became dust and flesh lived in the grittiness of this world and overcame.  With love, He overcame.  And He got things done.

So I just do the next thing.


Your turn!  Hop over here   and give it a try.  Leave me a comment and tell me how you liked the assignment.

What I Want to Preach

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; – Eph 3:8-9 NKJV

To me, Paul says.  Grace was given to me.  Grace that led to prison, to isolation, to a life of hardships and rejection from his own.  Paul considers it a gift of grace to be chosen for this dirty work, this preaching of an open invitation to the ‘least of the least’.

And he considers himself less than the least?  The pharisee of pharisees.  He puts himself lower than those who remained, by law, in the outer courts, the court of the Gentiles.  A servant always lowers himself.  But to call it a grace, a gift?

I was given grace, too.  Do I risk anything to share the unsearchable riches of Christ, to make all see the Fellowship of the Mystery?  Do I consider it a gift of grace to do the hard things day in and day out – bringing a sacrifice of praise through all the mundane and extraordinary and beautiful messes of each day?

What do my children know of this mystery?  Because the riches are unsearchable, does that mean we are without searching?  Without wonder?  When everything is explained, mystery becomes just science, just facts, just ho-hum-everyday-life.

There should be awe in everyday.

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, 
And every common bush afire with God; 
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,” ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We visit the science museum on a Thursday, surprised to see what we didn’t really expect.  Bodies.  Human bodies.  Is there awe in that?   Oh boy.  Amazing handiwork.  Created, every part of it, for a purpose.  And while it is a little overwhelming, and can-we-just-rush-through-mom?, and we turn a little red a few times, the place was crammed with heaven.  Can you view all that and really believe in coincidence, or accident?

We could walk away disgusted or disturbed.  Or we can take off our shoes and explore the holy ground, explore the wonder and mystery.  God is amazing.  Did you see it?  Did you see how He made everything fit so perfectly?

Life can be mundane.  I can go days, weeks, without seeing wonder or being amazed.  Feeling unimportant, unnoticed, unnecessary.  My days can be:

  1. drag out of bed
  2. read Bible
  3. make meals
  4. clean-up meals
  5. repeat

Somewhere in between, I throw in a load of laundry and force some school along.  Check.  When is bedtime, so we can start all over tomorrow?

Round and round life goes, and if I don’t deliberately choose to see, I just trample over holy ground.  I trample over holy people.

This is what I’m thinking about when the dentist asks me, “So what do you do for a living?”.   This is generally that question that causes me to fumble over my tongue.  What do I do?

What do I do?  For a ‘living’, I die daily.  I would like to respond that way – like for it to be true.

“I teach my four children at home,”  I say.

Wow.  No fumbling this time.  No apologies, no feeling-less-than-important.  People are always amazed (or concerned)… but this time, so am I.

To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among my children the unsearchable riches of Christ,

Everyday.  Searching for the treasures, looking for the pearls hidden in the Word and in His world.  Hidden in the hearts of others.  Praying big prayers in front of and with my children, because a big God can answer and we can be amazed.

From Leigh Bortins, Echo in Celebration, pg. 3 ~

I feel compelled to “ride horses up the White House stairs” as Teddy Roosevelt did with his children, and I want to share with them the deep sorrow rather than the self-righteousness that comes from the ugliness of sin.  I want them to work so hard and to have fun so physical that they can’t wait to climb into bed.  I want them to know that everyone they encounter can be their teacher and that they are to inspire each person they meet to draw a little closer to our Father in heaven.  Life is but a vapor, but it’s also a divine journey –  a journey that can result in unspeakable joy and heart-satisfying peace that passes all understanding.

I love that quote, and I want to live like that.  I want my words to be less lecture, more wonder.  Less why-did-you-do-that, and more did-you-see-that?

Treasure Seekers

If I only speak a hundred words to my children today, Lord, let them be all grace, all wonder, all magnifying the riches of Christ and buckle-your-seat-belt adventure.

Books as Teachers

Along with having a schedule in place for our family, reading books together has been fundamental.  From the time they were born I’ve read to my kids.  Partly for them, partly for me  – reading Dr. Seuss to the kids is much more fun than reading it to myself. Sharing a story together gives us common ground, something to refer to in our daily conversation, something to bring us back together when life scatters us.

A reason to snuggle, too.

The Wiggler

Sometimes it was more of a wrestling match than snuggling.  Forced-listening?  You-will-like-this and we-will-bond?  The boys always wanted to tear the books, eat the books, throw the books.  But we pressed on, and they came around.  Now it’s my son who slyly drops the book on the table next to my lunch plate.

I don’t get to read everything my kids are reading for school anymore, and I think I’m jealous.  My children are going on adventures without me.  Meeting new people, seeing new places.  They are more ‘well-read’ than I and have devoured bookshelves-full.  I taught them each to read, by the grace of God, and now there’s no stopping them.  Even the boys.  But with carefully chosen books as their teachers, there is no limit to their education.  Only a limit on my time, and I don’t have enough to catch up on all the great books.

Because I just can’t do it all.  And I have to be okay with that.

We have had family read-alouds in the evening with Dad.  We’ve read fiction and non-fiction, hero tales, fairy tales, missionary stories and silly poems.  We have forced our way through the Bible in a year of 6 a.m. wake-ups.  Just because we thought we should.

There are  many books that the youngest hasn’t been read.  There are hundreds more great books that none of us has read.  We have started several books that we never finished, and we have had long dry spells with no story.

It’s all okay.  We just start again where we left off.  Or find a new book.

In fact, we just recently picked up the habit again, in the mornings after breakfast.  Even though schedules are packed and life has changed and there are no toddlers anymore, we have to read together.  It is essential for us.  And you know what?  Nobody complained.  All made room in their schedules.

And I’ve learned (am learning) not to make Dad feel guilty about missing out.  Some seasons we can all read together.  Other seasons, life and work happen in abundance and I make time for read-alouds during the day, because I can.  Nobody needs more guilt heaped on their shoulders because of what they don’t do.  Some of the best stories we hear are the ones Dad tells at the dinner table!

Books take us beyond ourselves and our time, giving us fresh perspective, new inspiration, deeper thoughts.  We use books to teach our kids because some lessons are better read than preached.

We ebb and flow with life, but I hope we always come back to sharing stories together.

growing in thanksgiving, through the fog of sickness this week…

143. daddy’s surprises

144. goofy classmates

145. Pooja

146. The Wolfe’s

147. chocolate

148. kids

149. OMSI

15o. doggy kisses

151. Fourteen years with Bailey

152. books as teachers

153. popcorn and smoothies and time together

154. Awesome Uncle Troy!  Dropping by with unexpected thanks.


Fourteen Years

Fourteen years.  Enough time to get a pretty full education.  To read lots of books, speak many words, see hundreds of new things.  It’s the number of years I’ve been a mother, and it’s been the best education I could ever hope for.

The day you came, my firstborn, you were setting your own course.  Tackling life on your own terms.

The child-birthing class had shown a video on cesareans, but I didn’t pay attention.  No worries.  A normal pregnancy would equal a normal delivery – as if there were such a thing.

You must have been wrestling to be free.  Wriggling and squiggling until that umbilical cord was just a noose around your neck. With every contraction your heart rate plummeted.  Mine quickened.  The doctor made daddy stay close by, just in case ‘a decision had to be made’.

He turned white.  Losing control is never comfortable.  The doctor quickly changed from relaxing on the chair with a pop in hand and using our first names, to Mr. Business addressing ‘the father’ and ‘the mother’.

Life changes in seconds, Bailey.

I was wheeled away from the place I expected to give birth.  To sleep I went, and the first words I said when I awoke?

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

A healthy baby girl.  I was not the first, or even the fifth, to see you that day.  And by the time they brought you to me I was still so dazed and doped.  This was the beginning of something scary-beautiful, and I am so blessed to be part of it.  Blessed now to be the first one to see you each morning.  Blessed to still receive your kisses, because you’re not too old to love your parents or too cool to show it.

The growing up of Bailey.

It started that day, or rather before that day.  And sometimes you want to rush through it, struggle to be free and loose the noose, but I hold you back.  As if I could stop you from growing up!  I just want you to be…fourteen, now.  Just enjoy this age, remember?  Remember how I told you that when you turned 10?

This is not cliche, Bailey.  Listen closely.  God has put the whole world before you, placed amazing gifts within you, and caused you to dream big dreams.  Go after God, and go hard.  Start now – even today, the fourteenth turning of your calendar.

Go to His word:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. – 2Ti 3:16-17 NKJV

Go to His heart:

 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;” – Isa 61:1 NKJV

Go to His work:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. – Eph 2:10 NKJV

Fourteen is fabulous.  Don’t wait for something bigger – enjoy this.  And I will, too.  I love you ; )

A Few Thanks

This last week has been a blur and most of the thanks were written by my hand.  There are still so many places to squeeze thanksgiving into and so many attitudes to lift…   So many “thank-you’s” still go unsaid, but I am pressed to look back and remember.

I am especially thankful for fellowship these last few days.  I am blessed to be in the wonderful Body of Christ, where nobody gets left behind.  I am reminded how God fits us together and does His kingdom work through cracked vessels.  How when you’re up I’m down, and vice versa.

So this week we are thankful for

131.  running in shorts in February

132. Mrs. Earlywine : )

133.  Spite & Malice

134.  music with the goof-balls (I think that must mean the siblings?)

135.  time for deep conversations

136.  soft hearts

137.  homemade granola bars

138.  free Kindle books

139.  cell phones

140.  a healthy family

141.  cards in the mail

142.  a husband who notices

Elbow Room

I did it.  I found the perfect schedule, and it’s blank.

No half-hour time slots to cram ourselves into.  Nothing written in blood that we are forced to follow.

Just blanks.  And a few check boxes.  A place for the memory verse, some doodles on the bottom, and maybe you can write your recitation on the back.  If it works for you.

This is our 12th year of homeschooling and I’ve tried everything.  I used to have a box of  index cards on the counter with daily, weekly, monthly and bi-annual tasks to rotate through.  Then I found a book that helped me schedule every waking moment for every member of the family, breaking 24 hours up into half hour slots of slavery…it was great for awhile.

I’ve used paper planners, online planners, homeschool-specific planners, smart phone planners.  I thrive on having a plan.  I wilt at interruptions.  You are welcome to come knock on my door unannounced – really, I want you to.  But, just please excuse the bewildered look on my face because, well…you weren’t on the schedule.

Someone should have told me (and they surely did but I had a schedule to keep) that life is full of surprises that can’t be scheduled.   Nursing babies will blow out of their outfit as you head out the door for church.  Children will get the flu on the day that you planned months ago to visit friends.  Your husband will have random days off when work is slow.  Math will take 2 hours on some days. Two.  Hours.  And it will rain in Oregon whenever you plan anything to happen outdoors.

So we have a new page for each day.  Blank and beautiful.  The kids fill theirs in at breakfast time as we talk about the day and it’s plans.  There are the basics that will happen everyday, like wake times and meal times and drag-yourself-to-bed times.  The checklist has non-negotiables like chores and brushing your teeth, reading your Bible and making your bed.  But the actual daily schedule has room to flex.  We put in the essentials first.  Some slots we leave blank.  Some days we don’t even use the paper…we just do life.

Like today.  Bed time didn’t happen til 11 last night.  We turn into pumpkins after 9 PM, but there was an important conversion to have and children of a friend to entertain, so the whole family was up way past the usual time.  Which was worth it, because some things just need to happen regardless of bedtimes.

When I woke the oldest this morning at 8:45, she asked what time it was.

“It’s almost 9,” I said.

Horrified look on her conditioned-to-keep-a-schedule face.  Wide eyed and very much awake now, she reminded me of all the times the alarm has failed to go off in my life.  We don’t like to start out already late.

“It’s fine – we’ll pretend it’s almost 7.”  Did I actually say that?  She smiled, so it was worth it.

It’s been a breath of fresh air, and the most rewarding part is not how much we are getting done and checking off our list.  The best part of this current schedule is that my kids like it.  They like the responsibility, and it’s so good for them to feel some ownership of their day.  They have each (the older 3) said out loud, “I like this, mom.”  Those rare words are usually reserved for sugar-related items and brain-disengaging entertainment, so this schedule thing is right up there.

They like it that someone can stop by in the middle of our morning, unexpected, and even though it’s not in the schedule we can stop what we’re doing and have an early lunch with our visitor.  When our visit is over we revise our schedule a bit and move on.  Nothing missed.

They like that mom isn’t pushing them through their day and tapping her stop-watch and reminding them of The Schedule.

I like it, too.  My favorite by-product of the current schedule, aside from the fact that the kids actually like it and are taking initiative,  is that it helps me make decisions.  I am overwhelmed with the questions and pleas of four Sharp Paynes, day in and day out.  The checklist of non-negotiables on their schedule has become a filter for me to answer the requests for computer time, movies, friends, etc…If the most important things haven’t been done, then there is no need to ask for extras.

“When God brings the blank space, see that you do not fill it in, but wait.” ~ Oswald Chambers

We all need some blank space in our lives, some place for God to pour into.  How do you make elbow room for God?


For He Himself is our peace….  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.  ~  Ephesians 2:14;17-18

He came and preached peace.  Not world peace and everybody-just-accept-everybody-else and please be quiet.   But peace with God, which comes only through Him giving us access through the Spirit, to the Father.  Peace knowing that it’s alright between me and God.

It’s one of the buzzwords in my home, but so often I focus on everyone just being quiet and living in harmony and not rocking anybody else’s boat (can you hear the soft music?!).  Can’t we all just get along?  How do you house so many personalities under one roof and maintain peace?   I preach peace, but it’s probably not the same kind as Jesus preached.

He Himself is our peace.  Just to have Him.  And He is not something to be grasped or held…striving and always missing His presence.  Lighting candles and turning on the music doesn’t cut it.  To live is Christ, and He Himself is our peace.  Not just an absence of chaos, but a recognition of my separation from Him, my daily going astray and finding my way back through His grace.  Reconciled through Him, through peace.

And the peace that Jesus preached should be the peace that I preach, in my home and everywhere: be reconciled to God.  Every squabble a chance to inject the peace of reconciliation.  We are one in Him, just as the Gentiles were brought in to the fold by the blood and mercy of Christ.  There should be no enmity among the family of God.  We are redeemed and reconciled to God; we ought to be reconciled to one another.  That ought to be more important than ‘keeping the peace’.

Peace.  Not the absence of chaos, but the closing in on the gap that separates us from one another and from Him.

How do you ‘keep peace’?


I have a confession… but first, a disclaimer.  We don’t watch TV.  We have a television for movies, and we do sit in front of the tube at the grandparents sometimes, but for the most part we are TV-free.  With that being said, once a year we do find somewhere to watch the Super Bowl.

Yep.  Football.

We have nothing against football – loved watching our son play middle school football this year and watching our local high school team win a state championship.   It’s just that watching grown, over-payed men  play a game that takes over a nation feels, well, a little silly.

We didn’t even know who was playing until yesterday, but when our neighbors invited us to watch the game with them we accepted.  There was pizza involved.  And we do love our neighbors.

We enjoyed the game.

The commercials were muted and eyes diverted for the most part.  But one commercial actually brought me joy.   Maybe I’m over-thinking it, or maybe I just expect them all to be garbage…or maybe it was just the romantic in me.  It caught me off guard, this commercial.  Because it didn’t go the way I thought it was going to.

I won’t post a link to it because I haven’t found one that wasn’t full of other garbage.  You’re welcome to google it yourself, but only if you promise not to be offended by women in bikinis.  I’ll just relate the gist of it here for you.

It was the Kia Optima commercial.  It begins with a husband and wife sleeping in their room (let’s assume they are married, because that makes me happy).  The sandman enters, sprinkles a little fairy dust on the wife, and she begins to dream of Tall, Dark and Handsome on his white horse, whisking her away.  Sandman fairies over to the other side, trips, and dumps the whole remaining bag of dust on sleeping husband, sending him what is assumed to be every man’s best dream…tons of beautiful women in bikinis.

Yuck.  I was heading for more pizza.

And then the unexpected happened.  The sweet unexpected.  The husband is on a racetrack (in his Kia?) driving by thousands of half-naked women, but paying them no attention.  He drives through a wall and into his wife’s dream.  The horse rears in fright.  Wife falls into husband’s arms. Tall, Dark and Handsome rides away alone.   Husband and wife drive off to Happily Ever After (in their Kia).  Love it!

Maybe there is hope for Hollywood?

I don’t know.  But it makes me happy.  To think about the wife’s knight-in-shining-armor really being the man in bed next to her every night.  To think about the husband who really thinks his wife is beautiful and special and worth rescuing.

And it makes me thankful for my husband.  He thinks I’m beautiful and special and worth rescuing.  He doesn’t drive a Kia, but everywhere we go together is Happily Ever After.

Still counting gifts…

116. Scripture songs for the drive home

117. Surprise dinner at Bravo’s

118. a refund check, just in time for groceries

119. mommy helping me make cookies for CELL group

120. a mid-day visit from Derek and Dan-the-hound-dog

121. CELL group

122. looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing their noses in books

123. Bananagrams at the library

124. Goof Group

125. violins

126. cheese

127. big kids, watching Winnie-the-Pooh

128. homemade mocha

129. surprise kisses from brother to sister

130. my knight-in-shining-armor


Dutch Babies for breakfast


Play date with friends

Washing windows on the house-in-progress

And tonight, The Salzburg Chamber Soloists with my girls

Enjoy your weekend, my friends.  Open your eyes to all the wonder.

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