Sharp Paynes

Never a dull moment…

Archive for the tag “schedules”

It’s Time…

It’s the first day of August.

Monday I was ready to freeze summer and just soak in the days, the fleeting moments.  But today is August and that means I have to get in gear for school and order those books and make those schedules and shouldn’t the kids start going to bed earlier?

Funny, the difference a day makes.  How one day it’s July and you want to slow down and the next day it’s August, time for discipline.

We’ve moved to a new home this summer and the freedom of this dead end road has breathed life into our kids.  The dirty-feet, playing-in-the-creek, aw-do-we-have-to-come-in-now kind of life.  They are always scattering and I am continually trying to gather them up for meals or chores or trips to town.

It’s been awesome.

I can just picture the look on their faces if I suddenly woke them up early one morning and called them downstairs for school.  Like cold water in the face or a slap on your sunburned back.  Shock.  Horror. Confusion.

We should probably transition gradually.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but summer is ending soon.

I think we’ll hold on to some carefree days, interspersed with a gradual tightening up of the schedule.

{How do you transition your kids back to the routines of fall?  My kids would appreciate it if you gave their mom some grace-filled ideas.}


The Things I Miss

{This post was written a few weeks ago but left unpublished.  I didn’t figure anyone needed or wanted to read my selfish complaints and poor-me-isms.  It’s kinda gross, the stuff that comes out when your little world gets shaken, and I didn’t really want to share all that ugly.

But I read it this morning and realized that I needed this reminder, because we are moving towards order now and while that’s good, so good, I want to remember that there is only one Constant.  Life will get out-of-order again, and what will I do with Jesus in the chaos?}


They are the two things I miss the most when life is upside down and busy.  When waking up is hard because sleep was fleeting, and there are kids on your kitchen table and living room couch.  Showering happens in line of 7 others and where in the world are my clothes, anyway?

We are in a time of transition, and I don’t mean to complain but I’m kinda freaking out.

I have so much to be thankful for.  And I am.  It’s just that I thrive on order and routine and I haven’t found those yet in this camp trailer.

That’s what I miss.  Order.  Routine.

I purpose to not complain, but then someone asks and the things I dwell on in my heart come oozing out of my mouth.  {So, dear friends, better to not ask!}

I can’t find our book of Giving Thanks, can’t read over all the blessings we’ve numbered so far this year and can’t write down more.  And so I stop being thankful?  This dust that breathes and lives because of grace, refusing to thank the Giver because of missing routines and lack of order?

And what burns me the most is my fragility.  My husband has this saying, that worship isn’t fragile.  It’s not about our surroundings or the music or the lights or the time, because it’s only worship if it’s about Jesus.

But I am fragile about important things, and faithful in the un-importants.

Three weeks out of order and routine, and the coffee pot has girgled every single day.  Is that my one constant, then?  Coffee?

There were days with no Words.  Days where pray was short and simple thank-You-for-this-food-amen.  But there have been no coffee-less days so far.  No days without a steaming blend of arabica, water and half-n-half.

Just days without Real Life.

Truly, then, what I miss the most because it is the most vital (vita, meaning life) is the Real Life of fellowship with Jesus.  What I think I miss is really just a habit.  Those quiet mornings in the Word and prayer…with coffee.

Your god may be your little Christian habit— the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit. There is a quality that is still lacking in you. Identify your shortcoming and then look for opportunities to work into your life that missing quality. ~ Oswald Chambers

Pretty much having my schedule upset right now.

I feel foolish to complain.  I am a spoiled child who disdains the smallest inconveniences.  I feel silly taking up space with my whining, but I know what writing it out does.

It makes me accountable.

And thankful, that a loving Father turns me upside down to shake out all the trinkets and fetishes I’ve carried around as habits, caught up in thinking they were necessary.  I still look forward to a quiet morning, to reading the Word and praying before the busy day.  I know I’ll go back to those things, but for now He just reminds that now  is a good time to seek Him.


Thankfulness.  Can I just say that out of all the in-laws in the world, mine are the best?  For five weeks we upset their order and routine, interrupted their schedules, and they just blessed us again and again.

And when we invited them over last night, to be the first dinner guests in our new home…they brought the dinner.


When Naaman is told to go wash, it’s too easy for him.  Too little.  No pomp?  No ceremony or ritual ?  Elisha did not even bother to come out himself and deliver the remedy.

But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out [to me], and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.‘ ~ 2 Kings 5:11

Ego is a fragile thing.  Surely there is some grand thing that we must do to earn our healing.  Some benevolent act or courageous sacrifice made to acquire the desired outcome.  Can our wholeness come with so little effort?

Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.  

And what the messenger says is repeated by the servants.  Go.  Wash.  Be clean. Why not do the simplest things?  What have you to lose?

So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. ~ 2 Kings 5: 14

And he was clean!  Like a little child, clean.  When we respond to the simplest of God’s desires, isn’t our faith strengthened and our intellect over-ruled?  Yes, Naaman still wanted to give a gift – a thanks, or maybe a payment?  But God had broken through and made His point:

Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel…

Now I know.  In my ugliness and disease I think that I have to do something. Something more than just surrender and be humble and wash.  God doesn’t require deep, theological responses; just faith and obedience, faith and obedience.

Go.  Wash.  Be clean.

This is the lesson for me.  That God had a way for Naaman that was simple.  Do I reject the simple way?

Oh, that I would walk in humility.  Washed in the blood and brought near.  Because really, who am I, who was Naaman, to argue with the way God wants to do things?

I’m still working this one out.  Sometimes it’s the simplest lessons that take me the longest.

What about you?  Is there something simple God wants from you, but you’ve pulled back from obedience?

{all these beautiful pictures are from Bailey.  She’d be so blessed if you stopped by her new blog and offered encouragement!}


One of the simplest things we can do – offering a sacrifice of praise.  Giving thanks to the Giver of all good gifts, because we remember that all this is His grace to us.

178. a four-wheeler ride with little brother (oh there’s a funny store here, if the kids will let me tell it sometime!)

179. peanut-butter balls, mixed up and served by Jake

180. Dr. Seuss

181. encouraging words

182. a husband who doesn’t ask, just tells me that he’s bringing home dinner – because he knows!

183. little girl turning 11

184. 3 kids downstairs, giggling, though they’re supposed to be reading (because our schedule is flexible, remember?!)

185. a sick boy who is extra snuggly

186. soup on Sundays

187. Shelby reading to Ethan and catering to him sweetly

Where we all write it down

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.


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?

The Great Interrupter

I am very into schedules.  I have a whole computer file full of different schedules for different children and seasons and activities and moods and maybe-this-one-will-be-the-one.  Ah, to have life all neatly out on paper…with time slots and check-boxes.

When my children were babies their days were planned and there was no eating or sleeping happenin’ before the ‘planned time’.  Pooping and crying were allowed at random, but not much appreciated.  If someone came to watch the babies while daddy and mommy went out for a few sane moments, I had to have a detailed account of how their time was spent – how long did they nap, did they eat the right amount at the right time, did they burp…

And then came homeschool, a scheduler’s dream.  From 6:30 a.m til 2 p.m. I have every move calculated.  Sometimes, it even goes as planned.

Alas, the Great Interrupter will not leave me to my own devices.

Children grow, seasons change, my husband changes occupations, and with all the unexpected, schedules get scratched for real life.  So I have had to learn (am still learning) over the years to be flexible.  Allow for changes.  Use the schedule as a framework, made of wood and not immovable stone.  Suggestions, really.

OK, and some days we even forego the schedule altogether.

But I am learning to allow God room to work, and to actually look for Him to do something big.  I am praying prayers that are not safe, for things that are not scheduled.  Just between my God and myself, I am asking for Him to be big and ‘show Himself strong’ on my behalf (2 Chronicles 16:9).

As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him-to give God “elbow room.” We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses….Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. ~ Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

I read Oswald most mornings as part of my devotions, and sometimes I think he’s pointing right at me.  This particular morning, I also read about the ‘exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe‘ in Ephesians 1:19…and is it just me, or is God pointing at me, too?  That I would leave room for God to be big, because His power in my life is exceedingly great.  Not ‘just enough’ power.  Not  power for only the biggest of problems.  Power in every circumstance, because no job is too big or too small.

Because I believe.


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