Hands Full of Good Things

“I am in a season of my life right now where I feel bone tired almost all of the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-make-it-to-the-end-of-the-day, eyes burning exhausted … I have three boys ages 5 and under. I’m not complaining about that. Well, maybe I am a little bit. But I know that there are people who would give anything for a house full of laughter & chaos.”

– Steve Wiens, in his article “To Parents of Small Children”

My dear wife, Shannon, and I have three children (ages 6, 4, and 2) with our fourth on the way.  We are truly excited and blessed, but sometimes we forget it. The eternal pile of laundry that swallows rooms like an avalanche, the Lego land mines that bruise your feet in the middle of the night (every dad knows what I mean), and the constant reckoning of all things broken, tend to temporarily overwhelm any parent.

My wife serves as a homemaker while homeschooling our daughter. If one wished to assign our day’s greatest misnomer, we could say that she does not “work.”  Hilarious, I know.  True, she does not have a “job”; she has a calling, a vocation.  As Chesterton once noted, a homemaker’s “function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

Strolling through the grocery store with my family, I became aware of a meaningful tradition that my wife had established. Inevitably, when she would go shopping with the kids while I was at work, some well-meaning soul would smile and say, “My, you sure have your hands full!”  Though Shannon understood that the comment was innocent enough, she wanted to make sure that no one pitied her for her blessings or that our children somehow developed the idea that they were simply “too much to handle.”  So, the tradition was set.  Every time someone comments on her “full hands,” Shannon smiles and answers, “Yes.  Full of good things.”

Too often, we trip over the innumerable blessings God has given us, only to complain, “Great, now my toe hurts.”  We are profoundly skilled at being frustrated with the never-ending goodness of God.  Among the blessings of God are the labors to which He has called us.  For those of us laboring in Christian classical education – at home, in a school, or in some other context – we would do well to remember that, while our hands are full, they are full of good things.  Nurturing the souls of students on truth, goodness, and beauty is a high calling indeed.  Sure, it would be easier without students, but it would also be non-existent.

Certainly, I do not mean to imply that genuine problems will not arise or that they should not be addressed.  But, I assume that you all need the same kind of encouragement that I need; a little help in sorting out the mole hills from the mountains, some encouragement that the headaches are part of something bigger, a reminder that full hands are not a bad thing.  Thank God for busyness, for meaningful work, and hands full of good things.

Originally posted by The CiRCE Institute.

My Thanksgiving List

Here are some of the things I have most enjoyed about this Thanksgiving weekend, some big blessings and some little things that bring joy.

1.  My family – I have an incredible wife and three beautiful children; a blessed man indeed.

2. The food – Of course!  From turkey and dressing, to mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, it was all great.

3. The expectation of Christmas – Having children makes it so much more exciting.

4. My mom –  Diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia a few years back, she is doing quite well right now and God gave us all another Thanksgiving together.  This year I was struck by what a blessing this really is.

5. Putting out Christmas decorations – Our tree is up and our stockings are hung, and when I stand on the front porch to look in, I cannot stop smiling.

6. Coffee with my father – For some reason life moves so fast that I almost forget what it’s like to sit and enjoy coffee and conversation.  Coffee actually tastes better if you enjoy it while solving the world’s problems.

7. Black Friday shopping with my wife – Insane?  Yes.  But, with three children, any time for my wife and I to spend alone is nice…even if it’s with hundreds of other people.

8. No alarm clock, just the kids – I wake up earlier than the rest of my family every day and am off to work before they stir.  So, having a Thanksgiving break reminds me of the great joy of being awakened by singing and laughing children.  Much nicer than an alarm buzzer.

9. Outdoor fires – Where we live, it is just now getting cold enough to use our outdoor fire pit.  I can see the embers outside as I type.

10. Trying to be more thankful – Thanksgiving is a bit of a kick in the pants.  We take one day to focus on gratitude and the other 364 forgetting it.  Here’s hoping  I’ll learn the lesson this time.