Saturday, July 19, 2014

Moving Blog to "This Mom Grows Up!"

Dear "Come, Weary Moms" readers,

Yesterday, I decided to change the name and place of my "mom" blog.  I've moved to

Take a peek and let me know what you think!

I am leaving all of the existing posts here, but not adding to them.  Some of the posts on the new blog will still link back here since I don't have the time to change them.

For now, I will also still use the ComeWearyMoms subscription e-mail list.

Thanks - and I'll see you over at This Mom Grows Up!
Virginia Knowles

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Adding Wisdom to Strength

Adding Wisdom to Strength

As an often overwhelmed mother of many, I crave inspiration where I can get it. I’m also a word person, and a single word can sustain me for a long time.

While on my way to a family reunion with my younger kids, we visited a coal mine tour in Pennsylvania. I wanted them to have a sense of their family heritage, since my great-great-grandfather Heinrich Hess, a German immigrant, was a coal miner in that area.

In the gift store after the tour, I found a bin of engraved rocks with words on them. Many of them – such as “Organize” and “Simplicity” - appealed to me, but I decided to narrow my choice to a single one: “Wisdom.” Right now, wisdom is the crying need of my heart.

So today, as I unpacked our vacation treasures, I placed my “Wisdom” stone next to the “Strength” stone I had picked out last year on my birthday as a gift from my daughter. The juxtaposition of the two stones together reminded me of a key principle in life: 

We need to always add wisdom to our strength. 

There are so many things we can do, that we have the power to do. I am glad of that. In the past year, I have needed the strength of courage, energy, and focus to step up and do things that needed to be done. Strength is good, but we desperately need wisdom to make right choices and apply our strength to the right things. These are not always obvious, even when reading the Bible. The Holy Spirit can guide us more specifically as we listen closely with a yielded heart.

I sat yesterday to read my old leather bound Bible and write notes in my Scripture journal. I opened to 2 Corinthians 1, where I had left off my study, and read verse 12.

“Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God.  We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.”

I thought about this as I wrote:

“This is what I want to be able to say as a Christian.  This requires consecration to God, and wisdom about what he requires. I need to think of this verse as I make decisions for the future, especially ones that affect other people. Some things may seem godly which are not. Some things may seem worldly which are not. What will bring the most glory to God? What is the best way to show his redemption and rescue in my life? How can I lead my children in the ways of the Lord?

[Side note: Are you curious why I said, “Some things may seem godly which are not. Some things may seem worldly which are not”?  We must not be na├»ve in our attempts to please God. In the garden of life, we need to be careful not to be snagged by the thorns, even ones that seem pious. Remember that Jesus himself said in Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”  You can read more at the bottom of this post: Follow the Way of Love.]

As I contemplate my future and the choices I need to make, I know I need both wisdom and strength. I want to live with sincerity and holiness in the midst of a world of heartache and confusion. Pray for me, will you? Write to me, and I'll pray for you, too!

Some of my favorite wisdom verses to ponder: 

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, but deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy or selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven, but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”  James 3:13-18

“Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom. But nobody remembered that poor man. So I said, “Wisdom is better than strength.” But the poor man’s wisdom is despised, and his words are no longer heeded.  The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Ecclesiastes 9:15-17

As Heinrich Hess wrote at the end of his 1886 memoir,

"At my confirmation I selected this verse, Psalm 143, verse 10, "Lord, teach me to do thy will for thou art my God.  May your good spirit lead me on a smooth road."  The Lord has lead me up to this point and I know that He will also lead me further on if I will only believe in Him.  My wish and will is to make myself subordinate to Him and to be true to Him until my end."

Thank you, Heinrich. That's a wise word for me 128 years later in 2014.

Wisdom and strength,

Virginia Knowles

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Quiet in Our Own Land

“I gather you want to conquer the whole world,” replied the philosopher.  “What will you do when you have conquered all?”

“Why then,” said the king, “we will return and enjoy ourselves in quiet in our own land.”

“So may you now,” said Cineas, “without all this ado.”

So goes the story about King Pyhrrus, as told in Awake My Soul: Practical Spirituality for Busy People by Timothy Jones.  As history tells us, Pyhrrus won battles, but at a devastating price.  That's where we get the phrase "Pyhrric victory" - the struggles that end up ruining the victor.

Just something to think about as we go about our days.  Why do we do what we do?  Is it to conquer for the sake of conquest -- to get more but enjoy less?  Or is to live authentically with a love of peace and beauty? There is a time to go out and fight against injustice.  I, too, find ways to make a global and local impact, not for my own glory and gain, but for the sake of real peace and prosperity for real people.  As a writer, I live by the maxim, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” 

But then there is this family, this home, this quiet life that I treasure.  As they also say, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”  My kids aren’t babies anymore, but they still need me.  I still need to restore more calm and order to our chaotic little world. I still need to delight in the joys of the simple life.  I will take the quiet in my own land.

"The fruit of that 
righteousness will be peace; 
its effect will be quietness 
and confidence forever. 
My people will live in 
peaceful dwelling places, 
in secure homes, 
in undisturbed places of rest." 
Isaiah 32:17-18

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Order & Organization (What I Want & How I'm Doing It - Part 1)

Order & Organization
(What I Want & How I'm Doing It - Part 1)

At age 50 with busy days and a big family, I’m pondering a life management approach of priorities, goals, motivation, strategies, plans, and practicalities. Perhaps the keenest lesson I learned in my college management classes is this: 
“The difference between efficiency and effectiveness is that efficiency is doing things the right way, and effectiveness is doing the right thing.” 
I’m still learning that thirty years later.  Yes, effectiveness is more important, but it’s not an either/or proposition. I need both. Here’s some of what I’m working on and how I’m doing it. I can’t cover it all in one post, but let’s start with Order & Organization, my most urgent practical need with seven of my kids still living at home. I am trying to initiate more order and develop systems for success. It may not matter much to them right now, but it matters to me.

Systems & Strategies

When I see a problem area that is stressing me out or hindering our progress, I stop and think about what solution is needed.  Sometimes it is a whole system, like setting up an equitable chore chart or deciding how to categorize a large book collection. 

Sometimes it is more simple. For example, my youngest daughter was always carrying the craft supply bins to the dining room table, but they didn’t always make it back to the shelf. I cleared off a nearby desk, and put all of the supplies on it so she can work there without moving the bins around. I also kept finding dirty hand towels and kids’ clothes on the bathroom floor, so I put a hamper (actually a small round trash can) in there, and it seems to be working. 


First: I am setting goals to organize the house area by area.  I already tackled the hall bath, the kitchen, the front hallway, though they still need daily maintenance. I am about halfway through my bedroom, our video collection, and the dining room / library. The other hot spots right now are the living room area, my closet, and eventually our storage/laundry room, which I’ve already been chipping away at bit by bit. I'll work with the kids on their bedrooms after we finish the public areas. When I declutter a room, I keep a large bin for items that don't belong. Then I completely clear everything from a small area (a cabinet, a closet, etc.), clean off the surfaces, and put back everything that really belongs there in an orderly way. 

Second: I am purging. I culled through a lot of the kids’ clothes and dropped them off at Salvation Army. Last night, I went on a rampage with the book cases. As a longtime home school mama and word nut, I probably have about a thousand books, if not more. We will never read them all, and they’re overflowing into much needed space. So I picked more than a hundred of them to try to sell at my favorite used bookstore or donate to the library bookstore.  That project is still a work-in-progress. I still have books to put away and shelves to rearrange to fill the empty spaces, and I still have those giveaway/sell boxes to organize and figure out what to take where, but those are projects for another day. I can’t do everything at once. I just wish I’d done this in time to sell them at the big local home school used curriculum sale a few weeks ago, since most of them are educational.  Oh well. 

Third: I am containerizing, mainly with baskets and plastic bins.  More laundry hampers, more trash cans, more drawer organizers… I even bought a medium-sized dark red trash can that matches our living room couches – but not for garbage. The teen assigned to keeping that room tidy shouldn’t have to go put away other people’s junk, but it still needs to be off the floor, end tables, and couches.  If one kid makes a big mess, they have to go in and clean it up themselves. However, I told my son that he should throw any other random stray stuff (except trash or dishes) into that container rather than trying to go hunt down the guilty sibling. If someone wants something, they can go look for it there, and when it gets full, we’ll clean it out and make people claim their stuff or forfeit it.


I function best with constant reminders of what needs to be done when. In my earlier years of motherhood, I made a lot of lists, and then lost or neglected those lists. My iPod Touch is by far the most practical gift I have ever received.  My brain has a buddy now. Seriously. I’m quite attached. It’s almost always either in my pocket or my hand. 

I recently started using an app called LifeTopix, which is amazingly comprehensive, though a bit intimidating initially. Those who aren’t prepared to figure things out to get the full power of the system might prefer ToodleDo, which is much simpler but doesn’t do nearly as much. I’ll write more about those some other time. For right now, I just want to say having an interactive To Do list integrated with calendar, contacts, multi-task projects, shopping list, notes, medicine logs, finances, maps, photos, and everything else is right up my alley. As soon as I think of something I need to do, I try to enter it before forget. I set alarms for tasks that need to be completed at certain times, such as taking my morning medicines, locking all the doors at night, or picking up a child from an activity or work. All for just $4.99, and my productivity level is definitely up! 

Home Assignments

We have a chore chart on the refrigerator. In addition to their own rooms and laundry, the five younger kids each have an assigned dish day and one daily chore for their family contribution (trash, living room, computer room, preparing dining room for dinner, cleaning up dining room after dinner). I do the kitchen, bathrooms, extra dishes, household laundry, supervising, organizing, shopping, and cooking.  I entered all of the chore assignments (mine and theirs) into my iPod app so I can remember to hold them accountable.

What I need to do next is give the kids more in-depth training on how to do their jobs.  There seems to be some confusion about what constitutes successful completion. In addition to the hands-on training needed, I’ve been working on a document to go over with them about basic family policies for not only doing the work, but preventing the need for it in the first place by just being sensible.

A Few Tools  

The way I see it, the tasks I do each day, whether paid or not, are my job. I want to be professional. Part of that is acquiring the tools I need for success. I already mentioned the iPod and the apps, as well as the containers, but here are a few others.

My desk and bookcases: I keep tweaking and it gets better every time. I try to keep everything I need to work within arm’s reach.  My drawers are now fully stocked with all sorts of supplies, and my bookcases have teacher resource books that I will use this next year as I home school my youngest daughter and teach group classes.   You can read more about my desk organizing project here: Organizing a Little at a Time ~ My Desk and Bedside Table

Labels: I use these so people in the house can not only find things but remember where to put them back. Not that they always do this, but here’s for trying anyway? I like labels that are attractive, removable, and just the right size for the job. I’ve put some on my youngest daughter’s dresser drawers, my desk drawers, clothes hampers, school supply bins, and containers in the kids’ bathroom.

New vacuum cleaner:  Our old one, purchased at a thrift store, is heavy, unwieldy, won’t click into upright position, has a floppy hose, and uses bags at an alarming rate. I can never find it anyway, because the kids move it around the house. Last week I indulged myself. I spent $35 at Walmart on a lightweight bagless Bissell Powerforce compact vacuum cleaner just for my room. It is narrower, so it fits into the tight places. It is easier to maneuver, which is good for my arthritic hands. And it stays where I put it, so I don’t have to go looking for it. It may be inexpensive, but that thing sucks the dust! Wow! Laugh all you want at me splurging on my very own vacuum cleaner, but my bedroom is my haven from stress, even if it is Grand Central Station at times.  It is so worth it to me.

Do you have any organizing tips or tricks?  Share them with the rest of us!

Grace and peace,

P.S. Related Posts on My Blogs

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Organizing a Little at a Time ~ My Desk and Bedside Table

Dear friends,

Since I worked part-time as a teacher this past year, I put off a lot of organizing projects until school let out two weeks ago. I have been listing them all on an iPod app as I think of them, and I try to knock them off one by one, little by little. Each day I think, "What am I up to doing today?"  It depends on my available time, which area of the house is bugging me most, and other factors.

The past few days, I've kept coming back to my bedroom to work. I may not be able to totally control what happens in the other rooms of the house, but I can at least take full responsibility for my own!  

Yesterday, I spent the most time at my desk. Until recently, I had a metal and laminate computer desk, but it was getting more wobbly by the day. In fact, when we moved it out of the bedroom, it split into two pieces! Yikes! Last month, I found my current sturdy wood desk (pictured above) at an estate sale for $5. I replaced the hinged handles (which were on three drawers) with much nicer knobs that I salvaged from an old dresser. I filled the desk drawers with some of my office supplies and papers when I got it, but I continually add more and rearrange as I go along.  

It is simply amazing to have a bunch of desk drawers. I'm not sure how I ever got by without them. I labeled two of them "Supplies" and "Paper" and told my family that those are the only two drawers they may open if they really need something.  (We have the some kind of supplies and paper in the dining room, too.)  The rest of the drawers are just for me -- for my hanging files and such -- because my desk is my own private area to work.   In a busy household with several kids still at home, I need a quiet place where I can close the door to work, as well as a safe place for my lap top.

At the same estate sale, I bought this wicker drawer unit to hold charging cords, receipts, snacks, and other small items. I store extra books on top, so I had to move my bulletin board up and over to make room.

Two days ago, I decided to tackle the piles of miscellaneous store receipts that had been plaguing me. I'm trying to get a system for dealing with them. I folded several pieces of card stock in half to make small file folders to store receipts for purchases from different bank accounts, tax deductible expenses, items which might need to be returned, and warranty information.  My plan is to empty receipts from my wallet into the folders every day or two. When it is time to itemize them for our records, I will take a folder, tally up the budget categories, and then throw away any receipt I don't need for product returns or tax purposes. Think it will work?  I hope so!

I've had the white cabinet on my desk for quite some time, and it's gotten quite messy on the inside. (Yay for doors.) Yesterday I took everything out and started fresh. What did I want in there? Where should each thing go? The top shelf in holds all medical supplies, the next shelf down is for extra office supplies and eye glasses cleaning supplies, and the open bottom shelf has a butterfly flower pot with my most commonly used supplies and a basket for miscellaneous small stuff.

I taped my Mary Engelbreit greeting card collection on the outside of the cabinet. This one says, "Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you do with what happens to you."  I decided to use some of the blank space to write in some of my priorities: Jesus, family time, home making, creativity, planning, friendship, inspiration, learning, writing, teaching, rest, service, exercise, focus, nutrition, and peacemaking. Just a reminder when I'm tempted to fritter away time with mindless web surfing!

I keep an old piano bench next to my desk to hold a big basket for my two clipboards and other things.  One clipboard is for papers (like budgets) that my husband wants to leave for me, so they won't get lost in my piles. The other clipboard is for papers I need handy for specific purposes, such as for upcoming events.

As I work in my room, I often find stuff my kids have left in here. I grabbed a big empty bin from our storage room and just started tossing it in. I'll take the bin out when I'm done with the room, and get them to put their belongings away. I have similar bins in some of the other rooms.

The other area I worked on in the past two days is my bed area. I washed all the linens, including my ultra-soft comforter.  This vintage wooden tea cart that I use as my bedside table had gotten cluttered up and dusty.  I took everything off, wiped it down, and started putting back only the bare basics: a lamp, my iPod dock/clock, two small baskets, my medicine bottle, and a water mug. I keep my glasses on the padded blue box on the headboard shelf at night, along with my phone.  I always know where to find them if I have to get up in a hurry.

I use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, and I decided to put it in my biggest Longaberger basket on top of my headboard. The basket helps camouflage it and it also corrals the long air tube and face mask during the day time. I just have to make sure I leave adequate room behind the machine for its air intake. The jug of water on the bottom shelf of the cart is for refilling the CPAP humidifier chamber. I like to keep things handy so I'm more likely to use them.

I bought the Grandma mug a couple of weeks ago when my youngest grandson was born, but just put it on my bedside table yesterday. My plan is to fill it up every night before I go to bed so I can take my thyroid medicine early in the morning without getting up. If I use a regular plastic cup, someone always takes it. This one will be dedicated wholly to its job, and the cover will keep dust and bugs out at night.

Two last pictures! I bought this "Dare To" butterfly poster at Michael's craft store before Christmas and hung it with inexpensive poster hanging rods that slip onto the top and bottom edges. This was much cheaper and faster than framing. I like to be inspired and motivated, and you probably already know I am a word person from morning until night!

R is for Reinvent Yourself.  I've had to do that a lot in recent years with so many life transitions. Overcome Adversity, too!  There is always a bit of Fail, and Dare to Suceed.  Most of all, Love All You Can. 

I'm glad my bedroom is becoming a place for rest, reflection, and renewed responsibility along the journey.

What have you done to make your bedroom special?

You can find two other posts related to my bedroom here:

Thanks for reading!

Virginia Knowles

Saturday, May 10, 2014

"Thy Good and Comfortable Word" by Amy Carmichael

“Thy Good and Comfortable Word”

Lover of souls, Thee have I heard,
Thee will I sing, for sing I must,
Thy good and comfortable word
Hath raised my spirit from the dust.

In dusty ways my feet had strayed,
And foolish fears laid hold on me,
Until what time I was afraid,
 I suddenly remembered Thee.

Remembering Thee, I straight forgot,
What otherwhile had troubled me;
It was as if it all were not,
I only was aware of Thee.

Of Thee, of Thee alone, aware,
I rested me, I held me still,
The blessed thought of Thee, most Fair,
Dispelled the brooding sense of ill.

And quietness about me fell,
And Thou didst speak: my spirit heard;
I worshipped and rejoiced; for well
I knew Thy comfortable word.

Whoso hath known that comforting,
The inward touch that maketh whole,
How can he ever choose but sing
To Thee, O Lover of his soul.

Amy Carmichael was a missionary to India in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Her main ministry was rescuing children from immoral duties in the Hindu temples, and then raising them in the Christian faith at Dohnavur Fellowship.  The children often sang songs of praise to God throughout the day; this was a key part of their upbringing!   Amy did not have an easy life.  After a painful injury, she spent her latter decades as an invalid.  These experiences enabled her to write straight from the heart of God to comfort those who faced trials and difficulties, and to challenge them to rise up to the call of God on their lives no matter what.

I wanted to share an Amy Carmichael poem with these magnolia pictures, so I thumbed through my dog-eared copy of her book Toward Jerusalem which I've had since college.  It was hard picking.  Perhaps "Bud of Joy" would have been more fitting for the pictures, but that one didn't "speak" to me at the moment.  I also like "Wandering Thoughts" - I remember that going deep into me one hard year.  "Love Through Me" and "The Sign" and "Cape Comorin" are other old favorites which I shared at our ladies' Bible study two weeks ago, since our lesson mentioned Amy Carmichael.

When I finally settled on "Thy Comfortable Word", I did a Google search on the title so I wouldn't have to type in all the stanzas.  The top entry on the list?  Mine!  Apparently, I had included it in one of my old e-magazines over eight years ago, the same issue in which I announced the birth of my youngest daughter Melody.  If I'm not mistaken, I think I remember breathing out these poems' lines during labor.   (I really did strange things like that.)  I do know, based on a note I included with it in that e-magazine, that I sent one of my older daughters to grab the book from the shelf one day when I was feeling really low.  It could have been a day when I felt like that first and last magnolia in the pictures above, with the stamens falling out of the center,  just lying there disconnected in a heap.     As I read the poem then, I  could sense the comfort of God wash over me, his inward touch that made me whole.   Read it again, and maybe it will bless you now, too.  Perhaps these links about magnolias, Amy Carmichael poems, and lessons I learned from mothering Melody will also encourage you.   Enjoy...

P.S.  My daughter Julia is about to give birth to her first child any day now.  Say a prayer for her, will you?  Funny thing is, the midwife who is supposed to deliver baby Lucas also delivered my little Melody.  We didn't make that connection until about a month ago.  How time flies...  

I often link my posts to these blogs:

  • Still Saturday
  • The Sunday Community

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Welcome to Visitors from No Longer Quivering!

    Welcome to my new blog visitors!  If you are looking for the cross-post of  my post on No Longer Quivering, you can find it on my blog The direct link is Moving on from Broken: My Church and Life Transition Story.  While you're here, please feel free to poke around on my blogs!

    Virginia Knowles

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