1. Tonia wondered what I do with the Sal Suds (a Dr. Bronner's all-natural cleaner). This smells slightly like Pine Sol, but not nearly as strong, so if you can't stand the smell of Pine Sol, you might not want to try this. Today was the day to deep clean my kitchen. I filled the sink with warm water and suds made from the Sal Suds. Just a squirt does the trick. And I proceeded to clean-- inside and outside the refrigerator and freezer, small appliances on the counter, large appliances, walls, window trim, cupboards, floor, everything! It really is an all-purpose cleaner. You can even do dishes with it. I really liked using this today.
2. Heather asked what I have for breakfast on the raw food diet if I start the day with coffee. Well. When I was doing Natalia Rose's version of the raw diet as a detox/health thing, I had only fruit in the morning. Usually no coffee, but sometimes I did. Now I combine raw food ideas with some Nourishing Traditions ideas (they do have some overlap). My breakfast is either all-fruit (usually a smoothie). Or I'll have sprouted grain cereal with whole, raw milk. Or I might have sprouted grain toast with raw honey and cinnamon. Very rarely I'll have oatmeal. And sometimes I'll make waffles from using grains/flour I soaked overnight. And occasionally I'll break out of the plan altogether!
3. Silvana (I think it was Silvana!) asked me about homeschooling older kids. She wanted to know if we kept doing things the same way we did when they were young (free and loose and relaxed). I've tried to write something several times about the way we homeschooled our older kids, but my posts keep getting unnecessarily long and unwieldy. I'll continue to try to write a simple answer to the question to explain a few things, but for now, I'll simply say, yes, when the kids were older we continued on just as we had from the beginning-- all the way through high school.
4. I've had some questions (in the past and yesterday) about early mornings, finding time for quiet time (busy moms), and sleep. The questions aren't necessarily connected, but they can be, so I'm going to connect them!
I was a busy mom once. I know what it's like to have sleepless nights, sick babies, and busy, full days. I've done the round of diaper changing and chasing after exuberant toddlers and then doing all of those things a mom does all day long, every day while her children grow from infancy to adulthood. I know what it's like to be oh-so-very-tired. I remember times when I would have given my right arm for a chance to lie on the floor and sleep if I could know that my little ones, crawling around and exploring, would be safe. I remember trying to read a story book, but my eyes would blur and my eyelids would droop and my head would nod and jerk.
I also, and mostly, remember very well the joys of those days.
I've had years of health troubles. There were times when I could hardly keep my head up, when my body and joints ached and hurt, and it was a struggle even to move sometimes. I needed nothing more than I needed sleep. I did not try to get up early when I was feeling extra poorly in the mornings. I realized that I felt better and stronger if I'd stay in bed, so I often did, especially if I hadn't slept well the night before. I didn't feel guilty about this. I made quiet time where I could.
I established a mandatory, after-lunch, daily quiet time when the kids had to be on their beds, silent, lying down, either reading or sleeping (no other options). Sometimes my own devotional quiet time happened then, and, if not, at least I had some refreshing silent time in the middle of the day when I could think my own thoughts for a while. (And so did the kids.)
I don't have great advice for finding quiet time or getting enough sleep. I've had different quiet time routines, depending on my life situation at a given time-- sometimes in the early morning, sometimes after the kids were in bed. Sometimes outdoors, sometimes sitting on the bathroom floor with the door shut. I did try to make it a routine, though, and thankfully, most of the time, I didn't have trouble finding something that worked.
Every situation is different, but I will say that when you find yourself with a bit of quiet time in your day, take it, and when you don't, make it (very early morning, late at night, during the kids mandatory after-lunch quiet time on their beds...).
When I don't have much time for solitary quiet, I remember what Amy Carmichael said in her devotional book, Edges of His Ways: "Bishop Handley Moule used to say, 'Even if you have not a long time to spend in the morning with your God, hem it with quietness.'" Be prayerful. God knows your heart. He knows when we seek Him. He knows our situation. He is faithful to give us what we need.
If there really is no time for solitary quiet and prayer, we can follow the advice Catherine of Siena had for her spiritual children: to "make a cell within their own hearts and dwell in it." According to Frances de Sales, Catherine, when deprived of opportunity of time and place to be alone in prayer and meditation, learned to shut herself in her interior closet even while she carried on with her duties.
We can all be like Brother Lawrence (of Practicing the Presence of God), who, when working at his tasks, turned everything into an act of worship, even the turning of an omelet in the pan. When you are up with sick children, pray. When you are rocking your babies, sing. When you are working at your tasks, be thankful, think, pray. When you are answering a million needs and questions, live an abiding, prayerful life, asking God to love through you.
The truly spiritual life is simple. There are no forms or rules or patterns to follow, thank goodness! This life is made up of a heart that seeks God throughout the day; a mind that acknowledges Him, giving thanks in everything; actions that mean to please Him and to show His lovingkindess to our own family and to others.
When we can, we sit and read His word. And if there is time and peace, we sit in the quiet, for however long we have. And we pray without ceasing. And we sing. And we offer all things up to Him as we do them. And we see Him in every single thing.