Feasts and Gatherings

This weekend we’re having a big crew of college students, friends of our sons, over for dinner.  We’re making Ethiopian food for a special treat: injera (Ethiopian sourdough flatbread made with a grain called teff), alecha wat (mild veggie stew), doro wat (spicy chicken) and misir wat(lentil stew). Rolled injeraSince the injera takes a couple of days to do, we started it yesterday morning.  It should be a lot of fun.  If I remember, I’ll take pictures of more of the dishes for you.  But pictured here is the injera (here’s my recipe), and the alecha wat, which is made with cabbage, carrots, potatoes, and onions, with turmeric as part of the seasoning.

In February two of our sons will be taking drivers’ ed, which means EARLY morning rising for five weeks straight.  I am not naturally a morning person but I do enjoy the productivity that those early mornings tend to give me.  OK, and the chance to sit at the coffee shop for an hour sipping my americano with coconut flavoring.  Yum!

Another lovely thing about February and March is that I get to do some adventuring.   Feb 7-9 and March 7-9 I’m attending Created for Care, an amazing adoptive-momma retreat in Atlanta, GA.  I went last year and was sooooooo very inspired and encouraged.  It is an amazing experience, and was sold out almost immediately when registration first opened last summer.  But rumor has it that there have been a few cancellations, so if you’re interested in attending, check the website and see if there’s still space.

The other adoption conference that I’m attending is closer to home–the Refresh Conference in Seattle.  That event is for dads AND moms, and there’s even child care!  I’ve never attended this event, but I’ve heard great things about it so I’m really excited.  Registration is still open for this particular event.

In both places I’ll be sharing on two topics:  organizing a busy home, and trusting God in times of challenge.  At Created for Care I’ll be speaking on my own, and at Refresh I’m blessed to be speaking with Jen Summers and Lisa Qualls. Jen writes at Grace and Glory and has 10 kids. Lisa writes at One Thankful Mom and has 12. I’m so much looking forward to meeting these fellow mommas-of-many in person!

Now I’d love a bit of feedback from you all.  I’ve talked about organization and family management before, but this time around I’d like to add more wisdom about learning to say ‘no’ to what won’t fit well in your life.  I’d love to hear what you’ve said no to, and how you came to feel that was the right decision for your family.

One small example from my home:  I rarely iron.  Usually it’s when I sew, or very occasionally (as in maybe 4x a year?) I’ll help one of the boys iron a Sunday shirt if it didn’t get pulled out of the dryer and put on a hanger quickly enough.  We pick easy-care clothes and I have just decided not to sweat it.  It works for me but it wouldn’t work for everyone.  What DON’T you do to add to the peace and freedom in your home?


  1. Jess Guest says:

    Hi Mary,
    I have 7 kiddos under 10 one of whom is medically fragile with severe disabilities so to say our household is busy is a bit of an understatement! I have had to let a LOT go over the last two years since my medically tricky kid was born. I don’t iron (maybe twice a year, if that). I rarely if ever commit our family to being at an event or appointment that starts before 10am. By the time I have my daughter up, vented, tube fed etc. AND get everyone in the car it is just not possible. If one of my kiddos have something they have to be at for scouts etc, their Dad takes them. If my kid’s cupboards get messy, their clothes are culled to 5 “at home” outfits and 2 “going out” outfits. My oldest daughters want more clothes than that, so they keep them tidy – my boys don’t care so they are restricted. I am an introvert and social get togethers generally exhaust me. I say no to invitations out “for coffee with the girls” etc. for the most part, restricting myself to a few small amount. My true friends get this and we keep in touch via the internet, phone calls and/or a hand full of visits a year. During this season, my energy just needs to be directed inward and if I happen to find a free evening, I am better off to put my feet up with a good book.

    • That’s exactly what I need to do with my youngest two girls’ closet. Even if I saved TEN outfits per kid, it would be so much easier to manage.

  2. We have 5 kids, ages 17, 10, 7, 6 and 5. I mostly say no to play dates. I don’t have extra time or the desire to set them up. Our kids have each other to play with and they see their friends at school. They also play sports and we go to church and they have friends at those places also. I know I have offended some mommies in the past when I haven’t accepted an offer or haven’t reciprocated an offer to play. I would rather my kids play at home with each other. I do enjoy our kids playing with the kids in our neighborhood. It’s much easier and there’s no arranging or dropping off….and it’s easy to send a neighbor kid home when I’ve had enough. 😉

  3. I don’t make homemade bread. Did it for a couple years, even grinding the wheat berries. Tremendous amount of work. No grace for that any more.

    Never have done much ironing. Maybe two-three times a year!

    No sports or clubs or lessons. All-day homeschool co-op every Friday is enough running for us!

    Heather, mom of 10

  4. I say no to stuff!
    I do not buy gifts for my kids. We go places instead.
    I do not buy gifts for other people’s kids. I take pictures of them instead.
    I do not buy new clothes. I trade at mom’s group instead.
    I do not buy stylish anything. I go with comfort instead.
    I do not buy cards. I print pictures and send them like a postcard.
    I do not buy “boy” stuff and “girl” stuff. I go with neutral.
    I ask others not to buy stuff for my children. I suggest magazine subscriptions instead.
    I do not buy books, CDs or movies. We borrow from the library.
    I do not make (long distance) phone calls. I write brief postcards (a picture is worth a thousand words…).

  5. I don’t do Christmas cards. I’m not a great housekeeper. We limit extra-curricular activities and the kids walk a lot of places because I can’t drive them, so they’re accustomed to walking 2-4 miles. I realize my busy-ness is different from yours and a lot of your readers–mine is trying to balance family and ministry, and I’m not at home as often as I prob should be (see above re: balance. It’s elusive.) But I can relate to being too busy to get to things. I still cook from scratch and sometimes take the kids out for coffee and chats. Those are non-negotiable. Also I involve them as much as they’re willing.