Ride 'em Cowboy!

Christmas morning at a traditional breakfast buffet

Is anyone tired yet? I am tired but blissfully so. (Only a few teary, over-whelmed moments--but then isn't that a part of the tension of family life and then trusting the Lord?) Since our boys came back, I feel like I am riding on a wild stallion and holding on for dear life. Joel once jokingly said, "You know our family is like one of those loud Jewish intellectual families  like in Fiddler on the Roof who had an opinion on everything and has to discuss everything from the mundane to the sublime. Or maybe it is a fiery Irish family with abundance of spunk or a rousing, dancing Greek family, or Italians eating feasts chattering and, Oh, well, Mom, you get the picture!"  (and so Joel reflected his love and value for the international friends he keeps in touch with from living overseas and was trying to get at the essence of our family in the midst of it.) It wears me out just to contemplate it--but I did know what he meant--there is not much quiet or calm about us when we are all together!

Perhaps this loud image also grew the whole week long as Nate practiced his drums, Joel was composing piano tunes for an hour or two a day in the main area on my childhood piano and Nate and Joy were practicing their performance songs to tape tracks--over and over and over. (all while the dog barked innermitantly at the fox outside and and growled and wrestled with the boys.

What he says is true! It has been so peaceful with our two girls and Clay and me and all girl hormones in our home the past 4 months. But, since the boys came home, we have laughed and talked and eaten and eaten and eaten, and heard funny stories about New York City  and Nashville and it seems everyone is in competition to say one more thing. Last night as I tucked Joy into bed, she commented, "Our family can be overwhelming, Mom!" I think that for the first time in her life, the last few months, she hasn't had as much competition for talking and now she remembers what the whole shabang is like!

I was reflecting on how my children have changed very little since they were young. Somehow I thought that my training would transform them into something supernatural. But though, all have matured, all are very much the same and have the same personality issues and antics. The mix of all of us together is dramatic--never a dull moment.Clay, the best gift giver and introverted and the most and maybe only organized one, who also holds on for dear life in the midst of so much energy expressed;Sarah is still her sweet, loving, artistic, gentle self, but roused and quite strong and articulate when ideals are discussed; Joel, reflective and friendly with his head up in the clouds dreaming but always ready to defend any intellectual idea to the end, while absent minded in details; Nate extroverted and talkative, extremely quick witted and quick worded,  always on the go, always out of the box and depended upon to have a different view; and Joy, fun, talkative, outgoing and competitive--trying to be sure she is keeping up with everyone and so she has become quite strong for a 13 year old as her peers are years older. (In three days, I will accompany Joy and Nate to another National competition for actors, singers, dancers and models--Joy has the bug and is stretching herself in lots of areas--even have Joy and Nate singing a duet, pop song and all that practice for 13 competitions and 200 head shots and comp cards and a talk I will be giving at the conference, all are being prepared in the midst of sugar cookies and movies and me finishing my book! Orlando, here we come!)

All of us are far from perfect--our flaws would be obvious to everyone--but we are all very Clarkson--our own special traditions and weird personalities.  I have the feeling if anyone could see into our home to see what we are really like, they would be surprised. We really do talk and discuss and idealize almost every waking moment--and then we still make attempts to do mundane things like dishes, pay bills, straighten the house again! But still go on talking, ....., .......,

Our own special recipe of life defines us in many ways. (Shepherd's meal and devotional, brunch out on Christmas morning, always books and books and talks about books, stockings--the favorite thing, with always a gift card to a favorite book and record shop, sparkling grape juice, chocolate covered pretzels, potato soup, cold raspberry soup, brisket and more.)It is these small things that have anchored us together. I have a sense that my days with all of us together are quickly coming to a close--all of my children have spread their wings and traveled and worked in other large cities and countries and all have become dreamers--they all have a deep conviction that God wants them to make their mark on the world. I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is stretching.

My main goal over the years was to give them a heart for the Lord and then to have a heart for taking His messages out into the world to bring His light to bear and to extend His kingdom values and messages through God's calling on their lives. Sometimes a messy journey of details and obstacle courses, but still, the ideals in our home fly back and forth. I didn't know what Clay and I were building when we passionately shared devotions with them every day and read hero stories about people in history who had used their lives to bless others; and then taking them with us all over the world to speak and inspire others in our conferences.

But, now they all think big, love people from all over the world, want to be composers, writers, actors and singers. But, in the end I wouldn't have it any other way. I am thankful they have chosen big arenas to explore and to invest in--and I still don't know how it will all turn out. (For sure, just didn't know how expensive it would be! Imagine that all of my children have ended up idealists! Wonder where they got it?!!) Nor did I picture them moving all over the world. But life is short , so even if we live far apart for now,  I know I will get more time with them in heaven. And after all, I am still dreaming about how the Lord might still use Clay and me to help more families, so as long as there are dreams, there is still life and the hope that our lives can make a difference.

So, after 10 days of loving and playing and eating and discussing, we will all go our own ways again and life will settle down to a dull roar instead of a thundering wind of activity and life. I couldn't keep this pace all the time--but I am so very grateful to be in this place where I see their souls straining toward the Life He has called them to.

I think I will go think all about it , as I go to wash dishes one more time!

Peace of the Lord in the midst of your own messes and love and life!


PS I am really excited about the conferences coming up and spend quite a bit of time thinking about all God has taught me this year to share! Be sure to sign up soon as late registration will kick in for many conferences. It sure helps us to plan when you register early as we have lots of notebooks and flights and reservations and meals to arrange. We will be picking two more winners of the $50 coupons for December for those who advertise it to friends, so be sure to let us know if you are doing that and you can be in the drawing for December. (write Jennice)  Look above--top right--to connect to info about the conference closest to you. Also, for the California conference, flights should be booked to  Orange County, John Wayne airport as it is just around the block from the hotel.)