In the Midst of the Mess

Guest Blog - Ruthie Brand

We’ve been homeschooling for a few years now and the vision I had about homeschooling when we started doesn’t match up with the reality that we live out day to day. Our days are a lot messier than I thought, and not in the idyllic “we painted mini Rembrandts today” but in an “everything is chaos and why are we doing this?” kind of way. No, our mess doesn’t seem to accomplish anything.

I have good intentions. Each day starts out with a plan, a schedule, a hope of marking items off the list with sighs of satisfaction. We start out at the kitchen table, Ian and me. I’m helping him along with his Key Word Outline for IEW, a writing program for the Christian school he attends part time. Keeping his eyes on the page is an accomplishment in itself. Writing about sailors who were called “limeys” makes him thirsty so he heads to the fridge and gets out a gallon of milk, which he proceeds to swing over the top of his head, flinging milk in every direction. Milk is everywhere and while he says, “Oops,” I’m staring slack-jawed at the mess, in shock because this is a deja-vu moment. This very same scenario played itself out just last week when he yawned and stretched with his full glass of milk and the world had to stop in order to “de-stickify” the kitchen.

So instead of a writing lesson we are down on the kitchen floor talking about impulsivity and being responsible and how to clean up after our messes and in walks my Narcoleptic teenager. Who, because of this disorder has learned to operate in “survival mode” and can eat and perform basic tasks while still sleeping. Only slightly awake, he pours the gallon of apple juice so near his cup, he almost made it. Apple juice ricochets off the counter, plummets down the cupboard and pools at his feet and he is unaware. It is my screaming that wakes him up and he sploshes through the apple juice on the floor to go fall asleep in the bathroom.

Frustrated, I find myself mopping the floor for the second time before 9a.m. and the it serves as a metaphor for me of the bigger messes of our life that exacerbate the tension I have with my reality and the idol I’ve made of things looking a different way, of things looking the same as the pictures on the homeschool blogs I’ve read or of my dear homeschool friends whose children can play the violin underwater while solving complicated algorithms.

The bigger messes we deal with in our home tend to fall in the realms of mean-spiritedness, selfishness, disrespectful attitudes, and my own impatience and anger as I aim to help my children problem-solve and end up making their messes, my mess too.

And so I have to preach to myself everyday. I have to think on and meditate on and swim in the truth that my Jesus is a redeemer. He is in the business of making messes holy. He takes our moments of chaos, which I think have no redeemable value and he turns them into opportunities to depend on Him, lean into his mercy and trust that when He says He is working in all things, that He really is. That somehow, in ways I do not see, He is taking our mess and doing a refining work. In them. In me.

I may be mopping up spills after my children on into their adulthood. I hope not. I pray they learn to conquer their pouring predicaments along with the bigger messes we seem to grapple with everyday and that they would see in me, a mother who is trusting Jesus in the midst of the mess.






Ruthie’s Bio:

Ruthie is a wife to Garry and mom to 4 kids from Michigan. She teaches Speech, Drama and English part time at a local Christian school, home educates, and loves Jesus, reading, not running, and chocolate chip cookies.

Ugly Christmas Sweaters

I had a great idea for Thanksgiving this year.  Not only would I be able to take a vacation for a few days, it would be our first “empty nest” Thanksgiving.  So Donny and I rented a beach house in Panama City for a week, big enough for us, our three sons, their ladies and my parents.  I had a party in my head with happy thoughts of sitting around with my family, relaxing and reminiscing about the good old days.  We could play charades and Trivial Pursuit.  Well, that wasn’t reality and I should have known better.

Instead, I found myself arguing with the boys about the matching Christmas sweaters we would wear for our annual family picture.  Of course, the only day all of us would be together at just the right time for sunset on the pier was a very short time span. I prayed for good weather and sunlight!  God answered, because that day happened to be the hottest day of the week.  The weather in Florida was beautiful, temperature in the high 70’s, and we went to the beach wearing our matching Christmas sweaters.  My daughter-in-law and I bought the sweaters the year before on Black Friday just for this our yearly Thrasher Christmas pictures.  Around us people were sunning in bikinis and kids were swimming in the warm ocean.

But that was not going to stop the Thrasher family!  We had already walked past all of the restaurants with people gawking at our matching sweaters, laughing and pointing at us as we walked down the boardwalk in our ugly Christmas sweaters;.but we proudly paid to get on the pier and had our pictures taken.  I’m not entirely sure how it will look this year, as the boys were sweating and I, of course, was hot flashing.  I think the one with Noah being thrown over the pier is the winner for the Christmas cards…we really didn’t throw him…but we did all think about it!

After the picture ordeal, I asked 19-year-old Noah to drive me in his car to pick up a few things at the grocery store.  While on the way, I smelled something really fishy (not the normal beach smell) and wondered if Noah had a dead body in the trunk.  “What in the world is that terrible smell?” I asked.

“What smell?” Noah was clueless!

When we stopped at the grocery store, I did some detective work and found several pairs of Noah’s soccer shoes in the trunk.  So that’s where the smell was coming from!  Looking deeper into the trunk, which was filled to capacity with dirty laundry, I thought, “What have I done?  Where did I go wrong?”

When Noah and I returned to the beach house, I decided to look in the car of my other son, 22-year-old Zach.  It was worse than Noah’s!  Zach had dirty clothes, candy, cups, shoes, deodorant, and towels-not-clean.  It appeared that Zach had been living in his car.

I immediately made a command decision and told the boys, “clear everything out of your cars.  You are taking them right now to be vacuumed and washed.”

I looked in the local phone book and called a car wash place and talked to the person who answered the phone.  I could hardly understand her, but from what I understood she said, “bring in cars and my brother give good price.”

I instructed the boys to talk the car wash people down on price.  “Don’t pay more than $40 a car.”  Knowing how much the cars smelled and how dirty they were, I hoped that would be enough.

The boys had been gone about 30 minutes when my phone rang.  It was Zach.  “They wouldn’t give us a price because the ‘brother’ wasn’t there, so we left the cars.  They said, ‘just pay when pick up.’”

“WHAT?”  I yelled.  “Weren’t their prices displayed somewhere so you had an idea?”

Zach replied, “all I saw was $140 for a detail and that is what we told them to do; but they said they would give us a good deal since we had two cars.”

“Turn around right now and go get your cars. I can’t afford $280 for a car wash!”  Where oh where did I go wrong raising these two sweet boys?

When Zach and Noah returned to the car wash, Zach called again.  “They’re already working on Noah’s.”

And then the haggling began while I was on the phone.  Finally Noah got the man down to $65 for both cars.  Noah is a lot like me and won’t take no for an answer.  Why does a simple trip to the car wash have to be so complicated?

After that fiasco was finally over, I ended up with five extra loads of laundry.  So I’ve been doing my sons’ laundry ever since they arrived at the beach house.  I guess they don’t have washing machines at college and they save it all for me when they come home.

My relaxed and lovely vacation at the beach turned out to be anything but.  Even so, on Thanksgiving I still thanked God for His goodness and abundant blessings and for my very loving, but somewhat dysfunctional family.




Kingdom Woman: Embracing Your Purpose, Power, and Possibilities (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. , 2015)

Kingdom Woman

A kingdom woman gives the devil as much reason to fear as a kingdom man. She lives confidently in the knowledge that Christ died and rose for her so that she can experience the significance of the destiny to which she has been called.

In Kingdom Woman, Tony Evans and his daughter, Chrystal Evans Hurst, remind women of their calling from God to be free, delivered, healed, and to have hope. The authors bring insight that encourages women to correct distorted perceptions and understand who they really are in Christ—never settling for less when connected with the One who gives them hope. All believers are covered by God’s covenant with Abraham. Evans and Hurst want women to know these rights and confidently claim and live by them. The new covenant offers more than a life of mediocrity. A kingdom woman is called and empowered to live a life of victory through Christ!

ScreaminMamas Magazine

Order your August/September copy

I want to share a great magazine and website for Mom’s of any ages. It is full of humor, mischief and everything else that comes with being a mom. This month I have a story in the magazine.  I hope you enjoy it!  If you would like to order the latest copy, please click on the link below.

<alt> screamingmamas

The Frat House

Zach enrolled at Auburn University last year.  I think his only goal for the first semester was to be inducted into a fraternity. He accomplished that, but not much of anything else – not a good GPA, not even an okay GPA. So after the first semester, after Zach was placed on academic warning, he announced to me that he wanted to live in the frat house.  Really? I could not imagine what his GPA would be like then if he even had one. It easily could be 0.00, a new record at Auburn.

Since Zach had money he had saved from training with the Army, he decided he would “buy” his own room at the frat house. At his fraternity a brother “buys” a room from a former brother who moved out, graduated, or moved back with his parents. Zach picked out the room he wanted, and sent a check to a woman in Connecticut who, I assumed, was the mom who originally paid for her son’s room.

Zach tried hard to sell me on his decision. “I won’t have to pay electricity or rent,” he said. “Food is free because two chefs cook three meals a day. We have a washer and dryer and even a ‘House Mother’ who lives here 24/7 and monitors the surveillance cameras. And I’ll only be half a mile from most of my classes, so I’ll save gas money. And this is the best part,” he continued, “my room is perfect because it’s at the end of the hall and I’ll only share one wall with someone else. It’s really quiet during the week.”  Now, does Zach think I’m that old? I know what goes on and what the brothers do at frat houses. I was young once. I went to college!

Zach wanted me to drive up to Auburn with him (three hours away) and see where he would be living for the next two or three or four or five years (depending on his GPA). It didn’t really matter what I thought because Zach owned the room now. As long as he was enrolled at Auburn, he could live there. Of course, this didn’t make me very happy because what boy would ever want to graduate from college and work in the real world when he could just live in a room in a frat house. It was better than living at home with Donny and me. I certainly didn’t cook three meals a day. My guys were lucky to get one hot meal a day – and that was usually toast for breakfast!

I made the trip to Auburn with Zach. I admit that when we arrived, I was impressed. The lawn of the frat house was manicured and looked well maintained. I was feeling pretty good about Zach’s decision – until we drove around back and parked. By the dumpster I saw a couch that had obviously been burned. Only the frame and coils were left. I asked Zach, “What happened? Was there a fire in the frat house?”