Summer has its own rhythm and we just sail along with it the best we can . . . enjoying family vacations, “dutifully” following packing checklists for kids’ various camps, having lazy dinners out on the patio…letting each day unfold in its unique way.
Our Quiet Times might slip into a different timeslot as we try to get outside chores down in the early morning hours before the heat of the day.
We might snatch some devotional time during the afternoon lull when everyone has soaked up enough sun or we may experiment with late devotions when everyone is settled in for the night.
Dinner time may be a little different also. We eat later and “planning” is looser, typically more laidback. We might have more snack suppers or concoct some simple meals from what we find in the fridge. Breakfast dinners are always a win-win around here!
Occasionally, we’ll be motivated to do some batch cooking and stockpile some family favorites (i.e. chicken packets) that we can pull out at the end of a long summer day.
I don’t know about you, but it takes me a little while to ease in to a summer rhythm, letting go of the patterns that have nudged us along during the school year. Each week has a different flavor, depending on who might be visiting us or which one of the kids might be away at a camp. “Adaptability” is key. (at least that’s what I keep reminding myself when things are feeling a bit off-kilter)
So, we might be a little more sporadic sharing posts or offering workshops during this season. We’re allowing ourselves to “go with the flow” and give ourselves some margin for some spontaneous get-togethers along the way.
We’re all familiar with the preschool song about twinkling stars in the dark sky… “how I wonder what you are…”
As we’re careening to the end of school, the long stretch of summer prompts us all to wondera bit more than usual.
WONDER – to think or speculate curiously
My youngest peppers me with questions when we’re out together, asking how things work or pointing out advertising anomalies that don’t make common sense on the surface.
I often stumble through my responses and together we generate a lot of hypotheses, sometimes mutually agreeing to consult Syri in hopes that her lofty British accent will produce a more educated guess.
I love my son’s quirky observations and perpetual curiosity.
WoNdER – to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel
Summer road trips offer families a chance to veer off the beaten path and see some unusual things.
We didn’t necessarily have to understand WHY someone would create such oddities, but we did enjoy wandering about in awe of seeing typical objects accumulated and displayed in some extreme ways.
wonDeR – to doubt
As Moms, we frequently second-guess our day-to-day interactions with our children. We wonder if we’re doing enough. We wonder if we’re doing too much…
Whenever I’m unsettled about a particular interaction with one of my kiddos, I like to process through it on a walk. I’ll even choose a different path to stimulate my thinking.
I typically can glean some perspective that I didn’t have in the moment. I may realize I need to readjust my expectations or expand the timeframe involved.
The symmetry of nature soothes me as I explore my personal reactions and the unique personality of the child involved. When I see a flower blooming that has just reached its peak, it’s a gentle reminder that my children are blossoming at their own rates as well. Each one is in a different developmental season and I have to nurture in patient, subtle ways, mindful of timing and spacing.
WONder – a feeling of surprised or puzzled interest, tinged with admiration
Sometimes a milestone highlights a child’s growth that’s been occurring all along, but is poignantly brought to our present attention in a formal rite of passage.
Our breath catches as we see our child cross the stage at graduation. As he is swept up in a week-long chain of celebratory events and inundated by sweet cards of validation from friends, family, and former teachers, something shifts between parent and child.
The child’s effort and determination emerges as the primary focus and our parenting role fades away, providing a backdrop for him to truly shine.
wonder – a miraculous deed or event; remarkable phenomenon
Each experience we’ve woven into our child’s life culminates in a unique blend of teenaged flair.
From the rainy kindergarten zoo field trips to numerous play sessions at the park, and all those family vacations, each contributes to a lifetime sense of curiosity.
It’s fun to see teens begin to seek out adventures on their own, perhaps participating in an overseas exchange program or a church mission trip.
Each new experience stirs up WONDER about other cultures and broadens their outlook a little wider.
As we teeter on the edge of summer, we have the opportunity to ponder a little longer, to question a little deeper… and to marvel at this season of our family’s life a little more intentionally.
To my graduating son, I look at YOU in Wonder.
I will always treasure our shared history fondly, tuck you into my heart tightly, and hold your future loosely.
Understanding the connection my children need with social media tools…all of us diving into unchartered waters.
With Summer on the brink, and the craze of school year activities colliding, it is an interesting time for the mind to sort through it all. Young hearts wanting to run free into unstructured days, and grown-ups feeling compelled to occupy and fill voids with activity. I am purposeful in the things I do and the time I spend, but I am a dreamer too, and I want my children to have it all. Blow on the Dandelion and make lots of wishes.
After just watching my first nephew graduate from high school, and listening to the speech given to his class by a peer, it enlightened me on the generation my children are growing up in. So very different then my own; unchartered waters for all of us. They described the importance of electronics and all things digital as their known way of communication. The strong need for connection with friends and family that happens through social media networks.They tried to help my generation understand that this is all that they know, kids have nothing else to base socializing on as I do. It was insightful to hear the strong need for that connection of love, acceptance, self-esteem building, someone seeing them…it made me pause on my views of electronics. It made me lay down some of my guards and judgements on social media. I still feel that kids are losing true verbal skills and face-to-face conversation, but I am trying to understand the world they have been born into.
And so here we go with Summer!How to enter into it: With wild abandon? Caught off guard without a plan? Structure to the point of exhaustion?
I think my generation has an obligation, a very important one in making sure that we share the roots that we were planted and watered in. It is not so much about ripping them out of technology, but more about coming alongside them and learning how to navigate the new growing communication system; blending the old with the new.
I think about things like how much time I have and how many summers are left with the kids. I dream of places I want to show them in this world, and conversations I want us to share. I want the deep and the fluff of Summer to collide. I want to be purposeful in giving my children the sweet gift of communication in the form of live, very present conversation. They need to hear the sounds of laughter and not just an LOL typed out.They need to learn the tones of voices, inflections in words, quirky phrases passed down from grandparents that make us smile…and I think it’s vastly important that they hear what silence and quiet sound like; time uninterrupted by text, no words audibly, opportunity for the mind to explore and expand in imagination and sweet refreshment in the Lord.
The flip side of this is that I don’t want to always give a scowling face when my children ask for electronics. I want to come to a happy agreement together, and this requires me to step into unknown territory that they are much more familiar with. We need to not view one another’s path as negative, but learn to navigate them in a positive way together.
So this Summer will be a blend of carefree expanding for all of us. We will mingle good old fashion story-telling with root beer floats and flip-flops, and then we will share a new language of emojis and hashtags that can be a link to stay connected even when we aren’t face to face. It’s going to be a great Summer for all of us!
Be Joyful always, Pray continually, GiveThanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thess 5:16-18
We’ve had a lot of motherhood going on around us recently.
Our turtles have had 3 hatchlings emerge in a 10-day period that we have adopted out to some VERY happy boys.
An exciting adventure is in store for them as they observe turtle behavior and learn how to take care of these little creatures.
Our flighty friend, MamaDuck, has returned to lay her eggs at our house again in some tall feather grass. She picked a much better hiding spot than her previous location of a flowerpot out on the open patio in the midst of all the hustle & bustle of swim season.
I even had to do a little detective work to finally discover where she had nested this time…Look at how precisely she’s got the eggs tucked in!
I was admiring the symmetry of egg placement and carefully constructed nest when I heard the loud flap of wings as two male ducks arrived. I looked up just in time to see Katie revved up to greet them…
Somehow I managed to capture this sequence of their reactions: MamaDuck taking flight, her peaceful swim disrupted; the male Mallards barely dipping into the water to shoot back up into the air for safety; and our dog, charging merrily at wildlife entering her fenced-in yard. (She had already had a full morning chasing the scent of a rabbit that had been meandering all over the garden, the back and front yard. ) Her eager retriever instinct was in full gear!
During this past weekend of Mother’s Day activities, my husband joked that perhaps I was providing “too nurturing” of a home environment that prompted this explosion of nature going on in our backyard.
My hospitality dwindled when a mama squirrel built her nest IN our attic over the winter. The constant gnawing sounds that awakened us multiple nights in a 3-week period resulted in an unplanned home improvement project directed by a handy neighbor. The squirrel nuisance triggered a stream of workers traipsing through the house, cutting through a closet to get into the space to figure out where the squirrels got in and how to block their access. I’m grateful to be past the phase of activating the “alert” status which brought our neighbor to the door with a head-lamp and a pellet gun. Although he was disappointed he never “got” them, he tapped in to some creative squirrel-proofing that ended with some, um, rather unique Tree Art in our backyard!
Interesting times around here as mothers of all types are nesting, nurturing and launching their babies in different ways!
With graduation season in full swing, a lot of us mommas are in the same boat. Instincts of all kinds are kicking in and our emotions are tightly woven together like that MamaDuck’s nest. I’m not quite ready to unfold all of that yet though…
I’m still soaking in the moments of Mother’s Day weekend, family gathered around the table and my guys making special efforts to cook & clean. Beyond those intentional actions, though, were some of my favorite moments…a son showing up beside me to help plant spring flowers, or offering to make a grocery run and bringing back a smoothie for me, or vacuuming out my messy car.
Spontaneous hugs.A kind gesture.A sneaky smile. These little pauses when I get to capture a one-on-one moment are the snippets I hold onto dearly, tucking them into my heart as I watch these boys mature in their own ways.
Mama Nature has some pretty cool stuff going on this spring.
I’m grateful for the close-up view that helps put things into perspective.
Ordinary days punctuated by extraordinary moments are special gifts to a mother’s heart. I’m treasuring each one and hope you are, too!
“Digging in the dirt, the intrigue of a flower, the taste of homegrown veggies, tending to the crop and the fulfillment of the harvest…Gardening dwells in one’s soul.”
For a decade I attempted “patio” container gardening in a yard with A LOT of shade and no flat land. It was probably comical to watch me daily tote my pots of tomatoes and such to the ever-moving sunny patches in the yard! Those containers never thrived, and I always eventually grew tired as well.
I’ve been known to pick up seed catalogs and gardening books in late winter and “dream” up a garden plan…I’m pretty sure gardening has always been within me. And sometimes I think it would be fun to take gardening classes to better understand planting… but then I ultimately decide “trial and error” is more fun in the end. Exploring and learning along the journey of discovery is nice; I like the hint of unknown innocence that feels like uncharted waters.
My garden has been about 17 years in the making. And this Spring I began one! My Boy Scout Sons drew sketches, walked out lengths in the yard with me and checked for sunny spots. My husband built the frame, and I collected 2 truck loads of dirt and worked alongside boys as we transferred and prepped the space. All the boys had specific things they wished to have in the garden. It may be too ambitious…who knows?? but I got everyone’s wish list items! And in the ground they went. My heart is happy. There is a contentedness that comes from a garden; and anticipated calm.I feel closer to God and my own true self when working in a garden. My boys seem to have a connection as well, and I like observing that. I look forward to them picking veggies, cutting flowers and plucking fruit from our garden. I dream of things like bacon and tomato sandwiches and fresh herbs to marinate and grill with…yum.
We made name tags for all the things in the garden. A friend gave me a creative trellis that makes me smile whenever I see it. The boys are giving “garden tours” to the neighborhood kids. My youngest felt it was immensely important to plant a “rainbow” of flowers. So throughout the veggies and herbs, we did, (its tricky finding blue flowers!)
My memories go back to watching my grandfather in his garden. He had a huge plot and was meticulous in details and journaling his experiences; I was fascinated. My grandmother always had fresh vegetables at the dinner table; I make some of the same dishes and think of her.
I watched my mom garden also; getting advice from my grandfather. I would “linger” around mom’s garden and pick flowers from it. My happy place was a summer evening swinging in the yard and looking/dreaming by it. I planted some of my mom’s favorite flowers in my garden.
My grandmother told me stories of her mom, my great-grandmother, in hard times many years ago. Gardens were communal for food, and flowers were too extravagant to have. My great-grandmother would cut paper flowers for funerals and weddings in her small town. Her heart was still in the beauty of the garden and she used the resources she had.
Gardens can grow by being passed down through generations. Little eyes watch and help, dreams are stirred, imaginations take flight in all ages, and seeds are planted. Tastes, sights and the sounds in the garden are culminated within one’s heart. Plant something this season; more importantly, share the experience with those around you. You will just be amazed at all that can grow in a garden.
“A sacred little spot of earth- quiet, hopeful, yearning for a beautiful display of its full potential.”
Last week began with a two-day stay at the hospital with my son for an unexpected procedure following a dramatic ER visit. This week started out with lovely spring weather and the chance to play in the dirt, planting pretty flowers.
From one week to the next it was quite a contrast and, boy, am I grateful to have it moving in a positive direction!
One end of my garden zone is full of shriveled plants, brittle vines, and cracked, dusty pots that have been neglected during the winter. The other end of my garden is beginning to show splashes of color amidst freshly turned soil and vibrant green starter veggies.
It’s a contrast between what has faded away and what is blossoming with hopeful growth.
Last fall we were eager to get the school routine in full swing again, fresh school supplies nestled into tidy backpacks. As the school year is now dwindling into mere weeks, the energy level for it is more sludgy than springy.
Final exams and long-term project deadlines loom overhead and students are slinking out the door as late as possible, ripped backpacks slung quickly over their shoulders.
The end of something is strikingly different from its fresh beginning.
Nature is full of contrasts and what pulls us in to wander about in different environments, stretching us beyond our familiar.
Life is punctuated with peaks and valleys; our energy levels ebb and flow throughout the various seasons of family life.
These contrasts give us dimension and help strengthen our resolve to push onward. Contrasting experiences help us see deeper perspectives, softening our rough edges. We have the opportunity to adjust our outlook throughout the intensity of the highs and lows, transforming ourselves in the gritty middle.
Contrasting opinions broaden our discussions, widening our cultural lens.
Contrast keeps boring at a distance.
Photographers seek it; architects nurture it.
When we pause to appreciate the contrasts of the human experience, our inward reflections deepen and our connections with others can become more fully saturated as we see richer hues in those around us.
Perhaps we can glimpse a sparkle of hope where we had only previously seen darkness.
The raggedness of grief may slowly slip into sweet reminiscence.
Maybe we see the blossoming of a child as they overcome a personal struggle.
As graduation looms around the corner for many families, we’ll be struck by the contrast of our young, confident adults tackling their last days of school while we’re remembering their little faces on the first day of school.
They will be on the tippy toes of a new adventure while we’re clinging to their childhood for just a sliver longer. We’ll walk through the contrasting emotions of pride and loss; hope and disbelief . . . letting go and hugging just a little bit tighter. Parents will ponder, “how did this happen so fast?” while their kiddos wonder “will the last day evvver get here?”
Contrast highlights what’s important.
It sharpens our focus on details that matter.
It awakens our souls to pay attention.
Let’s embrace the contrasts that enrich our lives and weave us together ~~ God’s beautiful tapestry unfolding around us.
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8