Category Archives: Harmony

Nooks and Nests

Think back to when you were a kid and when you felt the most safe and secure…what images come to mind? Were you with a particular person…or in a certain place?

Chances are that you were tucked into a small space with someone you loved. What sensations does this memory evoke?

The world is a big place with a lot of things coming at us all the time. Sometimes we just need to close it down a little bit — like clicking the minimize button on the computer to narrow things down to a smaller focus.

high-top game tableOccasionally these recharges happen naturally, but otherwise we have to be a little intentional to have some prompts in our environments to slow down. As moms we can provide some nooks around the house to encourage our kiddos to find a place to recharge…

boy doing homework at shared family room desk

-a game table for an impromptu game or puzzle

-a seat tucked into a corner with a cozy blanket and soft pillows; some low-key reading materials

-a bedroom fort, making the most of those bunkbeds

-a desk in a corner of the family room so your child can share your space while you’re making dinner

-a pile of beanbag chairs for kids to plop into while reading or gaming

Every one of us craves a nook that is “just ours,” where we can get lost in a good book or daydream and plan. This space is not just for children. My husband’s nook is usually a favored chair in the living room where a nap can ensue as the lullaby of sports plays him to dreamland. As a mom who is always searching for a moment to be creative, I find myself “nesting” throughout our home. I leave lots of “twigs and fluff” in each room so that wherever the children are, I can settle in as well and be near. I group reading material in baskets, and I have small containers holding current projects that I can pick up at a moment’s notice. My nests are for the most part side-by-side with my kids’ nooks. However, once the day has been put to rest, and I can really call my time my own, there are nooks that ground me and restore any fraying from the day…

I have a battery-powered candle that is on a timer so that when I finally make it to my bedroom at night, I walk into the glow of this candle. It makes me smile each night when I snuggle into bed with a good book.

As you think about the personalities of your family, nooks and nests will begin to emerge on their own:

-a reading nook

-a Lego nook

-an electronic plug-in nook for all iPads, etc

I love my coffee nook with a devo for the start of my day.

I laugh as I walk by a nook I set up for my boys: an oversized chair, a small table and low lit lamp with comic books… 3 boys are surrounding this nook they were drawn to, but none of them are in the chair! Each boy is laying on the floor or under the chair...unconventional nook building.record wallWhen I think of a nook, I think of it in layers…indirect lighting, a soft place to snuggle in, sounds in the background…white noise of a home that reflects each individual settling into their spaces after being out in the world.teen boy nest

Sometimes a cozy space is outside. When we moved, one of the first things we did in the yard was hang our hammock. It became a magnet for boys seeking a daydreamy spot to gaze at clouds or squirrels chasing each other overhead. From the house often the only thing visible is the top of a head, knobby knees, or a pair of dirty feet.dreamimg

Remembering my mother’s nature nook: on warm summer nights after dinner, she would slip away to her garden patch in the backyard by herself. She would garden through dusk and come in with the fireflies for bed. It was good mental relaxation.   climatis in the backyard

As a preteen, I would sneak away barefoot to the swing outside and sway back and forth under the stars. I felt secure looking past the windows and seeing my parents unwinding with the news or a book inside our home. I liked testing the distance with a safety net still in place during those formative years of adolescence. I would dream and grow in that swaying nook.

Enjoy your nooks and nests in life. Share them with loved ones, and keep a few sacred for your heart only. Rejuvenation and Dreams come forth from such places.

 



“The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are His everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

…”for You alone, o Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  Psalm 4:8



Little hitchhikers

After a very fun-filled weekend road trip, I managed to get my weary self out the door for a walk. Within a few moments of dragging myself down the street, a little baby caterpillar landed on me. I considered taking him home to show my kiddos, but opted to set him free in the fresh spring grass so he could continue on his way. After all, didn’t our mothers tell us not to pick up hitchhikers?

I reflected on how this bright green caterpillar had clung so tightly to me until I released him. In much the same way, don’t we allow others’ words and comments stick to us? Maybe a taunt from an elementary school classmate still clings to us after all these years? (All of us “Four Eyes” unite!) Perhaps a harsh remark from a spouse or family member lingers even after apologies have been said? These verbal hitchhikers don’t have to come home with us. We can release them.

What if instead we carry compliments or words of encouragement as welcome travelers? Words have lasting power.
All you have to do is observe a woman be told she is strong, brave, kind, a warrior, a truth teller, capable, a shepherd, a gatherer, an encourager, poetic, worthy, loyal, precious, or genuine. Watch the emotion wash over her as her eyes sparkle or tear up. Let the moment sink in so she can absorb this new identity into her repertoire of names she’s collected during her lifetime. Transformation can occur in a few syllables spoken earnestly.

So, my friend, choose your traveling companion wisely. Be wary of little hitchhikers that may weigh you down or cause you harm. Release those names that you have been carrying for too long.

Share your words with othEncourageers with good intention and thoughtful purpose. We never know what word is going to cling to a neighbor, friend, or our own child. One remark can make a huge difference. It can tear down or build up. Choose to edify.

~~Speak with grace~~

Now I’ll be watching for beautiful butterflies that are flying freely because they weren’t hindered in their caterpillar youth.

 

Side-by-Side

mom tackleWhen your kids are little, they are all over you. Literally. A human jungle gym…they climb, writhe, wriggle and squirm all over, covering you with earthy hugs and sticky kisses. They share every single teeny tiny detail of their days even though you were right there navigating it all. They start conversations voluntarily with you.all.the.time.

I remember one of my preschool-aged sons asking me, “Mommy, do you like khaki socks? I like khaki socks.” I responded to his random question and he fired off another one without skipping a beat, “Mommy, do you like blue socks? I like blue socks.” I will spare you the details of this lengthy conversation and remain grateful that he didn’t have full knowledge of a 64-color crayola box at that tender age. Yet I hold dear the memory of that conversation because he was trying to connect with me, exploring things we might both like that mashed us together in his little mind. He wanted us to share every daily experience and talk about it over and over and over again.

When kids start school, all that sharing is spread out among more people…teachers, buddies, and neighborhood friends. You still get a good dose of after-school details, though, and you get conversation starters cued by art projects and smiley-face stamped papers they bring home.

Then your kids have the audacity to grow more. All of a sudden mini-adults are sparking out of them as they navigate the world of middle school and high school. Their minds are extremely busy places and they are doing a lot of internal processing. All of this chaotic brain activity shorts out their verbal processing and those sweet little childish conversations become more like staccato grunts and groans. I have boys, so plenty of bodily noises accompany their one or two-word responses. Although I’ve become quite adept at reading facial expressions and body postures, my mommy-brain is still curious about their experiences in those boys walking with backpacksbusy school hallways and classrooms. I still like to hear in their own words what impacted them in the course of an ordinary day.

I’ve embraced the subtle strategy of the Side-by-Side conversation. Most often this occurs in the car as we are driving to an activity or returning home. After an initial greeting and brief run-down of “how was your day?” type conversation, a natural lull fills the car.  I try to wait patiently while my son decompresses in his own way. Sometimes it’s through music; sometimes it’s a snack. Gradually some wordy tidbits start to fall out. I try to not scoop them up too hastily, but allow them to linger between us…because sometimes those few phrases turn into an avalanche of words. Suddenly I’m hearing a funny story about a new friend or how a teacher brings day-old bakery goodies to class, endearing him to this mass of hungry adolescents.

bedhead boys together on couchDuring this season of March Madness, I join my son on the couch and absorb a litany of sports statistics of his favorite teams. I’ve learned to ask specific questions about a few key players so I have a storyline to follow-up on each game. Sitting side-by-side, my son overlooks my lack of “fervor” at his level and seems to appreciate my tentative participation in his world of sports. We are training together in this new language of ours, connecting through the excitement of buzzer beaters, the disappointments of tough losses, and the shared eye-rolling at inane remarks offered by the color commentator.

These side-by-side moments are indirect and nonthreatening. With our eyes focused ahead on the road or a basketball game, our bodies are little more relaxed and the words come out a little more freely. We are aligned in a mutual activity. Somewhere in the midst of the drive or the time-outs in the game, I pick up nuggets about social interactions that would not have been shared directly in a face-to-face Q & A. I savor these and add them to my mommy collection of these brief moments that weave into the fabric of their childhood.


“So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19


I’ve learned that by coming alongside my boys in whatever they are doing or simply making myself present in their spaces, that something beautiful begins to unfold. A few words are batted between us. Sometimes I lob them too far and they miss their target entirely. Sometimes I come too close and they are returned with a solid shot. Timing is delicate. We tiptoe around, exploring neutral territory or trying a humorous diversion. Awkward moments are all too frequent, but we keep trying, side-by-side, because there’s a lot more than khaki socks out there, folks…but at least it’s a place to start.Tacosaurus socks

New Beginnings

Spring is my fave.
It’s like a good friend returning for a much anticipated visit. 

welcome springSpring brings many gifts: budding trees, gentle rain, blossoming flowers.

budding weeping willow

early tulipsSpring is a time of new growth. It’s a chance for a fresh start.hosta shootsSpring is like a seasonal “do-over.” Let’s try this again…bulb flowersAs things once dormant awaken, we can begin anew as well.turtle emerging

We can release old grudges.

We can commit to a new gameplan.

We can refocus our attitudes.

We can choose a new route of personal growth.

We can have new beginnings in our relationships.

It’s not easy breaking through the muck, but the awakening in our souls is worth it.

tulip tree blossoming

spring trees


“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

violasSpring reminds us we have so many opportunities for renewal. Where do you want a fresh start today?

Love lingers

As February is drawing to a close, Valentine flowers have faded and heart-shaped cards have been put aside…yet the message of LOVE lingers on in our hearts and homes. It gives us something to cling to during difficult times.heart block art

A senseless tragedy has occurred in a small Kansas town…yet the power of Love emerges through the assertive actions of law enforcement.

Families feel broken as they mourn the loss and injuries of loved ones…yet the strength of Love holds them together as they are supported by friends and extended family.

Children face doubts and fears today that they didn’t experience before yesterday…yet the reassurance of Love surrounds them through gestures from kind teachers and loving parents.

Actions of rage headline the news…yet the generosity of Love is extended by small business owners, counselors, neighbors, and church congregations.

What the World Needs is Love

So much hurt and pain dwell up in us during times of tragedy…yet Love lingers by God’s grace.

As we baby step through shock and grief, we cling to the hope of Love.family clasped handsAlthough our family has recently moved from Newton, our heartfelt prayers are with you, dear  friends.moving day

#HesstonStrong

“…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

 

 

 

 

 

Love

valentine sign“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.” I Corinthians 13:13

During this season of valentine flutter, remember that God loves you. He created you to be the unique person you are. He created those around you to be unique individuals as well. Sometimes we may grate on each others’ nerves, but we strive to Love Anyway.

block heart

Circumstances may not be what we would like in our relationships. Our journeys may be a little bumpy at times. We can make the first gesture of Love: an act, a word, a touch, a simple note… Start small and keep your eyes open for those chances to Love Big.

glitter love
Time pressure is real and we may struggle to communicate our love to others because Impatience and Hurry get in the way. Slowing down to share a sweet moment matters. Remember, LOVE WINS. Every time.

boy with donut

As parents, we pour into our children’s lives day in and day out. Sometimes we have to pause, take our partner’s hand, and focus on one another to recognize what we cherish between us. A little love note today is just a bonus.

it only takes a moment

Wherever you may be, you can love strong.

Whoever you are with, you can love well.

Whatever you may face, you can love hopefully.

 

There’s a lot of chaos and clutter in the world, but today we can focus simply on LOVE.

the greatest of these is love