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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

A Box of Sunshine!

sunshineHappy March! Warm weather is flirting with us, and budding trees and daffodils are trying to spring forth! As we anticipate the Spring Season, look for ways to spread some cheer. One of our favorites is a Box of Sunshine. We have assembled a few of these as a family and dropped them at friends homes, and even mailed “Oklahoma Sunshine” across the country to loved ones. It is such an easy and fun way to reach out. All items must be yellow, but that is the only stipulation, the “sky’s the limit” on your imagination!

tulips

 

Yay for all things blooming! Enjoy that walk with your child on the warm windy day, and linger over that coffee cup as conversation flows with a loved one. Rejoice at new friendships that pop up unexpectantly, and soak in the sunshine as the Lord renews your spirit with the Spring.

Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8

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

 

 

 

 

 

My Most Treasured Layer: Prayer

bear and kite

A Prayer for My Family: Dear Lord, thank you for making us family. Please ingrain in me Your Love Language and Fruits on a daily basis. Fill me with Patience, Kindness, Purity and so on.  I commit my husband’s work to You, Lord,  and may Your plans be established throughout his life. (Proverbs 16:3) May we both trust You with our whole hearts, and lean not on our own understanding. Make our paths straight, Lord Jesus. And Lord, I pray that our greatest joy be to hear that all of our children walk in Your Truth!! (3 John 4)

 

winter carnation

When I’ve had a full-plate day complete with joy, laughter, accomplishment, but also disgusting tasks, disappointments and weariness, I realize these are the normal days of life. I’m thankful for full days that keep coming. I find triumph and failure daily. I walk with the Lord, but can easily go skipping down side-trails before returning to the path. At night, when it all finally calms down and the pace halts, I quiet myself and finish the day with prayer. I reflect on the day with all its ups and downs. I am never perfect in a day, but its okay; I don’t climb that pedestal anymore. I just try to please my Heavenly Father’s heart. He tells me, “You will never fail.” Oh, but I feel so inadequate so often! So I pray…

This is what Prayer is for me:

A safe harbor, an instant hot-line, a lasting legacy, a quiet to the restless.                                        

This is my Prayer layer:

I start my day with a “hello” to the Lord and His Holy Spirit. Sometimes that’s called Quiet Time. I relish those moments, but they are hard in a busy household. They most often are a quick glance at a scripture off of my phone, but that is an opening prayer-layer to my day.

After watching the movie, War Room, I wrote out some “prayer strategies” that I taped in my closet to remind me to pray. They are simple in nature, but have turned out to be very powerful tools for my days.

I add another layer on the drive to school with my boys, we pray the Armor of God over our family before we separate for the day. We rotate and all take turns praying this prayer out loud over our family as we drive down the road.

armor

–Do not let a day pass that you don’t put on the custom-designed armor the Lord has fashioned just for you.

I send up snippets of prayer interwoven throughout my day for whoever the Lord places on my heart. Nothing is happenstance; if a person comes to mind, then pray for them. God loves detailing. And the layers continue…

On days that open to it, I pray for future events in my children’s lives; like new friendships formed, pressures and stressors that may arise; prayers of future layers of God-infused living. I pray for eternal things for my family.

So at the end of this crazy-busy day, even if I feel depleted, exhausted, stressed or strained, my heart can find peace in the reminder that God sweetly keeps all prayers  close to His heart. Keep praying, never ceasing, when you feel like it or when you don’t, do it anyway. He listens and He moves through our lives. These prayers, layer our very lives. They affect our family; they impact future things, and it is a gift to us to be able to pray.

Prayer: A most precious and treasured layer.

 Be still and know that I Am God.” Psalm 46:10

Card-Making Station

 

 

bday card

A hand-written note is considered “old school” to most of this generation. Our children are not writing nearly as much as we did in our youth. But I am not that old yet, and I was brought up to write a thank you note when someone gifted me something. So I think we, as adults, have fallen into the ease of our new-found social media tools. Of course it’s easier to click a button and not have to write, address, stamp and mail something. This freedom is quite useful for a whole host of things… and when I had 3 children under the age of 4, and was completely sleep-deprived, I must now apologize for never writing anything. For those who love me, please forgive my season of exhaustion.

As summer was in full swing this past year, two of my boys were at camp, and I was puzzled at receiving their letters that were addressed as such:

letter

Oh, how I had gone wrong in giving up the art of a handwritten letter!! I had not passed this skill on to my children. Furthermore, they believed it was unnecessary to send a note of thanks to someone.

IN FACT: IT NEVER CROSSED THEIR MINDS! (Because I had never modeled it in their lifetime).

I, then and there,  purposed to right/write(!) my wrong; and so began our mobile Card-Making Station My sis-in-law has had this nifty set-up for years now in a desk, and I have watched and learned. I took mine from stationary to travel speed; so here they both are:

folders

stickers

 

 

 

 

simple really.

 

 

calendar

card station

 

 

A desk with a file drawer.

Categorized and filled with paper, stickers, envelopes, and more…

A calendar of special days.

A place to write, in a tucked in corner of the living room.

 

And here’s the traveling version:

card basket

A basket with a handle, file folders, a pouch of stickers, handful of envelopes, scrap papers and blank notes, stamps, scissors and tape, and some colorful pens.

After a birthday, holiday, etc… it is now easy for any of us to grab the card basket and find a cozy nook to stop and write thanks to someone. This practiced art slows us down, it grounds us, and we dwell on the thankfulness of our blessings. I sometimes have a child seek out this basket so that he can make a card for someone, (this warms my heart every time).

folders in basket

I relish the skill of penmanship instilled in my kids. I delight in keeping their handwriting triumphs tucked in my memory box; to see how they spell things makes me smile. And I love seeing the desire to seek out another and thank them by giving back with a grateful heart.

Whether you put together a basket, or set up a desk area, find someone special in your life today and write them a note. We all have something to be thankful for in our lives.

 

I thank my God always when I remember you…”

Philemon 1:4

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