Striving to Become Unnecessary

 

family

I was solo-parenting on a Saturday that was jam-packed with soccer games for all four boys. My husband was at work and I had rallied and was ready for the daunting task of transport, snack-prep, hands-on game cheering, after-game breakdown and car loading… times four!

soccer-day

The day sailed smoothly along. It was like a well oiled machine; fluid movement, happy boys, proud mom at the feeling of success. At the last game of the day as my 7-year-old son and I were weaving through the parking lot headed for his field, and I was once again in this day lugging wagon, water jugs, balls, blankets, and chairs, I found myself a little more weary than the first round hours earlier. My son, a few feet ahead of me turns back and says, “I’ll run ahead, Mom. You can just meet me there. It’s really okay because you’re not that necessary“.

Ouch. Sucker punch to my gut.

He must have seen me wince because he quickly added, “Mom, you know I’ll always love you; I’ll see you there”.

I forced a smile. Once I got my bearings, this is what my take-away from that moment was…it was hard, but truth… What am I really trying to accomplish each day that I walk through with my children? Isn’t the end result of childhood for my part to become unnecessary“?

Wow, that’s hard to grasp. It sounds wrong; like I don’t want that at all! But then I remembered my son’s next statement, “you know I’ll always love you”. And really, I don’t want all my children to grow into adults and be fully dependent on my husband and I. We strive to give them life skills so they will be well-rounded independent men.

love-holding“Unnecessary” is a hard word to accept. For a little kid, a parent is very necessary for survival!! So I thought through it and have decided that it is really true; I am striving to become unnecessary. It’s my parent job, but I love that second part! If I can give them all they need to do life well without me one day, but also infuse a deep love within them,  then I will get to see them turn back to honor love amongst us. And my day will be complete.

Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.   -Jeremiah 17:7 NLT

 

 

a handful

Mom, you’re talking too fast. You’re moving like you’re in a hurry.”

Guilty as charged.

I was in my son’s bedroom, navigating through piles of balled-up socks, damp clothes and boy gadgets he had dumped onto his floor after a scout campout. I knew that we had limited time before we would be leaving for a youth group activity. My mind was a whirlwind of details in order to have him “ready” for his first full school week. My goal was for my new sixth grader to come home from youth group and transition smoothly into his bedtime “routine” (not that we’re back to that yet, but I’m hopeful). An inner voice from past experience prodded me to push him through all this prep work, knowing that he would be exhausted and we would both be cranky if we faced all of this in the bedtime prelude.

growing boyI was acutely aware of the various tasks my son needed to accomplish in the time available. I was also keenly attuned to his need for a chunk of downtime. I had even asked him what his preference would be: rest before or after the tasks at hand? He said after. We both heard it. We moved forward with this “plan.” I followed his little body as he dragged himself lethargically up the stairs. Quietly I reminded myself to only give him one-step directions. We crossed the threshold of his room and targeted the campfire-smoked clothes pile first.

Within minutes I could tell that his sleep-deprived, camped-out body disagreed with his verbal agreement to this plan. His sluggish synapses had apparently voted “no,” too. Staying on task was not happening. Patience was squirmy to hold onto for both of us.boy in afghan

That would have been a REALLY good moment to recognize the realities at hand and revert to the “take a break first” option. I didn’t. I pressed on, trying to engage him in chatting about his first float trip — a flimsy attempt to boost the we’re-in-this-together morale. It’s possible that I quickened my pace and was doing more for him that he would typically do for himself. Our momentum ground to a halt when I heard,

Mom, you’re talking too fast! You’re moving like you’re in a hurry.”

 

Yep. I was. I looked down at my hands heaped high with boy stuff and glanced over at his slumped posture. Busted. I dropped the pile on his bed and we talked it through. We reconnected and evened out our pace. He did get a recharge break and had a delightful time later that evening, exuding energy and laughter.

boy swinging

This brief interaction was a poignant reminder of how easily we impact our children in those hurried moments of life. I’m grateful my son  was able to speak up and that I was finally able to hear him. I’m thankful for God’s grace which allows us to keep practicing at this parenting stuff.

My devotional the very next morning reinforced this lesson:


“Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:6

handful of quietBoy, did that hit home! I’ll be pondering this one a while. Quieting our multi-tasking momma brains is so hard and our busy hands tend to come with the territory of motherhood, right?

May each of us discover a little quietness in ourselves so we can reflect a bit more calmness to those around us. Amen?

“Ice Cream and Cake! Ice Cream and Cake!

you are specialA sea of balloons crashes into his bed. He opens his eyes and smiles at the crazy amount of colors that cover the carpet in his room. There is no denying what day it is, and he is not surprised by the display that brightly states: “Time to Celebrate You!” He’s not shocked because his mom does this every year on his birthday; he anticipates the familiar.

Celebrations of Life are meant to be extravagant. They can be simple or complex, cheap or expensive, long or short interactions… but however they play out , make them meaningful and rich in detail. the wish When those fleeting thoughts wander down the trail saying that a child will not remember all the details of a birthday… shout out “yep! that’s right.”  Then get back on course and remember that you are  celebrating the one,  so that they can store up an abundance of how special they are to someone.make a cakeIMG_8837

Each of us has a place in our hearts that stores up love, acceptance, and all the good self-esteem “stuff”  that others pour into our lives. Just like anything else, it becomes depleted at times. Birthday celebrations are a beautiful way to fill our loved ones hearts to overflow each year.

Here is a sampling of ideas (knowing you will begin to remember many of your own as you read mine). I don’t do all of them each year, but I do pick a few for my children and spouse so their hearts are replenished. Every family is unique. Seasons differ in our lives. A Celebration of Life each year reminds us that we have purpose, love, and an identity.

Time to Make a Wish!

Birthday Balloons, a Special Plate, Birthday Breakfast, a Favorite Meal, a yummy Dessert to make a wish on, Gifts in all forms: small, big, bought, made, handwritten with love, a New Outfit, Family Album out for viewing, incorporating Extended Family, over-the-top Parties and quiet get-away Parties, playing Hooky for a day with a loved one, Surprise hugs, stories of affirmation, gathering of friends and family, a note tucked under a pillow or in a backpack.

Quantity Time is the icing, but Quality Time is the memorable cake.

“There is no way to be a perfect parent, but there are a million ways to be a good one.”   -Jill Churchill

special plate

Hints of hospitality

Throughout the year we have houseguests and like to welcome them in small ways so that they feel special.

hydrangea blossoms– Cutting some flowers from the garden and plunking them into an empty garden pot on an outdoor table

– Jotting a welcome note onto the dry erase board propped on the kitchen counter.

– Stacking some magazines on the guest’s bed

-Setting out a try of cold drinks

– Baking some cookies..and perhaps adding some bonus chocolate chips 🙂bonus chocolate chips

– Leaving a stack of freshly laundered towels and new body wash in the guest bathroom

– Providing an empty basket for their family to use as a catch-all for their traveling items

– Writing out our network name and WiFi password so it’s easily accessible


hospitality = the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers

hello door and rainbow wreath

Hospitality is easily nurtured by including everyone in your family. Encourage your children to greet guests at the door and invite kids into their activities.

Set out some fidget toys or old-fashioned games to help get them started.

A family pet can be a great distraction to push through any awkward getting-to-know-you jitters.doggy welcomeSometimes hospitality is welcoming your own people back home after summer camp…welcome home goodie bag

Or perhaps your spouse knows you’ve had a long day and provides you with a fruity drink in a fun souvenir glass…then joins you for a few quiet moments.

boat drink

All of these little touches communicate “you are known” and “you are welcome here.” We are ambassadors of our families and can minister Christ’s love to others through simple gestures.

So, put out that welcome mat and open your hearts for whoever may cross your threshold today!

welcome mat

“…seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13

Nerf wars

When you hear the phrase “Nerf war” do you envision hoardes of kids running through your house and yard shooting orange darts all over creation?

Or…do you imagine all the times you’ve been frustrated by the growing piles of dart guns scattered all over your house and have the urge to declare war on all things Nerf?

(I once found a dart in my ice maker…Whaaaat? “Somebody” had to have the freezer door hanging wide open while another “somebody” blasted him with darts?!?)pile of dart guns

We have a little bit of both going on over here. With some inspiration from an old Pinterest post, we put our heads together to create some neutral territory.

Step 1: Claim some unused pegboard and attach it to the back of closet door in the garage (thanks to my hubby for some carpentry assist)

Step 2: Gather all the Nerf dart paraphernalia, relish in all their glory (btw: one of us partook of this step more robustly than the other)

Step 3: Scavenger hunt all over the garage for pegboard hooks of various sizes (sorry, broom: your resting place is now on the floor)

Step 4: Puzzle through all the different dart gun shapes and hang them within easy reach of active boysboy with dart pegboardStep 5  – Kids: Call your buddies over to launch a Nerf war! Parents: bask in the fact that all the Nerf stuff is OUT of your house. Woohoo!

*Optional steps if you want to up your game:

  • Visit your local hardware store and get some dart-orange paint (Valspar 2010-2 “Island Orange” was our choice. We got a sample can for $3.)

  • Use painter’s tape to mark off a pattern

  • Let your kiddo paint away! Let paint dry and then do a second coat.

    boy painting pegboard

  • After paint is thoroughly dry, carefully pull off painter’s tape to reveal your kid’s design.

  • Load up the pegboard with Nerf guns (and maybe a light saber or two)

Gear up:

Nerf gun pegboard

Get READY…

boys talking dart strategy

+++++ AIM +++++

geared up

boys and Nerf guns

Fire away! —————–>>>

boys geared up with Nerf guns

…and, good luck finding all the darts before the lawnmower gets them first! 🙂

Colors, and Glitter and Hydration, O My!

spiral bottles

I have been having so much fun playing with paint and glitter the last few months! These wreaths are made of water bottles.  I have hand-painted and spray painted to get the results I want. After paint, I douse them in glitter. (My hubby has shown great patience with the glitter, but did finally mention that the dogs were sparkly!!) 

more bottlesAfter they dry, I cut the bottom off and then begin cutting around the bottle until I reach the top. It leaves a great ribbon effect that has a boing to it!

bottlesThe really fun part comes when it’s time to put the wreath together. A simple metal form is all that’s needed as you begin to weave the spirals through it.                                                         

The possibilities are pretty much endless, the cost is minimal for the supplies, and my favorite thing about this wreath is that it does not attract bugs, spider webs, wasps nesting, etc. because those creepy crawlies don’t linger on plastic. Also a bonus that it is waterproof!

Super fun and eye-catching! Also quite addictive to make…my garage walls are filling up with seasonal ones that my mind comes up with faster than I can paint! I have made these in all sorts of color combos for family, friends and a few sweet paying customers.                                                

rwb wreathIf you would like more info on these, don’t hesitate to send me a message; I’m always happy to talk all things with glitter involved! If you love them as much as I do, but would like someone else to make it, then I’m your gal, too! Happy Creative Day to Y’all!

daily life transformed by God into extraordinary tapestries

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