Did you catch #solareclipse fever this week? It was quite the mesmerizing event around here. While capable of making us feel incredibly small in the scope of this wide world, it also pulled us together to focus on a common goal.
This grandeur was possible through a “just so” alignment of the sun, moon, and our precious Earth. The eclipse was the “sweet spot” of these 3 celestial entities, causing quite a stir amongst us humans scrambling for our NASA sunglasses. For a few weighty moments, we were all unified in one purpose.
We all gazed upward into a vastness that we struggle to comprehend. We stilled ourselves in the midst of our daily routines, sharing in the anticipation of this cosmic event. It didn’t matter that we were wearing silly glasses and straining our necks awkwardly. We were aligned in one shared goal.
How great would it be to continue such true alignment with each other beyond these precious few moments?
I was heartened to see diverse crowds of people file into stadiums, stand shoulder to shoulder, then break into spontaneous applause as they were impacted by the aweof the moment.
Other people crossed state lines and joined strangers in open fields to partake in this unique experience, enduring long lines of traffic on the journey home, yet hopefully still full of the wonder they had just absorbed with a wider community than they are typically a part of…stretching out of their comfort zones.
In a nation that has been besieged by divisiveness and hurtful separation, it was encouraging to watch alliances form among strangers. In a country bombarded with negative headlines, it was refreshing to view positive interactions and meaningful conversations about a shared experience.
– – May our moments of alignment not be as fleeting as a rare solar eclipse. May we hold tightly to that sense of greater community and wholeness,leaning toward one another rather than away.
When we align together for a common purpose, we are more likely to be receptive to others – – to be open to their ideas and opinions. It weaves us closer. Joining together in community pulls us into alignment with one another in ways big and small. It doesn’t happen automatically. We have to put ourselves in position to connect…to stretch a bit out of our comfy zones of familiarity.
Maybe if we intentionally reach out in a small step toward someone out of our usual sphere each day, we won’t have to wait ’til 2024 to come together in unity again?
Confessions from a non-coffee drinker: sometimes I envy the built-in comforts associated with a fresh cup of steaming coffee. Not only does it provide a wallop of much-cherished caffeine, but it offers multi-sensory delights through its pungent aroma, sharp taste, and gentle warmth seeping through its mug. I just can’t quite develop the knack for its acrid flavor. I experiment occasionally to see if I can finally claim this piece of adulthood, usually by sneaking up behind a friend in line at Starbucks and “fake” ordering what she’s having (aka: decreasing the coffee strength & increasing the add-ins) to see if I can figure out what all the fuss is about.
Nope! Coffee drinking is just not my thing. I’m enamored by the slow-down factor involved though. I watch friends cradle their hot cups of coffee and see the wakefulness of a new day begin to emerge in their eyes.
I think it’s the opportunity to savor something for a few moments each morning that appeals to me. Coffee drinking is one of the few “socially accepted” ways to slow down or simple code for “gotta chat” when a friend asks you to meet for coffee.
I may not start each day with coffee, but I have been trying to adopt the process of savoring moments just a bit longer...as if I had to juggle a hot mug while navigating my world:
– allowing my eyes to linger a little longer on cheerful summer flowers, noticing vivid details & textures
– treading forward on a mundane walking path, awakening sleepy ideas to blossom into full-fledged brainstorms
– reflecting on an amazing anniversary trip
and reminiscing about all that we’ve carried together since our wedding 25 years ago…
– honoring the union of youthful promises and hopeful dreams we offered to each other that special day
– continuing to see each other through the other’s eyes as we explore new territory
– leaning toward one other amidst the twists & turns of life, sharing the load and lightening the burden when weariness looms large
– savoring time away from the usual routine, but also welcoming back the familiar rhythm of home
However your summer is winding down, I hope you’ll enjoy a cuppa and savor some of your favorite moments of this season.Meanwhile, I’ll be over here “practicing” with a chai latte my son made for me even though he’s a stickler for straight-up black coffee.
I’m soaking up all these mother-son moments, one sip at a time.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14
“Back in the day, when the Bison and Bear roamed freely on the natural landscape of Yellowstone, there was another animal that leapt through the reeds down by the lake… the Wild Weiner Dogs of Yellowstone frolicked with their long coats dancing in the wind…or so the story goes in the active imaginations of brothers having an adventure together.”
Our family set out on an adventure this summer. The Boys are 11, 10, 8 and 5, so we decided it was about time to give them a true taste of a road trip across country. We packed bags, pillows, books and games and then fueled it with coffee, chocolate and sunflower seeds to head out!
Our first 2 stops were with Friends that have become as Family to our lives. The Boys hunted license plates as we drove in to Colorado and then Oregon. Our 3rd stop was to see Family that we had told 6 years ago that we would visit…surprise, we made it!!Better late then never! And then on to Yellowstone and Mt Rushmore, (which are not even close to one another but our Boys had hearts set on both).
The car rides were long and the sleep was minimal. The views were spectacular and the conversations sweet. The bond of shared memories made was hands-down worth any effort involved.
We created art on a Oregon deck with Family after collecting huge pinecones on a nature walk.
We visited our Friends Church and walked a day in their footprint.
We played card games by the light of the Colorado sunset and our Friends fire pit.
We rallied a Family Kickball game in the fields that will be our Friends new school this year.
We picked Blackberries and Wild Flowers in unexplored fields and then enjoyed them at a dinner table with Friends.
We ate PBJ”s by a bubbling creek that we found under a beautiful bridge.
We taught our Boys how to be photographers and enjoy the view through a lens.
We showed our kids how to read a map and count the anticipated hours in the car for the next destination.
We celebrated special days with special people.
We shared more, hugged more, held hands and enjoyed one another’s company MORE in the closeness of a Road Trip.
As a girl, I rode many summers across country in my Grandparents Cadillac headed to Family Reunions. The memories are a treasure to my heart. And now another Layer has been added with the laughter of Brothers by a lake in Wyoming at the end of a day of Family hiking. The innocence of pure life and silliness enjoyed together. Enjoy A Road Trip with Loved Ones if you have the chance!
Give THANKS To The Lord And Proclaim His Greatness. Let The Whole World Know What He Has Done! Psalm 105:1
Last week while dropping my son off at camp, I was directed to park in my “place” amidst the caravan of cars parading in to deposit youngsters for the week. Unfortunately, my “place” was in 6+ inches of meddlesome mud. My son & I rallied to embrace this unexpected mire. We changed our shoes and soldiered onward. The mud slowed our pace as we took methodical steps to release the suction clinging to the bottom of our soles.
“Ssschhhhmucckkkk!” “Ssschhhhmucckk!” hissed each shoe, flinging droplets of mud up the back of our legs. As we plowed our way through the sloshy mud, we grinned at each other and aligned ourselves shoulder to shoulder as we arrived at the check-in corral. My son’s eyes sparkled as if to say, “I’ve got this.”
Ok, so there was a little grumbling involved on my part as I had to McGyver my way back to the car & magically transform my mud-encrusted feet back into drivable footwear, but I sensed we had made a memory…and something more.
In the minutes before exiting the dry refuge of the car, we rallied to problem-solve and put our heads together on how to get ourselves and his belongings to his cabin relatively dry (aka: not dropping anything into the mud along the way). These little moments are ways we teach boys how to remain calm, to access resources, and to think quickly about their next choice. It’s an opportunity to establish a confidence foothold…a tiny nudge to show this excited 11-year-old boy a glimpse into being a resourceful adult in a sticky situation.
Each time we are able to model confidence and grace in a stressful moment, we reflect those abilities back to our children so they can see themselves as confident and capable.
As Father’s day approaches, I’ve been thinking about experiences that have been fathering footholds for my boys.
We want our boys to mature into capable adults, faithful husbands, and loving fathers. This transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but in the minutia of daily life with an added layer of thoughtfulness woven in. If we don’t nudge, cajole, and shape these boys in social courtesy and “gentlemanly” prowess, how do they develop these skills so they’re finely honed and naturally expressed when these young men are adulting out there on their own?
I appreciate the “expectations” certain extracurricular groups set to reinforce these niceties. Learning to tolerate the discomfort of formal concert attire for orchestra performances or wearing business clothes all day for a key club convention is a good life lesson. Learning how to present themselves, make eye contact, and endure public speaking contributes to that young boy “trying on” the weight of adult responsibility in a supportive environment.
As parents we also have snippets of training time throughout our daily activities:
– mentioning a few pointers re: driving etiquette as our teens chauffeur us around on errands
– encouraging them to hold open doors or to return grocery carts for the elderly or frazzled mothers with toddlers
– sitting patiently in the passenger seat, awaiting one of the guys to open your door (and being gracious when it’s clear that you can do it yourself yet patiently allowing your young man to demonstrate this gesture of kindness)
Family vacations that broaden children’s perspectives and enhance an appreciation for things outside their “normal” have long-lasting impact.
I’m thankful for the encouragement and support that my boys have gotten along the way to offer them some fatherly footholds. Each of these positive contacts contributes to these young boys developing a foundation of manly self-confidence.
teachers that have gone beyond the classroom to challenge and mentor them in positive ways
a father that lets them lead, but is available with the backup map when needed
the grandfather that passed along his National Honor Society legacy pin to his grandson being inducted 60 years later
aunts that have repeatedly purchased popcorn and household gadgets through a variety of fundraisers
uncles that have teased and talked sports with the boys, making a big deal of the ones gradually outgrowing them
the kind elementary school principal that greeted each student by name at the door each day
a youth group pastor that meets them for donuts and reinforces their brotherly bonds
work crews that enthusiastically help on Eagle Scout projects
a Grandpa that drives long distances to join in Father’s Day activities and tease them about girls…and the whole nine yards
grandmas that have cheered for them on the sidelines of their chosen sports or clapped enthusiastically after a musical performance
Each time someone SHOWS UP and demonstrates interest in what a young boy is striving toward, that boy gains confidence about the young man he is becoming. It fuels his drive and motivates him along his path. It strengthens his armor, readying him in unseen ways for his future role of husband, worker, or father.
So, we wade through the mud with our children. We engage them in face-to-face conversation. We cultivate a love of our own alma mater, yet also release them to choose their own school that fits them best. We celebrate their wins and comfort them in their losses.
Each day in small, ordinary ways, we offer our boys little fatheringfootholds and entrust them to their ultimate Father figure, praying for guidance and growth.
As we celebrate the Dads around us this weekend, let us also be mindful of the young boys observing the fatherly traits all around them. Each interaction matters.
In honor of Father’s day, here’s to my grandfather who was a “gentle man and a gentleman.”
We all love a good story. It doesn’t matter your age. It’s even better if there are hidden gems of laughter, harrowing moments and happy endings. We just love getting lost in the detailed threads that tug at our hearts.
Our children love to hear “their stories”. They ask to hear them over and over. We laugh and gasp at all the same parts every time. And I realize that we add chapters to their stories with each day, each vacation, each experience, family event, tradition, hug and “I love you”. It’s in every ordinary and extraordinary day that we have.
The stories help cement it into each of our minds when we re-tell them; it’s something for all us.
Pictures and albums help with that too. The time spent in conversation is a layer of warmth for the soul that is something extra special. Face-to-face conversation is becoming less and less in our society; everyone wants the short and condensed version of events. But when you give some time to sharing, you will hear:
“Read it again, please!” and “Can you tell it again?” and then it turns into, “Remember, Mom and Dad, when I did this, and when that happened?”… It’s such a rich layer to a person.
When you have many children, this helps in giving that individual their unique identity. In a group setting, you can easily speak each child’s love language by reminiscing of a fond time together. It’s so easy to add this layer to your home, but it is becoming lost in our digital agendas. Fill your child up with words that champion them; show their hearts how spectacular they are. Hand them their legacy as your family shares past generations stories too. All of these conversations combined are a treasure, not bought. The value is priceless for our hearts.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. -Philippians 1:3
Snuggle-in, hug them, laugh with them, and reminisce—again and again.
When I was in 6th grade, I competed in the district spelling bee and lost because I added one letter to a word. My 6th-grade son recently competed in his school’s spelling bee and missed a word by forgetting one letter.
One letter matters.
In the world of spelling, one letter means the difference of staying “in” the competition or being “out.”
For enthusiastic writers who are vulnerably casting out their manuscripts only to be met with a flood of rejection letters, ONEletter of acceptance matters. One letter shifts the novice writer from being an amateur to being “in” as a published author. This inclusion is savored.
For the widow that spends many hours and even days alone, receiving a single handwritten note makes a meaningful difference. One letter can change her perspective from feeling lonely to loved. She feels remembered.
When a spouse is deployed overseas and is feeling the weight of isolation and homesickness, one letter from a loved one back home draws him a little closer to family. A familiar scrawl or silly doodle on the envelope tugs those hearts together a little tighter. He feels connected.
In a world of digital pictures and casual greetings available through Facebook and texts, even one handwritten letter delivered by snail mail on your birthday can transform all those virtual well wishes into a tangible token of love. There’s something special about holding a letter in your own hand that was in your friend’s hand just a few days ago.One letter can ground you, reminding you of a precious friendship. You feel known.
So last week when I was fighting a head cold and clutching my kleenex box, I hunkered down and wrote some letters:
to my son traveling on an exchange trip to China, hiding one in his suitcase under a box of Thin Mints and giving another letter to a friend to deliver to him midway through their trip (the potential embarrassment, I think, is worth a little sneakiness!)
to a Chinese couple whom I may never meet, but I’m entrusting the care of my 16-year-old son to them for 3 weeks while they generously host him in their home (sigh)
to a nephew, apologizing for belated birthday wishes
to an aunt undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, offering hope and encouragement while also recognizing her strength
a “thank you” to a loved one who sewed some pillows for me that I’ve been “planning” for years. Confession: I cheated on this one. I took a picture of the pillows tucked into their new nook and a sent her a text of gratitude. (Go Bears!)
to a college friend, wishing her the joys of another birthday
Throughout the week as I wrote to each person, I focused on the recipient. I considered their particular situation, reflecting on the connection between us and conjuring up some words to send their way. Before long, I was no longer aware of my stuffy head and my pesky cough. My mood improved as I redirected my attention to a loved one or reminisced about a dear friend.
Aligning letters on paper to transform them into a message to someone else is a magical thing, something we often taken for granted.
Words are used a lot of different ways in our home. We are seekers of knowledge and explorers of the written word. Our bookshelves are weighed down with words.
The boys are always working on a vocabulary list or conjugating verbs in a language I don’t understand.
Words surround us.
Letters weave in and out of our home daily, an endless merry-go-round of giving and receiving. Some of them we glance over; some of them stop us in our tracks. One letter can shift the atmosphere around us, crackling with anticipation or casting a somber chill.
Which letter do you cling to most?
The letter that I’m drawn back to again and again is the Word of God. Each time I read it, I gain a new perspective and gain a deeper understanding of something bigger than me. It stirs my soul.
I’m grateful for this ultimate gift. The holy Word is God’s letter to us.
It’s full of wisdom and adventure, heartbreak and triumph, joy and strength, loss and redemption, strife and struggle…but most of all, its message is love. It offers us hope.
——->>>>> THISone lettermakes all the difference to me.