Tag Archives: daily life

A Place to Dream

old playset

 

As I looked at a tired part of a swing set at a friend’s house that had been relegated to the back corner of the yard, a moment of inspiration hit me… Their daughter, who is in middle school, walked with me, and I heard the combination of grown-up banter mingled with sweet innocence of youth still on the outskirts of our conversation. Every age should have a place to dream their dreams; and at every age that place looks different. She no longer went out to swing from monkey bars anymore, but that set was not quite finished; repurposing is always fun!  We began to devise a plan and take this summertime to dream.

pails and twine   pinwheels  pails

 

She listed her favorite things: colors, twinkle lights, soft spots to linger, seashells, bunting, art supplies…

( the list itself was fun to dream!)

We kept the budget friendly, and made several things, which was more fun then buying them anyway!!

Let me show you what we created with a bit of dreams:

 

place to dream

oh so fun!

ribbon bunting

We made ribbon bunting with scrap pieces she had collected.                                                                             By tying them to some twine it made a whimsical addition to                                                                           string across the front entry.  

 

umbrella

She had a faded umbrella that was headed to the trash, but we saved it and placed it inside for a dreamy ceiling.

 

We suspended one piece of art in a window opening with twine to create an outdoor room.  enjoy moments

 

The time we spent putting this together was sweet in itself, but the opportunities for quiet moments, chats with her mom, a special place as friendships unite… such a treasure. A place to dream comes in every shape and size; the imagination is limitless! Take time this summer to set up a dream spot for a child, a loved one and absolutely for yourself! (Its more fun and less expensive than all those stress relievers out there.)

 

rainbow

only girl

Recently we had some friends over for an impromptu pizza dinner after soccer games were finished for the day. Our combo of kids resulted in an 8 boys:1 girl ratio. The solo girl told her mother on the way home, “the mom is the only girl in their house.” Oh, so very true! During her visit I enjoyed digging out some “girl stuff” from my play therapy toy stash. I invited her to play with my collection of Lego Friends I’ve received from my boys during their Legos-for-every-occasion phase that lasted persistently for years. I listened to her little girl chatter, noting the lack of crash-bang-argh sound effects that typically accompany boy play at our house. I watched as she fidgeted with her long, tousled hair as she told me stories with vibrant animation. She was enamored with our baby turtle, Pipsqueak. She had so many words and was so willing to share.Salsa

Just as our young visitor had the realization that I was the only girl in my house, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve become accustomed to how my sons dole out their words at a slowly measured rate as if they need to conserve their syllables to last the remainder of the day. I’ve noticed how they interact playfully with me and show affection in boyish ways that don’t require stringing all those nouns and verbs together. Much of their communication is through touch and sound.

I’ve got one boy who is my Leaner. As he’s grown taller than me, he’s developed a lean-in stance when he drapes over me for a hug. He stands very still but is so fully present that it seeps into my heart like a soft rain soaks deeply into the ground. Often he will hum softly as his breathing slows and I feel the man-child weight of him pressing onto my shoulders. He releases with a big sigh and we’re both a little more centered somehow.

morning hugAnother son has developed his technique of the hold-and-squeeze. He comes in for a “typical” hug then holds me tight, waiting for an off-beat amount of precious seconds to do a double-squeeze that sometimes takes my breath away. Occasionally I’ll get a few mini-squeezes in before he loosens his hold on me. I can sense the melody of his mood in how he prolongs the hug or stays only for a brief skirmish. Sometimes we’ll finalize with a rhythmic tap-tap of our fingers, drumming onto each other’s backs without saying a word–yet also saying so much. This seems like a foreshadowing of the letting-go process we face when he leaves for college in a heartbeat.

contented boy

My last one I can still tuck under my chin when he dives all-in, often leading with his head and wrapping around me with all of his limbs. I often wonder how many limbs he has because they are EVERYwhere! A lot of swaying and giggles accompany this hugfest, especially if he gets a firm headrub or backscratch out of the deal. He lingers longer if a variety of wiggly movement is sustained in this light-hearted encounter, reminding me that his primary Love Language is Physical Touch. Squirmy love is his forte; I have adapted my reflexes accordingly.

mandevilla bloomSo, yes, I am the only girl in this house, but I’ve learned to communicate “boyspeak” as I’ve grown along with them. They can out-talk me about sports, outrun me in 5k races, and definitely out-eat me at any given meal…yet they can’t outgrow the mommy-son bonds weaved ever so tightly during all these leaning, squeezing, squirmy moments.


“Behold, children are a gift from the Lord… His reward.” Psalm 127:3


“Mother’s day” has passed yet each of us mommas can harvest these little snatches of our child’s affection however they may come. It may be braiding your daughter’s hair for the umpteenth time or gritting your teeth through those first driving lessons. A wink, a nudge, a crayon drawing, a morning grunt or an after-school story…cherish these tokens of your child’s unique interaction with you. We’ve got 50 weeks until the next round of “direct” appreciation the card-makers will remind everyone about. In the meantime, soak up the ordinary love today, my friends.

Starter threads

How does God transform the ordinary threadsthose events and experiences of our day-to-day moments…into extraordinary tapestries of our unique life stories? How can we honor His workmanship as He does this artful transformation in us? 

Beginningsspools of thread

Each of us are given “starter” threads that are unique to us. These are individualized and personal, representing a broad spectrum of colors, unique textures, and varied lengths. We develop our threads over time, through life experiences and choices we make. We’re impacted by those around us, whether they nurture and encourage us, strengthening us and weaving us tight…or whether they don’t.

yarnAs parents we have the opportunity to nurture these “starter” threads in our children, to provide them with what they need to grow. Do we settle for the basics? Or do we strive for a complicated weaving of academics and extracurricular activities to stretch them? How do we balance what each individual child needs in the midst of a large family? How do we buffer our children from negative life experiences that are inevitable? When do we protect and when do we challenge? When do we WEAVE in and strengthen their fragile strands? When do we step back and allow them to make their own connections, threading our past into their future?

embroidery flossThrough Jesus’ offering, we have the capacity to become a beautiful tapestry representing His love and strength. Focusing on Him each day to help us develop our threads in the most beautiful way possible is our challenge. We are His design, but we have to yield to His process. This can feel out-of-control and messy at times. I struggle to maintain an openness to His work in me. Yielding is hard to do.


“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit in me.” Psalm 51:10


pillow tapestryA tapestry can be decorative or functional, providing warmth and comfort. It can represent one’s cultural influences or historical significance. A tapestry includes many different textures which add depth and reflect unique characteristics. Some parts may be rough while others are soft. Some portions may be scratchy where the threads were rubbed the wrong way. This may represent a time when we weren’t following God’s plan for us — going against the grain/weave He intended for us.

Tapestries have a vast array of colors. The more color is woven into one’s tapestry, the more life experiences it represents. Colors that are deeply saturated reflect intense experiences whereas lighter colors may reflect more carefree times in our lives.

throw blanket

At first glance a tapestry may be a beautiful blend of textures and colors. Look closer, though, and you discover the knots of imperfections within the weave. These are the hard times that we needed to work through or soak in until gradually we were able to knot the threads and resume our course. We continue rather than start over. We knot and move on, continuing our tapestry. A loose strand or two may be left dangling for another season when we’re more “capable” of making a knot. These scraggly knots and bumps are an important part of our tapestry. They are part of our history. These knotty imperfections make us easier to relate to, reflecting our humanness and tie us together with universal common threads. Without these, we are diminished and plain. With them, we have depth and vibrancy.

Some days we feel about to unravel. Other days we may be tied up in knots over something. Whatever our current season, let us take a moment to embrace the work God is doing in each of us, knitting us closer to Him in His grand design…one frayed strand at a time.



“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14



 

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

Sprintering

blossoming pear treesHeading out for my morning walk, I was besieged with the aroma of budding pear trees all over the neighborhood. I glanced down and saw all the blossoms that had been whisked out of the trees and pelted by cold rain.blossoms washed away

Spring is trying sooooo hard to break out and assert herself, then a push of winter comes back through and surprises us with its briskness.

In much the same way I often start feeling energized with the hopes of spring, trolling through garden centers and jumping into visions of green and color all around, then I’m reminded by the “helpful” cashier that there may still be a freeze which would knock out my pretties. Drat.

I may have a lot of creative energy bursting with ideas one day, then a restless night comes and the next day I’m muddling through mental fog. Or I may start the week with an ambitious gameplan, but midweek something unforeseen occurs and I’m practicing my adaptability again, forging through the weeds to find beauty in the dailyness of responsibilities. flowers vs weedsI have a hard time sorting through all the random fluctuations in my mind and body at this time of year. The mix of spring and winter features outside somehow mirrors my unsettledness…I can’t quite put my finger on how to explain it, but when I talk to others, they seem to feel IT, too. It’s like we’re Sprintering: we want to be in the robustness of spring, but winter still nudges in.

The passage in Ecclesiastes 3 about there being “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” keeps coming to mind. It’s all about the transition — the Sprintering– between big seasons in our lives. When we are fully planted in a season, it’s easier to embrace all that particular season encompasses. Often we even have some social protocols to follow in certain seasons, clinging to these guidelines with all our might. The transitions in between are trickier, though, especially if others around you are not in your season. It’s squishy ground and we don’t like that sinking feeling of ambiguity.

So, if you’re feeling a bit unsettled or you’re having an off day, consider this: you may have a touch of Sprintering, too. Hang in there: Spring is knocking. Perhaps we have to acknowledge a few lingering lessons from Winter we still have to tuck in before we’re fully prepared to welcome Spring wholeheartedly.

blossoming redbud

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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