Sometimes it’s good to reflect on one’s past so the path toward the future is a little clearer. We are grateful for the opportunity to share here each week with you. Thank you for the support, friends!
“It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God, but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the Ordinary things in life and holy on the Ordinary streets among Ordinary people, and this is not learned in five minutes.” -Oswald Chambers
How do we live in the Ordinary? Continue on this journey with us; the fellowship is sweet…
Last year was our first Easter season in our new home in a city where we have multiple layers of family ties.
Each family unit already had its “Easter tradition” and our boys have long phased out of the egg hunts, so we came up with a non-traditional approach to gather the multitudes family together in a casual way:
the 1st annual Hot Dog Roast Eggstravaganza!
We figured a hot dog roast was a pretty low maintenance endeavor AND gave us a great excuse to make smores! #duh
We boiled some eggs and brought all the dyeing supplies outside. I don’t know about you other busy mommas, but anytime I can move the mess outside is a victory for all of us!
Egg dyeing brings generations together in a fun way. The young ones crawl up on the table to reach their favorite colors while the older set tells stories of their own Easter egg hunts when they were children.
The dads get to poke the fire and eat meat. The moms get to observe all of this unfold messily before their eyes, tucking these moments in their hearts.
It’s not exactly “breaking bread” together in the traditional communion sense, but there’s a whole lot of fellowship as eggs are dunked, cracked, and colored in a variety of unique styles.
Hands young and old come together, some getting more stained than others as eggs drop into cups with a colorful splash. Love seeps through the chaos of reaching over one another, saturating the family connections even as the hues deepen on the eggs.
Sooo… you’ve got my permission (not that you need it) to go easy on yourself if you’re feeling any pressure of keeping “tradition” just for the sake of tradition that feels too stressful to maintain. Maybe this is a year to try something new? or to tweak something a bit in a new direction?
As your kids get older, let them participate in different ways to help out and free yourself from some of the “shoulds” that try to creep into our busymom brains. Let them decorate or set the table their way. Embrace the silly that naturally ensues from their eagerness and excitement. Be IN the group pic WITH them. 😊
Gathering together and showing the love of Christ with one another in a family activity can make some sweet memories. It’s not about a perfectly decorated egg, but the sweet perfection of us all being kids together for a little while.
Enjoy the moments…whether it be smores or a nice brunch; an early sunrise service on Easter morning or a full church service packed with girls in frilly skirts that compel them to twirl.
May the spirit of Christ bless you wherever you are this Easter weekend. And hold tight to those egg-dyed hands beside you. 👭👫
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.
Today was one of those mornings that I found myself hunting for cold-weather running layers for my son’s first winter cross country practice, rounding up loose change for a fundraiser this evening, and helping my youngest print out last-minute pictures of Crater Lake for a poster project. During the typical breakfast hustle, I found myself searching for this random mix of items reminiscent of a junior high scavenger hunt, trying to beat the clock before the bus came.
Next, in a clean-up pass through the house, I dropped a water bottle which rolled under my son’s bed. On my knees peering warily underneath his bed, I discovered some books, a camping chair, several balled-up socks, pages of sheet music, lego bits, a broken pencil, a soccer ball, multiple candy wrappers from a Halloween stash, a sleeping bag, a couple charger cords, and two dimes amidst all the dust jackrabbits (mysterious fluff too big to be labeled mere dust bunnies). Between a sigh of exasperation and a sudden gouge in my knee from a sharp Lego, I tried to remind myself that this was just the hodgepodge of boyhood.
Our lives are a blend of things, experiences and people, intersecting all the time in a tangle of unique ways. Sometimes we get a glimpse of how these daily artifacts blend together by facing what’s under the bed, clearing out a closet, or sorting through what’s landed in our garage.
Blending traditions can be tricky. As young married couples put up their first Christmas trees, they may find themselves negotiating all-white lights vs. colored lights, opening presents Christmas Eve vs. Christmas morning, turkey vs. ham, etc. None of this is in the wedding vows, folks. Tread lightly and listen wisely.
As I start my holiday baking season, I add ingredients into my mixer and watch it all blend together into golden batter. I pour it into pans and sprinkle it with a sugared pecan mix, remembering how my mother-in-law’s hands did this for so many years. Her handwritten recipe is the one I follow now, a tradition I treasure. My husband’s memories of Christmas coffee cake now blend into my children’s taste of Christmas morning.
Holidays are a time of blending…families from her side and his; families from in-town and out-of-state; recipes from generations past and new ones beckoning from Pinterest; traditions old and spontaneously new. Each year the blending may have a different flavor depending on who is gathered around your table or who may no longer be in pictures with you Christmas morning. A natural blending over time allows things to settle in gradually, highlighting what experiences are important to the family storyline and are carving deeply into tradition.
Some holiday activities we’ve incorporated over time in an intentional way, such as an evening family advent activity.
Other traditions have erupted from spontaneous fun, like marshmallow tag that leaves us all giggling and breathless, overflowing with a sense of family connectedness.
Blending all of our usual family activities in with those of the holiday can be a challenge. I have to remind myself of a few things to navigate this season well:
Proceed at a moderate pace. (maintain own pace, not others’)
Enjoy the distinct parts of the season.
Cherish the beautiful outcomes; laugh at the jumbled messes that also come along naturally.
Treasure the history that has gotten us to this point.
Allow dreams of the future to unfold under the golden lights of the Christmas tree.
Loosen grudges; tighten hugs.
Encourage others in their way of celebrating; leave competition on the sports field.
Reach out. (Repeat often.)
Hum with the Christmas music; sparkle with the lights.
Sometimes family traditions can be simple and not take much time, yet still foster a strong connection between family members.
The Gratitude Pumpkin is super easy. All you do is select one of your pumpkins that wasn’t sacrificed into a jack-o-lantern and grab a sharpie marker.
Then simply take turns writing a word or phrase of gratitude.
I love the unfolding of different colors and handwriting scrawls as the words of gratitude wind themselves around and around the pumpkin. As the pumpkin fills with gratitude messages, we realize that our gratitude is wide, ranging from Legos to forgiveness. We see a mutual appreciation for family, friends, and a safe country.
Last year we did this activity on our front porch, adding a gratitude in the morning while we waited for the bus …or in the evening as we enjoyed impromptu frisbee or football out in our front yard.
It’s very casual, not structured at all.
We didn’t realize until later that our little pumpkin was blessing whoever came to our door. In a season of frequent deliveries from Amazon or having family over for holiday events, it became a special welcome moment as people paused to read about our thankfulness.
Dinner is over. Boys are in the kitchen messing around doing dishes. Dad and I sneak out calmly walk out of the kitchen and down the hall. The boys’ voices escalate to fever pitch blend in cheerful unison to their blaring peppy playlist. We look at each other knowingly: it’s time.
We kick off our shoes and I toss off my hoodie.
Taking a deep breath, we rip open two bags of large marshmallows and load up. Armed with handfuls of sugary fluffballs, we are ready…
We pad in our socksstealthily approach the boys unaware and we begin to bombard them with marshmallows. Shrieking erupts as boys duck behind counters and hide behind each other.
We fire off as many marshmallows as we can before they have time to retrieve them and return a barrage at us. Soon they are pelting each other with marshmallows, then ganging up on us. Giggles break out between shrieks of delight and whispers of strategy.
I get a brief reprieve as I corral our golden retriever to put her outside; she’s enthusiastically smacking her lips from the mouthful of marshmallows she’s already snagged.
White blobs blur by my head and soft splats echo as marshmallows find their wriggling targets.
Alliances form and my husband guards my back as I gather up more soft ammo, now sticky from all those sweaty hands. We emerge back-to-back and throw jet-puffed balls at whatever moving targets we can see. The tide turns quickly as our conniving loving offspring smush the marshmallows into large balls and throw at us rapid-fire.
We duck, breathing heavily gazing at each other with laughter…and my husband eventually calls a truce the finale when he sees that more marshmallows are sticking to cabinets than bouncing off the floors.
During arsenal reloading clean-up, the boys swap stories and exclaim excitedly as they find marshmallows in curious places.
It’s a wrap: another no tears and nobody got hurt successful indoor snowball fight is in the books.
It’s cheap inexpensive family fun that allows parents to act sillycrazy wild like kids and to bring a little outdoor experience inside when winter days are stretching long.
Marshmallow tag is a win-win!!
Dare to ambush surprise your kiddos with some spontaneous fun. If you’re feeling especially naughty brave, go for the jumbo-sized marshmallows snowballs!