Thursday, October 20, 2016

Recent Creations

Never have I considered myself particularly creative, but in my 30's I have come to see the value in developing what sense of creativity I do posses. I see the value of it for my children, too, and I find it interesting to see how each has creative gifts and tendencies that are different one from the other. I have a feeling that allowing a child to develop and nurture his or her creative abilities will prove beneficial in countless ways, especially if the pursuit of creative endeavors replaces hours of screen time. The same holds true for exploration and experimentation.

For parents, this means providing our children with simple resources and allowing them to attempt many unusual ideas. Sometimes it means messes. Sometimes it requires us to set aside some notion that they are being wasteful. Sometimes we must allow them to use "dangerous" things like knives and fire and broken glass. The result is that learning is taking place, as is the development of new gifts and abilities, and an appreciation for other people's work and creativity.

Moms to little ones, may I encourage you to intentionally think about what will be valuable to your kids later while your kids are still young? And then start young. An older child addicted to video games, for instance, will have a very hard time learning the joy of both work and creative, productive play if this is not a way of life from an early age. If I could go back, I'd be even more lenient about messes and consumption of resources. I'd try harder to value the learning process over my neat and tidy plan, and I'd embrace accomplishments and imagination rather than bemoan the mess and "waste."

Encourage even the simplest of creations. It's cool when my kids think of something they would like to try or make, it's even cooler when they actually do it. Encourage the attitude of doing and making.

These are some of the little creations I've had the pleasure of seeing my kids enjoy recently...

A unicycle made by Andrew. He uses popsicle sticks that are split lengthwise with a razor cutter and he assembles the pieces with hot glue.

Then while Andrew was at football practice, Michael made and gifted him with this bicycle.
 The spokes are only threads of hot glue.

The next day, Andrew came out with this helicopter. I think I detect some healthy competition? :)

My boys have also developed a sudden interest in plants, and now terrariums in containers of interesting shapes and origins.

Sometimes ideas or projects are copied, and sometimes this creates sibling conflict. 
Always, this provides an opportunity to work through the issues and, over time, mutual respect and maturity grows.

Tiny plant in the glass of a light bulb~
The base is two pieces of popsicle sticks glued together, and four drops of glue provide a stand.

Apart from these, there are colored salt crystals growing in jars on my kitchen window sill, various mosses growing in various containers in the boys' bathroom, projects with macadamia nuts from our neighbor's tree, containers of who-knows-what outside, "exploding" throwing star, the backyard tree with it's pulleys and buckets, experiments with melting CDs, and numerous other projects I can't think of now or don't even know about!

Olivia is my painter and drawer and musician. She is amazing, but she has less and less time now, which makes me encourage the boys to enjoy the freedom they have now. Creative type play and experimentation are not a fruitless pursuits.


I'm still learning that people are more important than most other things going on in my day. I have to force myself sometimes to stop - just stop! - and revel in someone else! This could easily become a long rabbit trail, but for me that means fighting hard against my impulse to keep at my busyness. I'm working at not allowing my face and hands and even my breathing to indicate to my husband and kids that their interests and ideas are uninteresting or unimportant to me. The following is a quote that has long stuck in my mind~

"Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big. Because to them all of it has been the big stuff."
C. M. Wallace

Look and listen intently to your loved ones. This can express love louder than your words.


Diligent Daughter

After an early morning and many hours of testing (PSAT) and schooling yesterday, I found her like this in our sunroom. She is a hard worker, a smartie, and a treasure of a daughter.

After amazing test scores last year (as a freshman), she is already receiving daily solicitations from colleges and universities. If they only knew the desire of her heart...


Friday, October 14, 2016

On Thanksgiving and Thriving

I have an intense fear of social media. I supposed that's a bit odd given the fact I've written thousands of words here. I still think online social media can be a dangerous thing; I'd hate to unintentionally say something that brings disgrace to my husband, family, or church. I realize that words get misinterpreted and misrepresented all the time, and I'd much rather avoid the trouble. Plus, it's my opinion that social media can be a modern way for women to be idle, busybodies, going from "house to house" and saying what they should not (1 Tim. 5: 13). So that scares me.

Anyway, I got a little freaked out again recently. I pulled away, even contemplated shutting down this blog. I am blind to many things, and I know there's much I don't know I don't know. (Confusing? Read slowly!) In other words, I can be naive.

I'm reminded of Proverbs 17:28-- "Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent."

Well, I'm back here for now. It's Friday and it's beautiful out and I have a rare moment to write. I'm sitting on the hammock swing on my deck in my cut-off high-waist Levis because I have a weakness for such things... and it's Friday.

Soon I will need to make a dinner to pack because we have three football games tonight and my people will inevitably be hungry. I'd be fine with an apple and some trail mix, but no, big kids who play hard need more food. Michael is currently on a long bike ride and the younger boys have transformed the living room into a war zone for Nerf guns. They will surely be hungry before their games begin.

Here is a picture I took with Michael this morning because he seemed so tall to me. A few more fractions of an inch and he will reach the 6' mark.

The following is just what's been on my heart lately....

"Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see."  ~Corrie Ten Boom

We love to listen to audio books in our home. We have consumed hours and hours of literature in this way. Audio books have not only expanded my kids' education and increased their understanding of history and human nature, they have also provided wholesome entertainment. This summer, the kids and I listened to The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. The above quote came from the preface, which we listened to as we began the book on our way to the beach one day last summer. I was struck, yet again, with the truth of God's divine purpose in our lives. This doctrine has been transformative to me. It has helped me learn to receive with thankfulness my circumstances, limitations, experiences, disappointments, and trials in life. God will always be God, and his character doesn't change. He is the giver of good gifts in the life of His beloved children (for whom He suffered and died!), and He never withholds good things from us.

My understanding of this truth, and my appreciation of His gifts, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not this is true. In other words, God is always good to me, regardless how I feel about His gifts in my life. If He withholds from me, it is for my good. If He allows difficulty and trials, it is also for my good.

Granted, life is not about me, and everything that happens is not about me. I may suffer as a result of someone else's sin. Or I may be a single participant among many in a grander story. But whatever the case, I know that God is working in my life to make me more like Christ.

However, there have been times in my life where sadness, loneliness, and even depression have characterized the state of my heart and mind. It's not that my circumstances were dire, but rather I had allowed myself to be weighed down by rejecting the fact that all my circumstances ought to point me to God. I knew this was wrong, but I didn't know how to break free. At times, for certain seasons, this thought pattern and emotional state ran deep. It was characteristic of me.

Let me just say that joy is a fruit. So is thankfulness. And they are commanded. Since they are commanded, God will provide a way for obedience. Anything else and we are being disobedient children... children who are recipients of God's goodness and grace and forgiveness!

Understanding theses things has been so helpful to me. It has been a long and continual process, one of repentance, putting off sins of grumbling and discontentment, and putting on thankfulness in particular. I have prayed for joy, and it has followed thankfulness.

I have actively sought to count my blessings, name them one by one. I have been intentional to grow in thankfulness and to resist discontentment, to see good while acknowledging difficulty. There will be seasons in our lives where every single moment may be a battle against self-pity, joylessness, depression, and maybe disbelief, but may I wage battle with my wayward heart and mind. Sorrow and grief are not sins, and they are to be expected, but I must actively, intentionally, and repeatedly choose to place my hope and assurance in the character of God alone.

He cares for me with incomprehensible love. I will only thrive in the Christian life when I rest in God and embrace his sovereign work in my life.


Happy weekend!


Friday, September 30, 2016

For the Weary Mom

It was late Tuesday night and I thought the next day was Friday. Certainly it felt like it ought to be. By Wednesday night, it felt like I'd lived two weeks already, and now it's technically Friday morning and I'm just wrapping up Thursday.

My days are full. Moms everywhere say it all the time, but I think I've reached an extreme. Maybe most moms live at this extreme, but I have a feeling not really. I don't wear busyness as a badge of honor; rather, it makes me wonder if I'm going about life all wrong. Busyness is one thing, but I feel like my situation borders on madness at times. It seems I spend much of my day in a state of sweat, such is the exertion of my work and responsibility.

I ran out the door late this afternoon on my way to doing something I thought would benefit the boys. I knew the results would be costly in time and energy, and would impact me late into the evening. As I grabbed my bag and climbed behind the steering wheel, a picture passed through my mind that described how I feel most days. This mental picture was of a rubber chicken or some chew toy that was being thrashed around by a snarling, drooling, wide-eyed bull dog. My days, and the expectations and trials therein, are the snarling dog. I am the chew toy. Sometimes I feel like I just want to shut my eyes tight and hope to come through the day without too many pieces torn loose.

Ok, maybe that's a little extreme, but that is actually what came through my mind. My life is actually not one of violence, but I often do emerge at the end of the day feeling somewhat thrashed and torn by it. For a few moments at the end of it, before exhaustion overtakes me, I lay in the dark feeling the figurative whiplash and a dizzying spin still plays out in my head.

My days are long. Conversations I have with my teens during the daylight hours, for instance, continue on late into the night. I am after hearts, and issues of the heart take time. Much time. A recent late conversation hit an impasse, probably with pride getting in the way of both sides. I must be the kind of mom that isn't always right, never conveying the idea that I'm inerrant. And yet when I believe I must point out an issue in the life of my teen, they must display enough humility to receive this observation and counsel from a parent God has expressly placed in their life. Impasses are so draining, though. I seek to influence my teens, to open their eyes to the possibility they are not aware of all things (wink), and mostly, to encourage them to evaluate their life according to God's standard of holiness. In the end, I am not what my kids need most-- not my counsel, observations, opinions, or solutions. They need God. I encouraged this individual to take what I had said and bring it to the Lord, asking Him to reveal sin, if necessary. He is the perfect judge, and He loves to lead us both gently.

Tonight, I didn't get out for my run till nearly 10pm. I run for many reasons, including to build physical strength and endurance to live through my days. It is hard work, but I keep choosing to push myself, to not take the "easy road."

I've made a choice to be a certain kid of mom - a certain kind of woman - and the consequences are felt nearly every waking moment. I'm no super woman, so yeah, that often leaves me empty, depleted, running on fumes. I am not ultra skilled, or especially gifted, and talent in me is hardly to be found. But the one thing I hope could be said of me is that I am fiercely committed to a few key roles and to a handful of people, and in those I don't often take shortcuts or the easy road. I never imagined this season of life to be this hard, that it would be this exhausting, that strength of all kinds would be required beyond my capacity. Fierce commitment is vital.

If we are to compare life to a race, I want to run it with endurance. Endurance is what we need when the run is long and hard. I want to give it all I've got, so that I am completely spent when I get to that glorious finish line and hear the blessed words, " Well done, good and faithful servant."

But right now, at this place in time, the race is hard, I am weary, and the prize at the end seems so very unattainable. I need the aid station along the way where I can replenish. And I need to hear the cheer from those who know something of my heart and situation. If I am to continue successfully to the end, then I must let God replenish and strengthen me, filling my being with His power and my soul with His breath of life. And we, fellow runners, must cheer and encourage each other on.

So, dear hard-working sister in Christ, I acknowledge that this race is difficult. With the strength that only the Lord Almighty can provide, keep replenishing and keep keeping on. With blood, sweat and tears, work hard and don't give up! The prize may seem distant, even unattainable, but set your sights on it. Fix your eyes on Christ!

And that yearning you feel, that sort of emptiness and dissatisfaction with the relentless spin and thrash of this life and this work? Remember it just shows us we are not yet home, that we are not yet whole, that on our own we will surely fall short. Keep your eyes on Jesus; He is our completer and finisher, our prize, our satisfaction, our all!

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:14

"...let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."  Heb. 12: 1b-2

"His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’" Matt. 25: 21


Monday, September 26, 2016

God's Nature

"The heart of man is very much like the sea,

It has its storms, it has its tides

And in its depths it has its pearls too."

Van Gogh

"The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out."

Proverbs 20:5

Technically, it's not summer anymore. We had a fleeting taste of fall-like weather last week, but we're back in the 90's again this week. I'm not counting on enjoying cozy sweaters and savory dishes of fall meals for a while still, although the thought of it is becoming increasingly appealing. We are blessed, though, and I will not allow myself to believe that what I've got here isn't pretty fantastic. It is wonderful. I remind myself that fall weather is also accompanied by rain and gloom, and then long, long winter months.

But if your weather is wet and sombre, and if the winter months become long and dreary, look to find the beauty in it. It is surely there, too.

God surrounds us with Himself. He is beauty and all His works owe Him praise!

These pictures are from last month. My camera memory card is still so full of beach pictures I have yet to sort through. I could easily be convinced that I've posted enough here already, but my kids love our beach pictures; what I post here is often for their benefit and enjoyment (either in for the present or for the future). We've enjoyed so many wonderful days by the sea, and their childhood memories will be heavily weighted by their experiences here. My early days in wild fields and forests have left memories etched in my being, and I am certain this coastal environment will be attached to formative and profound thoughts, convictions about the goodness, power, and peace of God, and just simple, fond and life-long impressions.

On this particular day, at this particular beach, my kids decided the waves were best suited for body boarding rather than surfing. I loved watching them play together. All four. All day.

I just had to join them.

Michael took Jack out in the shallows for some "lessons."

Jack, always with his tongue stuck out in concentration.

An interesting position for body boarding...!

Sea weed was everywhere, always getting stuck in the fins...

Coming in for lunch

A special place for lunch 

Our spot with the orange umbrella

"Party wave!"

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."   Rom. 1:20

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
  what is man that you are mindful of him,
    and the son of man that you care for him?"
Ps. 8: 3-4

"Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
    let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
       let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
      before the Lord, for he comes,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
    and the peoples in his faithfulness."
Ps. 96:11-13

It is all so amazing to me that God, unimaginably powerful and wonderful, would be mindful of man! And if the heavens and all His creation can praise Him, how much more should I - having been forgiven, made pure by the blood of Christ, named a daughter of the King - live in adoration and awe of our great God!