Consider this your permission slip…

Recently on a podcast I heard how the guest wrote down one thing each day she would give herself permission to do or not to do.  Remember how wonderful it felt back in school to have a permission slip to do something? Well, now, it is our turn to give ourselves permission slips! We can consider it caring for our thoughts and our inner dialogue.  I bully myself too often in my thoughts. I want to be my own best friend in my thoughts and here is one way I can do that.

Here are some I have written so far this year…

I have permission to not follow my own plan.  It is ok that my day does not go like I have planned.  Interruptions can sometimes be the best part of my day.

I have permission to not always be ok.  I can feel sad or mad.  I am not a horrible person if I am bad and something is not terribly wrong if I am sad.  Often, if I allow myself feel what I am feeling instead of trying to make it all better right away, I find it passes in a shorter time.

I have permission to be where I am right now.

We have permission to have no idea what or where our life is headed.  This was so liberating!  I am not expected to know everything.  God does. He knows what is ahead and will tell me when I need to know.

I have permission to not figure everything out.  I usually try to.  But, I don’t have to.

I have permission to do things in new ways or try new things.  I get into such a habit of doing things how I alway have.  

I have permission to be still and know you are God.  I really do not have to try solve everything right now.  I can be still and know God, you have it covered.

I have permission to not worry and to let things go.  What?  I don’t have worry?!!  That is the best news ever. “Do not worry about anything…” says our Father God. I also do not have to hang onto things, I can give them to God, so my burden is light. We really, really can. I have begun picturing in my mind God holding his hand out to me so I can put my worries in them. You can steal that image if you want to.

And more to come….what about you?

My Favorite things in January 2019

The first month of 2019 is beginning to wind down. I have decided this year I am going to share my favorites things about each month. As one that always liked filling in the blanks of my favorite color or book and the list goes on, this will be my online version. When I filled out those blanks in the past, I would sometimes put a few answers for each blank because I have a difficult time narrowing it down to only one little answer! This year since my phrase for the year is, “Less is More”, I will only share three to five things, activities, moments, as simply as I can. Here I go!

  1. Yoga With Adriene This lady has been a regular in our home through her youtube video sessions since my husband found her for me two years ago. Yoga has been a game changer for me mentally, emotionally and physically. Plus, she is funny, so that helps. The Fall was busy so I began dropping my daily morning yoga. I decided to pick it up again nearly daily at the beginning of the month, and now I remember again why I appreciate it so much. It is my new morning coffee.
  2. A Slow Beginning. We entered into this month slowly after the speed that December always surprises me with. My husband was still off of work for the first week. We stayed home a lot. We played in the snow for two weekends. I took a break from Instagram. We started one new homeschool subject every week, besides reading books, because we are always reading. Reading slows me down. It has been really wonderful. I was even bored at times, which was a treat!
  3. Exploring a plant-based diet. I really never thought I would say that. Hamburgers are one of my favorite foods. Around the same time, my husband and my naturopath suggested a break from eggs and meat as something I haven’t tried for the inflammation in my bladder and in my sinuses. I came home crying. I have changed my diet several times, but I was always able to keep meat in my diet. It is how I meal plan, a chicken meal, a beef meal and so on. I am reading and I cannot say what this will look like in the long run, but right now I know I want plants to be the focus of what I put in my body. The PlantPower Way: Whole Food Plant-based recipes and Guidance for the Whole Family by Rich Roll and Julie Piatt has been the first cookbook that has encouraged me on this journey.
  4. Working on a craft each Saturday. A time to sit and craft. I have a scarf I am knitting and embroidery I am making at the moment. I have a few moments to do something like this at night but I appreciate this more open-ended time to do it, as long as the kids allow me to. Wink. Wink.

Embracing the Freedom.

As mamas, we are all fine artists.  It is the dance of teaching our children the fine discipline of following through with a schedule and allowing your kids freedom to follow their bursts of creativity and imagination. Here is an example from last night.  I’m in the kitchen washing the stack of dishes that have piled up. I said I would be only fifteen minutes, but then they began building a boat out of blankets. They are working together, creating a plan, and there is no way I’m going to barge in.  This is sacred space. My planned agenda, doesn’t compare.

I tell my kids what we are going to do,and then they become lost in play, their highest purpose in my opinion.  What is a mama to do? I am faced with this decision often, probably daily, and sometimes many times in one day.  How about you? I have made choices and sometimes they contradict each other. There is no right answer. We want that, right?   But friend, there simply isn’t one right answer. In our first year of homeschooling, I forced so much. When, I didn’t, I felt such shame.  In this third year, I am receiving the day as it is more, with all its “so called” interruptions. They are not interruptions, but worthy endeavors.  They are what our kids and can I dare say us, have been made for. There is a time and a place for both. The discipline of working through math problems in the morning.  The “we will still do handwriting even if you do not want to do it” thing. In this case, it was the evening, and I let the play ensue. They are getting along after all! And what is more important than “socialization” right?  I want to assure you, as well as myself, You make beautiful and wonderful decisions mama. You do.

The freedom as a homeschool mom can be both amazing and overwhelming at the same time.  Sometimes it depends on what day or season it is, or dare I say, my current emotional state.  Here are some words to remind you of the good in this freedom:

You are not limited to doing homeschool in your house the same way every day.  Has Math been a struggle? Try it at a different time of the day. Do it in a different way.  Put a timer on for 15 minutes, so your little one knows there is an end to what might feel like torture to them.  It is amazing how much you can do when you have a focused child. Play a game that includes numbers and call that math for one day a week.  I have seen when we take a break from school,even only one subject, my children naturally navigate back to what sparks their wonder. They learn so much more when they think they have initiated it.  You really can switch it up. As someone that likes doing things the same way, I need that reminder, and maybe you do too.

Find your rhythm, what works for your kids as well as yourself.  What worked last year may not work this year. It does not have to look anything like anyone else’s.  It can be helpful to get ideas from friends or Instagram. It can also be helpful to let go of what everyone else is doing (Take a break from social media) and watch your children, and be honest with yourself.  Take notes on what works well and what does not. Then, ditch what doesn’t work well (Yes, even if everyone else is doing it) and keep what does work for your family.

Limits or Boundaries can be your best friend.  We have speech this year for my son at one two afternoons a week.  I was not thrilled about this. That meant all school and lunch needed to be done by this time.  That hour before is much more of a hustle than I would like, but it has been a surprise gift to have this limit.  We have a reason to get all of our school done so we can play or run errands after speech. I have that hour while my son is in speech with my daughter, so I get one on one time with her where we learn and play just the two of us, outside of our house.  This feeds my soul as well. I am not torn between “getting things done” with looking my daughter straight in the eye!

Here’s to embracing the freedom we both love and hate for the simple fact that we have the gift of freedom.

Here’s to embracing days that feel off and discovering the unique joy that can be found in them.

Here’s to receiving this season in your family’s life because it will never be again.

Here’s to choosing to dance this dance and knowing you have many mamas around you dancing a similar dance and you are not without partners my dear mama.

Receive this season of homeschooling…

As I lay on my couch one afternoon, a thought came to my mind in the rare moment of quiet in the house.  

Perhaps sisters, it’s about receiving your homeschool, in other words, your children, in the exact season that you are in right now.  It is not about where you want to be but where you already are. Dreaming, setting goals and having hopes have their place. I have many dreams for our homeschool, but when I am honest, I can often focus more on the dreams than the now.  It is easier because you do not have the challenges in your dreams!

It’s not about crafting the perfect homeschool year with all the best books and manipulatives.  Those are amazing, but they will not be amazing if they do not fit with your family, your very own kids, in this very season.  Allow me to elaborate.

If you have a baby, it probably is not the time to try out intensive curriculums, that you or your children do not already know how to use yet.  You will not have a lot of time to prepare for them. Instead, it’s probably more of a time to keep it as simple as you possibly can. Read books.  Let the audiobooks read while you are able to nurse the baby. Your rhythm may have to follow the baby for a time, until the baby can fit into the rhythm of your family.

In this season you might be working part-time.  No, it’s not ideal, but your family needs the extra money.  We are all facing our own not ideal situations. You get three full days of being with your kids, and you fit the majority of your homeschooling into this time.  It’s during those days that you choose to be hands on with your kids. This is when you do the hands on science experiments your son loves. You save the children’s independent work mainly for the two days you are at work.

So, really your first step is to know the season that you are in.  Focus on what you do have. We often focus too much on what we dream of having.

Instead, when we begin homeschooling, we research and gather all the information we can.  We look to other mamas on Instagram that we admire and we try to model them. We make a list of all the books we are supposed to read, and collect curriculums like kids do stuffed animals.  We think it means success.

We forget to ask ourselves, what season am I in?  What am I truly able to do? How am I wired? What do my children need right now?  What do I need right now? Ask these questions and others that come to mind, dear friend.

Then, each season reexamine your heart, mind and season.  Ask the questions again.

What if we redefine what success means for us?  We are homeschoolers after all. What if success means a peaceful home and children who will open a book anytime they have a spare moment?  Decide what success means to you and your family. It does not have to be Instagram worthy either.

You are the mother they need.  You are also the teacher they need.

We all think we are not enough.  We think, that other mama, she has it all together.  We wonder wouldn’t my child be better with her?

No, they would not.

They were given you.

Homeschool as only YOU can.  This is why I am writing this right now.  This may seem obvious. It does, when we think about it.  But, honestly, this was quite the revelation for me as I lay on my couch, and this is my third year of teaching!

Our  years most of the time don’t look like our plans. Why, don’t we actually receive the season we are in?  Perhaps, a dream you have, is meant for another season. Put it on a shelf in your mind and mark it for later.  Some plans we may use for later and some may grow new and different wings.

I am coming along.

I wake early, before the sun even rises, and I lie in my bed half trying to go back to sleep in that warm spot and half, thinking, feeling and talking to God.  I am pretty sure he woke me up, because on my own, I don’t do that well. Although, I would appreciate more sleep, my mind appreciates this time in the quiet. My soul needs it even more in this season.  

 

What I am thinking, feeling and talking to God about is my current loneliness.  I am grieving my dad, and sometimes it’s difficult to know what to do with this grief and the strong feelings.  I have desires for more community around our family,and for deeper connection to dear friends. There doesn’t have to be a multitude of people, I just need to know they have my back.  People that I can text and receive a text quickly back. People I can see regularly and maybe even weekly. I know people are busy, but why are we SO busy? I have thought about beginning some type of gathering but I have talked myself out of it.  I am praying again. But, do I start, when I don’t even know if we are going to stay here?

I acknowledge that I have had some of these same feelings before.  In the waiting season when we were not sure where we were going to live a year and a half ago.  When we lived in our first house together and walking the journey of being content with that house.  These feelings are not entirely new, but they are frustrating just the same! I do feel that we are waiting, waiting for our next right step.  There is this frustration of wondering where it will be. I am not even entirely sure that I have a hope of where I want to be.

 

What do I want?  I want to know where we will stay and set down roots.  I want solid friendships. I know now to call them hope champions,a term used from Danny Silk’s soultime app.  These are people that always speak hope to us and we get to speak hope right back to them. I want to have purpose or  a mission as a family that is clear. I want to know a house is officially ours and we have freedom to make it our own I want a wee bit of money to be able to do that!  I want to live simply, have less stuff, but have it be quality. I want, I want, I want. Perhaps, I have just caught myself being lost in discontentment. It so easily catches us right?  I have stepped away a bit from the media that feeds it, and maybe I am just seeing where I have actually been.

 

I have power to stop the cycle.  Oh, I can dream! I can hope. But, I can also, be right where I am, on this Tuesday.

 

Emily P. Freeman says in her book Simply Tuesday, “And we won’t be so naive as to try to make the hard times beautiful, but we will have faith that the hard days are making us, remaking us, and forming us into the likeness of Christ.  Let’s take back moments that are lovely even if they are imperfect, words that are powerful even if only one person hears them…”

 

I do not have to make what is hard at the moment into something beautiful.  Emily, gave me that permission. He will do that himself. He will. I can trust that right now when I don’t see it.  But, I can always search and call out what is beautiful right now. The antidote to my endless wants.

What is beautiful are my two children who are always eager to be with me, especially my little five year old shadow.  She was by my side only minutes ago. What is beautiful is that I get to teach them daily and to watch what interests them and makes them come alive.  I absolutely love this. What is a beautiful, is my husband, who supports me and does so much for me and never ever belittles me for any of my quirks. The neighborhood that is around us has such lovely tall trees and it is a great place to go for walks.  We are near so much, and we have had opportunities that I so appreciate.

 

Sometimes, we might want things that we are not yet ready for.  Can I allow myself to be prepared? Can I wait? Can I know even during this season there are good things growing within myself?  Can I believe in the unseen? Can I be imperfect, and be ok with that? I mean, I know that I am, but often, when I am honest, I want to appear perfect.  

 

The sun officially rises and Jesse and I both sneak out of our bed by 7:30.  I am going to write. Write when I have a fresh mind, instead of tired one.

 

I find that the internet actually does work in the corner of the basement.  I stop to admire the latest lego creation from my boy, that is so very detailed and of course amazing.  I give my girl a hug. I read the words from Simply Tuesday above, and I also read, “I’m exploring what it looks like to release my obsession with building a life and embrace the life Christ is building in me, one small Tuesday at a time.  I hope you’ll come along.”

 

I am coming along.

Sabbaths + Tea Parties

Soapy water ran over the plastic pink teapot.  Once it was clean, I grabbed the surprise animal crackers that were secretly hidden.  My daughter gladly took the cookies and put them on her plate and set them on her tea table.  I poured the boiling water over the mint tea bag,and then a few moments later into the teapot.  

 

Then, with dresses and scarves on, we sit down.   Addie assumed the responsibility of pouring the tea, “Would you like some tea?” she asks.   I answer yes of course. Then, I offer her a dash of milk and she continues to ask for a dash and sometimes a splash of milk throughout the rest of our tea time.  We drink tea, and nibble on cookies. Then, we refill our cups and begin again.

 

Once, when I offer her milk, I get a good glance into her eyes.  I see a new look in her eyes. It was delight. Delight, that her mother was really truly there with her.  I was present in that moment, with her.  I almost broke down crying, seeing both her pleasure, and gratefulness in that one look.

Most of the time, I am trying to do three things at once.  My most common response to my daughter when she asks me to do something is, to tell her to wait a minute or that I can when I finish “fill in the blank” task.  She is very vocal with her requests throughout the day so it can feel like I am spending a lot of time with her. But, through this encounter, I realized she has not had a lot of focused quality Mommy time recently.  I say maybe more than I say yes.

 

So, why on this day, was I able to give her focused time?  The answer is, we were practicing Sabbath. For years the idea of a Sabbath has captured my heart.  A whole day to rest? That was incredible. How to do it though, especially with kids, was a mystery.  Then, at the beginning of August I read about a family and what they did for Sabbath. It answered my questions of when to grocery shop and clean, because that is what I usually did on Saturdays, our chosen day for Sabbath.  The answer was to do them before the Sabbath, and that meant I actually scheduled to do them on Thursday and Friday respectively. With these objections out of the way, I felt encouraged to begin.

 

This morning it was our third Saturday practicing the Sabbath.  It is something we have to practice because we won’t know what will work for us until we try.  To be honest, I was not fully focused. Before this, we had had fun dancing, she was the ballet teacher and I was the student.  She often moves from one thing to the next,so we moved onto the tea party. In my mind, I wanted to do yoga after our dance session.   I had to tell myself I could wait because we did not have anywhere we needed to go. This we don’t have to rush anywhere Sabbath thing is still new to me too.  But, without a doubt, from this experience having a time during the week where we can simply be with one another with no other agenda will be amazing. I am glad to be able to tell my kids and my husband and my God that I will rest with you on our Sabbath.  

Back to the tea party.  My girl slowly ate one cookie at a time.  This is not normal. Anytime there is sugar in front of her, she eats it with abandon.  She was treasuring this time, just as I was. The gift of connection with another human being is priceless. With your mother, even more so.  Saying yes is a gift we can give to one another.

…the good parts

When I am in the middle of reading a fiction book I almost always skip ahead.  Sometimes it is to the end and other times it is only a few chapters ahead.  Once I am satisfied to know what I did not know before, I go back to my place and begin reading there again.  Yup, I admit it.  My husband always makes fun of me when he catches me doing that.  The other day I caught my five year old daughter doing exactly the same thing.

 

During a movie I will forward through scary or intense parts I would rather not see.

 

Do you?

 

At the coffee shop where I am writing I just watched a young boy drink an entire apple juice box.  Why do kids, including this young man, drink everything in a juice box in nearly one big sip?  They want the goodness to keep coming.  I so identify with that.  I want the goodness to keep coming, so I skip over the scary, overwhelming and hard parts of books and movies so I can get back to the good, and the wonderful. I want to stay right there.

 

The thing is, in life we cannot really do that.  Gosh, wouldn’t that be nice?  In personal struggles and difficult circumstances we have no remote or power to skip over it.  We have to live it.  We have to walk through it.  We have a choice of how we do that, in fear or in faith, with others or alone.  Some difficult things in my life this year has brought out fear, anxiety and worry more to the surface in my life.  In all of these things I have wanted to overcome them all already and be done with them.  But, it isn’t that easy.  We learn things and grow in the process.  The in between time between the trouble and the victory is place where we become.  It’s the place where we get to see God be who He said He will be.  He will be your refuge and your strength, even if it doesn’t quite look like how you imagined it to be.

 

I want to become so I have to accept the hard too.  I am still in that process.

 

I have been walking through Beth Moore’s bible study The Quest this summer.  It has come exactly at the right time.  It has encouraged being honest with God and asking him all the questions you have.  Even the scary ones.  God won’t be hurt or surprised when you ask them.  The study has asked questions I have needed to verbally process within myself and God.

 

This week we have begun reading and talking about the book of Job.  This is a book of the Bible that I have skipped.  I remember intending to read it probably ten years ago and I never got around to it until now.  God had to include in the Bible for a good reason, right?    So far, I see Job in the most horrible circumstances.  I am going to keep reading to see what I find.  I won’t skip it this time.

 

What do you need to face and not to skip in your life?

 

Cinderella, Swords and a Kingdom

I hear about princesses daily.  Cinderella is my daughter’s favorite.  We host balls in our living room and there are always a plentitude of dresses strewn about across our bedroom floors.  I often have a helmet clad boy approach me with a wooden sword ready to attack.  I have to tell my son so many times that mamas don’t really appreciate battle as much as he does.

 

Children seem to have an innate interest in things of royalty.  What little girl doesn’t want to play princess or even better be a princess at some point? As bigger kids, or I guess some would call us adults, we still have that desire that lingers somewhere within us.  It is why I could not get the latest royal wedding this summer between Prince Henry and Meghan Markle out of my mind for days.  As one who never reads entertainment magazines, I scoured the internet for anything about the couple and the wedding.  There is something deep within us that is wired for Kingdoms, Kings and Princesses.

 

I think I know why.

 

We were created to be a part of one, the Kingdom of God.

 

This will be our forever home.  He will be our forever King.

 

The Bible speaks so much about this King and this Kingdom.  As I read,I become more and more excited.  As I read, the power that is behind His words that don’t merely exist on a page of paper reach inside and refocus me.  They whisper to me of what is really true, and it feels so opposite of the seen world in front of me.  That’s why I need to read, so my perspective is returned back to my Father and what He has told me is important.  He says in Luke, “Don’t concern yourself about what you will eat or drink, and quit worrying about these things.  Everyone in the world is concerned about these things, but your Father knows you need them.  Rather, be concerned about his Kingdom.  Then, these things will be provided for you.”  In short, don’t be so concerned and focused on the world in front of you.  God will take of the world and He will take care of you.  Instead, think about His Kingdom.  Make Him and His Kingdom your number one priority.  My daughter wearing a crown to breakfast doesn’t feel so crazy now, right?

 

In the book of Matthew the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest in God’s Kingdom.  I am not sure why.  One of them probably wanted to be the greatest.  It was almost like a school yard fight for superiority status.  Jesus knew they still were not understanding.  He asked a little child to come to him and put the child in the middle of all the disciples.  I can picture it.  A little child staring up at the taller adults around him.  Jesus looked at his friends and said, “You need to become like this child, and if you don’t you will never be a part of God’s kingdom.  Whoever becomes like this child, is the one that is the greatest in my Father’s kingdom.  He goes on even further to say, If you welcome this child, you welcome me.  I can just imagine the disciples shaking their heads, hardly believing what they were hearing.  They had to become like kids?

 

I am so glad that I have my children to watch and learn about the Kingdom.  I don’t have any concrete conclusions but some observations and questions.

 

Children wake up and immediately begin playing.  Playing is their work.  It is within play that they imagine their way to understanding, they try things out, and simply play.  Life is not so serious or as complicated as we make it.  Our Father has told us not to worry and maybe play is a part of that?

 

Children will simply believe what they will hear.  At the same time, they ask a million questions.  They are not afraid to ask, because they are curious.

 

They think so much more is possible.  After all, Nothing is impossible for our God.  That can become something we simply repeat, but pause for a minute and know that it is true.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Absolutely nothing.

 

Oh, how children’s eyes light up as they experience new things!  It is one of my favorite things to observe.

 

It is His Kingdom that I want to be a part of my and my family’s reality.  I am not really sure how to do that but I know it will be worth it.  His Kingdom will be more of our reality than our present one.  It may take a constant stopping and shifting my perspective.    I will pray.  How can we invite His Kingdom to our meal times, our parenting and our play?  Well, our kids have the play part down, right?

It sounds like the greatest fairy tale, because it is.   It is actually one we have the privilege to be a part of.  It is your story too.   In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, little flock (that’s us!).  Your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.  Let these words wash over you, and become a part of you.  He is pleased to give you the Kingdom.  And it is an actual, real Kingdom my friend.  What is unseen will soon be seen.  It is time to prepare for the Ball my sister.

Being here.

In the middle of a field

Of white wildflowers

I stood.

 

Green was

In every direction.

Then, there was me.

 

In life, so much fights

for my attention.

Here, none of that feels important.

 

The bird songs calm me.

They slow me.

So I can be.

 

Being here,

In the moment,

Living in the world,

I’ve been given,

This

is

Important.

 

 

a note to your spring self (on the last day of spring!)

In the Fall it is so very easy to be excited as a homeschool mom.  We are ready for more structure or rhythm to our days after the low key days of summer.  Isn’t it funny that we long for summer but then, when we have had our fill, we long for the opposite?  We long to get back to our Morning Time, to time around candles at the table, reading, cozy inside as the weather cools down.  It is a time of beginning again. We have ordered our new books and other tools for learning. We are ready to dive in and use them.  We have blissfully forgotten the tears over math, the whining and the hard daily work of teaching habits.

 

In the spring, we have not forgotten.  We are right in the middle of all of it.  We are having to help our children focus on their handwriting when all they want to do is play and go outside.  This is extra hard when honestly, that is all we want to do too! We all have spring fever.

 

Here is a note to your spring self.  I am writing to myself here as well.

 

You have done such a good job this year.  No, you probably have not done everything you set out to do.  Your to do list or reading list was longer than what anyone could do in five years.  So, give yourself grace. But, you have walked out what you felt called to as a mama.  You have showed up every day. You have answered questions, given out hugs, fed your crew and you have been present with your children.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing more important than the time you give and the gift of yourself.

 

You can change up your rhythm a bit.  Really, you can.

 

You can go spread a blanket on the grass and read outside.  Then, soon your children will be exploring sticks and whatever else they find.  You can count that as school. If you need to for your sanity, you can have them count the sticks or add them, there, now you can really count that as math.  There is no shame in that either.

 

There might be those days that you end up not having any official school at all.  Gasp! It’s a crazy thought right? But, we know, as wild and free mamas that education is a lifestyle, and our children are really learning all the time, whether they know it or not or whether we call it school or not.  Sometimes we need to take a day off to play with our children. As Mamas we need to remember the art of having fun instead of always trying to accomplish. Go explore a new place with your children, whether it be a new hike or a new part of your city.  That adventure of seeing and experiencing new may be just what you need to keep going or to finish your year.

 

Maybe you just need a good belly laugh.  Go tickle your children and have them tickle you.  Have your children make up jokes and tell you. Their silly jokes or even the not so silly ones may cause you to relax, which is exactly what you needed. Don’t we all just need to relax?

 

Find something that you really enjoy, a new something or an old something.  Decide to do that now or as a special summer something. This something can be something only for you.  Sometimes we need that. A special thing to look forward to. An act of love to ourselves. As an example,  I am thinking about finding a Zumba class, simply because I remember enjoying that years ago. Also, because I  love to dance.

 

Spring Mama, you are doing fine.  Allow yourself to look out the window at the beauty outside or at the beauty sitting around your very table.  You are doing a great job dear one. Love, another spring mama.