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.

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.

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.

 

a morning habit

Habits.  This has been a word on my heart and mind for the last couple of years.  I desire healthy habits for my children AND myself.  Habits are wonderful.  The day to day building of these habits?  Perhaps not as wonderful!  😉  Habits take dedication, discipline and doing things you sometimes don’t want to do.  Don’t tell my children I just said that.

Slowly, I have built a morning rhythm.  One habit on top of each other.  I make my bed, wash my face and do yoga, most days.  Sometimes I trade yoga for a shower.

My most important habit though?  It is what I do, first thing, after I have allowed my mind and body to wake up.  This sometimes takes long or short, it depends on the day.  I am a slow morning person.  I sit up in my bed.  Sometimes I light a candle and most days I open my curtains so I can stare at the world outside.  I sit back down and reach for my Bible, journal and current bible study.  I sit with Jesus.

When my first was little I would sit with Jesus during his first morning nap.  He was a glorious nap-taker and I would have one nap to sit with Jesus, one nap for something creative and then sometimes another one to do, I cannot even remember anymore!  So much free time!  It was when I had my second child that this all changed.  She was an early riser and not much of a nap taker.  Sometimes I would put her in the baby swing during my son’s nap so I could look at my bible then.  It was when she was one, that I realized if I wanted to fit in things that were important to me, I would have to start making new time for them, I would have to begin new habits.  I began with five minute yoga routines and even then my kids were crawling over me!  I learned that I could not even get out of bed to do my time with Jesus because otherwise I would get distracted and start cleaning something.  It was then, that I put my Bible and journal right by my bed.  Genius, right?!

Sometimes I wake up an hour before my kids get up.  Sometimes it is five minutes.  Sometimes I have to tell them to play for ten minutes while I sit with Jesus.  I love the hour times with God, they are amazing.  This year has not been a regular one hour times with God and I have had to give myself grace.  But, guess what?  Even, if I only have five minutes with Him, the verse I read, has power.  I can feel his presence, and just knowing or remembering with me, makes all the difference.  I need this long or short time of remembering that my Father is with me and remembers me.

This verse from the Psalms has shouted to me this week, “Let the Morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my Life.”  Each morning, by showing up, I allow my Father to bring me word of his unfailing love.  I need to hear it every morning.

Building habits allow space for God to speak in them.  Building habits is a process, day by day.  Building habits are so worth it.  Give yourself room to mess up (I am speaking to myself here too) and allow room to see what beauty grows out of these habits.  Amen.

Shoes & Seeds

Last September we did something we had never done before as a family.  We went into a shoe store and all walked out with new shoes.  We have mostly bought secondhand for the kids shoes in the past because there have been plenty of really good gently used shoes available.  Now, we have walked into a new season when finding those good used shoes have been more difficult.  So, we did what we had to, and bought new.  My daughter had been wearing these bright pink running shoes everyday for what felt like a year.  Even in the summer I tried to persuade her to wear her sandals.  Nope, it was those pink shoes everyday.  Or bare feet.  Those pink shoes were size 8.  What size boots did we walk out of the store with?  Size 11!  My son was the same way.  He never wore a size 12 but went right from 11 to 13.  Today, as I was thinking about buying some shoes for spring, I checked their toes in those not even five month shoes, and yes, my daughters toes were right to the edge!  My children are really growing and they are really changing.

I see it in the too tight shoes and the pants that are all of a sudden two inches too short.

I see it in understanding they did not have before.

I see it in their questions or comments as we go about our day.

I see it in how they can talk to adults when before they would cling to my side.

As mamas we observe time not in minutes or hours, although we of course take note of those, but in the changes in our children.  In the first steps, the first word, and then in the first time they write their name.  We witness these firsts, these tiny miracles to parents, and then notice other changes in them, and these mark the passing of time.  Was it not just yesterday we were doing everything for them?

My first born will be seven tomorrow!  His birthday is first and then his sister’s will be in a few months.  It is in these months I notice how much they have grown more than any other time.  I of course get all sappy and sentimental.  My husband and I get older and I barely feel like I have turned thirty or that time has really passed.  This week in my children, I see change physically, socially and mentally.  I layed in bed during our rest time last week and recalled a conversation from a year ago. A lady was telling me how there are bigger princess dresses for five year old girls.  My daughter was three at the time, so five felt far away.  After all, her brother was five!  Addie will now be five in May.

Times passes.  As we go from day to day, we can think that not much is changing.  We can question if our children are really listening to us?  Are they learning anything?  Then, you see a picture or watch a old video from years ago (Yes, I have done that.  Nothing beats my daughter’s slow walking chubby legs. ) and then you look at your right now child and the change is so obvious.

Our kids are really gaining understanding.

 

Our kids are really listening to us…sometimes.

 

Our child will move past that really annoying character trait or learn how to have more self-control.

They will grow up.

It will happen. We can really rest in today, the present and enjoy our children as they are.  I pray for great grace for all who read this to do just that.  As we plant seeds daily, that we don’t see right then, we can know they will flourish.

And that goes for us too.

Living like you.

I have always been slow.  Slow in the way that I naturally take my time, especially when I begin something.  When morning comes, I slowly make my way out of bed.  When night comes, I slowly get ready for bed.  My husband says he is going to bed, and his body is actually in bed within minutes.  I say the same thing and it could be twenty minutes later and then I am REALLY in bed.  I wash my face, brush my teeth and perhaps read a little something.   What about the rest of the day in between?  When, I can, I prefer the slow, lingering and pondering kind of life.

 

When I was a kid I am not sure I would have known that I was slow except that I remember my stepmom giving me exercises that were aimed at helping me to increase my my speed.  I don’t think they worked.  I also strongly remember greatly disliking timed multiplication tests.  Now, this makes sense, because I was not able to go slow.  I had to go as fast as I could, and this felt against how I do things naturally. It was against how I was created.  As a child in second grade I couldn’t have processed that, but I knew it felt horrible to me.

 

Since becoming an adult I have learned how to speed up my natural slow tendency.  Now, I am a mother, so sometimes my little people are ready for food NOW or I have to get my kids moving so I can switch my speed to fast when I need to.  Sometimes I have to go fast for their sake.

 

My son.  We arrive home and park our car in our driveway.  We all get out, and my son is still thinking of getting out.  Actually, he might not even be thinking about getting out.  Today, I was explaining the longer it takes us to get into the car, the less time we will have at the Lego building time at the library.  I know he had this in mind, but he still was in his carseat a minute or so until he thought, “Oh!  I should buckle up because we cannot go until I do and I want to go build with Legos.”  I know this, because I was watching him, and I saw when the “aha” went on in his head and he began to buckle up.

 

When I am rushed I forget things.  When I go fast I drop things or I do stupid things I would never do if I went slow and thoughtfully.  For example,I have been known to leave the exact thing I went to a store for, in the bag next to the checkout counter, for the sake of rushing to the next place.  This hasn’t only happened once.  I am not at my best when I go fast.

 

What I have discovered , is that I am better when I mother slow.  When I am rushed, I say and do things I wish I had not.  I am impatient with my kids…and myself.  I live better when I move slow.  When I am not rushing to one place and then another.  When I am intentional about what I choose for myself or my family and what I choose not to do.  When I am able to limit what I do, then I CAN do it slower.  This is a work in progress my friends.

 

The way YOU have been made is important and worthy of practice.  You may not be slow.  You may live better when you are in community.  Surround yourself with people.  Invite people into your home.  Live, what feels natural to you.  I am sharing my slow example that it may be a highlighter to highlight something in you, something you may have forgotten has been you ever since you were a child.  You do not have to grow out of it but rather to see how to grow into it.

 

When I live slow, I am able to see, I mean really see my children, my husband or the person that is in front of me.  Living slow to me means not rushing from activity to activity or thought to thought but lingering where you are.

 

When I live slow, I am able to listen, I mean really listen to the words of my children or to the words of my Heavenly Father.  Yesterday, as I was putting my daughter to bed for the second time, I was ready to be off parenting duty for the evening.  As her arms and body were wrapped around mine, she exclaimed, “You’re the best mommy in the WHOLE world!”  I heard it physically with my ears, but it did not register in my mind or heart.  As my head was laying on my pillow a while later, that is when the words my daughter spoke finally entered my heart.  I want to hear the words of the ones I love and to look them straight into their eyes.  It may not happen every time, but most of the time, may I be living slowly enough to hear them.

 

May this be your permission slip to live slow or according to how you have been made.

The wonder of childhood, for parents too

As I am typing this, the sun is setting on this summer day and my children just gave me hugs goodnight.  My husband is tucking them in as I write.  It is a wonder to see gentleness and love in their hugs and voices as they good night.  It is a wonder to see what they learn through us.  Perhaps I will next write, the wonder of being a mother, because it is a wonder to see our children grow,learn and become who they were made to be.

 

I spent the spring of this year questioning.  I was questioning our first homeschool year.  Doesn’t every mother question herself at some point during the journey?  Add to “job title”, teacher, and the questions have doubled.  Are my children getting what they need?  We had counted, started beginning phonics and worked on memorization.  I had check off many boxes that I so like checking off.  But I could feel myself being led to a new way of living and learning, being a mother and a teacher.

 

I have always been a planner.  A planner in the sense  I love writing things, ideas and plans in a clean white space in a journal or planner, but living it all out, that felt more overwhelming than fun.  I am slowly learning through mistakes and exhaustion what I can actually can do during a given time.

 

One of the many reasons why I decided to homeschool was to allow our children to be children as long as they can.  I want to give them ample free time to explore, pretend and build.  I believe they learn such valuable lessons through play.  I adore watching my children lost in play,for that is indeed the wonder of childhood.

 

Here’s the thing, as much as we may TRY, we cannot plan wonder.  Wonder just happens.  It’s the reaction to discovering a frog hopping along the cement or the taste of freshly picked fruit off of the tree.  Wonder often happens outside, in discovery and exploration of nature.  The wonder of childhood is experiencing something for the first time.

 

So, I began searching for more ways to be outside and to bring school outside.  At the same time,the house we’ve been renting was sold, and we again found ourselves looking for a new place to live.

 

We came up empty with options in the town we had just moved to.  But then, a unique opportunity we had considered in the Fall, “wound up” being our only option in our minds.  We could house-sit a house in the country, a half an hour away.  We said yes, although we weren’t fully convinced about it.

 

When I woke up the first day in the country and saw my kids playing outside I knew this was the right place.  My kids eyes were glowing and radiating with joy.  What mama cannot help but rejoice in that?  I began to breathe easier after the business of moving as I sat and stared at nature.  Nature itself is therapy.  My husband, a teacher, joined us during our days, and we all have been able to experience wonder.

The wonder of watching a mama bird feed her young.

The wonder of chicks hatching and Mama hens protecting them under their wings.  The wonder of them growing up.

The wonder of jumping on a trampoline most nights while the sun sets.

The wonder of taking care of dogs and how they want to be your best friend.

The joy of seeing something new or experiencing something for the first time.

The wonder of playing outside until it is too dark to see.

The wonder of having a bonfire and roasting s-mores.

The wonder of having a long driveway to have races on.

To wonder, is to really live, and its not only for children, but for their parents too.