Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Summer Family - 5 Daily Goals

Summer break is fast approaching. I'm already waking up to popsicle requests and the littles have taken to wearing bathing suits all day long. We can hardly contain our excitement at having the big kids home during the day again. There is new sand in the sandbox, a sprinkler set up. We're locked and loaded and ready to go for it.

Still, shifting seasons and learning new skills and lifestyle has me more than a little upside down. Just barely did we get into a groove with the school year and now it's nearly over. Facing down having 7 kids back in the house all day every day is always daunting, but adjusting back after time spent apart is sure to bring with it additional challenges. Despite our normal camps and weeks where this child or that is off on an adventure, we will have plenty of time here, altogether. With ages ranging from high school to toddler, thing are bound to be a bit chaotic. I need a plan.

I took some time to contemplate our family needs this season, pausing to evaluate personal goals, to craft an intentional vision. What do I need for my health - mental and physical - so I can be the best mom I can be? What do my children need, given their variety of stages?

I came up with five daily goals to give our days some shape and intention while also leaving lots of room for the breezy, lazy summer vacation we all need. Goals that are easily customizable and accessible for everyone to participate in, regardless of age. Some can be stacked, hitting the mark with more than one category - baking with mom, working with a friend, meditating during a workout - while others are more stand alone. The main idea is to keep moving forward, to make the most of our time together and to focus on the things that matter to us most.

Work. Help out at home. Volunteer. Find satisfaction through effort.

Rest. Unplug. Be bored. Close your eyes. Meditate. Nap. Pray.

Create. Build. Draw. Knit. Cook. Paint. Write.

Commune. Focus on relationships. Invite friends over. Prioritize one on one time. Family or solo devotions.

Move. Dance. Run, Stretch, Lift. Bike. Skate. Hike.

Grow. Learn something new. Read. Explore. Have conversations about faith, life, future.

There is bound to be plenty of time left over for fun at the pool, a metric ton of popsicles, staying up late to catch fireflies and more screen time than I would prefer. In short, a magical childhood summer. Which sounds just about right.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

On Writing

"So...have you been writing?"

The question catches me off guard. It's been months, a year nearly, since writing has been a normal, daily thing for me. It catches me off guard like a flash of light out of the corner of your eye, lightning when you weren't even expecting rain.

It has been so long. I open my laptop every now and then, log into this blog, read a few archived posts. Sit staring a blinking cursor for a few minutes. Write a paragraph or two, fighting frustration and fear.

The fear that I've run dry, run out of things to say, stories to tell, answers to give. Maybe that's the main thing? I thought I used to know what to say. Now I'm not so sure.

Still, the questions persist. At parties, at church, in my email inbox. "I just wanted to ask...are you still writing?" I brush them off. Life got busy, you know. Kids got big. I got overwhelmed. Something had to give. But is that truly the answer?

It's not til someone poses it to me as a challenge that I let my guard down, an admonishment of sorts. The reminder that this was never just for or about me. While I ponder the thought, I realize - when you do something just for yourself, hobbies come and go. I dabble in fitness or quilting. I invest in what is enjoyable to me and leave it behind when it no longer makes me happy.

This space was never just about that. The real, raw truth is that I got selfish. I set aside something that God was using because it got uncomfortable. I shied away from hard truths and I turned my back.

On the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I log into this blog and happen to glance at the stats for the first time in forever. Blog after blog after blog boasting thousands of screen views, after I've long since abandoned this space. My heart beats faster and I scroll and scroll and scroll - evidence that it mattered. That is still does.

I stopped writing, but God didn't stop using me. Not for one day.

So I make a commitment. Just a bit each day. Easing back into it, gently. Gingerly finding my way, finding myself - again.

Holding back anxiety, clicking "post."

Feels a bit like coming home.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Birthday Cakes and Life

We are in the midst of the crazy March/April birthday madness over here and, just when we finally finish the cake from one birthday, it's time to bake another. Having kids in school has only exacerbated the already crazy cake-problem as they seem to require me to bake cupcakes to take to school as well. I feel like powdered sugar has somehow become a grocery staple right up there with eggs and milk. And, more than anything, I'm feeling that spun out, breath knocked out feeling that all of this crept up on me. Again. Doesn't it do that every year?

The perk of having all of these birthdays in one insane burst is that there isn't much time for navel gazing. I spend a moment or two on the days of their birth remembering with wonder how they burst into my life and changed it - always for the better. Gifts unfathomable, these kids of mine. Still, the celebrations tick on by and, beyond that, it's business as usual around here. Just as well because it's not the birthdays that change them. It's the every day.

I notice it mostly with my Dinah. She's all lip smackers, overalls and peace sign selfies these days and I feel even more so now than when she was little that, if I blink, I'll miss it. This girl that she is. The woman she's becoming.  Maybe it's being a young-ish mom or maybe all moms feel this, but I well remember being twelve. How deeply I felt things. How strong my convictions of justice and how sure I was about my place on this earth. It's a precious and tender, strong and fragile time of life. I am more and more aware that the words I speak to her have lasting power. Meaning. That the life I live in front of her eyes is something that she won't ever forget.

That thought is sobering but, also? A grace, of sorts. When I look deep into my childhood at the woman I call Mom through the lens of a 30-something, I feel nothing but compassion. Love. Understanding for the struggles of daily life, the sacrifices she embraced with joy and the mistakes that she agonized over. Life is complicated and important and amazing and a one-shot deal. But life is also just life.

It's a reminder I turn over and over in my head through all the decisions I walk through, all the choices I make, all the prayers that I pray. That abiding truth that the most important things are always the humble things. And all those big things that cause us so much anxiety and consternation and sleepless nights and strangling fear? Those things will be swept up and consumed by the sun rising on tomorrow. Because it always, always does.

Every single day is awash with grace, dear ones. Grace for the many ways this could go, and grace for how it turns out.

These babies are growing and changing. Life keeps on. I'm walking through this season with the knowledge that we are all wrapped in mercy, every breath we take. And I'm calling it good.

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