Blog

The Sun as a Reminder

“Praised be you, O God with all your creatures; and especially our brother the sun, who is the day, and the light; fair is he, and shining with a very great splendour: O God, he signifies you to us!”

God isn’t in the sun, and he isn’t the sun, but the sun can remind us of Him.

And on mornings like this, it does.

Psalm 19:1, ESV The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.

The sun reminds me of an Intelligent Creator.

It reminds me that He is vast , and I am small.

It reminds me that today is a new day, and that I get to live again.

What is the Sun reminding you of today?

10 Ways to Nurture Your Children

What is nurturing? Nurturing is essentially developing a secure bond between your child and yourself. I’m going to give you ten ways to nurture your children. Some of them you may not have thought of before, many of them may be things you are already doing.

One: Look your child in the eyes when they are speaking to you.

This may seem like something I put here just to illicit an eye roll response form you but I assure you that it is not the case.

Maintaining meaningful eye contact as your child speaks shows them that they are valuable to you. That they are worthy of your time, attention and focus.

Two : Love them Unconditionally

Basically, love them even when you don’t feel especially loving. Don’t withhold your encouragement when they are struggling in an area. Don’t withhold love, adoration or respect as a means of manipulating your child into a certain behavior. Your child shouldn’t have to achieve in a realm you deem valid- academics, sports, beauty – before you accept them. Your child is valuable simply because they are a person. As people, we are created in the image of God. That gives each person worth simply by virtue of existence. Let’s try to love our small people accordingly.

Three: Be empathetic.

Your friend’s problems are your problems. You empathize about their unfair boss, their stretched too thin paycheck, and their overbearing mother in law…

Our children should be counted among our greatest friends. We should empathize with their struggles. I’m not advocating for overindulgence or coddling them. I’m saying that when they are struggling to learn to speak correctly, we are gentle with them. And when we correct them, we make sure to encourage them at the same time.

Empathy doesn’t mean we give them the permission to have a come- apart over every broken toy from the dollar spot. Rather, it means relating to them on their terms.

Saying things along the lines of “ I’m sorry your friend ignored you today. That must feel really hurtful.”

Let’s make sure that we aren’t quickly brushing aside all of their fears and concerns.

This relates to valuing our children, as well.

Four: Don’t lie to your children

Don’t lie to your children. Ever. Instead, aim to develop a strong bond with them, built on a secure foundation of trust.

As their parent, you are their number one means of support. You are their advocate. When you lie to them, this completely undermines the foundational level of trust .

How hard is it to trust a friend or parter when they lie to you?

We don’t want to put our kids in that position.

Five : Be a Soft Place to Land

Physically, mentally, ,emotionally. Welcome their comments, questions and concerns. Hear them out. Be that comfort and supper system for them. Be proactive about meeting their need so there isn’t a huge deficit that you have to fill.

Some examples ; physically maybe they need an extra ten minutes of snuggling before bedtime. Emotionally perhaps they simply need for you to listen without judgement or rushing to explain your opinion on a topic.

Six : Foster Meaningful Conversation

Each day. Let’s commit to each other that we are going to follow through on this.

When? At breakfast, in the car on the way to school, dinner time… the time of day is not nearly as important as insuring that we are having meaningful conversations with our children on a regular basis.

Learn about your child.

They are a separate entity. They may have come forth from your womb, but they aren’t a miniature you.

They have their own needs. Give your chickened what they need. Not what you need. Not even what you think they need. Give them what they need. Being a student of your child is helpful to this. Much ink has been spilled over love languages and personality types, and these are well and good and sometimes even immensely helpful.

But – spoiler alert – your child’s emotional needs will be pretty basic. They won’t be the emotional equivalent of trigonometry. Being seen, heard, understood, loved…. These are what our kids from us.

8: Ask your children “what makes you feel loved” periodically.

I do this about once a year. Often, I think I know as a parent what my kids value, how they feel loved.l, specifically how they receive love .

And each time they say something that surprises me, something I hadn’t considered or hadn’t realized meant much to them.

Nine: Teach them something each and everyday.

Awaken their curiosity. Read books. Do projects. Provide opportunities for them to learn and explore. A vital part of child development, of humanity’s development, is learning about the world around us. Give them opportunities to do just that.

Play classical music. Take them to an art museum. Read Shakespeare. These are eye- opening delights. And your child isn’t too young to experience them. We listen to classical music not because we want to few supine to others, but because classical music is timeless and widens the imagination. We don’t have to attend art lectures or have a degree to enjoy really beautiful paintings. And neither do our kids!

Ten : Spiritual Development

Spiritual development. This one of the main commands given to parents in the Bible. We are told to diligently teach our children about God and His ways.

But

At the end of the day- we’re going to fail our kids. We are. And I know for many of us that’s not what we want to hear. But it’s the truth. We’re going to mess up. Focus on the wrong things sometimes. Sometimes because of tragedy or stress we don’t show up for our kids like we should. We let teachable moments slip by because we are distracted .

We are human.

God alone is the perfect parent. If our kids knownHim, they know a loving Father who is never going to abandon them.

And really, what could possibly be more nurturing than that?

Girls, grab your planners! It’s a new year!

Are you a journal keeper? Do you enjoy planning? I do, on both counts.

I do Morning Pages every morning, which is basically three pages of stream of consciousness before you start your day each morning.

I also write weekly in my Next Right Thing Journal by Emily P Freeman.

I am currently working out of two planners – one my mom created for me for my personal work and home tasks, and then a second planner just for homeschool lessons and assignments.

First semester it was all in one place and it was a bit messy- I’m hoping that dual planners help my crazy brain this semester.

My boys purchased a gorgeous leather notebook for me for Christmas this year, and as I am turning 35 in April, I plan to record my special moments in that notebook. I’m calling it Year of 35 because I’m so unique in the arena of naming things . 😜

My Year of 35 pages thus far :

* 2021 Memories : a few notes on each month .

* My Word of the Year : the word, the definition, and some thoughts

* 10 areas of my life and their corresponding goals/ intentions

* one page for each of my “main” relationships

* a page of Dreams for the next year. These aren’t goals exactly, more like things I hope to accomplish.

I used to plan five or so goals for each area of my life. I think growing older, plus the season of life I’m in, are contributing to me aiming more for Adjustments rather than Complete Overhauls.

I like how my morning time is working, I like my rhythm of working out, I like how our homeschool is progressing… so rather than big audacious goals, what I need are more minor adjustments.

I love SMART goals, and Five Year Plans. But I don’t plan to utilize them this year.

The next five years will be very important, as I will be graduating 3 of my children in that span of time. Not having a five year plan doesn’t mean the time period is not important. Rather, it means I’m learning to lean in and asses in each season what my children need most from me.

Where are you at ?

Are you a bit sad and nostalgic for the year that had passed?

Are you looking forward to the year to come, ready and eager to turn the page on the calendar?

Do you have huge goals that you’re ready to chase?

Or do your resolutions look more like gentle intentions this year?

Glitz and Glitter and Glamour

We are in the transition from Christmas to the new year.

Everyone is a little off.

Children are off school.

The house is a little off after the festivities .

It’s not quite the new year, but it almost is.

The temptation to swing from the pendulum of excess – excess of food, drink, possessions – to the opposite side of minimal is present.

And so New Years resolutions proliferate our brains like so many Black Friday circulars .

Eat less, move more. More water, less wine. No more sugar. This year I’m going to get organized.

But what if we held off for a day . Or three.

The week between Christmas and the New Year is not the time to make new resolutions. It’s not the time to trot out all your insecurities and plan goals around them.

It’s time to rest . It’s time to reflect. It’s time to spend treasured time with those around you.

The garage, the 20 extra pounds, the endless paperwork..those things will still be there the second and third week of January. And if someday we magically straighten those issues out? New ones will take their place.

We can put off the things that annoy us for a week .

We’ve worked hard to get to this point.

Remember the hustle and bustle of early December?

This week is your reward. Claim it. Enjoy it. Savor it.

Don’t beat it into submission.

Enjoy the Glitz and glitter and glamour. We all know these things don’t last.

That doesn’t mean we have to ignore or push through. Temporary can be fun. Glitter has its place.

Not Quite Done Christmasing

I have learned a handful of lessons this Christmas Season.

The top three that come to mind are:

1) we will continue making good, meaningful memories.

2) When I don’t over decorate, then I’m more peaceful, and not itching to undecorate immediately the day after Christmas.

3 ) We don’t have to stop celebrating Christmas on December 25th. We can continue for as long as we like. In fact, many people celebrate until January 6th- Epiphany. I decided that is what I’m doing this year. ( Even though classes resume the 2nd.)

The first lesson is meaningful to me because I have been feeling excessively nostalgic. My oldest has his license, my second has his permit.

My second youngest is a freshman, my oldest will be a senior in the fall.

There are ongoing conversations about what it means to be a man, and why it’s easier to never try drugs in the first place rather than trying to overcome an addiction.

There are part time jobs and honest conversations about character traits, and plans about what the future might hold.

And while all this is good and wonderful and full of hope… I miss the little days. I miss being their whole world . I miss snuggles on the couch, and whispered secrets.

I miss them and they’re still all right here. This seems excessively ridiculous, and that is precisely why I’m sharing it.

And all this is to say, that in the very midst of being sad and nostalgic, we had a great time together. Looking at lights, playing games, just talking and drinking coffee.

I realized that this might have been the best Christmas yet.

And I also said this last year.

And the year before that.

So, then by my own admission- each and every Christmas is the best ever.

Meaning that just maybe, we are still living the “good old days”, right now.

Maybe even though I feel sad that my kids are growing up, I can acknowledge that we’re still making great memories right now.

This is a necessary and valuable thing to remember.

My second lesson is pretty self evident. By choosing to decorate three main places , I am not “tired of” Christmas decor by December 26th.

My third lesson ties into the first two.

We’ve had some great times of celebrating this Christmas season. We also have had a lot of hosting , volunteering, and projects.

I don’t feel like I’m finished celebrating Christmas, so.. I’m going to keep going.

The tree is staying up. I’ll still be lighting the red candles, and playing calm, contemplative a Christmas carols.

And I have a big Christmas party to host this weekend with family from out of town.

I’m not finished with that trappings of Christmas, because at the end of the day, there is a deeper reason to all of this.

This isn’t where I trot out the tired “He is the Reason for the Season.”

He is. And most of us acknowledge that.

But He is also the motivation for the season.

And this year in particular, He had given me so much.

He has worked miracles in my home, my children, my marriage, my finances, my church …

He worked year-round miracles . Miracles of hope and healing, “far as the curse is found.”

“Repeat the sounding joy”, indeed!

I’m not finished Christmas-ing because I’m not done contemplating all He has done for me.

And I can’t help but want to help others find the peace that He has brought me as well.

On a more practical note, Will I be pulling my hair out when I’m back in the thick of homeschooling and running children places and still have to take down my tree on January 6th? Only time will tell. 😉

Your turn! What have you learned this Christmas season? Funny or serious , sentimental or sacred or none of the above. Feel free to comment below, or if you’re more comfortable with journaling about it, then I would like to encourage you to take a few moments to do so.

Raindrops on Roses and Garlands on Fences…

“Raindrops on Rose” is not a Christmas song. It is a “Sound of Music” song, it is an Optimistic Anthem, it is a Show Tunes Choir Song, but it is not a Christmas song.

And yet, people associate it with Christmas. I’ve seen it among many other Christmas songs on compilation lists, snug between Silver Bells and Santa Claus in Coming to Town.

Is it the “brown paper packages tied up with string” line?

Because , first of all, I don’t Package discriminate. You can send me a brown paper package tied up with string anytime of the year.

And also – it’s 2021. You know who delivers packages tied up with string?

Amazon.

Technically the string is where the opening is so it isn’t exactly tied up, but none the less.

Amazon delivers all the time. Not just Christmas.

So really, the modern twist works in this instance.

You know what else isn’t * actually * a Christmas song?

“Walking in a Winter Wonderland”.

The lyrics mention snowmen and marriage and walking and framing by the fire. Nothing about Christmas.

To me, this shows the magical power of association.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above
While mortals sleep the angels keep their watch of wondering love
Oh morning stars together, proclaim thy holy birth.
And praises sing to God the king, and peace to men on earth.
Oh little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.

Silver Bells… ( or stars and ornaments)

I adore the lyrics to Silver Bells. The melody is beautiful, and through the years there have been a number of truly gorgeous covers of this song. Bebo Norman, Michael Buble, Bing Crosby… whomever you prefer to hear sing it, you can’t escape the fact that it’s a very nostalgic song.

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks dressed in holiday style
In the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you’ll hearSilver bells (silver bells), silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling (ring-a-ling), hear them ring (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas dayStrings of streetlights, even stop lights blink a bright red and green
As the shoppers rush home with their treasures
Hear the snow crunch, see the kids bunch, this is Santa’s big scene
And above all this bustle, you’ll hearSilver bells (silver bells), silver bells (silver bells)
It’s Christmas time in the city
Ring-a-ling (ring-a-ling), hear them ring (hear them ring)
Soon it will be Christmas day
Soon it will be Christmas Day”

And while I think it’s such a fun song, it has absolutely nothing to do with the meaning of the season. Which means it’s categorically secular. And yet, I never consider that aspect when I’m listing to it. It seems uplifting. And it is.

It is essentially an ode to a simpler time in America. It frankly sounds like a small town rather than that of a city.

“ Children laughing, people passing” may have been true to the city experience fifty years agonor more, but it bares little resemblance to the cities we are familiar with today.

If it isn’t about God coming down, and it has little resemblance to something we have ourselves experienced, where is the magnetic draw of the song? Why do we like it? what is it that we love about the song?

Is it the ideal? We would love to go Christmas shopping and meet with smiling strangers and hear children laugh and Bells ring?

I’m not sure that’s it either.

And yet, the song endures.

Christmas Time is Here

“Christmas time is here
Happiness and cheer
Fun for all that children call
Their favorite time of the year..”

I waited until after Thanksgiving to post Christmas photos on this blog, even though I decorated for Christmas mid November.

I can hear the groans now.

And I silly wait until the Saturday after thanksgiving. However, that doesn’t work for our families’ a huddle this year.

I had three guests comment on how early it was. I laughed it off, explained about projects and scheduling.

But can I tell you a secret, dear reader?

I’m tired of the Early -Christmas -Decorators being shamed by the Must- Wait until After Thanksgiving legalistic view.

My family and I are not one iota less grateful because our tree was up before thanksgiving.

It has nothing to do with rushing to get to Christmas.

The world is on fire. There are far more important things to think about, pray about, focus on. Our Metal space should be so occupied by higher thoughts that there is no room left for this “debate” to continue.

If Christmas Decorations bring you joy, put them up when you’re ready.

If the clutter stresses you out, don’t. Or find a sane way to decorate so that your house feels festive without feeling overwhelming.

The years seem to slip by faster and faster each year. Why not prolong the joy?

Regardless, we are now in what most people consider to be the Acceptable window to decorate . Grab out those boxes and bins.

At our house, I’m glad I can open the door and not hear about how early I decorate… until next year at least.

Rejoice !

Christmas time is -finally- here.