Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In Five Words...

Have you ever heard of that challenge to describe yourself in five words?  Yesterday I sent out a little text to a few people in my family - "How's life?  In five words..."  It was a small nudge to communicate in a low key sort of way.  Some seemed to find it a bit too formidable - maybe they saw it too much like a bar set low in a "limbo" sort of way.  It's not going to be set in granite, folks.

Hence, no response - you know who you are.  But most sallied forth, gave it a shot, and brought a smile to my face and a little laughter to my day.

This morning I opened all the upstairs windows to clear out the musties.  The warm sunshine of yesterday has morphed into cool, cloudy grays; tomorrow it should reach lukewarm again.  As I changed my sheets, snapping them in the briskness drifting in from outside, I mulled over a five-word communique for the day.  All sorts of competing and contrary words tumbled around in my mind vying, "Pick me! Pick me!"

Laughing out loud, I chose, "April is a fickle girl."  There is so much more to this than meets the eye.

Shared at We Are That Family

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Help, I Need Cover!

Standing in my kitchen, I looked down at the floor, unable to meet my children's eyes.  They waited in silence.  At times like these (for this was not the first), I wonder what they think about me.

"Does she have the slightest clue what to do right now?"
"Why doesn't she just....?" (Fill in the blank, because kids always know what they want you to do.)
"I wish she would just say something."
"Is she even thinking at all?"

Their wills and mine had hit with a resounding clash, and I'd simply called a halt to all our speaking. Arguing, debating, reasoning - whatever you want to call the "discussions" we were locked in, each from opposing sides - they were getting us nowhere.  And the fact is, sometimes I just don't know where to take us from that point.  Everything seems to be flying around like pots and pans swirling through the air with bangs and clatters.  But I do know one thing for certain.  I will be the one to take the lead.  So I looked at the ground and let thought after thought run through my mind, chasing away the craziest ones first.

Two visions stuck out in particular.  One was that of Jesus kneeling on the ground and writing in the sand as the Pharisees waited impatiently for Him to pronounce judgement upon the woman caught in adultery.  The other was an image, I believe it might have been Sarah Edwards, wife of the evangelist Jonathon Edwards.  She would sit at her kitchen table with a towel covered over her head in prayer at moments throughout her day.  The children knew not to disturb her during this time, either handling their disputes that came up in a reasonable way themselves or holding them until Mother was once again available to address them.  These pauses for prayer and consideration in the midst of chaos were just what I needed to remember.  How I wished I had some sort of prayer shawl to pull over my head just then, to hide behind as I sought to meet with my Savior.

I'm not talking burkas or anything here, just a sort of physical means of "time-out" so I can sort through some of this and know where to go from here.  Lacking the fitting accoutrement of such a calming shade behind which to veil myself, I simply brought my hands up to my face and covered it. I lifted up my problem and asked for help, direction, and strength.  Peace descended to clear and cool my racing thoughts.  After a while, I lowered my hands and was able to speak with composed clarity, but more than that my heart was at rest.  So maybe my kids thought I was loco for a few minutes, but I'm pretty sure I'm onto something here.  

Perhaps I ought to begin leaving a shawl in every room from now on.

Shared with Titus Tuesdays, Works for Me Wednesdays, and Simple Lives Thursday

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Day-Tripping Daydream

I was walking into Wal-Mart recently when this little caramel and cream beauty stopped me in my tracks with an exclamation of delight.  Its owner was nowhere around as I took a quick snapshot.  (Do people still say snapshot?)  Well, I do.

Can't you just see me puttering my way through narrow streets, pulling over into the local cafe for a cup of creamy espresso and a pastry, sitting and jotting down notes for the latest novel I'm writing.  Then I'm zipping off again to the local market, chatting with the vendors as I make a few purchases of flowers, cheese, and vegetables, fastening them into the exquisitely perfect little basket in back.  I know my kids all think this is quintessential dorkiness, but I don't care.

This little moped was just made for fun!

And see?  I already have the cup (got it for myself for Christmas) ...

Curiosities and Diversions

Although I possess a natural inclination towards simplicity, I also recognize that we are people drawn towards stimulation.  By one means or another, we will seek that which tickles our fancy, plays with our senses, and leads us down paths of exploration.  This natural penchant is the impetus behind all of our questions and should be encouraged and nurtured.  It is also the means by which many have found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, bred guilty consciences, or worst of all - become enslaved to that which they once chased with heart-hammering blindness.

As a parent, this is an area to which I believe a good deal of thought and prayer should be devoted.  Our kids will search out that which is made to delight, shock, and titillate; a wise parent will recognize their responsibility to guide their children as they endeavor to look around corners, under rocks, and inside cupboards.  It is a serious task we are given: to do our best at feeding curious delight and brave fortitude, at the same time embedding a healthy discipline to refrain and pass by more foolish enticements.  

It is a challenge - all these things come our way unbidden.  They knock on our doors, soliciting our buy-in to be the newest, latest thing to improve our lives; they buzz across airwaves with light, color, and sound designed to capture our senses; they trickling into conversations with lofty condescension, telling us we will be behind the trend if we don't jump in now; they crash through walls with wild enthusiasm, inviting us to be spirited away on the fun before we have time to think.

But we do have time - no - we must take time to think, and even better, to pray.

How this plays out and the decisions that are arrived at will be different within each family.  I am not the one to whom any of you are answerable.  But here are a few standards which you might find helpful as you navigate this responsibility.

1) What are your own diversions and where do your curiosities lead you?  Your children will recognize hypocrisy when they see it, so be the first to look for it within yourself.  As you look for ways in which you spend your free time, is Christ "your cornerstone, sure and precious", or is He seeming more like "a stumbling block" set between you and temptation? (1 Peter 2)

2) Evaluate your child's motivations both by who you know them to be and by probing conversations. Lead your children by example, asking questions which reflect a desire to hear from them as you seek understanding in making judgements, while teaching them that the final decision will be one that lines up with the Lord's standards.  All things should be viewed in the light of Christ.  What we choose to do with our free time will shape our character as much as anything.  See this as an opportunity to better 'know thyself.'

3) There is a saying that "timing is everything."  I've found it to be quite a fine check to have in place when making decisions.  Many lessons about maturity, delayed gratification, learning how not to follow the pack, and how to be strong when standing apart are all part of what can be gained by choosing the best timing (or not) of doing something.

4) Lastly, be sure to provide worthy choices to fill and satisfy the curiosity He has placed within us. Be proactive in searching out recreation, amusements, and occupations that will feed hearts, minds, and souls.  Healthy deviations from our routines abound, only be purposeful in choosing them.  Vary them from quiet, peaceful times designed to nurture a love and appreciation for reflection, to energetic adventures made for stoking fires of marvel and awe.

May we be mindful that all our time is under His watchful eye, in His loving hands, and bestowed as a generous gift of love.

Linked with Titus Tuesday and Works for Me Wednesday and Simple Lives Thursday