Blech. We. Had. A. Morning. Really it was me. I bought a $1 bracelet at Craft Warehouse last night. It was orange and sparkly and shouted out a welcome to September. So this morning naturally I wanted to wear the new orange bracelet to church.
My closet did not cooperate. Turns out I don’t wear much orange. So I experimented with two skirts, two shirts, two jackets, a pair of leggings and a sweater. And by experiment I mean I put them on, harassesed various members of my family for their opinions, felt frumpy and tore off the offending item. Frustration mounted.
Then rather than getting scissors and taking off the $1 clearance tag I pulled it off. And broke the bracelet.
Down the hall I heard my husband tell my youngest she could NOT wear the red cowboy boots with the sailor dress. She told him mommy said it was okay. Ummmm.
About this point I noticed my fingernails were still sparkly silver. Which didn’t go with my fall color scheme. So I horridly and hurriedly painted them taupe.
My husband steered the youngest into the bathroom where sure enough she had on a blue sailor dress, red boots and a huge hot pink puffy headband. And soaking wet hair.
We were already late for church. I whined and tore yet another layer of clothes off myself smudging the bad nail job at the same time. Goodness me.
The calm one (not me) helped dry the youngest’s hair and gently ushered us out the door.
The children in the preschool at church this morning are learning about Adam and Eve and how God made us each beautiful. Colorful. The lesson included using play doh to form little people. The play doh in the classroom was old and crumbly and yucko. The teachers and kids were dutifully plugging along but gross play doh is such a disappointment.
I noticed a bag sitting on the welcome desk and peared inside. Red and yellow and blue and green brad new tubs of play doh. Oh happy day! I walked the bag into the class and little voices cheered.
Listen. God has brand new mercies for us every single day. Colorful and joyful gifts like joy and mercy and grace and peace. But I persist in trying on old attitudes like impatience and grumbling and frustration instead. This morning I spent way too much time and energy fussing over myself. Never helps.
God is so good to me. Today He reset the color of my heart through the preschoolers. They really are a joy.
This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.
For our eldest’s 12th Birthday we gave her a Boss Day. She’s received this gift before and it’s a favorite. She gets a budget and permission to be in charge of the family for an entire day.
The only rule is she can’t be a bad boss. I had a good conversation with her last night. She laughed at the rule and asked why she couldn’t be a bad boss. Her theory was if she’s the boss anything goes. I grinned and told her if a boss is bad the team quits. Good life lesson.
So this morning I’m sitting and writing and waiting for the non stop action to begin. Sounds like we have OMSI, a picnic, a jump park and some cooking on the schedule. If past years are any indicator she’ll have us running all day and we will fall into bed exhausted. But happy. It’s fun to see glimpses of who she is becoming.
In honor of investing in our kids I have three books to give away. Comment if you are interested in one and I’ll draw winners from the comments.
Dannah Gresh runs a fun non-profit helping preteens and teens navigate body image, social media, safety and self worth. She loves Jesus. You can follow her on Facebook or Instagram. This book is easy to read and can be used in single chapters to speak truth to young women. I liked it.
10 ultimate truths girls should know is for parents of preteen or elementary girls. If you need a refresh in what really matters in parenting this book is helpful. The calls to be intentional about the life lessons we are imprinting through our actions was clear.
She is yours by Jonathan and Wynter Pitts is a hopeful reminder its our job to parent well but results are in God’s hands. A friend and I were reminding each other the truth about how God loves our kids more than we do. Since this is true- we can relax in His plan. If you need encouraged to drop the parenting anxiety and trust God this book is for you.
i received all three books for free in exchange for reviews. Winners drawn from comments on the blog, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
I spent last Saturday with my girls. The resident chef was out of town for the day. My youngest called it a Mommy Daughter Daughter date. We got pedicures, went to the library, hid some painted rocks and played at the local park.
While the girls scampered about I watched a group of men setting up an impressive BBQ by the public covered area. The guys had hauled in four different grills, a mountain of meat and two full picnic tables of food. They were also sporting soccer balls, accents and their conversation frequently fell into several languages other than English. Ahhhh. Friends from Africa! And then the grill fired up and the park transformed.
A couple of women stopped to chat and asked the guys what was happening. I listened in. Apparently a competing soccer team was driving down for a game at six that evening and so the host team was getting dinner ready. They clearly expected a crew. The men offered the bystanders a sample of the BBQ. The ladies declined and walked on. My mouth watered.
Yup. I totally scammed a piece of the chicken on our way out of the park. The guys insisted we take three. And a bottle of water. My eldest was horrified I had weaseled my way into someone else’s BBQ. My youngest said it was the best chicken she’d ever had. It was tasty. The soccer team seemed happy to share.
On the way home though it seems like my eldest was right. I shouldn't just take and glory in what the newcomers to the local park were bringing. So we went home and baked an apple crisp and hauled it back to the park in time for the big soccer match. We didn't stay. But our new friends sure grinned. Its fun to make new friends.
My whole point in the story is that in order to love you neighbor you have to first notice you have a neighbor. You have to be willing to meet the neighbor. Talk to the newcomer. Smile. Eat chicken. Bake apple crisp.
After we got home I watched the new documentary about Mr. Rogers. I bawled my head off. You should watch it. Mr. Rogers knew how to love people better than anyone. I want to be like him when I grow up. Hope my kids do too.
I just finished reading Jack Kerouac's classic novel On The Road. It is a quasi true book based on Kerouac's own life and experiences in the 1950's beat culture. The book is generally reviewed as a brilliant and insightful look into the world of drugs, jazz and the beginnings of the sexual revolution. Parts were gorgeous. Much of it was disturbing.
Kerouac's hero in the story, Dean Moriarty is based on the real life Neal Cassidy. Dean is expressive, kinetic and exhausting. I cringed when I read about his four kids spread across the country with three wives whom he took turns visiting and periodically punching during fights. I wondered about the heartache he left in his wake of stolen cars, brothel visits and abandoned commitments. And yet - I understood when he talked about the wanderlust of travel, about the deep connections between people and about how his soul yearned for more. I'm glad I read the book. It gave me questions to ask and compassion for people who are choosing a life different than mine.
Your belief structure will not crash if you understand your opponent's argument.
If it does, you need to spend some time considering what you really believe. There are limits of course. When I'm on a diet I stay out of bakeries. Just a couple of days ago I threw a book in the recycle bin. It was making my stomach hurt. No need to try everything.
But I'm concerned our society has forgotten how to listen or read or understand anything with which we don't agree. Seems like the current trend is to shun, or shout louder than opposing ideas. The dogma says if we don't agree on everything we can't agree on anything. See where this takes us? It doesn't make us stronger. It makes us brittle. And bitter.
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" - Aristotle
CS Lewis believed everyone in any given era has a blindness to truth born simply by being surrounded by the time's thought patterns. I agree. Same with only talking to people who agree with you.
None of us can fully escape this blindness, but we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it, if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer then than they are now; they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes. They will not flatter us in the errors we are already committing; and their own errors, being now open and palpable, will not endanger us. C.S. Lewis
The reason I read books I don't agree with is the same reason I talk to people who are different then me. It's enjoyable. Refreshing. Interesting. Educational. Wonderful.
What did you read which made you see the world in a new way?
About a week ago we were out at Lake Merwin in the community swimming pool. It was crowded. Not cess pool of humanity level crowded but there were enough people in the pool I was having to self monitor and preach grace to my soul.
There were two other large families in the pool around us. Both families had a Grandma and Grandpa, a set of parents and a passel of grandkids. The first family looked outwardly a lot like mine. The second family from outward appearances had some differences from my family. Different accent, different religion. This grandma was sitting out the pool and was watching with big brown eyes and a Hindu dot on her forehead.
I was sitting in the pool with my kids and family A - the one who looked like me - started getting rowdy. Grandma was wrestling her daughter and splashing and laughing and causing a raucous. She and her daughter where about to run me over when I quietly moved out of the way. I silently wished people would notice who was around them. But whatever. Its a pool. I was wet already.
Family two - the ones who didn't look like me? They brought out some water guns and started squirting each other. As you are likely aware, water guns squirt water. These kiddos were loud and were in fact getting water on people in the pool to whom they were not related. Including rowdy grandma.
Rowdy grandma was annoyed. I was watching. Remember this is the rowdy grandma who almost ran me over?
Stated rules on the wall said nothing about water guns. Nothing about splashing. Stated rules on the wall did however outlaw pushing and wrestling. Rowdy grandma has broken stated rules but was amped up and about to go off on kids for being annoying to her personal set of rules even though they weren't actually breaking any real rules.
Oh golly. My personal justice meter was ticked off. My husband was actively talking me down.
So here was the conversation that ensued next:
Rowdy Grandma: "Are you members here?"
Water Gun Kids: "Yes".
Me quietly to my spouse: "OH right rowdy grandma. You gonna start out by making this about us and then? The members and the non? You gonna try telling these kids they don't belong here?"
Rowdy Grandma: "Then you know that squirt guns aren't allowed in the pool".
Water Gun Kids: "It doesn't say that on the rule sign"?
Me to my spouse: "RIGHT??? Take that rowdy grandma!!"
Rowdy grandma swam away. I watched. She got out of the pool and went over to the pool employee and tattled on the squirt gun kids. Pool employee looked puzzled. I'm sure she'd seen rowdy grandma too. But she dutifully went over to squirt gun kids and asked them to chill. They moved over to another section of the pool. Rowdy grandma gloated.
AND THEN ROWDY GRANDMA STARTED PUSHING AND WRESTLING ALL OVER THE POOL.
Here is when my husband had to shift into overdrive to keep me from going off on Rowdy Grandma. We talked about how its hard to know when to intervene and went to extend grace. When do you shout down the bully?
So instead I swam to the edge of the pool and approached the water gun Grandma. Here's how this conversation went.
Me: 'I just wanted to let you know I saw how the rowdy Grandma was acting. I think your grandkids were unjustly assigned blame by someone who was being rude herself. Plus the rules dont' say anything about squirt guns."
Water gun grandma: "Ah yes. Thank you. You never know what sort of people you will meet when you go out in public. Sometimes you just have to let things go".
And she shrugged and smiled. Half hour later when her family decided to leave she looked over at us and waved.
I'd been judging everyone in the situation and it wasn't even my fight. But it felt right to connect with and affirm someone's belonging, and share a friendly nod to the good guys.
Really I do struggle with how to respond in situations where something is off in the public square. I think about brave people who stood up and stopped injustice. I think about when Jesus got out his bull whip and overturned the money changers tables in the temple. Sometimes a loud NOT GONNA HAPPEN HERE is absolutely the right response. But I also think about other times when Jesus' response to stop injustice was a quiet connection with a hurting person like the woman caught in adultery or his silent response to questions at his own unjust trial.
In our swimming pool situation my heart recognized grace and love as more powerful than confrontation from the Grandma at the pool's edge. Sometimes we have to let things go. Sometimes love and grace and courage speak loudly and sometimes speak quietly. When my thoughts are swimmings its probably best to shoot a prayer before any action.
What do you think?
One of my all time favorite books is by Randy Alcorn. I have read the novel Safely Home several times and every time I bawl my head off and come away with a renewed heart and awareness about how eternity matters. So when I heard Randy Alcorn had written a non-fiction book about discovering God's promise of relentless joy I was thrilled. 60 Days of Happiness - Discover God's Promise of Relentless Joy has no easy answers, but walks you through sixty days of thoughtful entries to move your perspective to what is true and good and right. If you are ready for a reset or a tool to use as you battle for joy this little book may shine some light.
Whoooo! It's September 1st. I absolutely love fall. I love the hustle of back to school (don't despair - it will come soon - pray for your teachers and districts and for a good resolution). I love football and sweaters and boots. I love rain and changing colors. I love the look back over a busy fun summer and I love the look forward into what's next. So here are a few things I'm cheering and the next things I'm going to focus on.
What I'm Cheering
There are lots of other things I'm cheering. My youngest learned how to tie her shoes. She's proud. I'm proud. I've gotten myself back on an eating plan which involves more vegetables and fewer bags of candy. This is a win. We spent time cuddling and reading and playing in the sand. Wins. Whoo Hoo.
So what are you cheering over the past summer?
I have a short attention span. I'm a great project person - not as hot when it comes to keeping on indefinitely. So on things I care about for the long haul (faith, my family, work, Quirky Faith) I find I have to do short term goals to keep my commitments. My creativity and enthusiasm increases when I'm on a goal.
So for September I'm participating in Jon Acuff's September/January challenge. I am actually doing three goals for the month. The reason is when I'm doing a challenge - I can tend to ignore my family. And when I'm focusing on my family I can tend to ignore my own health and personal care. So this month - I'm really focusing on all three. Can I work on a goal, pay attention to my family and do some self care? We're gonna find out!
1. I'm going to work on Quirky Faith every day. Well. As John says - perfectionism is garbage - so I probably won't make it every day - but I'm going to try to work on it every day.
2. I'm going to try and do something nice intentionally for a member of my family every day. I love my family. But I can get so busy I don't make sure to slow down and pay attention. This back to school month my kids will need some care. And my husband likes it when I listen to him occasionally.
3. My pants almost fit again. I like how vegetables taste. I really need to make an appointment for a checkup with my doctor. I haven't worked out in - um - a long time. Clearly I need to take care of myself. So here it goes. Something small every day to remind my soul I'm in charge of it's care.
So how about you? What are you working on this month?
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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