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A Home for Things

Hello there you sweet friends who peek in on this space. I know I’m the only one talking here, but the awareness that you are here too propels me to move forward. Thanks for that.


When the beginning of this year started to unfold, I considered five intentions to spend my energy on (life really boils down to energy management, yes?). Thankfully they have proved attainable even in these very uncertain times. I’ve decided to place them here as a framework to give a home for the assortment of things I enjoy talking about. Being spontaneous and whimsy to just “write whatever” seemed appealing at first, but for the side of me that likes things to have a home and a place to land, it lost its luster quicker than I thought.

Everything will still stem from the foundation of “considering in a life at rest” but will flow into and settle at these places:


1. COMMUNE | Be still before the Lord.

This is really the wellspring of rest, so let’s start here. These will be thoughts on stillness in the presence of the Lord. Songs, lyrics or words that incline our hearts back to the Father. Thoughts on considering rhythms of communion with Him and even the profound things that children have to say on the topic. Their wisdom runs deeper than we give them credit for.

We may even sing to you:

How Great Thou Art

2. DELIGHT| Chase after the beauty before you.

This will be a place for pure joy. It’s one of those intentions that spills into all the other ones, but will be more filled with wonder and carefree much like how a child sees the world. Things like buttercup petals for nail polish or a book we keep underlining, or a nature sighting that makes us giddy!

3. CULTIVATE | Nurture your mind with wholesome ideas.

As a previous educator turned home educator, I have a strong passion for cultivating minds. This will be a space for me to process the journey of learning alongside my children in things of beauty and worth. Composers, artists, poetry, history, really the sky is the limit here. Let us not grow weary in learning something new!

4. STEWARD | Manage what you own with simple intention.

This will be a space for how to find a simple solution to the management of life so that we have margin for rest. Simplifying the schedule, the closet, the toys, chores, etc. Owning little with habits of maintenance liberates us to rest not just in the physical sense, but really truly in our hearts.

5. OFFER | Posture your heart to another.

I have found that when the previous four intentions are in working order, this intention happens effortlessly. When we are at peace with the Lord and how He sees us, we feel alive to be who we are to the world because we deeply believe we are beloved. When we are used to delighting and being filled with joy, we are an offering just with our presence. When we are cultivating our minds (and hearts) with rich and beautiful things, we have a storehouse to spill from to lend a kind word, quote, verse, or song to another. And when we steward our time and the things we own, we are more available for others. When we finally are brave enough to offer the art of who we are, we feel alive and the cycle begins once more.

To whomever is here,
So glad you are.

-Lauren

Invite Yourself to the Table

“We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programs and each small guest assimilates what he can.”

Charlotte Mason

Glancing back a bit at this term, my heart swells at the baby rhythms that have transitioned to well worn tracks of mental habits. We have 1 Corinthians stored in our head and hearts, genuinely enjoy reciting poetry for each other at breakfast and have grown an appetite for more of Longfellow’s works. Role play (unbeknownst to them) is subconsciously infused with tall tale exaggerations and historical elements. Our eyes are being trained to notice the landscape/portraits of Thomas Gainsborough and the virtue in our read aloud characters have lifted their eyes to higher attitudes and behaviors. I have watched their eyes light up as they spin the globe talking about day turning to night, the poles and axis, and how the tilt causes the seasons. And I have even had completely unexpected moments like hearing “I just love Proverbs” after reading through a chapter that I assumed they wouldn’t understand. To which she followed up with “I don’t understand most of it now, but I will.” They may not remember every detail of information in this term, but a reverence for knowledge and a storehouse of beautiful words is assuredly laying a foundation.

One tradition we just started this year was welcoming family into that space with us as a celebration to close out our first 12 weeks. All gathered around the table, throughout the course of dinner we passed around a bowl with child-scribed prompts to keep the flow of the night. Sometimes it was a collective hymn sung. Or a poem that we would take turns passing around to recite, a historical or nature study fact of information shared, or an opinion on the artist hanging on the wall. It was a joy in the sense of watching their beaming pride before their “audience”, but also in my delight in seeing my entire family singing together or my brother and Dad reading bits of Longfellow and Stevenson. Oftentimes participating alongside a child in any good work nudges adults to move beyond themselves and into new places, yes?

There has been a quiet strengthening going on in my heart these last 12 weeks. It is the silent assurance that in my efforts of forming their characters, mine is being formed too. As I lay a mental feast for them, I am equally at the table learning and growing with them. As we all dash outside to flee the stale air of our home and sour attitudes, I too am filling my lungs with air and feeling the sun on my face.

Yes, motherhood can be characterized as being absolutely suffocating.

But it can also be an awakening of all the stale and sleeping places of our hearts. In our leading them to the beautiful things, the warm rays of those beautiful things touch us. Whether or not we want to acknowledge it. Whether or not we fight daily to cease thinking of all the things we must tend to so we can be in the present. With children, you have a chance at a rebirth to all the wonder in this world and the things you never once cared to know.

So read the poem, sing the song, sketch the flower. If you want your little ones to taste these things, invite yourself to the table too. You might as well for their sake and yours. In doing so, a flourishing domino chain will likely begin to fall. The eyes will see again, the breathing will deepen, the smile will come back, the laugh will burst out, the mind will awaken, and the joy will be felt.

“If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would only have courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favorite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents. The mother would be able to hold herself in ‘wise passiveness,’ and would not fret her children by continual interference, even of hand or eye — she would let them be.”

Charlotte Mason – Vol, 3, pg. 33


A friend for each part of you.

About 11 years ago when I left the college environment and moved forward into the world, I unknowingly began to shed that part of me that only associated with my own peers (and thus everyone who “thought like me”). Plunging into a life overseas where my community became not only my Chinese neighbors but that of my foreign team I began to acknowledge the gift of friendship that doesn’t tick every box of connection (demographic, denomination, interests, etc.). The romanticized idea that you can’t find a solid friend until they share every single passion that you do just didn’t take hold there. And I don’t think it should take hold anywhere if I’m completely honest.

It can feel lonely as an adult when we grow and become a little bit more specific in our interests and consequently convince ourselves that we relate to less and less people. Less people than those dorm days where you just needed to smile right and you had a BFF.

When we are not looking for one person to fulfill every emotional connection for us, it frees us to see everyone as a possible connection to some part of us. And also causes us to rejoice when we have found another kindred spirit to that odd quirky part of us that our husband just doesn’t understand. Cause he’s probably thinking “Phew! She can talk about that stuff with someone else now!”

If I had to assess each friendship I treasure with an arbitrary statement such as “Here are my passions, check ‘ALL THAT APPLY’ to each one they share with me” I may never find that identical person that aligns with every part of me. Sometimes that happens, and it definitely is special. But also very rare. We must settle then for a wide and generous network of people that share something about us regardless of something else we may disagree on. Or our age difference. Or our political opinions.

I have a friend reserved for sharing beautifully written words. Another for song lyrics.
Another friend who equally shares my love for identifying the natural world.
A friend who has seen me at my worst and can keep me accountable.
A friend to chat about Charlotte Mason and other home education topics with.
A friend who also has a sensitive heart and reminds me I’m not alone.
Another friend who is also raising sensitive children and reminds me I’m not alone.
A friend with a small shop with children under foot too.
Another who has lived overseas and needs no belabored explanation about it’s impact.
Or that one friend who also sits in wonder and feels the wrestle of the creative artist.
A friend that I only connect with over fermented foods and recipes.


The list could go on of the web of friendships that grow each year. It’s that interconnected woven community that may never meet altogether and more than half of them live nowhere near me and are not my age. And some parts of us deeply connect about one thing, but then see no commonality in another. Connection needs no bounds. And isolation is often caused by distorted thinking that someone has to fully understand me to be close to me. Or to be considered a friend.

As we grow older and clarify more of who we are, may we not limit our friendships to small boxes like we used to before we new better. Release the burden on your “inner circle” from needing to understand or be passionate about every little thing that you like. There is a friend out there for those nerdy/whimsy/poetic/anxious sides of you. And most likely they will only tick one box at a time and/or reject another.

Give them grace in letting them in. Give yourself grace in realizing you are worthy of friendship even when you are not going to be everything for every person.

Sometimes it just takes an awkward icebreaking message of “Oh hey, I notice that you also like _____.” Who cares that you haven’t talked in 11 years. Or that this person was really your sister’s friend in college. Or that you recently found out they don’t like black olives (travesty!). Or that you really only saw this person once, and it was over a conversation about sweet potatoes.

I challenge you today to find someone you may only have one thing in common with. Celebrate that person, and maybe go find another one. In this you are stepping out of isolation and into community that is richer than your job description and who you vote for.

Learning at Rest

There are many different reasons that a family decides to home educate their children. For us, at a very basic level we wanted more time. More time given to live unhurried and at a pace that encouraged an authentic love of learning. For the sake of learning. But after another school year at home, there is a richness that I could have never known when first starting out, and I wanted to place a few discoveries here to delight in them. These illuminated foundations have also helped to clarify our “why” for their younger years at home.

No particular angle is meant to be projected to tell everyone that this is the only productive way for children to learn. I had a public school education as a child, was an educator myself, and have nothing against it and beautiful memories to boot. Yet the swift speed of one mainstream current can’t deny the merit of that which breaks off into a meandering stream flowing beside it in the same direction. So I guess for now we’re choosing the meandering stream.


Allows for the appreciation of a slower pace to life.

8 eggs, 4 ripe bananas, 2 c. oats, 1c. applesauce/yogurt, 4 t vanilla, 1 1/4 t cinnamon, BLEND.
Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart

I purposefully make a hot breakfast pretty much every day. And the main reason is because I can. When you are able to begin the day when your family is feeling ready instead of when the bus pulls up, it gives permission to scones or pancakes or baked oatmeal fresh out of the oven. Even light a candle while you’re at it. I have noticed that since mine are at the ages of 6, 4, and 2, I have the most captive audience at meal times. So I would dare say that our best conversations and books read comes at the breakfast and lunch table.

A while ago the image of an inchworm had popped into my brain of a way to explain when our days are at their best. The inchworm fully extended is when we are all spread apart doing our own thing whether it’s me with the household tasks and them playing, or when we are all in our own room spending much needed solitude time. The inchworm cinched up would be those together times at the table, on a walk, making a recipe together, etc. The day moves slowly like an inchworm does, but forward progress is always happening. Together, apart, together, apart.

Relationships can be strengthened beyond their peer group.

Since it is our normal to have them interact with their siblings, I take it for granted that their relationships with each other are so very close. While they respect each other and genuinely enjoy each other’s presence, I can’t help but think that the sheer amount of time together fosters this. It generates admiration in the younger sister in the lap of her older sister reading to her. It cultivates forbearance in the older sister when the tantrums of the younger one remind her she can be interrupted at no consequence and life will indeed go on. They just know that they are in the same home, learning and playing together and so they do it wholeheartedly, no matter the age difference.

Not only in our own home, but the time available to our family in the afternoon for visiting neighbors teaches social cues to all of them of how to love on the elderly. Come close, look them in the eyes, speak clearly, extend a cheerful smile. Ask a question or come prepared with something you think will bring sunshine to their day alone. I have been delighted to watch the improvement in these little things. Moments that would have had to squeeze into a weekend had they been at school all day.

The younger ones are enriched in the process.

Over the span of this year, I have grown more and more aware of the “trickle down.” That overflow of knowledge intended for the older that my younger child is catching and even speaking to help the older clarify her own knowledge! She may just be an onlooking four year old, but her growing ability to listen in on a reading and beg for more still astounds me. It also allows me to let my four year old just be when it comes to teaching her formal lessons this young. The “letting alone” is not neglectful, it’s strategic. When they’re young like this, let them come to the river to drink. The spring that you are giving to your family of beautiful ideas and literature and art trickle down to the youngest of onlookers. You will be amazed at what they absorb on their own. I guarantee its much more than you give them credit for. At least it was that way in my case.

Learning threads are free to run their course.

A dialogue between my oldest and I:

Look at this painting, let’s take a close look it while eating breakfast.
– Oh wait, that looks just like the painting in that other book! I was right! It’s the same artist!
– It kind of reminds me of that poem we read about winter, wait let me go find it.
– Oh, remember The Long Winter?
– Garth Williams is such a good illustrator. I think he illustrated another book on our shelf…let me find it..
– Ok, now I just want to match up all the illustrators with their books!

Sometimes I can’t decipher whether my distractible tendencies hurt or help our learning at home. While we may fall prey to drawing out a history book for months when it “should” have taken weeks, we also have learning threads that spiral in depth to places much more meaningful than the original plan. Not only that, but the value of allowing a child to speak a topic of personal wonder and then guiding them in chasing it down cannot be diminished or overlooked. I love the gleam in their eyes when their brains move from initial spark of thought to the linking of old information and then onward to new territory and even more wonder. It is such a delight to have front row seats for this.

Learning is the focus and not the grade.

“Many a mother cannot rest content until she is able to create an atmosphere of the love of learning. When she is able, the result will be a household of learners who delight themselves in the love of knowledge for its own sake.”

Karen Andreola, Mother Culture

I’m ashamed to say this, but when I look back at my own education and put both achievement of grades and learned material on a scale, the grades would heavily outweigh the learning. And so now as an adult I am here scratching my head as to what I actually remember and am wondering what education would have looked like had grades not been a focus at all (kind of like me wondering how productive I would be if we didn’t have Netflix…I digress).

It makes my heart swell knowing that my daughter has zero concept of measuring herself up against a grading scale. She literally just loves to learn for the sake of it because to her, from the very beginning that has always been the aim when learning new material. “Hey Mom, this chalkboard was made in Portugal! Where is Portugal on the globe?


In our home we use the approach of narration (simply “telling back”) to measure knowledge. It was a very new approach to my former educator self, but after this school year I have seen it’s merit in many layered ways. A child simply listens to quality writing on the topic and then tells you what they heard. There is so much more to say here, but I’ll just have to expound on that in another post.

“Narration looks different from conventional school methods, which require students to produce completed worksheets, lapbooks, dioramas, book “reports,” and test results year in and year out, from kindergarten to college. This is because narration is not about production, but about process. It is hard to let go of all that tangible evidence that seems to say, ‘Look, we produced this. Education happened here.’ Narration seems too easy, too simple, somehow ‘not enough’ to achieve that elusive goal, an educated person…Each child who narrates is digesting the knowledge she has received and making it her own.”

Karen Glass, Know and Tell

Allows for more time spent in solitude and play.

“Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character.”

James Russell Lowell, Dryden in Literary Essays (Found in Tasha Tudor’s book The Springs of Joy)

When you make a choice to pull away from the bustle of social calendars and activity for a bit, you are given the freedom to see what your body actually needs. What it craves. And usually when we allow it, we will find that it wants time for processing. Time to take in new ideas and knowledge, but then be able to be free of being talked at so we can digest all of these new things. When we go outside in the morning and afternoon, I purposely bring a book for myself so that they are gifted my presence but not necessarily my direction. Just go and see what you see. In the beginning of the year this felt like a curse to them, being ones to love the extra handholding and organized structure. But now, their heart craves this room to just “be” and not “do.” Writing in this space is even like that. Just sitting there in the blankness of the time, but with the intention of using the time, makes things happen. At first the space feels huge and intimidating, but then when there is that spark and flow of words I am grateful for it.

“Wise and purposeful letting alone is the best part of education.”

Charlotte Mason

When they were younger, we would have a rest hour in the afternoon. We have kept this even now when we only have 1 out of the 3 actually napping, but it is just a time for the rhythm of quiet reading or being alone in play. They never quite revolted this one, but it is a rhythm we all secretly look forward to each afternoon. You just have to get past the threshold of your own bedroom to realize how much your body needed the self-regulation.

Allows for more time to pay attention to the natural world.

Hickory nuts in the month of June.

Our formal learning time takes a total of 2 1/2 hours each morning, but then we are off doing that kind of learning that can’t happen at a desk. I try to keep the structure of our time outside to be stripped of all “adult facilitated activity” so that the pure changing of the seasons becomes that to look forward to. Let the natural world speak of it’s beauty without needing to convince your children that it is in fact beautiful. Just go out again and again with the purpose of seeing at least ONE thing new. We will often go to the very same locations day in and day out, but I guarantee that it will look different than it did yesterday. The dew may be thicker, a bloom has bursted, an abandoned nest has possibly made a free fall to the ground.

With a keen eye and the follow up of a google search, our understanding of the natural world has exponentially grown this year. I can just pick up a leaf or remnant of a seed on a branch and my girls an identify it. Their fear of bees has diminished greatly because they would much rather sit close and still to “watch it pollinate” while also achieving distinction between a bumblebee and a honeybee. They see a mushroom on the forest floor and gently move decomposing leaves around it knowing that the spores reproduced more just like it close by. And sure enough, a fairy ring is revealed.

All of these little things have been ours for the taking because of the time to wonder and explore along with the permission to learn together. Which leads me to my last gain that I delight in, and it’s for the mothers.

Mothers are offered a second education.

I put this one last because while this is a huge benefit, I do not home educate my girls because of what I will get out of it. It just so happens to bless me on my way of giving them this atmosphere and life.

Yet I simply cannot close without mentioning that home education for the mother is like a redeemed education for all that she memorized for a test and then forgot. Or all that she never even cared to know in her youth. Or all that has since been discovered in this world after her own formal education. When learning alongside your child becomes less about how little you bring to the table and more about what you each can learn together, the joy really cannot be contained. You have all those years to build up in both you and your child all that was lost, all that never was, and all that will be.

We get to come to the feast of new ideas and have our eyes light up in wonder with them! If there was ever an audience to witness your giddiness over learning new material, you have the best onlooking crowd there ever was. Your own wonder is in it of itself an education to them of what it looks like to value a world that can never be fully understood. So all that is left is more paying attention, awe and wonder.

“After all, what is the chief sign of growing old? Is it not the feeling that we know all there is to be known? It is not years which make people old; it is ruts, and a limitation of interests. When we no longer care about anything except our own interests, we are then old, it matters not whether our years be twenty or eighty.”

Anna Botsford Comstock, Handbook of Nature Study

Of course putting this all down here has stirred the pot of my mind and I have found so much more to say. But this will only create more delay for me actually finishing this so I will close it here for now. If there was anything here that piqued an interest and you would like to hear more about it, would you kindly let me know? While I write mainly for myself, I love writing about things that help to clarify another’s journey. So please share!

And if you are reading this and your situation is different and your children are in a public school setting, I rejoice with you as well! I would encourage you to look back and find the beauty in what public school offers your family. The goal is the looking back and the gathering of the beauty found. And beauty is tucked everywhere waiting for the spotlight. Let’s rejoice together and spur one another on, no matter the location of the learning.

Be blessed friends.

Shhh.

The picture above is an anchor for me. A documented remembrance like that of scales falling off my eyes for the first time and knowing that I’d be foolish to move forward indifferent.

One of my daughters had fled the scene of a disagreement in tears and lay weeping on the floor of her closet. After a considerable amount of time had passed and the lamenting had not abated, I took a deep breath and approached her room. When my heart is not in a ready posture for listening and understanding, it is very quick to encourage the move toward a solution with very little forbearance toward uncontrollable emotions.

But we’ll call it the strength of the Lord on this day, for in this particular moment I just went in with absolutely no expectation for resolve, clarity or tidying of emotions. I don’t think I even said anything. I inaudibly sighed, and laid down next to her. Right there on the closet floor.

When she realized I was not there to project my “solutions” on her, and I wasn’t there to make her feel less than for having big feelings, or undermine why she was hurt, the screaming lessened to cries and then minimized to whimpers. And we lay there together in the silence. Every now and then a sniffle breaking the space.

And then we looked up and saw the kaleidoscope of color made from her hanging dresses swirling around each other. I literally gasped at it’s redemptive beauty.


I find it no coincidence that when this picture was taken I was going through a photography course (highly recommend!) and the assignment for us to capture was one that showed “proof of presence.” Of all things.

I never did find out what was troubling her. But understanding her multi-layered sorrow was not the point. At least not then. It was the permission to feel and the will for me to stay near.

The image of those dancing dresses keeps floating in my mind these days. How often do we only have mercy for that which makes sense to us? How often are we trying to listen while busying our minds with a response? How willing are we to understand there is value in pursuing a relationship with someone knowing we will never understand them fully? Or how willing are we to move toward restorative practices that are difficult to measure?

I need to ask myself these questions again and again. You too?

Compassion + Retreat

The world is quite loud right now. And while the sheer volume of information may be for noble purpose, we must be reminded of our frame.

We are people who need habitual resetting. A continual reminder that we are all but broken vessels who are not the Savior of the world. And even the true Savior found ways to pull away in between his compassion on the crowds. On our path to healing the hurt, educating ourselves about injustice and reaching out we must find our footing. Each in our own hearts.

Once grounded, may we take just a moment to breathe deep and see something that is still beautifully persisting among the tension. Taking a breath on the path to understanding is not a selfish act. It is a meek restructuring of the eyes of our hearts. The very thing we desire to offer this hurting nation. A new month is upon us, did you know? Chokecherry blossoms are sending their fragrance all over the trails. The birds have never resigned singing to you. The grass is still graced with dew of the morning. Your little ones still need hugs, and wholehearted eye contact.

May we sit in the uncomfortable volume of all the voices crying out for understanding. For justice. For change. But may we honor their cries by attending to them from a heart that knows how to retreat and surrender to its humble design.

“It is wonderful how many delights fall to the lot of him who is led by God. For such a one the clasp of a friends’ hand, a cool drink in the heat of noon, a merry salutation from a passing traveler, a glimpse of beauty by the road, a quiet resting-place at night, are all full of unspeakable pleasure.”

Anonymous

Friend in Jesus

On good days, may you sing. Then on the hard days it becomes a song of remembrance when your memory is bleak.

Are you weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?

I know I am. Quite suffocated at the moment. Sitting on my laundry room floor because the hour of returning my child to her bed (and it started at 4am) has me quite defeated. Wish I could say it wasn’t the theme for putting her to bed last night as well.

Precious Savior still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.

Things I’m telling myself right now and maybe you need this too? He sees your noble intentions. The hour you creep out of bed and stumble to the coffee pot just for a moment of peace where no one needs you. He sees this. But your diligence does not mold your heart. It does not make you any more holy or shield this time from interruptions. It is simply a pathway you put yourself on to sit in His presence. And maybe right now the type of presence you need with Him is a crying out. A weeping of all you cannot control. Allow this space to be an invitation for the Lord to work as He sees fit. He is oftentimes but a whisper to our loud personal-space expectations.


In His arms he’ll take and shield you, thou will find a solace there.

Whatever you are journeying through at this very moment upon reading this, I pray you would feel the strength of the Lord. Let His truth sing over you as the last word, for what a friend we have in Jesus.

Don’t wait to sing until the setting is perfect. Even at the bustle of breakfast, your children may join in and touch your heart.

Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart

I don’t know how I missed it, but one of my favorite book stores in town has actually been open this entire quarantine time. As an adult I tried to pull myself together and look civilized as I did a walk/run to the used book section. Wow, I didn’t realize how ravenous I would act. You’d think I hadn’t stepped foot in one for 2 months or something silly like that.

I already enjoy reading myself, so that’s always one reason to buy books. But then I became a home educator which added another reason. But now I have a daughter who devours books faster than I serve them and so here we are – always looking for the next great story or literary friend.

Whenever I find a book that all of us adore or one that my oldest asks to re-read herself and bring a pencil to underline things that “touch her heart”, I might just leave a little review for you all here. This one has earned it’s own post for sure.


Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart

This entire book is the written words of an orphaned six year old girl born a century ago who has a deep connection with her world around her. Her personal diary or “prints” as she calls them, were meticulously pieced together after they were torn apart and put in a poetry like format (and edited spelling) for us all to enjoy and read with ease.

I guarantee you will fall in love with this little girl Opal. We with our adult eyes will be able to see and appreciate all that she overcomes and experiences on a completely different level, but her sweet innocence will leave you enchanted. My daughter reading this is also six and is absolutely captivated and inspired to write about her life as she sees it. The underlined marks are both her own and mine, but I’ve left notes in the captions for better clarity.

Enjoy.


Describing her empathy for a hungry hobo/tramper on the road.
Talking about massaging her horses heads after a long day of pulling logs.
A reflection after her beloved crow died.
Hugging her cow when she felt she was lonesome.
Her observing the joy in a new mother.
Her reflection about how potatoes in the ground must have a lot of eyes to see the world.

Enchanted yet? Go get yourself a copy and read it with a pencil handy.

Live Lightly

We were standing ankle deep in the river the other day scooping up tadpoles and deciding which five to take home to keep. All of a sudden we see a camouflaged tadpole emerge who was about five times the size. I cannot even explain how determined we were to claim THAT one as our catch for the day. We tried again and again without success to scoop him up in between all the muddy water resettling again. After many failed attempts, my daughter exasperatingly cries “I just cannot hold this plan LIGHTLY! I’m really trying Mom, but I must have him!”

Do you see yourself in her words? Me too. Many times a day I grumble in my head “I just cannot hold this plan LIGHTLY! I must have ______! Or we must do _____.”

To make a plan and match it with the tenacity to see it through can be a worthy and honorable thing. It is a joy and comfort to our family to know that someone is intentionally laying the framework for a bit of rhythm. A few great stories to read, some recipes to try, exploring adventures packed and ready to go.

But no matter the hopeful beauty you plan to encounter, if your hands are grasped around it with white knuckles, bitterness will eclipse your joy fast. We know these things but before we know it, we are standing in the closet trying to unfold our clenched hands with palms up and heads leaned against the wall. At the mercy of little people being allowed to carry emotions too. Heaven forbid.

So let’s keep making these lovely plans. We are being a steward of our hearts and minds by sitting in that space and showing up for those entrusted to us. This is honorable and good. But let’s think of the plans like each carefully and intricately placed dandelion seed. What a perfect little thought-out arrangement of fluffy parachutes…..WHOOSH! Gone. Who knows where. Some manage to hang on for a while for us to look at longer, while some disappear in seconds.

So looks like we have one of two options:

Make plans and marvel at the plans sticking around exactly as we thought.

Or make plans and send them a sweet farewell when the wind makes them disappear. They were not there in vain. Our good intentions were seen by Him before they up and vanished. Maybe to return in your backyard for another day.

Beauty Found

“All I see
Is your beauty chasing me
And the love that sets me free
I am found in You.”

All Sons & Daughters, Tonight

Every day, words come into my head a mile a minute it seems. Word pictures and metaphors and connections and deeply moving things. But it seems as of late, that when I finally have a moment alone to revisit those thoughts, the unwinding and synthesizing of those precious thoughts have lost their luster. Or require brain cells that I justify I don’t have anymore, or am too weary to tap into. And so then there I sit. Wishing I could articulate something from the beauty found all day long, yet defeated by the incoherent nature of my mind that feels like its walls are a colander leaking everything out into nowhere.

I know I’m not alone in this. Especially as a mother.

I think one reason why I so enjoy taking pictures and being outside in nature is because I am able to sit in beauty that has NOTHING TO DO WITH MY MANUFACTURING. If I were to put me into the equation at all, it would simply be that I made the decision to look for it and put myself in the way of it. But that’s it. No “here is this perfect idea that will now be perfectly executed and will then be perfectly documented” expectation. Been there, done that, not worth it.

If we allow our hearts to rest and believe in the worthiness of just BEING, then beauty will come to us. His “goodness and mercy shall follow/chase/pursue [you] all the days of [your] life.” (Psalm 23:6)

When you come to the end of a day and your words need translation without a translator, its okay. We need to release this idea that at the end of our waking moments we “need something to show for it.” But if you long for something to hold, something to bring closure, then might I encourage you to be on the lookout for all things beauty that have nothing to do with you? I promise it will wash over you as blessing and will get you excited to wake up tomorrow just for the hunt of it. And will allow you to lay your head on your pillow that night knowing that you scooped up beauty that day and it was ENOUGH.

The way you notice your two year old drawing a sun on the driveway.

The details of a new flower.

The way new leaves burst out of bloom in miniature size.

The newfound bravery of a cautious daughter.

The conflict you overheard resolved from another room.

The sunspot on the living room floor after a day of straight rain.

So let’s look for beauty today that has nothing to do with our production or effort aside from noticing. Not because we are unworthy of reflection, but because there is sweet surrender in just showing up and beholding beauty for the sake of it. Would love to hear something you beheld today that you just happened to be in the way of.