Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Parenting Update

In case you actually read this blog on a regular basis, you may have wondered what happened to the wild and crazy parenting idea we had here. If you missed it, the bottom line is that we were going to back WAY off on our...well, our control, I guess, and let the kids monitor themselves for a little while. (Read the linked post for the reasoning on this!)

Well, if fifteen minutes--or a few hours--is a little while, I'm sure we've succeeded. The pace of life and the need to set up the school routine necessitated a little too much guidance for us to abdicate altogether. But you know, just thinking about it was so good for us. I've found myself more aware of the need to move into a time of allowing my kids to make mistakes (read MESSES), and to support them in taking responsibility for them. I SO need to train myself to relax, and NOT to take ownership of the messes, whether spills or relational conflicts or forgotten library books. I'm not good at this. But I can get better!

I hope you're not too disappointed that we chickened out. It's nice to have the idea still in our back pockets.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It's a mindset

"Therefore, since you have been raised with Christ, set your heart on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3:1-2

Several months ago, my attention was drawn to the third chapter of Colossians. It occurred to me that if someday the tides turned, and we were oppressed like so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, and left without our Bibles, I would want to have memorized Colossians 3, and the first part of chapter 4. So I am going to memorize it in the weeks ahead. Anyone care to join me?! This week verses 1-2.

This stained glass cross is in the back of our church's sanctuary, and I have grown to love it over the years. It's too bad it's in the back instead of the front, but lucky for me, I am often in front singing with the praise team or choir. I am drawn into worship as I picture Christ seated at the right hand of God behind that cross--which was once ugly and hateful, but now transformed and beautiful. Transparent, it is the means by which we enter into the presence of God. He beckons us to come and sit at his feet.

We are to set our HEARTS and MINDS on things above. I noticed the repetition and the contrast. Where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. NOT on earthly things, although that is where we inevitably spend our time. When we are heavenly minded, we are MORE earthly good. Oh Lord, help me set my mind on YOU, so that you can more easily use me to impact my world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lessons from my garden: Things that last

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8

Our flowers experienced a little frostbite last week, and some of them fell indeed. For the rest, it's just a matter of time. I spend a lot of time tending them. I want to transfer much of that energy this gardening "off-season" into things that will last forever.

I have already joined a Bible study for the year, and am excited about learning from the book of Daniel. But it would be easy just to zip through the homework, enjoy the discussions, and not let it make a lasting difference in my life. Having the kids in school affords me much more freedom than I have had in a long time, and it would be SO easy to let it slip through my fingers on a little of this and a little of that. I am praying that I will have the discipline to exercise the freedom to be still and know that He is know more of Him than I have ever known before. Pray for me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The rest of the story...

You're gonna love this. Remember the "Good Grief Gator" post--the one with our friends' moving van? (You can click here if you don't.) Here's the rest of the story.

When these friends sold their house, they noticed the buyers only lived about two blocks away from us. We knew who they were because their son had played baseball with Ben. So they moved out of our neighborhood.

On the first day of school Ben came home and told us about Colin. He was a new kid at school. He thought he would like to play with Colin. He had noticed that Colin rides his bus. (You know where this is going, don't you? Wait, it gets better!) Lee and Ben biked by on Saturday to check out our hunch that he was the new neighbor, and sure enough, there he was. Better yet, he also had a first grade sister, and very friendly parents. A matching family! (In fact, our matched kids were born just days apart from one another.) The kids and their mom just left after a nice visit. I didn't dare ask if they play dominoes...

I love Maria's quote from the reverend mother in the Sound of Music: "Whenever God closes a door, He always opens a window." Thanks, Lord, for this open window!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Back from tea time

Thanks to all of you who stopped by the garden to enjoy tea with us. It was fun to have a lot of new visitors. I do hope you'll come back--I'd love a little company on my journey anytime! Special thanks to those who said hello.

I made it to quite a few tea parties myself this week (more about that here), and met many amazing women in the blogosphere putting their gifts of hospitality to use right on their blogs! Talk about beautiful.

As for me, I took a spiritual gifts inventory once, and came out in negative numbers on hospitality. Seriously! (The creators of that inventory may also have lacked that particular gift!) But soon after that I noticed that my new Bible actually had a typo in Romans 12:13. It's supposed to say, "Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." But mine said "practice hospitality" twice! So you need to practice, I thought. And I did. I'm glad God goes to the extra effort to make His point sometimes.

I learned a few other things at tea time:

1. Sometimes the best way to find the beauty in life is to remember what you have that you'd forgotten about, and put it to good use.

2. I found that (I'm only speaking for myself here!) it's easy to put on a beautiful tea when the guests aren't going to see what the rest of your house looks like. I hope I'm not finding it this easy to just keep up a good appearance in the other areas of my life (especially my character) and settle for that.

3. By definition a treat is something that's enjoyed occasionally. It seems to me that much of the enjoyment of life is determined by the extent to which we pace ourselves. Tea is a treat, and I'm going to remember where this tea party began so that I can drink it in a little at a time in future moments of quiet!

And now, back to the simpler things!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Welcome to Tea!

A very special tea indeed, for a little girl who is six. The garden is in full bloom, and the girls have lovingly prepared the pretty tea treats and table favors. They are all ready in their gloves and garlands...and there is a surprise performance after the refreshments!

Tea Time

Ever since I inherited Mom's silver tea service, I have had a special place in my heart for the beautiful and whimsical. Well here is a lavish little taste of both. At the risk of having someone say I have too much time on my hands now that the kids are in school, I am taking part in a virtual tea party. It's like a really amazing progressive tea party with the best of everyone's everything, and no calories! (Rats.) Click here to find it, and tour you way through the week if you wish. After this little journey, it'll be back to cleaning house for me. I made some headway on the kitchen cabinets and the guest room yesterday...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Lessons from my garden: The Color Purple

The color purple must have been one of God's best ideas EVER! (This photo courtesy of one little girl who absolutely MUST pick the flowers, and one mom who is still learning to go with the know, when life gives you the blossoms all picked off your hostas, make a fun picture out of it.)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A milestone day!

Today is the first day of school. Ben is in second grade, and Bethany is in first. It is also Ben's eighth birthday. No small amount of excitement around here! (For more about the morning, click here.)

You know what all this means? I am celebrating my 8th anniversary as a stay at home mom by sending BOTH of my kids off to school ALL DAY! Is it OK for me to use the word "celebrating"?

Well, of course I am celebrating eight years as a mom. What an unbelievable eight years it has been! Our kids are so much fun, and so uniquely created by their Maker. He amazes me and catches me by surprise often as I observe Benjamin and Bethany, and the special traits that they each possess, each so characteristically THEM. What a great God! It has often made me think how much He must have smiled and laughed as He lovingly crafted each of us, and how much joy it must bring Him just to watch us "do our thing".

And yes, I am celebrating being a stay at home mom. It was a MAJOR change for me to end a 15 year teaching career that I loved, to trade it in for a full-time position in parenting. I have never regretted it, not even once. It has always been the right choice for me. How I celebrate the fact that I have savored these years with my little ones! While some days have been more challenging than others, with all my heart I celebrate the fact that I will never look back and say that I wish I had enjoyed those years more because they were gone so fast. I have enjoyed them as much as a mom possibly could. And I am so, SO thankful for the opportunity that both the Lord and my husband afforded me.

And yes, I am unashamedly celebrating sending my kids to school, all day, both of them. Hallelujah! Do you see their faces? They jumped out of bed this morning, made their beds, practically ran for the breakfast table...they are SO excited! Schools are wonderful places, and we are blessed with a very fine one. There is no doubt that they'll be seeing me over there a lot, just as they did last year. These are the "wonder years" where they still love school, and are happy to have Mom there.

So what now for me? Well, morning walks and a cup of coffee, uninterrupted showers, Monday morning Moms in Touch, Tuesday morning Bible study, CLEANING my house...that should get me to about Christmas. After that, I'll keep you posted. Today I'm going to buy Ben's birthday present. Did I tell you he's eight?