Don’t You Understand?

One morning, I was sitting in church and they mentioned a Go Trip to Nicaragua. The Go Trips are when people from the church go to various places in America and other countries and help build schools, or help people get clean water, build houses, clean up after storms, etc, basically whatever is needed to help the people living in the area have a more comfortable life. Before we started going to church, I had written down that I’d like to go to Nicaragua someday. So, naturally when that came up in discussion at church, my brain lit up with thoughts like:

  • I want to go there.
  • I want to do that.
  • I need to experience that!

I put it out to the Universe and let it go. Later, however, I felt like God was telling me that the big stuff is too easy to appreciate. He seemed to be nudging me to go deeper. Sure, it’s wonderful to travel to other places around the world and help people, but he seemed to be telling me that I needed to get to the meat of things….”Don’t you understand?” He seemed to say to me.

DSCN0357Over the last year or so, I’ve taken intentional steps to slow down and notice things. I started with photographing my yard…just things from my yard that I thought were beautiful…frozen bubbles from a bubble maker, icicles on the patio table, a deer at the feeder, a Cardinal eating seed on a box I placed on the patio, my daughter playing in the snow with her dad. These things that are so easy to overlook.

I felt like that was where the magic was.


It’s funny how things always come to us at the right time, because as I have been slowly navigating my way through all of this this year, I came across the Voskamp study on Facebook. It popped up out of nowhere and I decided to join. In this group, we  intentionally looked for 1000 gifts in our lives. Just one thousand. It would probably have seemed like a lot to me a year ago, but now, it has been really fun to take the time to jot down the beautiful moments in my life:

  • Coffee steaming in a cup on my desk in the morning as I type.
  • My husband’s easy laugh.
  • Snuggles with my seven-year old who still sneaks into our bed in the middle of the night.
  • A hug from my son when he picks up his daughter on Saturdays.
  • My son’s soulful grey eyes that know more than he’ll ever say.

There, I’ve just listed five gifts in my life and with each, I feel lighter, my Spirit brighter, my heart overflowing with gratitude for this beautiful life that I am honored to live.

It really is an honor.

I’ve not always been grateful. I’ve wished for death more times than I can count, but I’m really happy to be here. I’m so grateful that even though I have, at times, wanted to throw all of this beauty away, God didn’t give up on me. I’m still here. I’m still learning and growing and sharing the journey, and loving…

Oh how I love.

I’m still getting hurt. I’m still getting angry. I’m still struggling to forgive myself and others for things, but I’m learning and I’m leaning into all of that, because I’m beginning to see that beyond all of that is LIFE.

Real life.

Waiting to be had.

DSCN0356I don’t need a trip to Nicaragua. I don’t need to see something majestic to find beauty. It’s all around me. I need only take notice.

Right now, outside my window, the river is silver….it’s a silver mirror reflecting the dim sunlight above. Is that not a beautiful gift?

Most days, during the morning commute, people get to witness the brilliant awakening of Earth, as the sun rises over the horizon and how many notice its splendor? The same with the sunset. I know I have missed them often in my life and what a shame that is.

color purple

I think Alice Walker summed up this blindness quite nicely in her novel, The Color Purple: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” Maybe it does piss God off, or maybe it just makes him feel sad for us…maybe he looks down on us and asks, “Don’t you understand, yet?”

Everything here is beautiful, yet we rush through our lives like we’ve got some other place to go besides the grave. And even if we do, don’t we want to enjoy the journey along the way? I know I do. The journey is what it’s all about! Have you ever had a goal you wanted to accomplish and once you accomplish it, you’re like, “Okay, now what?” Because the goal wasn’t really the THING that got you up every morning….it was the JOURNEY. It was the challenge of it and even the struggle, so that once you accomplished your goal, besides that initial rush of excitement, in the end it’s just the end.

I don’t want to rush to the end.

I want to savor this life, my one and only life that I know. I want to reflect and digest and take in and envelop myself in the splendid deliciousness of this existence because I know it is fleeting. We are not promised tomorrow in this life, with our family, with our friends, or our fur babies, or our homes, or our jobs. We are guaranteed nothing.

On a long enough timeline, we don’t even exist. Wrap your brain around that concept.

We get so caught up in trying to BE SOMETHING, BE SOMEONE, when we are already enough.

Back in the very early 2000s, I was out in California, ever-searching for purpose in my life and I remember having this thought: You’ll know who you are and what you are when you stop realizing it. I think what that meant was once I stopped trying to be something and someone, I could finally be who I am and live a happy, fulfilled life.

And I have found that to be true.

This year has been a struggle for me and I’m sure I’ll continue to struggle, but I’m a better me in this journey. I’m less dependent on wine to relax. I’m less dependent on validation from others for my self-worth. I’m less dependent on attention to make me feel loved. I’m less dependent on a busy schedule to feel worthy. I’m less dependent on the fickle external things that can never truly fulfill me.

I am beginning to see the beauty in my life and I’m more grateful for this than words typed here could ever say.

Xx

Theresa

Stepping Down; Looking Up

Job 23:6 Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me. 


This verse really sums up my new relationship with God. I don’t see him as a tyrant, ready to punish me when I mess up, but rather my source of strength when life is hard.

Loving Jesus doesn’t mean life will be easy. His life wasn’t easy. It means I don’t have to walk it alone. This is a big deal for me, because I have felt lonely most of my life. I guess I never understood, or I was too afraid or filled with pride and vanity, to step out of my darkness and take a chance. Instead of kneeling at the throne, I sat on it, putting the weight of my life on my own fallible shoulders, when what I needed to do was step down and let God in.

He stood outside the door of my life for a long time, patently waiting for me. I hid inside, too afraid I’d be wrong, or uncool, or that I’d mess up and feel judged and unworthy. I spent my days locked inside my own prison peeping out at him occasionally. Until one day, I’d had enough and opened the door to his embrace.

He didn’t make me feel judged. He allowed me to show myself some Grace. He allowed me to be exactly who I am, messy hair and robot shoes and all – without apology to anyone else. He let me know that I am lovable and loved, just exactly the way I am.

And so I hide no more. I don’t try to shine my light on the world anymore. I simply stand in His light. That’s where I need to be right now, in his light, and if he tells me to go, I shall go. He guides my steps. He guides my words. All the rest is darkness, because I really have no idea what I’m doing, or where I’m going, or what the next right thing is. I know nothing.

God is here for me when life is hard, when I feel lost, when I feel lonely.

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By comparison, my life is rather easy. When our daughter was born, my husband and I decided together that I would stay home with her and not return to teaching. Being a stay-at-home mom, I don’t have to get up early and scrape the frost and snow from my car. I don’t have to commute in traffic. I can literally be in my pajamas all day long if I want to and while that sounds nice for a day or two, it’s just not who I am.

For me, my life is challenging because of the monotony of it. It’s challenging for me to see my purpose in this life, when I can literally be in my pajamas at 4pm with my hair in a messy bun, not because it’s cute and trendy, but because I just didn’t see the need to do more. The monotony of motherhood can wear on me quite a bit and I get bored. There, I said it. Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom is boring to me. The trouble is this, my boredom can quickly morph into depression and anxiety and that’s where the challenge is for me.

DSC_0105What I have learned in the last year is this: when I’m focused on God and Gratitude, I can more easily see the gifts each day provides. I feel a deeper sense of confidence; a confidence that has given me the courage to meet new friends and even join a homeschool group. To post things like this here on the blog, when I know some of my readers are probably like, “where’s the homeschool stuff?” The thing is, God and Gratitude make me a better mom, friend, wife, and grandma and that’s important to me.

I never felt truly whole before. Even as I loved Nature and considered it my church, I never felt whole. While nature helped me feel connected, God and gratitude helped me feel wholly connected. Where Nature helped me to notice the cycles of Earth and how my cycles coincide with them, God and gratitude helped me find peace in those cycles. Nature fills me with a deep sense of connection. God and gratitude fill me with a sense of every day purpose.


I never wanted to be a Christian and honestly don’t quite feel comfortable calling myself that, because I have never liked how Christians made me feel. I also don’t care for organized religion. Never have.

I may not be ready to call myself a Christian, but I am fully comfortable calling myself a follower of Jesus Christ.

Jesus kept it simple. All the great teachers do, because it really is simple.

I’m learning this slowly. I’m still in the vain, need-for-control group, to be honest. It’s hard to give up control of my life to a God unseen, but it seems I do this no matter what. If I don’t give it up to God, I seem to give it up to anxiety and depression, and isolation, and fear, and a nightly wine habit that leaves me feeling useless. I am slowly learning to enjoy the freedom of putting down at the feet of Jesus, the mental loads that weigh me down. I’m learning to enjoy the freedom of not worrying about what other humans think of me.  I’m enjoying the freedom of getting off the throne and kneeling before it in thanksgiving, because I know that no matter what I’m going through, God is there for me, he’s putting the strength into my heart and Spirit to face whatever comes my way.

I never thought I’d be here.

But here I am.

Xx

 

Cultivating a Love for Reading

When I look back on my daughter’s progress in reading this past year, I am rather dumbfounded. In March, she was reading Dr. Suess books with help from me. Today, she’s reading The Tail of Emily Windsnap independently, only occasionally asking me for help in pronouncing some words.

RSCN0539When I was at the university and training to be a teacher, I remember the discussion and the debate over reading instruction. Topics that were covered included time, rules and phonics, reading levels, assessments, and finding books children might enjoy reading and having them readily available to the children. All of these topics are worth the discussion, although I’d lean more toward tossing assessments out the window, but I won’t jump on that soapbox today.

One topic of vital importance that was never covered was: cultivating a community of readers.

In my classroom and in my home, reading has always been simply part of daily life. In my classroom, we had free days, when my students could simply curl up somewhere in the room to read a book. If they didn’t have a book, they were allowed to go to the library to get one. Many of my colleagues thought the children would use this time to socialize and sometimes they did, but more often, they took the time to read. When children are given time to read and when everyone around them, including their teacher, is reading, they begin to see the importance of the activity.

I’ve found the same to be true for my daughter. Her father and I read daily and she sees us reading. We don’t just read on our phones, or on our computers, but we read novels and nonfiction books, as well as magazines, and any other materials we can get our hands on. We cultivate a reading community right in our own home and I think it makes a world of difference.

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We can’t simply tell children they must read. We cannot present reading as work and expect children to want to do it. Work is work and while some of us are lucky enough to have work we love doing, most adults avoid work like they try to avoid getting poison ivy, especially if the work is dictated by someone else.

When we give reading assignments, it crushes the joy of reading. It turns a valuable tool into something to be dreaded.

When we assign reading levels and points to books, we force children to view books as something that labels them, rather than simply a source of enjoyment or information. It gets even worse when those points and levels become part of a grade in a class. I remember students who carried around thicker, more “advanced” books to hide the fact that they were on a lower reading level. It pained me to see them carrying around such unnecessary shame, as they carried those books to each of their classes.

Why do we do this to children, when such things like this make children not want to read? What can we do instead?

How to Encourage Reading

  • Read for your own benefit and read in front of your children as often as you can
  • Read with your children and read a variety of materials
  • Visit bookstores and give them time to look at the books and even play in the children’s section
  • Visit your library and participate in the free events offered there
  • Give your children plenty of time and opportunities to read
  • Chat about books you’re reading and ask your children about what they’re reading

 

How we view reading may influence how our children view reading, but if you are a reluctant reader, don’t worry. You can still help encourage your child to read. If you are not interested in reading a novel, try a magazine on a topic you enjoy and have them around for evening reading. Every little bit helps. The most important thing is to be enthusiastic about what you’re discovering. If you’re finding something challenging in what you’re reading, share that as well! Children need to know that adults sometimes struggle with material they read and it’s perfectly okay. The key is to share so that we can all learn and grow together.


Let’s chat

Were you a reluctant reader, or a voracious reader? 

What book/s do you remember enjoying as a child? 

 

When They Don’t Clap

We all have people in our lives who want to see us fail. It’s true. I have them and I’m sure you have them as well. Say you achieve something you’ve been working toward for years and when you finally reach your goal, you have certain people who snub you, ignore your achievement, or even say things like, “Well it’s about time you did something with your life.”

It happens.

PayCloseAttentionThere’s a quote going around that is credited to Leonardo DiCaprio that says, “Pay close attention to those who don’t clap when you win” and I used to agree with this statement. I felt threatened by people like that and I gave them  attention in hopes that perhaps one day, I’d get a clap, or at least a half-hearted congratulations from them.

When that never came, I had to adjust my thinking.

I decided that people like that didn’t deserve my attention. The ones who do are the ones I can turn to when I need a trustworthy ear to confide in, who are genuinely happy when I win and who know that I’m cheering them on as well – those are my people. They are the people I keep in my tight, inner circle.

The ones who don’t clap when I win…the ones who are talking behind my back, criticizing me, and only dolling out likes on social media while otherwise not speaking to me aren’t my people.

And that’s okay.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer my tight circle of really good friends and supportive family who love me. The others, I prefer to love from a distance.

I do still believe this to an extent, but God has opened my eyes a little further.


God says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” and many take this to mean that maybe we have to love them above and beyond ourselves, but that’s not what God says. He says we should love them as ourselves. I tend to see the goodness in others and all the darkness in myself. I used to put people on a pedestal and when I realized they weren’t what I thought, I’d feel somewhat lost and let down and it was entirely my own fault.

This verse opened my eyes to the fact that we are all fucked up in some way and that’s okay. I know I am, but I still love myself enough to eat well, to take care of my body, and to give myself a second (or millionth) chance to do the next right thing. It’s not because I think I’m awesome. It’s not because I feel a deep admiration for myself. It’s simply that I make the conscious choice to show myself a little grace. What other option do I have, when I am who I am and have no other option but to be me?

I think this is what God means when he tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

So when I see things like the quote from Leo, I have to pause, because I really don’t know what sort of attention to show to people like that. To me, people who are like that have inner issues to deal with if they are incapable of feeling happiness for someone else. I know I have been there. My lack of excitement for a friend or loved one in the past had nothing to do with them and everything to do with my inner turmoil.

Jealousy can rear its ugly head at the strangest times and we’ve all been there at one time or another. Jealousy is an insidious thing. It’s one aspect of the evil in this world and it grows like a cancer, and like a cancer that grows and destroys healthy cells, jealousy can destroy our ability to feel excitement for others.

Acknowledging it, instead of ignoring it, can be a powerful catalyst for inner transformation.

When I first began evaluating some of my relationship struggles, I realized that insecurities were at the heart of it all. From our insecurities grow fear, jealousy, envy, disgust, hatred, greed, resentment, and more. It seems that deep inside, we think we’re not enough. We think we’re somehow less than the other people we know. Deep inside, we think we don’t deserve to be successful, or even happy.

But we do.

The trouble is, we too often allow our insecurities – the lies that tell us we’re not enough – to keep us imprisoned in what is commonly known as our comfort zone. We settle in and each day basically becomes a rerun of the previous days. We wonder what this life is for. We go through life, not living, but acting like biological robots on auto-pilot, and we do what we can to back away from life through shopping sprees that put us in debt, alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sex, excessive exercise, over eating, etc, that leave us feeing even emptier.

Then, when a friend shares on Facebook that she opened a new business and it’s doing well, it’s hard to feel excited. When a brother shares that he’s heading off on a jet to yet another country, it’s hard not to feel less than. When a friend shares happy pictures of her and her husband, it’s hard not to feel a twinge or surge of jealousy, along with thoughts of, “I’m sure they’re not as happy as they pretend they are on Facebook.”

Why?

Because when we’re not happy with ourselves, we cannot be happy for others. We can only love others as we love ourselves.

So, how on earth do we change this?

reflection of finger in a mirror

For me, it comes down to taking every thought captive. If I’m not careful, I can find myself unknowingly in the middle of a mental loop of negativity. I have to be conscious of my thoughts throughout the day. I have to stop them when they are negative, but I don’t just dismiss them and then replace them with positive thoughts as I’ve tried in the past. Now, I stop and ask, “Is any of this true or is this just my Monkey Mind getting the best of me?” Very often, it’s my Monkey Mind.

From here, I reconnect with my breath. I take time to get present by taking mental notes of what’s around me. I give thanks for the fact that I’ve become aware – alive – again and I give thanks to God for a few of the wonderful gifts I’ve been given. Usually this will set me straight for a while.

That said, it’s an ongoing battle. I’m human. As a human being, I’m not perfect and have no chance of ever being so and because of that, I’ll continue to fail. I’ll continue to occasionally feel a twinge of jealousy, or envy when I see a friend who is achieving their dreams. But I can stop myself now and realize, “Hey, if she can do it, so can I! There’s plenty of goodness to go around and God has my back, too.” Then, I can feel a genuine happiness for my friend or loved one for their accomplishments.

So maybe, if we’re to give close attention to those who don’t clap for us, instead of pointing fingers at them, we pray for them. We send them love and healing thoughts and pray that they will see their worth, too, because it’s obvious that they don’t. They don’t see the unique qualities they possess that the world so desperately needs.

And that’s heartbreaking, isn’t it?

So, yes, pay close attention to those who don’t clap when you win and lift them up in prayer, because they need your love more than you need their acceptance.

Xx

Love

Sometimes, we can feel like we’re all alone in our journey, even when we are surrounded by a few really amazing people, who are holding our hands and lifting our spirits. What is it that makes us take those few amazing people for granted, while we pine for those who turn away from us, who criticize us, who judge us?

img_3438My husband is my rock. He’s supportive to a fault sometimes; always encouraging me to try new things, even when he’s not so sure it’s a great idea. The other day, while I was reading, I looked up at him as he sat in the barrel chair in front of the window, steaming coffee on the table next to him. He read from the same book I was and I realized just how lucky I am to have him in my life. I’m not sure I deserve him, but I am so thankful for him.

I don’t give him enough credit for what he does and for who he is. Not only is he super talented, he’s really funny. He’s a great father and stepfather. He’s also got great ideas and I love chatting with him. Often, you can find us in the living room, with no television on, chatting well into the night. He makes me want to be a better person. He also reminds me that I’m enough, just as I am.

That said, I often take him for granted. I know this when he asks me, “Do you love me?” I love him more than I have ever loved any man and yet I am not the best at showing affection. I do try, but physical affection is not my love language. I used to be the girl who didn’t like to be touched at all. Light caresses made my skin crawl. A massage made me cringe. I’ve come a long way, but I still have a long way to go. The trick is: his love language IS physical affection and so for us, this can sometimes be a bit challenging.

Even besides all of that, I take him for granted too often. It’s ridiculous how I take the ones I love most for granted while I embrace more shallow, even temporary interactions. We all do it, don’t we? Our spouses do something for us and we act like they only do it because they have to, but someone else does something for us and we’re over-the-moon grateful.

I have done the same with my children and have poured attention and time into mere acquaintances or “good” causes so often throughout the years, while I have put my children off for later. When looking back, I couldn’t care less about the other distractions, the causes, or the acquaintances. All I want is my children at my side to share memories of our life together. The other stuff could have waited, but I was too wrapped up in trying to be somebody, to do something with my life that I failed to see that I was putting off the most important thing in my life: my family.

Time spent with our families is never wasted. That’s a lesson I have learned the hard way.

I think we do this because we get caught up in the lie that we have time; that there’s always tomorrow. We get worn down by the minor details of living that we forget that our lives are but a blink. I think many stay-at-home moms also get caught up in the lie that what we’re doing isn’t enough. That we have to have something going on besides “just being a mom,” but I think this is bullshit.

Being a mother is a great position to be in. We raise the future. We are challenged on a daily basis. We work hard, all day long. Our reward isn’t in a paycheck, it’s in kisses and snuggles, and watching our children grow to adults. It’s long nights and very short years. Some days it’s wonderful and other days, it’s downright hard and I find myself wanting to run away, or find a rock to hide under for a while. Sometimes I tell my daughter I’ve changed my name to Rumpelstiltskin, or something she can’t pronounce, just so I can have some peace and quiet. The struggle is real, ya’ll!


img_3520In all of the struggle, I sometimes forget to be present.

I forget to be grateful.

I forget to cherish the giggles and the snuggles, and the arguments over where to eat.

I fail to realize that one day I’ll miss the voices of my parents and children and grand children. I’ll even miss folding the little shirts and the tiny socks, because time changes everything. Children grow up. Aging voices grow weaker. People I love will pass on to the next chapter in the journey and leave me behind.

Listen to any of the sages, past and present and they will tell us to be present. They tell us to not worry. They tell us to have faith. They tell us to love our neighbors. They tell us to care for the poor. They tell us to let go and live, because that’s where the magic is. That’s where LIFE is. This is what I’m challenging myself to do each day. I fail often, but I want to wrap my arms around this one life that I have and eek out every ounce of living there is and I want to wrap my arms and heart around the people in my life, so they know without a doubt that they are loved and appreciated and cherished, because they are.

Xx

 

Favorite Geography Resources

Helping children learn about the world around them is as easy as taking them on outings in your local city or town. You can hit museums, visit the local coffee shop or bookstore, explore your city zoo, chat with an older friend or relative, or attend local events. Don’t discredit the invaluable resources you have right in your own backyard. Children can learn so much about the world simply by going through their every day activities.

That said, sometimes our children show interest in other places and other countries and while it would be lovely to be able to hop on a plane and fly internationally to try real Thai food, this may not be a reality for many of us.

The best time for learning is when our curiosity is piqued and when that happens with children, it’s a good idea to have a few easy-to-use resources on hand.

Today, I want to share with you our favorite resources for learning about the world around us, and a bit about how we use them.

Our Current Favorite Resources

Top Secret Agent Adventures from Highlights Magazine

Erasable map of The United States of America

Inflatable globe


Top Secret Agent Adventures 

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She’s currently exploring South Korea

First of all, we love the classic Highlights Magazine, so when we got a call about Top Secret Agent Adventures, I jumped right on it. This series covers a new country about every four weeks. Your child receives a key chain ring to collect key chains from each country, a world map, a book for each country, plus a puzzle book and a secret mission to locate a precious stolen item from each country. Your child plays the secret agent who must solves various puzzles in order to solve the mystery. This series is perfect for ages 7-12 and covers many things from famous landmarks, to each country’s economy and natural resources, to recreation. Our daughter is seven and really looks forward to each package she receives.

** Additions we enjoy: We like to locate the capitol of each country and then research to find out how many miles away each capitol is from where we live. On a wall in our library, we have a running list and as we learn about new countries, she compares distances. We also map each country on the world map and encourage our daughter to consider the best way to travel from where we live to the new country: ie. Which direction would be fastest? Which method of transportation? You can adjust questions to whatever suits your child

Erasable map of The United States of America 

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Top: from Top Secret Agent                                        Bottom: from Bookshark

We use an erasable map that was provided with the Reading with History program from Bookshark, but you could easily purchase a different map like this one. We use this map often when learning about so many things and so we keep it hanging up on the wall. When we traveled to Las Vegas last year, we used it to map out the states we’d be driving through on the way back home. When she played The Oregon Trail on the computer, we researched where each location was and then mapped it on the map. If we watch something and she asks where a certain state is, we show her on the map. We literally use this map several times a week. It’s a fabulous resource that I know we’ll use throughout her education here at home.

 Inflatable globe

DSCN0543The inflatable globe has been used for fun activities such as figuring out the percentage of earth that is covered with water, to understanding the difference between how the earth is represented on a flat map compared to the reality, which is modeled by the globe. We’ve used it to learn about the continents as well. I cut pieces of paper and wrote each of the continents on them, taped the back so they could easily be used to label the continents. We turned this into a game using a timer and a race with her dad on who could go fastest. The same could be done with the earth’s oceans. The possibilities are endless, really. We use this globe often, so we keep it inflated and hanging up in the corner near the maps.


ACTIVITY

How Much of the Earth Is Covered with Water?

Make a graph with one side labeled Water and the other side labeled Land.

Take turns tossing the globe to each other.

If the tip of the index finger touches water, make a tally mark under water. If the tip of the index finger touches land, make a tally mark under land. Toss a total of 20 times.

More times than not, the result will be very close to the reality of ~3/4 water to land. Keep trying and see if your results remain similar and then research to find the reality online.


Other resources we love for learning about the world 

  • Disney+: for National Geographic!
  • YouTube: Is there a homeschooling family out there who doesn’t include YouTube as a valuable resource? Homeschool Pop is a favorite channel. You can also search for each country as you learn about them.
  • NatGeo Kids
  • Movies from the local video store. Yep, we still rent movies! Our local video store has a free educational section that’s really cool.
  • The local library: for picture books (kids are never too old for these), world news events in newspapers, videos, and books galore
  • Restaurants that focus on a particular cuisine: Food is a major part of culture and it’s always fun to include food in a lesson. At least we think so!

These are just a few of the things we’ve been enjoying using to learn more about the world around us. It doesn’t take a lot of stuff to learn. A few well-chosen items and you’re all set.

Happy learning!

Xx

The Splendor of Every Day

I drink tea from a cup called “blessed” and I wonder at the word. My husband picked it out at the store. “It’s perfect,” he said. We added another named “thankful” to the cart.

I tend to drink from the thankful mug more. Thankful is easier to swallow. I AM thankful, but blessed? I wonder at that. Am I blessed, or am I reaching for straws again, Straws – pliable strands of hope and a longing to belong. A longing to have place and purpose in this life.

IMG_3260I see the beauty in the every day: A honeybee visiting me. Today. Can you believe that? Yet, I long for the majestic. Maybe the great Red Rock Canyon of Arizona, with it’s eternal sky. Out there, I feel small. Out there, I know I’m in the presence of magic and divinity, but here, on this hill by the river, where the dishes and the laundry and the little girl wait – I struggle sometimes to see the Divine in it all.

The bee is back. I’ve gone to get a saucer of sugar water for him. The flowers all succumbed to the recent heavy frost and snow. I wonder if he’ll drink? Can he trust me? This human thing sitting here in bare feet? What brought him here? Do bees have a sense of smell? Is it my chai tea steaming in the blessed mug?

In my observations of the bee, I nearly forget the pie. I run to the kitchen, filled to the ceiling with the scent of cloves and nutmeg. I pull the pie from the oven. It’s perfectly imperfect with the crust drooping just slightly on one side. I smile in spite of myself.

Pumpkin pie is a miracle, isn’t it? We take a bit of pureed pumpkin, some sugar, eggs from a hen and other things and we mix it and bake it into a dessert. The end of a delicious meal is reserved for the sweetness of this rather strange mixture of things. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

A few things I’m grateful for today:

  • The first baker of pies, who makes my meals even better, today.
  • The twitter of little birds.
  • Breezes of Kentucky that sound like gentle ocean waves.
  • Sun, like diamonds, on blades of grass.

I just wonder whether I’m worthy of all this counting of blessings. I rush through my life. I’m short with my daughter over a pointless graph for a math lesson. I rush her through precious moments of her life and mine.

Hurry.

Go.

And another day passes. Another twenty-four hours of this one and only life. Her one and only childhood.

Eighteen summers. That’s all of the childhood I have with her and she’ll grow to be her own woman. I’ll be older. My life, shorter. This rings even more true to me with her, than it did when I was raising my sons, because my sons are now grown. When I say time flies, it’s not just a cliche statement to be made in passing. It’s real and raw. Times flies and the next thing you know, your children move out and move on…without you.

Time Passes, Regardless of What We Choose To Do With It

I don’t want to wait for tomorrow, or a vacation, or a trip out of the country to see the splendor of this life. I want to enjoy it now, but how do we savor the moments of every day life? How do we find the gift in so much loss? The loss of a child or a grand child? The loss of a friendship that has grown apart. The loss that happens when we feel rejected or abandoned. Where’s the gift in that and how do we pause to give thanks in those moments without denying how we feel inside?

Am I being too idealistic with all of this? Am I putting too much on my shoulders. I could easily just put all of this aside, go to church, sing some songs, and go on about my life with a smile plastered on my face in public. The thing is, I’ve already done all of that. I’ve met the status quo of existing and I’m ready to really live and I’m ready to thrive.

Let me be like Maude in Harold and Maude. She LIVED. She LOVED. She noticed the gloriousness of the common sea gull. She “had a way with people.” I want to be like her. I want to be like St. Francis of Assisi, who loved the little birds. I want to be like Jesus, who said of the little children, “Let them come to me.” I want that. I want to slow down, take notice, and give thanks for every damn breath I take in this life.

Because what else is there?

Xx