Summer Questions, Revisited

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post and included the questions that we were sharing as a family to add intention to our summer. 2016 was a summer that felt like it had a lot of time and space in it.

This summer feels the absolute opposite and it seems all the more important that we each consider our questions. We have several big trips, a number of camps and classes, and the the summer will end with First Bird flying off to TX for college. Our days and minutes feel numbered.

Digging around my files in the cloud, I was thrilled (and a little self-impressed) to find the timeless quality in the questions.

We will set our intentions and habits, and wrap them and each other with grace. (Thank you @wellgrounded).

Here are our Summer Intention Questions (version 2018):

  • What kind of books do you want to read?
                         How many?
  • What kind of outings would you like to take? (Big and Small)
  • Who would you like to share time with?
  • Based on past experience and your imagination,                                                                             What are you likely to say “I wish I’d spent more time….” about?                                  What are you likely to say “I wish I’d spent less time…” about?
  • What in your bedroom/study space bugged you during the school year that we might be able to address now?
  • During the school year, what activities or questions did you need to set aside for when you had more time?
  • During the school year, what did you study that you wished you could spend more time learning?
  • What skills do you need to/want to practice?
  • What habits would you like to have established by the time school starts?
  • Is there a project you can start AND finish this summer?
  • In what way can you serve and/or bless your family this summer? Neighborhood? Others?
  • What five recipes would you like to master this summer that you will be able to make for the family during the school year? (1 appetizer/snack, 1 dessert, 3 reasonable meals)

My Mom’s voice gets stuck in my head

In the shower this morning, my mom’s voice got stuck in my head. I’m not sure how I transitioned from shaving my legs to sitting near her knee, but I was there. Her nylon string acoustic guitar resting on her thigh, and a group of us around singing “If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings…” She had a way of singing the end of the chorus and thumping twice on the hollow body of the guitar.

Last Sunday in church, my mom and dad sang with me in church… even though they are 1154.3 miles away. I started singing the final hymn with the good and friendly folk at St. Giles. But about halfway through my parents voices filled my ears. My Dad’s tenor, my mom’s … she can sing a big range and she would pick what she was in the mood for – soprano or alto. They both would sometimes sing melody and other times harmony – always perfectly, always clear, always like they meant what they were singing.

A few days ago, I heard my girls laughing in their bedroom. And then  I heard my sister join in the laughter. And my brother. Only it was my one daughter who sounds so much like Lisa that I was really hearing. But for a minute I was many years and many miles away with their voices.

This is my Cloud of Witnesses. Or part of it anyway.

A kitchen meltdown….

(Harvesting Blog Drafts – This post was started on the first week of September 2014. Much of it could have been written this year. I suspect I am not alone.)

A few Saturday’s ago, I woke up and wanted a treat for breakfast. Normally, we have a grab’n’go breakfast at our home. If we have a prepared by mom breakfast, it is served at supper time.

We had completed our first week of school, and I wanted to do something special. So I got up and began making waffles.

As I stood there, with the first wafts of waffle-y goodness filling the kitchen, the voices started muttering.

I had done a full grocery trip the day before. I had preceded the grocery trip with a menu plan. When I got home, I put things carefully away in an organized manner. Winning.

When I went through the cupboards for waffle supplies, I found that I had missed some of our major staple items.

The only thing I dislike more than shopping (especially grocery shopping) is finding out I have messed up.

I get all panicky about budgets (and other things that I might fail at). I feel like it reflects on me as a mother and wife if the kitchen stuff isn’t wonderful, healthy, creative, and fun.

So as I’m making waffles at 7 in the morning on a Saturday, all these condemning apparitions circled around me chorusing about my failure.

And then I tuned in to what I was thinking/hearing.

And I began to point out a few things to those complaints.

I pointed out that I was making waffles at 7am on a Saturday (are there enough bonus points in the motherhood game for this?!?).

I pointed out that we had just completed our first full week of homeschool using a million new systems and a number of new resources and nobody was killed or harmed in the making of that homeschool week (again – how many bonus points?!?).

And I pointed out that the sum of my mothering and wife-ing is NOT measured in the kitchen.

This is know. This I have taken great comfort in over the years. Yet it is the first place that the lies of the Enemy get louder and louder as I walk this walk out.

It begs the question – what am I measuring myself against?

If I take my eyes off of my important things and put them onto the secondary things (which are still important, but not most important), what and who benefits?

Commentary on Matthew 4: 12-17 (from NT Wright)

(read this morning)

“But the trouble was that many of his contemporaries were eager to get on with the fight. His message of repentance was not, therefore, that they should feel sorry for personal and private sins (though he would of course want that as well), but that as a nation they should stop rushing toward the cliff edge of violent revolution, and instead go the other way, towards God’s kingdom of light and peace and healing and forgiveness, for themselves and the world.

What would happen if they didn’t? Gradually, as Matthew’s story develops, we begin to realize. If the light-bearers insist on darkness, darkness they shall have. If the peace-people insist on war, war they shall have. If the people called to bring God’s love and forgiveness into the world insist on hating everyone else, hatred and all it brings will come crashing around their ears. This won’t be an arbitrary judgment or punishment; it will be what they themselves have been calling for. This is why they must repent while there’s still time. The kingdom is coming, and they are standing in the way.

The message is just as urgent today, if not more so for us who live on this side of Calvary and Easter. Matthew would want to say to us that the kingdom which Jesus established through his own work, and his death and resurrection, now faces us with the same challenge. Are we working to extend God’s kingdom to the world? Or are we standing in its way?”

Matthew for Everyone (Part 1), N.T. Wright (p. 30)

Living from Regrets

Ever since the kids began to be involved with other groups of youth for activities, it has been easier to align our calendar with the public school calendar. Sometimes it is fun to be on vacation when public school is in session, but it usually still means that we are trucking the kids around, so it is a ‘sort of break’ at best. So for the most part, we just shut down when public schools shut down.

Two weeks ago, it was Greenville County Schools spring vacation. It was also ours. The boys went on a massive road trip. The girls unplugged and and played and rested. When it was time for that week to come to a close we decided that the one week hadn’t been enough. So we opted, as a family, to take a second week of vacation.

The girls and I had taken a lunch date many weeks before and brainstormed all that we hoped to do during our vacation. We didn’t complete nearly all that we had put on our list. It’s amazing how optimistic list-making can feel. So as we headed into our second week, I encouraged the girls and myself to revisit the list. “Let’s look at what we regret, and make choices for this next week based on that.”

Individually, we did that. We carried our regrets, and decided which would be compass points for our ‘bonus’ week. For me, that included some much needed desk time, some reading time, some internal evaluation and planning. For the girls it was some studying, some playing, some kitchen projects.

I am really growing to a place where I appreciate the feedback that disappointments and regrets can give. The message we often hear is to live looking forward, and to not allow the negative feelings to come along of the ride. But just because they aren’t happy feelings doesn’t mean they are negative. Some of the things on our lists were silly, frivolous, unnecessary. Some of our things were important, and we were going to be in a better place to do them because of the rest we had experienced in week one. Because we took the time to revisit each thing, we could make that value decision.

Previously, I would have just had a dull awareness that I hadn’t completed the list. It would have been a regret filled with dread, and the self-message ‘you stink at follow-through’. But we took ownership of the dread and met it with Grace. We were in charge of the list.

We hear about goal-setting and knowing that planes have to make a million mid-course corrections as they speed to their next port. But I think I’m living more of a row-boat paced life these days… pulling the oars, looking at where I have been, and looking over my shoulder every once in awhile to set my sights on where I am headed. I might not be getting to my next port as quickly as a plane (and my hands might really hurt from the blisters some days), but I think I might be onto something sacred as I honor the behind as I make my forward movement.