Our Best Selves

Thursday, August 15, 2013  ::   5 important comments

Blessed by provision to get out of town, we journeyed to the San Diego area right as the break from school was about to end. Two months isn't long enough to grow bored with no routine, swimming for hours, or watching every Harry Potter movie in just three days. Part of me felt reluctant to leave our summer laziness because I knew vacation minutes move faster when you aren't at home. However, the opportunity to go to the beach with no agenda had never been ours for the taking, so we took it. 

The Haynes family consists of six giant humans. There are no small feet, no small arms, no small mouths, no small opinions. Two lovely families who are still in the small stage of life allowed us to inhabit their space. Each family was gracious, engaging, and life-giving to all six Haynes giants. They hosted us with grace and ease. Even if our ginormity stressed them out, I was completely oblivious to it which is saying something because I am particularly intuitive of others' feelings. The way they blessed my family completely refreshed my heart. 

The Huxleys have been working and serving with Outside the Bowl for awhile. I'm intuitive, but not detailed, so I don't know how long, but I just know they haven't lived here for years and we miss them dearly. They have two lovely, friendly daughters. Eric and Dejah started from the beginning to teach their girls to love and engage with people. We benefited greatly from the love their precious daughters offered us. 

I was remiss in getting a whole Huxley family photo. Remember I'm not so detailed. However, I snapped this perfect shot our first evening on the beach. This sweet girl enjoyed Kyle's company, and he certainly enjoyed hers. Their conversation consisted of how her daddy is a great surfer and how hungry she was. Kyle loved every minute. 

Our vacation photo album often indicates that I'm not on the vacation with the rest of the family. Being the person who desires so much to remember every detail often means I'm the one taking all the photos. Chad and I have to get better at remedying this issue. When we are 96 and senile, looking through our photos I don't want to overexert myself wondering if I was on a particular trip with the family. 

Thankfully, smart phones have a fancy little switcharoo button and I can turn it around to take a few selfie shots. This one shows off my cool hat and my cool husband. 

Did I mention I have a cool husband? One thing I love about Chad is he is always willing to try. And try. And try. He will work on a computer issue for hours when I easily give up in seconds. I can't figure it out? Meh. Who needs to know, anyway. But not Chad. He's got grit. 

Our friend, Tyler, enjoys surfing. He's got his own board and boards to teach others. He took my cool husband who tried. And tried. And tried. He did not give up, got board rash on his stomach, and experienced fatigue from crashing through waves, and paddling out over and over and over. 

This is how Chad surfs. Grit. 

These two sandy beauties tumbled around in the waves for hours. One liked it more than the other. I bet you are guessing the wrong one. 

This was taken moments after Kyle hoisted Esther over his shoulder and threw her in the waves. The happiness of their faces give me warm fuzzies. They love each other so much, but clearly Kyle is passed the cuddle with his sister stage. 

Oh, Tyler and Megan. What can I say? Think of the nicest people you know and multiply it by a hundred or a thousand. That is Tyler and Megan. Their gentleness, kindness, hilariousness is not contrived, but sincere and up-lifting. I have a feeling everywhere they go, people are drawn to them. They are the kind of people you want on your team or in your tribe. We didn't know them all that well entering their space, but the results of the comfortability test were shown through my kids. Each of them chatted it up, laughed and shared stories from life, gave movie character impersonations, enjoyed surfing and boogie boarding lessons. My eyes well up when I think of how well Tyler and Megan loved my giant family for the few days we lived with them. We experienced four days of up in your face, real questions and conversation, super spicy delicious pulled pork, sand all over your floor, wait for pizza for two hours conviviality with these two. God used them to fill our buckets which equals vacation success.  

They've offered to host us again. My kids have already asked to go back, but not just to play at the beach, but to be with Tyler and Megan.  

My favorite, favorite photo of the summer draws me in to remember the salty breeze, the crackling logs, the laughter and panting of the foot races down the beach, the gooey white mess on my fingers and lips. We were fully relaxed. Completely recharged. Our best selves. 

Soap and Mod Podge

Monday, August 12, 2013  ::   3 important comments

We started this summer out strong with scripture memory. Each morning we each sat quietly in the living room, reading our own books, reviewing our own memory packets, and memorizing our own new verses. This lasted for about a minute, not the entire summer like I had hoped. 

But was I ever crafty! I mean, I made my own laundry detergent for Pete's sake. For some of you this is probably old news. You've been making your own soap, lip balm, lotion, weaving your own shirts and baskets, and grinding your own wheat to make homemade bread unless, of course, you're gluten free. For me, making laundry soap is very homestead spectacular. 

All joking aside, I love the stuff. It only costs me about ten bucks to make. When I take the clothes out of the washer, they feel clean without any residue. I would encourage you to try it if you are into that sort of thing. I won't go back to store bought laundry detergent. Ok. Let's just be real. I'm not that committed. I'll go back to store bought as soon as I have a hundred loads piling up and no supplies to make more. The ease of a Costco run will beckon me away from my clean, dye free, chemical free, tree hugging, homemade, wonder soap.  
The shadows over the detergent prove to you what a fantastic photographer I am, but I desired to give you proof of homemade soap. You can find my original pinterest pin here. 
And by crafty, I mean craaaa-fty. The pin that gave me this pinteresting idea had no instructions, so I just had to wing it. Tori gave me a gift card to Hobby Lobby for my birthday that had been burning a hole in my pocket for months, but I wanted to be purposeful with my purchase so I just held onto it until I knew exactly what I wanted to create. 

Mod Podge makes me feel like I could be a designer on HGTV. 

On this day of crafts, I used Mod Podge, spray varnish, and a hot glue gun. I wondered a few times where my normal craft heebie jeebies fled because I actually had a great time creating!

The finished product is very cute. I love it. However, there is a design flaw for now. I need some sort of dowel to run through the letters to make it more stable, but I don't want the rod to show. Do you know when I'm going to figure out the stability situation for this name tower? Probably never. I've exhausted my craftiness for the next few years. 

We've been living in our house for five years which means we've been working on our house for five years. I'm blessed to be married to a guy that knows how to do so much. He recruits help and works in his free time. Many people in our community have left their marks on our home projects. Thanks to all of you for your help! We appreciate you so much! 

Painted walls have completely changed how we feel about the space. Orange may not be for everyone, but the bright colors inspire creativity and fun and we want our teenage kids and their friends to know this is a fun home. It's part of our parenting strategy. We spend many hours playing in our new "rec room." 
These two obsess over ping pong. 

Orange and gray. I love it. We will take care of floors at some point. DIY and budget restrict what you can do and when you can do it. Can you relate? 

This will be a work in progress. I plan to add to and rearrange often. My kids already make fun of me for how much I mess with it. I want the shelves to be filled with meaningful items...gifts from people I love, photos, decor from my masquerade party. I look forward to how it morphs through the years. 

This room is just off the rec room. The whole space is open. Kids can study, watch their own weird shows, play Skip Bo for dayz. And yes, we are crazy enough to have a white sofa. We found it at a consignment shop, vintage 1960s for an amazing price. That's right. I have crafts and vintage stuff. Who am I? 

 What have you been up to lately? Do you have any fun projects to share with us? I would love to know about it! 

Tears and Good Gifts

Thursday, August 08, 2013  ::   3 important comments

As I drove through the parking lot towards the exit, the lump in my throat turned into misty drops under my eyelids trying to sneak their way out. I chastised myself out loud.

"What in the world is wrong with you? You've been dropping kids off for their first day of school for 12 years now. They will be fine. Every year they are fine. And grow. And learn. And mature. And still love you through it all. Don't be a baby."

Of course, my straight forward pep talk to myself did not stop the tears. Within five minutes I was praying and daydreaming about each child in college trying to figure out how to buy groceries for themselves or not getting lost on the way to class because the university they attend will probably be humungous or wondering what their own unique way of expressing themselves in the world will look like or how many of their friends will I get to meet and cook for if they end up going to U of A?

All because school started again. Every year I have the same thoughts. Every year I pray the same prayers.

God, direct their hearts towards you.

Teach them to seek your glory and not their own. 

Help them to be path-makers and not path-takers. 

When difficulties come this year (and they always do), help them to look for you and what you want to teach them. Refine them. Give me grace and patience as you refine me by watching how you refine them. 

Make their faith in you their own, apart from Chad and me, but also because of what we've taught them. 

Teach them to ask questions and to know that you are not afraid or intimidated by any question they may have. 

During the summer my heart sometimes grows heavy with worry, over-active questions, concern for the hard worker I desire to be in my family and in my church. For years I've been somewhere between stay at home mom and working mom. My employment and ministry affords me the opportunity to be flexible and present in almost all of my kids' daily lives. Sometimes I feel exhausted, confused, and guilt-ridden.

Am I home enough with them? Did I leave them too long to meet with those women? Are they resentful of the work I do with the church? Are they able to be motivated when I'm not around to do something other than watch TV and bicker?

The same type of questions echo in my mind about my work. Do people understand that my family is my main priority? Am I giving enough time to meet and listen with women God has placed in my life? Why haven't I read more, written more, spoken more?

But then Jesus guides my heart to grow heavy with repentance, love, anticipation, thankfulness, and awe of the roles He has given me in this crazy life.

Whatever you do work at it with all your heart as if working for the Lord and not for men. 
Colossians 3:23

My motivation in all of this must be "working for the Lord." Did you notice how my worrisome questions are oh so self-centered? My worry, fret, and fear is often motivated from the not so pretty place of self.

The first day of school every year reminds me to surrender my selfish desires for my kids and to trust that he entrusted them to Chad and me to parent, to love, to guide, to teach. He asks me to believe that just as I claim Christ to be enough in my life, He is more than enough in theirs. He wants me to know His plans for each of their futures far exceeds my own limited ability to hope and dream for them. He knows how to give good gifts. 

And now I'm crying again.