Summer Can Be Scary (And I’m Not Sorry)

I’ve spent the last few weeks praying about our summer.

I’m so nervous that my kids will think it’s boring, or lame, or both, or whatever. What do kids even think these days? I don’t mind my kids being bored, really. I think it builds character and creativity for them to just figure something out to entertain themselves. I also LOVE to make them get outside. Go ride a bike, pull some weeds in the garden, blow bubbles, or draw with chalk. I don’t care, but don’t tell me you don’t feel like doing it.

There’s a lot of Pinterest and Instagram pressure to make summer an “epic” experience for your kids. But what I really want to do is lowball it as hard as I can, and make them make their own plans. Sure, they’re 2, 4, and 6, but they can tell me what they want to do! We’ve got chore charts intact, complete with a reward system. I have a ready answer to “I’m bored.”

Otherwise, to tell the truth, I enjoy having fun, too! I WANT to go to the pool, and to the park, and the mountains, which blessedly aren’t that far away. I WANT to see our friends and live music and whatever other events are going on. But we just can’t do everything, and I need to take the pressure off of myself NOW or else I’ll drown in it. The pressure is stifling to those of us who just don’t “do” what everyone else seems to do. I’m spontaneous, which is sometimes a great thing with kids, and sometimes not so much. We never sit around the house for too many hours in a row, but there are times that I get an idea in my head, and it’s just too late to make it work.

The other thing that may save my life is the YMCA. We (re)joined a month ago, and so far, beginning my mornings there with my kids in a safe and fun childcare (with lots of their friends!) has been a big stress reliever. Now, my workout doesn’t depend on the weather or on whether the baby takes a nap at the time he’s supposed to. I can get up, make everyone a nice breakfast, and head to the gym to get the endorphins blasting, and then I feel GREAT about whatever else we get – or don’t get – accomplished.

What is saving you this summer? Letting go of your expectations? Making a weekly plan? Lots of vacation or none at all? Tell me all the things that you do to survive and thrive in summer!

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday and happy official summer! Yesterday was our school system’s last day of school and we are excited for freeeeedooooom!

Picked EK up from school…
EK: What did you do today, mom?
Me: I worked in the garden.
EK: You did that without your girl who LOVES working in the garden?!

Things I’ll never get tired of hearing:
D: Can I watch Star Wers?

EK: I wish this was a big city like New York.
Me: Why is that?
EK: I like to see it crowded with people all the time. It makes me happy!

J, looking out at a park: I think I see a desert!
EK: Where?
J: That small mountain looks like a type of desert!
Friend: That’s a pitchers’ mound.

EK: What’s your doggy name?
J: Jerry!
Me: *loling*

D: Where’s mama?
Hubby: At a concert.
D: I want to go to da Costco and ride in her buggy!

I give D his post-nap snuggle…
D: I farted on you!
Me: What?! You did?!
D: I totally did!

EK: Today we watched the hundred Dalmatians!
Necie: Was it the animated one or the live one?
EK: Huh?
Necie: With real people.
EK: Yeah, it looked like it had been videoed!
Necie: Exactly.

Thanks for following along with our funnies! What are your kids saying that makes you laugh?!

Currently – June!

Hello there, June! I can hardly believe it’s already time to go to the pool, for school to be out (well, it’s out for my littles and only a few more days for my kindergartener!) and for front porch sitting with a book and a cocktail in my hand. (Just me? Surely not!) I’m linking up with Anne in Residence and Sarah over at Total Basset Case. Here are a few things we’re planning for the month of June. Comment or link up and tell me what you’re up to currently!img_5993

Traveling || not very much this summer. We will go to Georgia to see my family, and to the lake (only an hour away) to Hubby’s family’s place, but other than that, we may not travel at all. It’s kinda freeing to not have any big plans! Our next big trip is September, and Hubby and I are headed to Colorado WITHOUT the kids! We’re seeing the Punch Brothers at Red Rocks and I’m beside myself with excitement!

Grilling || Hmm. Hubby is the chef, and therefore the griller, but when we had a gas line run to our porch so we could grill without go big through propane tanks, we still haven’t gotten the last piece we need to hook it all up. So, no grilling right now!

Exploring || our local hiking venues! My plan this month is to get the kids to several local (under an hour in the car) places to hike, now that they do okay without naps and eating picnic-style works pretty well. I can’t wait to have them out on the trails – I hope they love it, because it’s exercise that I really enjoy! (If you’re local, I’m thinking Salem Lake, Hanging Rock, and Pilot Mountain for our starters!)

Planting || lots and lots of things! We’re growing so many different things, it’s hard to name them all! Tomatoes, tomatillos, kale, squashes, beans, peas, asparagus, blueberries, strawberries, and more! We are pretty pleased with how everything is going so far, and my plan is to try my hand at canning this summer, one of those weeks where we have so many tomatoes I can’t begin to think how we’ll use them all.

J taking care of his blueberries.

Playing || dominoes, Candy Land, and Snug as a Bug! Those are all games my kids can get their heads around (the older two, at least). They’re also okay at Go Fish! but it’s tough for them to hold all those cards. Even the clothespin trick is a little too much for them at the moment. But Hubby and I LOVE playing games, and so I hope that they’ll continue to love it, too!

Reading || some beachy reads, even without the beach! I just finished The Turquoise Table (Kristin Schell) and Keeper of Lost Things (Ruth Hogan) last month. This month, I’m working on Everybody Always (the newest from Bob Goff), The Nix (Nathan Hill), A Wind in the Door (Madeleine L’Engle’s sequel to A Wrinkle in Time), Saturate (Jeff Vanderstelt), and Glimpses of Grace (Gloria Furman). I’m doing studies of the last two with some friends, so we’re working on it all summer, but the others I should have finished by the end of the month, I hope! Do you have any book suggestions for me?! My “to be read” list is always a mile long, so I never mind adding to it!

A sampling of what my nightstand looks like on any given day!

Well, that’s about it for now. What are you up to currently?

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! Enjoy the funnies!!

J making a model of our house:

Then shouting: Hold my breath! I almost forgot the strawberry pots! (We grow strawberries on our back porch, as evidenced in the photo.)

D, sitting on the potty: Mama! I pouring it out! (And then he actually peed.)

Me, leaving Grandma’s house: Okay, let’s go. If you don’t hurry up, I’ll leave you here!

EK: I would love that!!

J, cleaning his room: There’s some stuff under the bed I gotta go swimmin’ for.

J, after playing outside in the heat: Phew! I’m fried!

EK: Since the boys are done, I think I’ll quit school too.

What are your kiddos saying these days?!

Marriage: Why It’s No Good to Keep Score

This piece originally appeared on The Grit and Grace Project.

My husband has one big rule for our marriage. Babe, if you’re reading this, I know you’d say it’s not a rule – perhaps more of a guideline. But for me, it’s a rule. If I don’t follow it, I go down an extremely unhealthy path, and I know it. So here’s the best “rule” or “guideline” I’ve ever heard for a husband-wife relationship: Don’t keep score.

You might begin explaining this by saying that any healthy relationship can’t be seen as a game. The only reason you’d keep score is if it’s a game of some sort, and if you’re serious about it, you’d better not call it a game. Right? You might follow up with the fact that keeping a record of rights or wrongs is just not a good idea. Let’s ask a few questions about this concept… because I think it’s important.

If you happen to “win”, what are you actually winning? The game of who does more laundry? Or who gives more meaningful compliments? Is that a worthwhile competition? Why or why not? (I’m guessing it’s why not.)

What’s your “winner’s” criteria? Who was the last one to load the dishwasher? Maybe he had a lot on his mind from a tough day at work, or he gets tired of you re-loading it when he’s done. Or is the criteria which one of you usually texts the other one first? All that leads to is fear of not being loved enough, or inaccurately thinking that you love the other person more, just because you send more messages.

What’s the prize? Getting to taunt your other half about how you changed more diapers this week? Or likely being shunned because you’re on your high horse about how you always clean the toilets? That’s not a very good prize.

What if we shifted our thinking to loving our spouses as well as we can, as often as we can? Instead of waiting around to receive love in the way that we’re expecting, maybe we should consider showing them love in the best way we know how, whatever that is. It’s always a good idea to know how your spouse best receives love from you, and how you best receive love from them. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages is a great place to start if you don’t know each other’s “love languages”. Taking the initiative to show love first, no matter the circumstances, can’t end poorly. Being the first to say, “I love you!” when communication is hard, or the first to forgive after an argument might feel like a submission, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Usually, it shows that you’re willing to work and sacrifice to strive for health in the relationship. That’s what marriage is: work and sacrifice. Love comes first, and is quickly followed by commitment – often a “head” matter rather than a “heart” one. You keep choosing love over fear or anger or hurt feelings every single day.

There are always possible scenarios where we need to have a sit-down about issues that don’t seem to be resolving themselves. There are always times that bringing our feelings calmly to the table is the only way to move on from a hard season. But if we stop keeping score, stop trying to play a game of little chores completed and well-meaning jabs delivered, those bigger issues might just stay away longer. Being the first one to show love, forgive and forget might make your spouse feel more comfortable doing the same.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday, y’all! It’s almost OFFICIALLY summer! Hope you had a great holiday weekend, and enjoy these funnies!

J, talking about his Transformer: Aw! He’s holding his little buddy!

At 7:45pm on our way home from dinner…
J: Can we play outside when we get home?
Me: Let’s see what time it is when we get there. I don’t wanna say yes or no.
J: So you wanna say maybe?
Me: Exactly.

EK: Today we were supposed to have book buddies, but they couldn’t come. So we wasted that time with popsicles.

J, after the park: I’m sweatin’ wif real for real water.
EK: Yeah, that’s water that you drank.
J: No, that’s sweat wif real for real water.

J: You’re my life.
EK: No.

So they like to play “family” a lot…
J: You remember when we got married that one time?
EK: Let’s just pretend to be brother and sister.
Me: …..

It begins raining while the sun is still shining…
J: I don’t know why the earth is doing that!

D, romancing me: I have a new heark (heart) wif you in it! And we eat da mashamellows!

J, showing me his toe he had stubbed (badly) the day before: Mom! Look how much God healed it!

That’s it for this week! What are your kiddos saying these days? Share in the comments!

Do not be afraid.

This piece first appeared on Everyday Exiles.

Fear. It’s that voice in our heads, that feeling inside of us, the one that stops us from doing things. Or maybe it keeps us doing things so we don’t see the consequence of stopping. Maybe it keeps us in our routines, or prevents us from branching out and trying something new. It sometimes manifests in worry, anxiety, or anger. But what if we stopped our fears in their tracks? You might be thinking, “What if there was a way to banish our fears, and find comfort in those places instead?” That’s what the Lord has for us.

The Bible tells us that fear is not of God. Romans 8:15 AND John 14:27 both confirm this! We were not given a spirit of fear; God doesn’t give us what the world would give us. Fears, worries, anxiety, and what ifs… all those things are wrought from a broken world and an Enemy who seeks to drive us away from a loving Father. You can be sure not only that God would never cause you to have fears, but that casting your fears and cares on Him won’t scare him away. There’s no fear you could confess to Him that would cause Him to stop caring for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 says this: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Is there any better news than that?! He cares for you. The God of the universe cares for you, and is ready for you to just humble yourself and give Him all the fear. And He will even exalt you (hold you in high regard and speak highly of you), because He considers you as His son or daughter!

Voicing our fears removes their power. There are two reasons for this. The first is that speaking a fear out loud typically means you’re speaking it TO someone. You might be speaking it to a friend, your spouse, a mentor… all of whom are hopefully willing and able to help you dispel that fear; rebuke that fear in Jesus’ name! Or, you might be speaking it straight to the Lord, praying for Him to take the fear and replace it with promise He’s made.

The second reason speaking the fear out loud diminishes its hold on us is this: a big part of the fear is admitting you’ve got a fear at all. We’re ashamed that we’re afraid, or we’re fearful of burdening someone with our fears. So we bottle them up, pretend they don’t exist, and wait until we’re likely to explode with that fear, crippling as it has become. Stuffing the fear down might give us the illusion that it’s gone away, but fear can be toxic when left to fester. But admitting the fear, saying it out loud, “God, I’m really scared to take this next step.” or “I’m afraid of what might happen if I can’t keep this up.” can put that fear out in the open, and allow us to work through it. When we identify and call out the fear, we can cling to God’s promises for us: He brings peace, courage, and joy. He has called us worthy. He loves us, and that won’t change. His Holy Spirit is always with us. Those promises won’t change, no matter the size or shape of our fears.

So when you feel the fear of next career steps, unsteady relationships, unknown paths, or painful choices, don’t push the feelings aside. Call them out. Call a friend. Say a prayer. Cling to God’s promises to you. You’re no longer a slave to fear. You’re a child of God.

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2

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