The sun is shining here and we are stomping in puddles and enjoying the smell of things coming to life.
There are also less pleasant smells like all the frozen dog poop thawing at the exact same time. If you know, you know.
We don’t even have a dog, but the smell is there on the wind as we walk.
It’s hard to care too much though. After spending so much of the year inside and tucked away, we are ready to stretch out again.
There is hollering on our walks and puddle stomping, singing and a constant refrain of I spy.
Don’t get me wrong we take walks in the winter and play a lot of I spy.
“I spy with my little eye something white”
You get the idea.
There are a lot more options in the spring.
We spy grass and pussy willows, birds in the trees and busy people coming out of their partial hibernation.
Every year there is a re-learning with these huge seasonal changes.
We learn to shift priorities. Winter is for books, puzzles, arts and crafts and all the indoor learning.
Summer is for hands-on, down in the dirt, learning of the senses.
I’m sure in other places there may be a more subtle transition and you do a little of both year round.
Here, it’s almost like two different lives and it always takes some mental adjustments to discern what each season of the year will look like in this new season of life.
We’re still soldiering on with some little school pages and using nature journals to fill in the rest.
Remembering that there are different things that matter now, and we enjoy them with joy and urgency.
It’s really not unlike that change we’re going through from this Corona Virus season.
There’s a re-learning here too.
My children have loved having so much of my attention and so much playful involvement, but we’re all ready for more play dates.
They’ve been coming much more consistently lately as we’ve found a rhythm that works for us. The play dates have been wonderful, but I’ve felt they need to be re-learned as well.
The kids are used to so much of my time now that mommy having coffee with a friend and chatting with other people needs some boundary reminders.
There’s a culinary principle called “Mise en Place” which means “everything in its place”
It is the act of gathering all your belongings before you start on the meal. I’m not always very good at doing this. Quite often I’m galumphing around the kitchen with messy hands, in search of that last seasoning. When I actually take the time to measure and prepare before I begin, however, the process is so much smoother. I can dump all my ingredients in, mix, mold, and bake with only a handwashing or two in between. It all goes so much more smoothly with a little bit of preparation.
Preparation. We need it for everything; food, building, family outings or road trips, education, etc. All areas of our life are touched by preparation. Before I leave the house with my children I can usually be found stuffing a bag with an extra pair of underwear, a couple water bottles, some reading material, a snack or two, toilet paper or hand sanitizer if we’re going to an unpredictable public park. I prepare the bags, the truck, myself and I often forget about our hearts.
Recently, I was attempting a video workout and was interrupted with the discovery that the children had emptied an entire bag of granola all over the kitchen floor. I had to pause my workout, get them set cleaning up, and take some coins out of their piggie banks to pay for the waste. Granola is not cheap, guys. We take that stuff seriously here.
I wanted to handle the incident with discipline because they know wasting food and throwing stuff on the floor are bad behaviors. However, I know that my attempting a video workout is the one “me time” thing that never seems to go well. I don’t know what it is; the focused attention on a screen instead of them, the unknown person talking to us, a sabotage to try to keep me more squishy and snuggly. I have no idea, but the problem is consistent so I sat down and had a chat with them.
“Mommy needs to move her body daily. It helps me think more clearly, stay healthy, and be prepared for the day. I need to find a way to make that happen. Can we work together to find something for you to do?”
From this we were able to move into some ideas of things for them to do or ways they like to be involved in the exercise. Once they were brought into the conversation it made things flow more smoothly.
It’s not that different with play dates or social interaction.
I’m a co-leader with a care ministry team at my church and will often find myself delivering meals, helping with rides, or providing childcare for members of our church body. Usually the kids like it, especially if it means friends to play with or if I let them help deliver the meal. When it becomes harder is rides for people who are interested in more adult company. I’ve had to take to preparing the kids when I’m going to pick up certain people.
“They’re going to want to talk to mommy a lot once I get them. Can you tell me your stories or ask your questions before we pick them up and then bring a book to look at while we chat?”
It’s not magical, it doesn’t work every single time. It helps a lot though!
I’ve been seriously impressed by their ability to understand once I level with them.
It’s something I’m working on in myself as well. As an introvert, this coming out of my bubble thing is taking some work. I’m comfortable with small social circles and loads of time with my family. Going out into the world of conversation takes some effort.
I know many people find that online words are hard to read, because you can’t read tone and people can be mean. I see the point there but, honestly, written communication has always been more comfortable to me. There is less chance of interruption and misinterpretation. You get to say exactly what you mean to say and no one is actively interjecting their opinions into it as you speak.
In a way it feels more civilized and sterile, and there’s a part of me that is really comfortable there. Growth doesn’t tend to happen in the comfort of unquestioned beliefs though.
So I find myself mentally preparing for engagements, preparing for the possibility to be misunderstood. preparing for confusions, preparing for disagreements, and readying myself with the grace to do it anyway.
People are messy and the more of us you have in any given room, the messier it can get.
The art of conversation isn’t easy and it can take learning and re-learning, but it is so worth it.
So here are some snapshots of moments I’ve prepared for in this season. I’d love to hear some of yours. What are some of the things you’re learning about preparing your own heart or your families? Has the past year changed any of this for you?
Operation: Build a drain in the crawlspace to deal with all the melting snow.
Preparation: Loads of snuggles before the work began and a bucket of newly re-discovered toys. Oh, the joys of hiding things until the old becomes new once more.
Operation: Me trying to learn to eat gluten free, or at least consume less gluten.
Preparation: Admitting to myself that I’m still going to want a cookie from time to time, finding a recipe, and freezing them to be prepared.
Operation: Painting rocks
Preparation: There was none. It was a last minute request and there is paint on my porch to prove my lack of foresight.
Operation: Spend more time with Jesus
Preparation: Go to bed at a reasonable time, so I can wake up early and start my day with Jesus. Prepare my heart with prayer and thanksgiving and allow myself to be honest in my communication.
I just finished this prayer journal this morning and it is full of questions and confusion. It is my diary and my heart poured out to God; asking what this year is all about, what these hard chapters of scripture are all about, and where my place is in all of it.
There are no tidy bows in this journal. There are a lot of songs of praise, cries of lament, and poems of confusion and He takes it all.
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”1 Peter 3:15
It’s hard to be prepared to speak hope when we aren’t anchoring ourselves in it or when we aren’t being honest about where we are. I can speak platitudes all day, but real hope comes from real emotion and what we’ve walked through with God.
I’m not ashamed to say that it has been a season of questions for me, because I am leaning into Him for the answers and I know that there will be growth on the other side.