A Home and Me

House

The other day I was outside with the kids and the Mail Woman came around back and stopped to chat. We’ve only lived here for a few months and we hadn’t yet met. She smiled and said hello and then

Are you related to the woman who lived here before?

We aren’t and I said as much. She looked around at my 5 kids outside doing various things and she smiled. She looked back and said with a deeply gentle and almost sad voice,

Well, she would sure be happy that this house is full of all these kids.

We shared a few other words and she went on her way.

This is the first, and likely the last, home we will ever own. We waited 10 years to buy a home and have lived in a couple different towns and cities before landing here. It isn’t my dream location but there are so many great things, including family, here. Yet to be honest, it took me years to want to settle in and call this place “home” and when we did decide to buy this house, I wasn’t always and haven’t always been excited about it.

But the Mail Woman’s comment made me stop in my tracks. It wasn’t as much what she said as how she said it. The woman that lived here before us valued children. And family. And even her mail woman knew it.

The woman who came before us was married and had a handful of children. They moved in when her oldest child was 6 years old and now he is grown with grown children of his own. She lived here for 43 years.

It’s a beautiful historic home, very common in our town. Yet it doesn’t seem as if it was the home itself that she loved. What kept her here all those years was what filled it. The laughter, the joy, the kids.

She kept this home so well. For being over 100 years old it is in impeccable shape. It still has original wood floors, wooden pocket doors that work and original cabinets and woodwork through out. Mrs. Blanford may have loved it here, but she obviously kept this home for the people she loved most.

Her children had to sell this home because she passed away. Yet, her love for them never did. Her heart, her values, live on in her kids, and now in mine.

I’m not much of a housekeeper, I would rather play outside with the kids or spend hours dreaming about my work, but that one comment from the Mail Woman has given me a new love for this space.

As Mrs. Blanford kept this home for her family and now mine, I will keep this home for my family and the next.

As it has been said before…my favorite thing about my home is who I share it with. For my kids and the many that may come after.

*****
Small wonder

Linking up with Kelly today as we seek to see, enjoy and appreciate the #SmallWonders of life.

Permission

Permission

My oldest two kids are getting to the age where they have gained some small freedoms. A chance to play in the yard without an adult, the ability to sift through the art supplies and create unsupervised.

Since they are still relatively young there is one caveat to their freedom, permission.

When you’re a kid (and sometimes an adult) asking permission is a bit annoying. There is always the possibility that someone will say “no” instead of “yes”.

But, right on the other side of the permission asking, is freedom. The ability to engage and enjoy that “thing” that you want to do.

Sometimes, we live in fear of the “no” and chose to forfeit whatever freedom lies behind it. Sometimes, we sacrificially don’t ask for the freedom when we know withholding could benefit our personal growth or the life of others.

As my kids have been maneuvering the world of permission and freedom I’ve been thinking about my own steps of asking, avoiding and withholding.

As a risk taker I haven’t avoided asking for permission. I’m generally okay with the no. As a mom and a person who genuinely wants to love people I’ve often withheld my request for permission in the interest of someone else’s needs. I haven’t felt that I’ve lost anything or missed out. On the contrary I haven’t even considered loss of freedom in my life.

This week though, I discovered something. Somewhere between asking permission and withholding requests, I’ve stopped seeking freedom all together.

I’ve become complacent. Somewhere I have decided that whatever is in front of me is all I have.

Practically, this applies to the small everyday things. I’ve stopped finding joy in my every day activities. I am able to stay home with my kids, I run a business that I love and I’ve got a wonderfully supportive husband and group of friends, yet I have felt trapped and disheartened.

In the last month, as my heart has softened in many ways for many reasons, I see that being trapped has been a choice. I’ve taken my freedom and put it in shackles. I’ve diminished grace and stomped out joy out of sheer ignorance and maybe a little bit of laziness.

Asking permission takes effort. It also involves risk. It’s worth it, even for the everyday things.

Grace is found in this ability to see our blind spots and try again.

Here’s to giving myself permission to live.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:31-32)

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:6-7)

Linking up with A Field of Wildflowers #SmallWonders.

Small Wonders: Eyes

Silas

My 1 year old loves peek a boo. He’s figured out how to cover his own face and when he does it is his sign that he wants to play. He covers his face, he peeks out and I say “I see you” and he giggles. I let this go on as long as possible because it is adorable.

What I noticed this weekend was that he doesn’t laugh until I say “I see you”.

After we laughed for awhile he crawled away and I went back to some housework. As I did I wondered…Do I really see?

With 4 kids running around, parenting alone for half the year and the ups and downs of life I “see” a lot of things but wonder if I ever really stop and see things.

Do I see the 3rd pink princess picture my daughter has drawn and shown me? Do I see my toddler who has proudly put on her own shoes and is strutting around the house? Do I see the 30th basket my son has called me outside to watch?

In my imperfect human nature I know I won’t always stop to smell the roses at just the right time but I should try.

So this week, that is what I am up to. When the kids or my husband or a friend asks me to take a look, listen up, pay attention – I am really going to stop and see.

Who knows, maybe I’ll begin to see the world a little clearer, as it was meant to be seen.

~Rachael

Linking up with Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders

Small Wonders: Walking

Walker

Our youngest is just a year old. He is full of energy and determination to keep up with his 3 older siblings.

For months he was an observer. Then he learned to crawl and tried to keep up. Recently he has decided to walk and in the blink of an eye has gone from unsteady steps to practically running.

I’ve been home to watch this transformation and it has been so fun (and exhausting – he’s into everything!). Every day the small improvements and steadier steps make me smile.

I forget that others don’t have my vantage point. We went to church this weekend and the nursery worker was stunned as I set down our son and he walked across the room. She said “I was gone for a week and he’s walking!” That same morning another church member said “I can see those kids growing just from watching them stand, they are so much taller today.”

I’m reminded with each new step our son takes and each new inch our children add, that I have a unique vantage point. Seeing, watching, observing. All the small, day to day struggles, the moments that are shaping who my children are, I get to be there. I am the only one with this view.

Isn’t this how we all change? One small, unsteady step at a time? In our wobbly and uncertain steps who is watching us? Maybe our children, our spouses, our friends?

Often we sweep our small day to day struggles and steps under the rug. We answer questions about our lives by saying we are “fine” or “good” but are we really?

Are the people who have the unique vantage point of watching us grow and change inspired and full of joy as they watch us?

This week my goal is to make every wobbly, unsure step count. I want to inspire my children to have steady steps, I want to encourage my husband to have strong steps, I want to encourage my friends to keep walking.

Who is watching your steps today?

 

 

 

Linking with A Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders
(Swing by and visit Kelly, these last couple weeks I have been so encouraged by her!)

Small Wonders: List Making






Late this past Friday when everyone was in bed my mind was running at high capacity. When this happens I become the great list maker.

So I started listing things…I listed out how my hours were breaking down during each week (volunteering, working, family, commitments). I listed out events coming up that I didn’t want to forget (appointments, meetings and kids events). I listed out the hours of babysitting we’ve taken advantage of this year and spent time reflecting on it (usually just a couple hours a week here and there).

As I was watching the list change and grow and reform I started doodling on the list. Lines and arrows turned into columns and yet another list. I started to feel lighter, wiser somehow.

It dawned on me that there is something very revealing about my lists. I know women especially get a bad rap for making lists that are meaningless, but in that moment I realized for me, those simple lists move me from being scattered in all directions to seeing my days for what they really are.

I can see where I have been a people pleaser and said yes when I wish I would have said no. I can see how much time I am spending really focusing on my kids and husband (versus just being with them in the house). I can see the things that make my heart leap in excitement and those that make me groan.

So I made yet another list. I doodled little hearts next to the things that really made my heart leap and as I considered the weekdays I made sure each day had at least one of those things in it. 

In this season, this doodled list on a pink slip of paper reminds me that this life I have been given is amazing. Each day there is something that I do that brings joy, not just happiness, to my soul. 

Sure, they are small things (writing, preparing for Bible Study, kids activities) but what a gift! To think that this is the life I’ve been given. Even in the midst of its hardships my heart is full with the beauty of my every day.

So here’s to list making. For seeing today for what it really is and hoping for the joy of tomorrow.

Linking up with A Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders

Small Wonders: Friendship

Picture 1

This weekend a friend said on Facebook “We have downgraded friendship in our society.” You could almost hear me shout my agreement from the other room. The idea that we have made friendship less than important yet live in a world where we need each other was stunning to me in that moment.

Yet, while I believe this is true for many and at times even I too have felt the loneliness of friendlessness, I am struck by the small wonder of friendship in my life. It carries me every day.

Stop for a moment. Think of what you have done with your friends just this year. Have you downgraded friendship or embraced it?

By DaPix Studio
By DaPix Studio

I am so thankful for this season where, despite small kids and busy work schedules, our lives are full of friendship, it brings us so much joy!

…For friends that care about the small stuff.

…For friends who laugh with me until I cry.

…For friends who have the hard conversations and ask the difficult questions.

…For friends who willingly lend me things when I need them.

…For friends who help vacuum birthday cake off the fellowship hall carpet.

…For friends who try and trust, even when trusting isn’t easy.

…For friends who love the same city you do and see life through those eyes.

…For friends who invite us to birthday dinners.

…For friends who will spend a day with you, just to be together.

…For friends who give beautiful and unexpected gifts from the heart.

…For friends who will stop and catch lunch at the last minute.

…For friends who see your children as you see them, not as a handful but as a heartfull.

…For friends who persevere when your schedules and distance makes it hard to be together.

 Picture 3

Friendship is a small wonder these days. It takes time and energy that a lot of us just don’t have. It takes patience and commitment to really get to know someone.

There are so many choices in this world of things to do, places to go and life to experience. But what is the joy of doing and going and experiencing if we have no one to share it with?

Linking up today with A Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders

Small Wonders: Music



Drums, piano, guitar. Banjo, violin, flute. Rock, Blues, Opera. Country, Classical, Jazz.

As I drift in and out of our crazy days I realize we don’t do it quietly! Partly because there are so many of us and partly because we are a family who listens to music.

My husband is the music guy in our family. He has a wide and varied collection. Our kids enjoy everything from kid sing alongs in the car to classic rock wafting in from the kitchen. 

The music is always changing. A little jazz for a quiet morning, some silly songs as we wait in the carpool lane, some fast fun music as we clean.

Isn’t this the rhythm of our life? The tune is always a little different? Sometimes smooth and slow and sometimes fast and frantic. 

What a gift that our expression of life rhythm can somehow beautifully come together in the mystery of music.

As this little space adds new writers this week, as new stories from varied voices appear, I feel the rhythm changing. From slow and quiet to vibrant and fun. 

It’s exciting to hear a new rhythm every now and again…


Linking up with Field of Wildflowers: #SmallWonders