Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My children awoke this morning eager to spend another day soaking in the sunshine. I was still in bed when I was greeted with, "Mama, mama! It's warm out again today! Can we have a picnic and go to the park and play outside"? My eyes opened to a smiling and eager little face. "Not today," I said sleepily, "but we can do our school work outside. And I bet we can work in a picnic on the deck, too."

Chores were done without hurry, windows were opened, and laughter filled the basement. It's amazing how a beautiful day can put everyone in a great mood.

I decided to start the school day with a little hands on learning, so we cooked up some home made granola bars for breakfast. The kids love to measure, pour, stir, and spread, so this was the yummiest of fun for them.

Juni sneaks some chocolate chips while waiting for the big kids to finish chores

baby girl is ready with the honey and a measuring cup!

Astrid volunteers to be in charge of the sweet stuff

Juni found her way into the table to smuggle more chocolate chips

pouring the honey

Ethan "exercising" and Juni giggling while they wait for the bars to cool

the finished product...yum!

The rest of the day was spent getting school work done, chasing the kitten in and out of the house, and doing laundry. Pretty exciting stuff, no? Maybe not, but I'm actually a pretty big fan of the normal day and every beautiful little thing to uncover inside it, so it was relaxing and productive and just what we needed.

With school work done and the basement cleaned up, we decided to go check on the progress of our home site. Windows down, warm air caressing our faces, and music turned up loud enough to sing along at the top of our lungs (to Adele, a current fave of the kids), we bumped down the dirt road eagerly anticipating seeing something new and exciting on our land. And we did! Where there was just dirt yesterday, there is now red clay building up the pad!

the kids joyfully running around the new dirt

the girls dance on the clay

Astrid is queen of the hill

There is nothing like a new beginning. It's a mix of work to be done, decisions to make, obstacles to overcome, and joy to be experienced.

This may just look like red dirt to you. But to us this is home. Our house isn't here yet, but our hearts are. Over a year ago we sat on this land and prayed that it would be ours. We asked God to show us if that was his plan for our family and to make it happen if it was. Unexpected things began to occur, and just a short time later we were able to purchase this property. Just minutes after we closed on it we realized that we had made a potentially devastating mistake in our financial calculations. A mistake so obvious that we were shocked that it had not been clear to us before. I left the closing literally sick to my stomach and in tears. I knew there was no way we were going to be able to make the payments. I felt stupid, and angry, and scared. Justin tried to reassure me, reminding me that all along we had believed God was leading us to this place. I began to doubt. And he told me that there must be a reason we were in this situation and we just needed to wait and see what God was going to do.

Almost one year later, this "disaster" has been one of the most clearly defined testimonies of the Lord's care and provision that our family has ever experienced. Every month we have been able to make a large payment that we honestly had no room in our budget to make. We can't even pinpoint exactly where the money came from every time, but it was always there. I love to hear my kids get excited and tell people about how the Lord provided for us when we didn't see a way to provide for ourselves.

Every day I am working to teach my kids valuable lessons about the world around them, life, love, and faith. But there are some lessons that only God can teach. My humanity and finite wisdom leaves much to be desired. I am forever grateful that he is always faithful to fill in the gaps for them.

And for me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

There are buds on the trees. The kids are so excited to see the green leaves beginning to color the branches and the grass spreading its emerald hues over the landscape as we drive through the country roads. The air feels warm and fresh and heavy with the scent of bloomings and new beginnings. Today was especially beautiful. We threw most of our schoolwork to the wind, dressed ourselves in shorts and sundresses, and spent the entire day at the park with new friends, and old friends, and sunshine. Then we drove out to our future home site in the country, where ground was broken today to begin building! There are huge hills of dirt surrounding the pad where the house will sit. The kids were so excited to see the progress (and the dirt!) that they tumbled over each other racing out of Helga (the van, in case you forgot), tossed their shoes on the grass, and tackled the mounds. They dug their toes into the freshly turned soil, ran up and down the hills, raked the mud into balls, laughed, and squealed, and played until we had to drag them away because of the fading light.

It's almost hard to believe that our house has sold, building has begun on another one, and another Spring is, as Astrid would put it, "just a few sleeps away". Sometimes it seems as though life is standing still, until I find myself in a place that just recently seemed so far off and I realize so much has passed with little notice, and probably not as much appreciation as all those moments deserved.

Time is tricky.
Yesterday I heard Astrid and Ezra playing together in the girls' room. They often play "Mommy and Daddy". The kids have been playing this for years now. It seems to be a strange combination of house, school, dog obedience training, zoo, art class, and snack time. Someone is always the grownup, someone is always the kid, and usually someone is some kind of animal. Oh, and no one ever uses their real names. Which, for some reason, always strikes me as really funny.
As I folded laundry in the room next to where they were playing, I heard Ezra say to Astrid, "OK, I'm the Daddy and my name is Tyler. You're Hannah and you're 1 year old."
"O-K, Da-Da," one year old Astrid replied.
The game continued for only about two minutes before I heard this:
"Grow, grow, grow, grow, grow. OK! Now I'm 6!"
"No Astrid!" Ezra exclaimed, "You can't grow that fast!"
"Yes, I can. And I did," she said quite matter-of-factly, and probably with her hands on her hips and nose turned up at him.

And she's right, isn't she? She can. And she did. They all did.

I know it is an oft quoted lament of parenthood..."They grow up so fast!" And I know I likely still have some time to savor before my little ones are truly grown. But even my baby isn't a baby anymore!
Savoring has to be intentional. I just now ate the last peanut butter cookie in the box of my favorite peanut butter cookies. And I savored it. I ate it slowly, purposefully, thoughtfully. And it was good. About an hour ago as I nursed Juni to sleep and browsed through Facebook I must have eaten 3 or 4 of those cookies. I think I hardly noticed that I was eating them. After all, there were still so many left (before Justin got a hold of the box), so the end was not in sight. Savoring didn't even cross my mind. The days of babyhood, toddlerhood, and childhood are like that sometimes. They seem so early in the journey and so filled with distractions. But they are sweet, and delicious, and they deserved to be savored.

Even more than that last peanut butter cookie.