Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Practice of Love

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I was so excited to walk by the Target Dollar Spot the other day and spy these mailboxes. I know that I have bought them before. Where they went is anyone's guess.

But this year...this year of "Being Resolute" and of my "Fab4D" birthday, I decided that I wanted to do something I'd been mulling over a lot.

Being more purposefully in loving on my kids and having them love on each other throughout our homeschool day.

However, the store I was at only had three colors (apparently there is a robin egg blue out there somewhere), so I opted to get one red, one pink and two white ones for my kids.

I brought them home and set them on the counter and then forgot about them.

However, the kids did not.

They noticed them.

What are these?  
What are we going to do with them? 
Which one is mine?

That last one was a good question because I had thrown a confusing wrench in our home and homeschool organizing system by bringing home the two white ones.

You see...each of our children has his/her own color. This extends to cups (cuts down on the amount that they use/I wash each day), pencils and more.

Eldest Daughter = Purple
Youngest Daughter = Pink
Eldest Son = Blue
Youngest Son = Red

So you can imagine which two were confused.

The eldest would have been fine with the white. She was planning on decorating it anyway. She had already made her own cut-out hearts and put them in the mailboxes this morning before I even "introduced" the concept.

However, my eldest son loves blue and loves our system (and systems in general) and he very sweetly begged me for blue.

Upon perusal of our paint can inventory (yes, we have a collection from Pinewood Derbys of year's gone by), I saw that we were out of blue. But we had plenty of purple!

A short trip to Walmart later, and I was in the garage passively-huffing paint fumes.

And a few hours (and coats of paint later), eldest son was happy...and actually eldest daughter was happy too.

I did some poking around on the internet and found some printable message slips that I printed out and cut. I can't wait to see how the kids use them and their own creativity as we have led up to Valentine's Day and marched beyond.

Because love should be practiced more than just special day, right?

The Beauty in the Crumpled

Much like my relationship with To-Do Lists and checkboxes, I have a similar sort of love/hate relationship with day planners. I love the smell of a new unspoiled planner. Oh, the possibilities of days of accomplishments, coffee dates and wild dreams for the future.

However, the reality of actually filling in those squares and lines with appointments and tasks (and better yet, checking them off as completed) can be daunting sometimes.

Which is why I was either brilliant or crazy when I decided that the best way to motivate myself to get up earlier in the mornings and carve out a devotional life would be to buy a day planner that would give me one page for each day.  

So, I took myself off to Walmart and bought the only thing that fit the bill. Fortunately, at $12, it was a good deal. Unfortunately, it was pretty ugly with its black plastic covers.

My idea was that the thought of that empty and pristine page just sitting there eagerly awaiting my pen and insight to flow across it, would needle me enough to get me rolling out of bed.

Because the truth is that I really like my sleep. A natural born "night owl," I come alive after the kids go to bed. If I had my way, I would happily stay up to 1 a.m. every morning and then sleep in to 9 a.m. But, our family life and schedule does not allow for that.

So I'm always at war with my internal body clock, and my natural inclination to stay up late and get up a bit later.

For the past several years when my children were very young, I have given myself an extra measure of grace. I think that God is gracious and kind with us -- and especially us young mothers with bags the size of Samsonites under our eyes and not enough coffee in all the world to fix the constant exhaustion.

But in all honesty, my children are older now and they sleep well and through the night -- and they sleep pretty late into the morning too (ah, the life of a homeschool family).

To be honest, I feel like I have run out of that measure of grace, and maybe my own excuses.

And so it's time to set the alarm and roll out of that warm and comfy bed before the kids wake up.

The problem is...I'm fighting against years of the habit of not rolling out....well, at least not for a consistent daily sustained period of time.

So, there you have it. 

1) I like day planners

2.) I like my day planners to be crisp and clean and ready for any wild imagining or even dreary duty.

3.) I like to see lines of completion across my day planners and/or evidence of something that was accomplished or is in process.

So, you can imagine my dismay when on my first morning of my new plan, I did not respond to my alarm and spring out of bed. Ugh...failure on my first day!

However, I figured I could carve out some time while the kids were in enrichment classes, so I brought it with me in our big utility tote bag. 

After getting the kids into their classes, I had a long conversation with another parent and friend, I went to pull out my shiny new planner and get my devotions done when I discovered that our water thermos leaked out and soaked the bottom of my bag and everything in it...

...resulting in this...

...a true horror for anyone who adores books and does her best to keep them in pristine non-crinkled condition. (Refer to point #2 listed above.)

My beautiful planner of opportunity -- of unwritten ruminations and inspired thought -- was ruined before I even got to use it once. What's more is that somewhere along the way, I also munched the back cover.

So, what did I do? 

I got creative.

I pulled out my kids' duck tape and found a cute pattern. And then, I got to work with the tape and scissors...

...and I ended up with this.

Which solved the munch on the back and also satisfied my aesthetic need for a "pretty book."

It did not, however, fix the issue of a bunch of warped pages inside the book. Pages that would never be pristine again -- even if I were to take the crazy step of trying to iron them (I was tempted to, I have to fully admit.)

As I mourned those pages, I felt God whisper into my spirit that these pages were a perfect representation of my life...of me.

While I might wish for my life and heart to stay wrinkle and blemish free, this is not how life works. There will be damage. There will be hurt. But the crinkled edges of my heart also show a life lived fully engaged. It would be folly to think I could keep both it and any book used daily unmarked.

And so, I happily embrace those crumpled pages as I embrace my crumpled, but still beating heart.