This Season We Are In

There is something about the seasons that prompts me to write about them. I have written thoughts about them in the past (seasons of friendship, for example) and I have a feeling there will be more thoughts to come in the future. I am certain that we can all pair an annual season with a phase in our current life.

With the crispness of autumn teasing us (in Florida we keep our swimsuits next to our winter coats), I am more aware of seasons changing. And with my mom gifting us with her time and love and presence in our home for the entire month of November, I am confronted with the speed of passing time. It hurts. I am intent on savoring the little years with our children but I’ve been negligent with the older years of our parents.

It struck me the other day that while our children are in the spring of their lives, our parents are in the autumn of theirs. I’ve been in denial because I want to assume that they will remain the constants they have always been to me. They’ve been the anchors of my existence that I have more than once resented but upon which I counted in every storm. Even as a married woman with five babies of my own I can live with more confidence knowing my parents are there. It’s impossible for me to imagine life any other way.

But autumn is a glorious season filled with vibrant colors, crisp air and cozy nights with fuzzy blankets, warm drinks and long conversations. It’s a time of anticipating the beautiful memories to be made at Christmas and a time to reflect on the passing year and make good on those nearly-forgotten resolutions from January. (In Florida, autumn can almost last into the new year.) And so I pray it will be for this season we are in as a family: spring and summer and autumn linking arms, savoring the moments together, and making memories that will carry us through the chill that will come at some point in our lives.

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Dear Quinley

On the eve of your fourth birthday I want you to know that:

When your smile dances in your eyes

And you giggle from head to toe,

When you slip your little hand into mine

And announce you have a surprise to show,

When you faithfully help with every chore on my list

And soothe the babies just like I do,

When you pucker your lips for a good night kiss

And tuck your beloved dolly next to you,

When your comforting words soothe hurting hearts

And you bless your penpals with hand drawn cards,

When you burst into songs of your own creation

And dance with joy and freedom,

You’re the epitome of girlhood innocence,

The image of childhood delight.

Like butterflies floating on a sunbeam,

You bring wonder into life.

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Girls’ Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendship in a Lonely World

If you are female and have ever longed for a friend or to be a friend, you MUST read this book written by Sarah, Sally and Joy Clarkson. This mother-daughter trio eloquently detail the vital qualities of life-long friendship between women in all walks and seasons of life. They describe the unique yearning women have for community, confidantes, and a special tribe with whom to share life. They are vulnerable in sharing their own hurts, loneliness and failures. They inspire with ideas for how to cultivate that place of belonging we are all looking for and the character traits we can all aspire to as we become the friends others would want to have. I concluded this book filled with hope, understanding and inspiration for my own friendships.

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Sabbatical

Hello Faithful Readership,

Writing is in my blood and is integral to my personality and identity. With that said, I am feel the need to take a step back from blogging for the remainder of the year for several reasons.

I have some hurt I need to work through; some flourishing friendships I want to cultivate more; an abundance of visitors coming; an eagerly anticipated visit from my mom that I want to savor; and of course, the treasured holiday season to prepare for and enjoy. I wish to be present for all of this in order to glean and hear and grow in all the ways God wants me to.

I have a feeling that I will have more words and thoughts to exchange with you in the new year and I may hop on here (for sure for the next birthday child) a time or two before then. In the meantime, please know I care about all who read this and I want to be back but I also need to pause for a season.

Thank you for understanding and for your prayers.

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A Philosophy of Education Part 4: A Body-Supported Mind

In this final segment of my education series I am considering an obvious, but often overlooked, element of a child’s learning: the wellness of the body. There seems to be a disconnect in popular education between the body and the mind. Youngsters are told to eat their veggies but fast food is sold in cafeterias; they are told to move but recess and p.e. have nearly disappeared from many schools; they are told to rest but TVs and cell phones are put in their bedrooms for around-the-clock entertainment.

I believe that a healthy body is critical to a thriving mind. Body maintenance is comprised of three elements: adequate rest, a balanced diet, and regular exercise. Because learning is a lifestyle that must be cultivated with intentionality, so most healthy living. I can’t expect the children to sit for any length of time with focused attention if they only had 8 hours of sleep (they need 10-12), weren’t outside at all and ate sugar cereal for breakfast. Our routine is designed with time spent outdoors, scheduled opportunities for rest and breaks for low sugar food.

Most of all, however, we want our children to have a healthy view of themselves and their bodies. They are wonderful creations, image-bearers of the Almighty God. This means that it is honored work to care for their bodies and it is a privileged duty to treat themselves and each other with respect. This fourth posture, that of the body, begins with us, their parents. Are we willing to commit the time required to be intentional stewards of these five little bodies in our care? And are we modeling that stewardship with our own bodies and minds?

As I conclude my philosophy of education I am reminded that whole education should reflect the whole person: body, mind and spirit. And in the process of teaching I myself will never stop learning.

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Mystic Sweet Communion

Jane Kirkpatrick skillfully weaves the personal story of Ivy Cromartie Stranahan with the history of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This beautiful yet powerful historical fiction reminds its readers that history is made by individuals and defines individuals. Things that can be mentioned in passing, like illness, hurricanes or financial discrepancies can actually change the course of history. And the decisions one person makes for the sake of others can rescue an entire people group. The weaving of words in this book has inspired me to look differently at my life and to see Florida with new eyes.

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A Philosophy of Education Part 3: Never Cease Learning

From the moment they take their first breath, children have a desire to learn. It’s innate; an instinct over which they have no control. This is how they learn language, how to engage with the people around them and what their place is in society. They absorb, observe, imitate and master in a continuous cycle. This ability to learn is as much a gifting as it is a survival mechanism. It’s a resource that should be nurtured and guarded.

Children approach learning with enthusiasm. They see it as an adventure of discovery; to them new knowledge and skills open doors to wonderful new worlds and experiences. When I was a classroom teacher it broke my heart to see the apathy in some students and resentment in others towards education. They wanted the least amount of work possible and hated assignments that demanded anything more from them than the minimum. What happened over their dozen years of life to change their delight in learning to disdain?

I have pondered this question ever since, and even more intently as I begin educating my own children. I have come to the following three conclusions in how to cultivate the posture of the student’s mind towards learning:

  • Make learning a way of life: Once a week I take our schooling to the park. It’s important for the children to see that learning isn’t limited to what happens at the dining room table; it happens continuously. We are always looking for new things to do and try and discuss and I emphasize that we are learning new things. What is learned in our school hour is referred to over and over again throughout the day and week to link school and life. And what we experience throughout the day is mentioned in school to illustrate the need for new tools.
  • The teacher needs to love learning: My attitude is contagious. And as their learning guide I set the tone for our school experience. If I don’t like something, neither will they. If I love something, most likely they will too. But this doesn’t only apply to our school hour; it translates to my personal interests. I read on my own and talk about what I’m reading. I chat with other people and share what I have learned from them. I listen to sermons and podcasts around the kids. I attempt new recipes and practice new skills and tell the kids that I love learning new things. I want them to be excited that there is always more to learn.
  • Beware of fast food learning tools: Just as microwave dinners, bags of chips, and drive-thru burgers taste so delicious and are easy ways to soothe hunger pains, so it is with many common learning tools today. Educational shows, electronic learning devices, and battery-operated toys mesmerize and entertain young minds while sprinkling in ABCs and 1-2-3. Parents breathe a sigh of relief for a moment’s reprieve while feeling satisfied that their kids are learning something. These things can be a fun treat in small doses but if they are the primary educators they will condition a child’s mind to being entertained rather than being challenged and stretched. Learning that lasts comes through tapping into the imagination, hands-on experience and stimulation of all of the senses, not just one or two.

As a teacher I have been given all the tools I need for a successful educational journey: my 5 students. They want to learn. My responsibility is not so much to teach them new things but to cultivate, guide and guard their ability to learn them. I want to fan the flame of their imaginations and ignite the spark of possibility within them: that they can be and do and love and experience all that God wants them to.

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