Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Writing Journal

My children have some very specific interests these days. My daughter is fascinated by space exploration / Astronomy, horses, and animal rescue (especially horse or marine mammal rescues). My son has an almost singular focus on guns and gun designing -- he takes paper towel roles, popsicle sticks, and random elements, using a whole roll of scotch tape putting them all together in the devising of new guns (with rocket launchers, walkie talkies, laser shotgun blasts, you name it). 

I try to support and encourage as much as possible their interests, especially the one which seem to really hold their nascent passion, and for my children these are those things.

So, when my daughter comes home from school excited about her class' writing journal project which requires the student to decorate her journal with things defining of her and her interests, I immediately sought out from our various nooks various National Geographic magazines we keep on hand. I recalled many had to do with space, and some with horses, and furnished them to my daughter.

As it regards my children's interests in general, and especially in regards to this journal project of my daughter's, I am very desirous to have her person, her character, her identity presented well, as thoroughly and as accurately and as artistically as possible. I find her little person to be fascinatingly beautiful and delightful. A sheer delight indeed. And I want what I see and know of her to be known about her: what fascinates me about her, what delights me about her. I want to put her in the spotlight, and I want others to be as excitedly enjoying of her little person as I am, to rejoice in the blessing which is her.

This sentiment of mine, that her delightfulness should be known (and not just hers, but her brother's as well, for I care no less for him), carries over into other areas where self-definition can be found manifesting, as in my allowing her her choice in the selection of school clothes, or even in the pride-filled posts on social media I make. It quite literally is an area (her being known, or, as the ancients used to conceive of it, her "name") I am quite fierce about, though I seldom need to be fierce in either its defense or it presentation.

Easily I find the father-heart of God in this, for us.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Movie Popcorn

I had been given free four movie passes to a particular cinema chain, and so had decided to round out the summer with a family movie date, one last big hoorah before school actually started for the kids. Technically it was a school night, the next day being the first day of school for the kids, and so I felt a little like irresponsible with this cinematic jaunt. To be quite frank I wanted to milk every last possible second with the kids, and the opportunity to do a family thing seemed a good priority. 

Aside from a little from a slight preference disagreement between the boy and the girl, we picked a movie all four of us could enjoy, and rushed off to the theater. It may seem like a little thing, but a few minutes into the movie I decided to get up and go some popcorn for the kids, without them knowing. I knew they liked popcorn, and getting such at a movie theater is a treat. In the moment, that tiny moment, everything I wanted was a want for them -- beyond just enjoying the moment, but still enjoying it nonetheless. In that tiny moment I wanted for them all good things, and every good thing possible for them, and any good thing the moment allowed them, including each good thing the moment allowed. I wanted as well fullness of the experience for them. So, popcorn at a movie, and I delighted in the surprise of it to them.
I clearly see this as the father-heart of God for us all -- God, who in His infinite capacity and intentionality, has this heart towards us in every moment.

This heart rests behind the offer of forgiveness and healing and freedom in His Son; it rests behind ever trial (not pleasant in the moment, but) aimed at perfecting our faith (of greater worth than gold), and behind every blessing; it is behind His patiently waiting even for us to be ready to receive His offer of forgiveness and healing and freedom and redemption. 


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Back to School, Parts 2&3

I missed blogging all last week. My apologies there.

As I have written in the last post, this is (well, was) the transition back to school -- today school started. With the start of each new school year, as I said last post and in posts of years past, we have a multi-faceted ritual which we undertake. And as I have said in the past, there is a particular part of the ritual which involves buying new school clothes.

I am increasingly trying to roll my children into the decision making process. Increasingly, while I am driving the project(s), I am wanting them (my children) to have these projects as their own, to that point even that they -- the projects, my leading, and their driving -- are seamlessly dovetailed. I am wanting this even so that my children will have a sense of dominion, and of efficacy, but also (more importantly) of having accomplished the project through partnership.

Hence, when it came time to go shopping, I deferred to them about what necessary items we should buy. Of course they answered as I knew they would: socks and underwear. The kids are indeed growing, and even they know they need new socks. I incorporated my daughter into the searching process for her brother's sizes. And while I wanted and tried to open my daughter to all the possible assortments of clothing types, she and she alone picked her desired forms of clothing. Here's the thing, though: I typically am a penny-pincher, frugal type. But on this day, however, it was my intent that they should be well blessed in getting enough of what fit them. Not just in quantity did that desire manifest, but also in extent of need, from socks and underwear, to little outfits and even belts and undershirt cami's (both of which my daughter needed). Yeah, I did it smart and frugal and much on clearance, but still... lots.

On another day of last week I took the children to the a burger joint which is known for its frozen confections, and purchased for them not only a meal but the ice cream sundae of their choosing. It was important to me to get the sundaes even more than the meals. These things were this years' customary and commemorating school year treat. The thing is, why this portion of the ritual is important to me, is that when it was first begun I meant to show to my daughter by it how absolutely special and beloved she was, how her little person as she was going to grow into was valued and worthy of being rejoiced over; i wanted her honored and esteemed, from the get-go even. Those same sentiments hold true, and held true on the day we got the frozen confections. I personally feel honored to so bless and rejoice over my children. That feeling of honor even may be the defining matter here.

In all of this -- the feeling honored to honor my children, the desire to roll them into projects that they may feel efficacy through partnership -- I clearly see the Lord's father-heart for us, His children.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Back to School, Part One

At whatever point it began I am not entirely sure, but as on that stretch of road known so well that, once you have hit that certain stretch and know that you are upon the final, tolerable leg (to the end of the journey and home), we have come to the end of Summer and are transitioning into the school year. I am making a concerted effort to get the kids performing their bedtime routine earlier and earlier than they had been during the summer; I am looking (at least) to prepping the house so that things are ready for the Fall activity.

As I attempt to do every year, I try to have a repeated event, a ritual or a sacrament as it were, to mark this transition. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will have read that, as the kids each started school for the first time, we performed this ritual as constituent to a rite of passage. Simply, I am saying this ritual (or series of steps and actions) we did the first time as a way of marking a new phase of their life, and continue it each year now as a reminder, as a commemoration. Since our culture is fairly short on anything universally recognized except those institutional-based rites of passage  (like graduation from schooling levels), but because such ritual and tradition is important to individual experience, I try to make our own.

This ritual of schooling ordination actually involves several different actions occurring over a period of time: purchasing school supplies together, going shopping for new clothes together, and a commemorative meal together. About a week ago I suggested we consider going to get school supplies, because I personally felt primed and ready to bless them in this way. When I presented the idea to my daughter she felt it would be better to wait, not feeling that it was a good idea to have the school supplies just sitting around needlessly, especially given the increased likelihood something may be lost as a result.

This past Saturday I offered to my daughter the opportunity to decide what she wanted to do together, reminding her of the option of going shopping as still being on the table. I was prepared she might decline, and was readied to ensure the task was accomplished when it needed to be done, even last minute if it so played out that way. Because my daughter is excited about school, and she herself has made the bend in her mind about going back to school, she eagerly suggested we go to the store and get our school supplies.  And so it was that we did just that.

The chore of shopping aside, for me the moment was more one of letting my daughter drive, giving her some sense of ownership and determination of the ritual, letting her make it her own. She chose when it got to happen, when it felt "right to her" to do so. Ultimately, for both my children, I want for them to have this sense that the meaningful moments in their lives are as much carried by them as set out for them, and thus overlaying that meaning with a sense of their determining it, much as links of a chain pulled from two ends determining its own tension -- one end being my and my guidance (setting of ritual), the other end being they (my children) and their taking up the ritual.

Perhaps more saliently here, though, was my desire to serve and be a servant to my daughter (and by extension my son) in her taking up of this ritual's timing. I wanted to serve her, simple as that. In this desire to serve I very much so see the father-heart of God for us.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Grocery Run

After Monday afternoon's swimming we made a much needed trip to the store (for cat food and dog food and those unnecessary items one ends up purchasing because, well, they are hungry after swimming). We were pretty well stocked up at the house and needing very little aside from the pet food (at least as far as I knew), so I hadn't planned to get anything beyond that.

During the course of the trip I made it a point to ask my daughter if I had remembered everything we needed, almost as if it were her trip to the store. She did a very good job of including some extemporaneous items which hadn't been on my mind but for which we did have a need. I went so far as to allow her the decision on whether the trip would include buying school supplies and the decision on a few of the meals we would have for supper that week (and getting the necessary items for the meals). The point, however, was that I did this intentionally, and not as a means of making up for a deficit either of remembering or planning.

I wanted for the project to be my daughters, for her to have ownership and to drive it, despite it being (in actuality) me being the one to have the power to make it happen. In the moment it was nothing at all about grocery shopping and more about wanting for her to be "drawn up," to have a sense of partnering in and driving a project; a sense of collaboration and of the value / worth she has to call the shots for us as a family in a not-insignificant matter. It was "her trip" to the store, at least in my mind and intentions.

I did have a will involved, a set of priorities I saw to keeping (such as budget and healthiness and getting only needed things and so on), but I didn't have to exercise constraining measures -- she kept within the unspoken guidelines. I even had to prompt the children on getting treats -- a prompt both turned down.

I can easily see the father-heart of God in that moment, knowing all the benefits to the sense of self and ability such "drawing up" produces are intended by that heart, along with the love for us such bespeaks.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

One small flip for the kid...

With Summer winding down, and the concentrated time with my children coming to an end, moments spent together are more intentional, to make the most of the last, as it were.

My daughter, who loves my sister (her aunt) so very much -- my sister who lives farther from us than any of us would like, but not so far we can't see each other if we make the effort -- requested we make the effort to meet up with my sister and have lunch. My sister was as over-joyed as I was, and we immediately set to the task of scheduling the event.

When my daughter presented the idea as a question -- "could we have lunch with them" -- I made it a mission. I wanted in that moment something for my daughter I normally would not ever have thought to do on my own. I sort of accept the routine of local life, rhythmed by daily routine. So, if you are a regular reader of this blog you might suspect I am want to draw some conclusion about the father-heart of God in the readiness to action and so forth, I really can't here no matter how very much I want to: God is, be definition and obviously, omniscient, and only I am so mundanely cognizant of the situation.

How the father-heart of God has been shown to me of late actually came later that day, in what would otherwise have been a normal afternoon at the pool. With the drawing to a close of Summer break (without a break in the summer heat), like I have said before, we have taken to going to our friend's pool at every opportunity. Saturday found us invited over for a pool party attended by some close new friends. We actually have been hanging out with them quite frequently and quite intentionally, much simply because we like them.


There really wasn't any need to try to entertain their kids nor my children while swimming -- they were playing just fine by themselves as I talked with the adults. At one point my daughter asked if I could throw her or flip her in the pool, and in that moment I found that that very thing was all I wanted to do. My heart was sweetly, tenderly, entirely desiring to do for my my daughter even when it was neither needed nor necessarily some great want on her part. It was like carving out a little moment with her, just for her, despite it being around and with others. Maybe put differently, it was a tiny moment when my heart was all for my daughter, in a simple and random moment when there was the occasion for my heart to so be for her.

I personally feel that is a glimmer and picture of God's fathers-heart towards us at every moment. As tiny, and as short, as that moment was, it is as sure a moment of revelation into His father-heart as any for me.




Thursday, August 4, 2016

Divulging

I have mentioned how we go swimming almost daily at a friend's pool, much as I did with my sister growing up. My daughter has taken to asking me questions frequently about my youth, perhaps because I frequently volunteer such insights. I think I offer such insights as a means of explaining and contextualizing what we are doing, but when she asks, I relate the stories for a slightly different reason. When my daughter asks I share intentionally, aiming at vulnerability and transparency and trying to accord her a sense of her own value to be able to ask and replied to.

At any rate, when swimming she asks quite a bit about the sort of swimming things I did as a child with my sister. A lot of her questions involve how I learned to do such and such, since she is a child who (like me) tries to think her way into and through doing things (learning skills) correctly. I decided when at the pool the other day to step forward and divulge (without being asked) the tricks my sister and I worked on, the different dives from different positions within the pool. Mainly these all involved me somehow launching then my sister now my daughter high, end over end through the air resulting in a big splash.

For me, in that moment, I knew she would enjoy the divulging of stories about her beloved aunt, and getting to know more about me, and I wanted that for her. I wanted for her to get to know me, to get to know some family history (history which seats her narrative in a larger, ongoing narrative down through time), but more importantly to just be able to relate to one another and share together. It was a moment of sharing in a personable and relatable way, a moment I very much wanted for her, and which I felt she was very much worth having -- so worth having I initiated and led out in.

In this I do clearly see the father-heart of God for us, and understand the benevolently condescending gentleness thereto, desiring that moment with His children because He finds them so very worth it.


(Sadly my daughter is taller and older (read "heavier") than I remember my little sister ever being when I threw her through the air, but then again my sister was also far more gymnastic than my daughter likely ever will try to be, and I am "less young "than I was then.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Space and Horses

There are several areas of interest which have seemed to develop for my daughter over the course of this summer: Space and Space Exploration, and Horses. Her interest in Space was met with a near immediate effort on my part to download ever Space and Space exploration app I could find for her tablet. I have also gone so far as to initiate organization of local and distant Observatory viewings.

With my daughter's interest in horses I immediately sought what I find to be one of the best introductory books on the subject, and made inquiries of a friend who owns horses. My daughter wanted to look into visiting horse rescue agencies and horse-based therapy centers around the area, and I am all for that, but know getting to visit with our friend may be a more rewarding and intimate introductory experience with a horse. Rest assured, we no doubt will visit some of these other organizations as time progresses and her interests take shape. I'll be honest, I have even mentally tabulated all of our issues of National Geographic involving either subject, intending even to go to the discount used bookstore and ferret through their issues for more of the same.

Here is the thing. Certainly with space, but maybe more pronounced with horses (and that because it falls in line with her previously expressed desires / thoughts of her possible, future working at a rescue zoo) my daughter is showing her heart and mind has been captured, her passion is being ignited. This is a passion to learn and to be involved with what, quite simply, is a good thing. It is said that when God, the defining standard of Good, created the world (and thus all things in it, including Space and Horses) He himself called creation (and them, Space and Horses) "good". Wanting even just to learn for the sake of knowing about these things is good in my estimation, but certainly wanting to learn about good things is clearly itself a good thing.

Maybe less abstractly put, and a little more to the point, my daughter has shown a passion for something, and the passion is rather fetching of my heart. I am exuberant and enthused with her and for her. I find even I want to learn along with her, and to facilitate the exposure and experiences which, with my years of experience, really should allow for more than she herself might thing to ask. More so, as enthused as I am I am wanting for the best experience of each experience along the far flung spectrum of avenues of experience. I want her first hands on experience with a horse to be with someone whom I know will provide a heart-felt and sincere moment with a horse (beyond what a kind stranger at a stable might do).

Suffice it to say, in this enthused and exuberant partnering (which takes on His own interest His Child's interests) I clearly see the father-heart of God for us. Furthermore, just as my daughter is dependant upon me to get her to the place(s) where she can experience these things, so to like myself is God's desire to go to / provide the best experiences, beyond even our ability to conceive what is good. And likely far better than I might do it God, in His perfect father-heart, knows best how to respect boundaries and not go beyond the level of experience we need / can encorporate.