Wholesome Talk and Children

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Ephesians 4:29

Some weeks ago I attended a new women’s Bible study that revolves particularly around building up and generally supporting our marriages.  It’s been amazing digging into the word with these women and having little (and big) things added to my list to work on.  In one of our first meetings Ephesians 4:29 was referenced only very slightly but it stuck to my bones. Since then it has become somewhat of a life verse.

Since I’m all about being honest, I confess I have intentionally let myself get away with saying exactly what’s on my mind to Maisy for quite some time.  I thought I was being wise – better to say it out loud to the one who’s frustrating me and can’t understand what I’m saying anyways, but I’ve been convicted that there’s more to it than that.  I think that in her spirit she understands exactly what I’m saying, especially now that she’s older.  I’ve also found that saying what I want to her actually encourages more unwholesome thoughts and words rather than “satisfying” those I’m already feeling.  In fact, it’s quite the opposite effect, after only working on my words for several weeks now, I’ve found that not only are my words more in check but my thoughts are too.

Throughout my days now I find this verse popping into my head when I want to swear or say something negative towards Maisy.  I’m so encouraged how quickly my heart and mind were able to correct themselves so holding my tongue became quickly effortless and changing my thoughts.

 

Advertisements

Doing Laundry with Maisy

We were clean out of clean diapers and clean clothes this morning so today became laundry day.  We just came in from taking down the now sun dried diapers and hanging the batch of now clean and soggy clothes out on the line.  Maisy persistantly dug into the hamper of damp clothes despite my moving the basket several times.  As she reached in for the dozenth time I paused my impulse to scold her and cocked my head at her for a minute. She proceeded to pick out an item and hold it out to me saying “da” with the inflection used in question asking.  I took the item and said, “thank you.”  She smiled and grabbed the next piece of clothing.  I smiled.

Occasionally she or I would drop an item.  Before I could bend down to grab it her half pint body was all fours in seconds.  She picked it up and put it back in the hamper.  I smiled wider and wider until suddenly the hamper was empty and my back was not worse for wear thanks to my helpful daughter saving me all the bending over stereotypical of doing this chore.

I reflected with excitement that today is my writing day and that I now had a tale to share.  In this moment I am thankful for the impulse to pause and reflect on my daughter’s behavior before blundering ahead with assumptions.  Instead of scolding her all the way through my chore, I gained the most devoted and cheerful helper.

From One Mom to a Wanna-Be Mom

Recently I was asked a question by a friend.  In relaying the conversation that ensued to my husband the next day he said, “that’s a blog post.”

My friend asked me, “what piece of advice would you give someone who’s thinking about having kids.”

Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun!  The days I am at my worst as a parent are the days I play tyrant and boss to my baby girl. These are the days I’m putting my work before my daughter.  Truth is, so long as I’m putting her first and we’re having fun there’s actually less to correct in the first place.  “Happy wife, happy life?”  No, I think it starts with the kids!  Fill their love banks and the world is a far better place.  Can you offer a quippy idiom in four short words for that?

All for now.  Short and sweet.  You’re welcome 😉

Happy Father’s Day!

My “question of the day” surrounding Father’s Day was “what is one of the best things your dad taught you?”  I was about to reply to my own thread when I realized my dad’s lessons deserved more than just a one word blip on Facebook.

First, meet my dad, a 6′ 2″ mass of muscle with a booming voice.  Growing up, my friends were typically immediately intimated by my dad… especially the boys.  But to me he was the world’s biggest softy.  My dad was more likely to use his 6′ 2″ arm span to wrap me up in a hug, his brawn to build me things like a lofted bed and a bunny hutch, and his booming voice most frequently took the form of a hysterically contagious laugh.

My favorite things about my dad are his smile wrinkles (I always say that having wrinkles like my dad’s is my goal), his crazy smile just before he bursts into laughter, his piercing blue eyes, and the things he’s taught me through his unconditional love for me and his own convictions and idiosyncrasies.  As for the things I’ve learned from my dad, those that stand out are patience, contentment, money management, the love of nature, “I love you,” humility, and committment.

To seek patience is one of the most important things in life but to seek patience in the face of parenting is, perhaps, the most crucial time to seek it.  My dad taught me patience simply because of his pace of life.  He’s always been tediously slow but this tendency, I think, is much more of a benefit to him than it is a hinderance.  He does things slowly but he does them right.  There is no rushing through something with him and, since it is in a rush that stress finds you, because of that he has managed to steer clear of that kind of stress.  He was the first to teach me that by giving yourself time on any given thing you free yourself from the burden of a deadline.

My dad’s gift of contentment coincides with his level of patience.  Often times the root of true patience is finding contentment where you are.  This can be as simple as accepting your fate to be late to work if you did not leave the house early enough rather than trying to make a race out of it and, in turn, endangering yourself and others while you make the attempt.  But it can be as complicated as not simply accepting your difficult season in life but making the best out of it.  I’ve always looked at my dad and seen someone who is not always looking to the next thing; instead, I see someone who is making his present the best he possibly can and letting the future take care of itself.  Contentment does not come naturally to me, but periodically I find myself refocusing on the present because I’ve been thinking about my dad or simply realize I’ve been fixing my eyes on the future.  Truth is, the future will come whether I am watching it or not – if I focus my attention ahead of me how am I supposed to see the blessings right in front of me?

I can’t remember how old I was or where we were or if it was a one time occurrence or if my dad’s money management quip was a frequent reminder… all I know is there was at least one time I heard my dad say, “Kaia, do you need that?”  I remember I was looking at some toy that I thought I really wanted and I had allowance money with me.  But I found myself asking my dad if I should buy it – I suppose I figured that if he thought I should buy it that I definitely should, but I think I already knew his answer and was actually seeking his opinion to get myself to put the toy down.  He said, “Kaia, do you need that?”  And I knew I didn’t need it so I put it back and didn’t think twice about that plastic piece of fun-making.  This simple phrase follows me into any and every store even today.  I believe that this is also one of the driving forces behind my creativity because instead of buying things as I think of them, I more often find myself answering “no” to that question and seeking to come up with a solution by either repurposing something I already have, making it myself, or by asking friends and family if they have what I am looking for and if they are looking to get rid of it.  If those things don’t provide me with the item in question and I do actually need it, only then can I bring myself to dish out the cash to buy it.

Ok, so a love for nature comes naturally to me but my dad equipped me with the skills to enjoy it to the full.  My dad taught me how to care for several kinds of animals, how to pitch a tent, when to go night crawler hunting, how to identify many breeds of birds, and all sorts of other random biological wonders.  My dad is a biology teacher and he is perhaps the only other person I know who loves God’s creation the way I do.  There is a wonder we can share whenever we get to spend time outside together.  Instead of hunting for the frog croaking or examining animal droppings all by myself, I find I have another curious partner in crime whenever my dad is around.  In those moments I am also struck by how curiously strange the pair of us are but I would be lying if I didn’t say I liked it.

Ever since I was little my dad has been adamant about saying “I love you.”  Before the time of love languages I knew this form of love expression didn’t impact me much.  My dad would say, “have I told you how much I love you lately?” I would reply, “Dad I know you love me.”  And then he would say something like, “well I’ll say it anyway, I love you.”  I knew my dad loved me because of the way he looked at me, how he attended every function I was a part of (which is a lot to keep up with when you’re daughter has to be involved in everything), how he would drop anything he was doing if he knew I wanted to hang out, how he would go for walks out in the rain with me… he simply oozed his love all over me.  That being said though, his intentionality about telling me on top of obviously showing me he loved me didn’t go unnoticed.  His telling me frequently at least taught me that not only to other people need to hear it but I actually do every now and then too.  Little did I know that his lesson would become one of the most important come time for me to get married because those three words are essential to ensuring my husband feels secure in my love.

My dad taught me how to drop my pride and admit when I am wrong.  I remember the biggest argument we ever had, I don’t remember what it was about but I do remember I was in high school.  In the middle of the argument my dad said he was going to walk away to cool down and I was furious to have our battle interrupted by good sense.  I stormed into my room, shut the door, and fumed silently.  Before long there was a light rap on my door and my dad asked if he could come in.  Before I could resume our war he simply apologized and asked for my forgiveness.  I was completely disarmed.  I will never forget that moment and the impact that act of humility had on us.  My dad won my wholehearted respect in that moment and there was a sudden unbreakable bond formed between us.  Humility is far from a natural thing for me.  Before I can ever ask for forgiveness or admit that I was wrong there is a battle that rages inside me so fierce I feel like my insides are working themselves into knots.  Even at 24-years-old I can only manage to begrudgingly spit the words out.  I feel like I’m literally pulling them out of my throat like I’m playing a tug of war game against the strongest of opponents.  I can only hope that with a lot more time and patience from people like my dad and husband that I can not only drop my pride quicker but that humility becomes easy.

The last lesson I share today is perhaps the most important.  Imagine a blonde-haired, athletic teenage girl involved in every area of extracurriculars and social click.  That girl was me.  I was also a girl who not only started something but finished it, until my senior year of high school.  I decided to play for the school soccer team instead of the school volleyball team.  I made varsity but never made it off the bench.  My coach was mostly mean-spirited towards me and all I really wanted was some ball time.  I remember going to my dad and asking if I could quit the team.  In this moment I felt just like I did when I asked my dad about buying that toy several years earlier, and like every other time I asked my dad a question I already knew the answer to.  My dad placed extremely high importance on commitment, but unlike his value of not spending frivolously it didn’t come with a phrase or adage.  In this conversation I remember sharing my concerns with him.  I described how nasty my coach was to me and how all I really wanted was ball time.  What I appreciate most about my dad is that every time I came to him with concerns, even if my concerns were leading me against values he was trying to teach me, he not only listened but he talked me through it.  There was never a “because I said so” or upper handed moment, my dad leveled with me.  I remember him telling me that he completely understood why I would want to throw in the towel and that he would understand if I chose to do so, but he challenged me to finish out my commitment to the soccer team by finishing the year with them.  He then encouraged me to make the best out of my circumstance and see if I couldn’t also play for the JV team and that, if I was condemned to the varsity bench, to serve my teammates and to to be their biggest cheerleader.  In the end, my soccer dreams came true because of my dad’s advice.  We made delicious lemonade out of the lemons I’d been handed.  The next game I played with the JV team.  I not only got field time with them but so much so that I only stepped off that field if I asked to grab a quick drink.  They loved me on JV and I was on fire!  After the JV game I jumped right over to the varsity game and for some reason Andy put me in.  Because of my confidence and warm muscles carrying over from the JV game I tore up that field and Andy even left me in for most of that game.  My dad was so proud of me and I remember running over for a big bear hug with him at the end of the varsity game.  In this moment I learned not only to stick to my commitments but that if the going got tough to do what I could to make the best of it.  In an age when premarital sex and divorce are more common than healthy marriages this lesson has given mine and Josh’s marriage the greatest gift.  My unbreakable value on commitment means I will never abandon him or let our love fall apart.

Dad, you are one of the strongest, most loving people I know.  Thank you for taking painstaking care in loving and raising me.  I know I would not even be close to the person I am today if I didn’t have you!  Love you dad!

Created to be Creative

I am an artist.  As an artist I show my work at various galleries on occasion and when I do I always encounter a person or two who approaches me in a sort of state of awe.  Not necessarily about my work, but about the work of having created something.  There is a group of people, perhaps even the majority, that think they are not creative.  I’ve also come to understand that this group of people thinks there are two groups of people:  creative and not creative.  I don’t believe that.  The simple truth is that we were created by the Master of Creativity and if we are made in His image, which we are, then we are not only all capable of creativity, but I would assert that we are all called to be creative.

I am not suggesting that everyone go out and buy a camera or pick up a paint brush.  I am suggesting, however, that each of us uses our innate creativity to bring beauty into our every day, ordinary lives.  Such ordinary circumstances like parenting, marriage, your home, your routine, work, dating, and eating are all areas that can, and should, be subjected to your art of creativity.

Creative Parenting

Parenting is often the root of a mommy and daddy’s existence for approximately 18 years.  I am not an ordinary parent, but I do parent two dogs and it is similar in a lot of ways.  I have found each dog to be so different in personality and demeanor, so much so that they require completely different methods of “parenting.”  I go into depth about the differences in discipline and love languages from dog to dog, or Haley to Sam, HERE.

In my case of parenting my dogs I have transformed a simple walk into a field trip to the park buried in the back of the neighborhood.  Here I can let them off the leash to romp about and play fetch.  I have also transformed the art of a “walk” itself on the occasion I strap on my roller blades and let the dogs pull me all around the neighborhood.

In the case of parenting children the same can be done.  It’s all  about transforming the daily, normal activities and making them not only more exciting and tailored to your children but perhaps even more exciting and tailored to you so you can better enjoy that time with them.  You could transform making meals into family collaboration.  In my experience kids love to be a part of the food making process.  Especially if it involves making something sweet 😉  Or maybe you could transform the bedtime routine into a game – make it a timed race, see who can pick out the craziest pajamas, cleanest teeth contest, etc.

Creating a Creative Marriage

I am married.  Josh and I have discovered that we do best when we customize the way we love to make our counterpart feel it to the full.  I’ve found that the days I’m feeling entitled to being loved a certain way by him are actually the days it is best to focus that attention outward and go out of my way to love on him.  A great way to get started in creatively and intentionally loving your spouse is by picking up Love Dare at your library or buy it (so you can mark it all up).  A less creative although very important way to create a creative marriage is by building each other up in some basic needs like prayer, going to church, dreaming together, budgeting together and MORE.  Once those basic needs are taken care of and you not only have your heart set in the right place but by going to God with your problems you will often find suddenly a creative solution is placed before you and by doing these simple things together you will find you are suddenly inspired to love more and to love better.

Creativity in your Home Space

A home is your habitat.  It is the place that is perhaps the only place you can call your own.

In nature I see so many intentional home builders.  Some male birds build nests to impress the lady they have their eye on, bees build a crazy awesome infrastructure of cubbies, beavers build dams with paramount precision, ants build ridiculously ornate infrastructures of pathways and niches, male clown fish have the job of picking out the prettiest available anemone for their mate and babies to live safely, and that’s just the cherry on the giant, seemingly infinite, sundae of creative home spaces within nature!

So, then, why is it that people often completely neglect the aesthetics of their home?  Now, wives, please to do not bring my article to you hubby and declare, “see, we do need that China hutch I’ve been eyeing!”  No, but I do advocate setting a budget to fix up the place and make any necessary purchases to bring your home to life.  And, more than that, I recommend getting creative with what you already have and see if you can’t repurpose or refurbish things you already own. I just recently finished my own Remaking Home project to infuse creativity within my home space so if you want some inspiration or motivation CLICK HERE to read more about that 🙂

Creativity in your Routine

I once read somewhere that to inspire creativity one of the best places to start is your daily routine.  I am a creature of habit in so many ways so I understand those of you who feel hesitant to give this a try.  However, I have found that with an appropriate ratio of structure and flux my needs to keep a sense of balance and inspire creativity are both met thoroughly.  For example, I set aside Mondays and Thursdays aside for a Sunshine Moment business matters and photo editing; on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I attend to business and blogging in the morning and then I devote the rest of my day to writing, homesteading, researching, or any number of other creative adventures I want to commit to (my areas of flux); Saturdays are reserved for booking shoots and more a Sunshine Moment; and Sundays I maintain as my Sabbath (another area of wonderful flux) and I never miss church unless I absolutely can’t help it.  So there, now you are all too well-informed about my daily work life 🙂

Creative Dating

Josh and I have found that our best memories are of times when we did something a little outside the box or used our money in a creative way.  Maybe there’s a free concert in the park, or maybe you want to go get ice cream, or maybe you can go on a picnic.  Get out and have some fun or stay in and invent a new activity.  The standard dinner and a movie date is particularly rockin’ when you don’t do it all the time 🙂

Creative Eating

This one is simple.  We eat every day.  Those of us that have a passion for food this is your area to get creative!  Spice up your salad, soup, sandwich, or otherwise sumptuous meal with a pop of color, a prop, placement, or presentation 🙂

These, of course, are just a few ways to spice up your life with a little creativity.  There are so many other areas of life that you can concentrate on and make them special.  I know you will find some amazing fruits out of the extra “labor” you put in!