Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pinterest Saved Our Yard

Right outside our back gate is a little boy's wonderland; a dense forest ripe with explorations and adventures.The thick tangles of underbrush cascade down into a stone lined stream with crawdads and minnows.
But it is nowhere near as serene as these words make it seem. The pools that collect along our lazy stream are teaming with mosquitoes which quickly find their way up and over our back gate.
The abundance of that promising meal bring unnaturally large man-eating spiders by the millions, pouring under fence and foundations, claiming backyard real estate under our benches, swings, grill, and doorways.
 Slugs and snails have fought valiantly and laid claim to their own little oasis, my garden. And I'd be amiss if I left out the wasps and bees which have been hard at work boring into deck boards and fencing creating tidy little homes for their sting-happy families.
  After bites, stings, eaten plants, destroyed wood, close encounters, and my boys confusing the dense layer of weeds with real grass it was time to go head to head with nature. With the help of Pinterest believe it or not, we saved our backyard and are living happily outdoors without expensive treatments or harmful chemicals.
First, I've saved my garden from slugs and snails by spreading each morning's coffee grounds on the soil around my plants. The abrasive surface restricts their progress towards making my produce their dinner. For my containers I lined the edges with petroleum jelly which they (and other bugs) can't climb up and through.
Wasps, bees, spiders, and mosquitoes are not a fan of peppermint. A few drops of peppermint oil mixed with water in a squirt bottle has cleared our corner of the great outdoors of these unwelcomed guests. Because it's completely safe and non-toxic I can spray it on play areas, swings, doors, thresholds, benches, etc and they stay bug free.
 Weeds have also hit the road making way for real grass with this recipe I found. Just like in the link, I sprayed in the morning and by that evening they were gone and have not come back. Our brick walkway is no longer boasting stubborn sprouts through the cracks either. 
This summer has taken a whole new direction with backyard fun now that I don't have to worry about one of the boys being carried away by a rogue arachnid army. So thank you Pinterest for saving our yard.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Simplified

Let's just assume no one reading picked up on my subtle hinting as to how much I dislike cold.
So in case you missed it...all winter long...we are head over heels, heart on our sleeves, in love with this time of year.
Part of the reason is how much we love being outside. From morning until night we are overdosing on Vitamin D.
Summertime can become a chaotic wrestle of schedules and events, but we purposely put on the brakes.
My greatest childhood summertime memories lie in the simple moments and now the boys and I are soaking up our own days filled with simple.
We made our summertime bucket list and have been crossing off the wishlist one by one.
There are no amusement parks, concerts, pool memberships, or camping trips on our list, but those kinds of things are definitely not missed.
Our bucket list boasts the best and richest parts of summertime.
Catching fireflies, swimming in our backyard "pool", making popsicles, listening to cicadas and tree frogs at night...
Playing in rainstorms, painting outside, water-gun fights, water balloon fights, making play-doh, day trip to the beach...
Make lots of homemade ice cream, eat outside, day hikes, grow a garden, ride bikes, and play baseball with Daddy.
God has placed us in a time for embracing the simple. While there are days we wish the numbers in our bank account would jump a little we are truly content with "simple".
This past year we have found the rich treasure of just being still; the value and joy in soaking up every moment of being together.
 And sitting with my boys at sunset watching bats flutter in the damp night air and fuzzy twinkle lights dotting the woods inviting the boys to catch them, in that simplest of moments, I feel so incredibly rich.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Real Men

 
You don't have to look far to find the erosion of manhood. TV commercials portray men as bumbling idiots incapable of pouring themselves a glass of milk or lacking competence to choose the correct toilet paper. Men have become targets of a society vehemently protecting lifestyle choices and animals' rights, but completely comfortable with the debasing of men.

The message of failure, imperfection, not good enough, and try again stupid, is blasted loud and clear in messages and commercials cushioned with comedy. But the fluff doesn't soften the blows it can have on the art of manhood.

So how do we fight the lies our culture dumps over the heads of our little men? It starts with examples. Examples of men who rise above labels and excuses. Men who know the best form of leadership is not out front but beside. Men who know manliness is worth fighting for and protecting under the current attacks on it. 

Matt is our man. He stands tall and strong and yet has hands gentle enough to cradle newborns and bandaid cuts. He can wield his pen, creating firestorms in liberal agendas, but he can wield a light-saber with a 5 year old just as well. He can build, create, cook, clean, wrestle, tell stories, wipe tears, fight bad guys, hammer, saw, dig, play ball, and even correctly choose the right brand of paper towels. 

The example my boys have in their Daddy is how I know they won't be bothered with society's attacks on manhood. Under his leadership they can jump-start a car, build a fence, hammer nails, replace brake lights, shovel snow, preform feats of strength, catch a baseball, tithe, talk to God, mow the grass, bring a girl flowers, change batteries, and fully embrace the master design of their being created in His image.

Thank you Matt, for being the man to take charge and throw back the cover the world tries to wrap manhood in. As the mother of your boys I am in awe watching the way you raise leaders and conquerors for Christ. And as your wife, I am blessed to be the girl in your manly arms as you never fail to save the day. 

Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What Are These Stones?

Our lives, as most any life, has been a series of ups and down.There are days of picture perfect memories, and there are days of curl-in-a-ball and cry.
We haven't mastered this walk through calm and storms gracefully finding dry ground. But we have come to a place where we have enough road traveled to give us a story as we look back and remember from where we came.
In Joshua 4, a stone memorial was built under directions from the Lord for the purpose of a visual testimony to his greatness; "When your children ask you, 'what do these stones mean', you tell them, 'Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground...that all the peoples of the Earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty."
God knows how well any kid loves a good story; a mind blowing, edge of your seat, white knuckled story of helplessness, hopelessness, and a hero. So He gave those parents the ultimate story prompt, a tower of stones plucked from the great river bed, testifying the mightiness of their God.
Now we have story-loving boys of our own. And we have our "stones"; my engagement ring, our wedding rings, Matt's grad school ring, and a leather journal filled with Jordan River sized prayers with dry ground miracles testified alongside.
The Creator of these little men knew the curiosity to learn and discover was woven deep into their beings. That repetition increases understanding, and a good story etches into hearts a treasure of tales to be passed on and told to generations to come.
And that's why I never grow tired of having a little hand slip into mine as he fingers my ring, asking me for the hundredth time what it means. I'll tell him one hundred more times how it signifies my commitment to his Daddy, God's hand on our marriage, and His answering every dead-end and detail in the early days of our being Mr. and Mrs.
And that's why they'll hold Matt's heavy stone ring with awe as he recounts the days we crossed our "Jordan Rivers" on dry ground. That's why we tell them their stories of being gifted to us, how death found life, despair found joy, how fear was defeated, and God was made known. These "stones" serve as our memorial to our Father's ceaseless love with stories to tell for generations to come. 

What stones in your life are a story waiting to be told?

Friday, June 6, 2014

On Why I Could Care Less About College

There's a huge problem within the church right now. Correction, there are a lot of problems in the church right now. But the one I'm going to talk about has to do with the warfare over our children.
Parents line up in spades to arm their children with piano skills, soccer teams, Ivy League feeder preschools, and designer jeans. The obsession to prepare their child for the best future possible is the blinding force behind sign-ups, deadlines, waiting lists, and stress.
But the wrong "future" is given the emphasis in this current clash of culture and the church. We do everything to secure a "Best and Brightest" standing for our children and fail to train, prepare, arm, and engage in a very real war being fought for the eternity of these little souls.
There is an enemy working in the distractions and chaos. His purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. In case you didn't pick up on the severity of his mission...Steal, Kill, and Destroy.
Steal- our little one's innocence, passion, childlike faith, trust, sure footing, joy, peace, contentment, purity, excitement, happiness, their future, their eternity.
Kill- their relationships with parents and family, with God, their dreams, hopes, happiness, trust, lives.
Destroy- body, mind, soul, courage, boldness, instruction, knowledge, faith, life.
It's time we, the Church, stop acting like the only thing we have to prepare our kids for is Grad School, and start arming them with the weapons to fight a very real enemy out to own their eternity. We're their protectors, the stewards of these souls God handcrafted in secret.
There's nothing wrong to give our children the best chance at this life on Earth. But if we fail to also fight even more so for their eternal life in the Kingdom of God what good did Latin in Pre-K accomplish? 
Stop worrying about which colleges you want to line your kid up for and start laying foundations in a defensive strategy the enemy can't penetrate.
 In the coming weeks I'll be writing about some practical ways to arm these young hearts and minds and fight against the one seeking to steal, kill, and destroy.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Flying With Angels

Now I know I have a tendency to be a tad spontaneous. Me and last minute get along pretty well.
And with boys, that trait comes in rather handy since they totally operate in the world of last minute, otherwise known as impulse.
So when I woke up last week and saw a FaceBook post about the Blue Angels performing over Baltimore that day...
I knew laundry and groceries were about to be postponed and a day trip was now on our agenda.
So let me tell you the pros and cons of spontaneity.
Pro: Got to explore a new city we've never been to before.
Con: Taking wrong turns and ending up in "Baltimore's Harlem".
Pro: Lot's of quiet residential parking
Con: Only 2 hours max and unloading, loading, walking, and walking, waiting, watching, walking, and loading again...2 hours go by fast!
Pro: Getting front row seats to watch death defying stunts of aerobatic proportions. 
Con: Said seats lined a dock where I thwarted little guys' death defying stunts of the aquatic sort. 
Pro: The United States Naval Academy's impressive presence means countless officers and uniformed students which had my little guys in awe.
Con: It was USNA commissioning week so those countless officer's and student's families were also all there vying for aforementioned hard to obtain 2 hour parking spaces.
Pro: The Blue Angels are beyond description incredible. Upside down, free falling, spinning, and low overhead passes had every single one of us with eyes glued to the sky with smiles across faces. 
Con, according to the boys: They couldn't fly in the jets.
Pro: The free show provided over a half hour of incredible aerodynamic stunts which had three wild and crazy boys completely frozen in awe.
Con, according to the boys: It didn't last all day.
Pro: My boys beloved toy jets were clutched in little man hands, reenacting every spiral and dive of the real ones high above.
Con, according to the boys: Their toy ones don't make the same cool jet engine noises.
Pro: We got to walk around USNA campus after the show and Harrison decided that's where he is going to school and one day become a Blue Angel pilot.
Con: Watching my firstborn baby making plans to be a pilot hero squeezed my heart in an odd way I never felt before.
Pro: Spontaneous decisions to load three little guys, snacks, bags, diapers, and toy jets and drive an hour and a half into a new city, to drive in circles for another hour trying to find parking, to camp out under cloudy skies for glimpses of screaming jets, to watch pure joy capture the faces of my little men, to hike back to the car and repeat the drive home was all completely worth every single precious moment and memory from that day. 
Con: In all seriousness? Not a single one. These fleeting days with my little men are far to precious to not seize any and all last minute opportunities to add to the richness of life and savor the times we take being spontaneous together.