Springtime Sunshine

It seems like I’ve been anticipating springtime sunshine for far too long.

You know the kind.  It’s the golden-glow type of sun that hits you square in the face first thing in the morning.  It casts a beautiful warm hue over everything, even though it’s still a tad frosty out there until late morning.

I LOVE this time of year.   buds

I actually truly appreciate all of the seasons, but because springtime marks the end of our period of relative hibernation, I get extra excited.   Springtime means that trees are budding, my veggies are sprouting (check out my garlic scapes reaching up and into fruition) and my laundry is making its way back out to the clothesline.   Line dried sheets anyone?  (Inhale….  Exhale….)   Ah.  Nothing like ’em.

garlic sprouts (2)

sheets on the line

I also see it as another time to restart.   For me, it happens in September with the new school year, and it happens again in January when we hang our new calendars.  But April always seems the perfect time to figure out where we are this year, and where to go for the next 8 weeks or so before we kick our reduced (but not school-free) summer schedules into effect.

sunshine through the window

So here’s to putting away the snow pants, bringing out the bikes, soaking up the vitality of the sun, and appreciating the newness of the season.

Happy Springtime, Everyone!

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The Joy in our Marriage

Anyone who knows David personally knows that he’s a funny guy.  After his blue eyes and sincere smile (both of which I saw from across the room), it was one of the first things that attracted me a teenager back in 1990.  He does a pretty great job of keeping me in stitches, and that really does give us a good jump start on the ‘JOY’ parts of our marriage. 

But ‘joy’, to me, is so much more than ‘happiness.’   I see happiness as a mood, fleeting perhaps.  Joy is harder for me to articulate, but I see it as something that is deep down inside of you.  It permeates your being.  

I’m so blessed to be able to say that I experience total joy in my marriage.  When I think over what I do to experience joy, I think of these: 

I seek it with intention.

Joy is a choice.   We have the ability to be intentional about “counting it pure joy” (James 1:2).   It can be a tough road some days, but it’s still a choice. 

“Joy does not simply happen to us.   We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.” — Henri Nouwen

 

It’s a choice to smile.  The  more you smile the better you feel.  Really. 

It’s our choice to have ‘date night’ once a week.  We are intentional about that time together in order to lift up our marriage and enjoy eachother, one on one, without the distraction of children.    It’s our chance to feel truly connected.  Many a Monday, I get an email from David saying “4 more nights until date night”! 

It doesn’t cost us a thing besides the food we’re cooking and the wine we’re drinking, but it’s worth so much more than anything else we do.  

I view it as a gift.

Every good and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:17) and that certainly includes my marriage.   When I think of it as a gift, it causes me to treat it a bit more respectfully than I would if it were just something I found laying around somewhere.  

We laugh together. 

I mean serious laughter.  We play fight.  We tickle.  We crazy dance together.  We sometimes sing as loudly and badly as we can.  It’s good to get silly.   I’m telling you, it gives me a special kind of butterflies in my belly and I am drawn closer to my husband when we’re connecting on a new silliness level.

 

” Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

 –Abraham Lincoln

 

 Have fun seeking the joy in your marriage this week! 

Music Themes for Our Day

Our days are filled with music. 

When we wake up in the morning, we usually listen to Christian music, either from our own playlists or by tuning in to K-Love or something similar on iTunes radio.  The music is positive and uplifting and sets the tone for our day.  (Plus I never have to worry about what bad news or suggestive lyrics the kids might hear.)

To tackle our household tasks, we find that a bouncy mainstream playlist is the most motivating, best with some older tunes thrown in for good measure.  There’s nothing like Annie Lennox, the Gypsy Kings, Justin Beiber or the Beatles to get you moving.   Usher and the Black Eyed Peas get us all bopping around the house.  Every so often, we have a crazy-dancing interlude that makes us laugh uncontrollably and get a bit more enjoyment out of the dishes, dusting and toilet cleaning.    Music makes us feel great! 

When school starts, we usually listen to classical music.  Sometimes it’s just piano, sometimes whole orchestras.  This morning I made a quick playlist of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 1, through to No. 9.  to enjoy during our morning.  (Sidebar:  I heard Symphony No. 7 last night when I saw the movie ‘ The King’s Speech ‘ and spent most of the scene with my eyes closed because I am always just so moved by the beauty of that piece.  I woke this morning feeling particularly thirsty for it …)   

Yesterday morning as Gabe came down the stairs on his way to begin school, he said “Oh, this must be his ninth symphony, because it’s the only one he composed with a chorus !”    I looked at him, stunned.  “…because there are people singing,” he continued.  I have no idea if there is any truth to that (he tells me it’s fact and he’s probably right), but I was just stunned by his knowledge of that little tidbit.  Don’t you love the things we learn from our children?   Ask me again why it’s important to read good books. 

It seems that now might be a good time to reconvene the music lessons we dropped a few years ago.  Gabe took guitar.  Caleb took piano.  Neither of them were ready (and I’ve read repeatedly that a child starting early has no benefit over those starting later.  By the time they are both twelve, they will be at the same level.)  In any case, it might be time to start up lessons again. 

The background instrumental music we play is a wonderful addition to our homeschool morning.  It’s creating an appreciation of something beautiful, and I’m so pleased to have the flexibility to include it. 

Let me leave you with that ‘thirsty’ piece I mentioned:

JOY Reminder from a Ten Year Old

For the first time in a long time, the boys did their own devotions and prayers this morning.  I stood in the doorway and spied on them, like the good mother I am.  :o)   This is what I heard:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this day. 

I don’t know your plans for it,

but whether it’s rainy or sunny, I will be happy.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Joy.

Even though I strive for it, there are many days I don’t acheive it and some where I don’t even come close. 

There are days that feel like everything is falling down around me.  I lose my cool repeatedly and would like to just push fast forward on the day and skip right to bedtime when there is calm and quiet and a few minutes to do whatever I want to do.  

And then there are days when I hear my child utter words to his Creator, and in so doing, he reminds me very simply, what it’s all about.  I need to see the joy whether there’s sun or rain, because that’s when I’m drawn closer. 

I can’t help but think of Bring the Rain, by MercyMe.   Even though my day today is merely a light sunshower, its words are a good reminder to seek the joy in the downpours too. 

Bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free,

Bring me anything that brings you glory.

And I know there’ll be days, when this life brings me pain

But if that’s what it takes to praise You, Jesus bring the rain.

 

May you seek joy in your day too. 

TGIM: Thank God it’s Monday

Monday has always been one of those days.  The weekend is over, in many cases the work week (either in or out of the home) is starting.  again.  Party’s over.  Right?

Wrong.

At least, I’m working on that being “wrong” for me.

I adore the weekends because it kicks off with date night on Friday.  Saturdays are wonderful because my husband is home with the family.  There is more time to entertain, to tackle projects together, to play.  There’s more time to laugh.  There’s time for all of us to be together.  The icing on the cake is a morning of Sunday School and a Worship Service at a church that we so adore.

Yep.  Weekends are great.  All things considered, Monday should seem like a bit of a let down.

But I’m on this personal quest to seek the joy in all things.  I’m working on being intentional in how I deal with everything that comes my way.  Because of that, I thought it might be beneficial for me to consider the reasons to be thankful, even for Monday.  So here goes:

1.  I am thankful my husband has a job to go to on Monday mornings, as it means that he can provide for his family.

2.  I am thankful for the grumbling of the children when it’s time to get moving; it means I have been gifted with children. 

3.  I am thankful for the weekly menu I must think about, as it makes me aware that my family is nourished with good, healthy meals.

4.  I am thankful for a new week of devotions with the children, as I witness their inquisitive nature and see their desire to dive deeper.

5.  I am thankful for the freshness of a new school week and the wonder of what adventures we will take together as a homeschooling family. 

6.  I am also extremely thankful that at the end of it all, another glorious weekend awaits.

Happy Monday to you all!