July at Our Home

Me & Vonni Renee

Last week was an intense week of preparation for a local outreach over the weekend (Compassion Vancouver) that we were helping coordinate, so I am finally getting around to posting our monthly update. July was a month of seeing the hand of the Lord open up some neat doors for us.

After releasing my desires to the Lord and surrendering my will (as described in my June update) , God started working so beautifully. He opened the door to receive the three doula clients that I needed to achieve my certification, nicely spread out throughout the remainder of the year. I helped welcome the arrival of Vonni Renee on July 25th, through a beautiful natural hospital delivery. God orchestrated all the details for the perfect timing. I was able to serve and support this sweet couple welcome their first baby and they were thrilled as much as I was.

Secondly, Aaron and I have begun leading worship together at our church on a regular basis, which has always been a dream in my heart. The Lord has given my husband a real gift in this area, and I always wanted to partner with him through my piano skills in serving the body in this way. With the wonderful support of our church body, and the recent purchase of a keyboard by the church, we are now able to work together in this way. It has been such an encouragement to see the support and love of the body. It is a wonderful outlet for us both to continue to develop our musical skills and serve the body at the same time. I cannot wait to welcome our little ones to the team in the future! ;)

Our house continues to be on the market for sale, but we are completely at peace with that. We are considering the options of renting it out, but continue to wait for further direction for the right renters if that is the way God would have us pursue.

In the meantime, we are continuing to reach out in our community, preparing to start preschool with our daughter Karis, and also preparing to speak at the Selah conference. The Lord is good!

What did I read this month?

Gardening Eden: How Creation Care will Change Your Faith, Your Life, and Our World by Michael Abbate – my favorite read thus far on our responsibility as Christians to care for God’s creation. It was very challenging and biblically sound. I appreciated his well rounded approach of not living out of fear, but choosing to enjoy God creation and strive to care for it in a balanced God honoring manner.

Graffiti: Learning to See the Art in Ourselves by Erin Davis was an encouraging read on the importance on understanding your position and image in Christ, especially for those who struggle with image, appearance, or talents. Erin provides a motivating challenge to see your beauty in Christ and how to live that out practically in our day and age.

Aromatherapy for Mother and Baby: Natural Healing with Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Early Motherhood by Allison England – As I have began to explore the world of serving pregnant and mothers in labor in natural ways, I picked up this book at my local library and found it truly fascinating. There is a whole world of natural essential oils that are wonderful for preparing for labor, for the actual delivery process, and for postpartum healing. A great resource!

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Simplify Conference – September 25

I am excited to announce that I have been invited to speak at the Selah conference, which is an annual seminar for women held at George Fox University in Newberg, OR. It is coming up on Saturday, September 25th, from 9-5pm. This year the topic is: Simplify – Discover the biblical truth that less is more. This conference is focused on the important task of de-cluttering our heart and lives in order that we much embrace the best that God has in store for us. We will learn together the importance of prioritizing our values and how to spend our time and resources intentionally.

I will be leading a break out session on the topic of Missional Homemaking. The thesis of my talk will be: Come be challenged to live an intentional life of simple living in order that we might give generously to others through hospitality, relationships, and ministry.

I am absolutely thrilled for the opportunity. My prayer is that God might use the vision He has imparted to me to help inspire other women towards more purposeful planning in making their homes a place of ministry. If you live in the area, please join us! I would love to meet you and be blessed by your support. Otherwise, please pray that the Lord give me the words to speak!

Learn more here!

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The Essential Back To School Preparation

despair

With the new school year fast approaching, it is essential that we, as mothers, make sure we don’t get overwhelmed by the responsibilities and tasks that accompany the months of August and September. We must simplify our lives to make sure we have room for all the things that await us:

Back to school shopping, organizing school papers, calendaring school events, scheduling sports events, shuttling to extracurricular activities, deciding whether to be a coach or room mom or carpool driver or co-op coordinator, planning for the far to quickly approaching holidays.

The list is endless and paralyzing.

Feeling overwhelmed is a call to simplify

When we feel overwhelmed, we need to simplify. Often we only simplify by trying to tackle our list of to-do’s. But we just as regularly need to evaluate and simplify our lives. So let’s break the process of simplification down into 3 steps: why we avoid it, why we need it, and how to do it.

Why We Avoid Simplifying

1. We are afraid of making seemingly big decisions.
2. We are afraid of making the wrong decisions.
3. We are afraid of looking like we can’t handle it. (Even though it’s true.)
4. We are afraid to let go of our junk. It may be ours, but it’s still junk.
5. We don’t want to let anyone down.

Why We Need To Simplify

1. We need room to breathe.
2. We need space to grow.
3. We need time to listen. To others. To God. To ourselves.
4. We need peace.
5. We need to cultivate our ability to make wise decisions and model it for our children

How To Simplify

1. Pray – God’s really good at showing us what we need and what we don’t.
2. Write A Mission Statement – A measure of what is important to us. When we can’t think or decide our mission statement can decide for us. If it doesn’t fit – get rid of it. (It’s also a good idea to create a mission statement for your family to help everyone have proper direction.)
3. Seek Counsel – develop a trusted circle of people who know you and will help you identify the important from the unimportant.
4. Default To No – when new opportunities are presented, default to no. Few of us have too much time on our hands.
5. Just Do It – The fear of making a poor decision should not require us to carry hundreds of heavy, unmade, procrastinated decisions.

Action Time
Take a few minutes, right now, to list, evaluate, and prioritize your responsibilities for the coming year.

Join The Discussion
How are you preparing for the upcoming school year? What is one tip that helps you manage the chaos?

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Why Do We Want to Homeschool?

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As we begin planning and preparing for the education of our children, my husband and I have been prayerfully considering and discussing why we would like to homeschool them. I was personally homeschooled through high school, while Aaron was homeschooled through junior high, and we both loved the experience. But I know that in order to persevere and be successful in it, we must have a mission and vision to keep us on track. My personal homeschooling experience was far from perfect, in fact there were many areas that were lacking, but overall, it was so influential in my life because Christ was the center of my education and we loved learning together. Please note my desire in sharing our motivation is in no way to condemn any of you who have chosen a different path for education. I know that God may have a different route for your family. I simply find it helpful to establish our foundation from the beginning in this manner. May it help encourage and inspire you in your pursuit of educating your children.

These are the five primary reasons we have decided to pursue this form of education:

1. In order to keep Christ the center in our home

We want the cornerstone of our children’s education to be centered around a Biblical worldview. We see great value in learning how to discuss the many worldviews of our culture all through the lens of the Word of God. We desire for the foundation of everything we learn – from geography to history – to be centered around God’s beautiful redemptive plan. Homeschooling gives us the freedom to design our curriculum around the core message of the gospel.

2. We want to be the primary influence in the lives of our children

Our primary responsibility is to train and disciple our children to love and serve the Lord all the days of their lives. I believe being their primary teacher is the best means for me to impart a love for Christ to our children and a love to serve and bless others with their lives. We are passionate about teaching our children as we sit down, as we rise up, and as we walk along the way (Deut. 6:7), and we believe homeschooling is an excellent fit in fulfilling this calling.

3. For the cultivation of strong family relationships

The beauty of homeschooling is learning together, of always being together and learning to love and work together in peaceful manners. It birthed over time beautiful friendships among my own siblings. I love spending time with my little ones just learning about the world together. It’s delightful and I cannot imagine exchanging it for anything. I want to walk hand in hand as we explore God’s creation, as we marvel at the plan of history throughout the ages, and as we glimpse the complexity of His design. I want to talk about it every step of the way.

4. To encourage a love for learning in our home

Another benefit we appreciate about homeschooling is the ability to design and organize our own curriculum focused on what each child desires to learn, and meet their own particular needs and learning styles, rather than forcing them to read a certain textbook or agenda. We call it delight-directed learning. Does your child love World War II? Why not package geography, history, and writing into one as you borrow books from the library on that topic? Our children will retain that which they enjoy. We want our children to love to learn, read, and study God’s world, and homeschooling is a great means of accomplishing that in numerous creative options. We can learn and explore the world around us together through everyday activities.

5. For the freedom it provides to focus on the Kingdom work

Lastly, we love the freedom that homeschooling provides to allow us to get up and go as needed. If we need to set aside the day to serve another family, take a day outing or field trip, or simply take a break, it does not jeopardize anything. We want our children to know first and foremost that walking in light of the Great Commission is our first priority as a family.

That being said, my goals are not that we would have the most smart or well-educated children on the earth, but rather that our children would first love the Lord, desire to serve Him, love to learn, respect and steward God’s creation, and learn to articulate their faith from a Biblical worldview. We will utilize homeschool co-ops in the future to glean further learning from other knowledgeable people, in addition to speech and debate groups so that we can think logically in understanding and relating to our culture. We will learn music skills so that we can lead others in worshiping our Creator.

Our goal is not to be overly protective of our children in anyway. We want to equip them effectively to be sent out to share the love of Christ with others. That is what this life is about. Education matters little if my children do not love the Lord.

Further Reading

The Benefits (and Disadvantages) of Homeschooling

What method of education have you chosen and why?

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My Simple & Natural Housecleaning Routine

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As I have pursued the art of learning how to maintain my home simply and naturally, my methods have changed and adapted to the seasons of life. I started out with the all frugal natural method of vinegar for most housecleaning, but found I didn’t care for the way the homemade concoctions always seemed to clog my spray bottles or go bad. Then I adapted to using more of the commercial natural products, but didn’t care for the expense and complexity of such a variety of products for your every need. Does it really have to be that complicated?

I have finally concluded that all of these homemade recipes and commercial products are truly not necessary. You don’t need 10 different products to clean your home. You really only need water and a little soap on occasion. I personally have found my  favorite tool is the Norwex Microfiber Enviro Cloth (this link provides my full review). With one of the Norwex Enviro cloth and one Norwex Window cloth (buy in a set here), I am practically set. These cleaning clothes are quality and do the job well. They kill any bacteria through the silver particles in the design. I accomplish all my housecleaning with these two simple tools.

When it comes down to it, it is really not worth it to stress over germs. Consider that the chemicals are likely more harmful than the germs. Keeping a simple maintenance method is key. It makes natural homemaking possible and stress free. It makes it easy to keep my home maintained and prepared to be a welcoming place of comfort and rest to my family and the community that God has desired for us to reach out to.

Here’s our current natural housecleaning routine:

MondaysLaundry (I wash all the laundry over the weekend and fold on Monday and put it away so we are covered for the week)
Tuesdays - Toilets – I take my damp Enviro cloth and wipe down the sink, mirror, toilet, and tub. I use the dry Norwex window cloth to polish and dry the mirror and counters, and it does a beautiful streak free job! I then use my toilet brush to scrub out the inside of the toilet with a little oxygen bleach or castile soap and occasionally a stainless steel scrubby for any tough dried scum. Wipe bathrooms floors as needed with enviro cloth.
Wednesdays – Dust & Vacuum (upstairs every other week, downstairs every week) – I use the Enviro cloth to dust as well, and simply rinse out with a little soap and hang to dry between uses.
Thursday - Kitchen – wipe down kitchen counters, floor and appliances with damp enviro cloth. Polish appliances with dry window cloth.
Friday – reserved for any larger monthly or quarterly chores – such as cleaning out cupboards, spot cleaning carpets, decluttering a closet, etc.

Does it stay the same every week? Hardly. In fact, many weeks I only clean the bathrooms and vacuum the floor. But that’s okay. It a guideline and its simple. I don’t stress over perfection, because with two littles ones, I don’t have time for that. We have time to cultivate beauty and simplicity. We have time to keep things picked up and light cleaning maintained. Beyond that is another season.

My encouragement to you…don’t stress over the perfect maintenance schedule or what cleaner to use for every little job. Keep it easy. Soap and water will honestly accomplish most any task. Put some Dr Bronners organic castile soap or your favorite natural soap diluted in a spray bottle with a basic rag and get to work. And if you use the Enviro cloths, no spray bottles, only water is needed! How frugal is that? No chemicals…just pure simplicity.

Have you learned any tips for simplifying your routines?

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Natural Thrush Remedies for Breastfeeding

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Thrush (yeast) is a common issue for breastfeeding mamas and new babies.

You may notice symptoms such as white spots in baby’s mouth, and painful nursing.

When my little boy began presenting early thrush symptoms when he was a couple months old, my doctor guided me to some natural and inexpensive remedies instead of automatically prescribing an expensive chemical-based remedy.

With some simple steps, the thrush was gone!

  • Most importantly, take your probiotics!
    You can purchase acidophilus/probiotic supplements and/or eat live-cultured unsweetened yogurt daily. The probiotic benefits will pass from the nursing mama to baby, but if your little one is old enough to eat solids, give baby some yogurt too. There are some probiotic solutions available for little ones, too, if your doctor recommends it.
  • Reduce/eliminate sugar.
    If thrush is especially lingering, you may even want to limit fruit and dairy products, as they contain natural sugars. Make sure you are getting plenty of B vitamins, too.

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  • Use a 1% solution of Genetian Violet.
    (Apply to mama & baby before & after feeding). Beware of the purple-staining factor, though; keep bibs handy! If you can only find 2% solution, dilute it by half with sterile water. I have seen this in natural food stores and in the cosmetic sections of “hispanic food aisles” in grocery stores.
  • Wash the nipple-shield (and Mama), if using.
    Use a diluted solution of 5 oz water + 5 drops of grapefruit seed extract after every feeding, and rinse well. If using a nipple-shield (with a lactation consultant’s direction), this can be a barrier to your body’s natural “self-cleaning” antimicrobial process during breastfeeding. (I purchase the grapefruit seed extract from Mountain Rose Herbs.)
  • Wash bedding, towels, nursing bras, blankets, washcloths, etc!
    Thrush is very easily spread. Even if you feel it’s a bit “obsessive,” wash all items after one use, and change to a fresh one. My no-sew cloth bed pads are can be tucked into the bed, and changed each morning (instead of changing the whole bed everyday!).
  • Get some sunshine!
    Dry your clothing/linens in the sun, which has an antimicrobial effect. If your bedroom window is secluded, mama can nap privately to allow for air flow and sun on her bare chest, which will help clear the yeast.

As an additional resource, Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding offers some additional tips for addressing thrush and healthy breastfeeding.

Do YOU have any helpful tips to share?

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Karis’ Preschool Plan

We are so excited to begin some more focused preschool activities with Karis this year. She loves her school time! My goals this year for my little preschooler is to read a lot of good solid literature together, memorize one Bible verse each week, learn our letters, and cultivate a love for learning and serving.

Literature

We have decided to use Sonlight for our curriculum base because I simply love the focus on a literature based education. Sonlight provided us with such a wonderful set of literature as we purchased the P 3/4 curriculum (many of the books in this set are available used through Amazon, which provided a significant savings).

This curriculum core is simply a collection of fabulous classic children’s literature that has stood the test of time. I love the literature based method of education because it focuses on just stirring up a love for reading and books, and what better way to learn about history, geography, writing, and so much more rather than just a textbook. The P 3/4 curriculum does not include any lesson plans or workbooks unlike the other Sonlight curriculum sets, but is basically just encouraging a lot of reading together, which is simple and fun, providing us with a solid base for her education. We spend 30 minutes every morning just reading these books together, over and over, and talking about the stories and concepts. The literature selection is awesome! Even if you don’t use the curriculum guide, you are getting a wealth of good stories. Both my children (2 & 4 years) absolutely love these books!

UPDATE: As of January 2011, we graduated up to the P4/5 curriculum and love it too! It is a great literature supplement to the letters curriculum that I share about below. The book titles help graduate my daughter up to reading longer stories with fewer pictures. We love the Developing the Early Learner workbooks that accompany this set, providing a lot of practice with pre-reading skills. My daughter loves any workbook practice, so they are a great addition to our collection.

Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve

The second part of our preschool plan is utilizing Laura at Heavenly Homemaker’s newly launched preschool curriculum, Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve. This 240+ kit includes thorough lesson plans, games, crafts, recipes, memory verses for each letter of the alphabet, Bible story suggestions, vocabulary stimulation and discussion, play, books to read and so much more…all while encouraging service to God!

I absolutely love Laura’s unique focus on teaching letters while creatively serving other people. As you learn each letter, you identify one person whose name begins with that letter, and you think of a creative gift to give them that also begins with that letter. Each letter you study includes suggestions for service, such as “Take a new Bible to B__________” on Bb week, “Make soup for someone who is sick on Ss week, and “Deliver flowers to F_______________” on Ff week.  Your child will make gifts or food, offer help and learn to think of others.  As a family you can delight in praying together about who you would like to serve and what form of service you would like to offer!

The lessons are not complicated but very simple and manageable, especially if you have multiple lessons, and a great option to supplement with any other activities you may have planned. I am eager to start working this in to our schedule as well and encouraging my little ones to delight in serving others in creative means! I also love how this course could be used easily for multiple age groups and is not limited to preschoolers alone. Check out a free sample lesson here!

As we learn our letters, we are utilizing The Letter Factory DVD, and Cuisenare Rods Alphabet Book with Cuisenare Rods for extra reinforcement and problem solving.

Character Building & Scripture Memory

Along with these resources, we are using Teach Them to Your Children: An Alphabet of Biblical Poems, Verses, and Stories by Sarah Wean, and My ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt for further Scripture memory inspiration around the alphabet along with quality character building stories. Our goal is to memorize one verse a week and study each letter for two weeks, thus memorizing two verses for each letter of the alphabet. Thus far, Karis has actually memorized four verses for letter A. We write it out on a dry-erase board and store in a visible place in our living room/dining room. We strive to read the verse several times a day, but mainly at means times. And of course she loves listening to Songs for Saplings: ABC CD, and God’s Word from A-Z by Abe & Liza Philips for verses set to music. These little preschoolers can really store up the Scriptures! I have been pleasantly surprised by the way she so sweetly articulates each verse we learn.

That’s our preschool plan this year along with lots of trips to the library and exploring nature together!

Because I love both Sonlight and Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve, I have become an affiliate for both resources. Every purchase made through my links helps support our orphan home! Thanks!
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Karis Reads “Go, Dog Go!”

Here’s a sweet video clip of Karis reading Go, Dog Go! by Dr. Seuss. She only heard it 5-6 times before she had the whole story down and could read it aloud to herself. I thought it was so cute and had to post it for your enjoyment! This book is one of her favorites and through it she has learned important concepts such as counting, colors, shapes, under and over, going around, cold and hot, etc. all centered around these funny dogs. Love it and highly recommend adding it to your library!

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Top 10 Recycling Habits from a New Perspective

I came across these 10 recycling habits written by my friend, Ryan, and I wanted to share it with you all. He granted me permission to share it with you all. Some of the ideas may not be new, but may this challenge refresh and encourage you to keep up the work! Thanks Ryan!

You should be all about recycling. If you’re a Christian you should be especially passionate about recycling.

Consider the fact that in recycling you are taking something that is spent, used up, and old, and giving it new life, purpose, and usefulness.

As Randy Alcorn shares: “Psalms 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” This is not our place to trash. It’s God’s place to treasure. To care for the world is to care for its people. To care for its people is to fulfill the second commandment, to love our neighbors as ourselves. As we see it mandated in Genesis 1:28, God entrusts us with the earth as He entrusts us with our bodies, and He intends for us to take care of both.”

As a follower of Jesus, listed below are some of the ways both big and small that I think the invitation to recycle is available. It is obviously in no way an exhaustive list, and neither is it listed in any particular order. So without further adieu here are my top ten recycling habits:

1. Food

If you don’t have chickens to give your old scraps to (and thus produce eggs and great fertilizer), then get a compost pile so that your old food will turn into rich soil. Also, using old veggies (flimsy celery and carrots, onion skins, etc) and animal bones to make stock is a great way to recycle stuff that you will not eat.

2. Water

There are some pretty amazing ways you can recycle water. You can collect the water from the bathroom sink in a bucket and use that bucket to flush the toilet. Other creative ideas include collecting water from dishwashers and washing machines drained out to use for gardening, etc. Personally, I don’t do that stuff, but I do collect our rain water and use it to water the garden! I do use my kids kiddie pool water to water my plants (instead of dumping it every few days). Next time you’re about to dump out the remains of your glass of water, dump it in your houseplant instead.

3. Bags

You can buy cloth bags for grocery shopping. We do. But we also forget to use them as often as we remember. So if you have to do the unthinkable (haha) and use plastic shopping bags, they work great as your new garbage can liners. We have nor purchased garbage bags in years because we just use these from our local supermarket. Sure you have to empty the garbage a bit more often, but it’ll shave a few bucks off your grocery bill and it will put those bags back to use. These bags can also be recycled at most grocery stores.

4. Money

Buy locally. If you buy locally from local businesses and local owners and local shops and local food and…then your money stays in the community you love. The money you use to buy your kids a birthday present will go to a local family who owns the local toy shop that employs local individuals who buy things from their local supermarket who…etc. When you spend and shop locally, your money is recycled within your community to grow and develop the community you love.

5. Clothes

Buy from used clothing stores. Give your old clothes to others. Old clothes can also be quite useful for household projects! I grew up with a giant canvas tent for camping. The tent bag for our giant tent was a pair of my dads old jeans. The pockets were where the stakes were kept, the tent slid into the legs (that had been sewed together into one large space), and a drawstring was put through the belt loops. My wife has made purses out of old t-shirts, hats out of old sweaters, skirts out of old shirts, etc. Put those old clothes to work.

6. Travel

Ok, this is a bit of a stretch, but if we change our behaviors so that our travel accomplishes more than getting us from A to B then we are creating more out of something than previously existed. If you ride your bike, not only are you cutting down on emissions and traffic, but you’re also exercising at the same time. If you take the bus, you’re also being able to read or work on homework. If you carpool, your also creating community and relationship.

7. Death

Even in your death you can allow life to emerge by being an organ donor. Don’t hold out, you won’t need your heart anymore, so give it away.

8. Yard

We American’s love our grass. Our yards can be so much more than pretty grass, instead we can make them work for us by building garden plots, by growing strawberries and lettuces where grass might have been before. Get some chickens, grow some blueberries or grapes, allow your yard to do something for you, to be useful, and to bring more to your life.

9. Books

I love books. I hate borrowing them, I love owning them. But as I work to get over my ownership mentality I’m seeing that not only is borrowing books from the library a great recycling practice, but loaning your books out to others and borrowing others books is a great way to let books have a greater life than the shelf. How cool would it be if we began to loan our books out and asked people to mark them up, highlight them, and jot down notes in the margins so that when you got the book back it would carry with it some of the life of the previous reader! Check out your library’s inter-library loan program to find practically any book you may desire. If you must buy a book, buy it used through Amazon, Powell’s Books, and many more sources.

10. Paper

This one should be redundant in our culture, but don’t use paper. Read your newspaper or magazine online. Use email instead of snail mail. Cut down on your junk mail by opting out. Opt out from getting those obsolete phone books as well. Setup your bills so that you don’t receive hard copies but only electronic copies. Dare I say buy a Kindle? Ok, I’m not ready to go there yet, but it’s probably inevitable!

I’m certain there are many other creative ways to recycle. Spend a few hours on Etsy.com and let your brain cram all the amazing and creative ways to recycle old materials. Shop at recycled stores, shop less, etc. There are so many ways we can embrace the beautiful opportunity to be a part of giving old, spent, and used up things new life and purpose. I mean, isn’t this what God does with humanity? Why should we do anything different?

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The Ability To Bend Without Breaking

This post is brought to you by Passionate Homemaking’s Monthly Contributor, Vina Barham.

When I was working as a recruiter for an international mission agency, one of things we emphasize in our training is the ability to go with the flow. To accept the unfamiliar for what it is, to let go of things beyond our control and to accept, no, to embrace the sometimes messy and often chaotic situations that one will inevitably find herself in.

Some call it tolerance. I call it, flexibility: the awesome ability to bend back and forth without breaking.

Accepting the Unfamiliar
When we come across something unfamiliar, or something that goes against our own way of doing things, how do we react? Often, we insist that the unfamiliar must change and conform to something more familiar or acceptable on our own terms. Take for example our children, who often speak a different language and have a different timetable from us. They want to play more and we want them to hurry up because we have adult things to do. Crying ensues, someone loses their patience and all kinds of simple desires collide. The ability to bend without breaking is the ability to truly accept the Unfamiliar Other without disrespecting ourselves. We accept that it is most natural for children to want to play longer, allow them the most time we can generously offer, slow down and be awake to the moment that is Now.

Letting Go
The ability to bend without breaking is to let go of our need for control. To abandon the Pursuit of the Perfect. We tend to hold on tightly sometimes to our Ideals and we become Purists in that we easily get frustrated and depressed when things don’t turn out the way we expect them to. A good example is our expectations with our spouse. We want them to be a certain way, to say certain things and to treat us in certain manners. This is an exercise in futility. We can only control ourselves: our thoughts, our words and our actions. We can never control our spouse and as long as we try to do so, no matter how gentle and sweet we package it, we become unnecessarily burdened by all the stuff we try to carry on our shoulders that is not for our taking.

Embracing the Mess
Finally, the ability to bend without breaking is the ability to embrace the mess of this Life. Of Your Life. There is no need to constantly berate yourself for the blips and blunders because it’s simple part of being human. Nobody is shocked that you are not Perfectly Put Together. And yet we are, and we put so much effort in appearing to be otherwise. And we teach our kids the same thing. We have to learn to loosen up, let our hair down sometimes and learn how to get Dirty without Dying. To be dis-illusioned by our ability to be Messy people and yet still be hopeful for the Beautiful to emerge is a Rare and Lovely Thing that our world needs more of.

The ability to bend to the Mud of Life without completely losing sight of our Glory is perhaps one of the best gifts we can give to our children. Some call it Grace. The Way of The Middle. How are you practicing your ability to bend without breaking?

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