Friday, August 18, 2017

Monday Night Thoughts on Parenting


"Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction."

~Anne Sullivan



This morning I came across these words by Anne Sullivan, the amazing teacher that reached into the mind and heart of Helen Keller, and I've been thinking about them throughout the day.

Clearly, instruction is critical to the proper training of any child. If only more parents truly disciplined their own passions and eliminated their own laziness in order to do the work of proper instruction, we would be in a much better place as a society. Instruction of all kinds is necessary.

However, it's a beautiful thing when a parent is skilled in the art of guidance and sympathy.

Instruction is more about doing what needs to be done, whereas guidance and sympathy is about relationship. Guidance implies a coming alongside another, walking the same path, and gently leading. Sympathy is about experiencing life together - the joys and the troubles - without condemnation, but with humility and understanding.

I long to be a mother who is a sympathetic guide... a friend, a confidante, a safe place, a wise counselor. I work daily to this end, thinking and seeking to become more skillful, and aiming to earn that place of privilege. I look around for examples to follow and mentors to learn from, but I have found it to be a difficult search. And sadly, the examples of children and teens seeking to be friends with their parents are fewer still.

This is my hope and my ultimate example: The Lord Jesus Christ. He can sympathize to the utmost, and he leads by example and by the presence of his Holy Spirit. So I look to him to instruct me, and I find a faithful friend who walks with me, guiding me, and sympathizing in my humanness.

Ultimately, my goal is not to be a mom other people admire for my skill. It is not to produce well-behaved kids or accomplished adults. It is not even to be desired and respected by my own children, not for them to "rise up and call me blessed." My ultimate goal is to point each one of my children to Christ, who will be their ultimate instructor, guide, and source of compassion and sympathy in this life.


"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

Hebrew 14:15-16


Parent and child- we are more similar than not. Our need is the same.


~Katherine


Sunday, August 13, 2017

SF + 40


"Summer is a promissory note signed in June, its long days spent and gone before you know it, and due to be repaid next January." 
-Hal Borland

I have determined to enjoy summer and to savor all its goodness deep down to the core. Like diving deep into refreshing water, I'm swimming long and intently sensing the balm to my body and being. August brings an urgency to savor the loveliness of summer as it begins to conclude.

I've purposed MORE:

more listening-- noting laughter, quiet mornings, wind, waves, words especially
more looking-- in the eyes, at what is important to others, at summer light, summer hair, summer skin
more swimming-- just to get in there often with my kids, even if it messes my hair!
more savoring-- no other summer will be like the last as each year brings much change
more reading and meditating-- freedom in Christ being the goal
more gratefulness-- for this day, this season of time, this life, these people
more yes-- to what matters 

And LESS:

less concern-- for schedules, for housework, for makeup and coiffed hair
less expectation-- letting go of perfection and what I could otherwise be doing
less condemnation-- intentionally accepting differences, maturity, human struggle and imperfection
less hurry-- For crying out loud, we've needed a break!

As it always happens, summer goes by far too quickly. I'm happy with the productive/unproductive ratio, as both sides have had their beneficial affects.

Ah, summer! It is my absolute favorite, but it would benefit no one to last forever. So I will accept the coming of another season with its demands and expectations for the growth and development it will bring.


>>:<<


These pictures have been sitting here in a saved post for several weeks now. My computer time has been spent mostly with repairing some issues I've experienced with my blog (an infuriating amount of time, actually), but my mind and heart have composed words and felt sentiments for my husband all summer long. These things have been tucked away in my heart, or repeated to the Lord in thanksgiving, because both my heart and my God don't need eloquent words to communicate precise meaning. I am gravely inept with words, especially spoken words. I would love to be a woman who speaks affection, appreciation, and affirmation with ease. Isn't it silly that there is difficulty in clearly saying what we long to say? I will continue to fight against inhibition. Despite my impediment, my heart is big for Jon, and the things I feel towards him are difficult to express in letters and words across a white screen.

If it was written that the soul of David and Jonathan were knit together, I can venture to say without mushy sentimentality that I feel inseparable to Jon in the same way. I'm not sure what that really means - for two souls to be knit together - but the invisible connection or interwoven oneness of two separate beings is an apt description when I think of my husband, my own Jonathan.

And it's sort of laughable, too! Truly, we could hardly be any more different. The saying "opposites attract" couldn't ring truer! But life is full of surprises, and after 19 years of marriage we are seeing ways in which we have become more similar. We have also seen that our differences have served to enhance us as a team, or else to conform us to Christ-likeness. So that's a win/win, if we choose to look at it this way.


We had the opportunity to fly to San Francisco for a few days last month in celebration of Jon's 40th. Jon is a city-loving man, and exploring SF was such a delight for our family. Take me to a city with character and beauty, and I will love it, too. (So far my favorite US cities have been NYC, Boston, and SF. Although full of character, LA couldn't woo me... and I honestly tried.)

The views of aqua water over light-colored structures and homes was spectacular. The hills... hills call me anywhere. I pictured myself running the stairs and side streets everyday if I lived there, breathing in the cool air.



As we always do when exploring a city, we did a ton of walking. Sometimes we'd park the car just to climb stairs that ran the length of several blocks. Each street and every view captivated us, and the gardens always called our attention.


Lombard Street, below.
We drove it twice and walked it up and down. We exchanged picture taking with another family, and yes, apparently my hand was beginning to undress my husband. I am hopelessly awkward.



We nearly always explore China Town wherever we go. The kids found a fun treat to try, and I enjoyed looking at all the green veggies.


Clothes hanging to dry is something I am familiar with. I grew up hanging our clothes, except ours was a line that ran from the corner of the house, passed a large maple tree, and over the edge of the field. I'm guessing that our clothes smelled better than these, but I can appreciate using what's available to meet a need.




The wharf was a favorite place. Here, Andrew and Olivia danced to the music while we searched out a yummy place for lunch.


Pier 39 was Andrew and Jacob's favorite, closely followed by restaurants where bowls of clam chowder were served in real SF sourdough bread.


Andrew loved the unicycle show. This unicycling boy of mine has come to realize that he can earn money with the assistance of his single-wheeled ride, just in a different way than the man we watched. For Andrew, his unicycle has endeared him to new "clients" in our neighborhood, and then his reputation for dependable work has led to more opportunities.


Watching the show...



The Painted Ladies
It was a good thing we didn't pack a lunch for this grassy knoll, as I'm sure we would have irritated all the other people trying to take pictures.


We knew SF was going to be cool, but we weren't expecting it to be frigid in July. Here, at the end of the day, we were frozen stiff. My Canadian blood has run thin. (At least my hand was behaving as we exchanged pictures again.)




Our second full day began with walking Golden Gate back and forth. The fog was really spectacular and the cold was extra bitter, but there was no way we could leave the city without walking its famous bridge.








Silenced


Art deco


Power


Solitude


Middle




Lesson for life: Search for beauty when your world is dark and heavy. Hold on to hope.




Lesson for life: The fog will lift. Always hope.





16th Avenue Tiled Steps. 
SF is the dreamiest Stair Master city.



Quiet places for people to sort out the things of the heart, or to sit in silence. In my opinion, these spaces are critical to consider if you're into city planning. Also, in my opinion, these spaces are underused because people haven't learned the value of out-of-doors quiet places, or of sorting out the heart.



So Jon hit the 40-year mark in July. It was a soft enough hit, but a hit nonetheless. Does anyone anywhere like to age, even in cultures where youth is not glorified? My turn will come next year, and I'm not sure it will be a soft hit. I'm hoping I won't take it like a punch in the gut.

Why is 40 such a defining mark? Why is it that goals are set to be reached by the this age? Who said 40 ought to be such a big deal?

I don't know.

One thing I do know, however, is that I'm thankful for Jon's 40 years, thankful that he's chosen to live [most of] those years with me, thankful for the man he has become. He is an extraordinary person, with talents and gifts that most don't understand because he has chosen to use his life to serve others rather than himself.

He is a precious man who has followed his Savior in his love for the church. This has been demonstrated by setting asides personal goals and aspirations for the good of the church every single day. Few realize the extent of this, but I know the Lord sees and I pray that He would bless and encourage.

Jon has also followed Christ in his sacrificial love for me, always striving to live with me in an understanding way. He has sought to know me well in order to love me well. I regularly hear him say, "I just want you to be happy." He lives out this desire for me even in ways I don't always see or know. I have not deserved or demanded this, but it has been the grace of God in my life to have such a man as this.

God's beautiful design for marriage is evident in this: That Jon's love for me only fuels my desire to love and serve him back. With the help of God, we are enabled to do this.

~Katherine


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Summer Snapshots

"Mom! He made a loin cloth out of my shirt!"

These are the words coming at me through the screen right now. It's not supposed to happen but it does. Boys end up naked in the pool and someone's trunks end up on top of the umbrella or even the roof, leaving a naked guy or two looking for something to use as a loin cloth. Or not sometimes, and they go streaking.

We are in the prime of summer and I want it to stay forever.

Moments ago as these images were loading and Jack was in the kitchen eating chips and salsa verde with me, while streams of pool water still dribbled down the curves of his tan body, he sighed and said, "I'm so glad I'm brothers with Michael and Andrew."

Now they are arguing about something at the tree house.



I've been at the beach with these two quite a bit this summer. (These pictures are from a few weeks ago already.)

Even yesterday, while Andrew lay on the beach recovering from a flu, Jack and I swam and body boarded together. I got a wetsuit for my birthday-- what a fantastic gift for me! I get to keep from freezing while I play with my kids.


When (another) Airobe is lost at sea, mud balls.



Pretend smoking is so funny to him.




Seems like the flu has hit several local families. Andrew is the only one so far that has became sick, but it was extreme. Extremely messy, too. Jon and I were up late into the night, me with my gloved hands gathering the giant mess, while he handed out paper towel and held open the bags. I joked the next day that we needed to buy a new toilet. In fact, I joked that we needed to replace the whole bathroom.

So we are. It's been needing to be done. We had already pulled up the linoleum a couple years ago, leaving the subfloor bare. Well, I haven't been able to remove the smell of vomit from the subfloor, despite plenty of bleach. So without thinking too much about the timing of the project, it has begun today with demo. The vanity and mirror, medicine cabinet, toilet, and a dividing wall are heading out.

>:<

We've had some amazing family time and I have much I'd like to add here. It will have to wait, however, because I want to go swimming before I pick up Olivia from work. Jon and I have a date night planned, too, and the house needs some serious cleaning up before we head out the door. I think my swim will be a short one...


~Katherine