Seen and Known

Two weeks ago our friends, the Metcalfes from Seattle, joined us in the freezing mid-west for a fun extended weekend together. We haven’t seen each other for almost one year! It was so good to be with them – because we have 10 years of history together. They have done life with us through some of the hardest seasons of our lives and they know how new things affect us as a result of that knowledge.

The best part though is that not only do we have history together, we have futures together too. We dream together of what could be, what we long to see unfold, what stirs our hearts and souls and what makes us mourn. We laugh together. We tease each other. Conversations flow easily and sometimes silence and presence are enough to fill the moment. It is so lovely to be in their presence and to enjoy one another! Speaking the past and dreaming the future fuels our friendship and warms up embers that maybe are less full of life because of distance and the lack of being able to live in the same zip code.

Here are some pictures of our fun times together.

After our visit, my heart was stirred up in regards to how passionate I feel about friendship and community. To me, community means that you are seen, known and loved and that you willingly place yourself there. It is an environment where people “get” you, but also a place where you are willing to hear what those people who get you have to say to you – the good and the less than good and the bad.

This means that they might say something to you that’s not so great to hear. There might be an observation made that is uncomfortable. But when you are in this kind of community there is an understanding (that has come through trials of fire sometimes!) that you will wrestle with what is brought out.

That’s hard stuff. There are not many people I want to have that kind of relationship with and there are even fewer I trust to do that with me!

This isn’t the kind of community you have with everyone. But it must be present with someone. Community like this helps us to keep our hearts soft I think. It sees through the tough exterior that hides what is down deep.

I don’t experience this kind of friendship with everyone, but I can’t imagine my life without experiencing this somewhere with someone. The grateful heart that this visit from our dear friends stirred up in me helped propel me to other areas of gratefulness too. I found myself thanking God for the people in my life (and zip code) who see things that another would miss.  I prayed that I would be the kind of person who sees things more clearly so I can love them well too.

May you be stirred toward gratefulness for someone you celebrate seeing and knowing and being seen and known by today.

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The Final Countdown is Now!

This week is my children’s final week of school before summer break. Wait…Let me allow that sentence to sink down into my psyche.

Deep breaths. Where did this year even go?

I find myself somewhere in between anticipation, excitement and joy over all the fun to be had together, and a growing pit in my stomach over the two-week adjustment period they will need to remember what it’s like to be with each other ALL OF THE TIMES.

I’ve got the summer-break adjustment period down to a science people. For some reason it takes exactly 14 chaos-filled days for my kids to work out all their frustration, offense, annoyance and grievances, be nice to one another, not whine or throw fits over not getting their way. It can be hard to find personal space when everyone is around each other constantly. *cough, cough, middle child*

As a SAHM, I feel some pressure about summer break. There is a huge part of me that wants to let my kiddos do whatever they want to do all day every day  i.e. watch tv and play video games (while I attempt to do what I want). But I know better. I’ve done that in the past and it does NOT go as well as it sounds like it will….  I can admit right now that I will let my children play video games for more time than I will like to admit later. (P.S. I am quickly entering the uncharted territory of an older child not in school for summer.  I don’t even KNOW what I should be guiding him towards doing with his free time? Teach me oh Mommas! What in the world do you do with big kids in summer?)

Due to the 14-day adjustment period, I have learned instead that it is best to have an every-other-day activity planned or at least hoped for. Things will never go exactly as my heart desires, but instead of being rigid and letting the walls close in, I’m praying this year that I can be grateful, hopeful, open, and courageous enough to try something I wouldn’t normally try.

My favorite middle kid last summer at the pool.
My favorite middle kid last summer at the pool.

My goals this summer are pretty lose: read as many books on my wish list as possible, spend a gargantuan amount of time at the pool with my kids and their friends (and their friends’ moms), and have deep conversations with my kids. Summer time is my heart; it’s my favorite season because of all the outside time and options available. And not having to stick to a rigid schedule is totally glorious. It feels like the promise of a long sabbath to me.

Plus, there is an awesome community of Moms who are also SAHMs that I plan to trek with. That’s another goal of mine; to deepen existing friendships and press in/allow others to press into me. Keeping kids active is more fun when you can do it with other Moms. Community makes all the difference for me and for my kids. It’s great for them to experience boredom and think creatively about what they are supposed to do about it! (Please allow your kids to be bored Mommas and Dads. It’s a good thing!) Plus it challenges me when I see what other Moms are doing with their kids and all the “free” time they suddenly possess!

I love hearing little kids’ conversations over summer break too. Take some time to eaves drop on those precious relationships our kids are building together with other kids. It makes great dinner time conversation questions.

Just a few more days before the chaos and fun begin…may the Schwartz be with you fellow parents! May we be grateful, courageous, open and hopeful to what summer could bring in our relationships with our children.