A Nature Walk in October

October marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year! Holiday goodness around every corner. A pumpkin spice latte and the smell of autumn wreath candles burning in my home is enough to put me in a good mood. I'm a simple gal.

Of course, born and raised in Florida, I have never experienced what a true "fall" looks like. Instead, October is just another warm month with some extra fun festivities! Pumpkin patches, corn mazes, fall festivals... we still get to enjoy all of those fun things. While sweating through our leggings. And praying for an occasional cool morning or evening to enjoy too.

Now that it's October, that also means we have made it two months into our first "officially unofficial" year of homeschooling. And really, it has been one of the best decisions ever. Of course, I still question if I'm doing it right... (because should school be this much fun?) and I'm still figuring out how my children learn best. Especially Micah. I don't put a lot of pressure on Hannah to join us, since she's still only three, but she usually wants to. And though I have tried to stay as structured as possible (by using Sonlight's pre-Kindergarten curriculum and a teacher lesson planner) we have drifted off the "textbook schedule" at times and took a few weeks off in September due to Micah's birthday, Hurricane Irma and going on vacation. But that's the beauty of homeschooling! Life happens, and we can adjust. 

Another beauty of homeschooling, for me, is the spontaneity of it. I love waking up and deciding that today feels like a good day for a nature walk! Which was exactly what happened today.

I printed out a nature walk worksheet I found online that would give them some things to look for while we were on our walk. And then, I improvised and used a brown paper gift bag I found tucked away in our pantry - cut it in half and stapled the worksheet to the front and a ziplock to the back of it for them to collect leaves and flowers that they found. 

They loved to "check" things off the list. :)

We took a break and ate lunch at a picnic bench, and then after our walk, we loaded back up in the car and headed to the local gas station for slurpees! As we drove home quietly enjoying our sweet treats, I thought about all that was going on in the world at large. The devastation that had just occurred in Las Vegas. And how, my children are still too young to really comprehend everything just yet. I felt the weight of the responsibility I am carrying like a ton of bricks. It hit me, heavy.

One day these little people will grow up to be influencers in this world. How do I prepare them? How do I teach them to love and value God's creation? And see very person as loved and valuable to God? A nature walk in October seemed like the right place to start. 

To the Distracted Mama

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It's crowded out there. And if you're like me, when it's crowded out there - it gets crowded in here too. In my heart, in my mind. I get sucked into the crowd and the busy and the doing and forget what the purpose is. I start functioning and living from a place of performance instead of a place of purpose.

I get distracted.

The truth is, the world doesn't stop moving for us mamas. It doesn't wait until our kids are sleeping through the night, or finally not sick, or potty-trained or not out-of-their-minds (which I've heard actually isn't curable). No, minus a few weeks post-birth when everyone brings you meals and wants to hold your baby (those were the best days of my life), the world expects you to keep operating at it's speed - you know, warp-speed - while still maintaining your role as wife, homemaker and/or working part or full-time. And well I'm sorry, mamas of the social media millennium, when you have communication at your fingertips there is just not a lot of grace for you, even on the friend-level. You must reply to every text, catch up on every Instagram photo, Snapchat video and attend all of your friend's virtual parties on Facebook (because they are making life easier for you by letting you be in your PJ's) while still managing to give your children some sort of a childhood. The kind where they don't end up sitting in front of a screen all day, you know, like you.

 Sigh.

I'm not saying that all distracted moms are sitting on their phones all day. Nah, I know that's not possible with children. But it's still there. And most likely, attached to your hip for any opportune moment to have a second to yourself. To "free your mind." When in actuality, it's really just distracting it more.

I know, because I am so much more guilty than I want to admit.

I don't know why I think that reading one more political post is going to help give me the patience I need, when in the very next moment my child is pouring cereal all over the floor. Or why following that super-model mom rocking her bikini body on Instagram is going to give me motivation, while I stare in the mirror feeling guilty that I skipped out on the gym again that morning. 

And this is just the kind of distracting stuff that happens "behind-the-scenes." There are tons of more opportunities for distraction, you know, when I actually get out of the house. 

I always set out with good intentions, and then end up living and functioning out of performance instead of purpose. Trying to live to "claim a spot" in this rat-race world, instead of resting in the one role that I never have to earn or try to be the best at. The one that Jesus came to die for.

My identity as a child of God. 

I have been redeemed from living a life of selfish ambition or vain conceit (Philippians 2:3-4). Worldly accolades mean nothing when compared with the surpassing value of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior (Philippians 3:7-8). I'm reminded that I can plan all I want to, but my ways are not His ways (Isaiah 55:8) and boasting in anything, apart from Christ, is arrogant and evil (James 4:15-16). 

These are the truths I have to remind myself daily. Before I am a mom, before I am a wife... I am His. And if I miss that, I will naturally keep striving to "perform" in the other two. 

Jesus offered a place for the weary and "burned-out" (burdened) in this world... with Him. 

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
— Matthew 11:28

As I was tucking my little boy to bed tonight, he asked me (like he does every night) to lay down with him for two minutes. I looked at him and said, "Okay, baby," and then laid down beside him, stroking his soft, fine hair and asked, "You know why I do this, right?" He smiled gently and said, "Yeah... because you reeeally love me." :)

My precious boy knows what Jesus wants us to know... that because I love him so much, he can find rest in my embraceAnd in that moment, with all distractions aside, I knew I was doing something right.