May 27, 2009

More on Simplicity

"The inward reality of simplicity involves a life of joyful unconcern for possessions." ~Richard Foster


A good friend lent me a book today which I have just started called, Simplify Your Life. It was a national bestseller in the 90's so I guess I'm behind the times. It's a practical book with 100 tips on how one family attempted to slow down and enjoy the things that really matter. Some of what I have read so far is about giving up material possessions that are unused, unnecessary and cluttering up our already cluttered lives. It's about downsizing instead of upgrading, giving instead of buying, and simplifying everything from our chores to grocery lists and laundry! 

I am still in process on this simplicity concept though I have two of the best teachers I know on the subject as a living example in my own family--my parents. They have never made a big deal about their lifestyle choices or called it "simplifying." They just live a life of joyful unconcern for possessions. Period. They have always had a simple, but contented lifestyle. My mom recently said she read in a newspaper that department store sales were down, but Goodwill sales were up due to the recession. She joked that my dad has been living like it's a recession his whole life.

Growing up we bought almost everything secondhand. Our home was not extravagant, but others were always welcome. Even though they can afford more now my dad still buys most of his clothes at Goodwill and even then, if he gets something "new," he gets rid of something he doesn't wear. They rarely eat out or go to the movies.  They both enjoy hobbies at home: mom sews and enjoys gardening; dad reads, bikes daily, and attends a lot of high school and college athletic events. (They also both enjoy their grandkids visiting.) I don't think I have ever heard them talk about needing or even wanting some material thing. Ever. In my entire life. They just don't put much value in possessions. It's pretty amazing really. 

I've been reading some books on the matter and I keep thinking my parents already do that. Maybe I should just learn from them. I think there was a time (around middle school through college) that I sometimes wished they were bigger spenders. I mean what 80's middle schooler doesn't want a pair of Guess jeans, L.A. Gear shoes, and a couple of Swatch watches? Then in high school, I had to learn contentedness while driving a 1980's copper Honda Accord hatchback with a slightly different color door. I will say that I was just thankful to have a car and be off the bus! In college, I learned that I would have to make sacrifices to attend ACU. I got a job on campus and was either at work or in class pretty much from 8 to 5 or later all four years of college. Many of my friends didn't have to work and at the time I was wishing I didn't have to either. 

But now as I am in my 30's I am seeing so much value in those life lessons. The choices my parents made to live simply were in part due to humble teacher salaries but also their decision to live within their means. So I am writing this to say thank you mom and dad for being a living example of simplicity. Sorry it has taken me awhile to fully appreciate it, but I am grateful for the choices and sacrifices you made, and I am a better person for driving that Honda. Old cars build character. Remind me of that when Ava's 16!

I love you,
Summer

May 25, 2009

Blast from the Past

video

Chad has been downloading old videos onto our computer to burn DVD's. I hadn't seen this one since I taped it almost 2 years ago. Ava had just turned 3 and Pierson was born just a week later. I can't believe how squeaky her little voice was. It was too cute not to share! Enjoy a blast from the past-- September 2007. (And yes that is yogurt she is using as lip gloss while she sings praise songs to the Lord.)

May 22, 2009

Summer Kids' Art Camp
July 6-10, 2009
Highland Church of Christ Elementary Wing

Session  Ages  Dates & Times
Pre-K Camp                 4-6 Yrs  July 6-10, 9-12 am
Elementary Camp       1st-5th Grade  July 6-10, 2-5 pm
 
Camp Dues= $100.00 for first child and $90.00 for a sibling

Dues will cover the cost of 5 days of 3 hour lessons, supplies for 8 art projects, snacks daily, as well as a basket of art supplies, sketchbook and an art apron to be taken home at the end of the week!


Be sure to click on the image above for more details about our activities and projects. This is going to be an exciting week. I look forward to sharing my passion for creating with each child! 

I will do my best to keep class sizes around 8-10 kids so that individualized attention can be given to each child. I will lead teach along with with help of one or more assistants as needed. Both camp sessions are about half full so sign up soon. . .

To reserve a spot for your child, please send a $25.00 
non-refundable deposit to Summer Walters at Highland Church of Christ, 425 Highland Avenue, Abilene TX, 79605.

The remaining $75.00 will be due on the first day of camp. Please also include your child's name, age, grade, parents' names, cell phone and any allergies or medical concerns. 

If you would like to post a comment on this blog to reserve a spot before you put a check in the mail, I will get back with you as promptly as possible. If you are on facebook, you may also write a message in my inbox if you would like your information to be confidential, or you can send me an e-mail: swalters@highlandchurch.org. 

"Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."  ~Pablo Picasso

May 12, 2009

Mother's Day




Ava surprised me on mother's day morning with a balloon, a candle, a card and breakfast. Chad had planned on having her help him make a nice breakfast, but Ava insisted on doing it herself. I was told to stay in bed while she prepared it. I could hear her working away in there, and the picture above is what she came up with: a well toasted bagel, an orange and my favorite, a ritz cracker bitten into a flower shape.  I felt very loved this mother's day.

 I got this questionaire idea from a friend's blog and thought I would capture Ava's view of me right now in honor of mother's day this week. Unfortunately Pierson and I both had a stomach bug, so I am just now posting this. I will post California pictures soon. Promise.

1. What is something your mom always says to you?
Ava- I love you.

2. What makes mom happy?
Ava-Being nice.

3. What makes mom sad?
Ava-When I'm angry and mad.

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Ava-By being funny, like maybe swinging me up high or pretending to be a horse and laying down when I get on your back.

5. What was your mom like as a child?
Ava-Well, that's a hard one. I don't know.

6. How old is your mom?
Ava- Just a little tiny bit old 'cause you're not as old as  Grandma Ruby and Sasi. (Sorry Ruby and mom.)

7. How tall is your mom?
Ava- Really tall (I'm 5' 3" so this is probably the only time in my life I have been called "really tall.")

8. What is your mommy's favorite thing to do?
Ava- Maybe play with me.

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Ava- I think you do something fun together if you're with somebody like go to a party or the mall.

10. What does your mom do that's really silly?
Ava- Well you dance pretty silly. (Sadly, this is true.)

11. What is your mom really good at?
Ava- Playing with me.

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Ava- Listening to me. (Ouch. I need to work on this one.)

13. What does your mom do for a job?
Ava- Take care of me and working at the building at church.

14.What is your mom's favorite food?
Ava-Carrots? (Um no, but good idea.)

15.What makes you proud of your mom?
Ava-She plays baby dolls with me. That makes me proud..

16. What's your mom's favorite thing to do?
Ava- She likes to eat peanut butter and crackers.

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Ava- Um. Play outside together. Sometimes we swing together.

18. How are you and your mom the same?
Ava- We're both persons and we're both girls.

19. How are you and your mom different?
Ava-You're taller and I'm smaller.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Ava- By playing together.

21. What does your mom like most about your dad?
Ava- By marrying each other and loving each other together.

22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Ava- Chick-fil-A

23. Describe what your mom looks like.
Ava- Black hair, pink mouth, black eyes with brown. You have a brown shirt and I don't know what else.

 I couldn't have a mother's day post without a few pictures of Pierson Reed. I bought him this hat at an estate sale because he's always trying to wear Ava's hats and tiaras. I figured he needed a boy hat of his own.

Just chillin' in Ava's carseat.

May 10, 2009

Simplicity

I am doing laundry at 10:00 tonight in an attempt to get a jump start on a busy week after being gone for 5 days. Ruby came to spend a few days with Chad and the kids, which we all appreciated, while I got to go to Malibu, California to the Pepperdine Lectures with some of the women I work with in children's ministry. It was an amazing trip!  I enjoyed every minute of of our time there but was glad to be home with my family today on mother's day.  I wrote the last post about the challenges of parenting the day before I left. I have to say that there is nothing like a few days away to refresh and restore my soul. I got to enjoy a book on the beach while I was gone called, God's Whisper in a Mother's Chaos by Keri Wyatt Kent. It was an easy read with only 10 chapters.  She speaks of simplicity in a way that I found refreshing.  Here's an excerpt: 


"Simplicity is about slowing: To hear God's whisper, to live in his presence, I need to slow down. . . For me simplifying is listening to God instead of the messages of our culture, and believing that it really is okay  that I don't always keep my house spotlessly clean. It is okay that sometimes I don't always look or act loving. It is okay that I'm not always patient with my kids. It is okay that I don't always have everything under control. My life is messy. 

From that acceptance of myself, God's grace takes me to simplicity, a focus on him that puts all other things in proper perspective. When I let go of keeping impossible standards, I begin to live in God's presence." 

I love that. Here's to a week of simplicity in the midst of chaos! I will post some California pictures soon, but for now here are a few photos of the kids:

Ava and K-Papa on a bicycle built for two! She 
was so proud not to have to use training wheels.

Pierson loves to brush his teeth. I have to make sure I shut 
my bathroom door. If not I will usually find Pierson on 
top of the back of the toilet with his toothbrush. 

One morning, Pierson was a little late in waking up. I thought I had a 
minute so I went ahead and jumped in the shower. When I got out this 
is what I found in his bed.  Ava climbed in there with some toys 
and was taking good care of him. Sweet siblings!

May 4, 2009

Parenting is hard

Okay so I'm just going to say it. Parenting is hard. . . I mean really hard. I am writing this while my 4 year old is screaming at the top of her lungs from her bedroom. I can't even tell you what caused this particular episode, but it's exhausting trying to discipline this kid!  I thought it was the terrible twos and then we had another go round during the threes that made the twos look like nothing. Now she's four and I'm out of excuses. On days like this I wonder if it's me. What am I doing or not doing that is causing this? She said to me today while I was talking to her about her behavior, "You're the only one that makes me act like this mommy!!!" Wow. Thanks for that.  She can be so delightful so why I do I get to experience the mean-spirited side of this little girl? I really do feel like she's more than I can handle sometimes.  And I have tried everything, from time outs to spankings to taking away toys or rewards. I've read plenty of discipline books and asked lots of questions from experienced moms. 


Most importantly, I have talked to her about her heart and about how her behavior and words reflect what's in her heart. That's the hardest thing. I feel this enormous responsibility to teach my children about God and loving others as Jesus did. Most days I feel completely inadequate for the task at hand.  I am praying that God will continue to give me wisdom, forgive me when I lose my patience or say the wrong thing, and will reveal himself to my kids in real ways so that they can begin to experience a relationship with Him that transforms their hearts and ultimately their behavior. Ava has such a sweet and loving personality, but is also prone to such intensity-- high highs and low lows. Her emotions run deep.  (I wonder where she got that trait?) I am praying that she will learn self-control and in the meantime God will give me an extra measure of self-control as well.  

It would be easier today to post some cute pictures I took of the kids recently, but I wanted to be real.  And the reality is that today was a tough day. I'm worn out from an afternoon of complaining, arguing and tears.  But maybe putting it out there will take the edge off of someone else's hard day so at least we know we're not alone.  

Update: I had not yet published this post because it was time to get dinner going, and I am happy to tell you that after some soul searching in her room, Ava came out and apologized. She told us at dinner very matter of factly, "I need to learn that I get what I get and I can't throw a fit." A-men to that. Parenting is tough. . . and rewarding.