Welcome to Day 12 of Parenting Pointers and Mommy Refreshers.
My heart is to bless you this month as I write 31 days filled with nuggets of parenting wisdom. Each one is followed by a refresher to help you fix your eyes on Jesus and let your burdens go to Him. Sit with God in this moment. Find a place where you can breathe and hear from Him.
Today’s Parenting Pointer
A Bit of Fresh Air
I’m sitting inside writing this parenting pointer and that is a bit ironic since I am going to encourage us all to go outdoors with our children. I could date myself and say, “Back in my day …” and then tell you how we ran out the door at the crack of dawn and returned home for lunch, went back out, came in for supper and finally were in for the night when the street lamps came on. True story. No wonder the need for parenting books has skyrocketed in this generation – our children are with us so much more of the time we actually have to figure out what we are going to do with them!
Seriously, though, some of my fondest memories of childhood were the unstructured hours spent outdoors with my family or friends. My family were hikers and birdwatchers and before you think that was amazing, just know that I had many bored moments on some trail waiting for my parents to spot a rare bird while I stuffed my hat with poison ivy for entertainment (another true story). Despite the down moments (which probably served to teach me a great deal about patience and not being the center of the world and how to have fun with very little material around me – except the poison ivy, of course) my childhood time spent outdoors fed something innate in me.
Children are made to be outdoors.
My friends and I used to run through glens, hide in caves pretending we were the Boxcar Children, build make-believe homes behind the grove of pine trees and bake mud pies for hours. Who needed Minecraft when you had all that?
Now that I am a mom, I make a point to send my boys outdoors many times a day. We educate at home, so I send them out mid-morning for a break. They ride bikes or scooters to our neighborhood park and play – the old fashioned way. When their friends come home from school, my boys hit the front door shouting, “See ya, Mom!” and spend the rest of the afternoon having sword fights, riding scooters, building homes for roly poly bugs or pretending to be spies. In the evenings after supper if the weather is kind enough we take a walk or bike ride as a family.
You may be thinking, I want to send my kids out more too. Maybe your circumstances aren’t quite as conducive as ours. I hope you can think through some creative options with the resources you have at your disposal. All this being said, though, I’m not really just talking about sending your kids outdoors as much as I am encouraging you to take them outdoors. There is a difference. When you go out with them and spend time in nature the whole aspect of what they do and how they view the natural world can change.
|This one is called "Old Man's Cave" ... you can almost see the cave to the left|
Our family has two different approaches to time spent outdoors. One is just enjoying time together outdoors by eating al fresco or taking bike rides or walks or playing games in the grassy area across from our home. The other is going on what we call our “Nature Walks.” These are patterned after the suggestions of the great British educator, Charlotte Mason. We go into nature once a week, taking notebooks, paint, binoculars and a blanket and we observe nature. We take in what we see. We pay attention. We appreciate. On a less frequent, but still regular, interval we take longer hikes in places further from our home to see other aspects of nature together. Sometimes we invite other families to go with us as well.
Whatever way you get outdoors with your children, I encourage you to get out. Kick a ball around in the grass with them; take them to the park and run with them on the playsets; ride bikes together; explore a river, lake or ocean. Whatever you do – do it together. You will be building a love for nature that will last a lifetime and strengthening family bonds as you do.
I have a habit I started over 15 years ago. Each December I pray, asking God to give me a verse He wants to work out in my heart and life for the coming year. I wait for God to reveal a verse and then I spend time sitting with that verse regularly throughout the coming year. It’s sort-of like the trend I’ve seen for the past few Januarys of picking “One Word” for the year. One year, about eight years ago, God directed me not to one verse, but to a section of scripture in John 15. I want to share it with you here and share some of what I got from marinating in that section of God’s Word for 365 days.
I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not vear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fires and they are burned. If you abide in Me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in my love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full.
There is way too much to unpack there for this short devotion, but I want to draw out an essential invitation. God is calling you to abide. He says it ten times … abide ... abide … abide … Hear this sweet invitation in all its fullness as I share with you some of the meanings of this word in the original Greek and what God is saying through these meanings. I encourage you to pick a specific invitation which speaks to you and even write it on an index card or post it note for yourself so you can see it and remember this sweet, personal invitation from God to you …
“Remain with Me,”
“Tarry a while,”
"Slow down. I want to linger with you.”
“Continue to be present.”
“Put aside distractions and focus on Me."
"Include Me in what you are doing. Be present with Me.”
“Be held and kept continually,”
“I want to hold you and keep you
as a Shepherd carries the young lamb or
a mother carries her infant near to her heart.”
Abide in Him. Allow Him to abide in you.
Abide in His Word – let His Word be in your heart and mind this day.
Abide in His love – it is a safe and fruit bearing place.
Just today, as you go into your life of mothering, friendship, being a wife and other commitments, go out, but don’t leave. Be present with God. Find shelter in His love and live from that place of abiding.
I pray you found a breath of fresh air here and a moment to reflect and recharge your battery. If you have missed any of this series, all the posts can be found here. Come back any or every day this month to get another Parenting Pointer and Mommy Refresher. And, as always, I do love hearing from you. Let me know how I can pray for you or if something I wrote here touched you.
Photos of Ohio courtesy of Pinterest.