Beautiful Day

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Finding Peace on the First Day of Fall

"Only by slowing down do we make time for one another. Only by
stopping long enough to observe our surroundings can we bring form and meaning
to our lives and make the small adjustments needed to stay on course."

~Katrina Kenison, "Mitten Strings for God"

(****Quick note: I apologize for the formatting in these first 2 paragraphs. Blogger is giving me fits and I just can't figure this one out!)

Yesterday was the first day of autumn. I love it when the days start out cool but still warm up and there is something unique about the lighting outside this time of year. Fall just might be my favorite season. Three of my children were born in the fall, so I have especially warm memories of walks in the sunshine, colors of autumn blazing down as I hobble along determined to enjoy the outdoors for as long as I possibly can.

Fridays in our home are what I call "Project Days." That generally means I try to make more time for hands-on activities with the children, our nature study, and any other creative projects there aren't time for on other days. I had been planning what to do this week, sincerely feeling the need to slow down, enjoy creation and enjoy my children. So I was especially blessed in my morning devotional time to also have a few minutes to read from Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry by Katrina Kenison. This is a little gem I first discovered from Jewels at Eyes of Wonder a few years ago. I checked it out from the library then and found its short chapters to be inspiring in the journey to keep a life of simplicity. Now, contrary to what its title may sound like, it isn't a particularly Christian book. The title actually came from a quote of the author's son, which she describes in the book. I would say there are hints of new-age philosophy throughout the book. However, the author's desire and quest for a quieter life for her family amidst an age where the badge of busy-ness is flashed with pride is a noble one and even a biblical one (1 Thessalonians 4: 9-12 comes to mind). And her writing style engages the reader to identify with her quest and actually do something about it. So I am re-reading it upon finding a copy at Goodwill that I can keep in my personal library. Her chapter on "Peace" provided even more motivation to just soak in these days with my children and to engage them in the beauty of the world He has created.

So we started our day with a nature walk. Our science studies have been focused on birds lately and also an ongoing observation of the phases of the moon. So we were in search of some bird feathers and some small sticks (for a project later in the day). Country Girls were busy photographing and younger ones were busy collecting. All enjoyed finding the moon through the binoculars. We so enjoyed just taking our time to observe our surroundings so we lingered quite a bit on this walk. When we returned home, it was time for sketching in our nature journals. We only found a couple of bird feathers so we had to settle for the chicken feathers in our own yard to add to them.

After lunch, I had told my Littlest Princess I would help her finally make her handprint. I started this tradition for all of my children at about this age and now it is her turn to make one to join the wall gallery of her siblings. I love how these turn out, but I admit the process is always a bit frustrating. My average is it takes two tries per child to get the handprint done correctly before pouring in the plaster. But we did it! And she is so proud. Now she ever-so-patiently waits for it to dry so she can do the fun work of painting that she is so eager for.

After this project, I promised my Bigger Princess and her brother to help them with a finger knitting project. With three children playing with yarn in my house, Princess has been begging me to teach her. But I had to come up with something I thought was do-able for her age and so we came upon these cute little flowers. Every one of us joined in the fun of making these in the afternoon. (This is what we collected sticks for on our nature walk).

When our project time was over, I made a snack to enjoy during read-aloud time. Being the first day of fall, I wanted to do something fun but didn't think of it until very late, so I made some Apple Oatmeal Bread in the bread machine. We cut them into fall leaf shapes and then made this little sun out of cheese.

None too fancy, but a delight to the children while we sat and listened to a chapter of "Little Men."

Then came 5:00 and time to start dinner. The children played outside while I got busy making enchiladas--a double-batch so I can put one in the freezer for when baby soon arrives. I've been trying to do this once a week for the past few weeks.

Warrior came home and home remodel thoughts were flowing. We're trying to figure out how to temporarily cover our floor until we can afford the floor project, so that we can still use the space. Which means I should show another update. But I'll save that for later.

In all, it really was a peaceful, beautiful day. I wish for more days like this. That is true even though there were struggles and attitudes to work through and heart-to-heart talks were in order. As I have been contemplating "peace" and looked up some definitions in Strong's and my Bible dictionary, I find that peace in the New Testament is primarily concerned with unity, order and harmony. Jesus is about the business of restoring harmony and wholeness to our lives and relationships. This is really what this day has been all about. And I am so grateful for His prompting to make the extra time to focus on these things together TODAY.

"When we cultivate a mood of calm repose in our homes, we are scooping out a space for reflection and wonder, for contemplation and reverie. Our children are exposed to incessant commotion in the world that exists beyond our walls. Let home be the place where they can find the peace and quiet they need to make sense of it all. A place, too, where we can nurture our inner lives without distraction. The soul speaks softly. And so I guard our quiet times. Creativity flourishes in these spaces; grace and peace reside here, too."

~Katrina Kenison, "Mitten Strings for God"

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