Oh my, how I am going to miss these days years from now.
I have been looking so forward to summer and all it allows. I leave lots of time unplanned and empty intentionally for them to create and build and do some work and play with friends, or just be bored. (When anyone comes to me and says they are bored my answer has always been, "Awesome! What are you going to do about it?!" They have learned by now this is what they're going to hear so I don't get that complaint too much anymore. If they do persist in their boredom, though, I have a few good jobs I dole out.)
But I also build in a good amount of planned (though usually spontaneous) adventures, typically free and outdoors. That's our favorite. I study Google map overviews of wooded parts of our neighborhood and surrounding areas to find paths and hikes and we have the best time exploring. For a variety of reasons, we aren't able to travel for the most part this summer but our almost daily hikes transport me to mountain paths in Colorado in seconds. I get my fix. It's awesome. It's not perfect, lest you be deceived by the photos. It's usually super humid and there are mosquitoes and you can count on a few complaints along the way, but it always just feels so good for our souls.
I find that being out in nature affords so many opportunities for great conversations about beauty, creation, and the magnitude of God. We talk about perseverance and strength almost every time we are out because we are usually pushing ourselves physically. The kids ask questions about bugs and animals and streams and plants and then we come home and look them up if we don’t know the answer.
The other day after a hike that included a few wrong turns (the big boys were convinced in a very dramatic way we were lost), we had a great talk on the drive home about how like life the walk was. Things don’t always go as planned, you might get a bit off track, but you keep pushing forward and do the hard work to stay the course.
In any picture you see, there's a fourth child just outside the frame that I'm not permitted to show per understandable foster care rules. And for any picture you see, there are a million other pieces of life that are beautiful and difficult that aren't documented. (Such is social media!)
One of my children who shall remain nameless but not photoless deconstructs all things, all day. Some of his current obsessions include "cooking" with all the silverware, and watching the water run down the refrigerator front, and then "cleaning up" the water with all the clean dishtowels. This can all go down in about 15 seconds, like while I'm trying to change a diaper in the next room. Then I run in because I hear the drawers opening and he looks up and says, "Sorry, Mom" with a big smile, and it's a good thing he's so darn sweet. I have never had a child like this one and he amazes and baffles me constantly. He is so unique and so awesome, and has been through more difficult circumstances in his short life than many grown-ups. I'm excited to see what's in store for him.
Anyway, this little buddy seems to be in his element when we are out on a path in the middle of nature, or when he can plop down in sand or dirt somewhere and dig. The calming effect of God's creation is a marvelous thing.
So that's where we head most days.
“The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives.” -Einstein
“Look at everything always as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time: Thus is your time on earth filled with glory.” -A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
I see it as such an amazing privilege to have the opportunity to experience wonder with my children- not through extravagant purchases or grand vacations- it doesn't require any of that, though those things can be fun too. I'm sure there are many ways to cultivate wonder with one's children, but right now in my season of life it looks a lot like this: Seeing beauty in the small things everyday, the pleasant and unpleasant alike. It comes through exploring together- exploring the world right around us and exploring what's deep in our hearts, exploring who God is, what the Bible says, and exploring the greatest ways we can look beyond ourselves and love others extravagantly.