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Is it just me, or is there an unrealistic expectation of excitement out there? Like, life should constantly provide me with EXPERIENCES that challenge and motivate and entertain and occupy me. Especially, maybe, among the children, but increasingly among the rest of us. I wonder if it’s because we are losing our ability to navigate boredom well?

Every kid needs to learn how to be successfully bored. Seriously, boredom is an important skill that must be resurrected.

It’s important to understand that “I’m so bored” is actually code for I am feeling an emptiness that I want you to fill for me. Or, I don’t want to do the work of figuring out how to spend my time so I would like you to allow me to watch television or play with my electronics.

Honestly, I’ve tried to not let my kids get away with the whole I’m so bored thing. The very whine of those words makes my skin shiver in almost exactly the same way it does when I hear people filing their fingernails. I adamantly (usually, almost always, when I’m not too tired) refuse to rescue my children from their boredom. In fact, they rarely say it anymore because they know my response will be…

Good. You’ll be motivated to find something to do. Or,

Good. You’ll have time to think about stuff. Or,

Good. I have some things I could use some help with.

Honestly, boredom has led to some of the most imaginative of days around here. Boredom has initiated all kinds of learning, from how to play a musical instrument to how to build a musical instrument to researching all the things there are to know about the musical styles of said instrument.

Boredom has led to entrepreneurial adventures, book-reading or internet-searching adventures, vacation-planning adventures, and all manner of construction adventures. Boredom has been the beginning of so much that would have been lost had the easy distraction-road of entertainment been taken.

(You guys know that sometimes, because we’re an imperfect little family just doing our best, the easy distraction-road of entertainment has indeed been taken from time to time, right? <smile and nod>)

But mainly, being bored is simply not indulged in these parts, because bored kids who never develop the ability to transition from boredom to self-motivation become bored, unsatisfied adults. I mean, I don’t have any scientific studies or anything, but that’s what I think.

Boredom might just be the most important and undervalued source of motivation for personal development and creativity there is. Don’t deny your kids! Let them be bored and then stand back and watch how they grow.

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I have a little girl who lives with me. She’s three and she knows I’m not her mom. She calls me Gubba. I pick her up from daycare on Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:00, and we drive home. Every trip, we have the same conversation.

Home, Gubba?

Yes.

Your home?

Yes.

My home?

Yes.

I’m not sure what internal stuff she is processing as we repeat this ritual, but I know home is an important place.

I think its significant that after God created the world, the first thing he did was make a home. And not just any old home. A beautiful home, filled with love and possibility and friendship and Him. And, because every good story needs it, the tiniest potential for things to go wrong.

This is the thing about homes. As beautiful and comfortable and safe as we make them – and let’s make them as beautiful and as comfortable and as safe as we can – things go wrong. Always.

People fight or pets die or jobs are lost or children walk away. Just ask the prodigal son’s dad about children leaving nice homes. Stuff happens in homes, no matter the furnishings or the landscaping or even the love.

This is the other thing about homes, though. As much as things go wrong in them, homes are meant to be places of beauty. Sometimes, beauty is tears in the night or puppy poo on the living room floor or children sharing fears. Sometimes, beauty is hanging in there when it’s tough. Sometimes, the most beautiful thing is the hardest or the most challenging or the messiest.

Homes are meant to be beautiful and clean and safe. I wonder, though, if that means beauty over time, instead of beauty every time. I hope so.

My home isn’t perfect, not by a long shot. I can’t seem to keep up with the dusting and the furniture is ancient and the living room needs repainting and once in a while I lose my patience with the people I love and, to be honest, I’m not the best cook in the world. I can focus on any or all of those things, in the moment.

Over time, though, my hope is that people who spend time here will find some beauty in spite of it all.

If they do, it will be because of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

He made a beautiful home, way back then, and He says he’s making us another one, so I think beautiful homes must be important.

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Once upon a time my son helped paint a mural on the wall of a family health centre in the inner city community of Regina, Saskatchewan. His art portrayed a mother eagle feeding her babies. Sometimes, when we go to the city, we drive by the painting, just for fun.

The day I picked him up, after he’d been painting for a week, was sign-your-work day. We drove over to the sight and I stood in the parking lot with my camera while he added his name to the names of the other artists who contributed to the project. He was happy and proud to do so, and I was happy and proud to witness it.

I think about that moment from time to time. It was a beautiful mural when all was said and done, completed by several artists and volunteers. But it was watching him put his name on it that choked me up, that day in the parking lot.

There’s a story told about Michelangelo who, after his sculpture of the Pieta was installed in St. Peter’s Basilica, returned in the night and carved his name on the sash running across Mary’s breast. He’d overheard someone suggesting the artist must have been someone else. He was twenty-four years old and it was the only piece of work he ever signed. The translation of the inscription is, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Florentine, made it.

Maybe one signature was enough for Michelangelo. Maybe he became so popular and so well-known he never felt the need to sign anything ever again. Maybe he regretted that impulsive first signature. I don’t know.

I guess I hope my kid – my artsy-fartsy kid with his bluegrass-music-loving heart and his piles of history books and his paintbrushes – will spend his life doing things he’d be proud to sign his name to. I hope he paints his life with relationships and jobs and ministry and experiences and choices that contribute to the masterpiece that he was created to create.

And when he doesn’t, well, I hope he’ll own those times, too. Claim them and restore them and forgive them and redeem them.

Sign your work, Son, and be proud. Because it’s all beautiful if you let it be.

There’s this little peanut who lives in my home, and I love her. She has a mom and a dad and a whole other scattered family, but because of stuff, she lives with me. She calls me Gubba.

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One day, maybe soon, they will take her away. She’ll go back to the mom, or maybe the dad – whomever gets his or her you-know-what together sooner.

Someone will come in a van and load up her barbies and her bike and her dress-up clothes. That someone will take her out of my arms and buckle her into a car seat and they will drive away… out of my yard and out of my life and I’ll wonder forever how she is doing and if she is happy and if her life is good.

Going in, I knew all this. The minute I got the phone call and said yes, I’ll take her, I knew there would most likely be a goodbye at the end of it. The first time I kissed her, I knew there would probably be a last kiss and a final hug and an end.

This is how it works in the system, usually. There are beginnings and there are endings, and the time between is all I’m given, and who knows how long it will be.

This baby girl, though? She snuck right into my heart from day one, and oh my.

Be careful, warned someone who loves me and who has held my broken heart in past days.

Be careful.

But how can you be careful with love? That’s what I said and that’s how I live and I don’t know any other way to do it. Even though I know there might be a mountain of hurt to climb, because one day, maybe soon, they will take her away.

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I have a picture-perfect life. I live in a place of beautiful sunrises and open spaces and sparkly snow-filled vistas. It’s beautiful, in photographs. In real life, though, it’s like anyone else’s life. Good.,, and bad. Beautiful… and ugly. Wonderful…and hard.

I guess I think that’s just fine. I mean, what else would I expect, really?

I mean, who am I that my life should be always fabulous and hardship-free?

The thing is, I’m a believer. I really and truly am a sold-out-Jesus-loving-freak of a girl. I believe in miracles and eternity and love-conquers-all and forgiveness.

The other thing is, none of that means much if I can’t face the bad and ugly and hard things in life with that faith I say I have. Walk the talk, so to speak.

I’ve stood at the beginning of uncertain roads and been fearful of the next step. It’s not easy or fun. Except, sometimes it is.  Isn’t that ridiculous? Uncertainty can be kind of an adventure. It’s sometimes kind of exciting. That’s the crazy thing about walking in faith. The uncertain times are when I get the chance to really practice the stuff I read in that book I say I believe.

I don’t mean to minimize struggle or pain or challenge. There are real, hard things that most of us will be faced with in our lives. You may be facing something more difficult than you could have imagined, right now. There are times to sorrow and weep and lament, and my heart breaks with you for these times in our lives. I’ve been there.

But sometimes, uncertainty is just the beginning of a new road, and fear is only the natural beginning of bravery.

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I’ve been trying to do some writing about this thing we call “home” and I keep stalling. I’m blaming it on my couch.

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I mean, what right to I have to say anything to anyone about home and beautiful spaces and loveliness when I have the ugliest couch in the world?

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I know it’s not my couch’s fault. Poor couch. It can’t help being ugly and old and worn. It can’t help having been sat on and jumped on and napped on and pee’d on for who-knows-how-many years. It can’t help not being fashionable or fancy or pretty.

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Okay, okay. I get it.

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I need to look beyond the tattered, today. I need to spend some time on my home, and quit fussing about my house.

I need to see the real furnishings, and love them for the gifts they are. I haven’t been doing that very well, lately.

Grace.

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There’s a crazy calm after Christmas. A detox, in a way, after all the sugar and all the meaningfulness. Life is ordinary again, and it takes a bit of adjusting. But it’s a gentle time, made gentler by snow days that keep us all home and bound.

I took the Christmas tree down on December 26. Yep.

I started a book one Christmas-holiday day – read about three pages – and now it’s lost. I can’t find it for the life of me, so I started a massive declutter/purge/clean/reorganize challenge. Rather, I read about massive decluttering online but truthfully, I’ve not gotten much further along than that. The book is still lost and the clutter still mocks. I’ll get there.

It brings me joyful heart feelings to watch my son head out each day, snowshoe clad, to take himself and the dog for a walk. The dog needs it and so do I, he says, and I know it’s not just exercise. I must do more things this year that I need.

Is it just me, or is it ridiculous, the amount of planning and organization that goes into trying to get away for a weekend? We’ve been trying to get together with our good friends forever. I almost want to say forget it and stay home, or send the boys without me, but it’s one of those I need things I was just talking about. I need time with this friend, I think, and it will be worth the challenge of the obstacles, so I’m trying to make it happen.

And is it just me, or does everyone feel like January should just be one giant nap? Like, let’s all grab our blankies and pillows and we’ll meet up again in a few weeks.

And also, the whole new calendar thing. Is that fun for you? I’m trying out a daytimer (old school) this year, in my ongoing attempt to magically become a more organized person. It was kind of fun filling in the first few months with the potlucks and muffin Sundays and scheduled appointments, although I’ve already had to cross out and rewrite things more than once which at first was stressful because new book, but now I’m okay and quite happy with the whole process.

I am starting to think my second child will never get his driver’s licence. He’s almost eighteen years old! Today’s appointment had to be cancelled because of the blizzard, although taking a driver’s test in a blizzard would have been a very Saskatchewan thing to do, but honestly we are stuck in our yard until the friendly snow-moving man can plow us out.

And by the way, my one word for 2015 is finish. ‘Cause there are a bunch of things about which I want to write The End this year. Metaphorically, I mean. But you knew that.

Happy second week of January, friends.

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