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Love. Unimpeded.

Yesterday I told the boys we’d be going hiking today after church. We weren’t positive the location, but before we left this morning we put our changes of clothes, shoes, hats and gloves in the car. 

After we were done at church, we got in the car and decided on heading up to Multnomah Falls. I love driving up the gorge any time of year, and seeing the ice that forms around the falls during winter is pretty amazing.

I enjoy getting just far enough out of town that my usual radio stations start to get fuzzy, and I have to search for new ones. But not too far out, that I couldn’t reach someone if I blew a tire or had car trouble.

The wind was blowing pretty good on the way up there. I checked the outside temp, glad that I thought to throw in hats and gloves.

We passed a waterfall that was being redirected by the wind. The water blowing left and then right, droplets freezing in midair, the trail of water never reaching the ground.

As soon as we got out of the car at Multnomah Falls, we felt the wind whipping. We left our jeans from church on, rather than change, figuring they were the best protection we had against the wind.

As we approached the base area at the falls, we noticed that no one was on the bridge. And slowly came to the realization that the trail was closed. I’m not so sure the boys were all that disappointed, but I was.

We soaked in the falls for a few minutes, and then returned to the car to drive further up the gorge for lunch. As we sat overlooking the river, we talked. I asked them what the other’s strongest strength was. We talked about Karch’s athleticism, his soft heart and persistence. We talked about Gunner’s creativity, his thankfulness, and intelligence. When it got to me, they said it was my patience, imaginition(for my crafts), and my faith that were strongest.

We talked about this morning’s sermon. About the new church we tried. About an upcoming trip. And about the fact that I was still determined to find a place to hike on the way home. They weren’t all that overjoyed by the last one;)

They ate warm marionberry pie and ice cream, and raved about how good it was before we left. 

As we stood up to go, I noticed Gunner glanced over his shoulder at the girls who’d recently sat down behind us. I had noticed the girls earlier, only because every other word coming from behind me was a curse word. I asked him why he’d looked. He said he was curious what they looked like. I asked him if he was bothered by how they talked.

He said, “Cursing doesn’t really bother me, it just impedes the message they’re trying to get across.” 

As we walked to the car, I smiled at the young men I get to raise. And thought, impedes? Who says that?!

As we drove back, I took the Bonneville exit, with one last hope for a hike. However we found the parking lot full, and the hikers we saw told us the trail was icy and they’d turned back.

We’re home now. Back to our cozy spaces. Clear reception. Chores to be done. Internet to be had. Week ahead to conquer.

And I can’t stop thinking about Gunner’s comment. About how things impede the message we are trying to get across.

I realize that my day-to-day my life impedes my message. The ‘laundry doing, knock that offing, dinner making, floor cleaning, garbage outing, homework done asking, don’t talk to your brother like thating, meeting making, picker upping, teaching, grading, grocery shopping, I need sleeping’ me sometimes gets so task oriented and kinda good at it, that my true message gets lost. 
Like the waterfall blown left and right, redirected by the wind, droplets freezing before they hit earth. My message gets impeded. Not by the weather. But by my tasks.

I mistakingly think the love I communicate by caring for my family should say I love you. I mean, I say I love you a lot. But “I love you” words love is different than “what did you think, why did you do that, did it bother you, you’re so good at that” words love.

And so for me, I have to get out of town.

I didn’t get my hike. 

But I got what I was really after. A few moments where my boys know I’m all theirs. Where I get to kiss the tops of their heads (without them cringing). Or hear their thoughts. Their real thoughts. 

Where the usual stations; on the radio, of routine, and of distractions become fuzzy. And we have to search for new ones. 

We didn’t get a hike. 

But we did get out of dodge. 

Away from the things that impede the message I want to get across. The relationships I want to have. The love I want these boys to know. 

It’s not that I think they don’t know that here. In our home. 

I just think like my radio stations, we hear love more clearly, when everything else we focus on day-to-day starts becomes fuzzy. 

I don’t know if we speak differently when things get fuzzy. Or if we listen more closely. I just know as parents this is what we’re all trying to do in our own ways. Get our message across. Our love across. And His love across. To our children. Unimpeded. 
To get our message across.

Our love across. 

And His love across. 

Unimpeded.

1.Him. and 2. Hope

If you take the time to read this, let me first say that before I write, I always pray that what you find in my words are two things.  1.  Him.  and 2.  Hope.

I have a corner in my house that I do my devotions in each morning.  There is a lamp in the corner, and the light is always on.  Day and night.  Inviting me.  The chair in my corner is actually my rocker from when the boys were babies.  Next to the rocker sits a small table.  On top are my Bible, Dust’s Bible (Karch uses it for his weekly Bible reading for school), my devotion books, and a couple of other books.

In the early morning, I usually get my cup of steaming hot coffee, add my peppermint mocha creamer and head to this corner.  I wrap a cozy blanket around my legs and spend time silently with God.  It’s divine!  What I do depends on the day.  But I treasure this time, to be poured into and just to think.  Some days it’s hard to leave that quiet place and enter the busyness of the day.

Just so you know, I haven’t always embraced quiet time.  Trust me.

It was in this quiet corner, one morning recently, that I realized that it is 2017.  Not just that it’s 2017, but that this year marks ten years.  Of a lot of events.  Ten years.  Since I resigned from teaching public school.  Since I moved away from Vancouver.  And then moved back home shortly thereafter.  Ten years since I got my job at King’s Way. And began this new chapter of my life.

Thank goodness we don’t need to title that chapter!   It’s not nearly as tidy as it sounds.

Ten years.

And while all of those are big things, in and of themselves.  The one thing I kept coming back to the other morning is this…we survived!  It’s a miracle.  At least, that is how I feel.

But in the midst of that survival. There.  Was.  So.  Much.  More.  We learned how to become a family again.  Or more aptly, I learned to embrace my little family.  I’m embarrassed to say that it was a struggle.  A big one.

It’s not that we ever weren’t one.  But, in the beginning of all the big changes, it didn’t feel like it. I felt like something was missing.  I don’t know if the boys felt that way.  It never felt like something I should ask them.  I just knew for me, in the beginning, it felt like there was a hole.  It felt ugly.  And yucky.  And being proactive, I tried to fix it.

Let me say, I always loved being a mom.  and always adored my boys.  I just didn’t love the new look of  my “family”.  Or even feel like the word fit.

Survival is a funny place to live.  In the midst of it, you don’t do a lot of thinking, you just keep at it.  You get out of bed in the morning.  You pay your bills.  You get groceries.  You take care of the big messes.  And hope that the rising tides don’t overwhelm you.

You are not sure you have the strength to do tomorrow.  In fact, you’re pretty sure you don’t.

But somehow, you make it through.  You kiss the sleeping little faces goodnight, grateful they are (for the most part) sheltered from the tangled mess of redefining life.  You have a good cry, and wonder if anyone else has ever felt this lonely.  Even while knowing they have…it doesn’t make it any less lonely.  Some nights you crawl into bed with a child, just to try to ward off the feeling of being alone.

In the beginning, you board a few trains that end in miserable wrecks.  Or at least, I did.  A few too many trains.  Thinking something other than being still and navigating those new waters would make it better.  Only making it worse.

Eventually.  You get it.  1.  Get away from the trains.  And if you don’t the first time, maybe you will the second.  2.  Get away from the trains!!!  I’ll pretend there were only two trains…feel free to pretend with me.

Eventually.  I did get it though.  And so I did what I should have done to begin with.  Nothing.  I took what I had, and sat in it.  Staring life in the face is not easy.  When everything is quiet.    When you miss what isn’t there.  It takes a really long time in this place.  Longer than you estimate.  Or hope.  It’s painful.  And grotesque.  And boring.  And so, so, so needed.

And it does take a long time.  At least for me.  Maybe because of the added trains.  And maybe because it just takes awhile to grieve.  Longer than I wanted.  Or hoped.

I went through some serious periods of discontentment.  I saw all I didn’t have, rather than all I did.  A whole family, finances, time, someone to wake up to, energy, joy.  I just didn’t understand why I was where I was.  I’m not sure I really wanted to understand it.  I just wanted it fixed.

I had to desperately focus on my blessings.  I had to focus on my support-emotionally, financially, and spiritually.  On a lot of you.  On the rides provided for my boys to and from activities, when I could only be in one place.  On the tuition that got paid.  The vacation rentals offered.  On the friendships.  On the laughter.  On my children.  On a house to rent and call home.  A car to drive.  Gas money.  On a coffee.  Or a hug.  And definitely on the prayers (I am fully away that your prayers carried us through and protected us from so much).

And then, after a lot of counting, bit by bit,  I found myself more and more content. Provided for.  And if not hourly, then daily, I became able to see His hand on our lives.  Aware that my life might not be People Magazine news.  But it was totally and utterly Good news.

I didn’t have more.  I just saw more.

My life is still a balancing act.  I’ve learned to master not looking too far in the future.  Financially it can be overwhelming, what with drivers licenses, cars and insurance, college, and the hope of retirement before 80.

I’ve learned to be aware of all that.  And yet not to let it consume me.  Because I see how He has taken care of us so far.

I’ve learned to go to my quiet corner, where the light is always on, and give Him those worries.  Just like I gave him my family. My loneliness. My discontentment.

Ten years has taught me to do the best I can with what I have.  And that the rest usually falls into place.

2017 means ten years just passed.  The boys just went from being three and five to turning 13 and 15, all too soon.  I went from 33 to 43.  Karch tells me I’m on the fringe of old;)

Whew!  Soon we’ll be talking dating.  And college.  Which makes me want to head for my quiet corner and never come out!

And those events make me wonder what life will look like when it’s just me.  So I reign in my thoughts to now.  Aware of tomorrow.  And that it is coming quickly.  But not allowing it to consume me.

Where will I be when those changes take place? The ones I can’t control.  And probably won’t like.

I have a feeling you’ll find me in my corner.  Where the light is always on.  Counting my blessings.  Praying for peace.  Keeping my eyes open for trains.  And trusting that no matter how this little family of mine changes, it will survive.

Yes, you’ll find me in my quiet, cozy corner.  Aware that the only thing I want to be consumed by are the same things I hope you found in these words.  1.  Him. and 2. Hope.

Ten Years.

We survived.

And So.  Much.  More.

He helped me fall in love with this little family.

 

 

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Earlier this month, Karch had a project in which he had to build a boat. We weren’t sure how he was going to build it. We talked about a few different options.

At one point, I remembered that my neighbor had a box of wood strips in his garage sale last summer for free. I had picked them up, thinking I’d use them for my crafting. 

I pulled the box out and asked him if he thought they’d work. He was excited to get started. So I gave him a little lesson and we talked about how he should make it.

I left to go run some errands. Him, with jigsaw and glue gun in hand.

When I got home, a couple hours later, he had it complete. And even better, he still had all his fingers! He told me about how he learned that to cut the angles on the ends of them, he had to do that first, while the piece was still long. And then cut the other end short to fit in place. 

As he showed it to me, he asked if we could get some clay to fill in the gaps.

We picked up the clay a few days later. He sat down to apply it between all the seams. I came in to find him in the dark, with a flashlight and his boat. 

I asked him what he was doing. He said, “I’m making sure it’s all sealed. If I can see the light, it needs more work.”

I am always amazed at the way he sees things. So differently than me. 
So. differently. than. me.

A few days later, I met with a friend. A beautiful lady that came into my life in the last few months. One who dreams, creates, inspires, and I always walk away from…thinking.

During our time together, she said something. That made me think of Karch and his boat. She said, I don’t want to leave this earth who I am now. I want Him to keep filling in my gaps, and making me more of His.

I pictured Karch with his flashlight and boat. Trying to find the seams that needed sealing. 

It’s not so hard in my life to find those areas that need more of Him. You probably don’t really need a flashlight to see them. Spend a little time with me, and you can probably tell God where you’d like to see Him work on me;)

But I still like the illustration. Of Him continually shining His light on me. Lovingly looking for the places I need sealed. Healed. And worked on. 

So that I don’t leave this earth exactly who I am now. But more of His.

I think it’s pretty amazing that with all my short comings. Sins. Track record. And failures. He still holds me. And shines His beautiful light on me. That He still loves me so much. That He draws me close enough. To see me. For who He created me to be. And desires to continue to make me the one thing He made me to be.

His.

I am always amazed at the way He sees things. So differently than me.
So. differently. than. me.

Today, may you know His beautiful light shines on you. And despite you. Your short comings. Sins. Track record. Failures. He desires to seal. Heal. And do the work. 
He sees you as the one thing He created you to be. His~

Have your way~

Yesterday, on my jog, I passed a plant growing in the bark dust. It was directly next to the sidewalk, by a busy road. 

On the other side of the bark dust he was living in, was a cinder block wall. The kind that separates established neighborhoods from hearing a lot of traffic. 

In these spaces, I often see weeds growing. They seem to do okay on little water. No attention. 

But this was different. It was a sunflower. Already a couple feet tall. 

I wouldn’t use the word flourishing to describe him.

Maybe fighting.

To grow.

I’ve been at my grandparents before when the birds have been ravenously pecking at the seeds in sunflower plants. 

And that’s how I imagine this guy got here. Dropped. Alone. To fend for himself.

And that’s how I imagine a lot of us find ourselves at some point in life. Dropped in crap. Feeling alone. To fend for ourselves.
Dropped into a divorce. A financial issue. A death. A job loss. Facing depression. Fighting addiction.

Sitting alone, in the dirt, like this sunflower seed is. He looks on one side and sees a busy road, cars whirring past, unaware of his existence. He looks the other direction and sees a cinder block wall. Cold. And high. Offering no retreat.

And if the seed is anything like me, in all honesty, he starts by asking, “What the hell happened?”

He spends awhile there. A day. A month. A year. Processing his loss. His plight. His new surroundings.

Wondering how to do life from that spot.
That’s what I thought about this sunflower plant when I first saw him. 

He amazed me. That he was even growing at all.

I jogged on wondering where his water came from. How he survived in direct sunlight. In bark dust, rather than nutrient rich dirt.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about life. And again honestly, I’ve been pretty sincere with God. In that… this life is not one I would have chosen. And I’m often in a pretty weary place. I get tired of taking steps that seem to be getting me nowhere new. Tired of financial strain. Of being strong. Of waking up knowing that the strength within me is probably only enough for today. And wondering how I’ll get up and do tomorrow. Where will that strength come from…

I focus on being thankful. On my blessings. On the person Ive become from my trials. I see the good. But it doesn’t take away from the tired.

I think the sunflower probably feels the same. 
I continued jogging beyond him. Self-talking all of this as I did. 

I got to the corner. Had to stop for a light, so I looked around. And saw my answer. Heard God talking to me, as he often does. 

There, on that corner, sat a church. It wasn’t the church itself that spoke to me. But the tall white steeple that rose into the air, with a small white cross on the top.

I looked back at my sunflower. Barely visible in the distance. He looked teeny, tiny from where I now stood. But I knew that if he wanted, he could see this cross, high in the sky, that was before me.

I knew if he chose to, he could fix his eyes on it. The cross. Yes. But beyond that. On Jesus.

And as I thought about this life of mine. My weariness. I knew that in that moment, God was wanting to pour over me His strength. His breath. His life.

He was reminding me that this place I’m in. This place that feels like it keeps going on and on and on. Is temporary.

He was reminding me to fix my eyes on Him. 
I saw that sunflower’s choice to see the cars whirring by. Or the wall next to him. To look down and see where he was planted, in less than ideal circumstances. Or the choice to strain his eyes, upward. And see the One who gives life. Who pours out strength. Who provides for his needs.

And I see mine. My choice.

My choice. To see my circumstances. My struggles. My battles…and be overcome. Or my choice to fix my eyes on my Author. Who is at work within me. 

To change my response from, “What the hell?” To, “Have your way within me Lord.”

And so I rest here. 

And whisper. In these circumstances. In this place. In honesty. And weariness.

Have your way within me Lord.

And in the quiet of my backyard, on this pretty summer day, I pray it for you too. That our eyes would be drawn to Something bigger. Stronger. Sweeter. Than our current circumstances. Than our weariness. Our humanness. 

That our life song would sing as our eyes are fixed on Him.

~Have your way within us Lord.

Have Your way within us Lord~❤️

As we were in Rockaway this last week, I took some walks on the beach. I did it as a form of exercise. But also to look for shells and to appreciate the oceans’ majesty.

I took pictures of jelly fish and star fish. Of sand dollars. And the people I love. I took pictures of the ocean. And the sun shining down on the beach. I tried to capture all the beauty around me for those three nights.

As I walked along the beach, I began to notice the tops of all the sand dollars had holes or they were completely cracked in half. Originally I thought it must be the crashing waves that damaged the sand dollars’ fragile shells. 

One day as I was walking, I found a starfish that had been left in the sand as the tide went out. I took a couple pictures of him. Always fascinated by their hard exterior and their five legs. I look at the creatures of the sea and think of what a radical plan God must have had when He created all that is in the ocean. He astounds me.

After having this thought, I couldn’t just leave the star fish there to die on the shore. So I picked him up and hurled him as far as I could into the ocean. 

I stood there briefly, having done what I thought was the right thing. Until a seagull swooped down, picked him up out of the ocean, and carried him off in his beak. At which point I just stood there. Realizing I did more harm than good.

It was here I had an aha moment, where I realized that it wasn’t just the waves crashing that were damaging the sand dollars. But the greedy sea gulls pecking into them in search of food.

One day we got to go out crabbing. The seagulls were there too. Waiting for our discarded bait to swallow up. At one point a seagull was flying overhead. My niece was sitting next to me. I watched as the seagull pooped and the poop began falling. It wasn’t enough time to warn her, but only to watch as the wind projected it directly onto her.

Over the course of the three days I began to like the seagulls less and less. I understand they fill a specific need in the ecosystem. But they just didn’t draw affection from me on this trip.

In my quiet time walking on the beach I began to equate the seagulls as those things that peck at us in life. That destroy beauty. Cause disruption. Alter our hoped for path. Damage. Poop on us. Attempt to destroy us. Rarely drawing affection from us.

And yet, like the seagull, I know those things serve a purpose. They open my eyes to my weaknesses. Or show me how much more I need Him. They remind me of my imperfections. Or reveal my sinful tendencies. And as much as I don’t like the pecking. The disruptions. The unplanned detours. They shape me. Constantly. 

On the last day of our trip, I walked down to the beach early. I had found several sand dollars. But realized that even though I’d sang praise songs and walked for a couple miles, alone, next to an ocean that screams God, my soul was not quiet. I alone was directing my walk.

I found a big rock to sit on. And I thought about the trip. About my sand dollars and starfish. And about the seagull. And I thought, “What’s the constant? ”

My first thought was the wretched seagulls. But as I sat silently, I heard Him,  whisper to me. He simply said,”No. Not the seagulls.”
 
And As the waves were progressively getting closer, so was He. To faithfully assure me, He alone is the constant. He, who tells the waters where to stay, and does not allow them to cross the sands. He, Who gave the seagulls their purpose. And the trials in my life theirs. 
He is the constant.

As I sat there quietly, reminded that there will be trials. He reminded me that He is already there. Constant. 

As I got up to leave that quiet space, I realized I didn’t notice one seagull as I sat alone in His presence. Nor did any trial I am facing overwhelm me. Quiet, in His presence, It was just Him. Reminding me of His strength. His love. And His presence. Constant. Constantly.

May He remind you today, that He is constant. Constantly near. Constantly loving. Constantly strong. And hoping you’ll sit quietly and let Him overwhelm you with his radical plans. Not just for the ocean. But for your life. 

May He astound you. 

As He reminds you.

He is constant.

Hold steady

We went fishing with my brother yesterday. As we got out there, it was windier than expected. Tying up in a hog line has always stressed me out. Even when it’s not windy. And I don’t even have to do anything. 

As we go up River, we drop anchor and then go back down to get into position, it’s like a strategy game to get the right angle so that your boat drops into the barely big enough space between two boats already in position. 
My brother makes it look easy. But I’ve watched people who don’t know what they’re doing. It’s ugly. 

We were waiting for the tide today. For the right time to fish. For the winds to die down. 
At one point we had to reposition because the wind was so strong and we were slipping down below the other boats.

One guy couldn’t or chose not to hold his spot and just kept slipping down the river. And slipping. Until his boat was behind other guys’ fishing lines and the tone across the nearby boats became a little more testosterone filled. 

There were lots of little tricks to keeping the boat stabilized. To hold steady. Sometimes the big motor was on. Sometimes just the little. Finally, we were able to kill both and maintain position. There were sea anchors. And the positioning of the off motors’ propellor.

I felt like once you know what you’re doing, it’s probably easier to get into position. And holding steady there is just a matter of small adjustments. But looking at it from an inexperienced eye, I’m pretty sure if I tried, the whole hog line would be in an uproar. 

I think over the years my faith has become like that hog line. I try to live in that space that I’m supposed to. And do the things I should. I try not to slip. Try.

Not because God says I have to. But because He says He loves me. And when I understand that love. And grace. I know that my life is a more peaceful place when I’m honoring Him. I know I’m a better me. And I can bring Him more glory. When I’m living in that space He desires me to. And I desire me too.

It’s pretty sweet when you finally know His love in life and realize there’s no better place to be. I guarantee I slipped out of line many times. Way out. Or didn’t quite understand or desire to live in it. I sought things outside of Him for my contentment. And ended up hurt. Broken. Dismayed.

This walk still requires constant adjustments. Redirection. Correction. As the wind and world blow their temptations. Throw their obstacles. Or take my eyes off the True focus. 

It’s seeing where I want to be, seeing that I’ve slipped, and recognizing it, that allows me to reposition. Repent. 

A couple months ago the boys and I pulled into church. I told them something as we climbed out of the car. I’m sure I shocked them a little. I told them I did not want to be at church. That due to circumstances, I was mad at God. I told them I trusted Him, but was humanly upset and felt angry. I went on to tell them that the reason I shared that with them is because they were going to feel that way in life. Angry. And not understand. And definitely not want to be in God’s presence, or in the company of other believer’s. Or at church. But that those are the times we need Him most. Him. His people. And to be at church. 

I look back and realize, I’m probably a better leader to them in my troubles. Than in my good times. It’s here they see me trust. In something bigger than myself. And will look back and know that they can too.

I know sweet friends that we are all trying to do this life the best we know how. It gets frustrating when the same battles go on and on. Disheartening when tragedy strikes. Overwhelming when we’re tired.

But it’s in those places we have to hold on to Him and eachother. We have to trust what we know. Who we know to be faithful and good. Even when we don’t want to. We we have to hold steady.

Hold steady. In the wind. The tides. The current. In Him.

I pray today whether you’ve slipped way downstream, or maybe just need a few adjustments. Whether you need encouragement as you hold steady or an army of support around you, that you would know His love over you today. His faithfulness. 

As you peek at what’s outside of His will for you, may you be firmly reminded, that nothing outside His will ever brings the peace and joy of resting in His hands. No money. No relationship. No high. No thing. Can be greater than Him. And what your life contains when you hold steady.

Love you. And am praying today. For each of you that reads this. I don’t always understand. Or like life’s circumstances. For any of us. But I never doubt His faithfulness. For me. Or for you.

Hold steady sweet friends. Hold steady in Him. 

You are loved greatly~

This morning we were loading up my mom’s pick-up with a load to take to the dump. As we passed each other back and forth, Karch kept counting out loud. Loud enough for me to hear, but not Gunner. When he passed me and said, “Seven.” I finally asked him what he was counting. He told me that he was counting every time Gunner was sarcastic or rude to him. And that he was up to seven in the last 15 minutes.I suggested he might want to look for the positive stuff rather than the negative junk.
A short while later, we’d finished loading the garbage and were standing in the backyard talking to my dad, who was rinsing off our back deck. Karch said, “Eleven.” To which Gunner replied, “14!” And then added, “I knew what you were doing Karch and I didn’t want to be empty handed when you accused me of being mean, so I counted how many times you complained.”
At this point in the morning, Gunner and I left to go to the dump, and Karch stayed with my dad to work on the deck. 
As we were tossing our garbage into the big pile at the dump, the lot attendant came over to chat with us. He said they were really busy today, and that it was unusual. 
Maybe everyone was focusing on junk today. 
When we finished unloading our junk, Gunner asked if we could take a picture of it all. He grabbed the phone and took a shot of it all. The enormous pile. I took a selfie with the garbage in back of us to be funny. He said, “Mom, you should hashtag that, #whitetrash.” I laughed at his wit. And twisted humor;) 
We paid and left. Junkless.
On the way home we talked about attitudes. About how, even as an adult, it would be easy to count up the wrongs. To focus on the junk. But how when we focus on the negative, we live that. It becomes what we see all the time.
Whenever my boys seem to be in difficult places, I usually do a self check. To see if I’m acknowledging the good I see in them, or if I’m giving them attention for the bad. For instance when they are cooperatively playing together(mostly cooperative) am I focused on the five minutes of good, or do I only chime in during the 30 seconds of squabbling? 
I have to consciously choose sometimes to ignore the negative. Knowing they want my attention. But I want to give it them when they are doing something positive.
(This just triggered me to find them and thank them for playing nicely together).
As we drove away from the dump, I said to Gunner, that the dump always makes me wish I could take things home. I asked him if he saw anything good. He said, “I saw a chair I thought you’d probably like.” 
I asked him if it was the cute green wicker one, and when he said yes, I told him I totally saw it. And some gorgeous white wood!
Earlier this week, my car starting having issues. The place I usually go to didn’t understand the codes. So I had to take it to the dealer. They called this morning to say it’s $120 to diagnose it. Minutes later a friend emailed to say he has a set of clubs ready for Gunner in a new golf bag. Yesterday I got news that Gun got a scholarship to take Tuesday night golf lessons in Portland. My brother helped me get my car where it needs to be. My mom let me use her pick up. 
In the mess of those blessings, I have a choice. To see all the good. Or to take the one piece of poop and focus on it.
As I think not just about my boys this morning, but about myself, I know it’s not an overnight lesson. It’s a continual choice to count our blessings. And find the good. To give God the glory. And silence the ugly thoughts . Before they grow into something more. Because they will grow. If that’s what I’m feeding. 

This is true as a person. A parent. In a relationship. As an employee.  What we feed-positive or negative, grows. 
For me, to stay positive, it sometimes means staying off Facebook so I don’t see the trips others are taking. Instead, it’s counting my summer off as a blessing. And letting that be enough. Sometimes it means processing my thoughts in writing about my own issues, so I fully acknowledge I’m not perfect, and you hopefully realize you’re not alone. It’s important to know what keeps our eyes focused on the good and our hearts grateful.
As I often like to give human characteristics to non human things, I’m thinking back to the dump now. To the adorable green wicker chair. Tossed. In a heap of true trash. If I were him, I’d want to be noticed. Appreciated. Counted. 
I’m thinking about the summer ahead. And indeed, there will be some true trash. I also know that there will be plenty of treasures. More good than bad. But if I focus on the big pile of trash, it’s all I’m gonna see. And that would be sad. And defeat the purpose of summer off with my boys. 
I don’t want to hear someone say, like the dump attendant, that the crappy areas of my life are unusually busy. 
I want to teach my children to spot the treasures. To see the adorable green wicker chair. To appreciate their sibling. To count the good. Even if it’s the laughter as you take a #whitetrash selfie in front of a pile of true trash.
I got to watch the sun go down, and the moon come up. I got to hike seven miles. I get to sit on the back patio for my morning devotions. Alarm clockless. I get to take the time to watch a bunny in my yard. Or a dragonfly roam. And not have to rush out the door. 
I get to choose to pile up my blessings. Or my junk. I get to focus on the hand of God in my life. Or on the difficulties. And I get to teach my boys that sometimes the real blessing is not in the circumstance itself. It’s in what you are choosing to see. In how you are choosing to see it.
And in knowing what is really worth counting.
Today I’m thankful for #whitetrash. And that even a trip to the dump can teach me how to do life better.
Here’s to counting the fish we catch. The hikes we take. The friends we get to see. The times we feel loved. The minutes we laugh uncontrollably. And maybe how many s’mores we eat this summer;)
Have a beautiful, junkless summer sweet friends~love you!