Play

Summertime

Posted by on Jul 4, 2014 in Freedom, Play, Summer, Wonder | 28 comments

for summertime

 

Summertime is the sweetheart of the seasons.

Children wait all year for its arrival. Anticipated and well planned vacations finally squeeze into its slim perimeters. Even fruit trees spend the year preparing for the grand finale. Summer comes with high expectations and crescendos with lazy relief.

Familiar scents usually lure us out of hiding into the glorious arms of the season. Cut grass, star jasmine, foggy air – even the tangy stench of sunscreen lathers the senses with intoxicating images.

Every soul needs summertime. Dreamy days, warm nights, less clothing and conversations that linger.

Children aren’t the only ones who gain from the decompression, we all do. Summer takes us away from our usual. Whether geographical or internal – we benefit from the slowing down. Our sun starved skin drinks in the extra Vitamin D while our minds unwind and soul feasts on the fruit of uncluttered moments.

Somehow reading a book by a river’s edge or at a packed pool for hours isn’t perceived as a waste of time. Summer both redeems and invests.

Layers of clothing along with accumulated concerns seem to drop off as the weeks linger on – exposing our kindred lumps, bumps, hopes and fears. Our feet can breathe – dreams swell as we lay in the grass or sand or unfamiliar turf.

We know summer is fleeting and we’ll soon be inching toward winter once again through the subtle door of fall – so we dance with our sweetheart – grasping what she offers and storing up till her next visit.

Take walks.

Befriend a stranger.

Read a book by a new author.

Watch a mother play with her child.

Listen for baby birds, look for new life around you.

Stay outside till the moon comes up and count the stars.

Pick fresh fruit from a vine and let its juices rest on your tongue before swallowing.

 winter is coming – this is the place we gather material for dreams and peace in our future.

Summertime.

 

 

Read More

A Visit to the Toy Store

Posted by on Jun 20, 2014 in Children, Play, toys | 20 comments

012

 

When was the last time you visited a large toy store? If it’s been a while, you’re in for a real surprise – a shocking overload to the senses actually. Be prepared, you’ll see every conceivable form of plastic configuration the mind can concoct. I caution you – it has a hypnotic effect.

Yesterday I entered the colorful maze looking for one simple item and quickly found myself swallowed up by floor to ceiling boxes of plastic fantastic STUFF.

One of the rows had mechanical toy dogs on one side and talking baby dolls on the other. High pitched barks mingled with unnatural baby cries filled the isle each time an unsuspecting shopper walked by.

There was even an entire isle dedicated to toy horses. Twenty feet long by ten feet high of them. There were stuffed horses, tiny horses, tall horses, fantasy horses – horses with hair, horses with saddles, families of horses and every other piece of paraphernalia to go with them.

The deeper I went the more fascinated I became. Isle after isle told children how to play. Dollhouses, castles, costumes, miniature furniture, games, electronic devices – it was endless. Even the books were automated.

I found myself craving wood – real wood. The kind that smells real, feels real and looks real. I searched for old fashioned building blocks and was horrified to learn they didn’t sell them.

Alarms began to ring in my mind. Non battery-operated alarms.

Children need, we all need – more than TOYS, we’re designed to be creators. Block play is essential for the healthy development of young children. They don’t require an instruction manual with automated parts to enjoy blocks – they just need blocks and space to create.

We’re getting too comfortable in a world that thinks for us – that controls our play – that has plasticized every aspect of our environment.

I had to examine my own insatiable appetite for stuff and stimuli. How much is too much? Do I choose items and devices with predictable outcomes rather than create new ones for myself?

When I surfaced for air, my heart felt sad for the lack of open spaces our children experience. Safety, keeping the educational edge, entertainment and ease – all want to choke out the freedom our children need to become the future for their own generation – thinkers, investors, creators. More than mere mastery – living, breathing, creators.

Do you remember the things that gave you joy as a child? Were they even ‘things’?

I remember playing horse, not playing with toy horses. I spent hours galloping through open grassy fields pretending to be a four legged creature. I remember building forts with twigs, brush and dirt. No one taught me how to build a fort – I built it with imagination and endless unsupervised hours of play.

We need the same as adults. We need real. We need open space, cleared space, real space to regenerate and create. Without it, I worry for the people we will become.

 

Linked with #GiveMeGrace

Read More

Sand Castles, Dreams and Chatter

Posted by on Jun 10, 2013 in Children, Play, Wonder | 2 comments

Sand Castles, Dreams and Chatter

Visit any playground where four year olds gather and you’ll most likely see busy little girls huddled together in the sandbox, planning their play.

 

Ninety percent of their time together will be spent discussing what they hope to do.

 

They plan where they’ll live, what they’ll wear, and who will do what. Their created world is being linked together through imagination and conversation. The chatter is persuasive and rich – the volume high as each campaigns their piece of the plan.

 

“I’m the princess, my dress is blue and I ride a white pony”, says one, while another chimes in, “But, but, but, I want the blue one, you wear the red cape – my castle has five ponies, black and white”.

 

It’s hard to know when we lose this seemingly senseless art of enjoyment building sandcastles that never become.

 

Perhaps without visible outcome it seems futile to the mature mind.

 

Is it the sense of time wasted that causes us to leave the sandbox, or the feeling of non-productivity? Where is the worth in mere conversation just for the sake of conversing, or in sharing dreams or pointless planning?

 

Could it be that God lives within such a sandbox?

 

Does He wait patiently to be central to our greatest longings or does he even seem to care about our plans? Does our communal Father walk away from his time spent with us completely satisfied? Do we walk away satisfied with listening and sharing – minus an outcome?

 

When the girls disband from their time together on the playground they rarely look back to see what was accomplished.

 

They’re not disappointed the castle was never built.

 

They never actually changed their names or clothing. Most of the time, the shovels and buckets lying beside them are unused. Often they haven’t moved from their place of planning.

 

But, they leave fulfilled.

 

After all, they spent time together. Their vocabulary is richer, their dreams crisper, their friendship anchored in shared conversation. Each one leaves with a small piece of the others mind, and if they’re lucky – a little sand in their pockets to remember the encounter.

 

 

 

008

 

When was the last time you enjoyed God’s companionship in your sandbox?

Did you sense his enjoyment in the time spent with you? Grab a bucket, shovel and ear of a trusted friend. Hit the sandbox and share your story.

Please share, I’d love to hear about it!

“God, the one and only— I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him? He’s the solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life” Psalms 62:5 MSG

 

 

Read More

Just Because

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Children, God Speaks, Play, Wonder | 2 comments

“The true object of all human life is play” G. K. Chesterton
“If we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own” Brennan Manning

 

Do you ever wonder why the Bible encourages us to be like children? What possible behaviors could Jesus be referring to when he tells us to be like them? Seriously, are we to be like immature, fully dependent, somewhat self-centered little people? Or are we to simply be children, just because?

 

Why do they jump in mud puddles? Why do they fixate on the simplest, seemingly insignificant little thing? And why do they do it right when we’re trying to teach them our big important thing? Our adult moments are usually deliberate and delegated. We hope our time is filled with pertinence and productivity. Children embrace what’s directly in front of their eyes or in their mind – right now – just because.

 

 Could we for just a moment assume our intentional, all-powerful, creative and constructive God also lives in the just because? Why did he create so many shades of blue when any one of them is jaw-dropping by itself? Why do we have more varieties of tree bark within one species than we can imagine or why did he spend so much time on the detail of desert flowers rarely seen or appreciated by human beings? Could it be – just because?
 The gulf between Almighty God and our understanding doesn’t seem quite so large when we lay aside our need to know, our assumptions, even our theologies to experience communion of delight within the wonder-filled world of just because. Why not embrace rebellious foolishness, simple pleasures, and curious exploration. Maybe it’s where we’ll find Him.

In reflection I ponder this verse and wonder how I might receive the childlikeness myself today – just because. I ponder play and hope to understand my creator more fully today.

 

“Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom. What’s more, when you receive the childlike on my account, it’s the same as receiving me” Matthew 18:3 The Message

 

 Linking with #TellHisStory

 

 

Read More

The Ride

Posted by on Apr 13, 2013 in Humility, Married Life, Play, Questions are Good | Comments Off on The Ride




 

Because I love him, and since he asked, I agreed to ride bikes with my husband today. To be clear, we love bike rides – just not down our long road and not on the busy streets I ordinarily drive my car.

Riding a bike on the same street I’ve driven down forever gave an entirely different perspective on things. For instance, I never realized how many houses had dogs, barking dogs. I never noticed the gradual hills  and long meandering turns. Today I saw newly planted flowers and budding trees I usually speed right past. And the smell of fresh cut grass was intoxicating.

I also didn’t realize someone lived at the end of our street just over the guardrail. I must drive past his humble camp every day. His tent, neatly stacked bags, and camp stove were pitched in a grove of weeds. I found myself wondering who he was and how long he’d lived there. I wondered where he came from.  

Perched on top of my humble bike seat – secretly hoping no one I knew would see me I was forced to ponder how valuable my bike might be to this person camping in such an undesirable place.

Each morning I ask God to search my heart, to keep it soft, pliable, and open to his voice. But each day I find myself safely belted into my own driver’s seat racing past a world of needs. How many individuals are camped nearby in a need I could easily meet – just beyond the guardrail of my life?

God’s voice is soft. I’m grateful He spoke to me today. I’m glad I took the challenge to venture down the path of uncomfortable and unfamiliar. 

God’s voice is never accusatory. His voice is gentle and purpose-driven. He loves indiscriminately. We’re never beyond rescuing and reshaping. Today I thought I was pleasing my husband and exercising my body. God did that and so much more for me. I’m left wondering what else I miss when I move too fast. I feel selfish for more. My heart aches to feel humanity the way God feels it every day – every moment. My eyes want to see.

The exhilaration of my racing heart and burning thighs felt good. My heart and soul also crave exhilaration. What a marvelous mystery – to be fully spent by slowing down.
 
And by the way – his bike was blue and his name, James.

Luke 10:27 “He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer, muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” The Message

Read More