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‘God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt.’ It’s a saying that I’m sure we’ve all heard so many times!  But, my reply every time I hear it said, “Well, God made rattlesnakes. And rattlesnakes WILL hurt!” Nevertheless, it is very true that you shouldn’t be afraid to work hard and get your hands dirty. In my family, mud and dirt has NEVER been a problem. And no, I don’t mean, ‘It’s never been a problem, we stay out of it.’ I mean, ‘We’ve never had a problem playing and working IN the mud and dirt.’ Some of you are probably cringing and crying right now… Sorry.  We’ve always loved being outside and working with our hands.  I walked outside a few weeks ago to see a huge mountain of dirt in the middle of one of our gardens. Turns out, the ‘three little musketeers’ had built a huge castle and dug a moat around it. It was so adorable to see them working so hard on it. I’m so glad that my siblings can always turn everything into a great adventure! They always have so much fun. And they look pretty cute while doing it too! 
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This was originally published on "A Sweet N Simple Life" blog on Wordpress. Cynthia is our oldest daughter & has a beautiful as well as inspirational blog of her own!  Check It Out Here! 

 
 
As I drove through the city a few weeks ago I noticed something that strangely disturbed me. I started to notice this almost everywhere I went. I would bring my children to a nearby park, playground, lake, you-name-it outdoors… and I would find the same thing everywhere.

Something is
taking over our playgrounds. It is all over our state parks. Have you ever driven slowly past a beautiful flowing creek glimmering with sunlight between the trees? It’s there too. The sad part is- we can all do our part to prevent this, yet many times we just don’t.   It is so easy to become caught up in our daily lives that we just brush this aside and hope someone else will deal with the problem. Yet it affects each one of us.

We just have too much to do. I know the feeling… The laundry is never done. Homemade meals take time, effort, and make a mess! Taking care of a house is more than a full time job- not to mention homeschooling the kids, or helping them with homework, being active in your church, focusing on your marriage, plus trying to make a little extra money to help make ends meet!! We can so easily become stretched to our limits just keeping up with daily life.  

Yet so many are struggling to find a balance between productivity and peace. Keeping busy does not automatically mean we are making the most of each moment. In fact, many times it does the opposite. We can convince ourselves that we are so busy that we just don’t have time for anything else- when the best thing we could do for ourselves, our family, and our walk with the Lord is to just STOP. Believe me- the dishes, the laundry, the emails… they will wait for you.
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Are you seeing what I am seeing? Emptiness. Empty park benches. Empty trails. Empty streams. Empty swing sets. Empty slides. You name it… it’s empty.   As for playgrounds- I cannot tell you how many times I’ve brought my children and we are the only ones there. As for the hiking trails… it seems there is some understanding that they are for two groups of people: the dog walkers, and the fitness gurus. I’ve got nothing against dog walkers and have a great respect for people who take good care of their bodies- but where are the rest of us?

We are cowering behind a massive wall of fear and excuses. -I’ve got too much to do! -It’s too cold outside! -It might rain! -Just one more load of laundry! -Maybe we’ll go on Saturday or Sunday!  And on and on the list goes…. The internet is overflowing with websites and blogs about saving money, fighting depression, cheap activities to do as a family, date nights, quiet time with God, etc., yet the beautiful outdoors is just on the other side of our front door. Look through your car window see the beauty of the quiet stream just blocks from your house. Can’t walk much? Find a park bench. Got kids? Hit the playground! Need some time alone? Sit by the lake.

I could cite several studies I have read on the positive effects the outdoors has on our minds and bodies, but I will challenge you to make the choice to add a daily routine to your own life and find out for yourself! I know from having a dog that taking a few minutes a day to play fetch will cut behavioral problems to a minimum… yet do we think of applying that to children? Take a group of kids on a hiking trail or to a stream and see how much it affects their behavior. You might be amazed! Walk away from all the white noise generating in our technology filled houses and listen to the water rushing through the rocks from just the tiniest stream of water!

And I know we could go to our own backyards- many times that is just what we need to do. But I have found for myself that I just have
too much to do in my own home to stay home without getting those things done- so for me sometimes I need to hop in the car and get a few blocks away. Leave the cell phone in the van and walk away for a while.  Don’t worry, when I get back home… everything is still there!! Have I wasted my time? Not in the least. The moments, the memories, the time enjoying the beauty God has given us and the people God has placed in our lives and all around us are worth every moment we spend soaking it all in.

How about you? Do you see an empty place that you can fill? Have you listened intently to a stream or watched a chipmunk scurry among the leaves? Have you left behind your phone and focused on those around you? Don’t let emptiness invade our parks, our trails, our beautiful places that God has provided for our rest and refreshment. Take it all in. Little pieces at a time if you have to. But
don’t be part of the emptiness.
 
 
Earlier this year I learned about a Math curriculum called Life of Fred. I read through their webpage, checked out a few reviews, and decided to try out a book on my younger ones. Turns out- it is a LOT of fun! I didn’t switch any of our schoolbooks, but just added in a lesson of Fred each day.

Basically, it is a VERY silly story of a 5 yr old who happens to be a college professor. Throughout his day lots of crazy things happen… and somehow the children are taught about everything from how Archimedes died to how to say “lightning” in German.  I have enjoyed the books so much- and especially enjoyed seeing my children learn so many facts is such a fun and interesting way, that we ended up ordering more elementary, the beginning readers, and also Algebra for the older ones.

I have been amazed the nights that we get home late, pile out of the minivan, and the children point up to the sky and excitedly say, “There’s Orion’s Belt!!” I can definitely say that I never knew who Orion was, or how to find his belt!!

Night after night they have pointed up to his belt, and then one night Joanna (6) says, “Mommy, you could write about this. Three stars make one belt- just like God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost make One God.” Now- I must say I was quite leery of mixing Astronomy with Theology. So, I just gave her a hug and said, “Now that’s a good idea!” (with no intention of writing about it.) Yet night after night as she looked up at the sky she was reminded of what a Great God we serve. The God Who made the stars and placed them all in the heaven. Three in One.

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