Together.

My four kids teach me so much about life.

Our youngest is every bit of two and a half, with a strong will to boot.  Her favorite phrase for the past 6 months?

“Do it self!”

Followed by…

“I got it!  Do.  It.  SELF!”

You get the drift- she needs to do everything on her own.  With no help.

And that’s fine a lot of the time.  I try to keep our schedule relaxed enough that I don’t need to rush her to get in and out of her carseat, which she does at a snail’s pace.  She can put her shoes on on her own, wrong feet and all.  Who cares?  And she can take her time screwing the cap back onto the gallon of milk.

But she can’t pour herself full glass from that gallon of milk.  I know.  She’s tried.  And it’s a lot to clean up!

I was struggling with how to get across to her that there are some things that she really can’t do “self” yet.  They’re either dangerous -like crossing the highway by our house- or cause a huge sticky mess, life the aforementioned milk.

Any time I tried to explain this, though, it just caused me to have bad grammar (“No, you don’t got it self.”) and caused her to scream like no toddler has ever screamed before.

One day she was screaming about wanting to dump the entire container of yogurt into the blender all on her own for smoothies.  And, for some reason, instead of getting frustrated and repeating, “You don’t got it!” to her, I simply said, “Together.”

“Let’s do it together.”

She calmed down, looked at me, and said, “Okay.”

And we did it together.

Along with her 4 year old brother.  So, yes, there were three hands putting the yogurt into a small blender.  Overkill?  Maybe.  But my little girl learned that sometimes “together” is better than “self”.

Isn’t that true of our adult lives too?

We rush around trying to get everything done by ourselves.  Stressed, tired, and burned out.  When, really, we could be spending life together.  Helping our neighbors weed their garden, taking a walk with a friend who is grieving, giving our husband a lingering kiss goodbye instead of rushing out the door, or making a smoothie with two hands too many.

It’s amazing what happens when we slow down enough to do life together.  It may take more time.  It may even be more stressful at first.  But it’s truly a beautiful experience.

My toddler still wants to “do it self”, and 75% of the time she’s able to.  But when she’s not, when the task is too dangerous or difficult, all I have to say is “together”.  Then she looks up at me and says, “Okay, Momma.  Together.”

Most of the time.

But it’s a step in the right direction.

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Closeness.

IMG_0258A word struck me this morning as I snuggled my babies on the couch and read them book after book.

Closeness.

We all crave closeness.

Connection.

Intimacy.

When I’m reading with my kids, I’m as close to them as I can possibly be.  In fact, they argue over who gets to sit in my lap next.  But it’s more than that.  Physical nearness almost necessitates emotional connection and presence.

How can I be present and connected to my kids if I’m moving us all so quickly that we’re distanced from one another physcially and emotionally because there’s no time?  No time for slowing down.   No time for just sitting and being together.  No time for closeness.

Slowing down doesn’t mean being lazy or not fulfilling your potential, as I’ve been told.  It means taking the time to be close to the most important people in your lives.  It means fostering intimacy in your relationships.  It means being there, physically and emotionally, for those who depend on you most.  Because to make this world work, we all need to depend on each other and be there for each other.  And we can’t do our part in that equation if we’re running around at breakneck speed.

Intimacy comes when we pare away all the bad (and good) unnecessary stuff in our lives to spend time with the ones we love.

Connection comes when we take the time and energy to be fully present in our conversations.  Even as our looming to-do list grows longer and longer.

Closeness comes when we make the time to slow down.  To slow down and be together.

Be the change.

I started sewing shortly after we started a clothing closet at our church.  As a social worker, the clothing closet was a way I could use my skills and give back to the community at the same time.  People donate gently worn clothing for others to use, free of charge.  We have given out an incredible amount of clothes, but the supply far exceeds the demand.  There are so many donations each month that, after we sort through for what the community needs, we pass the rest to other thrift stores or textile recyclers.

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As I was putting worn out jeans into bags for textile recycling, it occurred to me that I could use the jeans to sew!  As I dug further into the lifecycle of textiles, I became more and more passionate about recycling and upcycling clothing before it hits the landfills.

Reclaimed for Good was born.

“Reclaimed” because I work with rescued textiles.  “For Good” because a portion of my sales go to support local causes like the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery in Spokane, WA.

“Reclaimed” because we have been reclaimed through Christ.  “For Good” because we have the duty of caring for creation and each other.

We can all “be the change” in different ways.

Mine is through sewing, living slowly, and loving my family.  And it’s a work in progress.  Every day.

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