Outdoor Living Rooms


Like every new mom, I desired to tie secure and loving bonds with my children. I imagined literally binding them to me with strands of laughter and cords of encouragement as we shared life within our home. I knew there would be difficult times of training and correction, but those were the days I vowed to tether my connection-strengthening fetters most purposefully.  As I held my first born infant, I already seemed to understand that discipline, even when administered in love, would cause a temporary severing of sorts. And I knew the gap must be carefully bridged with togetherness.

My heart was eager to parent well.

Siblings then came in quick succession, and each one proved himself stronger willed than his predecessor. The occasional confrontations I had imagined became moment-by-moment, one foot in front of the wearied other, hard parenting realities. From sunrise, long past it set in the West, my days were a secession of confrontational moments that seemed to rip at the seams of our family.


While I longed to lovingly bind us back together,

the tearing happened faster

than my loving needle could mend.

Correction, followed by tenderness; discipline administered in the quiet of time-out corners; forgiveness extended; meals brought to the table amidst complaints; hungry children sent to bed; bedtime tuck-ins where all is never enough.


Neck deep in mothering I began to wonder, “Where do I fit in positive, healing relationships? Correction fills every corner of our Living Room, bedrooms, kitchen nook, and family room!  And then this happened…



And it occurred to me that there is Room for Living, unbound by walls,

Where togetherness splashes healing waters over bare shoulders.

A room, neither confined by ceiling nor filled with squabbles,

Where cares fall, laughter rises, and hearts are made full.


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Today they are five years older, living beyond the walls of another home. They’ve outgrown their kiddie pool and popsicles and reach for a root beer from the cooler between back flips into the deep.  They bring me weeds as love offerings and give up their chair when I'm ready to sit.


I have not given up on bringing grace into every interior space of our home, but I’ve found that moving outdoors together allows us to leave the correction and focus on celebration. Leaving real struggles, to focus on real relationships.


Last weekend my husband cleaned every exterior window around the home as the boys swam.  I brought poolside a steady supply of lemonade, cheese and crackers. The Beach Boys serenaded “In my Room…” throughout our outside Living Room.

I handed My Honey an Arnold Palmer, then exchanged his dirty rag for a clean one. How appropriate: Two sinners saved by grace, raising three others in need of the same. Dirty rags, exchanged for Christ’s Righteousness.

Today I hope and pray that you can find a place, in such a way, that allows you to mend what’s been torn, and heal what’s hurting; a place where cares fall, laughter rises, and hearts are made full.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. (Romans 14:19)


Let the Conversation continue… Is there a place beyond your Living Room, where the bickering and hurtful actions temporarily cease? Where is the place your family ties their sweet double knots of restoration?