Category: motherhood

Back on Track

Ever have one of those years when the Christmas decorations linger longer than you want to admit? And when the idea of eating any more of the Christmas leftovers makes chills go up your spine? Yeah, we’ve all been there and it’s just a sign that it is time to get back on track.

But it’s so overwhelming! How do you do it when you’re not even sure where the track is?

I’m offering four steps to putting the holiday hullabaloo behind us and getting back on track.

1. Draw Away

Did you know that Jesus taught His disciples to do this one? Mark 6:30-32 says, “The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” Obviously what was good for the disciples is good for you and me too.

Draw away…to do what?

  • Draw away to breathe – just rest. Remember what Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
  • Draw away to pray. When things get really busy and deadlines are closing in, I tend to focus on the to-do list and figure out how to get it done without even thinking about praying. We need time to just sit still and go back to our Father and talk to Him and give Him our schedules and trust Him to make them work…or to change them. (More on this later.)
  • Draw away to read. Get your Bible open. If you haven’t already chosen a Bible reading plan for 2017, pick one out and get started.

Draw away…where? Again, remember what Jesus said, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place…” So draw away to…

  • Someplace quiet
  • Someplace with some privacy

Where would a quiet, private place be? It’s going to depend on you and what distracts you. I love the idea of going to a coffee shop, but all too often I am distracted by the people doing business there – interviewing potential employees, making sales pitches on the phone. I can’t do it. It also can’t be at home because all the things that need to be done there will distract me. For me, the best plan has been to go through the coffee drive-through and then head to the reading room at our local library. Very few people go there and the ones who do expect perfect silence. Works for me, but maybe not for you. Find your place and get ready to go.

Oops, but what about Draw away…how?

If you’re a mom with little kids at home during the day, you probably think drawing away is a pipe dream. It just can’t happen. Don’t give up on drawing away yet. Let’s think about just a morning or just an afternoon. Then think about another mom that you can trade babysitting with. She needs time to draw away too. If you have relatives in the area, explain your plan to them and ask for help. Which of your relatives would not want to help you get back on track? And, if nothing else works, pay a babysitter. Just one morning, just a little time in a desolate place to get back on track.

One little note – if you’re an empty nest mom like me, look around you to see which frazzled mom needs a morning of free babysitting from you.

2. Revamp Schedules

Take an hour out of your drawing-away morning to look at last year’s schedule and to think about ways to make this year’s schedule more workable and more beneficial. Consider these things as you plan out a daily and weekly schedule:

  • Your daily Bible study. I kind of harp on this, but it’s because it is essential – not just important – but essential for your spiritual health and growth. You say you only have fifteen minutes? Great, use that Bible reading plan to read a chapter or two a day. You can do it in fifteen minutes.
  • Dates with your husband. Yes, you need them. Your husband needs them. Yes, they can be cheap. Google it – there are plenty of fun, cheap date ideas out there. Find them and then put it on your schedule – hopefully once a week, but you and your hubby know what will work for both of you.
  • Regular mom time. More time to draw away – maybe once a quarter. Time to spend with your friends – and, yes, play dates count.
  • Cleaning, work, and kids’ schedules. All the stuff that takes up the bulk of your time. Plan it out and spread it out.

And one more word about scheduling – no, wait, two more words! First, use pretty paper. There are lots of free printables on the web. One of my favorites is at https://thepostmansknock.com/category/freebies/. The second word about scheduling – hold it loosely! Schedules are meant to be a guide, not a judgment.

3. Sleep and Drink Water

Pretty simple, but I believe these two are important in getting back on track. I often try to get away with 6 hours of sleep and it never works. I need as close to 8 hours as I can get. As for water…if you’re trying to live on coffee and sodas, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Don’t kid yourself by saying your body just needs liquids. It needs water. Just drink it!

4. Throw It Away

This is your official permission to throw it away. Throw what away? Any number of things – leftover holiday food, Christmas decorations that are broken or faded or that you really don’t like, Christmas cards, all those empty gift boxes that you could use next year, and anything else that is cluttering up your life and making it impossible to get back on track. Just fill up your garbage can with them. It’s okay.

That’s it – that’s all my wisdom on getting back on track for 2017. But, seriously, do it! Take some time to draw away to breathe and pray and read; revamp your schedule (on pretty paper); take care of yourself by sleeping and drinking water; and throw away the junk that can drown you.

Get back on track and have a great 2017!

 

photography by Unsplash.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m having Coffee for Your Heart with Holley Gerth. Join in the fun!

 

4 Ways to Keep the Christmas Crazies Out of Your House

The Christmas Crazies are out! I’ve seen them all over the place and I bet you have too.

Christmas Crazies tell you things like:

  • Give the biggest gift under the tree
  • Find the perfect gift
  • Make your table Instagram-worthy

And Christmas Crazies tell you that you need:

  • Top-rated Christmas decorating ideas
  • Christmas light ideas that will top your neighbor’s house
  • Holiday essentials for the perfect party

You know what I mean, don’t you?

Christmas Crazies make you sigh when you look at your lopsided tree. Christmas Crazies keep you up at night figuring out how to top last year’s gift list and how to pay for it. Christmas Crazies send you into the craft store even when the lines are beyond unbelievable because you have to have just the right ribbon to finish off the presents. Christmas Crazies glue you to Pinterest to find the party ideas that will make you the Christmas party hostess of the century.

But even worse, Christmas Crazies wear you down from lack of sleep and too much multi-tasking. Christmas Crazies make you look at your husband and children as hurdles to jump on your way to the perfect Christmas. Christmas Crazies make you care more about impressing your guests than about enjoying time with your friends.

To sum it up, Christmas Crazies can either completely ruin your Christmas or come very close to it.

I know. I’ve been there. I’ve stayed up ridiculously late on Christmas Eve finishing up hand-crafted presents that my toddlers would soon forget. I’ve worried over Christmas Eve menus and Christmas morning brunch menus and Christmas Day dinner menus until there was so much food that half of it was wasted. I’ve worked very hard to decorate my house for people I didn’t have time to invite over.

I’ve had more than my fair share of run-ins with the Christmas Crazies.

And I’ve come to see that there are at least four ways to keep the Christmas Crazies out of my house – yours too.

  1. Keep the whole thing in perspective. Is making yourself stressed out and irritable for the whole of December and probably part of November really worth a couple of hours on Christmas Eve and a couple more on Christmas Day? Yes, it is such a precious and holy time, but does that justify hours and days and weeks of shopping and cooking and list-making and driving and worrying? Would your Christmas really fall apart if it didn’t live up to your ideas of the perfect Christmas?
  2. Know what is enough. One year my husband and I went totally out of our minds with the gift giving. We bought our four kids everything and anything. We charged those credit cards right up to the limit. There were piles of presents everywhere. I don’t know what was wrong with us that year but I can tell you that it wasn’t worth it. We needed to know what was enough and we needed to teach our kids what was enough. Now, years later, I love the idea of giving one thing to wear, one thing to play with, and one thing to read. Your enough may be something different, but find out what it is and stick with it – no matter what your friends may do, no matter what your sisters may do – stick with enough.
  3. Take the Tenth Commandment seriously. I know – the Ten Commandments are not so popular nowadays. Everybody’s afraid of being labeled a legalist if they try to follow them and nobody wants to memorize them anymore, but if you are serious about warding off the Christmas Crazies, you need to know and follow number ten. And what is number ten? You shall not covet. In today’s language – don’t spend hours on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest drooling over what somebody else owns or has created. Stop it! Be content with what you have. Be content with what God has given you.
  4. Remember the simplicity of the first Christmas. Get quiet and come back to the basics. What are we really doing at Christmas but celebrating a very simple, unassuming birth of a peasant child? Mary and Joseph probably would have liked a roof and four walls and some privacy. They probably would have liked to have a real bed for their baby. But the God of the universe had chosen a different way for the King of Kings to enter the world. No fuss was made. No decorations were put up. Pinterest was not consulted. Just a mom and a dad and a brand new baby in a dirty old stable with smelly animals. Now, do you really want to let the Christmas Crazies steal that simple story away from you and your family?

I know you don’t. So let’s keep it in perspective, let’s figure out what is enough, let’s be content, and above all, let’s remember that very first, very simple Christmas. And we’ll send those Christmas Crazies packing!

Have You Gotten the Mail?

mailMail!

The word and the associations it brings to mind make me smile.

When I was in college my grandmother and I started writing back and forth to each other. Yes, that was back in the days of long distance charges when phone calls were saved for special occasions or emergencies.

We wrote pretty regularly and I looked forward to seeing her beautiful handwriting and pretty stationery. It wasn’t just that her letters were pleasing to the eye. They were full of news of my family and my hometown and they were full of my grandmother’s love.

When I married and moved to another state, the letter-writing between us resumed and once again I looked forward to finding her letters in the mail. Over time her lovely handwriting became a little shakier and she wrote progressively shorter notes, but still her love came through the mail loud and clear.

When Grandma was gone my letter-writing fell off to practically none at all, but, last year when my son went off to become a Marine, I learned the importance of the mail again.

This time it was me writing newsy letters full of family and home and encouragement and lots and lots of love. I knew he wouldn’t have much time to write but still I eagerly raced my husband to the mailbox every evening to see if there was a precious piece of mail with a California postmark.

Mail! So lovely to receive. I know I can email friends and family in distant places. I can even call them without worrying about long distance charges, but maybe it would be a good idea to pick out some special stationery and send it off their mailboxes once in a while.

What about you? Do you enjoy getting mail? Do you have someone you correspond with through real mail or is there someone in your life who might enjoy getting a handwritten letter filled with love from you?

 

Hop on over to Five Minute Friday to read some more posts inspired by the prompt word – “mail”.

Five-Minute-Friday-4

Which Do Families Need – Quality or Quantity Time?

crazy-busyDoes it seem like our way of life has gone a little crazy in the last couple of decades? How is it crazier?

  • We’re busier

    • longer hours at work

    • more traffic to thread through

    • more activities to get our kids to

  • We’re more stressed out

    • more demands on our money

    • more expectations to excel

    • more people modeling “perfection”

  • We’re less able to cope

    • pessimistic

    • depressed

    • anxious

  • And we’re pretending we’re none of these things.

And then we come home…to our children who are also busy and stressed and trying to cope.

So which is it? Do they need quality time or quantity time?

If I say quantity, I am upping my busy-ness and my stress. If I say quality, that too could add to my busy-ness because I’ll have to work longer to afford it and it could add to my stress wondering if the quality I provide is good enough.

Wow, what a mess!

Michael Horton has written a book called Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World. Listen to what he says about the crazy that moms have ended up in.

“…the burdens we place on women – even from childhood – make them anxious about life and drive them to expect dissatisfaction with the normal and everyday aspects of life that are so crucial for the development of deep roots, wisdom, and nurture for the whole family…What they need is fewer guilt trips and expectations and more encouragement as they invest in ordinary tasks that yield long-term dividends.”

Somehow we moms have let ourselves become convinced that ordinary quantity time is not what our kids want or need. It’s boring. It can’t compete with all the other claims on our families’ attention. It’s just not good enough.

Instead our kids need:

  • themed birthday parties that look like they cost a mint (and did)
  • the newest and most up-to-date technology (otherwise they’ll be behind in the job market before they ever get to high school)
  • the best teachers and coaches and schools (ditto)
  • the most opportunities to develop new skills (ditto)
  • vacations that keep up with those their friends took
  • moms who look young forever
  • moms who serve on every board and committee related to their kids’ activities
  • moms who bring the best snacks after the game

I think that’s enough. You get the point and, if you’re honest, you know I’m not exaggerating.

So…do kids…do families need that stuff?

One more quote from Michael Horton should answer the question.

“We need to take the pressure off of both parents, let them take a breath, and, resting in God’s grace, let them revel in the ordinary chat in the car, the normal conversation over family devotions, and the countless moments that add up. Our families, including us, do not need more quality time, but more quantity time. That’s when most of the best things happen. We think that such events are spontaneous – and to a certain extent they are. But they are really the things that bubble up when people are living ordinary lives together.”

So what do we do?

  • dial it back

    • don’t say yes to every activity80

    • leave work at work

  • stop trying to keep up to Instagram and Facebook

  • hang with people who feel the same way – not people who push you to do more

  • listen to your family, look at them, and enjoy them

  • rest in God’s grace letting Him create “the countless moments that add up”

 

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