Candy blogs: Once again, I have missed sharing on this blog for too long. This has been a year of huge changes in our lives. I have had to take myself up on my own advice by working intentionlly on rest and balance. And our pastor has been teaching on Sabbath rest. What a blessing to my soul. The most important huge change is that …
… I’m a new grandma!
It’s only been five days but it is already definitely everything that everyone who has gone before me has ever said it would be. I had the privelege of being present during labor and at the birth. So many things have gone through my mind in the last week.
As I’ve watched our daughter experience her brand new baby boy, all the emotions of my own new motherhood have rushed through my mind. I’m remembering the sense of being overwhelmed, the self doubt, the confusion, the fear, the dread of the night, the blurring of days and nights, the exhaustion … but also the sense of wonder of God’s handiwork and a new contentment and the unveiling of a love I never knew I was capable of.
I see our daughter with that look on her face now. She has a sense of time just stretching out before her. She has all the time in the world to get to know her little son and learn how to take care of him. She and her husband are focusing on giving their baby the very best start in life that they can give. Everything else has dropped away. Things that used to be so important have lost their urgency. Their walls of their world have closed in and become very small. This child is their only priority. They aren’t letting things from the outside crowd out this priority; in fact, they are making sure nothing else crowds in.
They are experiencing rest … not necessarily physical rest (LOL!), but rest from the work cycle.
Sabbath Rest … processing Pastor Darrel Wiseman’s series
God rested. Why can’t we?
The compulsion to stay busy, just doing, no matter what it is, is a spiritual sickness. It needs a remedy. It needs to be cured.
This is one of my signature soapboxes. I lived so long in this trap, in this lie. Doing and doing, accomlishing and accomplishing, keeping very busy to avoid dealing with old baggage and unresolved issues. I never allowed myself time for reflection, for evaluating, for planning ahead, for peace. I avoided solitude and silence because the baggage and the unresolved issues would bubble up. Too mush work, too confusing, too painful … what is the next activity please?
I know there are other reasons for being compusively busy and I’m not going to pick on specific activities. My soap box is just to encourage young families to stop and think before accepting each opportuntiy that comes as to the effect it might have on the overall pace they want their family to have. Build in consistent times of rest from the usual pace.
Sabbath rest is more than a weekly break from the routine. It has a focus. It’s not just rest in general, but a focus on the Giver of rest, a focus on God. Sabbath rest will do several things for us. First, Sabbath rest will give us authentic enjoyment. Second, Sabbath rest is for contrast.
You know, one could be married for 50 years, spending every day in the same room with their spouse, but still never have an intimate relationship with them. Just knowing ABOUT God, just being in the same room with Him, just believing He exists isn’t relationship. If we never set aside time focusing on the relationship, no real focus on the Giver of rest, the relationship becomes distant, on the surface, awkward, irrelevant, formal, inconvenient. I don’t like the sound of those words, do you?
We can’t focus on these deeper things of life in the midst of the work cycle. This is why God modeled the concept of Sabbath. He knew we would need it. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, not to please God. He GAVE it to US for enjoyment and to be able to see the difference between work and rest. In our culture, our weekends don’t usually reflect a contrast to the work week. We cram in everything we possibly can. Then Monday morning hits and the impossible pace continues. Where does this leave us? How’s that workin’ for ya?
But most of all, Sabbath rest gives us a glimpse of eternity in the middle of time.
Have you ever thought about Sabbath rest in this way?! This was a wonderful thought to me. We are bound by time; God is not. He is the beginning and the end. We do have to work to make a living, to take care of ourselves and our families, to contribute to the economy, to express our passions and giftings and purpose. We do have to accomplish tasks within a prescribed amount of time. We do have to live by a schedule. But …
… interspersed in that work cycle defined by time we can actually experience eternity, timelessness. How? Because we can experience God Himself, who is an eternal God not confined to schedules and days and nights and deadlines and planning and cycles. We bear His very image. His attributes and character qualities invoke the intangible, eternal parts of this life. Things like love, compassion, mercy, grace, goodness, beauty. These are things that cause us to look out the window and ponder. They can’t be measured.
If we miss the Sabbath, the rest cycle, our souls can become lean, our personalties shallow. We forget that there is something bigger than ourselves and our puny world. And our schedule. And our accomplishments. And our activities.
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27-28
Receive God’s gift of Sabbath … rest rest. He knew you would need it.
Candy blogs: Today all the electronic connections in the office went down, even the phones were down so we couldn’t even make an announcement that everything was down! The power was still on but we couldn’t connect to it. We all groaned and whined and bemoaned all the work that wouldn’t get done or would have to be crammed into the end of the day.
Some went home because they didn’t think they had anything to do. Someone else would fix this and office life would get back to normal. Some plugged into different connection sources on their laptops or Blackberrys that were outside our company network. Some were forced to complete tasks they’d been putting off … you know, boring maintenance things like scanning and filing and tidying or cleaning out the break room refrigerator. Things that had to be done but no one wanted to do them. It was either that or not get paid!
We can allow our relationship with God to become like this office disconnect. We wake up one day and find we have no power in our spiritual life. We have no joy, no motivation. Relationships seem bothersome; spiritual growth seems too hard; our church body “work” seems more like an obligation; our frustration level is high and our energy level is low; our anger flares more easily; we second guess ourselves; we don’t like who we are; we keep ourselves busy with activity; we have no spiritual focus … our spiritual mind tends to wander; we feel weak. Where is the peace?
We need to rest. But what about all the things that needs to be done?! What about ministry needs? What about time for nurturing relationships? What about being productive at work? The house needs cleaning. What about the schedule? What about sleep, for heaven’s sake?! We don’t have time to be weak …
Ah … it is at this exact moment of awareness that the Lord comes with His offering of divine peace and rest. Perhaps we’ve “gone home” or tuned out His voice in the busyness of life. We think God will somehow magically fix it so that we have a vital spiritual life. We may have plugged in to other power sources outside of the Lord’s “network”. He comes with an invitation to do some spiritual “maintenance.” You know, the stuff you don’t think you have time for … like reading the Word and two-way prayer (talking AND listening). Stuff that has to be done but most of us put off because we’re so busy “doing” instead of “being”.
If we will “maintain” our spiritual life, that ugly list above will shorten and become less intense. Our joy will return. Our relationships will be more fulfilling and our productivity will increase. Our perspective returns to us. We will hear His voice more clearly. We will have a sense of power and motivation. We will enjoy peace and rest in our spirits even in the midst of a busy schedule.
Which list do you prefer?
Eventually the electronic connections at the office were restored. What did it take? Pushing the reset button on the server. The good news about the office disconnect? The coffee pot worked the whole time!
Candy blogs: One sad result of the hurried, harried lifestyle of today is the demise of the family dinner table. I’m not a fancy cook but I did try to fix dinner at home most of the time when our kids were growing up. We didn’t usually actually eat at the table either but we usually ate at home.
What has happened to family meals at home? There are so many benefits.
* children learn table manners
Where else will children learn how to behave and eat as a guest in someone’s home or in public? Don’t be the mealtime police but do emphasize the basics: no elbows on the table, chew with your mouth closed, use a napkin, ask for food to be passed to you, be willing to try new foods, ask to be excused, take your dishes to the kitchen.
* children learn the art of conversation
Most kids and teens today won’t look you in the eye, don’t know how to give a firm handshake and don’t know how to speak with words using more than one syllable. This type of “conversation” won’t work in a job interview. Conversation with real people has been exchanged for its electronic counterpart. Consistently eating meals at the family dinner table can help counteract this dangerous trend that keeps young people from functioning on their own when they “try” to leave home.
* children can expand their vocabulary
Speak to your kids in a normal tone and voice. Baby talk is for babies. Use words as you would talk to other adults. Let your children ask you what the words mean. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
* children can be taught to cook
Now is the time to learn to cook. It won’t happen through osmosis and you don’t wait until you think your child WANTS to learn to cook. Meals should be part of every household, not just the ones where everyone likes to cook.
* part of childhood chores
Use mealtimes to give your kids a way to contribute to the family. Setting and clearing the table, food preparation and clean up … one or more of these chores should be part of everyone’s day.
* you have more control over what your family consumes
Concerned about salt or preservatives or quantity intake? You have the powuh!
* eating at home is much less expensive
Why people don’t eat at home much anymore
* Women don’t know how to cook.
I do love the resurgence of all the cooking shows. I think cooking at home is making a comeback, especially in our unstable economy. But many people never grew up learning to cook. The popularity of the cooking shows is an indicator that there is a need out there to teach people how to cook. There are many ways now to learn to cook. No excuses.
* Women don’t think they should have to cook.
I worked full time most of my adult life until two years ago. I often dreaded the drive home from work because I knew the first words I would hear would be, “What’s for dinner?” I had already put in a full day and would now continue the work that waited at home. Funny how I usually thought of ‘home’ as ‘work’. Funny how I had chosen my life and often resented it.
* I am Woman, hear me roar
Oh, hadn’t I heard? Women don’t get coffee for their bosses anymore … women have college degrees now … women don’t cook and clean anymore … women have more important things to do. (Boy, you should have read what I just deleted.) Families appreciate a home-cooked meal more than almost anything else. Ask your family.
What kept me from cooking at home?
* I was tired.
Oh, well. We Americans are so fixated on not being uncomfortable or unhappy. Get over yourself. We work tired for everyone else and use ourselves up by the time we get to our family time. Is that living your priorities?
* I didn’t have all the ingredients.
Prepare a menu and grocery list based on how you shop. And I recommend shopping based on how you get paid. If you get paid every two weeks, plan 12-14 meals and include all the ingredients you’ll need for those meals on your grocery list. Keep your shelves stocked with the usual things your family eats on a regular basis.
* I didn’t know what to fix.
* I didn’t have enough time.
There are options. Collect crock pot recipes. Everyone will love the smell of dinner when they walk in the door, especially you. Most other meals can be on the table in 30-45 minutes. That’s from start to finish.
Some Practical Tips
* It’s all in the recipes
Collect simple recipes from friends, actually look in your cookbooks, on the Internet, cooking blogs, cooking Facebook pages. Try to stay away from boxed and processed foods. You can make a wholesome meal quickly.
* Share the cooking
Everyone can be involved. Make it a family “event”. Mom doesn’t have to prepare every meal. And sometimes Dad is the one who loves to cook. Great! As long as someone is doing it. Or let each child choose a night of the week to pick the menu and be involved in the shopping and preparing of the meal. I love this idea! Wish I’d heard of it when my kids were at home. I kind of do this now. Once a month I invite our grown kids and their spouses over for MFD (monthly family dinner). I always ask one of them what they’d like me to make. They always pick a childhood favorite. Sometimes I ask them to bring a part of the meal.
* Freezer meals
This is one of my favorite finds! Make a double batch and freeze the other half. It won’t take you any more time to prepare but it will save you a lot of time on another busy or tired day. You might have to rearrange your freezer.
* Set a budget
Do you know how much to spend on groceries? Dave Ramsey recommends 5-15% of your take home pay. Of course the percentage depends on the size of your family and your total income. Do you really want something else more than you don’t want to cook? When we became empty-nesters I spent the first few years demanding that we eat out more because I’d been cooking for 28 years, after all. But when we sat down and figured up how much we’d been spending on eating out, I quickly changed my mind. We were spending hundreds of dollars every month on restaurants and I was throwing away food I had purchased in the grocery budget. So we were spending money on groceries AND eating out. I decided that I wanted to use the money we saved instead for getting out of debt and to be able to stop working at a job that tied me to a schedule. Do I like to cook? Not really. But now I want to spend that money on other things.
Now ladies, I am NOT saying that one should never eat out. We still do. There are times you just can’t make it work to get a meal prepared at home. And sometimes we’re really just so tired that a family meal at a restaurant is just what the doctor ordered. And I have always thought a green salad tastes better when someone else makes it.
But I think eating out should be the exeception, not the rule. It might be a little chaotic getting to the table but once you’re there, take a deep breath, look around at your ‘life’, remember you chose it, give thanks and dig in. Use this time to really get to know your family.
Breathe in the simple. Breathe in the contentment. Breathe in the joy.
Candy blogs: It’s baack … fall … the beloved but busiest season in most of our lives. For many this Labor Day weekend was the last hoorah to a more relaxed schedule. We’re sorry to see the summer go but always look forward to a change in the weather, getting back to a routine and enjoying the traditions of the coming season. School, sports and music lessons take center stage once again.
In the most recent weekly email newsletter from Friends Matter (Group), Melissa writes:
I’m a married mom of two young children with a full-time job. I’m up at 4:30 a.m. (or at least I try to be!), wake the kids up at 5:45 and encourage them along to get ready, make sure everyone has backpacks, homework, lunch, sports equipment, and so on, and I’m out the door by 6:15 a.m. Drop kids off, drive 30 minutes to work, get there by 7:00 a.m. Work until around 4:15ish, pick up kids, go to sports practice, help with homework, cook dinner, try to fit in a workout, get kids to bed…and it starts all over.
And then there’s the weekends. Clean house, pay bills, do laundry, go grocery shopping… sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever find time to spend quality time with my kids or my husband…much less my friends! And I know that some women have it even worse. Women today are BUSY!
Does this sound familiar to anyone? I remember those days.
How’s that workin’ for ya?
I would like to “truthfully encourage” young families to step back before things really get hoppin’ and set the family pace. There are so many good and wonderful things to choose from … but that doesn’t mean a family should choose them all.
There are definitely seasons of life that are busier than others.
Some busyness can’t be helped. Shopping for school clothes and supplies takes a lot of time. Homework takes first priority. Certain sports run for certain periods of time. Playing a part in a play at school demands regular rehearsals and study time. An intense project at work requires overtime. The house is being remodeled. There is an ongoing medical issue. The car breaks down.
When a family is in the midst of a busy time, it’s a good idea to keep this season as short as possible. If you have ongoing activities like homework and music lessons, when opportunities for additional activities come along, choose ones that have a start and end time. Families need the down time between busy seasons to rest and refresh and remember what is most important. Living in continual busyness brings stress into family life. It can be managed in shorter spurts but God never intended stress to be the norm. Stress was designed for emergencies … to flee danger.
Consider this …
“Busyness is not an indication of effectiveness, but rather a product of our own vanity and laziness … on the one hand, we keep ourselves busy because we want to believe we are important. The incredible hours, the crowded schedule and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice-that I am important. On the other hand, our busyness is often the result of allowing others to dictate our agendas.” ~Rob Redman, “Worship Leader Magazine”
The ages and personalities of your children are also a factor.
Some children thrive on being active. They may have a kinesthetic learning style and need to be physcially moving. Some children love mental stimulation and soak in everything around them. Some families naturally have a lot of laughter and noise. But others function best with structure and quiet voices and minimal outside activity and an overall slower pace.
Little ones can’t handle a fast pace. They don’t know what to do with emotions like frustration and confusion. I hate to see little ones being dragged from place to place at the pleasure and pace of their parents. No interaction, just treated as a necessary interruption in the schedule. On the other hand, I love to see parents with little ones in the same places yet exhibiting unhurried, easy conversation, eye contact, engaged. As kids get older, the pace usually increases no matter what the personalities are. More is required of everyone.
Don’t look at other families to set the pace for your family. Look at your family. Is there a sense of general well-being in your family, of eager anticipation of the days? Or is everyone tired and cranky most of the time? Is there a frantic sense of hurry most of the time? Ann VosKamp says that hurry hurts the kids.
Financial resources can dictate the types and number of activities children can be involved in.
Many families are struggling financially in today’s economy. This is an added layer of stress for parents who might be used to being able to provide every opportunity for their children. Children don’t need to participate every opportunity. They only need to have their physical, emotional and spiritual needs met. There are many things you can do to build strong, healthy families without going into debt and going without unnecessarily. Take the time to stop and think. There are options. Your family doesn’t have to look like other families.
Allow time for kids to be kids … skipping rocks, watching clouds, playing with pets, making forts in the living room, playing outside, riding bikes. All of their time shouldn’t be managed and timed out from morning until bedtime. There should be moments to pause and let the quiet in.
I will invite our children to come move into an interior space
that lives with God. ~Ann VosKamp
Parents, are you the ones who might need to adjust? Just sayin’ …
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…” ~ Psalm 46:10
You will love this from Ann VosKamp’s blog: 10 Helps for Really Busy Moms (includes a free printable download!)
You might also enjoy this post from 2009: Fall Screams Busy
Our schedules don’t just happen to us. We either allow others to dictate them or we set and control them. I’m praying for strong, healthy families this fall! Would love to hear from you.
Candy blogs: I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for a sentimental greeting card. I don’t really care for the funny kind. I like the sappy kind, the kind that makes me “leak” or “rain” as my step father-in-law would say. Lately I’ve been going through some “piles” around the house. These piles have been waiting for me a long time. I used to say there would be no piles if I didn’t have to work full time. I found out that isn’t true. Anyway, I digress.
I find that I’m having trouble tossing these beautiful greeting cards. Cards have become a tradition in our little nuclear family. We always put our Christmas cards on the Christmas tree, and we look forward to opening them even more than gifts. My grown kids choose their cards carefully for me; I appreciate that. There is no such thing as too much affirmation for my mother’s heart. My husband painstakingly chooses his cards for me, too. They are always zingers. Everyone waits for me to tear up when I read their card. *chuckling to myself*
Here is a favorite from my husband from Christmas 2009:
Sometimes it seems I can get all wrapped up
in the day to day details of life.
Where to be and when? What to do and how?
It can all start to seem so important.
But then all of a sudden, it will hit me–
you smile at me, and I tingle,
you touch my cheek,
and I melt.
And like magic, I am reminded
of all that ever really matters in life –
having your love and you.
When I was 15 I dreamed of having a man say such things to me. I am living that dream. I would call that a gift, a blessing.
Here is the card I gave to Scott that same year:
You’re such a great husband.
We’ve been married a long time.
Now we speak more of home repair than romance,
candlelight means there’s a power failure,
and a great night in bed usually means
we managed to get some sleep.
But in the midst of the humdrum,
I catch a look at your eyes
and see the eyes of the one I fell in love with.
Life isn’t always fun and exciting …
but you are.
After reading our cards, our eyes lock. All the years … all the moments … all our life is reflected in our eyes. No words are needed. The cards provided an opportunity to reflect on and communicate what’s always in our hearts.
I guess I’ll toss these two greeting cards now. I am reminded of what makes my husband feel loved. I will again be sure there is a hot supper and a cold drink waiting for him when he gets home from work today.
In the midst of our busyness, a greeting card can be a simple and inexpensive gift of making time stand still, even for a moment. Is there something to celebrate? Is there misunderstanding or tension or sorrow? Has a goal been reached? Or maybe you’re just feeling warm and fuzzy. A greeting card can be the grand total of what you want to communicate or it can be the starting point of a needed conversation that is too awkward to start on your own.
Tossing and remembering and …