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: See, Candy? You’re not the only one at Wal-Mart at 5:45 a.m. There are many other people here snatching bits of time for family needs. See Candy? I am answering your prayers for provision through honorable work. See Candy? My plans for you don’t preclude your inner circle … your immediate family and close friends. Spend your irreplaceable currency of time on me, yourself and your inner circle first. Then expand outward. It’s all my calling on your life. See Candy? I have shown you that you’re on the right path. There’s no whining on the right path.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening …
What are you listening for today?
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: Are you enjoying the Christmas spirit yet? Are you loving the music and the snow and the chill in the air and the warmth of friends and family and the JOY of the Lord? Yes? Wonderful! No? What is keeping you from a joy-filled Christmas?
Are you grieving?
♥ … the loss of loved ones
Does Christmas mark a difficult anniversary of the passing of someone close to you? Let the memories come up. Let them stay awhile and remember how much they added to your life. But don’t dwell there. Allowing yourself to wallow in grief can be toxic in so many ways. Instead choose to celebrate the precious lives of those you miss. This is how they would want to be remembered, don’t you think?
♥ … the loss of relationships
This time of year is for spending time with loved ones. Perhaps your loved one rejected you through a break up or a divorce. Maybe a close friend has moved away and you can’t share daily life together anymore. Or you have allowed a rift to develop between you and your parents or your child. Let the hurt come up. Let it stay awhile. But don’t dwell there. Wallowing in the hurt only intensifies the pain. Choose to keep moving forward toward healing. Learn to let go.
♥ … the loss of a job
This has been a truly difficult year economically for our country. I have been unemployed for nine long months myself. Many have lost their homes and possessions. Along with the loss of a job comes the loss of self worth and feelings of powerlessness. Marriages can become tense; children can become afraid of the future. As the months have gone by, my husband and I have discovered that we really can live on a lot less than we thought we needed. Our needs have changed, become more basic. We have watched God provide for our needs. We have chosen to draw closer to each other. Do all you can, and let God be God of your finances.
Troubled about the money you may or may not be spending?
♥ … embarrassed that you can’t buy gifts for all the people you usually do?
This troublesome attitude usually comes more from our own heads than from anyone we usually buy gifts for.
♥ … buying gifts even though you may not have the money?
Think of tomorrow and how painful it will be when the bills come due. Think of what you’re teaching your children by spending money you don’t have. There are many other ways to celebrate the Christmas spirit than overspending on things that will be broken or laid aside in short order.
♥ … using Christmas and sales and great deals to feed your shopping habit because “it’s for other people” and not yourself?
Hanging on to issues you have no control over?
♥ … hurt or unresolved feelings
These things won’t go away on their own. They won’t go away if we pretend they don’t exist. Communicate, for heaven’s sake! We can’t read each other’s minds. We get “stuck” when we choose not to work through differences and misunderstandings. Who wants to be stuck?!
♥ … unforgiveness
Unforgiveness only hurts ourselves. It does not affect the offender. Forgiving doesn’t mean you are denying a wrong done to you. It only means that you release its hold on your ability to function in a healthy way. I believe forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. You may still have feelings of pain but you don’t dwell there anymore, and you don’t have to let your feelings dictate your state of mind and your hope for the future.
“Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again … my lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you.” Psalm 71:20, 23
♥ … pride
Our pride keeps us from being the one to move toward reconciliation. Perhaps you’re the wronged one. Maybe you are right. It should be THEIR place to come to ME to apologize. Our pride keeps us holding on to hurt feelings or being right. Is your pride worth the loss of relationship?
First things first …
♥ … Jesus is the reason for the season
Jesus came to earth as one of us, a baby. But He is God and we worship Him today, just as they worshiped Him when He was born. His love and grace are poured into us so we can pour it out onto our loved ones especially in this season. We celebrate His coming!
♥ … time spent with loved ones building relationship
Is being right worth broken relationships? Are hurt feelings worth withholding ourselves from each? Do material things or lack of them truly represent and/or build relationship? Nothing is worth broken relationships. Nothing. Come together with your loved ones.
♥ … the choice is yours … why wait? Are you hanging on to that familiar lump of coal when you could be having bouquets of roses, messages of joy and a praising heart?
“He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.
God sent me to announce the year of his grace—
a celebration of God’s destruction of our enemies—
and to comfort all who mourn,
To care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion,
give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes,
Messages of joy instead of news of doom,
a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.”
There is plenty of time for healing and celebrating this Christmas!
Joy awaits you!