I can plan way too much for myself to do in a day. I think that I can clean the whole house top to bottom while producing a wonderfully creative meal and ending the day with doing some scrapbooking, letter writing, or blogging. Add to that list serving my husband and children in playful, encouraging ways....saving the environment in some small way...shopping with a plan and frugally...all in a single day?? I can then get down on myself when I can't get my exhaustive list (or exhausting list!) done in a single day or two and then feel "behind" the rest of the week.
I remember though being in a Bible Study many years ago and the teacher said something I have never forgotten. She said that really we can only do two or three things well in a day...that the Lord is probably only speaking one verse to us each day and giving us a couple of things to accomplish as well. I remember feeling the heavy yoke of demands lifted and feeling an excitement to just learn to keep my day simple, to do a few things well (which means I'm not exhausting myself) and leaving space in my day for the Lord's spontaneous leading to see a friend, serve someone, play more with my kids, be creative with my homemaking, encourage my husband in a tangible way, read a magazine, etc.
When we over-plan or over-demand of ourselves we get grumpy, irritable, and view everyone as an enemy of our to-do list. We exhaust ourselves trying to be perfect, trying to be super-mom, trying the impossible...then get depressed and angry about it! No one even appreciates our efforts (and may even resent them!) because we missed doing it all in love...we've done it out of fear, perfectionism, comparison, acceptance, or a host of other reasons. We're a noisy gong and a clanging cymbal! Yuck!
We have all used the phrase "what do you have on your plate today?" I have started envisioning my day as a beautiful plate that can only hold about 3 portions. What will I put on my pretty plate today? Just enough to be healthy! I want to do a few things really well and listen to the Lord during the open spaces of my day for the goodness He wants to fill my plate with...an abundance that I can now give to others He places in my path. As I eat my daily portion from His hand of the good works He has prepared for me to do, He will then give me ideas, encouragement, and inspiration to generously give away to others as I walk the rest of my day.
Keep your day simple...just a few things on your pretty plate. Enjoy margin in your time. Listen to the soft gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit with what to do next. Let go of being driven. Embrace grace. Look for opportunities for creative service starting with your husband and children. Walk lightly and in all things, Love!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Since our time at Music Together, our family is singing more, dancing more, and celebrating each other more. Even in the midst of sicknesses and short fuses, we all calm down, laugh, and enjoy each other when music is turned on. I now keep a small CD player in a corner of my kitchen to be able to turn on some tunes quickly and easily while I am working. The children can be squabbling but as soon as the music is turned on, everyone stops and joins in to the beat together. We start smiling at each other instead of frowning. Laughing instead of arguing. Dancing instead of a tantrum.
Keep lots of different kinds of music in your home for your children to be exposed to many different rhythms, pitches, and even cultures. We love some classical during homework or when life is stressful. Country music brings out the playful side in my relationship with Mike and the children love to see us swing, flirt, and dip to the tunes. Sixties soul music is played sometimes when I am cleaning the house and needing to dance. Sara Groves is played when I am feeling alone and contemplative. We keep Christian radio going as we drive around town running errands. We love to sing to the Jack Johnson Curious George soundtrack over and again. And our most recent favorite is the Putumayo World Party CD that I picked up at Whole Foods. We are definitely going to get more of those!
Music nurtures our souls, our creativity, our uniqueness, and our relationships with the Lord and each other. It's easy with lots of children to not invest in music because our money has to go in so many other directions. Or way too easy to turn on the TV or DVD instead of filling the home with a beautiful melody. Playing music is relational and draws out our senses more than the numbing effect of a TV show. I am seeing yet again what a worthy investment buying fresh music is and we are going to try to buy one new CD every month or two to make it a priority in our lives. It's always refreshing to "sing a new song".
I was also able to pick up a wooden crate of musical instruments at a yard sale on Saturday for $3. Along with those, I brought out the pots, pans and wooden spoons this morning for my little boys. I then poured some sunflower seeds into an empty water bottle and it became a neat-sounding shaker. Then we used two white blocks from our "Don't Break The Ice" game to click or rub together for an interesting sound. Real or improvised instruments are everywhere! There have been a few nights after dinner when we have turned on some music and all played the different instruments....the children glowed and we lightened up! Simple spontaneous family fun!
What music is playing in your home these days? What raw materials do you have to make an instrument out of? Share the musical ideas!
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I went to a memorial service on Monday for a woman who had just died from cancer. She was a lovely woman filled with beauty, grace, and undying devotion to the Lord, her husband and two young sons. It was sad yet happy. Despairing yet hope-filled. Confusing yet clear. I was reminded of Ecclesiastes 7:2..."it is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to heart."
Death has a way of transcending us out of the blinders of today and giving us a glimpse of the blink that is one's lifetime. Eternity is just a breath away--a thin supernatural veil--truer and closer than we realize. It causes us to re-evaluate our life's pursuits, our passions, our priorities. How am I using my time? It awakens a renewal of relationships...the realization of what we hold most dear. I want more time knowing and glorifying Jesus...more time to show my husband and children love, respect, and kindnesses....more time to drink deeply from the friendship well...more time to spend myself in sacrificial service to the poor, broken, and hurting.
What would others say about me if my memorial service was tomorrow? What is my legacy? Did I love and live well? Was I true to my beliefs and ideals? Was I true to Jesus? Was He glorified?
I was faced with areas that I want to re-prioritize. Action steps are being made to reorient myself to the things that matter most. One small step at a time. Mostly it was a heart change...a willingness to let go of things that are ultimately unimportant and an embracing of the things that really are and that I can so easily move away from with the blinding distractions of life.
We will all "fly away" soon. Very soon. Do we need to pause, reflect, regroup, and return to the simplicity of knowing Jesus, loving Jesus, and loving others? Do we need a retreat to the house of mourning in order to find real life and real living? Simple living takes on a whole new meaning in the face of death.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may get us a heart of wisdom."
Monday, September 10, 2007
One of my longings for this sabbatical is to spend more focused time on my third child John. He's the one who can tend to get "lost in the shuffle". I often pray that he has made it out of the house for an outing with shoes on (usually it's only one shoe!). There have been many times that we arrive at a location and his cheeks are covered in peanut butter from lunch. He has chronic bed-head. I assume he can do the same things that my older children have been taught to do while I am very busy helping the baby. He needs some mama-focus and extra nurture this year.
So with the older children in school, I wanted to find something that just Mama and John do together. John has always loved and grooved to the tunes since he was a young toddler. He finds musical beats naturally and dances regularly. It's just always seemed like a natural bent and so I wanted to nurture that in him this year.
I found Music Together and we began our musical journey together this past Friday. I liked the sound of this program because it isn't performance-minded...just young kids with their families having fun, playing, and learning at their own initiative. And it isn't the moms sitting back and watching/talking but joining in, modeling, and sharing the vibe together with other children and their parents.
As I walked in the room with John, I realized how insecure I felt...I was going to have to sing, clap, dance...not things that I am really good at or feel really comfortable with. I knew I needed to lose some inhibition and be comfortable in my own skin. So I committed myself to the Lord and to John, and in an instant, I jumped in and had a blast! I sang, I did the arm movements, I danced, I played the maracas, I laughed....I thought this class was for John and yet it awakened in me spontaneity, happiness, self-expression, and freedom to not be perfect, not have it all together, and not to get it all right.
John glowed. He played the drums. He wiggled and giggled. His eyes sparkled and he kept a perpetual little grin on his face the whole time.
Mama and son doing some music together and enjoying each other in a fresh new way.
Losing the fear, stepping out, trying something new, being ourselves. I need a new "Life is Good" T-shirt with a mom and little boy shakin' their bodies with little music notes floating all around us! Life is so good when we choose to enter into it together.
Be into something together today!