A tip for timeliness

Please, if you know me, do not laugh at me trying to write about being on time. In no way am I an expert on punctuality, but I do get to practice at it every single day. This little tip is beginning to change how I work to meet a deadline.

Hurry before you need to.

How many times do I find myself hurrying the kids to finish breakfast before we need to leave for church? Hurrying to pick up the house before company arrives? Hurrying to get my homeschool plans in order before the first day?

Bleck, bleck, and bleck. I don’t mind hurrying, but I hate feeling rushed and forcing others to rush. And I really hate that realization that no matter how much we hurry, we will already be late.

So I’m working at hurrying before we really need to.

I encourage myself and the kids to get ready quickly in the morning even when we woke up on time; choose a reasonable amount of time for breakfast and then end it; plan time to actually clean off the table, get our Bibles, and get in the car (stepping into another area of preparation there), but making ourselves do it quickly even if according to the clock we’re looking good. (this scenario applies to our Sunday mornings)

If I’m prepping vegetables or setting the table for company that night, I push myself to work as quickly as I can – feeling that hurry – even if no one will be there for an hour and a half.

When I sit down to homeschool plan I love to take my time and look through the books and think, but realistically, I only have those chances every so often so I need to  pick up the pace and get my assignments written down as efficiently as possible. Right now, some plan for two weeks is better than an extensive plan for three days.

It may sound like a silly mental game, but it really has helped me. And I really need help!

What about you – do you struggle more with the preparation or execution stages of punctuality? (I have my hands raised for both) = )

I’d love to hear what has helped you.

Here is a fun article I found after I wrote this. I seem to spend lots of time reading about how to save time. = ) Secrets of people who have all the time in the world.

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There is so much about this picture that cracks me up! Sorry if it’s only funny to me.

 

 

On the benefits and drawbacks of being tired

I found this fun little draft from awhile ago. Hope it’s an encouragement to someone today! 

If there is one physical state of being I have experienced most in the last ten years, it is being tired.

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I’m not speaking of the worked-all-day-in-the-yard good tired or the ran-a-marathon-that-I-trained-for-for-six-months good tired, but rather the I’m-making-a-baby-and-carrying-around-a-one-year-old-and-up-and-down-and-bending-all-day-and-woke-up-three-times-during-the-night tired. You will have to decide for yourself what brand of tired you are.

But every stage has benefits and drawbacks. Every one! Maybe pausing to think about the graces given through this “difficulty” could be encouraging.

Here are a few things I can see as benefits:

When you’re tired it is often easier to say “no” to frivolous, external engagements. This is a good thing. No, I don’t want to scroll on facebook for forty-five minutes; no, I don’t want to watch the last three innings of that baseball game; no I don’t need to watch my thirteen billionth episode of Chopped. So there’s that.

When you’re tired it is easier to see yourself as weak before God. This is an especially good thing. Yes, I can do nothing good in and of myself. Yes, if I make it ’til tonight it will be God’s grace that has sustained me; yes, your mercies are new every morning; yes, God’s faithfulness shines brightest against the backdrop of human faithlessness. Relying on Him moment by moment becomes not something we know we should do, but our basic survival instinct.

When you’re tired it can be easier to be compassionate with others. Sometimes you just don’t have the strength to be bothered with the foibles or eccentricities of others. Getting upset may take that last shred of energy that you will need to load the dishwasher that night. Or whatever. Relationships can be the precious comfort they were intended to be through the weariness of life.

Now…

Lest you pull an all-nighter to be on the receiving end of all these benefits to being tired… here are my views regarding the drawbacks.

Tiredness accentuates the difficulty of the spiritual disciplines. It’s hard to gain from reading the Bible when you fall asleep after the second sentence. (and yes, for us mamas of little ones, there will be times when no matter what we do, we will be this tired)

Tiredness exposes our hearts (perhaps this could be a benefit). If bitterness or selfishness or impatience have been lurking under a well put-together surface, being tired will probably bring those to the forefront.

Tiredness keeps our minds from working like normal. And we all collectively groan.

Tiredness keeps us from keeping up with routine tasks leaving us to feel overwhelmed and incompetent.

Sometimes being tired hurts – headaches, soreness from our body not having enough horizontal time… bleck.

Maybe there are things you can do to get a little more rest or maybe you just have to hang in there. Living in community with your husband and other sisters in Christ will help you know if you’re more in the “I need to work at getting more rest” stage or the “I’m doing the best I can and have to fight for joy and contentment” stage.

But there will be times (#youngmoms) when being tired just becomes a part of your life. We can rejoice in God’s sustaining grace and rest in His faithfulness that reaches the sky.

 

 

The Christian life is like sitting in church with kids

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Ever been frustrated by the tension of all that’s (wonderfully) true about the Christian life and actually trying to live it out among others?

A few months ago I had this humorous experience which seemed not unlike the experience of being a child of God still in this world.

Our church was blessed to have a special speaker and he was taking us on a whirlwind tour of the book of Hebrews. (You can hear the sermon here) It was so wonderful! Jesus was exalted. The Word came alive, and my heart and mind were literally thrilled with the truth.

My wonderful four oldest children were sitting with me (Paul was filling in elsewhere during that hour so unlike normal I was alone with the kids), and I guess their experience and interaction with the Word that morning wasn’t quite the same as mine. Exclude the oldest from that statement; she was not causing any problems. I’m too far removed from the scene to remember the particulars, but I had to deal with all sorts of nonsense during that sermon. Wiggles, questions, flipping pages, elbows… it went on and on even more than usual. Not all of it was bad! Of course I want the one just learning to read to ask for help to know where he is when reading Scripture, and of course I want to give a quick definition of an unfamiliar word to the four-year-old.

But I also want to just sit and listen!

See the pattern:

LISTEN: Wow! that is amazing! I cannot believe Christ would lower himself to suffer like we did. I want to love Him more! I want to go home and read the whole book of Hebrews! I am so thankful we have the Bible! God is so good! 

DISTRACTION: ***addresses wiggling***

LISTEN: Wow! This is so wonderful! I’m so thankful my kids can be in church with me. 

DISTRACTION: ***finds verse for child***

LISTEN: I hope I didn’t miss anything. Wow, that is so good. 

DISTRACTION: ***warns child about wiggling***

TRYING TO LISTEN: I wish these kids would just let me listen to the Word! 

GRACE: Wait! This is what it’s all about!

Being filled with the knowledge of Jesus and then lovingly coming alongside others to help them to know Him, too. 

Often, simultaneously.

Why doesn’t God save us and take us out of this world? His image redeemed in us brings us back to a life of worshipping Him and displaying His glory to others.

But often displaying that glory doesn’t seem so glorious. Like reminding a child to listen to the preacher, or encouraging a sibling to be kind, or confronting someone in their sin, or forgiving someone for thoughtlessness, or doing that menial task for the hundredth time, but with joy.

It’s not enough for the pastor to sit in his study and feast on the truths of Scripture – he has to communicate it to the flock and then actively help them grow and mature in what has been said, as messy and hard as that may be.

It’s not enough to sit in your quiet time and be filled with a desire for righteousness – you have to take that into the workplace and shine the light through darkness and confusion.

It’s not enough for a mom to be thrilled with the truths of Scripture in the pew on Sunday morning. She has to translate that to the nitty-gritty lives of her children. Sometimes during the sermon.

The Christian life is both a deep well of knowledge and fellowship with Christ and also a cross-channel swim against the currents of sin, time, and limitations from ourselves and others. We both rest in our position in Christ and work tirelessly to become more like Him and to make Him known in the world around us.

Don’t be discouraged when it all happens at once. God is absolutely able to make all grace abound to you in every situation.

Even when you’re alone in church with little kids.

P.S. You really should listen to that sermon.

 

Pulling them in close

Well hello. I’m coming to you on a lovely afternoon while the kids are playing outside and the babies are napping. Should I be putting away clean dishes in the dishwasher? Possibly. But here this post is in my head and I don’t want it to float away.

I read an about page that made me think this week. She described her writing as for her kids to be able to “read her” when they are older. I think this is a wonderful way to think about blogging. So for them, for you, and even for me a few weeks down the road – here it is.

It seems that we have a cycle of having at least one child who is struggling at all times. Our kids are all still small – so we’re talking disobedience, disrespect, constantly being too wound up, unkindness to siblings. Certainly all our kids – being sinners – will fail in all of these areas every week. But there’s usually one whose transgressions are a little farther past the line. = ) And, in the course of a few months, each one will have their turn being “the one.” It just seems to happen.

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About three kids ago, it ocurred to me that “the one” of the hour seemed to be the first one up in the day. Great. You see them come through the door and brace yourself, imagining the struggles that the day will hold.

By His grace, the Lord helped me to think a little differently. Why not use those few minutes to invest a little love and direction. Instead of sighing or sending them back to their room, greet them warmly and stop to snuggle them in your lap for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll sing them a song, or read them a verse, or say a short – but desperately needed for both of us – prayer. Mostly I just tell them I love them and encourage them to obey Daddy and Mommy and be kind to their sisters that day.

I can’t say that it makes the difficulties go away completely, but it does help my mindset and a lot of times theirs as well.

Very often in the afternoons little ones who are past napping get rather cranky and naughty. I’ve found it’s much better to pull them close than to continue trying to occupy them with toys or siblings.

“Do you want to hang out with me for awhile?”

The answer is usually yes. Sometimes we’ll read a book quickly to snuggle, but then they just sort of follow me around while I do dishes, laundry or dinner preparation.

Of course, it might look totally different in another house or situation, I know that. The main thought is that if a particular child is posing more problems than normal, seek ways to pull them close to you for affection and attention. Involve them in your everyday tasks in a way that is just for the purpose of being together. Or, forego the dishes and laundry and play their favorite game or something.

It’s so helpful in the midst of stressful, merry-go-round discipline situations to also have sweet moments sprinkled in.

Don’t forget to hug them extra tight before bed. ; )

Every moment counts.

It never ends

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“Man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done.”

For what it’s worth, I will still take the woman’s work; however, this post is not actually about the unending demands on wives or moms.

It is about the faithfulness of God. A precious truth that has become my constant friend. Of all the reasons to know and love the Old Testament, to let it speak for itself – this is one of the best. Over and over we see the faithfulness of God brilliantly displayed against the darkness of human faithlessness.

It used to be that in the mornings (if I was even spiritually together enough to meditate), I would try to think of things that would help me do or think what I thought  I should while making breakfast or getting the kids ready. And then a bowl of oatmeal would hit the floor, or a toddler would have an accident while I was nursing, or I would realize that we had no clean clothes to wear for the fourth day in a row, and before you know it I was thinking  things like I will never get caught up. I am so bad at this. I should have gotten up earlier to read my Bible. I should have joy no matter what. 

One morning by God’s great grace (manifested no doubt in some really good teaching and preaching of His Word at my church) it occurred to me that I should just think about the faithfulness of God. Forget thinking about all the things I couldn’t seem to do, forget about the possibility that I may never do them well, forget even for the moment about my desire to be faithful – just think about the faithfulness of God. To Abraham. To Joseph. At the Red Sea. At the walls of Jericho. Even throughout captivity. Over and over we see the steadfast love of God in His covenant-keeping faithfulness.

Honestly, that first time there wasn’t even an immediate application; it was just a rest. Just enough joy for the ordinary tasks ahead. I do remember some lame thought like Wow, that really helped.

Now I seem to need it more in the evening during those last hours before the kids go to bed. I’m so tired and yet I want to value every moment with them and then the baby is fussy while two are downstairs painting (by my consent – why?), and two are getting out of the shower, and the toddler I just bathed is sure she needs to use the restroom and threatening to take off her pajamas and accompanying diaper while I’m just trying to get this baby to stop crying and… (that was tonight). Unfortunately there is no eject button, neither is there a magic machine that will smoothly put the children to bed when you really don’t think you can take any more. So what do you think? Think about the faithfulness of God. It has never ended, and it never will. And with the faith that you have, ask Him to help you be faithful.

And He does.

From your first thought in the morning to the time you’re trying to relax before bed, He is faithful. All through the night and through every stage of life.

His faithfulness never ends.

Kids, conversations, and convenience

Last night, I almost – almost wished we could just have a flat tire episode so the girls would learn everything they need to know about the “extra tire” and stop asking me questions!

Also on the docket for conversations last night (all of this just on the drive home from church) was Gracie’s manifesto on why cupcakes are better than muffins and cake better than cupcakes, and an in-depth discussion of prisons and jails and juvenile detention centers including but not limited to whether I had ever been to one personally; why; why someone might end up there; would it always be for something wrong or bad; and what kind of questions do those staying there ask. Don’t forget the long, long, long, long, long conversation about spare tires.

And just in case you were unaware, driving home on a Sunday night while you are thirty-seven weeks pregnant is not an optimum time for brain function, patience, or creative teaching moments.

But then again, God doesn’t usually choose to hand us important teaching moments during optimum times. “Thanks for that opportunity, Lord; I was completely prepared,” said no one ever.”

Not sure why I thought a shot of big sister trying to help little sister eat her spinach was appropriate here, but there you go.
Not sure why I thought a shot of big sister trying to help little sister eat her spinach was appropriate here, but there you go.

It’s come to my attention that “important” conversations with your kids will occur at a time that could be described by some or all of the following :

Inconvenient

Unprepared

Exhausted

Spontaneous

Spiritually weak

Et cetera

Before we’re parents we imagine having these heart-to-heart conversations with our kids on a neatly made bed while the smells of dinner are wafting around from the crockpot and the other kids are in the next room praying for sister to grow in grace. Or something like that.

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But more than likely you will find out what they’re thinking through when you get in the car at the end of a long day or are rushing out the door to the grocery store.

I love that my girls ask things at random times and little by little I’m learning to be amused and thankful for the opportunity to talk. You never quite know what they will remember or really learn from so I pray for grace to be faithful in those opportunities.

Nothing we talked about last night was all that earth-shattering, but it did remind me of other occasions where we were able to talk about pretty important stuff at hilariously unpredictable times.

Does this happen at your house? I’m guessing we’re not the only ones. = )

 

The summer bucket list continues

Summer is glorious. For me it’s not about long days, fancy vacations, or a long-list of must-do activities with your kids. It’s just about watching them when they don’t know you are, looking in their eyes more attentively as they explain their ideas to you, saying yes when they ask to build a fort, and having a few minutes to post about it while they’re on the front porch eating pretzels and drinking water.

Not sure why I call this a bucket list? I’m recording the small, unexpected happy moments of summer – as they happen. You can read more here.

4. Completely unplanned, we took a bicycle-pulled “carriage” from our parking lot to a baseball game. The girls faces were priceless!

5. Painting. There’s been a lot of this going on. The messy table that doesn’t have to be cleaned up at night, the intent faces while working, and the excitement to show Daddy their “masterpieces” all make this mama’s heart happy.

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6. Holding Mckayla on my lap, rocking her and talking with her for no reason at all. One word for ya, margin.

7. This morning Sophia and I stayed long after breakfast to do the puzzles and games on the back of the cereal box.

8. Searching for Fourth of July breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas on Pinterest. (also with Sophia) We actually picked a few easy ones and bought the stuff, too. And made an extra trip to Walmart for skewers, cupcake liners and special plates and napkins. These things don’t happen during the school year.

9. Watch the little girls hold up five fingers as they oh-so-excitedly tell us that our tomato plant now has four tomatoes. = )

10. Get soaking wet from a sudden rain in the middle of an afternoon Bible club. Hear the child who was scared of the rain say, instead of complaining – “I’m thankful our car has a top on it!” once we were all in the car.

11. Sit on the front porch with Paul listening to the crickets after the girls had gone to bed.

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How’s your summer going? Believe it or not, this is a kind of crazy, hectic summer for us. Writing these things down helps me to find the joy and the space in the little moments instead of being overwhelmed by all that is going on. Let me know if you try it!