Once upon a time I thought if I could make enough spreadsheets, post enough lists, or structure my planner enough, then I could build the scaffolding for smooth, meaningful days. I imagined days where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control could just spill right out of my heart.
Turns out “fruit” doesn’t grow on spreadsheets. Nothing against lists, mind you. But through God’s gentle teaching over the past several years, I’ve embraced the natural rhythm of days and grace in the midst of busyness.
It’s a beautifully confounding idea that the miraculous is often present in the mundane. A moment setting aside a scrambling schedule in order to kneel down, look a little one in the eye, and just listen to what is on their heart, is worth all the crossed-off lists in the world.
In short, I’m learning that the “small” can be momentous. That the moments make the days. And that it’s the humblest things that make life the richest.
How a jar can unify your family
Take for example the idea of a simple jar and a few pebbles. What if these everyday things could help unify your family throughout the day? What if it weaved hearts together? Here’s what I propose:
1) Find a jar, bowl or vase.
2) Obtain a group of pebbles, glass gems (as you might use in a fish tank or for the game Mancala), or other memento—one style or color for each person in the family. Even just a slip of paper with each person’s name written on it would do the trick.
3) Each morning every person takes a pebble of another person’s chosen color. Slip it into a pocket, lunch box, brief case, purse, pencil box or backpack. Gather before parting ways for the day to talk about prayer requests for the day.
4) Throughout the day, whenever that person comes across the pebble, it’s a prompt to say a quick prayer for the person it represents, and whatever they might be facing in their day.
5) At the end of the day, take a moment to go around and debrief about the day. Each person asks the person whose pebble they drew how their day was. Then let them know how or when they were prayed for.
6) Finally, deposit each of those traveling gems into your chosen jar. Over time, the intermingled pebbles (or other items) serve as a visual reminder of how cherished each person has been in thought and prayer.
A message in a bottle
In my research for the newly-released Message in a Bottle Romance Collection, I’ve come across some incredible stories of objects and messages in simple vessels. This is just one way to make a living message of your own and create a beautiful tradition.
For a chance to win one of five copies of that book, tell us in the comments: What is one simple but important message you would love your family to carry in their hearts each day?
Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, dweller of Truth, and spinner of hope-filled tales. She spends most days chasing wonder and words with her family, who love a good blanket fort and a stack of read-alouds. Give her a rainy day, a candle to read by, an obscure corner of history to dig in, and she’ll be happy for hours. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale, a contributing author to the newly-released Message in a Bottle Romance Collection, and enjoys connecting with her readers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
When was the last time you made time for yourself? Like literally planning nothing? Now sure, you may write on your calendar ‘get pedicure’ (that counts) but there is this GLORIOUS thing on a calendar called white space. Have you heard of it?? It is literally that… space for nothing. You should try and add some white space to that busy calendar of yours! (for inspiration check out this podcast we did last Finding Whitespace during Christmas)
Assignment: Find one way to refresh and recharge yourself. Here are some ideas;
get lunch with a friend
take a long hot shower
read a book in a cozy chair with a hot cup of tea
browse Pinterest mindlessly for one hour guilt free
watch a great Christmas classic on TV
call a friend and talk for long enough it felt like a visit
choose 2 days next month on the calendar for white space
Lest you be tempted, today is not a catch up day, it’s a RELAX day. You deserve it once in a while. Besides, you will be so much more effective when you do.
Need some fun inspiration for ideas for an upcoming gathering? Evite has a new look (similar to Pinterest) and you can just take one hour and aimlessly look! How fun is that? Click here to browse.
Before I knew it, these two words had flown from my mouth and the reason was simple: it had been one of those mornings. You know the kind. The type of morning where the kids overslept, fights over the bathroom ensued, and the packing of lunches had yet to take place. It was the kind of morning where the dog had peed (all over), where the toilet clogged, and my attempts at breakfast had indeed, gone up in flames.
And it wasn’t even 7:30 yet.
So I quit. I gave up. I shouted to the whole house: to the kids, the dog, and anything within earshot, that I was done. In retirement. On sabbatical. Officially F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D with motherhood.
And it felt good (for a minute). Freeing even. That is until I saw my kids. The look upon their faces let me know how wrong I’d been…and how hurtful my little public act of defiance really was. Worse of all? This Christian mama wasn’t showing them Jesus. Not one bit. I wasn’t emoting the kind of unconditional love I consistently receive (like, on a daily basis). Rather, my frustration—my weariness—was taking over.
Isn’t this what happens so much of the time though? You and me? Sometimes we don’t always exude the love of Christ. Not to our kids, our spouses, our loved ones or our friends. I struggle with that…with my imperfections…with knowing that due to my actions, the people I love the most don’t always see Jesus in (and through) me. That I am in fact, human…flawed.
But you know what, friend? Motherhood is hard. However, Jesus is there for us in the middle of our trials. He’s there for it all and through it all.
So on those days where life takes over, where tempers flare, and kids are unruly, instead of giving up or breaking down, do one (or all) of the following:
Pray: Open that Bible. Read what God has to say. A little bit of quiet time goes a long way on those difficult days and in those hard moments. Ask for strength…for help.
Give Grace: You’re not perfect. No one is. Give yourself some grace during those times when nothing seems to be going right. Jesus already has.
Surrender. The journey of motherhood isn’t easy but our greatest blessings often come with difficult challenges. Friend, your best is all anyone can ask for. Surrender the frustration(s). Breathe. Rest. Give it to God.
After many failed attempts at following God’s cues, Jenny Lee Sulpizio has but one goal in mind these days: encouraging women to set their sights on God, and away from the worldly mayhem distracting them. As a Christian mom, wife, author, and contributing blogger to numerous online sites, Jenny looks to inspire her readers to a state of action and a place of peace.
She resides in Arizona with her husband and three children. Connect with Jenny online at www.jennyleesulpizio.com where you’ll find her blog, Grace for the Journey.
So we had my son’s birthday party last week on June 30th. The date is only significant because as I was texting people about the party one mom sent a message back with the following question: “Didn’t he turn 7 back in December?”.
Yes, yes he did. (That was for all you Phineas and Ferb fans out there)
I guess I’m “that” mom. The one who had a TERRIBLE year at work. The one who barely had energy to do laundry and cook, much less plan a party.
The one who loves her children more than her job but found her job taking too much of her time, energy and thoughts.
It’s one of those things that I NEVER thought would happen to me, but it did.
It sounds silly to become so upset about being late with a party but it matters to me – or should I say, to my expectations! I’ve always been the mom who plans parties everyone enjoys and (being honest here) raves about! It’s my little “rocked it baby!” moment and I love seeing my kids have such a good time.
Not giving my son a birthday party with his friends brought a weight of guilt and disappointment that was new and very uncomfortable for me, I felt like such a bad mom!
In order to deal with this awful feeling I decided to just stop and remember what matters most.
I decided my son would not be scarred for life and I was NOT a terrible mom. Instead, I was a mom who was human and just trying my best. I stayed focused on the essentials – what I needed to really make it through.
First I had to be HONEST. I had dropped the ball and for that I apologized to my son. I also explained the situation to him and his response was so sweet and understanding. I think it’s okay for my boys to see me goof and claim responsibility while also promising to make things right!
Next I needed the essential of PERSEPCTIVE. Failing to give him a party felt like a BIG deal but when I stepped back and looked at the big picture I realized that I hadn’t totally failed him. I’d been working hard to make sure I was home to tuck him into bed and able to be at all his games and most importantly, turn off my “work brain” and truly listen to him.
When my perspective is focused on the big picture and I’m able to be honest with myself and accept my blunders I think I become a better woman and a better mom. On those “bad mom” days, I have an opportunity to allow God to come in and fill in the missing pieces of my identity with HIS truth. I want to live my life focused on the essentials and not the extras – I want people to come first, not projects and parties.
Keeping this balance is tough, but it’s so worth the effort. And by the way, my little December baby was able to have a pool party. Complete with leis, sunshine and lots of laughter.
Kasey Johnson is learning daily how to ignore the extras in life and focus on the essentials. As an educator, author, speaker, blogger, wife and mother, Kasey understands the balancing act we sustain as mothers. Her new book and Bible study, Mom Essentials is all about this challenge that every mom is facing.