A call to my husband in the late afternoon. I’m thinking about dinner and wondering what time he’ll be home. He asks me, “How’s your day been?”
“Good,” I say. “Really, good!” I list off some of the things the kids and I have done. “But, you know, the best part about the day has been that I’ve actually only done one thing at a time. I feel like I’ve been more focused today, more present.”
One. Thing. At. A. Time.
How very different from a typical day where I attempt to earn the Mommy-Multitasking badge of honor!
That morning, I’d woken up late, sleepy, with a pretty sour attitude. And those are always, inevitably, the days my kids ask me to be the one to pray over breakfast. “Lord…thank You for this meal. And, please help me wake up and lose this bad attitude!” Yep, that was my eloquent breakfast prayer. And, you know, it worked! This God…He’s the Worker of miracles for sure!
Breakfast over, it was time for morning chores, time to bless the house. I made the bed, loaded the dishwasher. And then, I collapsed into a comfy chair, the kids contentedly playing in another room. Bible and devotional sitting in my lap, I opened the pages and began the day again. My dry, prickly attitude started to soften as I soaked in life-giving words. It was only a few minutes. I felt like it should be so much more. But then God said, “It’s okay…move on with your day…just take Me with you.”
Well, okay then.
Then, it was time to start our schoolwork. The Cohen Academy was due to open. But, I just couldn’t make myself direct the kiddos to their normal routine, starting with their math workbooks. Today, on this dreary, rainy, freezing cold day, we needed something different than just a regular routine. So, I popped in a CD, stories of American history geared towards children. I didn’t grow up in the days before television. But in those moments, while we practiced the lost art of intense listening (without looking at a screen), I imagined we were gathered around a radio, listening to a show together…transporting us 60 or so years into the past.
There I sat, snuggled under a blanket, sipping my coffee…just listening. My daughter laid in a blanket fort she’d built. My son wiggled and squirmed all over the room. But in our own ways, we all listened, we discussed, we learned.
Several times I had to bring my thoughts back to the moment. I’d start making a list in my head, thinking of some distant task to accomplish. Reeling it back in, though, I refocused and practiced my listening, just as I challenge my kids to do each day.
Still in a mood to snuggle, windows foggy with condensation, eaves dripping wet outside, I gathered my brood on the couch. And we simply read together. I love these moments. Entering into a story, focusing intently, listening for what’s there beneath the words printed, all the while snuggling with my loves in comfy blankets on the couch.
For us, this was our “school-time” yesterday. I’ve felt dry and weary in teaching lately. I desperately needed a day like that to just enjoy listening and learning.
Then, while the kids snacked and played for a while, I pulled out my guitar (after far too long an absence) and played. Just a few moments spent in that place, but I entered in fully. And something hard on my heart broke off. I was just being. Being me. Doing something I love. Being present.
The difference in yesterday was that sense of being present. Setting aside my usual agenda for walking with God in the moments. In an ordinary, non-spectacular day, I was amazed. I experienced abundance.
Jesus said he came that we might have life abundant. And we think that multitasking gives us greater abundance when, in reality, it’s a tactic of the enemy to steal our abundance, to steal our focus, to steal our very presence in the moments we live.
Living meets life when we see the moments for what they are. When we don’t cram them beyond capacity. Abundance in life enters in when we invite God in and banish the enemy’s tactics of distraction.
I’m absolutely amazed at how those days go when I stop multitasking…when I lean on God’s agenda moment-to-moment rather than on my never-ending to-do list. I get so much more done! And yet, getting more done isn’t the goal on those days. But it still happens that way. The rest of the day I had plenty of time to practice for a class I’m preparing to teach, learn a new song on my guitar, snatch moments to read a novel, watch an amazing movie I’ve been looking forward to for months, create a new card detailing my vision for 2015 that I can see each day, be patient with my kids, practice Bible verses with them, cook dinner, help my hubby rearrange furniture, and more I just can’t remember.
It was a day of abundance, not because of the things I crossed off my list, but because of the level to which I was actually present in my moments. This, my vision for 2015: Live. Today. Fully.
Steve proposed to me on the way up to Mount Evans in Colorado. The setting was breathtaking – surrounded by pine trees, with a touch of snow on the ground, and an amazing panoramic view of snow-capped mountains nearby.
We revisited this spot on our recent vacation. The trees were taller and some new campfire spots had emerged – and of course we had our kids in tow this time. After we spent time there taking about a million pictures, we took the road further up the mountain. The very top was closed due to snow, but we were able to climb (in our van, of course) up to 12,800 feet in elevation.
It’s a strange moment when you rise above the tree-line and what was once lush and thick and green becomes merely small, dry shrubs. The wind moves with greater ease and makes the temperature feels so much colder without the trees to block the air flow. Leaving the familiarity of life behind to enter a sacred, quiet place. It can also be pretty frightening climbing up, up the twisting road with the treacherous cliff just beyond the car window.
The desolation up there was simply beautiful
…away from the demands of life
…out of cell phone or internet range
…the nearest trees a thousand or so feet below
…seeing to every horizon, miles and miles away.
Right now, by contrast, I’m sitting in a cozy chair at a bookstore, overlooking the highway and parking lot at my “lofty” second-story window. There are trees below, but smaller and mostly intentionally planted by men. Electrical lines and street lights, bustling cars and semis, laptops and cell phones, music playing overhead…the solitude seems so distant.
What was so captivating about the beautiful desolation above the trees? What was it that stirred me? In the stillness, away from distractions and constant accessibility it was easier to listen. Rather than the surrounding whirlwind of noise and demands, a blanket of calm enveloped me. I could take a moment to simply be and rest in knowing that nothing else was required of me.
So now, since I’m aware that trekking up Mount Evans every day is simply not going to happen – living in Texas makes that a bit difficult – I wonder, how can I capture even a few moments of that beautiful desolation in the midst of my day? Where can I go away from the bustle and the expectations and noise? Where can I go and relax and simply listen? Because, quite honestly, I’m desperate for the important to rise up and for the urgent to fade away.
I haven’t got this one figured out…I’m still on my journey which will look different in a few months and a few years and a few decades.
Lord, thank You for providing Yourself as a place of rest and the Sabbath day as an appointed time of rest. Help me come to You in that place in time and see opportunities for little solitudes throughout the day.
“He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:29-30
Where do you discover solitude? When do you set aside distractions and the noisy onslaught to focus on resting in God’s presence?
Like what you’re reading? Subscribe here to receive updates on new posts!