I’m establishing a new normal today. For over 3 years, I’ve awoken before 5am on Saturday mornings, tossed on clothes, and headed out the door for coffee and writing.
But last week we bought a new house! And with the move comes changes, like writing more at home. So I allowed myself an extra 15 minutes of sleep…all the way until 4:55am…before rising to brew my own coffee and set up my laptop across from our dining room window that presently looks out over the pre-dawn blackness of the open field behind our property.
It has been a whirlwind, an exhausting whirlwind – moving every scrap of our possessions from one place to another which is no small task. Here are a few observations from the other side of the crazy:
- We’ve been so blessed by the friends and family who have come to help us pack, unload, and begin to settle. I’m rocked by their selflessness and generosity. And, yes, my eyes began leaking in moments when I realized a friend packed up those closets and cabinets for me that I’d been avoiding.
- It’s taken quite a lot of mental energy to encourage the kiddos who are big enough to help, but old enough to have complex emotions about uprooting their “normal.”
- The enemy will do everything he can to steal, kill, and destroy the goodness God provides. He has sought to instill fear, steal my joy, overwhelm me with tasks, and create uncertainty throughout this whole house-building process.
- It is completely possible to walk a house from foundation pouring to final touch ups, at least once a week with a critical eye ready to catch any flaw, and be pleasantly surprised upon actually moving in at things we’ve overlooked all of these visits.
- My husband is basically a superhero. His strength, endurance, and tendency to get all the big things assembled, connected, and in place within a few days of moving is jaw-dropping in its wonder.
- After 7 moves in 11 years of marriage, I think we mostly have this thing down. Our first move as a married couple was stressful as we learned all kinds of lessons about how not to communicate with love and effectiveness. We may be exhausted, but I’m so deeply thankful that there’s a whole lot more flirting than fighting in this process.
Our last home was such an unbelievable blessing to our family. Our little place, built in 1980, housed first steps and laughter and lessons learned. Our very own pear tree provided hundreds of pears annually. The canopy of trees in the back gave us shade while we played. But mostly, the sense of God’s peace on that space was the stand-out for us and for the visitors we had over the years.
Here, in a new place we now call “home” I feel that peace as well. But there’s more. There’s light. I long for this to be like a lighthouse, set on a hill, pointing everyone we meet to Christ. I pray that this place will not only be where we retreat to rest, but also it will be a place we invite others into – even despite our imperfections that range from dirty dishes in the sink to moments of frustration – because God’s love is sufficient to cover all our imperfections and His grace is sufficient to give strength in our weakness.
Has your normal changed lately? How is God meeting you where you’re at today?
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.