Motherhood

Unexpected Gifts

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, given our history, but it truly was. I’ve kept a little stash of test strips in the medicine cabinet for a few years. They’re expired, but they still answer the big questions when necessary. After being two days late for a cycle, I decided to use one. 

I’d spent over a year trying to make peace with choosing to usher out the childbearing years. At 35, with six children, an even three boys and three girls, it seemed like the best/perfect/logical time to stop having babies, if ever the choice would be made. It came with no small amount of sadness, though. I kept waiting for that sense I hear other women talk about when they “know” they’re done. I didn’t really have peace, but I kept trying to open the door to woo and welcome it in. 

I thought for sure it was a done deal when we bought a new couch and sent some of our old furniture packing—namely the chairs I had rocked all six of my babies in day and night for twelve years. The rental truck was parked out front after transporting the sectional from warehouse to home, so it made sense to gut the house of everything else we didn’t think we’d need before returning the rental truck, donating and dumping what was no longer needed. 

I didn’t even see the chairs get put on the truck, but in a flash, they were gone, and with them—so I assumed—the season of rocking babies like I had been doing for more than a decade. Shabby as they were, those chairs were sentimental for me, and somehow their sudden departure felt like the door clicked shut on these years of welcoming babies into our family.

That’s why when the little red lines appeared on the expired test strip 7 months later, I didn’t know what to think. I’d already made some big plans for this coming year, and I was also more than a little worried that my other half would be annoyed or upset about the news. He wasn’t. As we have done many times before, we held each other, I cried, and we marched forward with profound gratitude for the honor of bearing another child. 

People have a lot of unsolicited opinions and poorly-thought-out responses to couples with larger-than-average families, especially when an already boisterous parade shows up with a mama who once again has a tummy round with life. I’ve navigated this countless times over the years, and while some days the comments roll off without consequence, I felt instantly protective about the early weeks of this pregnancy. I clammed up, and aside from telling a few essential people in our lives, we kept the news to ourselves for a long while. I didn’t share on social media largely because despite all the positivity I expected from some, I also expected an undercurrent of something else I didn’t really want in my world at the time.

I couldn’t handle any jokes (lighthearted or not) about “how this happens”, not when I was feeling profound weight and honor at the prospect of raising still another child. Motherhood is an honor. The first, the fifth, and every time. It’s not the “only” or “best” honor one can have or a role that should be elevated above other holy things like some kind of merit badge, but it is unmistakably an honor to grow and nourish the body and soul of a human person within the womb and beyond. 

Let it be to me according to your word was Mary’s response to the angel who told her she would bear a son. 

This is my whispered prayer as I consider not only the rest of this pregnancy, but the rest of my days on this earth, however many I should have. 

We are welcoming a son in a few short months while on this wild, unpredictable, beautiful ride together.

His name means Blessed Gift of God because we see this “detour” truly as a gift. 

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1441. reclaiming spaces, 1442. bear snuggles, 1443. risen cinnamon rolls, 1444. pillows and blanket rolls, 1445. little kicks, 1446. lifegiving songs on loop, 1447. the harvest of surrender, 1448. books that wait for me, 1449. socks, 1450. soul at rest

A Note for Creative Moms

Today I’m honored to have a little of my writing featured over on RuthieGray.mom with some tips about how to cultivate a creative life even with little ones underfoot. 


Every creative endeavor I’ve pursued began as a passing thought that I happened to take seriously for half a second.

That’s all it takes. A half-second pause to ponder the possibilities allows just enough time for the tiny seed of an idea to sprout. Taking a quick moment to capture that idea in some physical way transforms that passing thought into a tangible building-block of creative work, turning the fleeting nature of an idea into something of consequence.

Of course, all of this grows exponentially more difficult when your hands are plunged into soapy dish-water as rascally toddlers unravel your kitchen drawers and cupboards.

Notice I said, “more difficult” but not “impossible”.

Creative mama, you are not disqualified from having brilliant ideas.

You are capable of finding creative solutions for how to give those ideas more than a passing thought—even if you’re in the demanding years of raising little ones. As a creative mama of six kids, I know well the many challenges that stand between me and my creativity. They are often things out of my control: family needs, chronic exhaustion, and the overwhelm of noise and activity that comes with family life.

To read the rest of this encouragement for creative mamas, head over to RuthieGray.mom and read about the practical, actionable steps you can take to make space for creativity in your life as a mom. 

Take Notice


One photo a week throughout the year. 7
/52 (a few weeks behind)

I sliced my index finger open tonight. I was carefully cutting up potatoes to roast in the oven. I wasn’t rushing. I wasn’t distracted. Miraculously, there were not three little people circling my legs as I stood at the cutting board, as there often are. Still, somehow the blade met the edge of my finger and took with it a bit of material it would have been nice to have kept to myself.

Ouch.

I didn’t cry, but I did feel a little stunned.

How did that just happen?

All afternoon, I have been thinking about the jumble of thoughts I’ve had in my brain all week. I sometimes feel myself moving about on auto-pilot–as moms are known to do on little sleep–while my brain whirrs away in some other place, but just a few hours ago, the glorious Seattle sun came out and beckoned us to the park for some fresh air and play time.

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I sit on the park bench where things become clear, sun on my face and the crisp March breeze blowing the straggling hairs across my face that have fallen from my unwashed top-knot mom-‘do. I watch my kids dart to-and-fro about the playground.

Slow down, Em.

Slow. It. Down.

See them running and laughing? Take notice.

The one in yellow leggings and an oversized sweater: She’ll be five next week, even though it was only a few blinks ago that she was swaddled up in a pink blanket, smiling in her sleep between feedings. Her spindly, runner-legs carry her around the park loop and her wild hair follows behind.

Take notice.

The one in a blue athletic jacket and the oversized, awkward teeth of a pre-teen boy. That is your son that came home from the hospital at seven and a half pounds and is now nearly staring you in the eyes. Nine on Saturday. Nine years old. How did that just happen?

Take notice.

I will, I say to myself. I am taking notice.

I notice that for all the irritating moments of the same messes and the same squabbles happening over and over, that we are knit together. These mundane, ordinary days are the ones where the seeds once sown are sprouting and growing…not quite like I imagined, but better. Sweeter. More interesting and challenging. Young hearts eager to squeeze all the fun out of life and a mom who wants to make sure that every day of innocent childhood that can be afforded to them be kept so, carefully guarded with love and sacrifice.

So I watch and cherish the time, fiercely protecting these years from the angst and horror of the outside world. There will be a time when the carefree days are clouded with the complicated issues of humanity, but for now, I revel in the lifeline they are for me. They remind me daily that there is heart-rending beauty in the midst of this broken world.

PS. For those who are worried about the cut, I am fine. It’s not serious, but not awesome either. I’m here typing awkwardly with all the wrong fingers while my bandaged digit points at the screen so I don’t accidentally tap it against the keys. I guess one could call this adventures in writing.
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“The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18

1341. the purple dress, 1342. big brother doing dishes of his own accord, 1343. gentle reminders, 1344. seeing a friend’s heart awaken to the love of God, 1345. growing Kindred Mom community, 1346. healing conversations, 1347. podcast plans, 1348. husband to the rescue (re: finger), 1349. growing into vision, 1350. a sweet gift from a new friend in the mail

Flourishing in Motherhood

One photo a week throughout the year. 5/52

We arrived to our weekly homeschool group a few minutes late, as usual. No matter how highly I personally value punctuality, I have not been able to reliably get myself and six kids to destinations on time since my youngest was born nearly a year ago. With all my heart, I want to arrive on time, but I’m only one woman and there are quite a few personalities in my family that frequently prevent me from finding success in that quest.

Still, every time I arrive somewhere late, I feel defeated.

The other moms are huddled in a circle, sharing pertinent announcements and prayer requests with the group. I’m late, but my friends open the circle and draw us in with warm smiles. I have one hand on the stroller where my little guy is squirming around, attempting to escape the clutches of his 5-point harness. My other hand pats the head of his 3-year old sister who is sitting on my foot with her arms wrapped around my leg while she warms to the new environment. The other kids have dispersed to look for their friends who are in the adjacent gym space, bouncing balls and running about with energy to spare.

I’m here. Whew. I’m here.

One sweet newcomer to our group begins sharing about the tumultuous journey of watching her elderly father approach death. His health has been steadily declining, and everyone expects him to pass at any time, but whenever the family makes peace with his passing, he rebounds back from the brink of death for a few days.

She tells us how it is hard to be caught between savoring the last days/weeks with him and mourning the life that is slipping away before her eyes.

Tears are streaming ferociously down my face. I genuinely feel for her, but there is also a moment where I realize that her vulnerability to share with our group has poked a hole in my brave-mom facade, revealing the raw and tender part of me that I’ve been hiding all week.

We comfort her and pray for her, and then I find the courage to say out loud:

I feel like a constant disappointment these days…

The rest of this essay appears on Kindred Mom…head over there to read the rest!

“How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.” Psalm 40:4-5 NASB

1321. essays received for Kindred Mom, 1322. a smoother week than last week, 1323. baby walking everywhere, 1324. valentine-making with friends, 1325. kid wonder’s night out with friends, 1326. small amounts of seattle snow, 1327. invitations, 1328. the growth I see in myself over time, 1329. compliments regarding my sons, 1330. jill briscoe talk – the importance of living our mission

Finding My Voice

One photo a week throughout the year. 4/52

From a young age, they tell me I have natural talent. It’s nice for them to say, but I’m a quiet, reserved child, so I’m not sure about that. I like to sing but I don’t like drawing attention to myself, which means I never sing very loud. I wait until the music is turned up a bit or until I’m in my room where I can close the door. I listen to my mother sing harmonies and quietly try to imitate her, tuning my ear to the nuances of the music.

In the middle years, my life is tumultuous. My dad doesn’t live at my house anymore. He took my youngest brother with him, and nothing feels stable or normal. I cope by muscling out perfect grades in every class, unable (or unwilling) to accept less. Anything less than an “A” would expose the reality that I am crumbling on the inside. I am fractured—just like my family—and I sing to keep myself afloat. It is the only art I can make, partly because I don’t really have to work at it that hard, and I am fighting deep depression. Maybe they were right about the natural talent. I like to think it was God’s lifeline to me. He gave me a voice to explore so that I might learn how to explore other things that bring life and joy—little by little, inch by inch.

I go to college and find myself thoroughly deconstructed. I can’t keep up the perfection I managed to muscle in earlier years. Instead I crack open the rawest place and scribble lyrics of my deep brokenness, squeaking out desperate prayers and pleas for God to come and help me find a way out of the dark place, proclaiming a desire to heal long before the healing comes.

God brings me a man that takes me by the hand right out of that mire. We make love and babies and very, very slowly, light begins pouring into me. He disarms me with his humility and opens up the spaces I’ve curled in around. The fears that hold me with fury start losing their grip. Simple times, little faces, and rearranged perspective starts me looking for beauty in new places: the ordinary moments of every day; the miracle I am living.

I find a camera in my hands and start freezing everything beautiful I see. At first I think I’m going to be somebody bigger or better, but I quickly learn that seeing deeply is far more important than the constant pressure to prove myself…to myself. Behind vanity, sometimes there are worthy pursuits. Vanity, however, can set the less mature person in a compromised direction. My subjects smile into my lens and I see the vulnerable moment just before I click when they are asking themselves, do I look ok? Do my faults and fears show? Does my nice outfit and carefully groomed appearance hide my insecurity? No, it doesn’t. It does help me see for myself that I am not the only one that constantly wonders if I am (fill in the blank) enough, and I see a new beauty in humanity that only comes in a shared vulnerable moment.

My sweet neighbor teaches me how to sew. I never wanted to learn, especially when my grandmother wanted to teach me as a child. It took too much time and effort to make things look perfect. I just knew it, even though I never really tried. She shows me the way to embrace things that take time; the value in one step at a time. Now I experience a calm purpose as I wash, dry, iron the fabric, tear the cut edges to square up, measure, cut, align, pin, sew, and turn. The process is beauty to me.

For many years, I carry a cavernous hunger. I am desperate to be filled, even though all the food I devour doesn’t touch it. I eat my feelings, as they say, and love the starch, the carbohydrate, and convenience of things in packages. I don’t want to cook, because I’m terrified of being locked up in a chauvinist marriage. I tell my good man from the beginning, I am not your house maid. I am not your cook. He loves me anyway, and does all those things until I learn on my own that filling the hearts and bellies of the ones I love is one of the greatest joys, and that chopping stuff with a good knife is therapeutic.

I write words in every different place over all the years from the early to the present. Journals, spiral notebooks, and one blog after the next. I don’t call myself a writer because it is scary to own my voice. I avoid. I hide. I agonize. I stretch. I try to write again and again until the dam is compromised enough to fall down completely and bring the rushing water all the way through the previously dry channel. My voice is found, and while I am trepidatious about the power it wields, I know that I can’t rest until I help others find theirs as well.

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Friends – I am eager to share a new venture with you. It is a project that is very dear to my heart, and I am believing it will be an encouragement to many. I invite you to check out Kindred Mom, a collaborative blog where many different women will be sharing about their motherhood experiences through story-driven essays. I would love your support as Kindred Mom is getting established. You can do any of the following:

> Follow us on Instagram and Twitter
> Join our Kindred Mom Facebook Group
> Submit an essay to Kindred Mom
> Subscribe to our Email List
> Read along as we begin sharing essays and let your mama friends know about the blog

“You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11

1311. my husband’s constant (and sacrificial) support of all my crazy ideas, 1312. roozy boozy’s new haircut, 1313. hank starting to find his confidence with walking, 1314. big buddy’s constant hugs, 1315. riding together as a family (still new and quite exciting), 1316. seeing threads come together, 1317. making some new banners, 1318. met new neighbors, 1319. sermon on the vastness of God’s redemptive power, 1320. friends on the Kindred Mom journey with me

Burdens Laid Down

One photo a week throughout the year. 1/52  — Taken January 1, 2017

There are maybe fifteen of us sitting in a circle, some holding babies, some quietly giving thanks that their kids are in the children’s wing of the church, coloring, laughing, and playing with bubbles on the other side of the building. Quiet space to think is not always afforded to moms with little ones. Constant noise and endless needs keep the mind running in high gear, always managing a mini-crisis or preparing for the next one that will undoubtedly arise within the next few hours.

I am the mom quietly giving thanks for an opportunity to think about all that 2016 brought to me.

Each mama in the circle has a pencil and a white sheet of paper with a few reflection questions to consider.

Line one asks me, “What are a few words that encompass your experience in 2016?”

I haven’t really given it a lot of thought until this moment, and I feel a little surprised that I write down: healing, restful, simple.

It wasn’t a dramatic or spectacular year in the ways I’m used to. It may have been dramatic out there in the wide world, but here in our little home, and in my inner-heart space, there was a settling; a breathing-out; a letting-shoulders-relax…a new experience for anxious me.

In February, I gave birth to my sixth child—a 10lb 4oz hunk of love that has delighted all of us throughout the year. The months that followed feel fuzzy in my mind, but I know that while I might have been tender, I was also full to the brim of joy and the reward of little faces greeting me every morning. Our family danced through the delicate transition period after the new arrival with more grace than usual, probably because God heaped it on us with great generosity.

Throughout the summer, I watched my older five play outside in the mild Seattle sun for hours and hours, it’s rays warming me through in a new and unexpected way. I cradled my infant son and felt the weight and beauty of his soul in place of the heavy burdens I’ve carried in years passed. I set down every other thing that I have collected over the years with the intent to prove myself valuable or successful or even just ok in my own skin—and instead took up the practice of breathing slow and looking up through the glittery leaves above me as I pondered the lavish beauty of life that is easily missed by those who are running, chasing, and thoughtlessly squandering what is right in front of them in pursuit of all the not-yet’s…as I have done for years without realizing it.

In October, I wrote all the thoughts I could about simplicity and my pursuit of it; a little surprised that I have begun to cherish the journey I started years ago when I first picked up the book Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster. I’d venture to say that the pursuit of simplicity has been a difficult and humbling experience, but as I begin to discover the rewards of it, I can’t recommend it highly enough. There are cords that hold us captive to things without our knowledge, but simplicity opens the door to a different, and more beautiful reality.

The last months of the year found me up to my ears in gratitude for the fullness of my life and the realization that even though I’ve struggled through years of hard things and hard feelings, sometimes there is a stretch of time where the angst falls away and the lungs are filled with hope that all the lost and broken things will one day be restored.

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10 ESV

1281. little hands that pinch and pat their way through nursing, 1282. the purple girl and all the purple things she loves, 1283. ‘seriously cute’ reminding me often that even when she grows up and moves away, she will visit me, 1284. mr. bubs and his delight that I run my fingers through his handsome hair when he hugs me close, 1285. my diligent guy who quiets my soul by quieting the house clutter, 1286. moments of grace with my growing girl who is learning how to carry herself with dignity as she straddles the line between imaginative child and blossoming teen, 1287. some quiet hours alone for the first time in a while, 1288. new books and new horizons, 1289. warmth of community, 1290. the satisfaction I find in creative collaboration

The Generous Parent

I sit on my deep red couch with my journal open on my lap. The chatter of childhood surrounds me as my six kids alternately play and argue their way through the morning, fighting over random toys or who gets to be in charge of the pretend play scenario they have cooked up. I make a list of things I shouldn’t forget to do, and jot down notes of quiet thoughts I simply don’t want to lose track of in the momentum of family life. I write down: What does it mean to be a generous mother?

About then, my seven year old plops on the couch next to me and leans into my personal space. One part of me wants to send him back to play with the others and preserve the gloriousness of not having someone touching me at every moment, but before I give that command, my eyes fall across my journal page—a Holy Spirit invitation to recognize that this is a moment I can choose to be generous with my son.

Even though I really want my space and a little room to think my own thoughts, I close my journal and put my arm around him for the awkward cuddle of a long-legged, tender-hearted boy who feels the need for midday mama-snuggles. I know these days won’t last, and just this once, I feel satisfied that I am aware of his need and prepared to sacrifice my space for a few minutes of filling his heart with my attention. In this moment, I am a generous mother.

I don’t always make the gracious choice. In my heart, I want to, but tiredness, busyness, and spread-thinness impedes my ability to give my children my best at all times. Most often, I am stumbling through parenthood, powered by love, but not always able to get the tenderness I feel for my kids to show through gentle actions and encouraging words.

Nothing else has illuminated my humanity and the daily struggle to circumvent selfishness in order to humbly serve my family quite like parenthood. I find that sometimes even small gestures of kindness require a significant effort (especially when I am short on sleep, and consequently short on patience). Sometimes it is easier to stay focused on my to-do lists, and on the never-ending tasks of ordinary life, without pausing to attend to the little ones who simply want my attention for a few moments.

Like any other mom, I want to give my children the best of everything, whenever possible. I entertain hope that they might be spared suffering, ridicule, poverty, and challenges throughout their lives. I pray for those things, but deep down, I recognize that I can neither promise nor guarantee safe distance from adversity. I often forget that what I can give them, and what they really need in these years at home, is a parent who is invested, attentive, and tuned in to their emotional needs in addition to their physical ones. I forget that generosity doesn’t always mean giving them stuff. Sometimes it means allowing the inevitable interruptions of childhood, and purposing to give my attention generously to each as they seek me out.

At Christmas, we give gifts wrapped with paper and tape that can be opened in the excitement of Christmas morning. Every other moment of the year, we have the opportunity to give gifts that are only opened with the tenure of relationship, by forged connection and trust built in the mundane moments. We must recognize that our attentive presence is invaluable for our children.

This is what it means to be a generous parent: to see and embrace our children, to hear about their dreams and worries with listening ear and words of encouragement, and to celebrate the small victories they have in every stage of development. If we can do these things in their years at home with us, they will see return on our investment throughout the rest of their lives.

*This post originally appeared as a guest post for Meredith M. Dangel. 

A Simplicity Journey

Welcome friends.

This is day 29 of Soulful Simplicity, a 31-day series through the month of October. The series can be found here, and I hope you find it enriching and encouraging. If you have any questions or would otherwise like to connect, feel free to send me a note: lightandloveliness [at] gmail [dot] com.

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I’ve been taking small steps toward simplicity every day for half of my life.

When I started, I wouldn’t have called it simplicity. It looked more like survival. I was the oldest child in a family fractured by divorce, my heart torn into five pieces that will never find their way back to the same original shape. I navigated my last years of high-school, attempting to feel as little as possible so I didn’t hurt so much. I chose Jesus for myself in that time, and have never regretted it a single day.

After survival, the steps looked like grief. When I left my mother’s home and went to college, I let the dam finally break and cried buckets of tears for months. I cried daily, prayed often, and poured out my sorrows into songs that I wrote with a sweet friend who journeyed alongside me through that tough season and every season forward.

After grief, the steps looked like drama. A young man sought my hand in marriage and I was all kinds of terrified about it. I tried sending him another direction. I tried to deflect his love with excuses and intensive conversations, but the good thing was: for the first time, I was thinking about my heart and what I wanted for it. In the end, he won me over and has added good things to my life ever since.

After drama, the steps looked like loneliness. I spent my first year of motherhood in an unfamiliar city without an established community to look to for support. I was 23 and knew nothing about raising a child, only that the deafening silence of being home alone with her for hours a day made me feel desperate to fill the empty space with anything. Except I couldn’t. For the first time, I tasted what stillness of the soul can accomplish…how margin and whitespace makes room for deep work within my heart.

After loneliness, the steps looked like surrender. The news of a third baby felt initially like an ill-timed joke, falling in the middle of our very poorest, most vulnerable time as a family. It was no joke, and after a stretch of wrestling with God about that timing, I started embracing the reality that I could argue with God about what is good for me, or I could give myself to the tasks He put before me. I chose to give myself to it.

After surrender, the steps looked like grace. I grew in faithfulness to my mothering task, and started learning about what it might look like to put my whole heart into the purpose of seeking the highest good for my family, even if it meant humbling myself, and learning how to receive what God gives with gratitude despite the times I do not completely understand it. I learned how to value small things done with great love.

After grace, the steps looked like diligence. I dealt with a minor health issue through my fifth pregnancy, and learned how to create new habits and live by my priorities like never before. I discovered a strength in me I didn’t know was there.

After diligence, the steps looked like joy, and that is where I currently stay; aware that life is a gift and that God really does heal, mend, restore, and redeem. I am walking proof of it.

Soulful simplicity is a journey, not a destination.

It is not an ideal to be worshiped, or an island to land on. It is an invitation to discover the peace, goodness, and healing of God in your own everyday life.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 1:13-18

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I have some exciting things to share in the near future, and would love for you to be among the first to hear about them. If you’re so inclined, please sign up for my email newsletter here and I’ll send out updates as they become available. Your address will never be shared. Thanks!

Simple, Faithful Heart

Welcome friends.

This is day 28 of Soulful Simplicity, a 31-day series through the month of October. The series can be found here, and I hope you find it enriching and encouraging. If you have any questions or would otherwise like to connect, feel free to send me a note: lightandloveliness [at] gmail [dot] com.

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“It is night. I sit, reclined with baby in arms, awake with my eyes closed. There is a slight give in the chair, and I bounce rhythmically to the sound of easygoing rain. Only glass between us, the sky-water patters near to the ears and the soul in the otherwise quiet house…I recognize am not called to live a comfortable life, but one that is fruitful and marked by faithfulness, which sounds a lot less glamorous than the comfortable alternative. I struggle to lay down my pride, take up a humility that is beyond me, and order my life in such a way that my garden is well-tended. Consistent, constant, faithful, committed, thorough, invested, loving, patient, grateful. Jesus Himself, said that He did not come to be served, to but serve and give His life as a ransom for many. I hold those words to my heart and hope they sink in where I can learn to be the same kind of person, no matter the weather.” (from Rain and Rocking, February 2015)

Faithfulness is the natural result of a soulfully-simplified life. If I want to be a faithful person, I begin by simplifying my heart and home. I see my purpose, and I know my priorities. I faithfully attend the tasks required to tend them, even if those same tasks require much from me.

My life is not complicated by unnecessary commitments, or overburdened by excess things.

I don’t take my cues from social media and I don’t have to prove myself ‘enough’, but instead show myself capable, willing, and faithful in the small things. I can focus on what I’m actually responsible for and get rid of the rest.

I do not exhaust myself for pursuits that don’t make the list of my highest priorities, and I don’t find myself weary at the end of the day for no good reason.

I am not easily blown off course because the ties that would tug on me from this way or that have no hold here.

For you who long for this kind of peace, this kind of wellness within your soul, this kind of order within your home, I encourage you to be still, quiet your heart, and seek God. Ask Him for help. Ask Him for His peace, His wholeness, and His love to sink in to the deepest places. Pursue simplicity, one step at a time, and see if you do not discover the upside-down, beautiful, humble road to success in your pursuits.

“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power.” Isaiah 40:29

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I have some exciting things to share in the near future, and would love for you to be among the first to hear about them. If you’re so inclined, please sign up for my email newsletter here and I’ll send out updates as they become available. Your address will never be shared. Thanks!

Create a Sustainable Schedule

Welcome friends.

This is day 25 of Soulful Simplicity, a 31-day series through the month of October. The series can be found here, and I hope you find it enriching and encouraging. If you have any questions or would otherwise like to connect, feel free to send me a note: lightandloveliness [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Today, I have gathered 8 tips for creating a sustainable schedule.

1—Identify the underlying purpose behind what you commit to, and if something no longer serves it’s intended purpose, don’t be afraid to let it go. If you are asking yourself, “What is the point of this?” you will have a hard time following through on a commitment as soon  as you have some resistance or challenges come up. If you have already identified the purpose of an event on your calendar, you can put your heart into preparing, getting there, and engaging in whatever it is.

2—Honor the rhythms and limitations of your family without apology. You know better than anyone else what things will and won’t work for your family. Sometimes other people will try to make you feel guilty or otherwise pressure you to add something to your schedule, but you do not have to explain why you choose not to commit to them. Make the best decisions you can and stand by them.

3—Be protective of your family’s top priorities. Maybe you love travel? Guard your budget and time off to be able to invest in that. Maybe you love making memories together? Schedule in your family adventures so they don’t get pushed out by urgent unimportant things. Maybe you value having dinner around the table together? Plan your meals ahead and get your kids in the kitchen with you to bring it together every night. Whatever your priorities may be, it is important to keep them in mind when making decisions about your calendar.

4—Keep in mind that your schedule should be serving you, and if it isn’t, make some changes. It is easy to feel like we are at the mercy of our schedules and that we have no choice  but to do this or do that. We always have choices. That doesn’t mean they are easy choices, but there are ways to simplify, alter, and organize our lives to create a weekly rhythm that works for everyone in the household.

5—Simplify home and household systems so you can get through necessary tasks without wasting excess energy. There are many tasks that are necessary to keep a home together and moving forward, but that doesn’t mean that you should have to expend all the energy you have on those things. Look for ways to clear out what you don’t need and streamline tasks that you can’t get out of so they’re not so overwhelming when you get to them.

6—Develop a vision for your week ahead, or take a moment to plan just one day ahead. If you can see what is happening next, you can communicate with your family about what they might need to do to prepare. If you have a list of things that need to be tackled, you can stay focused and get those items knocked out.

7—Commit to things you can joyfully give your time to. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be things that are sometimes a stretch or a struggle, but you will be happier if you only commit to things you are excited about, or at minimum, able to show up with a willing heart to.

8—Keep an eye on margin and flexibility. Let’s face it. These two things are sustainable-schedule essentials.

“Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.” 2 Chronicles 7:15-16

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