Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted¬†,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. ūüėÄ

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Think about such things

The world tells us to think positive. It tells us to keep our heads held high; to dwell on the good things. And on this, I’d like to agree.

Not always do we wake up with perfect hair, blemish free, and fresh roses to smell. We often times wake before our bodies want, to a mess we didn’t have time to clean up, and sometimes to kids who didn’t want to get up either. Our days don’t go as we planned, and the further we head into the day, the worse it seems to get. But think positive, right? Why is that so hard to do?

I recently listened to a great author speak about comparisons and how as women and as mothers we tend to compare ourselves to others to the point that we feel insecure and down about our actual lives. It’s true. We base our happiness on whether we measure up to others. We stay up late, get up early, set ourselves up for a tired sleepy day because we have to be busy like all the other moms in our circle.

if Sally says she crossed off twelve items on her to-do list when we only crossed off 3, we go to bed thinking of the complete loser we must be.

When we visit Nancy’s for a playdate and notice how clean and orderly her house is, we wake up the next morning thinking about the huge slacker we are for not getting to our messes the night before.

When June serves her kids a perfectly balanced meal, we cringe at the non-organic chicken noodle soup we are slopping up for our brood.

Instead of focusing on the fact that we crossed 3 major tasks off our to-do list while potty training, dealing with night terrors, and a sick husband, we dwell on the effects of the comparison on our lives. Instead of realizing that a clean home ready for company is not the same as a home a family lives in, we park our focus on the pile of laundry we have verses the hidden one they had. Instead of praising our children for behaving at a delicious dinner, we harp on the meal we could have made had we read more recipes.

However, the Bible tells us in¬†Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters,¬†whatever¬†is¬†true,¬†whatever¬†is¬†noble,¬†whatever¬†is¬†right,
¬†whatever¬†is¬†pure,¬†whatever¬†is¬†¬†lovely,¬†whatever¬†is¬†admirable‚ÄĒif anything¬†is¬†excellent or praiseworthy‚ÄĒthink about such things.”

Think about what is true. Are your circumstances different? Probably!  Think about what is noble. Are you doing righteous things? Being virtuous? Are you a good person? Honorable? Upright? Are you a decent person? Focus on making yourself who God wants you to be. Not who God wants Sally, Nancy, or June to be. Think about what changes you may need to make in order to be the best YOU.

Think about what is right. Are you doing what is right FOR YOUR FAMILY? Then who cares what that family does? Think about what is pure and lovely. Ask God to make your heart pure, to seek Him with the heart He has given you. Make your own home lovely… to¬†you. Are you comfortable? Then you have something to be happy about. If there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

You can praise God that Sally was able to accomplish so much, and that Nancy was able to have you to her wonderful home. Praise God that June’s family was blessed with a wonderful meal. But don’t take that to mean that you are unable to praise God for the things you were able to do as well.

It is said that social media is the ¬†number one problem in this area. But it doesn’t have to be. It is OKAY to find the positives in your day (the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things) and to focus on that. You don’t have to snap a picture of your messy living room and post it for all to see… but you can snap a shot of that awesome marked up to do list to remember the day THREE THINGS WERE MARKED OFF! Thinking of the positive things in your life is not “being fake”. I never look at a cute kid in a minion costume and think, “That mom is SO fake! As if her kid is ALWAYS this cute!” No, I smile, maybe I hit “like”, and I move on.

If you’re mantle looks awesome for fall, take a pic… who cares if your floor under the mantle is covered in Legos. Focus on the positives. Look for the good. If you need to write “Wake up, Shower, eat breakfast” on your to do list just to see them crossed off, DO IT! Train your mind to focus on the bests of the day. ¬†(2 Cor 10:5). God gives you joy. Don’t let comparisons take that away. Focus on who you are in Christ… even if that means you aren’t the best housekeeper.

Stay off Facebook if it is tempting you to be downcast because you compare yourself to everyone else. Stop cruising pintrest if you feel “less than” because you don’t feel you measure up to the Pintrest Goddesses. Or choose to find your inner genius in what you ARE good at, and praise God for blessing you with that talent. And if you must… snap away, share, and smile at your accomplishments.
God made you YOU. Not me, or her, or her over there! YOU. And he loves you. That is something that has no comparison!

With that, I share my fall decor. It may not be YOUR style… but it’s mine. And I love looking at it. I love how it makes my home feel, and how it sets a warm tone for my day. And THIS particular time, there is no littlest pet shop animals littering the floor below…¬†THIS time! But even if there were, I’m happy about THIS part of that room! What are you loving about your home? Your life? Your blessings? Think about such things!

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Stay at home moms vs working moms

I recently spent way too much time reading a few articles on “What not to say to a Stay at home Mom” and “What not to say to a working mom”. They ranged from not mentioning that stay at home mom’s aren’t “working” moms to working moms not asking “what will you do with your education.” One side saying they do more work in the home than they ever did working before kids, as they run kids from one activity to another, plan meals, do laundry, attend playdates, bathe, feed, teach and care for their bambinos 24/7. While the “other side” claims they do all that PLUS work! The arguments gave me a headache. I was angry with the article claiming that by staying home with the kids you teach children that education is not important for a mom. (I won’t go into my HUGE rant right now about how my college education is being put to use every day, and that this choice to stay home is not a wrong choice just because I am not making money in my degree field… that can be for another blog). I was put off by the claim that because a woman chooses to work it means she loves her child less… I’m sure they are working AND loving their child, one does not negate the other. However, the thing that really irked me (and even challenged me some) was the true competition seems to be who is busiest. Is our worth really based on who does more? If you decide to sit on the couch while your husband sits in a chair and watch the kids do meaningless dances and magic shows, and cartwheels all night instead of running a child to dance, tee ball, soccer, and worship practice does that make you less of a parent?

It seems to be that SAHMs want to keep a running tally of all they did in a day. Made breakfast- check, bathed, dressed, and dolled up the kids- Check. Then ran 12 errands, going to 3 playdates for each child’s age group, met with the leader of the free world at noon, ran home to get the kids to sleep so that a gourmet meal could be cooked and homemade treats were made for teeball practice- Check, Check, check, and check check. While working moms scream their list of getting everyone on the bus in time to run through starbucks because well, caffeine is needed when you never sleep because you have to do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, running around AFTER putting in an 8 hour day.

Its all about the to do lists. Never truly about the kids. We validate ourselves by our to-do lists. And how many check marks are there.

I’m not buying into it. I stay home for this…Image

I have 4 kids. Each gets one class. The baby has a baby class, the 3 year old has a class with her age group, the 6 year old does dance, the big boy has basketball… one class. I don’t run them from one to another to another filling our days with stuff. We do playdates (ONE). We go to church, we homeschool, we do activities and field trips… but not all at once. And my decision to stay home is because I want this time with THEM… not in the car, not watching them play sport after sport, not going going going. I enjoy sitting on the bed for an hour listening to them each take turns reading. I enjoy doing nothing and watching them play. Our tv isn’t on, our computer isn’t open, we just play. And if our evening get fuller with activities, it’s okay because we had all day to spend together. I don’t stay at home because I hate my degree… I choose to spend this time I have with them… with them. And what I choose is just that… what I chose.  It was not a choice made to make a point to working moms, or to make a political statement, or to judge someone else’s choice… it was because I wanted to choose them. Those 4 gorgeous babies up there! I want to teach them, raise them, challenge them… not make them busybodies so I could keep up.

Being busy is not our goal. It’s not how we determine if we are doing it right. staying busy does not keep your status quo up. The total items on your to do list does not make you a better person… what you choose to do with the days we’re given does. I choose to live life with them. They will be gone soon, and my list will get longer just because that’s life… But while we can, we’re going to sit back and soak them in.