Maybe It’s Time To Quit… But Maybe It Isn’t?

Finish what you’ve started.

Sounds like solid advice, right? 

But what if sometimes… it isn’t?

Now once upon a time, I was working on a PhD in Scotland. I took a six month sabbatical to welcome our first born, but when it was time to start back, it somehow just didn’t feel like it was time to start back.

I prayed and thought and prayed. And I felt it was time to set the PhD down. It was hard — but still, it seemed there was a whisper to my soul: This is the way. Walk ye in it.

A month later, my primary supervisor passed away unexpectedly. No one else in the Divinity School was a good fit to oversee my thesis. 

I deeply grieved the loss of such an amazing woman, but was grateful the decision was made before she was gone — so that I felt confident the decision was right.

When it comes to learning a new skill, starting a new thing, or braving a new venture, I often want to tell my kids to finish what they start. But sometimes it takes wisdom to know what projects were an opportunity to learn something in the process, and which are the things that need to be seen through to completion.

Give a moment to these words from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Proverbs 16:3.

The only way to have our thoughts established is to commit our works to the Lord. […] all our outward concerns must be committed to the providence of God, and to the sovereign, wise, and gracious disposal of that providence. Roll thy works upon the Lord (so the word is); roll the burden of thy care from thyself upon God. Lay the matter before him by prayer. Make known thy works unto the Lord […], not only the works of thy hand, but the workings of thy heart; and then leave it with him, by faith and dependence upon him, submission and resignation to him. The will of the Lord be done. We may then be easy when we resolve that whatever pleases God shall please us.”

Do you love that word choice as much as I do? We can roll the burdens onto Jesus.

This is where it all gets established — when we roll our works and roll the burdens we care about onto God. When we set our hearts and minds to do the thing we believe we are meant to do, and we give it our all, to the glory of God, because we’ve been instructed that whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, we do it fully for His glory.

So we do those things we believe we are supposed to do, but if it goes well, or if it goes poorly — that matters so much less than just having followed the Lord’s leading.

Isn’t it interesting that our thoughts will be established? Whatever happens with the efforts that we make, God will establish the way we rightly understand it.

So I attempt to do a PhD, following His leading into it, and then I perceive the time to finish has come to an end before I expected it, and I follow His leading out of it — but wasn’t this all the Lord?

Without the scholarship, I would not have stayed in Scotland. Without staying in Scotland I would not have married Mr. Collie. 

Continuing the PhD, we would not have spent those two God-ordained years of ministry in South Africa. God closed those doors just as clearly as He had opened them, and it was all in His timing, so clearly… We returned to the US and I had eighteen months before my Dad passed away, which I so often give thanks for.

We did what we felt led to do, even when it didn’t make sense. Even when turning down a full scholarship seemed nuts. Even when two years were all the time we had in South Africa, though we were hoping four.

We committed our works to the Lord by doing what we believed He was leading us to do. He established the way we thought about all these things in hindsight, and we have such a sense of peace that we were walking according to His leading. 

So is it time to quit… or is it time to stay the course and finish what you’ve started? 

We can roll this burden onto Jesus. Commit your next step to Him. And then the step after that. Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture. Instead, look for the next right thing and do that.

Maybe it is time to quit. Maybe it’s time to press on and press in. The wisdom you find in committing your ways to the Lord is where you’ll discern the difference.

P.S. I’m launching my first ever online course, “How to Crush it as a Newbie Homeschooler” very soon! You can click the link below to be notified when it’s time to enroll. Have a friend considering homeschooling? Please let them know this two week course will truly be worth their time!

Homeschool 101: Coming Soon!

So many families are asking about homeschooling, I’m working on an online course which I hope to launch by July 20th! To be the first to know when this course is happening, 

Click here and enter your details!

Got kids?

Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids is a simple ebook I created to help parents take baby steps toward changing the faith culture in their families.

Click here to grab this freebie today!

For When You’re So Offended Your BFF Offers to Throw Toilet Paper

Have you ever read a book and thought… Wait! Is this book reading me?

Jesus said, “It is impossible that no offenses may come.”

I sure do wish that wasn’t true.

But a few years ago, I got super offended about something. I did precisely what most of us ladies do: I called my BFF to go on and on about how offended I was. 

She listened and had tons of compassion and sympathy. And then said the exact thing I needed to hear most. 

She offered to help me toilet paper a house. 

She afterwards suggested we could write Bible verses on the toilet paper. 

I was blessed by her ability to make me laugh… but my heart was still swirling mad. 

The Hero Hubs and I talked about it. He was offended, too. 

I admitted I didn’t think I was going to be able to just play “fine” and not be honest about how I felt when the time came for a conversation. I knew I was going to have to walk out those terribly inconvenient verses that instruct us: 

When your brother has offended you, go to him… {Matthew 18:15…} 

So we did what most offended people probably do. We talked for a while about why we were offended. And then we found something entertaining to watch and tried to forget about it. 

But when bedtime came and I lay down and felt my heart still beating faster than I liked, I finally decided I needed some advice that a human couldn’t give me. 

So? I opened Proverbs. And in chapter 15, this greeted me: 

A soft answer turns away wrath,

But a harsh word stirs up anger. {that’s verse ONE people!} 

Great. So when I am honest and truthful with the “offender” I have to be gentle and not harsh. 

A wholesome tongue is a tree of life,

But perverseness in it breaks the spirit. {v.4} 

Great. More about being wholesome and kind with my word choices. Grrrr. 

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,

But the mouth of fools feeds on foolishness. {v.14} 

Right. So … exactly like my husband said two minutes ago, I need to seek to understand. Not just to be understood. 

This is getting more inconvenient by the minute, right? 

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord,

But the words of the pure are pleasant. {v. 26}

Argh! I need to repent for what’s been in my mind and heart about this situation! And for the words I said aloud to the hubs! Yikes! 

There were more that spoke to me, but here’s the kicker: 

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer,

But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil. {v. 28} 

{Can I pretend I didn’t read this and just go pour forth whatever comes out of my mouth first?} 

Basically, what this situation drew out of me was how quick-tempered I was being. How quick to be frustrated and offended and certain of my position and my right and their wrong and the list goes on… 

And this chapter of Proverbs just started reading my mail. The Word was reading me. Speaking to my heart. Speaking to my exact situation. 

It was one whisper after another, and if I was willing to listen, these whispers could calm the storm inside my own soul. 

Why did I spend so much time formulating my own ideas before eventually consulting the God with Whom Wisdom dwells? 

Let me tell you one more truth. I’ve been offended before. 

And I’ve handled it really badly before. Apologies were made and all is well but still there is regret in my soul that I let my tongue run wild and unchecked — pouring forth unnecessary foolishness. 

It is easy to find people to take our side and tell us what we want to hear! But search hard — you need the people who will tell you the truth! 

Here’s what I’ve learned. When you’re sideswiped by an offense, don’t rush to text that friend that will justify the offense for you. Don’t let that blood-boiling feeling force you to say things you’ll wish you hadn’t said later. Even to your spouse. 

When you need to know how to handle anything life throws your way, this incredible, living, life-breathing Word is the place to find it. Jump into the Proverbs and be amazed when something you’ve read a dozen times already suddenly speaks to exactly what you’re going through. The Word can truly start reading you. 

And? It’ll save you a lot of toilet paper.

 

P.S. There’s still time to give! Along with many other miracle families, we are raising funds to benefit the incredible hospital that (along with so many prayers) saved our son’s life last year, since the Children’s Miracle Network couldn’t host their telethon this year. Please click here to give! We’ve set an ambitious goal of raising $4,800 – $100 for every night Blake spent in the hospital. Please help us reach that goal! Thank you heaps and heaps to those of you who’ve already given!

P.P.S. Blake’s story was on the news last week! Click here to watch + celebrate the miracle with us!

Homeschool 101: Coming Soon!

So many families are asking about homeschooling, I’m working on an online course to offer VERY soon! To be the first to know when this course is happening, 

Click here and enter your details!

Got kids?

Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids is a simple ebook I created to help parents take baby steps toward changing the faith culture in their families.

Click here to grab this freebie today!

Words for the Mamas About Bringing Down the House

What kind of feelings does that first verse of Proverbs 14 conjure for you?

Clearly this is not a literal statement, right? It’s not speaking about a woman getting out her tool belt and her table saw and constructing a home. It’s about building into a home the things that matter. The things that build up the family, these are the things the wise woman does.

The foolish woman, on the other hand, is (probably) not outside having a demo-day, like Chip and JoJo either, pulling and tugging at the siding or hacking at the masonry to pull bricks down one by one. She is making choices that tear her family apart, or create discord.

You know that saying people like to bat around, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy?”

Do you ever hear that and just feel pressure, because that means a lot how everybody feels falls on you?

One crazy thing about motherhood is how we know what a privilege it is, but how we feel so heavily what a responsibility it is.

One of the “common threads” of Proverbs 14 that is a whisper to my soul can be summed up in just two words:

Slow down.

Maybe it would help for me to walk you through and explain — so, I hear it like this:

In verse 2: He who walks in his uprightness fears the Lord,

But he who is perverse in his ways despises Him.

So? Slow down and listen for the leading of the Lord.

In verse 3: In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride,

But the lips of the wise will preserve them.

So? Slow down and choose carefully which words should pass through your lips.

In verse 4: (I love this one.) Where no oxen are, the trough is clean;

But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.

So? Remember that the goal isn’t a tidy house, a picture-perfect Pinterest life. Slow down and make the messes that are necessary to make the good things that bring increase to your family possible. 

In verse 12: 

There is a way that seems right to a man,

But its end is the way of death.

So? Slow down and choose carefully the way you are going to go.

These days, we are in the midst of a season I like to call “Homeschooling Light.” We have fewer tasks on our to-do list for each day. It turns out, when I have a smaller number of things on the list to do, I somehow seem to get so many more good things done.

When I put less expectations on my plate, I find myself stressing less, fussing less, and saying yes more, and enjoying more.

When a busy day comes along with too many tasks on the list, I jump right back into being fussy, impatient, frustrated and rushed.

Here’s what I want to say to you Mamas, and you precious young women who will be, and are already encouragers to other Mamas. (Feel free to forward my emails as you are led.)

You are enough. You do not need to compare yourself with other Mamas. You do not need to assume the other Mamas are doing this thing and that thing every day, and you should, too. 

Do you know who the Good Lord gave each and every one of those precious children that are in your care to?

You.

Not the Mama next door that you think has it all together and decorates her house so adorably for every season. Not the Mama on Facebook who seems to always know when the cool things are happening and is taking her kids there. Not the Mama at church whose kids never seem to do anything wrong, but always seem like perfect examples of getting. every. single. thing. right.

When my second kid arrived on the scene (like a Hollywood film story, no less) I had this moment where I felt overwhelmed by all the opinions and all the advice and all the choices and decisions I had to make. When I called my Mom from South Africa and told her my struggle, she said the absolute best thing she could’ve said:

“You are that baby’s Mama. No one else.”

So stand a little taller today Mama. Don’t freak out that you aren’t doing all the things that you think the “Good Mamas” are doing. Don’t think your kid needs to be involved in 13 activities per week to have a full and well-rounded childhood.

You are that baby’s Mama. That ten year old’s Mama. That twenty-year-old’s Mama. And more than all the things that that kid could be doing — most of all, they just really need you.

The no’s are often what make the yes’s really worthwhile. Slow down. Know that less is more. You may not even realize it’s happening, but you are building a house that will change the world.

P.S. There’s still time to give! Along with many other miracle families, we are raising funds to benefit the incredible hospital that (along with so many prayers) saved our son’s life last year, since the Children’s Miracle Network couldn’t host their telethon this year. Please click here to give! We’ve set an ambitious goal of raising $4,800 – $100 for every night Blake spent in the hospital. Please help us reach that goal! Thank you heaps and heaps to those of you who’ve already given!

P.P.S. Blake’s story was on the news this week! Click here to watch + celebrate the miracle with us!

Homeschool 101: Coming Soon!

So many families are asking about homeschooling, I’m working on an online course to offer VERY soon! To be the first to know when this course is happening, 

Click here and enter your details!

Have Any of These Little People?

Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids is a simple ebook I created to help parents take baby steps toward changing the faith culture in their families.

Click here to grab this freebie today!

How to Eat a Humpback Whale {Or Live a Dream}

Is anything overwhelming you these days? 

Is there a dream or a goal or a hope or wish or prayer that looms before you and seems too big to accomplish? 

I’ll give you a moment to think about it.

Got it? 

Me too. A lot of them. 

In Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein wrote this amusing little poem with a heap or wit and truth:

“Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae

Who ate a monstrous whale?

She thought she could, 

She said she would,

So she started in right at the tail.

 

And everyone said, “You’re much too small,”

But that didn’t bother Melinda at all,

She just took little bites and she chewed very slow,

Just like a good girl should,

 

… and eighty-nine years later she ate that whale

Because she said she would.”

 

I think sometimes the hopes and dreams and goals in our minds feel a bit like eating a whale. 

And the trouble is, we kind of like it better when things are easy, right? We want the get-rich-quick-story. We want to be discovered. We want the overnight underdog-now-on-top thing.

Proverbs 13 speaks to this in an interesting way.;

“Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears;

  wealth from hard work grows over time.” {Prov. 13:11, NLT}

 

The Practical Bite-Sized Way 

A few years ago, we wanted to start reading aloud to our kids more, but weren’t sure exactly where that was going to fit into our sort-of-feeling-tight routine.

We decided to make use of those few minutes when we’d finished our dinner and the kids were still eating to read something aloud. Every once in a while, they’d be ready for bed ahead of schedule and we’d read then as well.

We started in January, and by May we’d read seven books (chapter books!) to our kiddos with time we didn’t realize we had — time that would otherwise been spent on a little of this and a little of that.

This one-bite-at-a-time principle doesn’t just apply to eating a whale. If you want a deeper walk with Jesus but don’t have an hour every morning, take the ten minutes you do have. Find an app to read the Bible to you while you drive to work, or set that alarm just a few minutes earlier and see what happens.

If you want to improve your relationship with your spouse or children, consider what you could do with ten minutes. Sitting on the floor for ten minutes to play with my four-year-old fills her cup big time. Taking ten minutes to talk over coffee before starting our work days is a life-giving practice between the hubs and me.

Andy Stanley said, “There is a cumulative value to investing small amounts of time in certain activities over a long period.”

Small bites.  

Baby steps.  

Big change. 

May you pause today to see the small steps that will help bring about the big change in this one precious life of yours, friend.

P.S. The Children’s Miracle Network was not able to hold their annual telethon this year because of COVID-19 {what else!} Along with many other miracle families, we are raising funds to benefit the incredible hospital that (along with so many prayers) saved our son’s life. Please click here to learn more.

Have Any of These Little People?

Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids is a simple ebook I created to help parents take baby steps toward changing the faith culture in their families.

Click here to grab this freebie today!

Tell Me What To Do… But Don’t Tell Me What To Do

My kids fell in love with the movie Curious George. I listened to it in the minivan so many times, I might be able to recite 75% of it from memory.

In one scene, Will Ferrell’s character, Ted (The Man With the Yellow Hat), realizes he’s made a mistake by choosing to send George away. He talks to his friend (a school teacher named “Miss Dunlop” played by Drew Barrymore) about the situation, and she immediately asks,

“Ted, do you want to hear what you want to hear, or what you should hear?”

When he replies, “Uh…could you run that by me again?” she continues:

“Do you want to hear the truth which you should hear and I’ll tell you, and not just what you think you want to hear? The truth is that George is gone and it’s your fault. Now the question is, what are you going to do about it?”

Miss Dunlop didn’t pull any punches, hey?

Proverbs 12 (along with many other places in Scripture) deals with the issues surrounding the giving and receiving of advice. But gosh, sometimes it’s really hard to take it, right?

The New Living Translation puts a few of these verses so plainly you almost want to laugh…

“…It is stupid to hate correction.” (v.1) {OUCH!}

“…the advice of the wicked is treacherous.” (v.5)

“…but the words of the godly save lives.” (v.6)

“Wise words bring many benefits…” (v.14)

And here’s one to really drive the point home clearly:

“The godly give good advice to their friends;

  the wicked lead them astray.” (v.26)

If I’m going to be most honest, I’m going to tell you there have been many times in my life when I would’ve much rather had someone tell me what I wanted to hear, instead of telling me the truth. 

Not too long ago, I asked a friend for advice about one of my kids, and she was honest with me.

The audacity.

At first, I was a little irritated that I wasn’t just hearing what I wanted to hear when I asked her opinion. But her honesty gave me so much food for thought that by the time I got home I was genuinely repentant — realizing I’d totally been making a bad choice with how I was handling a situation. And then I appreciated her friendship even more. I would’ve been stupid not to receive correction, right? 

So, where are you going when there’s a big decision on the table and you don’t want to make it alone? Do you have friends who will tell you exactly what you want to hear? Do you have friends who will tell you the truth, whether you want to hear it or not?

And when you’re in the hot seat as an advisor — are you taking it seriously? If you aren’t sure what your opinion should be do you ever take the time to say “let me think that through/pray about that and then share my thoughts?”

There’s a constant tug on our heartstrings, each and every one of us, to choose some way that isn’t God’s way. In small ways and in big ways, we are going to feel pressure to (as discussed last week) do the thing that will give us the results we want, instead of the thing that is the right thing to do.

Let’s sum up this ‘thread’ of the conversation in Proverbs 12 with two potential golden nuggets, shall we?

1) Think carefully about who you ask for advice. Don’t choose the people who will tell you what you want to hear. Choose the godly people who will tell you the truth.

2) Think carefully before you advise your friends, spouse, children, loved ones… We honor the Lord when we spur one another on to good works — and God’s will is always where the good stuff is.

P.S. The Children’s Miracle Network was not able to hold their annual telethon this year because of COVID-19 {what else!} Along with many other miracle families, we are raising funds to benefit the incredible hospital that (along with so many prayers) saved our son’s life. Please click here to learn more.

P.P.S! If you are new around here, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe for a weekly deep breath and a slice of encouragement. I’ll send you my latest little ebook, Ten Simple Way to Share Your Faith With Your Kids. You can sign up and grab that right here.

Can You Answer This Hard Question and Really Mean It?

Life seems pretty tense right now, hey?

Want to join me in taking a deep breath and just thinking?

I’ve been slowly strolling my way through Proverbs recently, and Proverbs 11 can be summed up with this one really hard question.

We’ll answer it when we’re eight years old, when we’re 18, 28, even 78.

You find it in these keywords, interspersed throughout the text, repeated in a dozen principles:

Goodness and integrityUpright.

It can sometimes be a hard thing to lean in to. When the chips are down and you’re struggling because you didn’t study for that test. Or your biggest competitor seems to keep on one-upping you in the sports arena or the business world. 

At some point in life we will arrive at this point where we have to ask ourselves this question: 

Am I going to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, or am I going to do the thing that will get the results I want?

The Message version puts some of these situations into context like this:
(all from Proverbs 11)

God hates cheating in the marketplace;
    he loves it when business is aboveboard.

A woman of gentle grace gets respect,
    but men of rough violence grab for loot.

When you’re kind to others, you help yourself;
    when you’re cruel to others, you hurt yourself.

Bad work gets paid with a bad check;
    good work gets solid pay.

The Word is very consistent on this point: There is an inherent and intrinsic value in choosing goodness. The good way, the good path, the right thing.

This doesn’t mean we will ultimately get the guy or we will eventually one-up that business foe. It doesn’t mean we will win a race against that competitor that we know is doping and just hasn’t gotten caught yet.

What it means is: The choices we make with our lives matter to God. And He wants us to choose well. If we only focus on the short game, we will probably want to take shortcuts to get ahead. But when we focus on the big picture and remember that the race we’re running is not a sprint, but a marathon, we might begin to trust:

Count on this: The wicked won’t get off scot-free,
    and God’s loyal people will triumph. {Proverbs 11:21, MSG}

People like to talk about cosmic justice or karma — but perhaps we’d be better off saying the God who created the Universe is intimately acquainted with His Creation. He loves goodness, and He loves justice. He cares about what happens. He cares about how people treat each other. 

When we least expect it, it seems we can be sideswiped by a complex situation, but when we pull all the puzzle pieces apart and lay them out on the kitchen table, it still is, at the core that one simple question we have to answer for ourselves: 

Am I going to do the right thing because it’s the right thing, or am I going to do the thing that will get the results I want?

While our nation is in turmoil, and so many hearts are in an uproar, what can we do to make a positive difference? We can show kindness. We can listen. We can pray. We can keep on showing up, keep on listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit and regardless of the outcome, keep on doing the right thing.

We may not have all the answers… let’s be honest, we don’t. But we believe in a God who does.

Let’s keep showing love, listening, and being kind.

P.S. If you are new around here, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe for a weekly deep breath and a slice of encouragement. I’ll send you my latest little ebook, Ten Simple Way to Share Your Faith With Your Kids. You can sign up and grab that right here.

Extra encouragement from this week’s Insta-inspiration…

Are we friends on Instagram? This week I shared some words about what we see
when we look at a photo (like the one above) and what’s really true.
I’d love to share and connect with you there. 

What To Do When an Hour, a Day, or a Month Seems Wasted

Check numbers. 

That’s all it was about. Check Numbers.

In case your third grade Math curriculum didn’t cover this base, check numbers are a (relatively) simple way of quickly checking the answers to math problems without having to go back and rework the entire problem. 

I promise this isn’t a Math lesson — don’t get antsy on me.

A sweet little nine-year old of mine and I were gathered at the homeschool table, going through the steps over and over again. We practiced finding the check numbers. Adding them to each other. Using them to check the problems we’d worked.

When the game in the math lesson was too complicated, I made up a simpler version where we just practiced the process over and over. We kept score and Blake won. 

At the end of it all, it felt like an hour well spent.

I hustled to the kitchen, a few minutes late to get started making lunch.

A few minutes later, Blake sauntered in.

“155!” I shouted, just like I had in the game we’d played fifteen minutes earlier. “155! What’s the check number??!!”

He furrowed his brows and lifted a hand to his forehead — the way he does these days when he is asked a difficult question and he just can’t get his brain to help him with the answer.

After a pause and a few more eyebrow furrows he responded:

“What are check numbers again?”

My heart sank for a moment. We’d spent an hour — an entire hour — just practicing check numbers. 

Fifteen minutes later, Blake didn’t remember — couldn’t remember — what I was talking about.

It would have been so easy to feel frustrated. Defeated. Overwhelmed. Discouraged.

Instead, I decided to smile. 

If I could take a step back and distance myself from the situation, it was almost funny, right? 

You probably know that last year we almost lost that nine-year-old. A brain aneurism almost sent him home to Jesus sooner than any of us were ready.

He’s a walking miracle. That he can read, jump, run and play is a gift. That he is able to do Math at all, that he still remembers the multiplication tables he learned before any of this happened is nothing short of glorious.

So the very thing that would make me want to throw my hands in the air in desperation? It’s also the thing that makes me realize how very blessed we are to have a day together to practice check numbers. 

Even if that concept won’t stick and we have to try again.

Sometimes I give myself a moment to wonder — what sorts of things has God spared me from? How many almost-losts almost happened, and where, but for the grace of God, might I be?

I think someday we’ll find out — and we’ll be overwhelmed when we realize how miraculous every breath we get to take truly is. Just how much each day is a gift.

When we have a brush with death of any kind, gosh, aren’t we suddenly grateful in a whole new way to breathe, to feel… to be alive?

One Psalmist prayed it this way:So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. {Psalm 90:12}

In the midst of these complicated moments, when unemployment, scarcity and fear loom in the doorway, when sickness and loss lurk in the corners, we will gain a heart of wisdom by counting these days as gifts. 

Here’s what I’ve learned in a nutshell:

The Big Picture: 
It’s hard to hold the idea that every day is a gift in our minds when life is hard or things go wrong. We forget every moment is a gift, and I think maybe it took me nearly losing a kid last year to gain this perspective. I’ll forget again and need to be reminded again, and so will you. We aren’t promised tomorrow, and it would behoove us to hold onto that thought!!

The Baby Steps:
When an hour seems wasted, or a deficit seems overwhelming, try counting up instead of down. Calculate how many days you’ve had already. I’ve lived well over 13,000 days! Nearly 14,000 gifts. Nearly 14,000 opportunities to grow and change and learn and breathe and be. You GET to be here and live this day! Your perspective on its giftedness is really up to you!

So let’s count our days, take a step back to remember the big picture, and, when we can, try to laugh instead of crying. 

Considering so many of the might-have-beens, today is a good day.

I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.

Also — just in case you missed the Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids freebie I shared recently, you can find it on the brand new Parenting Resources page I ALSO created for you! Find all the good stuff at https://www.carolinecollie.com/parenting/

Feeling Tension? Why to Pay Attention

It all started with a well-designed laundry table. The hubs built this perfectly-dimensioned beast to make space for folding and to hold four laundry baskets on two shelves underneath. Adjacent to the shelves, there’s a slightly higher surface with hanging space underneath where the no-tumble-dry clothes live until I put them away.

It seemed like a glorious thing, built, assembled, and ready to make me a laundry-diva. Kicking dirty clothes in the bum and taking stains prisoner. 

Until it wasn’t.  Or I wasn’t.

Weeks and months went by and I felt almost every bit as frustrated with laundry as before — even though I had the perfect space to get it done.

Finally, I paused and just listened to the tension I was feeling. Why was entering the laundry room still filling me with dread?

It took me all of thirty-six seconds to place where the issue came from:

I always felt behind. Laundry always felt overwhelming. 

I gave a few minutes to ponder this dilemma and to start asking questions. Laundry isn’t going away. It makes me feel like rubbish. What am I doing wrong? How can I change this situation?

A simple “what-if” question came to the surface.

What if I create a simple routine that means I do one load every day?

I mentally scanned my morning routine and came to a conclusion: in the amount of time it takes the hubs to make our morning coffees, I could come into the laundry room and start a load every day. Around our mid-morning snack time, I could come back in and switch those clothes over to the dryer. 

Another ten minutes in the afternoon while a pot of water is boiling or dinner’s in the oven, and the load for the day is done.

It’s a simple story, right? 

A small parable of intentionality, if you will?

But it turns out doing that one load of laundry per day, even for our family of six, seems to be enough. 

I am no longer feeling overwhelmed (about laundry). And that, my friends, is a very nice feeling.

Why am I sharing this with you today? 

One simple reason.

Now is a great time to…

Pay Attention to Tension.

We’re, globally, in a season of transition. As the limits and restrictions of COVID-19 are gradually lifted and we slowly work our way towards our new normals, there will be tension.

We’re likely to wrestle with the discomfort of moving back into busier schedules.

Maybe you will feel tension about:

  • Eating Habits
  • Exercise routines
  • The screen time you’re allowing yourself or your kids
  • The number of items on your calendar

I don’t want to introduce any tension you’re not already feeling. I simply want to encourage you to take the time to slow down and observe the tension you may discover.

Sometimes tension, whether it comes to the surface as a tightening in the stomach or a pang of anxiety in the chest, is our body’s way of telling us something we’re moving too quickly to notice.

When you get the sense that there is tension, don’t immediately assume something is awfully wrong. Sometimes something as simple as adding “start a load of laundry” to your morning routine can solve the problem.

If you’re feeling tension about something bigger than the chaos of your laundry room, I have a second little piece of advice to encourage you with:

Think Big Picture, Take Baby Steps.

Start by looking at the big picture and asking where the tension is coming from. Are you feeling some tension about your eating habits? 

Great! We’ve identified something! We have information we can work with instead of a vague uneasiness plaguing our underbellies.

What is one baby step we can take to help us move forward? Let’s brainstorm.

  • Pick one night each week to add a new healthy recipe into your rotation at home.
  • Decide to only get take-out once a week, maybe Friday nights?
  • Research healthy recipes that you can double or triple and freeze and add them to the rotation.
  • Search online for a nutrition course or Master Class to help you learn more.

Look at that! We’ve gone from identifying a problem to thinking through numerous small steps that can help us work toward the bigger goal of making positive change.

You get to decide the next step, set the next goal, and keep working forward from there. Sometimes the first step is the hardest to take, but the momentum you build once you start moving will ramp up and help you push toward bigger change than you could have imagined.

As you face the season of transition ahead, I encourage you to pay attention to tension, friends. Remember, it’s often your body’s way of helping you observe something you’re moving to fast to catch on to.

Is there somewhere you’re feeling stuck today? Some tension you’re feeling that you’d like some encouragement about? 

I’d love to welcome you to hit the comment button or shoot me an email and let me know. One of my foremost goals for the year is to serve you well. I’m here for you!

I hope you’re encouraged today, friend.
If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.

Also — just in case you missed the Ten Simple Ways to Share Your Faith With Your Kids freebie I shared recently, you can find it on the brand new Parenting Resources page I ALSO created for you! Find all the good stuff at https://www.carolinecollie.com/parenting/