Why I’m Never Busy

I used to be busy. Always busy. I was a full time nanny 55 hours a week getting my degree at night and trying to see my husband occasionally still 😉 Then I was a mom and kindergarten teacher with a home and husband. For years when someone asked me how it was going chances are I would respond with some variation of “busy but good”. It was, it was always hectic somehow. Then before I got pregnant with my 2nd God convicted me to slow down. I was reading scripture and realizing that busy is often the enemy of the Christian. Sure, it is glorified in society, if you are not busy you risk being labeled as lazy, spoiled, selfish… But busy can keep you from what’s really important: relationships, gratitude, joy, love. In 2012 I set a goal for myself to live what I called a “God-paced” life knowing it would be a difficult journey with no actual destination. I would never arrive no matter how far I came. That comforted me instead of discouraging me, because in a destination-less journey as long as you are moving forward you are on track, there is no timetable to race against, there is only one way to fail: not trying.

I began to say no to things I used to agree to out of guilt, time suckers that were harmless enough alone but piled onto the balance of my life they could tip the scale and drag me down. I put quality time with my child ahead of housework or other obligations and time with God ahead of time with facebook or the tv knowing they would still get done at some point. I was feeling myself grow spiritually as I stopped feeling rushed and frazzled. I made a conscious effort not to say busy, hectic or any other synonym when asked about my life, instead trying real answers.

Then I got pregnant. How could I balance prepping for maternity leave, working, family and pregnancy… how would I stay unbusy with two kids?!? Was that even possible?

I found it was.

I had to work at it and I slipped up still occasionally allowing “busy” to take center stage again. But mostly I found I could do it, I could drink in the opportunities with my students, my kids, my husband and say no to the extra stuff… I could feel… not busy.

When I first started staying home in the summer of 2014 I felt busy creep back in. I NEEDED to make sure the kids had enough playdates and social interaction and of course dinner and the house must be perfect since it’s my whole job now and what about volunteering and teaching sunday school and helping in Awana and maybe I should sell something to help appease my guilt supplement our income…

Wait!!!! I had to all but yell at myself.

God. Paced. Life.

Going at a pace that allows me to praise the Lord, to see the opportunities he puts in my path, to enjoy all God has given me.

I can’t do that at break neck speed. I can’t do that racing through life just to check it off my list. Life can not be a to-do list.

It took a few months but I righted the ship and found myself again reveling in the life God has given me, the people he has placed in my life and the opportunities to minister to others that I had never noticed were SO ABUNDANT around me.

I run a preschool co-op, we go on playdates, we go to church and Awana, I’m in a mom group, I volunteer, I make dinners and clean my house and grocery shop I even go on dates occasionally and have nights out with friends but… i’m not rushing, i’m not rushed. I remind myself that the timelines we set are just that timelines WE set and I don’t need to do everything all the time instead I just want to be PRESENT where I AM.

Our summer has had as many days of playing for hours in the yard as it has had adventures, i’ve spent countless hours watching my kids skip rocks in the creek, hiking through trees, hunting ants in the grass…all very important stuff, not stuff to push off because I need to get to the grocery store. I have seen chances to offer kindness to strangers, expecting nothing in return, to be thoughtful toward my friends, to pray more, to read more, to love more; these are the things I am working on. I’m never busy. If you ask me to help you, to meet you, to talk to you I can almost always find a way because i’m not busy and i’m proud of it.

  “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  FOR WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?  It is even a VAPOR that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”          James 4:14-15

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“I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live;  also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man.” Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

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Ladies: No One Cares About Your House

When I first got married we hosted less than once a year. Why? Because it was stressful to try and make our tiny, cramped apartment seem welcoming and clean for guests. The amount of cleaning and prepping required to get it “presentable” was overwhelming and even then it was not a place I felt proud of, not when most of our young newlywed friends had houses and matching dishes and curtains and this list could go a while! (We eloped so we started life with my college stuff and his bachelor stuff instead of the usual registry fare.)

The next apartments were no better: small, clean, but still kind of a cluttered mish mosh that always looked a little disheveled. I told myself it would be better/easier/different to host when we get a new place/buy nicer things/ have more time to clean/etc…. this list could also go a while.

Meanwhile, despite being active in our church, involved in life groups, and friendly with many people we personally were feeling very isolated and lonely as a couple. We felt on the outside of everything and struggled to develop deeper friendships with those around us.

I didn’t connect the two issues…yet.

After yet another move to a 4th apartment in 5 years I got serious about developing relationships for our family. I decided to risk embarrasment at our little 2 bedroom with the mismatched, cluttered furniture and toys strewn about. My husband and I reasoned we could somehow host with our postage stamp size kitchen and when we couldn’t we’d order pizza! We began hosting a life group in our home, we pulled folding chairs into our living room and set out tv dinner trays to make up for our lack of dining space then we took a deep breath and opened the door. Each time the same things occured: people came, enjoyed themselves and the fellowship and left…. no one seemed to care about our apartment!

Two years later we would find ourselves blessed with our first home. This 1 bathroom, 1 story house still boasts dated wood paneling, old cheap countertops and most of the same mismatched furniture we’ve been carting around for years! But it is also a place we fill with love every single day, it’s the home I brought my daughter to from the hospital, where my son was potty trained, where my kids have their very own yard.

We open our home alot now, as often as we can actually! We love hosting meals for friends even though we don’t have a kitchen table! (My father in law is actually remedying this with another previously loved furniture addition to our home in a few weeks :D!). When I learned to stop caring what my house looked like and start focusing on the PEOPLE in it I realized that no one else cared about my house all along! They are usually to busy laughing to notice the stains on the carpet and too busy enjoying good food to care if it’s on paper plates or not.

So to the women in apartments, houses, trailers or whatever who find themselves hesitating to host that party or have those friends over because your home could never be in a pottery barn catalog… DO IT!!!

When you avoid those opportunities you are hurting your ability to grow relationships, you are missing opportunities to share life and you are robbing yourself and others of precious memories.

As I sit writing this while my kids play this is my honest to goodness view, I figured it was only fair to snap it without moving, picking anything up or…caring! So here’s it is in all it’s messy glory, complete with the everpresent sprinkling of toys!

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Parenting is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

The funny thing about training for a 100 yard dash and a marathon is that there would be some areas of overlap because both require your body to be in running shape but they would look very different in other areas because the end goals are so different. In the sprint you only need an explosive burst that can take you very fast for a fairly short time, in a marathon you need to run at less than your maximum speed for a very long time. A sprint and a marathon are not the same thing and a sprinter would be ill prepared for a successful marathon if they trained the same as usual.

Here’s the thing though: Parenting is a marathon. It just is, it’s a race that requires stamina, distance and…time. You can’t squeeze a marthon into a half hour no matter how you try because the distance is too great, it requires patience.

The problem comes in when we try to treat parenting like a series of sprints. If I can just get my kid to behave right now in this store and not embarass me, if I can get them potty trained, doing well in school, eating better, etc, etc, etc.

When we focus on the small, short term goals and treat them like their own race instead of just a minor milestone on the course we waste energy and more importantly we may be damaging our longterm odds. We are expending unhealthy energy in a moment we don’t have too.

If you tried to run full speed everytime another runner passed you or you saw someone watching, you would exhaust yourself and most likely fail to complete the race, at best you’d be limping in with the last wave. But we do that in parenting all the time. We treat our kids with respect and love, being consistent and patient…until they make a scene in the supermarket then we lose our temper and react angrily or with bribery or by giving in, instead of patiently sticking to the pace we had set we get hurried, frazzled and race toward a short term solution…even if it hurts the long term goal.

If you can remember in that moment your kid is the only one who hasn’t done X yet or is the only teary mess at the party that this parenting thing is not defined by the short term successes and failures but the long term results you may find yourself happier and better able to shake off the occasional judgmental glance or comment.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Proverbs 22:6

(I’ll admit sometimes it feels more like this obstacle race than a marathon. 😉 )

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