Category Archives: What matters

Starting the week well.

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Yesterday my girls and I had our first “No Screen/No Headphone” Sunday. I’m happy to report we all survived 🙂 Admittedly, we had to check ourselves a few times just because we are so used to migrating to the computer chair (me) or migrating to ipod/ipad and headphones (my girls).

So…instead of starting my day on the computer…I started it on my porch reviewing the sermon I was going to give yesterday. (Which went well for a first go round I think 🙂

Instead of coming home and watching any tv after church we all took a long, restful nap. Nothing like a Sunday afternoon nap to make you feel like all is right with the world.

Instead of getting up and going to our separate areas and not being able to hear each other we all found a book we wanted to read and sat around in the same room together reading. It was like the good old days I’m telling yah :).

We even eventually played a card game together and then headed to the park. Imagine that…we spent some time outdoors together! We had some loaves of bread to get rid of so we thought we would feed the fish. The only problem is that the pond we chose only had tiny fish and not many at that…so we left them a meal that will probably last them a week! But we had great fun in the process. We took time to just sit on the bench by the pond and watch the people fishing and playing at the park until it got dark.

Then we ended the day with a trip to DQ. It was necessary since our local DQ has been remodeled this summer and we had yet to check it out. It was way past time.

We then came home and read some more…I admit it, my girls were hoping I would cave by that point in the day and let them listen to their music on headphones…but I held steady and we made it through the day. Whew!

This is what I noticed.

Without screens.

We rested well…

We read books that were good food for our minds (Lydia picked up the Five love language book yesterday and is currently trying to figure out what each of our love languages is. I read through 3 books on making soap and am thinking I’m going to give it a go…soon. And Lauren read her book from the library just for fun.)

We spent time together.

We played together.

We had plenty of conversation…talked until after 11pm!

We focused on each other instead of diverting to Facebook. And…we didn’t seek outside validation for our day.

For a day experiment it was worth it. In fact, I think next Sunday we might give it another go. I’m sure my girls will be thrilled.

And now getting ready to head out for yoga. Love my Monday mornings on sabbatical.

Actually…I love every day in my life right now. Good news…I picked up a new piano student yesterday. That’s always encouraging.

 

The journey

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Today I was out biking again. First thing in the morning is when I do it. I even stepped out today and didn’t drive to the bike trail, but instead biked the 3 miles on the road from my house to get there. Added a new element of difficulty.

It was cold. Crazy cold for an August day in Illinois. As in…I wish I would’ve grabbed my ear covering thing because my ears were cold with the wind blowing on them. But I didn’t let that slow me down.

I biked a straight 16 miles with no stops. Had several spider webs hanging from me in the process…that’s the gross part about the biking experience, when you bike right through one and then can’t get the dog gone web stuff off of you while you keep pedaling. I biked over bumps and up and down hills and in and out of the sun. Today was a day when it was nice when I was in the sun.

I stopped half way. Drank some water and ate a snack and paused to glance out at the river. I had spent the time so far praying as I usually do. Everything in my mind was swirling a bit. People/situations/even world stuff going through my mind as I prayed this morning. I know some people think to pray for our president and for world leaders everyday. I don’t normally. But today, I started to think about the pressures of leading and especially if you are a Christian wanting to make God honoring choices and so I prayed for those people. I prayed for people in general today. I prayed for all people who have cancer, all people who are giving birth today, all people who are having miscarriages today, all people who are having strokes, heart attacks, or other crisis. All people in car accidents. I just had this huge world view thing going on today.

Often in prayer we’re taught to be very specific, and detailed. I’m not sure why. The reasoning to me is strange. If I would pray for my friend who is sick…why wouldn’t I pray for all people who are sick? Granted we can only do so much, that’s why in world full of hunger I only sponsor two children, but in prayer where God has no limits…it dawned on me today, why not just pray for the whole blessed planet.

I found myself making up my own corporate prayer in my head.

“God…for those who are feeling hopeless…give them hope.”

“For those who are weary…give them rest.”

“For those who are in chaos…give them peace.”

on and on.

Anyway…I had biked half of my route today (a new personal best for me biking alone…almost 33 miles today) and I decided it was time to head back. Just a few miles down the path I knew there was a bench that I like to pause and sit on, but I also knew that I needed to get back home and probably shouldn’t take the time. It seemed silly to bike 16 miles, take a break and then bike 3 more and take another. I’m highly efficient and have a hard time doing something that inefficient.

Even as I approached the bench I had the sense that I had good momentum going and it would be ridiculous for me to stop and take a rest or stop and just sit for no reason at all. But then I started thinking about solitude and mediation and how I keep hearing that none of us gets enough of it and that we need to be comfortable sitting in the silence with our own thoughts.

I stopped.

I sat down. I listened to myself breathe. I noticed the rise and fall of my chest.

I heard birds. I heard cars whizzing by. I felt the breeze. I turned my head into the sun and felt the warmth of the sun on my face. I looked out at the Mississippi River and was amazed at how still it was.

I just sat in silence.

Probably for about 10 minutes.

I started to think about why it was so hard for me to stop. Why it seemed ridiculous to break my momentum. How this silly example shows me something really much, much larger about my life.

As the cars whizzed by me, I realized that right now in my life, figuratively and literally, I’m sitting on the bench. I’ve taken myself deliberately off the ride. People on the road driving were not noticing their breathing, or listening to birds, or probably even taking in the view. They weren’t silent and still. They were headed to a destination and there was urgency in the reaching the destination. I could just imagine where they were headed because I’ve lived that life. Many were probably headed to work for the day.

I started to think about the idea of journey and how although I know it’s supposed to be about the journey not the destination…how still, I pretty much live my life like the destination is the most important thing. That’s why I count down…always to the next thing. That’s why I’ve lived through far too many days that were forgettable because they were just the journey…not the destination.

Even in my writing. Being able to write and publish a book is a destination for me. A destination that I’m not totally convinced is all that important. So the world would have one more book on it’s book shelves. Of what value is that? I wonder. I question myself in this season of life wondering what I should be doing with this gift of writing that God seems to have given me. I can’t stop writing anymore than I can stop breathing. It’s in my soul. And yet the thought of editing and building a platform and doing all that you must do to try and make a book and make the effort worthwhile is more than I seem to be able to muster up. Maybe this blogging thing…this journey that I do everyday is all that matters. Maybe it’s not so much about reaching a certain destination.

I want to live in a way and find myself doing it almost naturally, as if Holy Spirit led, where I don’t really concern myself too much about destinations. Honestly…no one has come out and really asked me where I’m headed after this year…and if they did my answer would be, I have no idea. I don’t have a destination in mind. I’m really just trying to live the journey right now.

For me…I can tell that means stopping the momentum. It means stepping out of the frantic pace of life that most people seem to be living. (I completely understand…I’ve been there.)

When I was in the frantic pace of life I occasionally noticed a few people here and there who seemed to be living differently than me. People who seemed to be much more aware of the beauty of each day and the joy of the daily journey and I wanted more of what they had. I couldn’t get that while I was whizzing down the road of life. I had to stop the car and get out and sit on the bench.

I feel much more aware of simple things, simple pleasures, simple things to be grateful for. I feel much more aware of slowing down, in fact just stopping. It’s so incredibly inefficient that it still jars me to do it…but I never regret doing it. I feel much more aware of nature. Much more aware of how fast time is slipping by and how although I have looked forward to heaven for a long time now…this journey right now is all I need to focus on, not so much the destination.

Breaking the mold…

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We’re currently up in Michigan with family. Less writing for me has meant more time with people I love for the past couple of days.

Yesterday we went to my parents’ church. The service was really good. Meaningful, worshipful, full of the kind of thing where you then want to go off by yourself and do some serious reflecting. Or at least that’s how I felt.

The basic premise was focusing our lives on what matters. What matters in the end of our story should guide how we live today and tomorrow. If we live with the end in sight than we will make sure our days today aren’t wasted.

My girls response when they got out to the car was…”Mom, would it be a big deal if after high school I took a year off before going to college just to try and figure out what I might want to really do?” I say “I” but both chimed in on the same thought.

I assured them that yes…this was doable. I tried to talk to them about ways in which they  might right now have some opportunity while in high school to pursue some ideas and directions, but ultimately I told them if a year off was spent intentionally trying to figure out what direction in which to go I would be ok with it.

I think with giving them so many options and talking to them long and deep about how important it is to do what you love and to live with meaning and freedom I’ve made the choices to make more difficult. They’re having to wrestle more with their life’s direction instead of just jumping on the train like everybody else.

Yesterday, when I talked with my sister we talked about how back in our day and age, for a woman, there really seemed to be only a few go to career paths, especially if you wanted to have a family. Teaching was the go to.

My girls in watching me and living with me have realized that living out your story in freedom and in passion, doing what God made you to do is essential. They have no desire to go to college, choose a major and then pay the thousands of dollars only to come out realizing they didn’t know themselves well enough to even make a decision.

I’m not saying this would be true for all kids. Many, seem to have a clear sense of what they want to do. But for mine, they don’t.

So…not only are we homeschooling…but there might be a chance that my girls even take different routes after that. Thanks Pastor Phil :). Just kidding. Actually, I’m a very counter culture person these days and I don’t think going directly to college after high school is in the best interest of every single person on the face of the earth.

I think they’re being prepped well for the storyline conference we’re going to in October.

I love the way they are giving thought to their story. Not in a way where there is a magic path called “God’s will”. That was the terminology of my generation and we all spent great amounts of time trying to figure out “God’s will” as if there was only one way in which we could go. No instead…I think it’s about knowing ourselves well enough to know what causes us to come alive, what brings joy, what brings peace. It’s about knowing what matters to us and then structuring everything else around that.

I’m going to tell you something radical. I’m not sure that means college for every person. I’ve studied my girls their entire lives and I’m not completely sure what “majors” and career paths would be right for them. I want them to be open. I want them to be free. I want them to pursue passion.

My sister and I talked yesterday and she said “I wish I would’ve pursued a “Vocal performance” major when I was in college. It was seen as unrealistic at the time. I mean, how are you going to get a paying job doing THAT?!? But even now in our late 40’s that desire remains. I realize now…she should’ve. She should’ve been free to pursue her passion, who knows where it might have led. That doesn’t mean that she has had a bad life. But it does mean that she sacrificed something special in order to live the American dream. God redeems it all and she is living a good life, but I heard the message.

Our kids need to really be free to be who God made them to be. They need to be able to pursue a few things that might seem “unrealistic” in order that they might have work that they are deeply passionate about.

Because of my perspective on work and how it’s effected my life this is a core value for me for my kids.

So how do we help our kids process this kind of thing and to make wise choices? That’s what I’m wondering today and have for a long time now. I have a hard enough time figuring out what matters to me and how I want to live my life, let alone guiding my kids through the process.

What have you found with your children? Did you just send your kids to college after high school hoping they would land on the right area of study? Were you counting on college to be the place where they would find a mate? Have your children taken different routes? Are your children working and living in areas of passion or just doing a job? How do you feel about this?

I know many feel that you just need to get a job and make money and if you don’t enjoy your work or feel passionate about it, well just suck it up. Is that good enough for your kids?

I find with my two girls they are so incredibly unique and made with such intricate detail and experiences, passions and dreams, it matters to me that they reach their true potential. It matters to me that they embrace each day and live it to the full. Some would argue that you can do that anywhere at anytime. Yes…I think so to a degree. But I think it makes all the difference when you know yourself well enough to head in the right direction to start off with.

Nothing like getting out of college with a degree and a student loan only to discover the disillusionment of being in a career you don’t feel passionate about. And then finding yourself stuck for the next 30 plus years.

So…who knows…a year off after high school might happen. The irony,..when we first started to do homeschooling I was ready to fast track my girls and have them start community college their junior and senior years. It might still happen…but it doesn’t seem as big of a priority at this point.

They don’t have to fit a cookie cutter mold. I’m trying to look at the end of the story and work back from there to focus on what really matters.