Fifty-five women clustered in groups of 3's, 5's, 10's around the cozy table of our local coffee shop. Chattering, ordering coffee, quiche and soup, all seemed so very happy to be together as adults, as women, enjoying a rare time away from the daily grind. When I am going to be out of town on the night of our monthly Bible study, I reserve a local coffee shop for our evening together--just for us. So nice to have owners who love us and give generously to our group, after we have dubbed them our favorite coffee cafe for over 2 years now.
After our time of study, I always open it up for any question and spend about 10 minutes just addressing issues we all share.
"Sally, how did you live through all the mundane boring days where one day melted into another? Did you ever just feel like you were overwhelmed with the mundane tasks of it all? I feel like a prisoner in my own home."
It is true that all of us find ourselves amidst repeated chores, duties, and responsibilities--part of being an adult, part of eating, sleeping, living in this world--and often a challenging part when we feel we have no help or friends to carry the burdens.
Another mama, the next day, wrote almost the same letter. "I am dying here. Want to quit homeschooling but feel to guilty to do so. What should I do? I have been at it for 15 years."
Sometimes I see that moms have lost their vision along the way to live lives of ideals. Sometimes they just get lost in the journey, feel lonely, unappreciated, unnoticed and wonder if they are making a difference.
Though I will address some of these issues later this summer, after Joy graduates and I give her the party with all of her friends, after her's and Sarah's birthdays, after I return from California, after I get through with 6-8 weeks of therapy for my back and leg that has been so painful, after I turn in the manuscript for the Bible study guide for my new book, after my leadership intensive, after after after! :) We all have full plates.
1. Take the free short Myers-Briggs test at Truity.com and find out your personality. Access if you think the description of you is true. I am fully between an Enfj and an Enfp--mostly leaning toward an ENFP at this point. It means I hate to be boxed in, I love variety, I enjoy personal relationships, I am an idealist--(no surprises there!)
Many years ago, I realized that I needed to take my personality needs into account when considering what kind of life I would shape for my family so I could last better, longer. And so, I included in my life: music, experiences, adventure, interesting opportunities, personal relationships, creating community, etc. If God made me the mother of these children, he made me the way I needed to be to fulfill His purposes.Who I am is enough to fulfill His will for my life. I do not have to live someone else's life.
On hard days, if we were fussing too much and all felt like prickles, I would throw the kids in the car, give them some little snacks to munch on, put on a fun book on tape to listen to-exciting and adventurous or a wonderful sweet story, and drive. I found places in my area that would get us all outside and give us fun. Parks, hikes, bookstores, museums, frozen yoghurt places, interesting places where they could run or swim or engage their own little needs and personalities--even my little 5 star hotel where we could have a hot chocolate on a cold snowy day--and if we did not have enough money--I would get 2 mugs full and make them split! Getting out on some impossible days helped all of us settle down.
Why do people insist on living by duty and so called "authorities "voices that limit their own fun or interest? We have great freedom in the Lord to use our own brains, our own values to live into His will for our lives, if we are basically orthodox in our beliefs and the way we practice them.
Sometimes our lives seem overwhelmingly mundane because we are choosing to live boring lives.
When shaping my own plan, I knew that reading, discussing, devotions, engaging and giving a verbally rich environment was the best I could offer my children, so I did not limit our education to the lists and formulas and curriculum ways of others, as I trusted God that He had given me a will to use my imagination within the wise counsel I read about and the input I had taken in.
And so, when my adult children got into schools I did not even dream of, (Oxford, Cambridge, Yale, Berklee, New York Film Academy) I could see that reading, giving freedom to develop their own muscles emotionally, mentally and spiritually and engaging them in life, helped them all to grow into the person God made them to be and gave them a more than adequate education and rich life. Formulas would never have worked for my family as they would have been bored and so would I have been.
2. Get rest and refreshment If you are exhausted, take some time to sleep, give yourself a break from responsibility fatigue. Play and recreation can be so healthy for your well-being. Some of the things I have added over the years are tea or coffee breaks every day--for me and 15 minutes of pleasure to do what I want. Taking a French cooking class with my girls. Going out to breakfast with my teen boys. Playing tennis as a family. Having Clay take the kids out sometimes on a Saturday so I could do something fun with a friend or just stay home and watch a movie or take a bath or whatever.
3. Don't do life alone Whether you are an introvert or extravert, you were made for relationships. Seek people who have your values or who can build into your life. I meet with an older friend I met from mutual Austrian mission experiences as often as possible when we are both in town. We share so many values, tastes and life appetites in common. When I am particularly down, I call her and we gather. I also have regular lunches, breakfasts with a group of friends that have been meeting for 9 years now and we do ministry and life together. We are different ages, different in personality and go to different churches, but I invited them over for lunch some years ago just once a month and from that we committed to each other.
If you do not have friends around you, read books by inspiring people--(books were my mentors amidst 17 moves!) Go to a seminar, volunteer in a ministry, do something--give of yourself and invest in others.
Walking miles each day, especially in natural, beautiful places, writing, playing music all the time, using my intuition to plan new ideas, projects, writing, speaking, traveling--and then figuring out how to pay for it--and regarding my children's needs and commitments as well as Clay's when I make plans. Making the mundane parts of my life as interesting and easy as possible have helped me to endure with grace. Simplify your expectations--you will never be in control, you will never get it all done, there are always new challenges around the corner, so prepare yourself for these life occurences.
4. Make it a goal to seek out wise women, those more mature than you, those whose lives you would like to emulate.
"He who walks with the wise will be wise, a companion of fools suffers harm." This verse is not just for children--it is for you. Don't spend lots of time on vanity, empty websites, television, books, people who bring you down. You know if you are compromising your life--turn away from harmful influences and repent (go the other way) and ask for God's help. Jeremiah tells us if we walk after emptiness, we shall become empty. What you allow yourself to think will take hold in your life. The values you cultivate will grow in your heart. Determine to walk on the road to excellence one step at a time. Invest in the ideals you want to pursue--don't allow your heart to become addicted to women who pull you down, give you excuses to compromise your life in any way, tell you its ok to move in immoral directions. Avoid consummate complainers, those who criticize many people, those who always blame others for their difficulties or have a habit of shaking their fist at God.
Instead seek out the holy, the lovely, the good. What you seek after will determine what you become--where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Seems to me that seeing results always took longer than I thought they should but now when I look back I see how gently, strongly, intentionally, wisely God was directing and training and fulfilling his ways in my life.
5. Use your God-given imagination--it is part of the Holy Spirit to fill us with ideas, give us beauty, open doors, enlarge our boundaries. Part of being a mature believer is to use your mind, desires, convictions, dreams, enjoyment to create life in your own life.
Do it today--Own Your Circumstances, Own your design, Own your puzzle and make it an interesting, god-glorifying place to live or at least slowly move into that direction. Don't be a victim to your life's duties, find ways to make it personally fulfilling.
Off to work on bringing some color into my black and white duties of life right now. Praying blessing for each of you.
For lots and lots more ideas, read: