From the heart of Sarah...
The childhood image is clear in my mind to this day, and one I encounter afresh each time I visit home. In the new, blue light of morning, candles lit nearby, music playing softly, my mother is curled in the corner of the comfy couch in the living room. Her Bible is open in her lap, and a cup of tea (or coffee) is in her hand. She looks up at the sound of my footsteps, “good morning,” she smiles, and I come to curl up next to her on the couch. When I was a child, I’d look over her shoulder at the passage she was reading, and beg a sip of her coffee (which is where I gained my taste both for Scripture and good hot drinks!). Now, Bible in hand, I join her, continuing the devotional rhythm she helped me to create from my littlest days.
Quiet time. It is a rhythm, a heartbeat to life that I learned at my mother’s knee. But its only one of many I learned at her hands, set points within my days throughout childhood that steadied and calmed our lives and gave shape to our hours. When I think back over my childhood, the things I remember most are often the things we did daily, the rhythm or routines or rituals by which we structured our time, learned to progress, and kept calm.
The idea of creating a schedule may seem daunting at times. But I like to think of schedule as rhythm, a structured beat so that the music of creativity and relationship can flourish within the boundaries of order and rest. Rhythms give structure to the spaces and hours of home, showing the people who dwell there clearly when there is time to work, relate, rest, or create. They provide regular times for the most necessary things in life so that there is a sense of rootedness for those within the home. Rhythms give shape and form, work and rest to the world of home just as the seasons bring rhythm to the earth. They provide us with patterns by which we remember that 'to everything there is a time and season.'
My parents began our rhythms early. Quiet times were first, for sure. But breakfast together soon followed. Then chores. We had an hour of reading or quiet every afternoon. We had a 5 o’clock quick clean up hour so that our evening would be spent in (generally) neat atmospheres. We always ate dinner together. Tucking us snuggling into our warm beds with a blessing, a kiss and a prayer was another constant daily in our home. We had the rhythms of routine, but also of relationship.
One of the most formative times for my sister, Joy, were the bedtime talks she had with my mom. Without fail, my mom tucked her in and sat for awhile to hear about her day, to talk about her joys or fears. They laughed and cried, and those moments for Joy were her own sacred time, a time she could expect without fail. I had a similar experience with morning walks. Being pals with my mom throughout my early teens, I’d join her for dawn strolls through mountains and country roads during which we had daily times of talking, sharing, crying, loving.
On a larger scale, we had weekly family film and pizza nights, teatimes on Sundays, discipleship times on our own with a parent - times we could count on to recur however busy the rest of the week. Whether chores, walks, or good talks with tea, the daily, set rhythm of our lives formed a structure by which we were able to live well. Having the foundation in place, the set points, the expectations, we were then able to move with greater confidence throughout our hours and days, however hectic, because we had rhythm to which we could always return. A heartbeat to our home that allowed us to sing.
Happiness in your home must first flow from your heart.
Read more about establishing rhythms in your home, and how to cultivate happiness in your own heart in The Life-giving Home Book