This little picture was taken at a pub right outside of Beatrix Potter's home on a rainy day of our trip to England. We were soaked to the bone and needed a little fortitude in order to face the rain again! (note the sweet hands of Sarah, Joy, and Phyllis, my sweet friend.)
Today I awakened to a house full of people, all hungry and giggly and wound up for the day. We have our friends, the Hamby's of Lamplighter Books staying with us and I had promised some blueberry, apple, cinnamon pancakes for them and for their daughter and husband. All of us had been to see Scrooge last night and stayed up till almost midnight talking about the events and happenings of our Sunday together. After breakfast, we saw them off to a meeting they must attend.
But a conversation I had as I was cooking and my sweet friend was drinking coffee spurred some thoughts in my mind. I realized that many of my friends who are older and have passed through the aes of their younger children and are now living in grace with their present season eventually had to compromise some of their ideals and expectations of life in order to live it well. Often we develop a noose around our neck that isn't of the Lord and that causes unnecessary critical attitudes, or feelings of inadequacy or stress. Walking in freedom and reality in the midst of the demands of daily life is the only way to live healthily. I am thankful for my fun talk with my sweet friend this morning as we reflected together on our lives and what the Lord had taught us amidst putting orange juice on the table and stirring pancake batter.
I had big plans for this day--working 6 hours on my book that must be turned in soon--and getting Joy ready for an all day practice for a competition this coming Saturday; preparing for a 2 day meeting that Clay and I have with Focus on the Family tomorrow; planning treats and dinner for Joel's homecoming Wednesday; and figuring out how to fit in washing clothes, homeschooling, getting everyone fed and cared for--(the Hamby's leave tomorrow) and other mundane things.
But as I began to move into the day, I felt a little weariness creeping over me. This is only the second week of December, so I knew that from my experience of my last million years, that if I don't take a little time to regroup and refresh today, I will be totally spent by the time Nathan gets home late next week.
So, about an hour ago, I shifted my expectations today to realistically accomplish what is reasonable and won't wear me out. I lowered my goals and determined to take some pressure off and decided that I will take at least two hours to have fun and regroup. (My children need this today, too!) So, we will have a quick lunch with friends because we need buddy time, I am not going to write this morning, but just do restful, fun things with Joy--who is exhausted from 6 performances since last week; and I think we will have take out or go out to dinner tonight instead of me cooking the big dinner I had planned.
I have had to learn that no one else in the world will be responsible for my over-all well being. I have a husband and children who love me, but I am responsible for my rest, my quiet time, my eating and exercise and my chill time. I do have countless emails in my inbox that I would love to answer, and there are tasks calling my name around the house, but I have become the queen of turning my head away and sticking to my priorities. I have found that there will be just as many things screaming for my attention tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. But today, I know that my body and mind need a little rest and that when I am a steward of my body, I am protecting my walk with the Lord. I am always simplifying and evaluating if something is worth the effort--(I do think that making things beautiful and special during the holidays are worth the effort as it builds the taste and values and work ethic and ministry skills of my children--but all in its season. But it may not be worth it to answer one more phone call or one more email--as this will certainly steal from my children and husband who need me today.
Each of us has a different puzzle and different personality and we must accept our limitations within our own story and be comfortable being ourselves. I see so many moms seeking to live up to other's expectations and ideals and then burning out in the process. I have high work times and rest times.
If we don't eventually make peace with our own life circumstances, then we are in danger of cultivating a heart of bitterness or whining. But if we become the conductors of our own life symphonies and live within our own melody of life, we will last longer more gracefully with the God of grace who leads us.
Take time to regroup today--the rest of December is still coming and you will be the better for it!
Now for a few answers to emails: (and please know that I read every one and would so like to answer every one--but this month I have let my emails mount up by hundreds in taking care of my family--so if I don't get to yours, write me again--as It is not on purpose that I ignore you, but they get buried in the recesses of my computer! So sorry! I still have to finish Joy well!)
Joel finally got approved for a loan for his classes last week and is on his way home to record an album. He is hoping to sell his album and sing at some events and churches to help make enough money for his housing this spring. Thanks so much for praying for Him. God is working quite a testimony in His life through the journey of trusting Him and I see maturity taking place. He still doesn't have roomies or housing for Boston, so we are still all praying for something to work out there. I have noticed that the Lord provides the manna for the day, but not usually ahead of time!
As to devotional books I have enjoyed: I love my Celtic Daily Prayer book as it has three scripture readings every day and a little commentary. I keep a Daily Light by my quiet time chair, too. Other times I use Kay Arthur's Bible studies (did Isaiah last year and thinking about doing Hebrews this spring) and I also keep a list of spiritual books by my bedside for quiet times in the mornings. (Eugene Peterson, Phillip Yancy, Peter Kreeft, Nancy Leigh Demoss and a few other authors have fed my soul in the last year.)
As to advent resources, we have used a lot over the years. I am now using Handel's Messiah family advent reader with Joy. Also, the family has been using a sweet one about advents based on famous old hymns and Sarah introduced me to God With Us for December readings--also excellent.
It would be so much fun for me to have so many of you right here, face to face in front of the fireplace for a relaxed visit. Eternity will be glorious! Grace and peace today!