We are so glad to be bringing you today’s podcast, where we begin our Girls’ Summer series with Kristen and Misty joining me! We had such a wonderful discussion about how we’ve learned to last through our lives and what’s helped us over the years, and hope you’ll enjoy our discussion.
One evening at a Bible study, a sweet mama asked me, “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."
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, feeling lonely, unappreciated, and unnoticed, and wonder if they are making a difference with their lives. Here are a few ideas for encouragement along the way of normal days …
1. Pay attention to your personality. Who are you in the core of your being? What do you love and what motivates you? What steals from you? What drives you crazy? Not the voices of who you think you should be but who you really are?
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 the things that meant a lot to me and offered life to my heart: music, experiences, adventure, interesting opportunities, personal relationships, creating community, etc.
I am limited. I run out of patience and need to do something outside of me that doesn’t require me to give more. So planning activities where I could take the kids and make them happy meant that there was pressure off of me. I personally love learning, love adventure, stimulation, am a sort of out of the box woman who is highly idealistic and takes risks and loves to really experience life. The more I cooperate with the personality God gave me, the more I flourish.
On hard days, if the kids and I were fussing too much and all felt like prickles, I would throw them in the car, give them some little snacks to munch on, put on a fun book on audio to listen to-exciting and adventurous or a wonderful sweet story—and just drive. I found places in my area that would get us all outside and be fun. Parks, hikes, bookstores, museums, frozen yoghurt places, an authentic English cafe, mountain national parks, 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. If we did not have enough money for five hot chocolates, I would get two mugs and make them share! Getting out on some impossible days helped all of us settle down.
I have not generally lived by the rules. Instead I question them. I am quite sure my mother hated to hear me say, one more time, Why? It is because of the very nature God gave me that I have by His grace built a ministry to others. To call them to live in freedom of God’s grace, to give permission to live beyond the box. 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 and our own values to live into His will for our lives.
Sometimes our lives seem overwhelmingly mundane because we are choosing to live boring lives.
2. Get rest and refreshment If you are exhausted, take some time to sleep, give yourself a break from responsibility. Play and recreation can be so healthy for your well-being. And building it into your regular schedule is essential. Sleeping for 20 minutes in the afternoon actually lengthens your life, according to many researchers. It also frees your brain to solve problems to take a break from constant active stimulation. (And it does that for kids, too.)
Some of the refreshing things I have added over the years are: tea or coffee breaks every day, 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 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!) and of course, eventually the Saturday morning outings and walks with my girls.
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 get together just to talk. I also have regular lunches and breakfasts with a group of friends that have been meeting for 9 years now. We are different ages, different in personality and go to different churches, yet we encourage each other greatly.
If you do not have friends around you, read books by inspiring people. 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 has 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 occurrences.
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, or 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. Enjoy the podcast!
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