As a Discussion Group Leader (DGL) for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) I am reading the book Breathe: Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life by Keri Wyatt Kent. Here is a description from the MOPS website:
"Multitasking is becoming the norm for many women who consistently find themselves trying to juggle kids, errands, church activities, jobs, and relationships. For women who have become caught up in the hectic pace of everyday life, this new book from MOPS author Keri Wyatt Kent offers help and hope.
Based on Jesus' call "Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest," Breathe shares true stories and practical examples of how to find the rest Jesus promised. This engaging, down-to-earth book challenges the lie that a mother's value is found in what she does rather than who she is. Calling women away from the hectic life, Breathe shows the way to a central place of rest ultimately found in one's relationship with God."
Here is an excerpt from Breathe also from the MOPS site.
"The pace of your kids' lives is the pace of your life. You can't slow yourself down without slowing them down. You can't simplify their lives, especially if they don't yet drive themselves and they can't walk to soccer practice.
You may feel pressured to sign your children up for baby swim classes, preschool language classes, and, by the time they are four or five, competitive sports leagues.
But do you give them time to play?
Not Nintendo. Not Little League. Just play. Kids who are playing are not on a schedule, so they move from one activity to the next and back again without anyone telling them to do so. Do your kids have time to play? Time to climb trees, draw with sidewalk chalk, or dig for worms in the backyard? Time to play make-believe or dress-up, ride bikes or jump rope, play in the sandbox or run through a sprinkler? Or are they (and you) too busy?
My kitchen window looks out on my backyard, and I love seeing my son out there, swinging on the swing, singing and talking to himself about everything and nothing. He is building neuron connections by the minute, sorting out his thoughts to the rhythm of the swing, without any help from me.
One summer I chose to let my kids simply play and not have structures activities. They didn't go to camp or take swim lessons. We had a great time and spent a lot of time together. We let go of our normal structured life for a couple of months. My kids really enjoyed having a lot of free time, but they often had trouble finding someone to play with because all their friends seemed to be at camp for much of the time.
The upside for our family was that my children played with each other and, I think, grew closer as a result. They had to get along, because there was no one else to play with. They also learned to be comfortable being alone, which very few people have the opportunity to learn."
Few, and I mean very few, devotional books for women have grabbed a hold of me the way this book has, and I'm not done yet. It's as though the author has seen inside my heart and seen the way I desire to live! I've been reading, rereading, marking up the book, copying passages in to my journal, and trying to not race through the whole thing. I think rushing through a book on slowing your life down is somewhat counterproductive, don't you? It's so good though, that I want to absorb it all at once.
I want to grab some of the dear ladies I know and say, "See? There is a better way! You can have a life of more than living in your vehicle driving from activity to activity!"
I feel like a complete anomaly in my world and circle of women. I have dropped almost everything from my schedule, and I love it. My one activity is MOPS and I became a DGL so that I would be serving others. Sweetheart and I discussed it together before I decided to join. It's been tough to do, especially when we were homebound all those weeks because of Pumpkin's cast. However, I am glad that I've been a part of it and I hope and pray that I can minister to the other ladies, both at my table and in the leadership circle.
The women I've met are truly wonderful, caring and very capable women. I bet they were very diligent in their jobs before they became Mommies. Many of them seem to be looking at life though, in the same way as you would a job. It's as though everyone is trying to do as much as they can, as fast as they can. Slowing down, stopping to visit with a friend over a cup of tea (or coffee) is seen as just another appointment, something to mark off a to do list. It's very hard to connect with one another because someone is always racing off to the next thing.
I've been told to enjoy my time with Pumpkin while I still have some control over his schedule because once he's older and involved in activities, I won't have any control. I must admit, this comment threw me for a loop. I bit my tongue, but thought: "At what age should I give up authority over my child to a coach? Is four years old early enough for you? Has God commissioned that soccer/hockey/swim/dance/whatever coach to lovingly guide my child's life towards Him? If I don't not have control, who will? What are you thinking?"
I knew that wasn't the time to launch off on my personal beliefs on parenting and living in general. (She had to go anyway to drop off/pick up another child and wasn't really listening anyway.) I also think it maybe better on this one to show by example. We'll see. Luckily, she's in the group reading this book as well. Praying.
I feel like so many thoughts are racing through my mind about all of this! I was even reading excerpts from the book to Sweetheart on Christmas evening feeling like someone was finally able to articulate what I want to say. Luckily, Sweetheart and I are like-minded on this issue. It's not to say that Pumpkin will never be involved in anything, not at all. But as his parents, we will control what and how much he is involved in; looking not only at what is best for him, but for the family as a whole.
I've been thinking of some of the Christmas letters I received with Christmas cards in these last few weeks. May I just say after reading a few of these and seeing all that some people are doing that I was tired? I thought to myself; when do you have time to just be a family? to be a wife? to be with God? I never want to be that busy again.
I know that we each have seasons in our lives that are busier than others. Having just come through the holiday season I think we've all been a little busier than usual! When I was younger, I was incredibly busy. I had many interests, and tried to do all of them. I was probably at my busiest in college, but still did too much later, when I was married and teaching. Teaching took incredible amounts of time and energy, plus we were often required to serve on committees and attend a ridiculous amount of meetings in addition to our classroom work. Plus, I wanted to be in ministry as well and attend Bible studies.
None of these things were bad things to be a part of. Not at all. I just didn't need to do all of them. It's so hard to find a balance, isn't it? By constantly running around, I had myself so busy that I didn't have the time I wanted to spend with God or with my Sweetheart. Life's a lot quieter now, but deeper, and richer.
One of my favorite quotes so far, "You can't love in a hurry." Isn't that so true? Love takes time. I want to have the time to love; love God, love Sweetheart, love Pumpkin, my family, friends, and those God places on my path each day.
She also writes a lot about why we are so busy: to feel important, to define who we are, to run from pain, and more. I'll try to write more about this as I can. I think it's important.