For the last month, I have lived within the four walls of our home with only a few outings. I have to say... I would be a very good hermit... for a while.
Certain things about being home are amazing. Having unlimited time to read with my kiddos. Making giant pots of soup to keep everyone warm. Making cup after cup of tea to drink. Taking nap times to read books that have been on my nightstand for far too long. Hanging pictures in this crazy house (FINALLY!). Talking with Teacher Man about life, our kids' hearts, and the struggles of my heart.
I feel healed in so many ways by the solitude. And the time to actually reflect and talk has changed our family... for good. Here's where we settled:
1. We decided to take a month-long break from having Caleb in preschool. After having a few weeks off for Christmas, I realized how much getting everyone up and out the door by 7:50 a.m. was draining us. Caleb LOVED his time with his teacher and friends, but the stress of dragging two half-sleeping little siblings into their car seats in the cold was really getting to me. REALLY getting to me. So for the month, Caleb is doing some handwriting, phonics, and math with me (per his choice). He has also been promised at least one day a week to play with a friend. So far, so good.
2. Do you ever feel like you are just running on empty? It's scary, but I feel like I've been in a desperation cycle for the last six months of my life. My apologies to the friends and family who have lived with me! This is what happens when you try to move your household and raise three kids in your own strength for the approval of man. So a new boundary has been put in place. No screens until the Bread of Life has been eaten, the only food that satisfies. It may not be much, but I take a few minutes to do Word of Life's daily passage, reflecting on what the passage says and how it applies to my life. And then I pull out my list. My Thousand Gifts. And I count. Starting the day with giving thanks back to the Giver of Life. It keeps me seeing His gifts, and it's filling me up. Feeling stronger by the day.
3. I'm moving. Not houses (PTL!) but myself. Rather than seeing physical activity as something to be avoided, I am embracing the stairs as my friend, the laundry baskets as my fitness helpers, and my children as my workout buddies. Current workout routines include cleaning floors, doing massive amounts of laundry, and playing very competitive hide 'n seek tournaments. I have never run so fast in 15 seconds or had more fun with my children. I still walk/run with a friend a couple of evenings a week, but I want to embrace being active as a part of our family's daily life. Teacher Man has been biking to work as long as the ice has been cleared off the road. Bless him. I hate cold.
reading together (something we've always done), but I'm also reading books for my own personal enjoyment and enrichment in front of them. I want them to know that we have not arrived as adults. Teacher Man and I are still reading to learn and to have fun. And, frankly, modeling this learner's spirit is just downright delightful. These last few weeks have reminded me how much I love the written word.
5. Our dinner table looks very different due to Ben's allergy needs. Much to my oldest child's dismay, we're eating a dairy-free, egg-free diet. No cheese. No milk. No yogurt. No cream. No butter. Thanks to having Teacher Man home for an extra week, I had time to do more research into making kid-friendly, DF (dairy-free) food now that macaroni and cheese is no longer standard fare. I've also discovered the beauty of my dutch oven in the process. OH MY GOODNESS! Where has this thing been all my life? I had a dutch oven that I didn't season (easy process!) for two years. What was I thinking?? So easy to clean. Goes from stove top to oven. I could hug that thing (when it's cold, of course). And it's cobalt blue. Sigh. So while I say goodbye to cream of chicken soup, it's nice to say hello to a new friend.
6. We're opening our doors. There's something about feeling unrested and over-scheduled that makes you want to lock your doors when you actually are at home. The retreat of the last few weeks and a more relaxed schedule is really motivating , and we're trying to reach out to moms, to families, to old friends, to college students with a renewed focus.
So I'm in the middle of a life that needs tweaking. Yep, T-W-E-A-K-I-N-G tweaking. (Name that movie.) It took me far too long to wake up to the fact that what we were doing just wasn't working for our family and was even hindering us from showing grace to others and to one another. So there's another gift to add to the list.
145: Waking up to what was holding me back
146: God doesn't give up on us but continues to work in our lives.
147: A change of pace that has been oh-so-healing.
148: Being snowbound.