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Posts Tagged ‘quiet time’

In my ideal world…

…every day begins before my children wake up, with a quiet breakfast, a time to read Scripture and a conversation with my God.

…my house is clean every night when the lights are turned out – dishes washed, floors swept, laundry put away and all toys in their place – allowing a fresh start to each morning.

…my life is organized. My home stays organized.

…all, or at least most, of my family’s meals are organic and nutritious, prepared at home and served at our dining room table.

…I have the wisdom and the vision to homeschool my children well – to fill their minds with knowledge and their memories with experiences that will equip them to do anything, to be anyone.

…I have the wisdom and the patience to train my children well – train them to pursue righteousness and purity, to love God deeply and to honor Him by loving and serving people and by telling His story to anyone who will listen.

…my children know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I adore them, that I want what is best for them, that I accept them and that they mean the world to me.

…my husband and I have – and consistently follow – a clear and intentional plan for our finances – for how much and to what we give, save and spend, including a clear and intentional retirement plan.

…I have passionate sex with my husband several times a week, every week.

…I read two good books a month – the kind that inspire, make you think, make you see the world a little differently than you did before.

…I never stop growing or learning or improving.

…I am an injury-free ultra-marathoner.

…I am a world-traveler (as are my husband and children!).

…I am a published author.

…I love my husband, my children, my family, and my friends well – that is unconditionally, loyally, with deep compassion  and no judgement.

…I have my very own Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.

…the romance never dies.

…my purpose is clear, my calling known, my direction steadfast, my path straight.

…I have unwavering Faith (you know, the kind that moves mountains).

What is your vision for your ideal world?

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I must confess, I went out of curiosity more than anything and with expectations of being an observer rather than a participant.

But I should have known.

I should have known that my walls would come crumbling down. Should have known that the shroud covering my heart would be gently pulled away.

They are just too good at what they do. And His spirit is too mighty. Especially in those moments where I am forced to be still. And quiet.

SPACE, they call it. SPACE. What is SPACE? Well, let me tell you what SPACE was for me…

When I walked in an immediate quiet surrounded me. Not just an audible quiet. A complete quiet. Instantly, without my even intending for it to, this caused my spirit to take a deep breath.

Dozens of candles flickered across the front of the room. They, along with a few strands of soft white lights that had been wrapped around some wooden beams were all that lit the space. Black curtains hung around the room’s edges. A small stage, an area rug, a few scattered chairs and four “stations” completed the gathering of items with which my eyes connected. Several dozen people had arrived before me. Some were sitting. Some were standing. A track of soothing music played very softly in the background. I grabbed a sheet of paper from the table by the door and settled onto a spot on the rug that had been layed in the middle of the floor. I glanced down at the words covering the paper that I held in my hand.

“SPACE is designed to be a soul environment – a sacred, reflective time for prayer and calibration. Our hope is that you experience the love story of Jesus through this environment and feel the freedom to journal, pray, reflect, or just rest at the feet of the Father. We are glad you are here. Be still. Listen. Reflect.”

After reading these words, curiosity about the four stations pulled me back to my feet and I began a slow walk around the outer edge of the room. A few minutes into this time Leslie, David and a woman who’s face I did not recognize, took the stage. I returned to my spot on the rug. Moments later Leslie’s soothing voice filled the room, inviting everyone to worship with them through music if we so desired, or just continue on with what we were already doing if that was where we needed to be.

And for the next hour, with Leslie on her guitar, David at the piano and the stranger accompanying with a violin, I was swept away. I couldn’t even sing. I could only sit and weep. Weep unexplained tears. Not tears of sadness. Or anger. Or disappointment. Not tears of regret or pain or fear. Not even tears of joy. Just tears from a soul overwhelmed to be sitting in the presence of my Father’s Spirit.  Soul environment. This is what they mean when they say soul environment.

After a half hour of tears, a half hour without a clear thought in my head, I received a message so penetrating,  I couldn’t’ve ignored it if I’d wanted to: My soul needs the white noise to be quieted. My soul is desperate for it. For several breaths I just sat in the clarity of that moment. But that wasn’t all that would come to me. Moments later a rush of words began running into my mind. I grabbed my paper and hastily wrote them all down.

– Get out of the city.

– Get rid of stuff.

– Get off of the computer.

– Turn off the t.v.

Rebuke the lies in your head.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

– Keep reading.

– Keep writing.

Love your children.

Love your husband.

Cherish your family and your true friends.


I am still meditating on these thoughts today. As well as a few more thoughts:

Our souls are longing to be fed. They are desperate for nourishment.

Everyday we feed our faces. Our egos. Our desires. Our impulses.

But how often do we feed our souls?

And how do we? What does this even look like? Sound like? Feel like?

We must begin this soul journey. Or continue it if it has already begun.

For truly, our very lives, our very souls depend on it.

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I breathe in the crisp, night air. It is snowing. The neighbors’ yards are glistening with what snow has already fallen. The road is wet and intermittently icy. There are Christmas tree lights in many windows. Lamp light warms the living rooms of the houses that I pass by. I can see into my parent’s front window. My entire family is inside. All the children are in bed, the adults gathered in the living room/dining room. Soon I will join them. But not now. Not yet.

A sudden and intense longing to move my legs and breathe some fresh, winter air has landed me in the middle of the street. And in my haste I have only taken the time to don a pair of tennis shoes and a light jacket over the pajama pants and t-shirt I was already wearing. The wind cuts through the thin fabric of my attire. Ice cold water climbs my pants as each blue cuff drags the ground. The moisture quickly seeps into my shoes as well, and my wet socks begin to cling to my frozen toes. I stick my hands into my jacket pockets to spare them from the frigid air. Instinctively, my shoulders hunch and my core muscles contract in their effort to protect me from the cold, and for several moments I allow them to.

I walk in silence, filling my lungs with the cold, winter air, then slowly letting it all back out again. But my hunched shoulders and contracted core are counteracting my deep breaths and preventing the relaxation that usually accompanies them. When I realize this, I make the decision to let go and to be fully present in my cold surroundings instead of trying to hide from them. The difference this makes is remarkable. Almost instantly all of the tension I am holding begins to melt, like that last thin layer of snow that still covers the ground on a sunny winter day. Somehow, in the moments following, the cold doesn’t seem to bother me so much.

“I don’t know what to pray for, God.” I finally blurt out quietly, without really meaning to, shaking my head. This confession breaks the night’s silence as well as the disconnect I have felt for several days now. “I know that I need You. I know that I need…something. Please help me.”

What happens after I utter my plea, “please help me”, I can only describe as a direct response from my Father in Heaven and a truly incredible experience- like He is praying the prayer for me and answering it all at the same time, telling me what I should ask for, then granting the request the moment it is asked.

The words in bold are the words that came to my mind, that I offered to Him. The words in italics were the words He gave  back to me.

my childrenpatience. a fresh perspective.

future childrenpeace. hope. that I will not live in fear. that my hope will be in God, not in my own plan.

my husbandto be Jesus to him. compassion. keeping the fire burning.

my family appreciation.

our small groupinspiration.

the lostwisdom for how to serve and love them.

my purposeclarity. a vision.

my passiondirection.

A calmness and a sense of clarity fill my heart and my mind as I meditate on each word He gives me.

When I am almost back to the house, I feel I should end my prayer as I often do- by counting my blessings. Immediately when this thought comes to mind, He reminds me to be thankful for my health, my home, my family, and hope. And oh, how right He is! My heart feels as though it will burst with gratitude for the blessings He has given me.

As I walk back up the driveway, the scripture, “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves.” Romans 8:26-27, plays through my head and makes me wonder- was tonight an example of this?

I think I will always remember, how on this Christmas night, if only for a few minutes, the world around me was silent and white. And how when I stepped outside in pursuit of a walk and a deep breath, the ensuing stillness led me back to my Creator.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

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my feet enduring

withstand the pounding

my legs strong

propel me forward

my abs taut

hold me together

my side aches

begs me to slow down

my arms pump rapidly

in rhythm with my feet

my breath accelerated and deep

hungry for more

my eyes open

my vision clear

my ears astute

my mind quieted

my hair whipped and blown

by the wind of the night

by the wind of my haste

the sky bluish black dotted with puffs of gray

the air soft and Tennessee dry

houses darkened and silent

the crickets sing their good night song

my shadow leads me

cast by the lamps that dot my dark and quiet road.

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This is the list of goals that I handed to a friend, Sunday night of last week, before asking her to keep me accountable to them:

1) Be out of bed before 7 a.m. Mon-Fri

2) Workout in the a.m. at least 5 days this week

3) Keep a daily food journal

4) Drink at least 64oz of water daily

5) Go to bed with a clean kitchen every night

6) Finish one load of laundry daily

7) Plan (and execute!) one sex date this week

8 ) Have one couple over for dinner this week

9) Keep the tv and computer time to a minimum

10) Make doctor and dentist appointments and order oils diffuser

 

And this is what I learned from them:

1) For me, getting up early really is…better. The night owl side of me hates that this is true. But it is. Getting out of bed by seven changes the tone of my entire day. And there is something delicious about early morning air, early morning light, and the quiet and peacefulness and productivity of being the only one in the house awake.

2) A.M workouts are also, I am slightly hesitant to admit, better. Starting the day with my blood pumping seems to keep that blood pumping till bedtime! And it guarantees that the workout will happen cuz the later I wait, the more complicated fitting in a workout seems to get.

3) 64oz of water (or more) makes me feel lighter, healthier, and more energetic.

4) Keeping a food journal helps me eat better. Knowing that what I’m putting into my mouth will be recorded on a piece of paper makes me stop and think, “Do I really want there to be evidence that I ate this?”

5) Going to bed with a clean kitchen every night is…hard.

6) Washing, drying, folding and putting away one load of laundry every day prevents Laundry Mountain from growing big enough to take over my laundry room, my laundry baskets, the top of everyone’s dresser or chair, my thoughts, my energy and my couch.

7) I don’t care who you are, how old you are, how long you’ve been married or how much sex you are already having- if you want to improve your sex life with your spouse, having weekly sex dates is the way to do it!

8 ) Having one couple (at least) over for dinner each week is a true blessing to us (and hopefully to them). I don’t know why we ever get out of this habit. It’s benefits are too great.

9)Turning off the TV and limiting internet time is worth the challenge. At times it takes all of the self-control I can muster to stay away from these time suckers.

10) Nothing really. Other than, it is such a relief to knock items off the to-do list that have been on there for weeks!

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“One Night Off” is what was typed, in big, bold letters, at the top of the piece of paper that Chaz handed to me about an hour after he got home from work Tuesday night.

I was in the den finishing my workout. He was at the computer, having just finished his. I was almost done (and needing to go get Granite, who was fussing in his crib) when my sweet hubby said to me, “Wait, before you go upstairs, I have something for you,” as he covered the computer screen. I turned away, assuming he had a funny youtube video he wanted me to see, and tried to be patient as I listened to my son crying upstairs. A moment later I could hear the printer printing and with this sound I grew curious. I had zero guesses for what he could be printing to show me. A moment later he handed me what came out of the printer and then he waited as I read what he had typed:

This certificate entitles you to ONE NIGHT OFF.

You can gather things you would like to have (computer, movie, book…etc.) and go downstairs to take a shower and relax.

When you are ready for dinner you can place your order (for anything) via text or phone call.

Your night off will end with a massage…(the rest of this part explicitly described the romantic encounter we would have at the end of the night…I won’t include that here. 🙂 )

This certificate does not expire, and in fact can be used anytime you want (make reservations 24 hours in advance in the future).

After reading these words a smile spread across my face and I hugged my husband.

“Thank you baby,” I said quietly. He smiled back, said “You’re welcome,” and disappeared upstairs to take care of our son.

I stood for a moment, slightly disoriented by the sudden change of plans for my night, and tried to decide what to take with me. I thought quickly, realizing that it would be easier to escape if I did it before my son saw me, grabbed my book (Eat Pray Love), a movie (Confessions of a Shopaholic) and my water bottle, and hurried downstairs.

Closing the door behind me I thought of all the things I was going to do (get my son up from his nap, change his diaper, hold him until he got over his usual ‘after nap grumpiness’, make dinner, help both of my kids eat dinner, clean up from dinner, wash dishes, finish the laundry, clean up toys, work with my husband to bathe our children and dress them for bed, brush my daughter’s teeth, read my daughter stories and talk and pray with her, tuck her in, tell her she’s fine and that there is no reason to be scared and no she can’t have a bedtime snack and no we are not going to read one more story and no we are not going to leave the hall light on all night…) before switching gears, clearing my mind and turning on the shower.

The shower felt amazing (as it always does after a good workout) and I dressed warmly and comfortably after it.  I then put the movie in the DVD player and propped myself up in our bed, still not quite believing that I had nothing I needed to do for the rest of the night. Its a strange feeling being in bed at 6:30 on a weeknight, while my children are home and awake. Strange and amazing. I snuggled into the covers and focused on relaxing each part of my body as my mind was entertained by the movie I was watching. About thirty minutes later I called my husband’s cell phone to talk about dinner and about thirty minutes after that my hubby and my daughter entered the room with a tv tray, a plate of yummy bread and pasta, a soda, silverware wrapped in a napkin and a vase filled with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. What a precious pair these two were, arranging my dinner, asking if there was anything else I needed and leaving as quickly as they came to get back to Granite who was standing at the top of the stairs yelling for both of them.

As I enjoyed each bite of my ‘dinner in bed’ I thought about what a blessed woman I am to have a husband who would do something so thoughtful for me; not because its my birthday, not because its mother’s day, not because I deserve it…but because he loves me. And how blessed I am that for him, that is reason enough.

So at eight oclock Meadow joined me for a short snuggle while Chaz put Granite to bed. (This snuggle time was precious!) And at nine oclock (after getting Meadow in bed and straightening up the main part of the house and getting himself ready for bed) my love joined me for…

Well that’s the end of my story. Husbands, if you are needing ideas for how to bless your wife, add this one to your list! Wives, I encourage you to do the same! I, myself, am trying to find a night in February for my own hubby to enjoy ‘One Night Off’. But ssshhh! Don’t tell him! It will spoil the surprise. 🙂

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The following is a list of ten, kind of random things that I have been thinking about and trying to do, especially since the new year. They have all been a blessing to me. I challenge you to try each of them. I hope they are a blessing to you, however big or small!

1) Start your day thirty minutes to an hour before your children wake up with some sort of quiet time with God. This is a new one for me and it has been such a blessing. Thankfully my children don’t get up until after eight so doing this is not a particularly challenging schedule, but starting my day with a quiet breakfast while I read my Bible and write in my prayer journal affects me the rest of the day. My patience is improved, my peace, my attitude. Incredible!

2) Commit to some kind of exercise program! I know not everyone is crazy like me and enjoys exercising but I am more and more convinced that being active in some form, at least a couple days a week is invaluable, no matter who you are. (If you have no idea how to go about this or where to start or why this really matters, ask me!) And eat better! Not because you have to, not because you’ll die if you don’t…because you will feel better! (I have a lot of thoughts about this one too but I’ll probably write them in another post, another time…)

3) Make lists. I am a listmaker so I like this one but I have seen it bless non-listmakers too. I suggest finding a notebook rather than random slips of paper that get lost and thrown away. Keep this notebook with you always. Write in it ideas, goals, to-do lists, contact information, etc.; all the random things that you think of and are told through out the day that you will never remember. (The one exception I suggest is your grocery list. Keep this one on the fridge and write on it every time you run out of something and need to replace it. That way you don’t have to try and remember what all you need on grocery day. The list has already been written, just grab it and run!)

4) Turn off the TV; for your sake, for your childrens sake, for peacefulness sake, for creativity sake, for motivation sake, for relationship sake. This entertainment box robs us of our time, our connection to one another, our peace and quiet, our motivation to get off the couch. So just turn it off. And hide the remote! 🙂 It will be hard at first and weird and you will be very tempted to turn it back on…but turn it off anyway and see what happens!

5) SIMPLIFY AND DECLUTTER! We are a culture that believes more is better; more stuff, more activity, more money, more more more. Well I say, be counter-cultural! There are not enough hours in the day to do everything so be committed to only doing that which is important to you, that which will be a blessing to you or someone else. If there are too many important things in your life to fit in, then you may need to reconsider what really is important! And declutter! If you don’t love it or use it…get rid of it!!! The less stuff we have the less there is to clean, to manage, to find, to maintain, etc…and the more time there is to love our families, our friends, our God and ourselves!

6) Find something that you love to do and do it! So many of us grow up and become so consumed with what we have to do that we stop doing what we want to do, what we love to do! Find a hobby, make a little time each week, and enjoy! I believe taking a little time to do the things we want to do makes the time we spend doing the things we have to do more peaceful and manageable and even enjoyable. So I encourage you to find the balance between the two.

7) Wash one load of laundry every day and set it on your bed to be folded before you get into your bed. I have tried so many methods of staying on top of the laundry, so far this one is working the best. Avoiding laundry baskets and avoiding doing seven loads at once has kept our laundry clean and put away. I have been skipping the baskets, going straight from washer to dryer to bed to folded to put away! Ideally it’s folded and put away before bedtime but worst case you spend ten minutes right before you crawl into bed and its done! Voila! (You do have to be committed to not just setting it on the floor or dresser for tomorrow if you are particularly tired that night though…)

8 ) Go to bed with a clean kitchen. Waking up to a clean kitchen helps set a more peaceful, more comfortable tone for my day. Knowing that I am starting fresh in the kitchen has helped me feel less overwhelmed with the rest of the house. The two ways this has stayed possible for me are: doing a light cleaning after each meal or snack (this includes putting away all food, throwing away all trash and putting all dishes in the sink) and doing a final, more thorough cleaning right after dinner (including putting away all food, throwing away all trash, loading and starting dishwasher, handwashing any other dishes, wiping down all counters and stove and sink, and sometimes sweeping), while daddy plays with the kids and gives them their baths. Staying committed to this has been a challenge for me but sooo worth the effort! (I am still working on figuring out how to keep the rest of the house clean. Sigh.)

9) Get enough sleep! Seven to eight hours is ideal for me, less and I feel it the next day. Sleep for your health, your mood, your energy level, your attitude, your quality of life!

10) And lastly, though I believe that one through nine matter and are life improving, always remember that people are more important than stuff, than money, than chores, than hobbies. I am confident that when we are all old and life has slowed down, we will not look back and be glad we had all our laundry done each night or that we stayed in amazing shape or that we were never late or behind or forgetful. I believe we will look back and remember the laughter, the love, the forgiveness, the intimacy that we shared with our spouses, our children, our friends and our neighbors. Let us improve who we are and how we love before we improve what we do and how we do it!

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