Tuesday, 28 February 2017

What I learned this summer


In the rush of life, I have become more and more invested in taking the time to stop and reflect. I used to do this monthly but I am joining with Emily Freeman in moving to a seasonal approach. Today marks the end of summer here in the Southern Hemisphere. The end of a season provides a chance to stop and take stock of what I have learned. I share those lessons here with you, both the deep and the mundane.
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  • Sabbath from social media- I have been reading the journeys of other people in breaking the hold of social media and screens in their lives by taking a Sabbath break. It was while reading a post from Amanda Viviers that I finally felt the conviction to commit to it. I have been toying with the idea for so long. I had already been using the Quality Time app on my phone to add scheduled breaks into my day, restricting access to certain apps at those times. It was a logical next step to block it for a day. I had to carefully consider which apps I would allow myself access to and take the step of setting up the break in the app. For me, Sundays were the best day for this. I have had this implemented for the past few weeks. It was harder than I would have liked that first week but I have noticed it becoming easier. I have also noticed a knock on effect into the week as well. The habit of constant checking is being lessened. Maybe this will be the encouragement that you need to implement breaks from your phone and social media.

  • Falling in love with Doterra essential oils- I knew that I would and avoided exploring them for a long time because of it. My daughter's sleep has improved. My mood has been impacted for the better. My health has been supported (I was really sceptical at first but have now stopped two colds from developing past a scratchy throat!) Now to build up my collection and uses slowly!

  • This year brought all new routines- I expected this with my daughter starting school full time and being in a new MOPS role. The anticipation and trying to work out logistics was a constant hum bubbling under the surface. I was so glad when school actually started and we could just start living it and figuring it out as we went. We are now almost 5 weeks into the term and life is settling into the new normal more or less.

  • Do it scared- A lesson that I have had to relearn on many occasions. This season has contained huge learning curves in fully stepping into the MOPS State Leader position, running my first Leadership Training Event, speaking at groups I haven't spoken at before, becoming a mum to a full-time school attendee and seeking answers to some health issues with my daughter. Every part has required that I do it scared. I have had to model that to my daughter as she faced the anxiety of starting at a new school and as she went through multiple blood tests. I refuse to allow fear to rule my decisions and actions. I refuse to allow fear to keep my daughter captive. I am so grateful for Scriptures that provide truth to combat fear and friends that pray me through tough moments.

  • Sometimes you will need to buy winter pants in the middle of summer- The weather this summer has been confusing and unpredictable, particularly in February. Normally you can predict what it will be like- hot, hot, hot. This year we have had many really cold, wet, rainy days that would fit in perfectly with winter. This required a mad dash around multiple shops and shopping centres trying to find school uniform compliant pants for my skinny daughter. She was well set up with summer uniform. Silly me to think that winter uniform could wait until winter! Further proof that life will throw up the unexpected in any and all areas.

  • I still seek distraction when overwhelmed- Long to do lists, an impending event that I was organising and running and tasks waiting in every area of my life would surely spur me on to productivity, right? Nope. I binge-watched Netflix. It took me a couple of days to realise this pull towards mindless entertainment and distraction was a symptom of the overwhelm I was feeling internally. Just when I think I am getting a handle on managing stress, self-care and rest that actually restores I am faced with the truth of my default setting. Recognising what was going on helped; prayer helped more; giving myself grace and other sources of rest helped still more. I am still working on finding the most helpful rhythms of rest and work within my new routines. I am working on how I approach higher workload times leading up to events. I am working on utilising distraction when needed without sacrificing too much of my time and emotional energy to it.

  • My introvert soul loves being a school mum- I miss the extra time with my daughter and some of the things that we used to do, like library trips, but I love this new season of parenting. I am (mostly) a better mum in the times I am with her now. I have days where I have the flexibility and space to spend hours alone, whether working on MOPS work at home, doing housework or something fun. My soul is thriving with this quiet and space. I find I have far more emotional energy to give her when she is home. We play games together and I find myself less pulled to do other tasks instead (although that is still a work in progress!) I really wasn't sure how I would respond to this season. It is not without challenges, of course, but I am embracing this time.

  • Lent has caught me by surprise- This is strange since I have been thinking about it in flashes since Advent! It starts tomorrow and I have done no planning towards it. I loved how focusing on Advent brought depth and significance to Christmas. I want the same for Lent and Easter. This season coming up is a busier time for me in many ways. It will take a high degree of intentionality to pull it off. I am grateful that it is 40 days which gives me the space to allow myself extra time to come up with a plan for how to focus on this time of year well. I am still undecided about what Lent devotional I want to use or if I will use one at all. I am undecided how I wil build this in around the many trips away I have between now and Easter. I am undecided on how I want to celebrate Easter itself with my daughter this year. In fact, the only thing I have decided on is using the Sense of the Resurrection again this year with my daughter. It is written by the same woman who wrote Truth in the Tinsel that we use at Christmas time. It is only 12 experiences to fit in to the whole 40 days of lent making it achievable. I love how hands on and sensory the activities are and how they make the stories come alive in new ways. I am excited to see how much more my daughter grasps this year.

If you are like me and want to create space to focus on Lent but haven't got there yet, I would love to share a Lent planner with you for free. Sometimes we just need something to give us the structure and reminder for each day. You can sign up to receive the free planner below.

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Friday, 10 February 2017

The lure and lie of safety


The concept of safety is one that I have long wrestled with, especially since becoming a parent. I long to keep my daughter safe and protected but want her to be able to take risks and live life fully too. How do I balance the two?

Add in faith and trusting in God and the conflict rises to a whole new level. I struggle to trust at times because I know that God doesn't promise safety in the way that I want. He doesn't promise that nothing will go wrong, that no harm will come to my family, that life will always be smooth. In fact, He says the opposite. The safety that he brings is a deeper, eternal perspective of safety. It is recognising that this world is temporary and safety here is not the ultimate goal.

Seeking safety in my life would mean missing out on so many opportunities to grow and learn. My life would not be the same. It would be boring. It would be tied up in even greater levels of anxiety if my whole focus was keeping my safety ideals in place, knowing that I can never control every variable.

My challenge is how to live with this knowledge and increase my surrender and trust to God, while helping my daughter feel safe and navigate her anxiety. I can't promise that there will never be a fire in our house like she has nightmares of. I can't promise that I will never be gravely ill as she fears. I can only lead her to the truth of God's faithfulness even when things seem dark.

This post is part of the Five Minute Friday challenge- writing five minutes unedited on the prompt word. This week's prompt is "safe" and you can read other people's thoughts here.