My Daily Roadtrip

Archive for the tag “musings”

When the unbelievable becomes reality

I have lived in Thailand for 6 months now. Well actually, it’s been 6.5 months and yes, I am counting.

6 months!!

I realize that doesn’t sound all that long, but as I talked about briefly in this post, I was never one to dream about or desire living overseas. As I like to tell people, during our 6.5 years of marriage, my husband has said more than once, “Don’t you think it would be so cool to live overseas as a family at some point?” (Yes, I’ve told this before, but I’m telling it again.) And every time, I thought to myself, and would often say out loud, “Nope. I don’t.” Seriously, every time. Sometimes a small freak-out session would also accompany that thought. God definitely began doing a work in my heart last year as Thailand came onto our radar screen as a potential place to move for a season and as time went on, I became increasingly confident that Thailand was where God was leading us. The idea of living overseas still wasn’t a dream that had originated with me, nor was it something that suddenly became my greatest desire. But, because I knew it was how God was leading us as a family, I was able to move forward in the whole process that accompanies making such a  huge move. I was, by God’s grace, able to make the move and have begun to figure out what life here looks like for our family. Some really great things have happened. I am growing in ways I never thought possible and am grateful for. However,

Some days, I want to be somewhere else. I’m not sure where, but not here.

Some days, I refuse to be adventurous or try one more new thing. On these days, I go home when I can’t find my destination instead of trying just one. more. time. I don’t go anywhere where I think I might be inundated with the sights, sounds, or smells of Thai culture.

Some days, I think, “I just cannot do this. I don’t think I’m cut out for overseas living.”

But the emotions and thoughts that come on those days don’t take anything away from the fact that God clearly led us here. The fact that His grace has been enough for all we have encountered. The fact that He is enabling me to do this.

ME, Dawn Fong.

Me, Miss “No, I have never dreamed about nor desired to live overseas, and in fact, the mention of it makes me want to curl up in the fetal position.”

Unbelievable! Except, I’m having to believe it, because it’s now reality.

I’m here to tell you that a life following Jesus can involve crazy things. Crazy things you possibly never wanted to do or experience, places you never wanted to go. But beyond that, He enables us to do these crazy things. He does. I don’t often know how it all works, but He, amazingly, does it.

I’m living proof.

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“So, do you like it here?”

About a month ago, I was hanging out with a group of women and  was talking with one in particular who had just arrived in Chiang Mai 1.5 weeks before. In the midst of our conversation she asked the question,

“So, do you like it here?”

Umm, do I what? Like it here? This may not seem like that difficult of a question, but I don’t think anyone has asked me that since I moved here. I’ve been asked many things, but not that question in particular. And you know what? I didn’t know what to say. I had to stop and think. Even after doing so, I gave some kind of feeble answer because it was a question that was actually bigger than I knew how to process at the time.

To be honest, even after 5 months of living here, I’m still somewhat in “survival mode.” Survival mode is the place where you feel fairly incompetent at most things and a high level of baseline stress is palpably present on more days than not. It’s the place where you spend a lot of time figuring out things like how to make tasty but cost-effective meals using local ingredients and how to get your clothes clean and mildew-free even though it’s rainy season and you don’t have hot water in your washer. It’s the season when you engage hard questions such as, “How do I continue to care well for those around me when my own world has been so rocked?”  While I’ve learned a lot about living here in the past 5 months, the overall learning curve continues to be high and I have no idea when it will level out (or does it?).  I definitely enjoy and find joy in many things here. However, when so consumed with relearning how to complete everyday responsibilities, working through my own personal struggle, and caring for my family and home, it’s hard to think about whether or not I like it here.

But, I can think of multiple things I like as a byproduct of living here:

  • I “like” that I have to walk by faith in Jesus during everyday life here on a more consistent basis than ever before. This is the kind of “like” that is painful, but good. Wow.
  • I like that I’m encountering people and a culture very different than what I’ve always known. My world is being opened in incredible ways and I doubt (and hope) I’ll ever be the same because of it.
  • I like that my kids are becoming good friends, possibly because they only have each other as consistent playmates. This does my mother’s heart incredibly good.
  • (Somewhat related to the first one I shared) I like that I am, by God’s grace, learning to do hard things.  I am facing fears and learning to see struggle not as the enemy, but something that must be walked through with God and seen through a biblical lens. I’m learning this struggle is something through which I can be changed in really big ways. Do I like this process? Not so much most of the time, but I’m learning to be more comfortable with it.
  • I like that our family is doing this together and all the things that brings along with it.
  • I like that I have met some great people who are teaching me about living in community even when you haven’t known each other that long.
  • I like that I get to drive a motorbike. Hey, does this all need to be so heavy?

I’m glad we’re here (most days). I like much of what’s happening in our lives because we’re here. And someday, I look forward to being at the place where I can better engage the question of whether or not I like it here.

Someday, but not today.

It’s time to stop whining …

This was originally posted in September of 2011 and almost 2 years later, I realize that I’ll probably always need this particular reminder (to stop whining). In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be reposting some of my favorite blog posts from my earlier days of blogging (because I’m such a seasoned blogger now ;) ) for some of my newer readers, as well as for those who have been with me since the beginning. Thanks to both groups for reading!

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I am pretty tired these days.

You know the kind of tired where you feel physically ill because you’re so exhausted? That’s how I’ve felt lately.

Having sick kids for the last 3 weeks and getting sleep schedules all “off” is what has done it to me. Whew!

I didn’t realize I was being an internal whiner about my exhaustion, though. I really didn’t. However, I now realize I have been just that.

A week ago, I was talking with some friends about the kids being sick and made the comment that I’m pretty sure I had “put in my time” and that we should now be good to go for the winter (with good health). I know that’s not true, but I just wanted to believe it just for a few minutes to make myself feel better. The husband remarked that there is no such thing as “putting in your time” when it comes to sick kids and I told him that I realized that, but just wanted to live in my world of delusion just a bit longer. And then it hit me …

I have been whining in my head about my kids’ sickness and subsequent lack of sleep. I have been waiting for a full night of sleep because then things would “be all right.” If I could just have more sleep, I would be motivated to get things done around the house, I would be more patient with the kids, and I would enjoy being a mother more overall right now (you moms know that it can be challenging when you’re sleep-deprived to find as much joy as you want to in being a mom). But, you know what? It could be weeks more before I get that full night’s sleep … I really can’t wait for that night to come before I do the things that I need to do and be the kind of wife/mom/person I want to be and was created by God to be.

I need to stop whining.

I need to move forward and live. If I spent the time I spend focused on myself and how tired I am doing the things that need to be done and that are the most important, then my house would be in better shape and I would be loving my kids and husband better (the 2 things that are way more important than the house anyway … however, having a picked-up house is a little piece of sanity for me!). I do really believe that God can give the grace needed to do the things that I need to be doing each day (according to Him rather than according to me). Now I have to live like I believe it rather than waiting for that perfect night of sleep (which I’m pretty sure may not come for years now that I have small children) or depending on my own strength to pull myself through.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it’s wrong to admit that I’m tired. I don’t think it’s wrong to take naps and try to catch up on sleep when I can. However, I don’t want to be a whiner about my tiredness, either internally or out-loud. I really do desire to try to live life fully in spite of whatever circumstances I find myself in.

How about you? Have you been a whiner lately? 

Repost: Can we be friends with those in different “life seasons” than us?

This was originally posted in January of 2012. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be reposting some of my favorite blog posts from my earlier days of blogging (because I’m such a seasoned blogger now ;)) for some of my newer readers, as well as for those who have been with me since the beginning. Thanks to both groups for reading!

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Do you ever find yourself saying or hear others saying, “Well, after my friend got married/had a baby/had her 3rd child/(fill in the blank)we just didn’t connect well anymore because we were in different stages/seasons of life” ?

I used to say similar things. I try not to anymore.

I think letting a friendship go because of ‘season differences’ is … well, a bit lazy. Don’t get me wrong – I know there is truth to the fact that there are some profound areas that single folks cannot connect with married folks on, or those without children cannot connect with mothers about (to just name a few ‘seasonal differences’). But it can drive me crazy when someone in one of these camps writes off a friend or a potential friend simply because they can’t share certain experiences, however central to their current life stage, with them.

In my opinion (which, due to the beauty of this being my blog, I can freely express), deciding you now have less in common with a friend and are not going to do the hard work of figuring out how to continue to relate to him/her is either due to a different reason which you’ve decided to call ‘seasonal differences,’ or … you are just not willing to do the hard thing.

One of my greatest friends, Michelle, and I met our 2nd year of college. We continued to become better friends during our 3rd year (in which we started nursing school together) and we even were roommates for one semester prior to her getting married halfway through our senior year. Her getting married changed our friendship – and it should have. Her first priority had to be her husband, not me. I experienced a sense of loss, but was excited for her and we continued to be friends. However, it became a bit more difficult at times to relate because, as we got older, I remained single while she started having children (#1 and #2). By that point, we were not able to share some huge experiences – motherhood and being married. It was easy for me to say,“well, we’re in such different stages of life – we just can’t really relate anymore.” But then I realized something – of course I couldn’t understand being married or being a mom because I was not at that point in my life. But … what was keeping me from asking her questions to help me better understand some of her daily struggles and joys? And what was keeping me from sharing some of mine with her, as the experience of being a single woman in her late 20s would never be something she would experience? In other words, I could either say to myself, “Well, she would never understand my struggles and daily life,” or I could help her to understand them (and vice versa).

Sure, it would take me out of my comfort zone to do so, but, so what? Since when are the best things usually the easiest things? I remember that mindset change being such a huge thing for me regarding my friendship to Michelle. And you know what? Looking back at how our friendship has evolved and seeing what a dear, dear friend she continues to be to me makes me so grateful. Grateful that I decided not to simply give up on something so precious because life seasons changed. Grateful that she didn’t do the same.

Let me be clear – I think there are certain seasons for certain friendships … I believe a friend for life is a rare thing. I am not saying you should work hard to maintain each and every one of your friendships as life seasons change. However, I am saying that, whether you are meeting someone for the first time or have a friend whom you have had for several decades, don’t simply assume you cannot be/continue to be great friends because you may be in different stages of life from each other. Be willing to do the hard work of trying to understand where the other is at in life. And if they’re willing to do the hard work as well, be willing to help them understand where you’re at in life.

It will be worth it.

Michelle and me

Letting a friend be a friend

As I have communicated with close friends lately, I will often hear the qualifier, “But I’m not the one who has moved to another country,” when sharing anything even hinting of struggle from their own lives. I have been thinking a bit about how we can dismiss our own struggles, whether its to minimize their intensity or not even bring them up, when talking to others we feel have much bigger struggles in  their lives. I realize there are times to keep our own struggles to ourselves, but I’m guessing we often do it when it’s unnecessary and when it might not be the best thing for the friendship.

Friends, you are hearing it from the horse’s (at least one particular horse) mouth. I want to hear about your struggles. I am not sitting here in Thailand thinking about how my life is so much harder than yours. When you do share any current difficulties in your life, I do not compare it to how difficult my day was or wasn’t. Believe me, I don’t. I care about you and I care about your struggle. While it is true that life as a new expatriate in Thailand is pretty intense with different daily struggles, there is still a lot of joy that comes in the midst of it all. And you know what? I don’t want to just think about my life and talk about my life; I’m already prone to being self-focused and don’t need any help in that area. 😉 I want to hear about your life. I want the opportunity to encourage you, to mourn with you, or to celebrate with you, depending on the circumstances of your life. Basically, I need the opportunity to be your friend.

Don’t get me wrong, I do the same thing. I can be talking with a close friend and if I know they are going through a time of intense struggle, I may not share my own struggle. I often do so as to not be a “burden” to the other person, which can at times be either a good or bad reason. But I sometimes do it because I’ve compared our struggles and somehow decided that my struggle does not warrant our attention. By doing so, I have just taken away an opportunity for the other person to be an encouragement to me and help bear my burden; essentially to be a good friend to me. I realize it’s not a black and white issue; that there are many factors involved. But isn’t it true that we often do this, that we take away the opportunity for people to love on and encourage us?  By doing this, we are basically saying, “no” for them to the potential opportunity to be a good friend to us.

Let’s be gracious to each other when our own struggle is so intense that we have little to offer in the way of encouragement and “burden-bearing” to one another. But let’s also give each other the opportunity to be a good friend before dismissing or minimizing our own struggles and making the decision for them.

After all, shouldn’t we let our friends make that decision for themselves? Wouldn’t we want them to let us do the same?

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In case you’re wondering, this post is not an underhanded way for me to communicate with my friends about how they are screwing up in our friendship (because they’re not). I don’t tend to communicate things I should merely talk to them individually about via blog posts. Just fyi. 😉

On being brave

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” (Ambrose Redmoon)

Being brave (courage is a synonym of bravery) is something I’ve been thinking about quite a bit recently.

One reason behind this is that my kids have been getting a few more vaccinations lately to catch up on several specific vaccines series as we prepare to leave the country. Each time before we head to the doctor, we talk to the kids about being brave and that the shot will only hurt for a moment before it’s all over.

After one such appointment, Elijah sadly told me that he hadn’t been brave because he had cried while the shot was being administered. My heart sank. Had I somehow communicated that to cry was not synonymous with having courage? This was not what I had intended at all. As a result, both Shun-Luoi and I now often talk with the kids more in-depth about what it means to be brave. It doesn’t mean that you were not scared or didn’t cry in certain circumstances. It does means that, even if you were scared or uncertain, you did what you needed to do in those situations. Contrary to what my son thought, he had been brave.

This is often how I feel these days ...

This is often how I feel these days …
(photo credit: benipop via stoch.xchng)

Another reason behind my recent musings on courage is our upcoming move to Thailand, which we embark on in 2 weeks. More than one person has told me they think I am brave or that they could never be so brave as to do what we’re doing. Let me tell you, I don’t feel all that brave. While I have experienced great peace about this move and feel incredibly confident that this is the next thing God has for our family, there are definitely times where I experience fear, uncertainty, confusion, sadness, and tears. But, in the midst of those feelings and the unknowns of such a transition, I am still moving ahead and doing what needs to be done in order to move to Asia(!) By God’s grace, I am being brave. By God’s grace, I will continue to be brave.

Many of us tend to think that, if fear, sadness, or some of the other “negatively-viewed emotions” (I would argue they aren’t something we should get so freaked out about, but that’s for another post) are present, we somehow are failing at what we are supposed to be doing. There is a time and place to reflect on why we’re feeling such things and if there is something at the root of the emotion that needs to be addressed. However, when did we begin thinking we should be super-human and not have emotions? Such expectations are ridiculous and unbiblical in my opinion. This clearly relates to the topic of courage because experiencing uncertainty, fear, sadness, etc. in the midst of doing what you are supposed to do does not mean you aren’t brave. I would argue you aren’t brave only if you don’t do what you are supposed to do in a specific situation.

I love the above quote by Ambrose Redmoon. Although we might face some fear or other emotions that threaten to paralyze us, my son and I still do the things being asked of us. Why? Because we’ve decided that something else is more important than anything we might be feeling.

We might not feel brave, but we are.

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I’m guessing most of you also have areas of your life in which you’re having to be brave right now. Care to share about them or about your thoughts on courage in general?

New beginnings and all that comes with them

The last month has been crazy, to say the least. At the end of November, we decided to move into a smaller, furnished, temporary housing situation at the end of December. Because of this, the month of December included going through everything we own and selling/giving away/throwing away a lot of stuff. Throw in celebrating Abigail’s birthday, a weekend trip to Phoenix that for Abigail and me, and celebrating Christmas and New Year’s, and you have … well, I am still sane, but at some points I have wondered. Whew!

And so new things have begun for our family. We moved out of the home we had lived in longer than any one other place in our almost 6 years of marriage. We moved with our 2 small children and high-energy dog into a 500 square-foot cabin. We are making all of the preparations that need to be done in order to leave the country in March (Lord-willing). Leaving something old for something new is something I don’t always do that well. I realized this as I did the final walk-through of the house we had grown to love this past Tuesday. I am pretty sentimental and remember all of the great things about a place/event/etc. and then mourn the loss that comes with leaving it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. After all, we’re human and leaving or losing things that were special to us should evoke some sadness, in my opinion. However, I tend to stay camped out in that place of mourning and remembering rather than also looking ahead to the new thing(s) God is doing. I realized years ago that some people tend to live in the past, only remembering the “good old days,” while others seem to always be looking forward to the next thing/place, no matter where they are or what they are doing. A 3rd set of people tend to live for each day and don’t look back or forward. All 3 have some positives to them, but each also has its set of negatives. Is it really possible, then, to somehow do all 3? To be able to look back and remember, be present in the current things, and look forward with joy and anticipation at the things of the future?

As I walked through our former house, remembering the memories we made and the home it had become for my family, I sensed God challenging me to not only remember and mourn what I was losing, but to really look ahead with joy and anticipation at what He is going to do next in the lives of me and of my family. For someone (I may or may not be talking about myself) who can struggle with the unknowns that come with new things, this is not an easy thing. But wait, it gets even more interesting … I also don’t want to overlook these next 2-3 months before we leave. So, my goals for right now?

1. Remember what God has done in the past  – praise Him for it and mourn the losses that come with leaving (literally and figuratively) that particular place.
2. Fight to be present in the next 2-3 months and look for what God would have for me/us in our current set of circumstances.
3. Look forward to Thailand in anticipation of what He has for us there.

Sounds like a piece of cake to me! (or … not) By God’s grace, it is possible, even if done imperfectly.

On that note, Happy New Year! How do you approach the beginning of a new year? In general, how do you approach old things ending and new things beginning?

How to suffer well

Let me begin by assuring you that I am not claiming to have the corner market on suffering. While I have had specific struggles in my life, some being more intense than others, and some lasting longer than others, I realize that, in comparison to many, many people around the world, I really have no idea what true suffering is.

Despite this, we all suffer in some respects. We live in a world broken by sin and to pretend we are unaffected by it would be foolish. Jesus promises we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33). People get sick and die. Relationships become great sources of pain. Chronic pain sets in and never leaves. The list goes on and on. We all can name others who we have watched suffer through excruciating circumstances. We can also each think of times (maybe that’s right now for you) when we find ourselves in the midst of deep struggle.

Recently, I have been thinking about what it looks like to “struggle well.” If suffering is truly inevitable, as I believe it to be, then I figure I have several choices when it comes to my own personal struggle. I can a) throw myself a gigantic pity party, focus completely on myself, and get angry at God for allowing it while resenting those around me who are not struggling or … b) acknowledge the pain I am in the midst of, trust the God who I believe to be sovereign, loving, and caring about the minute details of my life, and figure out how to live selflessly in the midst of my pain.

I’ll be the first to admit that option “a” comes very easily to me. For the last 3 weeks, I have been struggling with chronic back pain. In general, I consider myself to have a fairly high pain tolerance; after all, I gave birth to 2 babies naturally and tend to not be fazed much by most illness or injuries I experience. But chronic pain? That is just a different beast … the constancy of it wears on me emotionally and mentally, therefore easily affecting my ability to cope and live the selfless, gracious, and God-honoring life I desire to. After the first few days of the pain when it did not subside, I became anxious and started focusing mostly on myself. I wanted to lay in bed on my heating pad and not do anything all day long. Now, for the record, Shun-Luoi has been more than gracious during this time and has definitely picked up a good deal of my slack for me. However, I was not immobilized by the pain and there was just no way I could decide to not carry out any of my responsibilities during this time. The fact that I was a mother showcased my extreme selfishness; my little ones had constant needs throughout the days and I didn’t want to meet their needs. I resented them for asking of me when I didn’t feel well. Me, me, me, blah, blah, blah.

Now, don’t get me wrong – if you’re struggling in some capacity, you shouldn’t ignore the fact that you are. If I would have been able to ignore my back pain, which I was unable to, it would not have negated the reality of the pain. I needed to figure out what was wrong and take steps to remedy the pain. There were times I did need Shun-Luoi to take over specific tasks that needed to be done. It was ok that I cried out of sheer frustration because I couldn’t catch a break from the pain. However, I also needed to figure out a way to suffer gracefully and continue living everyday life in the midst of  the pain that wasn’t going away. I needed to figure out steps to address the pain, but, even more than that, I needed to cry out to God for the grace, strength, and courage to do the daily tasks that I needed to do. Being in pain did not “let me off the hook” in terms of the way God calls me to live. It did not give me license to be selfish, resentful, angry, and impatient. The following are a few practical things I have learned about “suffering well” during my most recent struggle:

  1. Trust God. I know, I know – it sounds trite, but .. it’s true. Do I trust God and who He says He is; that He is loving and good, and that He will do things for His glory and my good? Or do I not? Will I demand to know why such and such is happening and to know how He will possibly use it for good or … will I put my hope in Him (vs. whether or not He will “explain Himself,” as if He somehow owes us that)? I’m by no means saying this is easy in everyday life, much less during times of intense struggle. I often have to ask the God to help me trust Him because I just cannot in my own strength.
  2. Pray that God would relieve your suffering. Do what you can practically to alleviate your suffering, if appropriate.  Sometimes, there are no practical ways to alleviate suffering and quite frankly, no action should be taken. Yes, yes – I realize that we are Americans and try to avoid pain and discomfort whenever possible (that’s totally unbiblical, by the way), but I do believe there are times we are supposed to “sit” in our struggle. Then there are the other specific times in which we can take practical steps, as in the case of my back. But in the cases when we can and should take practical steps and they don’t help, then what? See #1. Seriously. Again, what we truly believe about God will come to light and determine how we handle our struggles.
  3. Tell some trusted friends that you are struggling and need prayer and/or practical help. And just as importantly, let them help you!
  4. Do the things, if you are able to, that need to be done. Think of others. When I am in pain, it’s even easier than normal to think only of me, me, and … me. It’s embarrassing, really. A few weeks ago, my back pain woke me up in the middle of the night … I grew anxious about the pain, then about how I was going to be able to do what needed to be done that next day due to sleep deprivation, and on and on my mind raced. It was not helpful to dwell on the pain and how I was being affected. A week ago, the same thing happened and I was up  in pain for about 1.5 hours this time. God gave me the grace to do what I could in the way of stretching my back, etc., and then spend the time praying for others. He brought specific people to mind and, although I was uncomfortable, I spent the majority of that time praying for others. When I finally drifted back to sleep, my heart and my mind were at peace although the pain was still present. I had spent that time in prayer and thinking on God and on others. What a difference it made! Don’t be fooled, though – God is the one that made doing so possible. In the same vein, I grew in being able to focus on my kids, my husband, and what needed to be done at home … however, it was a fight at times to focus on others and I failed more than I would like to admit.

Interestingly, in the last few days as I have written this, my back has come to feel much, much better. For that I am grateful. However, I’m realizing the lessons I began learning during the times of chronic pain are invaluable and will only continue as I grow older and struggle again and again. Pain and struggle are inevitable. If that is indeed true, shouldn’t we learn to struggle “well?”

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What about you? What have you learned about what it means to “struggle well?” As always, I would love to hear your thoughts! 

Starting the day well

If we are facebook friends or if you have talked with me recently, you already know that I am trying to develop the habit of getting up earlier (before my kids, at the very least) each day. I’ve had some people ask me why I am trying to implement the new habit, so I thought I’d blog about it, both to explain the decision as well as to remind myself of why I am doing it.

Oh, and I’m also doing it because getting it out there to the blog world brings a certain kind of accountability. I mean, who wants to blog about a new habit only to, 3 days later, have to publicly admit that they were incredibly undisciplined and had given up already? (gulp) Not me.

I have heard countless women, many whom I highly respect, talk about how much they love getting up before their families each day. I liked their reasons for doing it, I really did. But, as I’m coming to find out, I’m very undisciplined (read – lazy) in many areas. As a result, I was apparently never convinced enough to follow through with such a feat more than one or two days, max, in a row. Until recently. As you may have read in this post, I have realized that in many ways, I have not been approaching motherhood as a ‘regular’ job and because of it (among other factors), I have been stressed, discouraged, and have lacked joy in the everyday life of being a mom and home-manager.

Well, I was recently part of a discussion where an older, wiser, woman was talking about habits that would help mothers be better moms. This woman talked about getting up early and then said to the group, “I know that most of you have small children, but …” I felt that she may have also wanted to say, “but, do it anyway!” although she did not. (Note: she did acknowledge that there are specific seasons in a mom’s life where getting up earlier than the family would not be as feasible.) She, in a sense,  was ‘getting in my face’ about it, although this was unbeknownst to her. This was so good for me – I needed someone to challenge me; telling me that I needed to do it anyway, even though I did not want to, because it would be worth it.

In addition, in this post from Joshua Becker at Becoming Minimalist , he briefly discusses getting up early as one of the “10 simple steps to make the most of every day.” He links to a particular article called, How to Become an Early Riser; one that has been more helpful than anything any other article I have read on the topic. I highly recommend reading it, along with reading Part 2 of the article and a related article, How to Get Up Right Away when Your Alarm Goes Off. It approaches the topic from a different angle than most discussions I’ve read before.

Ok, ok, I thought. I probably should try this. So, last week, I started – I did it 3 out of the 5 days from Monday to Friday, and each day I did it (including the weekends), I wished I had done it those days as well. Seriously  – the days I had gotten up earlier were so much better for various reasons. The following are some of them:

  • I am able to be proactive rather than reactive to my day from the beginning. This is one of the hugest benefits that I am seeing to this habit. I am up and have had some quiet time to think/pray/read my Bible/schedule my day/or just be before my kids are up and needed things from me.
  • I am not stressed or irritated when my kids wake up because I am already up and basically ready for the day. (Hey, we all know that days don’t begin well when you view your kids as an imposition the moment they wake up. Am I right or am I right?)
  • I am able to love and respond to my kids and husband better throughout the day due to not feeling like such a harried mom/wife who is always 2 steps behind (this also had to do with some additional structure that I am implementing to our days, but I’ll discuss that in a later post).
  • I have time to ask God to give me the right perspective of my day, of my kids, etc. before any of it is immediately in my face – that is invaluable.
  • I can submit my day to God – even though I have a rough plan of what the day will entail, I ask Him if there are different things I need to be doing.
  • I am able to run that random (or not so random) errand that needs to be done during the time when everyone else is still sleeping. This morning, I was at the grocery store by 6:30 am and back by 7:15 – as a result, I did not have to take the kids to the grocery store with me and we had decent food to eat for breakfast, and those are good things.

I wish I looked/felt this happy and fun-loving in the mornings, but … I don’t.

And those are just a few of the benefits I have seen so far as a result of this new habit I am trying to develop – it is totally worth it when I do it. And as I said before, I now totally regret it when I don’t get up early.

However, don’t get me wrong. It is a battle – every … single … morning. It’s not fun, nor is it automatic for me, although I hope one day it will be. I sometimes hit a wall by 4 pm, which is never a good time, although, I’m hoping this too will pass as I do it longer. But, I know it will be so worth it to continue – plus, it’s a good opportunity to become more disciplined in a specific area of my life.

And so tomorrow, when that alarm goes off and I desperately want to stay in my warm bed, I won’t. And, because of it, I will be one step closer to what I believe will be a life-changing habit for me.

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What about you – do you practice this habit? If so, what are some of the factors that helped you succeed in it becoming part of your daily routine? I would love to hear them!

My job review

Note: The following is not a commentary on whether or not one should be a stay-at-home mom or work outside the home. It is simply me sharing the journey I am on in the job I am currently called to as a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. 

I’m pretty sure if I was to have a job review of my current job, I would receive a decent amount of constructive criticism in areas that “need improvement.”

I’m talking about my job as a mom and homemaker. The thing is that I, in some respects, have never considered that as my “job.” I have considered them my “calling” or my “ministry,”which I believe they are, but … my job? Well, I probably considered being a mom a job, but not really the whole homemaking aspect of things. And really, isn’t it hard to think of those 2 things as jobs when they really don’t fit within the paradigm of any other job you’ve ever had?

And yet, I’ve come to realize, both motherhood and homemaking are currently my primary jobs. And while there are many ways in which I simply can’t view my current responsibilities through the same lens I would view other jobs, not viewing them as a job has been to my and my family’s detriment.

You see, lately I have been struggling with lack of joy in being a mom and keeping our home. I feel discouraged and harried often. I feel as though I’m always two steps behind and that I can never catch up. I have been praying about this, asking God to reveal what on earth is going on … is it because I have 2 young, very active kiddos? Are there some heart issues or mindsets that need to change? Do I need to structure my days differently than I have been (or haven’t been)? It’s very likely that I can answer ‘yes’ to all 3 of these questions, but the one God is choosing to address first is that of my mindset toward being a mom and homemaker.

Because I haven’t seriously viewed these roles as my job, I haven’t approached my responsibilities like they are job responsibilities. Recently however, I realized that if I acted the way I sometimes do within my current job in a job outside of the home, I would definitely get some poor marks on my review. The comments would probably include word such as, unorganized, unstructured, and undisciplined, to name a few. In my former jobs as a registered nurse, would I dare fly by the seat of my pants in my day-to-day responsibilities as I often do as a mom and homemaker? Would I decide not to do certain responsibilities because I just didn’t feel like it? Would I at times do the bare minimum just to “get by?” No (at least not most of the time)! I wouldn’t because, if I did, I would affect others, both my coworkers and patients, in harmful (and even fatal) ways. I would create a stressful atmosphere for all around me. I would, quite honestly, possibly get fired if I continued to work in such a manner.

So, why is it ok for me to approach my current job in a way I would never approach a job outside the home? (gulp)

It’s not. There’s just as much, if not more, at stake.

2 beautiful ‘parts’ of my daily job

And so I embark on some really big changes in my job; in mindset and heart attitudes, in organization, and in discipline. And it’s going to take awhile, because there are a lot of areas to work on, something that is not all that easy for a, “Oh, something needs to be changed? Let’s change it completely right now,” kind of girl like myself. But, by God’s grace, I will make small changes. And then more small changes. Oh, and I know I’ll fail and fall off the bandwagon at times.

However, I know it will be incredibly worth it … especially as I seek to raise my kids in a Godly manner and to create a home in which all who live here (including me), as well as others who come in, can rest and thrive. So, let the journey begin!

– Dawn, Mom and Home-manager

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