Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Start At Home // Rhythms and Routines

"His kingdom comes in the way we celebrate the shelter we make of our homes, the joy we put into what we cook and eat and create, our willingness to welcome strangers into our midst.  As the Holy Spirit fills us, our families and friendships and the particular physical spaces of our lives become the spaces where Christ is born again and again - growing, ordering, renewing, healing."

-Sally Clarkson, The Life Giving Home

It's February.  We've made it through the first long leg of winter and will soon start seeing signs of growth and the hope that lies in spring.  Already the days are getting longer, the sun seems to shine closer and warmer, and I noticed little buds on our pear tree are already pushing through.  I wore my sunglasses yesterday, sang along to Cleopatra in my car, and felt the sun on my face.  I love the changing of seasons, reminders that although God's creation is always changing, there is comfort in the rhythms of familiar seasons to prepare and look forward to.

I spent the month of January reflecting a lot on the rhythms within our home.  While I've always been a planner at heart, a believer that the greater care I take with planning my days, the more productive I will be, I felt called this month to evaluate my use of time - that is, the things that often filled up spaces on my planner and worse yet, the things that were sucking up time and distracting me from more important things.  I started identifying the major places my attention was directed throughout my days and reflected on ways our time at home could better reflect the kind of life God calls us to live.  Instead of always looking to the next thing that needs to be done, I wanted to be mindful of recognizing the space in the present as places to invite God in instead of keeping Him in the distance.  The more I could plan for rhythms that would allow me to focus on the beauty of the present, and create space for Him - the more I can as Sally Clarkson says, "make our home a small cosmos of God's Kingdom, one more outpost of eternity right in the midst of time."  When I start to think this way, everything in my day changes.  The whistle of my tea kettle makes me smile, and a teaspoon of loose leaf tea in a pretty mug becomes a work of art.  Every day becomes a new opportunity to bring God's kingdom to earth, and everything, and everyone, becomes significant.  

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.    

Early in my Anchored Press Devotional, I read a scripture passage from Deuteronomy (26:2) that resonated with me so much.  It was about giving God your firstfruitsBack in the Old Testament, firstfruits were offerings of the first and best crops the Israelites gave to God.  And while I don't grow crops to give as offerings, I knew I could do a better job of giving him something I may prize as equally valuable as those farmers felt about their crops.  I could give God my time.  Not my leftovers at the end of the day, but my best time.  

I started setting my alarm a half hour earlier than normal (5:00 for me).  I make a cup of coffee, turn on a lamp in the office, sometimes light a candle, and spend a half hour in God's wordI started with a devotional at the beginning of the year, but am now diving head first into the charge of reading the entire Bible in a year, thanks to Katie and a weekly 6:00 a.m. coffee and pancakes date to keep us connected and accountable to one another.  I have never read the Bible in its entirety and am nervous and excited about this potential. 

I have found that giving God my firstfruits impacts the rest of my day in such positive ways.  I have seen over and over that the days I start this way, He gives back tenfold.  My attitude changes, He opens my eyes to the world beyond myself, and I depend on Him through the rest of my day.  As Teresa Anderson says, "He loves me back to life."               

After work, I try and sneak in a little time with my book before our evening routine starts, and have found that this sets a more relaxed, positive tone for the rest of our night, and models a routine I would love Cruz and Mila to grow up valuing.  And then after the kids go to bed, the night is mine to work on my blog, create a few pages of the kids' Shutterfly books, watch Fixer Upper, or have a date night with Beau.  Or, clean up the kitchen, fall into bed, read two pages of my book before wiping the drool off the cover. :) 

Some weeks, these routines flow like a steady stream of water, and other weeks, well, the pipes just burst.  If you saw my house right now, you'd probably think that my firstfruits should include emptying the sink and tackling Mt. Laundry, but I've found peace in the fact that if every week unfolded seamlessly, we wouldn't need God's graceFor when we realize our weakness, that is when He is made strong.  But with His grace, some intentional planning to give him our firstfruits, and a lot of good strong coffee, I can see Him shape my days and fill them with a different kind of meaning.
"So plan your days, allow flexibility, and keep moving in the direction of your ideals a little at a time.  I believe you'll see that your intentional investment of time will promote valuable habits in the lives of all those who share your home - you included."     

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