Sabbath

One thing I have been learning a lot about recently, but have always done very poorly, is Sabbath or rest. You can ask the husband, but I am consistently running myself to the end. I have routinely been caught saying that sleep is a waste of time.

And, as Westerners, we often glorify the busy. If you’re not busy, you must be lazy. But that’s just not true.

When God created the world, He didn’t rest on the 7th day because He was exhausted. He was still creating. On the 7th day, He created rest.

He started this pattern so that we would follow it, working hard and resting well. In fact, He’s so serious about it that He talks over and over about how He will punish the people and cast them out of they will not rest (as well as letting their laborers, land, and animals rest). It’s not a suggestion.

So this past Saturday, we took Him at His Word.

The down side is that I do not have pictures to show you because it was a purely unplugged day. No cameras, nothing. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was the best day I have had in ages.

Here was our checklist to prepare for Sabbath Saturday:

  1. Clean all the dishes and unload the dishwasher
  2. Have enough clothes washed, folded, and put away so there is no hustle to find clothes for everyone
  3. Pre-plan and prepare all foods in advance so the microwave is the only cooking implement allowed
  4. Buy paper goods so that you do not make any dishes
  5. Look through all of your reminders, phone calls, etc to make sure their are no chores, no business, and no “to dos” to attend to on Saturday.

And then came Friday. The day that we shall not speak of because it was so so terrible. One of my kids literally threw a tantrum every few minutes. Please do not think I am exaggerating here because, sadly, I am not. I was at my wits end when I got prepared to go to work that night and there were still so many chores left to do that I felt Sabbath was already ruined. I started feeling like, “What’s even the point in trying?”

My husband was home while I was working and planning to get a lot done, but the kids, again, had other plans. You see when there are three kids, if one is not crying, don’t worry because there is another that is happy to fill that void for you. The days can be magical fun times, but they can also be so frustrating you literally lock yourself in the bathroom for 2 minutes to just take a few deep breaths before rejoining the chaos.

After I got home about 11:45, we set to work together. I finished a cake I was working on while the husband did dishes and swept the floor (he’d done the laundry while I was at work, bless him). We did not get all the food made in advance despite our efforts because it was 1am by the time we got everything else ready and in place. We went to bed and I was still not at all sure if all this effort was worth it.

You see, I think sometimes when we are intentional to plug back into something God intended for our good, someone else gets scared. That other power that’s fighting for control of you, me, and this whole world is out there pushing back. He wants to tell you those lies that this is not worth the effort, he wants to frustrate you to a breaking point, he wants you to check out instead of plugging in, and he wants you to be so busy that life never stands still. But we have to say no to those lies.

Saturday morning came and our people slept until 8am. Yep. You read that right. I began the day thinking, “Oh look at my little angels who sleep late!” I think God stepped in there and gave me a win to start the day. Let me tell you the rules for our actual day:

  1. No phones – phones must be left in the bedroom on silent so that even the vibration of it cannot distract you from the present
  2. Together time – we will eat all together for ever meal, we will play altogether during awake time
  3. Calm – we will attempt to slow down the speed of our activities and choose calm activities over chaos (reading, swinging, walking, talking, coloring, drawing, play dough, kinetic sand, etc)
  4. Battles – this is a day you pick as few battles as possible, you do not want to let your kid run crazy but this is not the day we worry about matching clothes, wearing socks, combing hair, and even *gasp* brushing teeth, battles will only be picked over larger issues (hitting, kindness, etc)
  5. Bible – we are going to start the day focused on God

So we walked downstairs that moment and I calmly asked my older two kids if they wanted to help me make breakfast (we had at least planned all the meals even if we did not get them cooked – next time). The youngest wanted to stay upstairs and talk with his daddy. Look at that, we already broke a rule of togetherness, but it was in the name of peace and bonding, so we went with it. Also, waiting for breakfast is one of the hardest moments of the day for the youngest and in the name of picking battles, distraction was welcome. My older two were so excited that they both got to help, they didn’t even care what we were having. All five of us sat down for breakfast and talked about what we were thankful for, and what God has given us.

Can I just tell you what a breath of fresh air it was to throw my dishes away after breakfast? This is not our normal thing because we are working hard on getting rid of disposable things on the whole, but for once or twice a month this is going to be how we do it. We did have the pans from cooking, but I gave us a pass and just put them in the sink.

We took everyone upstairs to get dressed, but ended up staying in pajamas for a little while because they wanted to read. So we read and read and read. So many books! All five of us in one room, reading books. It was so calm and so fun, I cannot even describe it. Life for us is usually loud and high chaos, but not on this day. We read books for probably an hour before deciding it was time to get dressed. For lunch we had something fun planned…food trucks!

If you’re thinking that taking kids to a food truck park is super stressful, you are missing out! Most food truck parks have a playground and shade! Plus, each kid can literally pick from dozens of foods to get something they love without complaining. The kids had pizza, the husband had Mediterranean, and I had a craft burger. Win. We played on the swings, we walked around and looked at some vendors they had, and got plenty hot and sweaty. We broke another rule! We were not entirely calm during this bit in that we let them run a bit and dig in the dirt and climb on tires they had submerged in the ground, but we were together and we were having fun. Plus, I think after sitting for so long, it was good for them to burn some energy. Maybe we will adjust that rule.

We headed home and all three of my kids took a nap. Plus, the husband. He took a nap too. We attempted to read together, but we stayed up so late the night before and he does not do well on little sleep that Catch-22 just could not hold his focus. He fell asleep. I read Percy Jackson and The Olympians: Titan’s Curse and finished the book while he was sleeping.

Everyone slept so long that by the time they all woke up, we needed to start making dinner! I had my helpers in the kitchen with me again while the youngest sat nearby building with the husband. We sat together for dinner and had a lot of fun talking to each other. I love talking to my kids. It is in these un-rushed moments that they say some of the most hilarious things, ask the most serious questions, and tell me what is really on their hearts/minds. This slow down frees them up to think.

We did a little more playing with legos and reading books, but before you know it, it was sleep time.

We had one tantrum at bed time because the day had just been so good our middle one did not want it to end, but everyone slept in the end. The husband and I hung out for a little while talking before we decided to call it an early night too.

I went to bed Saturday feeling refreshed and thinking that, if this is how my family could be, this is how I always wanted it to work. Peaceful, loving, and together.

See You Outside.

The Quietest Day

So recently I had a birthday! And while I had an amazing party and so much fun having dinner with my husband, what I wanted more than anything (and my husband totally gave me) was one day all all alone. Camping all alone.

So I did it! I went out to Lake Livingston all by myself and camped. My friends thought I was legitimately crazy for going alone, but it was the best weekend I have had in ages.

For starters, I packed up all my stuff.

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Not only did I bring a water bottle, backpack, ground pad, etc but I also brought my laptop (fully charged – just enough for 1 movie), a ton of CD’s for the drive (early 2000’s alternative rock anyone??), a coloring book, and a TON of books to read. Who knows what I would be in the mood to read?

Now the one super un-campy thing that I did this weekend was…I didn’t cook at all. In fact, I didn’t even light a fire. My least favorite chore at home, that I consequently do every day multiple times a day, is dishes. I was feeling like if I had to do one more dish or prepare one more meal, I might EXPLODE. So, I didn’t. I bought a bag of egg rolls for dinner that first night – side note, cold and slightly limp egg rolls are not the best meal, but I digress. I had cereal, pop tarts, popcorn, granola bars, pouches (the baby vegetable and fruit ones), peanut butter filled pretzels, dairy-free chocolate chips, and some other snacks. No cooking for me. I WIN AT LIFE.

I did bring a tiny backpacking stove, matches, and a pot just in case I was in some sort of emergent situation where hot water was necessary. Or if an apocalypse happened and I would need to hunt for my own food as I walked the several days journey back toward home, hoping to find my family….I may read too many dystopian novels. Anyway.

Here is my beautiful campsite!

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Picture A from when I got there, picture B from after I went to the bathroom and had a snack. It’s crazy how fast the sun setting was changing the light thanks to all of those trees.

I got out my tent and set to work. I was a bit nervous that after all the times I have pitched a tent alone, but had someone nearby in case I had problems with wind or something, that doing this solo would somehow be a disaster. I’m not sure where this smidgen of nerves came from, but it was there. I was all prepared to write here and tell you how it was super hard, but hahaha let’s all laugh together at my expense because this is a funny anecdote. Good news, it was easy. No laughing required.

The only difficult came from Dante’s ninth circle of hell – mosquitoes. (Although realistically they would probably be from the fourth circle since they are so greedy.) The mosquitoes were so thick it was hard to see what I was doing. I was covered in bug spray thankfully, but quickly realized that I had not sprayed my entire back and they were biting me all over that section through my t-shirt. That just should not be a thing. Biting through my clothes feels over the line.

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Ta da! Look at that beautiful tent. I even managed to get inside with only one mosquito that promptly met its maker.

That night the only thing I did all night, and I mean all night, was read. I read the most thought provoking literature that only the highest minds would ever dare to attempt. Just kidding, I read Divergent. I really like that book and the second book, but I will not read the third book again. Spoilers: You just do not kill off your best character at the end! You just don’t! Injustice! #justicefortris should be trending on the same level as #justiceforbarb and #bobdeservedbetter. After I read the third book, my husband came home to find me lying on the floor with the book nearby. When he asked me what was wrong I was just like, “I hate everything right now!” I felt betrayed.

So I frequently reread the first book because it was so good, but will not go on because I do not want to relive the story line that led to that awful moment. I can’t even read the second book because it’s not complete enough for my brain to feel like it got closure!

So I read. First by light, then by lantern, and eventually by headlamp. Then, I promptly went to bed by 11. Did I mention I don’t usually get enough sleep? Yay, me.

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Okay I did read The Hobbit for a tiny bit, but Divergent was just calling my name.  Don’t worry though because I am reading The Hobbit now alongside the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series so all was not lost.

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Good news! Directly outside my tent, I had the most amazing view of the moon! Bad news, neither my phone camera nor my fancy new camera captured it well. I’m still super new to the fancy camera so I just could not get the adjustments quite right to capture it. You’ll have to settle for a phone pic. In fact, this entire blog is the phone pictures because I have not yet figured out how to get pictures from my fancy new camera onto my computer. I’m sure it’s not difficult, I’m just lacking motivation at the present. So…more pictures soon!

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Did you know that cameras do not like to take pictures through tent mesh? I did, but I took this one anyway. Good morning, world! I woke up around 8am (count those beautiful hours of sleep) on my own. As in my body decided it did not need more sleep and woke me up. No alarms, no children, no screaming, no car horns, no trash truck. Just me and the sounds of pleasant birds.

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Here is my book stack that I was staring at when I woke up. I was tempted to change books, but decided I wanted to finish the one I started. So I laid in my sleeping bag, read Divergent, and ate Pop Tarts and Oat Squares. Friends, I never buy Pop Tarts. I love them too much. I will eat them all and make myself sick. But this was vacation! Strawberry Pop Tarts with icing. Who even buys the ones without icing? If strawberry with icing is not your favorite, don’t even start with me. Those are fighting words. I don’t care how passionately you feel about brown sugar and cinnamon, I know the truth.

I literally read the entire book before thinking about what I should do for the day. It was amazing. I read a whole book in two sittings. Now I frequently read a whole book in a day or two, but it’s always in a thousand sittings. This was so awesome and kind of cathartic to take the book from beginning to end with almost no interruption. I had not done that since the Harry Potter books were coming out and I would read the new book all at once without sleep. Worth it.

After the book, I still was not ready to face the day. I had done a little walking around the day before just to get my steps in and I knew I wanted to explore today, but not yet. So what does a girl do?

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If you’re me, you watch Harry Potter. But, then again, if you’re me you are always thinking about Harry Potter. Things like, “What would you say if you got to meet Professor McGonagall?” and “How would you feel if you got sorted into Ravenclaw vs. Gryffindor?” or “How is it that some wizards seem to be able to do magic without their wand?”

So I got out my coloring book and watched Harry Potter. It’s my jam. Now I would like to tell you that I watched the whole thing and it was amazing blah blah blah, but, in fact, it got too hot in my tent for even my little fan to keep me cool. I stepped outside my tent and realized, it was cooler outside than inside my tent.

I went straight to the camp store because, in the frenzy of the night before, I had used all of my bug spray. I may have panicked a bit from all the mosquitoes and sprayed myself more than once. I grabbed some bug spray and a Sprite! It was cold too! Exactly what I needed after sweating in my tent. The day was gorgeous. People were swimming in the lake. There were kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, and rafts serenely drifting across the water as many families picnicked all around the perimeter. I walked around the lake with my nice camera taking photos, but in lots of places just enjoying it – no phone, no picture, no record. Just taking it all in. I am the only one that has a copy of that memory. It felt special. It also felt nice not to be recording every moment, but to just be enjoying it. It turns out that flowers are more beautiful when looking with your eyes and not through a lens. Who knew? Too many of us do not. I “hiked” through several trails and just enjoyed nature to its fullest.

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When I got tired of hiking and walking (my fitbit was so proud of me for getting in all my steps before 2 in the afternoon), I head back to camp and took everything down. You have to “check out” of your camp site by 2pm, but you are allowed to stay in the park until 10pm. It was just in time too because my loop that had been empty except for me had many occupants setting up for the day and it was feeling a bit crowded for my solo weekend.

I parked my car full of stuff at a day use area and put up my hammock. Guys, I love my hammock so much and I cannot believe I haven’t given it a name yet. I mean so many of my favorite things have names at this point, how has my trusty hammock gone without? I will be taking suggestions. So, I put up my hammock in a nice spot and finished watching my movie! The battery made it right to the end and then my computer shut off at the end of the movie, it felt almost poetic that it was timed so well.

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I read The Hobbit right up until it was time to head back. I was sad to leave, but I had stayed until the last possible moment. I was surprising the husband with a babysitter and plans to see Avengers: Infinity War that night after him watching the kiddos all weekend, letting me have such a special time. I got home in time to tuck everyone in, and have a fun date with the husband at Alamo Drafthouse.

It’s crazy how fast life returns to normal after a weekend like this. I spent the whole weekend feeling quiet, serene, and whole. Getting outside, getting closer to Creation, always makes me feel connected and complete. I prayed, I read, I watched a movie, I walked, I hiked, I sat. It was deeply peaceful. Getting back into the day to day felt…exhausting after such a relaxed pace.

But why does it have to feel this way? I don’t think it does. So, I have started getting up before the kids, exercising a bit, reading outside alone, listening to music, and just starting my day peacefully. It really changes the pace and feel of the whole day. I hope you find ways to slow down and be intentional about rest. Until later,

See You Outside!

Healthy Transitions

So recently I have been thinking about how I can make some healthier transitions in my life. I mean eating healthy or whatever has become incredibly subjective and I am very poorly doing my best, but I have been trying to find other ways I can make changes. I started buying free range eggs (someone help me convince the husband that I need chickens), hormone free meat, and two weeks ago I bought…healthy deodorant!

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It smells delightfully of Vanilla and Lemon, a combination I was not sure I would like, but has proved to be really lovely. I will say that the smell is not that pervasive which you could love or you could hate. I was hoping it would be a little more intense actually, but if you wear perfume or something, this would not be strong enough to overpower it.

It is not the most intense part of the summer yet, so I will be excited to see how it handles the Houston heat. So far, 80-90 degree heat and some humidity, and it is holding up really well! My two older kids actually told me I smelled nice the other day when we were at the park. I’m a little nervous that I may have smelled less amazing before this moment, but since you can’t make a case from silence…we will just assume that I smelled like magic rainbows and that they just enjoy the change in scent. That’s what I’m going to assume. Magic. Rainbows.

So, if you are looking for some small victories in the health department, this is a great investment! Next stop, reusable bags. I have reusable grocery bags, I just bought some reusable cotton rounds instead of using disposable cotton rounds, and am hoping to buy reusable bags for produce as my next stop.

I’ll let you know when the cotton rounds come in and I will let you know how it goes!

Until then…

See You Outside!