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Be Still and Know

Yesterday evening my church hosted a special service.  I knew the event would be good, but the timing wasn't.  By the time I arrived (nearly a half hour late) with my three kids in tow, we all felt frazzled.  I ushered the girls to their youth classes and then grabbed a seat in the back of the sanctuary, not convinced if my efforts to get there would be worth it.

The very first verse I heard the speaker share was this:
Be still and know that I am God.  (Psalm 46:10)
I had forgotten about this verse. (How appropriate in the face of all my rushing.)

God directly invites us into stillness as a way of knowing him.  He doesn't advise, "Get busy and know that I am God."  He doesn't say, "Overcommit and know that I am God" or "Burn yourself out and know that I am God."

Instead, he invites us to be still.

So there I sat in the back row, quieting my heart, subduing my racing mental to-do lists, and remembering how essential stillness is to connecting with God.

Sometimes we all need the reminder.

Be still.  Know that God is God.

Letting Kids Be Kids As Long As Possible

You can fast forward childhood. But you can't rewind it.
- Jon Acuff

This afternoon as I cooked dinner, our eleven-year-old neighbor knocked on our door and asked if my girls could play.  It's one of the first warm days of spring, and even though dinner was going to be ready in just a minute, I sent the kids outside.  They ran across the street in a pack, and I stood at our door a moment longer, listening to their banter and shouts as they bounced on the neighbor's trampoline.

Dinner could wait.

I've never taken for granted how my kids play with the neighbors.  For the past several years, most summer days they rotate from house to house: playing soccer in our back yard, jumping on a trampoline in the neighbor's, riding bikes up and down our hill, staging a game of hide and seek, and then cooling off in our kitchen by raiding our refrigerator for drinks and snacks, leaving a trail of cups and wrappers in their wake.

There's something organic about this.  It's wholesome and healthy.  Our door is open, kids are streaming through, and as a parent, it feels right.  The back-and-forth, screen-door-slamming has become part of how we function, just one of the rhythms of the neighborhood.  I can't help but think, "This is exactly how it should be."

But, to be honest, I don't know for how much longer this season will last.  At what point will the kids be too old to run across the street, knock on the door, and invite the neighbors out to play? 

At some point, the dynamics will change.  It's inevitable.  The kids will grow up and have more formalized demands on their time.  Instead of riding bikes, they'll be driving.  Instead of holding their once-a-summer neighborhood bake sale and lemonade stand, they'll hold part-time jobs.  The bonds of neighborhood friendship, born of convenience and shared experience, might not last forever -- not due to any trouble, but simply because life moves on.  New experiences will expand their horizons beyond their childhood street.

Yes, I know that one day -- likely in the not-so-distant future -- my dinner preparations won't be interrupted by the neighbor kids knocking on my door and asking my girls to play. 

I'm just glad that today isn't that day.

Make a Routine. Break a Routine.

We've done it.  We've reached the month of April.  Although I'm not sure why, each year this particular flip of the calendar page feels like a major accomplishment.  The start of April marks a break with the doldrums of winter.  (At least theoretically.  It still was 30 degrees this morning.)  April promises refreshers like forsythia blooms, and warmer temperatures, and the first garage sales signs being spotted around my community.  All good things.

But we're not quite there yet.  It's the cusp of spring, not yet the reality.  So here are two things I'm doing to hang in there until the evidence of spring catches up with my desire for it.

Make a Routine.  When my motivation is low, it helps if I have even just the modicum of a routine.  Each Sunday, I plan a weekly menu for the week so I'm armed with a plan and prepared with groceries.  Each Friday, I clean the house so I start the weekend living in a hospitable environment.  These minor routines -- running the dishwasher every night, emptying it every morning, doing at least one load of laundry per day, jotting down a daily to-do list -- help me keep my household and my professional life functioning. There's great peace when I know that the spokes aren't coming off the wheels. 

If I don't quite know what else to do, at least I can follow a routine.  Trudging is still forward progress.

Break a Routine.  Ironically, when my motivation is low, it also helps if I break even just the modicum of a routine.  I can drive a different way home, walk a different route across campus, or change up something -- anything! -- so life doesn't feel so predictable.  For example, when I needed to drop off a form off at my daughter's school the other afternoon, I took a 20 minute detour and stopped in a small boutique I've never visited during my 23-year tenure in this town. And you know what?  For that small window of time, I felt like a tourist.  The store had been there all along, yet it was new to me.

If I don't quite know what else to do, at least I can break a routine.   Novelty keeps things interesting.

Make a routine.  Break a routine.  Both will help.

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