Much About Doing Nothing

Much About Doing Nothing
Much About Doing Nothing

Summer was simple when I was a child. We had very little resources financially and an abundance of time. Summer days felt long and deliciously conducive to the lost art of thinking.

As a child, I have vivid memories of hanging off the edge of my bed, staring at the ceiling, and imagining a world of bare white floors with no furnishing. An upside-down world. I remember being so entertained by the silly thoughts that were filling my imagination. I have memories of writing “a cookbook” of what I believed to be the most delicious recipes in the world…for a seven year old. I read books and slept under a tree. My brother and I made forts, copied master works of art, and listened to books on tape. It wasn’t that we didn’t like television– there was just hardly need of it with all the creativity flowing about.

When did summer vacation become so complicated? When did summer begin to feel rushed, frantic, hurried, exhausting? When did we make summer about squeezing in as much entertainment, fun, and activities as the schedule could manage?

One of my boys said to me the other day, while fiddling with a Lego spaceship he was creating, “Mama, I love it when we get our chores done and just stay home and do nothing.”

By nothing, I’m sure he did not mean lining everyone up on a bench and sitting with their hands on their laps; doing nothing meant being unhurried, relaxed, and free to explore and create. He wasn’t asking to go to a movie, another water park, a summer program, or the store– he was just enjoying home.

We live in a culture that equates doing with learning, entertainment with engaging, and busyness with living. We know better– even if sometimes we forget.

There are so many opportunities for our little ones to be busy and entertained these days. While there are so many wonderful experiences our children can have through special events, activities, and programs, what our children often really need during summer break is just some time to BE. To think. To discover something about themselves in the midst of perceived boredom. To simply “do nothing.” And, frankly, mamas need the same.

Here are some ideas to get you started in DOING NOTHING today:

1. Send everyone in your family off with a notebook and pencil for 30 minutes. No talking. Write or draw. Create a topic or make it freeform, but enjoy time alone before coming together and sharing what each came up with.

2. Try doing a family digital media fast. No TV, video games, ipods/ipads or computer for a week (or even a day!). And see how much fun kids can have when they think they are bored.

3. Let your kids create snacks or plan a meal with just what’s available in the house.

4. Sit on the couch and listen to classical music on Pandora.

5. Have a conversation with your kids over afternoon tea.

6. Get down on the ground to read a book or play a game. (It’s so much more intimate and less distracting.)

7. Do a back rub line, moving each person at the front of the line to the back after a few minutes, until you go through the line. (Why? Because everyone loves a back rub and fun conversations form when serving one another.)

8. Sit and look out a window, and pretend to read a book.

9. Write a letter.

10. Do nothing.

What are your favorite ways to “do nothing?”

The Marathon Of Motherhood and Why I Get Tripped Up

I muttered these words under my breath all day yesterday:

“Oh, if I have to clean up one more spill!”
“Why doesn’t anyone ever put things back where they belong?”
“Please just stop talking…”
“I can’t do this.”
“If only…”
“I just want to get something done today.”

That was the mother I was yesterday. I was tired, I was anxious, I was looking to my to-do list and not to Christ’s to-BE list. Have I forgotten everything I learned about my true identity in Christ? Have I so quickly forgotten that I do not need to have everything go my way to have peace today? That a clean home is not my shelter and orderly children don’t earn me anything that the blood of Christ hasn’t already provided for? That the thing standing in my way to happiness today is ultimately my expectations wrapped up in sinful pride.

When I have a day like yesterday, it serves to remember that motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint. Dirt and dust, accidents, crying, messy diapers, and dishes will not cease at the end of the day. We so often act like we can overcome these inconveniences of daily living in one fell swoop…like it is somehow possible to so accurately manage the unpleasantries of working in the home that we might never have to tackle those things again. It’s not how efficiently you get it all done today, it’s how well you run the race to the finish.

Marathon of Motherhood And Why I Get Tripped Up |

The reality is: What we might perceive as unpleasant, inconvenient, and exhausting tasks of motherhood, actually serve to accurately reveal what we desperately rely on for comfort. We depend on those comforts, hoping that we might not need to look elsewhere, or to anyone else, for sustenance. We often live like we want to run our own race, according to our own rules, for our own glory.

We rebel against humility, weakness, lowliness, and dependence upon our Master…and try (and fail miserably) to fulfill ourselves through meager means of control and striving. And Jesus woos our rebel’s heart by allowing our efforts to come up short and our attempts at satisfying ourselves to feel empty. Instead, he fills the void with what we cannot muster up for ourselves: patience, joy, forgiveness, wisdom, humility, righteousness…an eternal perspective…all of which I desperately needed yesterday.

Jesus bled for those muttered words of discontent. He redeemed this mother who fails, who wrestles, who isn’t a naturally good mother. (Who is?!)

His mercies are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness, Lord...Today will be unlike yesterday, by your grace, and for your glory…as I submit to the marathon of motherhood. I hope you’ll join me today.


Expectations: Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus

Expectations: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus |

Yesterday was a bit of a disaster. It was the kind of day that made me think I believed in putting my kids in front of TV for hours and hours. It was the kind of day that made me frustrated to have five noisy boys who play loud and argue louder. It was the kind of day that started with good intentions and ended with much repentance.

I could blame it on the kitchen remodel. Because yes, it is still total chaos around here. I could blame it on the first day of Christmas break. Doesn’t it seem like first day of break is always a bit weird? I could blame it on the pressure of being completely behind and unprepared for Christmas. Nope, not one present wrapped under the tree. I could blame it on the pregnancy hormones. Is it normal that I’m responding to stress with crying and nausea? I could blame it on all this…

…but ultimately, the remodel-the-boys-the-hormones-the-holidays didn’t make me have a defeating day. My expectations did.

I wanted a clean house.
I wanted cooperative children that wanted a clean house.
I wanted Christmas music playing, instead of yelling while we cleaned the house.
Do you see a theme here?
I wanted a clean house for comfort, for normalcy, for some sense of readiness for the warm, joyous occasion that is Christmas.

I’m not the only one who had expectations. Troy expected to make greater progress on wood flooring and cabinet painting. The boys expected ease. And, well, you know what my expectations were. You never realize that an expectation has become an idol until you’ve made sinful attitude choices in response to your unmet expectations.

And as the man of the house confessed his lack of patience to the boys at dinner, I looked around and realized: The first Christmas happened in a dirty stable. There were no glittering lights and scented candles. Baby Jesus was not born into the welcome of warm cookies and freshly wrapped presents. He was born to weary, but expectant hearts. He was born to trusting, obedient parents. He was born into a world in need of a full renovation.

Those who waited for Jesus’ arrival with expectancy for their own agenda were disappointed. Only the hearts that were expectant for His plan, His promise, His provision found rest and rejoicing.

I tell the boys at bedtime that we will try again tomorrow. We will try with expectant hearts…not expectant for our own selfish desires for comfort and happiness, but expectant for His.

Have a blessed weekend friends, setting your hearts in expectation of Him.


Twenty Thousand of My Own

May I grow in grace:

He who grows in grace remembers that he is but dust, and he therefore does not expect his fellow Christians to be anything more. He overlooks ten thousand of their faults, because he knows his God overlooks twenty thousand in his own case. He does not expect perfection in the creature, and, therefore, he is not disappointed when he does not find it.

Charles Spurgeon, from his sermon, “Ripe Fruit”