Tag Archives: Jessie Mattis

Present in the Chaos

You guys. I can’t believe how much gift wrapping I have left to do before Christmas. Every year I tell myself I’ll have it all done by mid-month so I can just relax and enjoy the downtime before Christmas with my family. Maybe even read a book (gasp). But every year, I just don’t seem to pull it off.

I’m guessing I’m not alone. (Maybe I should be breathing a sigh of relief that I’m at least done with my shopping?) And here we are again, wanting to relish in the season but finding ourselves too busy. Maybe you aren’t physically busy; maybe you’re mentally busy. It amounts to the same thing, doesn’t it? Separation from the people or things we’d rather be able to focus on.

I’m not here to give you Three Magic Ways to Stop Being Busy, although I wish I could. Instead, I’m here to encourage us (yes, myself included) to embrace life right here, right now, no matter how messy, busy, or complicated life might be.

Be present in the chaos.

When just the very top of your to-do list looks like this…

  1. Make cookies for event
  2. Fill out Christmas cards
  3. Finish Christmas shopping
  4.  Spend time with Jesus
  5. Wrap gifts
  6. Play with my kids and/or spend time with friends

…please don’t be planning your Christmas shopping list in your mind while you’re playing with your kids. Be present.

Please don’t be worrying about the Christmas meal plan while you’re spending time with Jesus. Be present.

Please don’t be worrying about (fill in the blank) while you’re filling out cards. Be present.

People have been taking pride in multi-tasking for far too long. I admit, sometimes it’s a necessary evil, but I also realize how soul-sucking it can become. When we multi-task, nothing ever feels done. Our minds are always working on the next task, which means our souls never get a chance to rest and breathe before we move on to the next task or thought.

Be present in the moment, whether you’re spending time with loved ones, cooking, cleaning, or praying. Let yourself fully experience the moment, tell yourself it’s okay to just do one thing at a time, and see if just a little bit of that holiday stress doesn’t melt away.

There’s a quote by Dallas Willard that I just love (which is answering the question of how to be spiritually healthy).

“Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

That’s it. Short. Sweet. Magical.

Whether our hurry is physical or mental, it’s exhausting and is distracting us from God’s full purpose for our lives. Honestly, I ebb and flow in this area of life, but when I’m truly intentional to eliminate hurry and be present in each moment, the peace that it brings is indescribable, and so, so worth it.

 Eliminate the hurry and see what God has in store for you. Be present in each moment, and I’m positive you won’t regret it. You just may end up with enough space in your life, mind, and heart to fully celebrate God coming to earth as a baby in order to begin carrying out his rescue plan for humankind.

Thank you, God, for loving us enough to come to earth in the form of Jesus in order to show us your love in person, reach, and rescue us. Thank you that we can trust your plans for our lives. May we honor and glorify you this season by offering you our hearts, minds, and time. Let us slow down, be present, and embrace each moment as the gift that it is. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.

Leave me a comment to share your thoughts and your best tips for slowing down when life is busy! And, if you haven’t already, pop on over to the sidebar (or the bottom of your phone) and sign up to receive blog posts and writer updates straight to your email! When you do, you’ll receive a thank-you gift of a printable list of my top ten favorite inspirational quotes and verses! Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by! Oh, and – shameless plug – if you’re struggling to come up with gift ideas for the kids in your life, check out these books: Under the Dancing Tree by Chip Mattis or Power Up by Jessie Mattis! 🙂 With the magic of Amazon Prime, you still have time!

(One last thing – I just reread my Thanksgiving post and truly had no idea this post was about basically the same thing. Guess we all know time management is my big struggle these days, don’t we?? Haha!)

The Great Thanksgiving Week Struggle

“The moment you wake up each morning, all your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists of shoving it all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other, larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.” — CS Lewis

It’s already Thanksgiving week, you guys! Every year I think to myself, This year I’m going to plan ahead and have a relaxed week of enjoying my family and being thankful.

And every year ends up more like, Okay, I need to sort my coupons, make my grocery list – when am I going to get groceries again? Today I need to blah blah blah and tomorrow I need to blah blah blah and on Wednesday I definitely HAVE to blah blah blah, and I don’t want to forget about spending time with the kids and, oh yeah, spending time with GOD. And somewhere in there I should probably try to be deliberately thankful.

I hope I’m alone in this Great Thanksgiving Week Struggle. I hope beyond hope you guys have it all figured out and are having an absolutely organized, peaceful, thanks-filled week. If you are, stop reading and go sip some tea by the fireplace while I speak to the rest of us (yes, myself included). You’ve earned it.

I’m definitely living the above CS Lewis quote lately, and I’m guessing you are too. We all have our things. Our stuff. Our busyness that piles up even when we deliberately attempt to control our busy.

And you, like me, may even be attempting to shove it all back in the morning to gain focus before the day slams into us. But you, like me, may be failing.

Image by hudsoncrafted from Pixabay

It’s time for us to do two things: take control and give up our control. Hmm, quite the paradox, eh? Sound impossible? Stick with me.

1. TAKE CONTROL. This is the part where we own up to how we’re handling life. This is where we ruthlessly cut out the busyness that isn’t an emphatic yes. And I’m not just talking physical busyness; this includes mental busyness. Yep, I said it.

It’s simple enough (or so it seems) to look at our schedules and cut activities until it fits the hours in our day in a healthy way—if you haven’t done this yet, please stop and do it now.

It’s not so simple to eliminate the busyness in our minds. But it must be done. First of all, let’s stop gorging on information. I’m the worst at this. Suddenly, at 11pm, I’ll need to know who played Phoebe’s boyfriend Gary on Friends in season 5 (Michael Rapaport by the way). Or I’ll suddenly need to find the best gluten free scone recipe and thirty minutes will speed by while I’m comparing reviews. And inevitably, as I search for a specific answer, a new question comes to mind that must be answered before I can sleep. In order to simplify our minds and therefore our lives, we have to stop feeding ourselves buckets of information.

That podcast you listen to every morning on the way to work? Try turning the radio off and giving your mind permission to form its own thoughts, memories, and ideas. The things you think you need to Google before bed? Make a list and tell yourself you can do it tomorrow. You probably won’t still care when you wake up and see your list. Rabbit trail averted.

To sum up number one: reduce the physical and mental busyness as much as is in your power.

2. GIVE UP YOUR CONTROL. And this is where we can exhale. You see, some things in life are just going to happen. It doesn’t matter what we think about it or how hard we try to simplify, so there’s no use getting caught up in stress. Sometimes we will find ourselves with lots on our minds and lots on our plates. If we give each thing to God as we’re doing it, we can at least experience a supernatural partnership and peace as we go about our days.

Sometimes a slower pace is in our hands, and we still need to give each moment to God, making ourselves available for his service and making our ears available to hear his encouragement and instruction.

My prayer for you (and me!) is that we can do better than “get through” the Great Thanksgiving Week Struggle of trying to get everything done. My prayer is that, even in our busyness, we can calm our hearts and minds (and hopefully schedules) enough to cultivate thankfulness and peace. Let’s not give our days the power over us. Let’s be deliberate to give our days to God.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving, everyone! Let’s find joy in being thankful this week. 🙂

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” — 1 Chronicles 16:34

Quick update: Thanks for sticking with me this year, friends! It’s been a huge learning opportunity figuring out how to market a book and balance writing with the rest of life, but I’m (mostly) loving it. I just finished the rough draft of my first women’s fiction novel. Woot woot! I tucked it away for a few weeks before I begin edits, but I’m definitely chomping at the bit — I want to get started so badly, but I know it will be best all around for me to wait so I can embrace the holidays without being (as) distracted, and it will also give me fresh perspective to get the manuscript prepared for eyes that aren’t mine. It might be awhile, but I’m excited about this one. And don’t forget about Power Up when you’re planning stocking stuffers this year… 😉

How Much is Enough?

God helps those who help themselves, they say. Just believe and God will provide, they say.

I serve God by being a classroom parent for my eight-year-old, a children’s church worker, on the worship team, the PTA, and running my own business while chasing after my toddler, they say. I serve God by going to church, working, and living a quiet life, they say.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, I think the question we answer with how we live our lives is: How much is enough for God? Maybe we didn’t even know there was a question, let alone that we were answering it by the way we live our lives. But we are.

Is it okay, I ask, as I currently feel like my ministry is writing, though I could be serving more actively in my local church. Is it okay, asks the person who loves serving in multiple ways, and filling their evenings with meetings and events. Is it okay, asks the person who prefers quiet evenings at home, but is secretly a prayer warrior in the night.

Is it enough?

Am I enough?

As Christ-followers, we strive to please our King. We want to know we’re living our lives to please and serve him.

There’s no doubt that every single person we ask would have their own opinions on how we should best live our lives. We get overwhelmed by what others expect, think, or want from us. We insert artificial expectations (from ourselves, others, or God) into our lives and claim them as fact.

How in the world are we supposed to live up the expectations of ourselves, others, and God? How are we supposed to figure out the best things to pour our energies into without leaving ourselves worn and dry?

This is how:

1. Listen to God, above all else. There will always be other voices making suggestions or even demands for our time. Ask God to speak, and he will. Ask him to help you prioritize your life and he will. Yes, he speaks through the Bible, but it doesn’t end there. Quiet yourself and listen for words, impressions, or pictures that God might want to share with you.

2. Guard your joy and peace. Joy is deeper than happiness. It’s something that comes only from God and it can remain even in seasons of sadness. If our lives are so busy or our priorities are out of whack, our joy and peace suffers, plain and simple. If you’re having trouble reclaiming the joy and peace you know should be yours in Christ, I encourage you to step back. Make the space to reconnect with God and his goodness, even if that means saying “no” to things or even disappointing people. Once your relationship with God is rekindled, keep going wherever he directs.

3. Close your ears to people’s expectations. Sure, there are many trustworthy, well-meaning people who only want to help, but if their words begin leading you into a place of stress and uncertainty, hold your horses and take it straight to God. There are times when the people you’re closest to won’t understand what God is doing. They might think you’ve lost your mind. It’s then when it’s most important to cling to God and the truth he speaks. His opinion is all that matters.

We are each blessed to have different personalities, as well as different thresholds for service, people, activities, and ministries. Serving God wholeheartedly is going to look entirely different for one person than it does for another. That’s okay.

Our differences are by God’s design. As long as we seek him, aim to please him, and follow where he guides, we are enough. No matter what that looks like as it plays out in your life.

You are enough. Because God is enough.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.  – 1 John 3:1 (NLT)

Happy November and have a blessed weekend! Thanks for dropping by!

(Quick reminder – Power Up, the ebook, is on sale for $0.99 through 11/2/19! It’s a great tool for demonstrating to kids what it looks like to have BIG FAITH in everyday life. Get it or gift it at this price before it jumps back to full price!)

Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus

I recently wrote a blog post for an online women’s event called “With Purpose,” which was put together by an inspiring Christian blogger named Lo Tanner (at lotanner.com). My post, which I’ll link to in a second, targets moms (women’s event and all) but it’s completely relevant to dads too.

As Christian parents, our biggest job is to raise children who love Jesus. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but if we keep focused and trust God’s guidance, we can do our best to raise our kids to follow Jesus.

Disclaimer — my oldest is currently eleven, so I’m not claiming to have this all figured out by any means. (Does anyone ever? I want to read their blog post, if so!) So far, so good. 😉

Also, if you read to the bottom of the post that I’m about to link you to, you can enter to win a signed paperback copy of my inspirational novel, Power Up — do it now before you forget; the winner will be chosen on 11/6! 🙂

Here’s the link: Raising Kids Who Follow Jesus. I hope you leave inspired and encouraged! Thanks for joining me today!

Finding a Homeschool Rhythm…or Lack Thereof

It’s officially my seventh year teaching my children at home, and I confess: I can’t seem to find a good rhythm this year. I know, *gasp!*

If you’re Supermom and have never had trouble balancing your homeschool schedule, you’re going to want to stop reading now. Put down your phone, go to your sparkling clean kitchen and make yourself a hot beverage. Then sit down and put your feet up so your brilliant children can give you a foot rub. You deserve to celebrate your elusive-to-every-other-homeschool-parent-on-the-planet accomplishment.

If, however, you or someone you know resonates with my struggle to balance the teaching with the running around and living life, stick with me for a few. Hopefully you’ll leave encouraged.

As homeschool parents, we spend hours planning, imagining, and preparing our school year. Our glorious summer break comes to a close, fall semester begins, and we implement our perfectly crafted daily schedule. But a few days later… Dentist appointments. Playdates. Preparing for a garage sale. Co-op. Dance class. Ninja class. Day trips to visit out-of-town relatives.

All wonderful things, to be sure! But all things that disrupt the daily flow, am I right?

(Let me interrupt myself for a second to say this. Many of us need to say “no” more often. We need to prayerfully reduce the number of activities on our calendars and set healthier boundaries for our days. This problem of over-scheduling is real, but it’s not what I’m talking about today. Today I’m talking about balancing what’s left in our lives when we’re already being deliberate with our “yes’s.”)

So far, it’s one of those years when I tell myself, “I’ll get into a rhythm next week, after…” And then next week inevitably comes along with the same mantra.

I have a few choices at this point. I can:

1. Cancel all outside obligations in order to have a perfect rhythm to our school days.

2. Do school well into the evening on our busy days, no doubt leaving the kids grumpy and their mom (ahem) grumpier.

3. Embrace the freedom homeschooling allows, utilizing our intended school schedule as much as we can, prioritizing math and language on our busy days, and emphasizing life learning in between.

I choose sanity. I choose option three.

If you’re smothering yourself with guilt because your six-year-old hasn’t done science all week as you’ve been potty-training your toddler, let me be blunt: It’s going to be okay. Chances are, your kiddo watched a PBS show that taught him all about lightening bugs and now he knows more than you ever know about them. He may even be throwing around the word “bioluminescence” like a pro, while you’re busting out your smartphone to google it. (This example may or may not be based on a true story. Also, thank you Wild Kratts.)

My point is this. Children, especially in the grade school years, are always learning. They pick things up and remember them like nobody’s business. Which makes your job so much easier. Live life, have conversations about what you see and do along the way. Talk about caring for others, teach them to show empathy, teach them the importance of hard work and the value and blessing of learning.

Go to that dentist appointment without guilt. Discuss what you see, what the dentist is doing, and why. Discuss the plight of the homeless man on the street corner and our role in helping spread the love of Jesus to others. Go to the library and read a book about teeth. But don’t feel guilty if you don’t!

Book learning is important, and I’m not at all advocating dropping it; I’m simply suggesting we need not tie ourselves and our definitions of a successful homeschool year to how many chapters we’ve covered or if we made it through the entire book by the end of May. Give yourself some grace to move a bit more freely with your days. Trust me, your children will thank you because you’ll be less stressed overall and they won’t be doing math drills at bedtime.

Structure is a good thing, and it’s important for children to know what to expect, so a changing weekly calendar that helps them know what to expect from their days may help when your weekly activities vary. Consistency is great, but the ability to roll with the flow is necessary too.

This past Saturday we had a garage sale/bake sale, which was my 11-year-old daughter’s idea to raise money for a worthy charity. (How do you say no to that?!) The week leading up to it was full of sorting, pricing, and baking. During that entire week my children formally did math four days, science three, language arts twice, and then we had lots of life lessons on organizing an event, baking, and money handling. I call it a successful week.

Give yourself the freedom to call messy weeks a success. Accept the grace God is offering you and be released from the guilt of not having perfect-looking weeks. I’m beginning to think those are a myth anyway…sort of like the Supermom I referenced above.

Dear Lord, I pray you would bless this dear reader with a calm, peaceful heart. Reassure her/him when they feel inadequate, and help them embrace and make the most of messy-looking weeks. When patience is thin and emotions are high, I pray for wisdom and the strength to lead their children well. Thank you for the opportunity to teach our children at home. Give us eyes to see our children as you see them, and may we be a blessing in their lives, leading them ever closer to you. Amen.

Note:  If you or a parent you know is stretched thin and you want to prioritize your grade-schooler’s spiritual development, but just don’t have the brain space, I encourage you to check out my novel, Power Up. You can simply hand it to your child and let it lighten your load by giving your child real spiritual truths to think about while it entertains!