My sisterdoesn’t decorate her walls. She has maybe a picture or two up; probably gifts she feels obligated to display. I make fun of her (in jest). I threaten to sneak in and decorate while she’s sleeping. A shelf here, a photo collage there…I could make her blank white walls something beautiful.
But she resists. And I’m finally beginning to understand why.
Our world is noisy.
Recently it clicked with me that the noisiest parts of life usually don’t make a sound.
– all those digital photos you’ve been meaning to do something with.
Not only are our ears flooded with stimuli all day long (people, tv, music, podcasts), our eyes are flooded too. I read once about a woman who removes all the labels from products she buys in order to cut down on visual noise and have fewer surroundings screaming for her attention. I laughed at the time, but now I understand.
And now I understand my sister. (Well, sort of. 😉)
While carefully chosen items on the wall are soothing and inspiring to me, they are simply visual noise to her. She has wisely chosen to curate her home to inspire calm and simplicity in an otherwise chaotic world.
Our faith can be much the same.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in the details of Christianity and start running ourselves in circles, spiritually. When, really, we simply need to remember to:
“Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10
In what ways can you be intentional about the noise in your life? What can you tweak in order to cut down on the bombardment, whether it’s audible, visual, or spiritual? Maybe it’s time to undecorate your walls and enjoy the simplicity of your surroundings—physically and spiritually.
Leave me a comment to let me know your thoughts, and feel free to add how I can pray for you today! And if you haven’t already, scroll on down (or over) to sign up for my monthly newsletter and receive a free Parent’s Prayer Guide because I appreciate you! God bless!
“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
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.
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… 😉
Obligations and traditions abound this time of year. There are parties and gatherings galore. Trust me, I understand the struggle! But before you let the holidays overwhelm you:
Consider these eight tips for retaining your sanity in the middle of all the holiday hubbub.
Follow these tips to optimize your enjoyment of the season and ensure that you have time to focus on the most important part—celebrating the gift of Jesus.
Get the most important things on your calendar NOW. This includes your main get-togethers, any special holiday choirs or performances that you want to attend, etc.
Make a budget for gifts and use cash. When you run out of cash, you’re out. That’ll make you think twice before getting that second gift for your mom just because “it’s sooo cute!”
Discuss price limits with family and friends now. Just because so-and-so always spends $50 per person doesn’t mean you should. Propose something new—maybe a five or ten dollar limit. (And don’t underestimate Dollar Tree…they’ve got some good stuff, people.) Or if you’re the crafty type, propose only homemade items (cookie mixes in jars are always winners).
Just say no. If you’re like me, you can’t be at every holiday function without stressing yourself out. Don’t feel bad declining invitations. If you need to, put “rest” on your calendar and then when people ask if you’re free, say, “I’m sorry, I’ve already got something on my calendar that evening!”
Eat as healthily as you can. This is an easy one to let slide, but honestly—we just feel better when we eat better! Give yourself an advantage by drinking lots of water and eating your vegetables. You’ll minimize those pesky stress headaches and feel even better about your choices when you do occasionally indulge in holiday foods.
Remember, everyone has different thresholds for busyness. Respect yours and respect others’. They may or may not do the same for you, but at least you can do your part to be aware of your needs before you’re completely frazzled.
Simplify where you can. Yes, I know some traditions call for going all out. But cut corners where you can. This is the perfect time of year to spend a little extra (if you can) on convenience foods…prechopped onions for example. Or do what my mom has been doing for years—roast the turkey a day ahead, carve it and put it in a dish with a little broth and covered in foil, then warm it in the oven before you serve it. No huge mess right before dinner!
Reject chaos. Cut back enough to find peace and JOY in Jesus this holiday season.
Let JOY be our goal.
Let JESUS be our guide.
And let common sense and boundaries prevent us from engaging in the chaos that threatens to steal our holidays. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas!
Feel free to drop me a comment—let me know your thoughts or let me know YOUR favorite time/sanity saving tip around the holidays! And don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t yet so you can get the latest posts delivered straight to your inbox! Thanks for reading!!