Tag Archives: under the dancing tree

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!)

Calm in the Chaos

I don’t like chaos. It’s something I guard against. I don’t like to be around large groups of people very often or very long. If my kids get wound up, I lovingly instruct them to bring it down a notch or go be crazy in another room. I’m as careful as I can be to make sure our family schedule has regular times built in where we’re not running around to and from lessons and events like chickens with our heads cut off. Some types of chaos are controllable.

Sometimes life has seasons of chaos that are hard to avoid though, right? For example, when you decide to move to a new place, you have weeks or months of fixing up your current place to put on the market, cleaning like a madman before a showing, emails galore with your realtor, and road trips to house hunt. Exhausting.

Or, what about those baby/toddler years? Years of sleep-deprived chaos before the kids are old enough to go to the bathroom by themselves and sleep through the night. Exhausting.

The newest season of chaos for me and my husband, Chip https://chipmattis.com/, has been writing. He wrote a children’s book (a beautiful father/daughter story called “Under the Dancing Tree,” available at Amazon, here ), and I have a middle grade novel coming out in May (so exciting)!

Before this past year of writing and learning about the book publishing process, I never would have dreamed all that is required of authors. I mean, if you want to write a book, you have to really mean it. Writing is the easy part. The fun part. The time commitment and mental commitment of the rest of the process is no joke. Chaos, if you’re not careful.

So I’m trying to be careful. There are a million things I could be doing at any given moment. It becomes a deliberate process of making choices and prioritizing. It’s probably similar with your job, right? However it transfers to your life, I’m sure you can relate to what I’m saying.

So how do we guard against chaos when it becomes a bigger matter than simply saying “no” to activities?

I think the real answer is so simple it’s maddeningly difficult: refuse to participate in the chaos. This might sound impossible when you examine your life. After all, we still have things to do. Things we’re responsible for. Commitments we’ve made.

Yes. And we need to honor our commitments and fulfill our responsibilities. But there are always things we can say “no” to. One of the main things we can say “no” to is letting our minds be overwhelmed by the chaos around us.

Just as marriage is choosing to love your spouse every day, living from a place of calm means choosing to steady our minds every day.

But how? Well, I know I can’t do it alone, and I bet you can’t either. I need Jesus every single day.

We have to believe His promises. There are many, but three come to mind in particular:

 Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
He’s offering us supernatural peace! It’s un-understandable, it’s so amazing! Accept it.

 Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Not “I might,” I’ll perhaps,” or “maybe,” but “I WILL give you rest.” That sounds like a promise to me.

 James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Thank goodness we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us to make the devil flee! That’s powerful stuff!

So the next time we find our minds being overcome by the chaos around us, let’s close our eyes, however briefly (or lock yourself into the bathroom for five minutes like I’m prone to doing…), and speak these truths out loud to remind not only ourselves, but our enemy, of these promises.

Our hearts and minds belong to Jesus, and the devil (and the stress and chaos he brings) has to flee. Praise God for that!

Do you have any tried and true methods for combating chaos? If so, I’d love to hear about them! I’m always looking for new tools for my tool belt. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

Quick update on me:
My book, “Power Up,” is nearing the end of the editing process, which doesn’t make me sad, haha! Cover art design will happen in April, and by May, we should have a real book! Meanwhile, I’m so proud of my husband for his new release, “Under the Dancing Tree.” You really should check it out at the link above; you won’t regret it. I predict it will become a modern day classic, along the lines of Dr. Seuss’ “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”