Monthly Archives: March 2023

The Hamster Wheel

This winter held some very busy weeks and weekends for my family. I am a staunch protector of our time for margin and rest. But there are seasons where the schedule gets away from me, and we find ourselves over-committed. In these seasons, life begins to feel like running on a hamster wheel. I’m doing all the things, and I’m getting really tired, but I’m not actually going anywhere. And the more I spin, the less productive I become. But the list never gets shorter, so I just keep on spinning, trying to catch up. Am I the only one who feels this way about life?

Surely there must be a better way.

After a couple of months on the hamster wheel, I said to myself, “Enough is enough.” I am taking a day off.

How could you possibly do that? How could you step away from your to-do list knowing that with each passing day, hour, moment, it only grows longer and longer? Taking a day off means a day for all of the things to continue accumulating into an even larger pile for tomorrow. How can taking a day off be the remedy for the hamster wheel when it just makes more work for the next day?

I know, I know.

But here’s the thing. If we only rest when the work is done, we will never rest. Because the work is never done. God doesn’t tell us that we must first earn our rest by completing our to-do list, or by working 40 hours, or 60, or whatever insane amount of hours you’re working. He doesn’t mandate that our homes be spotless before we take a break. He doesn’t require all our projects to be wrapped up first. No, by example, God mandated rest, for an entire day, and he commanded it for us as well. Why? He certainly didn’t need the rest… He’s God! But, WE do desperately NEED rest in our lives. Resting is a good practice, regardless of where we are at in our massive to-do lists!

So I took my day off. To-do list, be quiet. Mess, you can wait. Work, I will get to you tomorrow. What a wild idea, you guys!

But guess what happened when I obeyed God’s mandate to rest? He provided.

I had no way of knowing what the next day was going to hold when I threw caution to the wind that Monday and took the day off. Tuesday should have held plenty of things. But, God gave me a surprise snow day. Wait, what? Your kids were home, adding to your chaos and this was somehow provision? Yes, in fact, it was. Because it meant that the hours I spend providing the mom taxi services were suspended for the day, and it meant that the two older children were home to entertain the preschooler, and it meant that I could DIVE IN, refreshed from my day off, with no interruptions, drop offs, lunches to pack, etc, and tackle my massive list. And it was an incredibly productive day. Because I chose the rest that God knew I so badly needed, he provided a way for me to accomplish all that I needed to do.

How often do you rest? Do you have a day off? Or is every minute of every weekday filled with activity? Is every weekend booked up from now until eternity? Do you ever have days where you just leave the schedule open so you can do nothing? If you haven’t tried this, you need to. I know that some people out there just “love to be busy.” That’s so great, for you. But here’s the thing, just because we love something, that doesn’t make it good for us in boundless amounts. Case in point, I love ice cream. But if I consume boundless amounts of it because I love it, I will have major problems in my body. You may love to be busy, but the reality is, your body was created to have one day out of seven that is just for rest. Period.

When I take a step back and look at the typical schedule for most American families, I am, to be totally transparent, filled with horror. I would never ever want to be that busy! Now, don’t get me wrong, I am an incredibly productive person. I love to get things done, and I really do get a lot done. I am not a “sitting around all day” type of person! I have my mother to thank for this. She passed the gene to me. We are high-output, productive people. But we are not burned out, usually. Because we do protect our margin. We do make time for rest. We do say NO to things that overcrowd our family schedule. We limit our children to one activity at a time (such as a sport, club, team, group), and they are not allowed to begin an activity until they are in first grade, and fully adjusted to going to school full-time. Call me crazy. That’s fine. But I refuse to have my children’s lives overcrowded by too many sports practices and activities AND HAVE THEM THINK THAT THIS LIFESTYLE IS NORMAL. We need time for family. We need time to rest. We need time to take care of ourselves. We need time for church. And we need all of these things REGULARLY, not as the exception once every couple of months.

I hate when I get into a hamster wheel cycle of life. But I love that God offers us a remedy when we get to feeling so drained and manic in our activity. He gives us the gift of rest. We need it, our children need it, and quite frankly, our world needs it.

Here are a couple of my favorite verses about rest:

Psalm 127:1-2 “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 30:15 “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

Hebrews 4:9-11 “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

I know that for some of you reading this, what I’m talking about feels impossible. Your hamster wheel is whipping along at about 90MPH. If you try to get off, you’re likely to break a leg in the fall. I understand that for some, this busyness thing is really out of hand. But this is not unattainable for you. Start small. Here are some practical ideas for you:

  • Make one night a week a family night, where you eat together and no one does an activity, goes out, has a friend over, etc. (Contrary to their belief – kids won’t actually die if they have to miss an activity!)
  • Schedule your rest wherever you keep your calendar (paper or electronic) so that when you are tempted to schedule something in that “empty” hour or day, you’ll remember that you’re scheduling a break for yourself and your family.
  • Leave one weekend a month open, unscheduled. Or if that feels too dramatic, try for one of the weekend days. And make it Sunday so you can go to CHURCH!
  • Remember that rest doesn’t equate with: sleeping in (not possible in homes with small children), or doing something totally mindless such as scrolling on your phone or bingeing on Netflix. Real rest is something that restores your soul. For me this is making time to write, or read, to pray, or worship with music, or to be outside in nature in some way, to play with my children, or sit and enjoy their presence, or even to do an organizing or decorating project. These are things that restore me. Restoration is always the goal of rest. By all means, take a nap if you need to, but do things that are good for your soul too!

One step at a time, we can reclaim our lives from the busyness that has totally overtaken them. Are you ready to rest? You’re going to love it! It’s so great!

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Peripheral Vision


A few weeks ago, I was highly focused on my exercise routine on our rowing machine when my five-year-old daughter came bursting into the room. She hopped up on the spare bed in the guest room and said, “Mom! Look what I can do!” These words always bring a certain feeling for parents. We hear them a lot. Kids love to invent moves or master talents that they can show off to win their parents attention and praise. So sometimes, the feeling parents get when we hear these words is a bit of an eye roll feeling. But sometimes, these words garner excitement for me as a parent. Because my kids do some weird things. They make me laugh. And I love to give them that verbal praise and affirmation.


But in this particular instance, I was so focused on my exercising. I’m new on the rowing machine, and I still need to really focus to make sure my stroke is correct. As it turns out, you can, in fact, row incorrectly, even though it seems fairly straightforward. You can also row in a way that doesn’t engage your core as much. As I am learning the skill, my focus on my body position is intense. So, I gave my daughter a sideways glance and said, “Okay.” And then I continued to focus on my stroke.


Hannah began to show me her new move, but she quickly realized I wasn’t actually looking at her. She said, “No, Mom. Put your eyes fully on me.”


It just so happened that I had the song, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” on the brain that day, and so her words really struck me on a different level.


Hannah wanted my eyes fully on her moves so she knew I was giving her my full attention and focus. She didn’t want to be in my peripheral vision. Guess what? Jesus doesn’t want to be in our peripheral vision any more than my five-year-old wants to be in mine. He wants the focus of our lives to be completely on him. He’s not off to the side, where we glance occasionally, say for 5-15 minutes a day when we pray or read a devotion. No, he wants to be front and center throughout our whole day, our whole life.


Who is leading as you go throughout your day? Are you following Jesus? Or are you leading yourself? If you are on a journey and following someone, it’s best to keep your eyes on them, otherwise, you might lose your way. Jesus is our guide through this life, but in order to follow him well, we have to fix our eyes and our focus fully on him. We can’t allow life’s distractions to lead us astray. Oftentimes, these are very good things that we shift our vision towards – I want to make sure my kids have a good childhood, OR, I want to attain financial security, OR, I want to focus on getting healthy. Some distractions are disguised as very good things. But they are still distractions if Jesus is not at the center of your gaze.


Hebrews 12:1-3 says this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.


What entanglements do you need to cast aside today? Is there sin you need to deal with, like this Scripture passage mentions? Or have you just turned your eyes onto a very “good” distraction of some sort? What is taking the place of Jesus’ leadership in your life? Who or what is guiding you? Place him at the center today and trust him to lead you. He blazed the trail for you, and he’s a good guide. But the guide of your life shouldn’t be living in your peripheral vision. Where is your life’s focus? Is it on your kids? Yourself? Your finances or career? Bring Jesus back to the center, turn your eyes fully on him. There’s no better guide to help you navigate life’s path.

vintage path in nature

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Eleven: A Reflection (Sophie’s Story)


Every year on Sophie’s birthday, I feel very reflective. We are now 11 years into her journey. I think after 11 years I actually have developed some hindsight. For a long time it felt like I was only able to see everything about our life up close, like a picture book mere inches from my face. But after 11 years, I feel like I have been able to finally take in a bigger picture, to see more of the scope of our journey.


Landscapes are on my mind this year as I reflect.


Some parts of her journey were made in the darkness. We could not see beyond the very next step, and that only became visible as it was time to take the step. These were seasons of blind faith. There is no explanation for a faith like this. You are in the dark, and you know the unseen obstacles are very big. But you choose trust anyways. Faith has carried us through the darkness until we can see again. In these seasons we have seen that our God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all (I John 1:5).


Other parts of her journey were rocky and craggy, like a mountain climb. Now, I’m not a mountain climber, but I can appreciate the beauty of the mountains. I can also appreciate the challenge of the climb, and the training and equipment needed to succeed. These are the tough seasons where the work feels endless. Everything is harder for Sophie. Progress feels minute. But suddenly, we’re at the top, and the view is breathtaking. If you’re in a season of difficulty and challenge right now, know that the peak is coming, and you will not be disappointed by the view. Victory is sweet when the climb has been tough. Our God promises to make our feet like a deer so we can tread on the heights (Psalm 18:33).


Some places have felt like quicksand. We’re stuck. And the more we struggle the more stuck we become. But those are places where God has been our rescue. There is no other explanation than God doing what only he can do. He is truly the God who fights for us when we simply stand still (Exodus 14:14).


Other places feel like a desert. Lonely. Isolating. Harsh. A place of weariness. There are many aspects of the special needs journey that are unique to us and to Sophie. But we have seen that God works in the desert place too. He works in the wilderness and wasteland, bringing forth streams (Isaiah 43:19), and making a path through our desert. And he loves to bring us to sweet places of oasis. Places of kind care, acceptance, love, and support from the many who rally around us and journey with us through our life. The oasis is sweeter because of the dryness and loneliness of the desert. Don’t mistake that. A soaking wet sponge doesn’t appreciate water in the same way a dry one does.


Still other parts of the journey are marked with peace and sweetness. These are like a peaceful walk on a warm sunny day through a beautiful meadow next to a quiet stream. We simply enjoy parenting Sophie. Her quirks are normal to us, and they bring us so much joy. Her heart for others is so big. She loves to be a helper. She gives the best hugs. I don’t know if I know anyone who works as hard as Soph. She inspires me. And she cares so little about what others think… There is so much freedom in that for her.


Our world is a bigger place because of all the landscapes we have experienced with Sophie. As with all the trials I have walked through, I can honestly say that I would not be the person I am today without those different landscapes. So much good has come from our personal family journey with Sophie. We are blessed and favored to have her, to care for her and journey with her.


There’s a new song out right now that has a bridge I really resonate with: “I may not know what a day may bring, but I know Who brings the day. In the darkest night when I cannot see, still my soul will say … I believe in miracle power, in a wonder working God.” I may not know what’s coming up next, but I know the heart of the Giver. Whatever part of the journey you are in right now, trust in the One who brings forth the day for you. He is for you, and he is always working for your good. There is always hope.


This year I’m holding fast to the words of Philippians 1:6 for Sophie: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Let it be so, Lord.

Last day of 3rd grade for Soph
Sophie started therapeutic riding this year! She loves it!
1st day of 4th grade
She always knows how to make us laugh!
Sophie was an angel in the church Christmas pageant and had half the play memorized!
Sophie’s first year as a swimmer in Special Olympics
Happy 11th Birthday to my beautiful Sophie Girl!


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