In the four o’clock hour…
The air has changed into a spicy tomatoey warmth with notes of garlic drawing people downstairs or inside.
Notes of new strung guitars hum and gnarl through amps mimicking the growl of bellies.
Out of the window I see her… you could set your watch by her and I often do… Benita stands and wills the door to open and fresh flakes of hay to appear…4:30 on the dot.
The girls all shifting places as the baby climbs to see the new book… they try to sneak bites of the newest sheep’s milk fudge before the littlest pouts for and extra bit.
I leave out some paints and dib and dab as I finish up the dinner… a new gold paint from one of my dearest truest friends.
As boys jump over fences and more firewood is stacked… a new game is created…
the hungry debate the facts and fiction of Noah and his incredible ark… all of our animals are now bedded down for the night.
Oh sad little January you will not take me down without a fight.
I really had hope for January this year.
Maybe it was string of grey overcast days.
Maybe it was the cooped up kids.
Maybe… and probably for sure.. it was my sleepless nights with a soppy coughing baby who would only sleep if her feverish cheek was touching mine.
Perhaps a collection of those things snuck up and snatched my good attitude.
Because all of a sudden it was gone.
Oh January… this is not my first time meeting you.
So a few tricks for you that worked like a charm for me … to out trick ole’ January
- Learn something new…bake some bread, basket weaving, that weird Canadian sport where they float pucks across the ice… not hockey the other one.
- Read those books that you think you will read all year long … just power through one or two in a race before the end of the month.
- Meet for coffee… or tea and catch up with friends. Your left brain will tell you, “you don’t have time”… trick yourself into thinking you will only stop by for half an hour.
- Meet for drinks and french fries… put those babies to bed early and sneak out after seven.
- Get. Out. Side…. I know it is a tundra out there and birds are frozen stiff to the branches… bundle up and breathe deep… just for fifteen minutes will change you.
- Dance party. Crank up some cheesy 80’s or early 90’s music and let the rhythm get you!
- Flowers for you… Flowers for friends… Place flowers in your home… by your bed or workplace…and take some to your friends.
- Give of yourself… donate time or clothing… or food… it is a proven fact that you will be blessed.
- Take vitamins… if there is ever a time that you will piddle around with taking vitamins (And then slowly forget) its January. B’s, C’s and D’s… and fish oils go along way.
- All my ladies.. have you found out the wonderfulness that is progesterone cream? Seriously. The happiest lotion on the market. I am no doctor.. so you need to do all your research… however, we women burn up progesterone when we are stressed… therefore a waterfall of other bad symptoms take place. Try not to become an addict… good luck with that.
What are some ways you out wit and out play January?
When I was in my twenties I worked in radio which I really enjoyed. One of my favorite things I learned was how much can be done in the seven minutes and five seconds of the Beatles song, Hey Jude. I could document all the radio tower data (oh this was an old school station) I could sprint across the station and get a snack… I could then make it back in time to record the hourly news and get two commercials ready plus numerous other errands… all by the end of that song. You could best believe if Hey Jude was playing I had things I needed to do. Had you asked me if I could get it all done in normal seven minutes I would have laughed and said no… but as soon as that song was over I would be surprised that it was all more than accomplished. It almost seemed magical.
Imagine if you doubled it.. you could conquer the world.
I have recently gotten in the habit of leaving my art set up in the studio. Paper taped down. Brushes out. Water already filled. Paints opened and waiting. There they sit just staring at me. I come through the music room and a little haven of sorts beckons me to come over and sit for…say seven minutes. Seven minutes sometimes turns into more… mostly not. But art happens. So I started leaving books open with a rock on them. I tell myself… just fifteen minutes…just power read for fifteen minutes.
So I have been making lists…. well I have always been making lists… I love lists. But these lists contain work and pleasure. Just to fold two loads of laundry (which I detest)… fifteen minutes. But now it is done… you can do anything for 15 minutes…even laundry . Truthfully if you have a crockpot if you started now in 15minutes your dinner for tonight could be mostly complete! Do you know how many children’s books you can read to a kid in 15minutes? Like the entire library ! Do you know how many lessons can be taught in that time? I can do all of the Costco shopping for this family of ten in twenty minutes… every time… I have dreams of besting my time and getting it down to fifteen… it is true I have lofty life goals.
15minutes is pretty magical.
Make a list that is work and pleasure.
Set a timer.
The house is clean.
I started planning much earlier in the week… to give this idea another whirl.
I took notes… all the preparation that needed to be tended to … to make space … big space for Him.
It all seems so easy now.. He makes the way.
For now the list is small….
The wood stacked high inside our home.
The animals bedded down for the night… a few extra flakes of hay for good measure.
Everyone is excited that the sun is setting.
All are happy to contribute to a time of pause… of rest… of peace all out of an obedience to Him.
The bread is warm and glowy as the sunlight fades.
The convincing chorus of , “before the sun sets” repeats from excited little voices who love this crazy idea of Resting.
It’s nearly time…
Funny how I know “my” air so well. In my kitchen drinking tea…listening to the morning meeting of the HusBen’s guitar business, I could feel a change in the atmosphere. As they went on about which guitar was going to which country and something about a headstock…all of which has become my new normal…I looked out our circle window and pointed as my mouth was full of tea. “Look. Look,” I gulped. With my dirty barn boots next to the door I grabbed my camera and the biting icy air was a surprising change from the sweet hot tea.
What a change in the atmosphere, indeed!
The change seemed to last forever.
The sound of the Snow Geese was both humorous and captivating.
The beat of that many wings at once like a heartbeat.
They seemed so ancient and knowing.
Shivering without a coat I couldn’t believe no one joined me to witness this gift.
We were raised to love birds… sitting on the window seat in my grandmother’s kitchen. On the shelf had been leather-bound Audobon books which none of us needed but we would flip though when no birds were in view. In the morning I would climb up with my new Dr. Seuss book (which my grandfather had slipped under my pillow after he would return late from work) and my grandfather and I would watch the bird feeder. He would teach me the names of all the birds and I would commit the cardinal to memory. But each time a bird would flit to the feeder we would act like it had never happened in our whole lives, “Look look!” Then with Danny and the Dinosaur or Hop on Pop and enough toast with honey to keep us both smelling like warm bread till lunch I would show him how far I had advanced in my reading.
So with the wind biting and the Snow Geese with their all knowing ancient migration overhead, I called my best friend …
“Look Look…. the snow geese are migrating over your house!”
On the seventh day He rested.
He wasn’t sleepy
His muscles were not sore.
There was an eternity of stuff to do.
An eternity of things to accomplish.
Eternity stretched out before Him with an endless to do list.
On the seventh day He rested.
He had just created us… and one of the first things He did with us…Rest.
as if to say…
Know that what I did was and is enough… Rest with Me.
We have mulled it over for years. A family this large in rest seemed insurmountable. A family this large without rest seemed detrimental. A heart’s desire and no map to get there.
Then on Christmas it made more sense. He spoke to us in a way that gave us direction. Actually it was the day after Christmas. On Christmas we have a tradition of going nowhere…. “a nobody goes in. and nobody ever goes out.” (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory reference Gene not Johnny of course). As long as we have had our family we have claimed Christmas as our own.. no hustle.. no bustle… no rush to get through it so that we can get to the next thing… just a lock down of sorts. It is lovely. You see.. we know that what we did was and is enough …. so we invite our children to just be with us.
Oh I see.
Dare we give it a whirl?
It took some planning… we are still rookies.
I made sure most everything was prepared by sundown on Friday. We explained to the kids what the concept was. A slowing down. A making space. Allowing room for pause and restoration. There were lovely parts. There were lonely parts. There were fidgety shouldn’twegetsomethingdone parts.
But there was this one part… a part I recognize … it took me a moment, I knew I knew it from somewhere… it was the feeling I get on Passover… the feeling where He smiles and makes the center of our home glow… a smile that says, “you receive My Gift…you are taking time to receive My Gift.”
It was crazy really… as the sun set behind the trees across the field on Saturday night… in walked family. Family bringing soup. The family He had first told me about years ago. The exact one! When He had said , “Watch for who shows up. Watch for who brings you soup . Those are your community those are your true family.” OF all the planning I had done I had failed at dinner for Saturday night… and here it came walking through my door! They came with gifts and food and warm bread… and a teensy little chair for the baby and books… you know how she loves books!
So we will take little steps.
We will give ourselves plenty of room.
We will give it another whirl.
I have no idea what my word means this year. I could venture to guess… but truthfully I can’t wait to see what He is going to do. Oh and my verse… I could barely digest it at first. After reading it I felt like I couldn’t read… as if the words weren’t in the right order. It is not an unfamiliar verse. I am pretty sure I earned a KitKat in Sunday school as a third grader for memorizing it…. maybe it was a Hershey Kiss. So after many had left the table and the kids had already resumed their hide and seek in the cold dark outside, I got quiet trying to hear anew. With some pondering newborn bathing and some discussing women’s shelters… my verse changed… the words became clear. I leaned into Him more…but it seems so heavy..too heavy for a whole year… Where is the reassurance of Acts 18:10, like last year… this is way too heavy to carry all year long…
I read it again…
He showed me Himself walking it out with me…
and my burden was lightened
I read it again… and how could I have missed it
There was my word two times!!
I read it again… the words made sense …
I read it again and it was new to me .. it excited me.
He is good , so good and I can’t wait to announce how all of this unfurls for the year.
Isaiah 55:10-11The Voice (VOICE)
10 For as rain and snow can’t go back once they’ve fallen,
but soak into the ground
And nourish the plants that grow,
providing seed to the farmer and bread for the hungry,
11 So it is when I declare something.
My word will go out and not return to Me empty,
But it will do what I wanted;
it will accomplish what I determined.
So let’s do this like all the other years.. leave a comment asking for a word… and I will get back to you as soon as He does. (All of you who have been emailing and contacting me and leaving comments on other posts about this.. I will try and locate those and get back to you today… if I don’t, please leave another comment here.) Once you get your word and verse please seek Him to reveal what it means let him have that open dialogue with you... because His heart is for you and you were made to hear His Voice and there is a thirsty part of you that wants it so much. If anyone wants to share what a previous years word did in their life I would love to hear about it! And if you don’t know what we are all excited about you can look at these links: