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Thursday, February 9, 2012

In Search of Rhythm

I've got rhythm... or, at least, I used to. In the past, I have persevered through various living conditions and seasons of life to find that personal prescribed fashion of living a fulfilling life that best fits me and my family. It hasn't always been easy to find my own or my family's natural cycle of harmony- but for me it has always been something worth pursuing.

See, I've tasted the benefits of having a space and time to call my own each morning... a time uninterrupted to pursue the presence and plan of God for my day. I've reaped the blessings of establishing regular times of prayer, conversation, and devotion with my children and my husband. I know the peace that accompanies my days and my ways as I walk in step with that rhythm. And I know what I'm missing if I don't. This is why my search for rhythm has been so intense. This is why, for me, I am participating in the Hello Mornings challenge. I desperately need to find that rhythm again- for my sake, as well as my family's.

Over the past year, I worked really hard to develop strong personal care habits such as taking better care of my physical body through eating better and exercising regularly, as well as having a daily time of prayer, bible study, and planning. In creating these habits for myself, and even in beginning to cultivate them in my children as well, I have found such a positive change in my daily life and in the atmosphere of my home.

Lately, however, fatigue has been an ongoing foe of mine. A lack of balance and lack of personal restraint have made this momma hard-pressed for time, energy and, worse yet... joy. My rhythm has been rocked by one circumstance after another, and the real test of faithfulness has begun... and, unfortunately, so far, I haven't been faring too well.

A few months ago, we made the decision to buck-up and finally take the plunge into homeschooling... While this decision was not made lightly, it left a heavy weight of responsibility on my shoulders as I added a special feather to the hat of "teacher" I already wore... in addition to the many other hats I wear as a mom. I began to spend hours upon hours researching methods, curriculum, and strategies. And, because of our financial reasons, this time spent was priceless... since our budget for homeschooling was pretty much nil. Side note: God has been so good to help me find so many free and inexpensive resources for educating our children!

While so grateful for the rewarding experience of schooling and disciplining discipling my children at home, lesson planning and managing the onslaught of emotional and physical drain that homeschooling days brings was an ongoing struggle. After a couple of months of experimenting with what a rhythm for our family might look like and, after feeling like I had finally found a rhythm worth spending my time settling into, enter amazing opportunity: a job offer for me to work part-time at my church, City Bible Church North Sound, as our Connections Department Director. 

I was beyond thrilled at this opportunity for many reasons and felt it was a door the Lord had opened for me and my family. While it was an open door for me to fulfill my dream of working in ministry, we'd also actually been praying since earlier in the year for a part-time job for me to enable us, through extra income, to complete our house faster. Upon accepting it, however, I knew that, once again, our family rhythms would need to change.

My husband and children have been amazing through this transition over the past couple of months. Their support of me and of the natural home-life changes that we've worked through upon me starting to work outside the home have been such a blessing.

And then... enter housebuilding project: plumbing. Yes, don't forget we are indeed still housebuilding... although for a few short months, as I frolicked in dreamland of getting to finally live my dream of working in ministry, I had almost forgotten about that fact. Yeah, remember the reason for the income of the job? Hello.

As far as plumbing goes, let me just tell you that this was not one of my favorite projects. Everything in both of our living spaces had to be moved and rearranged... completely. We would be isolated to our main living space. My husband and I took to the sofa-sleeper and the kids had their beds moved to be just behind the couch- with about one foot of space to spare them and our dining table and make-shift kitchen space.  Reminded me a lot of our days in the fifth-wheel. Let me just say that this living-sleeping-eating-all-in-one-space arrangement is not so good for a momma who likes to rise early before her family to get a jump-start on the day and have some alone time with the Lord. The shower became my new prayer closet. Thank God for headphones, mp3s, DailyBible app, and podcasts.

Throughout the noisy, messy, hectic, sawdust and dirty-laundry-and-dishes infested process of plumbing installation, I was very happy to now have a place to go outside my home to escape... to my office at work. And I brought my children along with me to work too. I was also very happy to be homeschooling as our schedule (and home!) had been turned upside down and there would be no way I'd have been able to take my children to school every day... that is, unless I took them to school sleep-deprived and without clean clothes or their homework done. So we did that at home instead. And my children didn't get in trouble for it... and neither did I.

As we finished our plumbing project (ok, well most of it- until the plumber returns in the next couple of weeks to finish the rest!), we started the work of clean-up and attempting to get things somewhat back to a semblance of "normal" before Christmas... we were so excited to have my in-laws, Grammie & Grandpa, join us for an extended stay with their two great Danes. We made it... barely... just as they reached our doorstep in fact. All the hard work was worth it though. We enjoyed a lovely, relaxing, refreshing time together. And I hoped to God that this would be our last Christmas in the midst of the construction process.

Just before Christmas, however, we received news that our dear children's ministry directors at our church were moving out-of-state... and with that news, I was offered the privilege and honor of taking over their responsibilities in addition to my existing ones. Again, it was another open door I felt was God's plan for me in ministry, especially after my past experience in launching a children's ministry in our last church planting assignment.

As I worked through the many changes in my responsibilities and schedules yet again, enter my next rhythm-interrupter.... this time in the form of a crisis. One of my dogs, Gracie, began having seizures during the time of month that she normally has them... only, over several days they increased tremendously in quantity... and intensity. After a couple of sleepless nights, I made an appointment at the vet and we discovered through a series of expensive tests that she has idiopathic epilepsy. Basically, that is a doctor's way of saying that she has seizures and they don't know why. Glad I payed for those tests.

As she began medication which needed to be administered twice daily at exactly 12 hours apart, I felt trapped. Trapped. Trapped. Trapped. For many reasons. I felt trapped in a repeated cycle of chaos... of one drastic change to my schedule after another, after another, and another of unexpected crises and messes... crises which are difficult for me to recover from and messes which take me seemingly forever to clean up. I felt trapped to my home and to new time-frames for all of our activities based on the important daily appointments of 9:30AM and 9:30PM with the addition of this new medication.

I was on the verge of a total meltdown as I dealt with hopelessness for several days... pondering whether or not my life would ever return to "normal" or if "normal" even existed for me and my family anymore... it had been forever it seemed since I had had a regular, predictable pattern of time to myself to soak up the presence of God through His Word and prayer and I was feeling parched and discouraged as to whether or not I'd ever be able to walk in the consistency of a regular rhythm again... and then, enter: God's mercy and grace.

I have felt Him sweep in and cover me and my family through this season of chaos as the sweet melody of a familiar worship song has washed over my heart recently and reminded me that not only do I find God in the quiet and stillness, but that He is also present with me in moments of chaos and confusion, in the moments of my weakness... and that I can find that He is still Sovereign... and that He gives me the grace I need for each moment to do His will. And it's been in those moments where I realize that it's not really the rhythm I'm seeking, it's Jesus.

I want the peace of His presence more than I want the peace and quiet of my home... I want my life to bring Him praise more than I want my life to bring me comfort... I want my life to be marked as one moving consistently to the rhythms of His grace and not according to the regiments of a predictable routine... I want to feel refreshed and cleansed in His daily mercies and for my home to be a place where His presence dwells more than I want my home to be spotless. What I want, and what I've discovered I'm really seeking, is none but... Jesus.

Only Jesus can bring order to chaos. Only Jesus can speak His word and transform chaos into a beautiful creation. And so the creation awaits... in eager expectation, in hope, in faith... to see what beautiful glory awaits it... and in the meantime, we will dance. We will dance in perfect rhythm to the song He sings over me and for me... a wordless song he hums that resonates with the unsung melodies of my heart. And with every breath I'll utter His name... the precious and powerful name of Jesus. The sweetest and most beautiful name that is music to my ears and brings rhythm and joy to my soul.




For Further Reading: Romans 8:18-28

Do you have a family rhythm? A personal rhythm?
What has helped you to maintain a faithful pursuit of Jesus?
What has hindered you? 

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