26 October 2011


We’re back in Northern Virginia, the home base of Busy.  And Traffic, which adds to the Busy. As a stay-at-home mom, I am the director of logistics and the social chairman of the family. These are not my spiritual gifts. The other day, I dropped K off for Girl Scouts. Except there was no meeting. I had mis-read the 2-page schedule of Girl Scout events and activities. For the record, several such schedules currently reside on the kitchen corkboard: Girl Scouts, Junior Choir, preschool, the church women’s ministry. It occurs to me that I never actually printed out the school schedule. I should do that before we end up some morning waiting for a bus that never comes.

I’m attending a women’s Bible study at our new church. It’s about spiritual formation in the home. How to intentionally order family life so that children grow up knowing God. Knowing that God is not just for Sunday morning. How to teach faith…or, more accurately, live faith and talk about that faith with our children. 

Today the leader of the study (also the head of women’s ministry at the church) said that a typical conversation with moms went something like this: “How are you doing?” “I’m good. Overwhelmed, but fine.”

Busy is the definition of life in this area. The leader said that for many years she would hear from other people that she was too busy. “Oh, don’t go to C with this; she’s so busy.” So she decided that she wanted to be known as available, not busy. She stopped talking about how busy she was. If a young mom called her and needed to talk over coffee, she went. It was more important to be available.

The challenge is, we are busy with good stuff. School and work and Girl Scouts and swimming and choir and homework and violin and “no, you can’t go over to your friend’s house because you need to do homework plus your half-hour of reading before we leave for swim practice.”

How’s it going? Oh, busy. Yeah, we are, too. We’re SO busy. Busy, busy, busy. And you compare notes. Because the busier you are, the more important you are. Right? You’re in demand, you’re successful (or your kids are successful, which of course means you are, too), you’re on the go, active, involved. Busy.

And now Christmas is coming. More things to do.  Shopping, cooking, decorations, cards…it makes me tired just thinking about it.

But what am I showing my kids about what’s important? Homework comes first, all the things succeeding in school requires…but what is success without meaning? I’m teaching something valuable about work before play, about meeting your obligations, but duty by itself is empty. When do I teach the Why and the Who? Why is learning important? Who do we live our lives for?

So I’m thinking a lot about how to create space for prayer. For conversations that go deeper than “Have you finished your homework? What do you need to do now?”. For lighting a candle during Advent and talking about the Light of the World. I’m not sure how to do it, though.  For someone who expresses herself better in writing, who prefers silence over noise, talking about important things feels awkward, forced somehow.

Besides, we’re so busy.


Andi said...

Great post Jen!

Use your gifts- most people don't have the gift of being able to sit in the silence. God can minister to your family through your words, yes, but also through the silence & peace that you're able to create in your home.

If you're a reader, you should pick up The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel. He was Jewish, but it's still a fabulous book & I was inspired & renewed by it. I walked away realizing that I needed to live a more intentional life in all areas.

Sarah said...

I came to the same conclusion as Andi. You're eloquent in writing and if you have the gift of quiet...embrace it. Also, thought of the book route. You could read and it might not feel so stilted or take turns reading. I'd be interested to hear if you find any great books or sites to use. SO glad to see your post up! I look forward to the next one...maybe when you're not so busy. ;) Nah! Don't wait that long!!

Wendy said...

We bought an Advent House from Pottery Barn last year, that we used throughout the Advent Season. I used it in conjunction with an Advent Book that I bought, that I figured we could use each year. We sat down each night after dinner by the tree and read a story from the book and then Tay got to open a door of the house and get a small surprise. It was a fun way to incorporate the countdown until Christmas along with the real meaning of Christmas. We called it the "special book" as it did not count as a bedtime story, etc. Honestly, she didn't really understand the stories yet, but I figured we'll do the same tradition annually and, each year, she'll start to understand better, ask different questions, etc. We used this book - http://www.amazon.com/Advent-Storybook-Stories-Before-Christmas/dp/0735819637/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1319729296&sr=8-2

I think Katrina would probably get more from it now, but Annika would learn as she listens, and would look forward just to the tradition until she gets older.

Dave said...

Just chiming in with Andi -- anything by AJ Heschel is worth its weight in gold. Outstanding thinker and theologian (and a big influence on Protestant theologians in the second half of the 20th century).

Good to see you blogging again.