Six Steps towards Creating Peace in Your Home

As a mom, you learn to multi-task. Changing diapers and feeding kids while responding to emails – bring it on, moms, you can handle it. God gave moms the incredible ability to do many things once. But sometimes (perhaps, too often) we push too far, attempt too much, exceed our limits and squeeze too much into a short window of time and it backfires on us. And when it does, it affects, not just us, but those little ones whom we love so dearly.

A couple of nights ago, I found myself (at 5:30pm nonetheless) unpacking groceries, cooking dinner, helping kids with homework, while also consecutively doing laundry and breaking up a fight over a video game.

Then, something went terribly wrong. Just when I though I could handle it all, just when I thought I had everything under control, our computer started acting up. Our brand-new-only-three-days-old computer.

I began to rant express some of my less-than-kind thoughts about this computer, the internet and everything techy, and then quipped to my daughter, “And how to you plan to get your homework done now?!”

My precious child looked at me with tears pooling in her eyes and sobbed, “I don’t know! I’m so sorry!”

Her distraught disposition, panicked expression and innocent face quickly brought me back to reality – back to what really mattered.

Might I add, that this occurred merely one day after I spoke to our entire church on the necessity creating room in our schedules for life’s inevitable interruptions and the importance of viewing many of those interruptions as invitations to be used by God.

Ouch.

As my kids would say, “Mom, you just got schooled.” 

Yup. So after profusely apologizing to Jessica, I assured her that my frustration was directed towards the computer, not her.

Why do I so quickly forget the importance of not over-committing ? Why do I so easily slip into “stress mode”. Why do I clutter my life with stuff that robs my heart and home of the peace I’m longing to have?

Getting a lot of things done isn’t worth it if comes at the expense of peace in my family. While it’s obvious that space in my schedule is critical so the inevitable interruptions of the day don’t spill a barrage of frustration and stress on my family, I can quickly lose sight of that.

But true peace begins at a much deeper level before it buds and blooms in our family and home. I must be diligent in cultivating an atmosphere of peace in my heart if I truly desire to experience it in my home.

As the Apostle Paul encourages us,

-POP

Moms, the temperature of your heart will determine the temperature of your home.

  • If you’re frustrated, your home will be filled with stress.
  • If you’re angry, your home will be filled with fear.
  • If you’re constantly complaining, your kids will whine and grumble as well.
  • If you see your children as an inconvenience, they’re going to feel rejected.
  • If you feel hopeless, the atmosphere in your home will be discouraging.
  • If you see everything as an interruption, your family will feel like they’re a nuisance.
  • But if you see your children as a gift, you will feel grateful, even when your mommy days are long and the load is heavy.
  • And if you are diligent to cultivate a heart of peace, your home will be a safe haven for your family.

But where to begin?

How do you practically create an atmosphere of peace in your heart and home? Here are just a few things that help me. And when I’m not faithful to consistently do them (as I was reminded the other day), I feel the stress levels rise, my patience wears thin and the peace that I crave and desire is elusive.

  1. Declutter. I truly believe that clutter creates chaos in a home. When my kids can’t find clean socks, when the dirty dishes are piled high, the stress and frustration weighs heavily. While I rarely have a house that is completely clean, I find that by cleaning just one room, one area, or even one drawer a day makes a big difference.
  1. Natural light and fresh air. Dark, stuffy rooms are oppressive and not very peaceful. Open your windows, burn a candle, buy another lamp, take your kids for a walk outside. I think you’ll find that sunlight and fresh air will lift your spirit, lighten your mood and energize you.
  1. Make some room. Don’t over schedule your day. Plan for the unexpected interruptions that are bound to happen. Then, when they do happen, you won’t be pushed over the “stress edge”. You’ll also find that you’ll be able to be fully present with your husband and your kids because you won’t be frazzled, distracted and depleted emotionally.
  1. Encourage one another & laugh together. Managing a family, raising kids and maintaining a home is no easy task. And if you work outside of the home, the pressure to get everything done can seem daunting. Your kids won’t remember the elaborate meals you cooked or the immaculate house you kept. You can make sure that they remember your home as a happy place where they were encouraged, loved, affirmed and inspired to be everything God created them to be.
  1. Set the temperature of your home. Don’t rise to the intensity level of your kids. Babies will cry, toddlers will throw tantrums, teenagers will roll their eyes and blurt, “Whateveh”. You have the ability to infuse the situation or defuse it. Your kids will take their cues from you.
  1. Read your Bible and pray every day. Jesus endured pain, stress and intense suffering. Yet, regardless of the pressure being placed on his life due to His external circumstances, He was consistently able to respond with love and compassion. He didn’t react to the demands of His day. The strength of His life was His internal character and depth of relationship with His Father. As you devote time everyday to spend time with Jesus, you’ll find that this will be the strength of your life as well.

As you cultivate the peace of Christ in your heart, you’ll be better equipped to handle the daily joys – and strains – of motherhood. You’ll still have those moments, but in the midst of them, the peace of Christ ruling in your heart will overflow and spill into your home, filling it with the tangible presence of Jesus.

How about you? What do you do that helps to contribute towards creating a peaceful home?

Starting with Selah

 I love those rare mornings when I get to sleep in. What a thrill to be able to turn off my alarm the night before. It’s the best.

However, most of my mornings are not like that. In fact, my mornings are probably a lot like yours. I’m thrust into this fast-paced world the second my feet hit the floor.

Before the coffee is finished brewing, there’s a crisis (how dare that happen!) and I find myself dragging kids out of bed, signing papers, searching for socks, packing lunches and rushing out the door, only to repeat again the next day and the next day and the next day…

If I’m not proactive, the demands of the day will slowly, steadily suck the SELAH out of my life.

I’ll become cranky, irritable and impatient. I’ll snap at my kids, sigh, stomp around the house and get frustrated that no one notices how HARD I’m working and how BURDENED I am.

What a joy to be around.

When I fail to intentionally carve out quiet time with God at the beginning of my day, my good intentions aren’t good for much and my flesh feeds on every little opportunity of weakness that awaits.

Hiding Place

The Hebrew word, Selah, appears over 70 times in the books of Psalms and Habbakuk. And while it’s not clear what this word exactly means, Strong’s concordance defines it as, “to lift up, exalt”. Some commentators suggest that it’s a word providing musical instruction, communicating to the musicians that this is their time to pause and take a breath.

The Amplified Bible encourages to “pause and calmly think about” each verse preceding “selah”. Sounds like a helpful life instruction, too.

When I edge the SELAH – the pausing, reflecting and praising – out of my life, I find myself becoming less of the mom, wife and Christ follower that God created me to be.

In Psalm 32, King David encourages that in the chaos, in the crisis, God calls us into real friendship with Him. David admonishes us to remember the joy of being forgiven (verse 1), the honor of living in complete holiness and honesty before God (verse 2) and the heavy burden of sin that has been removed from our life and forgiven (verses 3-5).

He urges God’s people to pray and seek after Him (verse 6) – to keep their eyes fixed on God and not be led astray by the circumstances surrounding them. And in verse 7, David declares that God is his hiding place and his only secure place of protection and safety.

In fact when reading this Psalm, you get the sense from David that what God had done for him was still fresh, and he was using the tenderness of his experience to remind us to keep that same freshness kindled in our hearts as well.

Wouldn’t that be awesome if we incorporated more SELAH into our day?

What would YOUR DAY look like if you started every day with SELAH?

What would happen if you started every day pausing, praising and reflecting about God and His incredible love extended to you through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus?

God’s Word will woo us, but He allows our will to choose to respond. God delights to be with us, but He doesn’t demand a relationship with us. Jesus calls us, but He doesn’t condemn us when we fail to respond.

As a follower of Christ, I’m convinced there are two things that I need every day, every morning for me to live a life that honors God and for me to become the woman He created me to be – large quantities of coffee (kidding, kinda) and daily time with Jesus.

This has been my go-to move for over 25 years and it hasn’t failed me yet.

If you don’t already, let me encourage you to set aside time every day to be with Jesus. Allow Him calibrate your heart and set the tone for your day. Take time to thank Him for all He’s done, reflect on His goodness, fix your heart on Him and listen to His voice.

Selah.

 

 

 

The Night Our Family Slept in Our Car

Our family slept in our car last night. No, this isn’t a regular thing for us. (Other than the three nights spent on the lanai at the DMV, and the occasional red-eye flight, we don’t do this.) (Trust me, you don’t want to know why we spent several nights camping at the DMV.) I love my comfortable bed and need a good night’s sleep. But this week was different and called for a special adjustment to our heavily scheduled lives.

The Eddie was anticipated to run at the stunning Waimea Bay on the North Shore on Wednesday. This prestigious big wave invitational surf event is an event to honor Eddie Aikau, one of Hawaii’s greatest and most respected watermen. It’s a competition requiring the most epic surf conditions with 40’ waves holding for at least 6 hours. Conditions that are so rare and magnificent that it’s only been held eight times in the last 31 years.

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Waimea Bay, North Shore, Oahu

Our kids really wanted to go. But I’d had a long day at work. I was tired and I had a lot of stuff to get done the next day and didn’t want to fight the crowds and intense traffic heading to this remote beach. And don’t even get me started on the parking nightmare this endeavor would present.  As I explained all of my excuses to them, I suggested we watch it on TV. After all, we’d have a better view of the competition and would actually get to see the surfers riding the waves instead of fighting for a sliver of beach to peer at them in the distance through binoculars.

They were understanding, but I could see disappointment begin to shroud their faces.

Then it hit me and I realized how much of my life had become routine – maintaining the family’s schedule, making sure their homework was done, keeping our family moving in the right direction.

Which is fine, right? Because there’s always going to be stuff to get done, a house to clean, meals to cook, laundry to wash and appointments to keep. And somebody has to be responsible to get it all done. Right?

But time is fleeting and kids don’t stay young forever. Moments for us to be together as a family are becoming increasingly rare. And five years from now, my kids won’t remember if they had clean socks, a vacuumed living room or a home-cooked meal.

But, today, I had the opportunity to make a memory with my kids that they would remember forever.

While we need structure, boundaries and routine I don’t think those are the memory-making moments. Memories are made when we step out, take a risk, color out of the lines and do something new…something exciting…something uncomfortable…something different.

So we grabbed blankets and pillows, piled everyone into the car at 10pm and drove to the North Shore to camp in our car on the side of the road with thousands of other people.

Sadly, after a rough night of barely any sleep and an early morning of Foodland doughnuts and coffee, the bay called the day and the competition was canceled. My kids didn’t seem to care too much about that, though. For them, they had experienced an adventure. They had done something exciting. They skipped school, spent the night on the North Shore and got to eat doughnuts for breakfast.

Dry run for next year, perhaps. But I hope this moment taught them a couple of important life lessons that will be imbedded in their memory forever:

First, if the waves are big enough, school is optional. (Kidding, not really)

Secondly, sometimes the most important things should to be left undone in order to invest in something else – the someones – who are even more important.

Seeing beyond my “to-do” list, made space for us to create a memory that our kids will talk about for years.

Let me encourage you to make a decision today to do something fresh, something spontaneous, something silly. Choose to pause and make a family memory together instead of packing your kids in the car to run another errand, “shushing” them while you finish one more email, or telling them “just a minute” while you get one more thing done.

You’ll be glad you did, even if it means spending the night in your car.

Update: Two weeks later, The Eddie did run! We slept in our car, again, and it was wonderful. You can see pictures and read all about it here.