Timeline of Grace

Journey through the Seasons

Tag: Seven

Cramming waste, spending, and stress.

The last few weeks have been a blur.

My last blog was all about how much I enjoyed the media fast. That seems ages ago. Since then we’ve done Waste Week, which I kind of did ok at until the day before going on holiday and I had to just use the tumble dryer….since then, I’ve tried to be more mindful, but at the moment we don’t even have a washing line set up right….so that’s my excuse. It pains me though. Whenever I visit my friend Beverley, and see her managing to dry all her laundry across the back of her small paved yard, when she works three days a week and obviously has far less spare time than me, I feel challenged.

Thankfully, “seven” is NOT about guilt, it’s not about being more “this” or “that” then the next person. It hits us where we’re at, and just turns the spotlight on a few things we may not have thought of before. I think the whole idea of Waste week was to remind us that God made this earth, and if we love God, we’re going to want to look after what he’s made, and not treat it like a spoiled child treats a toy, thinking “what does it really matter? I can just get a new one”.  Appreciating and looking after the earth is just another great way to be closer to God and make space for Him.

While feeling a little bit down about how Waste week had sort of fizzled out for me personally, I felt God remind me that I may not be great at hanging my washing out, and I’m kind of rubbish at being “sustainable” and can’t garden to save my life (yet), but suddenly this voice came into my head and said “but you did breastfeed”. Oh yeah…that. Breastfeeding is one great way to contribute to the waste/environmental issue, and it also saved me at least £1,000 the first year. I’m not saying it get’s me off the hook though, I’m certainly more aware, and am going to do my best to do more.

Spending week made for good reading. It was challenging, insightful, and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I’m a big spender. Even if I was, the constraints of living on one steady income with a sporadic modest second income have their realities. But I realise I may be one of those people who sort of (to use an American expression) nickel and dime my money away. A few coffee’s here, a few books there, and suddenly my monthly allowance is gone and there’s no room to be generous or to give and I have this horridly distorted idea in my head that I’m somehow “poor”. ridiculous. Spending week was not just for those people who can afford to go shopping on their lunch hour and buy new clothes whenever they fancy, it was for all of us, wherever we think we’re at.

Stress week came just in time. Life seems to be flying by at the moment. In previous years I have often looked on and observed that busy family with all the different activities and felt a twinge of jealousy. They really seemed to be “living” and “having a life” while my family sat around on a Saturday not doing anything.

I think my kids are starting to get to that age where if we are going to ensure they don’t get run raged and that we don’t look back in ten years time and wonder where the time went, we’re going to start having to be intentional about taking breaks. A formal Sabbath may not be practical in this day and age and culture, but wow, what a novel idea! So many things we view as inconveniences are actually there for our benefit. We talked about this in the group and I told them all about the Red Tent idea, I mean, what a perfect idea that was!! God tells all the men that women are “unclean” when their on their periods…but actually…he’s giving them a well deserved four day rest where they can all hang out and chat together. Genius.

But back to the 21st century where it’s considered noble to “not be able to sit still” and to “have to be doing something or else I feel guilty”. When I see someone who doesn’t stop, if I’m having an insecure moment I will find myself admiring them and wondering  how they do it and wishing I could be that cool and together and busy.

So the last few weeks after our holiday have been busy. Ballet recitals, drama practices, trips to Edinburgh to renew passports, antenatal session prep for a client, the marriage course, life group, worship leading, birth hope day, it’s all been “a go” as they’d say in Ireland. So am I cool now? I mean, does all that stuff I listed validate me? Does it make me feel like I’m good enough? Yeah right. You know what? I miss my friends. I miss having random coffee’s with friends in the afternoon while the kids play. I miss being able to have my neighbour’s baby for the day and look after him. I miss having a leisurely conversation with Emma in the afternoon while I cook tea, instead of hurrying off the phone because the house has taken on a life of it’s own, yet again, because I have not been able to face it with being so wonderfully busy.

Ugh. Not the life for me. However, seasons like this are inevitable. And Jen had some great ideas for learning how to take sabbath moments during the day. Some tips from the ancients on seven sacred pauses. I haven’t had a chance to do it yet…but I want to! It makes so much sense! I also love the whole idea of dipping into older church tradition. I think sometimes we modern Christians think that people really weren’t saved prior to Azusa street or one of the great reformations or Wesley revivals.

Do I have any of this stuff nailed?? Not. at. all. However I’m more aware….and it’s starting to work. I was in a huge heap of stress on Friday. I had set aside the whole morning to catch up with a friend, which was good solid sabbath time. You don’t tell your friend who you only see once a year you can’t see her because you need to do the food shopping. Anyway, that afternoon I was in between food shops, and just feeling totally overwhelmed and panicky, My mind was on something I had to do later in the week and I was hitting a wall. After going down the wrong road and having to turn around, I don’t know quite how it happened, but I just stopped somehow, prayed, and then suddenly got this overflow of ideas come into my head to help me know what to do. I ended up sitting in the Tesco car park with Judah in the back seat, and just crying, and writing down everything that was coming to me, and breathing. I had a real peace for the rest of that crazy afternoon, and lo and behold, I survived the weekend I’d been dreading, and even lead worship this morning which I’d tried to get out of on Thursday after a late night coming back from Edinburgh, but Jeff just sort of pretended not to hear when I said “umm, i don’t think I can do it”.

So tomorrow morning’s our “wrap up”, but I don’t know that any of this will get wrapped up neatly…this one’s a messy one…a very messy one…almost as messy as my house right now.






Thoughts on Media Week

Ok I totally survived media week. It was just the detox I needed. However the challenge with these things, as always, is to not sink into the addictive patterns again.

I didn’t enforce it with the kids, (and i obviously didn’t enforce it with Jon) but I think by default, they needed media less, because I was more “present” with them? Maybe? I mean, I didn’t exactly pull down the jigsaws and get on the floor with them, but maybe me being less “plugged in” has more of an impact than I realise.

After my December Facebook fast, I took it off my phone, and after this fast, I’ve taken it off my kindle. Now that I have my own laptop again, I’m loath to use Jon’s desktop, and because I’m a little paranoid about just leaving my lap top sitting out on the table, I’ve taken to shutting it down and storing it more often, so it’s not like this constant thing that’s “on” and “central”.

In this Seven study, Jen Hatmaker often talks about these tiny little changes we make, little by little, that when added up, make a difference. For me, I could make a promise not to buy any clothes for a year, and between my lack of means to do so, and low interest levels, I could easily do it. But that’s not my issue, so I’m not going to go there. For people who have that issue, the smallest positive decisions they make with regards to spending are going to make a difference when added up and they should be encouraged in their journey.  It’s not always the big dramatic actions that yield long term results and change.

So back to me and my issues. I think I’m going to be realistic and realise getting social media in balance in my life may be a series of small decisions, lapses, victories, and slow progress, and the most important thing really, is being aware, admitting my weaknesses, and talking about it honestly within a supportive environment.

Giving up Facebook 100% may have been the detox I needed last week,  but during the week I was frustrated at the amount of times I could have used Facebook as a constructive, time saving communication tool, to my advantage and the advantage of others. The problem is the amount of time that get’s eaten and wasted.

I’ve had a week back in the thick of things online. The first thing I checked was Jen Hatmaker’s profile and saw that she’d been flown into NYC to be interviewed on the Today Show!! I enjoyed her humour, but refrained from reading any more comments while noting the comment tally on her blog was over 4,000! I’ve also got stuck in to promoting my Doula services, as well as the next Birth Hope Day.

We leave to go on Holiday on Friday and I’m looking forward to another week of dialled down media….

Don’t ask me about Waste Week just yet. I’m totally overwhelmed. Hanging clothes out to dry with no operational clothes line this week while trying to pack for a holiday in an effort to not use the tumble dryer….well, I think I may have to admit defeat tomorrow morning when I go into mad packing rush mode.

I’ll see if I can find time to fill you in on how this week is going before we head off on holiday. You’ll just laugh at me I know!



Dreaded Media Fast Week.

Tomorrow starts Media week. Those who saw me breeze through clothes week are now just waiting for me to crack. I know it’s bad when my son used to associate feeding times with my phone. I think about 3 people will be there tomorrow as some are still enjoying an extra week of half term, some have inset days with older children around, and one of us gave birth two weeks ago. I texted Siobhan to check if we were going ahead with the dvd as she keeps the schedule, and she assured me we were going to press on. bravely. No getting out of this one!

This is the week I’ve been dreading. I’ve done a version of this before I even read Seven. After watching the Advent Conspiracy at life group I decided to give up facebook for December. It was easier than I thought, and did me the world of good, as in it got me through Christmas without spiralling into a depressive state of believing everyone else out there has the perfect life and mine is boring. boring. boring.

I think I’m over that bit of Facebook now. I can scroll through news feeds and eat the meat and spit out the bones. Well let’s be honest, it’s not really meat, (and I don’t really eat meat) it’s more like…junk food, with the occasional healthy snack. I am shamefully addicted though. I think my seratonin levels rise whenever I see  a fleck of red against a backdrop of blue. It’s just crazy. It really is. I feel slightly strung out on social media at the moment. I think it’s possibly due to the half term haze that’s tricked me into staying up ridiculously late just because I don’t technically have to be anywhere the next day which has resulted in me getting stuck in a temporary rut.

I’ve been particularly obsessing over Jen Hatmaker’s latest blog post. Not the post itself. It was nothing short of hilarious, and I read it, laughed, and didn’t give it a second thought. I’m used to Jen. She’s the author of 7, in case anyone hasn’t picked that up yet. However (due to my constant Facebook checking) I started to notice her blog appearing in my newsfeed, and being posted by people who were unlikely to be regular followers. To make a long story short, the blog went VIRAL, and it was suddenly appearing on the front page of MSN in the states. The last time I checked (about a minute ago), there were 2,900 comments!!!

Most of the comments were along the lines of “I feel exactly the same way!! You’re in my brain! You’re my new best friend! You’ve nailed it! I’m not alone, and mainly ha ha ha’s” However, i could not help but get drawn in like a moth to a flame as some of the more negative reactions started to appear. There are people out there who clearly don’t have a sense of humour. The scary thing was, even though these are people I will never meet, their comments, their rudeness, their downright meanness, really unsettled me. I felt for Jen, but I’m sure she is made of tougher stuff than I am and this isn’t the first time she’s come under fire. (for far more serious issues than whether or not she’s a good mom or not because she’s admitted to not enjoying reading with a 6 year old, shock horror.)
I have been sensing a good break is in order for awhile, and so I’m going to detox for a week.

I have not quite worked out the details of everything I want to do. My personality tells me to go the whole way, and pull the plug on everything, because then I’ll feel I’ve done it “right” but as I keep telling my Monday group “there is no right way to do this” I may need to put that in practice myself.

So Facebook is an obvious one. It’s going to go for the week.
I’m also going to have to give up Jen’s blog, because I’ve just gotten way too sucked in to the comments. I’ve been waiting to see what her response is going to be to this whole drama. Truth is, she’s probably going to handle it with total dignity and not give it too much head space. (unlike me)
There is no point sitting on a computer blogging during media week about how you’re giving up media, so I’m going to give this a rest.
I’ll keep my kindle, but limit it’s use to reading.
I’ll keep my phone but make a conscious effort to not drop everything the moment I hear a notification coming through. It can wait.

So why? What’s the point of all this? It’s not just about proving I can live without facebook. I’m just making some space….and saying “Ok God I’ve been wasting a lot of time and I’m sorry. What have I been missing while I’ve had my head stuck in a comment war or a mind numbing news feed?”
I’m sure the most obvious answer will be my family.




Day 3. Cracks showing

Cracks are beginning to show today.

I enjoyed a lovely time visiting clients this morning and had a golden time with my doula mentor this afternoon. All sunny, breezy, and warm.
Then somewhere between picking kids up and the present, I’m no longer feeling warm rays of sunshine (and it’s not even my kid’s fault!!)
I’ve been snappy, sensitive, snarly, and tearful.
After bedtime, I thought I’d curl up and do the actual homework for this week, to see if it would calm me down, comfort me, and make me feel better.
Aside from the first few laughs…Jen Hatmaker told me to go count all the items of food in my house. Ugh. I didn’t want to do anything physical, I just wanted to slouch. I lugged myself up, and started to count tins of beans. Meanwhile my husband randomly started looking for a pen drive of ours that always goes missing. Whenever this happens, I always have this sinking guilty feeling that it’s my fault it’s missing. So while I was counting food, my head was in a mither, because Jon was now up and about on a search mission. (In the end I found his pen drive for him)
Counting my tins and food usually only serves as a reminder of how completely encrusted my cupbords get within days of me cleaning them. I thought I had JUST done this, I’m thinking, as I try and wipe away bits of lentils and pasta and gooey honey from the shelves. Ugh.
It turns out I have roughly 150 items of food in the house. That’s a lot. I recon we could survive a good two weeks on what we have in. It may be very boring food, but we could certainly do it. I’m not sure it’s a practical solution, but I’m going to make an effort to start making a dent in this. But back to my night. I just wanted to go back in curl up on the couch and enjoy the home work.
The Homework was good, however it did not serve as a balm for my poor deprived soul (as if), it was more challenging, convicting, confusing, and hard core.

No warm fuzzies tonight…I miss hot chocolate, and I just want to go sleep.


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