Last fall was a wild one for us. We kicked off September with a retreat at a nearby family camp and it seemed that the next time we blinked, it was Christmas. There was a one-day a week homeschool tutorial, a one morning per week Bible study, and three girls playing sports (which equaled three to four weekly practices and games between them). There was a husband with a full time job and a decent part (to sometimes seeming more like full) job leading music on Sunday mornings and starting up a church youth band. There was a mama who spent her days homeschooling three girls, doing laundry for an army, wearing out a busy boy, planning and cooking meals, tutoring at the homeschool coop, and working part time for her church. And doing quite a bit of chauffeuring and calendar management to make sure it all fit in. I’m guessing our fall was not so different from many of yours. Busy.
As I’m pondering a year of living intentionally, I have been very thankful that 2014 has started off with a much different look to it. While we can’t say no to work responsibilities because the house payment does need to be made, we have worked on paring down a few of our extra-curriculars for the next few months to give us a little breathing room. So far, it’s been a good thing.
I just finished reading through Tsh Oxenreider’s new book Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. While her book feels like a memoir of sorts as she weaves tales of her family’s time living internationally throughout the text, her passionate message for living simply jumps off the pages. She shares choices that her family has made for intentional living in several areas such educational choices for their kids, media and entertainment choices for their family, the decision to eat mostly local and/or fair trade food, and many others. She’s passionate about the decisions that her family has made in these areas and enthusiastically shares them in the book.
But the thing I really like about her book?
She encourages the reader to find their own passion. Slow down. Make room in your days, weeks, months to think and pray about your dreams and goals for your family and what direction you want to be heading. And then, she says, “living with intention requires a blueprint.” (p. 197) Put pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard) and scratch out a game plan on getting from point A to point B.
I’m a planner and a die-hard list maker. I love to look forward to events, plan celebrations, and anticipate holidays. But where I want to be in the next five years? Or ten? I could stand to spend a little more time on that. And those passions of mine that keep getting pushed to the back while I’m struggling to stay ahead of the laundry monster and the homeschooling beast? Write those down too. Give breath to them and acknowledge that one day, when my kids don’t demand quite so much of me and I have a little more room to breathe, there are some wonderful things that I want to do that I believe God has placed in me. Don’t hear that I’m wishing away the now. I’m not. I signed up for this parenting ride of sleepless nights and sippy cups. But in the quiet moments where I have an extra fifteen minutes, an extra half hour, an evening where a window of time opens, pull that blueprint out and pick one small thing that I can do to step towards that goal.
Intention means an act or plan, so living with intention actually means living with a plan. Making your days, choices, and relationships count toward something ultimately doesn’t matter if you don’t know what that something is. (p. 197)
Thank you, Tsh, for sending me a copy of your book and for encouraging me to keep on with what I’m doing. Slowing down, breathing in life now, and encouraging me as I look to the future to do so with a plan in mind.
This post is part of the Blue Bike Blog Tour, which I’m thrilled to be part of, second only to coffee with Tsh and getting to know her in person! To learn more about the tour and join us, head here. Notes From a Blue Bike is written by Tsh Oxenreider, founder and main voice of The Art of Simple. Even though it sometimes feels like you are swimming upstream, you and I DO have the freedom to creatively change the everyday little things in our lives so that our path better aligns with our values and passions. Grab your copy of her book here.