Habits of Holiness, Health, Homeschooling and Homemaking for 2018
Rather than declaring a massive overhaul of all that needs to be fixed, I have decided to re-institute several seemingly tiny habits, which though minute in their scope, will no doubt combine to effect a mighty transformation of our daily lives.
HABITS OF HOLINESS
Last week, I re-instituted my habit of reading the Bible and praying while eating breakfast. We call it Bible @ Breakfast around here, but sometime last fall, when I felt the schedule pinch of teaching my first college course, I let this rhythm go personally, to my great detriment — but have never wavered from this habit for the kids, to their great advantage.
I am using the Bible reading schedule printed in Tabletalk and hope to study two different books in the Bible during the year, using one of my favorite series: Let’s Study, edited by Sinclair Ferguson.
My habit of quick-tempered anger rejoiced in its deepening roots in 2017. I have been convicted of this with increasing frequency the past few months. God’s grace is on display when he disciplines his children and so now I am the one rejoicing that this is an area where I will be working out my salvation with fear and trembling. I want to be a wife and mother who is slow to anger and quick to forgive, and can hang my hat on Jesus’ promise to bring to completion the work he has begun.
HABITS OF HEALTH
For many months in 2017, I spent a great deal of effort modifying my diet to accommodate newly discovered food sensitivities and allergies. Building on that firm foundation, I now intend to revive a long-expired exercise routine. Now that I am 40, strength training simply must become a priority, if I am to remain a fit vessel for service for decades to come. I am already four days in, and am struck by how satisfying it is to think “I have already exercised today.”
My course of action is quite simple. I don’t love exercising and have said for years that I refuse to pay to exercise (i.e., join a gym) when all I have to do is step outside and go for a walk.
With those limitations, I have committed to walking briskly (while listening to a sermon) for 25 minutes each morning, on the trails that are adjacent to our neighborhood. The moment I get home, I pop an old DVD (purchased over 10 years ago) in my laptop and complete two 10-minute pilates routines. I don’t think Christians in good conscience can do yoga (another topic for another day, one that I’m sure will ruffle many feathers), but I have always loved doing simple pilates routines in my own home. The stretching feels wonderful and nothing can compete with using long-dormant muscles again.
HABITS OF HOMESCHOOLING
I went back to the drawing board for our homeschooling schedule over Christmas break. Too often this past fall, important parts of our schedule were getting dropped. So, I will be waking the kids up earlier, serving breakfast earlier, and getting everyone started on their studies earlier. A fairly minor change will, I think, relieve much of the pressure that comes when the morning is waning on, everyone is feeling worn out, and it becomes tempting (for me) to push things back until the next day.
The habit that comes into play here is one of me laying down my own selfish desires in order to serve the best interests of my children (which I write more about here, as it relates to C.S. Lewis). My instinct (a well-ingrained habit) is to extend those early morning hours as long as possible. My favorite time of day are the hours I am awake before all the children descend into the kitchen, and over the years, I have tried every conceivable schedule possible for me to use those hours on personal projects: writing, big-picture planning, organizing, and so on.
Rather than tremendous fruit growing out by this time, what actually happens is: (1) one of the children wakes up earlier than I want, and I have a cranky attitude; or (2) because I so value that silence and ensuing productivity, I continue to let them sleep, rather than get them started on their day, which puts everyone behind schedule and ultimately results in a cranky heart (looping back to problem #1).
And so, I am taking Jesus’ admonition to heart: when your right hand is causing you to sin, cut it off. At this stage of life, with homeschooling four children ages 12 to 5, I am cutting off my unrealistic desire to produce and create in those early morning hours. I want to re-develop the habit of greeting my children with a happy face and voice, and welcoming them into the day.
HABITS OF HOMEMAKING
This fall, I finally (begrudgingly) began menu planning for a full calendar month in advance. I resisted such extensive planning for many years, but it became necessary for several reasons. First, last May we began buying all our meat from a local CSA, and planning was essential for me to use up various cuts and types of meats each month. Second, due to changes in my husband’s work schedule last fall, I took on all the cooking responsibilities rather than sharing them with my husband. Third, several months ago, I started training my oldest two girls on preparing dinner. Though they have both been baking alongside me, and often independently, for a couple of years, cooking for dinner involves a whole different set of skills I had been reluctant to teach until mid-2017.
As much as I resisted this menu planning change, it has actually been quite freeing. Decision fatigue has been eliminated, as I have a printed calendar with each dinner written on it. I can buy all the ingredients at our once-per-month Costco trip or our bimonthly Publix trip. Those hours’ worth of planning ahead of time have eliminated many, many hours of stress and indecisiveness. I intend to keep up with a monthly menu meal plan in 2018.
MY MORNING ROUTINE
One of my favorite things to do is sit down and chart out our current rhythms and schedules and tweak them. It is both a hobby and, quite often, a necessity. Because of the changes implicit in a household full of growing children and a homeschooling schedule, I find that one schedule rarely works for more than a few months. Thankfully, I adore schedule-planning, so am never embittered by these regular re-visits.
When we begin school again next week, here is what I will begin with:
5:15-5:45am Bible @ Breakfast, using the TableTalk reading plan
5:45-6:30am Walk + 2 pilates workouts, while listening to a sermon
6:30-7:00am Shower and prepare for the day, while reviewing my Bible memory work
7:00am Wake oldest two daughters
By the way, I have enrolled in Mystie’s fabulous Humble Habits course that begins January 5th. Have you?