Incorporating Habits into Routines

Next week is spring break. Will you rest during spring break? The family literacy teacher asked our class this opening question. The only woman in the room without kids, she was looking forward to a week of sleeping in, unstructured time with family and friends, and relaxing.

IMG_8552All the moms looked at her blankly. This was not a language misunderstanding; this was a life-circumstance disconnect. None of the moms in the room would sleep in or relax. If anything, our routines would be thrown off for the week and we would be filling long days that were usually helped by the school routine.

Normally, I love slow days. Even though we wake up at the same time, regardless of the weekend, weekday, or holiday, having a pajama morning is lovely. Easing into the day is more relaxing and I love the break in routine.

But I also need to go into next week remembering that it takes time to establish a vacation routine, too. That for as much as my kids need and thrive on unstructured play, having an unstructured routine can be stressful.

Lent is almost finished – just over a week until Easter. Every day, I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus, “giving up” some of my precious writing time to dive into the Bible. For the most part, I’ve been consistent, with just a couple make-up days. Now that I’ve established this routine, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll keep in its place.

Because that’s the point, right? Not to simply go back to old habits but to continue living intentionally, using my time wisely, and recognizing the power of habits and routines.

What kind of routine do you thrive on? And, are you able to sleep in on holidays or do you keep getting up at the same time?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “routine.”

When Hospitality Becomes Reality

Even though I wrote this for the MOPS blog well over a month ago, we’ve just come off three solid months of houseguests. As we head into the holiday season, I hope you find these words encouraging!

annie_rim_hospitalityWhen we were searching for a house three years ago, one of the pieces of my wish list included a dedicated guest room. In our tiny starter home, our guest room-office-library-catchall room was fine but didn’t exude Martha Stewartesque hospitality.

After looking at many different sizes and ages of homes with our realtor, we popped into a random open house one Saturday – and found our dream home. It was old enough to have character but new enough to be up to code. And it included a dedicated guest room with bright windows looking into our yard filled with mature trees.

My dream had been to offer this space to anyone in need: friends, family, folks from church, and those in need of a short-term place to rest.

For a variety of reasons (mainly consisting of two young kids), our guest room stayed empty, save for the annual visits from family and close friends. I loved walking by the one always-tidy room in our home, but I also felt a tug to fill it somehow.

This year, our guest room has been filled from mid-August to the end of October. Between weekend visits from family to friends visiting from Zimbabwe, to another friend moving to Denver and needing a place to land before finding a job and home of her own, our guest room has felt like a revolving door.

My dream was put into practice. Some of the guests were incredible, helping with housework and entertaining our girls. Some were unexpected and high maintenance. Our long-term guest made our transition to kindergarten easier, as she stayed home with our napping toddler while I did afternoon pickup.

But, two full months of other people in our house also took a toll. Our five-year-old cried one night as she brushed her teeth in our bathroom, wishing she could just have her own bathroom back. My communication with my husband hasn’t been what it usually is, because someone is always around and we can’t talk as freely as we usually do.

Again, there are pros and cons. Maybe our daily communication isn’t the same, but we’ve taken advantage of someone being home after bedtime so we can take our neglected dog out into the neighborhood for an evening walk.

I just bought a book about hospitality being a Christian tradition. I’ve just barely started it, but I knew I needed the reminder that, as Christians, hospitality isn’t just something nice to do. It’s a rooted part of our faith – from Abraham and Sarah providing a meal to angels in disguise, to Mary and Martha hosting Jesus and the disciples, to the early church opening their homes to Paul and the missionaries – hospitality defines Christianity.

This season of hospitality has been rich and exhausting. In so many ways, I am looking forward to walking by an empty guest room again, smiling at the only tidy room in the house. But I am also thankful that we are able to model this open-handedness to our daughters. It’s been a challenge to them, but such an important lesson in sharing what we have, in using our own blessings to bless others.

It’s a reminder that, no matter what words I use to tell my children about the message and life of Jesus, the way they really understand it is when I choose to live it out, in our family’s values, in my own attitude, and in ways that they can see God at work in our family.

How has the practice of hospitality stretched you? As we go into this season of increased guests, how do you balance an open home with quiet space?

Originally posted over at The MOPS Blog: http://blog.mops.org/hospitality-becomes-reality.

Rejoicing in This Season

Even though I’m a firm believer in waiting until after Thanksgiving to begin celebrating Christmas, I can’t help but start thinking about Advent and how we’ll introduce it to our kids. I think this is the year we can begin establishing traditions that Bea will understand.

Our Thankful Tree
Our Thankful Tree

We began the month with a Thankful Tree – just a bulletin board cutout and leaves (because I am so uncrafty!) that we add to each night at dinner. I went into this with low expectations, thinking we may have to help out with prompts. But, Bea has taken the Thankful Tree seriously. Every guest at our table is given a leaf and Bea has no end of ideas for her leaves. (And Elle’s – my favorites are “paintings by Vincent van Gogh” and her carseat. We have a cultured and safe baby.)

For Advent, I’m thinking we’ll keep it simple. We’ll light the Advent candles each Sunday with a simple verse. I bought Unwrapping the Greatest Gift last year, and while the readings are probably too long, we can color the ornaments and talk about the themes.

As the days get shorter and shorter and as we come off of a rough couple weeks of upended schedule, I’m already feeling the tired winter feelings. I think of Placide Cappeau’s lyrics in O Night Divine:

A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

As we settle into this season of celebration in the midst of seasonal weariness, I know I need to be intentional about stopping and recognizing the restoration happening right now. That we are celebrating a season of family, of generosity, of the birth of Christ, but also of the thrill of a new, glorious morn.

That, as the news and world events can make me weary, we are in fact celebrating the coming restoration of broken systems in a broken world.

How do you stop and recognize something deeper in this season that can be crazy?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.