Preparing the Soil

January 4, 2014
by Janet
5 Comments

What Bible Time Looks Like for Me

As promised, I am here to share what my Bible time looks like. This isn’t a prescription for you, but my hope and prayer is that it will give you some insight and ideas as you make the most important resolution.

As you may notice, I don’t call this time in my day my “quiet time.” There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this often-used title, but I choose a different name for two main reasons:

1) “Quiet time” implies that the only time you can do it is when all is quiet. And while that is the ideal, to make that a hard and fast command may rule out spending time with the Lord for for people in a number of different situations. The idea that all has to be perfect before I crack open my Bible is a dangerous mentality. As anyone with small kids knows, the moment of “perfect” will never come.

2) I want my children to know that the time I spend with the Lord is spent reading my Bible. The Bible is the purpose of this time set aside. Take out the Bible and there is no Bible time. Devotional guides, the “quiet time” choice for many women, perhaps have their place. However, thinking that reading about the Bible is the same thing as actually reading the Bible is akin to thinking that participating in movie review committee is the same as actually watching the movie. The discussion and critique of the review committee may be helpful, but without having actually previewed the film, most of the benefit is lost.

D.A. Carson expresses this clearly:

Devotional guides tend to offer short, personal readings from the Bible, sometimes only a verse or two, followed by several paragraphs of edifying exposition. Doubtless they proposed personal help for believers with private needs, fears, and hopes. But they do no provide the framework of what the Bible says—the “plot line” or “story line”—the big picture that makes sense of all the little bits of the Bible. Wrongly used, such devotional guides may ultimately engender the profoundly wrong-headed view that God exists to sort out my problems; they may foster profoundly mistaken interpretations of some Scriptures, simply because the handful of passages they treat are no longer placed within the framework of the big picture, which is gradually fading from our view. Only systematic and repeated reading of the whole Bible can meet these challenges (emphasis mine).

I think some the reasons we gravitate towards devotional guides (or doing nothing at all) rather than immersing ourselves in the Bible itself are that

1) We don’t understand the Bible
2) We find it boring
3) We don’t really know where to begin or what to read
4) We have wrong motives for our reading

My brief comments on those issues are as follows:

1) We will continue to not understand the Bible if we continue to not read it
2) It is boring because of point number one (we don’t understand it) and because of point number four (we have wrong motives).
3) Having a perpetual plan for systematic reading will eliminate the “where do I read” problem (I will share mine below).
4) Our motives can be revealed, I believe, with this question:

Are you reading the Bible to soothe your own heart or are you reading in order to more fully know the heart of God?

 

For most of my life I read for the former: I was looking to Scripture to give me the hope, encouragement, and advice I needed. And Scripture does do that with amazing beauty and grace. However, that’s not why we should read. Instead, our motive should be to know the heart of God. How can we align our heart with His if we don’t seek to know His heart? He has chosen to reveal His heart for His creation, His people, and His plan in His Word.  He wants us know Him, His heart, and His purpose. If we want to truly know Him, we must ingest the entire Word, not simply the “not boring” parts.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

And with that sermonette out of the way, this is what my Bible time looks like, and has looked like, since June 2011.

I get up early. The time has changed over the years, but really early works for me. Like 4 am early. Now I am not implying that you need to get up at 4 am in order to have time with the Lord. But maybe you do. I choose this time for several reasons:

1) I really do need quiet. I am a very sensitive person when it comes to sensory input. I can’t handle a lot before I am overwhelmed (this is why I decorate in simple ways, why I almost never listen to music, and why at potlucks I just choose one or two things to eat). Also, due to living just off the equator where the sun rises at 5 am and thus little eyelids (and mouths) pop open by 5:30, getting up early is a must. There are many days, however, when one or two little ones make it downstairs before I am done. I greet them warmly, ask them how their night was, and let them cuddle in if they so choose. They know, however, that my Bible time is important and it isn’t time for them to chatter, play on the computer, or ask me to do something for them. Through training, they have learned to respect my time.

2) I am a non-functioning person at night. I can’t read, I can barely think, and I am not much of a conversationalist. Morning is when I am sharp. We are to give our first fruits to the Lord and my first hours are my best hours.

3) If I don’t get it done first thing in the morning, there is a good chance it won’t happen at all. We must do what is most important before everything else takes over.

The sheer pace of life affords us many excuses for sacrificing the important on the alter of the urgent.” — D.A. Carson

And with coffee in hand, I read.

First, I start with a Proverb corresponding to the day of the month. 31 Proverbs, 30 or 31 days in the month. After 30 months of continuous reading of Proverbs, I can’t emphasize the benefit of this enough. The practical advice mixed with the heartfelt plea to seek wisdom is life changing.

Second, I read from my beloved Daily Light. After the Bible, nothing has been more beneficial in my walk with Christ. I’ve been reading my Daily Light for almost 15 years and it has, in an amazing way, spoken to me with words that went straight to the heart. Each day is divided up into two readings, one for the morning and one for the evening (though I read them both in the morning). Each reading is a composite of Bible passages centered around a theme. What I like about this is that it take various verses that shine brighter together than when I read them separately.

Third, I read the passages outlined in For the Love of God, Volumes One and Two (from which the above D.A. Carson quotes originate). The Scripture reading plan (that he borrowed from the M’Cheyne plan) lists four chapters to read (from various places in the Bible) each day. Over the course of the year, it guides you through the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice.

Fourth, I read the corresponding commentary for the Bible passages. In Volume One, Carson speaks to one of the first two passages and in Volume Two, to one of the second two passages. His commentary is meant to help the reader grasp how the readings fit within the larger Biblical narrative. His remarks aren’t to tie everything up in a cute little bow and send you on your way with flowery sentiment. Rather, his brief remarks are to help you increase your Biblical understanding. It has been immensely helpful to me. I think I have read through the entire Bible five or six times in my life and I am only now starting to understand the basic narrative. Carson’s comments have answered a lot of questions and have created new ones for me to search out answers to.

During these four parts (all of the books other than my Bible are read on my Kindle, mostly so they will travel easily), I keep my notebook open and write down verses that stood out to me, thoughts that I have, or prayers of my heart. I love looking back through my notebook to see what God was teaching me at the time. Because this plan is a perpetual plan—once you finish December 31 your turn right back to January 1—I read the same things from year to year. But my heart and life are in a different place from year to year and therefore the lessons that grab my attention also differ. It’s truly awe-inspiring to see the Living Word impacting my life in new ways during new times.

After I finish reading (which depending on how much journaling I do can take anywhere from 20-50 minutes), I head out the door. I have never been very good with praying and sitting still (well, I am just not good at sitting still.) So I pray while I walk or run. Every day, I spend about 45 minutes outside, strengthening my body through exercise and strengthening my heart through meditation and prayer.

I get home, eat breakfast, live out the moments of my day, go to bed at 8:30 or 9:00, and get ready to do it all over again the next day.

January 2, 2014
by Janet
6 Comments

The Most Important Resolution

I love the beginning of a new year. A new calendar. A new blank slate full of dreams and possibilities. I love the nostalgia of looking back on the previous year and I get giddy with the excitement as I envision what the next twelve months might bring.

I also love seeing the enthusiasm of people as they share their heart about their dreams for the new year. Some want a new family member. Some want to exercise more. Some want to cut out processed food.  Some want to find more balance in life. Some want to start a new adventure. Resolutions. Dreams. Goals. Call them what you will, but they are all new beginnings. And thankfully, we have a God who, in His grace and love, is all about new beginnings.

As you write your shopping list for healthy food and as you break in your gym membership and as you declutter that first room in your home, let me encourage you in this:

Make the most important resolution first.

And what’s that?

Be in the Word.

I can’t emphasize it enough. You need the Word. You need it more than you need more money, more things, more time, more balance, more fitness, more health, more kids, more books, more home, more anything.

You need more of the Word.

I remember one time talking with someone. She was sharing about how she wanted to hear from God more and we were discussing how we can know God’s voice. It was an interesting and fruitful discussion. I, too, long to hear God’s voice in my life. However, a while later, after the topic had changed, she said something that almost jolted me out of my seat. She said, “I haven’t read my Bible in months.”

Well, it’s no wonder. How can we expect to hear God’s voice in amazing ways when the first and most basic way He has chosen to speak to us goes ignored?

Can you really say that you want to follow God’s will for your life if you aren’t actively seeking His Word?  Can you really say you are seeking to know Him more if your Bible is gathering dust? Can you truly believe that you can chase your dreams and will have God’s blessing when you intentionally ignore His voice?

Believe me. I say this love. I say this in understanding. I spent many, many years of my life without my daily bread. I was seeking God, praying, wanting to serve, asking Him about His purpose for my life, dreaming big dreams…all without nourishing my soul in His word. How foolish I was.

You can read my story here.  It’s been two years since I shared it, and I wouldn’t change a word.

You can read another pleading — especially for mamas — here.

And here I am, at the beginning of a new year, begging once again: oh won’t you please spend time in the Word?

My heart grieves, truly grieves. There are so many amazing women out there wanting — longing — to do great things for God. They want to be better mamas. They want to be better wives. They want to be better friends, neighbors, daughters, and church members. They want to do great things for God. Their heart truly longs for all of this, but time and time again they find themselves spinning their wheels (I know, because I did it for many years). They are wondering why their heartfelt pleas and desires are getting them nowhere.

It’s hard to get far when you are walking in darkness.

 

My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,
Guarding the paths of justice,
And He preserves the way of His godly ones.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice
And equity and every good course.
For wisdom will enter your heart
And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
Discretion will guard you,
Understanding will watch over you.

Proverbs 2:1-11

So before you start to follow through on any resolutions, can you please make this one first? Can you please figure out how to gather your manna every day?  Will you please choose this above all others?

Wouldn’t you love to get to the end of 2014 and be able to honestly say, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” (Job 23:12).

Nothing will change your life more. Nothing has changed my life more than the past two and a half years of daily intake of His Word. I am a different person. I am a different wife. A different mother. A different friend. A different daughter. A different sister. I have a long way to go, but I am so far from where I was.

Choose this today.

And tomorrow, in case it helps someone out there, I will share what my Bible time looks like. I know that choosing where to begin is sometimes half the battle.

December 30, 2013
by Janet
4 Comments

Inspired by The Amazing Race


The most recent season of The Amazing Race included none other than our city of Bandung, Indonesia!  It was so fun to watch these contestants run around our city, seeing and experiencing what we see and experience every day. We saw the taxis we use, the attractions we have been to, and the frustrations we have.  Two of my favorite quotes were:

“Why is everyone [the cars] moving 2 miles an hour?”

Sorry, that’s what traffic is really like here!

“Whoa! Look at that family!” [indicating shock at seeing four people — 2 adults and 2 kids — on a motorbike]

You think that’s crazy…

Our kids really loved watching these episodes as well. To see their home on national TV was something special. I loved listening to their comments and seeing how much Bandung really is their home, even if their passport says something different.

The best part of the two episodes was being able to say, “We’ve been there!” and “Hey,that’s where we went!”

There was one place we hadn’t been, though, and we needed to remedy that. Some friends let us borrow their car for the week and so on Saturday we were off to Curug Cimahi, or, Cimahi Waterfall. It was a beautiful day and not even the 500+ steps down (and then back up!) kept the kids from having  a great time. Unfortunately, our next stop was going to be the place where the contestants ate cobra (we haven’t done it yet), but as it turns out, that was a set-up for the show. The little warung (shop) where they ate cobra usually just has the normal drinks and noodles. Oh well.


 

 

December 28, 2013
by Janet
1 Comment

A Merry Little Christmas

Another Christmas done. It’s hard to believe that this is our 15th Christmas as a married couple and our 11th as a family. I love that we always have a special morning together, with just us, celebrating God’s gift to the world and our gifts to each other.

THE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Zachary’s first Christmas (wearing the same PJ’s that all of the kids have worn for their first Christmas)
  • The magic of a two year old on Christmas morning (and watching her progressive wardrobe change)
  • Mama-made Christmas PJs for all the kids (wrinkled from a good night’s sleep)
  • Gratitude and excitement for gifts (we rarely buy anything for the kids through the year, making Christmas and birthdays truly special)
  • Another white Christmas (we buy 10 pounds of cotton batting each year so we can have a “White Christmas”)
  • Our traditional red and green Thai Sticky Rice with Mango
  • A special gift from Alaina: 15 years of Christmas memories typed and presented to me. I love that she knows me well enough to know how much that would mean to me.
  • A special gift from Caleb: A huge hand drawn picture of “DRAWWORLD.” I love to see his creativity. The details are amazing!
  • Two boys feeling grown up with their new iPod shuffles.
  • Two happy girls anticipating a “girl trip” to Kuala Lumpur at the end of January
  • Two happy boys anticipating a “boy trip” trip to Legoland in Malaysia at the beginning of January.
  • Being surrounded by these amazing people I get to call family.

 

 

December 18, 2013
by Janet
2 Comments

14 Years of Lessons Learned


Yesterday was our anniversary. 14 years. 

We celebrated with a steak dinner in our bedroom and a candle flickering…

…AND a two-year-old up an hour past her bedtime dancing around the room, picking green beans off our plates, and claiming that my gift from Jason was really for her. We just laughed, enjoyed our entertainment, and offered up our french fries.

Yes, my friends, that is what 14 years looks like.

I know most people say that the time goes fast, but in all honesty, I feel like that December night — filled with candles, roses, and the smell of evergreen —was a lifetime ago.

Perhaps that is because that December night was

  • six children ago (and 22 children ago for my bridesmaids)
  • four lived-in countries ago
  • 17 houses ago
  • 5 “real” pets and countless “critter” pets ago
  • ten visited countries ago
  • more than 100 flights ago
  • over 100,000 photos ago

A lot happens in 14 years. A lot of laughter. A lot of tears. A lot of memories. A lot of frustration. A lot of lessons learned.

As I sat drinking my peppermint tea yesterday, chatting with a friend about being on the other side of fourteen years, I thought about some of the things I have learned.

  • Once you say “I do,” that person is God’s will for you. Don’t ever question it again. Don’t let anyone else question it again. What God has joined together, let no man separate.
  • Marriage is hard. So hard. But like anything else in life, hard work usually leads to great things. Who do you think feels more accomplished: the one who drove to the top of the mountain or the one who hiked through snow, ice, and wind to reach the summit?
  • Marriage isn’t just a choice when there is a ring box open in front of you. It is a choice you make EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
  • When all your spouse’s faults magnify themselves and you wonder how in the world you can look past them and choose love, ask yourself what your spouse has to look past in order to love you.
  • Remember what it was about your spouse that made you choose forever.
  • There will be parts of your marriage that will almost always be good, parts that will almost always be hard, and parts that will ebb and flow. Remember the good, let love cover the bad, and know that the ebbs will eventually give way to flows.
  • Praying to see a change in your spouse in much more effective than repeatedly telling your spouse to change.
  • Remember that God created your spouse in His own image and has His own eternal purposes in mind when He created his/her personality, gifts, desires, and skills.
  • The ultimate goal of marriage is not for your husband to try to make you happy.
  • If your husband seems distant, go meditate on Proverbs 21:10, Proverbs 21:19, and Proverbs 25:24.

I am so thankful for 14 years with a man who loves me, loves our children, works hard, seeks to know the Lord, and loves me in spite of my many, many faults. He never complains, never criticizes, and never nags. His heart for the nations is huge and he has a learner’s spirit. He works hard to know me and love me in a way that I can feel. I choose him today. I choose him forever.

I made this video three years ago, but he’s still the one…

 

December 12, 2013
by Janet
2 Comments

Still Thankful

I know it’s not November anymore. I know that Thanksgiving has passed. I know that Christmas is just around the corner (and I have yet to do much to prepare!) And yet, here I am, on an early December morning, feeling so very thankful.

One of the reasons I love photography and scrapbooking so much is that it has taught me to be thankful. God’s blessings often come in the small and seemingly insignificant moments. My camera captures many of those moments. When I look through photos of moments that made me click the shutter, it is easy to see God’s blessings woven throughout our days and months. I spent years wondering where God’s blessings were. A quick glance through recent photos shows me that God’s abundant blessings are always there…as long as we take the time to open our eyes and see.

I’m thankful for….























November 12, 2013
by Janet
4 Comments

Let Dad be Dad

I heard Jason calling from downstairs. “Janet, you might want to bring your camera.” Surprised that he was home so soon from his bike ride, I grabbed my  camera and headed downstairs. I peeked out the front door and then I saw it: my two sweet girls, still sitting in the bike trailer, covered in mud.

Ahem.

I promise you: they were clean when they left the house an hour earlier. Seeing Jason sporting the same muddy attire, I dared to ask what happened.

“We went on a bike ride,” he said with his childlike grin cracking through the dried mud on his face.

“The path was muddy,” he said as if somehow that would explain everything.

I looked at my girls, faces filled with smiles and dirt and mud stuck between teeth.

And then I smiled.

A long time ago, perhaps even before we had kids, I was given an amazing piece of advice: Let dad be dad.

I wish I could remember who it was that I was speaking with because I want to thank them for that nugget of wisdom that has served us well these past eleven years. Yes. Let dad be dad.

Back when it was just Alaina and Caleb, I remember getting our first note that commended Jason for who he was as a father. It was thoughtful and kind and we were appreciative. Since that time, we have received more notes, endless comments, and even a few “Wow, can he come watch my kids?” enquiries Despite the small amount of fear people have for the safety of my kids as he throws them around, all of the comments have been positive.

“He’s such a good dad.”

“He’s so good with the kids.”

“You’re so lucky!”

“It’s a amazing that he will stay home and watch six kids by himself!”

And they are right.  He is a good dad. He is great with the kids. I am lucky. It is amazing.

Before I was even interested in Jason, I told my friend, “That guy is going to be an amazing father.” Little did I know that I would get to watch it day after day.

Let dad be dad.

I often wonder what would have happened if someone hadn’t told me to let dad be dad. What if instead of letting him parent the way he knows how, I criticized everything he did? What if I didn’t trust him with the kids? What if I felt the need to write copious notes every time I stepped out the door? What if I didn’t let him draw all over our kids with face paint and let them get covered in mud?

I think he’d want to quit.

Most of us moms want our husbands to be involved. When they try to be, however, we nag and pick and rebuke.

“Oh, he can’t eat that!”

“Don’t let them play with that!”

“He’ll get hurt! Please don’t do that!”

“What are you doing? She can’t possibly try that yet!”

How hard it must be to try to parent with those criticisms flying through the air! The natural response of many men, understandably, is that they stop trying. Would you keep attempting something if another person constantly reminded you (in word and deed) that you are doing it wrong? I wouldn’t.

And so, I let dad be dad. I let him throw the kids in the air and I let him smear their face with whipped cream and I let him take little girls on muddy bike rides. Baths fix a lot of things.

This isn’t to say I haven’t had to express concern a time or two. Us mama bears have keen observation and due to the amount of time we spend with the children, we know their rhythms and routines in a more intimate way. But for the most part, I have to let Jason be himself. I let him be the fun-loving, adventure-seeking, crazy-idea-concocting, cookies-before-dinner, this-is-impossible-and-probably-not-safe dad that he is. And in the absence of my criticism, he just gets better and better.

Our kids are very lucky. And very happy.

And so am I.

 

November 8, 2013
by Janet
2 Comments

Life Around Here

As I said in my last post, I’ve been quiet around here as I struggle to learn how to use my words for His glory and not my own. It’s a fine and delicate line. The Lord has asked me some tough questions and I have given some honest answers. We’re getting closer to figuring this thing out. In all honesty, I think I am too hard on myself. But when there are so many women blogging and not-so-subtly trying to gain popularity and attention, I want to step back. I want to tread ever-so-lightly and make sure that there is purpose in my writing. Words are powerful and I want to use their power for good. I have been reading a Proverb a day for the past two and a half years and therefore I am no stranger to the danger of opening my mouth.

  • Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Prov. 21:23)
  • People will be rewarded for what they say; they will be rewarded for how they speak. (Prov. 18:20)
  • There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Prov. 12:18)
  • The words of a good person are like pure silver, but an evil person’s thoughts are worth very little. (Prov. 10:20)
  • Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Prob. 18:21)
  • Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. (Prov. 16:24)
  • Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (Prov. 13:3)
  • Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Prov. 29:20)
  • When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. (Prov. 10:19)


And so as I ponder these things and as I pray that my words will be gracious and “sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” I stay quiet. I know the Lord will teach me how to use words for good. For His glory. For the edifying of others. Patience is needed, however, as I try to figure out how to share my heart with an attitude of God-worship, not self-worship. The internet is full of both.


In the meantime, we are busy living life. We are enjoying the pool, talking walks, having tea parties, doing school, keeping our bodies healthy, watching the little man learn new things, and enjoying everything this season in our life has to offer. 







The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45).

 

 

 

 

November 6, 2013
by Janet
3 Comments

Turn My Heart

I used to have a large canvas hanging in the house that said ”Follow Your Heart.” It was beautiful and it reminded me that I am unique and that if I follow my heart (rather than the path of others), I am free to be who I am meant to be.

And then I took it down.

“The heart is deceitful above all things…” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Our hearts and feelings are unreliable. They are untrustworthy. They are inconsistent. They seek self and ease and comfort. They seek to appear better than everyone else and they long to have their opinions heard. Our hearts lead us down some dangerous paths.

Instead, Scripture tells us to guard our hearts:

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

On this side of heaven, we’re stuck living half in this world and half in the one to come. We have the Spirit living within us and yet sin and selfishness lurk around every corner.

However, there is hope.

“The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1)

The Lord can turn our hearts. That news is breath to my weary soul! Left alone, we’ll always veer towards self. But the Lord can turn our hearts. He can turn the hearts of kings, He can turn the hearts of others, He can even turn the heart of this sinful mama!

And so lately, this has been my daily prayer:

Lord,
Turn my heart toward your Word.
Turn my heart toward your will.
Turn my heart toward my husband.
Turn my heart toward my children.
Turn my heart toward your people.

Every day, with my Bible reading done, my heart starts leaning away from truth and toward being selfish. Toward ease. Toward defending myself. Toward being understood. Toward being appreciated. Toward being noticed. Toward being heard.

And if that is where my heart is heading, I sure don’t want to follow!

And so I pray.

I pray that the Lord — in His goodness and grace —would daily turn my heart back to where it belongs. Only then can I truly live.

And that’s why I’ve been quiet around here. I’ve been struggling and praying and seeking and trying to figure out how live, speak, and write in a way that points to the Lord, not toward myself. I’m not sure I know how to do that.

But I’m still here, alive and happy, trying to live a life with my heart turned towards eternity.

October 3, 2013
by Janet
3 Comments

Pause, Reset, Play…

Maybe it comes from our camping ministry background. Maybe it comes from the awesome car trips all over America that my parents took me on. Maybe it comes from the fact that I love routine and I love breaking routine. Who knows? What I do know is that getting away as a family is a very good thing.

We try to do it every few months. When the beauty of routine starts feeling confining, I know it’s time. It’s time to find another place to lay our heads and new scenery to fix our eyes upon. With just over two months back in Indonesia, the little box of life and routine was starting to suffocate. Add in a sweet boy oh-so-sick with typhoid and there was no way getting around it — we had to get away.

A friend mentioned a hotel in a nearby hill resort town and I was able to get a great deal on it as a last minute booking. It was perfect. A two bedroom apartment with a kitchenette, bathtub, dining table, glass walls, and endless views of tea fields. And all for $80.

Deep breaths of beauty, gratitude, and hope filled my weary soul.

When we get away as a family, whether it is for a night or a week, we are able to do some things that we can’t seem to do at home.

First, we pause. The schedule and the to-do list are set aside and we catch ourselves with nothing to do but embrace the stillness and the  silence (well, mental silence anyway…with six little ones, actual silence doesn’t ever happen). When we pause, we remember why we love each other the way we do and we are intentional about enjoying that love.

Second, we reset. Armed with a remembered and focused love, we are able to remind ourselves of the big things in life. When most of our days revolve around history and math review, making meals, and keeping a two-year-old from destroying the house, the truly important things often get lost along with the shoes and pacifiers. When we get away, however, and remember who we are as a family, what we stand for, and what we want out of life, we are able to reset and make sure our compass is pointed in the right direction.

And third, we return home and push play again, letting our days follow a familiar pattern infused with a renewed commitment to who we are and where we are heading.

I love getting away.