These Small Hours

These Small Hours Blog Photo

For those of you wondering where I’ve been, I’m thrilled to share that my husband and I welcomed our second son, Chase Remington, on June 24. As you can imagine, our lives have been consumed with feedings, diaper changes, and nights filled with frequently interrupted sleep. Here’s to new life, and moving forward with our journey together!

Having a second child has been very different for me than having the first. It’s one thing to be told before you have children that being a mother means putting your child’s needs before your own. It’s another thing to experientially know it; to feel the tension of dying to yourself for the sake of your child is very different from hearing it from others. Going into having baby #2, I at least knew to expect discomfort and the pain of sacrificing my immediate wants for my children’s needs (my morning cup of coffee is often delayed until 10am, for instance).

But the five years between the births of my children has also taught me that infancy, the toddler years, and preschool pass by faster than I wish they did. They are exhausting years, but they are precious and so beautiful. For my oldest those infantile years are passed and he is now a “big boy” starting elementary school. I celebrate that with him, but it has also created such an acute awareness of just how short a time I have my boys at home with me.

Rob Thomas once sang, “Our lives are made in these small hours; these little moments…”. This second, and this one, and this one… make up the minutes that make up the hours that make up the days, and before we know it we’re at the end of our life. These days of no makeup, yoga pants, and spit up in my hair count. That job you’re in that you wish you were done with…it counts. Those times when we spend too much time looking at our phones or tablets (let’s admit it: most of us have to be aware of this…), that time counts too. And while God gives incredible, amazing grace, there are no do-overs. When all is said and done, what will we have to show for the time we have been given?

God desires for us to invest our time well. So in a world with so many choices, how do we choose well? I am becoming more and more aware of my great need to simply stop and ask God for the wisdom, and then for the courage and strength to obey.

At any given moment, there is a full list of to-dos to complete. You too, huh? What would life look like if we stopped and surrendered our days to the good hands of God, and simply told Him, “Yes, Lord. Whatever you have for me today, my answer is yes”? I’ve been trying to practice this more and more, and I’m finding out that sometimes my to-list has to go out the window because my little boy needs his mom to play catch in the back yard. Sometimes I have to buckle-down and get the writing done. Sometimes I have to scrub a toilet, or sweep the floors with a baby strapped to me.

And sometimes I need to just sit still and consider the goodness of God in the middle of it all.

Daily–even moment-by-moment–let’s stop and ask God what is best. At any given time we all have choices for how we invest our time. It might hurt–when the thing we want to do in the moment is not the best choice. Sometimes we must work when we want to rest. Other times we must choose to rest when the to-do list is overwhelming. Both have their place.

But God loves us like a Father, and He has given us His Holy Spirit as a great counselor. So take advantage of it! Let’s ask Him, “Lord, what would you have me choose to do with the time you’ve given me today? How about this moment right now?” And then let’s walk in obedience and let the Lord handle the rest.

At the end of our lives, we will not regret choosing obedience to the wise counsel of God. The sum of these small hours is a lifetime. Invest well.

The Connection Between Carpe Diem and Your Happiness

I turn thirty this yeaquotescover-JPG-36r. It’s not “old” by any means, but I’m still taken aback that “thirty” is upon me. It seemed so far away when I was in college, and yet here I am.

Three decades of living, and I can still smell the leaves on the tree that held up my tire swing. I remember the taste of watermelon by the pool, and the smell of Georgia summer nights, lit up by the twinkle of fireflies. Some days I feel like I’m fresh out of high school or college; I can remember those days so vividly that it seems impossible that 10 years have passed.

Alanis Morissette famously wrote the lyrics, “I have no concept of time other than it is flying.” I think of that line so often these days. Time is flying by, and there is nothing that I can do to slow it down. The best that I can do is to savor it all: the sweet, the bitter, and everything in between.

This series has been all about becoming healthier, happier people. One terrible habit that hinders our progress is wishing away our days. Are you as guilty of it as I am? When work is draining and unsatisfying, when the hours are long, when we are tired, when kids are screaming, the house is a mess, when you’re waiting on a promotion, or a big move, or something “bigger and better” it is too easy to fall into the trap of wishing away our days.

The really tragic thing is that if we don’t intentionally break the habit of wishing for what’s next at the expense of today, we will never really live fulfilling lives. Eventually the hourglass will run out, and we will be left grasping at the wind for the times we wish we could relive. We will have lived an entire beautiful lifetime, and we will have squandered it by wishing it away one day at a time.

In my last post I opened up to you about my past struggle with anxiety and panic. I look back on my journey of healing with joy, not because it was easy. It was brutal. I had to face my worst nightmares as though they were my reality, and I had to go into the darkness with the Lord for Him to lead me out to true freedom. But I walked away with the gift of a greater desire and stronger resolve to live today. I want to taste my coffee, and sing along to the music. I want to look my son in his beautiful blue eyes and to soak up each moment that I have with him. I want to tell my husband that in spite of everything we have been through, he is my hero.

To be sure, there is nothing like facing the reality of life’s frailty to appreciate that tomorrow is not guaranteed. It took me believing that my tomorrow’s were gone for me to stop wishing away my todays.

Dear friends, I urge you out of a deep desire for your health and vibrancy to take a deep breath and to find the beauty in your life today.

I realize that some of you are facing battles that I can’t even comprehend. You are in the thick of a war that seems impossible, and every part of you is screaming that you just want out; you just want the pain to be over. Oh, friend, I wish that I could look you in the eye and tell you face-to-face to hold on. I would tell you that you are not alone, and that one day the pain will be but a memory.

Soon after I had given my life to Jesus, one of my dear friends, and author of www.holymisfit.com, made me a CD that included a song by LaRue called “One White Tulip.” I still have the CD, and still cherish that particular song. I will let the lyrics speak for themselves:

I was just thinking
About how time flies
And that we’re all drifting
Like clouds in the sky
And you have always been there
And now we have all changed

And it’s been one Beautiful life

I was just wondering
On how to recall
The wonderful memories
And how they all fall into place,
Like the smile on your face
Like the kisses and the tears that we’ve shared

It’s been one beautiful life
And I know it’s tasted it’s trials
It’s been one beautiful life
And I know it’s tasted it’s trials

And it’s not over
It’s only begun

We’ve always been different
But never alone
Like one white tulip
That stands on it’s own
And you will always be here
And we will stay the same

It’s been one beautiful life
And I know it’s tasted it’s trials

Join me today in resolving to no longer wish away life this side of Heaven, hoping for whatever is next. Breathe deep. Feel the moments. Continue with me as we “do life” together, all the while seeking to grow into a vibrant group of people living life becoming who we were made to be. Living life beautifully.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

6 Ways To Beat Your Tech Addiction

I have a confession to make. The only way that I remember how to correctly spell and use the words “desert” and “dessert” is to remember a cross-stitched pillow I saw on a couch one time that read, “Stressed is dessert spelled backwards.” There you have it folks. My secret to correct spelling and grammar is a cross-stitched pillow.

Now that I’ve lost all credibility as a writer, let’s talk about a different word on that pillow: stress. It’s January 13. We just started 2015 about two weeks ago. Are Woody and Buzz stressedyou worn out yet? Stretched thin? Working too much? Moving non-stop? Giving, giving, giving, and seemingly never getting what you need? Then this week’s posts are for you.

How do we reduce chronic stress in order to become healthier, happier people? Notice I said chronic stress. We want to focus on the stress that never lets up, even when the deadline passes, the project ends, the party is over…lifestyle stress. This week we are going to deal with the importance of cultivating margin in our lives. Today is all about getting a grip on technology.

Modern technology is absolutely incredible. The advances we have seen in just our lifetime alone are enough to boggle our minds! I remember being so excited to buy my first cell phone fifteen years ago. Remember this bad boy?

Nokia 6110

That’s right. That’s the Nokia 6110 phone. I thought I had reached “cool kid” status when I got that phone with my prepaid minutes plan. I never could have imagined that in just a few short years I would be able to text, take pictures, have a navigation system, check email, and so much more on a smart phone. I’ve found myself more often wishing I could have that phone again.

(Hash)Tag on the advent of social media, and it’s no wonder we move at light speed! We have access to nearly endless information at our fingertips. We can stay in touch with more people than generations before us simply because of Facebook newsfeed. I can easily access what at least 30 of my friends had for lunch today, who has a birthday (by the way, I do love that function! I’m notoriously terrible at remembering birthdays), and so much more.

We have a lot to be thankful for. But our blessings of information and access can quickly cause our demise if we do not intentionally and strategically establish boundaries that protect our time, and protect our minds from overload (I’m sure I’m not the only one that has had the “my brain feels like mush” meltdown at the end of the week after being constantly available to the world around me, right?).

Here are a few practical tips to regain control of your time, your mental focus, and your information intake:

1. Put your phone away during meal times.

Savor your meal. Enjoy the company around you. Look an actual person in the eye. Read a book if you’re dining solo.

2. Use that fabulous little “do not disturb” feature on your phone. 

I had no idea that this function existed until a few months ago, but once I Do Not Distburbdiscovered it’s awesome powers, I have not looked back! If you want to listen to music from your phone, but you just want some time to detach from being connected you can press this little button to send calls to voicemails and to hold text messages until you turn the function off.

3. Delete email applications from your phone. 

I am a creature of habit. I have developed muscle memory that naturally scrolls to my email inbox when I touch my phone, even if it’s a weekend, a holiday, or if I’m on vacation. I can’t simply tell myself, “No. Don’t open your inbox.” I have to go cold turkey if I’m really going to enjoy my vacations, so I have been known to completely delete email from my phone, and then re-download once I’m back “on the grid.” Try it. It works.

4. Take a real break. 

Take a Saturday morning, leave your phone somewhere far away from your person, and get a cup of coffee. Turn on your favorite music, and just sit there. Just sit. For 15 minutes do nothing. Breathe deep, take in the moment, and sit still. Take time each week to consciously rest and do nothing but enjoy the moment.

5. Turn off anything with a screen. 

Turn off the TV, the computer, the iPad, the telephone, and anything else with a screen.  If you cut just thirty minutes of screen time each day, in the course of a year you will have gained an extra 7 DAYS of time to fill! Cutting an hour of screen time each day yields TWO WEEKS of freed up time. What could you do with that?

6. Try a media fast. 

Whether you take one to two weeks to unplug and disconnect from social media, TV, or anything else that has started controlling you, or whether you make it a weekly routine to take a day or two “off,” I encourage you to regularly take time away. Just because people can access your profile 24/7 doesn’t mean that you personally have to be available at all times.

I want to hear from you! How can you tell when you are overloaded with information and need a break? What do you do to ensure that technology remains a tool in your life, and not a controlling force?

Run Hard. Love Strong.

~Haley