I was recently over at iMOM with a guest post on my heart for my children when it comes to “Screens.” We are the first generation of mothers who must brave this new territory and it can certainly be overwhelming but I believe we can honor their childhoods when we choose to “mother” rather than merely “monitor” this aspect of their lives. I am by no means an expert, but if you’d like to read my “6 Solutions to Screen Problems” and then tell me a few of yours, I’d love to enter this discussion with you!
We hustle for a lot of things. We hustle for success and fitness. We hustle at our jobs, we hustle at home. We hustle at our kid’s schedules and for our families’ best. And let me be really honest, right now, at the peak of Spring activities, the hustle has left me out of breath. I feel the grind winning. Trying to “just keep up” has me feeling left behind… behind on my spring cleaning, racing the weeds in the garden, a slave to my planner and the ever-changing “GroupMe” conversations revolving around baseball practices, rehearsal schedules, and “end of the year” teacher gift ideas.
Spring brings with her an urgency, like an enthusiastic friend who won’t take, “Just a sec…” for an answer.
The numbness that comes from being some kind of hustle robot is counterintuitive to the season. I realized that though it is Spring all around me here on the Ranchito, it has not been Spring in my spirit. And then one afternoon, on a mindless Pinterest scroll, I came across her and it broke my heart:
It broke my heart because the answer is barely. I barely remember her-carefree, crazy, wild, really, really joyful…. She is the exact opposite of “hustle robot.”
And then just yesterday this scene played out in front of my partly horrified, partly snickering eyes: Our property shares one fence line with an elementary school’s playground and our unconventional schedule leaves my kids home while most are in class. So yesterday afternoon, after their work was finished and they were released into the great outdoors, I caught my boys racing their go-kart along that fence line WAVING (y’all!!!) to the hundred or so children on the other side. All that separated the freedom of my boys to the confinement of the other kids was a pipe fence and a wistful stare. I recognized the look.
“Why is everyone else having all the fun? Why am I stuck behind this fence? Must be nice.”
But do you see what the second half of that “Meme Mantra” says? “She is still there… inside you… waiting. LET’S GO GET HER!” Let’s go get her… Yeah, let’s!
Let me propose to you as I propose to myself that happiness is okay. Maybe even important. It just might be okay to pursue a little happiness in our lives. Happiness, fun, delight, just a good ‘ole fashioned good time does not stand in opposition to godly joy or discipline. God is the creator of all good things, right? Like laughter and silliness and fun and whatever it is in little boys that makes them want to take a victory lap waving to the kids stuck behind the fence (ok, maybe not that).
There is something about winter that puts us in a receiving posture. The weather on the earth is limiting and inviting us to rest, to soak it in, to reflect. But spring is proactive! We plant, we clean out, we go after things in a different way. Just like we have to hustle for an organized home, a conquered schedule, a fruitful garden, or success in anything, we have to hustle for happiness! We have to plan for it and then go for it! We have to be proactively happy! Nothing worth having simply falls into our laps. Let’s go get it! Let’s go get her!
We have been trained well to name our blessings. We have gratitude journals, and One Thousand Gifts, and have been taught to focus on what we have rather than what we want. It’s the winter’s savoring, reflecting mentality, and it is vital for our spiritual health. We are told in scripture over and over and over (and 10 more “over’s”) to remember and recount the blessings of the Lord. Yes and Amen!
But I am proposing a little something different this Spring. What if we had a “Proactive Happy Challenge?” What if we made a “Hustle for Happiness” list? Do you want out from behind the fence too? Is the grind grinding out your joy? Have you become a hustle robot like me? Y’all, what if we really go get her together?
In the hustle, God has been whispering this to me again and again; “In the midst.” Because that is where life is lived- in the midst. That is where we will find joy- in the midst. That is where community is built and children are raised and marriages are fought for. And listen, that is where God is always found- in the midst. He promises us in Hebrew 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
As much as I would like for my hustle for happiness to include Pina Coladas on a tropical beach, a fancy book contract, or my West Texas vegetable garden to miraculously become an English rose garden… I have to be proactively happy in the midst, with today’s limitations and responsibilities accounted for.
(Confession: I am currently failing at this)
So let’s get proactive! Here’s what I am doing and what I am inviting this community into (it would make me really HAPPY for you to join)!!! I have made a master, ever-evolving, “Proactive Happy” list. I have simply written down things I can do to bring real joy, delight, and happiness into my days- in the midst. They are little and big. Some are dreamy, and some are super cheesy. But each of them, when plugged into my day, will bring me a step closer to that crazy girl standing in the sprinkler!
That’s Step One: Make a Master Proactive Happy List of your own.
*Make it possible in the midst (but throw a couple of dreams in there too! “With God all things are possible” Matthew 19:26).
*Make it personal. There is no shame in what puts a smile on your face and what doesn’t (within reason… y’all know what I mean). Happiness isn’t one size fits all. Last week one of my besties told me she was “so excited” about being a chaperone on our kids’ 4 day “6th Grade Tour of Texas” trip. So excited? I felt guilty for about 1.7 seconds because all I could think about was putting my son on that bus and saying, “bu-bye.” Nope. I won’t do it. That hustle is not for me! Not on my list.
*Make it make it something you can do, a place you can go, something you get to eat or drink, a song you can listen to. Make it a verb! “My kids,” or “Jesus,” belong in your gratitude journal. “Watching a movie with my kids,” or “taking a walk with Jesus,” is proactive.
*Lastly, this is not the place for, “having a clean house will make me happy so I’ll write vacuum on the list,” or “I want to lose some weight so this grueling work out that I hate will go on the list.” Those things are disciplines- doing something for a future payoff. And they are important! Do them! But the things on the Master List will be their own payoff!!
Step Two: Plan one Proactive Happy activity a day! Like write it on your planner, put it in your phone, on your to-do list, or wherever you keep up with your schedule. Maybe even text a friend to keep you accountable (Proactive Happy accountability parterres?!?! Fun!!!) Remember, it’ll be a hustle. There are plenty of things we have to do every day that keeps us on the other side of that fence. Make sure you plan one thing a day, in the midst, that takes you closer to that girl up there!!
Step Three: Enjoy it in the midst! When you have made space for a little happiness hustle, don’t forget to fully delight in it while you’re there! If it is as simple at 10 minutes on the porch, or a shower in a quiet house (mine yesterday)!, or turning on your favorite song and rolling the windows down, don’t let it pass you by without staking your claim in that feeling it brings! Remember, these activities are there own pay-off! Be intentional in letting yourself engage right then! For just a moment, put the rest of the world, all the responsibilities, all the hard, all the disappointments or stresses over that fence and jump in the go-kart!
Step Four: Share your Proactive Happy and Celebrate Others! Ok, so for the next 10 days I’m going to share my Proactive Happy activity in the midst on my Instagram and Facebook page using the #proactivehappy! Come on over and see what I’m up to, and then, more importantly, share your #proactivehappy every day too! Invite your tribe in! Get inspiration from each other! Jump in the go-kart together and go get her! And let’s celebrate one another’s hustle! Remember, if a friend is having that Pina colada on that tropical beach and you’re drinking cheap sangria from your bubble bath- her happy can’t steal yours. unless you let it! Comparison may be the highest fence of all.
So who is on board for this Spring hustle? Remember (1) make your list, (2) make your plan-everyday, (3) enjoy it in the midst, and (4) share and celebrate your #proactivehappy ! She is still there… inside you…waiting. LET’S GO GET HER!
“Mom, you should have a shop. You could sell oils and Jesus stuff and coffee, and I’ll be the baker,” my 8 year old, entrepreneurial daughter tells me.
This is just one idea out of hundreds my kids have come up with over the years to secure employment for me. (Our 7 year old son also thinks Daddy should own a bowling alley rather than “go to the office” because what could be cooler than owning a bowling alley?) It makes me laugh and slightly furious that they think I need a full-time job to keep me busy… Like being their cook, teacher, taxi driver, laundry service, maid, and full time secretary, referee, and counselor is not enough.
I’m sort of tapped out y’all, but thanks anyway.
My husband and I decided 13 years ago, when our first child was born, that I would stay home and we would sacrifice what we needed to live on one income. And let me be clear, at the time, that income was extremely limited and uncertain. The babies came much faster than the raises did but the hard roads of those years and the sacred treasures we found along the way deserve their own space.
I don’t own a shop. I don’t sell a thing. I bring no financial value to the household. I doubt you’ll find a harder worker than me — the hats I wear are endless, as every SAHM knows, and my husband assures me I’d be “expensive to replace” (um, thanks?). I have plenty of work but no pay. But let me tell you about my J-O-B.
More specifically, it’s prayer for favor over my husband’s job.
That is my contribution and I believe it is every bit as valuable as any bottom line you want to show me.
It’s February which means the twinkling lights of Christmas have been replaced (or not, whatever, don’t judge me, I like them) with hearts and ads for over-priced roses. My hubs and I aren’t great at it, though he has always been a better gift giver than me. But the way to my heart will forever be a cheese plate, hotel stay, and spa visit and that is a little hard to come by on a Wednesday night in the middle of basketball practices and little league try-outs.
So what I’ll give him this year is the same thing I give him everyday. It may not be sexy but I know it is effective and powerful. As he goes out into the work force to provide for our family, I pray for him like it is my job.
Do you know the story of Obed-Edom from 2 Samuel 6? It’s crazy and a little scary but I have a point here so stay with me.
David has just been crowned King of Israel and, after a couple of key victories in battle, he decides it is time to bring the Ark of the Covenant to its permanent dwelling place in Jerusalem. The Ark was more than just a sacred symbol to the Israelites. It was the place the actual glory and presence of God rested. Things were different before Jesus (understatement)! The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament days was selective and temporary, meaning that it wasn’t available to everyone all the time. David wanted the Ark near because he wanted God’s presence near. But there were ancient rules about transporting the Ark. Only the priests could carry it on poles and everyone else was supposed to stay about a thousand yards away. These laws were a sobering reminder of God’s holiness in light of the Israelite’s sinfulness.
But high on victory and anticipation of a new reign, David and his men decided the rules did not apply to them. They put the Ark on a cart pulled by oxen and headed to Jerusalem. When the oxen stumbled along the way a good ‘ole boy named Uzzah reached out to steady it.
AND WAS STRUCK DEAD.
God is not messing around.
It says in 2 Samuel 6:8 that David was, “angry because of the Lord’s wrath,” and in verse 9 that he was “afraid of the the Lord that day.”
So, he decides the trip stops there. Too risky, I guess. Or too much trouble to follow the rules. 2 Samuel 6:10 reads, “He was not willing to take the Ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite.”
And watch what happens…
“The Ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.”
The Lord blew the doors off of Obed-Edom’s life with blessing. He blessed his wife and kids and extended family, his work, flocks and crops, his entire household. In fact, the blessing of the Lord was so obvious and profound that word got back to King David and he decided that following the rules and risking the wrath of God was worth it. He went back to Obed’s home and did what he had to do to bring the ark to Jerusalem. Why? He wanted the blessing!
Let me ask you? What had Obed-Edom done to deserve the blessing and favor of the Lord?
All he did was live in the same house with the Ark, where the presence and glory of God resided.
Ladies, this Valentine’s Day, just call your man “Obed-Edom.”
You see, after Jesus came and then ascended, He sent His Holy Spirit to indwell in each of His followers. In John 14:16-17 Jesus says, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him or knows Him. But you know him for he lives with you and will be in you.” We also read in 1 Corinthians 6:19′ “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? “
Now we are the place the presence and glory of God dwells. We carry it with us wherever we go. Just as Obed-Edom was blessed by the Ark of the Covenant dwelling in his home, your husband, his work and his company can be blessed by the nearness of God’s presence through you.
So we pray. We pray for favor over our husband’s lives and health and work. We don’t look for formulas, we express faith. Learn about prayer, read about it, study different forms of prayer, by all means get a pretty prayer journal… but never let any of that take the place of actually PRAYING. There are no guarantees. Prayer will always carry with it an essence of mystery. It cannot be more about results than relationship. But I will tell you, God is faithful. My husband has been granted favor and opportunities his degree and experience should not have afforded him. He works with people of high integrity in a slimy world. We have always had what we needed. And best of all, he loves his job and his people. Maybe all of that is coincidental, maybe it’s all luck and hard work. But maybe it’s God listening to a wife’s prayers for favor over her man and his career. It’s not my job to figure it all out… it is my J-O-B to obey and pray.
So today I am giving you two tools I hope will be helpful as you pray favor over your man like it is your J-O-B. First, I have put some of my favorite scriptures to pray over my hubs in prayer form. Praying Scripture is POWERFUL (I will never stop beating this drum) but sometimes we skip over treasures because the language feels strange. I hope these cards will make the verses more accessible as you “Ark of the Covenant” of your own Obed-Edom.Next I have put the same verses in note form for you to give to your husband this Valentine’s Day and for the days to come. I believe it is a gift for them to know they are being lifted in prayer by their wives. I believe they will have a new confidence knowing the blessing you are calling down over them as they head out to the office or bowling alley. Stick them to his mirror, in his wallet, on his dash, by his coffee mug… You house the Spirit and presence of the Living God and your man is blessed by it!So whether you are a SAHM like me, or pound the pavement of the workforce right next to your man, the one thing you can bring to the table is prayer. Get after it like it is your J-O-B.
Happy Valentine’s Day from my Obed and me to you and yours!