Illusions

I know how to create the illusion of many things. I can see my hair stylist every 4-5 weeks and create the illusion of being blond. I can use my favorite bronzer and create the illusion of cheek bones. I learned very recently how to use that same bronzer to create the illusion of a jaw bone.
I can work wonders with a splash of pine cleaner and give the illusion of a clean bathroom in a very short amount of time. I’ve even learned that clean windows can give the illusion of a cleaner room.
I have not, however, learned to create the illusion of a peaceful home. I think it’s either peaceful or it’s not. There’s not a way to fake peace. I can put on a smile when I’m in public and I can only put the best lit pictures on Facebook. I could only tell the funny, amusing stories of my family on my blog. I could do all of those things and make you believe all sorts of things about my life.
The truth  though, is that when you walk into my home there is no way to fake peace. When my kids come home from school I can’t put on an illusion of peace for them. When my husband walks in the door each night there is either a peaceful setting or there isn’t.
I want my home to be a place of peace and rest and comfort but it won’t happen if I don’t take proactive steps to make it that way. Here are some things I’m trying:

  • Meal Planning. I know it makes the busiest of moms roll their eyes but the truth is that taking an hour a week to look at recipes and make a decision on five or six meals saves me loads of wasted energy and frustration each night. I get out a piece of paper and write down the meals my family enjoy and won’t fight me on when it comes time to sit down at the table. I make it a rule to not try more than one new recipe a week. I don’t have time or energy for meals that don’t work and I’m not willing to risk it too often. Don’t get me wrong – I try new recipes all the time. Just not too often in one week. I make a grocery list based on the recipes I’ve chosen and add whatever other items we will need for breakfast and lunches.
  • Limit Grocery Store Trips. This can only happen if I stick to the meal planning. Running to the grocery store after work is a hassle because of all the other people who are running to the grocery store after work. If I have to take the kids with me it only adds to the chaos. I try to set aside a time when I can go without the kids and when it’s not prime time, high traffic hour at the HEB.
  • Assign Jobs to Everyone. Both of my kids have jobs to do every day at home. They have a really nice life and live in a really nice house. They are old enough to help take care of the house and all that happens in it. They are also old enough to understand that we can get to fun family moments much faster if we all chip in on the not-so-fun chores. Shelby has to help load and unload the dishwasher. Seth has to help with trash. They both have to pick up their own clutter and put it away every day. No strewn homework. No clothes or shoes left out. Each night before bed it all goes up and gets put away.
  • Family Dinner is a Priority. This is hard. I know how hard this is. This is the one where people usually tell me the four-thousand reasons their family can’t sit down together. But here’s the reality….wait for it…hold on…You Are In Control Of Your Family Schedule.  I know that little Susie wants to take ballet, tap, and mountain clogging in addition to Latin, cello, and Girl Scouts. I get that you want to give her all the best opportunities that you never had and that you want to do the same for little Jeffrey. Jeffrey plays football, basketball, hockey, and runs marathons for charities. It’s all good stuff and I’m sure that all the colleges will want them because they are so well rounded. I feel certain of it. Except no. NO! It’s a lie that we have been fed that if we keep our kids super busy they will be the best version of themselves. My kids aren’t that old and I’m not an expert by any means but I do believe with my whole heart that the best thing for our kids is that they know that God loves them and that their dad and I love them. That’s something that happens when we spend time with them. It happens when we sit down together several times a week (notice I didn’t say 7 nights a week – I am a realist and my kids are involved in some activities) and eat together and talk about life.
  • Limit Activities. I realize I just jumped on a small soapbox about this during the Family Dinner point but it’s important so I’m mentioning it again. It also helps make all the other points possible. We can’t have family dinner, we can’t take care of our house, and we don’t need to meal plan if we aren’t having family meals together because we are too busy. If my kids have an activity every single night then our schedule becomes rushed and chaotic. If we are always running here and there and everywhere we are not sitting down and looking at each other’s faces. We aren’t talking about life. And then I miss out on a lot. And they miss out on me. And we miss. We miss.
Listen, I’m not saying we have a perfect family. We are so far from it that I can’t even begin to tell you the hesitation I had in writing this post altogether. I’m not trying to create an illusion of peace. I’m trying to make space for peace. I’m trying to say it’s possible. It’s possible to say, “No” to some things, including my kids, and make space for peace to enter in to my family. I’ve tried it and I’ve seen the blessing that happens. I hope you’ll try it. I want it for your family because it’s been really good for mine. Maybe you try it and you hate it. Maybe you say, I don’t like my family that much and I don’t want to be at peace with them. Well then, that’s a topic for a whole ‘nother post. But if you are like me and you’ve found yourself in a place where you’re craving more than an illusion for your family I would suggest you start by praying and asking God to reveal the places he wants to let his Spirit enter in.

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