I have a deep affinity for hiking in the mountains. Something about the wildflower hills, spaced sporadically among thick walls of green trees, and a path with untidy growth happening all around my feet makes my heart sing.
I’ve lived my life as an adventure seeker. International travel, camping, road trips, big projects, building our own home–its just me. I approached motherhood with the same intentions. In fact, my motherhood journey began with applying for international adoption (which is on hold for now, but still growing steadily in our hearts). When we found out I was pregnant with twins, I thought to myself, “all the more to adventure with!” I wasn’t expecting to ease into anything. I’m a jump-in-the-deep-end kind of girl, and this seemed right up my alley.
In the middle of a hot summer week, my beautiful babies were born, and life became chaotic: blessed, beautiful, wild-flowers-in-a-field kind of crazy. But as a family, we weren’t exactly thriving in our newfound adventure. We had heaps of helpers coming in and out of the house each week, which was an immense load off our shoulders. But eventually, I knew I had to do it. I had to create some structure.
To me, structure is like nails on a chalkboard. Take away my freedom, my spontaneity, my late nights of writing and long days of sharing the truth of Christ at one coffee date to the next… might as well take away my sense of adventure.
However, to ensure my children grow steadily and healthily, and to provide a smidgen of sanity for my husband and me, I bent over backwards to create an achievable schedule.
Other ladies might agree, that living a highly structured life can feel monotonous and repetitive:
- Checking off the to do list.
- Adding more things to the to-do list.
- Thinking of a change-the-world-size idea, and forgetting to write it down.
- Making time with Jesus, but getting distracted every time (I think I could be diagnosed with prAy-DHD).
- Finding babysitters so we can work-out, grocery shop, have a date night, participate in a gospel-sharing opportunity.
- Feeling guilty that our kids spend way too much time with babysitters.
- Brainstorming how to streamline the efficiency of our homes.
- Striving to be more available to our husbands, emotionally and physically, when we often feel drained and over-focused on the to-do list.
- Wondering why we even get our babies and preschoolers dressed every day?
- Planning meals.
- Charting chores.
- Maintaining the structure.
- Drinking more water.
- Finding time to use the bathroom after drinking so much water!
- Mindlessly checking Facebook, for who-knows why.
- Denying the desire to snack all day, but really wanting something to munch on.
(Anybody feel me here?!)
For me, nap time comes and I’m on the clock for a shower, laundry, clean up, maybe a little writing. Suddenly the low echoes of a groggy but awake baby approach my ears with subtle urgency. I try to squeeze in a little more time on whatever task I have set before me, at least to clean it up before round two. Within seconds however, I have two howling creatures trying to get my attention. Perhaps they mean to give me a sense of being in the mountains?
Bedtime comes, a choppy night sleep awaits, then it’s back to the same activities in the morning. Day after day, I face the “unadventure” of motherhood.
Lately though, Set Apart Motherhood, by Leslie Ludy, has given me a new perspective. In almost every chapter, Leslie gives practical advice and achievable examples for how to foster a greater sense of orderliness with small children.
This push for order was a turn-off for me, at first. I am not the OCD type that likes to have all my picture frames hanging in a perfect row. I appreciate the aesthetic beauty of things like a field of scattered daisies.
However, in my rant about the appeal of wild-flowers, God beckoned me to take a closer look. Did you know that all flowers have some sense of structure? They are designed so intricately and precisely. Two types of flowers, monocots and dicots, will always bloom with specific sets of petals. Monocots have multiples of 3 petals (like a lily), and dicots have multiples of 4 or 5 (like a rose). (Give your kids a fun science lesson here.)
Even the wild-flower fields of my beloved hiking days have a sense of order, structure, and design! It just takes a different perspective to see it.
Though I sometimes feel like I am living a very repetitive, unadventurous life, there is still wild-flower beauty in it. Like a blooming lily, God has created me with an intricate design that allows my body, mind, and soul to function well. And in His power, my mundane tasks have lasting purpose.
J.D. Greear says it well:
With Gods perspective, I am learning to embrace the “unadventure” and see this structured life as an opportunity to blossom!
- A chance to smile at my kids at the same time, every day, and watch how their reaction develops over time.
- A chance to prioritize the important things, like studying my Bible and giving the kids a bath. I can structure the useless uses of my time (like TV and facebook) right off the daily schedule.
- A chance to cherish my partnership with Shane, in our family and ministry, by fostering better consistency in our time together at meals, in prayer, and on date nights.
I can aim to give glory to God in the highly-structured, or rather highly-designed days that I live. And therein lies a beautiful adventure to be discovered.