Space to Exhale in Autumn

Crisp Air. Comfy Sweaters. Warm Drinks. New Colors. Falling Leaves.

Autumn.

The season where there is an incredible sensory overload of change, in the best way. The smells of pumpkin spice bread baking in the oven. The sound of the crackling fire in the fireplace that you finally get to build. The sights of overwhelming beauty of a color palette in the foliage that only the Creator himself could possibly paint. The feeling that you are exhaling for the very first time, every single year, because you have been so excited for this very season.

This is Autumn.

The season where it seems easy to really see God all around us!

So, why is it so often, that by mid-October of every single year, I would become overwhelmingly tired, cranky, and just “ready for the next season”?

This beautiful gift we are given of fall is overshadowed by one big thing.

Busy-ness.

There is another side of sensory overload that comes with this changing season. One that can make you feel an overwhelming need to inhale deeply, just to try to catch your breath.

The excitement of the beginning of a new school year brings with it a much fuller schedule than the lazy days of summer. The sounds of alarm clocks that go off before the sun rises and homework that is being completed after the sun sets. The fun of our kid’s sporting events come with the added duties of snack sign ups, carpools, and definitely more laundry.

And every single year, I would hit that wall.

You know the one. It comes out of nowhere and you run face first into it. And when you do, you feel like instead of hitting a wall you’ve been run over by a truck. It hits you all at once. You are not just tired. You are exhausted. You are overwhelmed. You are cranky. And instead of loving and serving your family well, you realize you have become dictator mom and resentful wife. Your kids don’t do what they are told fast enough and your husband doesn’t help enough.

This is when you know, something’s gotta give.

It’s time to realize there is only one thing you really need to be working harder at…slowing down.

I have children that range in age from grown with kids of their own to our youngest daughter who is 10. We have had kids graduate public high school and we homeschool.

And I am speaking from experience when I say, the seasons I have fought for more hours in my day only to accomplish more stuff in those hours pales in comparison to the season I am now in where I have learned to fight for more space in the hours I have been given.

The same hours we have all been given. We can only do so much.

And it is ok to say that.

I can only do so much.

And mamas, if we are tired because we can only do so much, so are our kids.

Our world today tells us to “keep up with the Joneses”, but the saddest part is, our kids are told that, too. Every single day. By what they see in the media, by their friends, and the saddest part…by us.

I know. I did.

But stop for just a minute, and look outside. Wherever you are. Look at God’s creation. Stop and breathe it in. And if you maybe, just maybe, know that it is coming, that feeling of being overwhelmed and that the “wall” is coming.

Stop. Right now, choose to say no more.

What can change?

Maybe for your family it is one night that is protected and not interrupted. Phones off. TV off. My husband often travels, and for us, we could always count on him to be home on Friday nights. So, that has become our protected family night of pizza and a movie or game!

Maybe your kids are involved in several activities and it is becoming too much. It’s ok to say no. Several years ago, when we had multiple kids at home in multiple activities, we figured out that we could not do it all. Period. So, we made a new rule. Pick one thing you love the most, and do that one thing really well!

Maybe there just needs to be a commitment of family dinners a set number of times per week. A time to come together around the table to intentionally slow down and listen to one another. Ask questions about each other’s days that can’t have an answer of simply yes, no, or fine.

You know, for me and our family, it took us many years to get to a place where it felt comfortable to slow down. To start saying “no” to things to protect time we carved out of the set number of hours we are given. To get to a place where we didn’t feel like we were missing out or letting people down by saying no. Because the most important people I needed to be saying yes to were standing right in front of me, in my own home.

Being on the other side of parenthood with some of our kids being grown, I will share this ~ our adult children have never once talked about all of the practices and games and school events we carted them back and forth to. They never talked about the cupcakes I spent way too long making because I was worried they wouldn’t be as cute as another mom’s at the class party. However, we do have the “remember when” conversations about family outings, afternoons of opening our home to impromptu visits from a group of teenagers, about late night talks…about the moments we made space to slow down. About the being there moments.

And yes, the slowing down needs to happen year round, but we are heading into not only the busy-ness of fall, but the holiday season in general. And I’d like to challenge you to start planning for your holidays in a different way this year.

Start planning the slowing down. Start planning being intentional in looking at the beauty of the season around us. Because mamas, we have to first be able to see the beauty to be able to share it with our children. 

Plan to make space. Make space in your schedule for un-planned time.

Make space to have room in your life to let the Lord work in you, so in turn He can work through you to love well the ones he has entrusted to us.

Make space to live with eyes wide open to see the beauty of the season, not eyes that are longing to be closed for more rest in weariness.

Make space to exhale and rest in the goodness of the Lord, in all of our seasons!

 

 

{Originally written for http://www.sacredholidays.com blog on 9-30-16}

 

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