Doing Less

Since Valor (or Nate, we’re still in talks about what we’re calling him) was born I’ve been re-learning the lesson of priorities.

Nathaniel Valor (3 months)

With Valor’s birth, our family took a break from our regular hosting responsibilities (6 gatherings each month), we cut back on other hospitality and we had no outside-of-the-house activities going on. Things were quiet in our house and I was surprised at the change.

In all the busyness that I called ministry, I had forgotten how delightful and enjoyable my children were. 

I had neglected to take the time to sit down and just be with my children because I was too busy with everything else.

We have always been very conscious of not being too busy, of not over-scheduling. We’ve always been conscious of relationship building. Compared to everyone else in America, our lives are very simple. But, in the lull after Valor’s birth, I realized that things had slipped.

Somehow, slowly, bit by bit, things had crept in; not bad things, they were good things. Things that blessed our family and, I pray, blessed others (Bible study, hospitality, preparing meals for others). Things that will continue to be part of our life, but things that are secondary.

Life wasn’t bad or hard in the midst of the busyness. The children were sweet, cheerful and obedient. I was tired, but functioning and happy with everything we were getting done (and we were getting a lot done), BUT we were so busy doing things and helping others that we weren’t (or at least I wasn’t) taking the time to really focus on the primary relationships in my life.

Our family was together each day, but we had a long to-do list and we needed to hurry in order to get it all done.

I didn’t take the time to just be present.

I need that. I need to stop and be present. I need to accomplish nothing.

I’m a do-er. I do things. I blog, knit, draw portraits, cook, clean, plan, homeschool, paint, wash clothes, decorate, read, research, sew.

I do things.

But Valor’s arrival has taught me that sometimes not ‘doing things’ may be the most important thing I can do.

It’s gotten quiet here on Raising Olives and that’s because I’m busy not doing.

Bella (2) and Nick (4)

I’m rocking babies and listening to teens. I’m taking 2  hours to make ‘quick’ bread with my little girl, so that she can do everything “all by herself”. I’m reading “Green Eggs and Ham” and I’m trying to savor the moments because having a 16 year old will make you realize that time goes quickly.

Our circle doesn’t end there. We are, once again, hosting gatherings and welcoming others into our home, but God has reminded us again of our priorities, the concentric circles of our ministry and we’re trying to pay attention.

And the blessings of paying attention? My words are inadequate. My husband, these children, our community, they bring more to my life than I can ever express. It’s beyond all that I could have asked or thought and getting better everyday. My life is full, God is good!

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19 Responses to Doing Less
  1. Kristen H.
    November 28, 2012 | 8:14 am

    Excellent post Kimberly. I completely agree and have had the same thoughts myself. I just don’t know how to get to that less busy place…

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  2. Rachael
    November 28, 2012 | 8:40 am

    Thank you so much. I am dealing with the same “busy-ness” that you have described, although this has been the calmest my life has been in a long time! I also am a do-er. I always have some kind of project going on & sometimes multiple ones. I am the mother of 6yr, 3yr, & 1yr and I always seem to be fighting business.

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  3. Janee Campbell
    November 28, 2012 | 9:35 am

    Great post. I am loving the way life has slowed down the past few weeks for us too. While I try to keep our life simple as well and have at least a couple of days a week where we don’t leave the house its managed to get busy the past few months. Its all good stuff but I have not had time to relax with the kids because when I’m home I’m catching up on the house. Thanks for the reminder.

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  4. Jama
    November 28, 2012 | 9:44 am

    I’m in a very “busy” season of life right now. It’s not what I would chose, but I think it’s where God has us right now. Add our pending move on top of it and some days are just chaotic. I’m letting go of little things though and saying “no” to most of the extras that pop up during this holiday season. Your post was beautifully written and an encouragement to me cherish those moments of “stillness.”

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  5. Lisa
    November 28, 2012 | 10:45 am

    I think this time of year lends itself very easily to letting ourselves get too busy with life. This past year has met our family with many trials, blessings and hardships. Everything from the death of a close family member, to a birth, construction on a house, fixing up another house for close family, surgery, a church change, you name it, it’s happened in the last year! With all of this it seems like this is the perfect time to just “savor” this season and use it to remind ourselves that Christ is the center of our lives, and our family is next! We plan to be more intentional in our time spent starting right now! Thanks so much for this post, as it’s perfect for this time of year, when it seems like the “normal busy-ness” gets even busier. Time with our children is limited and we need to enjoy every moment, and use them to bring glory to Him!

    P.S. For what it’s worth, I know several people who’ve named their sons Nathaniel and not a one uses that for the child’s name! Nathaniel is SUCH a beautiful name! Maybe consider that instead of Valor or Nate? Either way, you’ve made a beautiful choice for his name!

    Merry Christmas!

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  6. Janelle
    November 28, 2012 | 11:43 am

    Love this post. We are a family that is very sensitive to not over-schedule but this past year has found me hosting friends several days a week. I finally got so burnt out that I had to adjust our schedule. What a difference it has made in our home school too. We have time to do some fun stuff and not just concentrate on the necessary stuff. We still have friends come just not as much. Thanks for the awesome post. Love your blog.

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  7. Kirsten
    November 28, 2012 | 12:39 pm

    Thank you for the reminder to just be with my children…I needed to hear that! And I’m loving how your Christmas tree is so heavily decorated ;)

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    That’s the kind of tree you get when a.) you have lots of little kids decorating, b.) you have been married 17 years and have 11 kids, and c.) the kids enjoy making ornaments.

    Can you imagine what it would be like if we had a tradition of each child getting an ornament as a gift each year??

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  8. Annie
    November 28, 2012 | 1:08 pm

    I appreciate this post! I have an almost 3-month old (my 5th) and I find things spin very quickly away if I try too much. I keep noticing in certain Christian cultural circles that “good” is very much the enemy of “best.”
    It’s going to look different for everyone, but Scripture remains the same. I think The Lord is gracious in helping you and others to see it that way. You are blessed!
    Thanks for sharing!

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  9. Shannon
    November 28, 2012 | 1:58 pm

    I always love reading your blog, and while you where not posting I was going back and reading your old posts.
    We started homeschooling this year, a big change from the private Christian school we where in for the last 6 years. I am making a huge effort to not over do our schedules in an attempt to do it all now that we have time.
    It has been nice to slow down and find our rythm. I have a list of things I’d like to add to our week, but I am trying those things out slowing and am more than willing to scrap the ideas if they become to painful or difficult.
    I want to enjoy this time in my kids lives and I want them to enjoy learning and each other. The enjoying each other is something they had lost in school and is slowing coming back.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Welcome to the homeschooling world. I pray that the Lord blesses your journey.

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  10. Kimberley
    November 28, 2012 | 5:38 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. We are also very conscience of keeping our lives simple and our priorities clear…but, we have several projects wrapping up and two whole-family full day homeschool field trips and 3 sick children all in the next 10 days. I can’t even look at the calendar without feeling the stress. I am thankful this is NOT how we normally live (and didn’t even plan for these two weeks, but dates got changed on us) and I do NOT know how some families do it! Or why they do it for that matter!

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  11. Leslie
    November 29, 2012 | 1:15 pm

    Thank you for your post. I too, am a do-er and struggle with just spending time with my little ones. But, when I stop and sit and allow them to sit on my lap, or hear a full story with my eyes on my son, I know it means everything to them. Vacuuming is not always the most important thing…neither is making a meal for someone else. Those are good things, but my heart needs to be with my children daily since my husband and i are the ones training these children up in the ways of The Lord. Thank you for the beautiful reminder :)

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  12. Becky Mason
    November 30, 2012 | 9:43 am

    Great post! I needed that after one CRAZY week. Sometimes I think I’m doing the right thing, ministry, Christmas shopping, babysitting, late night cleaning the house, organizing cause I can’t get it done. etc. Mom is so worn out, kids are off schedule, house is a wreck, we are all cranky today. Something needs to give.

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  13. otherwiseknownasmom
    December 1, 2012 | 12:06 am

    Love the post…I started a tradition in our family six years ago when I was expecting baby #4. We now observe NO-vember. NO-vember involves NO electronics, NO phones(kids), NO outside activities, NO eating out and NO massive gathering of friends(which is a common occurrence here). What we say YES to during the month is board games, books, crafts, piano playing, napping and talking…LOTS OF TALKING.
    I wouldn’t trade this tradition for anything, and I think my kids secretly feel the same way.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Great idea! Thank you for sharing. Now to think of how we can adapt it to fit our family.

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  14. Nikki
    December 2, 2012 | 2:30 am

    This is exactly what I needed to read tonight. Thank you for the wonderful reminder.

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  15. Michele
    December 9, 2012 | 6:24 pm

    Praying you are blessed by your season of quiet! The baby is beautiful!!!

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  16. Jeri
    January 6, 2013 | 6:08 pm

    I’m just catching up on reading since before Thanksgiving. I just HAD to post and tell you that I LOVED this post. My lack of reading emails meant I was doing just what you were doing! Away from the computer, sharing time with the 6 children God put in my life. They are amazing and unique creatures. I love learning about your family because in your posts I see our own desires. Blessings to you.

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