The leaves announce that we’ve arrived firmly in mid-September, and I marvel because weren’t we just yesterday celebrating the last day of school, the start of summer? Where did the long, hot, sticky, sweet summertime days disappear to?
Ours saw their regular rotation of swimming, a weekend at family camp, s’mores and grilled food, bug spray and sunscreen . . . but they sped by in a blur of heat and chaos.
I’m pregnant with our third baby, but it’s the fifth time my uterus has held life and my 12 weeks looked like another woman’s 20 weeks. A third baby growing full gets much bigger, much faster than their older siblings, and this summer found me growing rapidly and craving cereal and succumbing to hormones left and right.
We also put our house on the market, hoping for a little more room indoors and out, a fence, a spot for a swing set. My house has never, ever been this clean, and frankly it’s not even fun to come home to anymore. The novelty of a sparkling, spotless house has worn off, and I long for dishes and dust and to not have to say, “Hurry, hurry!” to my babies as we yet again pick up their toys and clear out for a showing.
I may be a bit of a summertime Scrooge, but it feels like my family got slighted a bit this year with all the house craziness and pregnant mama chaos. I missed moments, entire days wiped out by fluster. My husband and I went on exactly two dates, and there was no family vacation taken.
Honestly, I thought I’d already written this post, that it must be more of a theme in my life than I’d previously thought. But searching my own archives leads me to a dead end; these words must feel familiar only because they’ve been so long in my heart.
The idea of calm in chaos is fascinating to me, and necessary to my heart. We don’t have to steal away to a week-long retreat for calm to invade the chaos of our everyday, but we need to claim calm, not just find it. If God promises peace and stillness, how can we CLAIM that peace, that stillness, even in the middle of an everyday ordinary life?
Before another season passes me by (my favorite season, and the last before we welcome another baby to our family!), I’m grasping these 3 small ways to claim calm in my chaos:
1. Make time for small moments.
It’s after 11:00pm as I write this, and my daughter has woken up a dozen times. I huff upstairs and down as she wakes, rocking and singing in between. I breathe in her hair and softly hum old hymns into her tiny ear, her room dark as her big brother slumbers unaffected. This is a small moment that my heart breathes in, takes notice of, gathers and holds dear. Where are your small moments found? How can you harness them into calm spaces during your day?
2. Find what helps you breathe.
Is it a sparkling kitchen? A fresh to-do list? A good cup of coffee sipped just before the pitterpatter of tiny feet enter the kitchen and the day begins? If we claim the feelings that accompany their presence, these little things can add up to big calm. What small thing gives you pause, helps you breathe deep?
3. Fight for it.
As we move into fall, our family’s making hard choices. We’re turning down projects and taking huge things off our list. We’re being mindful of the small things that add up to a larger picture of our crammed life. A few of these pieces include enormous sacrifice, but will lead to a more peaceful season. This is how we’re fighting for calm these days. How can you intentionally fight for calm in your busy and full life? What does that look like for you and your family?
This summer flew by too fast, and I refuse to allow autumn to do the same. I may not treasure each moment like I could, but I will claim the calm spaces and allow them to help my heart breathe.
How do you claim calm amidst your everyday chaos?
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Praying for you in your pregnancy! When you talked about preparing for showings on your house…I remember my “go to” place to hide things was always the dryer lol. It was amazing what you might reclaim from in there after a showing…dirty clothes, Barbie and some of her gazillion pairs of shoes, legos, old magazines and clutter piles…you get the idea. But, to answer your questions, I find my calm in the early morning dark hours before the sun comes up. Holding, smelling, and tasting my coffee and just taking in silence. It’s when the only sounds I hear are the dog’s steady breathing and the birds starting to wake up outside. Claiming peace before the day begins helps me to hold onto it as the rest of the world wakes up and chaos barges through the door. Keep trying to claim that time…it’s worth the effort!
Sara S says
I remember meeting your family and seeing Josie when she was 4 days old when you brought her to the 2014 In Real Life gathering. You have such a beautiful family, and I know baby #3 will be a tremendous blessing as well. On paper, we have many similarities, though our real stories stem from two very different paths. I, too, have 3 children but had life growing in my womb 5 times. I also can be a summertime scrooge (loved your original post about this) – I also dislike the sunscreeny, bugspray-y, sweaty bodies (that is paired with the refusal to bathe ;o), the sand tracked all over the house and the fishy lake water smell. I am very overwhelmed with work and have been for years – I could work 80 hrs a week and still be months behind in my work. I used to teach my high school track athletes to make life real. Make it count. So many of your blogs resonate deeply for me.
I found this year, through some very stressful and difficult family events, that I was finally able to slow myself down and let God breathe into my heart and truly live as if I believed He has me on exactly the path on which I am meant to be. And this was my favorite summer ever. I think, for me, I finally was able to shake off the distraction of life and look my babies in their precious eyes and be.there.with.them. Or oddly, sometimes my moments of peace may have come while watching them fussing amongst each other, knowing I am doing my best to have them grow up with a strong love for family and that one day they may long for the days of being in each other’s space or touching one another’s toys without permission. 🙂
Oh and your blog posts are part of it too! I love your constant reminders that our real lives and mommy confessions and that push to slow down and breathe help remind us that amidst the chaos, we are still enough.
Fall is my favorite season too. 🙂
I read this and kept saying, “Amen!” to myself. This message has been on my heart lately as well. To slow down and not miss the small moments, because as a whole, it makes up our life. I don’t want to miss it. Having a cup of coffee and quiet time in the early morning helps me breathe. Reading post on (in)courage helps me breathe. I read Psalm 23 this morning and stopped after verse 3, “He restores my soul”. I want to linger there for a bit and savor all the meaning I can of out it. Thank you for your heart and words!
LaToya Brown says
What a timely post, Anna! Thank you.
Minutes before waking, I can feel the tightening and involuntary seperation of my toes. I’m still in a sleeping state, but also completely aware I’m having a charley horse, again. I say to myself, “calm down. fighting makes it worse. calm down, calm down…” As I accept what it is, my muscles relax and the gripping pain stops short of reaching my calf.
Often, this is how I claim peace in my life, especially when the chaos or disruption is uncontrollable…I accept what it is and claim calm. Somehow, giving my energy to fighting makes the pain worse than to breathe through it.
Thank you again for the reminder to claim my peace. Blessings to you and you family.
Congratulations. 🙂 ~ “Claim the calm.” ~ I like that. It’s there, but we rush right past it, often overlooking it, as the chaos hollers for our attention. Gonna write that little three-word phrase on a note card, thanks for sharing. 🙂 ((hug))
That’s a good idea.
All the best of wishes to you….
Even though there was lot’s of chaos this Summer when it was quiet I softly heard, “It will be okay.” That usually calmed me down. We gratefully just celebrated my son’s 9th birthday so I’ve been trying not to rush through the last days of Summer. I can feel the calmness of Fall setting in and enjoy the slowness of it. I’ve been trying to use time more wisely not automatically say yes, but instead listen. It’s all so miraculous how He has made the seasons feel so differently. The one sound of Fall I really enjoy is the crunch of leaves. It is the child in me I guess.
I hope everyone has calm and peaceful days ahead,
I’ve been thinking about Sabbath and holidays. Maybe one of the ways they are suppose to work in our lives is for practicing finding the calm. In our culture this is not happening, but I wonder if we aimed for it, wouldn’t we find it more in the rest of the week? Just wondering out loud.
I love this: “Find what helps you breathe.” Thank you for these reminders.
P.S. I love Fall too!
Anna – I love this post 🙂 I am going to share this on my page on a day that gets more traffic. You hit the nail on the head…we tend to complicate things, but often times we can make small changes that are easily done. For me a sparkling kitchen does wonders!!! Ans the small moments do need to be noted and treasured…love this post so much!
Betsy Cruz says
Anna, my summer felt like yours: too packed and too fast. Thank you for this reminder to claim calm as we go into a new season. Blessings on your pregnancy and your growing family!
Angie Ryg says
I love the tip to “Fight for it.” In today’s hectic paced world, we are encouraged to fight for fitness, wellness, intellect, a good marriage, but to fight for calmness? Yes. This. Please.
And you are just one cute mama! XOXO
Beth Williams says
Congratulations on baby #3! Praying for peace in the chaos of pregnancy, littles, and moving!! Autumn/fall is my most favorite time of year!! This year I claimed “calm/Spiritual whitespace” by quitting my job. My aging dad moved into assisted living last year and had multiple medical issues that caused stress with me and work. Shortly after I quit, though, we had to put him on hospice. I am able to see and spend more intentional time with him!! Also feel more relaxed to do more Church stuff. I feel this is where God wants me for now! Another big change last year was hubby nearly lost his job, and changed it twice. He is starting another job (all with same company & work (CT)) today. He will be working 12-13 hr. shifts Sat – Monday. This will give us more time together. It allows me to cook, and be a better wife for him!!!
Debbie Simler-Goff says
First, let me say I love your writing style. It seeps deep into my spirit. This phrase in particular will get pasted on my writing desk: “these words must feel familiar only because they’ve been so long in my heart.”
Second, although I am a grandmother of 11 and long past the child-rearing stage, your words minister to me, and remind me to keep pressing for calm in my own chaos, and to be more sensitive to the young mother’s in my life.
Finally, in answer to your question, I find calm in my chaos in a few ways:
-Since I work full time, I often go on a 30 minute prayer walk during my lunch hour.
-If the work day is particularly stressful I will put on earbud in my ear and play classical music and/or will write out one scripture on a post-it note and focus on it.
Bless you! Thanks for sacrificing to write this at 11pm after a long, tiring day. You refreshed me!