Friday, January 04, 2019

Quiet Work

Yesterday in my list of January goals, I mentioned making time for quiet work. This really came out of considering a word for the year for 2019. In the end, I think I've decided not to adopt a word this year. Slow has been my most successful and life-changing word ever and honestly, many other words just haven't stuck for the entire year.

While I was considering a word for the year though, the word quiet is one that emerged. But not just in the sense of quiet time or quieting our schedule, though those are great desirable things as well!

While I was thinking through the idea of a word for the year or a theme - I processed some inner thoughts and ideas that I knew the coming year might hold or need to hold for me.

Quiet: yes, I need this year to hold some quiet for me. Audible quiet is extremely restorative to me and in very short supply in my life. I'm not exactly sure how to prioritize this in a household of energetic children who adore listening to the radio {why does this make me grouchy and irritable?!} but I know I need it and they need me to have it because it really does affect my mood and attitude.

Hidden work/Unseen work/Quiet Work/Inner Work: I lump these terms together because they are quite similar and related to one another. One of the things I want to be better about this year is Scripture memorization. I used to be really good at this before I was married and had kids and honestly I have gotten lazy and tired of applying my brain to anything when I'm just tired. But. I know that it is valuable work and would be of great benefit - so I want to rise up and do it even if it is hard.

This is one thing I mean by inner and quiet work though, this is the work that no one will really ever see except God. I need Him to be at work in me and to quiet myself before Him in His Word to allow that to happen. Quiet work is something that isn't for productivity. It isn't something that is to show others. This is just the hidden, inner work that I know my heart needs and wants.

In addition, there is academic work I will need to do this year. I need to figure out a grading system that I am comfortable with for High School since we will have a HS student in our house starting this Fall. I've gathered lots of great info, but now I just really need to figure out what suits us and our family and won't be a burden.

Quiet Time Reinstated: I also mentioned this yesterday in my goals, but afternoon Quiet Time used to be sacred in my home. After lunch and play outside time, there was a timer set for quiet and the only rules besides quiet were that no two people could be in the same room and if they asked how much longer the time was, I added more time.

Over the past year or more, I've let this go. Honestly, with the increase in school work as the girls get older and needing to spend more concentrated time on studies, I just felt like we couldn't justify this time in the afternoon. However, it has taken a toll on me to not have this. See point one above where I need quiet. I used to have that built into our schedule every single day and now with over a year of none - I'm operating in quite a deficit. My noise tolerance has gotten much smaller and I've been tuning out a lot more - likely all in survival mode of all the noise, noise, noise {cue The Grinch!}

I've decided that my ideals of an hour long or more quiet time might be what needs to change rather than eliminating it completely. I'm going to try 30 minutes and see how it goes because I just desperately need this right now. And, I'm still convinced that it is so beneficial for my kids too, to learn how to be quiet, to enjoy quiet, to value the gift of silence and not be afraid of it.

Quiet retreats: Typically I take a quiet retreat once a year in the summer where I take a full day and just get away by myself. I'm not planning to give that up, but I think I need something more than that at this time in my life. I'd like to have some sort of quiet retreat at least once a month this year.

This may not always mean the same thing and it may not mean absolute silence either. It is more of a focus on investing in the quiet places of my heart and soul that need nurturing and nourishment after a dry season.

For example, at this very moment - my in-laws have taken my kids out for the afternoon and while I have cleaning I could do - I'm sitting and thinking through my goals for the coming year. I've outlined some other things I want to process through in the next couple of days.

I've signed up to attend a one-day ladies retreat with Ruth Simons of Gracelaced later this month - that is going to count as my January quiet retreat. Next month, I'll be going to Waco for my writing group retreat - so that will count for February.

Even as I'm typing this out, I think a key factor in this being successful is getting it on the calendar ahead of time and then planning around it, not the other way around.

Quiet: a place of healing: My heart could use a good dose of healing and grace this year as well. A decade of walking alongside my parents in my Dad's illness has taken its toll and there is some healing that needs to take place. It was exponentially harder on my sweet Mom and I don't compare my sacrifices on the same level as hers by any means - but there are still things there that have taken a lot of me/us and those places are going to need some mending and tending.

This is where I will need to quiet my heart before the Lord and really seek Him rather than getting caught up in trying to manage it all myself. Many of the above items will contribute to this healing as will time.

Quiet: slow: you knew I'd come back to that word eventually, right? I can't help it! It is one of my life-words. I do crave a season of slow though as our children get older, their schedules get busier and there are more friends to see and things to do. We don't do a lot of things but it is still too much for me - yet, there is a balance here as I know at least one of my children feels like she doesn't get to do much of anything. I need to give and she needs to give.

I've felt pretty behind at home in chores, cleaning, organization, needing to purge, etc... those things can add to always feeling like I'm playing catch up and that I never have time to sit and really relax. So, with our half schedule of school this past week, I hope to have made some progress in getting things back on track so I can move forward from a better place and with more margin and a spirit of calm.

The photos in this post are a beautiful display of quiet work. Flowers do their work quietly and often in hiding until the time for bearing their beauty comes about. The quiet work we invest in both in our hearts and homes will bear its fruit and bloom in its time as well - but it won't bloom or bear fruit without care and tending.

A plant that is constantly neglected will wither, look pitiful and not be inspiring or breath-taking. I want to bloom with beauty and radiance, bringing glory to my Maker - Lord, please guide and direct this quiet work that needs to take place in my heart and home this year.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on quiet work as well! I had more to say about this than I realized and it was nice to sit down and just write what came to mind. May God bless the quiet work in you as well friends!


Kimberly Lottman said...

Throughout all the years I homeschooled my daughter, one hour of "quiet" in the afternoon was a necessity for me/us. It was still "school" for them, but we each engaged in activities that could be done alone, such as reading from a book on their book list for the year (I always tried to make sure it was one of the enjoyable titles), or "quiet" handcrafts such as crocheting, cross stitching or knitting. Sometimes I would allow them to be in the same room together, just not with me. :). But that didn't always work, as fights would sometimes still break out, they would become loud, etc. But there are plenty of "quiet academics" that could be assigned, art, music (listening to a classical piece with earphones), audio books (with earphones), etc. I think it's perfectly doable to have an hour apart each day and still feel that you aren't sacrificing valuable academic time! I know you'll find a way! **HUGS**.

Mary Ann said...

Monica, I pray that you will receive the quiet and healing your soul longs for. You have been through a lot in the past decade; you need a time of healing and restoration.

As far as the radio--I feel the same way with having a TV on as background noise. I love quiet too.

Wendi said...

As an introvert, quiet is my friend. I have to have that quiet, down time mentally and to recharge so I am present for my family. Too much noise, activity, and stress are things that send my over the edge.

We still have quiet time after lunch. Each day it looks different depending on what is happening. Some days it can last for a couple of hours, but most days it's a short half hour. No radio, television and no talking (well, minimal at least). Sometimes I will get on the computer or read. I've even been known to close my eyes for a few.

Megan can read or have electronic time. She usually goes to her room and lays in bed or will lay quietly on the couch in the same room with me. I think it is something that both of us need so we can rest mentally, recharge and be ready for the afternoon.

Jen said...

What about headphones for the kids? Do they have devices where they could listen to the radio/podcasts, etc without you needing to hear it? I understand your need for quiet. I am the same. I love people, but I need my alone time. Our kids are all grown and our boys have been home from college for the past three weeks. I love them and I miss them but I am desperate for my house to be calm and quiet again! I was soo dreading the empty nest, and the first few weeks were hard, but God has an amazing way of making you appreciate every season of life. And I've learned to love our empty nest!

Anonymous said...

My name is Shirley and I am visiting from Marilyn's blog.

I enjoyed visiting here today and encourage you to keep seeking the quiet and rest your heart is in need of.

I think so many of us today are one heart with you and long for slower more meaningful and rested lives.

God bless you as you journey through this New Year.


ninar said...

Hi Monica,
I have been reading your blog since you started it I think. I have never commented before. But felt I needed to. I have girls you and your sister's ages. I have enjoyed reading and seeing what is happening with your families. Miss seeing Carrie's blog.

I am your parent's age. I, of course,read of your Dad illness. Rejoiced when he ran and was saddened to see his decline.

My thoughts now are of your mom. My husband has been 5 years on chemo. I can't hardly think about 10. My thoughts go often to the place your mom is now in and I wonder how she will handle and face all that there is. My prayers for her.

I know there is a great book written my Miriam Neff that she may find helpful.

I'm sure with two daughters to come along side her she will feel loved and cherished.

Prayers for all of you..........Nina

*carrie* said...

Love you so much, dear sister! Thank you for sharing these thoughts. Praying for restorative quiet for all of us!