Jan Roberson: Hurry Sickness

Have you ever heard the phrase “hurry sickness”? This one is fairly new to me. It is quite self-explanatory, isn’t it? We live in a culture that values people who can cram as much as possible into each of the hours of the day. The stress of this time/productivity kind of focus is making us sick as a society.

Time is money. Time is of the essence. Time is running out.

This mentality makes it hard to value time spent with little ones at home, “not getting much done”. The small and mundane and even relational things of our days can seem unimportant in the light of what our culture values, what we value.

J4BK7BI0ZJOnce when I was homeschooling our kids, we happened upon a cocoon on a bush in our yard. We had the gift of watching a butterfly slowly emerge from its shell. We sat in the grass for over an hour to watch this show. When the butterfly was fully out, it slowly walked over to a tree and fanned its wings for another hour. Now that is slow, but what a wonder to be able to see it!

In order to see this, someone had to be looking. The cocoon was not in plain sight, but it was visible. In order to see the butterfly, we had to stop and watch. We had to slow down and take notice.

On another day in summer, I sat with my kids in the hammock and the three of us listened to all the sounds we could possibly hear at that moment. How often do we sit and just listen? How many beautiful things might we miss in our day because we don’t really look or don’t really listen?

On many occasions there would be melt downs in our house (and not just me). When I considered the source of many of them, it could be traced to mom not really paying attention. I was focused on getting something done, I was not listening to the mounting frustration, or I was just plain not listening to the kids.

The good and peaceful times I remember with my kids are times of slowness, of talking and listening. What if we valued taking time to notice, to talk, to listen, to play, and to be very present in the moment? What would that look like? I believe that is one of the many blessings of being with little ones…they notice things that we don’t and they are almost impossible to rush. Kids seem to be naturally observant of their world and slow in order to take things in.

I think I would like to be more like one of these. I would stop and look at the shapes of clouds and the colors in the sky. I would stop and ask questions about how things work and wonder at wonderful things. I would notice the textures…shininess, roughness, sparkliness and marvel. I would be more attuned to the emotional atmosphere around me and wonder if you were happy or sad. I would hug and say “thank you” a lot.

Slowing down and really seeing gives us room to really breathe. It puts things in perspective. Is our time schedule really the center of the universe? Does that frustration really, really matter in the end?

I have been learning to slow down, to give myself margin, to not live my life all the way to the edge. And what have I gained from this slow down? Thankfulness. Really seeing and appreciating what is all around me causes me to be thankful for all that God has put into my life and into this world. What a gift!

 

 

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 8 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.
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Jan Roberson: Love is too Hard

SplitShire_IMG_1143.jpgI have written a very nice blog on marriage to follow up on our great marriage panel from our last MOPS meeting, but you are not going to see my nice blog.

My husband and I have not been spending much time together due to the fact that he has been working on getting a deck finished before the snow flies. And, due to the fact that work plus travel equals 52 hours a week for him. And, due to the fact that my 91 year old mom is living with us for a month as she makes the transition from her own home to a home for seniors. (Having a mom almost 30 years old than I makes me feel downright young!)

In the past week, I have found myself critiquing my husband. Why does he do that? Why does he have to do it that way? Why doesn’t he do this more? Why can’t he choose to spend more time with me? On and on. Little things start to tick me off.

Love is patient. Love is kind.

Driving to church this morning we argued. Perfect. The list of offenses against him grows.

Love is not irritable. It keeps no record of wrongs.

I look around in church. Why can’t he be more like him? Why doesn’t he initiate more? Focus on the song, Jan, on the sermon.

Love is not envious, boastful, rude or proud. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.

Love is too hard. How can I ever be all of that, especially when I am feeling so crabby?

For me, as a believer in Jesus, this is actually a good news Scripture. It feels like a condemnation at first. I am so very aware of what I am not in regards to my husband or anyone else for that matter. It seems impossible to be and do what love is…as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

This is good news because this is what God’s love is. It certainly doesn’t describe my love in the last week. It describes a powerful, constant, confident, overcoming love. The good news for me is that I get to tap into this powerful love; this love surrounds me, is in me and is mine for the asking. Lord, I am drowning in my own self-centeredness. I am focused on what’s wrong, the offenses…turn my eyes to You and let me soak in Your love. Let Your love move through me.

I cannot change my husband or anyone else. I know from experience that cajoling, nagging, and little jibes don’t work. What does work is a change in my own focus and working to change myself. What works is love.

I also know from experience that when I get negative like this, it usually is because we have not had time together, we have not made time to connect. Talking together and planning for time with each other goes a long way toward fixing the problem.

Again, from experience, my negativity tends to melt when I begin to list-on paper or in my head-all my husband’s good and positive traits (and there are many!). I go through in my mind and see all the things that he has been doing to make a great home. I remind myself how much he accepts and loves me for who I am with all my foibles and I want to do the same for him.

Marriage can be messy, because we are messy. But I have found that God is full of love and God is full of power. He delights to make Himself know in our messy lives and our messy world…if we but ask…

 

For a story of healing in a marriage, go to “Focus on the Family” website, broadcast date 10/8/2015. The recording artist, Plumb, shares her story of restoration in her shattered marriage.

 

If you are struggling in your marriage, the leadership at MOPS can help you find resources and we have a treasure of experience in our Mentors. Please let us know how we can help.

 

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 8 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.

Jesica Swanson: Linger

photo-1421906375741-f6bda4abe433As November rolls in with the speed of a freight train I am already feeling overwhelmed. My mind and heart are in conflict. I want to be everywhere, for every one, while simultaneously hiding away like the true hermit I am

I want to feel the joy of gratitude, the holiness of coming to the table for a meal. I want to have time for what the Greeks called “eucharisteo” – to actively express thankfulness. Isn’t that the point of Thanksgiving?  A moment in time, designed to remind us to stop, to collectively take note in the chaos and come to the table. It’s almost like communion for all of America when we choose to point that thankfulness to heaven. It reminds us to breathe and give thanks, to linger in a spirit of gratitude.

A couple months ago I decided to throw out an initiation to some of my favorite women. I dubbed it a lazy girls night in. I threw some food in the crock-pot. People could come and go as they pleased. They could bring something to share, or not. It was merely a place to gather. Though I would have been content had no one been able to make it (introvert alert), I was so happy when people actually showed up.

We ate. We laughed. We visited. Some people left and some people lingered.

Of all the beautiful things my friend Samantha has taught me, perhaps lingering is one of the best. I am not a natural lingerer. I long for it, but my uptight, highly sensing self is always preoccupied. I think, “Am I overstaying my welcome? Should I leave now? I don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to be “that friend” that doesn’t know when to take a hint and head home.” But, when I watch Samantha, she never over stays her welcome, she never is a burden, but she lingers like a boss. She lingers well because she values quality time. She listens to people. She makes time for people.

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Maybe, I am starting to finally get it that the best stuff happens in the lingering. It is when the walls break down a little bit or the unrestrained laughter bursts forth. Perhaps, it’s because everyone is tired or because being in a room with only a handful of people breed’s safety. If you’ve stuck around to linger, it’s probably because of a genuine affection for the people left in the building.

That night at my house some cried, some listened, words of empathy came forward. Grace and encouragement flowed freely. No pat answers were given or problems solved, but in the lingering sisterhood forms. That night it was in my living room, but I’ve experienced the power of the linger in a parked car on a Monday night, around a bonfire, and after a MOPS night out. Every moment spent with someone is “money in the bank”* of your friendship, but the lingering seems to bring a more substantial deposit to the relationship.

As things get crazy and I feel that tug to be everywhere all the time, I am trying to hit pause this season. I’m trying to linger at the table with my God and with the people that I love the most. For some, those loved ones may be family, but for others who live further from relatives, it may be the friends that have become family. I want to make sure I am leaving margin in my life for the after party, because everyone truly knows that the after party is where it’s at. So, if you want to linger, come and linger with me. I have a special place in my heart for the lingerers.

*It was Shauna Niequist, at MomCon 2014, who taught me about “money in the bank”.

 

JesicaJesica Swanson is wife to Norse and mother to Boden & Isley. She’s a big fan of marriage, wholehearted friendships, and loud laughter. While still trying to figure out her marketable skill set, she spends her time goofing off in Montana and writing candidly about spiritual life, marriage, motherhood, fun books and music, and whatever else pops into her head at http://www.atleastwecanlaugh.com .