Thursday, January 19, 2017

Living Intentionally

   I've been mulling for weeks now over this term. I had been sitting on the couch one night, exhausted, a ton of to-do's calling my name, but there I slumped, watching Netflix and eating Tootsie Rolls from the candy jar. Because naturally, exhaustion needs to be fed rancid vegetable oils and processed sugar. Suddenly the word "intentional" came to my mind. The concept isn't new. "Intentional living" has been a catch phrase for quite some time. In that moment I have no idea where the notion came from, but something inside me yelled at it. Since then, I have been making small changes. Working toward it. It's something we really strive for, but fall away from easily, especially when we get in an exhausted rut. Sometimes it's just plain easier- and necessary!- to just get by. But eventually we need to move out of the survival mode, out of the 'just getting by' phase, and start being intentional. Purposeful.
   Intentional living isn't a new aim for me. We knew from the start that our first son had some struggles that were outside the realm of "normal" childhood development. In his toddler years we learned that a predictable routine down to the finest details meant the most peace for him. So we were intentional in every thing we did, because it meant peace for our family. Then our third child came, and she fell into that rhythm. Likewise with our fourth, and so-on. As our family grew, we learned that almost everything had to multi-task. My baby carriers are blankets when a kid is cold, a nursing cover when we're in a crowded space, picnic blanket when we forget one, and of course the intended purpose of wearing a baby. My jewelry is made of purposeful materials and shapes so they attract nursing babies' hands into play and away from slapping, pinching, and nose-picking, in addition to being my accessories. A trip to the grocery store was never a one-stop-and-done occasion, but instead became the one day I did every single errand on my to-do list, because good knows I don't have time to pack up these kids and do this more than once a week.  My knitting is a way to keep my hands busy so my brain feels satisfied with the productivity and allows my body to rest while I watch a movie with my husband, listen to a sermon at church, or enjoy conversation at a small group meeting. It also seems to serve as amusement for the people around me who are astonished that I can read a book or carry on a full conversation all while never missing a stitch nor looking at my work. Multi-tasking. It's what I do. I don't know how not to.
   But living intentionally is far more than just multi-tasking. Anyone can multi-task. What I'm talking about, what my brain was confronting me about is more about using every moment, every decision for good than simply productivity. So that is my aim for 2017. To be more intentional. Not just multi-purpose, but actively pursuing more life, not just more busyness. Using every moment we're given as an irreplaceable gift instead of something to be endured or muddled through. Taking care of myself, my family, my home intentionally. Not waiting for tomorrow, next week, or 'When we have the room to do this.' We'll do it, whatever it is, now, to the best of our abilities, showing our children life and relationship with intention to the very best we can.
   As I've begun to make small changes and contemplate more, I've found some bloggers and vloggers who've inspired me. Three ladies, Jamerrill Stewart, Nicci Lynn of A Farmhouse Full, and Ashleigh of Joyful Chaos, have been especially inspiring on the homeschooling, large family, Christian parenting front. On the topics of mini-homestead, self-sufficiency, DIY projects, John Suscovich, Nick Fouch, and Esther Emery(also the wife of Nick Fouch) have been incredible sources of inspiration and untold springs of knowledge and wisdom. During most of my hours in the kitchen prepping meals you'll find my laptop playing a video from any of those channels while I listen and cook simultaneously. Esther Emery in particular just started a "Skill of the Month" series that I am really enjoying, and so glad I found it in the first week!
   No matter what your goals, aspirations, and beliefs are, I truly believe we can all shed some true time-wasters in our lives, and replace things with more intention, grabbing this gift of life- these gifts of today's that NO ONE is guaranteed and many don't receive- and being a little more intentional. Purposeful. Make it count. It's the only one. You're the only you.

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