Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Living Simply - Lessons from Rita and Ike

I don't ever plan on being this busy.  It just seems to happen.  I am approached about teaching a class, being a part of a club, working in this new ministry opportunity.  Then when I include the things my family is involved in, my daughters activities with school, piano lessons, youth group and being with her friends, as well as my husbands schedule too, well before I know it I am over committed again.  I am not giving my best to any one thing, I am just trying to cover everything.  Have you ever been there, are you there now?

We have experienced two hurricanes since moving to Texas, actually three, but that is another story.  Rita was the first and then Ike.  Waiting, praying in our home as the wind howled and the rain beat down.  You could hear trees breaking and the sound of a tin roof raising up and then dropping on a building not far from our home.  Occasionally you would see the shadow of something that would blow past the window.  During Ike as we peered out our window we saw a large tree in our yard uprooted, wondering if it would fall on our home before it was over.  Then there is the eerie calm of being in the eye, before it all begins again.  And sometime during all of this there is the loss of all power and the feeling of being by yourself.  Yes hurricanes are no fun so I was surprised when my daughter said not long ago, I almost wish we would have a hurricane, I don't want any one to get hurt or have a lot of damage, but I love after it is over.   Believe it or not I have heard other kids say this too.  What happens after a hurricane?

By our experience, everything almost stops, we have been without power close to a week.  There was no TV, no video games, no air conditioning, no activities to attend.  We cooked what we could on a gas grill, we were blessed with a small generator that we would run for a few hours at a time and were able to plug in a crock pot for hot water to wash off, have a fan for a hour or two and keep what food we had from spoiling.  There were no trips to the store, number one we tried to conserve gas and the store was also not open.  During the day my daughter and I worked to clean up our own yard of debris while my husband and sons would go out on crews to help people that were not as fortunate as we were or had no one to help them.  We ate only what we had and at night we would play a game or read by candle light until it became too dark, then we would spend time talking.  We would go to bed at night and tomorrow we would start again.

Why would my fourteen year old daughter think so fondly of those times, why would other children?  I believe that one reason is certainly the relief of surviving the storm, you appreciate the small things in life, but I also believe it is because we were not rushing off to the next event, we were enjoying time with family.  We talked and laughed about silly things, but we talked with no distractions.  We worked along side each other for something other than ourselves.  There were no complaints about what we were eating because there were no other choices.  For those few days our lives were simplified.

In my desire for me and my family to live more simply, I have given lots of thought to our schedules.  My daughter and I made the decision to resign from a service organization, not because it was not a good thing, but because it required so much of our time.  I will certainly think twice before committing myself or my family to another activity.  but if in giving up things I am only gaining more time to sit on the couch to watch another TV show with my family I am really not gaining anything.  Not only must I guard my time, but I must choose to be intentional about the time I have with my family.  Perhaps we should have a no power night where we sit around with no lights, no TV, and read and play games by candle light until it gets too dark and then talk until bedtime (although the no power will not include the air conditioning, it is still 90 degrees here).  Maybe we need to choose a family project focusing on helping others,  maybe we need to take the time to appreciate the small things, the fact that we are safe and healthy.

Do you have something you can give up?  Does your family have an ongoing project to help others?  How do you simplify your schedule?  What limits do you set on activities? What does family time look like for you?

I'm linking to:  Women Living Well;  Life in the Fishbowl;  Cyndi Spivey; and Internet Cafe Devotions


  1. Love the blog. We really enjoyed the no power time after Ike as well. Maybe not the no a/c though. We try to keep our families schedules simple. Only one kid doing one activity at a time. I think as wives and mothers our mission field is our husbands and children then we can extend from there. As long as we are ministering to them first.

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  3. I totally agree! Having been born and raised in Mexico and not having had much money while growing up was such a great blessing! I often go back to the moments of most hardship in my mind because that's where I find the greatest memories! that's when our family grew the closest to each other and to God, when we talked the most, when we hugged the most and that's also when we sang praises the most! when we were reminded we were totally dependent on God for every little thing and we were even excited to see what God would do to get us another day through! I am still blessed to remember those things and I hope I can use it all to teach my daughters to be appreciative, grateful and praising all the time!!!! and to be all those things MYSELF instead of letting out an "ugh" when I have to unload the dishwasher! (wow! dishwasher you said? Remember when you didn't even have running water in the sink and you had to go get water in buckets from outside!!! stop complaining and PRAISE!!!) so... I see why your daughter would "miss" a hurricane... But we don't want to go through hard times at all... right? so I agree... we should stay loving, close to each other, not overly-committed, talking, enjoying our Lord and our family in everything we do so we don't have to wait for hurricanes and hard times to "have the best times of our lives" :) Beautiful blog you have!!! I can see how God uses it for His glory!

  4. Paloma, thank you so much for stopping by and for the encouraging words.

  5. Susan, this is an important topic for families today.

    My husband and I worked at a church (Me, children's ministry director and RB music and educational minister) for 19 years. We kept adding one more responsibility after another. We just said yes to whatever someone thought was our responsibility. Over-commitment in the first degree. When we moved, we promised each other not to get in that place again. We almost did, though, until we sat down and figured out why we were doing each responsibility and see if it fit in the mission statement for our family. Now we feel free to say no with it doesn't fit in our mission statement. It's been a blessing to us.

    God bless you for taking the time to write the message He gave you.


  6. Thanks Pam. Unfortunately it is harder to practice than it is to write about!

  7. I was just talking to someone on Sunday after church about this 'busy' feeling here in the States- after reading this, I realized in Ghana things were busy, but there was more 'no lights' times where you concentrated on what really mattered and not just on running around doing things to be busy.

    Great post!!

  8. I believe "busyness" to be one of Satans most valuable tools in his quest to turn our eyes away from our Father. Quiet time is so important in our personal relationship with God, as well as with our families.

  9. Have been absent from the blog world for a few weeks- came back in to see if you had posted anything, but alas you have not- looking forward to your next post :)