Monday, April 24, 2006

Get Real Monday

Okay, today I'm playing along with Randi at I Have To Say, who had this to say on Friday:

This month I am wondering what you do to relax and re-energize. I think most of you are busy moms and sometimes you need to take a break and do something for yourself. Do you read a book? Wash the car? Make a craft? Do some gardening? Go hide out in the bathroom? (OK, that last one was a joke!) What makes you feel ready to meet the challenges of life? And please, if you can, on Monday post a picture of yourself doing it!

So here's me at Panera Bread Company--my favorite place to go for some "me time." Now that I'm blogging, the free Wi-Fi makes it an even more desirable place to go, but I've loved their hazelnut coffee and chocolate-something bagels (right now it's Mocha-Chip Swirl) for years.

After our third child was born, life seemed to get a lot harder. My husband (out of desperation, probably!), strongly suggested that I leave the house for a couple afternoons a week--he worked at home at the time--to spend some concentrated quiet time with the Lord. I remember thinking at first that I didn't need time away from my house, I needed quiet time IN it, preferably WITHOUT him and the children in it, if he could figure out how to manage that. I wanted to Get Things Done! But since he was practically pushing me out the door, I went, at first to the Acorn Coffee Bar and Folk Lore Center, where they gave folk instrument lessons. (At that time, it was the closest quiet place besides the library--where they still won't sell ya a hot drink.) I remember praying in my car each time before I went in, that it would be a sanctuary, a place where God would meet me in a special way--and did He ever!

At first, it was hard for me to stop feeling anxious that I wasn't accomplishing something. An hour seemed a long time to fill with just Scripture reading and prayer. Then I began reading Restoring the Christian Soul by Leanne Payne, since I knew Leanne--she attended our church at that time and I had been so blessed at one of her conferences. The first few chapters of that book provided so much journalling material that suddenly the hour just seemed way too short. As I wrote out my heart to God, He met me in such powerful ways that those hours alone with Him soon became the meat of my spiritual diet. (As a homeschooling mom, it seems like I don't get a chance to "eat" much on normal days with my children. Maybe if I were an early riser and a morning person...but alas, I am not.)

Later, when my oldest two were in a morning of classes, I worked out babysitting for the youngest so I could go alone for those 2.5 hours to a nearby Panera, and I kept working it out for years--through various class and babysitting arrangements (it helped that Grandma and Grandpa moved here after our fourth child was born)--so that I had my morning out once a week. If I had a newborn, he or she came with me. There are employees and "regulars" at one Panera who've seen me through three pregnancies and infancies!

The current version of our schedule is that I go on Friday nights and Saturday mornings while Blondechick 13 and Bantam 10.95 are at play practices. After being gone at work all week, Papa Rooster is happy to stay home with our younger kids, and after a week of kids, I'm in desperate need of time ALONE--so it works out well for us.

It has become such an important time for me to regroup spiritually and emotionally--and it's just not the same when I attempt it at home. ("Don't try this at home!") The phone rings, kids need me, I'm distracted by Things That Need To Be Done--there isn't a room in my house that isn't filled with those--and it's hard to hear that still, small voice. Somehow, it's much louder at Panera! I read, I journal, I pray, I process decisions, I think uninterrupted thoughts. It's become my venue of choice for writing projects as well.

Some of you have run into me there...and now you all can imagine me there--as I am right now!


owlhaven said...

Cute picture!

Mary, mom to many

RANDI said...

Hi there,

I went to Panera for the 1st time a couple of weeks ago--YUMMY! You are blessed to have such a supportive hubby who recognizes when the mommy needs to get away for a while!

Blogger is being a booger this AM and I can't post but I will add your link as soon as I can!

sparrow said...

I am taking your example to heart. I know I need to build ME time into the week - I love your story - how you have committed to it, and how you use it as time with the Lord.

Thanks a lot for "getting real" this morning. :)

fannie said...

I know what you mean when you say, "At first, it was hard for me to stop feeling anxious that I wasn't accomplishing something." I realized about a year ago that I don't really know how to relax. So I've been working on learning. I don't even have anything to post for this challenge because I rarely stop, and when I do, it's only to think of more that needs to be done. Such an obsessive compulsive person I am!! Monkish. :-)
I love your idea, and I think I'm going to talk to father about it tonight when he gets home from work. He's been at his wits end trying to get me to learn such a basic thing as relaxing. LOL! I appreciate your honesty.

Chaotic Mom said...

I have been striving to do something similar to you, carving out the "me time" in the day. I have recently joined the YMCA, and they offer two free hours of babysitting during classes or workout time. You bet I'm the first one in line when they open the doors. Pretty good support for getting in shape, eh?

Oh, a WI-FI laptop would be LOVELY right now! How neat for you! ;)

Liquidoxology said...

How nice to see a picture of YOU on your blog!

Ann V. said...

I am smiling back at your beautiful picture ~ a woman with a keyboard is a beautiful thing, indeed. Keep typing it out to Him!

Ann (HolyExperience)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed this writing very much. Did you know your Aunt Anita reads & enjoys your blog so much? Pianomum

At A Hen's Pace said...

Thanks for the encouragement, everybody! So nice to hear from you all.

Fannie--We're Monk fans here too!

Pianomum--Yes, she emails me occasionally to let me know!

Islandsparrow said...

Love your laptop picture. I'm enjoying a brand new laptop - I haven't made it in to our coffee shop, "Timothy's", but it has wireless and I am really looking forward to it!! Your post is inspiring me!! I really like Leanne Payne - Have you read Listening Prayer? It really helped me start to grow in that area.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Island Sparrow--

Yes, I've read all of her books. Listening Prayer is especially helpful!