Habit

Habit
One of my resolves this year is simple: read more. Last year, Goodreads says that out of the forty books that I had challenged myself to read, I read twenty-five. Twenty-five is a decent number but my brain needs a better workout so one a week has become the challenge for 2017.

My book stack of current reads contains four books, all non-fiction. While two of those four are related – Charlotte Mason – the other two are not at all Charlotte Mason but rather a memoir/practical help book on mothering and a book on the spiritual view of habit. These books are full of depth, a deepness that challenges mental capacity and at the same time encouraging the the current vocation in my life. Last year was full of deep and overwhelming days so encouragement quite literally feels like a breath of fresh air. (By the way, I will include affiliated links to the books I mention at the bottom of this post.)

Now, originally I chose these books in order to facilitate a greater understanding of what pursuits there should be in our home. These books are a tool, a means to aid my brain in forming visions and plans to bring greater peace and cohesiveness to our daily lives. Non-fiction is beautiful to me but it has to have a purpose. It needs to be read for a reason because it generally takes more time and mental power for me to read it.

The book You Are What You Love was waiting at my library for me via interlibrary loan. I had forgotten that I ever requested it and I must have done it at least six months ago. The timing is . . . interesting. And oh my, when all four books spoke specifically on habits, over and over, this was time to pay attention and understand that maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit was pointing out a specific need for our family.

Habits. Why habits? It sounds boring and as if it involves menial, monotonous, laborious instruction all day long. Compound that instruction by six, my brood of half a dozen, and it utterly overwhelms.  But these habits that Charlotte spoke of, as well as the other homeschooling mom who’s book I am reading, sound practically beautiful and worthy of the effort and mama-time required to put into them.

It is so very hard to see beyond the now, the right-in-front-of-my-face work. At the same time, I am a natural visionary in that planning and looking forward to the future comes easily to me. It’s the in between, that time of steady plodding to get from point A to point B – oftentimes stopping at half-way points too many to count along the way – that stagger us and slow our feet. That is when we become the most weary and give up, hoping that we might pick it up at some other time but for goodness sake, I’m tired and haven’t I done enough?

But habits, good habits, ones that bless and create peace and help through hard times are something worth keeping-on keeping-on. There is trophy of sorts to be gained through the effort of learning new virtues and trampling underfoot vices. The benefits outweigh the exertion. The more we put into it the bigger the relief when we have said goodbye to bad habits.

I see this. Some people see it. Many do not. It is easy to put aside the formation of good in order to foster the easy. If many adults cannot grasp this, how do I teach it to my children?

Ah. That? That is the question of my life.

And so small breaks are made to ponder this while I read. There are many concrete, intellectual ways I can do this but the example I set personally for my children is the boldest and most potent means to convey to them the importance of forming good habits and eschewing bad. Easier said than done, right? And that is okay. Things were their salt are going to be worth getting there.

So start small. It is okay to start small. There are lists of virtues and good habits and if you do not like them, make your own or write down the ones found in the Sermon on the Mount or read about what love is in 1 Corinthians 13. We have to start somewhere because we will never get anywhere without that small baby step.

For me, gentleness in speech will be my first step. There are so many I could have chosen but my sarcastic bent has wrought too much destruction to allow it further reign. There is no love in constant sarcasm and so toning down my words and the way things are spoken to my loved ones seems like the best place to start.

After that? Who knows. I certain do not. My trust is in the Holy Spirit who will surely convict me of that next good habit.

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With the next post, I’ll discuss how I think habit fits into homeschooling. Until then, what are your thoughts on the importance of good habits?

Books Mentioned

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Here’s to New Beginnings

"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"

Christmas and New Year’s Eve and Day have always been my favorite holidays. For me, Christmas is a time of anticipation and surprises and looks of joy. The senses are particularly awoken during this time and memories are brought to the forefront of my thoughts while new ones make room next to the old. Our family generally chooses to celebrate this day in quietness and relaxation and it is so very treasured.

New Year’s follows soon after and it’s sister and brother eve and day allow me to say goodbye to a year and greet a new one. There is something comforting in this newness. As dear Anne Shirley said, “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Days and years, the next of both have no mistakes . . . yet . . . and we can bank our hopes and dreams on those passages of time with fearlessness if we choose. A couple of months or so down the road I usually find that I am really just in survival mode but until then, there is joy in the road of best intentions.

As dear Anne Shirley said, “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Yesterday was the beginning of 2017. Rarely do I participate in resolutions or a word of the year. You won’t find me pondering which should be my Bible verse to focus on for a full 365 days. I get bored easily and one or two of anything for a whole year would not fly. But I’ll try new things once that first day in January comes around. Or maybe I’ll polish something off that I’ve done before but try accomplishing it in a new way.

The greeting I choose to give to 2017 is really and truly a gift for myself. It is nowhere near an earth-shattering gift and it’s simplicity is underwhelming: this year, this brand new year, I will blog simply. No more worrying about SEO or keywords or catchy-but-silly titles. There will be no chasing after the newest social media route to get my blog seen. I’ll do my best to provide decent photos that can be nestled among my words but no longer will I obsess on if they are good enough to catch the eyes of my demographic’s Pinterest eye.  And maybe I’ll write 500 words or 2, 379, or just 213. Who knows?

A gift God gives should never be wasted and, oh dear, I’ve wasted my gift of writing ability. It has laid stagnant and unused and has gathered invisible dust bunnies. Fear of failure has kept me from starting many times and there was a period of inability to put two seconds together when my older children were smaller and I was overrun by burp cloths. That was then and this is now and truly, if I don’t overreach, there is no reason why I cannot put out a blog post here and there and hope it meets someone with open arms and lets them leave with encouragement.

I love books and classical homeschooling a la Well-Trained Mind and am slowly dipping my toes into Charlotte Mason’s own words to see how my family’s homeschool atmosphere can benefit. (There is just something about Charlotte Mason that speaks to my mama teacher soul.) We read-aloud and use curriculum and hope to travel more and drink lots of coffee and desire to bring peace into our home and surroundings. I’ll write about all of that and maybe none of that at times and it’s okay.

Welcome, 2017. I’m so happy to meet you.

 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt

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