7 Weeks of Less - STRESS
I just finished a 7 week experiment inspired by the book 7 - An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. I'm calling my journey 7 Weeks of Less. Read on to see how it went!
Ha! This should be interesting, because it's the week I'll be packing and getting myself and the kids ready for a month-long trip to Chicago to visit with family and live out of a suitcase, sleeping in campers, hotels and basements. If planning for a 4 week trip with two children across the country with a business to run while you're gone doesn't sound stressful, I don't know what does.
To reduce stress during this time, I want to try a variation of what Jen Hatmaker did with several set-aside times throughout the day to pray and refocus. I'm not sure I can do all "Seven Sacred Pauses", but I'm going to commit to four of them and each day I'm going to dedicate 5 minutes to each prayer - which I realize is nowhere close to an hour, but these are baby steps:
- (7:00 am) The Awakening Hour: Remembering God's goodness and complete control over my life and trusting in Him.
- (11:00 am) The Hour of Illumination: Honoring Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and recommitting to giving my life away in service, love, and peace.
- (2:00 pm) The Hour of Wisdom: Praying for wisdom and perspective.
- (6:00 pm) The Twilight Hour: Expressing gratitude and serenity during the witching hours.
I think I'll set alarms.
Though this week wasn't *hard* necessarily, it was definitely effective. Having an audible reminder on my phone made me stop and pause several times a day to be thankful for what I have, ask God for help where I was struggling, and to pray for the people around me. I wouldn't say my prayers were anything spectacular or particularly profound, but at least 4 times every day, I acknowledged God and his participation in my life.
As you can see, I changed my set times a little bit, and I'm sure I didn't pray a full five minutes (or sometimes even a full minute), but still, i'm happy with the strides I made!
The kids even participated with me and they'd get excited when the alarm would go off and ask "Is it time to pray?" Then they'd help me and we'd take turns saying what we were thankful for. Most of our prayers went something like this (with plenty of other fun things added in):
Thank you God for our family, friends, and our trip. Thank you for keeping us safe. Please help us to obey, make good choices, and to be kind, respectful, helpful, and loving. Thank you for Jesus and for the sacrifices he made that let us be forgiven when we make mistakes. Amen.
And you know what...even in the midst of packing and getting ready for a very long road trip (AL to IL), a holiday (4th of July) and sleeping in new places, we managed to stay pretty stress free.
The main exception was the day Paxton was a total disaster (the 4th) and getting into all kinds of trouble, and Ayla had a major meltdown about some green beans. I'm pretty sure though that stress week and all that prayer helped me get through that day much better than I would have otherwise!
Especially on those long driving stretches (while the kids were watching movies in the backseat), I found myself starting to talk to God without the reminder. Though, I'll admit, I often got distracted and started more prayers than I finished. Perhaps that's the true meaning of "Pray Continually?"
My biggest takeaway from the week was that I'm much more comfortable praying, and more comfortable praying verbally with the kids, which I think is so important.
I turned off my alarms today, but I may turn them back on if I find myself slipping out of practice. It's good for me to lean on God a little more and myself a little less. This week (though I certainly wasn't perfect), I found myself to be calmer, more patient, and a little nicer and less cranky than I can often be. I don't think that's a coincidence.
And now....7 Weeks of Less is over. I'm sure I'll hold onto some of the principles I've practiced and learned and am glad I did it. Thanks Jen Hatmaker for the inspiration! It has certainly sparked a lot of interesting and thoughtful conversations for me in the past several months.