Earlier this spring, as we were approaching Lent, I asked my friend Elizabeth if she was going to practice adding or taking anything away during the Lenten season. Elizabeth had just had a baby, and her response to me was simple, “I’m going to try to spend this time listening.”
Her answer stirred something within my soul. We were in the midst of fundraising for our adoption of Raleigh James and I felt like my family was in a season of action. Not only were we fundraising but we were preparing our home to have a new baby, which meant that almost every conversation that we were having was focused around supplies, documents to sign, and sharing our latest fundraiser on social media.
However, just nine months earlier, we were in a season of listening. We had taken a summer sabbatical not only from social media but from productivity. We slowed down, finally, and spent time together as a family without having the urge to document and share every single thing that we were doing every single day. We were creating stories, private little adventures, instead of sharing stories for short-lived hearts and smiley face emojis. That summer was what ignited the flame for us to adopt, and we finally signed the papers in December to begin our new journey of bringing home Raleigh James.
Positive action follows listening.
These seasons are complete opposites but you can’t have meaningful action without carving out time to intentionally listen and be still. It’s true that the quieter you become, the more you can hear.
When we live in a constant state of hurry, our action loses its meaning. We become purposeless people, dashing here and there, without passion or a meaning behind our why. Trust me, I’ve lived in this place and have drug my family though this motion of rush more times than I’d like to admit. I think I have feared deep down that if we were to actually slow down that we would become lost.
But, as my friend Julie shares in The ABCs of Praying for Students, that children are born with the desire to hear what’s around them, so they know what to expect, how to respond, and how to be safe. She remarks, “No sooner are they out of the womb than they need to learn to sort sounds and determine what to give attention to and what to shut out. From their earliest days of responding to noise, we work with our little ones to teach them what needs to be heard. As new sounds and voices enter in and peer messages become more prominent, new practice is needed in how to tune in to what matters most and decide what can be trusted.”
If I am their mother and I’m always in a state of rush, I’m teaching my children to listen to the voices of Anxiety and Productivity. My children will live in a state of “go” and not ever learn how to practice the art of being still. I see this already in our home. I’ll turn off the television after breakfast and tell my kids to play in their playroom and my five year old will come and find me five minutes later telling me he’s bored. My girls feel the need to be with a friend, constantly, and they can’t stand it when I tell them we aren’t signing up for any more camps or extra things this summer. These aren’t good habits, and I’d like to take the time this summer to change them.
Now that we have Raleigh James, our family is slowly entering into a state of being still once again. The rush and excitement of getting him has passed and we are in a season of easing into life with a newborn. I hope that this time will naturally lend itself toward my children learning to listen, taste, and see the beauty of summer around them. I pray my girls will always remember what it felt like to hold their newborn brother and that Ridley will take time to listen to his sweet sounds. I also hope that our time at home can be spent together enjoying our backyard, reading after dinner, and preparing meals that are best served after they’ve had time to marinate. These are the simple but good sounds that I want my children to learn to listen to and be aware of.
If you also want to practice listening this summer as a family, here are five easy suggestions:
Listen to an audiobook together. Our favorites are the Little House and Paddington series.
Use our Table Talk Conversation Cards while eating a meal and have everyone at the table go around and add a comment to the discussion.
Go on a nature walk. Have your kids bring a journal and binoculars so they can document what they see and hear.
Create a family summer bucket list and then write down your favorite memories from the week.
Start a journal with your children where you write a question to them and then they write back. This is a great way for them to share their feelings and for you to listen to what’s driving their hearts before a new school year begins.
Summer is a time to listen as a family so we can approach the action of fall with purpose.
Spend time together and ask one another meaningful questions. Pause and be still. The quieter you become as a parent, the more your children will hear.
The ABC’s of Praying for Students is available for pre-order now and will release on July 16, just in time to wrap your prayers around your student’s new school year. If you’re a mom who does so much because she cares so much, The ABC’s of Praying for Students will help you give your student what they need most – your prayers. “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working,” (James 5:16b). Each devotion focuses on a single Bible passage, with a clear illustration of how it connects to what a student needs to know and grow. Practical applications follow, along with ideas for Table Talk starters to use with your learner.
The most powerful thing we can do for our student will never be found on a school supply list. The ABC’s of Praying for Students will help you engage what your child’s education needs most. The great power of a parent’s prayers at work.