Getting Away

Last week, Bill and I had the amazing opportunity to get away just the two of us for an entire week. We haven’t had that much uninterrupted time together for almost six years, and it was wonderful. We got to explore gorgeous Charleston, SC, together. Not only was it a sweet time for our marriage, but it has also been sweet for our whole family since coming back home. Getting outside your everyday routine helps put things into perspective. I was confronted by the Spirit with how much law and how little grace I give my children each day. I was confronted with how my mind has been too busy to truly love on anyone well. The gospel became clearer to me. My heart is more peaceful and more filled with joy. Absolutely worth it.

For those of you who, like me, love getting little tips, here are some things we did to make this work.

  • Dispersed our kids to three different homes within our church family. Bill and I have amazing parents who love watching our kids, but we don’t live super close to them. I know many of you are in the same situation. Sending the kids with our parents would have required either asking them to make the drive to stay at our house or adding four extra hours to the ten hour drive we already had ahead of us. Besides, it seems cruel to ask any one person to watch five very small children for an entire week. 🙂 Each home graciously took one or two of our children, and besides bronchitis touching one of the caretakers, a great time was had by all.
  • Signed up for Charleston Groupon several months beforehand. That meant we had all our restaurants and some activities paid for with at least a 50% discount before we even packed. It also saved us from having to choose where we wanted to eat. Am I the only one who hates that part?
  • We have a year-long timeshare in which we stayed while in Charleston, but for the drive down (we split the drive one way since we weren’t leaving until after lunch), Bill started bidding on Priceline several weeks beforehand. We stayed in one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever been in for $30. Yep.
  • We rented a gas efficient car for the week. Our only vehicle is a gas-guzzling van. Again, through research several weeks before, Bill found a low enough rental price that we actually saved money on gas alone in the end, even with the price of the rental. And no extra wear on the van we hope to trade in soon. 🙂

What tips do you all have when traveling? Though I love vacations, the expense can often rob some of the joy.


In Defense of Schedules (and My Wife)

So, something interesting has happened since Court and I both posted our schedules—and it was the opposite of what I expected.  You see, I’m constantly joking that I’m the poster boy for adult ADD (never tested, mind you) because I can’t hold onto a thought to save my life.  Thus, the whole idea of scheduling is incredibly foreign to the way my brain wants to work.  I usually consider that a bad thing, especially since I find it so hard to get anything done.

That’s just to say that I feel like the aberration.  I figured people would resonate with Court and mock me for being a big hot mess.  What’s been odd about the post is that it has come across like Court’s the crazy person and I’m the perfectly normal one.  On the one hand, I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my pathological inability to stay on track.  But on the other hand, I don’t want to watch my wife get treated like some kind of freak show for having a schedule that pretty specifically details our day, nor do I want to minimize how important scheduling is to how our family operates.

Here’s the deal: I don’t like how I am.  I drive me crazy and I constantly fight with how I am.  I read time management and organization books with the hope that by absorbing the information, it’ll actually bring about some change in the way I do things.  So far, not so much.

But here’s what I do know: even though my “schedule” is funny and somewhat enjoyable, it drives me nuts for our family to live “my” way for more than a day or two.  I’ve found that I enjoy my routinelessness as an occasional contrast to our structured life, not in place of it.  Because when we do things that way I laid out Friday, we don’t get the important things done.

You see, Court makes a schedule to help us stay focused.  There are only so many hours in a day and only so many things we can accomplish.  My haphazard way of living is somewhat fun, but incredibly selfish.  If given the choice between working on a project or vegging, I can tell you what the clear choice is every time.  That’s because I’m giving myself a choice and my sinful, selfish heart always chooses what sounds best in that moment—which usually is NOT what is best over the long haul.

We have the schedule Court posted in our family because we want to live well.  We want to set aside time to do what’s important and not just live willy nilly lives that seem fun but are ultimately empty.  I like that we have a schedule like we have.  Every day I struggle to actually follow it, because it is so counter to how I think.  But it’s how I want to be.  Sure, it may not be for everyone, but I really can’t imagine how our family would work any other way.

But that’s just from my perspective.  I’m not even sure how I can explain how much our schedule serves our kids and others around us.  When we don’t follow our own schedule, our kids get shifted to the side because I always make selfish decisions on the fly.  Our schedule is about planning to make the time for the kids and to know when we have time for others, like our church.  Without our schedule, we’d be like a little boat tossed around in a storm at sea.

But the schedule gives us a foundation and structure around which to fit the materials of our lives.  The schedule helps us to build lots of time into the stuff that matters.  The schedule helps us see where we’re wasting time on frivolous pursuits.  In many ways, a schedule helps to reveal how selfish we are with our own time, because we constantly in the moment choose ourselves over others, including our kids.

And that’s not to mention the way the schedule helps us as a large family to work together and actually, well, be a family.  It seems like the only other alternative is some version of anarchy where everyone does what they want from moment to moment because no one knows what’s coming next.  Some of the most disobedient times our kids fall into come when we’re not structuring our lives, because the kids think the same way we do: I do what I want when I want.  And when I tell them that’s not actually the case, it doesn’t go well.

The funny thing is, we get asked all the frickin’ time questions like, “How do you do it with all those kids?” or “How do you even get out the door?” or “How do you handle all those kids without going crazy?”  Simple: my wife, Structurer Extraordinaire and love of my life.  God, am I grateful for her!