Finding Significance in Everyday : Sacred Mundane book review

finding significance | Sacred Mundane review

(Disclaimer: I received a free advanced copy for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own, and I have received no compensation for a positive review.)

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

We all have those moments where, in the midst of dishes and dirty diapers and picking up toys for the gazillionth time, we wonder if our life means anything. Does our mundane serve a purpose, or is a just a waste of life as so many in our culture say that it is? Can we actually find purpose in our daily grind and insignificant moments? Kari Patterson’s book Sacred Mundane is an invitation to live our everyday grind with purpose, allowing Christ to use the daily mundane to transform us.

I first heard Kari Patterson speak about 4 years ago at a women’s camp, and I instantly resonated with her message. She spoke about finding significance, purpose, even worship in our daily tasks—our mundane tasks, like doing dishes and scrubbing toilets. Kari invited us to live a “sacred mundane,” where our life is hid with Christ in God, where we do all things for the glory of God. I’ve heard Kari speak a couple of other times since then, and I love what God is doing in and through her. When Kari mentioned she had a book coming out, I instantly jumped at the opportunity to review it for her, and it’s been every bit as inspirational as I anticipated.  

Sacred Mundane includes 8 chapters that delve into this topic of finding significance in our everyday by changing our perspective and inviting Jesus to work in our everyday tasks and frustrations to spiritually strengthen us and make us new. Sacred Mundane also includes a “small group” study with daily questions and readings to delve deeper into each chapter’s topic. The study takes a chapter a week and includes additional Scripture to study, a memory verse, and application questions. At the end of each week’s study, Kari also includes recommended resources for delving even further into each area of study.

Friends, this is how we are transformed: not by escaping dreary domestic duties or difficult relationships, and not by dreading the daily grind or grimly bearing these weary days until we can fly away to some celestial shore. We are transformed by engaging in the here, the now, the conflict, the tension, letting God change us from the inside out. ~Sacred Mundane by Kari Patterson

Kari is humble, gentle, and authentic—it comes out in her book as she shares her journey through discouragement and disillusionment to finding freedom and purpose in her own life through this truth, and it comes out in her generosity. All royalties from her book will go toward World Vision’s work with women and children in need. Kari is also offering a free copy of Sacred Mundane to one of you! Enjoy an excerpt from Sacred Mundane and then scroll down to enter the giveaway, or purchase your own copy on Amazon.

Sacred Mundane review | finding significance in everyday

Ideas for battling Summer Boredom

battling summer boredom | helping kids set goals and expectations | bucket list for kids

We are officially on summer break from our homeschool year, and on the very first day my kids were already wandering around aimlessly asking for screen time. Not even a full 24 hours in, and my kids were already bored! But not for long. I have a plan for battling summer boredom, Christmas break boredom, basically any kind of boredom. And it’s really simple.

Battling Summer Boredom with a Bucket List

The very first activity for every break includes creating bucket lists. While my little (rising Kindergartener) is a too young to have an official list, he has plenty of ideas to contribute. Both my older kids make out their own list. Essentially, their bucket list is their list of ideas for what makes a successful summer break. I ask questions like what would you be disappointed that you didn’t get to do by the end of the summer? What activities have you been really wanting to do but haven’t had the time because of school?

In other words, my kids’ strategy for battling summer boredom is setting goals and expectations for their summer. Whenever they act bored or a little lost, I refer them back to their list or, in true parenting style, offer to give them some work to do.

Place to Go

This is the easy part for my kids. They always have a long list of places they’d like me to take them. By having them write it down, I’ve shown that I’m aware of their desire to do that, and that I have all summer to follow through. They understand that not everything on their list is possible (i.e. a trip to LegoLand), but in the first week, I try to get to one or two of their top places to show my commitment to them. We are going to make the most of our break. Most places are simple: the beach, a swimming pool, the park, the movies, the science museum, camping, etc. Some times, I have them rank their places to go so that I know what to make a priority. For the most part, this is my only responsibility on the list, but it eliminates the nagging when they get bored if it’s already written down somewhere.

Things to Do

My kids are always full of big ideas; its one of the upsides to ADHD. From huge lego productions and i-stop motion creations, to puppet shows and other dramatic endeavors—my kids have ideas for tons of major enterprises that require time and pooling of resources. There are also ideas like riding their bicycles or scooters, playing baseball or football with friends, having a picnic, and of course, watching particular movies or playing Wii.

Skills to Work on

I coach my kids through this section to help them set some summer goals. What desserts do you want to learn how to make this summer? What meal do you want to learn how to cook? How many new chords or songs do you want to learn on your instrument? Do you want to sketch something or paint something? Including this in their plan for battling summer boredom gives them direction and helps me make a few summer plans myself.

Interests to Pursue

In some ways, this is similar to the “skills to work on” but a little broader. Basically, was their something from this year’s school that you wish you’d had time to learn more? Is there something you’ve been wanting to explore that you haven’t had the time to explore? Maybe it’s coding or survival skills, maybe it’s bracelet making or pottery, maybe it’s looking at more things under the microscope—whatever! This can be broad, and sometimes they have something to add while other times they don’t. I don’t force the issue, but I always ask, just in case it lights a fire.

Books to Read

Of course, we all want our kids reading during the summer. Maybe your child has a series of books they want to read or reread, or maybe it’s a goal of a certain number of books or pages they want to read. For my kiddos, I keep them very busy with assigned reading during the year, good books that often become favorites for them, but there’s a lot of them. And my kids often don’t have the time they would like to pursue personal reading—until break time. I’m okay with that, because I know it adds extra motivation for them to continue reading during break. One of the things my kids get most excited about is reading whatever they want. I don’t have rules about “twaddle” or how age-appropriate or anything else. As long as the book doesn’t compromise any of our core family values, my kids can have at it. That first library trip of the summer is their favorite. And because all the rules are off, even my dyslexic daughter gets excited about reading her favorites, including her old favorites she’s read many times over.

There are a couple of fun reading challenges for the summer, if you are looking for a little extra direction or motivation. Join the Reading the World Book Club and even turn it into a missional fundraiser. Or, create a Tower of Books challenge.

We are already busy checking off some of those summer bucket list ideas and making the most of our summer break. Battling summer boredom is so much easier with our lists, and by summer’s end, my kids can measure just how awesome their summer was by what got checked off the bucket list.

Investing in progress

Word of the Year: Invested

My “word for the year” for 2015 has been “invested,” connected, focused, and present in the moment God has me in. It’s been a wonderful journey, and I’m seeing progress in several areas of my life for the first time in a long time.

My Planner

On the Go PlannerI have always done much better when I have a planner. I’ve attempted a few different planning systems: apps and devices, command centers, etc. But the most effective for me is the sit down and write it out kind. Last summer, I purchased an “On-the-Go” planner from Well-Planned Day. I loved the planner and discovered a lot about what does and doesn’t work for me. The vertical format combined both to-do checklists and a separate appointment section for each day. It was fantastic except for one thing—I didn’t have nearly enough room for everything I needed to keep track of.

Plum Paper PlannerSo for my birthday, I splurged and bought a custom Plum Paper Planner on etsy. I love it. I finally have room for everything: appointments and to-dos, routines and habits, prayer requests and ideas, and daily gratitude.

My Routine

My first goal for the new year was to establish a morning and evening routine. I knew I couldn’t try adding exercise or anything else to my life unless I had a routine to anchor it too. I have around five tasks for the morning and five tasks for the evening with a set time to wake up and go to bed. This is a guide for me. It’s not a schedule where I’m doing my Bible study from this to this time, but rather an order of things to do. I’m not in bed on the dot by 11 p.m. every night, but at least I’m there more or less by that time.

And my goal was to create habits, I check off each task each morning and evening as accountability. And because I’m a list-checker. It motivates me.

My Progress

Each month I plan a single goal with action steps, accountability measures, and rewards. For instance, one month the goal was to set a regular wake up time and to be consistent with that throughout the entire month (establishing a habit).

Finally, I’ve added that exercise goal, anchored into my morning routine. Not a set time that I exercise, but a particular order of the day: after Bible study and before breakfast. Sometimes that is 8 a.m. and sometimes it’s 9:45 a.m. It’s definitely not rooted as a habit or lifestyle yet. But it’s in the making.

How has all this helped me to be more focused, present, and connected?

  • When I write a task or event in my planner, I don’t have to hold it in my head and dwell on it. My planner helps me focus on one day at a time, one need at a time. It helps me to remember to pray for the job interviews and surgery dates of people in my church family.
  • My routine helps me to be centered on the priorities for my day; my mind and heart are settled before the chaos of the day unfolds. And my evening routine helps me to be better prepared for the following day.
  • Single goals help me to be more focused each week and month and less stressed out by defeat. I’m buoyed by the progress, however little or imperfect it may be.
  • Exercise gives me strength and energy to be connected with my active kiddos and my daily tasks.

It’s imperfect progress for sure. But I’m grateful for it, and grateful for the grace to take those small steps forward.

What imperfect progress are you working toward this year? Any prayer needs you’d like me to add to my planner? Leave me a comment below or feel free to email me through the link on the sidebar.

Our 2014 Morning Routine

How We Do series

I’ve been putting off sharing this post, but I finally feel like we’ve settled into our new schedule enough to share it with you our morning routine. As you may recall, I shook up our whole schedule after Christmas in an attempt to find a fit for everyone, including Littlest.

In addition to accommodating our toddler, our life has some late nights for the kids;  many nights have the kids getting to bed at 9 or later. Which makes the next morning rough on everyone if I enforce a strict “traditional” schedule.

So, after a long, drawn out battle with myself, I’m finally allowing our natural rhythms as a family to dictate our schedule.

I have always tried to be up hours before the kids. But my husband and I are often up late as well (11 p.m. or even midnight). Rather than fight this, I’ve started sleeping in, too. Instead of 5 or 6 a.m., I now get up around 7:30 or 8, about the same time as the kids. But all of us begin the day with some quiet Bible time. If they finish before me, I give them morning hugs and gently remind them that Mommy needs time to finish her time with God and send them back to their rooms to dress and make their beds.

Enjoying our "Song Theatre," as Middlest termed it.
Enjoying our “Song Theatre,” as Middlest termed it.

We ease into our morning routine with breakfast at around 8 or 8:30, followed by “daily hygiene” (getting dressed, brushing teeth, and the rest) and lots of time with Littlest. I’ll play our favorite Family Favorite Tunes for some “jumpin’ and a dancin'” and banging on our rhythm instruments. Littlest loves this (as do the others). And it has helped get wiggles out for everyone. Or some days, Littlest prefers to read some books. Either way, this is my time to spend with him. The others may join in with Littlest as they finish their chores.

I finally purchased a baby gate, which has made a tremendous difference in our day. I could never have guessed how much it helps to limit his chaos to just one floor of our house rather than chasing him out of no-nos on both levels. (Highly recommend a baby-gate!)

We begin our school day about 9:00 or so with copy work and memory chants, and I’m really holding myself accountable to short lessons. Copy work and memory chants both take us 20 min. total.  Littlest usually joins us for this, dancing to our songs and waving his arms around to the motions of our timeline.

Homeschool ScheduleAfter 20 min., I spend time with Middlest on her math and reading; Oldest begins his independent work (a math worksheet, mapwork, and sometimes other activities). Littlest is often playing on his own in the living room, sitting in his high chair with his own coloring page or craft, or having a snack. He also enjoys playing Connect Four in my lap while I teach Middlest. Again, we spend 20 min. here and that’s it. Even if we aren’t quite done yet, Middlest will pick back up on her lessons the following day and Oldest can finish his independent work a little later on.

The next 20 minute segment varies each day. Some days it’s a read-aloud; other days it may be our Latin DVD (we’re doing Song School Latin 1) or Kinderbach. Occasionally, if I need the break to finish something, I’ll let everyone watch Oldest play his Reflex math while I finish a chore.

Another 20 minute segment finds us listening to our Story of the World audio (our core history source for Tapestry of Grace this year) and coloring the pictures, or reading a read-aloud if we haven’t gotten to that yet. We read aloud together for at least one subject every day, and most days Oldest will read some, too.

We don't do everything here. I cover 1 or 2 story problems, the Thinking Cap, and 5 or 6 Oral Combinations.
This is my A Beka Math teacher guide. We don’t do everything here. I cover 1 or 2 story problems, the Thinking Cap, and 5 or 6 Oral Combinations.

Oldest then works with me for 30 minutes. Notice this time, I’m spending 30 min.: that’s 15 min. of math and 15 min. of Language Arts. This segment of time has been a real eye-opener. I can’t believe how much we get accomplished in this time frame. In 15 minutes, I check his math page, review his new concept, give some critical thinking problems and oral problems for him to solve, and complete a speed drill. And yes, this is A Beka math. (Notice also, no flashcards! Reflex math replaces all of that for me.) Then, we move on to Essentials. I choose a few exercises from each lesson; we work for 15 minutes and then pick up with more from that lesson on the following day. Yes, it may take us longer to get through the LOE book, but otherwise we’d burn ourselves out. (There’s so much in one lesson! Spelling, grammar, dictation, composition, vocabulary/roots/prefixes/suffixes. It just has to be done incrementally.)

The rest of the morning routine is spent finishing up the little details we might not have completed yet, or enjoying the fun stuff—another read-aloud, some art, some nature study, or just enjoying a beautiful day outside.

Tapestry of Grace
Tapestry of Grace

We’re done by lunch, or on mornings when we all slept a little more than usual, we’ll finish shortly after lunch. It’s been such a freeing morning routine, and one that allows us to live the life God’s given us.

How do your mornings roll? 

How We Do—the grocery list

How We Do series

 

Although the logistics of our family aren’t as extensive as those of other families, the grocery list can still be a little tricky for me. For one, when we moved from rural NC to the urban Pacific Northwest, I’ve switched to a weekly grocery routine rather than a monthly routine. And some old habits die hard. For another, we frequently have people over for meals, both planned and impromptu. So, I’m not just planning meals for our five.

That being said, I’m about as great at meal planning as I am in the cleaning department (which basically means I stink in the homemaking department—I just don’t want you to get any false impressions here). It takes a monumental effort for me to be organized in this department. For several years of our marriage, I worked out a monthly meal rotation, rotating the same 4 weekly menus each month. Now, I’m trying to simplify things to roughly a two-week rotation with a few exceptions and variations.

My meals need to be quickly prepared and quickly eaten—our evenings are pretty full. Oh, and one more confession: I cannot make a successful crock pot meal. It either finishes two hours before it’s supposed to or is raw when it’s meal time. I can’t figure it out. The times in the recipe NEVER work. So no “throw it in the crock pot and have a wonderful meal when we get home” solutions for me. Thus, the quickly prepared part and a simple 2 week rotation.

All right. Enough of that. Let’s get on to the grocery list.

If I don’t have a grocery list on the fridge to instantly right down items we’re out of, I guarantee you I’m going to forget it come grocery day. And if I don’t have a standard grocery list with nearly everything we usually purchase already typed up, where I can circle what we need, I’ll totally forget to check half the items we use to see if I need to pick up anything else. In other words, I have no mind.

So here’s my greatest grocery list success:

how we do grocery list

I made this standard list awhile back, but then, I had a really hard time remembering to print a new list to mark up for each week. (Notice this recurring memory problem.) So, I’ve solved that by laminating my list. It stays on the fridge, always ready to use. I circle or write in the items we need with a wet erase marker. Then, on grocery day, I go through the list and am reminded to check on other items we might need. I add the items for the next week’s menu, and finally, before heading out the door, I make a black and white copy of my laminated list on our copier. My laminated list goes back on the fridge; my copied list goes in my purse, and we’re out the door.

Then, when I get back home, I wipe my list clean except for the items that perhaps did not make it home. (The item was not available at the store or, believe it or not, I still managed to forget to pick it up after all this effort. Believe me, it happens. Often.)

So, there are my secrets. Trust me, I could learn a lot from all of you in this area, so please feel free to enlighten me in the comments section.

How We Do—Cleaning

How We Do series

 

I’ll be honest. I hate cleaning, and I’m no good at it. I can’t tell you how many different systems I’ve tried for keeping up with housework. It’s my absolute nemesis. So, with that disclaimer out there, I’m not going to give you a new “system” to try; I’m merely going to be honest about what cleaning looks like at my house.

First of all, I’m learning to include the kids in the cleaning. It’s good for them, and it’s necessary for me. If I’m ever going to keep up with it all, I’ll need help. Just do the math: three mess makers vs. me (and my husband, who does help out an awful lot when he’s home—bless him!)

The kids have what we call “morning chores” that are to be finished before school begins in the morning. In addition to having beds made and rooms picked up, they are responsible for picking up their bathroom and their eating area (similar to a breakfast nook in our kitchen). (I’ve got a list of their specific tasks further on down. Just keep reading.)  I try to be pretty consistent with inspecting these chores, but I do get distracted and don’t always follow up.

The rest of the cleaning is in the moment. If I clean, I’ll call for my helpers and divvy up the responsibilities. My mantra is: we’re a family, a team. We make messes together, so we clean them together. There is no “his mess”/”her mess.” I don’t care who’s stuff it is or who made the mess; we’re family, and we work together. We’re still working on this, and I still get complaints about one child picking up after the other. But honestly, they are catching on, and many times will pick up someone else’s mess without being told.

And I do reference my work when my kids complain. I think it’s being honest with them. Does Mommy do dishes and laundry all the time because she likes to? Of course not. Mommy does them because she loves you!

Often, the cleaning gets caught up in a once a week family frenzy cleaning, either on Dad’s day off (Tuesday) or on Sunday afternoons before our company comes. (Nearly every Sunday evening, we’ll have some of the families from our church into our home for a meal. That definitely helps me stay accountable to at least some of the cleaning.)

Here’s our breakdown of chores:

Oldest (age 7): sweeps kitchen floor; will sometimes mop; wipes his bathroom sink and counter; hangs up the bathroom towels; folds his laundry and helps fold Littlest’s laundry; helps with bathroom cleaning, vacuuming, or dusting; also helps make toast and sandwiches

Middlest (age 5): wipes down tables and Littlest’s high chair; will sometimes sweep or mop; wipes her bathroom sink and counter; folds her laundry and helps fold towels; helps with dusting

Littlest (age nearly 2): helps sweep with his small broom and dust pan; helps wipe and dry messes; helps load laundry into the washer and dryer (he “helps” in a lot of other areas that aren’t much help, but we won’t mention those here)

And when cleaning feels like utter chaos, I read from my friend at Vitafamiliae and take comfort in the fact that I’m not the only one.