Monday, January 14, 2008

Back to work

I admit it: I love winter. I took both of these photos in my backyard. And they don't do it justice--it really is beautiful.

For those of you who don't get my newsletter (or do get it but would like to comment on it) here's my musings for January from the Connecting with Keri newsletter. (If you like what you read and would like to subscribe, go to and look for my newsletter info.) I'd love to hear your comments or feedback.
Now comes the hard part of winter, when the holidays are over. Here in the Midwest, it’s been cold and snowy for a month or two, but the season is just getting revved up. We’ve had ice storms, snow storms. We’re supposed to get a January thaw this weekend, although I know winter will return with a vengeance. It’s never really over around here until well into April.

I’ve enjoyed the holidays, and spending time with my family. I love just hanging out watching movies, reading Christmas books, visiting the city to look at the lights, or even shopping with my kids. I love the leisurely pace of our lives when they don’t have to get up for school and don’t have to be driven places on a schedule.

Yet there is part of me that longs to reclaim my computer and the quiet space of my home. I am ready for my darling children to go back to school, so I can work without Alvin and the Chipmunks singing “Bad Day” in the background (as it is right now. Again. Sigh.)

While the weather may be hard, this time of year presents a great opportunity to examine our lives, to see where, perhaps, we hope to go next; to align ourselves with God and His purpose.I finished a book manuscript in early December, and a few weeks later, my wonderful agent called with news of yet another book contract.

As a writer, I’m only employed for certain as long as I’ve got another project—this one will take me at least six months. To finish a manuscript and have another project right away is an amazing blessing. I’m grateful. Along with writing, I’ll travel to five states in the next four months for the other half of my job, speaking and teaching at retreats. My work provides meaning, purpose, joy and income. As much as I enjoyed a holiday break, I’m anxious to get back to work.

Perhaps this week, you too are getting back into your normal routine. Back to work, whether that work is caring for young children, adding value to your company, instructing others or engaging in creative endeavors. Whatever “normal routine” is for you, here’s something to consider: how do you go back to normal without falling into the same old rut?

There is no denying that being home with small children is hard work. But I’ve seen many women make it into an all-consuming career. The danger in that is that moms lose themselves, because they forget that parenting young children is a job for a season, not a lifetime. They don’t remember who they are, apart from the role of mom. It also backfires for the kids who can’t help but conclude that they are the center of the universe.

I really think that it’s important for moms to have something other than their children to occupy their thoughts, to give them meaning and purpose. Getting a job, volunteering for a cause that matters to you, taking a class (or maybe even teaching one) can help you hang onto your self during the parenting years.

I have several friends in various stages of the “empty nest” season. Some find themselves floundering—what are they now, if not a hands-on parent? Others are busy “re-inventing” themselves. Which is, I suppose, a healthy step, but one that makes me wonder: what if, somewhere along the way, they had kept a piece of themselves alive by nurturing their own God-given talents? We often find our purpose hidden in our passions. If we’ve spent some time seeking God’s purpose for our lives (beyond the important calling of caring for our family) perhaps we will find that an empty nest would not require complete re-invention, just a minor adjustment.

If you are a parent, do you have something to occupy your energy other than your kids? Something that fills you, invigorates you, challenges you? Something you think God is calling you to do, that fits with your purpose? Whether it is serving at church or on your school PTA, or even just a part-time job to give you a break from the kids and a little spending money to boot?

Whether you are a parent or not, January is a great time to think about how you spend your days, about your purpose and calling. It’s a great time to begin to explore some options. What work is God calling you to do in this season? As you “get back to normal,” take some time to consider whether you want to make some adjustments, set some goals, or perhaps make a fresh start altogether.


Llama Momma said...

Such good thoughts here, and absolutely a word in season for me, in this season of my life.

(I was blog surfing and stumbled across your blog. I remember now that I heard you speak at my old MOPS group three or four years ago.)

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

Llama momma,
Thanks for stopping by!
I speak to a lot of MOPS groups, so it wouldn't surprise me if I visited yours.
I hope you'll visit again soon!

Dianne said...

Last year I spent a good part of January praying about my goals for the year. I found it so affirming to just rest in the stillness of winter and look forward with God to what he wanted to teach me. I don't love the cold but I do love winter, when everything forces us to slow down and just be.

Thanks for stopping by my blog the other day, btw.

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

I always think life will slow down, in this season where I'd like to just hibernate. Btu kids have activities, work keeps me busy, etc. I still have to drive carpools and meet deadlines, even when I'd like to just sit and look out the window at the falling snow. :)
At our house, tho, that quiet stillness comes once a week, on Sabbath, where we slow down, and connect--with the kids, our friends, with God.

Heather@Mommymonk said...

Keri - I saw your comment at CWO and found your blog. Your writing has been an encouragement to me - I'm always recommending it to others (just call me your publicist - smile).

Thanks for this post - it really ministered to me where I'm at right now. I've been trying to get back to normal for a few years now...I feel the Lord leading me to return to work but well meaning Christians keep telling me that I need to stay home. God alone knows the best path for me and I am willing to listen to His voice.

Keri Wyatt Kent said...

thanks for stopping by my blog! And extra thanks for being my "publicist" I way appreciate that!
When well-meaning Christians tell you to stay home, you ask them which woman in the Bible was a stay-at-home mom. Even that Proverbs 31 woman (who is not just one woman BTW, but a list of attributes) was a working mom. (see Prov. 31:16-18)
Keep listening to God. And paying attention to how he wired you up, how he made you. (I write about this in my book Listen in more detail.)
If God is leading, then follow him. He knows you and your family better than anyone else!