Looking to the New Year: Embracing a week of nothingness

That magical week between Christmas and New Years is always one of my favorite times of the whole year.

First, it’s filled with rest.

The busy Advent season rolls into Christmas morning. We enjoy a small and casual church service filled with jolly “Merry Christmas!”-es and “Joy to the World” sung at the top of everyone’s voice, whether they can sing or not. It’s a joyful noise kind of unabashed worship that is rare and wonderful. There’s coffee and Ohio-style coffee cake in long sugary strips. Then we come home. And we sit. We open presents. Sometimes friends and family visit or we visit them. There aren’t any rules or rushing. It’s a week with something we wish most of life held just a little more often…no expectations.

Second, it’s filled with togetherness.

People come and gather around our table or we gather round theirs. There’s munching and new lego sets that require help. There’s iceskating and games and too many baked goods. There’s a book and the last of the Christmas movies that never got watched. There’s wine and snuggles, fluffy blankets, and car trips. Sometimes, there’s nothingness and it feels like a slice of grace and restoration from the Savior Himself.

Third, it’s filled with what’s to come.

It’s that quiet time of contemplation that exists before planning. It’s not hard core we-must-get-stuff-done planning, but it’s that place before it. That time and space where we know we are going to plan some stuff, new stuff needs to happen, life needs to move forward, but nothing needs to be done yet. We get to just think about things without the pressure to act. We get to hope and dream about what’s to come. A little voice says action is coming and it’s coming soon. It feels fresh and filled with energy, but is not pressing. It’s the nudge of New Year’s, not the shove from a life left undone.

I pray you get to enjoy this special week. The space in-between. Jesus lived a span of 33 years between His birth in that stable and His death and resurrection on Easter Morn. The space in-between is purposeful and worthy of a breathe of thanksgiving. Let fill this time of not yet with more and more of Him. Always more of Him.

In favor of a boring summer

I am that mom that makes my kids finish the textbooks they bring home from school. “Everyone choose one page from each workbook per day! They’ll be finished in no time! Isn’t this fun?!”

My cheery attitude has no effect on my kids, who glare at me unabashedly.

Last summer we had days –

Monday Make Something: Crafts, cooking, projects

Tuesday To Do Lists: House projects and errands

Wednesday Wet Fun: sprinklers, water balloons, city pool you name it

Thursday Thankfulness: visiting people, making things for people, showing some love

Friday Fitness Challenge: biking, hiking, obstacle courses, etc.

I can describe the whole thing at length per request, but that’s not the point of this blog. It was fun. I’m a proponent of the whole idea.

The summer before last we focused on a science and writing project each day. Before that we earned marbles for chores and workbook pages and projects completed. Before that we covered topics of the week and topics of the month.

Every summer my wild and zealous learning ideas are met with grumbles and general grouchiness. (Ooooo- alliteration!)

So here is what I am going to offer you this summer, children –

One summer of nothingness.

A summer enhanced by boredom and lethargy, a summer where you have to make up stuff for yourself and use the imaginations I know you have down deep. You can make your own snacks and find toys you forgot you had. You can spontaneously visit a friend and lay around at their house for a change of scenery. And those textbooks…I’m going to take a deep breath and pitch them, burn them, whatever. I promise you they won’t make an appearance. (All my teacher friends…try to exhale.)

Boredom is the new black. It looks good on you Goehmann’s.

Why nothing? That’s the million dollar question. It’s an attempt at giving my children the chance to have their voices heard. Believing that one summer of nothingness will not rot their brains. Subscribing and actually living out my belief that children will learn no matter what they do, especially if I step back and let them discover on their own. Most importantly…

Letting them just be. Quietly teaching them to just be.

Because that’s something I’m not very good at, and I’d like to pass down a better legacy than being just like me.

Jesus was especially good at just be-ing. While our world is technical and vast and fast paced, Jesus’s world was in no way less busy. People grew things to survive, for the love of Pete, or shopped the marketplace. I have shopped a city marketplace in a country for daily rations, and while it sounds fun, it’s a lot to take in and not so fun when your hunting down food for six…every day.

People also wanted Jesus’s attention. Crowds clamored. He was surrounded by need. He was intensely aware of every person’s value that sought him out, and every person that didn’t.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

This, really, is our summer of rest. We have done a lot, recovered from a lot, cared a lot, learned a lot, sought a lot. It’s ok to rest…a lot.

Children- may you be blessed by our summer of nothingness. Nothingness has quickly turned into library visits, Star Trek action filled play, water balloon and water bucket fights, homemade cookies, and sitting around discussing what God is doing in our lives and what we wish He was doing in our lives, and a creative venture for making a new youtube channel.


Great things happen when we step back a bit, let Him work, and embrace nothingness. This isn’t an idea for every summer, every day. But for this summer- it feels just right.

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Star Trek in Our Jammies or Finding Rest

I was sorely in need of some rest. I had been running around making preparations for Easter. I was working on a writing deadline with words that just wouldn’t come. I had a children’s ministry scavenger hunt to prepare, practices to run small people too, and the day-to-day stuff of life to take care of.

I was sorely in need of rest.

I’m sure that there are many of you who can relate to a packed schedule. The problem wasn’t really the schedule. This season of our life is busy, but good busy, not overwhelming, just full. It was simply time for a rest. My body could feel it. My heart was yearning for it.

The funny part was that I was completely unaware of it until I sat down on my couch.

I love my couch. It sucks you in, in all the right ways. You aren’t sucked into it, as in “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.” Instead, its soft rustic leather eases around you and says, “Hello, old friend. It’s been awhile.”

Let me tell you, it had indeed been a while. Ever been there? There right now, in need of rest?

Good Friday morning I woke up and walked downstairs and sat down. Oh couch! I forgot how much I missed you! My eleven year old son sat down next to me and said, “Mom, how about a Star Trek in our jammies morning?” He was speaking my language.

When was the last time I just sat down and did almost nothing.

When was the last time our family sat together and did almost nothing?

My husband came downstairs and I timidly asked him, “Hey, I know it’s Holy Week, but do you want to drink some coffee and watch Star Trek with us.”

To my surprise he answered in the affirmative. “Yes! I need coffee and Star Trek right about now. Let’s do it!”

Watching Star Trek in your jammies may not seem really rebellious in your normal schedule (nor may it sound interesting to you!), but for us, this was a major diversion from the routine. Not shockingly, after my hour of coffee and Star Trek I felt refueled. Ready to take on the world. Words easily came from my pen to my page. I found new joy in my preparations for the Easter season ahead.

I’m so thankful for the quiet moments of rest. This particular rest isn’t profound life-changing-vacation rest, or Sabbath-day-devotion rest, or even I-need-a-nap-on-Easter-Sunday-afternoon rest. It is come-away-for-a-quiet-time-and-rest rest.

Hear some wisdom from Mark 6:31 –

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 

In every family this is an important kind of rest. In church work families this is vital rest that often goes by unnoticed.

This is relational rest, spending-time-with-God-and-one-another rest.

God gave us each other, the Body of Christ, to keep us in check.

Jesus offered his disciples rest, that they may not have taken without His verbalizing it, offering it as a gift. It would have been ok, had my husband said no thank you to Star Trek that morning, but I’m so thankful I offered, so that he could accept.

What does “a quiet place” and rest look like to you? Who keeps you accountable for rest, in a gospel kind of way? Who offers you a quiet place and rest? Who can you offer some quiet and rest to today?

This is just one more way Jesus’ work is done through us, poured into one another. The simple offer of rest.

Our family decided that every Saturday morning when there is nothing on the schedule, it will officially be Star Trek in our jammies morning. We even busted out the calendar to make sure that there were 2 mornings a month freed up for this over the next few months. It sounds so silly, but so wonderful.


What a sweet, sweet gift of our Lord. Praising Him for each moment, in the busyness and in the rest!