I picked up this book Living With Less so your Family Has More from the library after seeing it referenced on a friend’s blog. I knew it was about living on less financially so that your family can have more- time together, and more shared experiences to highlight a few…
As campus ministers we know our share of living on less as we rely on the Lord to provide for our every need to support our salary, carefully budget every dollar and then trust Him above and beyond for all of the things our salary simply can’t cover.
None of this was necessary new to me- to think about how we live on LESS but in return gain MORE in regards to our job. But I wasn’t prepared for what it would do deep down in my heart.
I realized the title of this book, could summarize my life in a much deeper way as my health journey has brought me to a place where I am keenly aware of my less. Two years ago I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in a very dramatic presentation of the disease. I lost almost all physical strength, balance and coordination for a season. If you see me now, you wouldn’t notice anything different, but the reality of MS has changed me.
I recently described myself to our staff team friends as an extroverted, high-capacity, don’t-want-to-miss-out person trapped in a body that is easily fatigued, needs tons of sleep, and is incredibly limited by a daily REQUIRED nap.
I truly know LESS. Less energy, less free time, less ability to engage in life in the way I want to and have always envisioned. I know what it’s like to pack up your family and head on a trip, only to arrive- eat lunch, tuck my kids in for a nap and get into bed myself missing out on time with family or friends I’ve been so eager and worked so hard to see. I know what it’s like to sleep 2 hour naps, wake up tired, and still crawl to make it to bed time. I know what it’s like to go to bed at 10 pm and sleep soundly until after 7 am, and then still be desperate for more sleep at 1 pm. I feel like any other young mom in my shoes after getting 10 hours of sleep, would wake up so refreshed they think they can conquer the world. But I find myself waking up, thankful for sleep, and trusting God for energy to make it another half a day. It’s like a constant thorn in my side – an insatiable need for rest that is likely not going away.
While I watch my family and campus needs increase, my kids sleep needs decrease and their energy grow and grow and grow. And yes, while I sit here with a third child in my arms and wonder, “Lord, how is THIS going to work?” How is my capacity ever going to be enough?
As always, when I look around at others and allow myself to compare , I get bitter about my LESS. I see people taking their kids on awesome outings and just skipping naps for the day and think, I wish I could do that. I see moms getting up in the wee hours of morning to exercise, or be in the word, or and feel guilty that I’m not, or that at this point, I really can’t. I dream of a full day to myself to go and do what I want most, but then remember even if I’m not with my kids, I have to schedule around nap time, MY nap time. People ask what I do for fun, and other than the tremendous fun I share with my children when they are awake, all “alone time” is spent sleeping when they sleep. And so I pause and think to myself, Sleep?
This is not the life I pictured nor what I long for. But this book got me thinking – how is my living with LESS allowing me and my family to have MORE? And I’m sure I could list a lot of things, but it struck me that while I sit here thinking of all the ways I have less, less, less, less, less. Less than those around me, less than I want, less that I think I need. My children truly don’t see it that way.
They don’t need a trip to the beach, they truly are happy with me sitting next to them on the deck as they play with the water table. They don’t need summer camp, their ideal morning is spent on the couch with mom reading All the library books. (It’s a dream come true for them when they ask how many books and I say ALL of them!) They don’t need to go out for ice cream, they are thrilled at home making a minute mug cake in the microwave and using whip cream as the frosting.
And I’m trusting that the students on our campus will not see what I have to offer as less. But that they will be able to receive, appreciate and be blessed by what I can offer. So in this season while I wish I could use nap times to be in the word, have a student over, or get to campus, I find myself more disciplined than ever using that precious nap time to get some rest. And I pray that the students will see that no matter how little I can do, I’m doing my best to make my rest (and thus my health) and my time in the Word my immovable priorities. And I hope they will do the same.
Last semester I hosted a Mugs & Muffins social and feel like the Lord multiplied my little into a lot. They didn’t notice that it was in the morning and as soon as they left, I took a nap. They didn’t notice that I hadn’t prepared anything except a batch of muffins. And they didn’t notice that this was my one ministry involvement of the week. But I do trust they noticed that I was there, I opened our home in love, I did all I could to communicate that they are welcome here, and I helped connect them with other women who are walking with Jesus at UW-Whitewater.
To realize that we have MORE we have to take our eyes off of our limits and what’s out there that we wish we had or wish we could do and turn our eyes in towards what we have right here. Whether we have the strengths, the campus, the capacity, the personality or the role we want or not, God has gifted us to serve on campus and He promises us that if we abide in Him we will bear much fruit.
The MORE I have is that my kids know our routine, they thrive off of it, and someday will ask their friends, ‘Wait, your mom doesn’t take a nap?” The MORE I have is that just like everyone does, we make time for what is most important to us and are constantly faced with the question, “Is that REALLY important?”
And the MORE we have is that we are forced to bank on God’s promises- that He will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19), that the boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6), that the LORD is the stronghold of my life (Psalm 27:1), that God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me (Psalm 54:4) and that (His) power is made perfect in (my) weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9).