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“How do we experience the spiritual disciplines when a mom’s day is the opposite of ‘disciplined’? Julia gives us ancient wisdom boiled down into doable steps so that we can experience our beautiful God in the midst of our messy lives.”


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Find Your Flow
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How Motherhood Brought Me Closer to God

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Find Your Flow

When I speak to groups of moms with young children, I ask them to close their eyes and think of the last time they felt themselves relax into the moment so much that they lost all sense of time. When I look around the room I can see panic in some of the women’s eyes as they realize they can’t think of the last time they felt this way.

The truth is that for most moms with small children, these moments are all too few and far between.

And according to scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  (pronounced “cheeks sent me high”), these moments, which he calls “flow,” are extremely important to our happiness and wellbeing. Athletes often call it being “in the zone.” In the Christian world we sometimes call it kairos, qualitative rather than quantitative time, moments when God reaches into us or meets us in a profound way, moments that pull us out of chronos, or quantitative time. Moments of flow aren’t always easy to come by, but they are spiritually refreshing, even essential.

For those of us with small children at home, however, such moments can feel unattainable because our children so often interrupt our focus. Sometimes my entire day feels like one long series of interruptions.

So how can parents (particularly stay-at-home parents) experience flow? Think of those things in your life that produced a sense of flow in the past and make sure to work them into your schedule.  Some of my best times of flow come when I’m writing or editing, and I’m so wrapped up in the task at hand and the words on the screen that I forget what’s going on around me. Finding enough time to do this is not only challenging when you’re a parent of small children, it can be downright dangerous if you also need to be supervising small humans, so I normally save this kind of flow-inducing work for my kids’ naptimes or after their bedtimes or when someone else is caring for them. Some other flow-inducing tasks for me are walking, reading, and sometimes cooking or baking. I do find that I’m a lot happier and more peaceful in the rest of my day when I’ve been able to get caught up in something I really enjoyed this way.

But I’ve also learned to expand my ideas of flow. Flow doesn’t have to be a solo activity. Some of my most rewarding times of flow have been with my children.  In fact, now when I close my eyes and think of when I experience flow or kairos my mind goes first to pushing one of my children on the swing in the park or reading books aloud together. Now, before you throw your phone across the playground, no, I certainly do not achieve this sense of flow every single time I push one of my children on a swing or read one of them a book. But in general, when I allow it, these activities are conduits to kairos. 

The key phrase in that last sentence was “when I allow it” because a certain amount of intentionality is required. Flow never happens when I’m only halfway present with my children, thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner or loading the dishwasher or listening with half an ear to a podcast. Multitasking is the enemy of flow. Flow only happens for me when I’m doing one thing at a time.  And because I always feel so overwhelmed with SO MANY things to do, doing only one thing at a time feels almost unnatural.

I’ve found, however, that it gets easier with practice. And in these moments I sometimes glimpse this truth: It’s not my kids who are the interruptions. My life with them is the real life, the important part. It’s the other stuff that’s interrupting.

Mom, I Don’t Pray

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“I don’t pray,” my ten-year-old son said the other day at the dinner table, and my heart just about stopped. “What?” I said. “What do you mean? Why not? What happened?” My head filled with even more questions. What had I done wrong? Hadn’t I taught and modeled prayer for him? Was he going through […]

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When You Feel Like You’re Not a Good Enough Mom


I studied all the wrong things in school. Based on my daily life, I would have been much better off had I studied nursing, nutrition, defensive carpool driving, physical therapy, and child psychology. Some housecleaning and organization courses might  also have come in handy. Unfortunately, my degrees are in international relations, journalism, and theological studies. […]

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Cancer-Free: A Resolution of Gratitude

On December 28 I went to the cancer center for my yearly mammogram. Because my initial surgery to remove my breast cancer was in December, this anxiety-producing ritual now falls at the end of each year. It’s been 18 months since I finished treatment, chemotherapy and radiation, and although I now take tamoxifen to prevent […]

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Teaching Kids to Talk (and Listen) to God

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I once shocked a bunch of kids while giving a children’s sermon. I told them it didn’t matter if they bowed their heads or even folded their hands when they prayed.  That they certainly could pray while kneeling with their hands folded and their heads bowed, but that they could also pray while lying in […]

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Daily Tasks Are Real Life

Daily Tasks Are Real Life

My daughter is 15 months old. What that means for my house is that there is no safe place to keep the toilet brush. That as I put the dirty dishes into the dishwasher, she is joyfully unloading them on the other side. And that she empties all the kitchen cabinets she can reach every […]

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One Easy Way to Simplify Family Life

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This time of year many of us start to think about simplicity. Practicing Christian simplicity is about doing less or having less in order to focus more on God. I think many of us want to better practice simplicity in our family lives but find it hard to know where to say no. Something that […]

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Holy Labor


Childbirth is an exciting and terrifying prospect. For each of my three pregnancies, as my stomach grew larger, so did my anxiety and dread about the birth itself. Just as the marriage is more important than the wedding, the baby is more important than the birth. Yet at the same time, when you hit 8 […]

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