The peace experiment

12 November 2013

I have a little helper sitting next to me. It's the big kids' homework time, so he and I are doing our "work" upstairs on his bed, pressed up against his window, a gray sky our backdrop. He's tracing lines on the LeapPad, working on his writing, practicing how to hold a pen. The pincer grasp has been tough for him to master, so with each "good job" or "you're doing great!" he flashes me a crooked smile. He's four, and though primary school is less than a year away, I can't imagine him walking through giant glass doors, a tie around his neck and a crest on his chest.

After the mid-term break had finished and the morning angst of school days had come back to haunt our kitchen table, Matt and I wondered if there wasn't a better way to do this whole thing. The parenting, schooling, working, living, serving, loving type of thing. It's not like our lives are insanely busy. Our extracurriculars are at a minimum and the only thing that keeps our car moving in opposite directions is Matt's unorthodox work schedule and the school drop-off/pick-up puzzle. So when he said he thought we needed to "practice a month of peace," I laughed at him. What should we drop, then, I asked. We're already about as bare bones as you can make it, and still each morning we run around like headless chickens in search of coffee. How do we institute peace here when this is as calm as life will ever be?

The answer, we think, is not in doing less stuff. We still have to feed children and show up for meetings and do laundry every day. He's still in Dublin one day, Clare the day after, and I still hustle three children to three different schools twice a day. These things have to happen; we are already doing less stuff. But how we approach these necessities, and the broad stroke with which we allow our kids to work within them, needs some tweaking. Not twerking. Tweaking.

And, wouldn't you know, we're 50 days out from the New Year. Advent is fast approaching. And life - as it tends to do in the holiday crush - is about to get much more wild.

So our tweak is this: peace. Our intention is to infuse peace in our daily, little acts of chaos.

Not just for us, but for the children, too. We want them to treat each other with gentleness, responding to conflict in peace, and they will learn this from us as we model it. I'm assuming. Hopefully.

We need peace during homework and at the dinner table and in the back seat of the car on the way to church. We need peace at bedtime and bathtime and quiet time here on Asher's bed. And we need peace in this city and in this country and in the queue at the shop. And we wait for the Prince of Peace, the way we do every year, except that we usually forget about Him till the last minute. On Christmas day He arrives with guests and gifts and we think, "Oh, there You are. I totally forgot You were here." And for the Christ-follower to forget that Jesus brings peace? That is not the way I want to go about life.

I don't know how this is all going to work, but we're thinking of some ways to institute peace. We are starting to be mindful of the loudness we live with and how to quiet the noise. We are asking for words and Scripture and prayers that speak of peace. We want it to fill the rooms in this house and overflow into the streets, infuse every interaction and conversation we have with those around us. That's our hope anyway. And along the way, I'll share some bits of it with you. You and I can sort some of it out here, define peace and peacefulness and peacemaking... and figure out if it's even possible in a family filled with strong personalities and at least one mildly destructive streak.

This is our peace experiment, for these next 50 days, plunging head-first into the most wonderful and chaotic time of year. And today we begin with Ash and I on his bed. Him and his LeapPad and me right here, writing to you, giving brother and sister some peace while they do their homework.

Oh, and you should know: this isn't a blog project, another 31-days-type challenge. Matt and I want to do this for us and for our kids and for the family and home we want to nurture. Sharing here along the way will help keep me accountable, though there will be other stuff happening on these pages, too. And when it all goes to pot in like three days, I'm sure you'll find me back here lamenting my lack of follow through and my usual lazy mom ways.

Or we can just forget I ever said anything. Deal?


How peaceful is your home, family, relationships? What white noise is clouding your blue sky?


  1. Oh. My. GOSH. I'm not usually a commenter, but at the risk of laying it out and coming across as some sort of creepo stalker- I feel like you crawled out of my iPad like that thing from the Ring (remember that girl? She came out of the tv if you watched that video?) and shook my shoulders and shouted (peacefully though, duh) "JENNIFER! I WROTE THIS POST FOR YOU!!!"
    Because I think you did.
    I have four little kids, at three different schools, with the youngest with me all day. My husband doesn't work crazy hours, but he leaves early and I'm stuck with them all morning alone. We don't do extracurriculars, I don't volunteer or work or even have some sort of etsy home business to run. This is LITERALLY the calmest my life is probably ever going to be.
    Yet every morning, I'm screaming and hollering. At least one kid is crying, usually three. I usually send them off to school hot tempered, hurt feelings-ed, mad at me, mad at each other, mad at the world. And really, that's what I'm offering the world? These angry children? These children who are SO UPSET because I don't understand why they need to build JUST ONE MORE LEGO CASTLE when it's five minutes PAST the absolute latest possible moment we can pull out of the drive and still make it to schools on time?
    These angry children come home happy (we've got great schools) and hungry and I almost always spoil it within seconds of closing the door. Nagging. Put your things away! Do your homework!! NO LEGOS!!! This isn't the life I signed up for.
    What happened? I was supposed to half lay, half lounge on the sofa, with one of those old afghan type blankets, two or three (four?!?!) kids vying playfully for a spot on my lap, a fire crackling in the periphery, and I'd crack open my own old battered copy of Little House on the Prairie or the Narnia books, and we've read the afternoon away.
    I can't think of the last time I read to my children something other than Lightning McQueen Wins the Race. I'm too busy yelling to read. They're too busy crying and nursing hurt feelings to listen.
    How did this happen? Why did this happen? How do I fix it? When will I fix it?
    So yeah. Thank you. This I'm gonna regret this, but I'm gonna admit that I want to try it. And it probably won't last. I'll probably make it twenty minutes without yelling. Without breaking the peace. But I've got to try.
    So thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thankyou.

    1. Oh Jenn! Did you write that really fast, because I read it super fast and resonated with every single word. Especially the legos. All the live long day, legos. I'm SO GLAD you commented and thank you so much for giving me a peek into your way too similar life. I glanced at your blog and gasped at all the similarities - including pictures and locations! Thank you for the comment, for the encouragement and for your own desire-for-against-all-odds peace. I hope you'll check in from time to time and share some stories! Ooh, how about a guest post! ...??? :)

  2. Peace. That's a good word. We feel the chaos and I often think - we don't even have kids! Peace. I like it. We need it. :)

    1. Kate, I know what you mean, especially in a culture not our own. Can feel drowned out by the white noise of things not making sense, or the amount of effort and time it takes to process or take action. Praying you two can find some time a little peace! :)