Ah! Intentional White Space on the Calendar!
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.
Ah! White space! It does my soul good!
I crave order and peace in my surroundings. Having one of three children with additional special needs can stretch even the best of parenting philosophies, and can also be a gift to keep one’s own limits and boundaries in place out of necessity. I am sharing today about a very real and intentional process I am going through in hopes that it may encourage you. I by no means have this completely incorporated, but am in process as a goal of mastering this each week. I am daily surrendering in multiple areas as I need His strength daily with the multiple interventional therapy sessions some days. My At-A-Glance Weekly/Monthly calendar is filled with highlighted spaces: Meal times (to write in the menu), getting everyone out the door time, ABA, occupational therapy appointments, speech therapy, music lessons, IEP meetings, insurance paperwork, assistive technology coordination, gymnastics, school meetings, church events … you can get the point, we all have busy lives. Consequently, just how busy our lives become is in our control to a degree.
Our calendars do not define us, are not a true reflection of who we are, and we have an opportunity to use a very good word, “no” to focus our time and energy on what is most important during this season. I have had to purposefully color code and write in Sabbath to not plan items to work on during that time, and more recently blocking off white spaces and writing “white” on them so as to not schedule anything there to be able to live with margin.
For years, I could not understand a certain portion of Scripture and always thought that Jesus seemed to be displaying rudeness, but knew that wasn’t fitting with his character. Later, I realized that he was rather exemplifying focus and intentionality on purpose. Without boundaries and focus, life’s purposes can become blurry and overwhelming.
That portion of Scripture is found in Matthew 15:21-28. A woman had come to plead for help for her daughter, but Jesus did not answer her. His disciples urged him to send her away, because she was bothering them with her begging. Jesus’ answer to her perplexed me for years: “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!” Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.” “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.
Can we live without intentionality and wonder about our purpose? Yes!
Can we become too scheduled, too busy and burn out? Yes!
Is “no” a good word? Yes, it can be!
Can intentionally blocking out white space help create balance? Yes!
This February, for the first time, I intentionally set time aside to pray about this season and what I should be focusing on and awaited quietly to see what God may speak to my heart for the specific duration of time on what to focus, a theme, or anything else pertinent. In that time, I felt that I was to focus on “Exquisite Ingredients” which includes the richness of Scripture, spending my time in quality areas with intention, and narrowing my focus with excellence. It was as if these ingredients were to use a specific ornate bowl to make something beautiful of this season and be filled with listening, receiving, and meditating.
I also felt personally challenged to intentionally block out three two hour blocks without interruptions of just sitting quietly, reading, praying, or listening to worship weekly, and it is revolutionizing my life with a quality hard to articulate in mere words and allowing me to “rise above situations” that I would otherwise be giving unnecessary energy towards. During this season, I and am able to sense His nearness in a unordinary way.
During that process of praying and focusing, relationships as well as other areas in my life were intentionally evaluated. Spiritual, physical, academic, ASD, professional, financial, and personal/hobby/replenishment time as a personal inventory along with action steps for each were listed. This time was different through, in that I asked my “Creator Coach” to walk with me through it rather than trying to come up with my own ideas. I went through the process with a listening heart and ears to the best of my intention and then shared with my mentor and my husband to see if I was missing something and to inquire if these goals resonated with what they were seeing in my life. After a wonderful conversation with my mentor for this year and listening to her words, it was gaping that I needed “white space”! Play, recreation, rest, pulling away time, slowing down, and having no purpose but to “play”! For this, I am now intentionally blocking white space. I have cut some commitments out so that I can focus on those “exquisite ingredients” that I believe He is calling me to focus for this season, and make time for play! I am working on placing time to rest, or a break to just relax without being on the go as well. A twenty minute nap can be a very beautiful thing and scheduling in rest, especially for moms and for special needs moms a 20 minute respite now and then is not a luxury, but rather a necessity.
This Saturday, my daughters and I bought a canvasses and each painted a picture for fun! By temperament and personality, I can become very focused and determined and white space and planning in fun is becoming refreshing!
3. Balance comes from intentionality.
4. Setting reminders on your phone or with sticky notes for new habits can help as a tool!
5. Setting a time to intentionally unsubscribe from extra email can be empowering and create more white space!
Questions to Ponder:
1. What is your focus for the season you may find yourself?
2. What would intentionally setting a time to pray and seek a focus do for you in this season? If this is a decision that resonates with you, consider listening prayer for input through the process. This was the first time I invited His input into creating goals instead of just praying beforehand, and it has revolutionized my own outlook this season!
3. Would having a designated time to pray over your calendar each month help create boundaries or new opportunities?
4. Do you have white space in your calendar? Time for replenishment marked off and guarded? Time for intentional rest, especially for moms of special needs is not a luxury, but rather a necessity.
Grace Happens Here! White space happens here!
Blessings in your white space!