By Guest Blogger Misty Nichols, author of Back Porch Bliss

You know those times when the laundry is finished, the house sparkles, the toys are tucked away, children are nestled all snug in their beds and you sit down for a glass of wine and a new book as the moonlight casts a shadow through your crystal clear window?

No? Me neither, sister!

This lovely scene happens somewhere between a Blue Moon and Never.

It’s more like this: kids rollerblading through the house because #babyitscoldoutside, lettuce in the bathtub (true story), random junk on the steps, coats and backpacks on the dining room table, a chair that has been deemed “the laundry chair,” an office that’s a quick dumping ground when guests are coming, legos everywhere (everywhere!), a chocolate lab that loves to jump into my favorite cream-colored chair, an unfinished basement with boxes from when we moved four years ago, children who are potential hoarders, brushes in the freezer (lice phobia!), shoes that never have a mate nearby, and children speaking to me only in Ferb Latin. And while I’m ratting out my children and calling them sloppy hoarders who watch too much Phineas and Ferb, I must confess I save glass jars. And fabric. And ribbons. And children’s artwork. You never know when these items will become a project.

The laundry chair: No Instagram filter or Photoshop could make this hot mess look pretty.

I used to think I could control the chaos with my lists. But the lists just got longer, the calendar became more packed, I overextended myself and I became overworked and overwhelmed. Help me Jesus.

Chaos happens. And I know this season I’m in with my people, the little hoarders, is the best of times. It’s also really hard. I (mostly) love it all. Thank you Jesus.

I’ve always thought the magic place between zen and chaos is called BALANCE. But balance is a sparkly unicorn and zen is not in the active vocabulary of any parent I know. For years, I’ve searched to find the right word and recipe for making it all come together, and I think for me it’s PEACE. This year, I’m going to strive for peace, not balance. Maybe it’s a state of mind and not a juggling act. Maybe it’s me looking at the laundry chair and being ok with it.

I’m learning that peace is somewhere between planning the day and receiving it. Letting go of my detailed plan and realizing God’s unfolding grace. I’ve never seen God’s unfolding grace in list form.

Peace is found in recognition that this season of chaos is also filled with wonder, excitement, learning and growth. It’s both beautiful and messy and time is a precious commodity. Invite the chaos in, there’s so much joy and grace that comes with all of it. But also find quiet moments for peace and enough wisdom to be present and savor it. I don’t want to let the chaos of the world and our rushed lives drown out God’s peace.

I won’t lie, I still like my organization and lists, but I recognize I can’t live and die by it. I’m learning to let go and to be forgiving about what doesn’t get done. I’m becoming selective about what’s added to The List in the first place. Which involves saying no sometimes, and that is scary stuff for a people pleaser like me. Now, when I say no, I have a little “I ACTUALLY said no” celebration in my head. Today, I know whatever I accomplish in one day is ENOUGH. Thank you, Brené Brown.

This year, my theme is Peace and my mantra is “Peace In, Peace Out.” It’s the opposite of Garbage In, Garbage Out, which was my theme during my college years. But that is another story…

“Peace in” looks like exercise, stillness, reading, writing, being creative, prayer, blogging, trying new recipes, doing fun projects, travel. It’s self care. When I have the “peace in,” I believe the “peace out” will happen. I cannot sufficiently care for others if I haven’t cared for myself.

“Peace out” looks like me without my hair on fire, yelling at my favorite people while juggling All The Plates. It’s gratitude for God meeting me in the quiet, but also knowing he’s with me in the chaos. It’s being a calmer, more present wife and mom.

I also accept there will be some days when I get off track or lose my $#%@. I will also forgive myself for those moments, reassuring myself that my children will now have interesting material for therapy.

Each day, I am setting aside time for prayer and grounding.

Here’s what I’m reflecting on:

Three deep breaths in and out:
“Peace in (breathe in), peace out (breathe out).”

Morning Reflection:
I am grateful for… How can I find peace today? How can I accept God’s unfolding grace? How can I extend peace today?

Peace is gratitude.
Peace is faith and trust.
Peace is letting go.
Peace is receiving the day.
Peace is acceptance.
Peace is forgiveness.
Peace is being present.
Peace is seeing beauty in the small things.
Peace is loving myself.
Peace is loving one another.
Peace is unfolding grace.
Peace in, peace out.

Today I will receive God’s unfolding grace:

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NIV)

Peace be with you, friends.

Tell us what brings you peace during your season of life.


*Family image credit: Whitebox Photography


Want to see more blogs like this and get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter here.