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Adding the Little Moments

Oct 19, 2020

This post is by Jennifer Hong.

Little drops of water

Little grains of sand,

Make the mighty ocean,

And the pleasant land.

 

So the little moments,

Humble though they be,

Make the mighty ages

Of eternity.

 

So begins the poem Little Things by Julia Carney. I was first introduced to this poem by author and homeschooling mother Cindy Rollins. Cindy encourages mothers that the little things we do with our children daily add up significantly over time.

In the seven years since I first read those words, they have encouraged me countless times. When I feel like what I am doing is not enough. When I feel like giving up after missing a few days and losing momentum. Whether I am trying to teach my children Spanish, reading through the Bible a few paragraphs at a time, or spending five minutes on strength exercise, consistent little moments are meaningful contributions. 

My three-minute morning routine has been like those drops of water, collectively adding up to something much more substantial. I was introduced to Hello Mornings five years ago when my fourth child was born. Oh, the irony of trying to reclaim my mornings just as I entered another season of sleepless nights! What grace it was to focus on the significance of a three-minute morning.

My 3-minute morning was so simple: Pray one verse of Scripture. Stretch for one minute. Drink a glass of water, and look at my meal planner. It was truly three minutes, and it served me well, beginning my days with focus. With time, I began adding to my basic routine on days that had more margin. Move time, however, has remained a challenge. I developed chronic migraines after my second child, and all sorts of exercise often trigger a headache.

Now my baby is nearly five, and I am turning 40. The “excellent wife” of Proverbs 31 “dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong” (Proverbs 31:17).  Migraines and the busyness of motherhood aside, I want to meet this next decade with more health and strength than the decade behind me. About ten months in advance, I printed a small annual calendar and calculated 50% of the remaining days before I would turn forty: 160 days. It was a modest goal, but a beginning. I taped the calendar on my mirror and began checking off days, aiming for 160 days of at least 5 minutes of strengthening or aerobic exercise before my fortieth. 

On the days that circumstances don’t align well, I have my three-minute morning routine, but when I can, I do more. Today, I have 149 exercise days checked off, and 2 months to go. Along the way, I discovered that an indoor spin bike perfectly avoids most of my exercise migraine triggers. I would never have imagined that even with a headache I can often take my meds, wrap an ice pack around my head, ride seated, with the lights off and the fan on, and get off the bike 25 minutes later feeling much better. I never dreamed that my response to an oncoming headache would be, “I’ll be okay. I just need to get on the bike for a bit!”

One of the reasons this year’s goal has worked well for me is that it allowed a lot of grace and a lot of room for growth. If I missed an entire week, no big deal. There was still so much opportunity to catch up. Because success begets success, seeing myself accomplish little goals gave me the confidence to try even more. I began setting month by month goals, like “ride 100 miles this month.” Now, my weekends often include a 45 minute ride. And on a day like yesterday, when the migraine comes on so sudden and severe that I end up in bed in the dark, I drink my glass of water and know that I have not lost momentum. Tomorrow I may move more. The days add up, and the efforts add up. And you know what? I’m stronger at almost 40 than I have been in a long time. 

Little drops of water,

Little grains of sand,

Make the mighty oceans

And the pleasant land.

 

Jennifer Hong lives in Houston with her husband, four energetic children, and two lively puppies. Since leaving her pediatric practice seven years ago, she has found life at home to be wild but wonderful. Homeschooling has fueled Jennifer‘s passion for education, offering the opportunity to learn and draw alongside her children, revisiting books she only skimmed as a student herself. Her favorite day is Thursday, when her family escapes their urban surroundings to walk in the woods and dig in the dirt.

Photo by Marc Vergés on Unsplash

 

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