A Day in the Life (Elizabeth edition)

An ordinary day in the life of a pastor/mum

Playgroups for little ones are a huge thing in New Zealand. On Wednesdays, I lead a Mainly Music group for babies through 5 year-olds. Our church has had a Mainly Music group for somewhere around 15 years! We sing, we dance, we eat morning tea, and we play. It’s great fun for little people and their adults.

Documenting a “day in the life” is one fascinating way to provide that glimpse into real life that isn’t always captured in a social media post. I figured it might be a fun thing for us to do, but the more I got into it, the more I realized this is a really helpful practice for the present as we pay more careful attention to what we’re doing when and why. It’s also a beautiful gift to our future selves. We won’t always be in this season with these exact rhythms. I’m betting our future selves will be grateful for the reminder of where we’ve been.

To be fair, my schedule follows more of a weekly rhythm than a daily rhythm. There are things I always do on Mondays and things I typically do on Tuesdays, but no two days look exactly alike, though if you need me at 7:30 a.m., I’m packing a school lunch and 3 p.m., I’m doing school pick up. At 7:30 p.m., I’m in the middle of bedtime prayers and stories. In between there… anything could happen.

I chose to document a Wednesday because Wednesdays have a pretty set routine for me. This Wednesday from a couple of weeks ago, looks very much like the Wednesday this week. Here’s how it played out.

6:00 a.m. My alarm goes off. I know if I push snooze, I won’t get to work out today, so I make myself jump out of bed. I’ve set my workout clothes nearby to make it easy to put them on. Then, I walk into the kitchen and start the electric kettle to heat water for a cup of green tea. I let our dog Laylee outside and then back in again. It’s already nearly noon for many of our family and friends in the US, so I respond to various text messages and emails while I wait for the water to boil and the tea to steep. Then, I flip open the Lenten devotional book I’m reading.

As, I’m drinking my tea, I tweak the music set for this morning’s Mainly Music session. Q was under-the-weather yesterday, so he stayed home from school, which threw off my Tuesday routine. I’m making up for it now, but I’m not nearly as prepared for the day as I’d like to be.

6:17 a.m. Work out. The workouts these days are get-it-done-in-the-living-room-with-minimal-setup-and-limited-time kinds of workouts.

7:06 a.m. I finish my workout and my second cup of tea, shower, and get ready for the day. Q is still sleeping, somewhat surprisingly.

8:07 a.m. Q is sitting at the table eating breakfast. Jaron is fixing his lunch. He’s on school drop of duty today, since it’s Wednesday. I kiss both of my guys goodbye and head out the door. On the way to the church, I stop at a neighborhood bakery where I pick up cookies for the mums’ morning tea during Mainly Music.

8:17 a.m. I arrive at the church. Jaron had set up some of the tables and chairs the day before, for which I am eternally thankful. I finish the set up and start prepping morning tea for the kids and the mums.

8:55 a.m. The first caregiver arrives with four little ones. She’s a bit early. She came straight from school drop off. The kids play and we chat while I finish the set up.

9:30 a.m. Our Mainly Music session starts. The kids are primarily between the ages of 9 months and three years old, with a few outliers in either directions. They’re brought along by mums and caregivers mostly, with a dad or grandparent mixed in here and there. We’re singing about shapes with lots of songs about or using circles. There’s lots of dancing and props like parachutes and balls. It’s fun. It’s also humbling. Every time. I can’t really sing. I’m not great at choreography. These are not my strengths, but sometimes God calls us to do things outside of our wheelhouse. I can engage with the mums and provide space for little ones to learn and explore. I can hold space for Jesus to work.

We eat morning tea and play outside after the session.

11:10 a.m. I’m about to start cleaning up when Jaron brings me an iced matcha he’s made at home. He whispers, “I love you very matcha,” in a super cheesy, I’m making a dad joke on purpose kind of way. It definitely makes me laugh.

11:20 a.m. As I am cleaning up, I notice that a trash bag full of bean bag filler that long precedes our time here has broken open and is now spilling everywhere. This stuff is almost as bad as glitter. This particular room is one of the last to be tackled by our efforts to really clean out and freshen up our space. We’ve been working room-by-room since we painted and installed carpet in our worship/fellowship space last October. Apparently, now is the time to tackle this room. Jaron and I clean out the room, vacuum up the invading foam balls, take pictures of stuff to sell on TradeMe, and set some other stuff by the curb with a sign that says “free” on it.

12:21 p.m. Thanks to Jaron’s help, the room is tidy. I eat a couple of meatballs left from last night’s dinner and drop Jaron at VTNZ, the place we have to get our cars inspected twice a year. It seems like an awful racket to make money, but we want to be able to drive, so we pay the money and get the inspections. (Note: they’re not checking emissions. They’re checking things like windshield wipers, rust, and mechanical stuff.)

12:56 p.m. I finish a call to our District Superintendent (boss) who lives in Australia, from the VTNZ parking lot. There’s the Tasman Sea and three hours between us, so it was as good a time as any.

1:03 p.m. I arrive at the Base to run some errands. I’ve heard the Base is the biggest shopping center in NZ. I don’t really have hard evidence of that. It’s a combination of outdoor shops and an indoor mall, so it makes it quite convenient for ticking off things like the post office, bank, and bookstore like I need to do today.

My stop at the bookstore informs me that there are no Jesus Storybook Bibles in all of New Zealand. They’ve sold out. That’s cool, but it will take at least two weeks to get another one. Rats. That’s life on the bottom of the earth for you.

1:32 p.m. I’m back at the church to write two notes and pick up a book to deliver to a church member’s house. I have an impromptu discussion with Jaron about the sermon text for the week before heading out the door.

2:06 p.m. Back at home. I’m proof-reading a master’s thesis for one of my dear friends who is on a Pacifica scholarship that allows people from the Pacific Islands to study in NZ. She’s almost finished, but it would have cost her more than $600.00 to pay to have the thesis proof-read. That is insurmountable for someone in her position. I’ve spent many hours doing this over the past few days. If proof-reading a paper or a master’s thesis helps close the gaps between the privileged and the powerless, then I am all about it. Actually, I do this type of work with our NTC (Nazarene Theological College) students quite frequently. They are all learning to write academically in a language that is not their native tongue. As their confidence in studying and writing in English increases, they need me less and less, which is the goal.

2:56 p.m. I walk out the door and over one block to pick up Q from school. On the way, I chat with friends from church who have parked on our street and other school mums outside the classroom while we wait for the bell to ring at 3:00.

Q takes horse riding lessons on Wednesdays at the equestrian centre near our house. It’s a gift from one set of grandparents. He is mastering cantering on his own and recently learned to jump a low jump. So impressive!

3:14 p.m. Grab snacks and water bottle for Q as we hurry out the door to horse riding lessons.

3:30 p.m. Q rides for 30 minutes. I talk immigration issues and school decisions with his instructor who is immigrating from South Africa and anxiously awaiting her residency visa.

4:40 p.m. Jaron comes home from the church office. We discuss some email communication, his upcoming meetings, and the grocery list. He’s a hero, so he’ll do the grocery shopping tomorrow before leaving for his meetings in Auckland.

5:20 p.m. We’re sitting down to a dinner. I’ve remixed leftover grilled chicken from Monday into a chicken and broccoli stir fry with cauliflower rice, which is definitely winning.

6:15 p.m. We’ve cleaned up the dishes, and I’m responding to an email question from one of our churches in the US while Q showers off the chlorine from swimming at school and the horse hair from his lesson. These churches that I am responding to have loved on us so well over the past few years. I am reminded of just how very thankful I am to be a part of something bigger than just my local congregation.

7:04 p.m. We played a round of Ticket to Ride (the kids’ version, which is surprisingly fun and more challenging than a lot of the kids’ versions of games). Now, the bedtime routine is underway—teeth brushing, prayers, songs, Bible reading, story reading, and cuddling are happening now.

7:31 p.m. I give Q one last hug and kiss for the day. Jaron is on super hero story telling duty. I’m back at the computer to proof read the last few pages of my friend’s thesis.

8:47 p.m. I email the thesis back to my friend and respond to a few other emails and messages while I am at it.

8:52 p.m. I’m closing my computer and plugging in my phone. Jaron talks me into watching an episode of something mindless like House Hunters International. I’ll finish the day off with a little reading before shutting off the light. 

Parting Shot

You may well have seen shots of this tree before. It’s at the turnaround point on our typical walking/running route. While I didn’t visit this tree along the river on this particular day, it’s a regular marker in the rhythm of our lives.

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