This week we meet Dani of Life Lived Intentionally! As a fellow Canadian with ties to Europe through marriage, we connected instantly! It has been so fun meeting new people through this series and I'm excited to share Dani's story with all of you and to hear her share how she brings intentionality into her life.
First some basics: Tell us a bit about yourself. What is your work, your passions and interests?
I’m Dani, I’m originally from Canada, but have lived in my husband’s home country of Germany for almost a decade. We have had our four children here, and are in our fifth year of working with a Christian university group ministry called Studenten Für Christus (Students for Christ).
I am passionate about many things: my family, loving Jesus, discipleship, beauty, starting new things, learning, reading, my garden, eating, dreaming and thinking about how to do things better, and great conversations with beautiful people. I am interested in business, missions, people, art, farming, history, and good music, and generally all learning.
I love how your blog focuses on living intentionally and choosing life. How did the idea for Life - Lived Intentionally come about and what are your goals for it?
For years I had always thought about starting a blog, but I never really had the energy to. Every time I’ve been pregnant or was nursing, my capacity for anything in life is dramatically limited. Perhaps it’s the hormones?
The beginning of this year I was neither pregnant and no longer nursing and it was like a bunch of energy sprung forth. Then came this lingering question, “Do I really think I can do all things with God?”
I feel like much of my life I’ve always put a limit on what I could do. Something like, “I don’t have enough time.”, or even, “I’m just a woman… or I’m just a mom.” or, “there are so many others who are much _______( smarter, more together, cleverer etc.) than I. I’m nothing.”
Somehow, I just made a conscious decision not to think like that anymore. I wanted to think how God thinks, and with him nothing is too great. Often lies or fears inhibit us. It seemed at the moment as if the doors blew opened, and the possibilities presented themselves as endless.
An important thing to me was to be home with my family, as much as possible. On the other hand, I felt like I had so much to give. I started to realize blogging was kind of an ideal platform for me.
I briefly chanced on watching a free online summit of the Work at Home School, and watched an interview with the blogger Rosemary Groener, who really inspired me. I didn’t realize that blogging could be so lucrative. This totally appealed to me, because I already wanted to invest my time helping people, and had already been thinking about blogging. Then I realized it was a win/win, I could help and inspire people from my own home, and (hopefully) support my family from it.
What is one other specific area in your life you find that intentionality is absolutely critical? How do you exercise mindfulness in it?
For the last six years or so our family has observed the Shabbat (or the Sabbath). For us this has meant following the traditional Jewish beginning of Friday evening until Saturday evening. Though, how we have observed it has changed and grown with us.
Six years ago, I kept encountering the Sabbath all over my Bible, and I couldn’t figure out what that meant for us today. I was only generally aware that we should stop and rest at some point. But, and perhaps this is because of the Christian tradition I’ve grown up in, I labelled serious Sabbath observation as legalistic. That is, until it was explained to me by a very kind family who visited us.
After that visit, and some self study, I realized the Sabbath or “Shabbat” was so much more than just a rule to force us to stop.
The Shabbat is a physical proclamation that God is God. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Author and Creator, the beginning and end of all things. In the stopping of my work, my endeavors and my plans, I rightly recognize that I can never complete and finish any work without Him. I’ve found even if I have a task left undone and I’m not quite prepared for the Shabbat, I stop, and by His grace it gets done at a different time.
Without our work and busyness we are left with an awkward silence. We are left just being plain and simple us (as He created us), before the gracious, and marvellous Him. No accomplishments or deeds to define us. Naked and unashamed, like in the garden.
That’s really how I see the Shabbat now. A time that both reflects the perfection of the garden, and our glory-filled future with the King who will come again. For me, this is totally exciting to remember and celebrate every week. It’s also a fantastic teaching opportunity for our kids, and any guests we have over. We use flavours, colours, candles, beauty, and wine to experience God’s goodness with all the senses.
I think in our work and deed addicted society, this is a massively important statement. Often, I get the impression that we have a tendency to worship ourselves. Too easily we throw God off his throne, and replace him with an “I do, therefore I am” identity.
This year, we’ve included shutting off all of our media and electronics over the Shabbat. We found that the constant beeps, buzzes, and music was crowding away the peace. I don’t think we will ever go back.
I long for the Shabbat now. Our week has a momentum, like a continual upward direction and anticipation that is satisfied from Friday to Saturday evening. It reminds me of the great yearning all of creation has for the King to return, for Heaven to come down, and for everything to be at peace and put right again.
We LOVE our Shabbats.
If you could give one piece of advice about stopping to someone who struggles with it, what would you tell them?
When you make something a habit, it becomes second nature. Habits take time. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with structure, and my nature rebels against “rules”. The good thing is, is that “stopping” can be developed over time. Take it slow, but try and try again.
My suggestion is pick a day that works best for you. Perhaps it’s a Sunday rather than a Friday to Saturday night - but I have to admit we love celebrating the end of the week, so beginning Friday evening rocks. Once you have a day, try it out. Invite friends over, or don’t, shut off all of your electronics. Shutting down and stopping is amazing, you’ll be addicted. If you decided to turn something on and check, don’t feel condemned or bad about it. Make it a you and God day - a weekly vacation.
Remember, it’s not a rule to bring death, but a guideline to show you how to truly live. I think that’s why the Shabbat is so important to God, because it’s so good for us.