JUGGLING IT ALL
I've wanted to share what I've learned and experienced as a parent and being on my own.
Here I am today with a 13 and 15 year old.
Raising kids is hard, raising teens is even harder and doing it on your own feels impossible at times. As a single parent you have double the responsibility. Working a full time job, the bills, ,the housework, the grocery shopping, running all the errands. Getting the kids to church. Making sure things get done and fixed.
I've always felt overwhelmed by all I have to do and that if I cant do it all I am less of a person and even less of a parent.
A really good friend of mine made a comment to me recently that has stuck with me and has changed my way of thinking. She is married, working and raising two children. She gives a lot of her time to others and always seems to have everything together. I often think I wish I had it all together like she does. She recently confessed that she didn't get something done that she does every Spring. She told me life got busy and Spring just kinda passed by. She started her garden late.
We were talking about this and she said "You know nobody can do it all and some things just have to give."
I thought about what she said and thought, "Wow", maybe I'm not doing so bad after all, I mean if this person who I look up cant do it all then why do I need to keep torturing myself?
If she can admit she cant do it all then why can't I?
I'm also trying to remind myself why I do what I do. I ask myself if I'm doing the right things by my kids as a parent. I try and teach kindness and patience but I often find I'm losing control and doing everything wrong. I tell myself I'm failing and that I stink as a parent. After all I know nothing about parenting and didn't learn much from my own parents.
Although these thoughts go through my head I remind myself that my kids have attended church since they were born. This was something I promised myself and God I would do. I kept that promise to myself and to God. I couldn't give them everything I've wanted for them, but hopefully the seed was planted to love and follow Christ.
My hope is that they continue to follow Christ and raise their children to follow the Lord.
I have a few friends who are single mothers and it helps to have this support and not feel so alone. We face a lot of the same challenges. Don't get me wrong I know parenting is hard for people who have both parents supporting their kids. I think one of the bigger challenges is that you have no backup to help you parent in the home. Nobody to talk through the challenges with your children. You're left alone to make decisions and you just hope and pray they are the right ones.
In the end I have to remind myself that God is ultimately in control even when things feel out of control.
Why was I chosen to raise my kids this way? I'm not sure I will ever know or understand but what I do know is that as long as I hold onto him even when things suck I will be ok. Is it going to get easier? Someday I hope so. I am also reminded that we don't always get what we want or think we deserve. It can be emotionally discouraging to watch others have the things you dreamt of. Thses things are out of my control. The thing I can do is raise them in the church and hope and pray it stays with them.
There are two things I hope people take away from this whether you are a single parent or not.
1. You don't have to do it all. Do what you can and dont wear yourself out trying to get everything done. Take care of the important stuff like getting your kids to church. Also take care of yourself!
2. I am reminded of this verse often and it is part of the reason I continue to attend church.
"Start children off in the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it."
So my words to other parents is even if your struggling as a parent and your kids are making life a challenge, continue to attend church. Plant the seed.
Over the years of attending the church I have seen people leave and then 10 years later they come back with their own children. Again I say..."Start children off in the way they should go and when they are old they will not turn from it."
This is my hope and prayer for you, your children, my children and myself.
That's The Book: James
When people ask me for a life verse I have a hard time responding. I believe so much in the whole grand story of the Bible that I don’t love to take only one verse as the most important. And there are SO MANY I love. But if pressed - the book which most often challenges me where I struggle and holds me to growth is the book of James.
The book of James is a letter to believers from James, the brother of Jesus. Imagine those two boys growing up. Interesting family dinners. The gospels indicate that Jesus’ family was not in support of his early ministry and had even come to try and bring him home. (see Matthew 12). Our pastor says the only thing that would make a skeptical brother a devoted disciple is the resurrection. I love the humble language of this brother in reference to his sibling. Lord and Savior. Yes - Jesus is our best friend and closest counselor. But he is also Creator, Judge, Lord and Savior. And that weight is part of the reason James calls his readers to act seriously on their faith. Nike's slogan could sum up the book of James. Just Do It.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and preservers, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1: 22-25
My daughter had the flu last week during VBS. She missed the first night and bawled her eyes out. She was symptom free for over 24 hours so she went for the second night and only made it through half the night. Seriously bad flu. But if she learned her church family runs to the rescue and we can talk about hard messy things then I’d still call VBS a win. I felt fine during VBS but woke up Saturday morning and promptly moved into the bathroom. In my fever and bathroom obsessed brain I keep thinking about the bathroom mirror. And those lovely and challenging verses in James.
These ones get me too.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but decides his heart, this person's religion is worthless. Religion that is pure an undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1: 26-27
My mouth can get me in trouble. James knows this.
I remember one time. I was going into the bank to do a wire transfer from our fundraising account to our friends in Rwanda. The funds were to be used to pay school fees so the kids could attend. Time was sensitive. I squish non profit volunteer work into my regular life. Like most people its too full. So I was harassed. Hit the bank and stood in line. Turned out the branch manager who had to do the international wire transfers was out of the office. If you wire money to Africa and you mess it up you don’t get the funds back. SO I crabbed at the bank teller. Scowled. Said something slightly snarky. I don’t remember the words but I do remember the tellers’ face.
There I showed her!
Drove off to the other branch and sent our hard earned funds off to the needy children overseas. Seriously crushing the helping widows and orphans bit of the Bible!
And then it hit me.
I had cranked and verbally harassed a totally innocent bank teller – while processing Jesus’ money – on an account with my church’s name on it.
I’m a total jerk.
The tongue is a nasty beast.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire. And the tongue is a fire a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. Fore ever kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. James 3: 6-8
I hauled my unwilling body back to the first branch, hung my head and apologized.
Honesty about my flaws and forcing myself to apologize is one of the best ways to teach my heart to grow. James knows this too.
Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one and another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5: 13-16
When I got a message at VBS that my child needed me - I dropped everything and when and found her. I thanked the volunteers who had come to our help. I loved my kid, stepped into the mess, cleaned her up. Threw out the clothes. We didn't need that reminder.
This is the exact same thing Jesus does for us.
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you .Cleans your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4: 7-8
When we take the faith seriously and draw near to God - He draws near to us. Cleans up the mess. Throws out the clothes. We are a new creation and if we are reminded of our sin and shame its not Jesus doing the talking.
The flu is no fun. Neither Is apologizing. But both memories moved my soul. And I'm better for it.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect that you may be perfect and complete lacking nothing. James 1:2-4
And perhaps that’s the point of James. James wants believers to be obedient to Jesus' teachings. DO what it says. Embrace the actions of the faith. Even in the mess of life.
Here is your link to The Bible Project's talk about the book of James. Watch it. Really - they know their stuff.
I'm choosing this week to listen to the voices that tell me to embrace joy. Those that tell me I'm a child of the Creator and I'm able to stand in places where pain is and make a difference. I'm not listening to the not good enough, too hard, too much crowd. Nope. Need some encouragement this week? Try this one. Turn it up.
Stand in your Love by Josh Baldwin. My fear doesn't stand a chance when I'm standing in your love. SO GOOD.
That's the Book: Hebrews
A couple of days ago I took a walk, grabbed my gear and parked myself at a favorite view. I sat and painted and pondered Hebrews. I've noticed some parallel lines.
The book of Hebrews is a visual book. It draws pictures of how Jesus’ life, death and resurrection mirror the heavenly reality. Hebrews spends a lot of time explaining how the temple, priesthood and sacrifices on earth are shadow copies of the more real ones in heaven. The things on Earth, while temporary, are important because they mirror the permanent ones. The forms help us understand our situation and our need for salvation. Hebrews then details how Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the sacrificial system which gives him the authority and position to act as high priest for our relationship with the Father.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain that is his body, and since we have a great priest over the houses of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10: 19-23.
Art mimics reality. Or reflects reality. Or it tells us something about truth we didn’t notice previously. In the same way, the temple reflected the real truth. When people get obsessed with rules, or the church’s structure or the legalism of a religious order they are forgetting that those symbols only reflect. They should point us to the real eternal truth. The symbols aren’t the valuable things themselves. And art, while lovely, doesn’t reflect perfectly. Especially for an artist in training.
However. Jesus himself reflects God perfectly.
In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and though who also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right had of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. Hebrews 1:1-4
Hebrews is calling us to live lives that reflect the glory of God. And faith -while not flawless- is strong enough to carry us to the finish line where it will be perfected.
Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case - the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6: 9-12
And then we come to one of the best sections in the entire New Testament. Hebrews chapters 11 and 12. If you feel like quitting these are the verses to read. Read them out loud to your weary soul. Shout these promises. Write them on walls. I promise God will strengthen your resolve, steady your quacking limbs and put some starch in your spine.
Chapter 11 summarizes the stories of the Old Testament and calls us to notice how these people of faith did great actions and stood for truth in the midst of hardship by holding fast to the promises of God.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that her rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6
The end of chapter 11 is a great reminder we are not alone in any sort of suffering. The stories in the Bible include torture, flogging, chains, stoning, persecution and mistreatment. The world was not worthy of them.
Then chapter 12! The author calls you to apply the lesson to your own life.
THEREFORE, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes onJesus, the pioneer and perfecto of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12 1-3
I’ve been trying to learn how to draw trees for years. Finally can do a passable fir tree. But my leafy trees still look like green blobs. Kinda like a large green stuffed garbage bag. Not a tree. So earlier this week I saw a post Jini77 had put on an urban sketchers Facebook page. I decided to try and copy it. Perhaps my hand and eye would crack the code to the elusive deciduous tree. So I penciled in a simliar study. Inked and water colored. And while not nearly as nice as the original artist - I think my trees look more like trees than garbage sacks. Yay for progress.
When I looked around and mimicked someone who had it down I did better in my own art. And this is what chapter 11 and chapter 12 are saying. Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses. Not perfect people. But faithful souls who were reflecting the deep truth of God. Since we can see their lives let’s run like them. Not because they are worthy but because they reflect God so well.
I fussed over this painting. I second guessed the color. I enjoyed the time outside and wasn’t at all crashing on myself but I also wasn’t ready to post it anywhere. I had it laying on my desk at work while I pondered how art reflects what is good. And my friend came up and said she loved it. Said it was great. Said she wanted to hang it up.
See - when our lives reflect Christ we don’t have to second guess everything or over criticize. We can be a mess and slip frequently and still the reflection is what reminds people of truth. And so its worth painting. And running our race well.
No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled but rather healed. Hebrews 12:11-13
If I fall and get back up people around me gain more courage to get back up. When I quit their load is heavier. When you stay the course - you become a part of the great cloud of witnesses that tells others to keep their eyes focused on heaven and their feet on the narrow path. Keep on my friends. This dark time is not the end of the story. Don’t let your light go out. Don’t buy into the lie that its too hard. Too much. Too late.
I believe in Christ and His ability to carry you.
Therefore, since we have a great hight priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. h=Hebrews 4:14-16
Hebrews is a loud cry into the battle field to the other believers to NOT GIVE UP.
But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Hebrews 10:39
Jesus is the sacrifice therefore our sins are covered. Jesus is the priest therefore we have access to God. Jesus gives believers power to persevere therefore we can be faithful. The lines are drawn and we can hold onto that picture. Isn't it just gorgeous?
When we talk about art reflecting the glory of eternal ideas then we have to mention the team at The Bible Project. Their art definitely amplifies the glory of God and expands understanding for the viewers.
The team at New Spring Church has some fairly fantastic art in their infographics. Here is one for Hebrews.
www.chetsmom.com. had this beautiful rendering of Hebrews 12:1
Singing songs of faith, meditating on God's word can carry you through hardships.
“Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 7:3
I live by lyric. Perhaps we all do.
When I was in a hospital recovering from a traumatic brain injury, trying to graduate from the Rancho Los Amigos scale of coma, I remember not being able to tell doctors what town I was in or what I did for a living. What I could remember without hesitation? Lyrics to nearly every ’80s song that came on in my room.
After leaving six weeks of hospitalization and continuing with recovery at home -- listening to more music and singing songs from memory in the shower-- I remember thinking, “Oh, no! My generation probably could have cured cancer. Instead, all our brain space is taken up by Depeche Mode and George Michael!”
The brain remembers music. There’s no way I would remember a middle-school history test, but the words to a favorite Prince song? You bet.
“How can you just leave me standing?
Alone in a world that's so cold (so cold)
Maybe I'm just too demanding
Maybe I'm just like my father, too bold”
Alliteration, rhyme and repetition: Music has sound patterns that help the brain remember. So much so, music is being employed by nursing homes to help treat patients with dementia. Often, a patient who has been unresponsive to general questions or conversation lights up if talking about music he loved. A patient can become animated and sing along with a tune that comes on the radio, able to answer questions about life. Music therapy is also being used to help bring my brain-injury peers back to the land of remembering. It can also give them some peace from the confusion and frustration of not having your brain functioning as normal.
Leading theories among those who study the brain suggest lyrics even have their very own filing cabinet in the brain, one with strong memory paths leading to it.
“Celebrate good times, come on!”
A BBC.com article says, “So why do lyrics stick with us? It might be all to do with how your brain processes audible information, and where it compartmentalises that information.” It continues, “The leading theory suggests lyrics have their very own storage section in the brain, and one that is separate from where melody is stored.”
Even if the brain wasn’t or isn’t sending lyrics to their own room, music psychologist Vicky Williamson explains to the BBC that there are at least three other factors helping people remember lyrics so well. First, music is everywhere. The BBC writes, “Most people have no idea how often they have listened to their favourite songs, but it can add up to hundreds even thousands of times.”
Repeated exposure always increases retention, especially when the information is the same time after time.
“If you're lost, you can look and you will find me
Time after time
If you fall, I will catch you, I will be waiting
Time after time”
That repetition is so effective makes it mysterious to me why my kids don’t remove their shoes when they come home from school.
Emotional triggers are another factor. Emotional memories are usually easily recalled even without repeated exposure, experts say. Third, motor memory is at play. Singing along with a song can cement lyrics in the brain, just as motor memory is involved in recalling how to walk, drive or ride a bike.
All this current-day interest in using music memory for brain injuries and diseases impacting an aging population makes me more aware of how the Sunday school, church-camp and house stereo songs of my youth help me still today. I’m so grateful for the gift of so many songs of faith being stored in that special storage section in my brain.
When I wake up each day, I sing in my head (or to my kids):
“It's a happy day, and I thank God for the weather
It's a happy day, and I'm living it for my Lord
It's a happy day, and things are gonna get better
Living each day by the promises in God's Word!”
When I exercise, these lyrics often stream in my head:
“Lord, I'm keeping my eyes on You
Following You, following You
My Lord, I'm keeping my eyes on You
Following You, my Lord”
(While writing this for Wall of Faith, I looked up who sang that song. It was Twila Paris. I didn’t remember her, but I have her lyrics rolling off my tongue at least once a week!)
When I sit staring at the ocean or try to get my mind to ignore a running to-do list in my head during a yoga class, my thoughts sing:
“Organ stopped its playing
Everyone's gone home
But I'm here
wishing that somehow we could meet …
You and me, all alone in Your house
Don't know how to say it
I guess that I'll just play it
I'm here --
Meet me here”
(Thanks Evie. You played on my mom’s turntable when I was a young girl. A lot.)
When I watch a sunset or my family drives through the gorge, I can’t help but belt out:
“Oh Lord, you're beautiful,
Your face is all I see,
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me”
(I. Love. Keith. Green.)
I wish I could say I had as many Bible verses floating effortlessly around my head as I do lyrics. I don’t. I usually have to look up Bible verses to get them right. I do paraphrase them with reckless abandon. Sorry, Paul. Maybe if you’d put them to song? That’s why this one isn’t going anywhere!
“Beloved, let us love one another
For love is of God
And everyone that loveth is born of God
And knoweth God
He that loveth not knoweth not God,
For God is love
Beloved, let us love one another
1 John 4:7 and 8!”
I want to pass on the strength of lyrical motor memories to my kids. One day, I hope my sons will wake up on their own with a joyful song running through their heads and focusing the day’s first thoughts on the one who can help them get through it best.
Read more about music and memory at http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zgqqrdm,
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-be-brilliant/201206/why-we-remember-song-lyrics-so-well and https://www.brainline.org/article/music-healing-tool-after-brain-injury. Watch these fascinating, heart-tugging videos about how music is being used to help those with brain injuries, dementia and other brain impairments:
That's the Book: Philemon
Sometimes in life you have to backup to learn anything. The book of Philemon is one of those times. You'll see what I mean.
The book of Philemon is a short one chapter appeal. Paul is writing a letter to a co-believer Philemon. Paul is asking Philemon to grant freedom to the runaway slave Onesimus. The book is also one of the more misapplied books of the Bible throughout history. So before I summarize what I believe we can learn to apply from Philemon there is an important distinction I have to cover first.
Let’s talk about what Philemon is not.
A validation of slavery.
Especially any sort of bondage that dehumanizes another soul. The chattel slavery of the US history, the caste system in India, or any sort of human trafficking for work or sex is not Biblical and Paul didn’t endorse it. Want proof? Read the text.
Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do... Philemon 1:8a
According to Paul what Philemon should do under the authority of Christ is to set free his slave. If you read the full Biblical narrative you'll conclude God's heart is for equality and freedom. Major themes in the Old Testament call for freedom. When Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers, it is framed as a major sin. One only God had the power to redeem. when the Israelites were captives in Egypt, God sent Moses and most of the book of Exodus being about freedom for the slaves and justice to the captors. The requirements in the law spelled out in Leviticus require a year of Jubilee where everyone is given freedom. Most of the grief in the prophets and the promise of a redeemer center around when Israel was in slavery after the fall of Jerusalem). In the New Testament Jesus makes clear he came to set free those in bondage. And Paul's other books call for treating anyone under any kind of authority with equality.
I believe we end up in trouble with the Bible when we use any verse out of context to justify behavior outside the cohesive message of the whole text. And Philemon is no different.
He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord. Philemon 1: 16b
Paul asserts here that the slave Onesimus has equal value as both Paul and Philemon. His status as a man is one of fellow. So Paul is confirming what the rest of the Bible maintains - that all humans are created in God's image and have equal value. So any system which would undermine this truth is outside the Biblical narrative and is heresy. There is no room under the cross for dehumanizing language. So using Philemon (or any part of the Bible) to argue for slavery is flat out wrong.
We can now talk about what I believe the book of Philemon is;
A brilliant approach to advocacy and persuasion.
Sometimes a strong fight and an authoritative move is necessary. If you know children are in danger a call to the authorities is important. If violence is about to occur. you better buckle up for some action. An example would be the American Civil War. Although necessary, the fight is costly. And sometimes - especially when the one who needs to make amends is a believer - the right approach is an appeal through love. A good example is William Wilberforce's extended legislative action in England. William Wilberforce used logic, poetry, legislative bills and lots and lots of words to convince the public in England that the slave trade was a moral travesty. Paul's letter to Philemon is a good pattern to follow if you are working for change. Here are what I see as some critical steps.
1. Start with what is right.
I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. Philemon 1; 4-5
2. Make a clear call to action.
It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus-- that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Philemon 1: 9b-10
3. Establish trust and invite partnership.
I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. Philemon 1:12-14
4. Lay in deep. If you have the truth on your side - ask the big question boldly.
So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ Philemon 1: 17-20
5. Move forward in action.
Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. Philemon 1:22-23
The thing I love about the book of Philemon is that Paul is asking a fellow believer to step out in faith in a way that is expensive, counter culture and focused on love. What can you ask today?
The team at The Bible Project had some thoughts on this book I hadn't considered. Check it out.
Since this post was about slavery I want to direct you to some great organizations fighting slavery world wide right now. And sadly....slavery is still an issue in the United States.
Check out International Justice Mission HERE. This awesome organization is using courts and advocacy world wide to set free modern day slaves.
Check out Shared Hope HERE. This Vancouver, WA based non-profit is fighting for better laws to stop sex trafficking here in the United States.
As I contemplated whether or not to write a piece for The Wall of Faith, my first thought was “I’m too busy”. Then God got right to work letting me know that this was the very topic about which I should write. I’m a firm believer in the old saying “write what you know” and in this season of life, sometimes it seems busyness is all I know.
Someone once responded to my flippant, “I’ve been so busy” remark with something like “yes, you’re as busy as you make yourself”. At the time I was a little miffed at this statement but maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s also just life at times, and maybe, under the right circumstances, it can be right in the center of God’s will.
About 9 months ago I felt the pull to go back to school for a Master’s degree. Only 2 years prior I earned my Bachelor’s which took me close to 3 years to complete. I remember the agony of writing so many papers, hating some courses, and feeling horrendous loads of mom guilt every time I had to say “Sorry, Mommy has homework”. Despite all of those thoughts, I still felt that maybe going back to school was a good idea. I took the plunge, applied, and began the enrollment process. It was at that time that MAJOR doubts took up residence in my head and heart. What was I doing? Could we afford this? Do I really need to be this busy again? Well, through a series of God moments, it was confirmed to me that yes I was supposed to do this, busyness and all.
I am currently in the middle of my program and had been doing fairly well until this latest course. It has me feeling like pulling my hair out and it makes all my difficult Bachelor’s courses look like a first grade spelling bee.
In this midst of this craziness, God has been reminding me to make time for him foremost. Yesterday I took a break from studying and laid in the hammock on our deck watching the blue sky, and feeling the warmth of the sun as I contemplated Pastor Johnnie’s message from that morning. He talked about how over half of our prayer time should include being silent and just listening to what God has to say. At that moment a strong breeze stirred up, the nearby trees waving at me. It brought to mind this passage of scripture:
“Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.”
~I Kings 19:11-12
I felt God impressing upon me that He was there in the midst of it all. And when the busyness seemed to drown him out I need only to pause and listen for His voice.
I’m almost positive I’m not the only busy mom, dad, human, out there juggling the many aspects of life and not always being able to keep all those balls in the air. If you feel a little like this, take heart friend. Sometimes it is just life, other times it may be a sign to re-evaluate your priorities, and still other times you’re right where you belong. Just remember busy bee as you flit from flower to flower, take some time to land, and breathe, and pray…and listen (no hammock required).
This was the kind of book you have to read slowly. Partly because Russell Moore's vocabulary and insights are above average. Partly because it's painful. But it's worth the work. Family can be hard. The cross is able to transform hard into beautiful.
If you are a fan of the hilarious Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy book, this biography of Douglas Adams is a fun romp through the lore. If you don't have the ability to laugh at yourself then this might not be a good read on your nightstand.
I really enjoyed this book. Super useful techniques to remember anything. I used it to FINALLY keep up with my 13 year old's ability to remember the Presidents of the United States. I'm telling you - anything that helps me impress my eldest daughter is worth the time to read.
Clever and big hearted. I enjoyed this book. Be warned it contains lots of salty language so its not for everyone.
When you want to learn how to do something - ask the most expert person you know what resources they recommend. I asked Artist Elo Wobig how to learn to draw and this is the kit she recommended. The girls and I are enjoying working our way through the lessons.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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