Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving time

Thanksgiving and no daily blog?  I'm missing it.  I'm attempting to count my blessings though.  Thankfulness doesn't really come naturally, does it?  I adopted the idea of writing down 5 things for which I'm thankful each day before I go to bed.  I've done it for 3 years now, and it's fun to go back and look at what was going on in the past.  It has become a record of my life in a way.  I don't know that it's made me more thankful though.  How does one measure that? 

I read Ann Voskamp's 1000 Gifts this year, and though I was prepared to not like it, instead I was overwhelmed.  I still don't know why it touched me so much, but maybe it's because in many ways she was living my life.  I would start crying and then try to figure out why--strange.  Anyway, the book is about how learning thankfulness brought grace and peace to her life. 

This year, instead of hanging the huge yellow paper from the door, I decided to take a cue from Voskamp and look for specific things for which we are thankful each day.  It's been difficult, interesting, and enlightening. 
Uncharacteristically, I managed to jot down about 30 things on slips of paper BEFORE November arrived (Go Me!) and put them in the pumpkin basket.  Each morning--well, most mornings-someone chooses a slip from the pumpkin, and whatever it says is what we look for that day.  Vision does not usually match reality, so many days people share something they were thankful for that happened last year, or 3 months ago, but that's ok.  I guess thinking about being thankful is an important exercise regardless of the day. 

Today's item is something short.  That could be fun, or dangerous.  Lectures come to mind, dentist appointments, blogs... We'll see.  I hope that in the dailiness of life this will teach us to look for those gifts that we're given everyday.  It's just so easy to take them for granted--so find something short to be thankful for today. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


We live in a very busy corner of a busy world.  Busy is the watchword of our day.  We wear it like a badge of honor sometimes.  I hate to admit that I have played the "see how busy I am" game too many times with others. It feels productive and important and vital. 

Because there are 4 boys involved with at least one activity each, we have been genuinely busy for most of the recent past.  This was a typical spring schedule on our calendar.

We have struggled to get four boys to four games in the same day more times than I would like to recount.  But what has all of this gotten me?  Well--sick for one--stressed out beyond my capacity to cope.  I've gotten better over the years, and I would not trade those days.  We enjoyed watching our children play sports, and I certainly would not begrudge them those experiences. 

Things have slowed now that the main culprit lives 3 hours away and the middle two have retired their cleats for the most part.  But I find myself looking for ways to be busy, to fill my days, to be doing important things.  I feel guilty when I'm not doing.  When did our culture change from valuing "being" as well as "doing"?  I'm not sure, but I think we've lost much in that evolution. 

I have been studying the book of Genesis with a couple of my favorite college girls. God told Abram that He would make him into a great nation.  Twenty-five years later he's not only 99 years old, but he's still childless.  God and a couple of angels appeared to him while he was sitting under a tree, and Abram insisted that they stay for a meal.  To prepare for this meal, he had Sarai grind grain while he chose a choice calf for the meal.  There were no microwaves.  This took time.  God is not in a hurry, so how much of God am I missing by being so busy and always in a hurry?  No wonder we don't hear from God.  When do we have time to listen?  When can God interrupt my day for a dinner that I would have to thaw out and start from scratch?  I don't know, but if I continue to fill my calendar with my things then will God stop trying to focus my attention on His things? 

Some of our best times have been when we sat in our back yard with friends and family and just enjoyed the moment.  I cherish that time of just "being."  It restores my soul.  God is trying to remind me of that each day as I struggle with the search for significance.  Isaiah 40 says, "those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength."  Maybe the lesson really isn't don't be busy but rather be available to the God who will strengthen you to act. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What to do? Part 2

On the other hand....

When I was a brand new Christian someone challenged me to read through the Bible in a year.  I took that challenge and am so thankful I did.  I loved it (and still do)!  It made sense.  It spoke to the deep places in my heart and soul.  I relished the history of the Old Testament and was fed on the words of the New Testament.  It brought joy to see how God's plan really fit together and how clearly it is spelled out in the Scriptures.

We have been so blessed to be in churches that teach right from God's Word each week both in Sunday School and services.  We also joined a group of friends to study the Bible and do life together.  It was transformational.

I continued to read and learn more about God's Word and started to teach it some too.  What a blessing!  What fulfillment that gave me!  I recall sitting in a Precepts Bible Study class on Covenant and thinking, "I wish I could do this for a living!"  One of my great passions is to teach God's Word and to see people's eyes opened to the Truth.  It satisfies me in a way that nothing else does.

Two weeks ago we had a church meeting to discuss where we are headed.  Each person had an opportunity to share something that God is doing.  My eyes teared up and my pulse quickened.  I thought, "This is it.  This is how I want to spend my life."  I just don't yet know what that looks like.

Thus my dilemma--work to make money to pay for college or pursue my passion.  I guess in reality we all face this choice many times over.  I met with a couple of friends this week and was challenged to write down what the perfect job looks like.  I'm struggling with putting it into words, because I guess I don't know.  I was really becoming unhinged over these things and had lunch with Chris to discuss them.  He encouraged me to follow my desires.  I was ready to move.  That night I couldn't sleep.  I opened God's Word and, as only He can, He quickly directed me to Proverbs 19:1, "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge.  Don't be hasty and miss the way."  What a precious answer--even though it's still "wait."  He has a plan for me.  He hasn't forgotten me.  He know that I want to know the way.  I praise God for this.  I could again just let go of my thoughts and my obsessing and settle in to wait on Him some more.  How thankful I am that I listened BEFORE falling on my face and having to pick up the pieces.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What to do?

As a child I thought I knew what I wanted to do.  My mom and grandma were both teachers, and I really liked writing on the chalkboard, so if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "a teacher."  I have had some excellent teachers in my life, and I especially loved my English and band teachers.  Although band was my life, I settled on English.  I liked it, I was pretty good at it, and I loved to read.

When I graduated from high school I knew what I wanted to do.  I was headed to college to pursue a degree in English and Secondary Education and marry my sweetheart.  That was the plan. 

College was fun and useful.  I learned a lot and enjoyed my experiences in the classroom.  I was also married and, at the end, expecting.  Upon college graduation I knew exactly what I wanted to do--be a momma to my sweet little baby boy.
 There was no doubt in my mind.  That's what I was made for, and that was God's plan for me.  Then I become the momma of some more sweet little boys.

  Although I'd rank the whole mommy experience as, by far, the most difficult and demanding thing I'd ever done, I knew that it was exactly what I was supposed to do.  Thankfully Chris supported that decision and had a job that would enable me to be home.  There were times when I railed against staying home and desired the glamor of a "real" job.  I would volunteer for more than I could handle or accept a position that I thought would fulfill that desire, but God patiently waited for me to fall on my face and then would direct me back home where I needed to be. 
Now, however, my sweet little boys aren't so little anymore.

  They are growing and leaving.  They don't need me like they used to.  I find myself thinking, "what's next" a lot lately--probably to the point of obsessing.  I enjoyed subbing long term this year.  I felt that I could handle that and home, but I didn't have to do the planning or the grading.  My very conscientious friend had done all the hard work for me.  I just had to show up and enjoy the classes.  Am I afraid of the work load of a high school English teacher?  YES! Grading 120 research papers is no picnic. But I love the students and cherished building relationships with them.  I also enjoyed using parts of my brain that I haven't visited for a while.  I know myself though and would quickly become consumed with it to the detriment of my family and relationships. I certainly need to learn how to leave work at work.  I spent most of my free time thinking about the last classes, and I was only the sub!  So is that the plan?  Should I pursue this?  I don't know.  Maybe.  But maybe not. 

Next time I'll obsess a little more :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


I'm afraid to even start again, but here goes.  I've been wanting to write, or at least practice writing, for a while, but I never take the time.  I am an A-1 procrastinator, but I do it with style.  There is always work to be done, and I justify my lack of attention to writing with the lie that it isn't as important as working.  Perhaps today is the start of something new--or perhaps not.  I guess time will tell whether my intentions or my rut will win. 

I was surprised this morning as I listened to "Revive Our Hearts," a radio program taught by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She is teaching about encouragement and how important it is to be an encourager when I realized that, although I know this, I had completely forgotten that encouraging others should be a priority in my life.  As I thought about this I was shocked at how far I'd strayed from being intentional about many things.  It seems that life just keeps churning and, if I'm not careful--which I haven't been--time goes by, and I've left so many important things undone.  How did I get here?  I don't even know.  The urgent outstrips the important.  I learned many years ago that I am not a good multitasker when it comes to big things.  I can only focus on one priority at a time.  I started working a lot more this year, and maybe that is what happened to my intentionality. 

My goal is to focus on the important things in life: God, relationships, encouragement, thankfulness.  I've decided to make a list.  I've done some brainstorming and have come up with some things, but I'm still working on it.  Now I need to remember to look at that list and to actually plan ways to follow through.  I'm hoping that by writing some more here I will be more accountable to it.

 Life goes by so quickly, and I don't want to look back regretting that I did nothing but cook, clean, wash, and drive.  Another goal is to not forget about this in a month and go back to the way things are because that's easier.  I need help!  I'm praying for God's direction and for focus, and I'm going to try to write twice a week.  We'll see.....