Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A little post about not getting immediate results, but still doing what you've got to a nutshell.

A couple of nights ago, we were in the car on the way home from dinner with friends and I was super tired.  With a 4 year old and an 8 year old, this is not a new phenomenon.  It was cold, and that made me even more cranky!  Sitting in the car I started thinking about the next day and what had to be done.  Of course, one of the first things on my list each day is dragging myself to work out.  Yes, I always feel awesome when I'm done and I always regret it if I skip it.  But's cold and I'm sleepy and the kids are still asleep and my bed is so warm and, well you get the picture.

I thought to myself, "I wish I could just work out once and be done with it."  Instant and permanent results.  Doesn't that sound just amazing?  Well, it does to me!  I thought about this for a bit, and of course logic and reasoning took over.  What if we did that with everything in our lives?  

I worked today.  I'm done forever.  
I told my husband, "I love you" once.  That should stick.
We homeschooled today.  We're done for the year.  That should certainly be enough.  (Boy, do I wish that one was true!)
I prayed.  Done.

If that were true with working out, or whatever it was, of course it would be nice and more people would do it.  Everything would be perfect!  I'd be at the perfect, healthy weight.  Be the perfect example of Christ.  I would never have to work for anything, ever. But what would I learn from that?  I certainly wouldn't gain any experience or wisdom or discipline from instantaneous results.  

It's the day in, day out pushing myself with seemingly no results that makes the most difference.  Then one day, I wake up and things are different.  I feel different.  I can do more. All that hard work and crap I went through is really working!  Woohoo!

Suddenly, it seems that my 8 year old FINALLY understands that math concept, or the 4 year old doesn't run away screaming every time I mention her reading a book! (that last one hasn't happened yet, I'm just dreaming)

And then I appreciate it.  Everyone knows you appreciate things more if you have to work for them.  This is not a fresh, new concept that has only been gifted to my clearly superior intellect.  It's just common sense.  

No, it's not a guarantee that everything you ever wanted will work out exactly as you hoped, but it certainly isn't going to hurt your chances.  

Sometimes in life you just have to push through the difficult situations and seasons.  Doing what you know has to be done even though you don't really feel like you want to, or you're not sure you even can.  But you get up every day, and you make it happen.  You work those muscles.  You eat the right foods.  You teach your kids.  You love your family.  You work on that dream.  You pray through the mess, knowing that God is faithful even when everything looks like it's falling apart.

Then one day, you'll start to see a little bit of a silver lining.  And you know that change is happening.  And it's going to be good.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Buried Dreams

I want to write a book.  Phew!  I said it.  Out loud (kind of).  I've wanted to write a book since I was in high school.  My one problem:  I have no idea what to write about.  Yes, that's a bit of a hurdle.  I admit.

I've recently begun reading about minimalism and the process of decluttering your life.  I started with my "stuff."  It seemed like the most obvious choice.  I've accumulated a ridiculous amount of possessions in my nearly 36 years of life.  Adding two children to the mix certainly didn't make things less messy.  When we moved back from Arkansas last summer we had some of our stuff in a storage building.  98% of that stuff never even made it back inside the house.  I purged and sorted and threw away.  I organized closets and threw more stuff away.  I convinced my children to sell their toys with the promise that they would receive the money from their sacrifices.  Nearly every day there is at least one thing that I toss or set aside for donation.  Every week or so, I organize something else...and get rid of more stuff.  It's an ongoing process, this eliminating of mess to make room for the things that are important.

Of course, as I emptied my house I began to see how cluttered my mind has become.  So many thoughts, plans, dreams, worries, lists, recipes...  I saw that I have been sacrificing the great for the mediocre.  Trying to do EVERYTHING is not only impossible, it is detrimental.

Let's face it, I am never going to be that mom who plans amazing birthday parties with intricate games and TV worthy cakes.  Cake wreck worthy cakes is more like it!  Nor will I be the mom (wife) that fixes elaborate dinners day after day.  My kids are lucky if I remember that it's lunch time!  Seriously. And as an aside...I didn't breastfeed either.  My kids survived.

My house will probably never grace the pages of a decorating magazine.  My homeschool process won't win any awards for amazing creativity and I will NEVER, EVER win a prize for being the most patient mom.  Those things are nice, but they aren't me.  And not being those things doesn't make me a failure.  Not being those things doesn't make you a failure either.

Trying to push myself into that mold will only make me cranky and make the others around me quite miserable.  Just because I CAN do something, doesn't mean I should.

I changed a lot in 2013.  In many ways, I don't even feel like the same person.  As this new year has begun, I have found myself embracing minimalism in new areas.  So I can eliminate the things in my life that just aren't important.  Less really is more.

I am narrowing my focus from everything that I am able to do, to doing what is in my heart to do.  What is important?  Loving my kids.  Loving my husband.  Stop doing stuff for Jesus, and just being with Jesus.  Listening is such a lost art, you know.  Sometimes it's enough to start there.  Seek first the kingdom, and all these things will be added...

So what does that have to do with writing a book, you ask?  Well, I really believe that as I clear my mind from all the fluff and unnecessary things, that my dreams will once again surface - creativity will return. And I can dust those dreams off, shine them up, and really begin to DO the truly important stuff.

What are your buried dreams?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Slipping on Jesus like an old pair of jeans

This morning, I woke up at 4:20.  This is not normal.  It's more likely that I'd be going to bed at that time.  I wish I could tell you that I got up immediately and began my day, being industrious and getting things done.  I didn't.  I went back to sleep...because it was FOUR TWENTY A.M.

But something happened in that weird partially awake, partially asleep realm of complete clarity.  That place where everything seems possible, I know exactly what I want to do with my life, and I make grand plans of all the glorious things I'm going to do with my day.  Then I fall asleep and wake up 3 hours later with no recollection of what any of that actually was.  Kind of like grasping at rainbows.

Anyway, this morning I actually remember it.  Well, some of it.  I saw a computer screen of my writings and ramblings and as I quickly scrolled up the screen a few phrases just jumped out at me.  There were words brimming in a hot cup of coffee, ready to spill out.  Literally.  Words in coffee - like a hot cup of alphabet coffee.  I don't even drink coffee.  But I know there are things inside me that are itching to come out and and be heard.  Now, I've been planning on blogging more and making plans and thinking of wonderful topics and then sitting down at the computer and finding the well miraculously shutting up at that moment.  It's really quite irritating.  So I knew I needed to blog this today, and yet it's 8:30 now and I've already forgotten most of it.  I think I need to have a notepad and pen by my bed to write this mess down the next time it happens.  I ramble.

The phrase I do remember as the words buzzed by was "Slipping on Jesus like an old pair of jeans."
Not slipping as in, "Oh, I slipped and fell."  But more like, "Let me slip into something a little more comfortable."  Just want to clarify that before mental images of people slipping on Jesus like a banana peel.  Too late.

I thought a while about what that phrase actually means.  I suppose it could have good connotations.  I love these jeans.  They're always there for me when I have a cruddy day.  I can be myself in these jeans.  These jeans give me confidence.

But let's look a little deeper.  These jeans I can take on and off if they don't suit me in any given situation.  These jeans wouldn't be appropriate for my workplace.  And they're not appropriate for that super formal occasion that I have to attend.  My friends don't like these jeans.  They think they are out of date and I should update to a new pair.  But!  They're great for church, though!  And when I need them I can just put them on.  If I feel sad...I wear them.  If I need a confidence boost, I wear them.  Sometimes you just need a good, reliable pair of jeans to fall back on.

That's great for jeans (or whatever your go-to article of clothing is).  Not so great for Jesus.  Slipping him on and off for our own comfort is not really best practice.  And yet, that's what we all have a tendency to do.  I'm upset:  let me take my Jesus pants off and be a jerk.  My life is falling apart:  Where are my Jesus pants?!?!?!  Get up in the morning, put your Jesus pants on.  But before you can get out the door good, there go the Jesus pants.  Wear the Jesus pants to be a good example, but before you know it, the pants are off and you're choking people with the love of the Jesus pants.  Cause that's what Jesus is all about:  choking people with "love."  But I digress.

A few days ago, I was in my book study with a wonderful group of ladies that I love and am privileged to walk this journey with.  They have such wonderful hearts after the Lord.  During our discussion, it was mentioned about trying to be Christianlike in our lives, etc.  And as it was spoken, it occurred to me that maybe this is part of the problem.  We're trying too hard to be "Christianlike" and neglecting to be "Christlike."  We've spent all our time trying to figure out what Jesus would do, and forgotten about who Jesus is.  We've made Jesus into our own puppet, or political agenda, or pair of pants, or insert your own terms here.  We've all done it, whether we mean to or not.  

Now, I don't have an exhaustive list of how to be Christlike.  You can look it up on wikihow, if you'd like.  Seriously, it's there.  I wouldn't put much stock in it. We have a teacher.  His name is Holy Spirit.  Everything He does points to Jesus.  Listen to that voice.  Don't slip Jesus on and off like an old pair of jeans.  Don't use Jesus for your own purposes.

Don't be Christianlike.  Be Christlike.  Walk with Him in every situation.  Pause and listen to the still, small voice.  Then take another step when He says.  Is it easy?  Nope.

But then, most things that are worth doing, aren't easy.