Sadness, Social Media, and Social Distancing

We all have a different reality from which we view and experience life. The Lord has given each of us individual grace to a walk through our own personal reality. I don’t have the grace for your reality. You don’t have the grace for mine. But should the Lord merge our realities, we can rest assured we’d each have the grace necessary to manage and rise above the challenge.

One of my boys expressed frustration over a challenge he faced. He brushed it aside as he talked, saying, “I know it doesn’t compare to how hard others have it.” Is that how we process our hard? In the light of another’s?

I assured him that his feelings matter. We need not compare them to someone else’s situation to determine if it’s ok to feel a certain way.

But I get it. I’m sad when I interact with social media these days. We are so quick to dismiss and shame another’s feelings. We also have little patience and grace for the journey we are each on. At the first post where we may express where we are currently, we are blasted by someone with an alternate perspective. As a people we are taking it as our full time job to make sure the rest of the world sees the situation the same as we do. And if they don’t, well we distance ourselves in our heart from them.

I’ve had people respond to things I’ve posted telling me they don’t like my wording and they wish I would change it so it aligned with their thoughts and perspectives. I find that so interesting. Are we not allowed to disagree anymore? Are we not allowed to view the same situation in complete opposition yet still maintain unity? I fear not.

I opened my prayer journal this morning and poured out my sadness to God. Currently, our world is in a situation many of us have never faced. COVID-19 is new and unknown, which brings fear. Fear causes reactions that aren’t our normal.

As I’ve watched this situation develop, my thoughts have developed, transitioned, even changed. This is human. This is natural. But what is happening on social media doesn’t show the full humanity of us as people or this situation. And that leaves me sad.

Just as we each live in our own reality, with our own personal grace from God, we each process life differently.

In the face of great anxiety, humor is a lifeline for some. For others, humor in the face of danger is offensive. I see people post in humor and then others follow behind telling them to take it seriously. I’m not a humor person so initially I felt it was a lack of respect. I’ve changed my opinion. It’s not a lack of respect as much as their way to cope. But in a world where we can’t differ anymore, this becomes harder and harder.

In the face of fear, some take to flight, some take to fight. Some run away and horde. Others take quick action and stand and serve.

In the face of fear, some become extremely sensitive and tender to those around them. Others become cynical.

It’s time to confess and repent of our pride and strong opinions. I’m guilty. I confess. I repent. My I have a heart of compassion stronger than the opinions I hold.

At the same time may we be gentle with our own souls today. The fear is real. The sadness is real. God is more real. We can trust Him.

For the care of my soul today, I poured out my heart to God. I expressed my deep sadness to Him. He cares about what we care about. He cares about our sadness. I decided I wouldn’t judge my sadness in the light of another’s sadness. I wouldn’t compare this trial in our world in the light of WWII or a time in history I didn’t experience or have the grace to walk through.

I’m a human today, living in the real fear and reality of today. I will take those to the cross and hand them to my Savior, trusting He will carry me close to His heart.

Today I told God I’m sad.

I’m sad I won’t see my son finish out his basketball season. I won’t get to hug our teammates and high five a fantastic season.

I’m sad many of us will fail to see the completion of what we’ve worked so hard for.

I’m sad for the beginning that will fail to start. Sad for full seasons that will be skipped.

I’m sad for seniors who will miss so much.

I’m sad for leaders making decisions that hold a weight of enormous impact.

I’m sad for our economy and what lies ahead.

I’m sad for working parents struggling to care for their kids at home and maintain their jobs.

I’m sad for parents who don’t want to homeschool, thrown into a world so foreign.

I’m sad for the judgement cast back and forth on each other based on how we each are processing and handling our fears and realities.

I’m sad for the ones who live with this type of fear all the time not just in an outbreak.

I’m sad our country simply can’t unite, even in sickness and fear.

I’m sad we can’t be physically close to people.

I’m sad we can’t gather together and worship live.

I’m sad we don’t know how long this will last.

I’m sad. Naming my sadness helps.

I don’t need to be understood by others because God understands me full well. And I think that is where many of us are struggling right now. We are reaching out to social media to hold us, to tell us it’s going to be ok. We are reaching out to social media to validate our opinions, positions, and feelings.

It can’t. It won’t. But God desires to be the One to fill our needs, to comfort, to care, to carry us. He hands out grace freely. Grace isn’t only a word used for salvation. Grace is needed to live this life daily, moment by moment.

We are all walking in unknown territory as our nation decides how to fight COVID-19. We are urged to exercise social distancing. Because of that we are in close quarters with our family members and many are excited about a free schedule and more connected time. But then some have no family members. This is extremely hard on them. If we could simply look from alternate views, I believe our empathy would grow.

What is stifling my own empathy is social media. I find my heart harden and cynicism grow. I can’t have that. When I see this happen, I know a social media break is in order. Sometimes I take a one day break, sometimes a one week, and sometimes even longer.

Maybe if social media is what you are struggling with most, a new definition to social distancing can take shape. Maybe social distancing includes a social media distance for a time. So we can process our own emotions without the sway and judgement of others or even our own selves.

I think we can all agree on one thing, we each care about some aspect of this situation, and we are scared. We may be scared about different things, but we are all scared. I pray we can be easy with our feelings, allow them to grow and change as they will, and love others well while they do the same.

We are all in it together. May God be glorified. May we resist fear and hold firm to Christ in the days ahead.

 

 

 

Rise up, Don’t Crumple to Fear

 

Fear is more contagious than any virus. It’s deadly. It kills all that could be. So it’s time to kill the fear.

Fear is crippling. Fear is a liar. Fear is a bully. I hate fear because fear is born in the pit of hell.

Just as fear is contagious, I believe courage and hope are equally contagious. I hope after today you join me in spreading a message of courage in the face of fears running rampant in our world.

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free.

Aristotle

A name holds power. Do you believe it?

The moment the media began spreading information (real or fake) about the coronavirus, it didn’t take long for panic to break out. The naming holds power. Name your fear and remove its power in your life. Today. Right now.

Often when we play out the fear all the way, we see it’s not that scary after all. The fear is bound up in the threat of the unknown and what if scenarios. So play them out. What do you see?

When I was a new staff accountant, I was terrified of visiting clients. One of my managers saw my intense fear and said, “Listen, your fear is scarier than what you are scared of. What is the absolute worst thing in the entire world that can happen? They could kill you? Eat you?” I had to laugh, it was quite ridiculous at that point.

I asked my 11 year old if we should be scared of sickness. His response was this, “Even if we die, we get to be with Jesus.” That’s it. This world was never promised to us to be perfect, whole, or even healthy. We spend our lives trying to achieve something here that wasn’t meant to be. Our perfection awaits us in eternity. But we have a critical role to play while we are here and I fear our fear is limiting us.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

Our role here is to be an ambassador of Christ. Christ didn’t crumple to fear. He overcame it.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

Fear is from satan. Satan knows his time is short here. His goal is to kill, steal, and destroy. He can accomplish that quite well with fear tactics.

Once we start listening to all the scary news reports, he keeps hammering it home. He utilizes the power of naming that virus, the power of the internet to spread his fear. And we crumple.

As christians we live with a hope no one else has. We have an opportunity when fear strikes in those without hope to rise up. To share Christ. To share hope.

The Bible instructs us not to fear. Over and over and over again we see scripture telling us not to fear. But we forget, so we fall to the trap fear lays for us.

Right now I’m shocked at the state of fear and panic I see in our world over the threat of a virus.

“In the West, particularly, we have become so resistant to pain that at the slightest hint of it, we prepare to flee by some shortcut or some solution that masks the discomfort.” Ravi Zacharias, I, Isaac, Take Thee, Rebekah.

While this quote is speaking to a different topic, it strikes me as relevant to what we see in our world right now. Have we become so fragile that we are scared to get sick? Have we lived the good western life so well that we simply can’t fathom something similar to a flu virus hitting our home?

If so we have a bigger issue to fear. We are told in scripture that in this world we will have trouble. But Jesus tells us to take heart because He’s overcome the world.

Over the weekend we played 2 of our 3 basketball tournament games only to have the tournament cancelled because one person was diagnosed with coronavirus and had been in the facility. My initial reaction was complete shock. Is this how fragile we’ve become? Do you know how many people walked in that facility with all kinds of viruses. We couldn’t possibly know. But plant the seed of fear and watch what happens.

I read the thread of discussion on the facility website and couldn’t believe how terrified people are.

Don’t panic!

All around I see panic. The stores are sold out of basic supplies as people have stocked up as if the end of the world is here. Schools are canceling. Businesses closing. Around the world quarantines. But the driver behind it all is fear. I’m so sick of fear having the upper hand.

Do you realize one of satan’s tools is isolation? When he isolates us, he can really go to work in our head. Right now people are fearing to assemble. People are scared to touch each other. Groups and organizations are cancelling for fear of spreading sickness. People are scared to be with other people. Exactly what the devil hopes will happen.

Community is vital to our world. Connection is critical to our health and well-being. Touch is healing. We need to be together.

 Ways to Rise instead of Crumple to Fear

  • Proact don’t react.
    • Look up scriptures on fear. Write them on notecards. Read them over and over. God does not want you to live with fear.
    • Take care of your health all the time. Build a strong immune system. God has created us to fight off more than we realize.
  • Stop talking about it. Stop fueling the fire of fear. Fear spreads. Simply refuse to share it with others. We are so scared of people sharing their sick germs with us yet we are sharing a far more dangerous germ when we share every fear based article on this virus or anything for that matter. This world is full of scary things, we don’t have to share them all. Let’s be sharers of encouragement and hope.

“Do not be afraid of sudden terror or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,” Proverbs 3:25

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:

“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39

Would you share this post with your network? Or if not this one, share something that will encourage others to cast out fear. It’s time to take control back. Christ has given us authority over the demons. Let’s not fear gathering with people. Let’s not fear touching other humans. Let’s not fear getting sick and trust if we do, God can be our Healer and Comforter.

Together, let’s rise up in the face of fear through the power of Christ.

 

 

An easier parenting solution to the try hard life

As is normal in most families, or at least this is what I tell myself, we face seasons where peace seems a lofty wish. Siblings bicker more than normal, and we see hints of deeper heart issues needing to be addressed.

I have a stack of index cards filled with verses for such occasions. I’ve been known to pull out a card, read the verse, discuss with the kids, even have them write it several times. But they are getting older, and these methods don’t have the same effect as they did when they were younger. And this leads to me seeking control in an area I have no control.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember I posted a picture of a verse I’d written on the chalkboard in our mudroom.

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

We gathered for a family meeting recently to discuss any issues we each feel weighing on us. A theme I’ve seen is what feels like a lack of love, which creates fights and hurtful words to be tossed about. After we each shared our thoughts, we prayed and went about our day.

I felt discouraged honestly. God brought to mind my favorite parenting book by Paul David Tripp titled Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family. In his book he reminds us that God never tasked parents with the job of heart change. That is God’s job and absolutely 100% impossible for us.

The harder we try to change a person’s heart, the more discouraged we find ourselves. Only God can change a heart. In his book, Tripp tells us our role is to reflect the Savior and point our kids to their need for a Savior over and over and over again. Not in a preachy, Bible-beating way, but in a way that shows our deep love for them.

As I remembered my role in the lives of my kids, I opened up my lesson for the day with Community Bible Study. This year I’m a core group leader for our local CBS. We are currently in the book of Philippians. In the commentary that day the theme was “Christ – The Supreme Model” from Philippians 2:1-11. This sentence jumped off the page, “The letter reflects Paul’s deep concern about their lack of love and unity, but instead of exhorting them to try harder to be more loving, he directs their attention to Christ as the perfect example of living.”

Well, about an hour prior Steve and I sat our kids down telling them how they needed to try harder to love each other better. Yet, here I sat at my kitchen table hearing the Holy Spirit gently reminding me of a better way. Not only was God showing me that telling my kids to try harder was useless, He was reminding me for myself as well.

Out of my love for Jesus and my kids, I was caught in a try hard cycle. Again. It’s a weakness of mine. I see a problem and want to fix it right away. So I get to work. But when it’s matters of the heart, I simply wear myself out until My Savior whispers me away and gently pulls me back into Him.

He’s so kind like that. He hears my cry, and He responds. He reminds me of how He loves my kids more than I do. They are His not mine. I’ve been tasked to steward this job well in Him, but I’m not responsible for the results.

There’s freedom in understanding this. When I walk in this understanding, fear can’t have its way in my parenting. Parenting from fear and frustration never ends well.

I’ll need this reminder again. But for today I’m grateful I can rest in my Savior. His grace is available in our hardest parenting moments. We simply need to reach out and accept what He’s offering us. He won’t force us. He’s too gentle for that.

 

 

 

 

 

When the tears flow and you don’t know why, but then, you do.

Have you ever begun to cry and you can’t explain why exactly? Maybe you see something in nature that creates awe-induced tears. Or maybe like me, you sing during worship and find tears streaming though nothing happened or even went through your head. Sometimes His glory alone is all it takes to set free the tears waiting for their release.

No guilt in life, no fear in death. This is the power of Christ in me.”

These words grip me. The first time I heard this song, I knew I wanted it sung at my funeral one day. I know, sounds a bit morbid to plan for death, but the reality is death comes to us all. And on that day, I don’t want people wondering what songs I wanted, what I would share. So I wrote it down for my family. I’m a planner to the extreme at times.

There is a line that produces tears every time I hear this song.

This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live.

It’s that “scorned by the ones He came to save” that punches my gut. I’m the scorner. I’m not so special though. Many of us share a similar story.

I never understood grace. I heard Bible stories. I prayed. I “believed” in a Creator God. I even believed Jesus was God’s Son. But I didn’t understand grace.

So in my rebellious pride, I scorned Him. I lived life my way, on my own terms, doing all the good works to balance those scales in an effort to earn my way there. I stayed away from Him because deep in my heart, I knew. Yes, I knew. I knew no matter how “good” I tried to be, I wasn’t good all the time. So I told God I’d come back toward Him when I could get my act together.

On that day of salvation, I still didn’t understand His grace. Paul David Tripp says it well in his book, Parenting. He discusses God’s past grace, present grace, and future grace. You see I believed in the past and future grace. I didn’t understand that His present grace is what gave me the ability to grow and change moment by moment as I walked in His Spirit. It took me years after my salvation to begin to understand this.

Now when I hear lines about Jesus, sometimes the tears simply fall. I can’t explain why. All I know is He didn’t simply save me from hell, He continues to save me from myself every single day. His love overwhelms me.

“Here in the death of Christ I live.”

May grace never become commonplace.

No guilt in life because He’s washed me clean. Every single sin I’ve ever committed, He’s cleansed. I can live guilt free now. No fear in death because I know I will one day step through that paper thin veil that separates my physical life today with my eternal life.

I can live without proving my worth. I can stop trying. And so can you.

When the song begins this section, my heart begins to race. I feel the excitement shooting through my veins.

“There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ”
Here is where I land, on these words that cause my heart to ascend into my throat threatening to break right free.
“Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”
Lord, tenderize our hearts. Give us a fresh heart, fresh eyes, a new appreciation for the depths you went for us. May we see it continues every second of every day. Shine through us so the whole world can see You. Lord, we love you so much. Help us love you more today than we did yesterday. Amen.

 

Books I’ve Read in 2019 – Part 2

In August I posted a list of the books I’d read in 2019 to that point. Some I’d actually started in 2018 and merely completed in 2019. You can see that post here.

Also, I share a great deal on Instagram about the books I read. Sometimes in my feed, sometimes in my Stories. If you are interested in books, I invite you to follow along on IG!

Between that post and the end of 2019, I read 15 more books.

I’ve never set reading goals before because I love to read and don’t need a goal to keep me reading. However, this year I am working towards a goal, one I offered my kids as well. I shared on my personal FB page as well as Instagram.

Basically, I offered $100 for 100 books read by the end of 2020. Or $10 gift card for 12 books by the end of the year. It can be a variety of audio and physical books, below grade level or on grade level. I believe there is value in all of it. To help us keep moving toward our goal, we broke down our yearly goal to weekly goals of 2 books a week. Each person who meets their weekly goal earns additional screen time or an ice cream or something small like that. We are notorious for starting strong with new systems and giving up within a few weeks, so I hope not this time around.

I’m using Everyday Reading’s reading log to give us a visual tracker. It’s a fun one! And speaking of this reading log and Everyday Reading, which I just discovered on Instagram, I’m stunned by how much some people read. I was proud of my 30 books this year, but others read 100s of books!!! Some over 200 in one year!

Nonfiction

Simply Tuesday

First, I’m an @emilypfreeman fan through and through. Somehow she always writes exactly what I’m pondering and processing, and the Lord aligns the timing of when I read/listen to divinely meet me.

I listened to this one through Christianaudio as they offer one free audiobook a month. Such a great deal!!

The only thing I wish is that it was Emily herself reading the audio. If you listen to #thenextrightthing podcast you understand this.

I listened while on a social media fast, which was lovely. I journaled so much through this book.

As I sat in my car at #chickfila waiting for Jacob to get off work, the audio stopped and I wondered what happened. The book was over, yet I wasn’t ready for it to end. I was convinced my audio was missing a few chapters. So I went online to find the table of contents. It was true, the end had arrived.

But that’s what Emily Freeman does, writes beautiful words in a way to lead you exploring on your own. She doesn’t instruct you, she is a co-journeyer (is that a word?).

Her books have this invisible thread from one to another. Each leads to the next so gracefully.

Skip College

 

This was a surprisingly insightful read. Even if you are a big college degree supporter, I recommend this book. It was a fast read, full of ideas to ponder and consider. As I have one launching in 2 years, I’m glad I read this one.

“Tens of millions of Americans owe a combined $1.5 trillion in debt for student loans. Much of this staggering expense has been unnecessary; attending college is more of a tradition — a cultural rite of passage than a necessary step towards a successful career, justifying its steep cost.

As countless entrepreneurs and creative hustlers have shown, there is a path to success outside of the institutions of so-called higher learning. Allow us to show you the way.”

Little Book of Hygee

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this sweet read! I listened through Overdrive. I first read an article about Norwegians’ love of winter. This spurred me on to read this book. I’m now creating my own little hygee in my home.

“Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. Loosely translated, Hygge?pronounced Hoo-ga?is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience,” Wiking explains. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe.”‘

 

Fiction

Water from my Heart

Absolutely loved it. The 3rd of his books I’ve read and I think he’s my favorite fiction writer as of right now. When you read this, do NOT skip the epilogue. Best part of the entire book.

Where the Crawdads Sing

The writing was out of this world, but it took me half the book to decide to keep reading. I felt it was a slow read, but for some reason I couldn’t put it down, which was quite odd. The further into the book I journeyed, the more I liked it. When I finished, I was glad I did and counted it one of my favorite reads of the year. It was a different kind of book for me to be sure.

“Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.”

The Mountain Between Us

Another Charles Martin book I fell in love with. Hard to put down. His books keep you turning the page. I loved everything about this story. I did hear the movie is not true to the book and lacked the purity the book portrayed. No surprise with Hollywood!

 

A Ring of Endless Light

I didn’t love this one. I intended to read to my boys and found myself grateful I didn’t. Much about death and teenage love that I didn’t care to focus on.

 

Send Down the Rain

Again, Charles Martin. Simply fantastic. I have never disliked one of his books to this point.

 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (childrens)

I can’t believe I’d never read this book. I read it aloud to one of my boys and we thoroughly enjoyed it. So funny and fun to read!!

 

Last Christmas in Paris

I absolutely adored this book. It’s set during WWI, which I’ve read little of. It was written as letters written back and forth. But what I really enjoyed was the Audible version. There are simply some books that are best enjoyed as a listen, and this was one of those for me. The narration was superb!!!

Noel Street

I’m a big fan of Richard Paul Evans. I read nearly all of his Christmas books. It’s easy reading, which is what I enjoy during the Christmas season. I don’t mind the predictability one bit.

 

A Redbird Christmas

This was a really sweet, light read. Perfect for a Christmas book.

Little House in the Big Woods (childrens)

I’ve read this one a couple of times and like it more with each read.

A Night Divided (young adult/childrens)

This would be on my must read list for sure. It was an amazing read aloud. But I would’ve enjoyed it even without my boys listening.

It’s 1961, the Berlin Wall went up overnight. Britain, America, and France controlled the western half of Germany and 1/2 of Berlin. Russia controlled the east. A family ends up physically separated.

This passage right before the wall went up trapping the Germans in the east got my attention.
“At first it didn’t matter much to us. Most people shopped, worked, or visited just as they always had, and crossing the border wasn’t much more difficult than crossing the street. But Russia’s promises of a better life under Communism weren’t happening. As the west repaired its war damages, ours remained like unhealed scars. Their shops were full, and ours constantly faced shortages. They were growing stronger, while we leaned on Russia like a crutch, pretending to be every bit as strong.”

Between Two Shores

I didn’t love this like I did Mark of the King. I struggled with the characters and it didn’t keep me turning the pages like the first book I read by Jocelyn Green. But you may love it and I will continue reading her books as I love her style and historical fiction is my favorite.

Here’s to more reading!!!

One thing I’m happy about with my year of reading is more fiction! I lean towards nonfiction as I love to learn and grow. But fiction is simply good for my soul.

I’ll be posting my upcoming 2020 reading list on Instagram so check there for what I plan to read in the coming weeks.

 

PS. This post includes affiliate links. When you purchase through links on my site, you help cover the costs to run this blog. I greatly appreciate your support!!

PSS. If you don’t currently have and Audible account, I highly recommend it. Through Audible I’ve found some of my favorite books. Some narrators are simply out of this world and the books come to life in ways they wouldn’t otherwise.

This is real love

I posted on Instagram over the weekend this:

“This is always what I envisioned when I wrote and created #seekingchristmas. Though my boys were ages 1-6 at the time, my desire was to have traditions centered around the true meaning of Christmas that they’d never outgrow. To have teens racing through the house seeking Jesus.

Today I saw it come to fruition.

Christmas magic doesn’t leave when they get older, it actually becomes sweeter. Well, maybe slightly more violent and wilder, but I treasure it all up in my heart still.

One of my favorite aspects of Seeking Christmas is its flexibility. It can be spread over 7 days. Or all in one day. Today we did ours as a scavenger hunt, all 7 days at once. We each took turns reading the scripture that tells the Christmas story. For the first time every member of our family could read aloud !! Praise Jesus and vision therapy!!”

After the race to find all 7 ornaments concluded, we lined up the ornaments and took turns reading the scriptures on the back. I typically read from the NIV or HCSB Bibles. But for this Steve’s Bible, which is an NLT version, was nearby. I had the final reading from 1 John 4:9-10.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

This is real love.

That line struck me. I wanted to continue revisiting it. I woke thinking of it. This is real love.

It’s what we want. To be known and loved. It’s what we fear. Never finding true love. Losing love. It’s what we want to hold onto. But until we grab onto Jesus, we’ve not tasted real love. And once we have, we know the difference in the love of this world and the love of a Father who sent His son on a death mission.

As we concluded Seeking Christmas as a family, I asked the boys, “Tell me why Jesus was born that Christmas day.”

“To die.”

Blunt. Doesn’t sound warm and Christmasy. Doesn’t sound full of cheer and joy. Doesn’t sound like a Hallmark movie and hot cocoa.

But it’s true. He was born to die. Until we understand that, we fail to see the power and fullness of the Christmas message.

If I had to tie up the entire story of the Bible in one word, that word would be love. From the beginning it was love and til the very end, it’s about love. His great love for us and His call for us to love Him back with our whole hearts. When we love Him, we are able to love others.

Real love.

Sit in those words and let it wash over you. You see, often the people in this world will fail us, they may not love us like we want. We may try and try and never hear the words we want from the people we think we should hear them from. But.

He gives us real love. No one can take it away. We will never lose His love. His love we keep at a distance at times because it’s so pure it frightens us. Run to His love. Let Him lavish it on you. Don’t be afraid. He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, & Prince of Peace. He is good always. His love is faithful. He will never leave us for forsake us.

His love is real.

Merry Christmas.

 

I’m giving myself permission to be unbusy

Get Unbusy

I made a decision, or a choice rather, to be unbusy. Not only to be unbusy, but to be unrushed as well. I can be less rushed when I’m less busy, to be sure. Something had to change. I needed more margin.

I watch our culture wear the busy badge with pride. And for what? To win the most exhausted award?

There are elements to busy we can’t control. But many, and you know it’s true, many we bring on ourselves. I know I do!

I don’t have to say yes to every invite. I don’t have to say yes to every request. I don’t have to fill up the calendar with all the “shoulds”. I am not a victim to the time monster. I don’t have to be slave to the obligations others think I should.

And I certainly don’t have to say yes to every request my children make.

Clear the calendar, leave margin

Part of homeschooling my 10th grader is teaching him how to be responsible for his time. High school for homeschool looks more like college than high school. He works during the day many times. His classes are once a week at various locations. He works independently through the week in preparation. But that means he must use his time wisely. He doesn’t always.

I find myself telling him to look forward first. What do you see in the week ahead? How can you plan now to execute that well? Similar to what I shared in the last post about starting with the ending. I tell him to do now what he can so he has margin for the pop-ups that are unplanned.

In the same way, I want to plan my life in this season to give God margin in my life to pop-up what He will.

I can fill up a calendar with the best of them. I can run until I can run no more. But I’m 43 now. I find I’m craving more simplicity than ever before.

Seasons exist for everything.

The people in front of me are greater than any task on my list. I’m finding that my 40s has brought less pressure than my 30s. I don’t care so much about what people think. I don’t have to be the best at everything I do.

I’ve sensed God drawing me back to my home. He’s been drawing me back into a quietness I can’t fully explain.

He quieted my businesses without much explanation. They didn’t stop, they simply hushed their haste.

Earlier this fall I had a week of extreme anxiety flare-ups. It had been over a year since I struggled with anxiety. My eyes opened to a racing heart. Through the day catching a breath grew more and more difficult. Only someone who struggles with anxiety can understand the physically scary feeling of your chest clamping down.

Much prayer later, it seemed quieter in my soul. Nothing changed in my circumstances, but a deeper peace took a position.

In the weeks that followed I can only say that I began sensing Him calling me to a season of rest. A season of simply being. A season of producing less, achieving less, consuming less.

I feel this call toward home. Simply living and living simply.

It reminds me of the first couple of years after I began staying at home after leaving my full time job. I began discovering the joy of being in my home, making a home, and creating a different kind of life. It was a brand new season and something I’d never had the ability to do before.

Do you ever sense God shifting your season? How does that make you feel? Uncomfortable? Nervous? Excited? A little of every feel?

For me I used to be someone who had to understand it all. I wanted to know all the whys. As I’m aging, I find myself needing less understanding from God. He’s God. He’s the Potter and I’m the clay. He’s careful with His children. When He shifts my seasons or calls me closer to home or to a less busy life, I can trust Him.

These days I’m working hard to keep my calendar mostly open. This is intentional. I’m leaving space for God to fill. I’m leaving space for my soul to breathe. I’m leaving space to say yes to anything God desires to bring my way. In the process I’m trusting in a season of rest. I don’t know what the future holds or what God has for me around the next turn, so when I sense Him inviting me to slowly rest, I say yes, Lord.