Still No Resolutions, Still No Goals, But a Plan Coming Together

I haven’t quite yet gotten back in the groove of posting to the blog.  In days past, I would chastise myself and create additional stress.  It has been tempting to go down that road again.  After all, I’m still that same girl-the one who likes to have a plan, get things done, see organization and order around me.  I love a check list and checking it off!  But…  I have continued resting my mind on the word God whispered to me:  PEACE.

Peace, it is truly elusive, so easily stolen from us as life marches on bringing with it new demands, new disappointments, new seasons.  I have held strong to praying daily for PEACE and opening myself up to His direction. Late last week it dawned upon me to identify those moments in the day when I sense a lack of peace.  As you might expect, a pattern emerged.  That bewitching dinner hour.  The time between late afternoon and dinner. Surely I am not alone.  I can have conquered mountains, but in those few hours the weight of the world seems to fall upon my shoulders.  The husband comes home with his day’s worth of baggage, the kids need help with homework, the taxi service begins, dogs need fed and/or walked, the household chores for the day await, and then there is that thing called dinner.  No matter how well planned my day, week, even month, this time of day seems to be truly bewitched.  My stress level rises, and the more I am asked to do, the more my mind seems to race to all those tasks I have failed to do, did half way or simply had hoped to do.  Before I know it I feel drained and defeated.  And sadly, too often that feeling stays right with me through bedtime.  I have determined I need to focus on this area more than any other area.  This time, this “area” of my day is my peace thief.  So, as I approach my little mini retreat on January 31st (see previous posts about my Sabbath practice holding the 31st sacred each time it rolls around) I have begun to look for things I can change, let go over or begin to change the end of my day.

First and foremost, I have determined to end my day reading a devotional in bed and writing down blessing of the day.  I am thrilled to be using “One Thousand Gifts:  Devotional” by Ann Voskamp.  She is one of my new favorite authors.  Her writing is classical, almost musical.  Her thoughts are deep, they are real and they are sometimes even raw.  I wish I could say I had stuck to the plan, but frankly, I’ve let a few nights go by. Honestly, I’ve crawled into bed and fallen asleep.  But thoughts of defeat I will not let enter.  I will not quit.  I will miss a day or two, get over it and carry on.

Second, I have made a few changes in some household routines.  After reading several other blogs on parenting and motherhood I realized I too often do for my girls, instead of teaching them to do for themselves. Culprit number one:  laundry.  I have taught them how to sort.  I have shown them how to do, but rarely have they had to.  Not to mention, the only consequence for not bringing laundry down and sorting has been mom spending all Saturday catching up.  Now, I realize I should be smarter than this, but sometimes the duties of motherhood seem to sap me of any cognitive abilities.  Well, not now.  No.  There is a new plan in place. Mom does one load of laundry every morning (for me this happens about 5:30 a.m. before my quiet time).  If you fail to bring clothes down and sort them so they make it into one of these laundry loads, you get to do your laundry all by your lonesome Saturday morning.

There’s no Third.  Not yet.  This journey to PEACE isn’t going to happen overnight.  I am pondering and waiting.  I’m not looking for a grand list of goals or legalistic list of rules.  I’m just looking for God to show me where and when I fail to trust in Him.  I’m asking Him to show me my weaknesses and help me work to become stronger in those areas.  PEACE is not perfection.  PEACE is knowing I have done what He has called me to do, He has prepared for me to do.  It is knowing when enough is enough.  It is knowing that my efforts can never match His efforts.  It is knowing when to say “well done” and rest in His grace.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  … Be holy, because I am holy.”  I. Peter 1:13,15 NIV

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Live on Purpose-Not Drowning in “To Do” Lists

I have the incredible privilege of previewing this book for Crystal, along with a great group of other mom bloggers.  Crystal and I attempt to live life from the same place-a place of purpose.  This book is already challenging me to revisit some of those principles I claim, yet can stray from.  That’s the thing about life-it takes focus, it takes time, it requires pause.

“Living with purpose means wisely choosing and committing to a few of the best things for the season of life you’re in.”  Crystal Paine, “Say Goodbye to Survival Mode”

There is no better time to revisit this principle.  To sit and think through your priorities and choose the best.  As we enter this time of celebration, remembering Christ’s birth, His purpose and hopefully reflect upon our relationship with Him, all that matters most should rise to the surface.  What is the best for the season of life you are in right now?  For me it’s this Second Season Mom time:

1.  Growing my relationship with God through a more disciplined prayer life.

2.  Homeschooling one teen daughter.

3.  Making each day a celebration of life-creating an atmosphere of gratitude in our home.

4.  Praying for provision and helping my husband carry out our budget.

5.  Growing a new organizing business, setting clear boundaries on the number of hours worked.

Cup of Fresh Brewed Coffee and Main Things Remain the Same

My day of planning on the 31st went well.  As mentioned in Monday’s post.  I have been fairly purposeful about my calendar and project notebook, so I spent the time I had looking back through my journal.  I keep a daily journal.  Well, there are a few days missing.  For over 20 years I have held a morning quiet time.  For me, it is a spiritual discipline.  I love to sit with a fresh brewed cup of coffee, my Bible, journal and a devotional (or two).  My husband sits in a nearby chair, practicing the same discipline.  We don’t talk.  We dwell in the peacefulness of a morning not yet disturbed.  We dwell in the beauty of day not yet spoiled by our own sin nature.  The sun slowly rises and with it the robin sings and nature begins to stir.  In those moments our minds are clear.  What truly matters seems to rise to the forefront of our thoughts.  My husband ponders.  I write. Often the words I write bring clarity to my mind.  They determine the course of my day, or the next step in a decision to be made.  I often look back upon these words, amazed that I penned them.  Often it is evident, the Spirit has spoken.  Often the words penned are quotes from the devotional I am reading or a verse that hits me with a fresh perspective or new conviction.  When I take time to look back upon my journal I can see clearly the tapestry He has woven. What may have seemed chaos at the time, comes into focus and makes sense in hind-sight.

As I enter this period of raising teens, this Second Season, realizing my role is changing and my time to instill in them is quickly passing, I long even more for my actions and decisions to be purposeful.  I want my decisions to reflect my priorities, to reflect who I am, to reflect my convictions.  I want my decisions to have impact.  As I read through my journal words confirmed.  I am attempting to work a real estate business and organizing business part-time, but my main role is still at home.  Our home is our ministry tool.  Our home is my daughters’ safe haven, their soft place to land during these pubescent years.  I am now homeschooling one. The decision to do so based upon frustration with both public and private educational systems that struggle to see the capacity of children with learning disabilities, especially those who just need a little boost, a little accommodation.  The decision to do so based upon a need for my relationship with her to be more than one of tutor and task master.  The decision based upon a child who was losing hope.  My job is to protect her heart, but more importantly to teach her to fly.  I am blessed that in this time, I can do this.  It is a privilege and one I will not and dare not take lightly.  In addition, I am still meeting weekly with dear friends who know a ministry vision God has placed on my heart.  It’s been burning in me for years, but the time is not yet.  It’s not easy for someone like me to wait, but I am learning.  Words penned in the early morning hours in faithful discipline remind me to wait.

The main things remain the same.  Over a fresh brewed cup of coffee in the early morn, it is clear.

P.S.  I am currently reading “Visioneering” by Andy Stanley.  Life altering.  I highly recommend it.  If you want something challenging related to being a mom, I recommend the following:  The Passionate Mom, A Woman After God’s Own Heart, Disciplines of a Godly Woman or The Gentle Ways of a Beautiful Woman.

I also challenge you to join me in praying for three simple things.  I have prayed weekly for these the past six months.  They are simple, but alter my mindset.  I pray weekly for Provision Not Prosperity; Peace not Panic; Gratitude not Grumbling.

Can you do IMPROMPTU?

I did not blog last Friday.  It was the 31st.  If you have followed my blog at all, or know much about me, you know I try to set aside the 31st of the given month and have a mini-retreat.  It is a day of planning,  praying over the calendar, reflecting upon weeks past and looking to the future.  I didn’t get a full day this time, due to an important board meeting I needed to attend. Fortunately though I had smidgens of time leading up to the 31st to get things organized, highlight some areas of concern and list out the items I wanted to focus on.  I had some big decisions to make.  Although my time was limited, I had a good day.  I was able to pull aside during the late afternoon and do what I needed to do.  Three things emerged, each a message already on my heart.  Having them emerge again, helped me focus and make some tough decisions.

1.  I need more intimacy with Christ.

2.  Come Home.  I have felt that call on my heart for two years.  It is difficult to know what that means.  We are in financial times and in a place in life where my working would make sense, would provide more security for college etc…  I am still engaged in Real Estate.  My best friend and I have started an organizing business.  However, the refrain keeps going through my mind.

3.  I need to give the very best to my family, so that corporately we can overflow into our community and world.

Some big decisions followed.  I’ll write more about those Wednesday.  That evening, following this time of refreshment and planning, I made a special dinner for the family.  I had this planned, but at the end of my day, this particular day, it felt comforting and rewarding to do this special task for my family.

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I made cheese Polenta with Barbecue Shrimp.  I pullled out my new soup and sandwich platters from Pier One.  We had toasted garlic bread and a side salad to round out the meal.  My family was duly impressed.  We lingered a little longer at the dinner table, enjoying a special Friday night.

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Then came the challenge.  My mother decided she wanted an impromptu 69th birthday party.  Thankfully, being fairly organized, and coming out of a day of revisiting my purpose, we were able to throw it together.  My sister-in-law and her 4 youngest pitched in.  On top of that, a young married mother of two called asking us to keep her precious two year old daughter over night so she could focus some time and energy on her marriage.  What’s one more at the party!  With the help of two incredible daughters and an ever patient husband we created a taco salad bar and put together a little birthday centerpiece on the island.

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I don’t share this hoping for a pat on the back or adoration.  (although a few words of encouragement never hurt :))  No, I share it because I was challenged after a day of planning and purpose searching to live what I preach.  I was reminded yet again, that being organized, planning and knowing our purpose is not so we can do more with the same amount of time.  It is not about accomplishments.  It is not about managing time.  Being organized is about living in such a way that you can allow the interruptions (good or bad).  You can focus on people and relationships.  You can give.  You can live being EFFECTIVE, not just EFFICIENT.  There were some things that didn’t get done over the course of the weekend, but no regrets.

Then today, I got the blessing.  Sometimes we have to bless to be blessed.  I attended my first ever blog event.  Arkansas Women Bloggers hosted a get together at Family Life here in Little Rock.  I hesitated and almost didn’t go.  But I went.  And oh how glad I am I did.  It was refreshing to be around other women sharing their hearts through blogging, all with a desire to minister to other women.  The greatest blessing came though in meeting Barbara Rainey.  I have know of Barbara and read her books, but to meet her in person was true joy.  She has entered a new phase in her own life, and is doing some amazing things as an “empty nester”.  To get a glimpse go to http://www.everthinehome.com.  (I have to confess I placed an order as soon as I got home!)  While I was excited to meet her and hear about her new venture these words struck deep into my heart.  God used Barbara to confirm for me my decisions and heart desires.

“My advice to you as moms is to remember, you don’t have to do it all now, in this season.   As women we are blessed to be able to lead two lives.  We have a season where we focus on God, our husband and our families.  Then we get to have this other season, when the kids are gone, to pursue all those other things.  Don’t try to do it all now.  You have thirty to forty, maybe even 50 years to pursue other things after you children have left home.”

It was as if in that moment I could breathe.  God has been clear to me to come home.  He has blessed my husband’s business providing what we need.  He has given me opportunity to engage in real estate and a business with my best friend, but most of all He has reminded me the time for my family is now.  As Barbara said, there will be time later to pursue other things.  My girls are only home for a period.  They will navigate these teen years but once.  There are no second chances.