You Can Have it All, Just Not All at Once

This week I have been doing a little evaluating of my current life.  Back to full time work, two girls graduating high school, a home to manage, friends to see…  As I pondered my own frustrations, disappointments, I also saw a post from another hard working mom asking if there was such a thing as balance.  Another young mom messaged me asking how I managed, what could she do different.

As women we all struggle.  It is hard to be all the things we want to be.  Sometimes we have choices, other times the circumstances of our lives dictate whether or not we have choices.  As Christian women the struggle can run deep.  Not only do we hold ourselves to the standard of the world, but we hold ourselves up to the Proverbs 31 woman and create expectations we often can’t meet.

Going back to work at age 50 is a completely different experience from that of my 20s. It’s not better, it’s not worse.  It is just different.  Experience has taught me.  Struggles with anxiety and fear have moved me.  As I thought about the questions of dear friends, as I pondered my own momentary frustration I was reminded that today matters.  What I choose today is what matters most.  Who I am today affects my tomorrow.  I cannot be all things to all people at all times, but I can be who I need to be today to the persons God brings across my path.  I can choose today to return home from work and turn my attention to the ones I love most, preparing food, washing clothes, caring for their needs. There is not a lot of time for relaxation, for outings, for extra time with friends.  But that is okay.  All too soon the girls will be gone, their adult lives unfolding.  I will no longer have the chance to wash their clothes, light a candle to say welcome home, cook their favorite meal.  When that time comes there will be more time for friends, for personal rest.

Life is a journey.  Spiritual growth is a journey.  I can have it all, just not all at once.  Each season brings new opportunities.  Each season requires saying no to some things, so others can be cherished.  As I read back through scripture I am reminded the Proverbs 31 woman lived a full life.  She too experienced and lived her life in seasons.  And most of all, I am reminded that what God desires I learn from her is her character traits- patience, love, perseverance, joy, hope.

Remember.  God has you in this season to do His work where you are at this time.  You won’t be able to do it all right now.  But over a lifetime you just might have the chance. Be patient, love well, persevere, and hope in the future.

 

Proverbs 31:10-31New International Version (NIV)

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

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Breathing,Breaking,Beholding

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I took a break from the blog.  I needed to step back, to really push through to the other side.  I began this blog as an accountability tool for myself.  It then morphed into an opportunity to share about my passion for home and organization, along with spiritual lessons.  Then one day, it just seemed there was nothing to say, my thoughts were dark and anxiety and bitterness were becoming more a way of thinking and living.

Somewhere between facing some changes in our finances, ongoing extended family relationship struggles, approaching the empty nest years, I began to spiral.  My thoughts were consumed with the “what if”…”why didn’t I”… “why does she” questions.  It seemed that nothing in my family relationships would change, and that depression and anger would continue to steal from our relationships.  It seemed at age 49 there were not many prospects for entering the workforce, engaged in something I was passionate about, creating a new identity for myself outside of motherhood.  The chaos of the world seemed to only confirm what I feared.  I was tired.  Anxiety woke me at odd hours, my chest feeling as though an elephant were sitting on it, and breathing was hard, shallow.  Fatigue kept me from moving, doing and too often the end of the day found me sitting face to face with regret, angry at myself for letting the worries win.

I would like to tell you that during my morning quiet time or a church service God spoke, pulled me from the pit.  I’d love to tell you about a “burning bush” moment, but that is not my story.  Instead, it has been a slow process, one that began with a desire to exercise, strengthen my physical being, burn off some steam.  I have slowly climbed my way out of the pit, dragging my body up the muddy hill, pushing, pulling, crying, laughing.

I joined a local gym and signed myself up for personal training.  I did it without talking to my friends or family (yes even my husband, which I do not recommend if you are on a tight budget).  I decided I had to do something on my own, for myself.  I needed to make just one small decision and just do something.  I am not going to lie.  I did it with a little bit of rebelliousness.  It has been amazing!  In a matter of thirty short minutes the trainer can push me through exercises that cause my heart to race, my muscles to ache and my body to sweat.  Learning to use equipment I didn’t know existed, pushing myself past that moment of “I can’t”.  At the end of each session with the last count done and the high five slap a sense of empowerment, accomplishment set in.  What I thought I could not do, I could do.  In fact not only could I do it, but I could do more than what was expected. Pushing myself physically, having someone to speak truth as I pushed, hurt, struggled, got me over the hump.  As I began to see and feel the difference in my physical being I began to realize how much I had let Satan fill my mind with his lies.  I realized that while I was a good Baptist girl who read her bible every morning, attended church and bible studies, I was not letting God’s truth fill my mind.  I was choosing to believe the lies, the distorted messages of Satan and it had and was robbing me of life.  I was focused on all that I didn’t have, on the hard parts of life and was ignoring all that I did have, all I had access to through Christ.

What began as a journey to renew my physical body has become a journey to renew my mind.  I have taken every negative thought captive and wrestled with it, searching out God’s truth.  Some wrestling matches have lasted months, while others stop and start. Some matches I have won and God’s truth reigns.  Everything about us, our thoughts and our actions, rest upon what we believe.  I believe I am the daughter of Christ, made in His image.  His Spirit resides in me and gives me access to His power, the power to overcome, to live free.

If you are struggling I want to encourage you.  Step back, breath, take a break and behold God’s truth.  Let each Word sink in.  Release the lies.

The funny thing is not a lot about my life has changed.  The truth is, I haven’t really changed.  I am still me, the girl I have always been, with the same personality, talents and gifts.  Depression and anxiety still have a hold on a family member.  My girls are still headed to college.  My husband’s business is still recovering from the economic crisis of a few years back.  I have had friends bury children, walk through divorce, and lose jobs.  The difference is what I choose to believe.

truth

 

What Does it Mean to Be Christian-Simply

It seems to me that somewhere in time the gospel became watered down.  The concern became more about “saving” others and less about personal relationship and accountability.  Focusing on others, and not ourselves, brings on judgement, condemnation, argumentation-all while the log exists in our own eye.

Raising children in a world where civil law mirrors scriptural morality less and less is difficult.  It doesn’t matter if you are talking about adultery, homosexuality, murder, slander, stealing, etc… The list is endless.  Why?  Because we are sinners. We live in a fallen world and each and every one has opportunity to make one single decision-the decision that changes everything.  Yet living in a world where social and civil law are far from biblical morality should be no surprise.  Scripture tells us about this world.  This world has always existed-a depraved and fallen world.  There is no doubt social media and network television amplify it, making us acutely aware, but it has always existed.

God’s word gives us very clear direction.  Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the One true God, and determine to follow Him in faith, we have but one great (greatest) commandment.  Contrary to what I see posted, it is NOT to love one another with abandon, with no teaching, equipping, encouraging, and accountability.  The one greatest commandment is this:

LoveAllHeart

I am to first and foremost love God with my entire being.  My relationship with Him matters most.  Am I following His commands?  Am I working to become more like Him each day?  Am I mindful of my own sin and seeking forgiveness and wisdom to change?  Those things matter most.  Out of a right relationship with God flows the ability to love others.  I am not equipped to love them as He does.  I am not judge.  I am not forgiver.  I am not savior.  I can only love them as I love myself, which pales in comparison to the love He extends.  I can only share with others what I know of Him.  I can only share with others what I have experienced of Him.  It is not a love that loves with abandon.  I do not love myself with abandon.  Like you, I am my biggest critic, and rightfully so.  If I am seeking to love God with all my heart, soul and mind, then I am seeking daily to shine the light on my own sin, to determine where I need to grow.  Most importantly though, it means my compass is His word, my standard for morality is not civil law or social law, but His law.

Today, my job as a wife, mother, friend, neighbor is to make certain my children and those around me know God’s word. My job is to encourage them and equip them to desire to know more about Him and to experience more of Him every day. My job is to remind them that we live in this world, but our home is in Heaven.  I am to teach them to put on the Armor of God.  (Ephesians 6: 10-18) I am to equip them to “live carefully-not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”  (Ephesians 5: 15-17)  This scripture is often used as a scripture reference by pastor’s exhorting us to make the most of every opportunity to witness, to go and share the gospel. That is not what this scripture is saying.  This scripture is reminding us to be careful, to realize the dangerous condition(s) we have or are slipping into.  It is a reminder to keep our standards high, to live according to God’s word.

Must we witness?  Yes.  In no way am I seeking to minimize or belittle our responsibility to share our faith.  However, if our eyes are so focused outward that we fail to see the depravity of our own lives, what good is our witness?  What if I focused more on HOW I lived being my witness and relied less on my mouth, my fingers posting to social media?

Coming to know Christ as your personal savior is a simple act of faith.  He requires absolutely nothing of you.  We must simply acknowledge one true God, who sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to live amidst humanity, and after being rejected by most, died on a cross that we might ALL have forgiveness.  He will always be rejected by many.  Yet, His blood still covers the sins of anyone desiring to know Him, follow His commands and live according to His ways.

I don’t agree with many, many things within our civil law.  I am thankful I am not of this world, but am of Christ.  I choose today to hold myself accountable, to speak truth to those with whom I have contact.  I will seek daily to be careful, to put on the armor of God.  I will train my children to do the same.  I will pray my actions are a testament to Him.  I will leave the judging to Him, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God.  I will not accept into my life anything that is not in accordance with His word, His will.  I will remember daily I am not perfect, I am a sinner, I am nothing without the shed blood of my Savior Jesus Christ. I will remember His love for me cost Him everything.  I will remember that He can not look upon sin.  I will remember He loves us enough to give us a choice-a choice to believe in Him, the one true God, to accept the Bible as the incarnate Word of God, complete and lacking in nothing, or to reject Him.  I will remember I am accountable for my actions, my words and no one else’s.  I will grieve for those who choose to reject Him and I will encourage and love those who accept Him.  I will live in accordance to civil law while on this earth, but I will live according to His word only.