Monday, March 23, 2015

And so, goodbye

A few years ago I was doing a Beth Moore Bible study - I think it was James - when something she mentioned really struck a chord with me.

She was talking briefly about how we need to know when it's time to let go of something and allow someone else to do it. This can be a pretty difficult thing to do, especially when you know God called you to it in the first place. Her example was teaching a Sunday School class at her church. She had done it for years, but there came a point when she realized there was someone else ready to take over, so she had to step back and make room for this new teacher.

I have trouble letting go. I'm going to blame it on my dislike of change. Sometimes I cling so hard to things I no longer have a claim to, even though it ends up bringing me stress or tangles me up. When I get to do something God has called me to, I throw myself into it wholeheartedly, I am so excited about it. Several years ago that was teaching my own little Sunday School class of two and three year olds, as well as coordinating our church's toddler church program. I loved every single minute of it and it took me a few years after I knew God was asking me to take a step back before I was actually able to.

I struggled with whether or not I had heard Him correctly. It's hard to grasp the idea that God could call me to be used by Him in the first place, so when I get used to the idea, it's even harder to understand when He calls me out of it. I was only able to finally let go when He placed a new thing on my plate, because I needed to know that yes, He did indeed have a purpose for me and a use for me.

That thing was writing. I started blogging almost 10 years ago - that's crazy when I think about it! Our oldest son was the same age as our littlest mister is now. It took me a few years to find my groove, but when I did, I was suddenly taken aback by the thought that God would use me in such a neat, new way (because that was back in the olden days even before such excellent sites as (in)courage). Who knew online ministry would actually be a thing?

Five years ago, I was called to let it go. And for five years now, I've clung tightly to it (some months a lot less tightly than others). I haven't wanted to let it go, because I really did love it. And in the midst of all that writing, I discovered the true meaning of community, God grew me, and taught me what it is to hunger after His word. He helped me to see it's not what I think I can do that matters, but what He knows I can do, and what He can do through me when I'm willing.

So I've flirted with letting it go, always letting myself be pulled back by an encouraging comment (thank you for those!), or a desire to be heard, or a need for purpose in a season of waiting. Not good reasons, I'll admit.

But lately, He's been nudging me to let it go completely. To move aside and let the other voices have their turn. Oh, there are so many beautiful voices out there! And He promises that He will have something for me, I just need to wait a little longer.

So friend, this is hard, but this is goodbye. Last year I learned that it's only in the letting go am I really able to embrace what His good plans are for me, whatever those are.

Those of you whom I've known for what seems like forever, thank you. Thank you for being my community, for being my people. You've challenged and encouraged and blessed me so much more than you even realize. And those whom I've only just recently encountered, I'm thankful for you, too. I'm thankful for your voice that draws others closer to Him, including this girl who really needed to finally just be quiet and listen to what He's been saying to me for so long now.

Whatever it is that God is calling you to, friend, do it wholeheartedly. Do it mightily. Do it for the season He has given it to you for, be it five days or five months or five years, and know that He will bless each moment you do. But don't be afraid to let it go when He says it is time - the things He has in store afterward are just as beautiful, just as purposeful, just as good.

Because He is good. All the time.

See you later, friends. If not this side of heaven, at least the other where we can drink coffee and laugh and worship Him unending together.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Book Review:: The Fringe Hours

I'll admit it. I chose to read this book because I really wanted some more time for myself.

As a mom of four, that's practically a pipe dream. I mean, what mom truly has time to herself? Between the laundry and the cooking and the potty training accidents and the working and laundry and the requests for help with homework (did I mention laundry?), some days feel like I either need more hours or more me.

As it turns out, I really do have more time than I thought.

Jessica Turner's book, The Fringe Hours, is a helpful tool to getting your priorities back on track. She tackles finding and maintaining balance, ridding yourself of guilt and comparison, ridding yourself of time wasters (or at least managing them) and learning to embrace the small pockets of time, a.k.a. the fringe hours, to invest in your own self-care.

I struggle a lot with the whole concept of investing in me. I feel rather selfish about it - I mean, I'm already pretty self-centered, is it even possible to think of myself more?

But as I continued to read about the value of making time for the things we love to do, I realized it wasn't a selfish concept at all. Truly, when we take the time to do things we love to do, for however short a time, we finish feeling refreshed and ready to face that never dwindling pile of laundry with new energy.

The Fringe Hours has made me really analyze how I use those small moments in my day - and I was surprised by how many I actually have. It's made me think about the things I do and whether they are life-giving or life-taking. And more importantly, in doing so I am able to begin to look at the have-to's as things I get to do, because I am more able to be thankful for the mundane again.

I was provided with a free, digital copy of The Fringe Hours from Revell Publishers for my honest review. You can also join the (in)courage Bloom book club to check out what other readers are saying about this book.

Friday, March 6, 2015

On refreshing

I mentioned a few days ago I am currently reading the book, The Fringe Hours.

I'll admit, at first I was mildly skeptical. It just seem so selfish of me to try and carve out more time for just me. I'm already pretty good at that.

But as I keep reading, I'm beginning to understand the heart of what she is saying. In order to have more to pour out on others, or even just enough, we have to be taking care of ourselves, spiritually, physically, and mentally.

So here's the thing. I'm usually pretty good at carving out quiet time first thing in the morning for just me and God. And I'm usually pretty good at taking care of myself - you know eating properly and exercising (although I could probably eat a little less chocolate. Just keeping it real!).

But when it comes to how I spend the rest of my down time, I've realized that the things I am doing are more draining than life-giving.

I love to craft. I really do. A few months ago, I grabbed my hot glue gun, some sticks, and a couple of old votive holders and made the cutest little rustic candle holders ever to grace my piano top. It took me maybe a half an hour, but it rejuvenated me for days. I still smile when I look at them.

As a rule, however, I tend to spend my extra moments wasting time online, or playing the most annoying solitaire game on my iPad (I say annoying now because I am stuck on a level. When I'm winning, it's not so annoying). Too much of this leaves me feeling drained and empty and unable to cope with daily stresses. Like a three year old melting down because yes, his big brother really does have to go to school and can't stay home and play trains.

It's causing me to step back and really evaluate how I am using my fringe hours. I usually avoid dragging out my scrapbook albums or my knitting or the book I am reading because I dread the interruptions, or I feel like I won't get enough done to feel like I've accomplished something.

But I think I need to do just that. Not to selfishly wile away hours while neglecting my family or leaving chores undone. But to spend even just a few moments refreshing my spirit in ways that are meaningful to me.

I forget that sometimes those little things can be every bit as spiritual, because God created us with the desire to do them.