Sunday, December 4, 2011

Staying in the Loop

Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

Two years ago, I wrote several posts on this blog about things that I felt God had placed in my heart - namely, homeschooling and getting out of debt. I was extremely passionate about these goals and felt sure that God was leading me in that direction.

At the same time, I really wanted to get involved in the decorating blog scene, since I would literally spend hours pouring over blog after blog. This is evident as you scroll through my blog list. With my creative juices flowing and feeling bursts of inspiration, I made lame attempts at posts related to decorating. As much as I enjoy that kind of thing, I just never caught on enough to make it work. Decorating, it seemed, is not what God intended for this particular blog.

When I take a look at how much closer I am, after two years of supposedly working toward the aforementioned goals, I feel disappointed in myself and ashamed, to be perfectly honest. While I believe them to be legitimately things of God, the fact that I didn't dedicate my efforts to seeing them through left a big, huge void in my life. My interest in decorating caused me to spend money that should have been used toward getting out of debt - it was counter-productive to what I was trying to accomplish.

My efforts at getting out of debt have been weak, to say the least. I lack self discipline and I have not been seeking God's guidance the way I should. The willingness to sacrifice in order to see my dreams come true just hasn't been there. Those other interests, even though they aren't inherently bad, have simply taken precedence in my life over the most important thing of all. The presence of God. I've prayed about it, but I'm thinking that until I'm willing to listen and obey, God just isn't going to bless my half-hearted efforts.

We can't serve two masters at the same time. I believe that to be my answer. I just can't serve God and Pottery Barn at the same time. Pottery Barn and blogs I enjoy aren't evil by any means, but they stir a spirit of covetousness in me, and that is where the problem lies. So much to the point that it could very well be called idolatry.

It's taken way too long for this Truth to sink in. I guess it came at the right time, though, when I'm bound and determined to align my priorities with God's will. One step at a time. It's good to have varied interests, and I still enjoy the blogs I follow, but now I know that I need to work them into my priorities where they won't drown out what's most important.

What about you? Do you have a hobby or interest that may unintentionally take precedence over God's presence in your life? It's so easy for that covetousness and idolatry to sneak in without even realizing it. Take my advice, ask God to reveal it to you and nip it in the bud before the years slip by and you miss out on His best for you. You'll be glad you did!

Lord, thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for answering my prayers when I call on you and for showing me great and mighty things. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Is Coming


I've had such a wonderful day and I'm so glad it's Friday night! Friday night means I can stay up later than normal, can sleep until I wake up, rather than being rudely awakened by the alarm clock, and I can enjoy my Saturday morning coffee while browsing my favorite blogs. Friday nights are what I wait for all week.

Since Friday means fun to me, I thought I'd share some fun photos from last Christmas. This is the best time of year for me, by far. I love everything about the holidays. Everything except the fact that, living in the south, we never, ever have a white Christmas. Never, that is, until last year.

(these photos are straight from the camera and have not been edited, so please forgive the bad composition, poor lighting, and power lines)

Shortly after we opened our gifts on Christmas morning, we looked out the window and saw this...

Can you see them??

By golly, it's a blizzard outside!

This is the little country church across the road from our house. I just liked the way it looked in the snow.

I'm sure some folks from the north probably laughed hysterically at all the bumpkins down here getting so excited about a few flakes in the air. I spent a couple of winters in upstate New York, so I know how brutal the weather can be up there. I also recall the most beautiful of the many snowfalls being the very first of the season. Seemingly in slow motion, it falls so gently to the ground. It was so peaceful. And, other than the birth of my boys there, it was my fondest memory of life in that little northern town.

I think that's the appeal of these little snowfalls we get in the south. It isn't the amount of snow we get. It's the wonder of seeing the beauty of it falling from the sky and spreading a beautiful white blanket over the ground.

Plus, we don't have to deal with the black snow on the side of the roads in May.

We didn't really have enough snow to build a snowman or anything, but it sure was a sight to behold, for a little while, anyway.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Is This What It's All About?

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then, I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16 (NIV)

Ever struggle with purpose?

I do. I find myself sinking deeper and deeper into a rut that is eight years in the making. Each weekday morning, I wake up at 6:00 a.m., press the snooze button on my phone approximately five times before getting up to make coffee, shower, and proceed with my daily routine of getting the kids up and out the door for school. All this while getting myself ready for work. After work, I come home too drained to be functional in any capacity worthy to be deemed "motherhood."

While I know it was a God-send at the time they hired me, and I know I should be thankful for having a job when so many people don't (and I am, I really am), my job is so completely unfulfilling to me that I find it a daily struggle to focus on the actual work that I do. I leave work most days feeling emotionally drained from the struggle to focus on why I'm there. I leave knowing my employer deserves more from me.

It isn't a "dirty job" as Mike Rowe would define it. And it isn't physically demanding. It's actually a relatively cushy job. I work with great people who have been good to me over the years. I earn a good salary and have great benefits.

But I ask myself every. single. day. Is this what it's all about? Is this all there is? If I'm consistent in anything, it's in grumbling and complaining about my job on a daily basis.

So, what is it about my job that causes me to complain? I've discovered that it isn't my job at all. Not really.

As I sit behind my desk at work each day, my mind wanders to my family - my husband and my kids. I think about what they might be doing or how much longer until the kids will be home from school. Wishing I was there to greet them at the door with homemade cookies and a big hug. Wishing I could hear all about their day while making their dinner. I think about the troubles they have and wish I could be there with them more to really listen to them. Wishing I wasn't so impatient with them when I am with them.

Or, I wish I were able to sit down with my Bible and study at a time each day when I'm most likely to retain what I read. Instead, I either try to cram it in while eating during my lunch hour or I do battle with my eyelids at night. Sadly, more often than not, I simply opt out.

Or, I think about the many projects on my list that I could be working on, if only I were home. Projects that I begin with enthusiasm, but never seem to finish because I run out of steam and motivation while waiting for a good time to work on them in between mothering and working.

I also think about this blog. Thinking it would be nice to have the time to devote to it. I think of it often. I love to write. And I have a lot that I could write about. I'm sure someone out there deals with the same issues I do. And I know there are hundreds of folks with the same interests because I read the blogs. What, I wonder, am I supposed to do with this blog? Should I just consider it a nice thought, in theory, but just not realistic?

I think about a lot of things while I'm at my job. Just not my job. While these things are not bad things, thinking about them at work causes me to be a less than diligent employee. Something that leaves me feeling guilty, which tells me this isn't something God is doing.

I know that God gave me all these things in my life that I love and enjoy. He also gave me a job that I wasn't qualified for at a time in my life when I needed to have an income. And I needed to be surrounded by caring, Christian people. He provided what I needed, when I needed it.

Why do I struggle so much with focusing on my job? Why do I complain? Because I've let my own desires overshadow God's blessings and distort the Truth. I believe all the things my mind drifts to while I'm at work are good, God-given desires. But, I think there are things He needs to teach me before I'm able to receive them. I believe He's teaching me self-discipline and at the same time, He's revealing the gifts He's equipped me with. In exercising the one, I believe I will receive the other.

I've learned a little something about life in the last decade. The things that bring joy in life are gifts from a loving God. Our gifts fulfill a yearning in our spirits and our individual gifts and talents come easy to us. I don't believe that God gifted us with interests and abilities to merely use them whenever we can squeeze them in. I believe the secret to finding purpose lies in realizing our gifts and utilizing them in a way that edifies - not only ourselves, but others, as well - and in a way that brings glory to God. Once we realize His purpose in our lives, we need to receive it and continually seek His grace in fulfilling it.

I have so much more to offer my family than what I'm giving them. They deserve the best I have to offer. And the best I have to offer is not merely the weekends and a paycheck. I don't believe this is the way God intended it to be. But this is where I am right now. I've been very slow at learning the lessons He's been trying to teach me for so many years. Lessons about family, money, gifts, and faith.

Needless to say, I'm listening a little closer for that still small voice these days. The One I know would never steer me wrong.

Heavenly Father, I pray that You will grant me the grace to fulfill the purpose which you intended for me. Help me to balance the responsibilities of family and work that You have set before me and to do so with diligence and integrity. Help me to always work as if unto You without grumbling or complaining. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Linking to:
Beholding Glory