Time and Balance – Slow Down Time

It’s a funny thing how God never lets me forget how desperately I need Him for every moment, every breath.  Ever since agreeing to share on this topic my life feels like it has been a whirlwind.  Life is always a whirlwind, but before it felt like a manageable one, with fixed stops built in to most weeks.  Some were out of hand, but I guarded our time closely.  This year, though…oh, this year.  My comment last week to a friend was that my “new normal” is a constant sense of drowning.  So, I still have much to learn in the slow down department.  But I am well aware of the need and the distinct feeling that life was meant for more than all this crazy running around.  So how does the slowing down happen when the world seems determined to keep us all so busy?

For me it has required a real heart-change and a true lifestyle change, and it is a thing that is on-going, constantly re-examining, re-evaluating.  It is a thing that is specific to each woman and her family.  It begins by knowing your priorities and your limits.  Everyone’s priorities will be different.  My priorities are:  my relationship with Christ, an excellent marriage, my kids’ hearts, and an orderly home (easier to write on a screen than to execute in real life). Everything else in life has to come after that, except maybe the house keeping part….sometimes it has to wait, because as task-oriented as I am, I do know that people are more important than my to do list and the laundry and dishes will wait, while time won’t.   That said, we make time for what matters most to us. Yes, there are seasons of life when we are slaves to the tyranny of the urgent and we simply do not have time for something, but this should not characterize our life.  The things that are most important to us will consistently rise to the top of our to do lists and we will inevitably find time for those things.

The next part is knowing your own limits and learning to say no.  We all have different limits on how much we can juggle.  I am a poor juggler and I can always tell I have too many balls in the air by how the house is holding together, by how my children are treating each other, and by how I am responding to my children and my husband.  I have had to learn to say no to many things.  Things I want to do.  Things the children want to do.  Things that seem important or sound like just plain fun.  I cannot do everything in life and do it well.  I have to choose the things that I want to be excellent at and focus on those things or I will be mediocre at everything.

There are so many good opportunities out there.  Opportunities for our children, for our families, for us as women….it’s truly overwhelming, all the things we could participate in.  But if I say yes to all the good things, I may find that I miss out on the best things, and sometimes the best things are just being quiet at home, enjoying the people God has given us to live this life with.  Simple life, simple pleasures.

One wise (and Spirit-led) friend sent me this quote a couple of years ago.  I do not know what I had planned that day, I only know it was going to be an insanely busy day in which it would have been extremely easy to ignore or be unkind to my children and these words cut straight to my heart….

Busyness is not Godliness.  God is not impressed with your production capacity as much as He is concerned that the product of your home – your own children – be chiseled and molded and perfected to the best of your ability.  You may tire of this mundane task, but the Lord admonishes you not to grow weary and promises to supply the energy and strength as needed in this all-important task (Isaiah 40:28-31).  God’s strength is for what He plans for you to do – not stamina for everything you might want to do. ~ Dorothy Patterson

God has gently, over the past few years, been teaching me to slow down.  I look at my girls and that my oldest is a ten year old fifth grader and I see how quickly time is going. I want to grab it, to stop the hands of time, to gather up these moments and savor them.  If I am constantly going my own direction, doing my own thing, or too busy taxi-ing my children to every single activity they can or want to be involved in, then I cannot slow down to savor life.  Frank Clark (don’t ask me who he is) said, “A child, like your stomach, doesn’t need all you can afford to give it.” I might add that we as grown ups don’t either.

What about you?  If you look honestly at your schedule, what do you need to cut out?  What can you do to slow down the relentless rushing current of time?  May I encourage you to pray about it this week?  I know I will be daily.  I know life was meant for more than rushing all over town in my SUV.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

~Mark 6:31

*****

Next week we’ll begin discussing some  practical, every day ways to balance all we have on our plates.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Good Habits

It’s Monday morning.  Back to school, back to routine.  Cool, rainy mornings make the getting up hard.  Phone calls and text messages do their part to keep us off task.  We all struggle to settle in.

Slowly, slowly we all succumb to the schedule.  Well, all but one, who insists on marching to her own beat most of the time anyway.  The routine is good for us, even for the non-conforming child.  It gives us structure, order, stability.  Set activities, fixed times, moments when we know what happens next.

Just as the routine of school and work is good for our souls, so is the routine of weekly recording thanks.  Sometimes during the week, the listing is hard.  The gifts can be painful or the time can slip away too quickly and we forget to list with pen and paper.  But the routine is important because these everyday moments are the gifts and the things never to be forgotten or taken for granted.  This is the stuff of life and of greatness – laundry, dishes, school books, wiping tears, and sharing laughter.  These daily moments.  And for each one, I give thanks.

0834.  a good, normal week

0835.  sushi-making girls night

0836.  getting out of my comfort zone

0837.  ten miles

0838.  Pandora for iPad

0839.  unexpected goals reached

0840.  sore knees that make me slow down

0841.  these daily moments


Bookends

Two Weeks in Review

I’m at my little workstation in the kitchen.  The house is quiet but for the laundry tumbling, tumbling, tumbling in the dryer up the stairs.  A candle is lit and coffee is near at hand.  I hope to steal a few moments of the present to record the past before husband and children pour through front door and end the silence with joyful noises.

This morning, and the past two weeks really, was defined by a ten mile run.  It was out there.  Waiting for me.  Intimidating me.  Ever present.  I was so happy when I got up this morning, knowing it would be behind me in a few hours.  I know, there’s something wrong with me.  😉

When my running partner decided to train for a half marathon, I knew it was only a matter of time before she passed me in running ability.  Today was that day.  The last two miles were brutal and she (cheerfully) coaxed me along.  I briefly considered throwing her into traffic.  😉 The proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.” has come to mind many times over the past year of running with friends.  Even alone, I am not fast.  But with these two partners, I have maintained a greater consistency and endurance than I would have had alone.  And, today, I would likely not have finished the ten running if Nikki hadn’t been there.

With that ten behind me, I feel lighter and freer.  🙂  Except for my knees, which feel like death.

The balance of the past two weeks have been school and activities and normal life.  Grace finally got to celebrate her tenth birthday last weekend with her friends.  Outdoorsy girl that she is, she wanted a camp out.  And camping out in Kansas in August (when her birthday was) sounds like a little taste of hell, so we told her she would have to wait for the weather to cool down.  And cool down it did!  I did not pack enough bedding and we spent the night snuggling together in a borrowed camper.  But the little girl voices still going strong at 2:30 in the morning assured me a wonderful time was being had and the life-long memories really were worth the non-existent sleep that night.

Opening gifts with friends

Someone knows this girl well

Out for a morning "hike"

I love it out here

I was simply praying that no one would fall in

Ellie - No other explanation needed

Grace and Friends

Have a beautiful Saturday, friends!  Enjoy the creation He has made and give Him glory for it!

~ Sara

Falling Behind

I admit that I feel bad.  This is the second week in a row that Thursday and Friday have come and gone with no time to write.  The daily writing is an important exercise for me, so I feel like something is missing when it doesn’t happen.  This is all to say that I will post tomorrow and look back over the past two weeks and all the good gifts God is giving.

Thanks for your patience with my inconsistencies as I learn to balance all that God has given us.

~ Sara

Comfort

and a preview of what’s been sitting on my camera….

Grace and her friends at her birthday camp out

The education of our faith is incomplete if we have yet to learn that God’s providence works through loss, that there is a ministry to us through failure and the fading of things, and that He gives the gift of emptiness.  It is, in fact, the material insecurities of life that cause our lives to be spiritually established.

One way or the other, we must all learn the difference between trusting in the gift and trusting in the Giver.  The gift may last for a season, but the Giver is the only eternal love.

Streams in the Desert, October 5

May your Wednesday be blessed and may you be aware of His good gifts.

Time and Balance – Figuring Out Where to Start

It’s hard to know where to begin a lot of the time.  Whether it be with an organizing or cleaning project, home work, breaking or making a habit, or whatever else, we can spend a lot of time just thinking about what to do first.  Truth be told, beginning this series has been no different.  When I shared with the moms group, I wanted to save the most important points for last, to hold their attention (ideally) and to facilitate the memory of what I felt mattered most.  And also, thoughts and suggestions delivered in person are often received differently when facial expressions and verbal inflection can be used, than from a faceless, voiceless screen.  Here it seems we should start with what matters most, for if I spend weeks offering hints and tips, a reader may spend those weeks continuing to flounder when she could start out learning to grow and I will pray for God to speak to the readers, to impart the heart of the message and not all the human imperfections.

And so, we will start with what matters most – cultivating Christ.  Without His strength, grace, and peace, none of the rest of this works.  Without a relationship with Him, none of the rest of this matters.  We must first seek to grow in Christ, if we are to be fruitful in other areas.

Giving practical tips on how to organize your home or more efficiently manage your time, based on what gifts I’ve been given or things I’ve learned through the years, is simple enough.  You can take the tips or leave them.  But to come here and to attempt to tell you how to grow in Christ is a little different.  One’s relationship with her Savior is a much more personal, individual matter, and I am no expert in these things.  But I have walked sixteen years with Him, many of them stumbling and being carried, and He has been faithful to teach me every step of the way.  So perhaps, instead of telling you what to do per se, I can encourage you to press on, carry on, and follow hard.

The reality of knowing Jesus comes as result of hidden prayer, and personal Bible study that is devotional and consistent in nature.  Christ becomes more real to those who persist in cultivating His presence.” Streams in the Desert.

Cultivating Christ starts out simply – daily time with Him and asking Him to reveal Himself to you, to be present in your life, and to give you a hunger for His Word.  Nothing could be more within His will than for us to seek a relationship with Him, and the Bible tells us that when we ask for something in His will, He will give it.  Faith often requires acting on things unseen, so we must keep stepping out, trusting Him to be there.  Even when we don’t feel it, pursue Him.

There are many helpful things I hope to share in the coming weeks of this series, but the most important thing you will do as a woman, wife, mother, friend, is cultivate your relationship with Christ.  This has to come at the cost of everything else.  Nothing is more important than this.

Would you like to know more about a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Click here.

Streams in the Desert has been a life changing devotional for me.  God has used it countless, countless times to water this barren soul.  Click here to order your own copy.

Next week we’ll talk about the elusive idea of slowing down.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

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Worship

“A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.  But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him.” ~  CS Lewis

The end of last week was wildly busy; the weekend intentionally slow.  The pictures of our adventures sit waiting, impatiently, on my camera.  Words will have to be enough for today, and even of those, only a few.

Today, like almost every Monday, I worship by listing just some of the countless blessings of the previous week.

0817.  broken lamp

0818.  “keep calm and carry on”

0819.  husband in the ditch, but safe

0820.  AAA

0821.  a found purse!!!

0822.  city parks employee

0823.  Grace.  Immeasurable grace.

0824.  spontaneous lunch with the hubs

0825.  good school days

0826.  municipal wrongs forgiven

0827.  spotting half a dozen deer on our morning run

0828.  a cleaner house

0829.  tenth birthday camping trips

0830. an hour and a half of sleep

0831.  a slow Saturday

0832.  church’s annual fall festival

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

~ Psalm 19:14