Necessary Changes

Christmas is over. And now the New Year is nearly upon us again. I have been thinking about the changes I need to make in 2019 for about the past six weeks. My phrase for the new year is “Recalibrate Life.” I want more whitespace in my days and on my calendar, and that won’t happen without focus and intention.

It seems second nature to me to want to “do.” I choose to be busy every moment. I rescue and respond. I plan and press on. So, in order to create more whitespace, I need to evaluate my choices more closely.

I especially need to consider why I am choosing to do the things I choose. Because for me it is often about earning love, even though I make it look like I am giving. But, in reality, it all leaves me resentful and exhausted.

So what do I need to change? I need to give serious thought to what is life-giving. Pushing and pressing-on constantly are not life-giving, instead they are sucking life right out of me.

Creating whitespace does not mean emptying time for staring into space and being bored. Instead for me it means taking time to breathe, to breathe deeply, to be present in the moments of life. I need to slow down and enjoy the “living of” and “being in” life.

You know, like the slow chat I had with a friend as we watercolored in our journals and had lunch in a local coffee shop. Moments like that where time slows and you are only attentive to what matters. In this case it was sharing with my friend and brushing colored water across my journal pages.

I am realizing in order to have more of those moments I need to expect less of me. It will not happen if I have 20 to-do’s on my daily planning page. It won’t happen if my mind is racing and I am buried in “being responsible” for everyone and everything. So I have to say “no” more. I think, in reality, for me that means telling myself I can’t do it all. I have to slice out the unneccesary and intentionally focus on the essential.

I need to ask for help more and let go of so many expectations. It means less proving and looking for acknowledgment.

Life-giving moments of whitespace will be ones that are about creating, enjoying, breathing, and playing. Those moments need to be tucked in all of life. In solitude and in time I share with the Lord and with loved ones.

I am realizing too much of life has been about the end result, the accomplishing the end goal. And in being so hyper-focused on that, I have missed the actual moments of living and loving this gift of life the Lord has given me.

Along with these, I will be focusing on knowing God as my Provider, the One Who knows and sees my needs. A big part of this will be an intentional study of rest, space, simplicity, and Sabbath. I have made a list of books I want to read in 2019, just one book a month. I want want to really take it all to heart and live out their practices in my day-to-day life.

Learning about rest, space, simplicity, and Sabbath will naturally lead me to know the Lord more as my Provider. Just as choosing to abandon outcomes teaches me of His Sovereignty, learning to trust Him with my time will help me me see His prevision and provision for me. He holds my time. He has a plan. He is in control. He is responsible. Trust.

Trusting more, and learning more about trust will be key as I walk through this new year of recalibrating life.

What about you? Are you contemplating any necessary changes for 2019 in your life?

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God Will See to Our Need

A few days ago I had lunch with a sweet friend. As we watercolored in our journals, we chatted. She shared about the word she chose for 2019 and then explained that she was also choosing a name of God for the year. I really liked that idea of choosing a name of God, and immediately my brain started trying to decide on one. I didn’t come up with one at that moment, but later prayed for the Lord to show me what He wanted me to learn about Him.

In Genesis 22, we read about Abraham obediently taking Isaac to the mountain so he could follow the LORD’s command to sacrifice Isaac. The horror of it must have ripped at Abrahams heart, yet that is not what the Bible tells us about. Instead it shares about Abraham’s trust and obedience. And then, just when he is about to kill Isaac the LORD stops him, and Abraham sees a ram in the thicket. There the LORD provided the sacrifice, and it is from this place in Scripture that we learn of the name of God, Jehovah-Jireh. God will provide.

The Lord has shown me throughout this year my need to abandon control. He has consistently demonstrated His faithfulness in so many situations in so many amazing ways. So as I look forward thinking about 2019 I realize this is the name of God I want to focus on. I want to look, with an evermore abandoning trust, for Him to provide in my life. Well, the abandoning trust will have to grow in my heart as the Lord works with me, but that is my hope.

Jehovah Jireh can be translated God Sees, God will Provide, or God will see to our need. As I studied this a little, I learned about the word “prevision”, God sees our need before we even know it, and that prevision leads to His perfect provision. He has made this truth real to me in many ways in 2018. He has been leading me to learn to trust Him more. I now am realizing how my understanding of the concept of “prevision” really can help me to trust. When I realize, recognize, and acknowledge that He sees to my need and prepares the provision apart from my worrying and fretting, I learn to rely. I can then find peace in the trusting. I know I knew this cognitively, but I feel like He has made it real to my heart in deeper ways. I want to continue on that path in 2019.

We can see God’s prevision throughout the Old Testament as we see verse after verse pointing to our coming Savior. And, in a few days, we will once again celebrate His provision. Jesus, our Deliverer, born as a baby, sent to us out of the Father’s love. He saw a our sin-sickness, and knew our desperate need for hope and He provided.

Thank you Heavenly Father for giving us the greatest gift! You will see to my need, Jehovah Jireh. You are ever so faithful. You will see to our need. Help each of us trust you more!

Again, I must say, what an amazing God we serve. The way He weaves all of life together to teach us His truths is mind-boggling.

Merry Christmas!

Roadblocks and Forced Stops

Have you ever taken a road only to find it’s a dead-end or there’s a roadblock keeping you from traveling on? It can be extremely frustrating, especially if you are running late or just in a hurry! Or if you are dead-set on having your way!

I was all ready to go, and so looking forward to the women’s Christmas event, then I went to the garage only to find my left front tire extremely low on air. I immediately knew I couldn’t drive my car like that without ruining the tire. So I went back in tbe house in tears, I had so been looking forward to attending this and now I was stuck. I felt sad and frustrated, and rather than seeing my being stuck home as a gift, I saw it as me not getting what I wanted. I pouted like a little child after being told a final “no.” I cancelled the other plans I had for the day and pushed through working at Saturday housework.

Now this past weekend came with our church’s Christmas sing-along, and early on in the weekend I found myself coming down with a cold, my sinuses plugged and a throbbing headache. I went to sing-along sick, but only sang a few songs. It felt disappointing.

I have been pushing hard through life being all-responsible in making sure my mom has gotten the care she needs and taking care of everything involved in that. I didn’t stop doing anything else in my normal schedule, my “plate” overflowed with too much. I refused to say “no”, I refused to give in to my exhaustion, I pressed on.

I had breakfast with my brother last week. Sometimes the Lord speaks through the unexpected. My brother and I have been arguing about how I am handling things. I felt misunderstood, unappreciated, and angry. He finally told me, “You have to stop, you can’t do it all, either you choose to stop or you will be stopped,” He went on to list ways I could be stopped, telling me it could be a heart-attack, or cancer, or a car accident…and the list of horrors went on. I heard his words and set them aside, I didn’t have time for any of that! Well, when you refuse to listen the first time the Lord will repeat His words.

I am reading Shelly Miller’s book “Rhythm’s of Rest” and a few days ago I read about forced stops. She says,”We can interpret interruptions as roadblocks to peace or as moments for deepening relationship, trusting in the path God dictates.” Reading it made me stop and think about what my brother had said as well as the things that have been happening. I interpreted both “interruptions” as roadblocks to peace, because I only wanted my way. Later in the chapter Miller goes on to say, “God wants our attention no matter the circumstance, we must be willing to surrender.”

The tire with low air, and the sinus gunk were opportunities to say no to good things because the Lord knew my body desperately needed rest. I didn’t get it. Like a stubborn child, I wanted what I wanted!

The Lord loves us so much and wants the best for us. He knows the fragility of our human bodies. He knows we just cannot keep going and going pushing on overwhelmed with stress.

He lovingly gave me two opportunities to take time to rest and I chose my own way. The first time I set to work out of anger and frustration. The second time I chose to go to an event even though I was sick.

Sometimes the good things we plan are not really the best things for us. I see now that I need to be more aware, and look and listen for the Lord to really show me what He wants for me. When my schedule is already overflowing and I am already beyond exhaustion, I do not need to add more to my to-do list even if it seems like they are fun and relaxing activities.

My eyes need to be on the Lord rather than on all I have to do or want to do. He wants relationship with me, He wants to show me His loving-presence. He wants the best for me. He wants to take care of me even when I forget or lose sight of caring for myself.

How are you doing this busy Christmas season? Are you taking time to listen to the Lord? Are you finding time to rest?

Where is Your Treasure?

A big part of recalibrating my life is simplifying. It seems that we are very good at accumulating. Year-after year we purchase or acquire more things, and we add more activities to our calendars, saying yes to people along the way.

Moving Mom has been a huge amount of work. Through the years she collected a menagerie of things, and has put her treasures in a box to save for someday-maybe. You know, “I may need this…” or “I would like to read this but there isn’t time now.” So now, there are stacks of boxes with items from years ago, and it seems there may be unknown treasure in each one.

Do you have those kind of boxes too? The ones with things that seemed too-precious to get rid of at the time, so it ended up on a stack with other boxes.

Christmas is nearing, and many are bustling about buying gifts, more jewelry, more appliances, more technology, more toys, and the list goes on. I have to confess, with all the chaos of moving Mom, any shopping for Christmas has been left for another day.

I come home from hunting for another “treasure” Mom knows is somewhere in a box that she definitely wants to keep and begin looking around my house only wanting to get rid of things. I don’t have much desire to go out and buy more stuff. Our stuff may initially seem like a treasure but in time becomes a burden. The cleaning, sorting, reorganizing; it all takes time. So, I ask, where is your treasure?

I want my house, my calendar, and life itself all to be lighter. I am realizing how easily I can be pulled off track, distracted by this want, or that desire. Oh, it may just be a passing whim, but somehow I accumulate stuff to satisfy it, and then as time passes the desire is replaced with a new desire and it starts all over again. It becomes a vicious circle of greed.

The Bible says, “For where your treasure is, there  will your heart be also” (Luke 12:34). Jesus wants our hearts. He is God’s Christmas gift to us, and He truly is to be treasured above all. All of life needs to flow out of life with Him. And life with Him is about the “easy yoke” and “the unforced rhythms of grace”(Matthew 11:28-30).

This month I am gleaning from the book of Luke, a chapter a day. Jesus’ life was about what came out of His time with His Heavenly Father and that abiding. It was not rushed or hurried. He focused on loving others, spending time with others, enjoying meals together, talking with, teaching, and healing. He developed relationships, and touched lives.

Simplifying life means narrowing my focus and intention to the essential. The track of recalibrating life by simplifying means getting rid of the unnecessary and focusing on the important and for me I want to focus on treasuring Christ and what is important to Him. Holding less tightly to things and all that makes you crazy-busy.

This month, as Christmas fast approaches, I have not had time to shop feverishly for lists of gifts. But I have been trying to set aside a few hours, here and there, to spend with those I care about. All too often in the past I have gotten caught up in the shopping and decorating craziness. This year I have not had time nor energy. But I am going to bake 20 big fat gingerbread men for putting together plates of Christmas cookies for gifts at church. I will attend a women’s Christmas gathering at the church a part of my extended family attends in order to spend a few hours with them. I plan to go to a Christmas sing-along at my church. I am going to take time to make some cinnamon dough ornaments to enjoy the relaxation and the smells. And I also will make a simple dinner for a few guests we want to have over through the holiday season. My husband and I already have had special  moments of time together, grabbing lunch, sitting in a favorite coffee shop, helping a neighbor, and watching a movie. We are continue to make choices for quiet. Choices, focus, intention. I can’t do it all, but I can do some things. I still will need to buy a few gifts to wrap, but it will be much different then in the past. As I said the treasures we pack away, soon become burdens, but the memories we pack in our hearts can be treasured forever. We can help boost our memories by taking a photo, or making a journal entry about the special time. These are always fu. to look back on.

I started a small “recalibrate life” journal where I am just recording those special quiet, precious moments where it isn’t all about the hustling and bustling, but instead about the breathing deeply and enjoying.

And as I walk around the house, looking in a closet, glancing at a bookshelf, I am constantly evaluating each items necessity. The boxes that are accumulating in my garage are boxes for Salvation Army, not storage.

I don’t want my “treasures” accumulated in boxes on shelves in my basement and garage. I want what I treasure to be about loving, creating, playing, finding joy, celebrating, breathing; and I want it all to be slow. Not frantic and rushed, not overwhelming and exhausting. I want quiet moments where I share time with others in focusing on mutual interests. I want it all to center around and flow out of my love for Jesus and His great love for me.

He has blessed us with the love of family and friends, with talents for creating, with reasons for celebrating, and with time to play, maybe that means building a snowman with a child, making dough ornaments with a friend, just for fun, or playing cribbage with a neighbor. Time spent together is a wonderful gift to give and it is a beautiful demonstration of love. I want my heart to be filled with Christ’s love and then I want to share that love moment-by-moment.

So, once again, I ask you where is your treasure? Is it in a box somewhere? Or in a relationship in which you celebrate special moments? Is it about love or greed? Our motives are hard to determine at times, but being intentional in how you think about “treasures” may help. I know it has helped me.