I remember, before I was even pregnant with my firstborn, Anchor, I made some pretty massive commitments to myself. I had babies smack in the midst of all of my friends (not the first to get pregnant and not the last). I watched as beautiful, passionate, talented, independent women began to disappear and drown- not in motherhood, but in society’s expectations of them, as if they had suddenly given up their rights to the life they lived before. It wasn’t a conscious transition, and every one of them experienced it to varying extremes; but I heard it in their conversation, in the way they spoke about the past and future, in the words of advice given to new mothers (advice that really sounded more like a warning of what was to come). I saw an incredibly selfless, strong, but beat down woman in front of me who legitimately didn’t see her youthful dreams as possibilities anymore. This was my unexperienced perspective before having children; and, to be honest, I was terrified of becoming that woman. So, I made a list of promises to myself. The top of this list was: “I will fight for myself.”
People, however, are much different from tasks. People are complex. They can sometimes be complicated, needy and intricate. They require attention, relationship, and time. So how does a task person like myself prioritize the people around me? I kind of hate to admit it but sometimes I think of people as tasks. I put them on a list, make a goal of relationship and am slowly checking them off as they turn from people into friends, and alter from tasks into life. This has been something I’ve been pursuing particularly with those who live nearby, my neighbors.
My neighbors are no longer tasks, they are my life. And I haven’t checked them off my list, because I’m not finished yet. I’m so humbled that God has placed me at my current address and chosen me to show love to my neighbors.
One of my favorite things to do each December day is get up before anyone in the family is awake, go downstairs and in the dark, turn on only the lights of the Christmas tree. While sipping coffee and my Bible in my lap, with just the twinkling of the Christmas lights, I spend time with my Savior. It is such a sweet time. I look forward to it all year long. There is just something about staring at the lights of the tree and pondering the God of the universe who chose to come down from heaven Himself, in human flesh, to show us how much He loves us. Morning after morning, this renews my focus. This intentional and special time with Jesus fixes my eyes on Him, encourages me to lean in to Him, fills me with His Spirit and helps me keep this season about Jesus and not what the world has made it to be. This time with Jesus overflows into the rest of my day and becomes a gift to my family. My heart is full. My focus is clear. My joy is real.
Whether you are looking forward to Thursday, or attempting to wish it away, I want to pose a challenge. Is it possible to view Thanksgiving, not as only a holiday, but as a choice of our will that directs our attitude?
At times, we can be so overwhelmed by our circumstances the thought of being thankful for them, knowing that He sees the end from the beginning, when we can’t, is repugnant to us. I challenge you; I challenge me, to start by bringing our needs to Him.
There is a much larger reason as to why so many teenagers and millennials are leaning towards witchcraft (or other similar mediums) for guidance. I believe it is because we are created to look to the supernatural for direction, and many are not finding it in the Church.
As human beings, we have a deep sense that there must be something beyond us. Even though many Americans would say they are not religious, a recent study said that 89% of Americans still say they believe in a god or a universal spirit. It is in our very DNA to long for something beyond us, and we crave a connection to the supernatural. Almost every person still prays to something when her or she is about to get into a car accident or a close friend is dying. All humans are desperate for something beyond them, and yet, so often in modern churches, people go to a church service and leave without ever connecting to the supernatural. Christianity to many people is a good, moral worldview, but in reality, seems absent of any sort of real power.
I decided to take a break from the computer and get a bite to eat. After eating my frozen meal (quick and easy so I could get back to “writing“), I went outside to bring in my Amazon delivery and saw an unexpected bag from another store. What was in that bag brought me to tears, gave me the topic for this blog, and reminded me of what God wants us all to remember. In it was a new coffee maker, given in love from dear friends, secretly delivered by them to my front porch. Why? Because my existing maker has decided to be temperamental, and won’t always work. And, my friends know me…they know I don’t function well without my coffee… they know what is going on in my life and want to help in any way they can… they care… they love as Christ loves.
After I dealt with the children and we came to a resolution, I realized something about the situation. I saw my own actions in the root of this fight, which is being quick to judge. My sweet children were replicating what they see in me. Ouch! I reflected back on times in which my first response is often a judgment statement instead of a question to clarify behavior.
“Just hear us out. You’re only 21. You have your whole life ahead of you. You have to be sure about this.”
As I listened to them talk me through the reality of my situation and tell me that this could all be over if I wanted it to be, I sobbed and pleaded with God for answers. For a split second I did just want it to all go away. As quickly as the thought entered my mind I became nauseous with indignation.
One of the best things I did as a young mom was to begin taking a Sabbath rest. Did I have time for it? No. Was it a necessity? I learned the answer to that question was YES! When my third child was about 12 months, I was overwhelmed. This wasn’t the first time I was overwhelmed as a mom, but this time I was about ready to give up. My temper was getting short, my patience low and my energy level was below zero! Have you ever been there? Don't get me wrong, I loved being a stay at home mom, but I was EXHAUSTED. What could I do? I couldn’t see an end in sight where I could refuel.
I take my eyes off of my own race as a mother. I begin to look at how other moms parent their children, or how successful their life appears juggling and multi-tasking the demands of a busy family. It is particularly hard when I see someone a few steps ahead of me in a season of life; I begin to unfairly compare my life to hers.
Social media and the world of comparison we live in with "selfies" and documenting the highlights of each day taunts us constantly. It is as if the runners around us flaunt the fact they are running the race better and faster. We become distracted and consumed and our eyes begin to wander.
Trust His perfect plans for you, even when He speaks the word immediately to you.
There were days when I wanted to ask the disciples if they ever looked back, if they missed just being a fisherman or if they missed their friends and families?
Then I hear Jesus’ words from Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Social Media pretty much feels like middle school all over again. Why do we do this to ourselves? The drama of who has more likes, who can post the best vacation pic, who has the most creativity, who has the coolest VIP encounter consumes every post. I mean, seriously, it feels like social media is the perpetual state of living out middle school drama no matter how old we are!