Am I Destroying What I Love?

20140306-142442.jpgWhy do you think most churches are doing away with women’s ministry?

Statistically speaking, more women go to church than men. And there is a trend showing that more churches have a decidedly feminine feel to them. But, at an alarming rate, more and more churches offer less in the way of developing spiritual growth in women.

Can I be honest? We are our own worse enemy. We often times destroy the very things we love. We allow our personal insecurities lead us to deceitful behaviors. Lust, gossip, petty competition, and unnecessary comparison corrupt the very foundations of a body of believers.

Ladies, I want to challenge you. Examine your life. What are your motives? Are you choosing to glorify Christ? It is a choice we make every day. And it’s not the popular way to live. Choosing to put our flesh aside is a difficult calling. The world will justify your hate, excuse your anger, and indulge your senses. But ask yourself, “Am I about Kingdom business or my own business?”.

It starts with us. One chance to forgive, an opportunity to love, show mercy and grace when it’s undeserved, to lift up and encourage the strengths and gifts of others, to help with out judgement, to give without expectation……..

Where will you begin?

How can we be different here?

Teachable

photo-7I was at a zero on the motivation scale. Seriously, before I went to bed Tues night, I knew my schedule was going to be all crazy. Snow day, enough said.

Do it anyway.

It looks like such a small space. But, our family really can put a lot of things on a flat surface.

Dealing with one sheet of paper at a time. One unopened bank statement per account, per month for the past six months. Unused coupons. School work piled high. Why don’t I put this all in the recycling when it comes in the door?

Guilt and shame. Cleaning up clutter is a constant reminder of the things that get avoided.

Take a break. Lunch with the kids. They have been hiding in their rooms, hoping I wouldn’t ask them to help. I have made them each a pile of knickknacks, papers, books, hair clips, etc…. Take what you want and I will throw away the rest. My youngest asked…. “Why are you throwing it all away?” …. It doesn’t have a place here any more.

I went through it all. Every thing given a specific place and purpose. I sat down and sorted through the pens and threw away the ones that don’t work, the pencils too short to be sharpened, the notes and lists made months ago and never given a real priority. It’s exhausting.

My triumphs:

  • I haven’t spent a dime while I de-clutter. I have used things I already have around the house.
  • I overcame the moments of guilt. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by the feeling of inadequacy. I should do better than this, but I don’t. I am learning and changing and pushing through.
  • I am keeping track with photos. I love pics and I love seeing the progress. I hate the mess and it makes me feel shame, but when I compare it to the finished work, I am filled with confidence.

Today, was my greatest victory yet. My oldest daughter got up, snow day number two, a little late. We were making breakfast in the kitchen and she asked what was for dinner tonight. Walking over to my new binder system, she says…. “You fit all your binders in this little box?” …. pulling out the meal planner and says…. “I love tacos.” Putting the binder away, my 14-year-old put the box back where it came from.

I am so grateful that it is never too late to teach ourselves or our children a new way to do things.

 

Repeat

Steep Hill, LincolnPart of my training includes a weekly dose of hill repeats.  As a runner, hill repeats are like going to the gym, they make us stronger and help us work on our turnover and stride……

 

“Try and stay focused on the goal. “

Over and over, to the top and back down again. The gravel is loose. It’s cold. This hurts. 11 more, 10 more, 9 more……

 

“It’s going to hurt, but only for a minute.”

 

I seem to stop breathing as I push up the last half of the hill, causing my legs to feel heavier, carrying more burdens with no oxygen to give them strength.  Pain is truth.

 

My training constantly teaches me things about my real self. How easy is it to get distracted by the pain and repetition and lose focus on the goal, at the top? How many times have I felt the pain of the same road under my feet? How often do I stop breathing right when I need the most strength? How often do I give up because it isn’t easy?

 

Life will call us to the hill repeat many times. Often we find ourselves at the bottom, collecting our thoughts to begin the journey once again. Haven’t I already done this? Yes, you probably have. But are you getting stronger? Can you focus on the goal? Can you see the top, can you see where you are headed? Or, are you distracted by all of the obstacles along the way?

Transmit Power

Reduction_GearHave you ever watched gears turn?

My girls used to have these magnetic plastic gears. They would line up the teeth and create an enormous moving machine across the front of our refrigerator. Sometimes they would work perfectly and other times, not so much. They would be rearranged and worked on for a while to create the perfect moving machine.

Sometimes they would just spin the one large piece with the handle. But, it wasn’t impressive, it didn’t really do anything on its own.

Our own dreams and goals can work this way. We hold the one large piece, our beginning. We begin to move the piece in circles, creating energy. But, it has nowhere to go, no place to move the momentum, except in a perfect circle. In order for our goals to become the machine or life we want to be living, we have to connect the cogs, teeth, of the gears.

Each gear representing a piece or part of the working whole. If we miss a piece, we have to go back to the beginning and start over in order to find the missing gear. I can’t tell you how many dreams have started out with amazing energy and intention but get lost. I lose motivation when I can’t seem to get all of the pieces to fit.

As I continue my journey to clutter free my home, I am trying to get all of the pieces to move together. I can’t just take the first piece, throw away the paper and never move on from there. The goal is bigger than that. I want to live clutter free for the rest of my life not just long enough to get through March just to let the mail pile up again in April.

One of the steps I have taken is meal planning. What in the world does that have to do with clutter?! Well, it’s part of a bigger picture. It’s about the whole. No more unused coupons stacking up. No more exhausted afternoons with no plan on how to feed the family. We are also taking a better grasp on our finances, which means having a plan. No more unopened mail. A budget and purpose to all of the pennies that come into our hands.

I have been meal planning for three weeks and this is how I know it creates momentum. I am saving us more money. I am feeding my family better, which is a passion of mine. The better eating has given me more energy for my marathon training. Less rushed eating out means more time around the table with my husband and kids.

What was I saying about momentum?

The entire purpose of a gear is to transmit power. I want all of my gears, all of the parts to create the life I want, completely. Full of power and momentum. A strong machine capable and available to make my dreams a reality.

Layers, Like An Onion

onion layerLayers upon layers, like an onion.

That is life. And hopefully the goals we have for our lives. It’s layered. Full of big goals, challenges, triumphs, failures, and dreams that can feel as far away as the moon.

While I spend time challenging myself with these 30 day challenges, there are other things that I pursue on a daily basis.

1) I pursue God. With prayer, devotion and worship, I spend and will spend a lifetime in relationship with the one who has saved me.

2) I pursue my husband. A gift and blessing. A human relationship that gives as much as it takes. Almost 20 years in and it is my greatest joy and challenge.

3) I am a mother. Where do I start? This is a defining part of my life. It is who I am and what I do. It will last a lifetime and be my legacy.

4) My ministry. It shapes and molds me. Changes me. Trusting the calling God has for me is a real adventure.

5) My writing. A constant source of struggle. My hearts desire that is easy to put aside out of a fear of failure.

6.) I will qualify for the Boston Marathon. I love running. It is my therapy. My running teaches me the most about who I am and what I am capable of. 6 years ago I traded a 12 year smoking habit for a daily running routine. Running shows me the value of dedication. I don’t think I understood what it meant to truly endure anything for long periods of time until I started this journey. Why? Because today I ran a really great race. I am happy with training right now. I see progress and am feeling strong. Today was just a layer. It wasn’t “the” race. I’m still a long way off. I have been working hard for almost two years. I still have so much work to do. I have failed. I have cried. I’ve experienced triumphs and absolute defeat. And I press on towards the goal.

In all of these layers of life, I am learning an absolute truth. God has a plan for victory. In the book of Jeremiah, it says He has a plan to prosper me. “Prosper!!” My goals and my heart are all in His hands. It’s not a magic potion or luck. It is HIS plan.

I believe He blesses the work of our hands. A great marriage, amazing kids and my ultimate race will not drop out of the heavens into my lap. I must take the journey He has intended for me to live. Prospering may look entirely different than what I expect.

I will press on, with a heart for His kingdom. I will press on, with a heart for His love and people. I will press on, with the gifts He has given. I will press on, with my health and hope for His purpose. And daily I pray that he ignite the fire in me that desires to pursue and persevere through every step.

White Walls

white wallWe have lived in the same apartment for about 6 years. I hate it.

I suppose I should put a disclaimer on here, because I know I am going to sound ungrateful. So, please, read all the way through before you judge too harshly. Or, judge away, I know, it’s a bit of a rant.

When we first moved here, it was a great space. It was perfect for our transition to calling Tennessee home. We have a pool and a gym. People trim the hedges and fix my dishwasher the minute it is making a funny noise. All good things. Until, you don’t want to be in the space any more.

Nothing has a place. Well, things have places, they just don’t make sense because there are not enough cupboards. The carpet needed to be replaced when we moved in. It’s worn apartment carpet that after 6 years of kids, dogs and life is in desperate need of replacing. Did I mention the walls are white? Everything is white. It’s institutional.

I don’t know when it happened or how exactly, but the temporary arrangement became where we live. And every year our lease needs to be signed and we say “one more year.” I won’t go into all of the reasons for staying, but we are here and that is our reality.

I have always said that it doesn’t matter what four walls surround your family, that home is about being with the people who you love the most in the world. I believe that, I believe in the health of a loving family. I don’t think it matters the financial circumstances or the neighborhood. Life and home are about the ones we share it with.

But sometimes, I think the physical place we are in can help or harm us. Does it inspire you to create? Does the sun ever shine through the windows? Is it warm?

As I consider the institutional white and my lifetime of paper clutter, I wonder if my lack of care has caused some of my problems. I’m not going to make excuses. I am acknowledging my behaviors. At some point, I stopped considering this a home and I started resenting the white walls. I do just enough to get by here.

Waiting, I wait for the “reality” to change. I want to pack it all up and start fresh with new carpet and newly painted rooms.

As I consider my goal to clean the clutter, I’m asking myself….. “Do you want to take it with you?”

While I can throw away the junk mail, I can shred and file away the paper, am I going to change the part of me that lets it all go when it’s not the perfect situation?

Help, I Need Someone

When do you start? When do you make time?

Goals are funny things. They need a place in your priorities. The little steps you need to take to get where you are going ask for dedication.

Today was a hard day. I knew I had time to make a good dent in my clutter. I poured my coffee and stood paralyzed.

You see, just because I want to clear out the paper, I still have a lot of other things that need to be done. My primary responsibility is taking care of my home for my husband and children. No one is going to step in and take care of these things for me. Well, not unless I ask for help.

My clutter-clean-up goes in cycles. I’ve been here before. I’ve cleaned, sorted and shredded. What am I going to do different? How am I going to make it stick?

All the hope in the world isn’t going to change a lifetime of really bad habits. I have to do it differently. And I need to think differently about it.

I put aside some of my usual tasks to stay “on-task.” Compromises have to be made. A few tears were shed. I asked for help from my family. Asking for help is humbling and pride busting. Needing people is healing.

I made huge progress today. I’m using binders to help give everything a place and purpose. My husband is going to start checking the mail and throwing out the junk before it gets in the house.

20140205-221840.jpg
I cleared two major piles and 3 boxes. I also cleaned out my coupon binder that had expired coupons from 2011. Lord, help me!!

I also made dinner, did laundry, picked up kids from school, went to the recycling center and grocery store, ran 5 miles and made it to yoga.

My next step goal: Open every piece of mail immediately.

What little thing have you done today to take a step closer to your goals? Have you asked for help?

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