Month: January 2013

This is the Way, Walk in it

Life change is hard. Whether you are trying to pick up better habits or lose bad ones. Change is hard. We fight hard, even if we desire to change, for things to remain the same. We work diligently to maintain the status quo, so when we get the bright idea to make a real change in our lives, something inside of us immediately mounts an offensive.

January is a notorious time to set resolutions to better ourselves. We’re going to lose weight, eat right, go to church, stop smoking. The list could go on and on. We rarely reach the end of January before most of our resolutions have fallen away. Real life change is hard.

This January I decided to exercise. And I did. Almost every day. It just about killed me to start with. Five minutes on the elliptical machine, and my body was screaming obscenities to my brain. It sounded a little like George Jetson screaming for Jane to, “Stop this crazy thing!” In those early few days, I would listen to my body and stop after a few minutes. I’ve worked up to a decent workout now, but my body still begs for relief. Every day there’s a struggle that goes on in my mind about whether or not the exercise is really worth it. Sometimes I decide it’s not. Change is hard.

My pastor talks about how we have to have change from the inside, before we can have real change in our lives. Change is a matter of the heart. Any kind of change. Our bodies are weak, our brains can reason us into, or out of, pretty much anything. So real life change has to come from the heart. A heart tuned into the One who loves us, and can facilitate real change in us, is the only way to lasting change. A changed heart can convince a mind and motivate a body. The Bible tells us in Isaiah 30 that when we cry out for help, the Lord will hear us and answer, and that even though we face adversities and afflictions, the Lord will point the way to go. His voice will say, “This is the way; walk in it”. And then, that we can then turn to the things that hinder us and say, “Away with you!”

The key is in listening to the right voice. Sometimes our own voice is our worst enemy. I have to work hard to hear the voice of God over my own. Yet when I can do it, when I can really hear his voice, that’s when my life changes. And that can happen any day of the year.

So Much To Do, So Little TIme

I’ve taken a break for a while from Cracked Pot Pieces. Sometimes you just have to be realistic about what is doable, and what is not. Women, in particular, seem to have a bit of trouble with this idea. It’s hard for us not to over commit ourselves. We hate to say no, we hate to let anyone down, but when we over extend ourselves, we let everyone down.

Just in the last year, I have gone back to working full time. It’s been almost twenty years since I worked full time. After I brought home that first baby boy, I dropped down to part time. It’s been that way until now. Now that baby boy is a sophomore in college, so back to full time work I went.

While I am most thankful for the employment, (College tuition is unbelievably expensive.) it’s changed some things for me. Most of which, if I am honest, I’m not really fond of. Full time hours means I am less available to do the things that I have always enjoyed the most about my life. I have always been available at any hour to all of my children. I have been available to help my ministry husband with whatever he needed my help with. I was able to spend time with my parents, friends, and I had time to enjoy the things that bring me personal pleasure. Things like writing. These days, with my free time so limited, I am having to pick and choose the things that I spend my time doing.

Back when I had time to read, I once read a book by John Maxwell about leadership. He wrote that he chooses carefully the things he will commit to. He has limited time also. He wrote that the return on the investment of his time must be great for him to commit to any activity or engagement. He has little time to waste. He taught me that sometimes its okay to say no.

I am learning how to manage my time better, now that I have so little of it. I am learning that I can no longer do everything, and that of the things I agree to do, I must only agree to do them if I can set aside the proper time to do them well, and if the return on my time investment is worth it.

My children and my husband still get top billing on the time that I have. There have been times in the last year where I have failed to be available for them. I am working on this. My hat goes off to full time working moms. You are master jugglers, for sure.

As my parents head farther into their seventies, I try to be available to them. I want to honor them and provide them the security of knowing I will be a good daughter to them in these coming years.

I want to be a good friend. Whereas I used to love my coffee and lunch dates with my buddies, I have had to say goodbye to those times for now. Thanks to phone calls, emails, texts, and Facebook, I can still keep up with my closest friends and feel like I have a connection with them. It’s not what I want, but for now, it’s the best I can do.

I lead a small group of wonderful women. I have set aside this couple of hours each week because we are called to live in community with one another. Together, we can grow in our relationship with the Lord. and encourage and challenge each other to keep the faith and press on.

I have recently, and with much prayerful consideration, agreed to add one more thing to my list of commitments. I have decided to be a coach for a couple of other small group leaders in my church. It’s something one of my very best friends suggested I do. When I whined and told her how little time I had to accomplish all that was already on my plate, she replied by telling me that I needed to do it. I needed to do it for me, and for the women I would lead. Okay. I decided the investment would be worth it.

So much of the time we women forget when adding things to our list of things that must be done, to work in some time for us. Just for us. It’s hard. We so often put ourselves at the end of the needs list. To avoid this, we must ask for wisdom and for the direction of the Holy Spirit to guide us in to making the most of the hours we have, while still allowing some time left over for ourselves to renew and refuel.

And so I have decided to pick back up my twice a week Cracked Pot Pieces blog. Whether anyone reads it or not, the writing is good for me. It’s therapeutic; as it helps me work through situations I am faced with daily. And should any of you find the time in your own schedule to read it regularly, I hope you discover a large enough return on the investment to come back again.

Happy New Year!

The hands of time have turned another page in history. 2012 is gone, and 2013 is upon us. What will this New Year bring to us? Many are happy to see 2012 fade away. For some it was a tough year of illness or loss, and they are looking eagerly to better days in 2013. For others, they hope the blessings of the last year will extend into the new one.

I sometimes think how funny it is how much we live by the calendar. I understand that marking the passage of time helps us to keep our sanity. Many prison walls are marked to keep up with the passing days. Still, I wonder if God is sometimes amused by our time keeping. What binds us, surely does not bind him. Deadlines that stress us, and full calendars that control us, must amuse him just a little.

What would happen if we cleared our calendars? I’m serious. What if we got out of bed every day, and gave over our plans, our appointments, and our agendas to him? The Bible tells us that his mercies are new every morning, (Lamentations 3:22-23) but most of us just jump out of bed with our minds full of what we have planned to do that day, and never stop to receive those mercies. We live our lives under our own might, our own strength. We scoot through our days accomplishing what we believe must be accomplished for that day, finding ourselves frustrated when someone, or something, thwarts our plans.

What if we took time each day of 2013, received the mercy of God, and allowed him to set our day’s agenda? I think our days, our calendars, would look completely different. The anxiety that full schedules and unmanageable lives bring would begin to fade. I think those things would be replaced with a greater life of purpose, and the things we could accomplish would amaze us.

The God of the universe has a unique plan for our lives. Can our unique plans for our lives compete with his? Do we really think we know better? Sometimes I do. Most times, I do.

What if for 2013 our New Year’s resolution would be to clear our calendar? What if we made room for his agenda each day? It means giving up control of our lives to his will and his way. For some of us, giving up that control is stressful, but what if we tried it? How about we start with January? Let’s give him January and see what happens. We can easily take back the reigns come February first, and begin fixing whatever it is he has messed up.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? Of course it does. We know in our hearts, full well, that if we hand our days, calendars, schedules and lives over to him, we won’t be able to comprehend what he has in store for us. He can do immeasurably more than we can even ask or think. (Ephesians 3:20)

Let’s just face it. That’s a bit scary.

For God to do immeasurably more than we can comprehend can actually cause us to hold even more tightly to our lives. But what if we let him? What if we gave him January? Thirty-one days to let him do whatever he wants. We wake up every day, and give him our schedules and our plans. We allow for his adjustments and rewrites. We stop seeing traffic jams, schedule delays, and interruptions as problems and understand that they are all happening right on schedule. His schedule. When our paths cross with others, we’ll know those are divine appointments.

Of course, we could keep on with the way we’ve been doing things, but why would we? Why would we when there could be so much more? Let’s start every day of January 2013 with a conversation, a meeting with the Almighty to set the agenda for the rest of the day. You might just be surprised by where your days take you. It’s just thirty-one days. What could happen?