Spring Cleaning

I am not a naturally tidy person. My husband and I joke that my tolerance for filth is higher than his. Considering I had a housekeeper at age 21 when we met, I’d say he had plenty of notice!

Most messes don’t bother me much. I have no problem overlooking the pile of dishes in the sink, the multi room fort the kids like to create, or every pillow from the entire house stacked into a mountain. 

But the one mess I cannot tolerate is an unswept floor. There is nothing worse than a wet sock from stepping in spilled water or brushing crushed pretzels off of your bare feet. Ok, maybe childbirth is a little worse. 

If I do no other housekeeping task in a day, I will sweep the floor. I usually use my hard floor vacuum but every so often I’ll use the broom. My kids always ask, “Why are you sweeping the old fashioned way?!” 

It always amazes me the amount of mess I sweep up from just one day. The piles look like something from an episode of Hoarders! But despite how disgusted this makes me feel, it reminds me of how quickly our lives can become cluttered when we aren’t careful to maintain them. And like my floor, clearing the clutter of our lives is an everyday job.

Romans 12:2 tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of your minds” but many people think this is a one time thing. Imagine how much trash I would sweep up if I only swept once a month!

Many believers expect the trash of their lives to be handled with a one hour service on Sunday. We come to church and sing and clap and pray (maybe), then head back into the week and allow the dust of life to gather.

We have to be intentional about daily removing the things that clutter our minds and spirits. Do you have a daily practice of reading the Bible? Do you make time each day to talk to God? Do you feed your spirit with faith-filled words? 

If you aren’t careful to daily sweep out the junk of everyday living, it will begin to pile up and before you know it, what could have been a 5 minute chore could end up taking much longer.

If you haven’t already, make time to spend with God today. Ask him what areas of your life have hidden clutter you may not even see. Ask him to guide you in your day. Welcome him to be a part of it. It’s a practice that seems so small but if it’s skipped, you will notice!

Coffee and Cat Food

My total was $78.13. We had run out of two things we can’t live without. Coffee and cat food. If my cat doesn’t have food, I won’t have a good day. If I don’t have coffee, no one will have a good day. I’m a person who plans. I make grocery lists, meal planning lists, cleaning lists. If it can be made into a list, I make it!

I love checking off boxes and slashing through tasks. It gives me such a rush! What I don’t like is the unplanned. I bet you’re wondering if I spent $78.13 on just coffee and cat food. It wasn’t organic cat food or artisan coffee that ballooned my total to almost $80. It was the oreos, the fruit, the juice boxes, the bobby pins, the cereal, and the press on nails I found in the clearance section.

A trip that should have cost no more than about $15 ended up costing closer to $100. In addition to list making, I’m also a professional exaggerator! 

As I lugged in the multiple bags from the garage, I had a quick moment of buyer’s remorse. While I needed the extra items I had purchased, well mostly needed, I didn’t need them immediately. 

I don’t just do this in the grocery store. There are so many times when I add things to my day or week that in the grand scheme of life, are not really things I need to prioritize immediately. 

I’m in the process of writing a book, but for some reason, I feel like organizing the dining room buffet is a task I have to do, RIGHT NOW! I need to do my workout, but how long has it been since I dusted the baseboards? It’s amazing how we can add on extraneous activities that keep us from doing what is truly important. 

I’m trying to stop adding unnecessary items to my list, both in the grocery store and at home and beginning to prioritize the things that matter most. A movie night with family, a long writing session, a much needed nap. Those are the things I’m putting towards the top of my list and thankfully, they don’t cost a penny!

LEGO and Let God

My son and I often build LEGO projects together and honestly, I think I enjoy it more than he does. It never fails that once we approach around the 75% completed mark, he ditches me to start playing with some of the completed characters and weapons. I really don’t mind since he builds much slower than me and now I can have the rest all to my self!

But during the time that we ARE working as a team, I have the task of finding the pieces for the page we’re on. While he is putting together one section, I’m able to look further along the page and collect all of the pieces he needs for the section coming up. While putting together an intricate Ironman Hulkbuster build, he noticed that as soon as he was done with one section, I already had his next pieces waiting. “Wow! You always have everything ready so fast!”, he told me.

What he doesn’t realize is that while he’s focusing on his job (building the current section), I am already planning for what’s coming next. He just has to trust that I’ll have his pieces ready when he needs them.

This is exactly what faith allows us to do. All we have to do is work on our current assignment while we trust that God is preparing what we need next, for exactly when we need it. It’s easy to get stressed out about the future and wonder if what you’re hoping for will pan out. But faith helps us to remember that even if we don’t see it, God has a plan already figured out!

Do you find it difficult to trust God for your future? Honestly, at times I do. I have to remind myself frequently not to worry and trust God in every detail of my life. One passage of scripture in Matthew always helps to strengthen my faith and remind me of God’s faithfulness when I begin to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the future.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives. Let me be clear: he never says not to plan for life. In fact, the book of Proverbs encourages us to be prepared for life. But worry and preparation are two different things.

Worry and anxiety will cause you to stress about things outside of your control. Preparation is careful planning for circumstances we know will happen eventually so by making a plan, we can eliminate unnecessary stress when they do happen.

So often we worry about things that God has already pulled the pieces out for. We just don’t see Him do it! Our future spouse, our children’s college, our retirement plans, we can trust God to meet these needs. Jesus tells us to “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”(Matthew 6:26 ESV).

God provides for the birds every day and I’m more important to him than a sparrow! A sparrow can’t share the gospel or encourage a grieving family or give to a ministry. God needs his people to be healthy, prosperous and spiritually fit so we can do his work here on earth.

The next time you feel stressed about your life or future, remember that God has already gathered all of the pieces for your life and all you need to do is stay busy on the instructions you are currently on.

Do you currently have young children at home? Focus on training them in the ways of God. Are you working at a less than ideal job? Continue to work hard as if unto the Lord (Colossians 3:17). Don’t get so bogged down in the details of the day that you feel like your assignment is a distraction. It’s all a part of God’s overall plan for you life.

If my son and I missed just one step in our LEGO build, our design would not have come together how we hoped. Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;”. How comforting is this? When we delight in the Lord, obey his instructions and follow his plans for us, we have a guarantee that he will guide our steps so our lives will reflect not just what we hope for, but what he’s planned for them.

An Open Book Test

Every year, my husband and I begin the year with 21 days of fasting and prayer. During these times, I’ve seen God answer prayers, give vision and direction, and speak to my heart about a specific promise or assignment. I often come off of the fast with wide eyes and high expectations for the blessings of God to flow through my life in an unprecedented way! But then I’m reminded of Jesus’ experience when he ended his fast and trust me, it’s much different than what I expect at the end of mine!

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Matthew‬ ‭4:1-2‬ ‭ESV)‬‬

In fasting and prayer, where was he taken? He wasn’t led into the city to start “Son of God Christian Church”. He wasn’t led to write a book “How to Save Sinners and Stay Fit”. He was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (I won’t even get started on how it was the Spirit that led him there!).

While I truly believe that God has great and precious promises in store for those who call him Lord (2 Peter 1:4), we will all experience times of trials and testing. And guess what? They aren’t all from the devil!

The times when we feel tested are times when God is able to root out things in us that don’t need to be there. I homeschool my kids right now and every so often, they have tests. The tests aren’t to beat them down or make them upset. They are to show me the areas that they’ve mastered and the areas where more work is needed.

When we are tested, God can use this time to help us see the areas we have grown in or need maturity. These times cause us to rely on what we know to be true about our position in Christ, which we discover through the Word of God. And the Word of God was exactly what Jesus used during his time of testing.

Satan tried three times to tempt Jesus into worshipping him, but each time, Jesus declared what was already written in God’s Word. We cannot combat the attacks of the enemy without the Word of God. This is why he fights us so hard when we try to read the Bible! Have you ever noticed the amount of interruptions you experience when you’re trying to read the Bible (better yet, how sleepy you get?!)

It’s because our enemy knows the power that the Word of God carries. Don’t forget he lived in heaven! He’s seen the strength and power of God’s word first hand, and if he can’t have it, he will do all he can to stop you from having it! He wants to separate you from God’s word. That’s what he did to Eve in the garden.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”” (Genesis‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Satan successfully employed two tricks he likes to often use to distract us: He wants us alone and he wants us to doubt God’s word. He waited until Eve was alone to attack. During times when you feel alone, that’s when Satan makes his move. He’s after the one sheep that got separated from the other 99. He’s after the young woman who has stopped coming to church regularly and has distanced herself from her friends.

Did you know that God has never been alone? I heard this from an amazing teacher, Jackie-Hill Perry. That our God is a triune God: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. She said we are never more unlike God than when we isolate ourselves. Wow! Let that sink in.

Satan waited for Eve to be alone and then tried to cause her to doubt God’s instruction. And most of us know what happened next: the rest of humanity has been plagued with sin, sickness, shame, lust, lying, deceit, death and a whole slew of other problems (including pain during childbirth!) that can only be overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ. Thanks a lot, Eve!

Thankfully, like Jesus, we are never truly alone. Like our Savior, we have the Word of God and the Spirit of God to strengthen us during times of testing. Not to mention a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and Jesus Christ himself, at the right hand of God, making intercession for us! That sounds like victory to me.

Unlike many tests in school, we can take our tests with an open book! There are no sweeter words to a student than “This will be an open book test”. A wave of relief and confidence would fill the classroom instantly! Like Jesus, during times of testing, I encourage you to bury yourself in God’s Word. Memorize scriptures, familiarize yourself with stories from the Bible, listen to faith filled messages by Spirit-led teachers. Use the Word of God to sustain you and I promise, you will pass with flying colors.

Having a Full Tank

When I was younger, my mom would frequently take me and my sister on a casual ride around town. We always looked forward to these rides because it meant we were ordering lunch! I now realize they were just a tool to get us out of the house she’d just cleaned.

We would drive around for what felt like hours, and we’d ask my mom, “Are we lost?”. See, I grew up in the days before GPS. We didn’t have Siri telling us to make a left in half a mile or to continue straight (one of the most pointless directions!). We were on our own! My mom would always tell us, “As long as we have a full tank of gas, we’re never lost!”

As an adult, there have been times when I’ve felt lost. Am I going in the right direction for my children? Am I making progress towards my dreams? How do I balance life, work, and family? It’s during those times, I’m reminded of those long drives with my mom: “As long as I have a full tank of gas, I’m never lost.”

It’s when our tank begins to run low that we begin to feel anxious about the journey. When the bank account balance isn’t enough for an unplanned bill; when we suffer an unexpected loss that depletes our joy; when we can’t seem to rebuild a broken relationship. What do we do?

The same thing we do when our cars run low on gas: refuel. I’m horrible about letting my car get to “E”. The gas light pops on, but instead of filling up at the first warning, I wait until the last possible moment (my gas light goes off again after a few miles, then comes back on to give me one last chance to fill up before I’m stranded!).

Honestly, I have the same bad habit when it comes to life. I go and go and go and despite the warnings, red flags, and sputtering, I wait until the last minute to refuel. I wait until I’m snapping at my kids or I give a snarky response to someone at church.

Jesus tells us in John 3:23 that his words are spirit and they are life. Simply put, they are the fuel we need to continue day after day. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in the desert when God provided manna every morning for them. The Israelites asked, “What is it?” which is what manna means. They weren’t sure what it was but they knew it would sustain them. They knew it would give them strength for the tasks of the day.

I’m not sure why we, as believers, allow ourselves to run down when His word has never been more available to us. Sometimes I feel like this unlimited access to every version of the Bible ever written, hundreds of reading plans to choose from, and thousands upon thousands of sermons online can be overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong: I’m thankful for the accessibility that technology has provided when it comes to studying God’s word. But sometimes I end up spending more time searching for content than just sitting in communion (#thatsaword).

I’m striving to live out the words from the prayer Jesus taught his disciples: “give us today our daily bread”. I need fresh fuel every day. I need direction for what I might encounter in the day that I am in and how to handle it. I don’t want to wait until I’m running on fumes and barely make it to my destination.

I don’t want to look up and see that I’ve been driving in the wrong direction for the last 5 miles. I want to be on the path that God has set out for me and enjoy the ride, knowing, that being full of the Spirit of God, I am never lost.

Shhh.. It’s a Secret!!

My kids are 6 and 9 so they are getting to that age where they have their own sibling secrets. Nothing big, things like grabbing an extra popsicle or hiding all of their stuffed animals in my closet! I’ll hear them giggling a little too much and ask what’s going on and they say in harmony: “It’s a secret!”

I was reading in the book of 1 Samuel this morning where Saul was anointed king over Israel by the prophet Samuel. In 1 Samuel 9:27, Samuel says to Saul to have the, “servants to go on ahead of us”— and the servant did so— “but you stay here a while, so that I may give you a message from God.”

Once the servant left, Saul is doused with a flask of oil and anointed by Samuel to be the first king of Israel. This happened between just two people. Saul and Samuel. No one else knew what was happening, there was no huge presentation or stage. Just the prophet of God and a man.

We live in a culture where many people feel the need to share every detail of their life… everyday… on every platform. Don’t get me wrong: I like updates of kids growing up, anniversaries and vacations, but there is a current trend of over sharing! I can be guilty of this too. I love to talk so sometimes my mouth runs faster than my brain!

What I love about this story is the privacy between Saul and Samuel. Somethings are just for you and God. There are certain promises I’ve received from God that only he and I share. Why? Because some things need time to cultivate. Some dreams need the protection of secrecy so they aren’t killed before they are born. How many times have you shared a good idea only to be shot down? “That won’t work!” Or “Who would by that?” can deter you from what God’s given you.

There was no one present to disagree with God’s choice for king, no one to place doubts in Saul’s mind of his ability to lead the Israelites. Just him and the word from God. I’m reminded of a time when some life changing changing news was shared with a large group. Remember the children of Israel when they sent spies to check out the land of Canaan? Two men were confident of Israel’s ability to overtake the inhabitants of the land. But they other ten spies caused fear and distress to spread through the camp, causing Israel to remain wanderers for 40 years in the desert.

This year, I’m sure you have all kinds of goals and plans and promises from God. I know I do! May I kindly recommend that you be very careful with whom you allow access to your dreams. They are precious and worth protecting!

Back to the Basics

I recently have been feeling out of sync. If I can be 100% honest, the past 3-4 months have been very difficult for me. If you are thriving and living your best life during this pandemic, I’m glad for you. I don’t have much to complain about. My husband’s job is going well, my business is doing well, the kids are happy, our home is getting some much needed attention and we’ve actually had a nice time spending more time together.

But I would be lying to you if I said everything was gravy. In truth, my health and fitness have slipped, my routines have taken a backseat, and despite all of this new found free time, my spiritual life has begun to suffer a bit. I had begun to get a little down and caught up in my emotions when I remembered a verse found in the book of Revelation.

3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for mynames sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first.Revelation 2:3-5

Jesus had just finished telling the church at Ephesus that he knew they were working hard and fighting evil. He praised them for their endurance and patience, but he had a fault against them. In some way, they had veered off course from where they had started. They had forgotten the love they had when they started.

You know that excitement you get when you’re trying a new diet or a new habit? If you’re anything like me, you make lists and charts and goals and I like to make everything cute and colorful! The first couple weeks or months, everything is going well, until somethings happens. An unexpected event (um, can you say all of 2020!), a sickness, a setback can easily turn into the one thing that sends your goals onto the path of complacency. One missed workout becomes two. Two missed days of prayer becomes a week, and so on.

What I love about our example and savior Jesus Christ, is that he didn’t come to condemn us. He didn’t come to throw our failures and shortcomings into our faces. He always gives us a way back. He reminds the church to look back at where they were, repent (turn around), and do what they did before. It’s that simple.

I mentioned I had been struggling lately with everything going on in our world. (If you are reading this in 2126, just google it. Everything was breaking!) I like to journal so I went back to see what I was doing when I felt the best. October 2019 I ran by first half marathon. I felt healthy, I was making time for God, we were being diligent with our finances. I took note of everything I was doing to allow me to be the best version of myself.

Now, I’m putting into practice the advice from Jesus. I’m not going to wallow and complain about where I am. I’m going to remember, repeat and redo! Where in your life do you need to make a turn around? Don’t wait for a new year, a new month or even a new day! Start right now. Go for a walk! Have a salad for lunch! Read the book for Ephesians today! Know that God is on your side and has given you the capacity to reach for everything you desire.

Rest For the Weary

A few years ago, my family decided to make it a practice to better observe the Sabbath. This was a personal conviction for me in particular because I felt like I was always so busy and never felt refreshed. I’d work hard all week with the kids and in the house and spend the weekend trying to prepare for the same thing next week.

In the beginning, this was very hard for me, just relaxing on a Sunday watching football with my husband and my kids playing in the background. It felt like such a waste of time, there was so much I could be getting done!

It wasn’t until I was in a really busy season of life that I realized how important Sabbath rest was. We had been practicing it for some years so when life got crazy, it was the one thing that kept me going — knowing I would have a day or rest coming soon.

I remembered God’s instructions to the children of Israel as they were entering into the promised land. The Israelites had come from a life where work was all they knew. They worked day in and day out, seven days a week, no breaks. It was a very hard idea for them to have a day of rest. They had become so accustomed to always working, that the day of rest seemed like a foreign idea to them. But God knew that rest was vital for their health, spiritually, physically and mentally.

After incorporating an intentional Sabbath into my life, I can better understand God’s reasoning in instructing his children to practice and observe the Sabbath. The Bible says that God worked for six days and on the seventh day he rested. Now we know that God doesn’t get tired and he doesn’t get sleepy, but he was setting a good example as our heavenly father. We as humans get tired, we get sleepy, we get cranky. And if we don’t care for these earthly bodies we have, they will begin to shut down!

Just like we take our cars in periodically to have the maintenance, we need to do a weekly maintenance of our lives, allowing ourselves to have one day disconnected from the busyness of our lives. The idea of turning off or unplugging for one day may seem like a foreign concept to many, but you would be amazed at the benefits you could discover by intentionally resting and enjoying the Sabbath.

Sabbath isn’t some super religious practice for only pastors or leaders. The word Sabbath simply means to cease work. Everyone can do this! The great thing is that you can decide how your family can rest that day. Maybe you take a break from television, phones and video games and choose to find other artistic outlets like drawing, reading or cooking a meal together. Maybe you go for a walk or bike ride together. My family worships together at church and then we fellowship with our extended family for a bit.

The main idea is to take a break from the everyday crazy that life brings. It’s is so refreshing to know that every week, I have a break from my to do list, my obligations and appointments and can truly rest in the gift of the Sabbath.

In one word how would you describe your day? Your week? Your life? So often now when you ask someone how they’re doing, the response you get is “busy”. How’s work? How’s school? How’s the kids? Busy…

In a world where we are constantly available and constantly on call, what would it be like to have one day free of the everyday distractions or life? One day without a to do list or errands to run?

The first Sabbath rest in the Bible is actually taken by God. “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” -Genesis 2:2-3

In the book of Exodus, we see the next mention of Sabbath rest when God is giving the commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

““Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” -Exodus 20:8-11 NIV

There are so many varying ideas amongst Christians as to whether or not to observe a Sabbath. Many argue that it’s under the law or old covenant. Many argue about what day it should be observed. The Bible is very clear about the freedom we have in Christ so whether you choose to practice this is between you and God and no one else.

“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Colossians 2:16-17 NIV

I just know that for my family, it is not a commandment or task we dread or have to do. It’s an opportunity to recharge ourselves and spend time together. It’s an opportunity to set boundaries around the sanctity of our family and faith. It was made for us, not us for it.

If you are interested in adding some ways to observe the Sabbath, here are some things we do:

  • Restrain from unnecessary buying
  • Take a nap
  • Spend time with family
  • Read, play games together
  • Limit screen time, social media and personal device usage
  • Take a break from cooking and cleaning
  • Look at family photos
  • Watch a movie together

Remember, Sabbath rest is a gift, not a chore and it is a great way to bring in the new week by feeling rested and refreshed!

Increase by Decrease

There are so many things I love about living in this modern world we live in today! I love ordering my coffee on the mobile app and when I arrive, it’s at the perfect temperature for consumption (140 degrees!). I love being able to solve a sudoku puzzle on an app so I don’t have to carry around my puzzle book. I love seeing pictures of friends and family who are in other states, who in times past, i would have no knowledge of their hobbies and interests. So often modern technology gets such a bad rap, but I do believe it can add and has added so much to our lives.

On the other side of the coin, with all the technological advances we’ve seen over the past two or three decades, it seems that people are more stressed out, more overworked, and busier than ever.

The time that was spent churning butter or ironing clothes is now replaced with a trip to the grocery store or a trip to the dry cleaners. We are saving so much time with the day-to-day tasks, but we are filling that time with other obligations, many of which we drag ourselves to begrudgingly.

As we fill out our monthly calendars and planners, we take pride in the three or four days we have every month with nothing written on them. Dentist appointments, dance recitals, volunteer opportunities, church activities, sports activities, sporting events, and charity dinners fill most days and our calendars burst at the seems with color coded priorities and checklists.

Shortly before writing this, I had come to the end of a very busy season in my life. I was coaching homeschool volleyball for four seasons, leading the women’s ministry at my church, volunteering at my children’s school, designing and sewing clothing for my online business, managing my home, working on this book, and just living life trying to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher and friend. Oh yeah, and I was training for my first half marathon!

I don’t write this to brag. I write this to show how our good intentions can easily turn into the very busyness that strains our relationships, dismisses our health and distances us from our true purpose.

I came to a tipping point where my schedule, my obligations, my home, my responsibilities, and even my hobbies, we’re leaving me feeling burnt out and tired at the end of every day and week. I spent Saturday cleaning up from the week that had just passed and Sunday getting ready for the tornado that was on its way in the following week. Was this all there was to adulthood? Being too tired or too busy or too frustrated to spend time with the people I cared about most? I knew there had to be an answer so I turned to where I get most of my questions answered.

There is a story found in the sixth chapter of Judges about a man named Gideon. He was in a position of feeling overwhelmed. He was commissioned by God to deliver the people of Israel from their Midianite oppressors. He gathered a huge army and was ready to move out when God said he had too many men. I saw myself in this story. Everyday, I was going out to face the world and I was taking my list of things to do, my worries, and my packed schedule with me. I felt God saying that I had too many things.

I thought the answer was in finding a better productivity app or a better planner. Maybe I needed a better cleaning system or more organizational bins?

But the truth was there was nothing I could add to give me the rest I was looking for. I knew that it was only through subtraction that I’d find the way off of this highway of busyness.

I began slashing my schedule, removing myself from committees, turning down play dates and even missing some birthday parties- gasp! I even made the hard decision to not return to coaching volleyball since my kids were now getting more involved in their own activities. The more things I slashed, the more free I felt.

We are taught in basic math that the more you add, the more you get, but unfortunately this does not hold true in mists areas of life. The more clutter you add to your house doesn’t give you more space. It’s actually the opposite. The more clutter you remove, the more space you gain. It’s an equation I call increase by decrease.

When you feel overwhelmed, over stressed and stretched, the key is not in addition, it’s in subtraction. The more inessential items you can remove from your life, the more time you will have to pursue the things that are most important to you.

The other night, my daughter and I sat and played Barbies for 2.5 hours! They went on vacation, the hired babysitters, went shopping, watched movies on the laptops and had a fashion show. In the past, I would have set a timer for 30 minutes to play so I could finish whatever chore I had or get us ready to go somewhere. But because there was nowhere to go and nothing else vying for my time, we played until she asked to stop!

When you intentionally find areas to decrease your involvement or remove entirely, you will find that the areas that most to you will begin to increase as you intentionally make time for them.

I’m not telling you to call everyone and tell them you quit! If you’ve committed to something for a time, honor that commitment. But where can you say, “I no longer am able to participate in this event (committee, sports league) so this month will be my last month.” And remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. I remember people asking if everything was okay when I started cutting things and I assured them everything was fine, but that was it.

I read in the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, “If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” Stop allowing other people, needless obligations, even your own clutter, determine how you spend your time and energy. Decide today what things you want to invest your time in, pursue them passionately, and begin to live the life you’ve always imagined.

Seasons of Change

I’m still somewhat new to the Midwest. I grew up in Texas and only 4 years ago moved to Wisconsin. One of the biggest adjustments for me was the changing of seasons.

If you don’t know, much of Texas has only two seasons: Hot and Super Hot. We wore shorts on Christmas Day and had picnics for Valentine’s Day! So when I moved in the spring of 2016, I was really able to appreciate the changes from Spring to summer.

I watched the leaves begin to bud on the trees. I noticed the sound of birds singing in the morning again. What seemed barren and bland one day, almost overnight seemed to spring with life and color.

It made me think about seasons in our own lives. So often when you’re in the middle of a rough season, it’s easy to only focus on what you’re currently facing. The bad work environment, the lack of finances, or the pain of a failure may feel like there is nothing to hope for, but feelings, like seasons, change.

This is when you have to rely on what you know to be true. God is faithful. One of my favorite scriptures that I’ve had to go back to many times is found in the book of Joshua. The children of Israel had just possessed the promise land and the Levites were being given their land. The last verse of that chapter says “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭21:45‬ ‭NIV‬‬

The children of Israel were leaving a season of wandering in the desert. It was dry and dirty, and the only hope they had was the promise of God to establish them in a good land. And God has the same promise for you today. He wants you to prosperando be in good health, even as your soul prospers (3 John 2). He wants you to have more than enough and to be a first hand witness of His ability to bless you (Ephesians 3:20).

We may go through seasons that are less than ideal, but in these seasons, we can rely on the faithfulness of God to bring us into a new, better season.

As we go through this season where a worldwide pandemic has seemed to overwhelm our world, I’d like to challenge us to lean into the promises of God more than ever. What are his promises? Here are a few to encourage you, but commit to spend some time in his word to read all of the great and precious promises he has for you!

  • To give you hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • To never leave you (Psalm 9:10)
  • To give you peace (Philippians 4:7)
  • To provide for you (Philippians 4:19)
  • To give you wisdom (James 1:5)
  • To bless you (Deuteronomy 28)