Monday, August 31, 2015

The Best Yes

I've been reading a book by the title of The Best Yes, by Lysa Turkeurst.  I'm only half way through and I think she and I could be sisters.

She's as messed up as I am. Maybe she'll adopt me as her sister.

The best part of this book is that she admits that life as a Christian isn't the bed of roses, the bees knees, the shangri-la that secular people think we live in, once we find God. All it just proves is that we need God more than ever- but we have to spend time with Him every day.

I've been reading my bible almost every day. Sometimes I forget, and sometimes I want to put it off- but I know if I do,  it will take me down a road of bad habits I don't want. And when I do read it, I feel better about God, my life, and how I'm living.

My infamous schedule, for instance. For weeks, months I've been tweaking this thing until I can squeeze out every second of time doing something useful. But all I've really accomplished is burning myself out and making myself into someone Oscar the Grouch would be proud of.

Then I got to the part in her book (right before I fell asleep on the pages) that asked if I was doing good work for me, or listening- really listening to God and doing what He wants?

Chapter Eight is Consider the Trade. Basically she writes that we have a decision to make. We had just an occasion come up last night. 

I had been working my fanny off for the past few weeks, and we're almost current with the finances. A few more weeks and we might be able to start paying off a few debts, bit by bit. My husband wanted to spend some time with me, and suggested we go see a movie.

For those that don't know us, a movie is a rare treat. We see them maybe twice a year if we're lucky. 

I really wanted to see a movie. I was worn, I worked hard, and I really wanted a break and spend time with my Schmoopsiepoo. If we scrimped and saved a week or two longer...maybe worked a few more hours...if, if, if...

Then it dawned on me. I was tired now. Was I prepared to work a few more extra hours for the next week or two? How would that effect my family, who was already seeing me come home in ogre mode?

Would this trip to the movies bless my family in the long run? No.

It killed me to tell him that. Truly! I wanted to go as much as he did, but in the end, I'd be making the wrong decision if we went. It was better to plan and put some money aside each week and go when we had enough. Then we could go guilt-free, and be blessed by the rare treat.

That was my Best Yes. And I felt a weight lifted because I don't have to do extra hours to 'make up' for playtime.

I also had to tweak my schedule concerning driving. Should I try to do thirty hours for the small bonus, or do the hours I'm comfortable with? Being comfortable is something I strive for, but not necessarily what God wants me to do. So I plotted my hours for the week and saw something interesting.

If I took just two more hours a day, that threw a monkey-wrench into my entire week! I needed that two hours to bless my family. Sure, I'd be making more money, but (and it's still hard for me to say this!) money isn't everything. What good does money do when I'm a burnt-out husk of a woman, grumping and grousing at everyone because I'm too tired to cook, hug, or talk to anyone?

That is not my Best Yes.

For me, the Best Yes was to keep the hours I had already established, make a little less and budget smarter. Both God and I would be happier that way. And happy people bless others. 

Your Best Yes might be different. Asking God to help you and discerning what is the Best Yes for you and your family can keep you from doing too much, or blessing others more. All the while keeping yourself sane.

And sane is a good thing. I tried it once!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Purpose of Purpose

At first, I knew my purpose. I was going to be a mom, and had certain things to do. Yes, I'm still a mom, but the tasks have changed since the kids are almost independent. I couldn't figure out why I was swimming in an ocean of uncertainty, until one day it hit me- I had lost my sense of purpose.

My kids don't need me as much as they used to. My son is seventeen and my daughter is fourteen- and the diaper stage is over, thank You Jesus! Most of my job now is words of wisdom with a little head-swatting muscle to back it up- but that leaves me wondering what I'm supposed to do when these people leave the house.

And they will leave. Oh, you bet your bippy they will.

When they do, I plan on writing more. A lot more. My tasks might change, but my purpose won't.

So...what is the purpose of purpose?

The purpose of purpose is to glorify God. Period.

God doesn't give a kangaroo's behind what you're doing, as long as you're doing it for Him. You could be a millionaire businessman, a housewife, a janitor, or a writer- it doesn't matter. If you don't have a reason, a purpose, for doing it, then your efforts are worth less than squat.

Doing things for family is great. Doing things for God is awesome. And the best part is you don't have to pick one over the other- you can do both! 

It's like doing a job just for the paycheck. Are you filled with joy? Are you getting a sense of accomplishment? Or are you dragging your feet, muttering under your breath about how tired and worn you fell all the time? It doesn't matter what that job is, you have no purpose in the job if all it does is wear you down.

Your purpose should be your job. I'm not talking about a job as in employment; the job I'm talking about is what you're actually doing. Anyone can do a job, but someone with purpose can do any job, and do it to the best of his ability, with a smile on his face. 

Because the type of employment doesn't matter. He's not doing it only for the paycheck. That's the difference.

I'm a writer. Do I make millions? No. Can I live off my writing? Nope. Not yet. But do I write with purpose? You betcha! Does God care that I'm not a millionaire? Nope. All He wants is for me to use the talents He gave me to glorify Him.

Hence my purpose.

What is your purpose? Has it changed? Have you found it yet? Are you swimming in that same ocean like I was? Look into your heart and find your purpose. It's there. Pray and let God help you find it!

Monday, August 17, 2015

God- He's All In My Head

Let me be totally honest with you- Until recently, I have not been the most avid of Bible readers.

A few weeks ago, I decided that it was time to me to start reading His Word, instead of waiting for Him to speak to me. Yes, I know- "You've been a Christian for how long and you're just reading regularly now?" Yep. Better late than never!

I started with Luke, and have since made my way into Acts. I read a chapter a day, sometimes two if I have time. Funny things started happening. I began to see ways of using the verses in real life.

And God started speaking to my head.

Oh, not the voice He uses for the Seer, the Prophets, or anyone else on the higher-up scale of the God-touched, but when I asked a question, He would give me an answer- in my head.

How did I know? Because it wasn't an answer I always liked.

I would cry out "Why God? Why did this happen?" on particularly frustrating days, and I'd hear "Be still and know that I am God." or "Be patient." Or "Calm down and be at peace." He's a bit formal, but His voice always settles me- and nothing settles me when frustrations get the better of my temper!

Okay, almost nothing.

I also ask things like "Should I?" or "What do I do now?" and He answers "Yes", "No" and sometimes similar responses like the ones above when I'm frustrated. He doesn't always answer, but when He does, it's always clear.  

Want to know the funny thing is? I'm beginning to tell His head voice from my own!

In the past I've heard non-believing friends tell me "This God thing is all in your head." Well, that's true now- He is in my head. And my heart. And my soul. And reading His word helps me to stay on track. But I had to start doing it on my own- no one could tell me to start reading it. God put it on my heart for weeks before I started obeying- and I hope my response time improves. His response time certainly has!

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Egg And The Salad

A woman planted a garden and had one chicken, hoping that when the time came she would have a big harvest. When her cupboard was bare, she complained to God. "The food will be gone tonight Lord, I need that big harvest!" And God said, "Rest easy. I will provide."

The next day, she went out into the garden expecting a big harvest. But each plant had only bore one ripe tomato, a few spinach and lettuce leaves, a green pepper and a few peas. the chicken had laid a single egg. "This isn't enough!" she cried, to which God replied, "It's enough for today."

The woman went into the house with her meager fare. She ate the egg for breakfast and had a salad for supper. Then she went to bed.

Each day she went into the garden and received similar harvests. One each of a few vegetables, and a single egg. And each day she cried out to God, "It's not enough!" And God replied, "it's enough for today."

When the growing season was almost over, she once again cried out to God. "The growing season is almost over- what do I do now?" And God replied, "Oh ye of little faith! have I not provided for you this whole season? Why do you not believe I will provide for you in the winter also? Go into the forest and find berries, nuts and seeds, and catch small game- this I have provided for you for the winter."

It was then that she realized He had been providing for her the entire time. Not the massive harvest she had hoped for, but just enough that she never went a day without eating. She looked to God once more. "Just enough for today?" she asked with a slight grin. God smiled. "Just enough." He replied. 

"Thank you Lord!" She made her way into the forest to find God's bounty, carrying a little basket that would hold 'just enough.'

Sometimes I expect a huge harvest and complain when I get tiny blessings instead. I don't always appreciate the little gifts God provides, and instead complain that I didn't get the abundance I was expecting. Little blessings might not seem like enough at the time, but you might be surprised to find just how much they add up over time- and sometimes it's just enough to get the job done right!

I forget to thank Him for all the little things He does for me. It's a good thing He's a forgiving God, because I'd be in some serious trouble right now! So when I'm particularly dense and don't see the blessings until afterwards, I try very hard to thank Him for everything- especially for those blessings that are 'just enough'!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crockpot Conference

After all that activity baking and prepping the past two weeks, when I attended the conference itself, it was almost anti-climatic. A slow simmer compared to the previous weeks sauteing, if you will.

My husband and daughter were stellar in readying the snacks for the faculty, and while she watched over the table to serve and restock, my husband was helping unload (and then reloading) supplies, picking up stranded conferees at the airport and train station, and kept himself available for anything anyone needed.

I was both faculty and a conferee, and had my hands full concerning classes and appointments, both with people I needed to pitch to and people who needed to pitch to me

I still can't get over that, by the way. People came to see me and ask me if their stuff was good enough for Ruby for Women Magazine. It was a confidence building, yet highly humbling experience. Some of the writers were awesome. There were even some poets that came to me specifically because that's one of my specialties. Giving good feedback without hurting someones feelings is hard, but God helped me a lot in that department. I don't think anyone left my table with a crushed soul, only solid ideas for improving their writing.

I was also blessed by being able to host my boss and head Editor of Ruby for Women, Nina Newton in my home! You'd think we'd have a ton of time to talk during her stay, but the schedule was so hectic, we barely got to see each other! I hope to visit her at her home next year, but we both still had a blast with each other- even if it was only during the rides up and back from the conference. 

This was a crockpot conference. No super hot or icy cold moments, but a nice even heat that I sorely needed to function. My manuscripts were enjoyed (if not accepted) and I made a lot of great new friends and contacts in the industry. I also took a lot of notes during some fantastic classes.

I have a lot of writing to do.

I also have a lot of praying to do. My heart was moved in many different ways this week, and I need to figure out where God wants me. Sitting still and listening is not my forte (not by a longshot), but that's exactly what I need to do- listen to Him.

When you think about it, I'm the one who needs to be the crockpot. I have to stop burning through everything or stopping cold, and instead let myself warm slowly and let God fill me with His word, His way, His desires.

And I really need to do this every single day.

Will I? I can hope, but I won't promise anything. Will I pray and listen each day? Absolutely! It just might not be me sitting on the couch in quiet repose for an hour because I still have two teens and three cats in the house who need my attention the second I sit down. But I can have quiet droplets of time throughout the day where I can say a quick prayer, and listen to his answers when there's a lull in the pandemonium. 

Remember the song  'I'm a Little Teapot'?

I'm a little crockpot, short and wide, 
You made me to hold Your blessings inside
When You fill me up Lord, fear subsides
By Your Holy Will I'll abide!