Friday, November 13, 2009

Seeking a Simpler and Healthier Lifestyle

The secret of contentment is the realization that life is a gift, not a right.

I long for a simple life. Drama doesn't appeal to me and complications just seem to eat up time and energy that could be better spent.  I've been praying and focusing lately on how to simplify my life without wimping out on the adventures and commitments to which God has called me. I doubt that any of my thoughts are original, but they're my thoughts nevertheless.

  • Start and End Each Day with God - my best effort to start and end each day wisely! It's the "in between" that can snag me! :)
  • Think First - I'm sure all of you already do this, but if I don't actively note this, I will speak and act unwisely. Specifically, right now I think about my tone and my motivations.
  • Take a Minute - I tend to jump and I can be rather impulsive. Pausing for a full minute to think it through can change your life drastically! Mostly, I am finding that this prevents me from working hard rather than smart and from having to regret time wasted.
  • Embrace God's Design - I think that is one of the most challenging aspects of having so much information about other people at my fingertips. I look at other women and think that I'll never be that kind of mother, writer, etc. Guess what? I am right...I won't. That's not who God designed me to be. Embracing who God wants me to be means growing through my weaknesses (for in these, He makes me stronger!) and accentuating my gifts by using them for His glory.
  • Just Because I Can Doesn't Mean I Should - this is huge for me. Someone has a need, I have an ability, voila! I get in a lot of trouble because I forget that many people can do what I can do and it's not my responsibility to fix everything for everyone! I think I have a serious desire to please others and that can cause me to overextend myself, with my family usually sacrificing.
  • Prioritize - God, family, church, etc. - prioritizing helps me avoid reacting rather than responding when a complication arises. Realizing that I will either have tomorrow to work on what wasn't done today or I'll be in heaven, helps me sleep better. For many years, I stressed over what couldn't be finished. I would wonder if I chose wisely. I was constantly seeking closure. I  have come to realize that closure isn't a reality...there's always something new so I address what I can and leave the rest for tomorrow.
  • Balance, balance, balance - probably my greatest issue because I tend to be obsessive when I get excited about something. Learning to balance the different areas of my life and giving my time for to those things I have prioritized as higher is a lesson which has taken me most of my life to learn. I've learned that my relationships (particularly my marriage and my children), my health, my "free" time, my work and my spiritual growth all need to be balanced so I don't feel stretched in one area and neglected in another. This is an ongoing process for me, but for the first time in my life, I don't feel guilty for watching a movie with my husband or taking a walk just to take a walk! I am also able to focus during my quiet time with God rather than mentally processing my to do list!
  • Put Margins into Place, even with those we dearly love - some people just drain you because they don't have margins or boundaries. They dive into relationships and expect you to do the same. That's just not usually possible for me and believe me I've tried! However, I am learning how much I can give and still maintain a healthy lifestyle. I have found that when I put margins in place, practice self control and don't get involved beyond my emotional and physical capabilities, I am a better friend. Many thanks to my business partner and friend, Dana Wilson, for explaining this to me a long time ago, even though it has taken me years to implement it!
  • Love Mean People - my daughter, Ally, recently reminded me that we are called to love the unloveable. I realized at that moment that I have great love for those I like but I am not that great at loving those people I find offensive. For some people, it's physical appearance or disabilities. I have no problem with a person who is uniquely designed physically, but I have such a problem with mean people! What I have learned is that loving others, even those I don't like, does make life simpler because I am not wasting energy in a negative way. I can love a person in Christ without having to agree with him or even accept his behavior. As I do this, my own love grows internally and I am more able to handle other situations with more graciousness. God uses such love to grow us in Him, making us more valuable for His kingdom. 
I hope you find my lessons in life valuable. Praise God for His patience with this child as I strive to grow in His mercy and grace daily!

In His Holy Name,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Seeking Beauty in an Ugly World: My prayers

I spent some time with the news on today as I was working on curriculum. Primarily, I learned about a mass murderer, a baby who was kept in a box under a bed (although she ended up being saved, Praise God!), the horrible attack on Fort Hood, Texas and a lot of information about a health care plan that it seems many in our nation oppose. I had to stop and pray over my own heart! This is the world we live in. I looked over at John Paul and immediately praised God that he was sitting next to me, healthy and happy.  I said a prayer for Darrell and Ally that God would protect them!
I don't think never watching or listening to the news is the answer. I tried that a while back and found that it didn't really help. I eventually heard about it all from one source or another. So, what is the answer? How do we find beauty in such an ugly world?

As I try to do with conundrums in my life, I turned to Scripture. Immediately, I thought of Philippians 4:8 - 
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
And I prayed: Heavenly Father, lead me to Your beauty, place a desire in my heart for what is noble and right, help me to long to be pure and reveal all that You have created that is lovely. Let me think upon these things, as Your Word commands, and help me to not be overcome by the ugliness of this world!

Another verse that the Lord allowed me to recall is Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And I prayed: Gracious Lord, transform and renew my mind and my heart. Do not let me succumb to the fear and evilness of this world. Reveal Your good and perfect Will for my life.

How could you ever question God perfect will for our lives? 
He who so lovingly designed not only a beautiful but perfectly balanced atmosphere?

And yet another verse from Romans 8:15,
For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear
but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
And I prayed: I do cry out to you, Abba, Father, to remind me of the Spirit you have instilled in me...a spirit of love and not of fear, no matter what is happening in the external world around me.

And finally, 1 Corinthians 2:12
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, 
that we may understand what God has freely given us.
And I prayed: Thank you, God, for Your Holy Spirit, freely given by You. Help me to remember that I do not have a Spirit of the world and that this world is temporary, unlike your heavenly realm that I have been adopted into. 

Fear became compassion, uncomfortableness became hope, concern became confidence...not in myself or anything that I can do about this world, but in my Lord and Savior who works through me and is always with me in this dark world. 

May your day be filled with all of the beauty of the Lord!

Many thanks to my sweet husband, Darrell, for taking these pictures for my blog. I love you!

In Him,

Big Charlotte Mason fan? So are we!