I was busy. Who isn’t, you’re probably saying? But I was the type of busy that it truly took too much time and energy to consider taking a rest. Between working a job, freelance work, homeschooling my kids, volunteer work, and being a wife and mother, I was stretched way too thin. And signs of wear were starting to show. I felt in a constant state of stress. I was barely sleeping at night, and snapping at my family during the day. There just weren’t enough hours to get everything done. I was sinking. Fast.
A precious, dear friend of mine recently passed away. After awaiting details of a service for Sharan, I learned we were convening at a banquet hall. Hmm, interesting, I thought. Not sure what I was in store for, I went. Instead of a funeral, or even a homegoing, I encountered a party! The atmosphere was filled with love, reminiscing, food (yes, we had dinner), laughter, music and fun. It was amazing. I had a blast. Yes, I missed my friend, but the thoughts of sadness were far exceeded by beautiful memories and the good time we had. Her life, and subsequently her death and the way we remembered her, have really caused me to reflect.
1) I will live my life being true to me! I am a unique expression and creation of God. Life is too precious for me to be concerned about others’ opinions, thoughts and ideas about what I should be doing. Sharan surely lived that way. God bless her, she didn’t give a flip what you thought. And I loved that about her.
2) Live an impactful life. Sharan lived life to the fullest, and judging by last night’s turnout, she touched and impacted hundreds, if not more. Her love, compassion, thoughtfulness and integrity managed to make a mark on many lives that can never be erased. I want to live that way.
3) When it’s all said and done, celebrate the fact that I lived. I want people to be better for having known me. I want people to have joy and laughter as they remember me. And I want them to feel like my life exemplified Jesus. Now go party!
Farewell, dear Sister. You lived life to the fullest. Thank you for letting me be a part. And thank you for continuing to teach me, even in death. Until we meet again ….
I am truly blessed to have a lot of talents, abilities and gifts. I know a lot of us are. Sometimes, it can be hard to choose which gift you will focus on, and where you will direct your energy. I used to struggle incredibly in this arena. I felt guilty for not agreeing to things, not taking on tasks, not doing what someone else wanted me to do. Then … inspiration. It’s not about what anyone else wants me to do. It’s not even about what I want to do. It’s about what God desires for me to do.
God wants me to be a whole person. Yes, absolutely, He wants me to selflessly serve my gifts to His glory and to benefit His people and His purpose. But I am also one of those people. So that means to be whole, I need to be sure I am served. So I serve myself with … rest … times of refreshing …. and by guarding my time. It sounds easier than it is, but with focus and determination, it can be done.
First, pray. Filter EVERYTHING through what God has called you to do right now. Pray and ask Him is this in line with my purpose and focus at this time? If you’re in a season of purging and simplifying, do you really think you’re meant to take on additional projects? Or if you know it’s your time to really focus and pour into your family because you’ve been a bit neglectful, should you be running off to further your career or volunteer for another project?
Next, don’t be moved by people. Don’t be moved by people. Do not be moved by people. Others will gladly tell you what you should be doing with your time, or how they think your time should be spent. There’s just one problem with that. They are not you. They don’t hear from God for you. Don’t let their disappointment or their desires overshadow what God is speaking to you to do.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to shift. An opportunity may come along that is perfect and what you should do. Or perhaps you have one plan and focus in mind and this latest offering takes you in a different direction. Go back to what I said first – pray. If this shifting is in line with what you should do now, go for it. If you told me before kids that I would end up homeschooling or loving being a stay-at-home mom/freelancer/visionary, I would have laughed in your face. But right now this is my calling. It’s exactly where I should be.
I’ve seen things this week that break my heart. Kids … with no respect or regard for their own lives, let alone anyone else’s. Reckless, lawless, gutless behavior. They seem to feel bold and courageous, when in reality they are cowardly and their actions ignorant. I believe in a lot of cases these kids want to be a part of something … anything. And when parenting doesn’t provide the needed input, when an adult doesn’t model a positive example, when they don’t feel a part of something worthwhile …. they fall apart.
We have to realize the importance of all people, and especially young people, with being a part of a team. A team does so many things for you. It . . .
Gives you a sense of belonging
Provides a sense of importance
Lets you know you are cared for and loved
Helps establish a stronger sense of self-esteem
When you have nothing to identify with …
You are more susceptible to fall into negative identification (gangs, violent groups, cults)
You don’t care about yourself, because you think no one else does
You don’t feel loved or supported
Parents, caregivers, teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents – this is where our youth are lacking today. This is why they are hurting. They don’t feel a part of any positive team. So they turn to negativity where they can “belong” and be a part of something, even if it is harmful. Please turn off the TV, put away your cell phone, schedule one less meeting, decline a lunch date. Instead, eat dinner at home, see them off in the morning, hug and kiss your young one, tell them how much they mean to you, do an activity that THEY want to do – not one convenient to your schedule. And PAY ATTENTION to them. Every time you think of buying them a gift because you missed an event or couldn’t be there, get them the greatest gift you can give instead – YOUR TIME.
Everyone wants to be a part of a team. The team your kid identifies with is up to you.
The Bible talks about the importance of parents training kids up according to the Word of God. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old he will not depart from it.” I love the admonition of putting the Word of God into our children, so that it takes root in their hearts, and remains to guide their lives. However, I believe that this verse is talking about more than just teaching our kids scripture. I believe it is speaking of training them up in every facet of life.
We need to be training them up to be business-minded entrepreneurs. We ought to be training up our children to have a strong work ethic, not an entitlement “gimme what’s mine” attitude. We should be training up compassionate, giving children; children that care about the world around them and are willing to work to make a positive difference. We must train children who are goal-oriented and focused; children who understand the importance of education not merely for the sake of good grades and memorization, but for the sake of knowledge because knowledge is power.
Take the time to train up your children in the way they should go.
We just enjoyed Independence Day … the United States celebrating our nation’s independence. It made me start thinking about how much people relish independence, being a “self-made” man or woman, being your own boss; in essence, running things. All are interesting positions to take. However, it made me pause and think of the importance of dependence … on the right things. I want to make my declaration of dependence … on God.
I depend on God for …
– Wisdom. To know what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Without Him, I’d make some pretty messed up decisions.
– Patience. Left to my own devices, I would be hot-headed and unwilling to wait. But I depend on God to teach me the art of waiting while still working towards my goal, and allowing Him to fulfill it in His time and season.
– The ability to love others. People can be mean. Purposefully. However, I choose to try to walk in the love of God with others. It’s not easy, but the peace I feel is so worth it.
– Peace. I am at peace even when it doesn’t make sense to me. Only God can do that.
– Protection. The world we live in can cause you to be full of fear and anxiety. I am so thankful for every single day that God protects my family and I.
I hereby declare I will continue to depend on Him … and Him alone.