Mundane Monday: Margin of Possibility

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Scripture of the Day:

Psalm 127:2

“It is vain for you to rise early, come home late, and work so hard for your food. Yes, he can provide for those whom he loves even when they sleep.”

Running on the treadmill this morning I couldn’t help but feel somewhat like a hamster on a wheel. Another Monday, another day full of routine and responsibilities. Despite waking up with a headache, in an effort to be disciplined to reach my goals, on the treadmill I go. After that, I meant to throw some pinto beans and sausage in the crockpot this morning to feel especially accomplished to have exercised, showered and made dinner all by 8:00am, but life happens.

One child lost their cell phone, another child’s car was on empty, so on a day full of school orientations in addition to my normal full-time job, I need to flex and be creative, which is why I started work earlier today and am out the door early to accomplish the new challenges of the day, including writing this blog while my teenager with a learner’s permit is driving me to follow the child whose car is on empty on our way to Verizon. I meant that to be a run on sentence for effect. And Verizon is not open this early. Great – plan B or C, whichever plan we are on now. But I digress. Oh, wait – today’s blog is about creating margins in our life. Ha.

If I have a minute, or any amount of time, I will fill it up – Lord willing with useful endeavors, but I have often been told that I do too much. Guilty. But life is so short and I want to make the most of it. So where does margin come into this lifestyle I have created, which includes 5 children, a wonderful husband, leading worship, speaking at conferences, writing a book, writing a new song and working as an executive assistant? Good question. Very creatively is the answer.

It starts with rising early. I cannot accomplish all the LORD has placed upon my heart if I am not up before my kids, and one child in particular is awake before the sun rises. I tell him to occupy himself reading or building legos while I seek the face of God. Oh wait, that should have been point #1. God first. Am I perfect in that goal of placing God first? No, but somewhere in my day I have got to get into His word and my personal preference is to use a “Bible in a Year” reading plan. Here is a link to a website where you can choose a plan that works for you. Do I complete this perfectly every year? No, but I have learned to give myself grace and to press on year after year.

Discipleship. With a full life, discipleship for myself and my children, as well as time for my husband has to be intentional. These are the “big rocks” of life. My husband truly helps in this goal of closeness with date nights almost every week and setting aside time every year to go away together. Work will always be there, people won’t.

Discipling my children doesn’t look as neat and tidy as when my kids were little, when almost every morning we would rise and do a bible curriculum together, but they are older now and have responsibilities of their own. Creating opportunities to have one-on-one time is the challenge; it might be while driving in a car, or maybe just talking late at night, or finding a spot in the house to have a private conversation. Purposeful dates with kids is also one way this is achieved. Discipling for myself is a little harder to come by. This is where I mentor myself with books and studies – but when?

Multi-tasking. While on my treadmill, I have my reading glasses on, reading an inspirational study or a book on ministry, highlighting key phrases. An iPad is one of my favorites to use while on the treadmill, because it is easiest to highlight while literally, “on the go”. Another place where I multi-task is in the car. Since I have teens, I have built-in chauffeurs. It might make me a little sick to my stomach temporarily, but I can usually get something accomplished, whether it is doctor’s appointments, planning, working on my laptop, etc. Of course sometimes I need to be sensitive that it also might be time just to listen to loved ones.

Rest. My secret weapon is Melatonin gummies to help me get a good night’s rest. This is imperative for me to have strength and energy for the coming challenges of the day. It also helps with autoimmune diseases and might even curb headaches. The verse for today convicts my soul and reminds me that I am not invincible. Acquiescing to a schedule and getting proper rest are fundamental. This is still an area I am challenged in, but setting rest as a priority helps me achieve my goals.

Goals. I can have great ambitions and plans, but if they do not have deadlines, it will not get done. My flesh is a great obstacle in this regard, but as Paul said, I press on! In the past this has included registering for races which was an impetus to make me train. But goals are not enough alone. The motivation for the goals is essential. But where does that come from?

Attitude. My attitude needs adjustment that is only found in the word of God. This is the most important fuel for my heart. But all sorts of problems try to dismantle the joy and positive attitude that is formed by God’s word. What then? I can find motivation in courses, groups, studies or courses. Michael Hyatt’s course Best Year Ever was a real encouragement to me. But sometimes we need somebody to come alongside us.

Accountability. This one is tougher to find, but within our own household we can find someone who has a vested interest in our success. Small groups at church are another great option, or if we have to go it alone, planning tools can help to keep us on track.

Planning. Speaking of planning, building in time for planning is essential. Evernote really helps me in this regard, but then so does utilizing an old fashioned planner like Amy Knapp’s that I write all of my children’s work schedules and daily reminders for me in. But sometimes you just need to come apart or you will come apart. This past weekend was such a time for me, but I confess it was not planned.

Saturday was a beautiful day. No obligations other than preparing for worship leading and making meals for the family, who were all out of the house working. I basked in the presence of God and spent most of the day planning. This was a rare moment for this girl and I cherished every moment of it.

Don’t get me wrong – I am also the girl who wants to be around my family 24/7, but in this moment God created a space for me to think and ponder for an entire day. (A dangerous thing, I know). This time served as a catalyst that inspired a lot of changes to how I approach the Seeing Deep ministry going forward. Exciting stuff!

Examination. So in my quest to be effectively used by God and maximize the time God has given me, I learned again this past weekend that I need to take one day a month to set aside to pray and plan, in addition to my daily quiet time.

It also might mean examining my life to see where precious time is wasted and asking the LORD for wisdom with what needs to be pruned and what needs to be added. This article How Americans Spend Their Time was at once enlightening and a little sobering in that it conveyed both an opportunity to be introspective and aware of how we are numbering our days, as well as hopefully an encouragement about how some of our time is well spent.

I long to be faithful and passionately pass on this faith in Jesus that has arrested my soul. Ultimately we are all accountable to the LORD for how we used this evaporating commodity called time. But to be more effective, ministry, family goals and work take planning. It is in the margins of life that our souls are replenished and refocused to the mission God has called us to. It is in pausing and being still that we are empowered to make an impact that ripples throughout eternity.

Lord, help us to number our days aright that we might gain a heart of wisdom. Help us to honor You above all else in these lives You have given.

Unequal “Yokedom” and Keeping Our Children’s Hearts

Photo Credits: My son Sam

Photo Credits:
My son Sam

Genesis 28:1-7

28:1 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman2 Leave immediately for Paddan Aram! Go to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and find yourself a wife there, among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. 3 May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants!  Then you will become a large nation4 May he give you and your descendants the blessing he gave to Abraham so that you may possess the land God gave to Abraham, the land where you have been living as a temporary resident.” 5 So Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.  6 Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him off to Paddan Aram to find a wife there. As he blessed him, Isaac commanded him, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 7Jacob obeyed his father and mother and left for Paddan Aram.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

“Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness? 15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever? 16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” 17 Thereforecome out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.”

Ok, so we are not cattle and it might seem a bit archaic to still use the terminology “yoked”.  Perhaps another analogy would serve today’s generation better, nonetheless our souls confirm this truth.  It was not a racial slur when Jacob’s parents were opposed to Jacob marrying a Caananite woman.  They knew that Jacob’s heart could be turned away from following the living God by marrying an unbelieving spouse.  This is not just a principle for the Old Testament.  I fear in our day of tolerance and relevance that we have lost touch with the truth that God’s word never changes and His principles still stand, no matter how sophisticated or independent we think we’ve become.

I have three daughters and two sons that God has blessed me with.  Later in life, He also brought a step-daughter into my life.  When God enabled me to be a parent, my greatest heart’s desire was that I would be faithful to raise them in the LORD.  God was seeking godly offspring when He chose Abraham and when He chose us.  These children He has given are truly His.  Being charged with guarding their hearts and guiding them in Christ has been a challenging task, indeed, but it is worth it.

Suitors are now coming to call and the foundation that was laid all of these years is holding, by the grace of God.  It is not easy, and I, too, can easily falter if it were not for the compass I hold in my hand each day – the Bible.  You see, the philosophy of this day and age is to minimize the authority that parents have in their children’s lives.  It is viewed as old-fashioned.  So be it.  The role God gave parents is one He holds them accountable for, and that truth, coupled with the fear of the LORD, keeps me seeking God for His choice, not mine, in my children’s lives.

Worldliness is easy.  It is so woven into all of society, even in Christian places, that we can become dumbed down and not detect it anymore.  It is so hard to keep our hearts, let alone our children’s.  If I put my oxygen mask (the Bible) on each day, I am able to see clearly enough to place it on my children, but this also requires discipline and consistency in my life.

It starts when they are young.  Even when my children were first able to understand, I shared with them God’s word and how it differed from the world around us.  At that time I told them we were not going to follow the customs of the culture around us, including dating at a young age.  The follow up to that standard never relents and must not just be a legalistic mantra.  Godly standards flowing from genuine conviction breathe life, not rebellion.

This morning, my 10-year-old son knew I was not to be interrupted during my devotion time.  It is still so hard for him to not do so. Instead, he got his Bible out and read beside me and drew a picture from his devotion time, which I used for today’s blog. These moments are precious, but we cannot rest in them.  We have to keep building on this foundation and remind our kids that the faith they were taught has to become their own.

Back to my daughters.  Young men are now coming, asking to date or court my two oldest – pesky thing it is, them growing up.  Trying to walk the line of counseling my daughters and letting them make decisions is difficult, to say the least.  True character is shown soon enough, though, whether a young man will respect the parent’s place in the young woman’s life whom he admires, or whether he will secretly attempt to subvert the authority God has placed in my daughter’s lives.

We did not permit dating or courtship until they were 18 and have certainly been judged for doing so.  No regrets here. This past week I had the joy of having a godly young man inquire after one of my daughters.  They have been friends for a year and a half and walked through this process beautifully.  Moments like this make it all worth it.  Suitors can lie, manipulate and couch their professions of love in “Christianese”, but the Holy Spirit is able to guide important life decisions.  We just have to be seeking and listening.  True character is shown in time – we just must be vigilant!

My older son is a couple of years away from adulthood now.  Completely different and also much the same.  The principles of purity and guarding our hearts have been laid as groundwork since before he could first understand those words.  May he and his younger brother continue to walk in God’s ways and seek a righteous wife someday, for even the wisest man, Solomon, had wives turn his heart away from God toward worthless things.

Although Jacob might have easily disregarded his parent’s counsel, he did not.  He chose to obey and was rewarded for it. He had his own past of deceit and maybe learned from it.  My prayer is that my children will continue to choose the path of following God, but that will be their decision.  I am blessed to say that they are walking with God, but the spiritual battle for all of our children’s hearts is waged daily.  We have experienced firsthand how the disobedience of one person caused incredible pain and horrific consequences in our lives.  We do not want to walk that path again.

We never arrive as parents and never are done inspiring our children to love God.  The costs are just too high, and future generations are counting on the faithfulness of us right now.  We cannot become trapped in cultural pressure or fads.  Even terminology can become an idol – dating or courtship.  Choices lie before us all each day.  What we choose impacts those who follow behind us.  I choose by the grace of God blessing and not a curse – walking in obedience over rebellion, life over death.  What say you?

Lord, thank you for saving me and showing me the need for discipleship of the children You have given.  When I fall short, LORD, protect their hearts and enable us to follow hard after You, for You are our life!