Intentional Living…

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One of the challenges I give myself spiritually, and as a wife and mother, is to choose the way I live my life as intentionally as I can. It’s easy to go through your days like a robot. Or to follow the ways of the world and immerse yourself into what culture, community, or media dictates as “normal” or “ok.” I like to be different. Go against the grain. Challenge myself to be better. To have a reason for everything I do and to be sure that my reasons are in line with what my beliefs are. I don’t often give myself a head check to see how I’m doing with my intentions, though.

I’m a perfectionist. I hate that about myself. I crave order, demand it, actually. And it can be crippling sometimes. I haven’t figured out why I am like this or why it’s so hard for me to compromise. I have some ideas, but I won’t get into that. That could be a whole other conversation. But the craving, and exhausting clamor, for perfect, order, glitch free, or whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish is getting in the way of me following through on my intentions.

When I decide to tackle an area of my life, whether it’s exercise, healthy eating and cooking, home care, spirituality, serving my spouse or children, cleaning, jumping back into my career, whatever…I do it with amazing force and power. I knock it out of the park…for a little while…until I, predictably, get burned out and somewhat frustrated that everything else in that list has been completely ignored and left behind. And I end up with an amazing amount of catching up to do in those other areas in my life that I am responsible for. And even though I am doing beyond great in one category of life, I end up feeling a little bit like a failure because everything else was left in the dust. It’s a ridiculous cycle I go through over and over that needs to be balanced. Please tell me that I am not the only person who does this?!!

Yesterday, my husband called me on his way home from work after getting a text from one of our kids asking him to pick something up on his way because we couldn’t figure out what to make. The afternoon had gotten away from me and nothing was prepared. He started the conversation by saying, “So I guess this isn’t one of those days where I come home to an awesome dinner waiting for me on the table?” Although it was totally lighthearted with no negative intentions, the guilt that welled up inside of me was pretty intense. He was totally right, although he didn’t know it. That act of service…having an amazing home cooked meal on the table when he gets home…is one of my intentions. It may sound old fashioned, but the results that come from it relationally within our family, and our marriage, are very sweet. That statement from my husband let me know that action on that intention is important to him as well, for whatever reason it is for him. Being an attentive wife and mother is so important. I know this. It’s one of my most important jobs that God has bestowed upon me. Getting caught up in other things, our unusual and unpredictable summer schedule, trying to find some semblance of a routine, and spending too much time thinking about how I can be a better person, and planning my perfection, has caused a lacking in my attentiveness.

Today I am thankful for my husband and his witty remark about a lack of dinner on the table last night. It unintentionally reopened my eyes to that list of intentions that I have and desire so greatly to balance throughout my life so I can be a blessing to those around me, and, be a reflection of God to others who watch me. Thanks for the “head check” my love, you make me a better person!

“Do not conform 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.” ~ Romans 12:2

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The Power of Influence…

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I was reading through portions of the books of Galatians and Acts in my bible this morning.  A section in Acts talked about Paul and Barnabas preaching to the Jews and Gentiles about Christ.  It’s no secret that Paul and Barnabas were often targets of violence and persecution because of their outspoken beliefs.  Yet that abuse never stopped them from continuing on and faithfully teaching and preaching.  After speaking to a large group, Paul and Barnabas’ words were spreading like wildfire.  Some Jews, of course, did not like this and began to plot against them.  While reading, I was pointed through my study to a verse to think more intently upon and study the context around it.  Here’s where it get’s interesting to me…

“But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high standing and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.” -Acts 13:50

Who did the Jews motivate first to act against Paul and Barnabas?  Women.  And not just any women.  They were “God-fearing women of high standing…”, women of influence.  Interesting.  I then read this statement in my study book

For reasons we may never know, God entrusted womankind a most wonderful and terrible gift; the power of influence.

I’ve never thought about my influence being a gift from God.  In fact, if I really meditate on that, I would say that in thinking about influence, I would relate to it in a negative way – the terrible gift.  I think of people, including myself, to often use their influence to be manipulative or for personal gain.  It’s not really a fair thought and I am somewhat embarresed and disappointed with myself that I immediately went that direction in my head with it.  But what if I used my gift of influence for positive and unselfish gain?  What would that look like?  My thoughts immediately went to my children and husband, and then ventured outward to the rest of my family, friends, and those I don’t even know.  Suddenly I feel a weight on my shoulders that I am not doing what I could to influence others in a positive way.

What does the gift of influence look like in my home?  At a family gathering?  Out shopping at the grocery store? At church?  Wow.  God is pressing upon my heart to really think about this and take action.  At best, my influence should teach, encourage, nurture, love, and allow others to grow.  This is powerful and I am equipped and capable of doing all those things.  What a wonderful and unexpected gift.