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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What do you get when you have a family of 7 and remove half the sq footage of their home, two-thirds of their televisions and electronic screen time, nine-tenths of the surrounding traffic, noise, and life busy-ness, and hopefully, all of their insanity?  The next phase of our life…

That’s right, this family is going on an adventure…an adventure that moves us drastically towards a life of minimalism.  I might be a little terrified.  But I’m also beginning to feel incredibly calm about the whole idea and can no longer argue that it’s not the right direction for us…argue for very long, at least.

This story starts with a previous adventure…a move to a new state and a larger city.  We settled into a luxuriously glorious life with everything we hoped for in a home, schools, and location and loved every aspect of our new environment.  God blessed us with a smooth transition and amazing surroundings.  And we were happy, settled, and content. Then something happened.  Despite the fact that we had everything we needed and then some, we kept adding more.  More activities, more sports, more driving, more meetings, more craziness, more needless spending, more monthly expenses which resulted in more bills, more furniture, more clothing, more toys, more hired help, more date nights, more vacations to get away from all things more…which all led to more…discontent.   The discontent led to hunger; a hunger for change. Change that simplifies our home, our belongings, our finances, our schedules, our decisions, our everything!  And I’ve realized over some time now, that someone else was hungry for change as well.

God has been nudging us to make some adjustments in how we are living and utilizing His blessings and we are (finally) responding.  There is something incredibly frightening, and humbling, about following the voice and nudging’s of our awesome Creator, yet at the same time, so incredibly peaceful and really exciting.

I’m sure in this process there will be some tears, some frustration, and a little more craziness and chaos at first, but there is in all transitions, and I know after the initial hub-bub, we can look forward to a renewed sense of calm.  But this time, my husband and I are hoping for a new kind of calm.  One that allows us more time together as a family, in the Word, out in the community we live in getting to know our neighbors FACE TO FACE.  We want a calm that allows us to rest in the evening when our heads lay on our pillows, instead of anxiety about how we will manage our next day.

About two weeks ago, we started this adventure in a new home.  A home more than half the size of the last two homes we have lived in.  It’s 20 miles outside of the city we were once in the middle of.  We sold almost all of our furniture and a few random things here and there.  We packed the rest up and plopped it into the new two-stall garage. We have every necessity we need inside this new home and everything else remains out there.  That’s one of the chapters to be written about next in this adventure.  To sort and release everything we just don’t use or need today.  No more holding on to “what if’s”.  We have learned by experience, so many times, that God will provide us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.  And if it doesn’t come in our timing, we can figure from that it’s just not supposed to be a part of us at that particular moment.  God has a better plan.

As we move forward in faith, we hope to stand strong and be an example to live simply and free, to reduce our belongings and provide a refreshing view of a simpler pace of life.  It can work and we intend to prove to ourselves that this is what normal should look like. Not like we thought it should be by following along in the pace of our society today. I look forward to sharing our stories of success and failure in this journey and what lessons God teaches us along the way.  Already, in the middle of our transition and slight bits of chaos, we are seeing the benefits of taking this leap.  I have a feeling the reduction of “more” is going to result in something else “more,” a much better kind of “more.” God is funny that way.

Crying Out to God…

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When I studied the life of David a few months ago, and read his anguish in the Psalms, I realized that I have never cried out to God or called out to him in times of despair quite like David had.  Thankfully for me, God inspired the young, soon-to-be-king, to write his feelings down, and then preserved them forever in scripture.

David is a good example for me on how I should be praying to God.  This is an area in my life that I tend to struggle with a bit.  I love prayer.  But, let’s face it, sometimes it can be awkward, right?  If praying silently in my head, quietly writing in a journal, or occasionally aloud with family or friends can feel awkward and one-sided now, how do I grasp this concept of crying out to God in times of desperate need just like David did?  When I feel desperate, I am often at a loss for words and I rarely respond to my difficulties with immediate and passionate prayer.  This is so practical and tangible, I don’t know why I don’t.  AND…have you ever asked someone else to pray for you instead of praying for yourself?  Yea, me too.

Sometimes I just feel like I can’t make a connection with God, that the relationship just isn’t there.  I long to feel His attention and presence in my life.  When there is difficulty, I do sometimes lay out the circumstances to Him…but a lot of the time, I just don’t know how to pray or what to say.  And honestly, I have never “cried out” to God in any circumstance.  I try to roll with it, endure it, figure it out, and fix it myself.  But I learned with this study, that maybe I endure too much for too long because I don’t bring it to Him with my full emotion and ask for help or to be rescued from the storm.

I need encouragement to be specific in my prayer life.  If I’m going to share a cup of tea and pour out my heart to someone it needs to be with Him, not my girlfriend, not even my husband.  Remembering this study not too long ago, I did just that.  I haven’t accomplished crying out to God ALOUD, which I think I should do, but I prayed for the first time with everything that I had.  It was all in my head as I lay in bed but it was heavy and specific.  The next morning, the weight had been lifted, my motivation was renewed, and I moved forward, not with perfection or even being rescued, but with clarity.  And I was calm.

I mentioned I need encouragement to be specific in my prayer life.  And wouldn’t you know, this connection with God was encouraging to me.  I was blessed for trying and applying something I had previously learned.  He truly is paying attention.  I know my next step in prayer will be to speak out aloud and hear myself calling to God…which is what I should be doing.  I know the awkwardness will fade and I will get there.  But in the meantime, I am thankful that He met me where I am for now.

“I pour out my complaint before Him, before Him I tell my trouble.  When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.” Psalm 142: 2-3