I Am Thankful…

I am thankful for…

  • The crystal coat of frost on the grass in the mornings.
  • Cold air and warm coats.
  • Three tiny tickly bodies.
  • A new friend, baking up a storm and laughing in the kitchen.
  • The peacefulness of the house at nap time.
  • Little arms reaching up.
  • The warm arms of my husband around me in the night.
  • The subtle citrus candle that makes my house smell clean.
  • Thoughtful conversations with a five-year-old.
  • The tree with red leaves that haven’t yet fallen.
  • The anticipation of exciting things to come (a catch up with a good friend, a date with my husband and a weekend getaway with my family).
  • The pink glow of the sunset across the sky.
  • The feeling of a full tummy.

 

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. In this season, I am thankful for all He has given.

Photo1034

 

Advertisements

What’s Your Default?

I’m a huge fan of learning from other women, particularly when it comes to practical stuff like child-rearing and home-making. I’m sure most of the good ideas I use daily came from watching and learning!

So I was delighted to read this blog post by Jess Connell recently, called Here’s What I Learned Watching my Friend be ‘Busy at Home’. She talks about several tips she picked up by observing her friend.

Here’s the one that stood out to me:

#7- CHOOSE TO HAVE A DEFAULT POSTURE OF BUSYNESS, NOT IDLENESS

I noticed throughout the week that her default “position” was at the kitchen sink. This may be the most important of all… not that we all stand around in our kitchens all day… but that her position was one that put her in a ready position to field meals, cleaning, and the family calendar. Did you ever play baseball or softball? “Get into position!” meant to hustle to the spot where you would be most advantageously used for the position you were playing. THAT is what I saw in my friend Kelly. She was “in position” for much of the day, doing dishes, preparing treats for her gluten-free son, checking out the calendar to be ready for what was coming, browsing a cookbook for something tasty that night, etc. Her default position was one of busyness, not idleness.

I found it particularly challenging because if I think about it, my default “position” throughout the day is probably sitting at my laptop, reading news or current affairs sites. Sure, I do plenty of other things, but that’s where I bounce back to in between activities. And it’s a default position of idleness, for sure.

Since I read this last week, I’ve been actively trying to change my default to one of busyness. Like the mum mentioned in Jess’s article, the kitchen is probably a good central place for me to default to. It’s where my planner lives, and there is always something I can do there – dishes to wash, food to prepare, floor to sweep. So I’ve been making more of an effort to head back to the kitchen when I seem to have a spare moment, or when I’m not sure what to do next. There, I either just start doing something or check in with my planner to find out what I should do next (I usually mentally divide tasks into things that can be done with “kids awake” or “kids asleep”).

The results are that I’m getting a lot more done! (Surprise!) And I don’t have as much of the restless “I should be doing something, but I don’t know what” feeling.

dsc_03421.jpg

My kitchen doesn’t always look like this, but when it does, I take a picture!

But I’ve been thinking about this concept of our “default”, and I think it applies beyond just busyness/idleness.

Here are some other questions I’ve been thinking through:

  • Is my default demeanour one of cheerfulness and laughter, or sombreness and sighs? (Remember, we’re talking about what our default mindset is, not our constant mindset!) I remember once I sighed and my daughter asked me, “Mummy, why did you say *sigh*?” I hadn’t done so consciously, so it was a good reminder that my children are watching how I carry myself, and that they pick up so much from the unspoken things. Sometimes I remind myself to put the smile back on my face as I finish something more serious, like disciplining a child or concentrating on a physical task. I’m not talking about fake-smiling (plastering on a smile to mask real feelings of despair) – but I often find that when I consciously put a smile on my face, I feel more happy (or maybe I remember that I am happy). Another method I use to reset the mood is bursting out in song or making a loud, silly noise (I have preschoolers – they think I’m hilarious).

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Proverbs 17:22

  • When I face hard circumstances, do I default to worrying and fretting, or do I take my concerns to God in prayer? This is one the Lord has really been impressing upon my heart lately – just how much worry is a waste of time. Sometimes I will spend half a day worrying about something, going over scenarios in my head, trying to think of ways to fix it but coming up short, which leads to more worry. Then I remember to pray. And I put my concerns in God’s hands and walk away from it. And I breathe easy. And I wonder why it took me so long to do, realising that I just wasted a whole morning’s worth of thoughts. God wants us to bring our concerns to him – he has the power to take away our anxiety and also to fix what is troubling us (even if that doesn’t always look how we imagined). If we truly believe this, we should work to make our default response one of prayer.

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:27

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7

dsc_0136

I’d love to hear your thoughts – what do you default to?

Idleness or busyness?

Cheerfulness or sombreness?

Worry or prayer?

 

 

 

The Joyless Martyr

What’s the difference between a martyr and a Christ-like servant? What’s the difference between service that God rewards and service that He rejects?

I’ve been thinking this over a lot lately as I find my physical limitations being tested and consistently coming up short against my desires and my duties.

Times when I look at a floor covered with toys, rubbish and goodness knows what else, and I really want to just whizz around and pick it all up, but I know that I will pay for it with a sore back and hips.

Times when I just want to be close to my husband, but we’re always a beach-ball or a backache apart.

Times when I think of that friend I really need to call and ask how she’s going, but if I don’t go nap RIGHT THEN, I probably won’t get to at all. And if I don’t nap, my kids will probably end up watching TV for 3 hours and eating vegemite sandwiches for dinner.

Times when I was up all through the night because a little person needed water, and the baby was jumping on my bladder and the smoke alarm JUST NEEDED TO CHECK IT STILL WORKED (it does), and then the kids wake up early, and they need to be dressed and have breakfast made, and how I feel about it is irrelevant. So even though my body is screaming “you need to sleep!” I get up and get on with it.

IMG_0513

 

I think there are two struggles with legalism.

There are people who struggle with believing that they are saved by how well they can follow God’s rules, so they set up rules around the Rules like little fences, so they don’t even have to worry about not “making it”.

Other people struggle with legalism by trying to define the rules so narrowly that they weasel their way out of following them most of the time – coming up with reasons they don’t apply or redefining what they mean until there’s nothing left to obey.

I struggle with the former. I want to know what the rules are so that I can stick to them. Check them off my list. Done.

And so when I encounter times like this where I can see, on the one hand, the “right” thing to do and yet, on the other hand, feel completely, physically incapable of doing it, it gets me really down.

I end up either pushing through and doing it anyway, feeling really sorry for myself and slightly angry at all the people I imagine should have “rescued” me. Or I don’t do that thing, and then feel completely wracked with guilt – because what are physical limitations when I serve an all-powerful God, right? Oh, me of little faith!

IMG_0884

I’ve been reading through Philippians lately in my quiet time, and I always find this book so rich in so many ways. But the one passage I am consistently drawn back to each time is Philippians 2:5-11:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Let’s see, what should I do… serve others? Check. Humble myself? Check. Obedience? Check.

 

But what does Paul actually say? Is this really a check list of things the Christian should do?

He actually says, “have this mind among yourselves”. Mind. Mindset. Attitude.

That’s the hard part for me. I can force myself to push through (some) physical limitations, but I can’t (won’t?) force a good attitude.

I remember so many times my husband has tried to call me out on an attitude problem, and my response has been, “Just tell me what you want me to do” or “Just tell me what I should say/how I should say it”.

Outwardly, it sounds like the godly thing to ask. I’m just trying to be obedient, right? I’m trying to do the right thing here! Just tell me what it is!

But this completely misses the point (and drives my husband crazy).

The point is that our attitude is the same as Jesus’s. The point is that we serve whole-heartedly. The point is that we are giving and doing out of the joy that overflows from our hearts.

And I think that answers my original question:

What’s the difference between a martyr and a Christ-like servant?

Real, Christ-loving, Spirit-fed joy.

This is my goal, that I can serve the Lord and others with joy, pouring myself out as I imitate Christ. But that I will not be weighed down by the burden of “can’t”. That I will seek the Lord for wisdom as to when I “should” or “should not”.

IMG_0991

I wanted to finish with a quote from a book I’ve been reading, Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem and the Joys of Motherhood, by Rachel Jankovic. Honestly, it’s hard to share just one quote – I’ve been highlighting every second page or so, it is just exactly what I need to hear right now. (Go read it!)

When you find yourself getting stuck in a needing mentality, you will look for ways to give. And you won’t look for ways to give just because you have to, and it is a terrible Christian duty. It is our duty, but when we faithfully obey as unto the Lord, we are given great joy, great satisfaction, and great fulfillment in the task. When you empty yourself for others, God fills you up. But not so that you can suddenly retire with your little packet of joy. God gives to us that we may give. We give, He gives us more, with which to give more.

Amen to that.