Monday, December 30, 2019

Peace: My Goal for 2020

Little Women, Chapter 38

Are you the type of person to make a New Year resolution? I am. I love to spend the last couple days of the year contemplating my plans for the upcoming one: sorting through my "to be read" shelf to decide what books I will prioritize next, dreaming about how I can avoid the same old mistakes in this new year, coming up with that one word that will define the next 12 months of my life. Yep, I'm an optimist and I'm a word girl.

All this was much easier to do when all of my children were little and I was completely in charge of every schedule. Now that I've got two adults and three more teens behind those, (and four more littles behind those)! I've often got to work around their schedules of work, lessons, ministry, volunteer work, social life, and more. My word for the year of "intentional" or "just say no" or whatever gets lost in the busyness of accommodating other people's schedules.

Being sick the last few months taught me a lot of really valuable lessons. One thing I learned was how to find peace when life doesn't go the way I want it to. It could have been SO much worse, but I did miss a lot of special times with my family this past season. As I watched many of our usual Fall and early Winter traditions pass by with me too sick to make them happen, I had to choose between being resentful or being at peace. I had to find peace in not putting up all my usual Christmas decorations, in not making out my Christmas cards this year, in skipping our annual bonfire and hayride, in missing the night our family goes to look at lights on the town square.

I had to be very careful about ordering my days because I had just a bit of energy each day to spend on the most important things. In order to keep my home and family peaceful, I chose to focus on basic housecleaning, meal prep, and schooling. This meant stepping down from worship team and missing most church services, skipping time out with friends and staying off social media sometimes, dropping negative people from Facebook so I wouldn't dwell on stressful things, and generally turning my mind and heart inward to home to make sure I was providing the best atmosphere here.

All that is what I want this new year to be (without the sickness part, of course). I want to make the best choices that will keep my home peaceful. Some of the changes I made during that down time will remain permanent. As I enter 2020, I enter the decade that will bring the biggest changes to my life yet. Lord willing, by 2030, I will have eight adults and a graduate. I will be 50 years old. I will probably be a grandmother.

These next 10 years can be super crazy and super hard---or they can be positive times of peaceful change. Much of that depends on me and the atmosphere I create in my home. I'm not afraid to say no to good things in order to do the best things. I'm not afraid to upset someone with a choice they don't understand. Peace at all costs! Ha! That will be my motto for 2020. What I learned during that down time was that peace can be had in all circumstances, if I am intentional about listening to the Prince of Peace and His daily direction for my ministry at home.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28-29 (NKJV)

Monday, December 2, 2019

Psalm 68 and the Long Winter's Nap

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our Salvation!" 

Psalm 68:19 KJV

"Blessed be Adonai! Every day he bears our burden, does God our salvation." 

Psalm 68:19 CJB*

This verse is translated differently, depending on the version of the Bible you read; but whether He is loading us with benefits or bearing our burdens, one things is certain: God is continuously taking care of us. 

As I enter into this year's December, I find that God is introducing a way in which he wants me to approach this season. The theme of "reflection" has been the topic of several articles and memes lately. 

I've spent a lot of time at home this season as I've dealt with multiple rounds of debilitating sickness. I've had a lot of time to rest--well, as much as a mother of nine can reasonably expect to have. However, I'm very much feeling a draw to spend time in quiet reflection...thinking on the things of Philippians 4:8, meditating on my God who fills me with blessings and lifts off my burdens. 

In the winter, animals hibernate, insects diapause, plants go dormant. What do humans do? We continue to hustle and bustle and stress and mess and make ourselves silly, old, and frowny!

This season, I'm choosing a sabbath---a sabbatical---a long winter's nap. I'm choosing to surround myself with things that bring peace and to separate myself, as much as it depends on me, from the things that bring stress.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." 

Romans 12:2 NKJV

To be effective ministers, mentors, and moms, we must have this time of meditating on the Word and on the Lord and letting Him renew our strength, peace, and sense of purpose. We must give Him our burdens and allow Him to "load us with benefits." I read that and think of a reloadable gift card loaded up with beneficial cash or credit. What do we do with that card? At the appointed time, when we venture out, we spend it. The Christian who desires to minister doesn't need to be afraid that taking "time off" will cause the ministry to lose ground---whether it be something at home like homeschooling, or something outside the home like women's ministry or a weekly group study. It's actually the opposite. As we spend time being renewed and rejuvenated, we find that God is loading us up with lots of good things that can be spent on others at the appointed time.

May this season be a time of rest and reflection for you and those you minister to!

*The CJB is the Complete Jewish Study Bible, a valuable and fun cross-reference I've recently discovered.