Candy blogs: Today all the electronic connections in the office went down, even the phones were down so we couldn’t even make an announcement that everything was down! The power was still on but we couldn’t connect to it. We all groaned and whined and bemoaned all the work that wouldn’t get done or would have to be crammed into the end of the day.
Some went home because they didn’t think they had anything to do. Someone else would fix this and office life would get back to normal. Some plugged into different connection sources on their laptops or Blackberrys that were outside our company network. Some were forced to complete tasks they’d been putting off … you know, boring maintenance things like scanning and filing and tidying or cleaning out the break room refrigerator. Things that had to be done but no one wanted to do them. It was either that or not get paid!
We can allow our relationship with God to become like this office disconnect. We wake up one day and find we have no power in our spiritual life. We have no joy, no motivation. Relationships seem bothersome; spiritual growth seems too hard; our church body “work” seems more like an obligation; our frustration level is high and our energy level is low; our anger flares more easily; we second guess ourselves; we don’t like who we are; we keep ourselves busy with activity; we have no spiritual focus … our spiritual mind tends to wander; we feel weak. Where is the peace?
We need to rest. But what about all the things that needs to be done?! What about ministry needs? What about time for nurturing relationships? What about being productive at work? The house needs cleaning. What about the schedule? What about sleep, for heaven’s sake?! We don’t have time to be weak …
Ah … it is at this exact moment of awareness that the Lord comes with His offering of divine peace and rest. Perhaps we’ve “gone home” or tuned out His voice in the busyness of life. We think God will somehow magically fix it so that we have a vital spiritual life. We may have plugged in to other power sources outside of the Lord’s “network”. He comes with an invitation to do some spiritual “maintenance.” You know, the stuff you don’t think you have time for … like reading the Word and two-way prayer (talking AND listening). Stuff that has to be done but most of us put off because we’re so busy “doing” instead of “being”.
If we will “maintain” our spiritual life, that ugly list above will shorten and become less intense. Our joy will return. Our relationships will be more fulfilling and our productivity will increase. Our perspective returns to us. We will hear His voice more clearly. We will have a sense of power and motivation. We will enjoy peace and rest in our spirits even in the midst of a busy schedule.
Which list do you prefer?
Eventually the electronic connections at the office were restored. What did it take? Pushing the reset button on the server. The good news about the office disconnect? The coffee pot worked the whole time!
Candy blogs: See, Candy? You’re not the only one at Wal-Mart at 5:45 a.m. There are many other people here snatching bits of time for family needs. See Candy? I am answering your prayers for provision through honorable work. See Candy? My plans for you don’t preclude your inner circle … your immediate family and close friends. Spend your irreplaceable currency of time on me, yourself and your inner circle first. Then expand outward. It’s all my calling on your life. See Candy? I have shown you that you’re on the right path. There’s no whining on the right path.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening …
What are you listening for today?
Candy blogs: My grandparents used to keep a gallon jar on the dresser in their bedroom. As a child, I lived with them for two years around the ages of 7-8. I watched that jar slowly fill up with quarters. (I’m thinking that they kept their other change to give me to wrap up in a ladies hankie for my Sunday School offering. The hankie kept me from losing the coins before I got to class.) As you can imagine, seeing all those quarters was very attractive to a little girl who had no money of her own. I used to stand in front of it and just LOOK at it, wondering how much money was really in there. Sometimes I’d hear them dump that jar on the bed to count it and I’d run in to watch. I loved those days! I’d never seen so much money! One day I finally asked my grandma why they put their quarters in a jar. She said that they were saving up for a new dryer. One day that gallon jar disappeared and a brand new dryer appeared on the front porch.
I wish I could say that I had applied that lesson when I grew up. I did not.
My husband and I lived deep in debt and no plan for our future for 30 years. Am I sorry? Do we have regrets? Absolutely yes. I will never forget the emotions of being debt-oppressed. Buying things on credit always felt great at the time we purchased things, but later as the payments started adding up, we began to feel the stranglehold of crushing debt. We always thought we couldn’t afford to put money into savings or retirement, couldn’t afford to tithe. God wouldn’t have us pay our tithe and then not be able to pay our bills, would He? We always paid our bills … we had excellent credit. Why didn’t that feel better?
What should I have learned from Grandma’s gallon jar?
♥ live on less than you make
♥ pay as you go
♥ save up for big purchases
♥ save for a rainy day
I missed this verse in the Bible …
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Prov 31:21-22
The current economic times have given us a wake up call. Although I see unemployment and struggle, including my family, I also see that many Americans, including my family, are beginning to change their priorities. We are re-using and recycling instead of thinking of everything as disposable. We are becoming more people-focused rather than possession-focused.
>>We can all see first hand the danger of instant gratification. For years most of us have been spending more than we make because we wanted the good life without earning it. For many of you girlfriends out there that meant that you had to keep working, even if you would rather have stayed home to raise your children. Many of you chose to raise your incomes by both parents working rather than live within your means. And many don’t live within their means even with both parents working. We didn’t.
Let’s save and plan ahead for large purchases. We’ll appreciate it so much more if we saved and sacrificed for it. The feeling is so much different when one can walk into a store and hand over CASH instead of a CARD! Sometimes you might even change you mind about the purchase. When it comes right down to it, it’s hard to part with a big pile of cash! We’re more focused on getting as much value for our money as possible instead of just because it’s the prettiest or the biggest or the newest.
Educate yourself financially. Make a plan. Know where your money is going. Keep tabs on your savings and investments, especially the things that automatically come out of your paychecks. Look head to expected upcoming expenses. (As I recently heard Dave Ramsey say, “You don’t have to buy a turkey every month but in November you have to plan ahead to buy one.” Love that!) Learn some financial basics. We do our loved ones a disservice when we leave all our financial information in our heads.
When our daughter announced her engagement in 2008, we went to our bank to arrange for a second on our mortgage. We hadn’t saved up for a wedding, even though we’d known there would probably be one on the day she was born 24 years earlier. We began the Financial Peace University class in the spring of 2008. Wouldn’t you know it?! We were encouraged to actually look into our finances. And to our delight we discovered that we had enough company stock to pay for the wedding in cash! If we hadn’t taken that class, we would have taken out a second on our mortgage and still be paying it off with no hope for the future. It was our absolute joy to give that wedding to our daughter and her husband. We enjoyed every moment of the planning and the purchasing and the wedding day.>>Don’t you long for a more simple life? I hear it in conversations everywhere. Then live more simply. It really can be that simple. Choose and do. Are you too busy doing too many good things? How many coats do you have in your closet? Are you complaining about cleaning three bathrooms? Are your relationships in constant conflict? Has technology taken over your family? Have you let your hobbies rob you of quality time with those you love? Or …
Do you enjoy time playing games together? Have you spent time on your elegantly decorated front porch? Do you take time for dinner around the dinner table? Have you stopped the “I must top last year’s gift” for birthday and holiday family celebrations? Have you sat in front of the fireplace and just watched the flames, while listening to family stories or peaceful music? Do you actually look at your photo albums? Are you teaching your children by example the principle of giving and serving others?
A simple life won’t just drop out of heaven, as I’m so fond of saying. If it comes to you, it will be the result of an intentional choice. Our lives don’t get less busy as the seasons come and go. We have to take the reins of our lives and make it go where we want it to go. Today matters. There may never be a tomorrow.
Check out this picture of Scott and me cutting up our credit cards at our FPU class! (picture to the right and up a little)
Grandma’s gallon jar … I wonder how much money was really in there …
Candy blogs: Are you a hurried, harried working mom? My heart goes out to you. I was one for 22 years. I recognize the weary look in your eyes. I remember that deep sigh as you were about to walk in the door from work. “Buck up,” you tell yourself. “No relaxing for you yet.” Since I can’t talk about EVERY relevant topic for working moms, I’ll choose one thing I am especially concerned about. And I wish I had you sitting in my living room or at my kitchen table, coffee in hand, relating lovingly face to face, eye to eye.
When my kids were growing up, I began to notice that most of their friends’ moms didn’t cook much at home. When they came home from spending time in other homes, my kids would tell me the kinds of foods they ate while they were there: frozen pizza, meal in a box, dumped from a can or heated in the microwave. There was even one time when my daughter went looking for ingredients to make a meal for her and her friend at the friend’s house and literally couldn’t find enough items to put a simple meal together.
This means as mothers we aren’t teaching our children how to shop for groceries or how to prepare and cook real food. What we ARE teaching them is that convenience trumps value. It’s more convenient to eat out or grab something pre-packaged from the freezer or pantry than prepare a real meal or snack. Of course, convenience foods have their place but not on a regular basis.
As a working mom I often saw cooking as a horrible chore, as something that had to be done and was keeping me from doing something I wanted to do. I don’t love to cook. But overall, I did know that preparing a meal for my husband and family made them feel love and comfort. Eating at home as a family has more benefits than just love and comfort however: you know where they are, you know what they’re eating, you have opportunity for conversation and debriefing about the day, the busy pace slows for this time together, you can share traditions and look into each others’ faces. Sharing a meal is sharing life together.
She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls. Prov. 31:14-15
I can hear you now. If you feel you don’t have time to cook, or, like me, don’t like to cook, get comfortable with some basic recipes and rotate them. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be enjoyed. Get good at 10 or 12 recipes that your family enjoys and rotate them. You can also always have the ingredients for those recipes on hand.
Do you know the cooking basics? Sear/fry, roast, bake, crumble, beat, fold, rue, steam, etc.? I’m no expert but I do have a command of the cooking basics and that has been quite good enough. If you weren’t taught the basics of cooking, go online, watch some cooking shows, ask a good cook whom you admire to share some teaching time with you, take a community cooking class, cook with friends, experiment. Try doubling recipes and freezing one batch for later. It’s not rocket science but it pays big dividends.
Some who will read this will be chuckling to themselves. Candy? Writing a blog post about the benefits of cooking?! It IS laughable. But I did cook at home most of the time when we were raising our kids. And my daughter has a knowledge of the cooking basics. I did go through a period of years at the beginning of our empty nest where I thought I deserved to take a break from cooking. Perhaps I did. But it came at a very high price. We spent hundreds of dollars every month on eating out when we could have been getting out of debt faster and building toward our future.
And don’t forget the value of teaching your children to work in the kitchen as well. Kids should be involved in the whole process of menu selection, grocery shopping, meal preparation, setting and clearing the table, washing dishes, tidying the kitchen, sweeping the floor and emptying the garbage. It doesn’t have to be all you. Are you a control freak? Does everything have to be done a certain way, to the point that you can’t allow others to help you? Get over yourself. So what if you can do it better and faster? It’s not about you. It’s about teaching and training your children to be functioning, contributing members of their own families someday. They should be able to take care of themselves when they leave your home. Are you raising demanding princes and princesses? We see them everywhere. There are entire TV shows about them.
Yes, there will be more dishes to do, more shopping to do, more messes to clean up. But there will also be easier weight management, a healthier family, you’ll save money, you will treasure a sense of well being, and you’ll actually be sharing life with the ones you love most instead of just surviving each day. Every day matters, girls. A lifetime is just an accumulation of individual days.
So what’s for dinner?
Into this messy life of mine, I invite Him in, asking Him to shine through the chaos. Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience
Candy blogs: One of my favorite quotes: “He who is enslaved to the compass has the freedom of the seas.” This saying has been on my computer monitor at work for many years. It has helped me navigate the sometimes murky ethical waters of the corporate world. But I’ve found that it has many applications in my life.
It took time to come to the realization that “the compass” was not what was restricting my life. For so long I fought against the compass … feeling guilty for not reading the Bible enough, not praying enough, not going to church every Sunday, getting my ears pierced, wearing pants to church, swimming on Sundays, moving my hips when I sang, making out with my boyfriend, liking rock music, dancing, and then later not being the perfect June Cleaver wife and mother, overeating, going to R rated movies. The list is endless. Yes, it was a list.
I felt almost compelled to do these things because I felt restricted. I felt that “the compass” was legalistic and was boxing me in. The longer the list of don’ts, the faster I ran the other way. I hated being told what to do and how to spend my time. But as time passed I grew frustrated at the lack of spiritual power in my life. What did one have to DO anyway to have the dynamic spiritual life I saw in those around me?! I didn’t know where to go next. When had I done enough to gain favor with God? When had I crossed over the line into sin? It was a very confusing time. I was tired from the “doing.” I had swam and paddled and drifted but there was no destination in sight. I was lost on “the seas.” I had ignored the compass.
Recently, I found what I believe to be the original quote from above:
“The slave to the compass has freedom of the seas. The rest must sail close to the shore.” anon
It adds another dimension, doesn’t it? What is sailing close to the shore anyway? Sounds very poetic but how do we apply it in a practical way?
Giving up our rights. We must remember that we aren’t the center of the universe! We cannot look at everything based on how it makes US feel. Sometimes we must give up being right in order to save a relationship. Sometimes we must eliminate our expectations to keep from hurting others or being hurt by others. Sometimes we must put our needs aside for the needs of a loved one. Often we must give up what we want for the good of family, hold an opinion in check because it is poor timing or can’t be expressed without a critical tone, accept people and situations we have no control over and grieve in silence rather than lashing out in hurt or anger.
Abandoning the safety of the shoreline. The future is an unknown. Tomorrow is unknown. This is a breeding ground for fear. We so often step into the future fearfully, looking beside or behind us for the outline of the shore. To me the shore represents the past, the familiar. We’ve always done it a certain way, we’ve always believed this, we’ve always walked a certain path because it is familiar. Living too close to the shore brings living with hurt feelings, needing the approval of others, being bound by needless rules to follow and lists to check off, assuming the worst in others, nursing old grudges, feeling justified in being right at the expense of others, having a reputation as a grumbler, ignoring our God-given value and worth. We are too afraid to try new things, experience it in a different way, make that leap of faith for a deeper walk with Jesus. We use the shore as our reference point instead of the compass. Only the compass can take us into the deep places. If we choose the shoreline, we’ll always be looking behind instead of ahead to the freedom-filled life God has waiting for us.
Over time, the “doing” gives way to the “being.” We’re no longer drawn to the list of do’s and don’ts. The rules are viewed as “training” for ocean sailing! The compass keeps us on course. The result is the wind in our face!
Are we satisfied sailing close to the shore? Or can we hear the mysteries and deepness of the seas calling out to us … the call of freedom? With a compass, we can go anywhere! All we have to do is chart a course, check the compass and off we go … farther and farther from the safety and familiarity of the shoreline. Ahead? The vastness of the seas!
Proverbs 8:27-29 (King James Version)
27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: 28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: 29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth …
for those of you reading from somewhere else: