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: I am just now coming out of one of the busiest seasons I have ever experienced. I’ve been driving full force since December and it has been unavoidable. The “D” or “lion” part of my personality has literally pulled me through these months. I have missed the “I” or “otter” part of my personality and have missed interacting with many of you here. I hope to be getting back to weekly posts now.
I’ve been reflecting over these past months. Here’s what I’m thinking.
I went through my first bookkeeping year end in ten years in January. It left me dazed and traumatized. I had to re-educate myself about deadlines and multiple state rules. There are so many more options now with online submissions, etc. It was a nightmare for this out of the box bookkeeper. I do know what I’ll be doing differently next year … purchase forms and envelopes on January 2, forget using the IRS forms, look into free IRS online submission options way before deadline. Most important of all, do not fill in any of those blank calendar squares in January with anything besides year end deadlines.
My Father-in-Law’s Passing
After several years of ill health, my dear father-in-law passed away in January. With honor and joy, I planned and officiated the service. Since he passed away in another state, we spent a lot of time on the phone and texting with our step-mom to offer as much support as we could. As our family gathered together, we spent time remembering Dad and had very meaningful conversations about life and death and family dynamics. His legacy is strong in us. We miss him.
My schedule was clicking away smoothly until one day I made a phone call that had nothing to do with my bookkeepig business. As it turned out, I found a new bookkeeping client that is a match made in heaven. It was good news but it put my carefully controlled schedule into a tizzy. I have wondered about the timing because of the burden of the very tight schedule but, as Dave Ramsey says, you have to work hard for a dream. My dream and calling is to speak full time. As the dream builds, we still have to meet some current financial needs and goals. So for a season, I’ll be working hard and I’ll get tired. But hard work never hurt anyone. God is so good.
The most active times for speakers are spring and fall. This spring has been no exception. I have been so privileged to have had such a full speaking calendar! It has been a joyful whirlwind! Some travel has been with my husband and included other friends and family in conjunction with speaking engagements. And I have also traveled alone. One of my favorite things about speaking is the blessing of meeting many lovely new friends. My gratefulness to my Lord Jesus Christ for allowing me to be living and serving in my strengths and passions in this way almost cannot be contained.
Local Church Ministry
During these past months, ministry in my local church has continued. I did cut some things but other things had to increase. One thing I am passionate about is facilitating Dave Ramsey’s course, “Financial Peace University”. This class changed our lives four years ago and it’s a privilege to share it with as many others as possible. If you’re struggling with finances, I encourage you to click the links above. Find a class nearby. There is hope for you.
I am grateful for a healthy, alive church and a small group within that church who challenge me to walk the deeper path.
Since I speak very publically about the importance of self care, I made a conscious effort to practice it during these months. I made time for girlfriends, got consistent sleep, took consistent work breaks during the day, enjoyed peaceful music in my office and burned beautiful candles. These things helped me breathe in rest and refreshment and helped me continue in the busy season.
Time for Rest
After my last scheduled week of speaking in the middle of April in Colorado, I’ll be settling in to await the birth of our first grandchild. It’s time to help feather the nest, recall my own moments of early motherhood, laugh and cry with our beautiful daughter and her dear husband, and dream of what God may have planned for our little grandson.
There will always be unavoidable busy seasons. But they should never be the norm. Never allow your busyness to overtake your needed perspective or your intimacy with Jesus.
Jesus says to us in these times …
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message Bible
Candy blogs: It’s baack … fall … the beloved but busiest season in most of our lives. For many this Labor Day weekend was the last hoorah to a more relaxed schedule. We’re sorry to see the summer go but always look forward to a change in the weather, getting back to a routine and enjoying the traditions of the coming season. School, sports and music lessons take center stage once again.
In the most recent weekly email newsletter from Friends Matter (Group), Melissa writes:
I’m a married mom of two young children with a full-time job. I’m up at 4:30 a.m. (or at least I try to be!), wake the kids up at 5:45 and encourage them along to get ready, make sure everyone has backpacks, homework, lunch, sports equipment, and so on, and I’m out the door by 6:15 a.m. Drop kids off, drive 30 minutes to work, get there by 7:00 a.m. Work until around 4:15ish, pick up kids, go to sports practice, help with homework, cook dinner, try to fit in a workout, get kids to bed…and it starts all over.
And then there’s the weekends. Clean house, pay bills, do laundry, go grocery shopping… sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever find time to spend quality time with my kids or my husband…much less my friends! And I know that some women have it even worse. Women today are BUSY!
Does this sound familiar to anyone? I remember those days.
How’s that workin’ for ya?
I would like to “truthfully encourage” young families to step back before things really get hoppin’ and set the family pace. There are so many good and wonderful things to choose from … but that doesn’t mean a family should choose them all.
There are definitely seasons of life that are busier than others.
Some busyness can’t be helped. Shopping for school clothes and supplies takes a lot of time. Homework takes first priority. Certain sports run for certain periods of time. Playing a part in a play at school demands regular rehearsals and study time. An intense project at work requires overtime. The house is being remodeled. There is an ongoing medical issue. The car breaks down.
When a family is in the midst of a busy time, it’s a good idea to keep this season as short as possible. If you have ongoing activities like homework and music lessons, when opportunities for additional activities come along, choose ones that have a start and end time. Families need the down time between busy seasons to rest and refresh and remember what is most important. Living in continual busyness brings stress into family life. It can be managed in shorter spurts but God never intended stress to be the norm. Stress was designed for emergencies … to flee danger.
Consider this …
“Busyness is not an indication of effectiveness, but rather a product of our own vanity and laziness … on the one hand, we keep ourselves busy because we want to believe we are important. The incredible hours, the crowded schedule and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice-that I am important. On the other hand, our busyness is often the result of allowing others to dictate our agendas.” ~Rob Redman, “Worship Leader Magazine”
The ages and personalities of your children are also a factor.
Some children thrive on being active. They may have a kinesthetic learning style and need to be physcially moving. Some children love mental stimulation and soak in everything around them. Some families naturally have a lot of laughter and noise. But others function best with structure and quiet voices and minimal outside activity and an overall slower pace.
Little ones can’t handle a fast pace. They don’t know what to do with emotions like frustration and confusion. I hate to see little ones being dragged from place to place at the pleasure and pace of their parents. No interaction, just treated as a necessary interruption in the schedule. On the other hand, I love to see parents with little ones in the same places yet exhibiting unhurried, easy conversation, eye contact, engaged. As kids get older, the pace usually increases no matter what the personalities are. More is required of everyone.
Don’t look at other families to set the pace for your family. Look at your family. Is there a sense of general well-being in your family, of eager anticipation of the days? Or is everyone tired and cranky most of the time? Is there a frantic sense of hurry most of the time? Ann VosKamp says that hurry hurts the kids.
Financial resources can dictate the types and number of activities children can be involved in.
Many families are struggling financially in today’s economy. This is an added layer of stress for parents who might be used to being able to provide every opportunity for their children. Children don’t need to participate every opportunity. They only need to have their physical, emotional and spiritual needs met. There are many things you can do to build strong, healthy families without going into debt and going without unnecessarily. Take the time to stop and think. There are options. Your family doesn’t have to look like other families.
Allow time for kids to be kids … skipping rocks, watching clouds, playing with pets, making forts in the living room, playing outside, riding bikes. All of their time shouldn’t be managed and timed out from morning until bedtime. There should be moments to pause and let the quiet in.
I will invite our children to come move into an interior space
that lives with God. ~Ann VosKamp
Parents, are you the ones who might need to adjust? Just sayin’ …
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…” ~ Psalm 46:10
You will love this from Ann VosKamp’s blog: 10 Helps for Really Busy Moms (includes a free printable download!)
You might also enjoy this post from 2009: Fall Screams Busy
Our schedules don’t just happen to us. We either allow others to dictate them or we set and control them. I’m praying for strong, healthy families this fall! Would love to hear from you.
Candy blogs: I don’t know about you but I’m a sucker for a sentimental greeting card. I don’t really care for the funny kind. I like the sappy kind, the kind that makes me “leak” or “rain” as my step father-in-law would say. Lately I’ve been going through some “piles” around the house. These piles have been waiting for me a long time. I used to say there would be no piles if I didn’t have to work full time. I found out that isn’t true. Anyway, I digress.
I find that I’m having trouble tossing these beautiful greeting cards. Cards have become a tradition in our little nuclear family. We always put our Christmas cards on the Christmas tree, and we look forward to opening them even more than gifts. My grown kids choose their cards carefully for me; I appreciate that. There is no such thing as too much affirmation for my mother’s heart. My husband painstakingly chooses his cards for me, too. They are always zingers. Everyone waits for me to tear up when I read their card. *chuckling to myself*
Here is a favorite from my husband from Christmas 2009:
Sometimes it seems I can get all wrapped up
in the day to day details of life.
Where to be and when? What to do and how?
It can all start to seem so important.
But then all of a sudden, it will hit me–
you smile at me, and I tingle,
you touch my cheek,
and I melt.
And like magic, I am reminded
of all that ever really matters in life –
having your love and you.
When I was 15 I dreamed of having a man say such things to me. I am living that dream. I would call that a gift, a blessing.
Here is the card I gave to Scott that same year:
You’re such a great husband.
We’ve been married a long time.
Now we speak more of home repair than romance,
candlelight means there’s a power failure,
and a great night in bed usually means
we managed to get some sleep.
But in the midst of the humdrum,
I catch a look at your eyes
and see the eyes of the one I fell in love with.
Life isn’t always fun and exciting …
but you are.
After reading our cards, our eyes lock. All the years … all the moments … all our life is reflected in our eyes. No words are needed. The cards provided an opportunity to reflect on and communicate what’s always in our hearts.
I guess I’ll toss these two greeting cards now. I am reminded of what makes my husband feel loved. I will again be sure there is a hot supper and a cold drink waiting for him when he gets home from work today.
In the midst of our busyness, a greeting card can be a simple and inexpensive gift of making time stand still, even for a moment. Is there something to celebrate? Is there misunderstanding or tension or sorrow? Has a goal been reached? Or maybe you’re just feeling warm and fuzzy. A greeting card can be the grand total of what you want to communicate or it can be the starting point of a needed conversation that is too awkward to start on your own.
Tossing and remembering and …
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 …