Breathing through the Clutter

Clutter. 

This past Sunday, I came home from church and looked around at the current situation of my downstairs. From the busyness of our lives, everything had become cluttered. Nothing was in its place.

My life had been feeling a bit cluttered, too. I was spiraling from feeling as though things were out of place.

With the “voluntold” help of my husband and son, we spent hours decluttering and organizing our downstairs that day. An unwanted chair that had become my son’s dumping station for school stuff was taken to Goodwill. An old couch was placed on a Facebook garage sale group and sold. We picked up, we pitched, we organized. 

The minimalist look of my front room, my reorganized laundry area, and my scaled down living room have left me with breathing space.

I needed to declutter.

I needed some whitespace.

Life gets like this. 

Sometimes, we need to declutter the distractions around us and quiet the noise. We need to evaluate all the things that compete for our time and decide what really matters to us.

Sometimes, we have to say no to something so that we can say yes to something else. Sometimes we need to strip down our lives to the essential things that matter most.

We have to fight through the noise of the clutter so we can catch our breath.

This morning, I sit in my living room. The hum of a light is my only noise. I savor these moments before I must begin the day. 

A life uncluttered, focused on those things most dear to my heart, Christ as the foundation…that is the life I seek.

What “clutter” in your life might you be able to declutter so that you can see more clearly and catch your breath?

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Running on Empty

“Oops.” 

I looked down to see the gas gauge of my Jeep much lower than I realized. 

I took my son to school and then decided how much to press my luck before stopping for gas. I prayed that I would not run out of gas, but I also realized that it was within my power to stop before that happened. I exited the turnpike an exit earlier than normal and began to pray. 

Thankfully, I made it. My morning adventure of almost running out of gas parallels too much to my life at the moment.

You know it is a rough day when five people through the course of the day ask you if you are okay. That was the day before. Tired. Exhausted. Overwhelmed. Life feeling a bit overcommitted.

Simply stated, I had let myself run too close to empty. Like the warning light in my Jeep, the warning signs were there. I needed a time out. I needed sleep. I needed some whitespace in my life.

God always provides. He poured into me through people He has placed  in my life who care about me.

Running low on fuel often catches us off guard. We go, go, go, and wonder why we feel like collapsing.

Situations like these are great opportunities to take a time out and step back to re-evaluate what we need to surrender to God. If we are honest with ourselves, there are probably areas we are trying to control which we can’t which sets us up for running out of fuel. 

This morning, as I read from Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson….We tend to view the goal as the goal; but in God’s economy, the process is the goal. It’s not about what we’re doing at all. It’s about who we’re becoming in the process. Page 207

That means sometimes it takes a reality check of running low on fuel to step back, catch our breath, regroup, and consider the process. In our moments of weakness, He is our strength. 

Where are you running low on fuel? God is the greatest source of energy.

Seasons

It is a rare Sunday afternoon where I am hanging out in my backyard with my laptop and my terrier. I live in a small town and it is quiet and peaceful out here. 

Except for one blaring distraction.

It is not the neighbor mowing his yard nor the EMS sirens as they travel to the hospital down the road. The distraction is less about audible noise and more about the inescapable comparison to my life at the moment.

Overgrown. The fence that needs to come down is overgrown with vegetation. Weeds to be exact. Why? Because we have been busy doing life. Because when we do have a free moment, it is easier to stay inside than stare at the work that needs done.

Life gets like this sometimes. We overcommit ourselves. We say yes when we should pause and pray first. We leave so little whitespace in our lives. The responsibilities grow around us and squelch the joy of things we once felt passionate about. Burnout threatens to set in.

So, here I am now after a message at church this morning…do not be afraid. Here I am contemplating decisions of where commitments have overgrown in my life and what must be reprioritized.

When we want to welcome something new in our lives, we must be brave. If we feel God’s blessing upon a new chapter and if we witness a door opening, we must be willing to close the doors that need closed. Yes, I believe God closes doors for us sometimes. I also believe there are times when we need to step back and realize that some areas in our lives are overgrown. 

For example, do you want to start writing a novel? Maybe you need to step back from a committee you serve on.

Ecclesiastes 3:1…There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…

What season are you in currently? Maybe it is a season for something new which also means an end of a different season.

Isaiah 43:18-19…Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. 

Life is full of seasons. Don’t be afraid to end one so a new one can bloom.

Catch Your Breath

We all need a pause.
I attended the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) last week, and during those two days, had a wealth of information poured into me. I plan to share some of these things, but today I want to focus on one thing.

Reflection.

It is Friday morning at the moment. I am sitting on my couch in the quiet of my house. I wonder…how did Friday get here so fast?

I think of the busyness at work, situations faced, and things I must do yet today. I think of our situation at church and where we are in our pastoral search and as a church. My son started back to school yesterday. The days are getting shorter. So much is going on in the world that is so disheartening.

I need a pause.

At the GLS, Pastor Bill Hybels challenged us all to spend 15 minutes each morning to read and reflect on life…our leadership, faith, family, who we are becoming, are we fully surrendered? And then, are we getting better or busier?

Sometimes, life needs a pause button. 

My mornings are my pause time to step back and reflect. 

Am I getting better or busier?

In this stillness, I reflect, I pause, I pray, I am still.
I catch my breath. 

Some mornings it may be a run or walk. Some mornings I might journal. And many are much like this…quiet stillness on my couch reflecting and in the Word.

I encourage you to take at least 15 each morning.

Pause before you jump into the day.

Give yourself permission to catch your breath.


Never Alone…

Yesterday morning as I sipped much needed coffee and waited for the rest of my group to arrive, I did one of my favorite things-people watching. 

People in for their morning jolt of caffeinated energy. Men in business suits. One man who I overheard sharing with his friend that his wife was mad at him. A nurse grabbing food before her long day. 

All this hustle and bustle in and out, so few able to take time to leisurely sit down and enjoy their morning. 

Me, taking the luxury to enjoy the few minutes before the rest of my group arrived.

My mind wandered to many thoughts, one being the culprit cause of my recent sleeping challenges.

Anxiety.

What is the root behind anxiety? 

Fear.

Fears of failure, messing up, losing something or someone…and so on. When those fears take root, they grow. They begin to feel so very real. The heavy breathing, the racing heart, waking up in the middle of the night, or not even being able to sleep at all.

Been there, done that.

Why do so many of us allow fear to consume us?

We live in a world filled with so much uncertainty. The one thing that remains the constant is Christ. He is our Provider, and our Protector. He loves us so much.

I attended Day 1 of the Global Leadership Summit yesterday. As I listened to these great leaders, I was reminded of so many important things. Failure is not always a bad thing. The willingness to be vulnerable can be a catalyst for success. Change hows into wows.

What was reinforced for me is the importance of connection, transparency, and openness. Great leaders are humble and learn from mistakes. They nurture and bulid up others.

They don’t rest in anxious thoughts.

What fears do you have? I hear so many people share that they struggle with anxiety. Understanding our fears and the reasons behind them is powerful. It helps open our hearts to true change.

I want to be a leader whose eyes are open to my growth opportunities.

The most reassuring thing of all? Life is far from perfect, but we are never alone. When anxiety sets in, He is right there to meet us where we are and carry us through.

I am looking forward to Day 2 of the Global Leadership Summit. To learn more, check out…Global Leadership Summit

Doors to Dreams

Closed doors on my dreams…slammed shut.

My life, my dreams seem to be unfolding so much slower than everyone elses’s.

 I listen to high school graduates with clearly defined dreams as they plan their next journey.

I step back, look at my life…. almost 40…my mind wanders to dreams yet discovered. Life often does not follow the neatly designed plan one would wish.

My dreams to write, to work in long term care administration, to adopt, to travel…some realized, some still held close to my heart, none forgotten.

Doors opening as my heart opens more, God speaking His truth into my soul.

A story published, an opportunity presenting itself…

This book….Draw the Circle, the 40 Day Prayer Challenge…my third time reading it. I finish it, I start again. It reminds me of His promises, His loves, His protection.

This today … “Go, Set, Ready”….you’ll never be ready.

No time is a good time. We make room for what is important to us. He opens doors and closes doors at the right times, in the right places, with the right people.

He doesn’t promise it will be easy but time after time, He promises to be there with us.

 Sometimes you have to go before you feel ready. You have to take that step of faith to set you in the right direction. You may never feel ready, but when God says go, then it is time to go.

My door has opened.

I think you are more ready than what you realize.

Words of confirmation spoken to me by someone I respect deeply.

Now is my time to go. To take a step of faith. To learn as I go. To trust Him. He will guide my path.

Go….before you feel ready or you may never go.

Set….pray and take that step of faith.

Ready….if you have been praying and listening, you will hear His voice as He opens and closes doors.

The path may not lead in the direction you anticipated, but God honors a step of faith in obedience.

What’s holding you back?

Be Someone’s Waffle Maker

Life has been incredibly busy and non-stop lately, but I was reminded of something very important yesterday.

The smallest things make the greatest impact. Dinner with a dear friend, an employee telling you how much they appreciate you, and coming home to a homemade waffle.

My son decided to make me a homemade waffle. When I came home after a long day, a homemade gluten free waffle with real maple syrup was waiting for me. I’m not sure what possessed him to do this but I know it was an expression of his love.

The simplest, smallest acts make all the difference. Sometimes, these little things are exactly what someone needs to keep moving forward.

My Wednesday thought for you today…be someone’s waffle maker today.

Have a great day!