life

5 Ways to Fight the Quiet Time Rut

My quiet time has been a bit blah this summer. I’ve allowed social media and needs of my home to distract me. I’ve woken up in the morning and updated the status on my virtual game instead of opening my Bible and ingesting life. I’ve slept in. I’ve adopted an attitude that summer is a lazy season, so it’s okay for me to be lazy too.

Quiet time ruts are real and happen to everyone; even pastors’ wives! The key is recognizing a rut and knowing how to respond when you find yourself in one. Here are 5 ways we can fight those quiet time ruts!

1: Remember the Why

I don’t spend time with Jesus because it’s what I’m supposed to do as a pastor’s wife. I spend time with Jesus because of who Jesus is. God gave me life and He is the reason I live my life. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. The number one way to live my best life is to have Him in my life. God’s Word is there to speak to us and there is wisdom far greater there than in any social media comment stream or internet article. Including this one. So, if you are reading this article instead of spending time in the Word, turn off your phone and open your Bible.

2: Remember the Difference

I’m a much nicer person when I’ve spent time with Jesus. He changes me. It’s the weirdest, most impossible thing, but I have more energy when I get up early to spend time with Him. I respond to my children and my husband with more grace and love when I recognize the grace and love that Jesus is pouring over my life. When my heart and mind are focused on greater things, the craziness of the world doesn’t pull me down. I am stronger, more confident, more productive, and more joyful, when I make space for Jesus at the beginning of my day. The time is never wasted; it’s the most important thing I do.

3: Make a Plan

What’s causing the noise in your life? For me, right now, it’s my stinkin’ phone. I need to keep it away from me in the mornings and just have it charging in another room. There is nothing so pressing that I have to check my messages as soon as my feet hit the floor. I also need to reconsider where I spend my quiet time. I often sit in a dark room to keep from waking up the house, but since the dark makes it hard to see what I’m reading, I may need a new space.

4: Get Some Accountability

You don’t need to have an official check-in every day, but there is wisdom in sharing your plan with someone else. Find a friend or mentor and let them know what you are trying to do. I love doing a Bible study with a small group because it helps me stay on track. Try downloading an app like YouVersion or She Reads Truth on your phone and choosing from one of the free plans available. Maybe just pick a book of the Bible to read and journal through. Whatever you plan to do, share it with someone and invite them to join you. We aren’t meant to do life alone.

5: Don’t Feel Guilty

If you feel guilty about missing your quiet time, that’s the enemy talking, not Jesus. We do not serve a slave driver, or a God who loves conditionally. He doesn’t demand that we spend time with Him, He wants us to spend time with Him. God sees what we cannot and He wants to share His heart with us. So, if your quiet time has been a bit blah lately, just start fresh today.

What’s your plan? What’s your next step? What are you reading? How is it changing your life?

Joyful are people of integrity,
who follow the instructions of the LORD.
Joyful are those who obey his laws
and search for him with all their hearts.
— Psalm 119:1-2

A Time to Reflect

Can you believe 2019 is halfway over? Time seems to move pretty fast these days, so I’m trying to slow down and make room for reflection.

I’ve not made a practice of reflection in the past, but I’ve been listening to Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, “The Next Right Thing”, and she makes the concept of reflection seem almost romantic. I find myself wanting to follow in her footsteps, simply because it sounds so inviting.

Emily talks about having regular times of reflection scheduled in her calendar. One way she makes use of this time is by answering two main questions:

  1. “What was life-draining?”

  2. “What was life-giving?”

The idea centers around being aware enough of ourselves and how we’ve felt in recent months, so that we can better determine our next right thing. This allows us to intentionally live pursuing the things that bring life, while feeling confident in stepping away from the things that leave us feeling empty and dry.

It’s not an exact science. We do live with certain obligations in our lives: cleaning toilets for instance. Instead, this concept is meant to serve as a guide to help us in our decision making by keeping the bigger picture in mind.

I’ve not been intentional about making time for reflection in my life until this year. I’m new at the process, but figured I’d share with you an abbreviated version of my stab at it for the past three months:

Life-Draining

  1. Timeshare presentations. Never, ever again. The dollars we saved were not worth the heaviness I carried after the presentation. I’ll say “no” to a trip before I say “yes” to another presentation.

  2. The smartphone. Why is it, that after the scrolling or the gaming, I rarely come away feeling enriched? I have to figure out how to be better at saying “no” to my phone, so I can say “yes” to things that matter.

  3. Filling my schedule to the brim. I need space, and lots of it. When my life is too full I do not live it fully.

  4. Reading too much. Sometimes I get so lost in the story of a book that I neglect life happening right beside me.

Life-Giving

  1. Jesus. I’m not trying to sound super spiritual here, but I cannot deny the difference it makes when I take time each morning to hand my day over to Jesus.

  2. Spending time with my husband, just the two of us, on our trip to Florida. I have learned, time and time again, that our marriage thrives when we travel together. The travel eliminates distractions and allows us to give each other our complete attention. It is lovely.

  3. Quality time with my daughters. I love watching them skip down the hallway or discover something exciting. They find beauty in caterpillars and joy in the small things. They crave time spent as a family, and I want to be present for it.

  4. Girls’ weekend with a few friends. I cherish uninterrupted conversation about real things with real people who are right in front of me.

  5. Writing. The spilling of words mushed together in my brain helps me to maintain sanity, but this is nothing compared to the thrill of knowing my words have brought healing to someone else.

  6. Filling my husband’s box. Long story short, we made some significant financial decisions in order to fill a long-time dream of my husband. Knowing these efforts are bringing him life, brings more life to me than I could have imagined.

  7. Reading. Yes, This was on the life-draining list. But I’ve also remembered how much I LOVE reading! I simply need to be better about limiting myself and making sure I’m including books that will help me grow to be the best version of myself.

How will this help me in the future? I’ll recognize that saying “yes” to quality time with my people should be a priority. I’ll remember how difficult it is to breathe and think under the weight of obligations, and pause before jumping into a new project. I will live my life intentionally with purpose and direction.

What about you? What are some things about your year that have been life-draining? Life-giving? I’d love to hear about them and how you are using this information to help you move forward with the rest of your year!

If you are interested in learning straight from the source, I recommend Emily’s podcast: “The Next Right Thing”. She has a book by the same title that can be purchased here.

Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God.
— Lamentations 3:40 (The Message)

For the Kingdom Building Momma

Hey friend. Life is crazy, isn’t it?

I don’t know about you, but I often feel like my days get consumed by the seemingly meaningless tasks. It could be meal time (are your kiddos always hungry?), dishes, laundry, school work, or the general tidying of the house. It’s the navigation of emotions and wills as my children battle over who is allowed to look in which direction.

It’s the navigation of my own emotions and wills when I start to lose my patience.

Doing Kingdom work came much more simply before my little people entered the scene. I used to be available to serve at all church events at the drop of a hat. Now, I have to consider whether it works for our sleeping/eating schedule, or if the opportunity will require a babysitter.

It was easier then. My life operated on my schedule. If I didn’t get enough sleep it was because I chose to stay up too late watching a movie. My quiet times with God were guaranteed, as long as I didn’t hit the snooze button too many times in a row.

But now? With kids? Things are harder. 

Kingdom work is harder, but not impossible. In fact, I believe that God uses the stretching of our comfort zones to shape us into the women He has destined for us to become. My husband has told me, “Your greatest ministry comes from your deepest pain.”

I felt a lot of pain when my girls were babies. The lack of sleep hit me hard. I grew angry at the inconveniences this role was placing on my life. Depression drifted in after the birth of my second child, and it took me over two years to find my way out. Two years to claim joy and purpose once again.

You see, more than anything else, I wanted to be a Kingdom Builder, and these small ones (as precious as they were) made it really difficult to accomplish my purpose.

But life isn’t about my purpose, is it? It’s about His. His plan for my life. And if I have learned anything over the years, it’s the fact that His plan often looks very different from my plan.

So, Momma? If you are feeling the drudge and the weariness of the every day task, those invisible moments that will never be seen by anyone but you, remember this: God sees it. And He is using it.

He is using you to bring up the next generation of Kingdom Builders. You get the opportunity to speak life into these little people, to show them what it looks like to pursue the Lord, and to be an example of living a life of sacrifice for the sake of the One who sacrificed everything for us.

Look past the moment and see the end. It’s not about that one moment, it’s about allowing God to use all the moments combined to accomplish His great purpose.

You are a Kingdom Builder.

“And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord - his name alone will be worshiped.” Zechariah 14:9

Bloom and Grow

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One of my girls thrives on verbal affirmation while the other seeks out lots of snuggles.

It is my absolute favorite to see a smile climb up the cheeks of my older child. She is much less likely to outwardly reveal when something touches her inwardly, so when I see the evidence, I soak it up and store it in my heart. This usually happens at bedtime, when I whisper words of life over her and she thinks it is too dark for me to see her delight.

A few nights ago, I read the girls a library book about the process of planting flowers, watching them grow, and seeing them spread their seeds for new flowers to have a chance to bloom. I turned off the lights and whispered to my word-loving daughter, “You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

My favorite smile spread slowly across her face and I knew she would drift to sleep that night feeling loved and having purpose.

I turned to my snuggler to say the same thing, but her response was to giggle, “Mommy! I’m not a flower!” Perhaps she isn’t old enough for metaphors just yet. I made sure to squeeze her tight so that she too would feel affirmed and loved.

I’ve since been thinking quite a bit about flowers and their seeds.

Notice the seed. Before a flower can bloom, its seed must succumb to the process of transformation. When a seed is planted, it goes into the soil never to look the same again. 

It’s not an easy process. The germination (sprouting) of the seed requires the nutrients of the soil, the moisture of water, and just the right amount of sunlight. Each seed has its own needs for life to form.

The hard shell of the seed melts away as the greenery of the plant reaches through the dirt and stretches to find light. In the right environment, the plant will begin to flower and feed the life around it.

New flowers will have the opportunity to bloom and grow as fresh seeds are scattered to the ground.

Did you know that your life resembles that of this flower?

For us to bloom into our greatest beauty, we must die to ourselves. We must succumb to the process of transformation so that our hard shells can melt away. It isn’t easy, is it? Sometimes we feel pressure, maybe a bit of loneliness. It may feel like we are drowning, that we are too hot, or too cold. But when we allow ourselves to submit to the process, we realize that our Gardner knows just what it is that will bring blossoming flowers in our lives.

There will be seasons when we feel the ache of our growth, and also seasons of rest as we wait for the sunshine to warm us again. But the result of these seasons of growth and rest, is the season of beauty. At our peak, we are beautiful flowers offering nourishment to those who come near. Our scent is alluring and our seeds spread with the promise of new life to come.

Whatever season you are currently in, do not forget this truth, my friend:

“You are a beautiful flower. As you blossom and bloom, you spread your seeds so that other flowers have the chance to do the same.”

Stay close to your Gardener. He will give you what you need, when you need it. Remember that the difficult moments will not last forever. New growth is coming.

“…When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed.” 1 Corinthians 15:36-38

Beyond Good Intentions

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Alright, it’s time. I give in.

I give in to the realization that I won’t do this perfectly. That I’ll frequently break my own rules. That there is more to this thing than what I can do on my own. That my job isn’t to be perfect, but to be obedient.

I like rules a LOT. So much so, that when none are present, I just make some up for myself to follow. When I first began writing in this blog a few years ago, I did so with the intention to publish a new post every other Friday. Ever since then, that idea has been the determining factor for whether or not I was to continue posting.

Well, life happened. Things got a little crazy. I stopped being able to post every other Friday, and therefore, I stopped posting at all. The perfectionist in me said that if I couldn’t do it right, I couldn’t do it at all. 

For months I have had good intentions. I have tried, and tried, and tried to get into a regular routine again. I’ve updated my welcome and about pages. I’ve got half-a-dozen posts waiting to be published. But they just sit there. They sit there because of my own stubbornness and insecurities about the likelihood that I won’t meet my silly little goal.

Meanwhile, God has been pressing on my heart. Goodness gracious. He has given me the tiniest idea of what my future may hold, and it is both invigorating and terrifying. There are days I’m ready to jump in with both feet, and days I prefer to ignore it all together. Surely, He's got the wrong gal.

But He keeps pushing. He isn’t one to give up on His people easily. And do you know what He is telling me in this moment? That drive for perfection isn’t from Him, it’s from the enemy. Who has He ever called that was perfect?

Moses was a murderer.
Rahab was a prostitute.
Ruth was a foreigner.
David was an adulterer.
Esther was a nobody.
Jonah was afraid.
Matthew was in the wrong profession.
Paul was a terrorist.

And yet, every single one of them (and more!) were used by God in tremendous ways. I don’t know all the details of God’s plan for me, but I do know that my place right now is this blog. I love it here. I love the idea that someone might stumble across these words and find hope in Jesus.

I simply cannot ignore it any longer. What I have to offer may not be perfect, but it’s something. I don’t even know when my next opportunity to write will be. But, Jesus, I ask you to take this offering and do with it what you will. All I have is yours.

“Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.” Exodus 4:11-12