Thursday, February 19, 2015

Seeing Opportunities in Interruptions

Interruptions frustrate me. They keep me from completing tasks quickly and distract me from accomplishing goals.

When one of my children ask me to find something, another one refuses to do something, and the youngest needs my help with something, just getting from Point A to Point B is like running a race against the wind. 

Interruptions are my current reality, but if I focus too much on these disruptions they throw off my perspective. I see only problems, instead of opportunities.

Even Jesus dealt with interferences: while he was trying to take a nap (Mark 4:35-39), while he was trying to speak (Mark 2:1-12 ), and while he was trying to go somewhere (Mark 4:22-34 ). Rather than ignoring requests, the Bible records many examples of Jesus stopping to address someone's problem. As a result, we have  stories of miracles and forgiveness to strengthen our faith. 

How quickly I forget that life is made up of moments. And moments are what we make them- planned or surprised. Each interference into my world can serve a precious purpose

When my neighbor knocks on the door, I don't have to stop what I'm doing and answer.  My choice is to ignore or engage. One decision totally makes her day and strengthens our trust and friendship. The other completely locks the door on kindness and hospitality.
Likewise, the interruption of a sick kid shocks me into canceling my plans for a few days. I don't like having to drop everything. It's certainly a quick track to self-sacrifice, because I'm forced to immerse myself in nursing and disinfecting until the victim is well. And yet, I can choose a grumbling attitude or a compassionate one. This interruption can emotionally knock me down or give me laser-sharp focus on the health of my family. My kids can tell if I'm serving out of love or out of obligation.

The endless disruptions throughout my every day, can nag at me like a dripping faucet or open my eyes to those smallish, important moments. Re-tying a shoe, settling arguments, applying band-aids, last minute carpool arrangements, answering the 385th question... Each inconvenient interruption is an opportunity. To love better. To learn more. To help another. To be aware. 

My friend, Joey (from JoeyTalks), said "Interruptions are intended to get my attention." His family experienced a dramatic disruption a few years ago that caused him to stop and process his whole perspective. His story impacted me. Watch this video and look for opportunities in any unexpected moments that come your way today:

1 Peter 4:8-11 Most of all, love one another deeply. Love erases many sins by forgiving them. Welcome others into your homes without complaining. God’s gifts of grace come in many forms. Each of you has received a gift in order to serve others. You should use it faithfully. If anyone speaks, they should do it as one speaking God’s words. If anyone serves, they should do it with the strength God provides. Then in all things God will be praised through Jesus Christ. Glory and power belong to him for ever and ever. Amen. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Everyone's Brain but My Own

It's Monday. And it's one of those weeks.  My chances of forgetting something are increasing by the hour. 

The calendar is set with reminders for each family member like big fat post-it notes on my forehead. Also, my daughter can't find her jump drive for an upcoming paper.  My son lost his jacket- again.  
Dance rehearsals, costume pieces, Valentine cards, school volunteering, doctor appointment, teacher conference, packing overnight bags and of course all of the usual meal planning, laundry, and dishes. It's all culminating into one lengthy to-do list and...oh my gosh, oh my gosh...Breathe.

I am so often required to think for my children, which clutters my brain with too many tasks.  It's a grey area in parenting for me, because if I don't remind my 7-year-old to brush his teeth, he may skip the morning ritual.  And yet, I am frustrated by constantly having to verbally direct each step of a task.  So tired of hearing my voice. Coaching seemingly no-brainers.

"Put your socks and shoes on."
"Get your coat on."
"Put your lunch in your backpack."
"Where's your backpack?"

I decide that this will be a good lesson in responsibility. So I just let my son go to school without a jacket and my daughter will have to do a little more detective work before I buy her another school supply.

The danger for busy Monday mornings and activity-packed weeks like this is that I will go, go, go and starting running on empty. I will give, give, give until I have nothing left. Then I start snapping at the kids and the husband, sighing unnecessarily loudly at each request, and emotionally retreating. 

Mom needs to create a little mental space for other things. I need to protect a little patch of green grass for pulling out a blanket and lying peacefully on my back to look at the clouds.  I have to reserve at least one wrinkled section of my brain for personal enrichment. PLEASE.

As tempting as it is to race without warming up, the risk is a pulled muscle.  Starting the day without carving out time for prayer, reflecting, reading, and just sitting with a cup of coffee only raises my percentages of impatience and anxiety. For myself, scheduling a few hours for writing, making art, or having a conversation with a friend is usually all I need to return to my work refreshed- even when I am facing such a demanding week.

So after a little break, son, I'll help look for that missing jacket...again.
And may The Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. -Psalm 90.17
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength. -Psalm 23.1-3

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Birthday Reflections

It's my birthday weekend!

I have been thoroughly celebrated by my husband, my family, my in-laws, my kids, and my friends with so many good things.

I'm half way to seventy now, so I guess it's safe to say that I'm a no way an expert at much but definitely better at some things. Not entirely sure of every next step but a little more confident than before.

It seems appropriate today to evaluate the last thirty five years, because recently, it hit me that I am not quite who I used to be.

I used to be a lot more messy;
I used to be frequently depressed;
I used to think that I had nothing to offer;
I used to feel jilted by my single parent upbringing;
I used to only see my failures;
I used to want more than anything to prove my worth to others;
I used to seek fame;
I used to believe I wasn't cut out for this.
When anyone lives in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone! The new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I've changed in good ways.  I've learned and grown, and it's so encouraging.  Because most days, it feels like I'm climbing uphill, out of breath, looking for the end of a struggle.  Hoping for victory at the top of the mountain, instead of just feeling tired.

Looking back, I can see where I've been and what I've traveled through, relieved to find myself past a few hard seasons- coming out a little stronger than I was at the start.

We can always be better, but it's good to remember that we've made progress too.

I am still in the middle of other spiritual lessons, but I'm teachable.  I could be more patient, more efficient, more organized, more assertive, and more physically fit too.  I'm still traipsing down unmarked paths,  tripping a little, figuring things out as I go.

But I'm hopeful, because at least they're not the same trails.  At least I'm not walking around in circles.

One of my kids' favorite books was "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" by Michael Rosen.  In the story the family runs up to a few obstacles while on their adventure, and each time they chant: "We can't go over it.  We can't go under it.  Oh no! We've got to go through it!'

When we have difficulties in this life, the fastest way to the other side is to just go through it. Avoiding hard stuff only stunts our growth and keeps us stuck. But with bravery, prayer, community, and Jesus, we can cry and learn and graduate to the next thing.  Then we can help others.
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him...(Romans 8:28)
Being inexperienced in motherhood makes me more relatable to the new mom who feels likes she's not doing anything right.  I remember what that felt like.
Going through an unplanned pregnancy and starting a family with very little money, allows me to understand the struggles of others. I've been there.
Questioning my worth, my place, my purpose, brought me the knowledge of who I am in Christ. So now I can speak into the lives of my friends who have forgotten who they are or have never even known.

And we keep on working. Always being in the process of transformation shouldn't slow us down. Knowing that we have more purpose and more chances should give us hope.  It's exciting to look forward to a more improved version of myself.  To increase in wisdom and see new places.

I don't know who says it, but it's completely fitting: "If you're not dead, you're not done."

My birthday is another milemarker. Today is a monument.  It's a chance to read the writing, honor the past, and then look ahead.
And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. - 2 Corinthians 3:18 (MSG)
God began a good work in you.  And I am sure that he will carry it on until it is completed... -Philippians 1:6