Monday, May 1, 2017

Doing one thing will radically change your life

Arriving in a new place with four kids, two with significant special needs (at that time) was like having the floor come out beneath me. It didn't take long to realize I couldn't physically, mentally or emotionally handle all I needed to do each day. I had two kids that required one-on-one care, two others who were mourning the loss of everything they've ever known (Belle was 6mo old when we moved to MN) and trying to figure out their place in this new world.

It was just too much.

I started by creeping in and out of despair. I fought it in the beginning with hope God's plan would magically appear and turn this impossible life into something possible. It didn't. I spent most days just surviving, going from one emergency task to another. There are some things that can be shelved for later, but eating, hygiene, clothing, clean-up and sleep ruled my days.

Soon those first few weeks turned into months and months into years, and despair set in. All I could say to the Lord each day was, "This is too much." The worst part of that constant plea for help was the answer I kept getting. I assumed it was satan tormenting me or just the craziness in my head. The response was, "I know".

What the crap did He want me to do with that? I was drowning! It took me some time to realized it was HIS voice reassuring me I was being heard and HE was near.

Small moments of light broke through with the words I heard in CBS (Community Bible Study) and church. I needed someone  to lift the spoon and put them in my heart because I lacked the strength to do it alone. Being on empty each day and living in despair zapped my ability to take in what I needed. The tyranny of the urgent screamed at me constantly and blindly functioning became my new normal.

"Trust the process," She said (lecture from Stewart our CBS leader). God has a plan. It may be dark today but He hasn't forgotten you.

This truth worked in me to keep me moving forward to hear God's word and choose to believe the best was yet to come. Nothing practically really changed in my life. Some days were less hard, but I continued to remain behind in everything I needed to do.

  • My house was never completely scrubbed or straightened, 
  • The doctor's appointments were never caught up. 
  • There was always school projects we worked on from behind. 
  • Time spent with my kids was lacking. 
  • Our marriage was taking a backseat because for the first time in our lives we couldn't physically go out.
  • I had few budding friendships in the fragile (needs tending) stage, but the best I had to offer was some moments of prayer and a short text every now and again. 
  • I wasn't keeping up or doing anything in my life well. Mediocre or bad was the best I was giving my priorities. etc... etc... etc.
My attitude was unstable and volatile. I was unhappy most of the time, and doing my best to fake it around my kids so they didn't feel responsible for my grief.

One day that small voice turned from "I know" to "Get Healthy".

I initially thought that assignment was more ridiculous than the first.  But after I chewed on it for a few months, I realized no one was going to rescue me. Feeling sorry for myself hand't gotten me anywhere. Despair was not my friend. Getting healthy actually started to make more sense because I needed to make some changes to my life. I needed to figure out what kind of life I wanted to live and go after it.

The next three words changed my life and I promise will change yours dramatically and permanently if you start to do it as well. They are a game changer...


I needed to ask the Lord what needed to be on the top of my list each day instead of a "willy-nilly" or "tyranny of the urgent" approach. It may seem insignificant because it's simple, but it actually has taken some time to figure out how to do it right. It's not physically hard or necessarily taxing, but there are three main components to do it right.
  1. First, I have to quiet my soul. This quest always starts with my head. I have to carve out the minutes at the start of my day and learn to hear the voice of the Lord. I set my timer to concentrate that period of time just on listening. I hate to admit I initially spent most of that time clearing my mind of all I need to do in order to make space to hear. I then put all the "necessaries" on the back burner and place quieting my soul front and center. I know for me it will always be a challenge to set aside the chaos that screams for my attention and choose to  listen, but the benefits outweigh the struggle. 
  2. Secondly, I have to listen to the right voices. The voice of being overwhelmed and living in despair  is never of God. Hope, love and encouragement is. This includes an increase in quiet listening before I ever open my devotions or make requests. The "Martha" in me finds "doing" much easier than listening, but taking in the word of God and doing nothing with it does not reflect God's intention for HIS word. His application in my life happens in the quiet when the words come alive to produce the fruit HE intends and I so desire. 
  3. Thirdly, being content doing the small things. I have the choice each day to act on what I hear or not. I have to choose not to worry about all that goes beyond my call for that day. Some days I'm called to do laundry. Other days I'm called to enjoy coffee with a friend. I not only need to hear the right voice, but act and live contentedly with it. It frees me up to be present for the tasks I have that day, and not to worry about the laundry list of those that must wait. I think I know what is best for me, but I'm often wrong (Proverbs 16:25). I may opt for "good" if left to my own priorities, but why not trade up for "His best"?
The only non-negotiable of my day is spending time with the Lord

My days are not less full than they were a year ago, but my contentment in where I am is growing. He has refocused my eyes on what I am called to. My priorities are clearer. I'm okay with some days being called to tackle the fourteen loads of laundry; whereas, it would've seemed like a waste of a day before. I can be fully present while sitting on the couch and reading books to Millie, coloring with MaryAlice, watching a show with Belle, or letting Abby cuddle on my lap until I can't feel my legs. Because I have kids, I am called to be a mom. I can freely be who I am called to be in each moment without any guilt because I am hearing and answering HIS call on my life.

I can wholeheartedly promise the simple step of seeking the Lord to order your day will change your life because it is HIS promise, not mine...

Jeremiah 29:13
"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."(NIV)

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