God surprises me sometimes. Waking up this morning, I laid in my bed and began to pray. For some reason, I didn't start with the usual "oh, dear Lord please help me through this day..." and then proceed to list off all the things that I anticipate would be challenging to me today (sometimes including just getting out of bed - ugh). No, today I had grabbed my Nook a few minutes before and went to Jen Hatmaker's blog. I discovered her blog a few days ago when a friend linked to it on Facebook, and I have been stalking her ever since. She has become my new BFF because she is hysterical. HY-STER-I-CAL!! Like, snort and cry and pee-your-pants hilarious. If you need a laugh, go. Just go. I promise it will be worth it. She's a Christian mom, a writer and speaker, and is part of an organization called "If", which is focused on mentoring women and equipping them to fulfill the call God has placed on their lives. She is passionate about women, about helping the needy, about making a difference and it got me to thinking...I want to be passionate. I want to make a difference. But how? How can I find the time in my busy life when I can't even seem to find the time to go for a walk or blog or keep up with our laundry or vacuum my bedroom or...breathe?
So. I prayed. I asked God to make me passionate. Show me what to focus on, because I am trying to focus on so many things that it makes my head spin. Literally. I just needed Him to boil it down to the now, the relevant, the very things that He wants ME to focus on in my life. And This is what He told me...
Four words. That's it. As He began giving me the words I grabbed a notebook and the closest thing available to write with which happened to be a big fat sharpie marker, and I started writing because I have learned that when God starts talking to me I need to pay attention. He gave me the four words one by one and as I wrote each one down He gave me the next.
And then He stopped.
Oh, I tried to keep going and add to the list things like faith, cleanliness (of course, He wants me to have a cleaner house, right?) and health and...with each one He said "NO! I want you to focus on those four things. That's it. Those four." Of course the other things are important too, but for now this is to be my focus.
Ok, Lord, I hear you.
Be grateful...for the blessings that He has given me, including but not limited to my wonderful husband, our awesome kids and grandson, our home, our jobs, our friends, our families.
Be content...oh, how this has challenged me lately. I am going to be ok with working full time and knowing that is where God wants me right now. I am going to make the most of the time I do have with my family, and make it count. I am not going to stress about the dust or the clutter or the smudges on the windows, or the walls I want to paint...but I will be content and grateful and focused on the things that matter more.
Show mercy...I will be less critical, and more compassionate when my kids mess up...because I mess up too and I am blessed when those I mess up with are merciful to me.
Love...oh, how I love my children. If you only knew the love I have for you. Each of you. It just overwhelms me sometimes. And I am afraid that I don't show it enough. Or in the right ways. But I try and I am learning everyday how to show my love more. I wonder sometimes what you will remember when you are older...what will you say I focused on? I pray that it's not "mom focused on the house being cleaner." Or "mom focused on what we did wrong." Oh, how that would break my heart. Because that is not where my heart is. At all. Yes, I tend to obsess on those things at times, but honestly it has more to do with me and allowing myself to get stressed out than it does about you or what I expect from you. Each one of you is precious to me, and important, and deeply loved. I want more than anything for you to know that.
Ok, back to my time with God this morning, and how He surprised me...
He went on to tell me to "Get involved as a family in the lives of others. Be other-centered and keep your focus on Me. Jesus. I am your Savior...now let Me be LORD!"
I got me some chee-alls, y'all. And a southern accent apparently. And the chills got stronger when I went to church and heard our pastor give an awesome, powerful message about loving our neighbors. Not isolating ourselves like we so often do - driving into our garages and shutting the door behind us without ever interacting with those who live near us - and essentially building spiritual walls between ourselves and others, keeping them out. I could go on and on about this, but the point is that we need to get outside of ourselves and invest in the lives of others. Truly invest. When it doesn't benefit us at all. When we reach out and go out of our way to be kind and helpful and servants just for the sake of being like Jesus. Nothing more.
And nothing less.
This is how you make a new beginning...ask God to give you a passion for the purposes He has put on your life...and be open and ready for the passion to ignite a flame in your soul. A flame that might turn into a WILDFIRE...you never know!!
Oh, and by the way, in case you were wondering, you still have to keep your rooms clean :)