The Word For April: Less

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I’m late, but our word for April is here.

LESS.

Less time.  Less sleep.  Less energy.  Less exercise.  Less blogging.   You can fill in the blank.  What do you have less of right now?

For many of us, an area of our life feels incomplete.  There is a sense of less.  It may be in a physical need — like sleep, energy, or physical health.  It may be in an emotional need – like a draining circumstance or a broken relationship.  Or it may be in a spiritual need – like a feeling that God is not really in control or that he doesn’t even care.

Let’s face it.  It’s hard to deal with less.  We always want more.

But there is also a blessing in less.  Sometimes less is actually more.  And it takes a hard circumstance to remind us.

As some of you know, my father is in the last days of his journey here on earth.  He clearly has less of the many things he has enjoyed for some 84 years.   Not only does he have less time.  He has less independence, less energy, and even less enjoyment.  And in watching his struggle, I am reminded of a hard fact.

I usually turn to God in moments of less.

In moments of less, I rely less on myself and more on God.  The opposite is also true.  In moments of more, I rely more on myself and less on God.

The great irony of redemption is that in our moments of less we actually find more.

What do you have less of right now?  How is God using less in your life — at home and at work – to show you more? 

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.  2 Cor 12: 8-10

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I am so proud to be part of the 4word team! Today we launched the official study guide on Amazon for Working Women of the Bible.  I love these ladies!

 

 

Staying Still: What’s Your Wake-up Call?

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This month, we’re focusing on the word STILL.  For some of us, staying still is impossible difficult.  We’re always multi-tasking, overcommitted, and overextended.

We make excuses.  We justify.  We tell God that we know better than He does.  For most of us, the conversation goes something like this:

God, I know I need to be still, but I’m too busy right now.  I’m in that season of life.  Just give me a couple of years and I’ll be ready to dial it down a notch.  I don’t have an extra 5 minutes in my day – let alone 15 or 20 minutes for a quiet time.  You know I’m already sleep deprived.  Just cut me some slack.  Being still is for old people, empty nesters, or people without kids.  Not for me!

God doesn’t argue with us.  But He loves us enough to give us a wake-up call.

What do I mean by a wake-up call?

We know it when we see it.  The light comes on.

For me, my wake-up call came unexpected.  At the end of a long work day.   A Monday.  I had worked all weekend on an important case, and on this particular Monday I was sequestered in my office all day, prepping for depositions.   As the day went on, my neck started to ache.  I mean really ache.  I’ve had strains and sprains before, but nothing like this.  By the time I got home on Monday evening, my neck was stuck.  So much that I couldn’t move it to the left or the right.  I lay on my floor in excruciating pain and cried until my husband picked me up and carted me to the local urgent care.  The doctor shot me up with too many drugs, told me to take a couple of days off of work, and said in no uncertain terms:

This is a wake-up call.  Something more serious is going on, and you need to take care of it.

Of course, I didn’t listen.  At least not right away.  I took the drugs, headed back to work the next day, and lived in pain for another three months.

Fast forward to present date.  After finally seeking some treatment, I am now spending 15 minutes a day in traction.  Doing nothing.  Sitting still.  During this time, I lay on my back.  I cannot read, type, text, or carry on a decent conversation.  So I pray.

I’ve had several good friends tell me that I’m more peaceful.  That something has changed in my demeanor.  And I can feel it.

Sitting still makes all the difference.

Has God given you a wake-up call to sit STILL?  If so, how did you respond?  

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Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  (Matt 19:26)

 

Working Mom’s Devotional: Trouble Staying Still?

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This year, we’re focusing on one word a month.  In January, we focused on being PRESENT.  In February, we talked about saying YES.  And in March, we’re going to focus on a word that makes me struggle, squirm, and even gives me pain:  STILL.

I’m not very good at staying still.  I can work, take care of kids, exercise, and juggle a pretty full social schedule.  But I can’t sit still.

Can anyone relate?

Just try sitting still for 5 minutes.  Allow yourself to do nothing.  Pretty tough, isn’t it?  If you’re like me, your mind races to everything you should be doing.  You remember what you forgot to do yesterday.  You think about what you need to do tomorrow.  You feel like you are missing out on emails and texts.  Maybe you even experience a disease that plagues me when I’m still:  FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out!”).

Why do we have such a hard time being still?

I’m not sure.  Maybe we have an inflated view of what we accomplish with our time.  Maybe we forget that, while time is precious, eternity is forever.  Maybe we’re control freaks with a serious case of FOMO.  Or we are just stressed-out and unable to relax.

In any event, being still is necessary. Being still is healthy.  Being still ordained by God.  Even a Harvard Business Blog talks about the benefits of doing nothing.

In the Psalms, God clearly tells us, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) (emphasis mine)

God obviously knows us better than we know ourselves.  When we recharge — when we let go of our time and stay STILL – we affirm that He is in charge, not us.

But for most of us, it doesn’t come easy.  Will you join me in praying for the strength to stay STILL this week?

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God, please help me to put aside my own agenda and be still.  I want to be intentional. I know that I need to set aside time to rest.  I know that I need to listen to the quiet voice in my soul.  Please help me to recharge and know that you are God.  

 

 

When Possible, Say Yes!

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This month, we’ve been focusing on the word YES.

Unfortunately, yes has become a dirty word for many working moms.  Some of us think we don’t have time for yes.  Yet saying NO by default can be self-limiting and even create barriers at home and at work.

Last year, a Supreme Court Justice challenged me to say yes, even when it’s hard at work.  Similarly, as a young adult, I received some powerful advice — about saying yes — from a respected Christian leader.  I commented on how wonderful he and his wife had raised their five children.  I asked him his secret.

His answer surprised me.

“We don’t have lots of rules.  When possible, we try to tell our kids YES.”

He went on to explain that he and his wife save NO for issues that involve safety, health, and morality.  They didn’t have trivial rules, artificial bedtimes, or heavy chores.  They didn’t have complicated discipline charts and behavioral point systems.  They tried to keep it simple.  They tried to say yes when possible.  And I’ve never forgotten his advice.

Now that I have a teenage son (and two daughters who aren’t far behind him), it’s tempting to just say NO by default.  You can’t stay out past 10:30.  You can’t listen to that kind of music.  You can’t have a new iPhone.  You can’t watch that movie.  

He is hearing no all too often.  No is easy.  No is safe.  No gives him necessary boundaries.

But I don’t want to become a mom of no.  So I have to work hard to say yes to the little things.  Even when it’s inconvenient.  I must admit, it’s easier to say yes to my daughters.  It’s easy to say yes to little things — to braid their hair, paint their nails, or lie in bed with them for five minutes. But a teenage boy is different.  So I have to work even harder to say yes.  It usually revolves around food.  Like on Saturday night when Nick wants to make bacon at 11:00 p.m.   This is the last thing I want to do.  I’m tired.  I want to go to bed.  The kitchen will be a greasy mess, and I’ll be cleaning until midnight.

But bacon at midnight is not a moral fight.  It’s not going to kill me (or him).  It might even be fun.   So I get out the frying pan, albeit reluctantly, and I turn on the stove.  I remind myself to follow my own advice:  when possible, say yes!

He said it was the best bacon he’d had in a long time.

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Do you try to say YES when possible?  When’s the last time you had bacon at midnight? 

 

 

Working Moms: No Time For Yes?

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This month – February 2015 – we are focusing on a single word:  YES.

Last week, we talked about whether yes has become a dirty word.  This week, we are backing up and asking ourselves a fundamental question:  do we really have time to say yes?

In other words, how can we even have a conversation about saying yes when we don’t have the time?

Instead of empathizing with you — instead of telling you that I know how busy you are, I have walked in your shoes, and I understand you can’t put one more thing on your plate — I’m going to make you mad.  Really mad.  I’m going to say something that we don’t want to hear.

We’re not as busy as we think we are.  Let’s stop complaining about not having enough time to do the things that are really important.  We all have 24 hours in a day.  

There, I said it.  Someone had to say it!  Let’s face it, too many working moms are whining and complaining about not having enough time for the things that are really important – spending time with our kids, investing in our marriages, pursuing a deeper relationship with God.

Every time we whine, we need to stop ourselves and pray.

God, give me wisdom.  You have given me a full life, and I have some tough decisions to make with my time.  Thank you that I’m not bored! Show me how and where to say YES so that I can live the life that you intended .

Are we lacking time, or are we lacking wisdom?  Most days, “yes” becomes a feeling instead of a decision.  Just look at my family on Sunday mornings.  It’s like moving a mountain just to get us to church.    It all starts with me.  I sleep in later than I should.  I think I have more time than I do.  We stayed up too late on Saturday night.  Teenagers like to sleep in.  They beg me for five more minutes.  I give in.  Pretty soon we are running late.  Pretty soon, we have allowed our yes to become no.  It’s not intentional.  We have the time.  We are lacking wisdom, and we allow our feelings to dictate our decision.

We all have time for the things that are important. The truth is, I have lots of time. God knew what He was doing when He put twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 365 days in a year. In fact, according to some studies, our generation has more disposable time than any generation in history. We may choose to book our schedules with more stuff than our parents ever dreamed of—like long days at the office, kids’ activities every night of the week, and social calendars that give us new photos to post on Facebook—but at the end of the day it doesn’t mean we have less time.

[excerpts from Chasing Superwoman p. 188]

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Do you find yourself complaining that you don’t have enough hours in the day?  That there is no time for YES?   Will you join me instead in praying for wisdom?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5