A Need to Create

Sometimes in life I find that I have just operated on making things work and doing what I need to do. But this week I was reminded of how desperately I need to create in order for my soul to not feel drudgery in the day to day. I want to pull out paints, pick up a pencil, stay up late just to create something.

We are all created to do something. We have different gifts, passions, abilities that if we do not exercise it seems like something is missing. What brings you joy and makes you feel like you have new energy and new life to give? …Taking care of a garden, making numbers work perfectly; setting a detailed plan in motion; making a meal; building;writing a song; singing a song; painting; lending an ear to a friend; cleaning a closet and making labeled, clearly organized bins – what brings you the most joy?

Whatever your gifts, your passions and your abilities are… use them. The people around you need you to do what you were created to do.

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In the rearview mirror…

Life has its moments where you want to hold on to anything not moving and hope that everything else around you will stop spinning. Within the span of nine days our house sold, my husband interviewed, accepted a job, and we loaded a moving truck. In that order.

A few days after the moving truck was loaded and as many in loose ends as possible were wrapped up, the boys and I took off on our 950 mile adventure to catch up with Daddy. (Yes, we did not take a little move. God asked us to walk away and start a whole new adventure.) Thankful for everything that God had unfolded over the past few days, I was still sad. I think God knew I needed comfort as I drove away from our house and life in Iowa, He graciously allowed it to rain and be cloudy the entire first day driving. Through the rain my sister and I finished loading the car and cleaning the now empty house. When everything was ready my two-year-old and I walked through the house. He started crying at his missing tree-house, the empty space for the refrigerator and ended be moaning the missing washer and dryer. After a few runs across the basement a teary boy & mom left the house to head for Dunkin’ Donuts (some rainy, sad days just need a special treat!).

Today we closed on the house, received our finally paperwork and officially no longer own it and no longer have a home in Iowa. It makes me sad yet again. I wish it did not make me so sad, because I am thankful for all God has done. In the midst of processing change and what feels like loss, I have seen God’s unmistakable guidance. Moments in this journey that display His fingerprints and help me to rejoice in Him and put one foot in front of the other.

The joy of my husband and the blessing of his work and work environment. God opened not just A teaching job, but a position in one of the best elementary schools (based on test scores and parent reviews) in all of Georgia. He does not just work under a principal, but with a male principal who, with a family of young kids, also left the business world and began teaching elementary as a second career. And on top of it all, he works with a team of teachers that are overwhelmingly grateful to have him, that want to work together, and that have made him feel very, very welcomed.

But the moment that I keep coming back to in my mind and prayers is the image in my rearview mirror as I drove away from our house for the last time. For in the moment I saw God’s voice clearly directing to keep moving forward – not looking to the right or the left, just trusting Him in the direction He had given. I wanted to look back and see the house for one last time, I could not see the house. The car was loaded to the hilt and I had my two precious boys in the backseat. Their faces filled my view. I could not look back.

Each night as we put our Uriah to bed we remind him that we love him, but Jesus loves him even more than we ever could. We also remind him that we want him to follow Jesus because He has the past plan for Him. We do not want Him to miss any of the good gifts God has in store. So even when it is very hard (which it will be because life is hard), we remind Uriah that it is still best to follow Jesus.

So,even through the tears, I cannot look back. I want to follow Jesus. The blessing He has in store for my life and family are found in walking and trusting Him. So, today as everything with our house in Iowa is officially settled I will rejoice in all that He has done. The incredible answered prayers to months of waiting. His perfect timing in our finances and lives. And the blessing that it is that God moved us near my family, in fact we are blessed to spend a little bit of time settling in to our new life by living with family.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Even when life is hard, follow God, His ways are the very best, even when it is very hard.

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Sometimes you should order takeout…

Ever have nights, where despite your best attempts, dinner is announced by the smoke alarm?

Pizza is a meal that is made in mass quantity in our house. I usually try to make no less than four pizzas at a time – we eat one and then I put frozen pizza in the oven for easy use later. However, tonight I think buying Red Baron would have worked out better.

Pizza 1… Well, yep, it was announced by the smoke alarm. The cheese overflowed unto the bottom of the oven and at 500° it does not take very long for the smoke to start billowing out the oven vents. Windows open (praise the Lord it was in between torrential down pours), fans turned on, and the smoke alarm still goes off!! For real! …Uriah is now in tears, because the alarm is so loud he got scared. Let’s sit down and eat. Suppers on!!

Pizza 2… Oven has been cooled, cheese charcoal bits have been chipped off the bottom of the oven, oven reheated. Although this time, the second pizza has been waiting nearly 40 minutes to be put in the oven – toppings have marinated well with the crust, the flour on the pizza board has been soaked into the crust making a difficult transfer to the pizza stone. BUT, I have gotten smarter (or so I think) I have covered the oven rack with foil and then put the pizza stone on top of it.

12 minutes later – we smell pizza – ready to come out. Due to the wait the cheese has made everything melt worthy and the pizza is falling off the stone all over and unto the foil. It takes two of us to get the foil, the stone, and the pizza out of the oven. The next challenge was to remove the stone from the midst of the overflowed pizza. Then the foil needed to be pulled away from the pizza so it could be free. Good thing we don’t eat food based on looks in our house.

Thankfully, flash baking crusts for frozen pizza somehow remained uneventful… except for a bit more smoke from fresh flour spilled on the bottom of the clean over. But, hey, I think we at least have 2.3 salvageable pizzas for the freezer, and who doesn’t love to clean the oven multiple times over the same meal.

Enjoy daily “adventures”! At least design projects went well for the day… and I sure am glad that my family laughs with me at my mistakes and messes.

Enjoy the moments, good and bad of your day!

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Anxiety or Joy

Ps 94:18-19  “When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’ your love, O Lord, supported me.  When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” (NIV)

What supports and upholds you in your day? Sunday morning I had a choice to make from the very start. I woke up with a very poor attitude to start the day. I sat on the edge of my bed wanting nothing more than to complain about everything… including a restless night with my toddler. The day was going to start miserable if I did not do something instantly. So, I decided to pick up the devotional that was sitting by my bed, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. It was about choosing thankfulness when we want to complain, ugh… Thanking God for everything and every circumstance so that our heart is transformed to be like Jesus instead of stepping through a land of complaining which leads to rebellion and regret.

Oh dear, you cannot read that and then choose to complain. So, I thanked God that my energy could only come from Him today. Thanked God that we are waiting. Thanked God for the projects and work He has provided to LeA’Tev. Thanked God for all of the amazing provision, blessings, and gifts He gives daily. And I thanked God that we are at a point in life where walking by faith seems more tangible then at other moments in life.

Then God provided tangible blessings and evidence of His supportive love from friends and family among three different states. What a joy when you realize God has prompted people to pray for you through their own circumstances, through brief meetings with them and through their dreams.

A good friend sent verses that challenged and encouraged my faith in God, including Psalm 94:18-19. Even when we think we are teetering and liable to fall, God is willing to uphold us with His love and replace our anxiety with joy. I am so thankful for the challenges of the day for without the challenges we sometimes miss seeing the blessings of God. Before we complain we have a choice of anxiety or love and joy.

Today, who can you show God’s love to? Who can you encourage and support? What a blessing it is to be a part of showing God’s supportive love and a joy to receive.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NASB)

Decisions

In last couple weeks, we have had decisions placed in our household to make. I like the easy decisions like…

  • My child is crawling out the crib…  Decision: move them to a bed.
  • Should I get that new pair of pants…  Decision: The budget is empty, done deal.
  • My friend is sick and needs help getting to the doctor… Decision: Of course I should help!
  • Should I buy a bag of  Cadbury Mini Eggs… Decision: Well this one takes more thought; the smart health answer is no, but… : )
  • In light of some decisions, I do not even mind the endless decision of what to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and the three snacks a day my toddler eats (although if a maid wants to show up at my house and start cooking to make all of those decisions for me that would be great!)

But then there are decisions that force us to weigh out short-term and long-term gains. Decisions that force us to choose trust. Trust that God is in control even in a situation that may seem to others like a train wreck waiting to happen. Decisions that take days to discuss and consider. Decisions without clear answers or direction, real right or wrong, good or bad ramifications. Decisions that can only be clarified through priorities and what attitude you will choose in the future based on your current decision.

Psalm 90:12 is a verse that God impressed on me this last year and it becomes helpful in making decisions that seem otherwise difficult. The verse states “Teach us to number our days aright that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (NIV’86). The things that matter most are relationships with God and people and our most precious commodity is time. Time is also the commodity over which we have no control. Our days are numbered, none of us know how many we have left. We need to live and plan for the future with wisdom and leave the day without regret because it may be our last.

Some decisions result in choosing that even if we are down to the last $10 we are going to trust that God has brought us this far and He NEVER, EVER walks away. Although at times life may feel like God has walked away when that last $10 is gone (check out the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel in a den of lions, the book of Job), God does carrie us through to completion in Him – not our stuff or our American way of thinking. In God’s economy following through the trial is better than walking away in the process.

What does this blog have to do with design anyway! The design of our days is sometimes found in the decisions small and big. So the design of our life should be based on our priorities and values. Life is short. Make decision based on the design of the life you want to create not just on the momentary feelings. (And, yes, that is how I am calling this blog relevant to design!)

And, if you want direction on making decisions check out “Ask It” http://northpoint.org/messages/ask-it/ – a teaching series by Andy Stanley of Northpoint Church in Atlanta, GA.

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But God

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him [God], and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

These popular verses ring so true, but are so difficult to walk in. I’m not sure where your Monday morning finds you, but I know that for several in my circle of friends it finds them with many more questions than answers. Difficult marriages that require clinging to God and trusting Him for strength each day to love their spouse anew, a deep longing for children with seemingly no options left, a financial hole that seems it will only end in ruin, a diagnosis that has no hope with it, a layoff with no idea where the next job is going to come from,or a daily threat of layoff as one heads to work each morning and new co-workers are given the pink slip. And then there are those in the world who are trafficked, homeless, broken, blind, marginalized, and left empty – where does trusting God fit in there? Where is He in the “daily grind”?

Kind of a downer isn’t? We see our problems, BUT GOD… oh these words break through to the human spirit and in all circumstances we can find hope. Even if the hope is that this life is merely a few years. A breath. Seventy or eighty years if we are lucky. BUT eternity in paradise is coming – not just a resort – but a true everyday life of paradise that will last without end. After celebrating our 10,000th anniversary, we’ll just start over – working, loving, praising, rejoicing. No tears, no fears, no worries… true life. This life and its trials preps us for a marvelous life ahead.

And there is a “BUT GOD” right now. God gives joy. He gives peace. He gives strength.  God’s presence changes everything and He is Emmanuel – God with us. God sometimes brings new journeys, paths, and relationships we would have never found if not for the struggle. God gives miraculous healing. God gives a new job. God always gives more than we could ask or imagine.

Even in hardship, maybe particularly in hardship… God is present. To be honest, I understand fear and uncertainty right now in my life. I am reminded to hold everything loosely and rest in God by choice of will and not emotion. I have to bring Him the emotions of feeling out-of-control (which He reminds me I am), overwhelmed, fearful, uncertain, and wondering why He has brought me to this place. BUT GOD’s character, His heart His love overwhelms emotion. He brings peace and reminds me that no matter how difficult life may get, He is still the only one who can bring life and destroy it. He is the only refuge in an uncertain world that has had a whole history of continuously uncertain times and struggles. In God we trust not our savings account or 401k, not our ingenuity or strength – we trust in Almighty, Holy God.

Your life has been beautifully designed. If you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Master, God of the universe, You can find a refuge. If You are not certain if there is a God, let alone one that would step into your fear and mess – seek Him. He will be found, and He longs to be close to the brokenhearted. See the beautiful design of your days and moments cannot be seen in the momentary plights of today, you have to keep waiting for the masterpiece to be completed.

“God teach me to follow Your directions, to know Your ways. Teach me to walk in Your marvelous light of Truth. Give me a heart that fears only You; for only You can destroy and only You can bring life. There is no one and nothing greater than You. I will worship you from the depths of my being. With my whole heart I will give You praise. You will be glorified forever and ever; I want to bring You glory every moment of everyday. Your love towards me is extravagant; I am overwhelmed by Your faithfulness. You rescued me from the depths of hell. I was dead and You gave me life!”
Psalm 86:11-13 Paraphrased by Heather Haxton

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What are you busy with?

Schedules have become so full it is crazy! My husband came home last night having found a recent article about bedtime stories:

In a new poll, only 13 percent of British moms said they read a story to their children every night, even though three-quarters recalled being read to on a daily basis when they were kids, according to The Guardian.

Almost a tenth said they feel too stressed to read bedtime stories, while 13 percent revealed they don’t have enough time to take part in this activity with their kids.

The poll of 2,000 U.K. women with children age 7 or under was conducted by British retailer Littlewoods. (www.today.com)

This poll is sad to me. Stress and busy are real factors in an increasingly crazy world with too many choices and pressures. But it is a good reminder to check my own priorities. There are two things that always matter more then the things on my to-do list – God and people.

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In the midst of a week that seems to have more to do than hours that are given I needed a reminder to keep priorities straight and to serve God in all that I do. I love work and I’m thankful to have many projects in process and due this week. But amidst the busy there needs to be a willingness to prioritize – love God, love people.

When serving looses its luster and I want life be about me… I am reminded of these verses to choose my attitude, choose love and serve joyfully.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)

Make the most of your day with the most important things.

(Pictured is my eager servant Uriah!)

Family – the Change Agent

Family is important. In family, we learn how to love and relate to others. Our wall of family pictures reminds us to pray, encourage and stay in contact with our extended family. Family is the foundational block for learning what life is all about.

In teaching my son about the world around him, I want him to learn more than just about himself. It is important to learn the basics – your toes and fingers are good things to learn. Counting certainly does not hurt either! Learning family names, faces and relationships helps him to understand his extended family and place in the world. But family should only be the starting place – our launching point – for ourselves and our children to learn how to change the world. We can learn how to love our family, extended family and the nations. We can change the world.

It is not always easy to see the daily grind of work and family as a change agent for the world, but when you are on mission to share the good news of Jesus Christ, serve and love others that is exactly what each small decision equates into. Whatever gifts, abilities and resources you have can be channeled to loving people and making a difference in lives around us. We don’t have to affect billions of lives to change the world; we just need to start with giving all that we have to begin changing ourselves and loving people.

How is your family beginning to change the world?

In the magazine Thriving by Focus on the Family there is a family summer activity called “Around the World in 60 Days” perhaps this activity is a good place to start learning about the world as a family and the impact you can have.

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