LEGO and Let God

My son and I often build LEGO projects together and honestly, I think I enjoy it more than he does. It never fails that once we approach around the 75% completed mark, he ditches me to start playing with some of the completed characters and weapons. I really don’t mind since he builds much slower than me and now I can have the rest all to my self!

But during the time that we ARE working as a team, I have the task of finding the pieces for the page we’re on. While he is putting together one section, I’m able to look further along the page and collect all of the pieces he needs for the section coming up. While putting together an intricate Ironman Hulkbuster build, he noticed that as soon as he was done with one section, I already had his next pieces waiting. “Wow! You always have everything ready so fast!”, he told me.

What he doesn’t realize is that while he’s focusing on his job (building the current section), I am already planning for what’s coming next. He just has to trust that I’ll have his pieces ready when he needs them.

This is exactly what faith allows us to do. All we have to do is work on our current assignment while we trust that God is preparing what we need next, for exactly when we need it. It’s easy to get stressed out about the future and wonder if what you’re hoping for will pan out. But faith helps us to remember that even if we don’t see it, God has a plan already figured out!

Do you find it difficult to trust God for your future? Honestly, at times I do. I have to remind myself frequently not to worry and trust God in every detail of my life. One passage of scripture in Matthew always helps to strengthen my faith and remind me of God’s faithfulness when I begin to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the future.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives. Let me be clear: he never says not to plan for life. In fact, the book of Proverbs encourages us to be prepared for life. But worry and preparation are two different things.

Worry and anxiety will cause you to stress about things outside of your control. Preparation is careful planning for circumstances we know will happen eventually so by making a plan, we can eliminate unnecessary stress when they do happen.

So often we worry about things that God has already pulled the pieces out for. We just don’t see Him do it! Our future spouse, our children’s college, our retirement plans, we can trust God to meet these needs. Jesus tells us to “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”(Matthew 6:26 ESV).

God provides for the birds every day and I’m more important to him than a sparrow! A sparrow can’t share the gospel or encourage a grieving family or give to a ministry. God needs his people to be healthy, prosperous and spiritually fit so we can do his work here on earth.

The next time you feel stressed about your life or future, remember that God has already gathered all of the pieces for your life and all you need to do is stay busy on the instructions you are currently on.

Do you currently have young children at home? Focus on training them in the ways of God. Are you working at a less than ideal job? Continue to work hard as if unto the Lord (Colossians 3:17). Don’t get so bogged down in the details of the day that you feel like your assignment is a distraction. It’s all a part of God’s overall plan for you life.

If my son and I missed just one step in our LEGO build, our design would not have come together how we hoped. Psalm 37:23 says “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way;”. How comforting is this? When we delight in the Lord, obey his instructions and follow his plans for us, we have a guarantee that he will guide our steps so our lives will reflect not just what we hope for, but what he’s planned for them.

Having a Full Tank

When I was younger, my mom would frequently take me and my sister on a casual ride around town. We always looked forward to these rides because it meant we were ordering lunch! I now realize they were just a tool to get us out of the house she’d just cleaned.

We would drive around for what felt like hours, and we’d ask my mom, “Are we lost?”. See, I grew up in the days before GPS. We didn’t have Siri telling us to make a left in half a mile or to continue straight (one of the most pointless directions!). We were on our own! My mom would always tell us, “As long as we have a full tank of gas, we’re never lost!”

As an adult, there have been times when I’ve felt lost. Am I going in the right direction for my children? Am I making progress towards my dreams? How do I balance life, work, and family? It’s during those times, I’m reminded of those long drives with my mom: “As long as I have a full tank of gas, I’m never lost.”

It’s when our tank begins to run low that we begin to feel anxious about the journey. When the bank account balance isn’t enough for an unplanned bill; when we suffer an unexpected loss that depletes our joy; when we can’t seem to rebuild a broken relationship. What do we do?

The same thing we do when our cars run low on gas: refuel. I’m horrible about letting my car get to “E”. The gas light pops on, but instead of filling up at the first warning, I wait until the last possible moment (my gas light goes off again after a few miles, then comes back on to give me one last chance to fill up before I’m stranded!).

Honestly, I have the same bad habit when it comes to life. I go and go and go and despite the warnings, red flags, and sputtering, I wait until the last minute to refuel. I wait until I’m snapping at my kids or I give a snarky response to someone at church.

Jesus tells us in John 3:23 that his words are spirit and they are life. Simply put, they are the fuel we need to continue day after day. I’m reminded of the children of Israel in the desert when God provided manna every morning for them. The Israelites asked, “What is it?” which is what manna means. They weren’t sure what it was but they knew it would sustain them. They knew it would give them strength for the tasks of the day.

I’m not sure why we, as believers, allow ourselves to run down when His word has never been more available to us. Sometimes I feel like this unlimited access to every version of the Bible ever written, hundreds of reading plans to choose from, and thousands upon thousands of sermons online can be overwhelming. Don’t get me wrong: I’m thankful for the accessibility that technology has provided when it comes to studying God’s word. But sometimes I end up spending more time searching for content than just sitting in communion (#thatsaword).

I’m striving to live out the words from the prayer Jesus taught his disciples: “give us today our daily bread”. I need fresh fuel every day. I need direction for what I might encounter in the day that I am in and how to handle it. I don’t want to wait until I’m running on fumes and barely make it to my destination.

I don’t want to look up and see that I’ve been driving in the wrong direction for the last 5 miles. I want to be on the path that God has set out for me and enjoy the ride, knowing, that being full of the Spirit of God, I am never lost.

Shhh.. It’s a Secret!!

My kids are 6 and 9 so they are getting to that age where they have their own sibling secrets. Nothing big, things like grabbing an extra popsicle or hiding all of their stuffed animals in my closet! I’ll hear them giggling a little too much and ask what’s going on and they say in harmony: “It’s a secret!”

I was reading in the book of 1 Samuel this morning where Saul was anointed king over Israel by the prophet Samuel. In 1 Samuel 9:27, Samuel says to Saul to have the, “servants to go on ahead of us”— and the servant did so— “but you stay here a while, so that I may give you a message from God.”

Once the servant left, Saul is doused with a flask of oil and anointed by Samuel to be the first king of Israel. This happened between just two people. Saul and Samuel. No one else knew what was happening, there was no huge presentation or stage. Just the prophet of God and a man.

We live in a culture where many people feel the need to share every detail of their life… everyday… on every platform. Don’t get me wrong: I like updates of kids growing up, anniversaries and vacations, but there is a current trend of over sharing! I can be guilty of this too. I love to talk so sometimes my mouth runs faster than my brain!

What I love about this story is the privacy between Saul and Samuel. Somethings are just for you and God. There are certain promises I’ve received from God that only he and I share. Why? Because some things need time to cultivate. Some dreams need the protection of secrecy so they aren’t killed before they are born. How many times have you shared a good idea only to be shot down? “That won’t work!” Or “Who would by that?” can deter you from what God’s given you.

There was no one present to disagree with God’s choice for king, no one to place doubts in Saul’s mind of his ability to lead the Israelites. Just him and the word from God. I’m reminded of a time when some life changing changing news was shared with a large group. Remember the children of Israel when they sent spies to check out the land of Canaan? Two men were confident of Israel’s ability to overtake the inhabitants of the land. But they other ten spies caused fear and distress to spread through the camp, causing Israel to remain wanderers for 40 years in the desert.

This year, I’m sure you have all kinds of goals and plans and promises from God. I know I do! May I kindly recommend that you be very careful with whom you allow access to your dreams. They are precious and worth protecting!

Increase by Decrease

There are so many things I love about living in this modern world we live in today! I love ordering my coffee on the mobile app and when I arrive, it’s at the perfect temperature for consumption (140 degrees!). I love being able to solve a sudoku puzzle on an app so I don’t have to carry around my puzzle book. I love seeing pictures of friends and family who are in other states, who in times past, i would have no knowledge of their hobbies and interests. So often modern technology gets such a bad rap, but I do believe it can add and has added so much to our lives.

On the other side of the coin, with all the technological advances we’ve seen over the past two or three decades, it seems that people are more stressed out, more overworked, and busier than ever.

The time that was spent churning butter or ironing clothes is now replaced with a trip to the grocery store or a trip to the dry cleaners. We are saving so much time with the day-to-day tasks, but we are filling that time with other obligations, many of which we drag ourselves to begrudgingly.

As we fill out our monthly calendars and planners, we take pride in the three or four days we have every month with nothing written on them. Dentist appointments, dance recitals, volunteer opportunities, church activities, sports activities, sporting events, and charity dinners fill most days and our calendars burst at the seems with color coded priorities and checklists.

Shortly before writing this, I had come to the end of a very busy season in my life. I was coaching homeschool volleyball for four seasons, leading the women’s ministry at my church, volunteering at my children’s school, designing and sewing clothing for my online business, managing my home, working on this book, and just living life trying to be a good wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher and friend. Oh yeah, and I was training for my first half marathon!

I don’t write this to brag. I write this to show how our good intentions can easily turn into the very busyness that strains our relationships, dismisses our health and distances us from our true purpose.

I came to a tipping point where my schedule, my obligations, my home, my responsibilities, and even my hobbies, we’re leaving me feeling burnt out and tired at the end of every day and week. I spent Saturday cleaning up from the week that had just passed and Sunday getting ready for the tornado that was on its way in the following week. Was this all there was to adulthood? Being too tired or too busy or too frustrated to spend time with the people I cared about most? I knew there had to be an answer so I turned to where I get most of my questions answered.

There is a story found in the sixth chapter of Judges about a man named Gideon. He was in a position of feeling overwhelmed. He was commissioned by God to deliver the people of Israel from their Midianite oppressors. He gathered a huge army and was ready to move out when God said he had too many men. I saw myself in this story. Everyday, I was going out to face the world and I was taking my list of things to do, my worries, and my packed schedule with me. I felt God saying that I had too many things.

I thought the answer was in finding a better productivity app or a better planner. Maybe I needed a better cleaning system or more organizational bins?

But the truth was there was nothing I could add to give me the rest I was looking for. I knew that it was only through subtraction that I’d find the way off of this highway of busyness.

I began slashing my schedule, removing myself from committees, turning down play dates and even missing some birthday parties- gasp! I even made the hard decision to not return to coaching volleyball since my kids were now getting more involved in their own activities. The more things I slashed, the more free I felt.

We are taught in basic math that the more you add, the more you get, but unfortunately this does not hold true in mists areas of life. The more clutter you add to your house doesn’t give you more space. It’s actually the opposite. The more clutter you remove, the more space you gain. It’s an equation I call increase by decrease.

When you feel overwhelmed, over stressed and stretched, the key is not in addition, it’s in subtraction. The more inessential items you can remove from your life, the more time you will have to pursue the things that are most important to you.

The other night, my daughter and I sat and played Barbies for 2.5 hours! They went on vacation, the hired babysitters, went shopping, watched movies on the laptops and had a fashion show. In the past, I would have set a timer for 30 minutes to play so I could finish whatever chore I had or get us ready to go somewhere. But because there was nowhere to go and nothing else vying for my time, we played until she asked to stop!

When you intentionally find areas to decrease your involvement or remove entirely, you will find that the areas that most to you will begin to increase as you intentionally make time for them.

I’m not telling you to call everyone and tell them you quit! If you’ve committed to something for a time, honor that commitment. But where can you say, “I no longer am able to participate in this event (committee, sports league) so this month will be my last month.” And remember, you don’t owe anyone an explanation. I remember people asking if everything was okay when I started cutting things and I assured them everything was fine, but that was it.

I read in the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, “If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.” Stop allowing other people, needless obligations, even your own clutter, determine how you spend your time and energy. Decide today what things you want to invest your time in, pursue them passionately, and begin to live the life you’ve always imagined.