Bring it back

My grandparents grew up in an easier time – if you ask me. Of course, they would probably laugh and tell me it wasn’t easier, but I still wonder. I wonder what it was like living without the influence of the internet.

This is one of those topics I come back to a lot. This is almost always on my mind in some way or another. Maybe because my formative years growing up took place at the same time as the internet and social media. I feel like the internet was a friend in my life and we grew up across the street from each other. I both went to the library to search through encyclopedias to write reports in middle school, and had to learn how to search the internet in college for research papers. I still remember my first “screen name” with AOL Instant Message, and now use I use iMessage. I went to Tomorrow Land in Disney World when I was 7, when the very idea of a video chat was mind blowing. Now I can FaceTime with my personal cell phone/computer. It’s almost old technology.

A part of me wishes I could have been raised in an era with less technology. An era where I didn’t feel like my entire life needed to be put on public display in order to feel worth and meaning. Have you ever felt that way? When you grow up with MySpace, Facebook, and Instagram, it feels like it what you do doesn’t matter unless it’s put on display for the approval of others. Did people in previous eras struggle with this, or did they have a greater sense of purpose in life? Did they find contentment in what they had? Did they have stronger prayer lives? Did they have better family units? Were they healthier?

Without the distraction of the internet, what did life look like? What did life feel like?

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I have this little day-dream of someday living on a hobby farm and owning a cow, chickens, and having a massive garden. I find myself being pulled away from the internet and drawn to the simple, some would even say menial, tasks of life. I’ve been finding more peace and purpose the less I am online.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I have access to on a daily basis. In what ways can I live my dream right now? How can I make the most of what I have, and find joy in the blessings that God has given me?

For one, I have a deck. I can garden.

This summer I can build a raised garden bed and explore growing all kinds of vegetables and fruits, and in the fall I can try my hand at canning and preserving. I can spend time in when I get home from work watering my plants and pulling weeds. What I’m super excited about is how I can share what I grow with the people in my life!

Secondly, I have a fully equipped kitchen. I can cook.

Have you ever been awed by the fact that you have a fully equipped kitchen? All the equipment that restaurants have to produce incredible foods is attached to my living room. Just waiting to be used.

Thirdly, I have outdoor space. I can enjoy the warm summer evenings as often as I want.

I don’t have to go somewhere to relax and unwind. I have everything I need right at home.

Fourthly, I have an alarm clock and my schedule is mine. I can spend time with Jesus.

I have control of my schedule. When I stay up too late, it’s my fault. When I over-book myself, it’s my fault. But what if I took ownership of my schedule? What if I submitted my life to the Lord? I have what I need to do this.

I have the opportunity to live, work, play and follow Jesus without having to worry about the entire world watching my every move. That sounds like freedom to me.

Freedom to focus on the people around me, and to love on them and give them my full attention when I am with them.

Freedom to follow God. To study his Word and learn from him what living in faith really looks like.

Freedom to be content with what I have…not because I can’t see what everyone else has, but because I got it by the sweat of my brow and the work of my hands. The home I have and the things in it are hard-earned, and I appreciated where I am in life and how far I’ve come.

This is the dream. I desire to be defined not by what I have and how many people know about it, but by who I am and what I do with the time that I’m given each day.

img_5075I want my life to be set apart for the Lord, and to honor him in everything that I do. I want to bring things back to basics and get my direction and meaning from the Lord. I want to steward my life well. My house isn’t going to take care of itself. My marriage is going to maintain itself. My body isn’t going to take care of itself. My schedule isn’t going to magically allow for time for work, play, and serving. All these things need me to be actively involved. I feel like I can only do that well when I’m more concerned with God’s direction than I am with the acclaim of strangers.

If this is resonating with you, I encourage you to pull back from online and lean into stewarding a beautiful life.

What do you have? What’s available to you right now? What can you do with the time, space, and resources that are at your fingertips?

 

 

All these details

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 NLT

After I read this, I couldn’t continue reading on through the next chapter. I had to close the bible and stew over it for a while, because it brought to light an unsettledness in my heart I didn’t realize was there before. It showed me that I have been striving too much lately. I have been trying to do everything perfectly. I’ve been trying to navigate my friendships perfectly. I’ve been trying to do perfect at work. I’ve been trying to be perfect at making meals for my family. I’ve been trying to manage my time perfectly. I’ve even been trying to control my thoughts and emotions perfectly.

When I read this passage, I felt like the Lord was saying to me, “Kristen, you are worried and upset over all of these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Spend time with me. That is the one thing that cannot be taken away from you.” 

I get so distracted by the “big dinner” I am preparing for the Lord. I get so hyper focused on doing my absolute perfect-best for God that I end up getting stressed and frazzled. I make great efforts to achieve great things, and I begin to believe that the most important thing I have going on is this thing I’m doing for the Lord.

But then the Lord whispers, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about.”

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Time spent with the Lord is all that really matters. It is the only thing worth being concerned about. When we spend time with the Lord we learn how to put our hope in him and not in our abilities. When we spend time with the Lord we learn how to be patient and wait for his best. It is there, at his feet, that we learn humility and what it really looks like to offer mercy and gentleness to our enemies. In him we find strength in light of our weakness.

Our hearts are not at peace when we are doing things for him – our hearts are at peace when we are abiding with him.

How can we point others to Jesus if we don’t know who he is or where he’s found? How can we serve one another in love if we haven’t learned what love is from him? How can we offer mercy when we’ve never experienced his mercy? How can we ask people to repent when we’ve not repented? Maybe an ability to serve others and point them to Jesus will result from our time spent abiding. But in the end, our relationship with Jesus is all that is worth being concerned about. Our service to the Lord shouldn’t be our focus. We’re not hired salesmen trying to earn a big commission. We’re children of God. We’re heirs with Christ. We’re adopted into his family.

Our service to the Lord should be a result of the relationship we have with him, and come from a deeply rooted desire to invite others to experience what we have. God loves the people in our lives so much and wishes that as many as possible would come to know him in this way.

And he wishes that we would know him in this way.

So where do we go from here? We go to the Bible. We pray. We put down the details and spend some time a Jesus’s feet.

Father, I pray that you will help us to stop worrying about the details. Please put our eyes back on you. So much of what we do is born out of the need to produce – the need to be good at something or to be somebody of worth. But we find our worth in you. And we look to you to fill our hearts, and we ask that you would fill us to overflow so that other’s may be encouraged to look to you as well. You are the goal.  Should all else be taken away but you remain, still my soul would be at peace. May your kingdom come and your will be done here on earth, just as it is in heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

Please don’t kill me in the process

I was going back through some of my old journal entries, and came upon an entry from last June, right after our anniversary. This was the start of realizing that Luke and I needed to seek help to get our marriage back on track.

It was a very painful time.

We would have a few bad nights, reconcile, have a good few days, only to plummet further down the next time. This pattern made us realize that we needed to seek out help no matter how long that “good” stretch went. There were clearly things going on under the surface that we didn’t know how to handle.

Reading that journal entry brought it all back.

The morning of this journal entry I had felt like God told me to camp in his presence. So I did. And in that place I told him what was on my heart. I wrote, search me and know me. You’ve already started a work in me, so finish it to completion. Keep digging and refining me. Please just don’t kill me in the process.

I stopped reading for a second and closed my eyes…remembering. That’s exactly how I felt at that time…do your work, whatever it takes. But I’m going to need your strength to get through it.

To look back on this now is a testimony to my own heart. I laid myself down and opened every piece of my heart to the Lord. “Let your will be done. Do what you need.” I didn’t want to seek out counseling…it felt like admitting defeat. It scared me. Even though we were in that tough place, I loved my husband dearly and I hated to admit that I needed help.

Submitting to the Lord goes against our sinful hearts and human nature. It’s engaging in a war of spirit against flesh. But the result of submitting to the Lord brings life to our souls in a way that we never could have expected.

When we humble ourselves and submit to the Lord, that is when restoration begins. We found marriage counselors through our church and they walked us through biblical counseling. Through them, the Lord shed light on lies we were believing and replaced them with truths. He revealed our pride to us and began to teach us humility. He taught us how to forgive. He showed us how to love.

I look at our relationship now, and see that he has once again proven himself merciful and faithful. He has redeemed and restored and made something new and beautiful out of something that was hurting and broken. He has turned our mourning into joyful dancing. What started out as the lowest point in our marriage has turned into our greatest testimony. It became our springboard into a new life that we would not have apart from God. I can’t stop talking about how faithful he has been to us!

God is faithful to those who put their trust in him. He will redeem and restore. Your current trial isn’t the end. Have faith in the goodness of God, and he will direct your steps. So hold on a little tighter today and take it to the Lord. He has the answer.

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Psalm 30:11-12 NLT