I’ve been documenting how I spend my days recently, something like a “journal of days.” I want to be sure that I am living my life purposely, using my time wisely. My plan is to do it for two weeks to get an accurate picture. I’m trying to prepare my schedule for a new season of writing, creative projects and be sure that my schedule doesn’t crowd out relationships. It's a pretty day today, cool enough to actually sit outside and write and Ken has fixed the fountain, again!
Sometimes we just get paralyzed with our time. The calendar and "to do lists" are overwhelming. We feel like there are not enough hours in the day to do it all and so we don’t accomplish much of anything. We let our time with the Lord slip, letting the voices that cry out the loudest win the moments in our days.
I’ve done this “journal” several times over the last 15 years. The first time, I still had children at home and was working at least 30 hours a week in ministry. I felt the Lord was calling me to write Bible studies and teach the Word, but I couldn’t see a way to fit in more time for study. I felt the need to develop more intimate friendships. I needed to see where the hours were really going.
Was there time that I could spend more wisely? The process was very revealing. When I looked at my days, I found that while the demands on my life were great as a mom, wife and employee, there were things in my life that I could change. My journal of days showed me the truth of how I really spent the hours in my days and I found it was a little different from what I thought. For instance, if I would just organize the family meals ahead I wouldn’t have to run to the grocery 4 times a week! This may be a no brainer to you organized types, but for me it was a discipline that I needed to develop. There were things I needed to let go of, some simple and some rather major, if I wanted to answer the Lord’s call on my life in that season.
As I am writing, the doorbell rings. It’s a friend with a little gift. We had been texting yesterday about a Bible book for children that she wondered if I knew. We often exchange spiritual quotes from favorite books and authors. Today, she decided to bring me some quotes on little cards. A blessing. Words that inspire and encourage us in the journey. We share a love for reading, writing and the arts.
Our conversation was brief. She couldn’t stay. She spoke about how the Lord was teaching her about her schedule as she struggles with physical limitations that she now has requiring her much more rest than she is used to. She’s had to guard carefully how she spends her days, where and how much energy she can give.
Her life is a picture to me of devotion to Christ. As she left she said, “The Lord said to me, Am I not enough for you?”
She’s one of my friends that I love to sit down with to share a cup of tea sprinkled with wisdom. There’s not much small talk with my friend. Conversations are purposeful, centered on Jesus and what He is doing in our lives. Whenever she leaves my house the conversation always lingers in my mind and spurs me on to consider how Jesus is speaking into my life.
How is He speaking into your life? It might be through a friend.
How would you answer that question from the Lord? Am I not enough for you?
Are we living our days in a way that reveals to the watching world that we are saying yes to the Lord with our lives?
Or are we chasing after things that don’t matter, things that rob us of precious time we could be spending in relationship with Him or with others?
Are we wasting precious moments, looking more like the culture we live in rather than a life that is set apart for Christ?
I remember when I first started keeping a journal of my days. The process led me to look at how Jesus spent His days. Who ever lived on earth with more demands on their time, more people clamoring for His touch on their lives than Jesus? Yet, He made it a priority to pull away and spend time with the Father in prayer, in worship. He also lived His life in relationship with others. They broke bread together and had meaningful conversations that spoke truth, hope, and love.
As I look back over my journal of days for the last week, I see that the times spent that give the most lasting value were the hours spent in relationship over a meal, a cup of tea. Conversations. Words of Life spoken from one to another.
I think of the visit with my friend last week where she shared the joy and new hope she was experiencing with her daughter in their relationship.
Then there was the evening spent with the woman I mentor. We cooked a meal together. We had talked about picking up Chinese food, but I thought it would be more fun to cook together. So we made the one Chinese dish I know! Then we discussed a chapter in the book we are studying together, “Owning Your Life” by Sally Clarkson.
We prayed and laughed and discussed some really deep questions like...
“What are the things or people in your life that are creating chaos?”
“What voices in your life are influencing your decisions and are they worth following?”
“How can you invest the resources of your money, time, and heart commitment to build a life that matters for God?”
Yes, they are tough questions, important questions to ask even if you don’t know the answers today.
There were the few hours with a friend who has mentored me through the years in prayer and a life of faith. We shared a simple cup of tea and some pumpkin bread. I invited her over because I know the need to stay connected with people who know your history, know your heart, and will hold you accountable.
I shared a wonderful evening with my husband at the home of some new friends. Dinner together, sharing our stories, building new relationships, an evening of joy and blessing as they shared their ministry of hospitality with us.
Tea and prayer with Sherry. Making Restore plans for “The Light of Christmas,” sharing dreams, and prayer together.
And then there was the visit yesterday with mom. We talked about the girls, but she can’t remember their names today. She asks the same questions over and over because the alzheimer disease keeps her from remembering my answers. Ever the hostess, she offers me a coke and a piece of candy. I water her flowers and fill the hummingbird feeder. We walked through the butterfly garden together. She’s so concerned that they are not dead heading the roses in the garden that I fear she might try to take her walker into the beds and get to work on those roses! Once a gardener you are always wanting to care for God’s beauty even at 87!
It’s one of those bittersweet visits..... As I leave she thanks me for coming. She won’t remember that I came tomorrow. Relationships aren’t always easy to pursue and sometimes there is sorrow intermingled with the joy, but they are time invested well.
When we open our home to offer hospitality we invite the blessing of God. When we look at the life of Jesus we see that sharing a meal together was often at the heart of the gospel. Some of the most profound truths found in the gospel were shared by Jesus at the table. Throughout the New testament we see Jesus giving spiritual nourishment around the table. Think of the meals at the home of Lazurus, Mary and Martha, with the tax collectors and sinners, and the Lord's Supper. Even the resurrected Christ prepared breakfast for his disciples. Before his ascension Jesus promised the Holy Spirit over a meal with His disciples. It's as if He was saying "Come to the Table" and I will share my life with you. Food for the body and food for the soul fit together and bring blessing.
It’s easy to lose sight of this simple truth in our fast paced, fast food culture. I believe in the family meal... sitting down together, without the TV, and sharing the events of the day. It promotes friendship, family and relationships, and provides an opportunity to invite Jesus into the conversations, the everyday, ordinary moments of our lives.
So make time to savor a meal and savor a relationship.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying you should never pick up a meal or order pizza. There are certainly days when that makes the most sense to keep peace in the home!
But, I wonder, as a culture are we losing the art of a home cooked meal, are we practicing hospitality, are we sharing words of life around the table?
The summer before each of my girls went off to college, we had cooking lessons. Then I made them each a cookbook of all their favorite family recipes and space to add their own. It's just a three ring binder filled with quotes, recipes and lots of love. I wanted them to be prepared to have their own family meals one day and offer hospitality wherever they were. They were often the only ones who cooked among the many roommates. It’s a tradition worthy to pass on. My mom made it a practice in our home to sit at the table together for family meals. It was a value in our home growing up. It was the pattern of Jesus’ life - sharing a meal and conversations together.
Take some time to celebrate the bounty of God's provision in your life.
Use your imagination....
Plan a romantic dinner in the garden, a fall picnic with the kids, set a table for breakfast on the porch,
Invite some friends over for appetizers or dessert, or simply light the candles and share a pot of soup and break bread!
Come to the table!
Enjoying His abundant blessings,
***Special note: If you are reading these blogs through your email reminder, it's best to click the blue title at the top which brings you directly to the Restore website. Then you will be able to read in the original format which is especially helpful for photographs, slides shows, etc.
Resources - Pinterest, Own Your LIfe - Sally Clarkson
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