A Time to Savour and a Time to Hustle

I can hang out a basket of washing in 5 minutes.

I did it today in the small window of time I had before I had to pick up my daughter from school.

It would have been easy to fritter that time away with a scroll through Facebook (as I have done on other days), but today I squeezed those minutes for all they were worth – I hustled.

I felt a glowing sense of accomplishment at the time well spent. And the benefits extended into the rest of the day – it was one less thing I had to do.

My favourite time of day to hang out the washing is in the evening, right after dinner. The kids are sitting on Daddy’s lap watching videos or getting ready for bed.

The air outside is cool and the birds are calling to each other in the trees surrounding me.

I hang an item and then stop to take a deep breath as I look around, trying to spot which bird is making that unusual sound I haven’t heard before. I might bend down and wonder at the lady bug traversing the blades of grass, slowly making her way home.

Doing it this way, it takes about 5 times as long to hang a basket of washing, but the experience is far more pleasurable.

Would I get more done if I hustled all the time, squeezing productivity out of every minute? Unquestionably.

Would I have a better quality of life? Not a chance!

Hustling all the time is a sure-fire way to burn out. (And if Mumma burns out, we’re all gonna have a bad time.)

The key is seeking God for wisdom on how to spend our time – moment by moment, day by day.

Here’s what I’ve observed in my own life. The more I’m in His word, the more my priorities match His.

And the more I’ve been intentional about keeping Sunday holy and restful, the more productive I am the rest of the week.

Ask the Lord to help you know when it’s time to savour and when it’s time to hustle.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
James 1:5

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This Cross

Lord,

I know you said to take up my cross and follow you,

but,

I don’t want this cross.

It’s heavy and the splinters are digging into my shoulders.

And look,

over there –

her cross looks MUCH lighter than mine!

What’s it made of?

Looks like plastic to me.

Can I have a plastic cross too, Lord?

One that’s easier to carry and doesn’t dig into my flesh so much.

One that doesn’t make me stumble and trip and

call out to you for help so much

and…

Oh.

If…

If none of my dreams and plans come to pass…

If doubts and questions crowd into my thoughts…

If each day brings tears and sorrow…

If pain in my body is constant…

If no amount of sleep fixes the tiredness…

If all my friends desert me…

If I am mocked and ridiculed by all…

If I lose every possession I have gained…

If we have no money for food and no where to live…

If I lose my whole family…

If I die tomorrow…

 

…God is still good and faithful.

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “there

 

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!

– Thomas Chisholm

Are you starving yourself?

I’ve been sick with some kind of cold virus lately, and it seems to have affected my appetite, putting me off most food and even *gasp* coffee!

But I know that it can be a vicious cycle – feeling too sick to eat, then feeling weak because I haven’t eaten, then being sick for longer as my body struggles to recover.

So even though I didn’t feel like it, I forced myself to eat things that my body needs – red meat, veggies, egg and (yes) coffee. It’s not a fantastic experience, eating with a blocked nose. But I see the benefits of nourishing my body when I have that little bit of extra strength returning and I’m that little bit less cranky.

Whether or not I feel like eating is irrelevant. My body needs food so I should eat.

And sure, sometimes we do need to stay away from food for a while when we’re sick. But this can only be a temporary thing, or it becomes hazardous to our health.

It made me think about how we approach reading the Bible.

In her interview on the Sheologians podcast, Rachel Jankovic encourages women to feast on the spiritual food that God has made freely available to us – His word, the Bible.

Why would we spiritually starve ourselves or try to get by on crumbs, when we have an absolute feast available in His word daily?

Since doing the Summer reading plan and now the Bible reading challenge (in which we will read the entire Bible in 9 months), I’ve become much more aware of my own need for His word, daily. I haven’t managed to keep up with the set readings each day, but the amazing thing is that after spending so long making this habit and enjoying the Bible daily, I actually miss and long for God’s word when I do miss a few days.

Here are some signs I’ve noticed that tell me my spirit is “starving” for a Bible feast:

  • I am more irritable around people.
  • I am more direction-less in my day – not really knowing what I should do next.
  • I scroll through social media mindlessly.
  • I am more easily discouraged by difficult circumstances.

When I notice those things, it’s a sure sign to me that I haven’t been in the Word.

When was the last time you ate?


 

Related: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/women-we-need-his-word

 

Emotional First Aid

I woke up grumpy the other day.

Well, to be more precise, I woke up with the expectation of being grumpy. And my expectations were abundantly met.

I’d been battling through various illnesses with the kids and myself for weeks, and was just getting on top of the conjunctivitis going through the last kid to get it.

I’d gone to bed mentally scolding no one in particular, “If I wake up to one more sick kid…”

Sure enough, I woke to find the familiar goop had returned to the eyes of the youngest child – the first one to catch it.

I wanted to scream and stamp my foot. I wanted to punch something. Hard.

But instead, I stuffed that mess back inside it’s box and let out a big sigh. Then I got on with cleaning the goopy eyes, administering eye drops and making breakfast.

And as I worked away at my tasks, still nursing my anger like a newborn baby, I felt that gentle prodding of the Holy Spirit. Like the sharp end of a stick, pointing out my sinful attitude and refusing to let me stay in it.

Because it can be tempting to nurse our anger and frustration sometimes. There are so many sources out there that will tell us that “venting” is okay and complaining is totally normal, but in the Bible, we read that grumbling against God’s provisions for us (which includes the good and the bad) is wickedness.

In Numbers 14, verse 27, God says:

How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me.

Sometimes you can’t just make yourself “snap out of it” though. And God sees our heart – he’s not interested in plastered smiles and sing-songy voices.

God sees our heart - he's not interested in plastered smiles and sing-songy voices.

 

When I feel stuck in a bad attitude, here’s how I apply some “emotional first aid” and turn it around – I remember these truths, found in God’s word, and I preach them to myself:

  • God is holy – He is set apart and there is no one like Him.
  • God is good – everything He does and is is good.
  • God made me and is the boss of me – not only is God my creator, but as a Christian, he is also my Lord and King.
  • God has saved me from my sins and the consequences of them.
  • God gives me every spiritual blessing I need – I am lacking nothing.
  • God is sanctifying me – he is working on me from the inside out, to make me more like Christ every day.

Sometimes there are other thoughts that flow from those, but generally speaking, it’s pretty hard to continue with my bad attitude after getting through that list!

Now, these are things I know to be true. When I go through them, I’m not trying to convince myself, I’m just trying to remember – to bring these things to the front of my mind.

And as I remember the truth about who God is, it reminds me of who I am and who I am becoming. And fills my heart with thankfulness instead of bitterness.

Pray for Your Husband Through the Week

This year I’ve committed to praying for my husband more diligently.

The other day I was thinking about it, and while each of us has friends and a great church family whom we could (and do) call upon to pray, there is no other person who knows my husband more deeply and intimately than I do. And there is no one who knows me more than him.

Therefore, we have such a privileged position when it comes to prayer – we can pray for each other in ways that others wouldn’t even think of. We can direct our prayers with accuracy and love. We can use the daily reminders brought on my living in close proximity to serve as prayer prompts.

We can pray for each other around those sensitive areas that the other person might not be ready to talk about yet.

What a gift it can be when we pray for our spouse intentionally!

One way I’ve been doing this recently is that I set a reminder on my phone for 10am every day to pray for my husband. (I didn’t realise, but apparently our calendars are linked so my husband gets this notification too – he told me he loves it, because it reminds him to pray for me!)

Then I wrote a list where I assigned a generalised prayer point for each day of the week.

Pray for Your Husband Through the Week

This is my list, but you could definitely make up your own prayer points to suit:

M – Maturity in Christ. This is something Paul often tells us he prays for the believers he addresses his letters to. None of us will reach full maturity in Christ until we are completely transformed into His image, so this is a great thing to pray for your husband

T – Trust in Christ. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.” Each Tuesday I pray that my husband will put his trust in Jesus as he walks in obedience to him.

W – Wisdom. I pray that my husband will have wisdom from God in whatever challenges he is facing that day – whether spiritual or earthly.

Th – Theology. I pray for my husband to grow in his understanding of and love for God.

F – Friendship. On Fridays I pray for my husband’s friendships, that they would be a source of joy and encouragement to him.

Sat – Seeing God. I pray that my husband would see God’s hand mightily throughout his day and week.

Sun – Sexuality. I pray for my husband’s sexuality (with thankfulness!) that God would use it for His glory.

 

Each day when the reminder goes off, I take a minute to recall what the prayer point is for that day, and then briefly pray for my husband in whichever way that point best applies to him at the moment.

It’s so simple, but such an effective way to be building up your husband and practically loving him.

Why not give it a try?

Hospitality for the Socially Awkward

“Where do you think I should put the drinks table?” I asked my husband, as he scrubbed the barbecue in preparation for our house-warming party.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“Because I was thinking it should go down there on the ground, so it’s not a big deal if people spill drinks. But then I was thinking that it might be too far away from the food table, so maybe we should put it up here on the deck. So… what do you think?” I asked again.

“I don’t know. You decide,” he said.

“Fine,” I huffed, “We won’t have a drinks table then.”

“You’re being ridiculous,” he said, as I stomped back inside.

Ugh. Is there anything worse than someone saying you’re being ridiculous when you are actually being ridiculous?

The truth is, hosting people at our house for a party or even a casual barbecue does make me go a little crazy.

I find myself playing out all the things that could go wrong…. Not enough food. Someone’s child goes missing. Someone’s child breaks something. My child won’t nap. Guests won’t feel welcome. It will be boring. I won’t know what to say to people. On and on, in my head, goes the list of potential problems.

So by the time we get to the day of the party, I tend to be in a bit of a state.

 

But personal weakness and discomfort are not reasons for ignoring (or wilfully disobeying) God’s instructions.

Hospitality is something Christians are commanded to do – it’s one of the tangible ways we are to show God’s love.

Hospitality

This is why I really appreciated Michelle Lesley’s article “The Christian Introvert: Putting off Social Anxiety, Putting on Serving Others“.

I love Michelle’s kind but direct approach to the issue.

When I entertain those anxious thoughts and feelings, I’m focusing on me. My fear of man. My worries about what others will think of me. My discomfort and desire to be somewhere else. Me. Me. Me.

Oooh, it stings so good!

The reason I get so worked up thinking about hosting others is because I’m fixated on myself: What will people think of my cleanliness? What will they think of my food? What will they think of my decorating?

Michelle has some great practical suggestions in her article for “putting on” a selfless attitude in various social situations.

Here are my tips specifically for hosting guests when you feel socially awkward or introverted:

  1. Simplify the food. I mean, you don’t have to be really cheap about it, but the key is to remember that you are making food to provide for people, not impress them. Don’t think about what food will make you look the best, but what food will contribute to everyone’s enjoyment of the party. For our house-warming party, if people asked “Can I bring anything?” we said we would love it if they brought a plate of finger food. Sharing the load of food prep took a lot of pressure off on the day, and I think people enjoyed contributing!
  2. Get your house clean enough. Again, take the focus of “what will people think of me?” and put the focus on, “what will best enable my guests to enjoy themselves and move freely about the house?” Aim for clean and hygienic bathrooms, and get the clutter off the floor, or at least moved to the edges of the floor. I actually think it’s good for people to see a little mess around the edges of your home. It makes them feel more at ease and less like they are walking through a museum. (Not that my home has ever got to museum standards…) Put anything you really don’t want broken away in a cupboard.
  3. Get the kids to help. It’s so good for kids to see and work together with their parents to serve others. Talk them through the practical steps, give them age-appropriate jobs to do and let them see how you love others through hospitality.
  4. Accept help when it is offered. If you have a great church family, like I do, it’s likely you’ll hear the phrase “What can I do?” quite a bit when hosting guests. Have your answer/s prepared! Don’t, I repeat, DON’T say, “Oh, I’ve got it under control.” Because even if you do right now, I can guarantee you won’t for the whole time! So, think of jobs other people can do to help ahead of time. Things like, asking who would like tea or coffee, walking around with a plate of food, clearing empty plates off the table, etc.

 

As the last smiling guest left our doorstep on the afternoon of the house-warming party, I crumpled into my husband’s arms and let out a sigh.

“That was great,” he said. “We should have people over more often!”

“Yeah, we should,” I agreed.

(And then I went and had a nap.)