Sunday, February 28, 2010

what I'm reading: condemnation and the cross from CJ Mahaney's The Cross Centred Life

I'm a guilt-wallower. I'm often weighed down by all the things I haven or haven't done. I carry around a big burden of guilt, regrets and failures.

So I was encouraged to read these words in CJ Mahaney's The Cross Centred Life the other day. Balm for a tender conscience.

Condemnation appears in innumerable forms. It's the weight on the heart of the businessman who was rarely home when his kids were growing up. It's the undercurrent of grief and mental self-torture in the woman who had an abortion twelve years ago. It's the nagging conscience of the Cristian man who muttered a crude insult at a reckless driver twelve minutes ago. It's the lingering sense of regret over a lack of prayer; it's kind words unsaid and promises broken.

Some of us have been carrying so much, for so long, that we think it's normal to go through life weighted down. ... But in Romans 8:1 the Bible tells us, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." ...

The enemy of our soul with his lies will always be swift to whisper accusations. When these challenges come, don't try to fight condemnation by promising to pray more, or to fast more often, or to memorize more Scripture. ... It's impossible to resolve issues of yesterday by doing better tomorrow. ...

You can't do it. That's why Jesus did it for you. ...

Lay down the luggage of condemnation and kneel down in worship at the feet of Him who bore your sins.
CJ Mahaney The Cross Centred Life 37-43

image is from stock.xchng

Friday, February 26, 2010

artwork: castle

When it comes to craft, we love the Usborne series Things to Make and Do. My daughter has collected lots of these books over the years.

A few years ago, back in Lizzy's pink-purple girly dayes, we made this castle from Fairytale things to make and do. It's made with cut-out shapes of tissue paper stuck on with a glue stick and decorated with plastic jewels and LOTS of good-quality glitter glue (a birthday gift) - we got a bit carried away, as you can see!!

We put it in an Ikea frame (a cheap, effective way to display kids' artwork) and it's been hanging in her room ever since.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

burnout (3) it's not over yet, baby!

This post has been a long time in coming. I've wanted to write about this for so long, but the words haven't been coming together!

How do you write about something when you're in the middle of it, and your emotions are raw and your thoughts confused? How do you write about something when you're not sure how to write anything helpful? How do you write about something when you think it should be over by now?

The last 6 months haven't been easy. The hole called "burnout", which I dug myself into last year - or rather, which I dug gradually over several years, and fell into all of a sudden on the 19th of July last year (see, I remember the date!) - takes a long time to climb out of.

I thought 2 months of low-grade depression would do it: yes, I've payed my dues, now it's time to move on. But I continued to feel pretty depressed during much of the summer holidays. I'm still experiencing the repercussions in my emotions and energy levels. I'm still a little unclear about things, unsure of myself, uncertain of the future.

Things are much better now (so please don't worry about me!). I'm feeling happier and less anxious. I'm gradually finding a workable way to manage life and ministry. I'm trying to build on a firmer foundation: less pride and selfish ambition, more love and service of the people God has given me.

Like all of God's severe mercies, this has taught me a huge amount: about myself, about God, about obedience and ministry and service. I've learned about the disaster we can prepare for ourselves when we passionately serve our idols, about my frailty and humanness, about the gradual stages of healing. Most of all, I've learned about God's grace: the grace that awaits us on the other side of sin, regret, failure and weakness.

I'd like to share what I've learned with you. So as I have time and feel able, I'll write more about this in the weeks ahead.

image is from rachel_titiriga at flickr

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Toe Touching - helping those who grieve

Today I was reminded what to do when someone hurts. These words were written by a woman with 3 children who lost her husband. They are from her post Toe Touching, published in the new women's blog Mentoring Moments.

Life was hard, but God had not left me to face the days alone. Joan, a dear friend called at a time when no one else could have done for me what she did. She said, “I don’t understand what you are going through, but I’m here to listen to you cry, and to cry with you, if that will help.” And we did just that! Together, we cried for an hour and she listened as I talked about my Don, my children, and the ways they were suffering over the death of their father. I don’t recall another person ever asking me how the children were dealing emotionally with losing their dad. The tears stopped and we laughed and enjoyed good fellowship. That was twenty-five years ago but I have recalled it many times as I share with others the need to just be a friend. A friend who might not understand, but who is there to listen, to share tears, and to laugh! That time with Joan has remained a source of strength for me over the years.

The time did come when I realized that God had not abandoned me, but not until after I had given up. The late Larry Burkett ... had a heart for single again adults and sensed the great need I had, so he sent an associate to me. She become a buffer allowing me the freedom to be real. She offered counsel without judgment or condemnation and comforted me while pointing me to Jesus.

Monday, February 22, 2010

the art of French cooking

Did anyone other Melbourne or Sydney dwellers read, in the Good Weekend last Saturday, the article "My dinners with Julia" by Amanda Hooten? It's a hoot (no pun intended).

I can't imagine ever, in a million years, cooking complicated French food for 10 days (let alone all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking) - or even eating French food for 10 days, what with all that butter and my weak stomach - but I thoroughly enjoyed reading about this culinary feat.

The beauty of reading: living vicariously.

what I'm reading: Victoria Beckham vs. GK Chesterton

I was paying for petrol when I glanced over at the magazine rack and noticed this quote on the cover of January's Harper's Bazaar:

Victoria's Secret. You have to believe in yourself, because no-one else will.
It seems that Victoria Beckham has discovered the secret to happiness. It's an insight of such originality that Chesterton wrote about it way back in 1908:

Once I remember walking with a prosperous publisher, who ... said of somebody, "That man will get on; he believes in himself." ... I said to him, "Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? ... The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums." ...

Then when this kindly world all round the man has been blackened out like a lie; when friends fade into ghosts, and the foundations of the world fail; then when the man, believing in nothing and in no man, is alone in his own nightmare, then the great individualistic motto shall be written over him in avenging irony. The stars will be only dots in the blackness of his own brain; his mother’s face will be only a sketch from his own insane pencil on the walls of his cell. But over his cell shall be written, with dreadful truth, “He believes in himself.” ...

The man who cannot believe his senses [the man who believes only in himself], and the man who cannot believe anything else [the man who believes only in this world]... have both locked themselves up in two boxes, painted inside with the sun and stars; they are both unable to get out, the one into the health and happiness of heaven, the other even into the health and happiness of the earth.
This world isn't about me. It's about God. When I forget that, and become absorbed in myself - when I begin to "believe in myself" - I lose my way. I lose my hold on all that is lovely, and sane, and real. This isn't my story. It's God's story.

I believe in Jesus: not in myself.

Chesterton Orthodoxy 13, 23-24

image is from gaspi your guide at flickr

Friday, February 19, 2010

artwork: cityscape

One of our favourite books is The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas. Here's Andy (3) creating a piece of artwork - a cityscape - inspired by this book.

I cut the rectangles out of tissue paper and cellophane; he stuck them on (with help and a glue stick!); and we took turns to draw the windows with permanent markers.

This piece of art is now hanging in our hall. Andy's face says it all!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

my summer reading

I've discovered several authors this summer, thanks to my friend Jenny, who presented me with a list of her favourite reads for 2009 at the end of last year.

At the top of my list is Marilynne Robinson. In 18 years she's written 3 glorious books: Housekeeping, a desolate, beautiful book about loss and transience; Gilead, a letter to his young son by an old preacher, in which his attitude to a friend's prodigal son shifts from anger to grace; and Home, the tale of the prodigal's homecoming told from the perspective of his sister, also returned home.

My second favourite new author is Cynthia Voigt. During summer I read 2 of her novels for "young adults" - in other words, for discerning adults. Homecoming is the story of Dicey and her 3 younger siblings and their long journey to find a new home. Dicey's Song is the story of that new home, and of how brave, fierce Dicey learns how to hold on to and let go of those she loves.

I also read two autobiographical books. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is the novelist Haruki Murakami's reflections on why and how he writes and why and how he runs. Julia Andrews' Home: A Memoir of My Early Years is such fun that I can't wait for the sequel, when she finally talks about her experiences in Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music!

I also read Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books, which a young friend has been bugging me to read for years! Well, they were every adolescent girl's fantasy come true. Not brilliantly written, but unputdownable escapism, with strong characters and great action sequences. Like Romeo and Juliet, I got a little tired of the main characters and their obsessive love. I also read Garden of the Purple Dragon by Carole Wilkinson, which was better quality teen fantasy.

Summer is a good time for dipping into non-fiction. I'm still thoroughly enjoying my slow meanderings through Harold Rabonitz and Rob Kaplan's A Passion for Books, Norman Doidge's The Brain That Changes Itself (fascinating!), and Mark Tredenick's The Little Green Grammar Book. The highlight so far? Umberto Eco's essay "How to justify a private library" and Stuart Brent's "How to get started in the book business" in A Passion for Books.

I read (or started) some Christian books too. I loved Naomi Reed's My Seventh Monsoon: it was great to read about a missionary who seems like an ordinary person, and I was so encouraged by her wise reflections on the seasons of life.

I'm enjoying GK Chesterton's witty and thought-provoking Orthodoxy. Steve and I are reading John Piper's This Momentary Marriage, which is encouraging us to reflect Christ in our marriage. During my quiet times, CJ Mahaney's Living the Cross-Centred Life reminds me to keep the cross central.

Best of all, on my mornings off, I sit in a coffee shop and immerse myself in Paul Tripp's Lost in the Middle: Mid-Life and the Grace of God and Peter Brain's Going the Distance: How to Stay Fit For a Lifetime of Ministry. Profoundly wise and helpful, these books are teaching me what it means to be in for the long haul in the Christian life, without burning out or rusting out.

What's next? Arch Hart's A Woman's Guide to Overcoming Depression; Tim Chester's The Busy Christian's Guide to Busyness; a biography of Susannah Wesley; John Donne's Collected Poems; Josh Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye; Margaret Atwood's Surfacing; and too many others to mention.

If that sounds like a lot, just remember I'm a bookworm! One book with my quiet time; one cup-of-coffee book; one book for the loo; one book for bedtime; one book for mornings off: different books suit different times, and I can fit them in any time!

Well, it's time for bed. Novel reading time. Goodnight!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

how lazy is your diary?

There's one thing you can be sure of this year: what happens will surprise you. But how do you plan for the unexpected?

I love this suggestion (a little late, but still timely!).

And the big one: make sure your ‘diary’ for 2010 looks lazy. What do I mean by that? I mean that we often overfill our regular commitments at the start of any year because it all looks achievable. But often it is only achievable provided that: a. you never get another cold (shouldn’t be too hard to pull off); b. your estimate of your current commitments in terms of time they require is spot on (it’s not like things take more time than we think right?); and c. no new projects show up, and no new people show up who need caring or serving. If your diary looks lazy, you will have the time you need to respond to the divine appointments that God brings across your path – people to connect with, unbelievers to share Jesus with, the needy to care for. Remembering that we aren’t justified by our activities, but by God’s grace, gives us confidence to make the diary a bit less dense in 2010.
from Happy New Year HT Nicole

image is from Bonnie BonBon at flickr

Monday, February 15, 2010

what I'm reading: a cure for materialism from Chesterton's Orthodoxy

Do you remember Puddleglum in CS Lewis's The Silver Chair? Do you remember how the witch tried to convince him that the only reality was her underground world: that there were no stars or trees, and no Aslan? Do you remember how Puddleglum answered her?

"I've seen the sky full of stars. I've seen the sun coming up out of the sea of a morning and sinking behind the mountains at night. And I've seen him up in the midday sky when I couldn't look at him for brightness ... Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things--trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. ... That's why ... I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan."
I wonder if CS Lewis had been reading GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy. For Chesterton's arguments against materialism (the belief that this world is all there is) remind me of Puddleglum's:

Most modern thinkers ... take one thin explanation and carry it very far. But a pattern can stretch for ever and still be a small pattern. They see a chess-board white on black, and if the universe is paved with it, it is still white on black. ...

[The materialist] understands everything, and everything does not seem worth understanding. His cosmos may be complete in every rivet and cog-wheel, but still his cosmos is smaller than our world. ... It is not thinking of the real things of the earth, of fighting peoples or proud mothers, or first love or fear upon the sea. ... If the cosmos of the materialist is the real cosmos, it is not much of a cosmos. The thing has shrunk. The deity is less divine than many men; and ... the whole of life is something much more grey, narrow, and trivial than many separate aspects of it. ...

The main deductions of the materialist ... gradually destroy his humanity; I do not mean only kindness, I mean hope, courage, poetry, initiative, all that is human.

I'm with Aslan - and Jesus.

quotes are from CS Lewis's The Silver Chair and GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy 20-23

image of Puddleglum is by Pauline Baynes from CS Lewis' The Silver Chair; second image is by Robert the Noid at flickr

Friday, February 12, 2010

war wounds

On the second day of school, as I was about to leave home for the school pick-up, I got the phone call every parent dreads.

"Don't worry, Thomas is fine." (Okay, what's coming next?) "He's in sick bay with a small cut on his forehead." (That doesn't sound too bad.) "It's been bleeding quite a lot." (Oh.)

I drove in to find a very teary little boy sitting on the sick-bay couch clutching a blood-stained paper towel to his forehead. Once I'd had a look, the first-aid nurse taped on a square white dressing.

And how did Thomas cut his forehead? Believe it or not, he was quietly carrying the class roll to the school office with another boy. He was walking in the backwards position when he turned around and swung straight into one of the painted steel girders jutting out from the wall. Ouch!

We went to the doctor's, where Ben looked so pale (perhaps he has the same reaction to the idea of blood as his Dad?) that he displaced Thomas as the centre of attention and was told to lie down. The doctor said we had a choice between stitches with her or "glue" (some new-fangled non-stitching technique) at the hospital.

So it was off to the hospital for Thomas and me. By now he looked like a wounded soldier, with a dramatic blood splotch in the middle of the white dressing on his forehead. He admired himself in the mirrored wall of the lift, and strutted through the hospital corridors attracting sympathetic stares from everyone passing by.

The triage nurse cleaned the cut (ouch!), stuck it together with what looked like purple super-glue from a small tube, and held it all together with steri strips.

Thomas, of course, had a very important question.

"If I look at my cut, will I be able to see my brain?"

Which led to some very interesting discussions about the anatomy of the human head.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

how we change (10) what stops you changing?

You might remember last year's series on change. I blogged my way through 6 chapters of Tim Chester's You Can Change, and we talked about grace, legalism, and how to identify our false beliefs and idols. Today my series (finally!) continues with a post on how not to change ...

I'm an expert on how not to change.

For over 10 years, over-spending was my besetting sin. I woke in the dark, sick to the stomach about my spending, and lay there creating elaborate plans for change that I never followed. Every conversation with my prayer-partners was peppered with confession. I sat in church and cried because I wasn't making any progress.

So what stopped me changing? Here's Tim Chester's list of proven ways not to change.

1. Proud self-reliance

We're often more interested in our personal victory over sin than in pleasing God. We're mad at ourselves because we keep sinning. At the root of this is the belief that we can - or should - be strong enough to overcome our sin!
Proud perfectionist that I am, this sums me up nicely. But 10 year's struggling with the same sin brought me to the end of myself. At this point there are only two steps to take:

If you're frustrated at your inability to change, then your first step is to give up - to give up on yourself. Repent of your self-reliance and self-confidence. Your second step is to rejoice in God's grace: his grace to forgive and his grace to transform.
I had to despair of myself. I had to realise I was never going to get it right. I had to stop relying on my own programs for change. I also had to realise that there is a cure for despair: God's grace. God really does forgive me, and he really does promise to change me!

2. Proud self-justification

Excusing sin

I felt defeated by my sin. I felt overcome, helpless, despairing. I never dreamt I was excusing my sin. But that's exactly what I was doing:

When I say I am defeated by some sin, I am unconsciously slipping out from under my responsibility. I am saying something outside of me has defeated me. But when I say I am disobedient, that places the responsibility for my sin squarely on me. We may, in fact, be defeated, but the reason we are defeated is because we have chosen to disobey.*
Minimizing sin

"True repentance grieves over sin; it never minimizes it." I'm not sure I minimized my over-spending - my heart was grieved by it (although perhaps not for the right reason, as we'll see). But these days, when my over-spending is more intermittent, I easily ignore it - and fall into old patterns of sin.

Hiding sin

"It is one thing to make a resolution; it is something completely different to repent, diligently seek counsel, and, in concert with others, develop a plan that is concrete and Christ-centred."* ... Are you confessing your sin to a trusted Christian? ... Have you told those, such as your spouse, who are affected by your sin?
I was always open about my sin, which won't surprise any readers of this blog! But I think my honesty was actually a way to keep others at arms' length (because if I accuse myself, you won't have to). My honesty wasn't really a way to seek help to develop a plan for change. I remember a friend saying, "Why don't you just get rid of your credit card?" I squirmed uncomfortably and ignored her advice. Which leads us to the next point ...

3. Hating the consequences of sin, but not the sin itself.

Often, we don't change because we don't really want to. ... We often want to change the consequences of sin, but not the sin itself. ... People ask me to help them sort out the mess of their lives, but they don't really want to change the behaviour that's creating the mess. ... We need to be violent with sin. If we hold back, it's almost certainly because we don't want to be violent towards something we still love.
Yes, that was me! I wanted to avoid the consequences of sin without having to avoid sin. Although in my case it was the consequences of sin - a very large credit card debt - that forced me to change. At this point, I would have done anything! I cut off the things I loved: I kept out of shops when possible, and bought nothing unnecessary for months, until spending was no longer a habit.

I still struggle with besetting sins (don't we all!). I'm still tempted to despair when I can't seem to change. But if God helped me overcome 10 years' addiction to spending, he can help me with anything. So I move forward with greater confidence, knowing - from personal experience! - that there is hope for change. I can look back on yesterday's failures knowing I'm forgiven, and I can step into today knowing that God is transforming me through his grace.

All quotes are from chapter 7 of Tim Chester's You Can Change; asterisked quotes are cited in this chapter, and are by Jerry Bridges and Ed Welch; emphases are mine.

images are from stock.xchng except for third image which is by baking_in_pearls from flickr

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

organising your child's day

A number of years ago I received a great little guide to a child's day in a Carnival Club handout called "Does your child get their daily dose?".

I cut it out, pinned it to my noticeboard, and every now and again I read it and do a mental check of our children's days. It's particularly useful for kids who are still at home all day, like my Andy, and for older kids during school holidays.

Here's the 5 different kinds of activities they say every child should be doing every day. (It's interesting to see that prayer - and meditating! - are filed under "Chill Out"; and good to see that children are encouraged to serve others.)

Our juggler outlines a child's ideal day at work, rest and play ...

Read for fun
Developing an enjoyment of books and being read to is vital for language development. Reading for fun encompasses reading books, jokes, poems, rhymes, letters, newspapers, comics, magazines etc. Recommended 30 mins a day.

Huff 'n' Puff
Physical activity is vital to keep the body and thus the mind in top shape. Huff 'n' Puff means running, jumping, playing games, skipping, playing with balls, climbing, and walking. Doing anything that gets the heart rate up. Recommended 60 mins a day.

Create 'n' Think
Creative and thought-provoking activity helps to build and grow the mind. Create 'n' Think activities are doing art, craft, drawing, painting, singing, cooking, exploring, discovering, building and experimenting. Recommended 30 mins a day.

Help 'n' Care
Helping and caring for others encourages children to become socially responsible. Help 'n' Care covers activities like volunteering, charity work, simple chores, being environmentally aware or looking after something. Recommended 30 mins a day.

Chill Out!
Time to relax is so important in assisting children to handle stress, sleep better and perform better at daily tasks. Chill Out activities include doodling, praying, meditating, listening to music or just watching the clouds. Recommended as much as possible.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Oops! Sorry to all who received a blog about books in their inbox yesterday! As you no doubt noticed, it was unfinished! I'll publish a finished version soon ...

what I'm reading: a cure for madness from Chesterton's Orthodoxy

GK Chesterton is talking about maniacs. He's talking about how their minds move with perfect logic in the small circle of a single idea. "Everyone is plotting against me." "I am the King of England." "I am Christ."

What he says reminds me uncomfortably of myself at my most gloomy and anxious: how my thoughts begin to spin round and round until they form a tight knot. How I can't see past the obsessions of my own mind. How the world shrinks to the tiny space of my self-reflection.

Wonderfully, Chesterton also offers a cure. Here's what he says:

The madman's ... mind moves in a perfect but narrow circle ... If you or I were dealing with a mind that was growing morbid, we should be chiefly concerned not so much to give it arguments as to give it air, to convince it that there was something cleaner and cooler outside the suffocation of a single argument. ...

"How much happier you would be if you only knew that these people cared nothing about you! How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure; if you could see them walking as they are in their sunny selfishness and their virile indifference! You would begin to be interested in them, because they were not interested in you. You would break out of this tiny and tawdry theatre in which your own little plot is always being played, and you would find yourself under a freer sky, in a street full of splendid strangers." ...

"So you are the Creator and Redeemer of the world: but what a small world it must be! What a little heaven you must inhabit, with angels no bigger than butterflies! How sad it must be to be God; and an inadequate God! Is there really no life fuller and no love more marvellous than yours; and is it really in your small and painful pity that all flesh must put its faith? How much happier you would be, how much more of you there would be, if the hammer of a higher God could smash your small cosmos, scattering the stars like spangles, and leave you in the open, free like other men to look up as well as down!"

Chesterton Orthodoxy 18-19

image is from h.koppdelaney at flickr

Friday, February 5, 2010

overheard conversation

Tommy (6) - Andy, do you want to go to heaven?

Andy (3) - Yeah.

Tommy - Then you have to do two things. You have to believe in Jesus, and you have to die. Do you believe in Jesus?

Andy - Yeah!

Tommy - Then you have to die. You die by keeping on bashing into things and crashing into stuff and falling from a long way and stuff like that.

Andy - I don't die yet!

Tommy - And if you don't believe in Jesus you go to hell and you have the baddest day ever.

Ben (9, giving the correct theological explanation) - It's not really a day, Tommy. It's the second death. First you die, and then you die again. It's eternity, not a day.

Andy - I do die. Everybody dies.

Tommy - Heaven is the funnest place ever.

Andy - Yeah.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

pride, humility and the non-Christian world

I was reading Titus 3 the other day. It was one of those mornings when you don't expect much from your Bible reading and you think, “Oh, yes, one of those concluding chapters in Paul's letters where he rambles on about a message for such-and-such and a gift for so-and-so”.

I dutifully prayed for God to open my eyes to see wonderful things in his word (Ps 119:18), and despite my sinfully low expectations, he did! It's astonishing, always, although it shouldn't be by now.

I've been growing increasingly bitter about my kids' primary school. I've always loved this school—it's warm, welcoming and community-focussed, and the teachers are enthusiastic and energetic—but I'm starting to see the cracks in the veneer.

But as I read the Bible, my attitude shifted—it turned right side up—and I saw things from God's perspective:

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:1-5, NIV)
Trace my unforgiving bitterness back to its root and you get pride—pride for being different and pride for not behaving like those mums over there. It's never struck me before, but what God wants from me is “true humility toward all men”—including non-Christians—for my salvation and character are not of my making. “For we ourselves were once” just like this. We are saved and changed only through God's “kindness” and “mercy”.

As I read God's words, my bitterness dropped away and was replaced with gratitude and awe. My pride shifted sideways and was replaced with humility. Judgementalism gave way to love, withdrawal gave way to involvement, and resentment gave way to prayer.

True humility toward all: now there's something to aim for.

images are by Francis Barton and Carlo Nicora at flickr

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

serving ... who?

I was rather resentfully (I admit it!) driving to the shops yesterday to pick up something for my husband, when it occurred to me that there's a different way to look at things.

When I serve Steve, ultimately I'm serving Jesus. And I'd drive all the way around the world for Jesus if he asked me too.

Which brought so much joy to my service that I followed it up by making Steve lunch (something which I do far more rarely than I could) and made both of us happy!

image is from rachel_titiriga at flickr

Monday, February 1, 2010

my plans for 2010

It's become more and more clear to me that I need to do less.

Last year's burnout - and the resulting exhaustion and depression, which lasted into this year - was a clear sign that I've been doing too much. I'd like more time and energy for marriage, mothering, homemaking, and reaching out to people in my church and community.

So I've cut down (for real this time!) this year. I've pulled out of a few things. I'm only taking on one big writing/teaching responsibility (a seminar, a Sunday School series) each term. In fact, I haven't said "yes" to anything yet, apart from my regular Bible Study and Sunday School commitments: I'm going to wait and see how the year is going after term 1.

This also has implications for in all honesty. It's time I took everyone's excellent advice and cut down (again!) on how many long, complicated posts I write. I'd like to aim to write one thoughtful post each week: reflections on life, or a book review, or part of a series. I think I'll post a quote every Monday. And Fridays will continue to be for fun and family. Anything else I write will be more haphazard and spontaneous!

Next week, I'll kick off Monday's quotes with some gems from GK Chesterton's Orthodoxy. I've only read 2 chapters, but I keep re-reading them because they're so wonderful! Chesterton reminds me of CS Lewis or a great novel: I find myself slowing down because I want to savour every word. I hope you enjoy sharing this book with me.

image is from steveczajka at flickr