Do The Next Thing

Hang with me while I talk about pens for a second. I promise it will all make sense.

When I was fourteen my family moved back to France – a place I had left at the age of five. My very first class in French school was science. We were two at a table. I sat next to Jean-Sebastien with the impossibly curly blond hair – Jean-Seb, I later learned he was called. When the teacher walked in, dressed in a white lab coat, everyone stood – and there I was, wide-eyed, scrambling to stand up. We stood until he instructed us to sit.

All I had was a notebook and a ball-point pen – that’s all I needed in the U.S. Jean-Seb looked at me with raised eyebrows, and handed me a fountain pen and an “effaceur” – a two-sided eraser with one side that erases the blue ink used in the cartridges for the fountain pen and the other side a permanent blue pen to write over what you’ve erased.

I had no idea that it mattered whether you wrote with a ball point pen or a pencil… And I had never written with a fountain pen. Wasn’t that kind of old-fashioned? I didn’t even know people wrote with them anymore. Soon, my trousse (pencil case) was full of the necessary tools – pencils for math, fountain pens (black and blue) for taking notes and writing tests, a 4-color ball point pen for writing titles and sub-points in your notes, and the all-important ruler – we never underlined free-handed.

Your fountain pen is a mark of your personality, in a way. You could spend 5 euros on a pen with a cartoon on it or you could spend 20 euros and really show your individuality. Ahem.

One of my first pens was green and marbled-looking. I loved how it looked. But it scratched the paper and didn’t flow right. I hung on to it for a while, but finally, I got rid of it.

I also remember a statement I tried to make with a yellow pen with Road Runner on the side. I don’t even like that cartoon. But it was bright and flashy and I thought it would get a lot of attention. It wrote ok, but it wasn’t my favorite, and nobody cared about how flashy my pen was, anyway.

My favorite pen was unexpected. I bought it, out of necessity, at the grocery store because I had lost my previous pen. It was inexpensive and plain black and grey. It didn’t look that special, but it wrote so well.

So, now you want to know what that was all about, right?

Sometimes I wish for flashy and pretty, attention and recognition when the necessary, everyday, plain and simple is best for me.

Do The Next Thing - Ordinary|Awesome blog

Sometimes I think I would prefer something – anything – other than washing clothes, cooking dinner, unloading the dishwasher – the mundane. But this is where I am, this is what I have been called to do. And these things are only part of my role as a mother.

Do The Next Thing - Ordinary|Awesome blog

“Being a parent may seem like a commonplace human relationship, but I will not be lulled into downplaying it as ordinary. My role as a mom is a deliberate strategy initiated by God to rear young boys [and girls] into godly men [and women]. And I am resolved to fulfill this calling – to be for them what God needs me to be during this critical stage in their lives.”

– Gideon study by Priscilla Shirer (p. 26)

You may not be a parent. Maybe you’re a teacher or a waitress or an artist or you’re looking for what you’re supposed to be doing. Lean in close and hear this – you have been created for a very specific purpose. God has a plan for you in our generation. You have been placed in your spheres of influence, in your geographic location, with your people for a reason.

Usually, it doesn’t seem that flashy. Usually, it’s just doing the next thing. It may not be very glamorous, but here’s my question to you and to myself –

are we doing the everyday, the mundane, the next thing – faithfully?

I can’t tell you how many freak-out moments I have wondering – what is the big picture here, God? Why am I here? What are you doing with my life? And over and over what comes back to me is – do the next thing. Faithfully.


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days ChallengeSince I showed you my sink full of dirty dishes we’re practically related now. Let’s stay in touch! Get posts delivered right to your email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

To read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day!

 

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The Most Important Part Of The Day

Lots of vomiting going on in our house right now. Levi started on Friday, Morgan Saturday night, and Steve succumbed last night. Morgan felt better, but I was down a man this morning, so getting her out the door to school was… challenging.

I was supposed to have started the morning getting up before everyone else, spending some time in Bible study and prayer… But since we’d been up all night and I didn’t want to wake Steve with an alarm, I let the kids be my alarm. Ironically, it’s actually the first morning of the Hello Mornings challenge – a challenge to make the most of our mornings by getting up early, spending time with the Lord, planning and exercising. None of that happened. And with good reason, but still – not starting out great…

So there I was – hurrying Morgan along, with no patience or kindness in my voice. Eat quicker. Why didn’t you get in the car? Get out of the car quickly. Quick. Quick. Hurry. Hurry. And I made her cry.

I apologized, but I still feel awful. I know all too well that life just doesn’t work right when I haven’t taken the time to fuel up with the Lord. When I try to make things happen without His help it all falls apart.

The Most Important Part Of Your Day - Ordinary|Awesome blog

I’m doing the Bible study Gideon by Priscilla Shirer with our church women’s Bible study. She says:

“We may never take up arms with a shield and sword like Gideon, but we are no less in a battle every day. We know it. We feel it. Victory requires constant effort to take ‘every thought captive to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:5). […]

The bottom line is that empowerment by God’s Spirit is a necessity for success. Supernatural acts require supernatural equipping. If we haven’t been charged up, we can’t expect to operate correctly any more than my little boy could expect his toy to function properly without being plugged in. Both need to be connected and refueled to serve their purposes.

And when they are?

Game on!” (Gideon p. 31-32)

When I got back from taking Morgan to school I had a choice of how I was going to spend my time. I had to write my post for the day – it was going to be something totally unrelated to this… but I knew I had to start with the Lord first. Because no matter what it is – taking care of my kids, nursing my sick husband, cleaning this impossibly messy house (is your house like that on Mondays too??), writing a blog post… I am not effective if I’m not empowered by God.

The Most Important Part Of Your Day - Ordinary|Awesome blog

In all the little things and in all the big things  – I need Him. Have you charged up for the day? If not, it’s not too late to pause and spend some time with the Lord.


Looking For The Ordinary Awesome - Write 31 Days ChallengeTo read all the posts in this series, check out the series page as I post the link for every day! And don’t miss a post – subscribe via email by signing up using the form in the sidebar!

This post is part of 31 Days – “an online writing challenge started by home blogger, Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) where bloggers pick one topic and write a post on that topic every day in October.”

A Peek Into Our Ordinary

Ever since the pinky fiasco things have been abnormal. We were all wound pretty tight, and the week after was VBS so that wasn’t exactly the week to relax.

For those of you who have been following along on The Artist’s Way, I apologize as, for my sanity’s sake, it had to take a back seat.  I’ve written a few days of Morning Pages, but mostly I’ve tried to sleep as long as possible in the mornings and try to recoup. This summer has been crazy for many many reasons, some of which have to wait to be shared, but I’m pretty much in survival mode. I’ve been worried. I’ve been mad. I’ve been anxious. I’ve been tired. Anyone else?

I’m feeling like I need to hunker down, try to breathe a little bit, leave the dishes, put my feet up, and be with the Lord and my people. That is – if my people don’t drive me up the wall first.

Here’s a peek into our ordinary around here the last couple of weeks…

Tayzy got her hard cast! (If you missed, it, here’s what happened…)

A Peek Into Our Ordinary - Ordinary|Awesome Blog

We captured a bit of sibling affection and concern… Love them…

A Peek Into Our Ordinary - Ordinary|Awesome Blog

The kids reenacted the pinky story at the lunch table… Complete with ketchup <ahem>… It was amusing and yet… kind of not. Ha!

A Peek Into Our Ordinary - Ordinary|Awesome Blog

I made these.

A Peek Into Our Ordinary - Ordinary|Awesome Blog

The recipe will be coming soon… I’m a huge fan of cinnamon rolls, and I don’t mind waiting for them. But then again if one can make cinnamon rolls in 45 minutes – why not?? These do seem like more of a fall/winter thing, but have you seen the temperature in MI lately? Sheesh. It might as well be October. Not that I’m really complaining.

We celebrated this boy. Four years… <sigh> A bike for the big boy.

A Peek Into Our Ordinary - Ordinary|Awesome Blog

There you have it, friends. What were your last two weeks like?

Why Do We Try So Hard? {Of Pruning Shears and a Severed Pinky}

It’s Friday. A stranger is coming over to pick something up that has been mistakenly shipped to our house. And I am concerned about what he might report to the former owner of our house… Weeds by the garage. Shocking.

Does it really matter? I hear in my head. Do you have to do this now?

Yes. I am determined. So the kids play, and I haul out my gardening gloves and small hand-held pruning shears to cut down the tall grass – instead of bothering with the weed wacker.

I turn my back. One second. Two seconds. Three seconds. Four seconds. Five seconds.

Taylor is yelling “My finger! My finger!” I run.

The shears are stuck shut. Blood everywhere. Her pinky is cut through.

***

I’m sitting on the porch. The neighbor heard me screaming and ran over. She had the common sense to ask about a towel which I’m now holding tightly around Taylor’s tiny 2-year-old finger. For a split second I had realized she would have to dash through my disheveled house. Breakfast dishes still out, toys strewn all over. So much for keeping up appearances. Like that matters now.

She helped me call 911, then whisked Morgan and Levi away with her daycare kids. I call Steve.

“Hey, what’s up?”

“Steve.” He can hear the panic in my voice. “Taylor cut her finger…”

“Ok… how bad is it? Is it bleeding pretty badly?…”

“No. Steve. She cut it through the bone. It’s only hanging on by a little bit. I called an ambulance.”

***

Taylor is a rock. When I keep saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” she puts her head on my chest and says “Iss ok, Mommy. Iss ok.”

It seems the IV is worse than severing her pinky… It’s so hard to watch her go through this.

The surgery takes an hour. Her finger pinks up when they reattach it. The surgeon is hopeful. We are so so grateful.

***

I just wonder. If I hadn’t been so concerned with what someone I didn’t even know thought – would our reality be different right now? I dare say probably.

I’ll be honest – I spend most of my life worrying about what other people think. It’s exhausting. And it’s getting costly.

I try so hard to keep up appearances.

Most days I just don’t have the energy for make up. But you better believe I have it on if I’m going to see anyone.

When I got pregnant with our fourth child it mattered to me what people thought. It mattered to me whether people were shocked that all our children were so close together. I knew that specific people made judgments, and that bothered me. Don’t you know what causes that? was the joke.

When we lived in an apartment I didn’t want to have anyone over lest they think our house too small. When we bought a house I was worried people would think it was too big.

Is my hair too frizzy? Can they see the grey? Do they remember I wore the same outfit last Sunday? Are they mad I made that mistake? Does she not like me? What if they saw my house this way? Everyone must think I’m an awful mom.

This is what the Bible calls fear of man.

The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.
Proverbs 29:25

I’m just done. I am so tired. It is a drain on the soul to constantly work to please everyone – to make everyone think I have it all together. Because I don’t. I’m just as jacked up as anyone else.

My hair is turning grey. I’m not designer anything. I’m just normal. I’ve got clover growing in the side garden and my kid got a hold of my gardening shears and cut the tip of her pinky off.  I am not super mom. A lot of the time I’m not even a fun mom – I’m just trying to get through the day and keep the toilets from turning green. And right now I’m wiping the tears and snot from my face with my own shirt. I don’t have pictures for this post – I’m sure you’re grateful for that right now.

If you still want to be friends – snot and all – great. But at the end of the day it just matters what Jesus thinks, and if I did what he wanted me to today. That is all that matters.

So if you’re ready to be done with this whole comparing, judging, pleasing, trying-to-be-perfect-so-everyone-likes-you thing, then lets do it together. I don’t want to miss my calling because I cared more about what people thought of me than I did about obeying what God was asking me.

And I’d like to avoid further injuries, if possible.

***

I leave you with this video. It made me cry. Not that most anything wouldn’t make me cry right now.

Surrender to Dream

If you want to seriously have your world rocked, you need to read Restless by Jennie Allen. I started reading it in March, after IF: Gathering.

I read that if I want God to use me – if I want to dream and not just dream my dreams and ask God to approve them, but dream within the framework of God’s will and for the benefit of his people – then I need to surrender.

That is, bring Him my white canvases, and say,

“Here, you take these, and paint on them what you will, how you will, when you will.”

Surrender to Dream - if I want to dream and not just dream my dreams and ask God to approve them, but dream within the framework of God's will and for the benefit of his people - then I need to surrender. That is, bring Him my white canvases, and say, "Here, you take these, and paint on them what you will how you will, when you will." - Ordinary|Awesome blog

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Stewardship of Our Lives

planning_to_grow

Last night I listened to this podcast recorded at a Q Ideas luncheon. Lindsey Nobles, Jennie Allen, Shelley Giglio, Melinda Doolittle and Rebekah Lyons shared about the tensions they face in their daily lives as women living out their calling.

“We spend more time worrying about things dying than planning for things to grow.

If God has planted something in your life it will grow.

A tree is planted because it is intended to provide shade.

You can’t plant something and be so fearful that it will become what it is intended to be. You need to prepare for that.

I want to be shade. I want my life to be shade for the nations. In whatever form that takes – that’s what I hope for. … I need to prepare for that to happen.”

– Shelley Giglio

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On Sanctification

Ok, can I ask you a question?

I know that motherhood is a high calling (so is fatherhood); I’m grateful to be a mom; I love my children…

But WHY… pray tell… DO I WANT TO PULL MY HAIR OUT at the end of many a day??

On Sanctification - Ordinary|Awesome blog

(Yes, that’s Levi’s underwear next to Morgan’s toast. Do you understand what I’m saying now?? They were clean, ok, people. Keeping it real.)

I realize I’m letting it all hang out a bit, but I already told you my drawer story, so I figure we’re like kindred spirits or something.

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Broken Drawer

 

I broke a drawer yesterday…

broken drawer

I could have told Steve that I just slammed it too hard… But that wouldn’t have been the truth.

I slammed it because I was mad.

I had a split second choice to make. And I consciously chose anger and that split second later I wished I had chosen differently when the front of my silverware drawer came crashing to my feet.

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