Friday, March 25, 2011

Taking a Breath

See these two? My husband Mike and my daughter Amanda. Two of the most well organized, well ordered human beings on the planet. They thrive on order and I live in a constant state of chaos. How did we all end up together? I assume that God put them with me to keep me from spiraling out of control. What was in it from them? The strengthening of their patience muscles?

I have been working hard. Probably a little too hard. I am weary. When you're driving home and it's still daylight, and you walk through your back door before 6pm and your thought is, "This is how normal people live," it might be a sign that something's out of whack. Ya think???

I don't know when this affliction hit me. I worked for nearly 17 years in the same company and pretty much the entire time I was able to live like the normals. I maintained some semblance of order in my home. I worked Monday through Friday, pretty much 9 to 5 and only worked extra hours on rare occasions. There were the occasional projects, the infrequent business travel and the moments with impending deadlines. But, they were the exception. Now they are the rule. Why? And why, pray tell, do I create messes, literal messes, everywhere I go?

My husband playfully accuses me of "forgetting" to come home from work. I have never actively sought promotions...I've never been a "climber". I've never been obsessed with being "the" best, but, with being my best. Still, I've too often allowed myself to be talked into taking on more responsibility than I say I want. In doing so, I don't have time for the things in my life that I say are most important. What is that?

I often quote the old adage, "a good man knows his limitations," as my reason for not wanting to move higher up the ladder in my profession. I know what I'm good at and I know my failings. But, for the good of the teams I've been associated with, I've agreed, more than once, to take on responsibilities that have driven me to my knees. Is that the point? I don't know. I just know I'm tired and that I want to balance this teeter-totter out.

I have long struggled with balance. I work so long and so hard that I am too tired to go to the gym, or leave too late to get to a class. I end up eating on the run more often than not and then, eating what is expedient vs what is healthy and might take some preparation. I am looking at my dresser right now and it is covered with paperwork needing to be filed, magazines and books waiting to be read and bills waiting to be paid. There are clothes waiting to be hung up, shoes on the floor and a pile of laundry waiting to be taken downstairs to be washed. A state of disarray. It's a wonder Mike doesn't completely lose his mind. UGH.

I wrestle with order and balance and consistency and it's getting on my last nerve. Why is it that I cannot leave work on time? Why is it that some people create order and others create chaos? Don't get me wrong, I am able to get things done. Lots of them. I love my work. I love my family. I have a happy home. I am active in my church and I have more friends than I deserve or have time to keep up with. But, it is all in the context of my always fighting the chaos and longing for the order that others seem to come by so effortlessly. Is this the "Tyranny of the Urgent" lived out?... A life where all the urgent things get done and as a result, many of the truly important ones do not? Am I so wrapped up in the pressing issues of the day that I am missing what has lasting value?

As I've been focusing on spending money more wisely the last few months, I've flexed the muscles of self-discipline and have grown in the area of self-control as it pertains to spending. At my small group last week, someone noted that when we grow in self-control in one area, it generally will spill over into others as well. I can only hope. Sometimes I fear I am genetically wired to be a mess. My mother has many of the same struggles and has never been able to gain control over them. It makes me want to set a match to the stuff and start fresh!

Making the problem more obvious, my coworker never leaves at the end of the day without her desk being completely clear. Mine looks like a cyclone came through. At home, my husband is a creature of habit and never leaves anything out of place. My daughter and one of my sisters are both so organized that I've suggested they become professional organizers. I'm not sure how I missed that boat, and I really want to be on it.

Perhaps as I've chosen to be mindful about my spending, and accountable to my readers, I can obtain a greater measure of control in this this area, too. I've read all the books, all the hot tips. And like diets, they all work, when you work them. It's that consistency thing where I lose it. Maybe you've got some wisdom to share. . Maybe you can share ways you've fought these same demons and overcome. I am teetering on the edge of despair and could use some hope. Do you have some to share?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Shall We Pray?

The last couple of weeks we have been bombarded by images almost too awful for our little minds to comprehend. Earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand and now the devastation of an even larger one in Japan. In a time where every moment in every corner of the world can be instantly and forever captured by a phone or a camera and shared with the world in seconds via the Internet, little is left to our imaginations.

Who can ever forget the footage in Japan-the quake and tsunami that followed? The river of water racing across dry land, covering towns and fields and communities, taking with it untold lives, cars, buildings and homes. Entire homes! Last I heard, there were four complete trains missing, swept away into what? It's the Wizard of Oz on crack. There will be no Oz and there will be no going back to Kansas by the click of ruby slippers. Hundreds are missing and the count is rising every hour. Our hearts are heavy with each new piece of information we take in, each new photograph or video brings further sorrow.

Meanwhile, we sit in our comfortable homes and carry on with our lives. Soccer games, shopping, going out to lunch. A trip to the gym, reading mail. What are we to do? What should we do? What would God have us to do? Maybe we need to stop and ask. And then, we actually need to do something. Too often we stop short of the action that is so needed and which is the very act of obedience that He is forever calling us to.

Some can give. To the Salvation Army, or the Red Cross or World Vision or other reputable organizations on the ground already who will put your donations to good use. I was able to go online and make a donation in less than 90 seconds without ever having to leave my home. I just felt compelled to do something and that was the start. Each of us can pray. Wherever we are, whatever our lot, we can pray, today, for the people whose lives have literally been swept away in a few minutes of absolute terror. We so often overlook this most valuable act which costs us nothing but a moment of time. We throw our hands up, frustrated at our helplessness, overlooking the most valuable offering of all, prayer, for those in need. It is the most precious support we can give.

In the days ahead, the images appear with less frequency and the news will spend less time on the events we are now seeing every time the TV is turned on. The news cycle will go on to something more current and more titillating. For now, use the images for good. Each time you see one, make it your aim to take that moment to pray for the people who so need us to lift them up to the Father. Good can only come from this horrible catastrophe if we as a people will rise up and cry out to the God who can do what we are unable to. Our resources are too limited and the distance too great, but we serve a God who is able to do far more than we can even imagine. When we pray. So, I challenge you to pray. Pray for:

~Revival for the hearts and souls of the people of Japan. That they would know the peace that comes from knowing the Saviour, even in the midst of devastation.

~The physical needs for food, water and shelter.

~An astounding outpouring of generosity from those of us who can afford to give, that we would be compelled to give above and beyond what we think we can.

~The reunion of families torn apart

~That our hearts and minds would not forget, that our prayers would not be just today when the images are freshly imprinted on our minds, but, in the weeks and months ahead.

~For the workers there who will serve those whose lives have been shaken to their cores. Give them strength and faith and the resources they need to help those in need.

~For opportunities to share the Gospel with others here, who are scared by these horrific events and shaken to their cores.

We are told in Hebrews 4:16 to "...come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Let this be our mission. To ask, and then to act. Hearts and minds and lives depend on it. Please join me in this mission, here, wherever you are. I'd be grateful if you would. More importantly, God will be honored and He will act. Be a part of something world changing. This moment.