My three and a half year old granddaughter Ruthie came to me one day recently requesting I do a painting for her.
“Nana, I want a flower picture that you painted for me” Ruthie said this with her big eyes gazing earnestly at me.
“What kind of flower do you want me to paint?” asked.
She shrugged her little shoulders and responded “I don’t know. Just flowers.” Between this exchange and the fact I had painted lilies for her sister Lilias a few month earlier I readily agreed.
Pansies are my favorite flowers. They look like expressive faces in flower form and come in so many colors. I immediately decided pansies would be perfect. Pansies while beautiful and delicate are so bold and resilient and reminded me of Ruthie. As a little one she was tiny and frail looking and needed oxygen and feeding tube but in the last year she has been thriving without either.
I began drawing and painting pansies and below is the final result of pansies for Ruthie.
7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:7-8
Every December I begin praying and seeking God for the word to be my focus for the coming year. “Flourish” was my word I began this New Year as my focus for 2020 with Jeremiah 17:7-8 as my theme verse.
I never dreamed how much this would be needed as my focus when 2020 began. Pandemic, unrest, riots and political battle more heated and intense than have seen before in my life, as well as so much fighting and offense everywhere you look. This year looked like anything but a flourishing environment. 2020 feels more like a desert with searing hot winds blowing. Life has been disrupted in numerous fronts,, many jobs and businesses lost, loss of physical contact with the pandemic limitations and so much social and political upheaval.
My goal was to flourish and to not merely be surviving but thriving, growing and being fruitful in various areas of my life. The challenges of 2020 have cause me to run to my Abba God much quicker and more frequently, as well as seeking more fervently to be rooted in Him and His Word. When I do that, the “what if’s” and fears of the future disappear and I gain an eternal perspective. Sadly there are days I look to the circumstances and my faith begins to wither until return to Him and His living water. I am praying whatever the last 2 months of 2020 hold, I will continue to grow in Christ and my faith, to be quick to be loving, kind and compassionate and not give into the fear, worries and unrest all around us. I desire to be a flourishing tree with green leaves that bears fruit even in drought with my roots drawing my nourishment from God’s living water.
Waiting is a part of everyone’s life at some point or another. For those like myself who deal with chronic illnesses, we spend much time waiting. We are waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for test results, waiting for insurance to approve a procedure or treatment, waiting to get into a specialist and waiting to feel better.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and shield. – Psalm 33:20
One thing I will say is God has always met us, sustained us and caused us to grow and be refined in many ways through seasons of waiting.
I have learned more about God’s sovereignty, His faithfulness, having joy and gratitude in hard circumstances during seasons of waiting. The lessons learned in one season build up what we lean on in future seasons of waiting.
While I waited nearly a decade to get some of my issues diagnosed, I have walked through a couple more challenging seasons of waiting that I can look back and see how God really uses them to train me in His character, to grow my faith and dependency on Him and gain a greater eternal perspective than I would have had without them.
The first challenging season of waiting was from March 30, 2011 to June 7, 2011. For over two months I did not know if I had chronic blood cancer or an acute leukemia with a short time to live. God allowed dear friends Earl & Nancy to be visiting the first week of this season. Nancy had just completed chemo and radiation therapies after a mastectomy for recurring breast cancer. She and Earl sat in our living room recounting the ways God met them in her cancer and crying tears of joy. Their example showed me I wanted to be known as a women of joy and gratitude regardless of which diagnosis I received and to bring Christ glory. As I lived in the Word, I learned lessons on faith, counting it all joy, gratitude and dependency in a deeper and richer way than I had ever experienced prior to this. I realized whether my life was cut short or merely changed and long, I wanted my life to count for Christ and eternity. To share all I learned in those weeks would be a whole volume.
5 I wait for the LORD, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the LORD more than watchman for the morning, more than watchmen in the morning. – Psalm 130:5-6
The second harder season of waiting was from August 30, 2018 until March of 2019. This was not health related though the stress of it flared my health issues up. It was a nightmarish season of false accusations against my husband and two other pastors at our church. We were dealing with the hard reality that somebody we loved dearly and had been a very close friend was the one making these charges. Our relationship has not yet been restored since they continue to believe the lies about us. My husband and the the other two pastors were cleared of all wrong doing last March and commended for their faithfulness. This was a really hard season of seeking God and looking for His care and for treasures in the darkness. During this season, I dwelled in the Psalms and learned lessons of lamenting as well as praising God in the darkness of betrayal, false accusations and uncertainty. Somehow this season was much harder than awaiting a cancer diagnosis. But again we grew in trusting a faithful God who works out His perfect will even in situations that seem so counter to His heart of love and grace. And we still continue to wait for restoration of this relationship.
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name. – Isaiah 45:3
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12
How has God met you in seasons of waiting? Which verses or passages most encouraged you?
When you have chronic illnesses life is not predictive or perfect but I am choosing to make it be imperfectly beautiful.
Once again I wake with a pounding head, cloudy brain, swollen face and aching bones. I sigh with disappointment as I realize I have once again ruined our plans for swimming and canoeing with my love this Saturday. “Lord, help me handle this disappointment and choose again to have joy today because on my own so hard.”
I shuffle out of our bedroom and to the bathroom where I take two Benadryl to help sleep off my mast cell reaction and migraine. As I shuffle back towards our bed , I say “Good morning” to Joel.
One look at me he understands today is going to be a down day, “That fragrant waitress really impacted you last night. I’m so sorry, Hon.” as he snuggles me in an understanding and comforting hug. He kisses me and I stumble back to bed to sleep off the symptoms thinking how grateful I am for such a loving, supportive husband.
Hours later, I emerge from the cocoon of pillows and blankets. Still draggy and achy but my headache is more of a constant dull ache rather than the incapacitating migraine. “I am sorry I ruined our plans once again.”
“Our plans are not ruined just rearranged. It is a three day weekend for me since I took Monday off so we can try again then if you feel up to it. Remember God sovereignly planned this for both of our lives for our eternal good and His glory.”
That scenario I just described has played out so many times over the last 12 years. We have missed social events, conferences, church and outings. Sometimes Joel attends without me with my blessing. But my daily practice on waking of praying for God to give me joy and be able to find at least three things each day I am grateful for. changes my focus from me and my circumstances and puts it on my gracious an sovereign God. I can, because of those daily prayers and choosing focus on the good and lovely things, have a life of joy and laughter. My life is truly imperfectly beautiful.
I smile and am hopeful by Monday we can enjoy our outing. I reflect again how consistently inconsistent my life with Mast Cell disease can be.
How has God brought beauty, joy or grace to your imperfect life? Do you see the beauty in an imperfect day?
P.S. we were able to go swimming and canoeing on Monday.
Recently I was pondering what is God’s path for my life in the midst of all this craziness of life with pandemic, divisions, racial tensions and shortages. What I ended up doing was compiling a list of verses that dealt with His directing me and helping me navigate through this life until I join Him in glory. I will stop writing and let God’s word do the rest of the talking. Pray you are blessed, encouraged and your hope renewed as you read these.
 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
my feet have not slipped.
 My steps have held fast to your paths;
 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
 Blessed is everyone who fears the LORD,
who walks in his ways!
 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
 So you will walk in the way of the good
and keep to the paths of the righteous.
 My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
 and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
 Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
 I have taught you the way of wisdom;
I have led you in the paths of uprightness.
 When you walk, your step will not be hampered,
and if you run, you will not stumble.
 Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
A man’s steps are from the LORD;
how then can man understand his way?
 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
 Thus says the LORD,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 You were wearied with the length of your way,
but you did not say, “It is hopeless”;
you found new life for your strength,
and so you were not faint.
 Thus says the LORD:
“Stand by the roads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way is; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
 Let us test and examine our ways,
and return to the LORD!
 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them;
for the ways of the LORD are right,
and the upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them.
 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
1 John 2:5-6
 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:  whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not, how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished…I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it.
When I spend time on God’s word it changes my focus, builds my faith, gives hope, peace and joy based not on my circumstances but on Jesus Christ. God’s word give me a lens through which to view the world and all that is happening around me. If I just watch news and read social media my heart can easily be in fear and turmoil. But if I filter all around me through the lens of God’s word, I can in faith say “it is well with my soul. “
It took me way to many years to overcome feelings of being ugly, unlovable, unwanted and insecure. My worth was based on the approval of others and their acceptance of me rather than on the unchanging truth of God’s Word.
What transformed me is studying and memorizing scripture passages that tell me who I am in Christ. Realizing God’s abounding steadfast love and mercy for me which caused Him to send His only son to die on a cross and resurrected to pay the penalty for all my sin (John 3:16) and wrongdoing once and for all.
Wise counsel was shared with me to study who God says I am and focus on pleasing an audience of one – the One Holy God. That was the beginning of my transforming from fearful and insecure to realizing I am loved with an everlasting and redeeming love.
Ephesians 1:3-10 was the passage I lived in and still often review. It lists many of the things I am in Christ.
 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love  he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,  which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight  making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:3-10
Here is a list of things this passage tells me about myself as follower of Christ:
I am blessed with every spiritual blessing
I am chosen by God before the creation of the world.
Chosen to be holy and blameless in God’s sight.
I am loved!
I am predestined.
I am adopted as God’s child through faith in Jesus Christ!!
I am Blessed in the Beloved because of Christ’s glorious grace not something I earn.
I am redeemed!
I am forgiven!
He lavishes grace on me.
He makes known to me the mystery of His will.
I am united to Christ!
How can we not realize how loved, precious and cared for we are by God when we take these truths to heart?! For me, I had to retrain my thinking by frequently reading this passage a few times a day for months to get these truths to make new ruts in my thinking to undo past wrong thinking of being unlovable, unwanted and and ugly. Thankfully, I had a godly counselor that helped me overcome this.
If you too struggle with self image, please begin searching God’s Word for who He says you are. This Ephesians passage is a good one to begin with. There are other passages that have helped me I will continue to share in future posts.
Dear readers, may each of you realize how blessed, chosen, loved and cared for you are by Jesus Christ who gave His life for you.
“Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris 1880
We recently downsized and I am evaluating what are the things in my life that detract from the passions, gifts and purposes God has for my life. I am considering quotes like this but adding a Christian perspective. I have tweaked William Morris’ quote to fit my viewpoint. “Have nothing in my home that I do not consider useful or believe to be beautiful or helps me to fully pursue and glorify God.”
“Have nothing in my home that I do not consider useful or believeto be beautiful or helps me to fully pursue and glorify God.”
I am pondering that and looking to rid my life of what detracts from the pursuit of and glorification of God. What things or events detract from this? How do I best use my time and energy to fulfill that? What things need edited from my life? What things are good and need given more time and attention? Are there things or disciplines I am missing I need to add to my life?
We have downsized and are preparing our home for aging in place before we are too old to do that. Also making it safe for me with my chemical sensitivity from Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) as well as serving me with my multiple chronic health issues. A smaller home takes less time and energy to clean but quickly looks cluttered if too many extra things. My spirit is calmer and more focused when my home is not in chaos or disorder. That may be due partly to my ADD tendencies. So I am prayerfully trying to decide what things to sell, donate or bless others with and what truly serves us and helps us serve and honor God.
I am an artistic and creative soul and beauty greatly speaks to me so could never be an austere minimalist. God has made me/ us in His image and part of His image as creator is His putting creativity within us. God has gifted some more than others. I know being creative in home decor, garden design, painting, sewing quilting and writing poetry is something I will continue. My big take away is what things do I edit in my life to allow for those times as well as God’s purposes?
Below are some of my recent projects:
In the spring of 2011 I was waiting three months to discover if I had acute leukemia and would have months to live or a chronic blood cancer that would alter my life but not shorten it. God made used a series of events and spoke to me in my heart in a very dramatic way. He made it clear to me that regardless of my circumstances or health I needed to be a woman of joy and gratitude who is engaged in others around me. I began then to practice gratitude daily and each morning recount at least three things I am grateful for today. I also pray each morning that God will enable me to be a woman of joy. For the most part He has answered those prayers. If my joy were based on circumstances instead of God I would most likely become a bitter and complaining woman. For more about this read my blog post “The Choice.”
Recently we brought home a standard poodle puppy who has been such a source of joy!
Noticing the simple joys around me daily helps me foster my joy and gratitude to God. Watching antics of a puppy, seeing God’s handiwork in the spring beauty all around, sharing laughter or a hug with a loved one, watching a sunset, visiting in person (a rare thing in this pandemic while being immunocompromised) and praying with a sister in Christ or watching a bumblebee flitting around pollinating blossoms all are joy filled and satisfying and point me to God.
This week I have been creating beauty and usefulness outdoors as plant flowers and our raised bed organic garden. I find some of my best times of conversing with God in prayer and contemplating what changes are needed in my life happen while my hands are working in the soil.
In my quiet times, I am researching what God desires of me in scriptures and journaling. I need to know what I am to do and keep in my life before I can do much editing. I have another three weeks in my month long break between leading Bible studies and my fasting from most social media to discover more what my life will look like. Over the next weeks hoping to include some conversations with my husband as his godly wisdom and insight is so valuable and he knows me better than anybody except God.
Have you edited things to better enable you to fully pursue God and glorify Him? What things did you remove or add to your life? I would love to hear your answers.
The last couple months has been a mix of MCAS, EDS and arthritis flares, loss of my faithful companion Dexter and getting a new companion.
Spring is the season of weather always in flux, lots of rain showers and high pollen counts. In addition I began going into the world in late March after 13 months at home isolating due to being immunocompromised. With my doctor’s approval, we have began attending church and going into some stores in late March. I am to continue wearing a N-95 or better mask and social distance while I am out.
Worshipping in person has been such a joy! While I am very grateful for Livestream services, it is not the same as being there in person. Joining in song and worship with other believers and hearing the teaching in person has been a huge blessing for my husband and I. We have enjoyed conversations with other believers before and after services. I have noticed very little impact on my MCAS from attending church.
I have gone to a couple stores and some doctors appointments in the last month and each time have mast cell reactions to the chemical disinfectants and scented hand sanitizers that knock we down for the next 2-3 days with migraines. All over swelling and pain as well as GI issues, dizziness, ringing ears and brain fog. I am feeling like the pandemic cleaners are greatly limiting were I can safely go. Prior to COVID, I could shop in Trader Joe’s without a mask and no reactions. Now with a mask with a 5 layer filter including a carbon layer I react afterwards for 2-3 days. Same thing happened after a visit to my oncologist/hematologist and again when went to my doctor who manages my mast cell disease.
Chronic illness has meant I am home much more than when I was healthy and my Goldendoodle Dexter was my constant companion. April 13 we had to make the decision to end his suffering from severe attitude degeneration and bladder cancer. The loss of Dexter left a huge void in my heart and life. I was surprised how much grief I had with his passing as much greater than with past animals. We have a second dog Bella a Bichon Frisée. She absolutely adores my husband but just tolerates me. She spends her days in his home office while he works. With medical expenses and my not working we wondered how we would find or afford a hypoallergenic dog I would tolerate.
God graciously provided a puppy for us in His kindness. First of all, we were gifted money to buy a puppy by somebody who understands my love of dogs and my health limitations. Then when enquiring with the breeder we bought our puppy from they dropped their price $500 because liked us so much. Thursday May 6 we brought home an eight week old black standard poodle puppy we named Tozer after pastor and Christian writer A.W. Tozer
Bella and Tozer have seemed to hit it off. Tozer is not a fan of his crate so we have some disrupted sleep with his whining. Saturday after playing with grandkids and a long walk after dinner, he slept all night. Sunday we thought he got enough exercise being in back yard while we gardened but he was up whining LOUDLY several times during the night. Our sleep is reminiscent of having a new born in the home so it is a good thing he is affectionate and adorable!
I am so grateful My husband built me high raised beds for our garden last year and completed the final bed this spring they are 28 inches high which makes it easy to maintain on higher pain days and should allow us to garden as we age. This week I realized another benefit of the height keeping a new puppy from getting into them and trampling it all. Hopefully by the time he is tall enough he will be trained better.
This spring, my husband has decided my arthritis flares are more accurate at predicting rain than the weather man. I still try to walk or ride my recumbent bike most days. I just received a referral to an orthopedic doctor and hoping when get scheduled to see him for a cortisone shot in my bad knee to enable me to accomplish more and enjoy more activities this summer.
Currently, I am on a month long hiatus from leading/facilitating ladies Bible studies through our church via Zoom. Last week I finished a study on Psalms and June11 will begin a six week study on prayer thus summer. My goals for this month off include seeking how God wants me to simplify my life so less things to detract and distract from what He desires for me. What are the passions and gifts God has given me? What things need weeded out so those things can grow? Please pray for God to clearly show me and direct my steps. Secondly a concentrated effort on puppy training.
We have either raised or purchased all our garden and flowering plants. They are in the greenhouse shelf on our deck or indoors with grow lights waiting for it to warm up a bit more. Hopefully will begin planting them in next couple weeks. My garden has peas, lettuce, Swiss chard up and waiting for beets, carrots and onions to make their appearances. We have been enjoying the last couple weeks watching the tulips and bleeding hearts blooming in our back yard. The bright new green leaves and flowers of a pring so reminds me of God and creation. Soon will be summer with lakes to swim in and go to paddle our canoe. So enjoy being on His creation.
May your spring be blessed and May you see God’s hand in nature and events of your life.
I recently viewed a post on social media where a woman was asking for prayer for her and husband who are counseling a couple with a deviant lifestyle that ran counter to Biblical principles. What was interesting is how many people suggested blasting them with how wrong were and how few expressed offering love and grace.
It made me consider how Jesus responded to people. He ate with sinners even prostitutes and tax collectors which were considered the lowest of the low in that day. Respectable people would not be seen with them let alone sit down and eat a meal with them. Jesus had words of healing, hope and encouragement for the lost. He built up relationships with them and did not blast them with condemnation. He compassionately saw their needs and hurts and He longed to gather them up in his arms like a mother hen with its chicks. He was the Good Shepherd who left the 99 in the sheep pen to go and search for the one that was lost to lovingly carry it home.
Jesus behaved much differently with the hypocritical, religious leaders of His day. He confronted them and called them out on their behavior and heart attitudes. He called them a brood of vipers and white washed tombs. He saw their pride and self sufficiency and their putting unbearable loads on the people. He reminds them a Doctor doesn’t come to the well but the sick and needy.
How often do I, do we, come across judgmental or harsh with those who need Jesus Christ? How often do our words and actions drive them away from our loving, merciful Christ and the gospel? Or do we break through barriers by showing mercy, compassion and kindness and be a winsome witness to the truth of Christ in you, the hope of glory? I was reminded of what I once heard a pastor say, “We can not expect the lost to live like believers. But we should encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to live for him.”
Today our world is hurting and so easily offended. How much more need is there now, more than ever, for Christ’s people to be peaceable, full of love, compassion, mercy and grace. Living that way in stark contrast to the world makes us a powerful and winsome witness of the glorious grace of Jesus within us. Let’s be that kind of salt and light.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:15-18
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. – Galatians 5:22-23
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
Our world is full of so many tumultuous things. There is rampant anger, division, ethnic tension, partiality, political differences and upheaval, economic woes and physical losses associated with a pandemic. How do we as people of faith live in this world today? Lord, how should we approach life at the beginning of 2021?
I recently began asking the Lord how do I live as His child in this current world? And the message that came loud and clear repeatedly through His Word was, “Trust“.
I began studying Bible verses and passages on trust. As I did began seeing a theme or pattern emerging. I need to trust God with all details on my life and let Him direct rather than rely on my puny strength or limited understanding.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. – Proverbs 3:5-8
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. 4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. – Psalm 37:3-5
As I studied these passages, I found the Hebrew word for trust is “galal” and means to roll, roll away , trust. As Charles Spurgeon wrote in his Treasury of David on Psalms 37 passage we are to “roll the whole burden of life into the Lord.”
So as I live in today’s world this passages showed me several things I can do which all relate to surrender and relationship with God.
1. Trust God
– Do I roll into Him all my burdens, cares, fears, business, relationships, desires and needs?
2. Acknowledge God in all my ways
– Do I acknowledge His presence and power in every step of my life?
– Do I seek God’s guidance and leading for each area and every day?
– Are my plans based on what God is leading me to do or what glorifies Him or just on my own selfish desires?
I know I have much room for growth and change with all these questions. I pray 2021 will help my grow much in those areas.
Has God given you a word or focus for 2021? I would love to hear it.
P.S. Oops! This post was done in early January and got left in my drafts rather than my publishing it.
I am an artistic soul who loves creating and beauty and the idea of minimalism never appealed to me. I think I always viewed it as stark, cold, sterile and uncreative. I read an article on minimalism lately that had a quote that got me considering it differently.
“Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
As a Christian, I can see so many ways this can apply. What things or activities distract me from worshipping and serving God fully? What are the passions and gifts God has given me and what things are extras that detract from growing those? What things benefit me for being intentional in promoting my love and service to God and using the gifts and talents he has given me? What things detract from those?
I have been pondering these much in my heart and am not sure all that it will entail yet. I do think one area is what do I spend my time on, does it glorify God or have eternal value or am I wasting the days God has given me?
Once I begin identifying those time wasters I am praying God reveals to me what things and activities I need to be rid of to simplify my life to promote the things I most value and God most values for me.
At this point I am not sure what all this will mean but am looking forward to God revealing things to me and making it clear. I am praying for His Holy Spirit to guide me and show me how to simplify my life to more fully embrace things of eternal value. I know I want plenty of seats around my table and dishes needed to practice hospitality as well as enough living room seating to host small groups and Bible studies and we will want a place for guests to stay in our home. So I am seeking what God has called us to and how to best fulfill that by diminishing unnecessary distractions. I am not looking to make a stark empty home that hinders loving and serving others. In several months or a year I will update on what that will mean for us.
Here are some resources I am reading that are looking into minimalism from a Christian perspective :
I tend to either go to work on something that needs done and see six other things needing done so I flit around doing them. Meanwhile the thing I was trying to accomplish is still not done. Or I hyper focus on something and stay immersed for hours in it when other things truly need to be done. This can impact my spiritual life, physical well being, keeping up on my home, or being creative.
Focusing has been a challenge all of my life. My teacher had me spend much of third grade in a corner all by myself so I would be less distracted by other kids and quit socializing. I know I have ADD and am easily distracted. Couple that with chronic health issues that cause me to be “consistently inconsistent” because I never know from day to day or even hour to hour how I will feel is the perfect storm for distraction.
A prime example is the fact I have to take a medication 30 minutes before eating to manage my mast cell disease. I can put the water heating to be slightly warmed in microwave and in the 25 seconds decide to clear the table or check something online and 20, 30, 40 minutes and several different things later still have not taken my medicine making my meal later.
It is 4:30 in the afternoon and realize have not planned dinner again. I now go with what can thaw quickest in microwave. This happens SO many times unless on the weekend I write out a meal plan and shopping list for the week.
Another example would be when I am working on a creative project like sewing, gardening or watercolor painting and I am so immersed in the project and hyper focused I do not realize how much time has passed and can be lost in it for hours upon hours at a time.
Lists and timers are my best friends. To-do lists help me prioritize and accomplish what is needed rather than doing what is distracting me. If something is distracting if I write it on today or the next day’s list I know it won’t be forgotten and can leave it to sorta stay on task. If something is niggling at my brain and distracting me during my time in Bible reading and prayer I write it down on a tablet kept nearby. Over the years with consistent training and asking God to help me focus on Him it has gotten where need to do that much less often. I have found when have scheduled appointments or zoom meetings that my calendar app on my phone set with reminder alarms at 2 hours and again at 30 minutes before travel time help me to be ready on time.
Another way timers help me is with my various medications. One is taken four times a day 30 minutes before eating and at least 2 hours after last meal and at least 30 minutes after any other medication. If not taken this way, this medication is rendered ineffective. Lately, this has been helped by my hubby wanting to eat lunch with me so I set an alarm to take it and make myself follow through. After each dose I set a timer for 20 minutes to leave me 10 minutes to prep my breakfast or lunch. Dinner dose taken half hour before meal should be finished and I am usually in kitchen cooking. Also I have meds to take between dinner and bedtime and again at bedtime. Setting alarms on my phone has really helped me stay up on these.
Because I am easily distracted, we sit up front at church so no cute kids or movements of others to distract me from the worship team or pastor’s sermon. Because I know I am not an oral learner I take copious notes during the teaching because I retain what I write. I do the same when attending conferences or seminars whether on the Bible, gardening or any subject. Knowing my weaknesses and preparing to counter them becomes a strength.
My best weeks are the ones where I meal plan and discuss the coming week with my husband on Sunday afternoon or evening. Meal plans help me shop appropriately rather than just buy things that look interesting and either have too much of something and/or missing items to make meals. I know what is important for my husband, for us as a couple in the coming week and we often pray for God to order the coming week. These weeks work best if no mast cell reactions or flares, which can knock me down physically and give enough brain fog to add to my distraction and forgetfulness.
I have been praying for God to “teach me to number my days so I may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). For Him to enable me to use my time more wisely and prioritize what I do based on what He desires and what has eternal value. I am reminded God created me and knows every intimate detail, every minute molecule about me. Even with an ADD brain and chronic health issues I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) and that He knows what all the days of my life will be like and has them written in His book long before I existed. (Psalm 139:16) Nothing I do, say or think surprises God because He is aware of it long beforehand. (Psalm 139).
So my timers and lists and praying for God to show me His priorities for the day help me to number my days and have more of a heart of wisdom. Will I continue to be easily distracted? Most likely. Will I get priorities messed up? Undoubtably! But I know my God loves me, cares for me and leads me and when I blow it, in His mercy, He is ready to forgive me when I confess my sins
Are you easily distracted? What has helped you be able to stay on task? I welcome all insights and wisdom from you, my readers so share away in the comments.