Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Balanced Life

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
Luke 2: 41 - 52

A few weeks ago, John and I met with a trusted confidante to talk about a rough patch.  Our duplex project has stretched out so long and far that I think we are both feeling worn out and anxious.   The term "balanced life" came up several times during that conversation.  

Truthfully, I think John is basically geared towards all work and I am geared towards all play.   If John is not productive, working on something, every waking hour then he feels that he has wasted time and is lazy.   If I don't get to incorporate some play- fun with little man or my own boys, lunch out with a friend, being creative, or goofing off watching an episode of a favorite TV show- in most 24 hour periods, then I start to feel like life is drudgery.   I guess in a weird way, there is balance in our marriage, except there isn't.  

In the twenty-four hours after that conversation with the confidante, I knew that to seek a "balanced life" was important.  I knew those words were significant and I needed to search out what they mean in my life.   I even made a facebook post about it and asked friends to share what a balanced life meant to them.   Before that post however, I did a Google search of  balanced life.  I shared on that facebook post that of course I had done the Google search because that is what I do when I have a question.

In the next twenty-four or so hours after making that  request for friends' ideas, I began to see the fault in my thinking.   First I went to the almighty search engine, then I went to friends.   I was convicted that my first quest should have been made to God..  To me, there is no balanced life if my relationship with my Creator is not at the center of my life.  And upon thinking that thought, Luke 2: 52 came to my mind.  

 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

That is when I saw that Jesus lived out, even as a boy growing into manhood, a balanced life.  He grew intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially.  And so I had a picture in my mind of what my life should look like in order to follow the pattern set by Jesus.  

In my google search, I had found all sorts of pretty images of pie charts with different categories such as spiritual, physical, intellectual, work, financial, family, social, etc, etc, with all the "slices" of pie being equal.  I could not find the chart I had in my mind so I made my own chart of sorts with a twist.  I am not an artist and I am not tech savvy so I did the best I could which is substandard to most in the blogging world.  But it is working for me.  

I used the chart above as a guide in making my own which I (very roughly) drew into my newly created balanced life journalMy first step was to remove "a great life" from the center circle.  I then made it the largest circle and labeled it "SPIRITUAL," believing firmly that my relationship with God must be at the center of my life and all other areas of life.  It is the firm foundation.  I then took ideas and words that came into my mind from exploring some of the other pie charts I had viewed  and wrote a synopsis of what I want my spiritual journey to include and what it means to me.  

Then I proceeded to fill in the other circles with different categories - physical, emotional, family, work/financial, social, and intellectual.  I followed the same procedure with those categories, writing a synopsis, putting ideas that I found in my search and ideas that popped into my head as I began my balanced life journal and journey.

In that first week I also got on Pinterest and began to search out pretty illustrations for my thoughts.   Having become proficient at using the copy/paste function, my journal has taken on quite a bit of prettiness!   And I am also building a nice little balanced life Pinterest board.  

Another quote I found that I think is also a nice summary of what it all means to me is this one:

 Within a week of all this new activity and exploration, I had the opportunity to request a phone session with a life coach.  This fellow is special to me as I've known him since he was a boy.  Yes, it felt strange to request a consultation with my oldest kids' former babysitter.  But what a wonderful opportunity and experience it was!  He was a very great help to me.   I must share one piece of advice from him because it is crucial to seeking a balanced life.   I have to remind myself daily to heed his recommendation to choose only one or two areas to work on and give myself grace in the other areas I want to also pursue; otherwise, I will become overwhelmed and give up!  

If you are suffering burn out, I encourage you to explore what a balanced life  looks like to you and to begin to seek it.  One thing I have noticed is that if I don't work on that journal then I feel at loose ends.  The writing, cutting/pasting, making it my own is part of the therapy and stress relief;  imagining the life I want to live, and dwelling on those ideas is an important weekly activity.  And of course, time in Bible study and with God, praying and meditation on His words, is also crucial!  I am seeking to live with joy, peace, and contentment as I pass through this world into the next.

Pressing on in Him,

Lisa Ann

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I Don't Like That Girl

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1: 5-8

Life is fleeting.  We truly are here for such a short time.   It will soon be 36 years since my high school graduation.  How did that happen?  It feels like the blink of an eye.  And yet, I've lived a lot of life in those years. This post may have a bit of meandering through ancient history to it but the lessons learned are real and important, at least to me.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl; she was raised as the little princess in a family with two older brothers, nearly seven and ten years her elder.  She was terribly spoiled!  She finds it embarrassing how spoiled she was!  Her life was not to remain in a happily-ever-after pattern however.   Just before her tenth birthday, her father went home with the Lord.  Within two years, both brothers left home mostly permanently, with college and marriage for both.  There she was, just her mother and her, still spoiled rotten, more so than ever as she became the recipient of that mother's main focus and energy.  

The girl had always enjoyed learning, but hated going to school.  It's hard to explain or even understand.  But then came high school.  The girl found some good friends, kindred spirits.  The girl met a boy who happened to be on the school's wrestling team.  He had beautiful eyes and a kind heart.  The wrestling coach had decided he wanted cheerleaders to join the scene around the mat during the girl's freshman year in high school.  Because she was the "girlfriend" of the boy with beautiful eyes, she got elected (by the wrestling team) to cheer them on for that school year.   

The girl had always been considered shy.  But during freshman year, everything began to change.   She also had loved to sing since she was a wee little girl.   Joining the school choral department became another major part of her high school career.   The girl cheered and sang all four years.   She loved those activities and her shyness began to fade away.  She didn't become one of the "popular" kids; but she became happy with her life, her friends, her studies.  But in the process, she also became a major twit!

TWIT- a silly or foolish person.

The girl's mom had told her that she had her first boyfriend in the hospital nursery just after birth.   Her mom also labeled her "boy crazy."   The girl had many boyfriends in high school.  She remembers that there was drama with some, but she really doesn't even remember why most of them didn't remain part of  her life.  It was just a succession of four years of dating and very shallow friendship with a bunch of boys, no long term relationships, at least not by adult standards.  

Through a popular social media website, the girl has "found" some of those boys again in the last few years.  Of course, not all adults are in that social media world so she certainly hasn't reconnected with all of those "boys."  The girl has tried to show that she can be a true friend now, not a twit most of the time!

There was one boy she asked about through the years  but never managed to talk or connect with again.  Just recently, the girl found out that the boy had passed on suddenly.  She was taken back in time to the few months they had shared; she remembered his constant smile, his kindness, his always being a gentleman.  He was a good guy, one of the best.  So what happened?

The girl was a twit!  She was silly and foolish and decided she wanted to date someone else and rudely ended the relationship with the good guy.  And that's the part that makes the woman unhappy.  The twit girl was rude, unkind.  And the girl never took an opportunity to apologize to the good guy for being rude and unkind.  She was a twit through and through!  And she realizes how sad it is when our chance to say a simple, "I'm sorry I was mean, wrong, unkind," is gone. 

In college the girl basically dated one guy and she had the wedding band on her finger before her college graduation arrived.   Wouldn't it be wonderful if the spoiled little girl lived happily-ever-after?  

In his mercy, God never intended for that spoiled girl to remain a twit!   Thank you Father!  

I am not saying that God caused sin in her life or anyone else in her life.   My theology does not support that theory.   But being human, her husband and she both had sinful natures.  Unfortunately, his sin repeatedly pulled him away from his bride and the two children that were born of their union.  Finally, the girl who had grown into a young woman could see no other way to deal with his choices than to give him up and let him suffer the consequences of those choices alone.  She could not raise those two precious babies in the environment he chose for their lives.   And so she became the divorced, single mom.  Was it easy?   No!

But God was growing her all the way.   She was blessed to have been surrounded by good, godly people along her journey into adulthood.   One minister who had counseled her and her husband through some of those hard times and a move she found difficult to make finally helped her understand one of the most important things about her hard journey into young adulthood.

The young woman struggled with forgiving the ex-husband.  He had caused worlds of hurt to so many people that she loved, not just her and their children.   His choices involved family, friends, church members who were second family to the girl.  She spoke with the helpful preacher about this lack of forgiveness knowing it was sin.  He very pointedly asked her to think back to the eighteen year old girl who had accepted the future husband's date request.  He asked if she wishes she had remained that girl?     Her thoughts: "TWIT!  No way!   Thank you God I am not her any more!"    The preacher kindly pointed out that the journey with the husband had brought her out of that selfish twit state.  She had to grow up fast, be humbled, and develop compassion and empathy for others; and all that misery in those married years helped her progress towards those attributes. 

Now the girl's journey is far from over.  She still has times of twittiness.  She still has much growth to accomplish to become Christ-like.  She is still being refined through fire by God.   But thank the Lord God Almighty, she is not that girl any more, because I don't like that girl!  

Thank you heavenly Father for continuing to grow me up in You and Your Son!

Pressing On in Him,

Lisa Ann