Thursday, June 18, 2015

Finding the (Abundantly) Balanced Life

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  
I am the good shepherd. 
John 10: 7 - 11a

It has been so long since I have written anything.   I reached a point where I felt I had so much on my plate, I could not breathe.  I decided to make first things first months ago and so made an effort to be fully present the last term of the school year with my boys.   Before I had even barely gotten started reading their assignments, other things pushed in on my time.   I had to go to our house rehab project site to meet or pay someone or do that job I promised I would finish last week, or the week before.  My volunteer opportunity needed planning done for the next class I needed to teach.    The bills have to be paid TODAY! Or another big time issue, probably the biggest, I have to read my email and check my facebook page.   What?!!

Recently, our family traveled to Indiana to spend time with my mother-in-law helping her declutter her house and prepare for a rummage sale she and my sisters-in-law were planning for the week after our visit.   This trip coincided with dear mother-in-law's visit here for our nineteen year old son's high school graduation.  She came here, along with my husband's cousin, the day before his graduation.   We staycationed with them for a few days after the graduation weekend, celebrated oldest son's birthday, and then we left for Indiana for a six day visit there.  A niece was scheduled to graduate from high school just about a week and one-half after our arrival and so as our departure date approached, we felt the need to stay one more day and then one more day, and then another in order to see this or that family member who was coming in for that graduation.  Our six day visit turned into a ten day visit with barely a blink of the eye.  We worked, we visited, we ate, we laughed, and we searched out WiFi.  It was our first trip without our "hotspot."  

That may not seem important to most but we have seriously busy online lives.  I will not use this forum to "discuss" my sons' activities with games and vlogs, etc.  I will keep this personal- about my use and consumption of time while online.  

I'm not sure how many blogs I have been subscribed to.  A few days ago, my husband asked me to estimate how many hours I had been online that day.  I was astounded when I heard myself say, "probably about five, maybe six."   You see, all that time away with little time for my inbox had left me with very near 500 unread emails.  I had to "catch up!"   Delete without reading?   Are you kidding me, I'll miss something!   I felt a type of panic when I considered hitting the delete button.  Then I heard hubby's voice in my head asking the question he had asked our sons, "So let me get this straight, you are spending your time reading online about the lives of others and what they do with their time from day to day?"  "Um yep," I answered his question silently in my own head.  Then I asked myself, "What's up with that?!!"  I reflected on my search for a balanced life.  Surely, life is not balanced when one spends five hours reading about the lives of others!  Granted, it's more like two hours per day normally, when I haven't been on vacation away from internet access.  But is that really much better?  Then I begin to reason with myself, "As someone who loves to write, who at one point hoped, okay maybe I still do hope a bit, to be published, to be read, isn't it my duty to support fellow bloggers by subscribing to their blogs and reading every word?  I doubt seriously my agony can be understood by a normal, sane human being. I just let those thoughts simmer around in my head for a few days.   

Finally yesterday, I came home from an appointment with a new resolve that if I did not begin to make the changes I wanted to see in my life, I would never begin to live my ideal, balanced life.  So having a few hours before the next thing, I thought I would just sit and begin to go through my emails and see what I could eliminate temporarily in order to focus on the most pressing changes I need to be working towards.  I (gasp) started going down my inbox and reading briefly what was waiting on me and then scrolling to the bottom of the page and hitting the unsubscribe button.  I sat for nearly two hours "cleaning" out my inbox and my daily time.   I even unsubscribed to most of my top five favorites- just temporarily, I told myself- in order to get through the next few weeks with laser focus on the changes we are making in our lifestyle and ministry focus.  Of course, bloggers have that built in survey thingy asking why you are unsubscribing and there were a few that I had to explain with some detail instead of hitting the "I no longer want to receive this email" button and being done with it; because the reality is, I love those blogs, I find value in their written words, encouragement for my life and how and what I want it to look like.   But even two hours per day is robbing me of MY LIFE, MY FAMILY TIME, AND MY MINISTRY CAPABILITY.  Is it any wonder my house is always cluttered and has a layer of dirt and dog hair?    No!  

 Finally yesterday, I came home from an appointment with a new resolve that if I did not begin to make the changes I wanted to see in my life, I would never begin to live my ideal, balanced life.  

So for the next few weeks, I will be focusing on my own home, my family, and some changes we are making and spend far less time online.  John and I feel strongly that our lives were designed by a Creator, not just to live on earth for our appointed days, selfishly acquiring things to make  ourselves more comfortable, happy, fulfilled.   We believe we are here to, first, raise our family to be servants of our Creator, second, to love others and teach them about our Creator God.  The focus of our lives should be glorifying our Father, not acquiring and organizing, moving, selling, etc, etc, our STUFF!

And so for now, I have less in my inbox to distract me.  If I have an extra thirty minutes in my day, I will most probably go look up those favorites and see what's new, be inspired, escape.  I feel that's okay.  But primarily, I will be living MY life, focusing on my "first things," and trying to make the changes that will propel us toward the life we desire to live.   We welcome your prayers for and with us over the coming weeks as we make some changes in our day to day lives and focus.  

Pressing on in HIM,

Lisa Ann

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