Finding the wisdom of the ages within the tangle of my humanness has been a life long process.
We have lived literally by faith since the mid 1980’s. It has been an amazing journey full of exciting stories of God’s provision and faithfulness. There have been moments that have I had more joy than any heart could handle and other times more pain that any heart should.
I have tried through the years to keep track of my experiences and life lessons in what I have affectionately labeled my “handbook”. It is actually a combination of journals, notes, memories and even scribblings in my Bible that I have been transcribing into an actual book form.
Recently, a couple of moms had asked my advice on some things and I found myself reaching for my handbook once again. Here are some thoughts I would like to share with you.
Productivity begins with Prayer: In our modern society it seems as if we are busier than ever before. From the moment we get up in the morning until the wee hours of the evening we find ourselves chugging that heavenly brown stuff to keep us going. It seems to me that when we forget the importance of prayer, we can easily fall into the trap of making more work for ourselves. We become depleted and bankrupt when we leave prayer out of our daily lives.
I have found that my days are much more productive when I begin them with prayer. I need that alone time with the Lord first thing and all throughout the day as well. Prayer can flow out of your daily tasks. Some of my most precious times with the Lord have been while I was rocking a fussy baby, washing the dishes, hanging the washing on the lines, or even driving the family hither and yon.
On a practical note: I spend a week before each New Year praying over my year and commitments. I pray over each quarter and ask the Lord what I should commit to and what I should give up. So many unexpected things come into life, especially as a homeschooling mother of 6, aside from all the ministry commitments. We have a special needs daughter as well, which brings its own unique challenges. I need and want God to help me schedule so I do not become burned out.
Give from the overflow: Just as a productive life begin with prayer, our spirits need to be filled with all the riches of His Word and His love continually. We pour out so much of our lives on a daily basis that we soon become dry and weary on the inside. When we have given our all for others what do we have left for ourselves? And if we do give it all out, how do we get more to give it out again? We have no business trying to give to others from our own empty lives. We have to be filled daily so we can give daily. We have to learn to live from the overflow of a grateful heart for all that the Lord has done for us.
Twice weekly I have a scheduled date with the Lord above and beyond my devotional times. I schedule it in because if I do not then it may not happen. I use that special time for prayer, solitude, to listen to His voice or catch up on a Bible Study. I may even go to a cafe, or sometimes I just lock myself in my room. The important thing is that I love the Lord so much that I lay down other things so that I can spend more time with Him.
We have no business trying to give to others from our own empty lives.
The Joseph Principle: In our home we call it “doing a Joseph”. By the end of the book of Genesis Joseph was finally out of prison and a ruler of Egypt. He was in charge of giving out food portions to all who came into Egypt during the famine. The famine as so severe that eventually his brothers came to him to buy grain. They had no idea that the ruler they were bowing in front of was the self same, obnoxious little brother that they had sold into slavery so many years before. Joseph had the perfect opportunity for revenge and he had every right to do it. And there it is.
What rights are you willing to lay down for peace and love and furthering the kingdom of God? For me as a faith missionary this is HUGE.
Jesus actually demonstrated this principle very clearly when He gave up His life that day on the cross. He had every right to defend Himself and even call down all the armies of heaven to come to His aide. However, Jesus gave up all of those rights for a greater purpose which were His Father’s Glory and His great love for you and I.
What rights are you willing to lay down for peace and love and furthering the kingdom of God?
The Fingerprint Principle: This is so simple. We are all made in His image. We have value as do those around us. Don’t do anything that would devalue yourself or another. What does that mean to me? It means I will not live my life through my insecurities and fears. That means I will endeavor to love and honor everyone I come into contact with, including myself.
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
― Mother Teresa
The Principle of the Open Hand: Two years ago we did not have Christmas. Yes, it was difficult but not for the reasons you would suspect. We were serving the Lord in Mexico and the children’s shelter where I had served was in a dilemma. The older girls were being required by the government to leave the shelter. They were not ready to live on their own and had no where to go.
Our home was near the shelter. It had actually been prayerfully given to us and had been a huge blessing to so many who had come on outreaches to the surrounding communities. We believed the Lord was telling us to give everything we owned away and let them have use of our home as a transition home until they were ready to leave.
This was not the first time I have felt that we were to give everything we owned away. We did of course keep some sentimental things, computers and photos. So instead of unpacking our Christmas boxes and decorating for the festive season, we found ourselves packing up everything and hauling it away. It was pure joy to give it away to a few wonderful Children’s Homes in nearby communities. There was something special about that Christmas. Our children seemed to have more fun than I did giving their toys away to others who had decidedly less than they did. It was truly precious.
Giving seems to go against everything we have been taught through today’s entitled society. Our goal is meant to be get more not live on less, right? But does that bring happiness?
When we learn to hold all things lightly
not only are we able to bless others with what we have,
but we are in a better position to be able to receive from others as well.
We have to learn to live from the overflow of a grateful heart for all that the Lord has done for us.
Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!” Angels listen as I sing my thanks. I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: “Thank you!” Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength.
Psalm 138:1 (MSG)