This book, these words, have undone me. Three books that I have completed this year have been a combination of conviction, grace and celebration. (Present over Perfect, Breaking Busy, and Ordering Your Private World) I am undone by what God is teaching me in this season. I am at a place where I am vulnerable before the Lord, seeking him with a new passion and letting go of somethings I have been holding on to so tightly.
I am learning to look for the tangible expressions of grace that are on display all around me each day. I am learning to breathe deeply. I am learning to create the margin that God has been asking me to create for so long. The new thing, like I said before, is both big and small. It is a thousands of choices some yes, some no. It is about rediscovering who I am in Christ and who he created me to be.
Maybe all of this is in part because my role is changing. The role that I longed for, to be a mom, is changing. Three of the four have left home for college. I am learning how to cook for half the people, and laundry that can be done in 3 loads. (Yes 3 loads! This is cause for celebration!) I am redefining my role in their life, while still mom, I don’t have control of their schedules or their choices. I pray more, I wrestle with what has been done and what was left undone. And I mourn the time I wished away, while celebrating the memories we have and those yet to be made.
My role is changing at the church I pastor… yes still lead pastor… but the church is growing and expanding quickly. And how I lead is different than when I came. I have to make tough decisions and lead people authentically and with integrity. The decisions I make daily effect eternity. And that might sound dramatic but yet the weight of that is real. The next few months are going to be pivotal for our church and how I lead is important. If I have ever needed Jesus… it is now.
So with all the changes and pieces of me waiting to be put back together I find a lot of peace in the quiet of my home, my favorite candle burning and the hum of life around me. I don’t need to rush to do something or be someone I just need to be. I need to find the gentle rhythms of grace all around me. I will practice what I preach… I will not sacrifice my family on the altar of ministry or busy one more minute. I will rest, find a new normal and I will find that God is there and working.
This season of change is going to require a little more of Gina dying to herself and coming more alive in Christ. Its going to require a sorting of what is important in this season and what can be let go of. This season will also require sacrifice. Again, so much I can’t share about this new thing but it will require sacrifice. And there are moments when I wonder if I am strong enough for it, if I will really be able to do it. And then I am reminded that His strength is perfect…
My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG
I am a wife, a mom, daughter, sister, friend, pastor and most importantly daughter of the King. He knows my heart, the good, the bad and the ugly. He sees me…just as I am. He knows who I want to be and he points me to a better version of myself. He gives grace, he forgives, he offers to hold me when it all seems to big and he goes before me. You see this I know, that as the new becomes a reality he is already there.
One of the things that Shauna Niequiest ask in the book is “if given a blank calendar, and full bank account what would you do?” I ask the question of myself before I even read her response… and it was almost the same. I would just be. (she says stop) and I get it. Yes! If my calendar was empty and my bank account full I would just stop. I would just be. I would not keeping running to try to achieve whatever… I would sleep. I mean sleep and rest and read. Read books that I love. I would have a porch swing and watch the birds, and soak up the sunsets (and sometimes the sunrise). I would rediscover all the things I have forgotten that I love and that breathe life into me.
In 3 years there has been so many things to process and go through. There have been many, many God moments and answered prayers but there has also been hurts, stresses and things that were so big and crushing at times I was sure we would not make it through… and yet here 3 years later we did survive. But not without cost… So now I am working on letting God sort through those places I have buried, Those places that I have not properly dealt with, Those lessons that I didn’t fully learn. Its time…
So what is this new thing… this is part of it… Margin…finally! I have spent most of the last 6 evenings at home, unscheduled. Not running, not filling every second with something. I realize that something might suffer… I get that. But I don’t think it will be the important things. Because I think what is happening I am focusing more on what is important. Becoming crystal clear in my purpose and mission. I am seeing God in a new way.
This process is painful. Its peeling away and allowing what is good and holy to be front and center. It enjoying every minute with my last child at home. It is realizing that I can’t wish time to slow down so I am enjoying the ride. But even though it is a little painful, its absolutely freeing! At almost 40 years old I realize I don’t care about somethings like I used too. And at this phase of life, I want to love God more and be all that he has called me to be and it doesn’t matter if I ever achieve the status that I once thought I had to have.
There are so many more things that I am learning, and slowing I will share those ( for those few readers- HI Mom! Hi my sisters). And perhaps for the first time in a long time I will experience all that God has intended for me. Its trusting him a little more and resting in him… I will walk boldly into this new thing ,step by step…
New things in life do not happen overnight. There is a process, there is peeling away the old and finding what things lie beneath the surface that need attention. And that is the process I am in…peeling away what is so that I can make room for the new.
Since my last blog there have been so many of you who reached out and made guesses what it is… Anywhere from going back to school, leaving my current church, to writing a book. I can tell you with great certainty that I am not leaving my current church. God is doing great things here and that is part of the new thing I am making room for. In just 4 short weeks we will launch a NEW Service! I am so excited about this. I can’t wait to see what impact this will have on God’s kingdom. This is not about filling up a church with people, this is about leading people to Jesus. Making a difference to those who are desperately searching for something.
I am peeling away layers of living a life without margin for far too long. And yes I have made progress but not enough and I am convicted in this area. Peeling away layers of things that have to be dealt with if I am to be the leader, wife, mother, pastor, friend that God has called me to be. Soul searching and being still in His presence are all good things. I think in our world today we have lost the art of silence and solitude. So I am bringing those things back into my life slowly and intentionally. I must if I am to move forward.
The new thing is coming in so many great an unexpected ways. And even though I am not ready to share all of those yet I know that through this journey God is doing something far greater than anything I could do on my own. I know that this process is to strengthen my own faith, to grow deeper in my walk, and to come out on the other side a little less stressed, tired and worn out.
The new thing will require sacrifice and that is a little scary at times. There are things in our lives that we have grown so attached to that are unhealthy for us and when we go to lay them down we feel safer picking them up again. But then we can’t see our real selves because we have hidden it behind the clutter. When our lives are cluttered we can’t fully engage in all the things that Lord has called us too. When he says “taste and see that I am good” we have to slow down enough to do that. If we truly want to worship him in his temple then we have to declutter our lives.
So something new is coming…Its big and its small. It is a thousand decisions to make between here and there. It is finding the new normal in which God is asking me to find. And my prayer is simply this..
One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. Ps. 27:4
At the end of my life, I want nothing more than to be spent for Jesus. Spent for His kingdom’s sake. So in the mean time I have to make sure that all of my energy, time and resources reflect that.
Today, I challenge you to start a new thing that brings you closer to your truest self, the person God called you to be. I am reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I highly recommend this book. My next blog is going to be about some insights I am learning from her wisdom. The insights are opening my heart and eyes to the new thing that God is showing me.
Obviously so much is new for me these days. My nest is emptying out. BIG GULP! I have one child left at home. How I have and do define myself has shifted. My location has changed from Midwest to East Coast. And that is just to name a few. I made a list of events that has happened in the last 3 years and let’s just say wow! What roller coaster ride! And now I am ready to find my footing. Find the sweetness of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. Finding the calm in the middle of all the changes (some good, some not so good) and rest in his promises, to TRUST him more! Which takes me back to my word for the year…and my inspiration board that reminds me of the things that are important. And it is there that I find Jesus, his rest, his blessing and his hand reaching out to mine…
I wrote about Margin in my last post. It’s my word for the year. Since then I have been walking the tight rope of scrambling and resting in finding my normal. I was recently speaking to some people who are allowing God to transform their lives in BIG, HUGE ways about how sometimes we hold on to things because it has become our normal…our comfort zone so to speak…and I thought back to my word: margin. I really think that I have held on to things that I should have moved away from because holding on to them was normal. I had become so used to being known as busy that I felt like I had to live up to it…its what I knew…its what had become…comfortable. Except it really was not comfortable – it was exhausting. Since I wrote the blog, lots of life has happened. It was like I was declaring I must put margin in place and Satan stepped up his game. The journey of finding the new normal became unexpected, unscripted, exciting, terrifying and left me a little empty.
Empty is an interesting concept, because I believe empty is how God really wants us. When we empty ourselves of “us,” we let loose of all that we have been holding on to so tightly and we simply come to God, it is then that He can truly fill us with Himself. When He talks about us being jars of clay to be filled with the Holy Spirit, he can only fill empty things.
I found myself empty and sick. Physically sick. Emotionally drained. Spiritually empty. It was during this time that I found some truths that I needed to be able to move forward. I know this was confirmed in those days…I have to have margins. I have to create space in my life so that I can sing and say and declare “it is well with my soul.”
No one can make my soul well except the Author and Perfector of my faith, and for Him to be able to make my soul well, I must pay attention to the soul. To pay attention to my soul I have to control my schedule, my time, my commitments…I have to be intentional about spending time in the presence of the King. I do not want to sleep through the wonder of His holiness!
“Those who live at the ends of the Earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.” Psalm 65:8 NLT
I wish I could write that I have this all figured out…that I have achieved margin. I cannot! What I can write is that I am on a journey with the my Abba Father. He is writing my story. He is directing my journey, He is so faithful to correct, to encourage, to pursue, forgive, offer grace and mercy and hold me when it all seems too much to bear. He is filling me with things I didn’t know I needed and subtracting things I thought I couldn’t ever let go of. He is showing me that this journey is unexpected and unscripted only to me… He has not been surprised by one single step.
I am learning that whatever I face I can cling to Jesus, as so many who have gone before me have done. In the midst of whatever it is – saying goodbye to loved ones, letting go of hurts and anger, fighting unimaginable battles – we can cling to Jesus and sing it is well with my soul. It is not about the unscripted and unexpected. It is about trusting Jesus to see you through it…no matter what.
Challenging as it is…my soul has become my focus. My soul-care is vital to me being the daughter of the King He has called me to be. I choose to focus on Jesus and the full life he has for me…and when I say full I do not meet full of busy. I mean full of Him.
So this wonderful, messy, unexpected, unscripted journey continues…