Friday, March 18, 2022

O Who Is Like Jehovah God?

The last few months have felt intense. It isn't that our schedule has been frantic, but I've felt the pressure of Lots To Do. I don't have babies any more, but I'm finding that life with teens can be even busier than life with babies - though in a different way. Homeschooling has been intense this year, and I'm constantly comparing what I accomplished with what I had hoped to accomplish - and seeing a gap.

I knew February was a short month, made even shorter because we spent the last week of the month in Tennessee, helping with rebuild flooded homes. But in the days leading up to our trip, I wondered why I was so stressed. Had I overcommitted? 

Our week in Tennessee was a real blessing. It was good for me to walk away from my normal responsibilities and help others for a week. I loved meeting believers from other states and the fellowship of conversation and singing together. And hearing the stories of those that lost loved ones in the flood brought perspective to my own life.

When we came home, we jumped into life with its challenges and joys. I found myself again discouraged. I'm typically a high energy person, and I like deadlines because they help motivate me. But maybe I had gone over the limit into Too Much. 

In the past two weeks, I've spend time reflecting and asking questions. How can I build margin so I don't feel stressed? How can make sure I don't overcommit in the future? On weeks that are extra busy, how can I make sure I'm balancing times of rest? 

Here are some of my questions and conclusions. 

1. What is my motivation for being busy? I know that I find my identity in what I do and in feeling useful and helpful. This can lead me to overcommitting or feeling like I'm the only one who could fill a need. It has been helpful to me to remind myself that, in the sight of God, I am not more valuable if I'm doing a lot.

2. What role does grief play? One day, when I felt totally overwhelmed, I was talking with a friend about my schedule, which included things like taking my oldest son for his driver's test and preparing taxes. She reminded me that some of the activities on my to-do list were things that Ed would have probably done - roles that a husband and dad often fill. Some of my feelings of being overwhelmed was possibility processing the grief of not having Ed to carry the load with me. 

3. Are there signals that I'm too busy? I enjoy taking an hour-long walk, usually with an audio book. Some days when I'm tired and longing for a nap, especially Sunday afternoong, I have found that the fresh air and exercise make me feel even better than a nap. With homeschooling, I don't walk as often as I like, but I try to squeeze one in once or twice a week. But I realized that I have taken very few walks this winter. The cold weather was partly to blame, but I don't mind bundling up and walking in cold temperatures. The real culprit was simply not seeing a walk as a worthy investment of time - something worth making time for. If I skip walking for several weeks, it may be a sign that I need to let something go. 

(And the fact that I can take walks at all is credit to having teenagers. For years, I longed for the freedom to say "I'll be back in an hour." So you moms of young children, hold on, there are joys of parenting teens.)

Another warning sign for me is if I feel like I need to stay up late to get work done. It was important to Ed that when the children went to bed, that we stopped working, too. If the kitchen floor wasn't mopped yet, it would just wait until tomorrow. Occasionally there was a deadline that had to be met, such as a bill that needed paid, but rarely did he get on the computer after the children were in bed. I've tried to keep this habit, because I know how little self-control I have when I'm tired and "checking something quick online" can last an hour. If I'm so busy that I feel like I have to do some work after the children go to bed, I know that I'm out of balance. Having quiet time to read and getting to bed at a decent time makes a big difference for me.

4. Am I taking "thought for tomorrow"? (Matthew 6:31:32) The next six months look very busy and the swirl of activities and plans in my head can consume me. It is helpful for me to ask what I actually have to do now and what can wait until later. There is actually a lot of things happening the next few months that I can do nothing about right now. I like to plan ahead and I don't like to procrastinate, but deciding what I have to do this week, and what can be left for tomorrow, is clarifying to me.

Enjoying the puppies.

With the world events the last few weeks, I have felt guilty for being stressed about my small problems. If I was fleeing my home or wondering what to feed my children, everything on my agenda would disapear. The grief of the world can make my busy days feel even more overwhelming. 

That is when I'm grateful for the power of Scripture and soul-strengthening hymns. There have been so many songs that have been meaningful to me the last few weeks, and I'll share one. 

Edited 3/20/2022
Martha Groff gave me permission to share these words with you. 

O Who Is Like Jehovah God
Word by Martha J. Groff, Based Psalm 40
Hymns of the Church #109

O who is like Jehovah God? 
To whom can we compare
The vastness of this mighty King,
The Lord, to Whom we sing?

The nations are as dust to Him, 
As one drop in a pail; 
No one can be compared with Him
Who can His greatness dim.

And yet this great and mighty God,
Whose goodness never fails, 
Has pledged our strength He will renew, 
And this He'll surely do.

If we upon the Lord will wait
When we are tired and worn, 
He'll lift us up on eagle's wing, 
This God to Whom we sing.

O who is like Jehovah God? 
To whom can we compare 
His glory and His majesty 
Through all eternity!

"Hast that not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.
He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall untterly fall;
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."
Isaiah 40: 28-31

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

February Brighter Winter Reading Challenge

My sister Charity and I both took part in the Brighter Winter Reading Challenge. Here are a few of our favorite books read in February. 

This post contains affiliate links.

Charity - a book recommended by a family member and a book written by a pastorSurving the Tech Tsunami by Gary Miller

I was challenged as I read this book to evaluate how I use technology. It’s easy to fall into unwanted habits. Gary Miller reminded me again of how important it is to guard myself from unhealthy content, and to work hard to have healthy relationships. This book reminded me to work as a body together to navigate the tech tsunami, because we can’t do it on our own.

Gina - a book by pastor's wife 
This book covers some of the same themes in Butterfield's other books (Confessions of an Unlikely Convert and The Gospel Comes with a House Key) but delves deeper into repentance, identity, and community. Butterfield relates her experience as a former lesbian in a way that is discreet, wise, and inspiring. She holds up truth about God's character and allows it to reflect on the reality of human character and I'm guessing I'll reread parts of this book.

Charity - a book written by an author of different ethnicity
Defying Jihad by Esther Ahmad
In her own words, Esther tells the story of growing up in the Middle East in a extremest Muslim family. Esther longed to live for Allah and if dying in jihad guaranteed enteral life for herself and her parents then she would. So she volunteered to be a suicide bomber. But then she found there was Someone who could answer all her questions, Who was the answer to all of her questions. This is an incredible story about the search for truth and the sacrifice to follow Jesus.

Gina - a book about a disability
Blind Courage by Bill Irwin
This is the true story of a blind man who hiked with his guide dog on the entire Appalachian Trail. I enjoy reading books about the AT since it runs so close to our house. Bill weaves the account of his hike with stories from his past. He lived an ungodly life with addictions and several failed marriages until he found Christ. Bill doesn't minimize the intenst challenges of the hike, and since he had to go so slowly because of his blindness, it was winter in Maine by the time he finished. The book inspired my faith in God, but it didn't not lure me to through-hike the AT. 

Charity - a book with a color in the title and an award-winning book
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
I delight in middle-grade, well-written, exciti,ng and yet cosy books. This one fit all of those boxes and got an extra point for being a historical fiction. Set in the time period of the Salem Witch trials, Kit finds herself uprooted from Barbados and transplanted to Puritan New England. Not only is their solumn religious lifestyle hard to understand, Kit also doesn’t understand why she can’t be friends with the Quaker woman who lives on the edge of town. I loved the excitement of the story and Kit’s sailor friend and the tiny touch of romance. 

Gina - a book of letters
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
As letters fell off a sign in the town, the people of the island community of Nollap are commanded to not use that letter. As this novel in letters unfolds, fewer and fewer letters of the alphabet can be used to communicate to friend and family. Those who love words will find this book a fun challenge to read. The book is humorous because it feels slightly ridiculous, though there are far deeper themes of survival in a tolitarian government.  

I'd love to hear about the highlights of your February reading!


Related Posts with Thumbnails