June 12, 2017

What I'm Doing This Summer

Several of my friends who live out of state have asked me recently how this (now past) school year has been for me. "It's been good," I say every time, and I mean it every time. "It's been full and rich and at times overwhelming, but above all it's been really good."

When I think about what's been good, I think about my husband. He astounds me with how he uses his gifts and influence, how hard he works, and how much he cares for those he pastors while at the same time caring for me and for our children.

When I think about what's been good, I think about my children, who are now 14, 11, and 9. In many ways, it's been a challenging year with one of our boys, and I've felt my powerlessness and helplessness to know how to parent him without the help and direct intervention of God. I've prayed through tears and at times frustration, and I believe by faith that He continues to unfold a miraculous work.
When I think about what's been good, I think about our church. I would choose to attend our church even if my husband wasn't the pastor, and I'm well aware some pastor's wives can't say that. Our church is certainly not perfect, but it's full of love and the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word. We have the best people around, who care for others and reach out to their neighbors and serve with joy.
When I think about what's been good, I think about the women in my life from all ages and stages whom I call my friends. They pray hard, ask important questions, mourn when mourning is called for, and celebrate wins. I'm so glad God has given me the friends He has.
And, finally, when I think about what's been good, I think about writing. Sometimes just before I fall asleep at night, I remember suddenly that I've gotten to write a few books--my long time dream--and I whisper, "Thank you, God."
However, none of these good things have come this year without struggle and large doses of uncertainty and insecurity. Sometimes the good things have come with a side of longing: I want more undistracted time with my dear husband and ease regarding my friendships. I want more time to savor the good, and I want a heart that sees the good so clearly.

To put it frankly, this year I've felt overwhelmingly busy because of the goodness. I know that sounds funny, but it's true. My husband and I talk all the time about "stewarding the abundance," and that's just what it is. We've been given abundant opportunities and relationships, and it's difficult to know what and who to give our primary attention to beyond our children.

It's there, in the intersection of abundance and choice, where I see my sinful desires for my own kingdom and my own glory and my own way. More and more this year, I've found it difficult to quiet myself before God or to remember that I'm His servant rather than entitled to certain circumstances. I too often forget to turn in gratitude toward Him, knowing all is from His hand. Instead, I want to meet the expectations of others so they'll approve of me, and I want more successes that I can call my own.

In other words, I've allowed life to get noisy, and I feel like I've lost sight of some important things. I don't even know what those things are exactly; I just know that I've lost them.

For that reason, I will be using this summer to get quiet and still. Kyle has had a pastoral sabbatical lined up on the church calendar for some time now, and it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I realized how much we need it. We need renewal in every sense of the word, and that's something only God can give. So this summer, whatever I've lost sight of, I want to find in Him again. I want to wait on the Lord for instructions regarding how He'd like me to "steward the abundance," because I can't for the life of me see the forest for the trees right now.

It's hard to get quiet and still, isn't it? The lure of busyness and constant connection is strong, at least it is for me. And what we may find in the stillness may be difficult to face, which is all the more reason to quiet ourselves and submit our hearts to the Lord.

Part of me getting quiet and still this summer will mean no blogging and no social media (except for the occasional personal picture on Instagram). I wanted to let you know that I will be away and also say that I'd be grateful for your prayers for spiritual renewal. I will also be seeking the Lord's direction for this little blog and how God might want me to serve others through writing, speaking, and teaching in the future. If you think of me at all, I'd love prayer for clarity and direction in these things.

Thank you for reading this blog, and thank you for your hearty reception of Messy Beautiful Friendship this spring! I look forward to continuing to serve you when I return at the end of the summer.


I'll leave you with some articles I've written elsewhere this spring and other helpful resources for your summer: