A Moment to Breathe

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve detected a theme:  Overwhelm.  For the last couple of years I have felt overwhelmed in so many ways.  First off, I over committed myself.  It happened so slowly.  I said yes.  And then I said yes again.  And again.  And I never really took anything off my plate.  I had a couple of things working against me:  FOMO and FODS.

What in the world is FOMO? and FODS? you ask…..

FOMO- Fear of Missing Out
FODS- (I just made this up lol) Fear of Disappointing Someone

Do you suffer from these issues?  Or am I the only one who finds myself entrapped by them?

It’s now the middle of November, and it’s time to really start thinking about 2018.  I know, the thought makes some people cringe while it makes others rejoice.  I’d take a wild guess and say most people in the Houston area are probably ready to say goodbye to 2017…  But before we do that, let’s think on how we’d like to focus in 2018.

For the last few years I’ve asked the Lord to give me a word to focus on for the coming year.  I actually started doing this because I heard someone else was doing it and I don’t remember who that was now.  (read that, this is not my original idea)….  I was also growing weary of New Years Resolutions, which I had transitioned to more of category type goals, which was a better method, but still wasn’t really working for me.  If you’re not changing, you’re not growing, right?  So, I decided to give the word a try.  Most years, the word has been spot on what I felt the Lord was trying to teach me in that season.

There was the year I had “joy” for a word.  I started that year off with a bang, full of excitement!  THIS was going to be a GREAT year!  And by the 10th of January my marriage was in the tank, my kids were out of control, and I was wondering if tomorrow was going to be the thing that broke the camel’s back.  That year was particularly hard for me.  Did I get the message wrong?  Was “joy” not the right word?  On the contrary; it was exactly what I needed to learn.  I needed to learn about joy in the Lord.  I learned that it isn’t actually about happiness.  It’s more about contentment, and a yielding to the Lord.  I learned that true joy came with trust.  I had to learn to trust the Lord in every circumstance, even those that looked dire.  And you know what?  He came through in ways I could never explain with words. I had to walk through that valley to see Him working in my life.  I had to get to a place where my joy wasn’t connected to my success.  I had to come to a place where I truly couldn’t change the outcome on my own to know I had to rely on God.

Then there was the year I got “focus”.  January 3rd I received a call that my cousin had died and we were to take her two children.   Boy did I need to focus that year.

This past year my word has been “reduce”.  I have needed to clear out some clutter in my life.  I’ve been working through taking things off my plate, and delegating more.  I’ve been journaling about things that I need to reduce. I’ve been working through the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and learning about minimalism.  I’ve been reducing my calendar and finding myself again.

Recently I was sent a copy of a book entitled A Moment to Breathe: 365 Devotions that Meet You in Your Everyday Mess from the (in)courage community.  It’s a collection of 365 devotions that meet you in your everyday mess.  Upon opening it, I decided it was absolutely beautiful.  But as I have been reading through the devotions, I’ve been very touched by many of them.  Right off the bat I was in love.

Day 2: Praying for Rain

Ask the Lord for rain in the season of spring rain  The Lord makes the rain clouds, and he will give them showers of rain and crops in the field for everyone.- Zechariah 10:1

At the Kitchen sink there are only dishes and soap suds and my thoughts.  So late at night while the household sleeps, I straggle into the kitchen to find peace in a sink full of waiting dishes.  As I rinse my bright red frying pan, I find myself praying desperate dreams for the future.  I pray for what I want but rarely for what I have.

But recently, I was reminded of the verse in Zechariah that says, In the season of rain, pray for rain. And suddenly I’m back in South Africa on a dry game farm surrounded by farmers who haven’t seen rain in months.  These sun-weathered men sit in their rough clothes at a long table outside.  The first course is cucumber soup.  But with first bites come cold, hard drops.  Rain.  I prepare to make a dash for the inside of the lodge, but I’m the only one to move.

The men carry on with their meal as the rain falls down and the soup splashes up.  But their actions speak louder than words and my father interprets them for me, “They won’t leave the rain, because they don’t want it to leave them.”  In the season of rain, they want more rain.

With soap suds up to my elbows, I lean on the sink, remembering.  What I have now is once what I wanted so desperately; healed marriage, healthy children, the beginnings of meaningful work.  I don’t want to lose sight of these in the chase after my next prayer request.  In the season of rain, still pray for rain.  Because, once the rain begins, it’s tempting to walk away from the answered prayer and move on to the next thing.  But I do not want to do that.  I want to sit and revel in what God has given me here and now.  Daily, between soap suds and dirty dishes, I want to pray for what I have.

Isn’t that amazing?  I feel so blessed by this book, and I feel like in my effort to “reduce” this year, what I’m really doing is making space to breathe.  This book takes less than 5 minutes per day to read the devotion, but it is worth it every time.  Put it on your Christmas list now.

As we finish out the year I want to invite you to enter into a journey with me.  I’m going to be reading Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Livingand I’d love it if you’d join me and discuss it with me over in the Facebook Group I’ve created, Nailing Jello to a Tree Sisterhood.  I’d like to build a community there of people who are looking to our savior to fill in the gaps where we fail, and who are interested in encouraging others in that goal.  So hop over to amazon and buy Present Over Perfect for yourself, and put A Moment to Breathe on your Christmas list, or buy it for the people you love and throw an “extra” copy in your basket for you!  (I won’t tell).  We’ll start reading Present Over Perfect the weekend after Thanksgiving, with a goal to finish it by the end of the year.

Love, Semalee
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