Thursday, December 26, 2019

Is this Enough?

Maybe it's middle age.  Maybe it's just the ending of another year.   But I asked myself several times the past few days, "Is This Enough?"

Historically I have been person driven by passion and fueled by meaningful relationships.   I have had a cause ... and still do ... that wakes me up every morning and keeps me going all day.   Between these things and my family, I have always had more than enough to do be fulfilled and enough energy to get it done... most days.  In the past I also had a pretty extensive speaking schedule, traveling across the U.S. to share with social workers and foster and adoptive parents.  I also squeezed in time to write five books, and pursue a variety of hobbies that were often short lived.  (I can be REALLY excited about something for quite a while but then I'm just NOT, and then I can't make myself get excited again).

The past year or so I have been pretty tired by the time my work day is done.  My position is demanding as well as rewarding and often pretty exhausting.   I do not have close friends locally which is a change for me as I have always maintained solid friendships over the years.   I have work connections with really cool people and I love our parishioners, but relationships are few and far between when it comes to friends that aren't tied to either work or church, which is Bart's work.  Most of our children and grandchildren do not live locally and the ones who do  live in my house which means that I see them often enough (sometimes too often).  I find myself, for the first time ever, watching TV, something I've never done regularly.

In addition, I am not asked to speak much any more.  I don't pursue opportunities because I don't enjoy travel much any more (if I ever did) and I have learned that while you may get paid $1,000 for a 20 minute keynote, by the time you make arrangements, plan the speech, get there, and get back home, the hourly rate really isn't that high.  People don't buy or read my books any more.  I don't market them so they just take up space, a reminder of how I am really "yesterday's news."

So I asked Bart the other day, "Is this enough?"  And I think I was also asking this question of God.   The answer came to me, through a television show, surprisingly enough, where a couple was asking the same question.  Their conclusion?  As long as we have each other we have enough.

I am so very grateful for my husband and the life we have built together.  So many folks struggle with this primary relationship and I am so thankful that ours is so solid.  We have been through so much together and yet it brings us closer together instead of driving us apart.

As we discussed this this week and I pondered it for a few days, I realized that maybe my life has always been bigger than it really needed to be.   Maybe it is just getting right sized now.  And it became very clear to me how grateful I am for my husband and family.  I realized that maybe my kids can be my friends.  I reconnected with my brother recently, so maybe I should spend more time talking to him.   I can Face Time my grandkids.   And I can enjoy each work-related relationship to the fullest.  I can get more involved in volunteering which I started this year and am enjoying.   I am the person who gets to choose how full my life is ... I am not a victim of my circumstances.

Finally, I remembered a verse and a song this morning.   The verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9:  My grace is sufficient for thee!   And the song below.  So I have my answer, though it took me a while to figure it out.

Friday, December 06, 2019

The Rest of the Verse

You may or may not know that across our nation there is an “orphan care movement” that began over 15 years ago.  The essence of this movement is that it is not the job of the government to care for the orphan, but the responsibility of the church.  There are thousands of people across our nation who are dedicating their lives to making sure that the church wakes up and accepts their God-given mandate.  

Because I have been a part of this movement in several capacities, personally and professionally, in the past couple decades, I have read, written, and quoted James 1:27 on multiple occasions.  But only this week as I was processing all I learned at the Care Portal Deep Dive (warning, I am fired up about this game changing tool!) that I was able to understand the rest of the verse.

Part one says:  
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress 

Makes sense, right.  And is a wonderful quote if we want to get others involved in doing this work.  If James called it “pure religion” who doesn’t want to be part of that?

But here is part two of the verse:

and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

How do those two go together?  What’s the connection?  I think this week I may have figured it out as I listened to story after story of real, ordinary people, like you and me.... meeting the real needs of children and families, I finally get the connection.  So here are my conclusions:

1) If your focus is on meeting the needs of others, it’s pretty hard for the things of the world that pollute us to grab hold of your mind space.

2) If you take these verses to heart and you are moved and filled with compassion for those less fortunate and you have them in your heart, then the things of this world can’t take hold of your emotions and pull you away.

3). If your free time is filled with thinking about, praying for, and doing for families and children in need, there isn’t enough extra time for the things of this world to take over.

If we as Christians take heed to part one of this verse and make part one a central focus of our lives, part two won’t be a concern.    Let’s do this!

(By the way.... I would LOVE to tell you about Care Portal (or you can check it out for yourself by clicking on that link!  Or you can do both!)