What Comes Next – Faith

One more week. One more week until my older son is back at his college and my younger son starts classes at his college in our community. We’ve been enjoying the last days of summer, but I’ve also been setting up a schedule of sorts. There are things I want to accomplish in this next stage of life, but if I don’t know when I’m going to do them, they will have a tendency not to get done. One of those things is the way I practice my faith.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have been practicing my faith. I pray. I talk to God during the day. I read my Bible. I go to church and participate in the life of my faith community. But, there are things I can do differently with my faith now that I will have more time during the day. I’m actually looking forward to making some changes. I can’t see anything wrong with more time with God. Can you?

One of the things I’m planning to do is be more consistent with a focused prayer time where I’m sitting still with my Lord and Savior. I’m good at praying on the run. I’m consistent with praying at meal-time. I’ve even tried praying with someone in the moment when they ask for prayer. But, my focused prayer time has been hit or miss. Why, I ask myself? This is where it’s time for confession. Laziness, busyness, letting a task dominate the relationship, fatigue, and just plain sin. All of them interfere with staying focused on God and the things He wants to tell me. I want to be better with that going forward so I’m going to plan for it. Plan for my focused prayer times with God as I begin my days, I’m looking forward to hearing what He wants to tell me and growing in my faith in this next phase.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is having more time to serve others. I’m not talking about just at church either though having flexibility there will be nice. No, I’m talking about getting the chance to know my neighbors and showing them the love of Jesus. I’m talking about going out into my community and doing things outside of my comfort zone. I’m talking about demonstrating what it says in John 15:12-13. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Or how about in I Peter 4:8? “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” And, finally, from I John 4:7. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” It’s all about love, isn’t it, as we serve, and that is why I’m looking forward to the chance to widen my circle.

Finally, I’m excited about the chance to learn more about my faith through the reading and studying I plan to do. I want to have different topics to write about for this blog and to share what I learn. This next season will be different for all the parts of my life including my faith, and I want to reflect that in what I say and do.

Praying for us all to have the chance to be still before our Lord and Savior today and to know His best for us! God bless you!

What Comes Next – Friendship

The summer is rapidly passing, and soon, I will be directly facing the next phase of my life. In less than a month, my older son will be back at college starting his senior year while my younger son will be starting his first year of college. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this topic as shown by my blog posts of the last few months. Today, I thought I’d start talking about different parts of my life, and the choices I’ve made as I’ve stood at the crossroads.

First up, friendship. A few weeks ago I spoke of how I felt inadequate in my friendships because I depended on seeing people in a certain place. I also talked about how I felt some friendships fragmented after too long of not seeing each other. Yes, some friendships can pick up right where they left off after a long period of not seeing each other, but what has happened to truly putting effort into a friendship? Are we, as a society, that selfish? Are we too overcome by inertia? Are we too busy looking at our phones or working for the almighty dollar? I thought of this while standing at the crossroads, and I was ashamed because I’m just as guilty as anyone else. I also thought my lack of putting effort into my friendships might have something to do with my loneliness as I feel I’ve not fit in anywhere for a while.

So, I decided to do something about it. I contacted a friend who gets me, who gets me in a way not a lot of people do. I see her more during the summer as she teaches during the year. We talked and laughed. Had a great time as usual. I told her about my idea, and she was all for it. We committed to getting together once a month during the school year. We decided to add another friend too. It did my spirit good to know we were all committed to our friendship, and the burden in my heart eased. I don’t have to depend on seeing them in a certain place to maintain the friendship.

As I thought about how God had worked, I realized two other people have shown me the way with this over the past few weeks. Last week, or the week before, a friend invited me to a Pampered Chef party she was hosting for a friend. I hesitated about going because our finances have been tight this summer. I didn’t want to be the only person who didn’t buy something. But, the text said I didn’t have to buy anything, and I decided to trust it.  I had so much fun! The food was good, and the conversations were even better. No one knew who was ordering and who wasn’t, and I didn’t feel awkward at all. At the end, she told me she had hosted the party to help the other lady out and for the fellowship. I was so grateful because it eased the loneliness in my heart a little more.

Finally, another friend noticed I was having difficulty last weekend. The uncertainty of what’s next and the broken trust issues I’ve been having just hit me. I didn’t want to go into details, and she was fine with that–just gave me acceptance and love. We decided to send each other messages of encouragement during the week, and it has meant so much. The words I needed came at just the right time. It was a God thing.

The encouragement of these friends helped me know I haven’t done as bad a job with friendship as I thought I had done. They made me feel like this quote from L.R. Knost might possibly be coming true for me.

“Tell your story.
Shout it. Write it.
Whisper it if you have to.
But tell it.
Some won’t understand it.
Some will outright reject it.
But many will
thank you for it.
And then the most
magical thing will happen.
One by one, voices will start
whispering, ‘Me, too.’
And your tribe will gather.
And you will never
feel alone again.”

May God bless you all today!

The World

Today’s topic wasn’t just random. I believe God planned it down to the littlest detail. Why? Because, in less than twenty-four hours, I will be on a plane to Honduras with a missions team from my church. This trip has been a long time coming. From the time I first expressed interest back in February, getting to go on this trip has been a God thing, pure and simple. There’s no way I would have been able to go on my own. Not from a one-income homeschooling family. But, God worked it out so I know it’s a part of His purpose for my life.

This will be my first time going abroad to do missions work, but I did spend a summer in Maryland when I was a college student. I also took a few one-week mission trips, but it’s the summer trip that has been in my thoughts in recent days. My partner and I worked in the inner-city doing whatever was needed, but mainly, we conducted Backyard Bible Clubs. In my mind’s eye, I see the faces of those children like it was yesterday. They were so excited we had come to where they lived. It was hard work. A lot of times, I was out of my comfort zone, but my youthful self dreamed of changing the world for Jesus. Many times, after that summer, I dreamed of becoming a career missionary.

But, real life intervened, and it’s now thirty-two years later. I wonder, where did that youthful enthusiasm and energy go? What happened to reaching the world for Christ? Oh, I did my best to change my own small corner of the world. I taught school. I married and had my own children. I became their teacher when they were young. I poured into my family. I wonder how much I really changed though. Advocates in the homeschooling community would say I changed a lot for my family, but what did I really do? I’m still working all that out.

We were practicing our faith when our sons were young. Then, we spent time out of the church in their middle years. I’ve written about this before. I became a cynic about the church and the community it’s supposed to offer because of all the bad I had seen. I longed for it still though because God had planted the desire in my heart. Cynicism and longing combined in my heart to make a potent soup.

As I’ve written though, my life has changed over the past six years. Love has come to the forefront, and I have a better understanding of what my faith means. I talk to God often, and He comforts me when the world lets me down. I even have a community that puts up with my weirdness, :-), and that is something, to be sure. I thank God for it every day.

Over the last few years, I’ve been thinking about and planning for what comes next after my children were done with high school. I’ve chronicled many of my thoughts and feelings in this blog. As you know, this is the year. My younger son will start college in the fall. God has been leading me down this writing path. I know that for sure. But, how and in what capacity, I don’t know. I also don’t know what I will do with the time I used to use for homeschooling. And except for my writing, I’m not sure of the path God is leading me on to serve Him. Thinking of that day in August when both of my children will be in college is a blur right now. I don’t know how my days will go or what will be in them.

I think it’s why God led me to this trip. A week away doing work for Him with no distractions, it’s what I need. God will meet me there. The uncertainty and blurriness will disappear, and my life will be changed!

Praying God’s blessings on you all today!

PS: I will complete this series on 100 Days to Brave when I return. See you on the flip side!