How to Trade Work for Rest without Quitting Your Job

Photo by Christine Wagner, Creative Commons, Flickr.

Photo by Christine Wagner, Creative Commons, Flickr.

As a child reading Aesop’s Fable, The Tortoise and the Hare, I always cheered for the Hare.

Slow and steady has never been my thing. I like pedal to metal. I’m a multitasking maven. Just keep the coffee brewing.

I never really saw a problem with the Hare’s approach to life until a few months ago when I started to write a book—and failed.

I decided I would crank out 1,000 or more words a day, and I did for several weeks. But this isn’t the type of book you can write quickly, especially for someone like me, who’s never written a book.

Now I see the hare’s problem—all the running made him so exhausted he decided to take a nap before crossing the finish line. I totally get it.

I know how exhaustion can lull a person to sleep even when they’re awake, leaving them sleepwalking through the motions of life—the motions of parenting and marriage.

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Last week the class I tutor at our homeschool co-op was assigned to narrate an Aesop Fable. When not one but two students chose to retell the classic parable and laud the tortoise for his leisure, I took it as a sign from God.

Maybe this book won’t unfold lickety-split. Maybe I need to slow down and seek rest.

So I have. I know if I’m going to finish this book, God will breathe it into my heart and provide the time to plant my bottom in the chair.

I’m done with trying to write it at a hare’s pace in my own strength, where my goals and good intentions can morph into the ugly two-headed monster of striving and selfish ambition.

I know one thing about trading my way for God’s way. When I do give up, it’s like a cheeky child turns back the hour hand on the clock.

I’ve found surrendering my time to God, multiplies my time.

Joy and peace flood our home—and overflow into my work. All of a sudden this writing life transforms from striving to the glorious exhale of rest.

The more I step and sway with the Spirit—learning His Divine rhythm and pace, the more I learn how to work from a posture of rest.

And this, my friends, changes everything.

Instead of the finish line consuming my thoughts, chewing up the in-between moments, I approach each task fully present. Laughter and concentration come easily, and so do a few jokes.

I think the tortoise knew all along he would cross the finish line—he never doubted it.

I, too, know this book will come, and I’m ok plodding through it slow and steady.

How to Lead and Be Unstoppable

Propel

I once obeyed without worrying who would disapprove or who would pat me on the back. Before I learned to cower in self-consciousness, I followed God with the bravado only a teen can muster.

I was bold and unstoppable.

In 1998, I sat on my floral bedspread reading the Student Bible when the Holy Spirit spoke to me. As I read about Spiritual gifts in Romans, I heard him tell me how he was calling me to leadership.

I’m not exactly a natural-born leader. And isn’t that just like God?

I knew he wanted me to lead my high school Bible club, Youth Alive. So, I said yes. It was a simple, naïve yes.

I wish I could tell you this pattern continued, but I can’t. Not really.

In the 17 years since, I’ve felt other nudges to lead. And instead of embracing it, I’ve wrestled with the doubt I can’t lead because I’m a woman.

In 2003 after two years of theology classes and ministry training, I stood one exam away from becoming a certified minister. But I didn’t take that next step.

Growing up women’s ministry looked like quilting and gossip, missions bake sales and pot lucks. I don’t think I’m alone in wanting to see educated, Spirit-led women step into their God-given passions for leading and teaching.

A gap does exist in our churches, and it’s a leadership gap. For too long, women like me have shied away from their callings.

In the churches I’ve attended since, I’ve often wished I could join the men’s Bible studies. I’ve pined for a women’s ministry that goes deeper than Pinterest and shopping. I’ve hungered for a profound encounter with the Word of God and sensed a gap.

But I never saw myself as a leader that could bridge that gap. For years, fear of judgment and rejection has pinned me behind the scenes.

I’ve wrestled with the Church’s split view on women in ministry, and I’ve been scared of getting it wrong.

But I’ve found I don’t have to look further than Jesus for permission. I love how Jesus empowered every woman he met.

Slowly I’m sloughing off this stubborn, subtle idea men are better suited to lead. Slowly I’m learning to use my voice for God’s glory.

Organizations like Christine Caine’s Propel Women, which launched Monday, help. Propel casts a vision to help “women internalize a leadership identity.”

Caine, the founder of the A21 Campaign to end human trafficking, knows a thing or two about living unstoppable. In her book, Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to Do, she gives us this nugget.

“Nothing about my birth—or yours—was random or accidental. I was born for this time—and so were you. We were each chosen for a particular, cosmically important task that can be done by no one else.”

I feel my old bravado returning as God awakens in me old dreams, dreams so big only a kid can believe. He’s stripping away my grown-up perspectives and giving me the faith eyes of a child.

I’m starting to see that all things really are possible to the one who believes, (Mark 9:23). I’m starting to believe that God can use me—even me.

And he can even use you.

I’m steeping my mind daily in this truth, wrapping myself in the identity that I’m a chosen—in spite of my gender.

I’m learning to live with passion and lean into a calling so real fear and self-doubt can’t shake it.

When Spiritual Growth Hurts

Josh

We had finished lunch, and my son slid down from his booster chair and took two steps from the table before he started howling in pain.

I noticed agony written across his face.

I carried him to the couch and cradled him in my arms for several minutes. He didn’t want to walk or put any weight on his left leg. As tears fell down his face he pointed to his left kneecap

The pain sent him back to the couch all afternoon. He tried to hobble away a few times, but he never made it far.

I didn’t worry about it too much. Somewhere along the way I had read about growing pains and knew a growth plate lived near the kneecap.

As we walked down the stairs the next morning, his hand in mine, I reassured him, “Those were probably just growing pains.”

And in that moment I heard the Lord whispering the same thing to me. These pains of the past few months have been growing pains.

My spiritual bones have stretched forth in all directions. And it hurts. It explains the bone-deep ache and soreness I’ve felt the last few months.

But pain often points to growth. It’s evidence that we’re moving forward. Growth shows us we’re living, and I’m trying to welcome life every chance I have, even when it’s mixed with pain.

Sometimes growth can only be appreciated in retrospect, when heads lean against door frames and pencil lines sketch the progress.

Parents know when a growth spurt threatens. They see the ramp up in hunger just like I noticed my son devour three pieces of egg casserole that morning.

If you’re in the middle of a season of growth and pain, increase your intake of the Word of God. You’re going to need it.

And take some time to relish the fact that God, “the author and finisher of your faith” (Heb. 12:3), is growing you.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns,” (Philippians 1:6).

Five Things I Want My Kids to Know on MLK Day

Mugos

I’m a white woman raising a black niece and two biracial sons, but we don’t talk about race at home.

We’ve shielded them from the recent racial tensions in our country. We don’t talk about Ferguson at the dinner table.

My five-year old says daddy is “brown,” and that sums up about all he knows. We’ve chosen to let our kids develop their own self-concepts without the labels of “white,” or “black.” Because last time I checked my sons are both.

My kids don’t recognize skin color as relevant information to any conversation. They don’t see race as a differentiator.

I don’t think my children are the only ones who are naïve to race. And this gives me so much hope. Without the color concern, racism could die in their generation.

It sounds so idealistic until I take a walk with my niece and hear her startled questions.

When I ask her if she knows what race means, she hasn’t a clue. I get the same answer when I ask her if she remembers Martin Luther King, Jr.

Apparently, she wasn’t listening to me this time last year. So we walk and talk. And I begin to grasp for the right words.

I don’t want her to live with her head in the sand. I want her to know about the Civil Rights Movement without reliving the pain or implanting fear.

We talk about segregation and how grandma wasn’t allowed to attend school with black children when she was a girl.

“But that’s wrong, auntie,” she says, and I nod and segue into why MLK day is a holiday. We talk about Jim Crow laws and Rosa Parks.

But that’s not all I tell her.

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  • I tell her that she lives in a better world than the one I grew up in, where subtleties of racism existed everywhere and were felt by everyone.
  •  I tell her the hue of her skin doesn’t mean anything in terms of what she can accomplish.
  •  I explain how she can live beyond others’ preconceived ideas and that I want her to live untethered by conventions. May she never allow herself to be defined by a “gap,” whether it’s race or gender.
  • I tell her racism still exists and like any other sin it begs for grace, redemption and a love that “covers a multitude of sin,” (1 Peter 4:8).
  • I want her to know that racism isn’t an American problem but a human problem and that there’s a cure. “There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:28 NLT).

 

She listens, and I see the question sprout on her face. She wants to know more about grandma and segregation. “But that happened so long ago,” she concludes.

I start to explain how 60 years ago wasn’t that long, but I realize that to her, it feels like ancient history.

And this, too, gives me hope.

 

That Time I Thought I had Lice—How to Overcome Irrational Fears

Photo via Creative Commons, Flickr

Photo via Creative Commons, Flickr

It all started when we had head lice one summer.

Yeah, now you’re feeling a little itchy, aren’t you? One mention of the word, lice, makes all of us scratch our heads.

Once, in college, a friend of mine called me to tell me she had contracted the little buggers. Since we had hung out nonstop the weekend before, I instantly felt my scalp crawl.

I washed everything that could fit in the machine and doused the rest in pesticides. I shampooed my hair way more than the bottle of RID recommended.

Then a few days later, she calls and says it was a false alarm. She never had lice. We laughed about it that day and learned the power of suggestion.

So, a decade later when my family picked up a case of head lice, I probably shouldn’t have freaked out. But the ick factor pushed me into the irrational fear zone.

We did the normal things combined with some obsessive combing. Just to be sure I hired professional nit pickers, (yes, that’s a real thing) and we came up clean.

Except, I didn’t believe it.

And that’s the thing with irrational fear. Once it’s burrowed its way into your mind, logic doesn’t turn it off.

I kept combing and checking my head in mirrors. Months later I had a friend at church check my head. Five months later I made my mom look.

I worried the worst at night. And when I’m really stressed out I still have lice nightmares.

So, yeah, the fear of lice seems a little silly, but I wanted to tell my story because you might have your own fear that won’t evacuate.

I have another friend who grew up on a steady diet of the TV show, Cops, and today she rarely feels safe in new places. I know women who are afraid to walk alone even in safe neighborhoods.

So, if this hits home for you today, know that God doesn’t want you to live in fear.

I asked God to deliver me from my lice phobia, and he did. Worship and filling my mind with the beauty of God cured me.

And this article helped. In it John Piper says, “Most of us suffer from all-consuming puny problems because we are not enthralled by a great God or swept up in any magnificent cause.”

Piper says freedom from irrational fear comes from filling our minds with “big and powerful realities.”

So if you think there’s a razor blade in your banana or battle some other neurotic fear, take Piper’s advice.

“Don’t tell him the razor isn’t there. Take him for a walk around the lake. Show him the squirrels chasing, the robins working, the fuzzy tassels on the elm. Recite to him some splendid poem that blew away the clouds for you today. Exult with him in some promise…“The hand of our God is for good upon them that seek him” (Ezra 8:22). God may grant in a year or two that he realize there are bananas on his cereal—and have been for months!”

When the Bible Seems Boring

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Some days my eyes read the words of my Bible and comprehend the meaning, but my heart fails to believe. I yawn my way through.

Other days that familiar spark of faith happens. I read and truly believe the miracles on the page might mean miracles still happen for me.

Today I read, “But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears,” (Psalms 18:6). And that wow moment came.

The Psalmist’s story is my story. God has rescued me from some pretty deep pits.

I’m working on reading the Bible with more wonder. I’m asking for eyes to see. If we’re reading it without the wow factor, maybe, we’re reading it wrong?

We have to still ourselves focus our minds and wait for the awe. Perhaps God would move our hearts to revelation if we spent more time reveling in his Book?

Yeah, I know it’s a really old book and can be difficult to understand. Read it anyway. God already sent you the best teacher. (Joh 16:13)

Sometimes I have to put myself in the scene, feel the emotions and visualize the reactions and the pure reality of the moment to truly understand.

This is a type of meditation, a longing for a deeper understanding–for a more pure knowing. Sometimes answers come only through study and seeking.

Sometimes the awe won’t come and questions linger. What do you do then? Practice the 99% of truth you already have. Obey. Sometimes the only way to grow in knowledge of him is to obey him.

Meet with him. Meditate in his book. Then you’ll know him.

May you seek wonder in God’s Word. May God give you ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart that understands.

Because as Albert Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”

Love in the Scribbles

Sammyscribble

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This is my youngest taking the opportunity to doodle in my journal while I gathered laundry.

I stared down at his soft curls and realized this is what we must look like to God when we take the pen of our lives and try and write our own stories.

We might hold the book upside down and tear the pages. We might draw all over our hands and feet. The best we can do is scribble on the page.

Still God’s crazy about us, just like I’m enamored over the inked drawings in my journals. They remind me of little hands who try to imitate me.

Sometimes we grow up a bit. We may even let God write a sidebar or two in our lives, the small stories. We might fight to maintain control of the main story. But the margins we freely give to God.

Just think what would it look like if we let God beyond the margins. What if we gave him more space to create in us, to recreate us?

What if we gave God the entire book of our lives to write what he pleases? Sure, he would write in more danger and kick us out of our comfort zones, but he would pen more adventure for us, too.

I’m certain he would map out more ways for us to love people. He would give us eyes to see the least, the low-down and broken, and in doing so we would see Jesus.

He would unite his church and the power struggles and insecurities would evaporate as Love himself perfected us.