Unscientific research proves that women can only be amazing at two things

Ok, girls, today’s post is gonna be short and sweet because 1) It’s my birthday, and I can feel my brain cells shrinking even as we speak.  As you know, this happens with age.  2) It’s 10:45 p.m., and whatever brain cells I have left are brushing their teeth, putting their pajamas on, and getting ready to go to bed!  In case you missed my next to last post, this is a continuation of my series of little tips and ideas for making life just a bit easier.

I love ideas and philosophical conversations and all manner of verbose speculation about life in general.  However, most things shared during these high-brow pow wows (ooh, I like the sound of that!) find themselves lost somewhere in the deep recesses of my cranium (much like the due dates on my most recent batch of library materials, ha ha).  But once in a while, someone will share a rare bit of wisdom that has a lasting impact on my life and revolutionizes the way I think.  Boy, don’t you LOVE it when this happens??!!

Today, I am going to share one of those mind-blowing revelations with you.  Are you ready for this??

Here it is:  Generally speaking, most women can excel in only two major areas of life.  When you add a third major task or responsibility to a woman’s load, her life will often feel burdensome and overwhelming.  So, I am sure you are wondering how I know this is true.  And I would have to say that it’s because one of my best friend’s husbands told me so.  And because his sister (who is a registered nurse, yes, a medical professional!) told HIM so.  And because when he told ME what his sister told HIM, my mind was like totally blown.  And I knew it was true.  See, that’s how I know it’s true!  And now YOU know why I had to title this post, “Unscientific research proves that women can only be amazing at two things.” #sigh #deepbreath

So, anyways, think about that for a spell.  Let it sink in.  If this is true of you, and I know it is since UNSCIENTIFIC research PROVES it, then you sort of have to pick and choose what your priorities are.  You can be an awesome mom and a superior housekeeper, but chances are, you won’t rival Rachel Rae in the kitchen department.  You can rock out at the office or any other place of employment and be a superstar at the gym, but your mothering might take a back seat.  You can be Natural Crunchy Earth Mother and The Happy Homeschooler, but your housekeeping skills might be a tad subpar (Hmmmm, y’all don’t know anyone who fits THAT description, do you??)

I think the reason this concept changed my life was because for the first time, I gave myself permission to be mediocre or just downright bad at certain things.  It was freeing to know that I could pursue my top priorities wholeheartedly and assign other things to the back burner, so to speak.  If you’re a perfectionist like me, I hope this speaks to you and gives you a little more breathing room.  You don’t have to be Miss Magnificent in every way possible.  Just pick your two things and run with them, girl!  The mismatched socks and disorganized linen closet will take care of themselves.  And it’s ok.  It’s really OK! (Because I said so and because unscientific research PROVES it!)  :)

 

 

 

Why the first two chapters of Genesis matter

Public service announcement:  We interrupt our previously scheduled programming for this Deep Thought…

Ok, so this isn’t exactly advice or an idea to make your life easier, but when a Deep Thought strikes, I have difficulty dismissing it without nary a word.  So, here’s a word.  Or two.  Or maybe more than two :)  

 

For the past few weeks, my discipleship group at church has been discussing the impact of naturalism versus supernaturalism as a prevailing worldview.  And for the first time in my life, I think I actually GET IT!!  I’ve gone to church my entire life.  I’m pretty sure I cut my first tooth gnawing on the cover of that sweet children’s Bible with the picture of Jesus holding those little kids on his lap!  I was in private Christian schools K-12 and graduated from a conservative Christian college.  What is it about the Biblical account of Creation that I could possibly have missed up until this point??

 

Sitting with my discipleship group on Wednesday, it finally hit me after all these years and I realized why Creationism matters, why it’s not just a side note in Christianity, something to occasionally trot out for debate, or just an issue that should be quickly set aside again as to avoid controversy.   Why do I consider it to be so integral?  Following all these long years in church and Bible classes, I now realize that without a Biblical understanding of creation, it is virtually impossible to fully experience the power and majesty and love of almighty God.  Without Genesis 1 and 2 as it is written and plainly understood, there is no Psalm 8:3-5:

“When I consider your heavens,
    the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
    which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
    the son of man that you care for him?”

There is no Psalm 19:1-4:

“How clearly the sky reveals God’s glory!
    How plainly it shows what he has done!
 Each day announces it to the following day;
    each night repeats it to the next.
No speech or words are used,
    no sound is heard;
 yet their message goes out to all the world
    and is heard to the ends of the earth.”

 

And there is no Psalm 148.  Without Genesis 1 & 2, we could probably just delete this chapter of the Bible altogether!

“Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
 Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all you stars of light!
 Praise Him, you heavens of heavens,
And you waters above the heavens!

 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
 He also established them forever and ever;
He made a decree which shall not pass away.

 Praise the Lord from the earth,
You great sea creatures and all the depths;
 Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
 Mountains and all hills;
Fruitful trees and all cedars;
 Beasts and all cattle;
Creeping things and flying fowl;
 Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;
 Both young men and maidens;
Old men and children.

 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above the earth and heaven.
 And He has exalted the horn of His people,
The praise of all His saints—
Of the children of Israel,
A people near to Him.

Praise the Lord!”

If the world and all that is in it, if we as a people were not intentionally fashioned and formed by the sovereign hand of God, then what are we?  Children of chance, people and matter perhaps originally set in motion by some Higher Power, but certainly not planned or intentionally designed for the glory and purposes and pleasure of Someone who knew our name before time began.  Regardless of whether we are products of a godless random, evolutionary process or as some Christians believe, a God-inspired random, evolutionary process, there is  a certain futility and hopelessness inherent in a human experience that would deny the direct, purposeful involvement of an all-powerful, all-loving Creator.

 If God wasn’t present in superintending every aspect of the created order, then what hope do I have of him directing or caring about the events of my everyday life?  And if I don’t serve a God like this, then what motivates me to praise Him?  Not only is my perception of God as intentionally loving and infinitely sovereign severely limited by a denial or partial denial of Creation, but my ability to worship Him, to convey his full worth, to understand and declare His glory is also cut short by this philosophical misstep.  Do not be deceived!  Ideas matter. Theology shapes you.  What you believe about life, the nature of life, and why and how we were created will ultimately impact what you feel and how you will live.  As my pastor is fond of saying, “When you change what you believe, you change how you feel. And when you change how you feel, you change how you act.”

 

Today I am overwhelmingly grateful to be known and loved by a God who leaves nothing to chance, a God who formed me in the womb and planned the days of my life before one of them came to be, a God who would not hide himself from mankind but has made himself plain to us through his Word and through Creation. This is my hope, my confidence, my whole reason for living.And it’s why Genesis 1 & 2 matter to me. 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, if you want MY opinion…

For better or worse, one thing I’m known for (sorta, kinda, maybe, ok – DEFINITELY!) is having an opinion and dispensing advice. I actually had a friend tell me this week that I should start a blog devoted to little ideas for making life easier. And that’s when I confessed my strange, odd little dream of someday having my own advice column. As I lay in bed contemplating my little Ann-Lander-like aspirations, I realized that in this day and age of blogging and the internet, almost anything is possible in the world of writing! I can have my own advice column if I want it, gosh darn it! There may only be two people in the whole entire world who want to plumb the depths of my vast wealth of wisdom and worldly understanding, but hey, who’s keeping count?? (Mom, are you out there? I need at least one, so don’t fail me now! :) )

So, I’m up for a little experiment on my blog here. I’ll be posting ideas, tips, life-hacks, and all manner of unsolicited advice for a few weeks – just to see if there is any interest. Also, I’m up for replying to specific questions anyone might have about homeschooling, mothering, marriage, natural health, relationships, and life in general (Just don’t ask me about gardening or sewing or underwater basket weaving, as my experience is severely limited in those particular areas of domesticity!).

Ok, it’s time for my first tip!

#Ahem #clearsthroat #peersovertopsofspectacles

CHANGE YOUR DAILY ROUTINE, CHANGE YOUR LIFE

I read recently that if you want to change your life, you have to change something in your daily routine. Ok, so I’ve always wanted a clean house! On any given day, if someone stopped by my house unannounced, they would assume that my house was inhabited by an unsupervised horde of feral preschoolers. Seriously. We’re talking dirty dishes piled high in the sink, remnants of the previous meal strewn on the countertops, toys & random items of clothing littering the floor, unmade beds, papers here, there, and everywhere! It was a disaster! I cried. I prayed. I hired an organizer. I Pinterested. I made lists and charts until I was blue in the face! Nothing seemed to tame the clutter and chaos surrounding me.

And then, ta da!! Enter ROUTINE! (and a little kick in the pants from overnight guests coming to visit!)

Following a serious whole house pick-up and cleaning (compliments of my bi-weekly cleaning lady – my homeschooling luxury!), my husband and I did a little brainstorming about how to make this a daily reality. We came up with a little “His & Hers” list.

1) This is what I do: Set aside the hour before my husband gets home to pick up the house with the kids. (They do the upstairs so I can work in peace and quiet on the main floor. Can I get an Amen on that one??!!)

2) This is what he does: Tell me every.single.day how great the house looks. My preferred form of currency has always been praise & recognition & ego stroking – lots of ego stroking! If my man forgets to mention it, I just say, “Honey, can you please tell me that the house looks amazing??” Subtle, I know! On weekends when he is home, my husband also helps us with the routine.

And that, my friends, is it! No complicated schedules, no bins & baskets & expensive organizers, no mind-blowing tips from Pinterest…just one simple change to my DAILY routine! This would work for almost any habit you want to establish (exercising, daily time with the Lord, reading to your children, organizing your photos, etc).

Just stick to these guidelines:

1) Make it daily – No skipping, even on weekends!
2) Make it doable – If you are easily overwhelmed, start with 5-10 minutes. You can always add more time later
3) Make it “de-stressed” – The routine is more important than the immediate outcome. Instead of saying, “We have to get this WHOLE house picked up,” I just work slowly & steadily, knowing that the routine will work its magic over time.

Ok, so that’s my first tiny tidbit of advice. If you like what you see here and think it might be of help to anyone else, please repost the link on your Facebook feed! And check back later this week for more unbridled wit and wisdom from Yours Truly….

I’m hearing voices…

All my life I’ve been hearing these little voices in my brain and for the most part, largely ignoring them. And no, in case you’re concerned, these aren’t the voices that tell me I actually originated from the distant planet Plursupious, that the neighbors are really Soviet spies, and that I ought to be wearing a metal colander on my head to protect myself from an impending nuclear apocalypse (No, I turned THOSE voices off a loooonnnngggg time ago! :) ).

For better or for worse, the voices I routinely ignore are much bossier and far less entertaining than those OTHER voices. It’s as if someone’s nagging yet benevolent mother has taken up permanent residence inside my brain. I’m hearing things like, “Are you really gonna stay on Facebook all day long?” and “Get your behind out of that warm bed! It’s already 7 a.m.!” or “For the love of God, don’t make another list! Just go play a game with that child.” Well, ok, I guess the voice is more nagging than it is benevolent ;)

Yes, while others may enjoy the relative simplicity of quiet thoughts or occasionally no thoughts at all (Some men claim that this is actually possible!), a great deal of my inner dialogue seems to be a steady stream of pithy advice and well-meaning directives. And it never occured to me until recently that I’ve been doing myself a HUGE disservice by regularly disregarding much of that guidance.

I’m an adult now, right?? And gosh darn it, that means I get to do whatever it is I want to do! If it strikes my fancy, I get to stay up until 1 a.m., and nobody is gonna tell me otherwise! When one serving of ice cream isn’t enough and I decide I need another, I just dare someone to try and stop me! And that little expenditure at the mall that really didn’t fit into our budget? Pshaw! I’m a grown up, and I work hard. I deserve a treat every once in a while! So, back off, little voice. I’m doing my thing, and there ain’t nothing you can do about it!

And then I opened up my Bible and read this,

“Does not wisdom call out?
Does not understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way,
where the paths meet, she takes her stand;
beside the gate leading into the city,
at the entrance, she cries aloud:
‘To you, O people, I call out;
I raise my voice to all mankind.
You who are simple, gain prudence;
you who are foolish, set your hearts on it
Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say;
I open my lips to speak what is right…
Choose my instruction instead of silver,
knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is more precious than rubies,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.’” (from Proverbs 8)

Whoa! Ok, that’s like ouch and double ouch! Who would have guessed that all these years of fancy-free and footloose living were actually symptomatic of a heart problem? I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that these little voices (or thoughts, really) are direct instructions from the Lord. I don’t think this is usually the Holy Spirit convicting me or warning me of outright sin. BUT! I do think the bossy “mini mom” I’ve been so seldom heeding could very well be the voice of wisdom.

Is it possible that by conditioning myself to easily silence and avoid Wisdom’s voice, I’ve been unconsciously training myself to do the same to the Lord? I don’t know about you, but it’s not all too often that Jesus comes to me with flaming signs and wonders, thundering directives, and written words hand-chiseled in stone (Ok, so he never comes to me like that!). Like Elijah, I find God whispering to me in the quiet places, in the silent words of Scripture, in a still small voice (Yes, an inaudible one, in case my Baptist friends are wondering!).

There is nothing in life that is quite as satifying as discerning the voice of God and doing His will. This week, I’m purposing to retrain myself to listen and obey. And for me, that means tuning into the voice of Wisdom, getting off Facebook at a reasonable hour, and yes, even waking up at 6:17 a.m. to write this blog post! Like every good kindergarten teacher is fond of saying, it time for me to put on my “listening ears.” Right?

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening!”

When you can’t hold on to Jesus

Y’all wanna know something strange about me??? Every fall, without exception, my brain turns to mush. I’m totally not kidding! I can mark my calendar by this strange phenomenon. Sometime in October, I start losing much of what I consider my “normal” personality (which really isn’t all that normal, but let’s just run with the word, shall we?). A-ny-ways…As I was saying, I get really weird at that time of year. I lose much of my ability to think clearly. I forget stuff really easily. It becomes extremely difficult for me to string words together in a cohesive fashion, which is why I usually don’t write much in the fall and early winter. Reading (which is usually like my #1 hobby, being the nerd that I am!), well, reading isn’t much easier than writing during those months. Every time I pick up a book, I come to the sad realization that I have the attention span of a 3-year-old in a candy store and the focusing abilities of a drunken frat boy. It ain’t pretty is all I’m sayin’!

I’m not exactly sure how long this weirdness has been going on, but I know that even in college I acted a bit strange in the colder months (Stranger than I normally did, that is…We’re talking about a girl who wore clunky Mary Janes, frilly socks, and a dress with wheelbarrows on it IN COLLEGE! Yes, I was quite the odd bird.) It definitely worsened after I started having children (The thing in the fall, not the wheelbarrow-dress-wearing propensity) I’m pretty sure the extreme sleep deprivation & a steady diet of Cheerios didn’t help matters any :)). In fact, during many of those early motherhood days, I would get full-out depressed for at least three months every single fall. Like lay-on-the-floor-and-cry-your-eyes-out-because-life-stinks-and-will-never-ever-get-better-and-here-take-some-Zoloft depressed! With my Paleo style diet and L-theanine (yay for this miracle supplement!), I don’t go there anymore. Thank you, sweet Jesus! But I still basically forfeit my personality from mid-October until sometime in January.

As you can imagine, this little interlude has a profound affect on my normal Bible reading routines. Over the past year, I’d become an avid Bible reader (Not because I’m so disciplined, mind you. This was a total Jesus thing!). But like any other book, the Bible must be READ, which is honestly almost beyond my grasp in the fall. With the words dancing in my head & flitting around like so many sparrows, you can only imagine how much I get out of Bible reading in the fall.

And here’s where I’ll make a confession.

This year, I almost stopped reading my Bible altogether for the better part of about two months. But by the grace of God, I didn’t stop praying. However, let me assure you that when I use the term “praying,” I’m taking liberties here! In October, I started feeling as if God wanted me to commit to 60 days of prayer. I would do something I’d never done before. I would get down on the floor and pray every single morning, first thing. And here’s where it gets tent-revival-snake-charming-healing-service weird…You all ready for this? I would actually lay facedown on the floor when I prayed. I wanted to put myself in a physical position that would remind me of how desperate and dependent I was on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh, how little I knew of desperation and dependence at the beginning of my little prayer experiment! I was secretly hoping that my daily prayer would cause Jesus to turn me into something of a June Cleaver or Martha Stewart or maybe a divine combination of the two. I’d admit my need for him, and He would do His magic, which would totally be glorifying to him, right? Because as we all know, He is most glorified by organized closets, perfectly decorated mantels, and freshly starched linens! Can I get an “Amen”??

Well, that didn’t happen. It really didn’t happen. What happened was me lying on the carpeted floor of my bathroom and uttering barely coherant, pathetic excuses for prayers. My exhausted mind conjured up simple phrases like “Jesus, help me” and “Let this day be for your glory” and “May I live for your kingdom and not my own.” Honestly, that’s all I could manage. I didn’t pray through the hallowed A-C-T-S of prayer acronym. A few days, I tried to follow the pattern of the Lord’s Prayer, but even that was too much for my stupor-laden, cold-weather brain. I would end each day’s “prayer” (again, I’m using the term loosely!) with a specific appeal for the salvation of three dear people I’ve come to know and love over the years. And that was it.

And you know what? Jesus didn’t make me a better housewife. He didn’t even make me a better mother. He didn’t make me more organized or disciplined or amazing. My children were still beating me out of bed in the morning and scrounging around for cold cereal. My laundry room was still piled high with unwashed clothing. I was still going to bed at ridiculously late hours after having surfed the internet for much too long.

No, Jesus didn’t change any of THAT. All He did was hold on to me when I could barely hold on to Him. All He did was teach me that my performance means little to Him and my dependence means everything. He reminded me of what I sort of already knew – that His love is unconditional, that He is crazy about me, that He pursues me even in the darkest of times, that there is absolutely nothing I can do to make Him love me more and certainly nothing I can do to make Him love me any less.

The Bible says “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.” This might sound hopeless to you, but lying there on the bathroom floor, I discovered that God seeks after me. Even when my attempts to read the Bible are a huge failure and my prayers are little more than incoherant pleas, He keeps me in the hollow of His hand. He loves me. He sings over me with delight. He holds onto me when I cannot hold on to Him. What a Savior! What a Friend! I am His, and He is mine. The strength of our relationship rests not on my performance but always only on His faithfulness. And not even starched linens can rival a discovery like that!

So, I’m a stay-at-home-nerd…

If you know me at all, you know that I really love suburban living! What’s not to love about a Starbucks on every corner, a grocery store within 5 minutes of any local dwelling, and a neighborhood with a decidedly Mayberry flare (complete with its own Halloween parade and annual pool parties)?? I mean, this is where it’s at, girlfriend! While all you country girls out there recover from the shock inflicted by the mere thought of prolific coffee-wielding establishments and neighbors within shouting distance, I’ll go on to my next point…
 

Which is to say that some things about suburban life are hard and actually sort of stink. Like not being able to drive anywhere from 4-6 p.m. without being assaulted by massive amounts of humanity, all trying to do the same thing you’re trying to do – simply get from Point A to Point B. Yes, the traffic can be ridiculous up in here. This is true. And it’s also true that image is everything in the suburbs. The Botox clinics are almost as common as the Starbucks. The hedges are trimmed with kitchen shears. The coats all say “North Face.” When I moved here, I felt like I’d fallen off the back of a pickle truck! I’m still working on that. Let’s just say my grooming rituals multiplied indefinitely when I moved to the suburbs. We’ll leave it at that, ‘kay?
 

Anyways, without exception, the one thing about the suburbs that really drives me crazy is the pace of life. Seriously! When the world is at your fingertips, and the library, the grocery store, and the park are literally within a five minute drive of the house, there is an insatiable urge to constantly be on the go. Run to Kroger and pick up some fruit? No problem! Drop off those old toys at Goodwill? Let’s go! Sign the kids up for yet another homeschool class? Why not?!! As long as it’s not during morning or evening rush hour, there is no limit to the number of quick trips and easy outings available to the average stay-at-home, suburban mom.
 

I’d lived here for over four years before I realized this lifestyle was literally crushing me! This might sound like an old-fashioned, Leave it to Beaver sentiment, but my full time job is managing this home and caring for & educating my children. And I have to be HERE to do that! I did the math and realized that a simple one hour errand or appointment can cut an average of 3-4 hours out of my day. And anyone who has ever taken four children to a doctor’s appointment (or the grocery store or the library or anywhere!) will automatically know that these outings do not energize me! I come home feeling like my face is about to fall off, like my head might just explode. I do not shimmy back into a freshly starched apron, ready to tackle the housework with enthusiasm. I slump down on the couch and bury myself in Facebook while the children eat cold cereal for lunch. People, that’s just the cold, hard truth right there!
 

These deceptively simple outings were popping up several times a week on my calendar, and they were devouring any opportunity I had to settle into my life at home and actually enjoy my full-time “career” choice. I was impatient with my children. I was exhausted and distracted. I was terribly behind in my housework. I recently washed dirty laundry I’d not seen since late spring of 2013. I’m totally not kidding about that. It was scary stuff, man!
 

So, what did I do? I stopped. I got off the suburban merry-go-round, hamster wheel, rat race…whatever you want to call it. I just stopped. Over Christmas break, with my husband at home with us for a few weeks, I realized how much better I felt just staying home. I’m now scheduling a minimum of four days at home per WEEK, and it has made me so much happier! I can leisurely do the housework without feeling a time crunch. I can sit down with my children and play a game because guess what?? We don’t have to go anywhere or do anything except BE HERE in this moment – living life, breathing, enjoying each other. Actually staying at home is a novel idea, one that I scorned for years as old-fashioned and only for the most extreme, Titus 2:4-5 quoting homeschool mothers. But alas, this concept of being a stay-at-home mom that actually stays at home, well, it’s rocking my world!
 

So, my name is Grace Johansen, and I like staying home. There! I said it! Now, excuse me while I go put on an apron & matching high-heel pumps…

Waves of Grace

Disclaimer: This is not a rage-against-the-machine blog post. This is not a personal vendetta against capitalism or even necessarily materialism. This is not an anti-Christmas or a why-I-think-we-should-never-buy-gifts-at-the-holidays diatribe. This is just me thinking out loud, pondering the realities of my life, wondering why it is that the more I buy, the more I feel I need and the less grateful I am for what I already have. That’s it. Just me unplugged, being my random, philosophical, and wordy self.
 

So, with that out of the way, I guess I can start at the very beginning. As many of you already know, I took a little break from buying clothes back in the summer. An unexpected result of that was the development of what I like to call my “Praise Reflex.” (which I wrote a post about a month or so ago and would totally link to, only I’m not very technological and have to look it up online every time I do it, which would be distracting right now…so, yeah, if you wanna read it, look it up :) ).
 

Anyways, over the Thanksgiving holiday (of all times!), I had an amazing experience. I went shopping (thrifting, actually, which is like shopping, only a hundred times FUNNER! yes, that’s a word). For the first time in my life, I was completely at peace in the store, in the dressing room, and everywhere in-between. There was no inner compulsion to buy anything. No pressing sense of need. No overwhelming desire to acquire. There was just peace, an almost physical sensation of contentment, and a full awareness of the goodness of God. It was an amazing experience. For the first time in my life, I felt as if materialism had lost its grip on me. My heart felt free and light as a feather!
 

And then I started Christmas shopping.
 

Within the short span of two weeks, I felt myself drawn into the abyss once again. My “Thank you God” list got shorter. My “I need more stuff” list got longer. And I wasn’t even buying things for myself! I was buying gifts for my children, our extended family, my dear friends. This was supposed to expand my heart, not make it smaller. I assume this isn’t true of everyone, but apparently, my wallet is somehow inextricably linked to my heart. I guess the old saying is true, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Ok, so that’s not an old saying. That’s the gospel truth, straight out of Scripture. So, maybe it does apply in some part to everyone.
 

As my treasure found its way to Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Christianbook.com, Snapfish.com (yes, I am ridiculously fanatical about online shopping!), my heart found its way there too. When I realized that something inside me was going all wrong, I took a little “Christmas Break” – three days off the internet, off Facebook, off planning or buying or doing for Christmas. Three days just to think and pray and not buy. The following is what I wrote in my journal on Day Two ——-
 

“I don’t know what it is about the constant habit of purchasing and perpetually acquiring more, more, more. But it has a way of shrinking the soul. When I choose NOT to buy, not to add to the ever-burgeoning coffer of “stuff,” my heart grows. There is a stirring within me, like the warm breath of sunshine in spring, awakening and melting a world long frozen beneath layers of ice and debris. First, a little trickle, the melting of greed’s relentless clutches and then a steady stream, the goodness of God washing over my soul.
 

And eyes to see it
Arms to receive it…
A live-in-the-moment, fully present, daily awareness of God’s most gracious provision.
 

Finally, I stand on the seashore, hear the pounding of the surf, and in my heart, I know what is coming next.
 

Wave after wave
Mercy and grace
God’s unrelenting kindness crashing over me
Like the rising tide
 

Completely overcome by joy, I let myself fall, plunge to the sand, delighted like a child at the ocean, content for the water to wash over me. I struggle to stand, lift my hands in praise to the One whose love is a never-ending flood. And BOOM! Down I go again, swept up and bowled-over by grace. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind but now I see.
 

I SEE!
 

The blinders are gone. The fog has lifted. My eyes are wide-open, and I see the goodness of God. Yes, it was always there, but my relentless pursuit of STUFF blinded me to it. How could I see the goodness of God when my vision was continuously filled with only need and want? Where is the goodness of God in the midst of a shopping list, a to-do list, an I-want list? There is no realization of God’s limitless provision, only my own pepetual feeling of never having enough, never doing enough, never being enough.”
 

And that’s it. That’s all I wrote in my journal. It’s a rather unsatifactory ending, wouldn’t you say? After my little 3-day break from Christmas, there were still some loose ends to tie up, some gifts to purchase, some money to be spent. Becoming a hermit and pledging to never buy anything ever again isn’t exactly an option right now.
 

So, what’s the answer? What’s a girl to do? Personally, I’d like to end this blog post with a neat and tidy closure, a simple reassurance, a 5-step plan to contentment. But honestly, I’m getting to the point in my walk with Christ where I’m beginning to realize that there are rarely any quick and easy answers – just long processes, a slow undoing of my old ways of thinking and living, a gradual awakening to the REAL life for which I was created. The answers aren’t easy, the path isn’t always clear, but the Companionship is trustworthy. Christ is in me and for me and with me, as He is with you. And so,”I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” It is my prayer that the same is true of you.