What are you longing for?

Okay, so I’ve been a little absent on the blog lately. Friends, I love writing blog posts, but lately I’ve just felt a little too overwhelmed in this little task. And I think that’s okay. Well, I know it’s okay. And I’m working to not feel guilty about it.

So today I have the privilege of taking care of one very sweet little girl named Malena. She’s almost 14 months and is super fun. She’s napping right now, so I’m stealing away some blogging time.

To talk about a book that I am still reading, Abundant Simplicity, by Jan Johnson.

In the third chapter she talks about Intentionality. And as I read this before bed last night, I was hit hard. She asks the question, “what are you longing for?” and challenges her readers to think through what their actions, choices, activities say about this.

And I had to confess that lately I have not been intentional about my time. Some of this is due to a busy season at the church, and I know that and I am choosing not to feel guilty about that.

But at home… I have all too often turned on the T.V. or stayed online WAY too long, simply because it’s habit. I’m not making a conscious choice… I’m not choosing T.V. because it is my favorite thing… I’m just operating on auto pilot. Jan writes,

The opposite of living intentionally as a response to God’s longing is living on autopilot, which means doing whatever occurs to us without pausing to consider what we really want. It seems easier to do what we’ve always done or what everyone else does. Even if you learn to live intentionally, expect that in a time of crisis you’ll switch to old automatic pilot choices. Plan ahead for this to happen and be vigilant.

And I think this is where intentionality becomes hard. It’s a bit easier with conscious choices, but with those ingrained habits we often don’t recognize until we’re an hour into it… that’s where it gets hard. I shared a few weeks ago that I was working hard to limit the role of T.V. in my life and to think less about what I wear each day. These have been increasingly challenging. I’ve been amazed at how easy I slip back into bad habits without even realizing it.

This month I have challenged our kids at Immanuel to memorize Psalm 19:14

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

And these very familiar words have convicted me. Especially during this advent season. Brandon and I have reached a milestone this year… for the first time in our 6 years of marriage, we will be spending our Christmas at home, with one another (and perhaps some friends). We are dissappointed not to be with family, but we’re also so excited to have this special time. And I have found myself lost as to what to do. Advent has suddenly seemed much longer than usual, and since we will no longer be making a 10 day trip, we find ourselves with far less stress.

And I find myself with more time than typical. And that is where intentionality becomes so crucial. I am preparing for the fourth time (in as many years) to celebrate Christmas without our child. And I am feeling tremendous peace about this and, honestly, an anticipation that soon our lives will change.

But I would be lying if I said this peace wasn’t also accompanied by tears.

And so comes back to the “what are you longing for?” question. I have been reading through the book of Hebrews and have been continually challenged that if I’m not careful, I can choose my baby over my Savior.

I can focus all of my energy on anticipating the coming of my child, not the Savior of the world.

So this week I am working to intentionally anticipate the coming of our Savior on Christmas Day. Of course I am praying always for BabyO, for their birthparents and all who are involved.

But ultimately I am anticipating my Savior.

And in closing, here are a few quotes from this third chapter of Jan’s book:

This longing, solidified into intentionality, is actually a beautiful response to God’s longing for us. Before the foundation of the world, God thought of each of us and thought each of us was a good idea (Eph 1:4-6). God longed for us even then.

Intentionality is about responding to the longing of God inviting you into a different kind of life.

If we choose to journey with God carrying unnecessary weights, God will let us do it. God does not force us to lay unnecessary burdens down. But transformation into Christlikeness is much more difficult when we’re encumbered by multiplicity of words, cluttered schedules, decathlon vacations or the cell phone surgically attached to our ear.

Exhaling the Unnecessary

Weggis, Switzerland

Recently my parents took a trip to Weggis, Switzerland. Now many of you know that to say my parents travel a lot is most definitely an understatement. With their various ministry responsibilities, they are on the road often. But this trip was different. This trip was a time to get away, to rest and to pray. The picture above was taken on their trip and I just thought it was gorgeous. Simply beautiful.

Which brings me to our topic of the evening… Simplifying. Getting away is necessary. But what are we to do in our regular every day life? Isn’t it hard to get rid of those things that are truly unnecessary in our life? Or is it just me?

In her Abundant Simplicity, Jan Johnson challenges her readers in the first chapter to identify what is unnecessary in their lives, so that they may inhale more of the Savior. Jan writes,

Because we’re trying to breathe in the oxygen of real life with God without breathing out the daily chaos that chokes out such interaction.

So I’m learning how to resist the unnecessary as I prepare to dig deeper in this discipline of simplicity.

How? Some simple steps: watching less T.V. and spending less time getting ready in the morning. These may sound overly simplified, but I’ve found that they uselessly crowd my day. So, instead of turning the T.V. on right when I get home, I’m waiting till there is actually something I want to watch. And instead of changing my clothes 5 times (for no reason whatsoever), I’m sticking with what I put on first, or even picking it out the night before.

These are simple steps, but I’m hoping that open up just a little bit more time in my day that will allow me to spend more time growing closer to the Savior. Already, I have been blessed by increased time with the Savior in the morning and more time to devote to a few writing projects I have going on. It hasn’t been a perfect week, but I’m growing.

We’ll see.

Good night, friends.