Redeeming What's Left

I don't even know where to begin as I look back on this summer.  I think I could definitely say that it's been the busiest one we've ever had and I'm honestly just now catching my breath.  In the past we've had millions of activities to keep us running around but never two kids on top of those millions of activities.  For some reason, while we love the thought of a lazy, relaxed summer that never seems to happen.  In fact as a general rule the activity level just seems to ramp up in student ministries.  If there isn't a week-long camp or a 12 day mission's trip, then there are the special events here and there in addition to the weekly grind of Sundays and Wednesdays.  It's not all bad, we totally get some focused and intentional time with students that we don't always get during a school year but after weeks and weeks of being "on call" so to speak, the appeal of school starting again and a more rigid schedule is incredibly comforting. 

I'm sure this doesn't strike you as odd if you know me, but I love me some routine.  I like order in my days, I like schedules to follow and I like to plan as much as can be planned.  Because the Lord loves me and He knows that I tend to error on the side of rigid routine, He graciously gave me Travis, who specializes in the art of "winging it" and only plans what is necessary for survival.  I don't mean to throw him under the bus with that description, he is certainly a responsible adult who is capable of holding down a job and getting done the things he needs to, BUT he is a needed voice in my head always reminding me to slow down and just relax a little bit.  His personality in general is a gift to me.  Let's be honest, someone has to be the order keeper and our kids need a schedule just as much as their Mom, but somewhere in the middle he and I meet and it's there that we are raising our children.  There are days when he let my schedule and the routine I've established with the kids dictate our days but I'm so thankful that sometimes he puts his foot down and just tells me, "Enough. The dishes can wait, just sit down and relax."

In the eight years we've been married now, I have learned to sit down and relax a little more often.  Two kids have forced some of that but so has wisdom and understanding.  As I've grown deeper in my faith and become more aware of my natural tendencies, I realize how often my hurry and my anxiety is wrapped up in trying to do too much at once.  Trying to rush my kids because we're running late, trying to make one more stop because it would be great to cross off my list, or trying to fit one more activity in because most of the variables are already in place.  It often hurts us.  It can take the grace out of the moment and just add nothing but stress and panic or it can pass the days with not much more than a whirlwind, which is not how I want my kids to remember their childhood.  As I've realized this weakness in me, the Lord has graciously opened my eyes to see the beauty of "now" not just moving on to the next thing on the list. 

As I ponder a summer that's been too busy and has left my barely hanging by a thread, the old me would want to write the rest of this summer off and just move ahead towards fall and all the things that I love about it.  But in so many words, I want to redeem the time I have left of summer and enjoy it fully with my Savior and my family.  The fall with come and will bring its' own set of challenges, but for these next few weeks in August I just want to slow down and enjoy as we ease back into a "normal" routine.  A sweet older ( and much wiser) woman reminded me last week of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10.  As Jesus and some men approached the sisters' house, Martha saw them and went into serving mode, rushing around and growing impatient over the lack of help her sister was providing.  But Mary was doing a more noble thing.  She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to His words.  The work was there and someone needed to do it, but the the work could also wait.  As Martha went to the Lord and launched her complaint, this is what He said to her...
" Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."  Luke 10:41-42

I've read this account in the past and often thought that maybe Jesus was a little insensitive to Martha, she was just trying to serve their unexpected visitors (including Him!) and was shouldering that enormous burden alone, but I think I misunderstood because I could only see this through my Martha colored glasses.  Because I am a Martha, I felt sorry for her.  But as the Lord has helped me gain a little more Mary in my life, I see now just what a gift He gave Martha that day.  I can imagine Him looking at her with kind, appreciative eyes and saying,
"Martha of course there are a million things to do and I know you just want to get them done, but I'm here now and we're not in any rush.  You don't need to worry about the work, we'll get to it... For now there is just one thing I want for you, a gift I want to leave you with...I want you to slow down and remember to sit at my feet like Mary and just rest.  Let the weight of the work go and just pour it out before me, I'll take care of it.  Mary understands the rest she finds in
me alone and she chose that today over running around and serving me.  I love that you want to serve and that you know how to do things efficiently and effectively, but I'm not going to take away the blessing of the fellowship we can have when you choose to sit with me first. That's always the better thing, always the most important place to start..."

The truth is God created Martha just the way she was and He called her fearfully and wonderfully made.  But He also saw things in her that needed to be softened or balanced.  And the same is true for me.  We're still taking naps over here and going to bed at reasonable times, but I've commited myself to choosing the good things first...Sitting at the feet of Jesus every morning, enjoying the warm air and the chance to play, connecting with friends and just enjoying our days without wishing them away.  In a totally uncharacteristic move, I even suggested we go camping this weekend???  This summer has impressed upon me the need to rest, to slow down and take today in.  I want to breathe deeply and appreaciate what God has given me now even as I fight the urge to move ahead and work through my list. 

I love summer and I'm asking the Lord to redeem these last couple of weeks.  It occurred to me today that we only have 3 more summers left that lead into an un-schooled fall.  Before I know it my calendar will be filled with plans that aren't my own and I'll be fighting for more time to just,  Funny how life changes and seasons come and go...

A good reminder to just take care of today, because tomorrow has enough worries of its' own...


Christi said...

I so relate to this... enjoyed this post:) Thank you!

Darla said...

What wonderful words you have penned, Stephanie. I love getting glimpses inside your heart and learning how God is perfecting you. Such a great reminder to enjoy these days. Thank you for sharing.