Have you ever heard Father tell you to “Step Back”? I have heard Him say that to me quite a bit over the past few years. For those of you who know me, you know that I tend to be extremely busy and the word “no” never seems to enter my vocabulary. About two years ago, Father started telling me to step back in some areas of my life. I would love to say that I immediately stepped back and never questioned this or fought back, alas, I did not. I was very involved in a leadership role at my school through attending training meetings and being involved with various committees. It came to a point where I had to make a decision about deepening that involvement. I felt like I should take the plunge, but something within me was struggling. Then, the voice of reason from my husband gave me a reality check on the time commitment that it would involve. This was the first of many step backs. I remember at the time being disgruntled and upset about it, yet now as I look at my life, I see the wisdom in that decision.
So while I was attending all these leadership meetings for my school, I had people suggest that maybe I should go into administration. I began to pursue that thought and looked into various ways to get my certification. I was about to start an online program when again I heard, “Step Back,” and my husband confirmed it, along with another special friend. That next year ended up being the beginning of some crazy personal struggles going on in my life. I would not have been able to be a mom and wife, go to work, and take classes. Again, I saw the wisdom in this decision as I look back at the season my life was about to enter.
One of the benefits of stepping back was being able to spend more time on the SHINE Club at Bonne Ecole. All of the hugs and smiles I receive from all of those kids was and is one of the best gifts I receive at school. Father was intentionally removing things from my life to make room for better things. Years ago when Father called me into teaching, He whispered in my ear, “Love the children.” Through being involved with SHINE, I have been able to love many children. I am honored to be able to work with all of them. This year I was able to have an even bigger team for SHINE. There really are no words to describe how amazing all of these ladies are and what a blessing they are to me and the students at Bonne Ecole. SHINE is something that I let consume me at times as well, yet this past year, I had to step back more and allow these ladies to step in. There was a day when I could not come to school at the last minute due to a medical emergency in my family. These ladies stepped in and took over the SHINE meeting for the day. Their ideas and talents have made this year wonderful for the SHINE Club. If I had not stepped back, they would not have been able to step in and SHINE!!
The next step back was a very personal one. I tend to get really involved in the lives of others when they are hurting and struggling. I jump right in many times without thinking of what this will cost me personally (especially in the area of time with my family), spiritually, and emotionally. I got to the point of utter exhaustion. I was so busy helping others and worrying about their problems that I did not realize I was about to be overcome by an avalanche of my own issues. For me, it is easier to step in and help others and ignore my own issues. Father loves me too much to keep me from healing and growing more in my knowledge of who I am in in Christ. That was why He said to step back and take care of myself. That is a REALLY hard thing for me to do, yet it has been one of the best decisions of my life. You see when you finally stop helping everyone around you, it opens the door for others to actually step in and help you. I am so used to being in the role of helping others that it felt very weird to start asking people to help me.
I began to really need to ask for help when I had some family members go through some major health battles, and I had to ask MANY friends to help me and to help them. I have never been so overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of others until I went through all of this. I had friends from school and church bringing food to my family members, come and sit with them and pray with them in the hospital, come and sit with me and bring food to me, and I even had some who went and decorated my door at school. I needed to learn how to receive from others. Let me tell you … it was a struggle for me. I felt like I caught myself constantly apologizing to people. I remember having some friends stop me as I was apologizing and tell me what a blessing it was to give to me. I knew that I needed to receive these gifts of love from all of them. I have grown so much in this area, and I am learning to say, "I cannot do this on my own; can you help me?"
Father wants me to live in a state of dependence on him, not in a state of independence. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
Stepping back does not mean disengaging from life and becoming a hermit. It means I am in a place where I am learning to say no and knowing that it will be alright. I was not made to do everything and be in the middle of everything. My prayer for all of you is that you are able to discern areas where you need to step back and reevaluate. My pray is that Father will whisper into your ear and speak words of truth as to who you are and whose you are. Below I have included Dennis Jernigan’s interpretation of Zephaniah 3:17. As you read these words, imagine Father speaking them over you.
The Eternal, self-existent God
The God who is three in one
He who dwells in the center of your being
Is a powerful, valiant warrior
He is come to set you free
To keep you safe
And to bring you victory.
He is cheered
And He beams with exceeding joy
And takes pleasure in your presence
He has engraved a place
For Himself in you
And there He quietly rests
In His love and affection for you.
He cannot contain Himself at the thought of you
And with the greatest of joy
Spins around wildly
In anticipation over you
And has placed you above all other creations
And in the highest place in His priorities
In fact, he shouts and sings in triumph
Joyfully proclaiming the gladness of His heart
In a song of rejoicing...
All because of YOU!!
Resting in His Love,
As women, we are incredibly busy. Whether you stay at home, or work outside the home, have a husband and children, or are single, life is just fast paced. Our schedules are full of things to do – some we want to do, some we have to do, and some we feel obligated to do. We want it all, and to be it all. The best wife, the best mom, the best at our career, the best ... the list could go on and on. Being the best comes with a cost, though.
With all those things, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Ever been there? The kitchen full of dirty dishes is enough to bring you to tears because you just can’t figure out how to manage one more thing. The deadlines looming over you at work seem unattainable, and there is still dinner and bath time to face once you finish the long day. Life is hard – but being overwhelmed with it can steal your joy. Personally, I am on a mission to keep my joy and avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed.
I have tried to mold my to-do list around a very simple verse: “Let every detail of your lives – words, actions, whatever - be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way” (Colossians 3:17, The Message). For years, when I heard anyone talk about that verse, it was about your attitude. I was reminded to have a good attitude at work, at home, with others, because that glorified God. While I definitely do believe that our attitudes should be Christ-like (or attempt to be, because we are human), I think that it also applies to what we choose to do, or not do.
Last summer, I took on something new, adding to my to-do list: I started graduate school. This decision was one that I prayed over, and was sure was God’s will for me. So of course, I needed a good attitude about it, but I also needed to do it well. Doing something half-way definitely doesn’t bring glory to God, right?
So, I started my summer off from school (I’m an educator, so I technically have summers off), by taking two classes. I soon realized I was going to have to do some juggling – those two classes added about 25-30 hours of work into my schedule each week! I struggled to keep my four year old entertained, my house clean, laundry done, spend time with my husband and get the required work done well. I struggled with not meeting the expectations I had set for myself in all those areas of my life. I knew in August I would also be adding in work-related responsibilities, and I was overwhelmed. I could not do it all, or be it all. Not well, anyway. My joy was gone.
But then I realized something important. I do not have to be it all, or do it all. I need to do what I do for God’s glory and stop trying to be Superwoman. When I spread myself thin, I cannot do anything for God’s glory, and am overstepping the purpose He has for my life. I might even be doing tasks that God meant for someone else so they could fulfill their purpose. I am letting my joy be stolen and stealing opportunities from others. That is not the way I wanted to live any longer.
I decided to be who and what God wants me to be – that is more than enough! I began saying no to extras, let my family help me around the house, and tried to not accept guilt over what I did not do. I struggled with that last part the most – the guilt. It was hard to not meet the expectations of those around me, but not as hard as taking on the expected task when I couldn’t do it well. People do not define my purpose, God does.
I am sure this change in priorities has upset a few people around me. It may have inconvenienced someone who was expecting me to get a job done. But it has provided blessings, too. My husband has helped so much at home, and that has further deepened our relationship and appreciation for one another. My daughter has learned how to do some basic chores, and is learning to find joy in serving others. My load has lightened, and my joy has returned. I know that my life is less busy, but much more full. I am living on purpose, and it has brought joy and contentment. I am accomplishing the things on my list (even those “have to” things that no one likes) well.
We each have a purpose in life, and God-given responsibilities. But often, we take on other tasks beyond that. No one else is willing, we feel guilty saying no, we have always done that too ... but how often do we ask ourselves if by doing it we are bringing God glory? If you are too tired to do a task well, unhappy about it, or doing it out of obligations, it is likely not bringing God glory. This could mean two things. Maybe that task was never God’s purpose for you, and it was really meant for someone else. Let them fulfill their purpose, and focus on yours. Or, if it is what God has for you, something else needs to be let go so you can do it well for God’s glory. Keep your to-do list simple. Focus on what God has purposed for you, and leave the rest alone. Do whatever you do for His glory.
As we all face busy lives, I pray that you will find the courage to evaluate your to-do list, and to focus your energy on only what will glorify God. I pray you will be full of joy and peace knowing you’re right where He wants you, and let that be enough.
Keep living life on purpose,
Oh, hey! Remember us? Hopefully you didn't forget us because we certainly haven't forgotten you. In fact, we've been busy planning for you and dreaming about the future of Total Woman U and all the ways we want to connect with you. You may or may not have noticed that we haven't blogged since last August. Life gets busy doesn't it? I could list off reasons explaining why we lacked time for writing and posting and tell you of all the celebratory things and hard things that have happened in the individual lives of our team and in our organization as a whole, since we last posted here, but I won't do that. Instead, what I will do is say that our goal and plan is to get back here! We want to do the big moments with you, like events, but we also want to do the in betweens with you. I have a new appreciation for the in betweens in life lately. I recently wrote this [obnoxiously long] rambling of thoughts on Facebook regarding the in betweens.
Let's call our absence from blogging a big ol' in between. I'm not sad it happened. SO many big, hard, and beautiful things happened in all of our lives during those away months. And a whole lot of small seemingly mundane things happened too. But I/we are making a pact to recognize and cherish moments, BIG AND SMALL, with you. I recently was reminded from a message I can't get out of my mind by Louie Giglio that we only get one life. I, you, we, just one life! When we let life pass us by and don't take time to intentionally recognize the beauty of EVERYTHING--big moments, small moments, in between moments--life feels fleeting and like it's rushing passed us and sometimes even like we're missing it. I want to make the most of this life I've been given, the chances I have to share my Jesus with the world, to keep telling and retelling the story of the Gospel, to keep sharing and writing and posting and telling all the big and small things God does in my life, to use the voice God has given me to make much of His name. One life, y'all. Jesus is coming back in our time or after our time. But regardless, He's coming (praise hands FOR REAL), and we only get one life on earth to be a vessel used by Him.
So all that to say, we never stop planning for the events and all the big things TWU does, but as a team we feel called to you! To plan and create big moments like events, but to live out all the in between moments with you too. To share our lives with you. To speak the words of truth, vulnerability, the funny stories, the serious lessons, and teachable moment after teachable moment that God gives us. We want our messy lives and moments to be part of and connect with your messy lives and moments too. Expect us to start posting here again regularly, and also be on the lookout for some exciting things happening through our ww, Twitter, and Instagram for some exciting things happening to keep you connected to us and us connected to you (hint: GIVEAWAYS!).
Let's make our own rules,
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