to learn how
Reading over my last posts, I know the Lord was preparing me for a time of my life that has truly been the time of my life. The past three months have been filled with travel, adventure, heartbreak, immense growth, and peace that surpasses all understanding. As much as I knew I was getting ready for something great, I could not have known just how much I would learn. How much I would be humbled, emptied out, and filled back up again with something new and better each time. How faithful God could be to every part of me. How widely my view of the world would be stretched out. How content I could be in the face of chaos. How much love I would be shown, and how much I would find to give out. How patient I could learn to become. How beautiful New England is in the fall. How comforting a little bit of routine can be on the road. How essential yoga would prove to be to my sanity. How perfect crisp, clean hotel sheets can feel like Heaven. How truly brilliant GPS is. How full my heart could feel. How sincere middle schoolers can be. How to find serenity at Newark.
Jesus brought me across this quote before I left for the road this fall:
Rivers know this: There is no hurry. We shall get there someday.
I cannot tell you how much these little words from A.A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh would come to mean to me. From Newark airport to the winding, technologically barren mountains of West Virginia, to the rainy highways of Seattle, these words have kept me from throwing my GPS system and sometimes myself from moving vehicles. In moments of chaos, I repeat these words to myself and somehow remain firmly planted on the earth and in my skin.
I’ve also learned just how important it is to have some semblance of a routine when everything else in your day is different every time you wake up. For me, routine is at Panera. I find a Panera in every city I visit. If there isn’t one within 30 miles (and I’ve been known to drive 30 miles to find a Panera), I find some kind of little coffee shop or cafe. That is my place for as long as I’m there. I thought I would seek out all of the most interesting local foods and restaurants on the road, and I’ve found some good ones, but it’s become so much more important to me to have something that’s the same no matter where I am. Whether I’m in the Finger Lakes or along the Pacific Ocean, I can sit down to garden vegetable soup with pesto, a Caesar salad, whole grain baguette, sweet tea, and a shortbread cookie. Knowing that that meal in a familiar place is waiting for me wherever I happen to be has been such a surprising comfort. I turn a lot of receipts from Panera.
Tithing works. I’ve always tried to be consistent with my tithing. I’ve missed a week here and there when I forget my checkbook, I’m not perfect, but it’s the top priority in my personal financial life. And, it works. The Lord has been too faithful too many times for me to withhold that 10%. Also, being gracious in giving to others comes back to you. I’ve come to believe that my money is not totally my own. I have bills to pay and obligations to fulfill, but I really believe that beyond my tithing and savings I am simply the storehouse for the financial resources I’ve been given. Sometimes, I’m holding it for someone else who needs it more than I do. If my financial house is not in order, then when a need is presented to me I’m not able to meet it. That’s a real shame and I don’t want to find myself in that place. I always want to be comfortable to buy lunch for a friend, or cover the grocery bill for the single mom in line in front of me, or grab the dinner bill of a family at a restaurant. Blessing others financially can only happen when I’m smart with what I’ve been given and I’m learning more every week about how to do that.
Not a day goes by on the road that I’m not reminded somehow of how incredibly blessed I am. It’s been humbling to realize that the Lord has shown my family and I such incredible favor and blessing. I never want to take for granted how much love and goodness He has established all around me.
Stillness. Quiet. Small comforts. Reflection. Time to turn off. Everyone must have these things.
As we begin my favorite time of year, please take time to stop and look around at all the blessings and people in your life that bring you joy. Remember how to say ‘no’ to overbooking your life and your checkbook. Don’t spread yourself thin. It is better to give the best of yourself to the people who hold you up than to give a little bit to everyone- and you can’t do both. Listen to your body and your heart. Know when to stop. You’ll get so much more from the going when you know when to stop. Be intentional with your time, energy, and money. Enjoy this Christmas season.
Shanti and Shalom.