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13 July

Stop and Smell the Roses

All too often we put expectations on ourselves that God never intended for us to have. We just got back from a youth trip last night. Let me just tell you about this trip.

The day before we left, our church van broke down. And I'm not talking about a "hey let's take it to the mechanic for a couple hours and have him fix it" kind of break down, I mean a "this van is going to be out of service for a few days" kind of break down. We have already paid for all our reservations and events, so canceling the trip is out of the question. And in our panicked-mode, it took us about 6 1/2 hours to realize we have two working personal vehicles we can take (mine along with a vehicle we were going to sale -- that is until Allen drove it this weekend and fell in love with it again).

Fast forward to the day we leave. 7:00 AM bright and early and all our students are there on time and ready to go. We make it to Ruston, La, (about 25 minutes from our small-town Farmerville) to top off our gas tanks. Then it happens, Allen asks me the question. "Hey sweetie everything goes in the (insert card name) card here right?" Long story short, he had to go all the way back to Farmerville to retrieve the correct cards, so now we are a good hour behind schedule. 

We finally make it to Dallas and have the time of our lives just getting to get away with our students. (We planned this rip to get closer to our students and to let them get away after losing two teenagers to tragedy in our small town this year). Being a youth trip, you never get much sleep (unless you are Allen and can sleep through a tornado). So our 5 hour drive back home (that turned into 6 hours because of a sudden storm) felt like 15 hours for me driving a car while the students are passed out NOT keeping me company. We ate a classic hot pocket and macaroni dinner when we got home and were in bed by 10. 

So, I wake up this morning knowing that I have so much to do. I need to clean house after we wrecked it in the middle of packing. I need to go to the church and price everything we have for our youth garage sale in less than two weeks. I need to plan out the rest of our personal summer (the youth's summer is already good to go). I need to make sure Allen has everything he needs at the office today and that he stops to eat lunch. I need to start packing because we move into our new house in two weeks. The list goes on and on. And as I get up to head to the washer and dryer, I hear it.

That still small whisper..

"Just stop and spend some time with me." 

 "Yes, God of course. I will as soon as I get started with some of this laundry."

"The laundry will still be there afterwards."

Soooooooo... I put my to-do list aside and just sat down and spent some time with God. He didn't have any big revelations for me. He didn't have any life-changing assignments to give me. He just simply reminded me of all the incredible things that happened this past weekend. He reminded me of the smiles on three particular students’ faces who have been facing a lot at home. He reminded me of our youngest student who decided to give his life to Jesus on this trip. He reminded me of the beautiful scenery on the drive to Dallas. He allowed me to just sit and rest in His presence before I started my week.

Many times people in ministry feel they are only successful if they are always going going going and always have a full to-do list. If we don't have a busy and therefore stressful week, then it wasn't a "good week for the ministry." But that's not how it is suppose to be at all. God never calls us to "busy". He calls us to His work. And God knows what is best for His children. God knows that in order to do our best, we also need to rest. God knows that we won't always see the fruit of our hard work immediately, but He always leaves small things for us to search for to know that we are doing well. 

Don't worry about that list. There will be time for it to get done. Stop. Reflect on the beautiful things around you. Smell those roses. The things God allows us to be a part of. Rest in His presence. Love on Him. The renewed strength and refreshed mind that you will have afterwards is far greater than anything even the best night's sleep could give you.

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed."  
Luke 10:41-42

About the Author:
My name is Katherine Norris, and I am a Youth Pastor alongside my incredible husband, Allen Norris. We got married in August 2016 and live in the small town of Farmerville, La. We are both full-time youth pastors, full-time college students, and I am a part-time barista at our hometown coffee shop. I am majoring in Family and Consumer Sciences, and cannot wait to graduate. We love our students, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for our lives.

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