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Showing posts with label boundaries. Show all posts
Showing posts with label boundaries. Show all posts

14 November

Who Comes First?

Joan rested her hands in her lap, crossed and uncrossed her ankles. The entire week was filled with activities again. It had been months since she enjoyed even an afternoon to herself. As for family and friends, it would take a shoehorn to wedge in quality time with them.

And here she sat wasting time at the doctor’s office for a follow up to an annual physical.

“Joan Phillips?” The nurse’s voice was tight.

Joan rose and followed the perky blonde down the blue-carpeted hallway. The casual pace and chitchat made her wonder if she’d be on time for Bible study. Gesturing toward a black leather chair set in front of a massive desk, the nurse assured Joan the doctor would be right along.

Dr. Johnson entered the room as his personable self, but when he folded his hands on the green blotter his eyes tightened. He took a deep breath, and said, “Joan, I’m sorry Dave couldn’t be here, but this can’t wait. I have to tell you your test results came back and . . .”

On the drive home, the only words she could remember were, “If we can get hold of this now, you have plenty of quality years ahead of you.” How could that be? I feel fine.

A tearful conversation with her husband Dave when he returned from his trip followed by a three-way discussion with Dr. Johnson brought clarity. The ongoing stress of her busy lifestyle had taken a toll on Joan’s body. Immediate corrective action was recommended to stabilize her overall health.

Dave and Joan went through her schedule and cut back all but essential responsibilities. Her symptoms improved somewhat, but Dr. Johnson was not satisfied. “You’re getting more sleep and regular exercise, but there’s still a harmful level of tension. Can you pinpoint the cause?”

His question drove Joan to the inner courts of heaven. LORD, please reveal the problem. I want … I need to rest in Your peace. Thank You for Your grace. Amen

God granted her request in the days and weeks ahead, bringing her to a fresh understanding of His priorities. The key element was Holy Spirit’s whispers through two main references to convince her that leaving herself at the bottom of every list was not the Father’s design.

With support from Dave, Joan began to exercise biblical self-care. Embracing her identity as a cherished child of the Risen Savior relaxed her soul. The inner transition carried peace filled her life with peace and blessed those around her.  The transformation took mental and emotional effort, but a year later Dr. Johnson gave her two thumbs up.

 Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).*emphasis mine

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 19:19, 22:39; Mark 12:31,33; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:19; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8).

Are your days regularly over-the-top busy?
Could it be time to consider your priorities in light of these verses?

About the Author:
Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a sought-after mentor. Sandra writes for a number of publications and has two manuscripts underway, Wallflower Women and Naomi. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/
You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook. If you contact her at Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+ she’ll be delighted by a reason to practice.

11 October

The Fine Art of Saying No

We walked into our first post-seminary ministry position with confidence, ready to serve. We had a one-year-old and a U-Haul full of mostly second-hand furniture.

Because he was one of five ministers at the church, my husband’s responsibilities were fairly clear. He had to fill in for other leaders at times, but he knew where he fit in the structure and service of the church body.

Not so for me. Who was I in this new place? What was I to do?

Before long, several different individuals tried to answer those questions for me. I should teach a pre-school class. I should be in the choir. I should lead a morning Bible study. The requests kept coming, and I knew that saying “yes” to all of them would have meant suicide for my existing roles as wife and mother. So for the most part, I very graciously said “no.”

I’m not an incredibly self-confident person. In fact, I hate it when people think negatively of me. Every time, I had to work up the nerve to decline. This was my process. I pray it helps you determine where to invest your time and energy when you face similar requests.

1. Determine your identity before you go. Think about your gifting, skills, and experience. While God might call you to something completely new, it’s more likely you’ll find your fit within familiar bounds.

2. Evaluate your existing commitments. Your possible roles as a mother, a wife, an employee, etc. are completely valid and require large chunks of your energy. And let’s don’t forget your own spiritual well-being; that takes time. You also need to rest occasionally. Envision how this new opportunity will fit into your life. Be realistic about your superwoman status.

3. Don’t let someone else give you a guilt trip. A need does not equal a calling. It’s easy to confuse a big need in your church with a calling for you to meet that need. Pray about each offer, considering your prior commitments. If God leads you to say “no,” ask for the strength to do it.

4. Don’t give yourself a guilt trip. Even if the other person doesn’t make us feel guilty, we can lay that burden on ourselves. Remember someone served in that position before you arrived…or the church operated without it. If God intends your church to do/have that ministry, He is also calling someone to fill it. Pray for that person to step up and give yourself a break.

For me, I learned I could manage one big thing, such as leading a children’s group, and a couple of small things that didn’t require preparation, such as being a greeter or sharing my testimony at Upward games.

It took a while for me to learn how I fit in that first church body. They were (still are!) a special bunch of people, and I will always be grateful for the freedom they gave me to discover who I was as a minister’s wife and then to live in that discovery. If I had overburdened myself with church responsibilities, I doubt I would feel the same way.

About the author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

You can also find Carole on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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