Archive | October 2013

Life is Like a Road Trip

This post continues our discussion on The In-Between by Jeff Goins and focuses on Chapter 1.

road signThink back to your last road trip. Did you enjoy the journey? Or, did you endure it? Did you consider it part of the experience, or just an means to an end? Does your life look and feel like your last road trip?

Many people live overwhelmed lives. They seem constantly on a road trip from one place to another, just enduring the trip to reach a destination. Only, the destination seems short-lived, and then off on another trip they go. Maybe that’s you.

Ask yourself the following questions to help determine if your life resembles one long road trip with bathroom breaks and fast food stops at the rest area as they only rest on the journey.

Am I constantly frustrated at someone and/or something?

Do I blame others for why I am overwhelmed & frustrated?

Do I constantly have a long list of unmet expectations?

Is my busyness really self-imposed?

Does my fast-paced life actually feel empty?

Am I constantly rushing to the next thing?

Does my life seemed to be filled with rushing and little or no resting?

If answering these questions leads you to believe that perhaps your life needs to slow down a bit, that maybe you’re missing out by failing to enjoy – or even notice – the journey, consider that perhaps the journey might actually be the best part of this experience called life. That perhaps the journey itself can give the necessary rest that you and your family need to finally breathe and connect and just exist together.

So many people feel trapped in the rush of life, like they always live on a journey and never reach a destination. In Chapter 2 of “The In-Between,” Jeff Goins offers the following advice for enjoying the journey, for tipping the scales to actually resting more instead of constantly rushing.

  1. Plan for interruptions. Since you’ll have them anyway, plan for making them matter.
  2. Enjoy life’s mundane moments. Pay attention & see what’s really there in the ordinary.
  3. Stop fighting simplicity. Enjoy the times that surround & outnumber the big events.
  4. Focus on creating a few lasting memories. Instead of being a tourist, become a traveler.
  5. Notice what others overlook. Avoid following the crowd, and instead look outside the lines.
  6. Be present in the moment. Refuse to always look to “What’s next?” and instead enjoy right now.
  7. Take time where you’d normally rush. Deliberately slow down the pace of life.

If you ask my kids what they remember about our last few vacations, all of which included lengthy road trips to and from our destination as well as during the trip itself, they’d likely would tell stories about the fun we had on the journey. In fact, you could ask them about any windshield time, and they’d likely have a story to tell.

Branson 199

They’d tell you about VanWert, Ohio. They’d tell you about the “You are here!” sign somewhere between Michigan & Missouri. They’d tell you about the rock beach and elephant seals on Highway 1 in California. Oh, and they’d definitely tell you about my continual driver’s training course for other motorists! All unplanned events. All laughter-filled.

Turns out the times that last most in their memories end up being the times we rest instead of rush. Creating these lasting memories truly comes only through enjoying the journey and refusing to only ever focus on the destination.

Note: Our next discussion inspired by “The In-Between” by Jeff Goins will cover Chapter 2 and will be posted on November 21st.

What are you waiting for?

This post begins our discussion on The In-Between by Jeff Goins. Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes in this post come from Introduction & Forward of this book.

slide-02Growing a garden requires a lot of waiting. The ground gets cultivated, the seed carefully placed in the soil, and the dirt watered. Then comes the waiting. Weeks go by before plants push through the soil. Then, months go by before harvest takes place. But you know it’s coming.

Waiting for the garden to grow doesn’t mean sitting idly by and watching. We go about other tasks, letting whatever happens underground happen. Then finally, one day, the small plants peek through leading to more waiting while growth to maturity takes place.

In the illustration of the seed in Mark 4:26-29, Jesus makes the point about growth happening even when we can’t see it happening. The story speaks to planting and then going about other tasks, letting the plant grow and produce a harvest. It also speaks to the waiting process that is growth in our lives.

This waiting process – the idea of growing steadily over time – goes against current cultural trend. Jeff Goins in The In-Between explains the trend this way:

“Our culture has conditioned us to expect instant results and overnight success; this impatience runs so rampant that we we dress it up in terms like “efficiency” and “productivity.” But really what’s happening is we are conditioning ourselves to get what we want now, all the time.”

Mark 4What are you waiting for today? What growth do you want to happen in your life? Consider that perhaps this growth won’t take place through any efforts of efficiency and productivity on your part but through simply waiting for it to happen.

Simply cultivate the soil, plant the seed, and then go about your other tasks and allow the seed to take root and grow. Don’t force it. Instead, allow the natural processes of life put in place by your Creator to lead to “slow but intentional growth” that results in “lasting change.”

What does this waiting look like in a practical sense? It doesn’t mean doing nothing, like we too often do when we’re waiting (i.e. in lines, at the doctors, at stop lights, etc.). The farmer in Jesus’ story still lived a productive life while growth took place.

Waiting means allowing parts of life to be slow, to not rush growth because doing so often weakens the plant. It means letting part of our life exist free from instant gratification. And maybe, it means seeking out moments of waiting, of allowing maturity to develop.

Why wait? Goins offers this answer:

“Every time we wait is an opportunity to slow down and be present in an increasingly noisy world, to listen to the voices we sometimes lose in the static. As we embrace the wait, we learn to appreciate the delays and postponements that teach us some things in life are worth waiting for.” 

Let me ask the question again.

What are you waiting for today? Or, are you simply rushing through every moment of life? Purpose today to embrace some waiting. Allow some aspect of your life to happen slowly. Refuse to rush it.

DISCUSS: Where are you allowing yourself to wait? If you aren’t, where can you start waiting today?

Note: Our next discussion based on The In-Between by Jeff Goins will cover Chapter 1 and will be posted on October 31st.

Traveling Through the Psalms – Psalm 6

Psalm 6

Ever felt troubled deep down in your soul? David sure did. Psalm 6 provides one example of many where David reaches the pit of despair, usually because of sin or because his enemies once again relentlessly pursue him.

If you haven’t yet done so, please read Psalm 6.

David’s words in Psalm 6 assure me that depression is normal, that distraught-filled words with tears are human. His words tell me that a person can have tense, in-the-pit emotions as part of a lifelong pursuit of God’s heart.

Even more reassuring is knowing that Jesus too faced a “deeply troubled” state of being (John 12:27). Why reassuring? Because Jesus too felt the intense emotion that David expressed so many times and still pleased God, I know God can handle my intense emotions too.

Don’t you find comfort in knowing that Jesus also wrestled with the same soul-searching we all sometimes struggle with?

When you, like David, become worn out from crying all night or unable to see straight because of grief (vv. 6-7), bank on the ending words of Psalm 6 (vv. 8-10). Enemies disperse. God hears cries of despair. He answers prayer for help.

Not only is God defeating your enemies, the ones who want you to stay in the pit of despair, but Jesus knows how you feel. He knows, and He intercedes for you (Romans 8:34).

As you read and relate to the depths of emotion in Psalm 6 and many of the Psalms, find peace in knowing that you never dwell there alone (Psalm 139).

A Wise Woman Builds – October Application

11-1-12 A wise woman buildsRemember that our goal for studying the Proverbs 31 Woman was to have goals and standards that we can work toward to increasingly become godly women. This description should not be a heavy burden. Please never forget that.

October 2013 Application

This is a gentle reminder to always pursue deliberate application of God’s Word.

For October… Read through the “for further study” applications at the end of each of our A Wise Woman Builds studies. Pick at least two of the exercises you didn’t do the first time through and complete them this month.

May these monthly suggestions be gentle reminders of the potential we all have as Christian women.