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Perspective from the Second Season

I love this quote from the Bible study I’m currently in, on Gideon: “Today’s tasks—even the most mundane of them—are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling. They can carry clues to what He is leading us to learn and accomplish as we faithfully serve Him.” (Priscilla Shirer)[1]

From this vantage point in my life (50-something), it’s much easier to see this principle in place in my life than when I was in my 20s and 30s. In those years, I struggled with getting and staying organized in managing my life and household (which included a husband, five children, and assorted pets along the way). Besides the regular household tasks, there was homeschooling, kids’ activities, and ministry in our church and community. Sometimes, in my mind’s eye, I would see myself perched atop of a towering list of responsibilities and commitments, teetering at the top, fully expecting the whole thing to come crashing down!

I remember one day in particular, sitting in the driveway of our home with the five kids in the back of the minivan. I think I must have been feeling particularly overwhelmed at the (seemingly) mundane nature of my life and activities, and the sense of never-ending tasks beckoning me that, come the next day, would simply need to be done again. And again. And again. As I looked in the rear-view mirror at my brood, ready to leave the driveway for yet another chauffeuring trip to kids’ activities, I remember thinking, Will there ever be time for me? What about what I want to do?

There wasn’t a flash of revelation. I don’t remember a shift of perspective or a booming voice from heaven with a new calling for me, like Gideon experienced (Hail, mighty warrior!). But it’s interesting to me that I remember the feeling. I’m glad I do, because it gives me a benchmark to measure what happened in the years after that.

I’d always had an interest in writing and teaching, and in the midst of the flurry of the rest of my life, I was putting those interests to work where I could. I found I loved organizing people and tasks and ideas (much better than I liked organizing three-dimensional objects!), and learned to build teams in the ministries and community organizations I served as a volunteer. Teaching found its place in my life in homeschooling my children for 14 years, and teaching Sunday school and Bible studies in our church. Writing found expression in creating curriculum for our church’s children’s and small group ministries, and writing articles for newsletters, magazines, and the local newspaper.

Eventually, and much more quickly than I ever anticipated, the children grew up, went to college, moved out, and started establishing lives, homes, and families of their own. Through those years, the activities in which I was developing all those skills morphed organically into greater and greater opportunities and spheres of influence. In this “second season” of life, I have a career I love, working as a developmental book editor and owning my own company that employs a team of talented writers, editors, and designers to help authors write and publish beautiful and impactful books. I’ve had the joy of writing and publishing books of my own, and teaching at conferences, churches, and schools in many different places and settings. (Plus, I get to be Nana to five beautiful grandchildren who fill our lives with much joy!)

In retrospect, I can see how God used those years when my children and world were much smaller to teach me the skills I am using in this season of my life. Getting organized and keeping an orderly schedule and environment (that comes more with effort and experience than with natural skill, I’ve learned). Establishing systems for responsibilities and activities. Coordinating multiple people and tasks for common goals. Polishing my writing, teaching, and speaking skills. Teaching me patience and perseverance and punctuality (still working on that one). And more!

I guess that’s why that phrase in my Bible study jumped out at me. It was like a little wink from God. Remember that day in your minivan when you wondered if there would ever be time for you? Even back then, I was planning for this season in your life, even when you thought it would never come. And I had bigger plans for you than you ever imagined, didn’t I?

If I could pass something along to other women in that season in life, the same season I was in that day in my minivan in the driveway, it would be the gift of perspective. Remember that she who can be found faithful in small things can be entrusted with much (Luke 16:10). Remember that God has plans for you so amazing, you couldn’t handle them right now if He told you. Remember that even if an angel doesn’t show up in person, calling you “Mighty Warrior,” the Lord still thinks that way about you. And He will use the seemingly mundane tasks you are doing right this very minute to build in you the skills, maturity, and wisdom you’ll need for the calling He has on your life.

Stick with the small stuff joyfully and faithfully. Enjoy the moments, crazy as they are. Don’t rush through this season to get to the next thing, or try to make greater accomplishments happen for yourself. God doesn’t do things the way the world does things. Follow His lead, trust His judgment and timing, and let Him bring it in His way. It will be better than you would ever think to ask for.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

(c) 2018 Arlyn J. Lawrence. All Rights Reserved.

[1] Shirer, Priscilla, Gideon, Lifeway Publishing, Nashville, TN:2013, p. 47.)

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Available March 24th – “Facing the Blitz” by Jeff Kemp

It was a joy and a privilege for me to serve as developmental editor with Jeff Kemp (Family Life Vice President and former NFL Quarterback) in the writing of his book, Facing the Blitz: Three Strategies for Turning Trials into Triumphs, which will be released March 24th by Bethany House Publishers. It is available at your local bookstore, bethanyhouse.com or by calling 1-800-877-2665. Click the link below the book image to go to my InspiraLit site to read more!

Facing the Blitz by Jeff Kemp

Available March 24th – “Facing the Blitz” by Jeff Kemp.

Journey to the Cross — A Lenten Devotional

StainedGlassWindow You can follow this link below to the first installment of a daily Lenten Devotional from my friend Cynthia Bezek. It’s poignant, inspirational, and timely. I definitely think giving up being served is much more impactful (to myself and others) than giving up coffee or chocolate! I am looking forward to following along with Cynthia’s devotionals this Lent. Maybe you will want to, too. Journey to the Cross–February 18. Photo courtesy of digidreamgrafix and FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I Woke up in Woking

Back in the UK and so happy to be here!

 

We arrived at 6:30 a.m. to a bit of a soggy, muggy day. I grabbed a quick nap and then went on a run into town to meet a couple of friends for coffee.  Was I really in Gig Harbor only yesterday?

 

Lots of construction going on in the town square in Woking these days. It’s looking beautiful and oh-so-modern … then right around the corner I run into a street of row shops that looks like a scene from a Dickens novel. I love that about England.

 

Running past lovely manor homes and laurel hedges, holly with morning glory pouring out of it, a house called “Pooh Corner” (all the houses have names here)… past the football (soccer) field and the neighborhood pub (can’t wait for fish and chips and STICKY TOFFEE PUDDING) … have I mentioned how much I love England?

 

This is my sixth trip to the U.K., so it’s kind of becoming a home away from home, of sorts.  We absolutely love it here: the people, the sights. The culture and history. The heart and spirit.

 

It’s hard to say if that’s just coincidence and personal affinity, or because we both have roots here.  Doug’s grandfather was born in Devon, my great-grandparents in Hampshire and Scotland. I find it kind of a surreal (but very nice feeling) to go back to where our “people” came from.

 

That’s why I love it that God would bring Doug and me around full circle, back to the area our own grandparents and great-grandparents left almost a hundred years ago. Not just to vacation, but to serve. Not just to teach, but to learn.  Not just to work, but to enjoy authentic friendships and Kingdom community.

 

We’re really looking forward to being part of the Prayer-Saturated Life conference at ChristChurch Woking next weekend, June 29-30 in Woking, Surrey.  UK friends, if you’re around and available, please join us!

 

It’s going to be a full ten days. I’ll post some pics and blog entries and share some of our experiences, observations, and reflections.  Glad to share the journey and keep you posted! 🙂

 

 

 

 

Garden’s In: My Fresh Perspective on Rain

Funny how quickly I can turn from an I-hate-rain attitude to an Oh-joy-it’s-raining attitude. Maybe I garden just to save my sanity here in the rather waterlogged Pacific Northwest. Nonetheless, waking up to raindrops is a whole lot less depressing when I know it’s going to good use … and that the thirsty little seeds I planted last week are getting a Big Gulp this morning.

Good thing they don’t live in New York.  (Oh wait, that’s a ban on big gulps of pop, not water.)

I’m really excited about this year’s garden. I planted a little differently, creating a grid with a combination of square foot sections and conventional rows, and way more flowers than last year.


A crown of blessings to my husband who dashed home between appointments one day just to till the garden for me because he knew how anxious I was to start planting. He screeched into the driveway, jumped out of his car, ran over to the garden, got behind the rototiller and tilled the garden IN HIS WORK CLOTHES, ran into the house, cleaned up a bit, and ran off to his next appointment.

Now THAT’S love. xo

Marking the grid was a little tedious but I think it will pay off in terms of tidiness. Plus it made it easy to create a “map” of my garden that I can use for future reference. I’ve always meant to keep a journal from year to year of what I grew in which part of the garden and how well each variety of plant did there. This will help.

I marked off one-foot sections, used a drill to insert screws every 12 inches, and marked off the square-foot sections and foot-wide rows with heavy twine.

Then I planted this year’s line up:

Vegetables: beans (2 kinds), peppers (green and red), tomatoes (3 varieties), lettuce, carrots, chives, onions, zucchini, parsley, and cucumber.

Flowers: A border all the way around the garden of dahlias, zinnias, sunflowers, snap dragons, nasturtium, and poppies.

Gardening is one of those things that’s kind of evolved for me over the years. Growing up on the prairies in Canada, pretty much everyone had gardens. (I still kind of think that Prairie people grow the best gardens but I’m probably somewhat biased on that.) When my kids were younger and I had less time I found it hard to keep up with the weeding and there were a lot of summers my garden got overgrown and Doug rolled his eyes at me that I even tried.  But I persevered and, over the years, got more organized and systematic and disciplined.

(Now that I think of it, that goes for most things in my life.  The organized and systematic part had to grow on me. )

There are lots of life lessons in gardening, of which God constantly reminds me throughout the growing season. I’m sure I’ll get a few of those this summer, too. Anyway, now my garden is planted and I’m looking forward to watching it sprout life and color and food for our table. And today’s gardening life lesson? We all need a little rain sometimes. 🙂

Ask the Lord for rain in the springtime;
    it is the Lord who sends the thunderstorms.
He gives showers of rain to all people,
    and plants of the field to everyone.

Zechariah 10:1

No Worst Case Scenario

Granted, I’m an optimist. I like my life, as well as my eggs, “sunny side up.” Pollyanna was one of my favorite movies of all time (I even named one of my daughters after the actress who played the main character, Hayley Mills).

That being said, even if I weren’t an optimist, I would still believe this: With God, there is no worst case scenario.

I was reminded of that just this week, facing a medical situation. Thankfully, the combination of my swollen lymph nodes and bottomed-out iron levels did NOT equal something cancerous.  But they could have. And yes, a couple moments of fear did cross my mind before the hematologist ruled that out and pronounced me simply, profoundly anemic. IV iron infusion, here I come …

Being confronted with fear (i.e., getting my boat rocked) once in a while is probably a good thing. It sure shows me where my trust is, anyway. It reminds me that fear says, “What if?” whereas faith says, “So what!” I want to be a woman of faith. Not flippant faith, but sound, solid faith that knows the facts and looks past them to a truer reality: Faith says that God is bigger than anything life, the world, or the devil can throw my way.

You might think I’m being overly simplistic and maybe I am a bit. But if my life belongs to God, if I’m really trusting Him in the driver’s seat, then I can trust that He will direct. He will provide. He will make the crooked ways straight and the broken things whole.  It’s what He does. He’s a compassionate, powerful, redemptive Father who always comes to His children’s rescue (Psalm 103:8-14). Maybe not always in the ways I would like Him to. But He always shows up!

And in the meantime, I  believe Jesus’ promises: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world … I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (John 16:33; Luke 10:19). I am with you. I have given you authority to overcome. Nothing will harm you.

I’m not being a Pollyanna when I say I don’t believe anyone should live held down by fear, anxiety, hopeless, sorrow, or panic: What if? What if? What if???

If IF happens, He will still be there.  He will still be good. He will still provide, direct, redeem, and restore.  It’s who He is. It’s what He does. And I’m so very, very glad about that.

“There are eight hundred happy texts, did you know that? If God took the trouble to tell us eight hundred times to be glad and rejoice, He must have wanted us to do it.” ~Pollyanna