alittleTOOMUCH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Often times I feel like I have too much going on in my life — too many hurts, too many stressors, too many things on my list that need to get done, too many errands to run, too many people to call, too many emails to respond to — it all feels like too much.  

And then your typical Christian would tell you to pick up your bible and read God’s Word, or go to church, or a typical Catholic would tell you to pray through the rosary.  And for crying out loud, don’t let anyone see that you’re struggling because — you’re a Christian and you’re supposed to have it all together!  Slap a Christian fish on the back of your car and make us look good!

Really?
Because if that’s the case, then maybe this “Christian” gig isn’t for me.
I NEVER have it all together!

We hear people say things like “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” – but I disagree with that.  I think LIFE will give us a ton more than we can handle, and God is just waiting waiting waiting for us to run to Him and say “Take this!!!! ALL of this!  Calm me down, God because I’m about to completely FREAK OUT over here!”  I don’t believe that God is sitting in the heavens like someone who is getting cream poured into his coffee just waiting to say “woah” when it’s just the right amount.

I think it’s our responsibility to notice when it’s too much for us – and then do something about it.  You know what your too much feels like. Maybe you’re feeling it right now and you’re “escaping” from your too much by scrolling through Twitter or Facebook.  You’re going to the wrong place – I know because I do it too.  (but feel free to finish reading before you close your browser tab!)

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

The Bible overwhelms me – I don’t know where to start on my own.  So instead I go to some of my favorite Christian blogs or read my favorite devotional, or even read another chapter in a book that is helping me grow through some of my personal issues.  (see a list of my favorite resources at the bottom of this post)  When one of those resources touches on a passage in scripture that hits me right between the eyes, THEN I go to my bible and I dig deeper.  I read the footnotes.  I read the correlating passages that are written in the margins.  And then I close my eyes and pray.  

My prayers aren’t going to sound like your prayers.
My faith isn’t going to move and breathe like your faith.

My learning isn’t going to mirror your learning.

In the passage from Matthew listed above, Jesus talks about His yoke being easy.  I learned from Jen Hatmaker at the #reckless2013 conference that “yoke” is a term that means “specific ways or methods.”  The religious leaders were all bent out of shape about praying this way or that way, don’t hang out with the sinful people, do this, don’t do that. When disciples of rabbi’s literally followed and mirrored the rabbi, the specific things that rabbi did were called his yoke.  Hello!!!!  TOO MUCH!  It’s like trying to learn a complicated line dance for someone with no rhythm… it’s just too much.

Jesus says, “my yoke is easy” — oh thank God… literally.
“…and my burden is light” — good because I have enough burdens already!

The bottom line is that it’s your responsibility to go to God.  He is there waiting for you.  The way you go to God doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s way, or sound like everyone else’s sounds.  And following Jesus isn’t complicated. No training is required, you can just jump right in.  Following Jesus isn’t too much, it’s the RELIEF from the too much that you have everywhere else in your life.

And for the record, a Christian fish on the back of the car tells me that person knows he is a sinner and that he isn’t perfect. He knows he has to RUN to Jesus because that’s where the burden is light and I’m totally down with that way of thinking.  

Give me all your burdens… um, GO FISH!
Go Fish or Go Home!
I once saw an ichthys bumper sticker THIS BIG!

… I know …. too much.

Ann’s favorite resources:

  1. Devotionals:
    1. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
    2. UpWords by Max Lucado
    3. Verse of the Day at biblegateway.com
  2. Blogs:
    1. P31 Ministries
    2. Jen Hatmaker
    3. God Dots by Anne Watson
    4. Chronic Illness & Pain
  3. Books:
    1. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
    2. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker
    3. Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado
    4. The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg
    5. The Book of God by Walter Wangerin

what do you say to the brokenhearted?

 

I am a compassionate person, but sometimes I say really stupid things to people who are hurting.  I don’t intend for my words to be stupid, but it happens.  A neighbor of ours lost her precious 4 year old son in a car accident several years ago.  I was still new in my faith and I only had bits and pieces of it figured out – so I tried to connect the dots on my own.

I don’t recommend that.
If you *think* you have it figured out but you aren’t 100% sure, you might want to check with someone who has been on their journey a little longer than you have just to be certain you aren’t creating a donkey with your connect-the-dots art.  Know what I’m sayin?

The good news is that our neighbor knew that I was genuinely hurting for her and her family.  I cried… often (and ugly) for this family.  She recently told me that it’s indeed hard to know what to say when someone is brokenhearted, but this morning I came across this scripture in a book study I am doing and I think that instead of trying to find just the right thing to say next time, I might just quote the scripture in the picture above.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.

Because He is.
He is close to the brokenhearted.

He shows up in family members who come running to be by your side.
He speaks through the countless cards and texts and emails you receive.
He works through the hands of those who come clean your house.
He loves through the hearts who care for your children when you are unable to.
He shows compassion through the meals and groceries that start showing up at your house.

I can’t answer the age-old question of “why”… WHY is this happening?  What did that happen?  Why is God doing this? – because as Jen Hatmaker (you know, my best friend) posted recently, the WHY could be any number of things depending upon the situation… and even then, we aren’t God and we don’t have all the answers.  And this is why we need faith.

We need faith, and we need to connect the dots on our own on a regular basis so that we can SEE God in action — but not the dots I first mentioned.  Instead, connect the dots of who shows up as His representative, who speaks with His loving voice, who allows Him to work through their hands, who loves with a heart like His, and who shows you compassion just as He did for countless people in the 3 short years that he ministered to others on this earth.

That’s your Lord.
That’s how much He loves you.
He is close.
Closer than you think.

(Thanks to my precious friend Anne who shared her inspiring idea of “God Dots” with me this summer – you can see more of her God Dot inspiration by following her here or here.)

jen hatmaker is my best friend

You know how we read the news online and gasp at the ridiculous things people do to either meet a celebrity or try to convince a celebrity that they are marriage material or whatever?  Psh, THOSE people are nuts.

I like nuts.  Pecans are my favorite.

I’m a special kind of nut in that I am pretty convinced that Jen Hatmaker and I would be excellent friends.  We’re both transparent, I’m hilarious and she’s not so bad herself, and we both love to write.  Now granted she has WAY more energy than I do and she could run circles around me in the ways that she gives and serves and just … DOES… but I think we would still make great friends.  Did I mention we both love to write?

photo from jenhatmaker.com
photo from jenhatmaker.com

She totally tweeted me yesterday…
(but only after I told her I would be traveling to her house to watch her new show since we don’t have cable)

And she’s coming to my church in Frisco, TX to see me…
(and about 749 other women who will just happen to be there as well)

I’ve read one of her books, and loved it…
(although she has written 9 others that I haven’t read)

And our hair is very similar – so there’s that.

I would love for you to come listen to her speak at Preston Trail on October 25th and 26th, but you should know that she will be VERY busy talking to me…
(from the stage and 749 other women will be rudely listening in on our private conversation)

You think I should buy us friendship rings or those cool heart pendants from the 80’s that say “Be Fri” and “st ends”?

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess – a review

7

From Jen Hatmaker’s website:

7 is the true story of how Jen (along with her husband and her children to varying degrees) took seven months, identified seven areas of excess, and made seven simple choices to fight back against the modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence. In the spirit of a fast, they pursued a deeply reduced life in order to find a greatly increased God.

I don’t LOVE to read.  My husband can read a book in an entire day, and that’s soooo not me.  I can read a sentence and then think about what I need at the grocery store, check the fridge for milk, see the coupon on the fridge for that cake place downtown, look it up online to see when they close, notice I have 2 new emails, remember I need to make that change in the database at church….  I think you can see where I’m going here.  I hear there is medication for people like me but that’s a different blog post entirely.

When I read Jen Hatmaker’s book, I forgot that I even have a family, that food and water are required to survive, and that school gets out at 3pm.  I seriously could not put this book down.  But there’s a major warning I must give before you read this book… ok, two warnings.

  1. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
  2. If you’re Catholic, you will feel guilt— wait — even if you aren’t Catholic, you will feel guilt and then IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Jen and her family go through 7 major areas of their lives and figure out how to make changes that will last.  We live in the United States, the land of the free, home of the excessive purchasing plague.  You know what I’m talking about.  If you have ever stepped foot in Target, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  Amazon?  They have everything you would ever need, and hey since you’ve already attained the free shipping you might as well get those other three things on your wishlist too.  Yeah – I think you know what I mean.

(Dear Catholic readers, it’s ok —- embrace the guilt.)

What areas do Jen and her family tackle:

  1. Food
  2. Clothes
  3. Posessions
  4. Media
  5. Waste
  6. Spending
  7. Stress

If you’ve read any of my blog posts before – you can already fWiEgEuKr4e out with which week I had the most trouble.  But instead of telling you how each of these chapters effected me, let me tell you that I didn’t test drive with the experiment the way Jen did.  I read this book and the accompanying Member Book  with a women’s group at my church.  We were all nervous and excited to read it, and we only did each experiment for a week instead of for an entire month like Jen did.

She doesn’t sugar-coat things in her book, y’all.  And you know what?  Good for her!  I think we have grown too accustomed to  everyone trying to play nicey-nice with each other that sometimes we don’t stick to biblical truths or God’s standards for our lives because we don’t want to seem weird or offend anyone.  (and this is where I felt the most guilt)

Jen tackles each section with honesty, HILARITY, and donchaknow, scriptural references.  Yup.  God’s rules and guidelines. Dude… just … dude.  This book rocked my world and helped me realize how petty and selfish I can be in regards to several of these 7 areas.  I didn’t have too hard of a time with the food section – tho I am a foodie and I love food (all the WRONG foods – just for the record), and the clothing section was eye opening for me but didn’t necessarily rock my world because I don’t typically buy a lot of clothes and shoes.  The possessions chapter beat me over the head as I looked around my house and through closets and gasped, shut doors and stood in front of them so no would else could see my excess.

But the media chapter — ouch.  You can read more about that here.

My conclusion is this… every family who has labeled itself as a Christian home can benefit from reading this book.  I guarantee there is a sweaty armpit chapter in there for everyone; there will be a chapter that makes you uncomfortable and nervous because she’s pretty much describing YOU in her chapter!  I love the biblical references and her call to action – that things must change in us, in our personal walks with Christ and what He calls each of us to do in our lives, and for the reputation of those who call themselves Christians.  To believe in Jesus is pretty cool, but to LIVE IT OUT is stinking inspiring and leads others to want to know what your secret sauce is!

I would love to read this book again but together as a family this time.  I am eager to know how my 10 year old son would interpret Jen’s words, and what kinds of life change would result from those interpretations.

Have you read 7?  What section left a bruise between your eyes?

candy crush confessions

This past spring our women’s ministry studied Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and my friend asked me if I would speak on the chapter about fasting from media.

I wish you could see my cursor blinking because that’s pretty much how I reacted when she asked me.  I just blinked.  My first reaction was “absolutely NO WAY!”

I do not hide my iPhone addiction.  Many people know about it, I have spoken about it, blogged about it, and prayed about it — and I still struggle with it.  While I prepared to fast from media I used all of my Candy Crush lives and special candy powers, scrolled through as much Facebook as I could, and tried one last time to beat my sister’s high score in Bejeweled.  And then I was readyish for the fast.

I seriously went from headed toward this trajectory:

And this reality:

To this trajectory:

photo from: http://mom.me/blog

Ok not really but give me some credit — I put my phone away except for phone calls and limited texts, ya’ll!  In my head I was family member of the year!

Here were my findings:  

  1. I have addictive behavior tendencies that stem from a place of perfectionism.  I wanted to crush that candy so I could get to the next level and the next — never-mind my starving child and dirty house, there were levels to conquer!
  2. I have addictive behavior tendencies … period.  Having something as handy as an iPhone isn’t necessarily a good thing for people like me.
  3. I was teaching my kid to have addictive behavior tendencies.

Are you sensing a pattern here?  But wait, there’s more.

  1. I was ruining my marriage because I gave my phone more eye contact than I gave my husband.
  2. I wasn’t reading my bible because I had candy to crush.
  3. I wasn’t reading anything really, except the directions that proceeded each new candy crush level.

I realized all of these things in just one week of not messing around on my phone.  So guess what I did when the fast was over?

I kept fasting.  

My husband and I started talking again.  My son no longer had comebacks such as, “why do I have to get off my Xbox if you’re playing games on your phone all the time!?!” <— yes that hurt, like a punch to the stomach.  I was also back in the Word of God, learning and growing and studying my Savior.

How am I now, 4 months later?
I ended up deleted approximately 20 apps.  It was refreshing and honestly I didn’t miss them.  Things are different now thanks to Michael Hyatt’s book, Platform.  I have learned how to use Facebook and Twitter in a way that supports my dreams and goals instead of working against them.

I still struggle from time to time and my husband is great about gently reminding me when I am “doing it again” and I don’t even realize it.  Habits are so incredibly hard to break.

  • Maybe you can play Candy Crush and still be a priceless gem to your family, I couldn’t.
  • Maybe you can keep yourself from scrolling endlessly through Facebook and Instagram, I couldn’t.
  • Or maybe, just maybe, you’re like me and this candy confession was just what you needed to read.

What do you struggle with in terms of media addictions?