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5 Words

I have a big pile of different projects, notebooks, skincare products, paints and random McDonald’s toys on my dining room table. Every time I walk past, I shake my head and say “that’s what my brain feels like right now.” So many thoughts that need a day or ten to be sifted through, tidied up, discarded or clarified. Familiar, huh?

I had no idea as a little girl that a woman’s mind was so full and frustrated. I was about imagination, adventure, fun, and caring for others in the moment. There’s a part of me that pines for that simplicity while the other part knows there can be presence in the chaos and purpose in the journey. It involves continuous intentional work to get there, and it goes against the grain.

So, on the cusp of a new season for our family, as my youngest will be going to Kindergarten, I am asking questions and reflecting when I get a hot minute. Words going through my mind…

  1. Stewardship :The Careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care Stewardship is one of those words that used to just have the connotation of money in my mind. As I look toward 44 one month from today, I see that time and resources and head space and intention are limited. I see the speed in which my children are growing and learning, and I gulp knowing that I have a finite time to shepherd them. So, this word drives the intention of the next words. Life is to be spent wisely, and I am accountable for that.
  2. Invest: To involve or engage especially emotionally; to make use for future benefits or advantages I have spent the significant portion of my time investing in my little boys lives and in building a business in the last 5-8 years. More so, the attention has been on my boys. It has been a blessing, but naturally it has brought a lack of diversity in my time investments. I want to be thoughtful about how I will invest my time, our resources and my energy and talents. Investments are made to yield growth. Investment choices cost you in other areas, as well. Questions I am pondering before investing: 1) In this pursuit, what is the purpose eternally for others? 2) In this pursuit, what is the purpose for provision for our family? 3) What will this cost me? Where do my strengths and joys come into play in the midst? What’s drawing me to this? Will participating bring enjoyment which then benefits other areas of life? 4) What fruit will this bring? 5) Is this the BEST use of my time? You only have so many resources to invest which brings me to:
  3. Balance: to bring into harmony or proportion Just because I can does not make it right to do it. Sometimes just one more good thing tips the scales to chaos. A huge lesson I have learned while living with a Chronic Illness and Sensory Processing in my family (as well as being a 40-ish mom of littles ) is that energy is limited and nothing expended is free. When I push the margin, everyone pays. So, I have to say “no” more often than “yes” to extras. And, here’s the deal, people will spend you as much as you make yourself available. Often, people will use guilt and shoulds, but you are the one who gives that control or shuts it down. This new season coming up will provide more margin in my headspace and in my schedule, however, it can easily be filled with the busy and unfruitful. My family is still my greatest place of stewardship. If what I am doing for my sake is costing them every week, I need to check myself. There are seasons…and this season is short in the scheme of life. Sometimes it is as holy to say “no” as it is to step out and say “yes.” Are you busy or are you investing purposefully? And…it might not involve saying “no” to everything, but it might be saying “yes” with boundaries to time. then, to what purpose am I seeking this:
  4. Purpose : Something set up as an object or end to be attained Now, I know the ultimate purpose given to me is enjoying God by Glorifying Him. That is a litmus test. However, I can be doing a lot of “good” things that are not done with a heart purpose of bringing the beauty and glory of God to bear. My narrowed down personal purpose; helping others come alive–in Jesus, and in every other way. I have a LOT of opportunities to help others come alive. As a person who leans to the tendencies of a 7 on the Enneagram, I love new ideas and can brainstorm all the possibilities. So, up to the words above, I have to see how this stewards well in life, have to examine the investment and see how it is balanced. I examine the purpose first. Here’s the trick, though. If we don’t dig into the real purpose we are doing something, we can fool ourselves. When I am signing my child up for something, is it about their best interests to come alive and to know God and to develop into an adult or is it about a need of mine to be met? Is this for my convenience or is it for their character? Do I teach them about the all-consuming beauty of the Lord in the investment or is is vacuous? Do I feel pressure because of the choices of friends or is this best for them? When I am deciding something I need to examine if I am making a comfortable decision or a surrendered decision. I have to see if it best fulfills my purpose. And then…I am examining what I am doing and will do to weigh if it’s fruitful:
  5. Fruitful : producing good or helpful results; productive; conducive to an abundant yield Everything produces something good or bad or even pointless. It’s the cause and effect deal. The choices I am making lazily or purposefully today in parenting or business affect tomorrow and the next day. It’s the simple truth. Farming is the perfect example of this. Good soil, tilling, seeds, watering, and pruning will usually bring a good harvest (dependent on God) There can also be rotten produce from bad and unbalanced investments . The question haunting me daily is how the decisions Greg and I are making in raising our children will help grow them into productive adults. That brings a different investment, balance and purpose than just placating their desires. We are entrusted to steward, and thankfully, the grace and power of God are with us because of His faithfulness and love. I also examine how I lead my Rodan + Fields Team–where is this pointing them in character, in heart, in production? What fruit will it bring?

So, here’s some self-disclosure. If you have known me for any amount of time, you know that I am not afraid to make changes. I am laying it all out on the table right now. What fruit is coming from areas of my life? What is out of my purpose? What am I asked to steward? Am I choosing Balance or Busy? Nothing is sacred.

I don’t want to awaken to my life ten years from now without this examination lived out. Because of comparison and assumption and critical opinions (some we ask for and some are unsolicited:)), we can easily question if we are doing what is best in the season we are in. So, In encourage you to not live life on autopilot. Find ways to open up this discussion within your close relationships, take time to examine your heart along with me. Then, we can cheer one another on as we live and steward and give grace on purpose

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Your personal state of the union

Nope–not gonna get political, however, I am going to get personal.

There are an amazing amount of moving parts in our lives. Mixed with an inordinate amount of information coming our way, and the more we know, the more we can be paralyzed in the execution. We can feel like we “should” be doing more or getting better results ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY!

As I hear stories and see patterns in my life and the lives of others, my heart and mind turn to the word Simplify.  This is not in reference to minimalism but to paring down and being aware of what is going on in our hearts and how we are executing leadership and life.

Simplify: to make it easier to understand; to remove the things which make it complex

As women, we tend to have lots of plates spinning at once…and part of that is a necessity.  The problem comes when we do not consider what adding plates will do to our hearts and effectiveness–we complicate things. 

Consider what you are spinning in your life—are you a spouse?  Are you a parent?  Are you caring for a parent?  Are you dealing with a chronic illness?  Are your kids in a lot of activities?  Are you working?  Are you chasing success?  Are you pursuing friendships?  Are you moving?  Are you volunteering?  Are you (GULP) building a house?  Are you looking for a new job?  Are you dealing with intense conflict?  Are you in charge of the chores at your house?  Are you meal planning and cooking?  Are you attending to your spiritual growth? Are you in charge of something(s)? Are you involved in activities at your church?  Are your kids in travel ball?  Are you in school?  Who is depending on you? how are you treating money?

Breathe and come down from the ledge. 

Some of these things are part of the choices in life that we have pursued…and some are chosen for us. The biggest choice is how we react to these.  Do we see them as opportunities to steward?  Do we have a cohesive heart and mind in how we choose what to add and what to say “no thank you” to?  What are we choosing to make more complex in this season? And where are we hurting ourselves and our families in the midst?

I could tell story after story of that one GOOD thing I added to my plates since being a mother that put us all over the edge. Usually, it involved me leading a Bible Study or a child participating in one more thing or getting out of balance with boundaries–GOOD things, but it spread me too thin and affected all my people in the worst of ways.

Cohesive: consists of parts that fit together well and form a UNITED WHOLE (integrated)

Oftentimes, we do not sit down to examine OUR SEASON and OUR HEARTS and THE NEEDS OF OUR FAMILY and how they fit together. Our lives look like a mosaic of different activities that we think we “should” do or that we “have to do to be a good parent or person” or “that’s just the way life is.”

The sum total of our lives are bearing fruit…and the question is “what is blooming?” Is there a stench or a fragrant offering? Does it offer life or death? Light or dark? Non-GMO organic apples or rotten apples? Healthy relationships or toxic relationships? Is there godliness (more of his character) or selfishness growing there?

Beward of false teachers…”you will recognize them by their fruits…Every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. THUS YOU WILL RECOGNIZE THEM BY THEIR FRUITS.” Matthew 7:15-20

So, it is so important for all of us to examine the State of our Hearts, our families, our patterns of life. They get easily complicated and disintegrate in purpose and direction. That is where our flesh and this world points us. “Our hearts are deceitful above all things”(Jeremiah 17:9). They are idol factories. We begin to see good things as the ultimate thing–our success, our parenting, our marriage, our status, our leadership…all can get way “out of whack.” God says “have no other gods before me,” Exodus 20:3, and we are experts in how to fashion gods. And, most often, they are made up of admirable things and that complicates our examination. He calls us to “examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize that this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you. “ 2 Corinthians 13:5

I come to you with hope. God simplifies this process in us by the power, life, death and resurrection of Jesus–when we come before Him with the reality of our complex lives that are not cohesive in loving Him fully (which is the greatest commandment). We have to recognize and admit the state of our union/heart…If we do not realize there is a problem, we are calling Him a liar. He is Truth–there is no darkness in Him. When, we go to Him, turn away from our other “loves,” we are given the gift of forgiveness and a new heart and a new life. We still struggle with making other idols/loves, and, even still, He NEVER forsakes us if we are truly in Him. This is why He says to REMAIN in Him everyday–He helps us simplify our motives, our plates and helps to bring cohesiveness to our patterns of life–what we put in, what we take out. He helps us understand–in this oft-times confusing life.

My prayer for me and for all who know Him: That we recognize today where our hearts are wandering and trusting other things and where our lives are bearing bad fruit. And, in that, that we may draw near to Him and the power of the GOSPEL that “by grace we have been saved through faith and this is not our own doing–accepting God’s gift–not a result of works, so that NO ONE may boast. I pray we remember that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 May we remember that “there is no condemnation FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS.” Romans 8:1

My prayer for those who do not know the beauty of knowing God: I pray that you graciously open their eyes, Dear One. I pray that you awaken their hearts to Your worth. Lord, I pray that you cause examination that they consider their fruit–and their hearts. May they experience the freedom of being adopted as your Child…