July 27, 2012

Living Quietly: The Rewards

...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
~1 Thess. 4:11-12

Our world thinks little of a quiet life. I, too, have wrestled with the reality of a small, quiet life. It is only recently that I have grasped its intrinsic value.

A stronger marriage.  My man and I love each other deeply, but I never want to assume that our marriage is unshakable.  A quiet life will protect our time together and enable us to better serve each other.

A stronger family.  As we prepare for my girl to enter high school this year, I am acutely aware that our time  is short. A quiet life will give plenty of opportunities to teach, laugh, cry, listen, play, and encourage. I want to savor each one.

A stronger relationship with the Lord. My life flourishes when I have meaningful time in the Word and in prayer. A quiet life, not crowded with meaningless activities, will give me that time each day.

A stronger contentment. I am most content when appreciate the blessings the Lord has poured out on my life. A quiet life will keep me from comparing myself with others, allow me to do the things I most enjoy, and help me see the goodness of the Lord.

Stronger friendships. I've been guilty of allowing technology to take the place of personal contact. A quiet life means not relying on social media or text messaging to find out what's going on in the lives of those who are dear to me. It will also give me time to send handwritten notes of encouragement and appreciation.

A stronger ministry. I have often missed out on serving others because I didn't have the time or energy. A quiet life, not overwhelmed by demands, will make it easier to open our home and to intentionally care for and disciple others.

A stronger witness. A solid marriage, a solid family, a solid theology, a stronger prayer life, a stronger contentment, stronger friendships and a stronger ministry  - as Paul instructs, walking properly before outsiders.  All shining lights so that others may praise God. (Matthew 5:16)

A quiet life requires thorough introspection and unwavering commitment, but it is a life well-lived. It is a life of incomparable worth. It is a life I intend to pursue with all my heart.

July 25, 2012

Living Quietly: Minding My Own Affairs

..aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
~1 Thess. 4:11-12

After Paul exhorts the Church at Thessolonica to aspire to live quietly, he encourages them to mind their own affairs.  It's not so easy in the internet age. Temptations are everywhere. I confess how I have fallen to them. Blog posts and Facebook statuses invite us into the lives of others, feeding the voyeur within us.

Lately I've been wondering, how much do I need to know?  How much benefit is there in knowing so much about mere acquaintances - their thoughts, the adorable things their children say or do, the places they're going, the foods they're eating, the cute shoes they'd like to buy. It's overwhelming and takes away from the time I have to invest in genuine relationships.

Part of a rich, quiet life means that I must properly mind my own affairs by:

prioritizing my involvement in the lives of those around me. I have many friends and acquaintances, but I limit my close relationships. I cannot expect to effectively minister to a large number of people. I am much better at keeping up with and praying for a few whom God has knit to my heart. When presented with opportunities to serve others, I try to be realistic. I can only do so much and still meet my other responsibilities.

realizing how trivial some things are. I need to remember to look at everything through the lens of eternity. As a believer in Christ, I should have no room in my life for drama - whether played out "live" or online. Celebrity break-ups and neighborhood gossip should be meaningless to me.

giving up my need to interject my opinion.  I will not always agree with everyone. In certain situations, there is a time and place to make that known. Most of the time, my opinion doesn't (or shouldn't) matter. It only adds to the noise.

focusing on the works God has planned for me. As a wife, mother, friend, and member of a local church, I have more than enough to keep me occupied. The Proverbs 31 woman was so busy with her own responsibilities that she probably didn't have time to worry about what other people were doing. Maybe that's God's way of protecting us females from sticking their noses in other people's business!

As I've pondered reducing noise, carefully choosing commitments, and minding my own affairs, I've realized a quiet life has great benefits. I'll be sharing those soon, so stay tuned...

July 23, 2012

Living Quietly:Choosing Commitments

...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
~1 Thess. 4:11-12

Thoughts of living a quiet life continue to woo me. They were birthed as the result of a particularly chaotic season in our family's life - several weeks of commitments every night. The activities that clamored for my attention soon lost their appeal, leaving me tired, cranky and empty. It also brought conviction.

Housework and paperwork, too long neglected, loomed large before me. I had sacrificed my duties on the altar of busyness. 

Merriam - Webster defines busy as foolishly or intrusively active.


A quiet life also demands answers to some hard questions regarding commitments.

Am I using this as an opportunity to glorify God? Athletics, community organizations, and other activities outside church can certainly testify to God's goodness and grace. Does my participation and attitude reflect that? Even in my commitments away from home, I must remember my calling (1 Cor. 10:31).

Is this helping me to grow in the Lord? Preparing Sunday School lessons offers that opportunity, as do taking meals to those who are sick and befriending parents of my girls' teammates. I must seek activities that help me to live in light of the Gospel.

Is this causing me to sacrifice my primary responsibilities to God and family? Even church activities can cause us to spend too much time away from home, or to be too tired to care for my family when I am home. I must be careful not to neglect my family in the name of serving God.

I am happy my man and my girl play sports, but I would rather splash in the pool with them than cheer them on from the sidelines.  I am thankful for my daughter's youth group, but I would rather learn God's Word with her than hear what her leader taught her.

If our commitments don't lend time for the things I'd rather do, they aren't worth it.

July 20, 2012

Living Quietly: Reducing the Noise, Part II

...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
~1 Thess. 4:11-12

Living quietly means more than controlling the level of noise allowed into my life. I am also convicted of the noise I contribute. 

Social media has allowed us to collect "followers" and "friends" like trinkets on a charm bracelet.  We are compelled to share intimate details of our lives with complete strangers, yet we are ashamed to ask friends to pray for us as we wrestle against sin. We brand ourselves with carefully crafted personas, afraid the true person cowering behind the screen isn't good enough. We allow site hits to determine our significance.

We shamelessly promote ourselves instead of the One who deserves all glory.

In considering the noise I contribute to the social media frenzy, I ask questions that are somewhat familiar:

Am I attempting to drown out the voice of God? I must aim to glorify Him and Him alone in what I post. Family accomplishments are to be celebrated, not paraded for public consumption.

Am I infringing on my family's privacy? Sharing what God is doing in our family can be an encouragement to others and testify to His goodness. Sharing my daughter's struggles or my husband's sins violates their confidence in me. When sharing my own sins and struggles, I must be careful not to implicate my family in any way.

Is this relevant in God's Kingdom? I must gauge the importance of the information I'm sharing in light of eternity.

Will this encourage and help others in their walk with the Lord?  I must remember that even in social media, I am called to disciple and encourage others.

I have lovely group of Facebook friends  - women serious about the Lord, but not always so serious. Our bond in Christ has been strengthened by discussions on theology as well as our mutual affections for Jane Austen and OPI nail polish. I have close relationships with other women I've only met online, forged through blog comments, emails, and prayer.  I have learned much, grown deeper in the Lord, and laughed til I cried. I am incredibly thankful that God has enriched my life through social media.

I want my online presence to reflect that truth.

July 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Giving thanks this week for:

~posts by iron-sharpening women.  Aimee's post on submission really hit home. Kim's words on gurus are wise, indeed.

~my girl's return for a few days. She's been gone quite a bit this summer and it's been rather strange.

~God's reproof and correction through Scripture. Handling a situation the way He wants, rather than how I want, brings such peace. Why is my heart so stubborn and resistant?

~garden bounty

~time spent with my 90-year old grandmother.

~a change in the way we live

~my man standing strong beside me as I look on Mama's name etched in stone for the first time

~air conditioning in these dog days of summer

~the Word become flesh

July 18, 2012

Living Quietly: Reducing the Noise

...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
~1 Thess. 4:11-12

I've been pondering the quiet life and its ever-decreasing value in society.  Noise has drowned out our craving for quiet.  





                             Smart phones.

                             24-hour news networks.

                             Hundreds of television channels.

We have unlimited access to information, unfettered interaction with people near and far. But at what price? We've become desensitized to the constant droning around us. We are uncomfortable with face-to-face contact. We have exchanged flesh and blood for pixels and gigabytes.

Noise reigns in our lives.

Merriam-Webster defines noise
any sound that is undesired or interferes with one's hearing of something; irrelevant or meaningless data or output occurring along with desired information.
Keeping this in mind, these are the questions I want to ask myself - thinking on long and hard - as I seek the quiet life:

Is this interfering with my hearing God? I must guard my time in His Word before spending time in the words of others, no matter the source.

Is this interfering with my hearing my family? I must also guard my time with my family. I cannot forsake my responsibilities to love and minister to them.

Is this relevant in God's Kingdom? I must gauge the importance of the information I'm consuming in light of eternity.

Is this encouraging and helpful in my walk with the Lord?  I must accurately assess its influence upon my willingness to live for God's agenda rather than my own.

Some of the answers may surprise me. Watching Ina Garten may inspire me to try a new dinner that knocks my man's socks off. Reading so many Christian blogs may be pulling me away from spending time in God's Word or from meeting my family's needs. I don't know what it will look like, but I truly believe that asking myself these questions before I read, listen, or watch will have a tremendous impact on the noise level in my life.

July 16, 2012

A Quiet Life

...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
~1 Thess. 4:11-12

 Quiet.  One of my favorite words. One of my favorite things.

...low tones of classical music wafting on the air as I'm curled up with a good book. 

...hushed jazzy voices crooning while I clean our home or prepare a meal.

...absolute stillness of a dark morning lit only by a small lamp and the Word of God.

...crickets chirping outside my window as I fall asleep.

I enjoy a good football game, laughter, and being with friends. Yet it is in the quiet moments of my life that I feel most alive.

My soul craves quiet.

Perhaps it's a reaction to years of going, doing, and spending. Maybe it's a result of endlessly trying to meet others' expectations. I believe it's wisdom gained.

I've spent much of the last few days thinking about what it means to live quietly. I'll be sharing my thoughts here over the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, what does living quietly mean to you?

July 6, 2012

What I Did During My Blog Vacation

~Witnessed God's providence as my man started a new job. We wholeheartedly testify to the truth of Romans 8:28.

~Read some great fiction. The Distant Hours, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Hannah Coulter, and The Homecoming of Samuel Lake.

~Fell woefully behind in The Book Club at Desiring Virtue's selection of According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible. It's a great book, but I'm trying to read it slowly to soak it all in.

~Celebrated as our girl finished 8th grade.

~Enjoyed a few days at the beach with friends.

~Registered our girl for high school classes.

~A new start in high school deserves a new room.  Moved our girl into a bigger room and did an extreme room makeover while she was away at missions camp.

~Missed her like crazy while she was gone, but delighted in some alone time with my man.

~Listened eagerly as she shared her camp experiences.

~Realized (AGAIN) how quickly the years are passing. There's little time left to influence this young woman and to give her a firm foundation in the Lord. I am determined to make each day count.

~Stumbled into sin, time and time again. I am so thankful for God's grace and mercy!

~Spent hours in the car at field hockey practice (thus, the reading of good books) and on the sidelines cheering during games.

~Spent hours on the softball sidelines cheering for my man and our church's coed softball team.

~Created a guest room.  Visitors are welcome!

~Got inspired by redesigned spaces and fresh coats of paint to do even more simplifying.

~Pared down my Google Reader.

Nothing terribly exciting - just the ebb and flow of a life marked by tremendous blessings and a faithful God.

July 5, 2012

Thankful Thursday

Giving thanks for...

~the first fruits from the garden
~heart-to-heart conversations with my man
~household projects completed
~a good book - or two!
~thoughtful discussions with my girl
~hugs from my college girls
~breathtaking fireworks
~time to rest during a headache that lasted several days
~the end of a headache that lasted several days
~a girl who loves to help in the kitchen
~motivation to keep simplifying our home

July 2, 2012

A Woman's Prerogative...

I know, I know. I said I was calling it a blog. But I miss blogging. And I'm thinking that maybe - just maybe - I have a wee bit more to say. I don't know what it will look like, or how often it will be. But I'm just not ready to pronounce Breath of Life dead.

A girl can change her mind, right?

To be continued...