Always questions...always wondering...always taking steps down the path, hoping that it is the right one. Which job to take, should we move or stay, should we have another child, what would life look like if we did, where should your children go to preschool, then school, should mom/dad work part-time, full-time, or not at all for a time?
The list goes on and on...
And, as my husband once said to me, "Sometimes you don't know which way is the right way until you choose one and find out if it is right or wrong."
Oh dear...that's a nail biter for me...I like to get things right. So, you mean, that there are times in my life that I might have to get it wrong...just to get it right?!
Ack! Not sure if this sometimes type A momma can handle that!
Life has been full of "which way do I go questions" lately.
Nothing major...we're not talking job transfers, or houses for sale, or major school issues...
It mostly has to do with my writing...If I'm totally honest, sometimes I miss working. I get to asking myself all sorts of questions when this feeling comes around; do I venture out to find a part-time job in which I would be writing daily in a tangible way (a newsletter for an organization, marketing materials, part-time freelance for local publications, etc.), do I keep blogging and what should that look like, do I venture out and try to start writing an outline for several...(gasp!)...book ideas...
Do I just learn to be totally content at home and stop thinking about this all of the time?! (Don't answer that!)
How is it best to use my time?
...at the end of the day it all comes down to what is your...my...our...life purpose...are there ways for us to be involved in our greater communities, to reach people beyond our own homes?
I don't mean to go getting all philosophical here, but I really think that in all of us there is is a desire to be connecting with and reaching out to the world in someway that is significant...something beyond ourselves and the little corner of the world that we live in.
For me it is observing life, writing about it and than trying to figure out how to communicate my thoughts, impressions and curiosity to the world. For my husband, it is playing worship music in our church. Others are passionate about taking care of nature and spending time in it, others about animals or caring for the elderly, or helping people stay healthy, or teaching people new skills.
I'm a thinker. I think about these things a LOT. It drives me crazy. I think it drives some of closest friends and family members crazy too.
Here's the thing...we only have one life to live and I want to get it right. Consider the following quote from the very insightful teacher and thinking Parker Palmer. I heard Palmer speak at a conference in Grand Rapids, MI last spring. He spoke on purpose and how he maneuvered through finding his place in life. In is book "Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation" he says:
"Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you."Hmmmmm.
What is my life saying? Yours?
Man, it feels like mine is saying a whole lot of 'please clean the house, and wash the laundry, and clean the floor that looks like a high-school football team has trampled across it and please make food and clean up afterwards, and fold some more laundry and run some more errands,' lately.
But it is saying other things as well...especially since I've begun to pray about it.
I've been praying a very similar prayer ever since first becoming a mother, "Dear God, I love my children and I'm grateful to be able to stay at home with them, but please, please, puhleaze!!! help me to figure out how to do life with kids while simultaneously pursuing other passions and interests."
I haven't been hearing a ton of answers to that prayer...mostly what seemed like silence...though I suppose silence is a type of answer.
And then I found this book (to know me is to know there is always a book!)
The book is called "The Me Project: 21 Days to Living the Life You've Always Wanted" by Kathi Lipp.
So first things first...nothing happens in 21 days in the life of a mom with 2 preschoolers.
I'm kind of taking the book at my own pace, doing the chapters as I can. That said, this book has been incredibly helpful and full of good insight and wisdom.
First and foremost it's a reminder that while it may be called the "Me" project...it's really not about me. It's about the gifts and experiences God created me with and how HE ultimately wants to use them.
So it starts by asking some good questions. Namely, the title of "Project 1": 'What do you want from Me? Knowing God's Will for All the Parts of Your Life."
Lipp prompts you to go through your motives, your desires, your past experiences and search for details that may give you a clue to what God wants to do with you. She also has you write down ALL of the dreams, passions and desires that you have for yourself...even if they seem frivolous.
She encourages you to start paying attention to what is happening in your life, to be praying fervently for God to speak and then to be recording what you feel like He might be saying. She also urges her readers to get rid of some of the distractions in their lives.
What has this looked like for me?
Well, until I am done with the book I have committed cutting out all recreational t.v. on my part...that is, after the kids go to bed I cannot watch junk t.v., crappy reruns, or the silly reality television programs that I can tend to get sucked into.
Also, no radio when I'm in the car by myself.
I have promised myself to use my time at night more productively; working on goal writing, essay writing, blog writing, or reading.
The time in the car...that's prayer time.
I even fasted a meal last week...I know you may think that doesn't sound like a big deal, but believe me...it was a BIG deal for this constantly hungry momma.
All sorts of cool little things have been happening...I told you about a couple of answered prayers in my post last week...Mostly, I simply feel like God is speaking...He is inspiring me with new ideas, using mentors in my life to help me focus my thoughts, and even little things like bringing me completely unknowingly to a printer (for a business card I'm having printed for the conference this weekend) who happens to attend our church...something small, but a reminder that "I am here. I am in this."
He is teaching me to trust. He is teaching me which ideas to follow. He is helping me to wade through the varied thoughts and ideas in my brain and showing me where to focus. He is showing me when I need to be loving my kids and when it is o.k. for me to be focusing on other things.
It's like the verse in Matthew 7
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"
If you're asking from the right place, the right heart, God may just have some answers that surprise you.
So, if you feel like you have a heart for playing music, or to connect more strongly with your community, or perhaps you're considering a job opportunity, or a homeschooling opportunity or a ministry opportunity...start asking God to open doors in that area.
For me, it is writing. And, it is with a prayerful, curious and slightly anxious heart (I'll admit!) that I am getting ready to leave for this conference in PA this weekend. It's an interesting opportunity...a church friend and I are attending with press passes...which means we get to go in and check everything out, but we're not full fledged conference attendees...
I was thrilled but then just a little skeptical...just a little...I swear (I kind of wanted some of the conference freebies that the real attendees get, among other things!! Silly, I know!) but, because I've done so much praying about open doors to this conference I know that if this is the way God has chosen for me to attend, well then by all means...let's see what He has in store.
So, we head out on Thursday morning, from Buffalo to P.A. asking 'which way do we go'... Who will we meet, who will we talk to, how will you use us to help tell life's bigger stories?
I'm looking forward to sharing some of the discoveries when I return!