A Time to Work (Part Two)

Last week in A Time for Work (Part One) I wrote about my recent struggle with desire, trust, and a heart divided in light of an upcoming vacation my family is taking this summer.

Perhaps this all seems a bit silly, a bit overboard. Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I’m blowing everything out of proportion, if I’m making a big deal out of nothing. After all, it’s just a vacation, right?

Vacation or no, it is a matter that has caused turmoil in my heart for quite some time which, to me, is a clear cut sign that it’s time to dig a little deeper and figure out what’s going on below the surface.

When I took the issue of my heart’s desire and lack of trust to God, I came across an unlikely story buried in the book of Haggai. (Haggai? Tell me, when was the last time you took a look at this unpopular prophet?) I say buried because finding this nugget of truth was like finding buried treasure.

When the Jewish people returned to Jerusalem after the Babylonian exile, God entrusted them with one task: rebuild His temple. At first the people tried their best to fulfill this charge but as time went on they became distracted, they lost sight of their priorities, and they ceased to complete the work they started.

Instead of building the temple they started to build fine homes for themselves, but as they worked they were unable to reap any sort of harvest. No matter how hard they worked they never had enough.

Finally, God sent the prophet Haggai who instructed the people to refocus their efforts on building the temple.

“… ‘be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the Lord, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:4 NKJV)

Along with His instruction, God made a promise to His people.

“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations…and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:6-9 NKJV)

In short, if the people could remain faithful to the task God had given, He would, in turn, fill His temple with blessing, glory, and peace.

Blessing, glory, and peace.

As I read this passage everything started to make sense.

Now is the time to work.

When it comes to my husband’s business, when it comes to my own “business” of writing, now is the time to work. These are the tasks we’ve been given and these tasks are our temple.

As God’s truth and promise filled my heart, I could see it clear, how all this time my heart has been divided. Divided between staying and going, my husband and my family. Divided between work and play, sacrifice and pleasure.

So what do I do with my desire? With my heart divided?

As I sat in the quiet and listened to God, the words came soft and sure, “Do you trust me?” In that moment I knew my answer to this question had the power to change everything.

Soft and sure I answered, “Yes, God, I trust you. Yes, God I will work. I will be strong for I know (and it is a little while) that if we build the temple you’ve asked us to build you will fill it with your blessing, your glory, your peace.”

Blessing, glory, and peace.

Don’t get me wrong, I still long to taste the sweet fruit of my family’s upcoming vacation. I long to hunt beauty, to be with them, to find rest, but for the first time in four years I’m willing to work, I’m willing to trust, I’m willing to wait because I know that the fruit God has in store for me, for all of us, is far sweeter.

In the end, I can move forward with a desire that is first and foremost for God and the work He has given me to do. I can trust Him because I know that His words are true and His promises are good. And I can be strong and settled because my heart is no longer divided.

By deciding to take God at His word, by deciding to focus my efforts on work I’ve been given, by deciding to wait and trust God for the fulfillment of my desire, my heart has been made whole.

With muscle and steel, my husband builds his business.

 With pen and paper I write.

Together we hammer out our temple and trust, wholeheartedly, in the Lord of the harvest.

How about you? Are you currently is a season of work or a season of harvest? What does your temple look like, what task(s) has God given you to do? What blessing, glory, or peace has God brought into your life as a result of your faithful effort?

I’d love to hear what God is doing in this season of your life.

A Time to Work (Part One)

My family is going on vacation without me.

This should not come as a surprise. For four consecutive summers my mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, two nephews, and niece have packed their bags, loaded their cars and headed for Williamsburg, VA while my husband, my girls and I keep the fort here in Michigan.

It’s not that my family wants to enjoy their vacation without us. Quite the contrary, they would love for us to join them. However, for the past four years, my husband and I have been working hard to get our family business up and running. A vacation, of this magnitude, is simply more than we can afford during this season of our lives.

Let me clarify, a vacation of this magnitude is more than my husband can afford. Williamsburg is fourteen hours away from our home and business. Believe me; if I were to step away, the business would continue to run, just fine, but at this stage, my husband is a one man show. Due to the nature of his work he has to stay close to home, he has to keep things going.

So every year, about this time, I am plagued with the same difficult decision: should I stay or should I go.

Just yesterday, I sent a text to my friend: I’ve decided to stay, that is of course unless I decide to go! Such is the state of my brain for all of July and most of August.

The decision to either stay or go weighs heavy on my heart every year, and this year the tug to go and the struggle to make a decision seem stronger and more difficult than ever.

If I go with my family I am choosing to leave my husband. How can I leave him? How can I let him work and sacrifice, while the rest of us go play? Could I ever truly enjoy a vacation without him by my side?

If I stay home I feel like I’m missing on out on time that is precious to my family, my girls, and me.

As I sort through these questions and weigh my options I am beginning to realize that my struggle to make a decision is not about the vacation. It’s about desire, trust, and a heart divided.

In and of itself, my desire to be a part of my family’s vacation isn’t bad. I long for the beauty and tranquility I find whenever I have a chance to leave my everyday surroundings. I long for time with my mom and dad, my sister and her family. I long to see my girls enjoy playtime their cousins. I want the blessing, the glory, and the peace that this yearly trip to Williamsburg has come to represent.

While speaking with a friend last week the following words flew out of my mouth completely uninhibited, “I’m afraid that if I don’t take advantage of this chance to go, I’ll never get to enjoy this time with my family.”

I’m afraid? I’m afraid. Yes, that’s it, I thought.

I’m afraid to trust God with this desire for blessing, glory, and peace. I’m afraid to trust that my husband and I will ever be able to enjoy a vacation or time with the people we love. I’m afraid that our business will never grow big enough, strong enough, successful enough to support us.

These are my fears. I’m afraid to trust God with each of these things, and this is why the desire to join my family and go to Williamsburg is burning me whole.

Blessing, glory, peace. I don’t know about you, but to me, these three words mean a lot. They are exactly what I long for in a vacation and they are exactly what I struggle to believe God has for my family, for our business, for me.

With these things in mind, I knew that before I could make a decision, I needed to spend time with God. I needed to take my fears and desires to Him and seek His wisdom and truth.

Next week in a Time for Work (Part Two) I will share the amazing things God has shown me through our time together.

In the meantime, what represents blessing, glory, and peace to you? What things do you struggle to trust God with? What difficult decision are you struggling with or what makes your heart divided?

I’d love to hear from you.

A List for the End of Summer

Wrinkled ToesToday I took my girls swimming for the FIRST time this summer.

Yes, you read that correctly. Here it is, August, and I’m just now getting my girls, and their super-cute swimsuits, into a pool.

Believe me; I am experiencing serious mom-guilt over this. At the beginning of June I promised myself that I would give my girls plenty of opportunities to swim this summer, but somehow we made it to August without the wrinkly toes and tan lines that serve as a badge of honor on hot summer days.

It is no secret that the end of summer is upon us. The Back-to-School signs are everywhere and, here in Michigan, we can already feel a tinge of autumn’s impatient chill.

Queen Anne's LaceInspired by today’s visit to the pool I’ve been making a list in my mind. It’s a list of all the things I’d like to do before the end of summer.

I can’t think of a better way to use this week’s post than to share my list with you. It is my hope that this list of ideas will inspire you to hunt for beauty, seize, not just the day, but the moments that make the days worthwhile, and open your eyes to the fleeting glory of summer.

No matter what, take it from me, avoid the guilt and Get. In. The. Pool.

21 Things to Do Before the End of Summer

  1. Catch fireflies and put them in a jar (but let them go before bedtime)
  2. Bite into a wedge of juicy watermelon, let it trickle down your chin and see how far you can spit the seeds
  3. SwingTake a child to a playground and take a turn on the swings
  4. Run through a sprinkler (Who cares what your neighbors think?)
  5. Treat yourself to an ice cream cone and savor each lick, right to the last, sweet drop
  6. Let your toes get wrinkled in a lake or a pool
  7. Take a walk in the morning and linger in the cool of the day
  8. Take a walk in the evening and linger in the glow of twilight
  9. Roast hot dogs and smore’s over a campfire
  10. Read a book in a hammock or porch swing
  11. Invite a friend (or ten) over for a cookout, use paper plates and revel in the joy of food and friendship
  12. Read or re-read a book or magazine for pure delight
  13. Make a list of all the things you wanted to do this summer. Pick one or two things and do them; release yourself from the rest. (Remember, next summer will come with fresh grace.)
  14. Pack a blanket and snacks and enjoy a picnic with your kiddos, your family or friends
  15. TomatoSavor the taste of corn-on-the-cob, vine ripened tomatoes, and fresh blueberries
  16. Visit at least one garage sale, buy one thing practical, one thing beautiful, one thing just for fun
  17. Pick a bouquet of Queen Anne’s Lace (it’s everywhere right now) and place it in your windowsill
  18. Bring the makings for root beer floats to your next play date or Bible study
  19. Grab your camera and spend a day or an afternoon capturing God-glory
  20. Spend time thanking God for all the gifts of summer
  21. Go shopping for school supplies, unpack your favorite jacket, and say, “Hello,” to fall

Why not make your own list? I’d love to see your ideas for savoring the last days of summer. Share your thoughts below…let’s keep the list going…






A Desolate Place

A few weeks ago, as I was reading in my Bible, I came across Luke, Chapter 9 and The Feeding of the Five Thousand. It’s a story I have read many times but this time I noticed something fresh and new.

In verse twelve the disciples came to Jesus and said,

“Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.” (Luke 9:12, ESV)

A desolate place?

The Encarta Dictionary defines desolate as:

1)      Empty: bare, uninhabited, and deserted

2)      Alone: solitary, joyless, and without hope

3)      Grim: dismal and gloomy

Empty, alone, grim. Sometimes I think these words describe more than our physical surroundings. I can remember a distinct time in my life in which my husband and I felt empty, alone, and grim; A time when we found ourselves in what seemed to be a desolate place.

It was a sunny fall day in 2008. My husband and I were at a hotel in Charlotte, NC. Eager and excited to meet with a realtor, we couldn’t wait to spend the day shopping for a new home.

In the weeks leading up to this fateful day, my husband had been offered a new job by a company based in Charlotte. As newlyweds, my husband and I had lived in Charlotte for four years before moving to Virginia, and while we loved Virginia, Charlotte felt like home.

The house we were renting in Virginia had recently gone into foreclosure, and our landlord didn’t know how long it would take for the bank to gain possession. To say the least, our living situation was anything but stable.

In addition to the stress of our housing situation, my husband was unemployed and I was four months pregnant with our first baby. We prayed for God to send us an answer and lead us through this turbulent time.

My husband’s new job and the chance to move back to Charlotte seemed to be the answer we had been praying for. We felt certain that God was making all the pieces fall in place, and we couldn’t be happier.

As we sat in the hotel lobby, enjoying coffee and breakfast, my husband’s cell phone rang. I could tell by the way he left our table that something was wrong. When he returned the look on his face told me that I was right: His job offer was gone.

Gone. Without the assurance of a job we had no reason to move to Charlotte. We had no stable income or housing to return to in Virginia and a baby on the way.

No job, no home, no security or direction for the next chapter of our lives.

Empty. Alone. Grim. This was our desolate place.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.” (Luke 9: 16-17, ESV)

They all ate and were satisfied…with broken pieces?

Broken pieces?

Isn’t this what Christ does? In the desolate place, He takes our bread and fish, He takes that which doesn’t seem like enough, and He turns it into a blessing, into provisions that satisfy our needs.

With broken pieces He makes us full.

He meets our need. He provides with abundance, even in desolate places.

Out of that day in Charlotte, my husband’s business was born. For the first time in his life my husband is doing the kind of work he has always dreamed of doing. To date, God has blessed our business with the kind of growth that can only be attributed to Him and his “bread and fish” provision.

That day in Charlotte was dark, and while it felt like a desolate place, the truth is, we were never empty, we were never alone, and our future was never grim, because God was always with us.

In the desolate place He kept us full. In the desolate place He kept us company. In the desolate place He gathered our bread and our fish and gave us bite after bite of His grace and provision so that our future could shine with hope.

When it comes to desolate places, I know I’m not alone. Where is your desolate place? What doesn’t seem like enough? How is God filling you?

Wherever you are, whatever you’re going through, I hope you can remember the five thousand, the bread and the fish, the baskets full of broken pieces. Most of all, I hope you can remember Jesus, the master of miracles in desolate places.