Home business, home education and health challenges: what makes us tic?

Posts tagged ‘peace’

(S)he who refraineth [her] lips is wise

The peace of Jesus (found on Pinterest)

The peace of Jesus (found on Pinterest)

Recently, I’ve been struggling with conflict in certain areas. I haven’t addressed the conflict directly, because a) I didn’t believe I would be heard. I felt that my words would lead to more strife, and not resolve anything. And, b) I didn’t want to be guilty of stirring up strife or gossiping. What I ended up with was growing bitterness eating away at my joy and my relationships, and a sense of lonely isolation. Who could I take my problems to?

Where I was right

We ought not to gossip. Ever. Proverbs 10:9 tells us “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin, and he (or she) who refraineth his (or her) lips is wise.” In other words: if you’re saying a lot of words, some of those are bound to cause trouble.

We also learn in Psalm 17:9 that “He (or she) that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends”. So it’s better not to share someone’s mistakes – especially if they ARE mistakes. Sharing the shortcomings of others destroys relationships – and entitles them to share your shortcomings. No one wants that!

Why I was wrong

First of all, covering a sin and keeping quiet are two different things. It takes grace and forgiveness and love to cover a sin (even a perceived sin against oneself). What I was doing was bottling it up and festering. Hardly gracious.

Secondly, I was in fact not refraining my lips at all. Rather, I was “dumping” the bitterness on my poor, patient husband, winding him into my festering malignance. It was unfair, and could very easily have “separated very friends”. That is hardly the behaviour of a loving, supportive wife.

Finally, Matthew 18 tells us how we should deal with conflict and sin. First, we go directly to the person involved, explain why we feel hurt or wronged, and ask for repentance or an explanation or an apology: we try to restore the relationship. (I didn’t do this because I was utterly convinced it wouldn’t work. Someone else did, and it did work). Second, if they refuse to mend their ways (or explain them, so that we see their perspective), get another godly friend involved. Only if that fails should anyone else be involved. That allows the person in the wrong (whether it’s them or me) the dignity to resolve the situation and restore the friendship without the politics and pain that often accompanies perceived (or real) injustices in small groups.

What now?

Jesus gives peace (found on Pinterest)

Jesus gives peace (found on Pinterest)

I was wrong for festering. I was wrong for not addressing the perpetrators. But most of all, I was wrong for not trusting God. The question is: do I trust my God to solve my problems? 1 Peter 5:7 tells us to “[cast] all your cares on Him, for He careth for you.” Do I believe that? If so, I should take this to Him, and leave it there. If I really need someone to talk to, someone to unload on, I have Someone perfect, ready and waiting to hear and to heal. He can change my perspective. He can fix the brokenness. And He can give me peace even though I don’t understand. While godly counsel tends to wise action, in its absence we have access to the Godliest counsel of all: His precious Word, and that sweet hour of prayer.

Don’t neglect it as I have. Let’s commit to getting closer to the One who knows best.

Peace made practical

Last year I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue and fibromyalgia, as I’ve explained ad nauseam (sorry for that). I won’t go into the boring details, except to say that the diagnosis launched a journey of self-discovery. I should actually say it deepened the existing journey of self-discovery I was already on. And then we moved. Into a bigger house. (Can I just say: moving sucks! But more space is very nice).

It’s been a very good thing.

For one thing, it’s forced me to respect how I’m wired in a way that I never have before. I’ve been trying to fight it all this time, as if certain basic aspects of myself are somehow less desirable than those of another person. Academically, I’ve always known this is a dangerous route, as it is hard to sustain under pressure, and a terrible example to set for impressionable young daughters.

So now we begin to make the academic understanding apply in practical ways to my situation. While this may sound unreasonably petty and very OCD, a significant contributing factor to my body’s failure to thrive is mess. I like order – rhythms and structure and logic and peace. I do not like mess. And in chaos, I wither. Unfortunately, my family does not share these compunctions. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. Things are not put away, cleaned up, turned off, tidied, washed or straightened. Things are not done.  Ever. Honestly, I’m not exaggerating when I say we’d disappear under mountains of our own rubbish in less than a year if I didn’t move heaven and earth to stop that happening.

Until last September, I truly believed that I was the flawed one; that I ought to be more accepting of the otherness of others, and not inflict my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies on such free spirits. Pah! I’m over that. Now we have order. Thanks to the genius that is Alisa Vitti, the wisdom of Dr James Wilson, and some plain old common sense (not to mention Pinterest), I am building the tools I need to have a home that is a source of peace and joy for us all.

First of all, I have defined three very simple, very clear focus areas for this year, with measurable goals for each. I’ll share these later in the week. I’ve put them up in key areas so that they are always easily visible to me.

Next, I’ve broken each month down into a schedule of deliverables for each of these three areas of my life. My guiding philosophy here is “less is more”. Whereas, in the past, I would try to cram as much as I could into every day, scheduling my life down to the last five minutes, now I am trying to see how little I can get away with in each day without chaos ensuing. It sounds lazy, but it’s actually sanity saving if you’re an over-scheduler like me. I’ve also taken things like our business, family and social commitments, and my cyclical changes, into account with these schedules, since they have a very real effect on all that I do (and how effectively it gets done).

Finally, I’ve made some rules. In our house we all have chores. Doing chores earns rewards, not doing chores earns punishment. I’d like to instil a sense of teamwork and the necessity of pulling together into all of this somewhere, but waiting for my brood to do their bit because it’s the right thing to do will require a degree of patience I cannot lay claim to. We have chores lists that get checked off every day. Completing your chores gets you your agreed reward. Not doing so gets you grounded, and may cost you something, too. And we have a chore bin: if you leave it out, it goes in the bin. You have one week to earn it back by doing a chore, otherwise it goes to charity. No matter what it is. (The bin is new and not popular. I am intrigued to see how it will play out).

I am feeling much more content and at peace, and I missing far fewer deadlines than ever before. The school bases are covered, and my clients’ expectations are managed. All while the house keeps ticking over and very few balls are being dropped there, either. Over the next few weeks I’ll share the ways in which we’re taking charge of our chaos, and how making it practical is helping us establish and maintain peace.

True Love

“And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” – John 4:21

If I say I love God, but I don’t love my family and friends, I am a liar, and God’s love isn’t in me. God is love. A relationship with Him is characterised by perfect love and indescribable peace. It is is not a relationship filled with judgment, hate, persecution and guilt. It is free of fear or retribution.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” – John 4:18

Freedom from fear

The truth is that I am not perfect. While I certainly don’t fear for my soul, I do get fearful here on earth. Will we make the ends meet this month? Will bad guys break into my house? Will the economy collapse? These are fears that have plagued nations and individuals almost as long as there have been nations and individuals. But that waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night, gut-wrenching terror about the future of my soul if there should happen to be a forever? Nope. I’m sorted. I have peace.

What, then, is love?

How does this perfect love play out in one’s life? Being imperfect, I certainly don’t see people the way God does. But I do know that I can model my actions on His, and develop a worldview that mirrors God’s devotion to us. When we’re learning a new skill, who better to learn from than someone who’s mastered it? And when we learn to love, who better to learn from than The Master?

Let’s review, then. How has He shown His love for us?

  1. He made us. That’s pretty big. He gave us life – arguably the greatest gift this side of forever.
  2. He gave us choice. He could have made us all love Him automatically. Instead, He lets us choose our own path through life.
  3. He gave us His Word. Even though we have the option of going any way we like, He gave us the manual, and shows us how to get the most out of what He’s given us.
  4. He gave us Jesus. To make it easier to understand His Word and His will, he sent us His Son. A gentle and humble teacher, overflowing with love for each of us, Jesus lived out the Way, and taught us how to do so, too.
  5. He gave His life. What greater gift could anyone ask for, ever? He gave everything; He took our place.
  6. He conquered death. Not only did He take our place in paying for our sin, He took away death and gave us everlasting life.
  7. He did all that – and we did not deserve a bit of it. Before we were created, He’d saved us (if we want to be saved – He’s even left that choice up to us). We certainly couldn’t have earned a single one of these demonstrations of love before we even existed. He loved us first.

That’s pretty awesome, right? So how should I love, if this is my model?

  • I should love first. I shouldn’t wait for the person to earn it, ask for it, or deserve it.
  • I should love sacrificially. Love doesn’t always cost something. But I should love even if it does cost me something. I should love even if it costs me everything.
  • Loving is giving. Do I have what you need? Here ya go, then. It’s yours. You don’t have to pa me back. I ask for nothing in return.
  • Loving is forgiving. Whether you meant to hurt me or not, whether you want my forgiveness or not, whether you know I exist or not, I forgive you, and won’t hold it against you.
  • Loving is taking action. Saying, “I love you” is not enough. I show my love for you by meeting your physical and emotional needs to the very best of my ability. Whether you need warm clothes, a plate of food, a place to stay, a hug, or any other practical, real demonstration of my love, I need to be willing to do it.
  • Love gives life. Our words and actions have power. Every day we impact lives in ways too numerous to mention. We can use that power for good if we choose to. We can breathe energy and encouragement and joy into the lives of others. Love chooses life.

Perfect Love requires no payment.

I love imperfectly. I want a reward for my sacrifice, and I withhold good from those to whom it is due (Prov. 3:27), even if I have it by me, because I have harboured some root of bitterness in my heart against that person (Heb. 12:15). I may be justified in my pain and disillusionment, but that doesn’t make me right. And it certainly doesn’t mean that I’m walking in God’s love. If I can harbour a root of bitterness and not forgive, then I’ve lost sight of what really matters in life. I’m focusing on me. And having walked that way, I can testify that it is not the way to happiness.

Imagine.

Imagine a world without conflict or hatred. A world of peace and self-sacrifice, where everyone has what they need and no one goes without. Imagine a world in which no one judges anyone, no one keeps score, no one is selfish. That’s the world I’m living for, and I’m going to start today by loving in deed, not just in words.

How about you?

Something to Offer

It recently struck me that what I love about my faith is having something to offer. A friend of mine is going through a time of personal crisis at the moment. You know how sometimes a crisis hits, and it’s a fast-paced, action-packed, frenetic period of emotional (and sometimes physical) upheaval that leaves you wrung out and physically as well as emotionally drained? Well, this is not like that. This is like watching a tsunami hit in very slow motion. It’s so slow that you don’t even realise the wave is coming until it’s washed over you. She is slowly losing her footing in life, and feeling overwhelmed and washed away.

I would feel hopeless, frustrated and impotent. All I can do is offer a shoulder to cry on, but she’s in a place where she doesn’t ant to speak to anyone at all. All I can do is let her know (from a distance) that her friendship matters to me, and hope that helps. Or it would be all I could do … the fact is that there’s so much more that I can do.

I can offer hope.

I have first-hand experience of the refreshing, the comfort in the midst of trials, the peace in the face of chaos. I know that people who don’t walk in faith think that this is imaginary. Escapism at its finest. I suppose in their position, that’s how I’d explain it, too. Having lived it, I know different. It’s as real s my relationship with Papa Bear or the girls – if not more so.

And I can offer this to my friend: I can offer her a path out of the darkness, and a light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve walked the path, and seen the light.

And I pray that she will, too.

 

If you’re looking for a peace that seems elusive, trying to make sense of a world that seems chaotic, that sense of peace is available – for free! – to anyone who asks for it. Leave me a comment and I’ll reply to you, and tell you how I found the peace that has changed my life and made all the burdens bearable.

Some days are magic.

Col. 3:15 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."

Col. 3:15 “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

Today is one of those days. Everything is in order. (Well, bar a couple of clutter pockets. And the Garage – looming large). My brain is in order. I have a much clearer idea of what to do with the kids next week. My man is wonderful: thoughtful, funny, hardworking, off to bring home bacon. He’s been gone for half an hour and I miss him already!

My daughters are delightful. All morning they’ve been sweet and helpful, playing together, quietly reading stories to each other and themselves, tidying up, helping out. I am truly blessed today. I have all that I need and so much more.

Yesterday I was researching Charlotte Mason’s methods and came across a post about how she would organise her day. It really inspired me and I am going to aim to do something similar. Here’s my version: I’m going to divide my days into realistic blocks of time, namely, Before Breakfast (BB), After Breakfast Before Snack (ABBS), After Snack Before Lunch (ASBL), After Lunch Before Snack (ALBS), After Snack Before Supper (ASBS), and After Supper Before Bed (ASBB). Then each block of time will have one or two major goals to be achieved or priorities to be taken care of.

I still need to list the priorities that I’ll fit into each week, but for now they’ll cover things like gardening with the girls; Sunday School and school prep; time with my man; play time with the girls. In fact, that’ll just be my list. Oh – and “blessing my house” in some way each week. (I really like this concept: each week, what can I do to make my home a better, more welcoming place? One project each week – be it large or small – will make a big difference).

Obviously mornings will be school time. Around supper time we’ll (hopefully) start having family walks. Before breakfast is workout time – both spiritual and physical. And then the rest of the day is work, and even there I’ll pick the two or three most important work items and focus on doing those to the best of my ability.

I started thinking about this last night (well, at 2:45 this morning!) before I went to bed, and I really think I’m on the right track. I feel so calm and even excited about this new, organised, productive life I’m gooing to lead. Wish me luck!

Past Understanding

keep calm and run on

keep calm and run on

Most of last week was spent “getting organised”. This entailed:

  • making goals – and writing them down!;
  • getting diaries ready for use;
  • updating birthday calendars (in three places);
  • putting up calendars;
  • creating ‘To Do’ lists;
  • creating budgets;
  • creating income forecasts;
  • creating teaching schedules;
  • making lesson plans;
  • planning meals;
  • planning groceries; and
  • planning time.

By the end of the week, not only was I exhausted, I was utterly overwhelmed. There is so much to achieve, so much to be done, so many non-negotiables – and so very little time!

I went to bed on Thursday night sad, despondent, and actually feeling sick. Prov. 17:22 says,

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

On Friday morning I went for a run, then I prayed. I prayed about the year ahead and cried out in desperation to my Lord, asking how I could ever juggle all of this STUFF in my life.

Within moments I was flooded with peace. I had a deep assurance that since I have to do all this stuff, I can do it. It can be done, and by God’s limitless grace, it can be done by me. Yes, I can’t do it – alone! But Phil. 4:13 reminds me that

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

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