Is There Such a Thing as Enough “Time for Me”?

One of the reasons it is so vital to the Christian life that we meditate on God’s word is that meditating on God’s word provides the antidote, the answers, to the struggles we face moment by moment in our days.

I am a mom of seven kids. For some reason people think that means I have “the patience of a saint.” And I do, but only in the sense that all who trust in Christ are saints. In actuality, I am not patient at all. Part of me thinks God has given us seven kids because I need the extreme course on developing patience. One child wouldn’t be enough for me; I need an intensive program.

Having kids reveals all kinds of areas where I am not yet like Christ. Having lots of kids magnifies those areas to a point where I cannot miss them. Which makes my children a blessing on so many levels. Not the least of which is the blessing I have of growing more and more Christlike as God uses scripture to speak into these areas where I still succumb to the flesh rather than the Spirit.

One such area is serving others. I struggle to serve others sweetly. It’s not a pretty truth for a pastor’s wife or for a mom of seven, but there you have it. It is true.

I am exceedingly selfish.

This whole take-up-your-cross-and-follow-me thing is a lot harder than it sounds. Only when I am steeped in scripture do I even come close to seeing the false advertisements of the world for what they are and choose service over selfishness.

And there are all kinds of false advertisements out there trying to sell an empty happiness apart from identity in Christ and cheap peace that falls apart the first time you try to use it.

Let’s just look at the ever-popular concept of “me time.” It promises to return a mommy who is refreshed, recharged, with renewed energy for the duty that calls us back home. (Hang with me here… this ends a lot differently than it sounds at first…)

I don’t know about you, but I know when I try to re-enter our family after having an hour… day… week of “me time” I often experience a bumpy ride. I struggle with resentment, bitterness, and ungratefulness. For years I thought I just wasn’t getting quite enough “me time.” I thought I was not ready to “come back” because I hadn’t disengaged long enough to really get rested up before duty called.

That was when scripture reminded me that Jesus never took “me time.” Oh, he did take time out. Time away. He did get alone to refresh, recharge, and renew his energy for the task at hand. But he didn’t go to the Dead Sea Spa Treatment Center to recharge. He didn’t spend a day shopping to refresh. He didn’t linger over a cup of coffee with friends or indulge in a special treat at the bakery to renew his energy. He didn’t even go to the gym to build endurance.

He did pray. He did get up early, before the demands of his ministry life began, and spend time connecting with God. He did struggle with what it meant to lay down his life for his friends, to love his enemies, to serve God without serving self. Just think about that last night in Gethsemane. His “time away” was spent seeking the heart of God through fasting and prayer. His “me time” was really “let-go-of-me time.” He got away to reconnect with God, not to find himself. For Jesus it was never about “time for me.”

I don’t want to minimize the true importance of Spa Days, shopping, connecting with friends, and enjoying the many blessings (pastry and otherwise) God has woven into the pattern of living in his ways. I just want to put them in their place.

When we set the easier parts of serving God (coffee with friends) in opposition to serving God in our homes (bickering children, whining, unending laundry and hungry kids) we buy a lie and sow discontentment. We turn joyful service into begrudging duty. We end up enduring the challenges “serving God and others” for the hope of “time for me.” We are called to serve God for the hope of glory… his glory.

So here’s the plot twist.

Think about this: We are just as called to the cup of coffee with girlfriends as we are to provide food for our families. 

Called to Coffee

We are just as called to care for our bodies as we are to care for the bodies of our husbands and kids and the clothes that cover them.

When we don’t spend time in scripture we tend to think of one part of our calling as duty and the other part as the reward. We fail to recognize our calling is to do whatever we do (eat, drink, cook, discipline, laundry, pedicure, exercise…) to the glory of God. His pleasure is our reward.

In God’s economy, there is no “me time.” Every moment is sacred.

Spa Days… Shopping Trips… Coffee Dates… Folding laundry… are all recognizably sacred.

Jesus “got away” to spend time with God so he was prepared to recognize how he was to serve moment by moment.

Jesus spent time alone with friends.

Jesus enjoyed delicious foods.

Jesus went to weddings and funerals and celebrated the lives of those around him.

Jesus lived every part of the human experience – joy, pleasure, exhaustion, weariness, relationship, humor, grief.

Every moment was all serving the Father – even when he enjoyed it. Especially when he enjoyed it.

Do you get that? Every single moment. Every tear, every laugh, every heart-to-heart, every broken heart, every sickness he healed, every comfort he accepted, every fish on the fire, every walk through a sunny field with friends… even every second on the cross.

It was all part of his calling.

He only “got away” to reconnect with the Father so he could recognize how he was to serve moment by moment.

Meditating on scripture does that for us.

We really do need to rise early or stay up late to spend time in communion with the Father.

We really do need to feast on the Word of God, not to the exclusion of Girl’s Night Out or in favor of Mount Washmore, but to prepare us for them.

Meditating on God’s word helps us recognize how we are called to serve moment by moment. Meditating on God’s word develops the wisdom to recognize if we are best honoring God by meeting with a friend, planting flowers in the garden, or disciplining a child. It all begins when we have had enough “me time” and are ready to prioritize a little “let-go-of-me” time with the Lord every day.

Speaking of recognizing how we are called to serve moment by moment… I am exhausted. (Who isn’t, right?) While I know I am called to write, I also know lots of things have been slipping through the cracks in my own home. Things I am called to do, like spending time with my kids (you’d think I do a lot of that by homeschooling, but that’s not what I mean. I mean spending time with them as people, not as those who need educating or feeding or dressing.) Things like fixing broken tables and chairs and gutters. Things like preparing for a mission trip this summer, planning engaging lessons for school next year, writing a Bible study on James, and visiting our extended family. And things like meditating on God’s word for what he wants me to hear, not what I’ll write about… Bottom line, I think I am called to a mini-break from publishing at Cultivate Grace.

So, I’m taking a “Spring Break.” 🙂

Which means you won’t get any posts for the next couple of weeks, BUT beginning in May you can expect more about spending time in God’s word and prayer on Mondays, a series about organizing a pantry (even if you don’t have one!) on Wednesdays, and more on Relational Wisdom on Fridays. And sometime in the fall (Lord willing!), look for a study on the book of James.

9 Cool Ideas for Under-Bed Storage in the Kids’ Room

Okay, a few weeks ago we made the monsters leave the space under the bed to make room for welcome guests.

Today I’d like to look at a lot more ideas to make use of the space under the bed in a kid’s room.

If you aren’t already using it for a mattress for overnight guests, you might like to consider one of these ideas.

Ideas for Under Bed Storage in Kid's Rooms

  1. Simple, large drawers on wheels are a great way to contain & store toys in a child’s room.
  2. Single-tower, cube-style shelves can be installed sideways the full length of the bed to house books – it’s easy to reach a book from bed, and blocks kids from stuffing stuff way in the back.
  3. If your child has a high bed, there may be space for a secret hide-out under the bed. A shoe shelf can be placed under the bed along the headboard for treasure maps, flashlights, books, games, and other treasures needed in a hide-out. You could install under-cabinet lighting or the little battery-operated touch disks to make it extra fun. Some throw pillows and a blanket will comfortably furnish it, too. And if you don’t like looking at the hide-out, you can use a cable-style curtain rod attached to the bed frame to hang a curtain that can close the whole thing off to the outside world. From a kid’s perspective, that only adds to the coolness factor.
  4. You can also do a take-off on my office/guest bedroom storage idea: Affix furniture glides to the underside of a large board. Also attach drawer pulls to the side of the board that will face out from the bed. Make sure you sand any rough edges, since this will be used by children. Cover the whole surface with felt, and you have a great pull-out play space for board games, puzzles, train tracks, or low-profile lego cities. The felt helps keep the noise down. 🙂
  5. You could use the under-bed board idea covered with Lego base plates for a great building surface. Or paint it with roads and buildings as a city or race track for boys who like to play with cars. You could paint farmland for the child who enjoys animals, a jungle for the dinosaur lover, or a pretty garden with walkways and buildings just the right size for her hand-held dolls and animals.
  6. By keeping it painted and not raised, it really can be used for anything. Throw on a table cloth and you are all set for playing restaurant or having a tea party.

 

Of course, no children’s room storage idea would be complete if we didn’t suggest a couple of options for clothes.

  1. Short, but spacious plastic bins really do pull out nicely from beneath a bed, making “drawers” without a dresser. They are all floor level, so even toddlers can safely reach the clothes. You could add pictures to the front of the bin so they can identify which clothes go in which bin, too. Then they can find what they need and help put clean clothes away.
  2. You could also store dirty clothes baskets beneath the bed.If they are going to stuff dirty clothes under there anyway, you could give them a way to do it that’s actually helpful! However you sort, you could have a different basket for each load (whether it’s whites/lights/darks or one for each person).
  3. And last, but not least, you could use the space for out-of-season or next-size up clothes. (I’d encourage you to just go ahead and get rid of the ones no one will be able to wear again.) Well labeled bins will keep you from missing clothes at the right size. Storing them in the kid’s room gives access so even the kids can get into the bins when they discover their pants no longer fit.

Why I Need Easter

Yesterday we celebrated Easter.

Resurrection Day.

Greetings of “He is risen!” were met with, “He is risen, indeed!” in the halls of our church.  Faces were bright, happy, and hopeful.

Why I need Easter every day...

Worship was enthusiastic and joyful in a way it isn’t on other Sundays.  I’m good with that.  It is not unlike my daily delight in my husband being amplified on our anniversary or when we celebrate his birthday.

I need the annual reminder of God’s sacrifice and victory at Easter like I need the weekly reminder of the relevance of scripture for my days through Sunday worship, and a daily reminder of his presence in my moments through personal study and prayer.

But I don’t want to move on too quickly from the refreshment I find in an Easter service.

Easter is why we worship.

Easter is about the risen Christ who has set us free to live the life for which God created us.

On Good Friday we think about Jesus on the cross.  We should.

We think about him hanging there between two criminals – thieves.

Stop there a minute – theft earned crucifixion.  We don’t really think about stealing as a crime deserving the death penalty.  We barely view murder as deserving the death penalty.

God takes theft seriously, doesn’t he?  As a matter of fact, all sin deserves the death penalty.

Which is why Christ came.

If you think about it, all sin is theft, in a way.

  • We are stealing God’s glory when we sin.  We tarnish his name by taking the image of God in us and distorting it into something ugly.
  • We steal from his world when we abuse the earth rather than exercise dominion over it.
  • We take from his inherent creativity when we create vulgarity instead of beauty.
  • We take from his people when we hoard instead of giving lavishly to others.
  • We steal life through abortion, slander, gossip, and silence.
  • We steal joy through criticism and judgment, cruelty, envy, and anger.
  • We take innocence and fidelity with our clothing choices, language, and no-fault divorce policies.

I think that is some of what is behind the statement:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  — John 10:10

Jesus stands in stark contrast to the thieves on the crosses, because they deserved to be there, and because he came to give rather than take.

We don’t think too much about the thieves on the crosses with Christ because we know they at least did something wrong – even if we wouldn’t consider it worthy of the death penalty.

And I think sometimes we don’t think too much about ourselves in that light either.  Sure, we did something wrong, but is it really worthy of the death penalty?  If our sins came to light – the half-truths, the critical words, the judgmental heart, the coveting spirit, the contention, dissension – and we were condemned to death by lethal injection or electrocution – we’d be outraged!  It would seem unjust.

But it’s not.

God said, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

I need to be reminded of the death penalty I earned by my sin.  Not because I live condemned – for “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

No, I need to be reminded of the great debt that was paid, the same way I need to be reminded of my wedding vows.

The annual celebration of our wedding anniversary is more than a nice dinner out and time alone without kids.  It’s an opportunity to remember what I’ve committed to, to celebrate our faithfulness, and to commit to another year of being married and walking together with Jesus.  Celebrating our anniversary inspires affection and renews desire.

The annual celebration of Easter is more than an Easter Egg Hunt and a festive service with like-minded believers.  It’s an opportunity to remember what God has committed to, to celebrate his faithfulness, and to commit to another year of being in his church and walking together with Jesus.  Celebrating Easter inspires gratitude and revives my weary heart.

Easter reminds me of a life characterized by theft, murder, and destruction (even in their lesser forms), and that I have been freed by someone else to live a different life.

I’m holding out for grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

— Bono

It reminds me of the contrast Christ offers me – freedom to live life and to live life abundantly.  God is lavish with his grace.

Thank God, He doesn’t measure out grace in teaspoons. — Amy Carmichael

That is why I need Easter.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.

— Ephesians 3:20-21

 

Storage Ideas for the Office that Doubles as a Guest Room

Last week I wrote about utilizing the space under the guest bed for storing items used when you have guests. An alternative idea is to use a dresser (if you have one in the room) to hold the things needed to prepare the room, and as you empty it, you are creating space for your guests to store their personal articles.

Many people don’t have a dedicated guest room. If you have an office that doubles as a guest room that still has a traditional bed in it, I have some ideas for under-bed storage for you today.

office doubles as guest room

Extra stationery, business forms, and office supplies can go under the bed.

One option is to make use of short plastic containers.

Another option is to attach furniture glides to the bottom of an unused shelf and set your items on the shelf. It will easily slide out from under the bed – even on carpet – so you can make use of the space under the middle of the bed without having to crawl under there. An added touch would be to put a drawer pull on the edge of the shelf so you have an easy handle for pulling the shelf out or pushing it back under the bed.

You can use the board-on-furniture-glide idea to store infrequently-used files, resource materials, or even low-profile printers, scanners, or other electronic devices. You can also add small plastic baskets to hold extra pens, pencils, highlighters, paper clips… you get the idea.

It’s like having an extra shelf that tucks away under the bed.

Easy access to even the far reaches of your under-bed space can actually save you money. With adequate storage space, you can take advantage of sales  or buy in bulk for those items you regularly use.

When company comes and needs to use your office for a bedroom, all the office supplies and equipment slide under the bed to make the room feel more like home.

All the convenience of a well-stocked office, without the clutter!