Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Quiet Time"

I have a confession: I've never really established a pattern or routine for quiet time. It's like everyone along my spiritual journey throughout middle and high school, college and young adulthood just assumed that I knew what to do with this ambiguous term "quiet time."

Don't misunderstand me; I read the Bible. In fact, even in the midst of a super-busy first half of the school year, I managed to read the Bible most days. All I managed to do were short devotions, and there's not anything wrong with that. Most days, I would read from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening which, don't get me wrong, is quite a bit to chew on for devotions, but I was feeling like I needed more from the Word than just that.

This is stupid: I had begun to think that I didn't need Bible studies. For some reason, I thought that I could just read the Bible on my own and the Holy Spirit would instruct me. Which is true! BUT I had completely forgotten about other basic Bible studying disciplines: journaling, observing, applying the Word, meditating on it and praying it. Duh.

Here's the other thing...I needed to get up earlier in order to fit this discipline into my life. UGH. I have ALWAYS struggled with getting up early. I'm the kind of girl who stays in bed until the last possible second, then get up and get ready really fast. This makes everyone cranky and rushed every single morning, but for some reason, until about a week ago, I was completely oblivious to this. (You know what has really convicted me? This quote by John Piper.)  I've tried to get up early in the past, but it never stuck, life happened, and I wound up where I was a week ago: overwhelmed, overburdened and wondering when everything would ever get done, ever. But I have been working on getting up early to study the Word, write down some stuff about it and pray about it and the people I love. And you know what? God has blessed it and given me the grace to continue. It's not easy, but it's getting easier.

So what do I do? Here's what I do; it's not magical, but it's working for me. It takes about a half hour.
  • I wake up! (See what I did there?) I literally get out of bed and I sometimes make coffee.
  • I go downstairs to our guest bedroom and turn on the lights. There I can be alone and isolated. I sit on the guest bed and even have an extra blanket to wrap around myself in case it's cold.
  • Right now, I am reading a chapter of Proverbs a day. I jot down observations and applications from the chapter. I also have my eye out for scriptures that 1) I need or 2) my kids need.
  • Then I meditate on what to pray for, write down prayers and praises, and pray.
  • By then, Jonah is usually babbling in his room and it's time to get everybody ready for school!!
So what's the point? Right now, if you have never had a quiet time routine, I want to encourage you to make one up. Try something out. Be alone for a little bit to study and pray. Try the S.O.A.P method underneath the video here. Here's some inspiration for journaling, and here's some encouragement to rise early. What are y'all doing in your quiet times? Do you need to re-establish a routine? Feel free to share in the comments; let's encourage each other in this! Soli Deo Gloria, y'all.

Linked up at: 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's a Cheap Menu Week

And here's what that looks like! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Giving Into My Career, Part 2

The last post I wrote, here, is about how, when I made this decision, it was a huge step for me. For the first time since I had kids, I wasn't fighting with my calling to my career. I was (as the title suggests) giving into my career, and it was freeing. Finally, I wasn't constantly fighting with my own bitterness and jealousy about wanting to stay at home. Instead, this school year, I have embraced my place at my school. I have served the members in my department, been kind to my students and told them that I love them as they leave for the day. I may be the only person in some of my students' lives that says that to them, and God has placed me in my school for a reason. Now that I have stopped fighting this calling, God is doing amazing things through my teaching.

At the beginning of this school year, I decided that I was going to take a Master's level English class. For me, this would take care of a recertification requirement, and at the time, would put me one step closer to getting my Master's. The idea was opening up doors for the future, giving myself more options and a way out of public high school whenever I got tired of it.

I was wrong. I was so wrong.

Well, here it is; deciding to get my Master's degree was a big, fat mistake. Why? I'm not saying that women shouldn't get advanced degrees. Good gracious, if I were famous like Candace Cameron Bure, I would be all over the news tomorrow for saying that. But I was wrong, and here is a list of reasons why:
  1.  I was motivated by unbelief. Seriously. I was looking for a way out of where I currently am, harboring discontentment and grumbling about the work God had appointed me to do. I didn't believe that this was what I was supposed to be doing. Surely, God needed my help to get me to where I should be. This is the biblical definition of foolish (Pr. 3:5-7)
  2. I didn't pray about it. Ever. It made sense to me, and I decided to do it. All of it looked good on paper, and it was very logical and noble and worthy of being done. So I sidestepped praying about it. That was a massive mistake.
  3. I didn't count the cost of it. The class was three hours a week on Tuesday night. That added up to much more than three hours a week. I had to leave school on time to pick up my kids, only to leave my house as Adam walked in so that I could be on time. I left Adam alone on Tuesday nights to feed, bathe and put my kids to bed without me. I sacrificed time on the weekends when I could be catching up on home or schoolwork on assignments for the class. This was so much more detrimental than I could have imagined, and left me burned out by October. I forgot my place in my little world, and I forgot that so much depends on me every day. I lost my priorities, and everyone in my home bore the brunt of this three hours a week.
It sounds very gloomy and dismal, but it's not; this realization is very freeing. It is also pretty darn sanctifying - knowing that I made this awful, but ultimately not really permanent or long-term decision. Seeing why I made it, and (hopefully) learning from it as I move on from here.

The other sweetness in this situation is that the contentment that I had in July when I wrote the last post still stands; I am content in my job. In my mind, there is no reason not to be: I am doing something meaningful that uses my gifts and talents. That is something so many people never get to do. And for the past five years, I haven't been able to say that. Or "Love you guys" to my kids as they leave my classroom. And for that, I will praise the Lord's holy name. Soli Deo Gloria, y'all.

P.S. I am currently reading (i.e. devouring) the book Women Living Well by WomenLivingWell.org's blogger Courtney Joseph. For the next couple of weeks, hopefully, I am going to be posting about the book and linking up on her blog. Feel free to join me!