My husband and I looked at each other last week, after collapsing into yet another bed, in another home that is not our own, and said, “2016 has been one for the record books…I’m so ready for 2017!” While we are not technically homeless, we have been camping out at friends and families’ homes for weeks while our Fixer Upper gets fixer-upped. For the record, what Chip and Jo-Jo accomplish in an hour is so not reality! “Demo-day” turned into demo-month. Neither of us knows at any given moment where our toothbrush is located or if we even own deodorant. Friends, I look feral. (If you see or smell me, you’ve been warned.)
At this point, our goal is just to survive 2016! Before I share the reason for this dramatic declaration, I need to lay out this disclaimer—I know that the litany of life changes we’ve experienced this year are all tremendous blessings. Honestly, I’m not complaining. But this year has stretched me to the point that there are times that I have felt like I’m drowning under a to-do list that mounts each day.
I started off this year, as I typically do, by setting goals and organizing my calendar in a fancy new planner. Let’s just say my beautifully organized goals got trashed by February since LIFE NEVER, EVER GOES AS PLANNED!
So far in 2016, we found out we were expecting a baby (HELLO MIRACLE OF GOD!), sold our rental property (TO PAY FOR THIS LITTLE MIRACLE), and then sold our family home and bought a new one (TO MAKE ROOM FOR SAID MIRACLE.) Oh, and by the way, both homes required new roofs thanks to hail damage. Selling, buying, and renovating three properties in two months added a whole new level of cray to our already jam-packed life with realtors, inspectors, appraisers, contractors and closings. Oh, and add to that mix the fact that I traveled all winter and spring with a busy speaking schedule.
Oh, and I almost forgot, my new book was due to the publisher this summer, which meant every spare second of my life was supposed to be spent writing. Last but not least, we have two growing boys, with appetites the size of professional football players who require what seemed like six meals a day this summer. Then, when I thought I couldn’t handle one more thing, the boy’s school year started. (Can we all just agree that school should not start until after Labor Day?) As if I had a shred of sanity left to buy school supplies or figure out if the boys have shoes that fit… and there is no way in hades I’m getting all those back to school forms filled out.
You gotta be kidding me!
Like I said, all of these things are tremendous blessings. When I stop and think about this year, I know my cup runneth over. But sometimes in the bounty, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and miss out on the beauty of the gift. Somewhere in the midst of all these good things, I grew haggard. My capacity maxed out, and I broke. Just two weeks ago, I sat outside on our driveway, as my husband was trying to leave for work and I went to the crazy place.
The to-do list was too long.
The demands were too demanding.
And, here’s a fact they don’t tell you in the movies … PREGNANCY BRAIN IS A REAL THING!
For those of you perfectly organized/emotionally stable girls out there who have no idea what I mean by the “crazy place,” let me explain. This is a state of emotional fray where a sane, Jesus-loving woman will say and do things that she would not normally say nor do. In the crazy place, there are tears … there are words … and there may or may not be mild profanity. Well, two weeks ago, as my sweet husband was trying to leave for work, I went into full-blown-melt down and found myself crying and begging him to stay home and help me find my brain.
Bless his heart.
Picking myself up from my meltdown, I realized the root of my problem: I had gone a full week without really spending time with Jesus. Running on empty, I was trying my darndest to manage the universe and by golly, I stink at universe management. I was trying to be super-mom, super-wife, and super-ministry leader … all the while, I can’t even find my Bible or my toothbrush. Frankly, I was serving others out of an empty bucket and desperately needed to stop and spend time with the Lord.
There’s a pretty good reason Jesus said, “Abide in Me, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Jesus spoke these words to His disciples on the eve of His death. I’ve often heard that a person’s last words are significant because the most vital information is communicated. As Jesus progressed closer to his crucifixion, He intentionally prepared His followers for life following His resurrection when they would experience life connected to Him through the Spirit instead of His physical presence. To illustrate this Spirit-empowered life, Jesus took them to a vineyard to illustrate the dynamic relationship experienced between a vine and its branches.
Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
The word “abide” means to remain or to stay connected. Just as a branch draws nutrients to grow and produce fruit from the vine, so we, too, when we abide in Jesus, draw the daily supply of all we need from Him.
Abiding in Jesus means receiving from Him our daily supply of peace, sanity, love, joy, patience, life, breath, and power. He wasn’t kidding when He said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Abiding is the key to the Christian life.
This is not just a verse that we commit to memory …abiding in Christ is our power source. Abiding in Christ is our life-line in the midst of a world that demands far too much of us. Abiding in Him is our oxygen tank when the waters rise around us.
Sitting on my driveway that morning, taking inventory of my trip to the crazy place, I realized I’d gone a whole week without stopping to really connect with God. We were never meant to handle all of life on our own. Jesus stands ready to give us exactly what we need for each day, but the choice is ours whether we rely on Him instead of ourselves. To get out of the crazy place, I had to make abiding in Jesus my top priority.
Becoming a Woman Who Abides
To Abide, We Must Set Time Aside Each Day to Meet with the Lord
I realize most of us don’t have the time for an hour long quiet time. But just because we are stretched doesn’t mean we can go one day without spending time with Jesus. (Trust me, I tried that recently and it was disastrous.) Spending time with the Lord and reading the Bible have a supernatural affect. Just as food nourishes the body, giving us strength to perform our daily activities; God’s word nourishes the souls. What I’ve learned over the years is this: When I start my day with Jesus, then my schedule works more smoothly than when I attempt to run out the door and handle life on my own. Apart from Him, I can do nothing!
Here are few tips that help me prioritize my morning time with Jesus:
1. Set an alarm to wake up to meet with Jesus. Pray before going to sleep to awake in time. The enemy and your flesh will want to keep you from this, but being intentional the night before helps overcome the temptation to hit snooze!
2. Establish a “Jesus time” routine. For my time with Jesus to be the best, I have to set aside a specific place to meet with Him. When at home, I have a chair in my office where I keep my Bible, journal, and devotional books. (Since we are living out of suitcases at the moment, I scope out where we are staying to find a quiet place away from others to have my Jesus time.)
3. I also need to make sure my Jesus time is a technology free zone … nothing distracts from time in prayer and reading the Bible like the trinity of Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. (Can I get an amen?)
4. Finally, I like to follow a “Read Thru the Bible in a Year” plan so that there’s no guessing each day what portion of scripture to read. Each day I read part of the Old Testament and the New Testament. It never fails that the Holy Spirit has a fresh word for me when I commit to this practice. [Check out the Redeemed Girl App for our Bible Reading Plan.]
To Abide, We Must Stay in Constant Communication with Jesus
While a daily morning quiet time is essential, it is only the first step. Jesus is always with us, not just in devotional times. He is with us throughout the day as we encounter that rude person, as we sit in traffic, and as we are confronted with our ever growing to-do list. He didn’t leave us to manage life on our own; He is the God who is with us, empowering us by His Spirit. Therefore, we can stay in constant communication with Him through prayer and ask Him for what we need in the moment.
After my meltdown, I stopped and simply called on the name of Jesus. I kept speaking His name until the storm over my mind ceased. Calming my racing mind and heart, I breathed in His Presence. Then, I began to tell Him all about all the deadlines, duties, and decisions that I faced. Opening my palms towards heaven, I laid down all the burdens. As I breathed out my worries and concerns through prayer, I breathed in His grace and power.
Y’all, Jesus is real. When we abide, He provides!
As I confessed my weakness and my needs, I felt like a new woman. I felt Him lift off of me the burden of “managing the universe” and empower me with His peace, wisdom, and ability for the next steps. His peace filled my soul and I felt His abiding presence and power with me. The incredible thing about our relationship with God is that we can speak to Him and experience Him anywhere. He is always with us.
Friends, the call to abide is not another thing on our ever-growing to-do list. Becoming a Woman Who Abides in Jesus is flat-out essential to our sanity because it centers our soul. Jesus is our source of power, joy, peace, wisdom, focus and life. If you’re facing the start of this school year already feeling overwhelmed, then join me in my commitment to abide in Him.
Redeemed girls, let’s start our day with Jesus. Let’s be intentional with our time and plan our day around meeting with Him. Everything else can wait. The promise in God’s word is clear: With Jesus we have everything, and apart from Him, we can do nothing.