Thursday, January 08, 2009

This Year Was The Year Of My Undoing!

As I am writing this post, I am looking out the window and I see a snow flurry outside. Big fat, flaky, pure white, beautiful snowflakes floating all around that remind me of God’s cleansing love and grace. Praise God that He is faithful!

Any way… I know that many people use the phrase in my title lightly, with sarcasm and humor, but in my case, this year REALLY WAS the year of my undoing. And I brought it upon myself.

As usual, I committed myself to far more than anyone that has a full time job and a family can humanly handle. My intentions were wonderful – save money, make money (a craft fair), make memorable gifts, and warm people’s hearts while having fun in the process. Fun projects! Fun baking! Fun fabrics! Fun papers! Fun beads! Fun, fun, fun!

Instead, my heart ended up cold and frustrated. I spent close to seven weeks … LITERALLY … sick. I missed weekends where I was laid up in bed miserably sick. It put a real kink in my self-imposed schedule, and put myself behind enough that it affected my entire holiday spirit. There were even days in the months of November and December that I couldn't remember if I even put deodorant on, or if I was wearing the same thing to work twice in a row! I scrapped several projects I wanted to do, missed blogging (which I love dearly), sent my Christmas cards out AFTER Christmas, what a mess!

Then, to top everything off, I got a call at work on Christmas Eve morning (yep, I had to work until 2 pm) from my sweet, wonderful husband and to make a really long story short, we ended up at the emergency room for most of the day because his heart was racing, and he was short of breath. He was diagnosed with Arterial Fibrillation. Instead of a comfortable 70-110 heart beats per minute at a rest, his was fluctuating wildly between 110-160 beats per minute. They ran numerous tests, took a chest x-ray, did a cat scan, and were ultimately able to regulate his heart beat with medication, and we were on our way a mere 5 hours later. Quite a rude wake up call, if you ask me -- and furthermore, I'm pretty certain my husband won't forgive me easily now that I've "outed" him. I could have lost my husband (I know that’s quite a stretch), and what sweet Christmas memories would I have to look back on? Me -- sewing frantically in the middle of the night while my boys are tucked away in bed. For two solid months. I don’t think so.

So all-in-all, my Christmas was chaotic, hectic, un-enjoyed. Yes, I enjoyed the 30 minutes of opening presents and gift giving. I did not, however, enjoy being unprepared, behind schedule, and ultimately robbing time from my family in the months prior to Christmas. In fact, I’m pretty sure my husband didn't enjoy it either, but fortunately, Hunter is too young to notice that things weren't like normal. I missed all-important traditions for my family, like the Jesse Tree, tucking Hunter into bed at nights, reading stories to him, and even cooking a special breakfast with my traditional sticky buns on Christmas morning. That made me very sad. No, we don’t need sticky buns… but the point is – I was either too busy or sick in the weeks leading up to Christmas, or too tired on Christmas morning to do it.

I pretty much crashed and burned by New Year’s, and I clearly remember sitting on the floor with Hunter while looking wearily around my chaotic home wondering how I was going to pull it all together after the holidays.

This past Sunday, our Pastorman preached a great sermon, and shared two scriptures that screamed out to me in particular. One was about King Solomon. He chased everything “under the sun” – he enjoyed everything and denied himself nothing. And while he was enjoying life, he also did great things: he built houses, planted vineyards, designed gardens and parks and planted fruit trees in them, he bought slaves, acquired large herds and flocks, piled up silver and gold… anything he wanted, he did. And many of the things he did were good things… not just selfish things.

But when he looked at everything he’d done, he saw nothing. It was all meaningless. And when I look back at all I did – all the projects I sewed, all the items I beaded, all the crafts I made, all the gifts I created – yes, they brought joy to others, but for me? They were all meaningless in comparison to the time robbed from God and my family.

The Pastorman also shared another scripture that ties all this together… and truly, this one was like a dagger to my heart.

Revelation 2 talks about the church in Ephesus, and how they work hard, refuse to quite, hate evil and pretenders, and are courageous and persistent and do all kinds of Godly things. BUT – even though they do all those wonderful good things, they still managed to walk away from their first love – God!!

And then… our Pastorman went there… He said, it doesn't matter what practices, procedures, or traditions you do… if you do Godly stuff just to be doing it, and have lost the reason why you’re doing it… well, you've forsaken your first love and need to go back and iron it out. And in fact, I realized that I had been doing “practices, procedures and traditions” and being busy for the sake of just doing it… not to glorify God and the birth of his son, because honestly, what once started out as a labor of love had turned into an albatross around my neck with no joy at all!

So. I did what he suggested. I reviewed my last few months and really saw things from a different perspective. While there are many good things I have done, and while I have worked hard and refused to quit, and while there are many things I enjoy to do and achieve, I really allowed Christ to slip away from my focus, and allowed busyness to become the main focus.

I can see how I easily became overwhelmed, consumed, out of control, cluttered, disorganized, and exhausted. God had stopped being a part of my whole equation. My first love had slipped from my list of priorities. In fact, my first, second and third loves had slipped – the Lord, my husband, and my son.

In Matthew 22:37, Jesus tells us that we should love God first and love others as ourselves. When we put God first, he ministers to us where and when we need it, and prepares our hearts to “bubble forth” his love to others. His wonderful grace in our lives compares to NOTHING around us, and when we are in tune with him, he prepares us and readies us to minister to others. It’s a beautiful think how that works!

Furthermore, I feel that when we focus on truly loving God first in our lives, and others second, then God comes and fills us with a peace and joy that we can only experience when we abide in him. Two things that totally escaped me this Christmas season as I hurried around trying to love others first.

"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:37-40

So... this year, I'm doing things differently.

I'm changing my life around, reprioritizing things, placing God first in everything, focusing on my family, and working towards bringing health back into my home by refocusing on good eating habits, and hey, by the way… if loosing weight is a benefit from that, then right on!

Christmas of 2009 WILL BE DIFFERENT. I'm NOT killing myself to make or find the "just right and perfect gift" for ANYONE unless I stumble on it (except for my husband and son, of course). I may even begin purchasing gift cards in the spring so that by the fall, I'll have either a nice stash of cards to give out, or a nice stash of cards to go shopping with. I will NOT stress out over MAKING a gazillion things this year. Instead, I will focus on the important things in my life – my relationship with Christ, my devotions, my family... my studies... a few [read: not every single gift I make – just a FEW] really special homemade gifts for my dear friends and family, etc.

I hope that you too will examine your life and reprioritize!

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6


Sheila said...

I can not thank you enough for this post! It was exactly what I needed to hear and a very clear answer to prayer. Thank you for sharing your heart!!

Susanne said...

GiBee: Thank you so much for being vulneralbe enough to post this about what you have gone through and then been convicted of. It is soooo easy to fall into this without even realizing that one is headed there until we need a huge wake up call to see where we are at!

I love your idea of already starting to purchase gift cards now so that you have a stash by December to either give or use to shop.

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

Aw, honey - I'm sorry to hear that it all came crashing down around you but glad to her your voice still singing thru the resulting rubble still with God's hope and knowing His grace! Praise Him! Proud of you, girlfriend. Hang in there.

Wretched Sinner said...

Great post, Praise the Lord for the conviction the Holy Spirit has put on your heart!

I'd like to share two things that have provided clarity to my family and I through almost the exact situations:

1 - Even our best works are nothing compared to the Love of God, regardless of our intentions.(Isaiah 64:6 - NASB)

"For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away." (emphasis added)

That word for "filthy garment" in Hebrew, actually means "menstrual clothe". I'm sorry to use that, but I think it provides much more clarity than "filthy garment"

2 - The key to enjoying life is not what you do, it's Who you are doing it for. While just a subtle difference, the effects can be eternal. Think about point #1 in this context. This also relates directly to Matt 22:37 which you referenced, but Mark 8:34-36 speaks to the eternal consequences and the sacrificial heart we are to have in service to God:

"34And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"

"Less of me, more of Him." That is what we've been saying around our house.
For His Glory,

krista said...

thanks so much for opening up and posting about your struggles. i too seemed to rush through Christmas this year, leaving behind traditions that have always been a part of it all....most mostly, skipping devotions and always bumping it to the bottom of the list.

i am hoping that this year will be a year of refocusing my attention on Christ first.

thanks again,

Shalee said...

This year wasn't the year of my undoing, but it certainly was the year that God showed me that it's best not to get too comfortable. New house, new job, less time to blog and read blogs... all things that make for change in my world.

I have the feeling that God is not done with me yet. At least I hope He's not!

And I too have learned the lesson of being satisfied with less. I don't want to teach my children that Christmas is all about finding the perfect gift. That gift has already been given and nothing I can purchase will ever top it.

I love your gc idea though; it makes it easier to be prepared and it's easier on the budget overall!