Life as a headless chicken

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]M[/su_dropcap]y solid old farmhouse is more than 100 years old. That may not mean much to folks in the northeastern United States or my dear friends in England, but in Kansas, it’s a big deal. It’s the perfect sanctuary for writing. I turn on my music and hammer out words by the tens of thousands and feel good about myself. The trouble comes when somebody needs me.

My office is on the second floor at the south of the house. The only stairwell is on the north. There are several solid wood doors between us, and if it’s summer time, I also have a window air conditioner running. There’s so much noise, I can’t hear when anybody shouts up at me. I can’t even hear my cell phone ring. So if anyone wants to get my attention, they have to walk up the stairs, throw my office door open, and throw things at my head.

It’s a chore to get my attention sometimes. But that’s true even when I’m sitting in a quiet environment.

One of my favorite television shows, Longmire (based on the brilliant book series by Craig Johnson), has an episode called “An Unquiet Mind” where we get a peek inside the main character’s tumultuous thoughts. His mind is never quiet. He’s always thinking about something, and that’s how I feel most times.

Do you ever feel like that? Like your brain is so noisy that you can’t get a word in edgewise?

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Here in America, we’re expected to live busy, crowded, noisy lives. That’s what it means to be American, isn’t it?[/su_pullquote]

My mind is never silent. It’s not chaotic. Not usually. But it sure is loud in there most of the time. I’m thinking about what I have to do today, what I have to do tomorrow, what I have to do next week, next month, next quarter. I’m worrying about friends and family. I’m fretting about the dwindling decimals in my bank account. I’m thinking about bills that need paying, chores that need doing, meetings that need scheduling, manuscripts that need editing, blog posts that need writing, etc.

We weren’t meant to live like that. That’s not how God designed us to function, in spite of what those around us might say. Here in America, we’re expected to live busy, crowded, noisy lives. That’s what it means to be American, isn’t it?

But is that how we were meant to live?

We’re not supposed to be lazy. We’re not supposed to sit back on our blessed assurance and live a life only reacting to trauma and disaster. But we’re certainly not supposed to live life like headless chickens either.

So how do you prevent being dragged into the chaos of life and still manage to get things done? I’m not sure there’s an easy answer.

peachy-divider

[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”5″]I[/su_dropcap] underestimate the value of silence. Silence isn’t something I’ve ever truly appreciated until recently. Silence always meant that something was wrong or someone was waiting on me. And I hate it when people are waiting on me. But it’s difficult to find an instance in the Bible where silence is considered negative.

Sure, there’s all sorts of Psalms begging God not to be silent, but most of the time, silence is a good thing. Proverbs says over and over again that even fools are called wise when they shut up (Proverbs 17:28). Fast forward to the New Testament and James encourages people to make listening the priority rather than speaking (James 1:19).

Silence is hard to find, both externally and internally. But it’s something we should strive for, because—like it or not—Someone is trying to get our attention.

God talks to us every day. He makes Himself known every moment. The whole world has no excuse for ignoring God. But for those of us who know the Bible, we who’ve been raised in it from cradle to pew, how can we possible explain ourselves? Burying our lives in chaos? Drowning ourselves in anxiety and noise?

God’s calling us. He’s shouting at us, waving His arms in desperation, trying to catch our eyes.

Pay attention! Listen to what I’m saying! I’m here, and I’ve always been here, and I’m not leaving you. Not ever. I’ve done everything to prove Myself to you. Why aren’t you listening?

[su_pullquote]God’s calling us. He’s shouting at us, waving His arms in desperation, trying to catch our eyes.[/su_pullquote]

We don’t have to succumb to the tidal waves of stress and exhaustion the world (and even the church) sends in our direction. We don’t have to fear what’s coming tomorrow or in November or in ten years. God’s in control. He knows what He’s doing. He never makes mistakes. He always keeps His promises. And all we have to do is trust Him.

Yes, easier said than done, but nothing worth having was ever easy to achieve.

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” Revelation 3:20

rev3-20Is your life so noisy you can’t hear Him? Is your life so busy you can’t see Him? Then something should change. Maybe it’s the way you live. Maybe it’s the way you think. But something’s got to give, because you weren’t made for this.

Don’t let yourself get so mired in noise and the craziness of life that you can’t hear Jesus calling you. It’s easy to get there. Believe me. But you don’t have to stay there. Climb out if you can. Ask for help if you can’t. Just get out. Open your ears. Open your heart. Listen.

Jesus is knocking. Can you hear him?

Advertisements

You don’t have to agree with each other to listen

fools-wisdom-understand-anger_1170x350

I watched an episode of a television show the other night where God played a character on screen. Immediately, I knew I probably wasn’t going to agree with it. And I was right. God was portrayed as an absentee parent who had given up on His children and needed a pep talk, basically.

Needless to say, it made me pretty angry. But I kept watching. And the more I watched, the sadder I became. Because is that how people really see God? Is that the lie people have bought about Him? What a hopeless existence if our Creator gives up on us, if our God struggles with the same things we struggle with.

I watched the whole episode, and I disagreed with everything. But I finished it, and I gained some really interesting insight into how the writers of the show see God. And it gave me the opportunity to really question what I believe and why I believe it.

Yet last week I encountered someone who wouldn’t even finish my novel because he disagreed with something I had written. Which is perfectly fine. People are free to like or dislike what I write, but how can you give an honest review about a story without actually reading it?

Christians are expected to lay down and hang our heads. Oh, no! Our beliefs made someone angry! Alas! But what about when people of other faiths make a Christian angry? How is a Christian supposed to react when that happens?

Ask the culture, and they’ll say we’re too sensitive. Aren’t you supposed to show grace and forgive and let it go? Ask a Christian, and they’ll tell you that you shouldn’t have been reading/watching it anyway.

So which is it? Let it go or bury your head in the sand?

I say neither.

Instead, seek to understand it.

I love Proverbs because it’s so full of good advice, and Proverbs 18:2 is a classic example. “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions.

Hatred never solves disagreements, and insults rarely make you sound smarter.Too many times we stop reading a story or stop watching a show because we disagree with it. But stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and you can’t always judge the end by the way the story begins. How can you understand a story before you finish it? How can you even know you’ll disagree with it if you don’t even know what happens in the end?

It’s a very personal thing. We all have to make our decision about where (and how) we’re going to stand. And if a book or movie or TV show contains things that you believe will damage you, you should definitely stop. But that line is different for every person.

People really hate Christians now. Openly. That’s new in my lifetime. And, yes, I’m generalizing. Because I have many many friends who don’t believe the same way I do, and I love them, and they love me. But others decide that I’m an idiot without even knowing me. Others decide to hate me and they haven’t even spoken to me.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]Since when do we have to agree with each other to be kind to each other?[/su_pullquote]

Since when do we have to agree with each other to be kind to each other, to be civil with each other? I know we get passionate about what we believe, but hatred never solves disagreements. And insults rarely make you sound smarter.

I know where I stand. I stand with Jesus Christ. He is my everything, and the Bible is His Word that tells me how to live. But that’s my choice. That’s my life.

You can stand wherever you want. It’s your choice, and I respect that whole-heartedly. You can write what you want. You can tell whatever story you want to tell. You can believe whatever you want to believe, and I won’t tune out. I won’t shut the TV off or stop reading your book or close my ears to your voice. It matters to you, so it matters to me. I may disagree with you, but I’ll still listen.

And all I ask for in return is the same consideration.

I’m leaving my awesome job, and this is why

Yes. I have officially resigned from my amazing job with my amazing company. My last day is February 6. I’ve managed to tell some people, but it’s still going to come as a surprise to others.

So the big question is, Why?

When you’re young, it’s hard to look back over your life and see God working. He’s there. That’s undeniable. But you haven’t lived enough to be able to put the pieces together and see His hand working in your circumstances. You have to get a little older before you can do that.

Because He does. He’s involved in every aspect of our lives, and He can make something beautiful out of the moments you think are unredeemable. And even if you think every decision you make for Him is taking you in the exact opposite direction you want to go, one day you’ll wake up and find yourself teetering on the edge of your dreams. And you’ll have no idea how you got there. You were just following God, doing your best to keep in step with Him, and then you opened your eyes, and the desire of your heart is right in front of you.

StarterToday’s verse is Psalm 138:8.

The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.

God has plans for us, you know. And He’s working them out one day at a time. I’m a planner, so I like to know what’s coming. But God doesn’t always let us in on that part of His plan. We just have to follow Him and live the way He’s told us. See, He’s been working in my life since I was a very little girl, preparing me for this moment since before I even knew what I wanted.

I wrote my first novel when I was 11 years old. I’ve been a writer since before I knew it was a possible career field. When I graduated from college and there were no writing jobs available, I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I did what I could and ended up in a library, where I honed my web managing skills.

Little did I know that was the very skill I needed to get my next job—the job I’ve been at since March 2010. I started out as a Web Content Specialist, but it was pretty obvious soon that my writing skills were far superior to my web knowledge. So the company created a position for me—Creative Writer. It had a lot of responsibility. A lot of pressure. I learned so much about marketing, about advertising, about copywriting and legal responsibility. And plumbing, of course. I learned more about plumbing than I ever thought I would want to know.

March 2015 would have been my five-year anniversary. I had planned to work at this position for ten years. Well, God had a different plan.

About a year go, He started poking me. Hard. Trust me, He’d say. And I did. I increased my giving. I volunteered more time. But He still kept telling me that I wasn’t trusting Him enough, that I wasn’t trusting Him with everything. I did everything I could think of that would cause me to put myself in His hands—everything except walk away from my job. And that’s what He was calling me to do.

Seriously? Walk away from the best job I’d ever had? Where I get to make a living as a writer? Scratch that. Where I make a good living as a writer? You may not realize this, but writing doesn’t really pay very well in normal circumstances. Walking away from a great job with good people and awesome benefits and retirement and Keurig machines—that’s just crazy!

Every argument I had, the answer was the same: Just trust me.

So maybe I’m crazy. But that’s what I’m doing.

I will work my last day at my current job on February 6, and from there, I’m going to write. I don’t know what I’m going to write at this point, but I know who I’m going to write for—my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I’m going to trust that He will provide for me.

God has had a plan for me since before I existed, and He’s been working it out slowly. He’s given me the friends and the connections I have for this. He’s given me the education and the job experience I have for this. He’s given me the skills and the talent and the gifts for this. He’s been preparing me for this my entire life, and it’s time I stopped dragging my feet.

He wants me to trust Him? I will. With everything. My future, my dreams, my life. And we’ll see what happens.

Is God asking you to trust Him today? Maybe He’s not calling you to quit your job. Maybe He is. Whatever He’s asking you to do, do it. He’s worth trusting. My experience with God is that He never does things the way you expect. His way is always better.

For anybody wondering, even though I will no longer be “gainfully employed” after February 6, AlwaysPeachy will continue, Monday through Friday, for anyone who wants to read it. And if anyone is interested in having me come speak for their church or Bible study or knitting club, I’d be glad to do so. I work for coffee. 😉

Do you pay attention to the instructions?

Can you recite the safety speech flight attendants give before every airplane takes off? I’d be willing to bet I can probably tell you everything they say and even pantomime their motions, and I’m not even what you would call a jetsetter.

Most people tune them out completely. Most people stay buried in their phones or tablets and ignore them. After all, what they’re saying is common knowledge, isn’t it? Everyone knows the safety regulations on an airplane, don’t they?

I’ve never read the seatback information card on a plane. I’ll admit it. I already know the basics. But what would happen if someone told me that I needed to help the child sitting next to me with his mask first in an emergency? What if that person told me I was honor bound to help the less able around me before I take care of myself? I’m a Christ-follower, and I’m supposed to put others before myself.

Doesn’t that make sense? Never mind the flight attendant says to get yourself settled before you try to help the person next to you.

Today’s verse is Hebrews 2:1.

The seatback information card on my flight to Chicago, Wichita, KS

The seatback information card on my flight to Chicago, Wichita, KS

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

The devil’s in the details. It’s an old saying, but it’s true. You can think you’ve got everything right. You can think you’ve handled every issue, but you usually always miss some small, pesky detail that screws the whole project up. And the same is true when it comes to our faith.

Sure, you can get the big picture right. You can live your life according to the major tenants of what the Bible says, but the details matter too. The details of the Christian life often affect the big picture more than we think they do.

Example? Say you believe that murder is wrong. It’s wrong to kill someone because the Bible says it’s wrong. But that’s a broad subject. Let’s get specific about murder. Let’s get down to the details. What do you believe about abortion? Does your belief about murder match up with your belief about abortion? Because the Bible is pretty clear on both. The Bible calls murder the ending of someone’s life unjustly, and the Bible also says that life begins at the moment of conception. And what’s more unjust than ending the life of an innocent who can’t even fight back?

I’m not trying to start an argument. I’m just trying to make a point. You can believe that murder is wrong all day long, but if you pay attention to the details of what the Bible says, that means you should also believe that abortion is wrong. If you don’t, you’re a hypocrite—picking and choosing what you like about the Bible and dismissing what you don’t.

The Bible doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t work that way. We don’t get to approve or disapprove of God’s plans. He’s God. He does what He wants, and He is gracious enough to include us on some of what He’s doing in the world. Just because you disagree with Him doesn’t make Him wrong. And it sure doesn’t make you right.

It seems to me that every street is lined with people who would twist the Christian faith to fit their own purposes. Every day there’s someone on television or radio who’s claiming something that the Bible never promises or quoting scriptures God never inspired. And it’s more important than ever to pay attention to what the Bible actually says.

Don’t just listen to the next person who comes along. Don’t even listen to me. Like I blogged about earlier in the week, you need to take responsibility for your own faith, because at the end of days when you stand before God Himself, you won’t be able to shift blame on anyone else. You’ll have to stand on your own, and if you don’t have Jesus, you really will be on your own.

Every American has heard the truth in some form or other. Americans are without excuse, more than any other nation in the history of the world. We have freedom. We have churches on every corner. We have Bibles gathering dust on our coffee tables.

So listen carefully. Pay attention. Don’t just ignore the safety demonstration when God decides to give it. Don’t shove the seatback card in the pocket and plug your earphones in while the plane burns up around you.

Listen up. Speak out. And don’t back down, especially when you’re faced with people who treat the Bible like it’s some kind of tree that only produces good fruit half the time.

The blood moon of April 2014 setting at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Finding the truth in good advice

When was the last time you got really great advice? Did you recognize it when you heard it? For me, sometimes good advice doesn’t sound like advice. Sometimes it just sounds like conversation or a story, but recently a very good friend of mine actually sat me down and had a good long chat with me. And he gave me advice.

For-real advice. That doesn’t happen to me very often, probably because I don’t shut up long enough for people to tell me stuff.

I appreciated what this friend had to stay to me enormously because he’s one of those people who I really respect, but I had no idea how valuable that advice would be a few days later. I actually got the chance to put his advice into practice.

The blood moon of April 2014 setting at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

The blood moon of April 2014 setting at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 19:20.

Get all the advice and instruction you can,
    so you will be wise the rest of your life.

The world is full of people with advice. Have you noticed that? Everyone has an opinion about something, even the things that don’t matter.

An example? I was looking for a grammar rule I couldn’t remember. Do you capitalize after a colon or not? And surprise, surprise, everyone had a different idea and ten sources to back them up. Nobody agreed (but this is English, so I guess it’s not a surprise).

Everyone has advice. So whose advice do you go with? And how do you judge what advice is sound and what advice is cuckoo? Obviously what the Bible says is truth, but if you talk to different people they’ll apply that truth in different ways in their lives. So how do you know what’s right and what’s wrong?

Because maybe you’ve got a friend who has given you great advice in the past. That’s awesome. But maybe you’ve got other friends who have given you advice that didn’t work out so well. Or maybe you’ve even got friends like Job had, those cruel people who were so determined to blame Job’s suffering on him.

I’m not sure I know the answer to this. I just know what I have learned.

Lots of people have given me advice before, but the advice I take has to fulfill two main requirements. One, the advice he’s giving can’t contradict Scripture in any way. Two, the person giving the advice has to be a mature Christ-follower with a history of wise choices. Then, and only then, will I consider taking his advice.

Will I listen to advice from people I don’t know well? Sure, I’ll listen. Because I’ve learned amazing things from people I don’t know well. I’ve been blessed enormously by people I barely know. I’ve gotten to see God work in my life thanks to strangers. But when it comes to my own life, my own personal walk with Christ, it’s highly unlikely that I’m going to change what I’m doing just because someone walks up to me and tells me I need to do something different.

Advice is important. Nobody is smart enough to make it through this life on their wits alone. We all have experiences and we all have learned things along the way that can help others around us, and we should share and we should listen. The more you listen, the more you learn. The more you learn, the wiser you’ll be.

Job’s friends aside, God has put people in our lives who are worth listening to. And listening to them might mean the difference between success and burn out.

So pay attention. Get all the advice you can find because the truth will probably be in there somewhere.

A boat on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Galveston, Galveston, TX

God’s truth is our anchor in life

Why do ships need anchors? I’m not a boating expert at all, but I would assume everyone knows why. When a ship wants to stop and not move any further along its course, it has to drop its anchor so the water won’t carry it away.

Water never stops moving, and it’s teeming with all sorts of invisible currents. The water you touch at one moment is completely different from the water you touch the next. It’s always moving and shifting, and it carries everything that isn’t weighed down along for the ride. So if a ship doesn’t want to move, it has to drop an anchor that will keep it in place.

Have you ever thought that life is a little like that? Life never stops moving. It’s full of invisible forces you don’t always understand that are pulling you along whether you want to go or not, and if you don’t have something to hold you down, you’ll be swept away.

A boat on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Galveston, Galveston, TX

A boat on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Galveston, Galveston, TX

Today’s verse is Hebrews 2:1.

So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.

I don’t know why people struggle with truth so much. Maybe it’s because we really can’t wrap our minds around the concept of an absolute. We really can’t. We are eternal beings, but since we haven’t experienced an absolute eternity yet, we can’t understand what it will be like. So when it comes to absolutes like truth, we can try our hardest but I’m not sure we’ll actually understand it like we understand other things. Like the way language works or like the way an engine works.

But even if we can’t understand truth on the same level that God does, we can still recognize it. You know the truth when you hear it, especially if you are a Christ-follower and you have the Holy Spirit whispering in your heart. The Bible is true, and God gave it to us so we’d know how to live.

So why is it so difficult?

Well, how good a listener are you? I’m not as good as I could be. Did you ever take those standardized tests that measured your listening as a child? I don’t remember what my score was, but those tests were hard. You couldn’t necessarily trust what you saw on the page, and you had to listen to what the teacher said if you wanted a passing grade.

Funny how similar life can be to tests, isn’t it?

Just because you see something or hear something that you think is a good idea doesn’t make it right or true. You have to compare it to what God says, because what God says is always right and true. We have to remember. We have to pay attention. We have to listen.

God’s way, the right and true way, will act like an anchor in our lives. When this broken world and all its problems try to sweep us away, the truth will help us stand.

So know what God says. Listen to what He says. And do it. If you don’t, the storms of life will blow you down. Sure, the storms of life may still beat you up a bit, but when they blow themselves out you’ll still be standing.

 

Beautiful green wheat around Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

This world has nothing for me

God created this world for us to enjoy, and some days I really do love it. Like yesterday. Yesterday was beautiful. Spring is finally deciding to show up here in Kansas, and yesterday was almost picture perfect (except for the 30 mph winds). On days like yesterday, it can be difficult to remember that the world is broken.

The world has so many beautiful things in it, and it’s so tempting to want to live for those things. But we need to remember that everything we see is temporary and it’s the invisible things that will last forever.

Beautiful green wheat around Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Beautiful green wheat around Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Galatians 6:14.

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.

Because of what Jesus did on the cross, the world has no power over us. We have a choice. We don’t have to live for the world. We can live for Him instead. After you meet Christ, what can the world offer you to compare to Him?

But if that’s the case, why do so many Christ-followers end up stuck back in the world again?

I can’t speak for any of them, but I find myself being drawn back to the world’s way of doing things when I get too busy. When I’m so busy I can’t keep track of anything, I forget the things that matter. I have to focus on what’s right in front of me, and most of the times that’s something temporary.

This is what I need to remember. Even when I’m busy, I can still make my decisions based on God’s eternal principles instead of the world’s temporary guidelines. What God says is right is right all the time. It doesn’t change, just like Him. And if I live my life according to what He says is right, my life will be more consistent than if I tried to follow what the world says is right.

Because of what Jesus did for me, I don’t have to listen to the world. I have another option. The world has nothing in it for me. I don’t care about anything the world says is important because the world doesn’t understand what really matters.

It’s just up to me to keep my focus where it needs to be. It’s up to me to make choices based on God’s truth rather than the world’s convenience. It’s easier to go with the flow, especially when you’re busy, but in the long run, you’ll find the road is a lot less bumpy if you follow God’s directions instead of the world’s.