It seems I never do anything just once.
I’ve retired three times in my lifetime – once from a 20-year career in journalism, once from 20 years of homeschooling and finally from bookkeeping for our family business (something I felt like I’d done forever). Retiring is not something I plan to do again.
To quote a favorite author (and now a friend) Jill Briscoe:
“You go where you’re sent and you stay where you’re put and you give what you’ve got.”
Where I’m put right now is in solitude on a farm in northern Indiana. I don’t see myself leaving until the Lord calls me home, so I’ll be staying put. And, what I’ve got to give in this season of my life is time and words.
Back to never doing anything once…..
Last weekend we helped one of our sons relocate to Detroit. He’d come home to our “empty nest” a year ago to deal with some health issues. During his process of healing, he also worked in our family business, built skateboards and furniture in a woodshop, and recorded a collection of four original songs. It was a good/hard year and all of us grew in many ways. God is faithful, and it was time – for him and for us – to begin a new chapter.
So, once again, I’m adjusting to this empty nest. Putting my long-neglected work space in order was a good first step.
We can stay the course and do what God has given us to do, but we can’t control those who share our lives. Believe me, I’ve tried. The only thing we CAN control is our availability to walk alongside them, prepared to “give what we’ve got” when needed.
I’ve walked through enough life lessons to know that I really don’t dictate my schedule and order my days. God does.
When I was homeschooling, I’d spend one day a month and sometimes Sunday afternoons carefully laying out lesson plans for our four sons. Invariably, something would happen to disrupt my school agenda, and usually it would result in a better plan, sometimes even a blessing. But, at least I had laid out a framework from which to start, a plan we could return to when the interruption had passed.
Our son moving back home for a year was not an “interruption”. It was a blessing, a gift of time that reshaped our relationship and drove it even deeper. God’s plan was so much better than anything I’d fashioned for my empty nest years.
Here are three simple ways we can be prepared for interruptions:
- Plan more diligently and work with greater intent on the days when the coast is clear.
- Look at your goals, tasks and commitments and order them by importance.
- Hold loosely to those plans and pray God reorders where He sees fit.
This verse from Jeremiah 29:11 has been a constant reminder to trust a loving God:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
I’ve got a stack of notebooks and planners that I use to keep myself on track – a bullet journal with reading and project plans, a daily log, a pocket calendar and lots of lists. But none of it is carved in stone and all of it is subject to His interruptions.
My three-prong plan in this season of life is simple: go where I’m sent, stay where I’m put and give what I’ve got…..
“all the way home.”
A friend and I were blessed recently to spend two days in Wisconsin as guests of a fellow writer. In addition to hours of conversation about our families and our writing goals, we spent a memorable morning in a little coffee shop chatting with one of my spiritual heroes – Jill Briscoe. (Our friend works with Jill.) I first sat under Jill’s teaching when I was a newlywed baby Christian, some 40 years ago. Her wisdom, wit and warmth are as evident today as they were when she spoke in that little sunlit chapel in Warsaw at my first ever women’s conference.
A large part of Jill’s ministry today centers around the wonderful magazine Just Between Us. While in Wisconsin, my friend and I attended an informational meeting about the magazine and its reach throughout the world. Founded 27 years ago by Jill, it is available both in print and online, and it’s the only women’s magazine written entirely by guest authors. You can read the online magazine, order a subscription or donate to the JBU ministry here.
And, you can read Jill Briscoe’s poem “All the Way Home” here: