by Ava SturgeonPeople with their minds set on You, You keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don’t quit (Isaiah 26:3, The Message).
It was a typical Tuesday evening at our house, meaning that although I was exhausted from a long day at work, hungry mouths were chirping, “What’s for dinner?” Sigh. As I slung the meat into a pan, my thoughts began racing, and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty: Not only was the pity party alive and well, but those heart palpitations were also back as I mentally juggled Wednesday’s schedule. Then, as my family inhaled the spaghetti and abandoned a kitchen full of dirty dishes, the tears came. Once again, life’s day-to-day chaos had disrupted my dreams, depleted my energy, and discouraged my faith.
Why do Christian women with great intentions become overwhelmed? During times like these, where is the fruit of the Spirit—you know, those heaping doses of joy and peace that even dirty dishes can’t quench? For me, the root was undoubtedly the neglect of my Heavenly Father. Oh, I listened to Christian music. And heard Sunday’s sermons. I also prayed daily, quickly begging for strength and patience. But regular, anticipatory, one-on-one intimacy? During those days, hardly ever. Who had time?
The shift for me—and by shift, I mean fresh perspective, new purpose and authentic passion—developed gradually but noticeably as I tried something new: Waking a little earlier each morning to meet with God. I wasn’t sure what to do, exactly, with all those minutes of silence. At first, there was a devotional book and fairly routine prayer. Then one morning I got creative and hummed some praise songs, just thinking about the words. Another day the urge struck to write God a love letter. There were no hard-fast rules, other than He and I had a standing appointment that was quickly becoming meaningful.
Before long, my thoughts—God’s thoughts, actually, resonating in my spirit—transformed in pretty drastic ways. For starters, it became clear that I’d committed to obligations God never intended, at least for now. (Yes, I gradually and victoriously learned the wisdom of “no.”)
Ten years later, as I reflect on the beginning of a consistent, intimate relationship with God, my eyes fill with tears—this time, happy ones. Oh, how He has taught me to rest, to simplify, and to listen! And those prior feelings of crippling overload? Sometimes they still tug, but the thoughts now have no lasting power. You see, each morning a sweet, two-way conversation with my Father adjusts my perspective, replenishes my energy, and puts a new song in my heart.
My Father, My Healer, My Sustainer,
Help me see that circumstance is unrelated to the joy and peace you promise. Strengthen my continuing, growing relationship with you. Show me that knowing you makes all the difference, not only in my thoughts, but also in the lives of those around me. More than anything, I want to know you, enjoy you, and thrive in your abundant plan for me.
AVA STURGEN taught high school English before retiring in 2009 to work with teen girls. Since the release of A Daughter’s Worth in 2006, she has written for various publications and spoken at faith-based events. Her second book, A Daughter’s Heart, is set for release in 2011. To read her blog for teen girls, visit http://worthydaughters.wordpress.com/. To contact Ava directly, visit http://www.avasturgeon.com/.
A DAUGHTER'S WORTH
What do high school girls, modern-day problems, and the Bible have in common? Everything, as A Daughter's Worth reveals in this interactive, practical Bible study for teenagers. Ava H. Sturgeon, a longtime teacher, understands the unique challenges that young ladies face and gently guides them to Biblical truth through personal examples, humor, and journaling. This twelve-week study is ideal for church discipleship programs but could easily fit into private school curriculums or individual quiet times. For every girl seeking value in today's world, A Daughter's Worth is required reading!
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Question of the Day: When was the last time you needed a "mental makeover" because you were having a pity party?
Non-Serious Question of the Day: If you weren't there to make dinner for your family, what would they end up eating? (Ordering out doesn't count.)