Recently, I sat down with a Pastor friend of mine and they began to ask me some questions that made me reflect over this past year of my life. A lot has happened in our household during 2018 - some of which I can share and some things that may be shared in the near future but all of which are things that have been eye-opening, challenging and/or blessings. Reflecting back over the past year we took the time as a family - Cameron and I with our boys to focus on just that - family. We were honored with the opportunity to move to paradise, Florida and take time to set ministry on the shelf for a little while as we brought back into our personal lives some of the most important values that we hold dear. My friend asked me, "put ministry on the shelf?" Yes, I replied. One of my great influencers, Joni Lamb, once told me that ministry will always be there, but your family may not be. What a wonderful point she made. Ministry will always be there. I will always have ministry part of my life in one way or another. Whatever your calling or passion may be - ministry, sports, community service, fashion, cooking - those passions will always be there but there's a limited amount of time to get it right with your family. A specific pause must be calculated where as a family you decide to put everything on the shelf until as a family unit you feel balanced, engaged and important. To the person reading this: your calling or passion may be different than mine and you'll have to figure out what works best where your passion is concerned in order to put the main relationships in your life in the forefront. For us personally we decided to take 2018 to put a lot of our passions on the shelf such as ministry, speaking, music, career ambitions, writing and some entrepreneurship dreams that we had. We literally denied invitations and opportunities as we felt peace in obedience of focusing on God and family. We took the time that may have been spent on those subjects and poured it into our own marriage/relationship and into our children (mainly for Auden, our two year old while I was pregnant with baby Hudson for most of the year). We put the phones down at the dinner table (where a lot of families aren't even making it to the dinner table nowadays), we went on adventures as a family, we took the time to minister to one another the way we had taken so much time to minister to others over the past few years. What an idea - to minister to our own family. Nearing the end of 2018 and reflecting back on all that we have poured into one another as a family this year I have to say that I would absolutely make this decision over again. We lost nothing but we gained a priceless reward in knowing God better, knowing one another better and knowing ourselves better. A year of reflection and reward. Our marriage is better than its ever been, our children have had so much face time with us as parents versus seeing us through the lens of an iPhone, we know where we are as a family unit and where we want to be as a family unit, we know what true success feels like, we know the difference between the worlds version of success and plain busyness, we are a united team moving forward with healthy boundaries, healthy goals and truly living out what it means to be in one accord. (Matthew 18:19, Amos 3:3, Ecclesiastes 4:12) As 2018 comes to an end I challenge you to walk into 2019 putting some things on the shelf in order to focus on your family unit.
"Putting something on the shelf doesn't mean that it's over forever - that's the beauty of the shelf..."
Putting something on the shelf doesn't mean that it's over forever - that's the beauty of the shelf, you can pull it back down when you're ready. God has honored the time that Cameron and I have put into our relationship with Him as the head of our household and the time that we've put into our family. When we made this decision in 2018, I put before God the desire that I have to bring ministry, specific career opportunities and our entrepreneurship dreams back into our lives in the year 2019. As the year closes and 2019 is around the corner, I'm so in awe watching God shift and align things in our lives. I feel like I'm sitting back watching God's show which will one day be a beautiful testimony to share and it all started by putting God and our family first. For me personally, part of being obedient in 2018 was declining invitations to speak at conferences, services and events. As soon as I verbalized in my prayer time my desire for ministry to come back down off the shelf in 2019 I received invitations to speak in 2019. Part of Cameron's obedience has been directly correlated with career opportunities that are in process. God is listening to your prayers and He is watching your character. Do you value your dreams more than your relationship with God? Are you willing to say no to some things now in order for the later to be greater? Are you willing to set your dreams on the shelf in order to trade your time for some time to pour into your family and into your relationship with God? Are you willing to sew seeds that will reap a harvest later or are you so hungry for results now that you can't see straight? I simmered on Matthew 11 where God says "come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest... for my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Life isn't always easy, but as children of God we are given the choice to trade our hectic, busy, chaotic mess for God's rest - and as the message version says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28 [Message Version] Learn how to do life by Gods side. It doesn't have to include busyness, it doesn't have to include hectic schedules, take some things off of your plate and reorganize.
Going into 2019, I'm so grateful for the "year of the shelf" for my family that God has given us in 2018. We charge the new year as a balanced, steady family that is fully aware of how success is defined in our household. We've been in full time ministry and we've been in a full time sabbatical. We've experienced overload and we've experienced rest. We're stepping back and watching God continuously honor our 2018 decision by bringing in 2019 blessings: speaking invitations, career opportunities and entrepreneurship dreams coming to life all while maintaining a healthy rhythm with our family. We don't want too much or not enough, we want God's perfect portion. I'm convinced that we're living in the story that we'll tell years from now - God's alignment of our lives. I challenge you to try the shelf this coming year and see what God will do in your life the following years to come.
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