A New Year: Thrive 1/16

a-new-year-thriveAfter our second session studying “What’s Best Next” by Matt Perman yesterday, I was reminded of when I was first learning Perman’s principles for productivity. The biblical way he approaches “getting organized” forced me to become a disciple again of God’s Word and learn something new for immediate practice. As it goes with most kinds of change, the process was challenging and at times painful. But just as we have read the last few weeks in his book, we are called to be good stewards of our time because we love God and therefore love people. Love and generosity should drive our productivity as well as our daily choices.

A few years ago a friend mommy blogger hosted a blog series, asking women to write entries on varied subjects while including practical tips relevant to their topic (see my original post here). Since I was at the time halfway through the pursuit of a Masters in Theological Studies, she asked me to write one offering tips on going back to school mid-mommyhood. As requested, I included practical tips that had helped me survive (including reading the book “What’s Best Next“!), but I also gave an apologetic for why I had chosen to go back to school in the first place. Below is an excerpt:

“At first thought, it may seem as if going back to school is a decision “for me.” Au contraire. My husband and I are approaching our 13th wedding anniversary, and of those 13 years, he was enrolled in either undergraduate or graduate school for almost a decade.

sara-family-2While there were several very difficult years (we added 4 to our family count in 7 years), I truly enjoyed the innumerable late night conversations as he stretched my brain working out his thoughts. Our little family stood beside him when he graduated with his Masters of Divinity, feeling like we all owned a part of that degree.

Little did I know God was preparing me for my own journey back to school as a homeschooling mom of 4.

Why go back?” “Who will this benefit?”

screen-shot-2017-01-16-at-8-11-59-amFive years ago, my oldest was given a school assignment while studying the medieval time period. The assignment required the family to design and create a family crest. After much discussion (read debate), we all agreed on the following family motto: Amo, Disco, Duco: (I love, I learn, I lead). The motto was birthed out of Matthew 22:36-39 (ESV),

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If you think about it, these verses drive the desire to be educated. As our love for God grows, we want to know Him more. As we know Him more, our love for Him grows. We know wisdom’s source:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10 ESV).

The Burt family motto, Amo, Disco, Duco merely speaks to the two greatest commandments Jesus provided as the foundation for our existence. In loving God we desire to learn. His love drives us to love and lead others, following in Christ’s footsteps.

Furthermore, do we ever cease to be a disciple? God has called and gifted each of us, empowering us to participate in the Cultural Mandate (Genesis 1:28). This means God is glorified as we cultivate and sharpen the gifts He has graciously given each of us, aiming to influence our culture.”

12359830_10207529807859740_1953154052611412749_nWith the Lord’s help and the never-ending support of my family, I finished the degree half a year later. Yet the journey with discipleship, loving God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength, is a lifelong endeavor.

 

If you are diving into What’s Best Next with Thrive this month, yesterday’s session was a day of many practical tips full of change – which can be challenging. But don’t give up. Take the first steps this week.

  1. Come up with a draft of your mission statement, the declaration of your core purpose that stands true even when your world falls apart.
  2. Next write down a few of your core principles that guide your life.
  3. Finally, jot down your core beliefs including the baseline principle for why you do what you do – the gospel, what God has done for us in Christ.

I can finish this post the same way I finished the guest blog for my friend:

“Bottom line – women rock. You can do this and even enjoy the process! Above all, God will be glorified as you love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. So buy some frozen dinners, brew a cup of coffee, and dive in.”

A New Year: Thrive 1/13

a-new-year-thrive“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.”

Matt. 13:44

Several times a year, my family embarks on a massive purge of stuff. This purge usually precedes birthdays and Christmas because we need to make room for the highly anticipated new gadgets. A few years ago, I gathered the kids together, passed out garbage sacks to everyone, and prepared myself for the occasional whine and complaint. To my surprise, my then 7 year old joyfully exclaimed how excited she was! She said she loved getting rid of things in order to make room for the new. A few hours later, I peeked in her very full bag of to-be-discarded items, and realized her excitement may have run away with her. Ironically, I had to convince her to keep a few sentimental items.

A few months later, I was reading the parable of hidden treasure in Matthew 13 and saw the simplicity of the principle through the eyes of a child. This parable indicates that when the man found the treasure, the kingdom of heaven, he realized its value was more than anything else he had. Selling his other possessions was not an act of sacrificial, obligatory obedience, but an act of joy. In fact, Romans 14:17 defines the kingdom of heaven as “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The man’s former possessions were completely irrelevant in light of the beauty of this newly found treasure. In selling all in order to make room for the new, he clearly revealed what he treasured in his heart.

My house can quickly accumulate stuff, some of which might be considered valuable. In the same way, my heart tends to involuntarily hoard that which I treasure. And often times, that which I treasure would be considered by most to be beneficial and not destructive. But no gift God has given me compares to the value and worth of the kingdom of heaven, the rule of Christ in my life. Some seasons I do well with treasuring Christ above all else. Other seasons, a de-cluttering session is needed to purge that which I have begun to hold too closely. To lose these things is not a sad loss when I gain the kingdom of heaven in return.

Sara Burt

 

A New Year: Thrive 1/11

a-new-year-thriveThe Smallest Stone

As a child, I remember throwing rocks into our pond to see how big of a ripple it would make when it hit the water. The larger the rock I threw, the larger the ripple. This memory came to my mind the other day while I was all snuggled and cozy in my chair watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. The actress in the scene made a statement that made me pause and rewind the movie (thanks to DVR). She said,

“The smallest stone makes a ripple in the water.”

Hmmm…that statement touched me, and it got me thinking. Because of life’s hardships, trials, family, work, church, etc., sometimes I feel my stone is still sitting on the bank, and I make no ripple. I sometimes think I make no difference at all.

But whatever I may feel, the truth is, I MAKE A RIPPLE. The smallest stone makes a ripple in the water. So, I started pondering, what kind of a ripple am I making?

My prayer for this New Year is that God will use my ripple for HIS kingdom, and HIS glory, and that my life would make a positive difference in each person and circumstance that is in my path. I pray my ripple would reach the other side of the pond’s bank in lasting godly impact.

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

Becky Martin

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