It is a truth universally
acknowledged that a single mom in possession of only twenty-four hours
a day must be in want of caffeine.
I am a full-time employee, a
freelance journalist, a multipublished fiction author, and a single
mother. Some days my titles feel almost like a confession, because most
days I feel like a failure. I am many things and wear many hats, but,
unfortunately, I don’t have access to a superhero cape.
More often than not, I
frantically flit through my day, overwhelmed by my to-do list that
somehow possess the magical ability to self-multiply, feeling like
everything I touch turns to dust instead of gold. I all too frequently
give a portion of myself—my ability, my time, my energy, and my
heart—to way too many things at once, rather than focusing all of me on
what matters the most.
God is teaching me to slow down.
To breathe. To count gifts. To see my flops and failures as
opportunities to rest in His grace rather than striving in my effort.
This isn’t always an easy lesson
to absorb. For example, the other night, I attempted to stay up late
and work on my already-extended-once deadline. I treated myself to a
venti iced white mocha from Starbucks (you can bet there was whipped
cream!) and settled down to business, hoping the caffeine would come
through. Boy, did it! I was more productive than I could have hoped,
except I was riding a never-ending caffeine wave that would have made a
professional surfer jealous. I caught myself multiple times
speed-talking. Out loud. To myself. I got up to switch out a load of
laundry and realized after a moment I was literally jogging around my
two-bedroom apartment. I finally got into bed and my eyes burned with
exhaustion, yet my heart raced like I was in the middle of a marathon
sprint, and my hands shook with unreleased energy.
And that’s what God continues to
teach me, both inside and outside of my writing. Quick fixes don’t
work. Running yourself ragged doesn’t work. Beating yourself up for
your mistakes or failures doesn’t work. Those methods don’t put more
time on the ticking clock, don’t inspire or motivate toward success,
and don’t accomplish anything other than condemnation and fear and
procrastination. There is no victory in that rushed, self-striving type
As Christian authors, we have to
pour into our novels so the story flows into the reader. But what
exactly are we pouring if we don’t stop to fill ourselves up? If we
pack our days and schedules and to-do lists with things we feel must
get done, what’s left for Christ? Where will the hope, joy, and grace
we so eagerly long to incorporate into our stories come from? An empty
Starbucks cup? An empty laundry basket? A dusty Bible?
Here are some facts. I work full
time for an oil and gas company as the owner’s executive assistant. I’m
in charge of all accounting, including receivables and payables for
both the business and my boss’s personal finances; I serve as the
entire HR department, manage the office and payroll, and I oversee
multiple other tasks. I am the single mother to a first grader, the
sole provider for our home, and a neat freak, which means I try to keep
our apartment spotless at all times (you can stop laughing now). I am a
list hostesses for a thousand-plus member writer’s loop, regularly
freelance articles for my local newspaper, contribute frequent content
to www.ibelieve.com, maintain my personal blog ministry, and try to be
as active as possible in my daughter’s school. And I write romance
novels for Harlequin Love Inspired and Zondervan
We all have a fact list like
this, one we can rattle off regarding who we are and what we do and all
the hats we wear. Like our list can justify us or excuse us or explain
away our many mistakes and futile efforts and failed attempts at life.
At writing. At parenting. At marriage.
But this fact remains: we are
all given the same twenty-four hours in a day. And each hour is a gift.
How we spend those hours are our presents back to the Lord. So daily I
ask myself: Am I contributing to the kingdom of God this hour, or am I
contributing to my own self-made plans? Am I investing in my daughter’s
future in this hour, or am I wasting time worrying over what I can’t
control? Am I speaking life and truth over my family and friends this
hour, or am I obsessing over fears of the unknown?
This is good news! There should
be freedom in such a perspective. Why? Because it takes the weight off
of our weary shoulders and yokes it back on Christ.
“Come to me, all who labor and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and
learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find
rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light”
(Matt. 11:28–30 NKJV).
When we daily submit to the Lord
our plans, schedules, to-do lists, and tasks, He guides us and makes
our paths straight. Interruptions become divine appointments.
Intimidating deadlines become opportunities for His Spirit to work
within us and accomplish the impossible. Giant loads of laundry become
jumping piles for giggling little girls. Burned dinners become pizza
picnics on the living room floor. Fears grow silent. Failures become
grace. Burdens are exchanged for yokes and striving traded for rest.
And all the while, the clock
ticks. Counting hours.