Squeezing Every Memory Out of Time

The first group of women left Israel the evening of our last day of touring. We arrived at the hotel in just enough time for them to shower, eat, and shove the last few items into their bags. We all met in the lobby and hugged each other, saying our goodbyes. We followed them to the bus, waved, and ran alongside them to the end of the sidewalk.

Over half of our group was gone.

Few of us knew each other before landing in Israel. Some people knew no one. We had connected leading up to the trip. We emailed updates and chatted through our private Facebook group. But meeting face to face and living alongside each other for two weeks was different. Many became lifelong friends. Several had to deal with irritations and conflicts. We processed our experiences together. We shared our backgrounds and our dreams. We talked about our struggles, and committed to staying in touch to support one another. Our time together united us…

…and we squeezed every memory out of the last few hours.

The next group wasn’t scheduled to leave until 1:30 a.m., but we didn’t want them to stay awake on their own, so we piled into my room and chatted and played games. It was a sweet time. No one seemed to mind sacrificing sleep. It was as if we were already full and content with our time together, but we added a pile of whipped cream and a cherry on top of the experience. We laughed and shared until it was time to roll the heavy suitcases to the lobby and wait for the van. Again, we waved and ran alongside until the end of the sidewalk. There were fewer of us.

We had time for a short nap before the final group got up to eat and leave at 7:30 a.m. I hugged them and waved as I ran to the end of the sidewalk by myself. Then I ate breakfast at one of our group tables…alone.

©2015 PurePurpose.org
©2015 PurePurpose.org

I prayed for each women. I was alone but not lonely. My heart was full.

People come and go out of our lives, but what we do with the time we spend with them is essential. We can be nourished by our friendships or take them for granted and waste the limited time we have. We can long for more with discontent and never be satisfied, or we can long for more so that we continue to invest and receive and end up grateful for the time we’ve had.

I am grateful.

The Gift of Now

I’ve had more time lately. Well, not really. I have the same 24 hours a day as always, but my hours aren’t structured with the same tasks as a month ago. That’s a struggle for me. Not because my life’s not the same; I thrive on change and growth. Not because I don’t have enough to do. Far from it. I have more writing opportunities, including the major project of Pure Emotion, a Bible Study to be released later this year. I’m contributing to many online blogs and magazines, creating resources for women’s ministries, preparing for conferences, retreats, and workshops…not to mention local ministry, leading two Bible studies, supporting friends in need and squeezing in laundry, dishes, and other responsibilities of being a wife and mom.

It’s definitely not that I don’t have enough to do. It’s that I work well when I’m multi-tasking within a structure. I like variety, and I like deadlines. I enjoy the challenge of juggling different responsibilities within the day. Sure I can create my own structure, but there’s something about the involvement with others for at least part of the structure. It’s fun (and challenging) to be part of a team that brainstorms together, holds each other accountable, and ultimately come up with an end result much better than it would have been on our own. Even when I’m hired to create resources, I thrive on the camaraderie of listening to the client’s needs and being creative in how to meet those needs with the best resources possible.

I’m definitely busy right now, but with the shift in my schedule and responsibilities has come a shift in the external demands on my schedule. I told my friend yesterday, “Some times I feel lost. I work better with deadlines.” She chuckled because she already knew that about me. Am I weird? So many people I know would say, “More flexibility to do what you want when you want it? And you’re struggling? Are you nuts?”

I was beginning to think so. I’ve been trying all kinds of things like imposing my own deadlines, pacing myself, being authentic with my best friends through my struggles, etc. I have plenty to do, and I have time to get it all done. But I feel like I’m swirling without clear direction. Then I realized, it’s not about my schedule at all. It’s not about what I have to do. It’s about how I’m responding to where I am – and my perspective of where I’m going.

The truth is…I’m very clear about where I am. I’m in God’s care. God’s provision. God’s guidance. This is a season. The future might be uncertain, but the present isn’t. And I’ll lose out on the certainty of the present in my preoccupation with the uncertainty of the future.

Leave it to God to speak to me just when I need it most. In the middle of my flurry of to-dos and what-to-do-firsts, I was comforted as God assured me he’s given me this season to breathe, trust, and relax in him…not to waste in anticipation of what-nexts. He’s given me a gift! I’ve been thinking of how much more comfortable I’d be with deadlines and structure, but the truth is…I have them! God’s given me my deadlines and structure. I’m supposed to rest and work according to what he has planned for me in this season, and if I don’t – if I spend my time swirling in circles, anticipating what’s next – I’m going to miss out on what’s surrounding me right now.

So I quieted myself. And I felt…peace. Joy. Gratefulness. And excitement. Excitement for what God’s “next” step for me is…but also excitement for where he has me right now.

Are you celebrating where you are…right now? God’s inviting you to the best party of the day. Your life! Live it fully.

Trust the Lord with all your heart, and don’t depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5