Plane Coffee Mom

Chatting about Mission Aviation over coffee

The Choice

Big choices like where we will go to college, who we will marry, and how we will respond to a crisis come up at various times throughout our lives. Small choices like our response to our friends, what we will cook for dinner, or when we will wake up in the morning are things that happen almost daily. We often agonize and pray over the “big choices” and choose the easy path on the “small choices”. Yet in the long-term, maybe it’s the “small choices” that make the bigger difference. Maybe at some level it isn’t where we go to college but how we steward that choice. Maybe it isn’t so much who we marry as how we relate to our spouse over the following years. Maybe how we initially respond to what we view as a crisis is not as defining as the character we grow or refuse to grow in the process of walking through that crisis.

Several months ago I heard a quote by Tim Herson, “We tend to overestimate what we can do in the short-term and underestimate what we can do in the long-term.” It echoed the one percent change idea I kept hearing about in terms of elite athlete development.  At first glance neither seemed very applicable to my life as a wife, mom, friend, administrator, or writer. But the more I thought about it, the more the implications multiplied.

What if? I began to ask myself. What if I spent 1% of my day differently– if I spent that 14.4 minutes a day in prayer instead of worry. What if I devoted 10 minutes a day to exercise or reflection or something else that I “really should do”. What are the long-term implications of a few days of procrastination on every project or putting off healthy habits until I can better afford them? What if?

I began to consider how to make 1% improvements in my life. I took a look at my daily schedule and thought about the long-term implications instead of the daily tasks.  I began to think about investing most deeply in the things that have the best chance of long-term returns. The thought began to color my choices and creep into my conversations.

In the last couple of months I’ve made some of those changes. Instead of putting off various household chores, I just do them because the long-term effect of procrastinating is semi-constant chaos. Instead of viewing interactions with people as an interruption to the tasks I had on my list, I try to think of them as ripples in the long-term pond of life. There are a lot of changes I still need to make, things I’d like to be different. But as I make small changes and see the difference they can make over time, I am encouraged. And each small change for the better makes the next one easier.

As I ponder long-term effects of choices, I realize that the best view is the longest. Eternity is a long time, and it matters more how my choices affect eternity than how they affect this hour, day, or week.

One-Third of Simple Extravagance

This year that began with a focus on Simple Extravagance is one-third gone and continues to tempt me toward complex frugality in more ways than I can mention. Yet my commitment to Simple Extravagance remains and I am thankful for the choices I’ve made in that direction. I am thankful for Simple days and Extravagant pleasures. I’m grateful for Simple schedules and Extravagant interactions. I’m blessed by Simple Extravagance.

In April my husband Garry and I enjoyed more than a few extravagances at a cabin on the lake. This gift was made by generous strangers, a testimony to unexpected blessings and our ability to impact even those we do not personally know by our choices. This was a beautiful cabin with an amazing view. It is a cabin done well– quality construction and quality furnishing. It’s also simple and allows for simple focus– no TV to distract, no schedule to keep, and fewer temptations toward complexity. Yet it is surrounded by extravagant beauty and reminders of God’s extravagant love for us.

My choices toward extravagance have often related to the people in my life. The choice to spend time in relationship instead of production. The decision to be present in a conversation instead of rushing off to the next thing. The choice to share instead of hiding, to care instead of judging, and to love instead of ignoring. I haven’t seen this particular extravagance wasted when done in love.

Simplicity of schedule has been an upward climb for me thus far, but I think I’m seeing it level out a bit. I tend toward too many things in too little time with too little preparation. That makes for complexity. Simplicity requires the hard work of deciding what is important and staying focused on the things that are ours to do. One of the things I’ve learned (again) on this journey toward a simpler schedule is that not having boundaries is not freeing, it is crazy-making. This is true for ourselves and for our children and with our work. You see, where there is no “outside the lines” we have no idea what we are responsible for or what is outside of our responsibility.

The other place that I’ve found Simple Extravagance to be helpful has been in the things I think about. There are many things in the past and the future that I can ponder, and some of them need attention. Often, however, it is better use of my mental capacities to engage in simple worship, to focus on God and ask Him what He is doing. It seems extravagant to let Him take care of me and mine, but I believe it’s called faith. Obviously, this faith must lead to obedience and we are created with purpose and good works to do: however, for me the mental trails I take are often trails of worry and fear, trails that neither produce good fruit nor help resolve the questions in any way. In those case, extravagant worship is a simply freeing choice.


Faith Stories

“I wish I had faith stories like you!” my friend commented the other day. So this is for you, friend. YOU DO. No doubt your faith stories are unique. And it could be true that time has not allowed some of them to be completed yet, but I’ve been thinking about your faith story, your stories. And I see so many of them.

I see the way you choose to study the Word of God and obey it. That’s faith. Something pushed you deep into God sooner than many people in my life. It is beautiful. Your focus on truth, the way you quote scripture, the way you compare what I say to what you’ve learned in the Word of God, that’s faith.

Your prayers challenge me. Often. You pray with truth and passion, and I love to hear how you address your Father. When you pray the promises of God with faith, I am blessed. It’s a great faith story.

I have watched you walk through some difficult things with your family, and I’ve seen change and growth. Obedience and faith. Following up your beliefs with actions. And God has worked on your behalf. It’s a faith story only you can really share.

You invest beautifully in people of all kinds and from various places. It is inspiring. I can’t believe you haven’t seen change in the process. That change is the fruit of faith.

But maybe the completion of some of these stories is in seeing them, in recounting them, in seeing their value. It’s a journey, a process, to see the ways that faith impacts us and changes our world.

I challenge YOU to tell a faith story today. If you aren’t sure you have one, ask God to show you one. If you’ve been living by sight, not faith, start allowing God to write faith stories now. And soon you can begin to recount what He has done!

Higher Education

Higher Education sounds like it should make you smarter, but it doesn’t always work that way. It all depends on where you go, what you learn, and how you apply what you learn. I never thought much about Christian higher education, honestly. I assumed that kids learned Biblical truth at home when they were young and post-secondary built on that foundation.

As our kids have started the process of University and we’ve worked with young adults, my views are changing. I have a new appreciation for how challenging it is to hold to the values you were taught as a child when educated people are speaking for things that you never believed were right. In an academic world it can be hard to weigh what you’re hearing against the Bible, even if you strongly believe the Bible to be the true and reliable Word of God. I’ve also seen Bible schools teach in ways that convince young people of a line of thought without an understanding of how to study the Bible for themselves. But a strongly Biblically-based education should teach young adults to rightly divide the Word of God and apply it to what they see, hear, and experience.

This journey is just one reason why I was impressed when I read about the vision of  Great Northern University to provide “transformative education that profoundly integrates faith, spiritual maturity, and a deep love for God’s Word, with the professional training necessary for students to engage the world at any level.” An education that is based on the Word of God transforming lives. It seems to me that such an education is worth whatever the cost (though the price point at GNU is remarkably affordable).

You may think I’m biased, and I may very well be. You see, I’ve seen these people live faith and truth. I’ve witnessed the transformation of both my sons as they have studied the Word of God and learned to study it better. I’ve seen them each develop a deeper passion for God, people, and the things God has called them to. Neither enrolled in studies far from God, but both have grown tremendously through their time of study. Both our sons have learned not only truth, but how to separate truth from lies, how to defend faith, and how to better evaluate things they hear and see in light of God’s Word.

I can’t say that every young person should get a Biblically-based education, because God has different callings on each person. What I am convinced of is that we easily make decisions based on economics rather than spiritual maturity, and maybe we need to take a longer view of our priorities.

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