Lesson Learned… Using the Label Maker

3 Apr

From September 2010 to February 2011 I was able to live and care for my aging grandparents.  I would consider that time of my life to be the most learning dense and growth inducing time of my life thus far.  It seemed that the Lord was teaching me something new every day.  I had what everyone dreams of… free time.

Initially I read A LOT, consuming a few books a week. I took walks through town daily (Pop. 1,200) and appreciated the beauty of the gentle breeze and even kinder temperatures.  (When I left Texas, I left temperatures in the 90s, and I did not look back!)  I knew that I was supposed to stay in Nebraska, even though I had only packed for a 4 day trip.  I knew that God wanted someone to physically be present in their time of need.  I knew that I was an answer to a prayer that they were not selfish enough to pray – a prayer for help. Initially I believed that I was there to help them, but after a couple of months I realized I was there to grow.

What do you do when you do not have internet, or friends, or responsibility, or engagements? You think a lot.  You pray a lot.  You read your Bible a lot.  You spend long hours in the gym.  You try new recipes.  You choose to walk places instead of driving.  You are more sensitive to what God is doing in and around you.  You learn how to make applesauce and applebutter from a master.

You go to the Annual Wausa Swedish Smorgasbord.

You try pickled herring and hate it.

After a few months I felt guilty for not working.  After all, I left teaching at the end of May 2010 and had not worked since.  I felt guilty for spending 3 hours a day at the gym.  I felt guilty for spending 2 hours a morning thinking, writing, praying.

Taken on one of my many walks that fall.

Life is full of seasons.  There is a time to plant and harvest (I got to see an entire harvest in a corn/soybean community). There is  time to laugh and a time to cry.  There is a time to go to school and a time to get a job.  There is a time to work and a time to vacation.  There is a time to enjoy your new spouse all to yourself and a time to raise kids. There is a time to be stretched and a time to rest.

I had a revelation one evening while taking a walk on a temperate day in early February.  I promise all of my good thinking happens when taking a walk, washing dishes, or taking a shower (overshare?) In the quiet of that rural neighborhood, full of century-old homes, I realized that every season has a purpose. Identifying that purpose brings freedom to do what accomplishes the purpose without feeling guilt or need of justification.  In other words, I was learning to label the season.

My grandparents century old home.

When I realized the season that I was in was intended for growth and introspection, for physical improvement, and learning to know and trust the Lord in new ways, all guilt was eradicated.  The activities of my day were all in line.  I felt such freedom to enjoy, and even revel in the simplicity and beauty.

What does all of this have to do with food or fitness? Everything in fact.  We are such a multitasking society that we often mix activities together, blurring all lines of distinction between business and pleasure.  We are masters of being everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  We rarely mentally and physically commit to one setting at any given time.

I said yesterday that I am not very good at resting.  I am learning to commit time to a purpose and follow through with it without feeling guilty.  If I have set appropriate priorities and my actions further or invest in my priorities, then what I am doing should be guilt-free.

So then, we must analyze our priorities… If our priorities are in line, then we can move forcefully in the direction necessary to accomplish them.  So, when I am at the gym I am moving toward my goal of being healthier (and a runner).  When I sift through recipes, I am working toward being a good blogger, cook, and healthy eater.  When I choose to rest on a Saturday and Sunday, consecutively, I am working toward a healthy balance in my life.  When I choose to spend time in the Word and in prayer, I am growing closer to my Lord, who so desperately longs to be close to me.

There is not time for everything.  Something will have to be eliminated from the schedule.  If I have my priorities set, then my agenda is more easily made.  All I must do it check the label.  If the activity fits under the label then it is up for consideration.  If it isn’t, then it is a non-issue.  I am learning to label not only seasons, but allotments of time – ‘This time is for ______, so I will ______.” It’s helping me simplify in this world of busy-ness.

In the words of a wise man, Jim Elliot… “Wherever you are – be all there.”  (He knew what it meant to label his life, and willingly lost it so that people in Ecuador may know Christ. )

In other news, my mom surprised me with these

so I can tame this beast

and will be making some labels.

Do you feel it is difficult to differentiate the seasons of life?  How often do you evaluate and set your priorities?

One Response to “Lesson Learned… Using the Label Maker”

  1. Jim Kracht April 4, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    We need to print this out and give it to Grandma and Grandpa. They would love it. Thank you for sharing the learning process. God Is doing a good work in your life. I love you. Dad

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