Letting go of what no longer works for you

Picture this. Family dinner after church, in celebration of Mother’s Day. While around the table someone made an innocent comment that was, quite frankly, hilarious and also completely and totally inappropriate if you took it the wrong way. (Which we did.) Those close enough to hear it froze, completely aware of how funny the comment was, but also aware of the kids at the table.

One of us broke down and snickered a little, then repeated the comment. Our daughter, an eighth grader, laughed and laughed because NOTHING GETS BY EIGHTH GRADERS, especially if it’s inappropriate. Soon Grandpa was yelling, “What?!” from the other end of the table and we refused to tell him because there are just some things you can’t shout cross the room at Sunday dinner.

Well, not at Eric’s family’s house anyway. My own family would have yelled it and then the entirety of us would have howled with delight, but Eric’s family is a little more proper about these things.

But let’s forget what was actually said and focus on the fact that we laughed over this silly thing with our child. We all realized it was funny.

Things change. Parenting changes.

Ten years ago we could talk about anything in front of the child and most of it went right over her head. She was sweet and innocent and really excited about JoJo’s Circus and Dora the Explorer. But we can’t parent her like she’s four years old anymore, because she’d get eaten alive in middle school.

We’ve had to let go of parenting styles that worked for a certain period of time, and we’ve embraced this new age. New responsibilities, new freedoms, new challenges.

And now let’s talk about the couches at church.

I don’t know about your house of worship, but our church building is where old couches go to die. It’s a slow death, plopped in the youth room where teenagers flop on them, toddlers leap from cushion to cushion, and old women (me) nap on them when they get too tired.

Some of the most hideous couches ever created had come home to die in our youth room. Not to mention the closet was full of junk no one recognized. Not to mention the walls had been painted in 2003 and had suffered fourteen years of abuse from hyperactive teenagers.

Yes, we knew it was ugly. We knew things had to change but no one had the guts to drag the couches to the dumpster. (Or set fire to them in the parking lot, which would have been more fun.) ((But the fire department disapproves, apparently.))

Our new worship leader arrived a few weeks ago, and he has no qualms about getting rid of old, crappy couches. He had us pile them up so they could be disposed of ASAP. He ordered a crew to clean out the closet, not really caring who donated the old costumes that were used in a sermon skit in 1985. (For the record, it was the church’s Clean Up Week, and we’d all shown up to work. It’s not that Mike is a Bossy Pants.)

The couches are gone, the closet is clean, and new paint is on the way. We’re letting go of what no longer serves us.

I don’t know why we get so paralyzed and cling to stuff that used to work but now just weighs us down.

It can be really hard to realize your child is growing up. It can be terrifying to throw out a couch, wondering who donated it and if they’ll be mad because you tossed their hideousness to the curb.

All the change is upsetting, sure. But isn’t it more upsetting if nothing ever changes? Are babies supposed to stay babies? If your kid was 18 but still in a crib and trying to nurse, you’d be freaking out a little.

If your spouse never changed, you’d still be married to a twenty-two-year old who likes thrash metal and trucks from the 1970s.

If your church never changed, you’d be missing opportunities to engage the culture that lives right outside the door.

It’s okay to take a good, hard look at your life. All of it. And it’s even more okay to accept that something isn’t working and needs to be changed.

Comfortable? Never.

But life-bringing? Absolutely.

What Now? Moving Ahead Into an Exciting New Future.

I write to you this afternoon from my back yard. It’s sunny and warm enough that I’m barefoot and bare-armed, soaking up the vitamin D I’ve been lacking all winter long. My toes are tingling with the breeze as my son sits beside me in a chaise lounge, wondering out loud where the basketball disappeared to over the winter.

Chances are good I threw it away in November, because that’s sort of how I move from season to season. Or maybe it blew away in a ferocious wind from Canada in January– there are so many options. Let’s blame the wind and move along, shall we? The poor kid already thinks I throw away everything he owns.

(I sort of do.)

It’s a brand new season in my backyard and a brand new season of life in general. Everywhere I look I’m seeing signs of new life and the tension that moves us from one place to another. I had three separate discussions with people at work today about changes and how they feel and how they affect us all.

Since last week when we sold our rental house, Eric and I are furiously recalculating our next few months. We took Easter weekend off to do absolutely nothing but go to church and hang out with family. Many hours were accumulated with our butts firmly connected to our couch. We napped multiple times a day and watched a few old movies.

But that was just a break before we launch into the next phase of life, which will be…



I’m sure there’s an answer around here somewhere. I mean, we have a few of the pieces in place already. We got a few answers to long-term prayer requests last week as we signed that house away. But that resolved tension of owning two houses has now opened up more questions. How do we allocate our money? What’s next?

And to make matters even more complicated, while I sat on the couch Saturday morning, drinking my coffee and rethinking my entire life, I started making notes about a possible new book. Little ideas kept coming to mind, so finally I got up and found a notebook and started writing them down. By the end I had a ten new chapters of a book outlined and a possible title.

Where on earth did that come from? I might be a writer, but I don’t automatically assume everything that flits through my brain is an actual book to-be. I prayed about it. I hid the notebook under a pile of other people’s books. I prayed a little more. And then I waited for God to make his answer clear.

So far I’m still waiting, but I have a feeling this might end in an actual book proposal being emailed to my agent sometime soon.

Here’s the thing– I don’t have time for this new project. I barely have time to do all the things now. I can give up 1) sleeping or 2) personal hygiene. Those are my last two options. So my prayers to God have been asking him if 1) this is an actual book he’d like for me to write and 2) where on earth I’ll get the time for this. What does he want me to give up to make room for the new priorities?

If I Plug My Ears, God Can’t Tell Me What to Do comes out in a few weeks here, and I’m so excited to walk through the book with you all. I’m excited to see where God takes you and what differences you make in the world as we learn to live like all those biblical examples who took a radical approach to listening to and obeying God. From Noah to Esther, from the disciples to Paul, the Bible is full of examples of people with exciting new seasons of life. Jesus is asking us to follow him– are we ready to do it?

Matthew 4: 19-20

Apparently I don’t get to take a pass on this one. I’ve already lived the book over about three times, but God’s taking us for another round. I’ll keep you updated as things progress, but I want to hear from you, too! What’s God doing in your life? What new areas of sacrifice and obedience are you finding as you step out in faith?

I want to hear all about it!