Like many of you, sometimes I wonder if I’m doing enough. For the Lord, for my family, for the horses, as a good steward, and as a writer. I haven’t posted much since the last newsletter. This month’s (April 2018) list of articles is uncomfortably short. Have I let you down? Shirked?
Fiction writers dream up stories, mysteries, and fantasy. Certainly, personal experience plays some role in the creative process, but since I don’t write fiction, I’m not an authority on how that works. I’ve discovered that I don’t have much to write about if writing is all I’m dong. Sure, I could write about writing; pontificate on authorship or offer a how-to webinar on the subject.
But that’s neither my passion nor calling.
Filling the Tank of Experience
For the past few months I’ve been busy doing. Not planning, thinking, or contemplating – but doing. I’ve been training horses and dealing with changes here in the barn. It’s been years since I’ve kept up with the horse schedule I have now. I don’t know how long it will last, but I realize that I’m refilling my tank of experience. Of emotion. Challenge. Relationship. Both teaching and learning.
My reserves were perilously close to empty. Now, I’m discovering new questions that need answers.
God knows when it’s time to change things up. To do less of what you were doing in favor of doing something more beneficial to His plan. God doesn’t assign activities to keep us entertained, but to make us more useful to Him.
When you feel you’re not doing as much as you used to, consider the whole. Are you doing nothing, or something different?
- wasting energy or opportunity?
- letting stewardship slide?
- ignoring what’s needful or promised?
Or, is the change more in what you do, not how much you do?
Rewarded and Exhausted
My life is full, rewarding, and occasionally exhausting.
Since a bout with neuropathy in my left foot eighteen months ago, I seldom indulge in caffeine. Oh, how I miss morning coffee! I still drink coffee, but it has no power, no pizzazz, no punch. Severe pain gets my attention! I love coffee and Coke Zero, but zealously avoid caffeinated varieties.
All those wonderful coffee memes on Facebook are a stake in my caffeine-free heart.
Prepping and schooling multiple horses is a lot more work in my mid-60s than mid-30s, 40s, or 50s. Can anyone relate? Remember how easy it was to play with your kids? You may love them dearly, but grandkids require far more energy.
Sometimes I look at all the expectant faces in the barn and wonder, “How will I get this done? I need a nap.”
Building New Habits
Enter caffeine. Making the transition from writing a lot with occasional riding, to training horses daily with occasional writing wasn’t easy. I cheated by indulging in a cup of real coffee or can of real Coke Zero. No calories or sugar, but a blessed dose of motivation.
My foot reminds me that caffeine isn’t my friend. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do – for a period of time.
My treadmill and I have met faithfully every day since January 18th. My aging horses require daily exercise to keep joints from rusting and everything moving equally in the right direction. My aging body is no different! One day I’m afraid I’ll leave droplets of rust behind me like breadcrumbs.
The horses are more fit and able to keep up with the pace. So am I. Every day I expected to suck down something with caffeine before riding because I had to be on my game. The horses in our family can be challenging, which is why God gave them to me.
The Conundrum of Setting Priorities
However, I no longer need the caffeine crutch every day. I’m establishing new habits and abilities. It’s getting easier, but still consumes a lot of my time.
I can’t ride and write at the same time.
Which is most important? Answering that question is a God thing. What does He think? His opinion trumps mine. Writing was His idea. The horses a gift with purpose.
To be honest, in my season of life it’s easier to write than train horses. The more horses I ride the stiffer I am when I get up from my comfy chair after dinner. But today, the fruit is sweetest in the barn. That’s my answer. Go where the fruit is best.
None of the horses are finished. Yet, for the first time in years, I don’t feel like I’m working with special-needs horses. Foundations are finally in place. The horses all ride the same way. I’m actually training again, not remodeling, rehabbing, or dealing with explosive emotions.
God had me deeply immersed in author-training for more than a year. I learned a bunch and enjoyed some achievement. Hopefully, the experience will make me better at sharing what I’m supposed to.
Now God has me deeply immersed in training horses again. Which means He is training me.
You’re never done. Never finished. Never retired.
But details change. Maybe you can’t serve in ways you used to.
God has a plan! There’s a season for everything. Change is natural.
God uses our youth and our maturity.
He uses our curiosity and our experience.
God teaches you as you teach others, and He wastes nothing.
Two Reasons why you may be producing less than expected
If you’re concerned that you aren’t producing as much as you think you should, there are two possible reasons.
One: Maybe you’ve paused on the path of sanctification. Your walk with Christ isn’t a competition or speed event. Often it’s still. Quiet. Reflective. And fruitful. But if you’re at a dead stop, it may be the perfect time for a talk with God.
Ask for direction. Guidance. Power. Offer obedience. Perhaps God has changed your season. Instead of learning, you’re teaching. Instead of cooking, you’re sketching. Instead of serving the homeless, you’re serving your spouse.
Two: Maybe you need to slow down and count your blessings. The only work God approves is that which He’s assigned. He created us to serve, but also provides leisure, recreation, and rest. The world encourages you be too busy to notice the quiet hand of God in daily life.
Reject the world! Embrace your season. Steward what you have. Enjoy all God provides.
Where are you producing the sweetest fruit?
Here’s another interesting perspective and review of this topic, The Overachiever’s Treadmill
This is my April newsletter message originally shared April 9, 2018.