In this season of long days and short nights I am reminding myself why I named this site Pausing to Praise. Summer can be a busy season for those of us who still cling to old traditions. Each morning I am at the barn an hour before I leave for work and I usually head to the barn soon after I get home. Milking chores are much lighter now than they were in the spring, but other barn chores quickly fill up the extra time – at least in the afternoon. For the past several days, I have rushed about in the afternoon trying to clean sheds and find safe places for my mama hens to raise their little chicks as each new brood hatches. And while my beautiful garden with its raised beds and gravel pathways once more sits through another summer without its usual fare of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and other garden produce, it has become a weedy residence for my ducks and begs for attention. And…my massive yard desperately needs to be mowed while I have been trying to find time to clean up my assortment of flowerbeds before they are lost for the summer.
In the midst of all this busyness, I find myself thinking about one of the last scenes in the old movie The Schindler’s List. While I haven’t seen the movie in over twenty years, the scene where Oskar Schindler walks out of his factory after the war and as he is being praised for all the people he saved, he is looking at his watch saying, “This could have saved one more,” and he looks at his car and says, “five more..”. I may not be quoting the movie exactly, but the fact that he was burdened by the few possessions he still had not sold made a powerful impression on me as a young adult. Lately as I have made mental inventories of the things that consume my time and prevent many of my thoughts from ever being written, I have wondered if I could trade chickens or goats or even country life for one more blog post or one more article or…one more book? At the same time I do not want my ambitions and self-elevated thoughts to equate writing more to obtaining some level of spiritual success. Sometimes even a good through heart search still doesn’t resolve the question, “Do I write for the sake and encouragement of others or do I write to for myself – to be noticed or read?” So I ask myself, “If the Lord asked me to give up writing could I let it go? Is it a ministry or an idol?” The Lord does not call us all to be successful or famous and He may only call me to touch a few lives with the words I write. Besides, I can’t write them on my own – the only words that have any meaning are those He has spoken through me. So again I ask myself, “Can I be content with only a few…only a few followers…only a few books sold?”
At the same time, I’m asking myself the same questions about my small farm and this country way of life. It takes a long time to build a farm and I have a lot of ties to this land and land – like my garden – even if it isn’t planted or fenced to graze animals still must be maintained. Could I uproot myself from this land I’ve worked so hard on and this way of life that I love so much? I’m still not entirely sure of the answers, but whatever the solution I know it will not resolve itself overnight. The call to be a good steward of the land – to farm even in the smallest sense – to make my house a home that is comfortable and inviting – those are God things too and neither writing nor homesteading is more spiritual than the other.
And so, as I wrestle and pray and struggle with difficult decisions regarding how I should spend my time – how I should spend my life – how I want to be spent – I am reminding myself to stop and be still and know that He is God, to enjoy the life that I’ve been given, and to be thankful for this season. I am pausing to look at the blessings that surround me and be thankful for the land, baby chicks, dairy goats, family, friendships, recent rains, and abundance – even abundant work and abundant choices.
And here at the end of the day, I’m linking up with Jennifer Dukes Lee at #Tell His Story so surprised and honored to be featured in her sidebar this week.