The Organized Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos

Staci Eastin

The disorganization in my life was not due to a lack of knowledge or skill and was not due to a problem in my childhood. Rather, it’s a broken belief system: a heart issue, a sin issue. At the end of the day, it’s idolatry… Disorganization steals your joy. It causes you to go through life frazzled and stressed. It causes friction with your husband and makes you snap at your children. It makes you perform ministry tasks grudgingly. It prevents you from developing friendships, because you are always rushing from one task to the next. You don’t feel like you are doing anything well, let alone to the glory of God (Staci Eastin).”

“The bible is clear that as Christians, we have tasks appointed to us by God (Ephesians 2:9-10). We should do everything we do with all our heart because we do it for the Lord (Colossians 3:23). As women, we are instructed to care for our homes and families (Titus 2:3-5). Whether we want to refer to our disorganization as personality quirks or sin, we must fight against anything that interferes with our relationship with God (Staci Eastin).”

“My attempts to get organized always failed because I tried to change my habits without letting the Holy Spirit change my heart. It was only when I saw the sinful motivations behind my bad habits that I could see lasting change in my life (Staci Eastin).”

“It is unfashionable these days to talk about sin, and it’s even less fashionable to talk about idolatry. The world likes to tell us that we’re beyond that now. When we honestly discuss the sinful attitudes behind our actions, we are often hushed: You’re not that bad! Everyone does those things! You need better self-esteem! But the human heart is the same now as it was in biblical times.We don’t have to bow down to a golden statue to worship idols. When we trust in anything other than God for peace and happiness we are essentially practising idolatry. Only when we see the idols yet in our heart can we truly “put off the old self” and “put on the new self” (Colossians 3:5-10) (Staci Eastin).”

I don’t often plug books on my blog, but this tiny one by Staci Eastin packs much wisdom into its 100 pages. Click here to order the book. The above quotes are a small sample of the powerful truths in this book, and a synopsis is below.

The fight against chaos is universal, whether it be the outward chaos of disorder and frenzy or the inward chaos of fear and self-criticism. Even if we already know how to do better, something falls apart between our good intentions and getting it done. Most books on organization just add more rules to your life, whether it be another plan, another calendar, or another method. This book will show you a different, better way that is grounded in the grace of God. Jesus taught that true change doesn’t come by the addition of more rules, but from the inside out, with a change of the heart that only the gospel can bring. When you identify the heart problems behind the chaos in your life, lasting change can happen. This will not only reduce the stress in your life, but help you be more effective in your service to God ~ Staci Eastin”

Staci highlights four idols with which women in particular seem to struggle. Leisure, busyness, perfectionism, and possessions. I have been challenged to take a fresh look at my life and why it is so busy, a fresh look at the tasks God to which called me and compare them to the tasks with which I fill my schedule. This is an organization of the heart, not a new schedule to follow. “We never conquer sin by adding more rules. That is what the Pharisees did, and Jesus chastised them for it. Jesus is interested in more than outward works; he wants us to perform good works from the overflow of a loving and pure heart. My attempt to get organized always failed because I tried to change habits without letting the Holy Spirit change my heart. It was only when I saw the sinful motivations behind my bad habits that I could see lasting change in my life (Staci Eastin).”

Amen Sister!

The Chronicles of the Kings by Lynn Austin

downloadReading this fictional series based on 2 Chronicles has brought to the surface many questions, and Austin offers solid food for thought. This is not Christianity-lite – this is meaty and deep, piercing the heart and forcing the reader to wrestle with God over the big questions.

Like why?

Why did so-and-so die? Why is so-and-so sick? Why is life changing? Why did God allow this tragedy?

There is nothing wrong with questions – God does not shrink from questions. But Austin encourages the reader to ask the right questions. She implies what God does with someone else is none of my business. Why He allows a tragedy to rock my neighbor’s world is between Him and my neighbor. It is not my place to question His actions in someone else’s life.

Austin writes: ask questions, but ask the right ones.

“What does God want to teach me through this suffering? Which of my faults, like pride or self-sufficiency or self-righteousness is He trying to purge from me? Ask which of His eternal qualities, like love, compassion and forgiveness, He wants to burn in my heart. Yes, ask questions, ask why he gave you the talents He did, ask Him what he wants you to do with your life (pg 197-198 from book four, Faith of my Fathers).”

This doesn’t mean everything revolves around me all the time. I think it means that some things are none of my business. I think it means I can and should pray for my friends as they walk through the valley, but God doesn’t have to answer my nosy questions about why He has allowed them to go there. He would rather I ask Him what He is teaching me while walking beside them.

Something to chew on…

A Facebook Bible Study?

For some time now I have been itching to try an online bible study with my friends. I did Beth Moore’s Believing God last year and it was GREAT. But this time I want to connect with women I know and have discussions with people who will hold me accountable. This is where social media site Facebook comes in.

A while back I was given the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. It’s been in my ‘to read’ pile for months. After glancing over the intro I decided this was a book meant to be discussed and shared. I posted on Facebook I was going to read it and invited anyone who desired, to join me and discuss.

Suddenly there were 15 of us from various parts of Canada and the United States. We created our own Facebook group to facilitate discussion. We discuss Chapter One this Saturday so if any of you want to join just let me know. (You’ll need a Facebook account.) We have links to chapter one and the discussion questions so you can start reading right away while you hunt down a hard copy.

A brief synopsis:

An invitation for every woman who feels she isn’t godly enough…isn’t loving enough…isn’t doing enough

The life of a woman today isn’t really all that different from that of Mary and Martha in the New Testament. Like Mary, you long to sit at the Lord’s feet…but the daily demands of a busy world just won’t leave you alone. Like Martha, you love Jesus and really want to serve him…yet you struggle with weariness, resentment, and feelings of inadequacy.

Then comes Jesus, right into the midst of your busy Mary/Martha life-and he extends the same invitation he issued long ago to the two sisters of Bethany. Tenderly he invites you to choose “the better part”-a joyful life of “living-room” intimacy with him that flows naturally into “kitchen service” for him.

How can you make that choice? With her fresh approach to the familiar Bible story and its creative, practical strategies, Joanna shows how all of us-Marys and Marthas alike-can draw closer to our Lord, deepening our devotion, strengthening our service, and doing both with less stress and greater joy.

Doesn’t that sound great? Do you know what else is great? Using a social media site like Facebook for something more purposeful than chit-chat.

Pass It On, teaching gospel centered living to the next generation

One of the perks of having my own blog and having complete control over its content is that I can post about the things I love. If you are a regular follower you know I love creative projects and have recommended various Pinterest projects. I love inexpensive housekeeping ideas and discovered One Good Thing by Jillee. I love mothering tips and pass on what has been passed down to me and I love my God.

Today I have the joy of posting about something else I love – my husband. He was a recent finalist in the Canadian Christian Writers Awards and his first book, Pass It On, Teaching gospel-centered living to the next generation, is now available (click on the book title and you will be redirected to an order page). I have to say it is pretty great. (Yeah, I’m biased, but it doesn’t change the truth.)

This resource is a result of a belief and a problem that became evident in the parenting classes Kevin facilitated in our church. The belief is that all Scripture is useful for all of life no matter how young or how old you are.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The problem is how, in the heat of the moment, do we teach rebuke, correct and train our children with the words of God so they would be thoroughly equipped?

Kevin highlights a topical concordance of bible verses that speak to a variety of situations our children will experience. The Word of God can powerfully speak hope and redemption into the life of our families. This resource can help you shepherd your kids well. He also includes a summary of the gospel and what our children need to understand to enter into a right relationship with God.

“This resource can help us pursue our God-given, multi-generational vision for parenting, and to equip us in our efforts to lead our children to the foot of the cross.”

Order your copy today!

The wonder of creation

Kate and I spent last night flipping through her new book.

The Astronomy Book

It is part of the Wonders of Creation line by Master Books and I LOVE it.

It is refreshing to read educational material geared for kids from a creationist perspective.  You gotta love an opening like this:

“Who has not looked into the heavens on a starry night with a sense of wonder? We see in the night sky the vastness of the universe. We have the feeling that some awesome power is responsible for it. Did you know that God designed us to respond this way?

The Bible in Psalm 19:1 tells us that “the heavens declare the glory of God.” God made us in His image so we are able to sense His handiwork in the heavens. This makes astronomy one of the most fascinating sciences.”

I absolutely love Kaitlyn’s inquisitive mind. Her gift wish list has included a globe, a telescope, then a bigger telescope [grin], books on astronomy, and maps of all kinds. We read and discuss various opinions on creation, the earth’s age, and what happened to the dinosaurs. She is delightfully curious (yes, I’m bias!) and I am thrilled to have found material that supports our creationism beliefs.

Want a Thriving Family?

There is a new magazine available for parents called Thriving Family Magazine. Moms and Dads, if you’re not already getting this magazine you are missing out! Below are a few tips spotted in the 2011 March/April issue of Thriving Family.

Want to know what is happening in your child’s life?

Always offer to drive. The author shares how she was enlightened and often surprised about the topics her children discussed, and how it all happened without her asking a single question.

Teaching Patience

The author tells his frustrated and impatient daughter that one day she is probably going to marry an imperfect, frustrating, perplexing man. He says it is providential that God gave her imperfect parents and siblings and that they will teach her the necessity of patience.

When your kids doubt Christianity

Josh McDowell: “I prayed for the day my kids would doubt Christianity because everybody must personalize their faith. If our kids never struggle with their faith, they will have borrowed convictions. So I had been waiting for each of my kids to come to this point.”

Fussy Eaters

Review new foods as a family. Give each person a spoonful and study the appearance. Discuss the color, shape, size and hypothesize about the taste.

Afterwards, taste the food and discuss if it is mushy, hard crunchy, smooth etc. Ban the word yucky.

After two bites, each family member rates the food with thumbs up or down – with their eyes closed to avoid undue influence. If a child doesn’t like it they are not required to eat any more. If a child likes it, they get a full serving.

 

Visit: http://www.thrivingfamily.ca/ to order your subscription or view online articles.

Kaitlyn’s Adoption

I’ve been asked to share some more about Kaitlyn, her adoption, and our time in China.  I’ve pasted an excerpt below from an article first published in The Chatham Daily News (June 2006) and The Moose Jaw Times Herald (May 2006).  It’s our adoption story.  Enjoy!

Taken from our adoption journal:

Tomorrow, we leave for China to meet our daughter Kaitlyn.  Needless to say, we didn’t sleep too well.  Not because we’re nervous to fly and not because the food scares us a little.  It’s all about the anticipation.

I suppose more than anything, we’re anticipating parenthood and how that will totally change us. Watching our daughter grow up and reach certain milestones in her life: taking first steps, saying first words and a bunch of other firsts we can’t think of right now … we’re not willing to think beyond those moments just yet.  It’s all about anticipating how our lives – and hers – will soon change forever.

We have prepared almost two years for this moment, a moment that began with an unexpected phone call.  Unable to finance an adoption put us at a standstill.  Dated in our prayer journal is a cherished entry regarding this time.  I had written that I was finally able to release my hopes and dreams of having a family to God.  Less than two weeks later a couple we are close friends with offered to finance an international adoption.  We were stunned.  Tears silently poured down our cheeks as we asked if the understood the cost.  They knew.  What a gift.

Paperwork, interviews, fees, and applications brought us to this precipice of parenthood.  Our group of nine families traveled together from various parts of Canada to meet in China.  We laughed together, cried together, and got to know each other through the modern convenience of the Internet before leaving Canadian soil.  We share many things in common.  First, we all picked a wonderful organization called Family Outreach International to facilitate our adoption.  Second, we were all accepted by China as prospective parents.  Third, we all received our proposals within months of each other.  And finally, at 5:10 in Nanchang, China, we all became parents, many for the first time.

We were supposed to receive our children at 4pm by traveling to a neutral location to meet the nannies from the orphanage. Due to some really hot weather and lack of air conditioning on the bus, the orphanage asked if they could postpone the exchange a little while longer; we would meet them at 4:30 instead. We were disappointed, but we understood. The 4:30 deadline was then pushed back to “around” 5:00. We were instructed to wait in our hotel room for a phone call from our tour guide who would then tell us to come downstairs and give us instructions from there.

At about 4:58, we received the phone call that our babies were already waiting for us in the hotel meeting room. We pulled everything together lightening fast and hustled down to the main floor. When we arrived, all the babies, care workers, orphanage personnel, and families had gathered and were impatiently waiting for “the big moment.”   What chaos!  By this point, we all knew who our children were, but we were not allowed to take them from their nannies until our passports and some official adoption paperwork was verified.

After waiting for an eternity, we were finally given Kaitlyn. She came to us with barely a struggle and dove into Mommy’s arms first. Though she cried for a few minutes – and understandably so – she settled in pretty quickly and has since made a good adjustment. After a few dozen pictures and some additional paperwork, we shared our first meal together as a family.

Kaitlyn came to us with a really bad lung infection that made her breathing labored and her ears ache; she was also teething. The congestion in her chest was easily felt while holding her. She’s the smallest girl in our group of nine children, but dangit, she’s the cutest by far! We got her first smile within 24 hours and the gummy grins flowed pretty freely after that.

The remainder of our evening was spent getting to know our daughter.  The next day we completed more paperwork and made a trip to the Notary Public where the adoption was made legal and Kaitlyn officially became our daughter.

Our time in China was a serious whirlwind. We were on the go from early in the morning to late at night but it’s all been worth it. Along with the formalities of finalizing the adoption we had the opportunity to tour many attractions.  We visited the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Beijing Zoo, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the “new” Silk Alley.  We learned to barter, we learned some Chinese language and expressions, and we learned what makes a family complete.  Normally these are not moments you share with nine other couples, but we wouldn’t change a thing.

After a long flight home, during which Kaitlyn barely slept, we finally arrived in Vancouver.  We rushed through customs and officially welcomed Kaitlyn into Canada within the Vancouver immigration office walls.  There she became a permanent resident of Canada.  What a feeling!

After rushing to our connecting flight, and another 5 hours on a plane, we were greeted by excited family members and friends in the Toronto airport.  All feelings of exhaustion left as grandparents met their granddaughter, cousins met for the first time, and aunts and uncles exchanged smiles and tears.  There are no words to express the combined feelings of relief, happiness, and closure to a process that was difficult – but will be fondly remembered.

Currently, Kaitlyn is wide awake on Daddy’s lap playing on China time.  It’s 4am here but she doesn’t know it.  Watching her makes us pause and wonder at how one event could change us like it has. How one little girl for whom we have prayed for so long is finally with us. How all of the planning and preparation over the last two years was needed because of what we experienced. How being a mom and dad totally changes the way you see yourself, each other, and your child.

And when Kaitlyn fell asleep in my arms last night, it rocked my world.
It took my breath away.
God is good.