The End of All Things Is At Hand

February 14, 2011 at 1:40 am (Announcements, Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

At sweet sixteen, my Shadow and I decided to start a business, catering tea parties.  We’d grown up hosting them and it was high time to cash in our experience and make our etiquette pay for itself.  “Tea by Two” we called our party hosting, and drew out menus, business cards, flyers and wrote up advertisements.  We collected dishes and hats, tried out recipes and bought up ingredients.

You might think I’m going to say the venture flopped.

It didn’t.  It took off before we’d gotten in the cockpit!  Without even advertising, we landed several parties in less than a month, with requests to go out of town for more.  We turned over all our investments and pocketed a tidy little sum each.  It looked like we were gearing up for a roaring business.

Then something happened.

You might think I’m going to say that the venture crashed.

It didn’t.  But my Shadow came to me and said, “Um…I can’t keep up with this.  I hate to do this…but can I bail before this thing is flying too high?”

I was relieved.

We were sixteen.  Still trying to wrap up school and keep up with serving our families.  Neither of us had our own car.  Neither of us really wanted to dive into filing self-employment taxes.  We didn’t really want to travel very far for parties.  We were borrowing my family’s kitchen and freezer space.  We really only did it for the fun of having a little side deal.  And, we discovered, the pressure of performing made the tea parties not quite the same as the ones we’d hosted for friends.  After a few, it was okay to put that in our file of things that we could do in the future.

Folks seemed surprised when we relegated the project to “good memories”, deposited our earnings in the bank, gave away our dishes and hats and moved on.

But sometimes we have to lay aside even good things or things that are going well and refocus on priorities.

This blog has been a bit like my catering experience.

See, Lauren and I had become such good friends and, after she and Nathaniel got married, we talked so much about women’s issues and what we were learning—and how it was really the same, married or single—that we got excited.  First, we were going to write a book.  But book writing was a bit more intense than we were really shooting for.  That’s how we settled on a blog.

I don’t think either of us expected it to take off quite like it did.  We’re nobodies.  We don’t have famous dads or husbands.  We’re not really a part of many of the conservative movements.  We didn’t really even know there were other girls out there like us online.

Then came the dilemma.  Should we actually work this blog and try to go big?  After all, blogging is a platform to voice the things we think are true.  We were beginning to get advertisement requests, giveaway offers, reposting requests, awards, listings and even guest writing requests.  And of course, the inevitable mountains of spam as well as a few nay-sayers.  As we began to look around the web at other websites, we began to understand just how seriously blogging could be taken.

Slowly we began to be a little disturbed by how many girls there were online—and how much time was spent online—and how much girls were being influenced by online teachers whom they had never even met.  Including us.

We’d always agreed to keep the blog low priority.  I suppose some can call it ministry, but our primary ministry will always be to our families and to the folks God has placed in our sphere of natural contact.

As time has passed, Lauren now has, not only a big man to take care of, but also a little man to train and teach in the ways of the Lord.  She’s developing relationships with a great church body and trying to outreach to neighbors.  She’s been fine-tuning budgeting and homemaking skills and learning to balance time.  The internet can sure knock a hole in good time management!  And now she’s discovered a new blessing and responsibility, due in September.

So when she told me she needed to stop blogging, it was a relief.  For me, handling the webmastering had been complicated, since I’ve never actually had reliable internet.  Aside from difficult, it also made me feel guilty.  It seemed like, if we were going to blog, and people were going to read it, it needed to be done well.  Plus, we both appreciate presentation.  You know, new content, nice layout, domain name.  The works.  And I didn’t have time or accessibility for “the works.”  For both Lauren and I, we discovered that blogging began to suck the life out of our private relationship with the Lord.  If we discovered something in scripture or were convicted about an area we needed to grow in or if something rankled us or if we learned a powerful lesson or walked through a hard time, we felt compelled to share.  Like we were withholding something valuable from ladies who depended on us.  It became difficult just to worship humbly before the Lord, because others were watching.  And we became increasingly aware that, well, neither of us really need to be putting ourselves forth as teachers right now.

We’re both young women.  With lots of life to live and people to serve.  And things to learn.  And it’s lovely to share what God is doing and teaching us, but our priorities still have to be our families and those whom God has placed in our natural sphere of contact:  those who know us and see our lives, who can encourage us and grow with us and teach us and hold us accountable to practice what we preach.

And we encourage you to make those your priorities as well.

Yes, we’re bailing before this thing is flying too high.

From Lauren:

First I’d like to apologize that this post didn’t make it up a couple of months ago.  And I would cite this as just one of the many reasons I am glad to be saying good bye to blogging.  I have a lot to learn about time management (among other things)!  And, in truth, it was about six months ago that I first talked to my husband and then Abigail about quitting.  What prompted me?  Well, I read Jasmine’s good-bye post on her blog where she described the upcoming release of her new book and her excitement over all the things she would be free from and free to do once she stopped blogging.  Strangely, I found myself feeling jealous—no, not of her having a book published (that had me quite excited!), but of the freedom she expressed.  I took a walk and wrestled with what I was feeling and took it to the Lord in prayer.  It seemed quite clear that blogging was getting in the way of the things that I really needed to focus on.  And with Nathaniel and Abigail in support of the decision, I pulled away.  And what a time of refreshing it has been!  Since I am less focused on an audience, my God has made very, very clear what He wants to accomplish in my heart—and let me tell you, there’s a lot of work to be done!  His word is indeed a mirror that shows us what we really are, and His good Spirit highlights the messes He wants to deal with, accomplishing His good purpose!

And, of course, as Abigail mentioned, finding out Nathaniel and I are having another little blessing, and being currently swamped with morning sickness, taxes, and a host of other things…I have no regrets.  J  Well, except for all the unfinished series and anticipated articles that never were written…but I trust you all will forgive me and rejoice in what the Lord is doing with us now.  Maybe we will write a book one day.  😉  Blessings to you ladies who have joined us on this journey.  Your thoughts and encouragement have been much appreciated!

From Abigail:

Friends often accused me of being content.  But I declare myself innocent of the accusation!  The facts are, I rarely wept the deadly tears of the unmarried simply because I had other dreams that plagued me more than marriage.  Dreams that seemed undefined, but still powerful, hopelessly far from fulfillment and even, at times, irreconcilable with my convictions.  Sometimes I fought with myself over whether or not they were even godly.  I wrestled these dreams into a slumbering state of contentment over and over and over again.  This summer they came to life with more ferocity than ever.  In frustration, I cried out to the Lord, “You gave me these passions.  Now what am I supposed to do with them?”  Many of you have made the same demand.  Some of you face the paradox of the “godly desire” that is still unfulfilled.  For many, it is marriage.  For some it is missions.  For others it is motherhood.  For some it is just more.  Disatisfaction is a necessary part of growth.  But of this I am certain—that desires are not godly or ungodly in themselves.  Because we can worship “godly desires” by desiring them more than God.  And anything that takes precedence over God is certainly ungodly.  Godly desires are desires that are made to bow, yielded, to pay homage to God, to His Word and to His timing.  And when they are prostrate before the King, they may be pursued, time and truth permitting, as a pursuit of Yahweh Himself.  Since deciding to “exit” the blogging world, I’ve been trying to focus my pursuits.  The pathway has been very up and down!  And I begin to see how truly God is a God of creativity and ingenuity and that He abundantly bestows both as we make our way through a transient life.  I’m thankful for the ways that He’s been shaping my character, strengthening my backbone and stretching me—whether it’s finally studying medical stuff or navigating the real-estate market or negotiating services and compensation or—as of the past week—nannying a handful of children.

Once upon a time, before there was Pearls and Diamonds, I kept a personal blog.  Perhaps you will find me there.

We hope you will live your moments in light of God’s redemptive sacrifice of His Son, the Holy Spirit’s powerful filling and the eminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  To Him be the glory both now and forever, amen!

Blessings,

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The Absent Hen

September 14, 2009 at 1:43 am (Godly Living, Homemaking, stories) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

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Once upon a time there was a very beautiful hen, the pride and joy of the farmyard. Always she had an encouraging word for everyone, a smile, a pat on the back. Watching her from the farmhouse window one spring morning, the farmer thought to himself, “How wonderful it would be to have a whole brood of chicks just like my little hen!” This goal in mind, he set her on a soft feather-lined nest.

The little hen was so excited when the first egg appeared, warm and brown beneath her. It was so smooth and round and perfect. She vowed she would raise it to be a perfect chicken, to scratch and cluck and lay eggs for the farmer.

Soon her nest was filled with eight beautiful eggs, each one seeming more special than the last. Clucking delightedly to herself, the hen would settle in at night to think about all the things she must do the next day. And always, always she had an encouraging word for everyone around the farm-yard.

Then tragedy struck. Not the little hen, but Old Mrs. Goose woke up one morning to find all of her eggs broken, their jagged edges pricking up out of the hay. As she wept, the little hen was right there to comfort her. She scratched up corn to bring Old Mrs. Goose and sent her sympathetic notes.

Not long later an old duck came down sick and the little hen rushed to her side and stayed by her night and day for three days until she was well.

When she returned to her nest she discovered a terrible thing: one perfect, round brown egg was missing. Where could it have gone? How could it have been taken? She had loved those eggs and cared for them and sought the best for them. And she had left them warm and comfortable and well-provided for, hadn’t she? What more could eggs need? Sadly she shook her head and settled back onto her nest of seven.

The little hen visited all the other hens. Some of them had nests, some did not. All of them were delighted to see her. But one old hen, glad as she was to see the little hen, dared not even get off her nest to visit. “Pardon me, Little Hen,” she said gently, “but I’m afraid my eggs might grow cold.”

“What a pity,” clucked the little hen. “She is such a capable hen and she could be doing so much good for others. Her eggs will keep.”

When she settled back onto her nest that night, there was a frightening crash. One of the perfect round, brown eggs had gone bad and exploded underneath her! All that remained was an empty, shattered shell and a nauseating, lingering stench.

“This is terrible!” moaned the little hen, holding her nose as tears came to her eyes. “It must have been a bad egg to begin with! I did everything I knew to do!”

“What a tragedy!” said all the barn animals, sadly. “That hen is such a good hen, so kind to everyone, so eager to help and she has such a fine nest of beautiful eggs. And she STILL gets to much done!”

But the farmer said, “I wish that hen would stay on her eggs.”

When two sheep decided to take the plunge and get married, there was the hen overseeing the festivities. The cows complimented the lovely hay arrangements. The goats thanked her for the lovely things to eat. The barn fowl cheered her efforts and threw grain on the newlyweds as they rushed out to the pasture. The rejoicing continued late into the night.

During the reception a tiny chirp came from one of the round, brown eggs. The little hen could not hear it over the sound of music and dancing. A tiny crack appeared in the side of one of the eggs as a little chick began to peck its way out of the shell—too early! Soon it had shaken off the pieces of shell and began searching for its mother. No one was there to tell the little chick that a nesting box is too high for a little chick to climb out of. It tumbled from the nesting box and lay still. Tired but happy the little hen walked slowly back to her nest. In the hay below she discovered the tiny, stiff form of her dead baby chick.

Again the barnyard mourned. “How can this happen to such a good hen?”

Not one of the warm, brown eggs ever hatched.

A slithering black snake ate one while the little hen was attending a first-freshening cow at her calving. A raccoon stole another while she was chatting with Mr. Turkey over afternoon tea. During the late frost, one froze and cracked while the little hen was sitting on Mrs. Duck’s eggs for her. One cracked and broke late one night as she turned them after returning home from a visit. She was just too tired and was a bit rougher than she’d meant to be.

The last egg was picked up and placed in a basket by the farmer’s daughter who was collecting abandoned pullet eggs for a picnic.

When the hen began to lay again, the farmer quietly instructed his daughter to pick up the little hen’s eggs. He sighed as he spoke, “No use letting that little hen keep eggs she won’t stick around to hatch.”

The hen hardly seemed to notice that her nest was always empty. She was so busy ministering to the other barn animals that she even stopped laying eggs at all.

The other animals watched in admiration as she fluttered about here and there, doing this and that, always with an encouraging word and a smile or a pat on the back. “What an amazing hen! She’s the best of her kind!”

But the farmer said sadly to his daughter as they watched the little hen scratching in the dirt, “Not much worth in a hen that won’t hatch eggs. Pretty little thing, and so cheerful and full of energy, but doesn’t do what she’s made to do. Guess I won’t be getting any fine chickens from her. She means well, but her focus is all wrong. See, those other animals? They’ve got me. She does so many things that are nice—but don’t have to be done. Times are hard sometimes, but really, they can get along without her. In the grand scheme of things there are lots of other animals that could pitch in and do what she does to help. But not a creature in this barn can hatch her eggs.”

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Behind the Scenes on My Vanishing Act

March 26, 2009 at 7:14 pm (Announcements, God's Will, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello Sisters! I realize I’ve been missing in action for several weeks now…at least in the online world.  Many small factors have played into my absence, and you deserve an explanation.  My Mom and Papa were in a minor motorcycle accident about three weeks ago and Papa broke his collar bone.  It seems to be healing well (though still swollen, green and painful), but he’s been on temporary disability which leaves him home—for at least a month.  Always, anything unexpected brings both unexpected blessings and stretching.  You see, I’m a person of projects.  My projects always seem, to me, to be of great importance—whether blogging or taking pictures or journaling or designing literature.  But sometimes something “interferes” with my projects and I must learn the secret of priorities—the priorities the Lord has created for me.  Blogging is something that has blessed me and been an enjoyable outlet, as have writing, music and many of the other “projects” in which I’ve engaged—but it is not a God-ordained priority.  The Lord has set up priorities that start with my relationship with Him and continue to serving my family, then to outreach to those in my immediate life.  With my father off work, I’ve been super busy.  At first, my heart stubbornly resented the intrusion into my “projects” and “goals” at first, but the Lord is patiently reminding me what’s most important.  Honestly, I’ve come to enjoy the break from my project-driven mentality.  I know that I’m doing God’s will, serving the Lord, when I simply obey and serve my father.  It’s pretty freeing.

The blessings have been surprising as well!  I’m an idealistic realist, which means that I don’t believe ideal exists but I’m holding out for it anyway.  J Over the past several months, frustration had built up in my heart:  frustration with status quo, with the mundane—with things I struggle with perceiving as unnecessary wastes of time.  Why do people have to eat, anyway?  A couple of weeks ago, I came to Papa in tears with a pile of questions taller than I am.  Having him home gave us some time to work through some of my confusion and frustration and bring me back into focus—reminding me that God is the One who works miracles and that many mundane things are for my own good—to prove my character.  And my hopeless tendency to forever reevaluate what I’m doing has been God’s very tool for honing and strengthening me.  He forever reminds me that He still works through things that aren’t ideal and that I simply must depend on Him to work in His perfect way.  I wasn’t redeemed to serve God—as an end in itself.  He has angels who constantly do His will.  I was redeemed to be restored to an intimate relationship with Him—as Adam and Eve once walked with Him in the garden.  All the working and learning in the world are empty eating from the Tree of Knowledge without a relationship with God—the author of wisdom.  And no matter where I am or what I am doing, I can walk with God.

This time of year my life always turns upside down with crazy busyness (you know, weddings, graduations, “projects”, people) and I struggle to balance everything.  The Lord has given me a simple reminder to prioritize and rest in Him, knowing that only one thing is truly important:  being with Jesus.

So, ladies, whether or not I make it back online any time soon, my cry remains the same:  Love Jesus!  Be with Jesus.  Serve Jesus.

Blessings in Christ,

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