it may go back to my old fashioned, paper and pen, journaling days. or even farther back than that - "SLAM books" - i can not even remember what that stood for, but i remember making them, putting our names, addresses, current crush, favorite food (color, song, teacher) on each page. somehow, life was easier to face when we had it organized in 10 blue-lined pages with all our our deepest secrets spelled out in front of us. there was a sense of normalcy in my southern california neighborhood, despite all the differences of race, creed, color, religion, knowing that we all had something in common...even if that something was a crush on david cassidy, or that we loved pizza.
now days my lists get a bit more complicated, not just a shopping list but dividing it into sections - what comes from the market, what from the big box store, and don't forget to go by the post office! i make a packing list if i'm taking a significant trip, including what needs to come along in my carry-on, what goes to the suitcase, and although i keep saying i'm just going to save that in my computer's memory so i can print it off trip after trip, i haven't. i should put that on a list somewhere of "things to do...".
when i talk to people that are considering dating, i suggest that they make a list, to open their bibles and see what God-qualities they want their future spouses to have - to be missions minded or worship focused, what things are personal choices - like being athletic or liking sea food, or even physical traits or disciplines - like if they keep their room clean. to have a list to work from makes it easier to set a goal, and although these specifics vary greatly in importance, it's helpful to have an outline. (it's also important to let God direct that, and to allow Him to change us as we mature in Him.)
when i face difficult decisions it's important to put my options down in black and white, weighing out pro's and con's, and counting the cost. somehow, seeing it all on paper can take a large problem and make it manageable. it keeps it in perspective.
right now i'm praying about things that will change in my life at the first of the year. although we often have to make decisions that are "here and now", sometimes we can sense things on the horizon and plan and prepare for them. of course, i could be totally wrong, and God may have put this on my heart a few weeks ago in preparation for a decision next week, but i'm thinking that it is for a few months down the road. :) making that list, sorting the good and bad effects each option will make on my life, home, marriage, ministry - all these things are categorized in my mind. i've trusted a few people to pray about these things, people that won't have anything to gain, or lose, by this decision. friends who can just seek the Lord and lay out a fleece on my behalf. a process that puts me in a place where i can let it rest and not pick it up and over-analyze the situation...i know that the answer will come, in time, and am actually already seeing it form. i may ask a few more to pray in that circle - people who will be affected by my decision - not only to give them a head's up that i'm considering this change, but to bring them into a place that God may give them wisdom, put us on the same page, and maybe He will give them a solution or suggestion that i have not seen.
i can't help but think of my 2 daughter's and how they each included us as in their process of deciding to take a mission trip. our youngest girl, jessica, gave us a head's up in the fall that she was praying about taking a summer long internship on the field, and asked if we could pray about that. she didn't have any details, no agenda, not even a plan - just a desire. we were able to pray with her, and for her, and as we saw that plan unfold around her we knew that this was God's will, we were able to be a part of the process. each step was an answer to prayer that we had the privilege to pray for, and she spent an amazing summer abroad in Mongolia. my oldest girl, melissa, is very typical first born. she can do it herself....and often she does! she is very talented and capable of doing many things well. her system was just a little bit different, although it turned out fine...praise God! she decided that she was going to take a school sponsored mission trip over her spring break - and did! we didn't know about it until her ducks were all in a row - and i think that if she wasn't so excited about going, she might not have mentioned it at all! it really was a "oh, by the way, i told you i'm going to italy this spring break...right??" moment.
now i realize that these are pretty simple issues in comparison to what others are facing daily. parents are having to make choices regarding their young children's health. adult children are having to choose a level of life care for their own parents in failing health. things weigh heavy on our hearts, burden our souls, cut us to the core of our being. there is One that knows, One that cares. in prayer is the place that i can always find that peace of mind, where my soul is knit together with His, and He carries my heavy heart. no matter what we face, He is with us, and no matter what consequences occur from our decisions, He will be there.
"Cast all your anxiety on Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) is a life verse to lean on. although it is a quick and easy panacea for everyday, it is also a foundational bedrock scripture that we can build our faith on. HE CARES FOR ME (and YOU). why wouldn't i want to cast my anxiety on Him? why wouldn't i want to share my burdens with Him? why wouldn't i want Him to be involved in the process of making any tough decision? He will always want what's best for me...and in that i can rest.