I’m currently gearing up for tax season which basically means I’m sitting at the computer  for long stretches of time organizing numbers. And it will continue like this for the better part of four months. I have mixed feelings about it. A bit of panic over whether I’ll be able to keep all the balls in the air and a little excitement over being able to have a singular focus and a real excuse not to cook dinner every night–something I talk a bit more about in my bio.

As I started getting into it over winter break I noticed a little something else going on with me. (Ah, winter break. In all its pajamas-‘til-noon glory.)  While kids alternately played with Legos inside or rode Christmas gifts outside, I quietly plugged away at the keyboard, importing digits and sending them into neat boxes. (Ah, numbers. They don’t talk back or argue with their sister.)

Oh how tempting it is to check out emotionally and devote myself to the work. To numb myself with the accomplishments and the satisfaction felt after a day of crossing off bulleted items. I could coast like this for months.

But just below the surface of the kids and the numbers I sensed an angst rising inside me. It took a few days to figure it out: I had a case of low-grade dread over bible study resuming. Each Wednesday at my son’s preschool we open God’s word, we share, we cry, we laugh. I love these women! I love this place! Why the dread?

One morning found me down on my knees asking the Lord, Why did this dread arrive and how on earth do I get rid of it? I felt the answer come quickly for once: You don’t like admitting your inadequacy.

Leading women to the feet of Jesus each week takes a certain honesty and staying engaged-ness which stands in stark contrast to checking out and coasting. Staying engaged and emotionally honest takes work. It’s a choice. And a busy season involving deadlines and clients wanting answers and refunds can easily overtake the important activities of spending time in prayer and studying God’s word. Although it’s tempting, I don’t want to forsake those things which help me come to the table alongside other women with vulnerability.

I may have it wrong. Inadequacy isn’t such a bad place to be. It’s there in that quiet, humble, tear-dripping place that He meets me.

A different morning had me standing behind white wooden blinds, coffee in hand, watching the garbage truck pull up. Two men hung off the back and, as the truck came to a stop in front of our house, they hopped down and emptied our cans and those of our neighbor into the back of the truck. Woolen caps were pulled down over their ears and breath from their mouths was visible in the air even from where I stood. It made me thankful for these men who show up to their job everyday. Men who choose to get out of bed, in spite of the cold and the early hour, to get the work done. What would we do without them?

And that thought never would’ve crossed my mind had I not been up early, standing at that window, watching for what was to come. Watching begets seeing and seeing begets gratitude.

Staying spiritually sharp involves a certain watchfulness. It means I choose to get up each day and open myself up to the things outside myself and what I can control. To ask for my spiritual eyes to be opened so I might see what God is doing. The ways He lovingly calls to me and blesses me leaving small gifts along the way like perfect parking spots or that misplaced spray bottle that resurfaced at just the right time as the stench rose to an all-time high.

It’s in the watching and waiting I’m reminded to thank Him. And a thankful heart is an engaged heart; one that isn’t simply coasting.

There’s a necessary weeding out of periphery during this busy, busy time. A determination to say “no” to anything unnecessary so I can complete the work ahead of me with faithfulness and follow-through. But not at the expense of staying watchful. Not at the expense of forsaking relationships and a God who’s so deserving of my attention and affection.

And no matter the time of year, whether I find my reward in an empty laundry-room counter or well-balanced books, let me not covet them over craving You Lord. Help me keep watch even in the midst of the work.

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But that's enough about me…what about you?

How do you keep watch and stay spiritually sharp?

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