do and be?

The shelf beside my chair is full of books inspiring me to do. 

But into Google Reader and my Facebook feed yesterday morning came two links inspiring me to be.

While the one downloaded, I read the other.

Lisa-Jo’s words seem so often to be written just for me these days:

I don’t need to be at a women’s retreat, a Sunday school class, or behind a pulpit to be with the God who sees nothing routine about my routine.
-“How to See Nothing Routine About Your Routine

Maybe reading my Bible isn’t so much a thing I need to do, as sitting as His feet is a place I need to be.

And then I listened to Ann’s soft, low voice.  The words she spoke brought tears to my eyes and encouragement to my heart.

“A mother is doing eternal work in hidden quiet places. There is no applause for what you do every day that shapes culture… Christ didn’t get accolades for what He did. Christ went lower, not higher.”

I’m grateful to Dr. Marvin Olasky (and the audience at Patrick Henry College) for asking the questions I’ve long wanted to ask of this farmer’s wife I deeply respect.  When does she find time to write?  Where does she write?  What does she do when she has writer’s block? 

“My first calling is to serve my family and to serve my husband and the words have to come off the fringe of that…

“Writing for me is a way of processing, connecting parts and pieces of my life.  I think an online community has allowed me to connect with other women on my own time. Even to talk to friends on the phone can be very difficult if there’s an issue happening in your house right then… 

“Online offers women a way to connect vulnerably with other women who are in the motherhood trenches with you. But at the same time that requires discipline to be able to step away from the screen and not use the screen to escape from home and what God wants you to do…  If you’re always escaping somewhere else, God can’t do the soul work in you that He wants to do.”

Ann Voskamp in the Newsmaker Interview with Marvin Olasky at Patrick Henry College, September 21, 2011

But what touched me most was her insistence on the importance of motherhood, the longing to be home with her children that morning, the tears as she spoke of the kind of mother she wanted to be.  To be.  Not all the things she wanted to do for her children—but just to be there with them, for them.

“To be present with my children and to compartmentalize the online to the fringe hours…  The time with our children is but a blink. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it it doesn’t feel that way, but…to be present and to be faithful to what God has called you to do.”

So today, my prayer is for wisdom in balancing the do with the be.  Because my calling to serve my husband and my family includes a lot of the “do”—and the “do” is necessary and good!—but the “be” often—always?—has even more eternal value.

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  1. Oh thank you for your words on this post. Yes, I struggle with being vs doing so much as well. And Ann, well her words are good for the soul and the encouragement to be, aren’t they?

    Warmest Friday wishes,


    PS Your blog background? LOVE IT!

    1. You and Ann both have a way with words that is such a blessing to me–and so many others!

      I had so much fun picturing you at the lovely PHC campus (my brother and his wife graduated from there).

      And my blog background? I’m sorta kinda attached to it, too, beings that it’s our love letters, and was also the background for our wedding invitation. But I know we have a mutual adoration of love letters and all things postal…I love your blog button/background! 馃檪

  2. Thank you for this post. It was so timely for me. Gretchen, you’re like a seamstress. Able to take your insight together with the words of the bloggers mentioned above and join it all together into a quilt.

    Blessings 馃檪