It’s easy to get overwhelmed when life keeps moving on and seasons keep changing and it seems the world is going mad around us. To look out on my ever-greening pasture and watch the peach trees blossom, you would think that all is right with the world. Turn on a screen – any screen – and even we country folk see that the world is definitely a place someone might want to retreat from; to unplug from, even. Living out here is not enough of an escape to buffer the madness some days. Even I get depressed, despite what the peach trees are doing (and sometimes because of the gophers eating their roots, AGAIN).
Plugging IN (and not UNPLUGGING) may sound like horrible advice, but imagine what the world would be like if all the good people disappeared. There would be a pretty dark echo chamber out there, and no good would come of it. God calls us to be IN the world, though we aren’t “of it” when we are living as Christians… so plugging in is actually ‘required’.
The first thing we need to do is to plug in to Him, though, because plugging in to the world without being charged is pointless. We don’t want to be a drain or be drained. We want to provide light from the light we have been provided, so we can light up the darkness and make the world a better place.
Here are some ways you can plug in when you would rather run and hide:
1. Get with Jesus
Of course, the first thing to do to keep your day from unraveling is search out the creator and be filled with His wisdom and love. Kindness and calmness are a byproduct of spending time with Jesus and being topped off in grace. I’ve said this a million times on my blog before, but here it is again: the worst days are those that start off with my own strength, will, and determination… and somehow morph into meltdowns, tears and apologies. When we don’t start with Jesus, we set ourselves up to fail.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”Jesus
Sound familiar? Those are red letters, by the way.
Popping in at church once a week won’t cut it. Christianity is a relationship. Imagine what a sucky marriage you would have if you only saw your spouse once a week… or worse, only on Easter or Christmas! The more time you spend at God’s feet, the better able you are to stand in the world and exude His qualities instead of your own flaws and weaknesses. (Bonus: if you are teaching kids to be like Jesus, you will be a lot more like Him the more time y’all can hang together.)
2. Teach to Learn
You don’t have to be a homeschooler to teach. You can be any type of enthusiast out there. I meet people all the time that have gems to share about all different sorts of topics. The guy we buy hay from is more skilled in the art of beef farming than anyone we know. I love listening to him and learning from him. I also love watching Youtube videos from gardeners who have all sorts of different skills. Many of these people started out just like you and I in their field of expertise : a novice! Today’s expert was yesterday’s newbie.
The key to learning while you teach is passion. If you love something and aspire to know it, you will attract others in the process of learning by your zeal and joy. (Hint: I wrote this article for myself, if you haven’t noticed… and you would be surprised at how often I look back over past articles and my past self reminds my today self to stick to my guns.)
Sometimes by researching and writing down your goals so that you can explain it to someone else, you will gain clarity and understanding beyond what you could have gleaned from just reading or hearing it for yourself. Talking to just one person about it can even help. Hey, might even count as free therapy!
If you believe in your goal, you can draw others towards it by just keeping your aim focused and doing a little bit each day towards reaching it. Studies show that you retain more knowledge when you teach, so bringing others along as you research and learn by trial and error will bless more than just yourself.
It’s hard to be stewing in a pity party about the dismal state of the world when you are finding joy in learning something new… especially if it is a passion you have. Plugging in WITH other people and finding joy in LEARNING together brings me to number 3…
3. Find your Posse
You may be tempted to hide out until the “danger” passes or life gets easier. Don’t.
When you are in the foxhole, the best thing to do is join “arms” and fight your way out together. Trust me; there’s someone out there just like you, or maybe someone who has already been there and knows a short cut to the other side. Finding a mentor, a buddy, an accountability partner, an encourager, a sister, a friend, and a fellow sojourner is imperative to staying plugged in to the extra power you need to succeed.
I have my city people, my country people, my church people, my family people, my long-distance people, my mentors, my inner-circle people, and it’s awesome on top of awesome when those categories overlap multiple times. This world is made for connection, and we are people built for relationships. Isolation is not from God.
We homeschool mamas talk a lot about how kids need socialization, but it’s not just the little people who need friends. Ahem. I’m looking at you. Yes, you.
Don’t get me on a soap box about these crazy times we live in. The television and the people on it seem to think we all need a muzzle, a lockdown, and at least six feet between us. What would the world be without smiles, nature, music, songs, and HUGS???
Suffice it to say: PEOPLE NEED EACH OTHER.
You aren’t an island. Reach out, mama… and offer a smile and a text. Ask a question. Find an online group. Go to a local library or meeting. Even if you do it online; do it! Do it for the kids. Do it for the other lonely, Hobbit Hole mama out there who needs a friend. Do it for you!
If you seem to have hit a brick wall, maybe it’s time to look elsewhere for an open one. Jump outside your comfort zone and go where the doors are open. It’s OK if that means closing a chapter in your past life. Open doors are where God is often leading you into those new chapters.
4. Champion a Cause
I heard a story about hundreds of starfish washing up on the beach, and a boy, feeling sorry for them, picked up one at a time, tossing them in to the water so they wouldn’t dry up and die. Another person asked him why he was bothering when there wasn’t any way he would save them all or even make a difference. As he picked up a starfish, contemplating his answer, he tossed it into the sea and said, “It made a difference to that one.”
Maybe you can’t save the world. You ARE making a difference for someone. You are making a difference for your kids, your husband, your parents, your siblings, your friends. Maybe you are making a difference on a bigger scale, too.
What are you passionate about?
A passion can be anything that you care about and want to help with. Maybe you are passionate about the environment and can organize classes on how to garden using natural pest controls. Maybe you have a missionary heart but you are “anchored” here in the states with your family. That doesn’t mean you can’t find out how you can help a church or pastor in another country. Your computer and checkbook, together, can reach the lost in other nations across language borders and oceans. You could be a dog or cat lover and want to donate time at the shelter (I have an aunt who feeds strays around town every day, rain or shine).
Passions can change with time. One of my latest passions is farming and helping people see the benefit of supporting local farms. After really learning about something in depth, you can imagine how you might make an impact on the world by plugging in and doing something about it! It is a natural progression to go from faith, to learning, to community (groups that inspire and bless you), to giving back and sharing what you have with others. Before last year, I didn’t even know about showing cattle. Now, we are busy learning about it and enjoying that as a family. Every season of life has a new breadth of opportunities and you don’t ever stop learning if you keep plugging in!
5. Expand Your Circle
Now that you have figured out how to fill up, found your people, and you’re living your best life sharing what you love and care about with the world… it’s time to branch out. If the ones who have all the experience and wisdom are silent and keep it all to themselves, we all collectively lose out.
There are other people out there who are where you started. What can you do to include them and bring them into the fold? Maybe the nearby town has a farmer’s market where you can expand your reach. What if the community you are in has room for another chapter of your club? Could your small group at church have outgrown the home you fellowship in? It might be that someone needs to step up to the plate to host a new offshoot. I could go on, but you get the picture. In the business world, this step is called “seeing a need and filling it”.
Once you have plugged in long enough, and find yourself content or coasting, maybe doing something new and exciting with your skills and experience is just what you need to give back. I don’t know what I would have done if there weren’t amazing veteran homeschoolers, farmers, gardeners, DIYers, photographers, artists, wives, mothers, and other special people who shared what they knew with me.
If you can’t do it in person, maybe you can do it online. Write a book! Be a mentor yourself. The sky is the limit.
From where I stand, out here on the prairie, it may seem like living is a little slower and easier, but I assure you, there’s no where to hide from modern stresses and emotional ups and downs. You can’t hide your head in the sand or become apathetic without disastrous consequences in politics, relationships, farming, gardening, or any other area of your life. God may not have promised us a rose garden here on earth, but he gave us the tools to try and create one. We can use whatever skills and resources we have to make a difference on our little plot of land in front of us, even if that is a six-inch pot of dirt on a concrete balcony. Someone out there needs YOUR efforts – and you never know who that person will be or how important you are to them.
My motto in Gardening and Farming is ‘NEVER GIVE UP’. So I keep plugging back in those plant starts every time the chickens, the bugs, the raccoons, or my gardening mistakes kill them off. I’ll keep researching How-To videos and asking other farmers and master gardeners how to improve my game. I’ll keep reading the Almanac and gardening magazines. My garden might not ever look like the cover shot on Southern Living, but it will matter to someone (even if that someone is just my own little family or myself). Maybe one day I can sell all the produce I’ve grown at the farmer’s market and realize a country-prairie-sized dream. With faith and plugging in instead of checking out/giving up…. I’m one day closer than I was yesterday.