What does it mean to be intentional?

If you find me baking in the kitchen with my sweet seven year old daughter, you’ll hear me ask her to please fetch the “On-Purpose Flour” from the pantry. I recently discovered she thought it was “On Purpose” instead of All-Purpose, and my goodness, I’m just hoping she won’t notice her error for as long as possible so that I can enjoy the sweetness of her saying it again and again. 

We do some good baking “on purpose” around here, but this year the word “Intentional” was whispered to my heart, and I’m puzzling my puzzler trying to figure out how to live it. 

Intentional is just a fancy “On Purpose,” right?

You might remember me sharing this post a few years ago about having a word for the year. I was asking God where He was going to take me and He was busy encouraging me to be faithful — just faithful — right where I was.

And as the days of 2020 began to unfold, I heard this whisper to consider what it means to live more intentionally, and to change my “I have to…” into “I choose to…” {a concept I’m considering thanks to Greg McKeown’s Essentialism.}

I’ve been setting goals and making plans and making lists and watching the clock, and thinking more about how to live the precious hours that make up the days that turn into weeks that build up to months that finally make the year of 2020. And what do I want to have accomplished by the time I get to the end of it?

Oh how I long to live intentionally! To make the hours and days and weeks count! To check all the boxes by the end of the day — how glorious!

But there are tricksy waters ahead, friends, beware.

On purpose flour will not yield the same results as bread flour.

On purpose living will yield different results — depending on whose purpose it rests on.

Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver and search for is as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding…
{Prov. 2:3-6}

Last week, I had a big question that I wanted some advice about related to this writing journey I’m on. And for the year of 2020, I’ve intentionally joined a small group of writers that includes a few mentors that are coaching the rest of us as we move forward in our work. So I posted that question to ask for advice, and was grateful I was blessed with some well thought out, practical answers in return. 

One of the mentors of the group commented “This would be a tough question to google” along with encouragement that I’d come to the right place. She included heaps of insightful advice to help me think through my decision. 

I laughed a little on the inside thinking “Yeah, you totally couldn’t google that.” 

Here’s a challenging thing to consider, for the microwave generation we live in: Wisdom and understanding? They are not among the search results of Google.

Cluttered between the Instant Pot recipes and the fashion advice — who will take the time to tell me what the best way to spend these next 350 days? And will they know what’s right?

Those Proverbs verses liken a search for wisdom to a hunt for hidden treasure. Hidden treasure isn’t going be in every place you think of to look for it. It’s going to take a thoughtful search to find. Perhaps even some strategic planning. And lots of time thrown in for good measure.

If searching for wisdom was like looking for grass, well gosh, we could all step out into our backyards or head for the local park, and we’d be swimming in it. 

There’s the complexity of knowing where to look for wisdom, and there’s the challenge of taking the time to do the looking.

My quest for intentionality quickly turned into a race to check the daily boxes. And THIS is where the dragons are swimming, friends.

If we do not put people over projects and relationships over return on investment, we are missing the point of living intentionally. 

Our desire to check the boxes can take on dragon-like power. They will QUICKLY swallow up or scorch the desire to lovingly and intentionally relate to the people around us. Let me give you a very practical example that, much to my shame, illustrates this point.

Many of you readers know our eight year old, Blake, was in the hospital for quite a wee while last year. And during that adventure, gosh, I would have paid a million dollars to have that kid wake up from that coma, look me in the eyes and say, “I love you, Mama” and give me a big kiss.

That was just a few short months ago, right?

Blake is home with us now, and doing miraculously well. I think he was an affectionate child before, but after all he’s been through, he has a new little habit in his repertoire. I might be cooking dinner, putting on makeup, homeschooling another child, or folding some laundry, and Blake will come up with his darling little lips puckered into a lovely little circle. He wants a kiss, and he will usually follow that kiss by saying “I love you, Mama,” and then he’ll carry on with his day. This little habit is on repeat, probably 3 or 4 times an hour each day.

Adorable, right? It melts your heart, right? 

It melted my heart in October and November. It brought me to tears a few times in December — just thanking the Lord that this sweet boy is home and well.

We’ve moved into January and I can feel a little ‘niggle’ in my soul. It’s hard to admit, but here it is, people: I struggle to pause what I am doing, slow myself down, and give the child a kiss. 

It’s shameful, right? I don’t want to stop what I am doing! I want to get all the things done! I want to check the boxes!!! And I have to remind myself: anything other than dropping everything to give that precious child a kiss — or any of my precious children a kiss — should be considered treason. TREASON, I SAY!

Aren’t they at the top of my list of reasons to live intentionally???

Have you ever blurted something out without first giving your words some thought — and afterwards regretted it, wishing you could somehow put those words back in and swallow them again?

Have you ever been faced with a choice and made a snap decision — and afterwards wished you’d taken the time to think it through, rather than giving that quick yes or quick no that haunted you weeks later?

I’ve discovered one thing so far about this word, intentional.

When I am running, rushing and racing to check boxes and get things done, I cannot be intentional.

It doesn’t take time to make bad decisions. But it does take time to make good ones.

It doesn’t take time to blurt out an unkind response. It does take time to give a measured and thoughtful reply.

I hope that as you’ve begun a new year, you’re looking at it with the intention of doing more On Purpose Baking with the days that will make up 2020. And I hope that you won’t fall into the same trap I quickly discovered I was wading into: the trap of believing that living intentionally looks like moving at a quick pace and getting more things done.

Instead of more things, I pray we can quiet our souls and listen for the wisdom and understanding to do the right things.

And what a beautiful year it will be, if we live it doing the right things — on purpose.


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Update on Blake

Our precious Blake, who does love giving lots of kisses these days, just keeps on keeping on! We had a small breakthrough today, when he was able to navigate working through part of his Math lesson without me sitting beside hm and coaching him through every problem. (It has been a struggle for him to concentrate on a single task for an extended period without me taking him through it one step at a time.) I was overjoyed to see he could answer twelve Math problems with only one or two errors all by himself today! His Math skills were very strong before this injury, and I think those skills are serving him well now — helping his brain reconnect those pathways and put things together again.

Physically, he seems almost like his old self again. We continue to pray, and would love to ask you to join us, in INTENTIONALLY praying for 20/20 vision for Blake — and the return of his full field of vision — in 2020. We have seen some specialists and been given some conflicting advice about what therapies might be possible. We’d be so grateful if you’d also pray we’d have the wisdom to make the best choices for Blake.

Friends, thank you SO much for your prayers and for continuing to ask how Blake is doing. As a family, we feel like we are in a season of healing. We’re trying to slow our pace (post holiday hustle-bustle) and just enjoy time together with all of us here in one place. We are dreaming of ways to celebrate coming through all this as a family, and we are just so grateful to have come so far! Blake was chosen as a Children’s Miracle Network Child. We look forward to sharing more of his story of hope through the opportunities that will bring about! We continue to Raise a Hallelujah and love thinking about this story getting better and better!