Don't Waste Your Life {an exhortation for the overachiever}

  {Today's post was written by my sister, Amber Vander Vennen. She is a homeschooling mom of six, and her weary soul is tired. The wisdom she has to share today is something all our weary souls need to hear and remember and hold close, especially in this season of Advent.}

{Today's post was written by my sister, Amber Vander Vennen. She is a homeschooling mom of six, and her weary soul is tired. The wisdom she has to share today is something all our weary souls need to hear and remember and hold close, especially in this season of Advent.}

Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace...

To where will you go child, tell me where will you run; to where will you run?

                {By Your Side, Tenth Avenue North}

My personality type is the kind that exits her mother’s womb all tight-chested, grows up mothering all her siblings, and takes on adulthood like a freight-train.

Apparently, my personality type accounts for only 5% of the population. It's my type who head up committees, become doctors, and run for the presidency, for that matter. We're addicted to achievement.

There are times I appreciate this personality type. I need to be highly motivated, organized, and disciplined in order to successfully run a household with six children ages 2-11, and effectively educate them. {Topped with church involvement and doing cosmetology on the side until just a few years ago.}

But it’s also my type that get really, really tired.

More than the busy of my calendar, what’s made me really fatigued is the unrest of my soul.

I have been working hard. I have always held the bar high for the condition of my home, what I feed my family, how my children dress and behave, and our education. 

But I have never felt that I measure up.

Always evaluating, always striving. Always squeezing in one more thing. Harping on myself for spending money on myself or our home, even though it wasn’t a poor financial choice. Wondering what more I can do for starving children, sex trafficking, natural disasters, the poor in our community. Feeling constantly guilty about something.

Never resting in His grace.


There is the very real factor that I don’t deserve grace. I don’t “have coming” what Jesus did for me on the cross. I don’t deserve to have nice clothes that fit right, or a home that looks like a magazine cover. I should be evaluating how I spend my time and my money, as a Christ-follower who wants to steward her gifts well. And, I want to. I love my Lord, and I want to live a life I won’t regret in eternity.

Yet I have realized there is more than one way to apply the exhortation "Don’t Waste Your Life." Sure, riding your yacht into the sunset for the last half of your earthly years applies here. But how else might I be wasting my life, as I run around in circles, trying to earn grace?

I have had. Just. About. Enough. 

These past six months have continued to stretch me.

When I thought things were about to get easier, our 21 month-old son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He had a twelve hour surgery, and the biopsy came back very positive for him. However, he has been going through chemotherapy. For the first few months of treatment, it was summer break, and the busyness of his needs were just replacing our school time. These last four months, however, have been pretty crazy.

But, I can't seem to let my standards slide a little. I can't seem to remember that God loves the broken world around me, but He loves me, too!

He loves me. Jesus loves me. His gift of salvation is a free gift, and I can’t do a cotton-pickin’ thing to make Him love me any more, or any less.

Is He asking me to keep my house immaculate? Is Jesus asking that my family only eat food from scratch and never have preservatives? Is the apocalypse going to be prematurely ushered in because I let myself sleep in past 5:30a.m? Is my Father honored by a beautifully decorated home for the holidays, as much as He is honored by a humble, thankful, trusting heart?

Humble. Thankful. Trusting. This is what I want to be.

Ask yourself, ask the Holy Spirit what is keeping you from being a heart at rest.

Fear? Pride? Your good 'ole fashioned love of work?

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  {Matthew 11:28.}

Rest. Rest in Jesus' grace. It is finished.    

Especially in this season, when it is tempting to add so many activities, shows and recipes to our already-busy schedules, let’s give ourselves a gift. More accurately, let’s embrace the gift we’ve already been given. This Christmas, come with me. Sit on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa. Look at the tree you broke your back decorating. Enjoy the lights, and take time to remember the true Light that gives life to every man.

He is Love, He is Grace, born on Christmas Day. Jesus.

Spend time with your loved ones. Don’t make a big thing of it. Buy the lovin’ cinnamon rolls. Use paper products. Enjoy the gift of relationship with them. With Him.

Allow the Wonderful Counselor to guide your mind into His perfect will. Call on the Almighty God to work out the details. Let the love of the Everlasting Father wash over your heart. Ask the Prince of Peace to permeate your soul.

Together, we can achieve a better balance of truth and grace, and truly live


Grace and Peace,