August 10, 2019

Placing My Ordinary Life Before God by Sharon Espeseth

Sharon fitting in some writing time

“So here’s what I want you to do, (Sharon), God helping you. Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, (caring-for-your-family) work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering.” (Romans 12:1 The Message--other parentheses mine.)

Duties and Distractions

Paul’s letter to the Romans always packs a punch, but Eugene Peterson’s wording makes this advice personal, so I add my name. Like Jesus’ friend Martha, I have an agenda and I get worried and upset when too many things are happening and I can’t keep up. Today, for instance, I have ideas for my blog and I need to get to my computer. The distractions I mention are good and important things to do, but I want/“need” to keep my writing commitment.

Recognizing Answers to Prayer

My husband Hank after a long time of feeling poorly, wants to visit the fruit truck this afternoon, so he can top up the freezer for future jam sessions. We went to mass at the senior’s residence this a.m. and had an appointment with our pharmacist. How can I complain about any of that?

Although making jam requires time and effort from both of us, I am delighted that Hank feels upbeat enough to consider his hobby of making jam. And I, thankfully, am well enough to help him. We won’t be making the jam right now, I remind myself,  and Jesus counsels us not to worry about tomorrow, "for tomorrow will take care of itself." Phew!

Hank enjoys making jam and sharing it
with family and friends.

I have prayed for some time that Hank would feel well enough to enjoy life and feel up to doing some activities he used to do. In this light, his wanting to make jam is an answer to prayer, even though I don't immediately see that. I grumble briefly to myself about the insufficiency of time. Then, asking forgiveness,  I admit that God knows way more about what's good for us than I do. I release my grip on the steering wheel.

Hank always loved planting--trees, a garden, potting flowers

Day to Day Life

Hank and I understand that this world isn’t our "forever home," but while we're here we will love and help one another. When Hank is ill, I'm his caregiver and advocate. I attend appointments with him, ask questions and take notes. I do research and reach out to others more knowledgeable than we are in medical issues.

When my hubby's in hospital, I bring his home-brewed morning coffee the way he likes it. I run errands and go for walks with him in the hospital hallways. When he's home, I cook foods that might tempt him to gain a few pounds.

Our present, but not our "forever home"

Looking for Guidance 

To keep me steady, I read God’s Word. I pray, and try to leave the rest to God. I read the Psalms and other scriptures that assure us that God is our strength and help in times of trouble.

For example,

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5: 6-7 NIV)

"Be still, and know that I am God." (Psalm 46: 10 NIV)

Seeking and Finding God’s Purpose

"God’s Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105) Walking by lamplight requires faith in the One who lights and holds the lamp. At this point, I find it difficult to make long-range plans for life or for writing, but I trust the One who promises that he has plans for each of us-- plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future. (Paraphrased from Jeremiah 29:11.)

Martha and I Grow Spiritually

I smiled when Fr. Johnny recently spoke about the fact that the world needs Marthas, because they are the ones who get things done. We first meet Martha when she is preparing a big meal for Jesus and his friends. We Marthas may complain when we feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done. Over the years, some of us learn that we can’t do it all and that we don’t need to do everything to perfection. We learn that we need some quiet time, even if it means getting up early in the morning to have it.

I reread the conversation between Martha and Jesus after Lazarus had died. Martha, speaking her mind, reminds Jesus that if he had come sooner, Lazarus wouldn’t have died. But read further in John 11:17-27 and you will see how Martha’s faith has grown

Because I, like Martha, believe that Christ is the Son of God, I will “rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)


  1. Sharon, your words really touched my heart. Doing the 'simple' everyday things as to the Lord is the key to contentment, I think... Nothing is too insignificant and nothing escapes his notice. i really loved this post. God bless you!

  2. Thanks, Tracy. I am happy that you picked up a clear, but unspoken, message from my story. May God bless you as well.

  3. Like Mary and Martha, you Sharon, have a servants' heart. There are times when tasks must be attended to and done well without fanfare. Your heart shines through with outpouring love in this message my friend.

  4. Thanks, Alan. I hadn’t thought of that. Lately, I’ve been trying to do “the next right thing.” I am thankful that God hears and answers prayers.

  5. Beautiful! I do like Eugene Peterson's wording on that verse. Makes it so every day, so 'right where we are'. Sharon, your love and care for your husband shines so brightly in this post. I pray for continued grace and strength for the 'caregiver' too. And, may spaces for writing open in those unexpected moments so that your writerly heart may flourish just as well as Madam Martha's jam making heart. :)

  6. Thank you, Brenda, for that prayer on behalf of my writing--"that spaces for writing will open" and that I would learn to recognize and use those moments. I’m chuckling at your phrase, “Madam Martha’s jam making heart.” That’s a good one.

  7. There are times when the simple things in life are the biggest blessings to others and to us. Great message.

    1. You are right, Melissa. Thanks. Doing things “over the top” isn’t required to show our love and commitment.

  8. This is such a great teaching post. I got so much out of it. I especially relate to the part about taking my hands off of the steering wheel. Since my husband is a semi driver (and I regularly complain about it!) the steering wheel part speaks even louder to me ;) Life's stresses really can and do crowd in; you are living in such grace. I know that doesn't mean it's easy. Thank you for sharing this though.

    1. My husband doesn’t drive a semi, but I know what you’re saying! As for grace, I am reminded of an old hymn by Annie J. Flint that starts out, "He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater; He sendeth more strength . . .” Beautiful message. Thanks for sharing your encouraging thoughts.

  9. I love the Romans 12:1 in the Msg as well. Thanks for this tasty jam and gem filled post!

    1. There's lots of meat that deserves chewing in Romans Chapter 12 in any version, but somehow The Message really speaks to me in a fresh way in this passage. I smiled at your comment about the “tasty jam and gem filled post.” I hear the writing in you, as always.

  10. Thanks for your posts that are always inspiring, Sharon. How great that you see God in your everyday life and circumstances. And I'm so glad Hank was up to making jam! Particularly meaningful for me was your comment: "At this point, I find it difficult to make long-range plans for life or for writing, but I trust the One who promises that he has plans for each of us."

  11. I am blessed to know that you found inspiration in my story, Sandi, as I do in your stories also. You always get us going on thoughts we didn’t even know we had. Blessings and appreciation.

  12. What an interesting post. I thank god for even little things like my Cat, Athena. She has such a cute little voice and beautiful eyes of jade. I love the deep gold bands in her fur coat too.

    I love when I pick up distant stations on the radio without the aid of landline or satellite. It's been my life long passion.


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