For the busy person who wants to stay connected to God throughout the week!

Archive for November, 2012

Enjoy The Ride of Sabbath Moments

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

On our way to school the other day, my four-year old granddaughter gave me some great advice.  As we were entering the highway which has a slight dip she said, “Here we go! Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!”  I laughed out loud and she asked me in all seriousness, “Are you enjoying the ride, Nana?” 

Out of the mouths of babes….

She certainly enjoys the ride every day, the ride that is her life.  Each new morning brings new opportunities, new discoveries and new pleasures.   She laughs, she sings, she dances, she tries new tastes (including paste and boogers) she plays and she rests.   And sometimes she does all that in ten minutes.

Her admonition and query to me were as if the voice of God had spoken.   In essence that is what the command to take a Sabbath is all about…sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the ride.   Imagine God having to ask us if we were enjoying the ride, the gift of Sabbath?   How sad would that be? 

Enjoying the Sabbath is implied in the commandment.  No one is to work.  NO ONE…not even the servants and animals.   Everyone is to relax and treat the day as holy/wholly unto God.  Everyone is commanded to sit back and enjoy the fruits of their labor, of God’s creation and of each other. 

How have we gotten so far away from this blessed gift? 

I am taking my cue from my four-year old’s joy and from the wisdom of God and on my Sabbath I am going sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.  How about you?

“and a little child will lead them”  Isaiah 11.6b

Blessings,

Nancy

Live Longer – Take a Sabbath Moment

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

 I just heard an interview on NPR that talked about the importance of a Sabbath – 24 full hours of Sabbath, that is.  It seems that those cultures that take a 24 hour break that includes worship, fellowship and nature live longer than those cultures that just push through without a replenishing break.

We have known for a while that taking breaks is good for the body, mind and spirit but there is evidence that it also adds years to our lives. 

Now here’s the caveat…it has to be done consistently.   There is a cumulative effect of health benefits when it is done on a weekly basis.  So we are on the right track by taking Sabbath Moment breaks throughout the day and week AND we need to be consistent.  Furthermore, I would suggest that we need to be more intentional about making time for more than a moment here or there and begin to schedule in intentional downtime for hours at a time. 

Are you up to the task?  There is still time in this weekend to plug-in some significant time to rest and relax.   Maybe instead of turning the day after Thanksgiving into a frenzied shopping day, it would serve us better if we changed Black Friday to Laid Back Friday.    From what I hear about Black Friday crowds it may be a major way to add years to your life! 

Get out that good book, light a candle and breathe deeply, engage in a positive and uplifting conversation, pray, meditate, take a long walk and enjoy some good food.  Your body will thank you for it and so will your family.  And as always, God’s command is meant to benefit us not punish us. 

Blessings,

Nancy

“Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11.28

“You have six days when you can do your work, but the seventh day of each week belongs to me, your God. No one is to work on that day.”  Exodus 20.9-10

Plant a Winter Garden

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Here in the Atlanta area they are planting winter gardens.  Bed after bed of pansies is being put into the ground and as a Northern girl I find this fascinating and odd!    In my mind this is the time of year to put the flower beds, well, to bed.   Once the Spring bulbs have been planted, those of us in the colder climates won’t be enjoying flowers until the first buds pop up many long months later.  We can only dream of flowers or visit a flower shop or conservatory from November through March if we want to be surrounded with fresh blossoms. 

Not so in the South.  Pansies are springing up all over and their yellows, purples, oranges and blues are vibrant against the Fall sky and gorgeous in the Fall sunshine. I am told they are a hardy flower and will bloom all winter.   The idea of a winter garden is new and gives me a new way of thinking of winter. 

And I think I will plant me a winter garden too!  How about you?

I’m not sure if I will use pansies but I do know that being surrounded with freshness, light and color is important for my spirit and there is no reason to forego that in the winter even if you live in a snowbelt. 

Being intentional about making a place for beauty in your life is a way of making a place for God in your life.  When we surround ourselves with beauty, we surround ourselves with God who, as the author of all the beauty in the world, is present in these beautiful moments. 

So for your Sabbath Moments this week create your own winter ‘garden’.  Make a space just for your senses using things that are beautiful to you.  Then spend time there every day thanking God for the beauty, bounty and blessing of this earth for your mind, body and soul.  Rest in that refreshment.  Be filled up and be grateful.

“Then God said, ‘Let the land produce vegetation:  seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it according to the various kinds.’  And it was so…And God saw that it was good.” Gen. 1.11ff

Beautiful blessings,

Nancy

Words of Life in a Sabbath Setting

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Have you ever heard a lyric from a song, read a line from a poem or experienced a description in a book in such a way that time seems to stop and you enter into the words as if they were speaking to your essence? 

Lovers have “their song” that draws them together and reminds them of the love they share.  Men and women carry phrases, one liners, or proverbs in their minds to pull out when they need to feel encouraged or to encourage others.  I have a friend who can pull up the lyrics to a song to fit almost any situation and they always add to our understanding. 

Many Christians have a favorite scripture that speaks to their heart or a hymn that sends their spirits soaring or brings a lump to their throat.  

Words have great power. 

I am drawn to words of scripture that focus on life, light and love.  “I put before you this day, blessing and curse, life and death; choose life” from Deuteronomy is one of my favorites.  As the days start to get shorter, passages about light and how the light came into the world and the darkness has not been able to overcome it buoy my spirits as it grows darker earlier and earlier.  And when I am feeling anything but lovable, the words from Jeremiah remind me that God has “loved me with an everlasting love.” 

Sabbath is a day that is meant to be filled with words of life, light and love.  Sabbath is a time when words have great power reminding us of God’s great love for us and our well-being.  Candles are lit on Sabbath to signal its beginning and announce the time to rest has come into our lives. 

This week focus your Sabbath moments around words that lift you up, that bring you life, remind you of how much God loves you and how that love lights your life.  Light some candles, put on your favorite music or hymns, read some favorite passages either from the scripture or poetry and just savor the words as they whisper to you.

“shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” 

Philippians 2.15b-16a

Blessings,

Nancy

STOP: Take Your Sabbath…It’s Good for You!

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I once heard story about a woman who worked with a group of Christians who were rescuing refugees from a brutal government in Central America. Her job was to swim people to safety across a river each night.  Night after night she would ferry 10-15 people to sanctuary from the war and violence.  On the seventh night she was surprised to find that their camp was not preparing to rescue that evening and in fact there would be a celebration, a party of sorts.

She was furious and refused to participate in any type of celebration when there was still so much to do.  The head of the group came to her to find out why she would not join in and after hearing her explanation told her to pack her bags and go home.  She could no longer be part of the rescue efforts.

Flabbergasted she asked why and he gently told her that without a rest and a time to praise God for their success, what they were doing was meaningless.  Either she rested and celebrated the many blessings already received from God or she go home.

In essence she was refusing a Sabbath.  Sabbath is commanded as a time of rest after six days of labor.  Sabbath is a time to rest and give thanks to God for all our blessings.  Sabbath is a time to celebrate with God and to refresh ourselves in God’s presence.

How often do you and I feel that we can’t possibly rest because there is so much to do?  How many find it almost impossible to rest surrounded by the very things that need to be attended to?  And what if when we refuse to rest, God were to come to us and say, “Sorry, Nancy, but you will need to go because I can’t use you on my team any more.  You are trying to do things your way  and not mine.”

Whoa…that would not sit well on my ears.  And yet, time after time, I do just that.  Continue to do things my way ignoring the command to make Sabbath a part of my busy life.   I am not so important that stopping what I am doing will change one thing in the grand scheme of things.   My life is busy because I have chosen to make it so.  And for some reason I have come to think that taking a Sabbath is my choice.  It’s not, actually it is a command – of God.

Where are you practicing Sabbath arrogance and ignoring the command to rest and keep the seventh day holy?

This week every time you find yourselves pushing through your busy life thinking you will never get done, STOP.  Stop and take a breath and remember that God provides that breath, all your wonderful talents and the time to use them in the context of your life which includes Sabbath rest.

Blessings,

Nancy

“Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy…On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”  Exodus 20.8ff

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