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

Archive for August, 2013

Sabbath Moments and Labor Day

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Happy Labor Day Weekend! 

I’ve often thought it curious that a day that was supposed to be about NOT working is called Labor Day.  In the Bible it is called Sabbath and it isn’t just a day off once a year but a weekly one.  And yet, given our busy lifestyles, Sabbath might more correctly be called Labor Day than Labor Day is!

So it seems to me that on Labor Day weekend we actually get two ‘Sabbaths’ if we honor the intent of the two days. How will you spend your two days of rest from your labors?  Unfortunately, I know many people will labor on both days not giving themselves any down time or God time at all.   Don’t be one of them…

This is a weekend to spend time with family and friends.  The original Sabbath held space and time for family and friends to be together and enjoy each other.  While together they also recognized that God was part of their family as well.   Thanksgiving, blessing, rejoicing, sharing and being together in the presence of God filled their Sabbath time with a sense of peace and well-being.  It was a time to shut out the rest of the world and to remember that God was the creator, the provider and the deliverer of freedom.  At the end of Sabbath they ate something sweet that would allow the sweetness of the Sabbath to remain in them as they returned to their labors and awaited another Sabbath Day to rest.

Incorporating thanksgiving, blessing, rejoicing, sharing and being together in the presence of God this weekend could make your Labor Day/Sabbath time extraordinarily memorable and refreshing.  And at the end of it, eat something sweet to remind you that God is good and that rest time is a sweet gift.

“Taste and see the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”  Psalm 34.8

Happy Refreshing,    Nancy                                         IMG_1998

 

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Sabbath Moment Dance

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I’m a big Three Dog Night fan and one of my favorites is their “Celebrate, Celebrate Dance to the Music”.  Whenever I hear it I am ready to celebrate and dance to the music.  How about you?

If you have been a regular reader of this blog you know that I have said on numerous occasions that Sabbath was meant to be a day of celebration.  It was a day to celebrate all the wonders of God’s creation, the bounty of the earth, the power of friendship and the love of God. It was meant to be a day of feasting, dancing, singing and prayer. 

It was not meant to be a day of drudgery, boredom and regulations.  I mourn the loss of this aspect of Sabbath in so many churches and in the lives of so many Christians.  It is a sad commentary on the religion of joy and new life and it doesn’t have to be that way. 

So with that in mind I have decided to keep on dancing and celebrating this weekend and throughout the next week as a way to experience Sabbath Moments every day.  I say keep on because this past week I found myself celebrating and dancing to the music with my granddaughter, Arianna.  She loves to dance and she loves music, all kinds.  I am sure she would love the 3 Dog Night and now that I think about it, I plan to introduce her to them very soon.  Dancing with her is like a combination of play and prayer.  Her joy and energy are contagious and her days are made up of moment after moment of discovery, transformation and love.  She is my daily reminder of God’s grace, love and blessings.   She is my Sabbath Moment on many days.   And I give thanks to God for her presence in my life.

What are the songs that make you want to celebrate and dance to the music?  Spend time this week listening to them and dancing.  Recent studies have found that blood vessels dilate up to 26% when people hear joyful music.  This brings more oxygen to your blood and you are more aware and more alive – pulsing with God’s gift of life.   What a way to honor the Sabbath and be present to God!  

“David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.” 2 Samuel 6.14

“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Mt. 18.2

Celebrate and Dance to the Music my Sabbath seeking friends,

Nancy

 

Sabbath Moments and Attachments

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

We are in the process of selling our home.  The reasons are many to do this and we do have an offer.  If all the hurdles are cleared, we will be moving out October 15. 

This has been my home for almost 19 years and it has been Chuck’s home for 23.  Furthermore, this is the first home he has ever owned.  Leaving this house will be difficult for him and it is beginning to be more difficult for me than I had imagined.  We have become attached to the physical building and we are also emotionally attached to the memories that have been made in that home.

When Jesus tells us to give up everything and follow him, he certainly means physical possessions as well as the emotional attachments we have formed with people, homes and things.  How many of us really would be able to do it?  Most of us never even have to consider it.  Ours is a convenient faith of leaving our homes on Sunday mornings, worshiping and returning home.  Perhaps we shed a few long-held views while in worship or decide to set ourselves free from anger or despair by giving it to God but for the most part we don’t often leave much in order to follow Jesus.

Even when it comes to Sabbath Moments it is hard to leave our routines, our schedules and commitments to spend time with God.  How do we let go of attachments in order to attach ourselves to God’s side and be content there without any obligations calling us away? 

As I am beginning to see with leaving the house, the first step is to acknowledge that we are attached to things, people, ideas.  Acknowledging that they also keep us from being fully present with God is a good start. 

This week be intentional about seeing your attachments for what they are.  What do they mean to you?  How do they interfere with being present to and with God?  How often do your best intentions to take a Sabbath Moment get sidetracked by an ‘attachment’? 

Just be aware and be ready to let God help you let go.

“No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Matthew 6.24

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Loneliness

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

My granddaughter, Arianna, began Kindergarten on Monday.  She was excited and had big smiles as she headed into her classroom, sat at her desk and waved for the final picture of the morning.  The next morning, however, brought about a drastic change in her attitude and tears instead of smiles accompanied them to school.  As they walked up to the front door, my daughter said she could see her take a deep breath, hold her head up, square her shoulders and walk with determination into the school. 

When my daughter picked her up to walk home that afternoon, Arianna said “Mommy, I really needed a hug from you and wanted to cry but didn’t.”    Of course, as her grandmother it broke my heart, as a parent I knew this was part of her growing up and learning how to make her way in the big world outside her front door, and as a person I could relate to this feeling.  How many times could you benefit from a hug from your mom, spouse, friend, or child but they are not there to accommodate that need?

In those lonely moments when we feel as if we have no one to comfort us it is then that time with God reminds us that we are never alone.  Arianna wanted her mommy’s hug because she has come to trust that her mom will be there when she needs one and that her mother will not let her down.  She knows what that hug feels like and how it makes her feel safe, secure and loved.  She knows that support from mom can strengthen her to try things she might not have tried without her encouragement.   And she knows all this because she and Mom spend time together sharing all that life can hold.

Sabbath Moments with God does the same for us.  So many people I hear from say “I wish I could get into the habit of doing what you suggest, or praying regularly or taking time apart with God, but I can’t seem to because…(add your reason here).  

Sabbath Moments are more than suggestions.  They are not meant to be obligations or just another thing to add to our to do list.  Sabbath Moments, Sabbath keeping in general, are meant to be part of our life like breathing.  Keeping Sabbath, taking time with God fills us with inspiration, just like our lungs fill our bodies with air; and it lifts us out of the low moments, the lonely moments, the fearful moments, the anxious moments, the painful moments…It gives us a body, mind and spirit memory that we are not alone, that the one who loves more than we can imagine, is with us encouraging us and walking with us all the time.   And that a hug is just a prayer’s breath away.

“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the child of her womb?  Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”  Isaiah 49.15-16

Holding you all close in my heart,

Nancy

Sabbath Moments in a Cemetery

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

On Saturday I participated in a graveside service that included a tea party.  That’s right, a tea party. 

My dear friend, Sandra, requested that we have a tea party in the cemetery when we buried her.  And her wish was granted.

For a little background, Sandra loved tea and she loved to give teas.  Several years ago she convinced a friend of hers to let her hold a tea in their barn.  It took a bit of convincing but once it took place it became a summer happening. These same friends are the ones who put on the tea by her grave.

And it was lovely.  As I walked up the little hill to her site the first thing I saw were two tea tables adorned with white linen tablecloths.  Arranged on the tables were tiers of Sandra’s china tea cups and tea pots along with cookies, muffins and Sandra’s favorite – lemon bars.  I stopped in my tracks to take it all in. 

Instead of looking out-of-place it looked like it belonged there.  The morning was warm, the sun was bright with a gentle breeze rustling through the leaves creating a dappled effect on the tables.  The birds were singing and people were milling about chatting, holding tea cups and savoring the feelings of peace and delight even in a most difficult time. 

The moment was transformational and I knew that once again, Sandra, in her gentle wisdom had created for us the perfect setting in which to say goodbye.  It was classic Sandra and it reminded me that many of Sandra’s Sabbath Moments came when she sat down to have tea with God. 

And so in a little cemetery on a sunny Saturday morning we all shared tea with God giving thanks for Sandra’s life among us, for blessing us with such a beautiful creation in which to live and for reminding us that taking tea can be a form of prayer. 

I read this at the graveside:  “If you ask Zen people they will say tea is not something that you pour with unawareness and drink like any other drink.  It is not a drink, it is meditation; it is prayer.  So they listen to the kettle creating a melody, and in listening they become more silent, more alert.”  Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

In the silence God speaks and we listen. As we listened yesterday, God spoke in the silence and we all experienced a Sabbath Moment of peace and love. 

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly moved…For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 62:1-2; 5

Blessings in your silent moments,

Nancy

 

 

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