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

Posts tagged ‘God’

A Weekly Mental Health Day

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Every once in a while my husband would declare what he calls “A Flake Out Day” (FOD). Relax++Relaxation+Music This was a day to do just that…flake out.  He would call all of his friends and let them know he was declaring Friday as a FOD and if they were so inclined they could join him.  Often times as many as six or seven folks would join him for a day of R and R.  These days could include a movie marathon, a bookstore hopping day, a sipping tea and talking day or a day by a babbling brook. 

My daughter often talks about needing a mental health day (MHD) from her job and, intelligent woman that she is, she takes one.  Again, her MHD, is her way of allowing her soul to catch up with her body which has been going far too fast for far too long. 

God commanded us to take a weekly 24 hour Sabbath so that we would have time for our souls to catch up to our bodies and, in our inimitable wisdom, we have passed on that in order to work ourselves into one of the most unhealthy nations on earth, overload our schedules to the point of falling asleep at the wheel, and stress ourselves into the pharmaceuticals hands. 

Our ignorance of this command is not doing us any favors or any good.

What will it take for you to honor the Sabbath?  What if you took one 24 hour Sabbath a month to start with and then worked into a more intentional observance in time?  What would your Sabbath look like?  How would you structure the day?  Who would you invite to join you?  And, most importantly, after a few weeks of these days, how do you think you would feel? 

Are you sighing and saying “if only”?  If so, then change the sigh to an imperative question to your deepest and most real self…”why not?”  Then begin to make positive statements about how, when and who.  “I am taking a 24 hour Sabbath this week with my closest friend.  We are going to sit by the side of a lake, talk, read, eat and rest until the sun goes down.”  Make your own Sabbath plan.

Enjoy!  Be blessed!  Be rested and Be at peace.

Relaxation“He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.”  Psalm 23.2-3b

Blessings,

Nancy

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Surprised

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

When was the last time you were surprised?  Not the jump out of your skin kind of surprise or the cynical response to a changed behavior but a real, honest to God, surprise of wonder and joy? 

Can’t remember?…me either.  

However, as I watched my 10 month old grandson sit in a swing for the first time and feel the breeze on his face as his mother pushed him I saw it on his face.  A mixture of ‘what is this, Mom?’ and ‘oh, wow, that feels so cool’ flashed across his face and then he broke out in a belly laugh that made heads turns.  Now that is surprise, wonder and joy all in one.  And for those watching we couldn’t help but be caught up in his surprise and joy.  Laughter came from all around.  It was one of those sweet moments of life.young mother and her cute daughter swinging on a swing at the beach

And, it was for me, one of those sweet Sabbath moments of life.  In that moment all the beauty, joy, love and peace that God wants for his people burst out this little boy reminding me that life is meant to be a daily delight and surprise if we are truly connected to our God. 

I know there are the moments of tragedy and sorrow that break our hearts and threaten to destroy our spirits.  I have known them too.  Our low points can be as low as our high points are high.  And with both there is a total experience of life’s joys and sorrows, life’s surprises and wonder, life’s questions and confusions.   Where does that joy come from?  How does one climb back out of the abyss?  How do joy and sorrow mingle so completely and is it those highs and lows that make us human…creatures made in the image of God? 

To be alive and surprised by all it brings is to feel the full range of emotions from gladness to sadness.  I believe that to be fully alive, feeling the ups and downs is what brings us into relationship with our God.  The one who is surprises us, comforts us, laughs with us and cries with us.  To have that connection with God we have to stop and take a rest with God, to bask in the gift of Sabbath and to show God our true emotions in all our experiences.

It is in those sweet and bittersweet Sabbath moments that we pause and look to God knowing God will be looking back with open arms, a knowing laugh or sigh and the promise of eternal surprises.  

“O my soul, bless God, don’t forget a single blessing!

He forgives your sins – every one.  He heals your diseases – every one.  He redeems you from hell – saves your life.  He crowns you with love and mercy – a paradise crown.  He wraps you in goodness – beauty eternal. He renews your youth – you’re always young in his presence.”  Psalm 105 2-5 The Message. 

“And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 18.3IMG_1058_opt

Blessings,

Nancy

 

Sabbath vs. Cyberspace

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I just returned from a time away.  It had many elements of Sabbath in it.  There was quiet, good conversation, good food, God talk, joy, nature and laughter.  It was a time blessed in so many ways and the presence of God was tangible more than once.

Even though it was not designed to be a Sabbath, it reminded me of one as I stepped out of my normal routine and focused on all  those things that make up a time of rest, refreshment and renewal.

And I was struck, once again, about just how hard it is to totally withdraw from ‘routine’ and to avoid interruptions in the flow of experiencing Sabbath moments.

Why was I struck?  CONFESSION TIME:  I am addicted to the internet.  internet

There was not one 24 hour period within the 72 hours I was away that I didn’t check email, Facebook or text messages.  I know I have admitted this before so obviously, I have no intention of breaking this addiction – or so it seems.

And to cut myself some slack I didn’t go into the weekend intending to cut off contact with the world; however, what I realized is that there was nothing I read, texted or posted that was necessary, urgent, or changed anything in anyone’s life, including my own.  And yet, still, I connected and was sucked in.

So what did I learn?  First, those are 72 hours I will never get back.  Second, I made a conscious choice (although it is becoming an unconscious choice in many ways) to connect or respond.  Third, I could have been communicating with God during those internet interludes rather than folks in cyberspace.  Fourth, I have to acknowledge that I missed out on some spiritual connection for temporal connections.

Again, to cut myself some slack (I like to do that, don’t you?) there were significant God moments over those 72 hours – ones that surprised me; however, when I could have been more intentional about a Sabbath prayer connection, I wasn’t.

How about you?  Are you, like me, hooked in and connected on the internet when you could be unhooked from the world and connected to God when you have the chance to be?  As you enter into Sabbath Moments this week, leave the electronic devices behind and just be open to the spiritual connection that travels on a band width bigger than anything ATT or Verizon can offer.Cell phone woman

“When he came back to his disciples, he found them sound asleep.  He said to Peter, “Can’t you stick it out with me a single hour?” Stay alert; be in prayer so you don’t wander into temptation without even knowing you’re in danger.”  Mt. 26.40-41 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy


Sabbath Moments and Sky Gazing

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I recently bought a card that says “Lying on your back watching the clouds is never a waste of time, especially when I am with you.”  It is a sweet sentiment between human beings.  And even without another person to watch the clouds with, it is soooo true.   cloudsA little cloud watching is never, ever a waste of time.

But what if that card came from God?  What if God sent you that card?   Better yet, let’s assume God did send you that card.  What would you do?  Would you run out and look at the clouds knowing that God was with you?  Would you spend some down time with God just absorbing the beauty of the skies? 

Or would you say, “Not now, God, I’ve got a ton of things to do and I’ll never be ready for Christmas if I stop and waste, oops I mean, and watch the clouds float by.”  Unfortunately, I can hear myself saying this. Down time is idle time in our frenetic lives, isn’t it?  

And yet, this card sums up Sabbath beautifully.  Stopping your normal routine to gaze upon the heavens with God is a weekly command no matter what the demands are upon your day. 

During this season of Advent and waiting for the light to break through the darkness maybe we should take this sky gazing one step further.   Why not gaze at the stars, too?  Just as the Magi did so many centuries ago, we could watch the stars, look at the vastness of the heavens and marvel that in this whole universe we mattered enough to God to give us Emmanuel…God with us.

So stop.  Look up at the heavens day or night and be knocked off your feet by the power, beauty of magnitude of God’s love for us. 

“Moon and stars mounted in their settings.  Then I look at my micro-self and wonder, ‘Why do you bother with us?  Why take a second look anyway?'”

                                                                                             Psalm 8.3-4 The Message

Happy Sabbath gazing,

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Renewal

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Ok, life is busy.  Statement of the obvious right?  And the last few weeks have been busier than usual for me with the move, my husband’s surgery, running a business and just the day-to-day routine of living.

wind up down

My schedule is really overloaded the next few days (big mistake on my part but it is what it is).  So in the midst of feeling like I wouldn’t make any of my deadlines what did I do?

I stopped.  I took a mental health day and pampered myself.  No work, no unpacking, no chores.  There were several moments when my stomach clenched and my mind asked me “what are you thinking?”  In response, I said, “I know what I’m doing.”

And you know what?  I did!  At the end of the day I felt relaxed, refreshed and renewed.  Today I am ready to hit the ground running and will get more done than I would have had I pushed through my weariness.

Isn’t that what God had in mind when he commanded us to take a 24 hour break from our normal routine?  And I continue to wonder why I/we think I/we know better than God when it comes to using our time.

Take a Sabbath this week.  A full one.  Or at least a half a day.  See what difference it makes in your overall productivity, your attitude toward others and your gratitude to God.

Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-4 
Be blessed in your Sabbath time,
Nancy

Sabbath Moments and a Time Between

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

For those of you who have been following our moving saga we have completed the physical move.  At least we are out of the old house and our stuff is in the new one.  However, because it needed a bit of painting we have not been able to live there yet.  In the week between we have been living with my dear brother who was gracious enough to open his house up to us.

Each day we are spending part of the day there and then off to the new condo to see the progress.  It is likely we will be living out of boxes and suitcases for at least another week or so until we get settled. 

I don’t know about you, but when I am ‘unsettled’ I feel a little bit like I am wandering in a strange land.  Nothing is familiar, my stuff is not where I think it should be, and my rhythm of living is out of synch.  I am longing for the routine and flow of my usual way of life. 

I imagine the Hebrews felt much the same way when they were wandering in the wilderness or sent into exile.  In fact, I can really understand why the Pharisees grew to such a powerful group  as they tried to keep worship as normalized as possible  by starting synagogues in the exile.  They needed an anchor in their strange surroundings.

When I am in the ‘wilderness’ or a ‘strange land’ once the novelty has worn off, I find I crave normal.  Many times I have been on a great vacation but after a few days I begin to long for my own bed.  How about you? 

So this past week I have found a normal in my Sabbath moments.  Spending time with God reminds me that there is a normal that is always available to me.   Taking a moment or two to pray, talk or just be with God restores my rhythms and brings me peace. 

And for  me that is the beauty of Sabbath moments.  They can be taken anywhere at any time and the time in between becomes a time of Sabbath rest, renewal and refreshment. 

“Then he turned the wilderness into fresh pools of water, arid earth into springs of water, brought in the hungry and settled them there; they moved in – what a great place to live!”  Psalm 107:35-36 The Message

Blessings,
Nancy

 

 

Sabbath Moments in the Neighborhood

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Well, I’m back in Western New York to pack up our house and get ready to move.  We still have no idea where we are going but our house is sold so we have to be out – soon!  My Atlanta granddaughter, for whom I have been providing care and transportation for the last year, is not happy that I have come North.   Her tears just about ripped my heart out the other day as I pulled out of her driveway to head back.

Today, we were Skyping and she asked me what I was doing?  I told her that I was packing.  She looked at me and said, “Nana, if you find a house, even if it is pretty, you cannot buy it if it is far away from me.”   I replied by asking, “Where do you want me to live?”  “Next door to me”, she said matter of factly. 

Her response made me wonder how God feels when we begin to move away from him.  When we begin to be attracted and enticed by things that turn our heads and hearts  from God, does God want to say to us…”Nancy, I don’t care how pretty or intriguing or wonderful that new ‘god’ is, you cannot buy into it.  I want you next door to me.” 

Once again Arianna brings me back to the importance of staying close to God and to the ones that God puts in our lives. 

How about you?  Where are you located in relation to your God?  Do you live close by God at all times or do you only visit every once in a while?   Have you moved away lately?  Are you thinking of relocating?  Where is your heart? 

Sabbath Moments are meant to move us closer to God and keep God in our neighborhood at all times.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6.20-22

Blessings,

Nancy

 

 

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