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

Posts tagged ‘spirituality’

Happy New Year Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Happy-new-year-2015-whatsapp-status

Are you making resolutions?  Or, have you given up? 

I find that I make resolutions on an ongoing basis and still fail to achieve them most of the time.  However, if you are thinking of upping your spiritual game this year, let me give you one of my resolutions.  Don’t force it. 

Too many people set themselves up to fail because they create a resolution that they really don’t want to do, but feel they should.  For example, “in 2016, I will spend 30 minutes a day in prayer and Bible reading” prayingis a great resolution if you like to sit quietly and contemplate.  If you don’t, then, oh boy, it isn’t going to be fun or successful. 

Instead, you may enjoy walking for 30 minutes each day so why not incorporate prayer and contemplation on the walk.  A peripatetic spiritual practice so to speak.  Or, maybe you enjoy the new adult coloring book phenomenon.  Why not incorporate your time with God with the coloring?  1155

The point is our spiritual lives, our time with God, should not be a drudgery to be endured but a festival to be enjoyed. (Someone said that once and I forgot who it was but know it isn’t original to me).  Be creative in finding ways to do your Sabbath moments, times with God or 24 hour Sabbath periods.  Make it something that you draws you in and nearer to God not something that puts distance between you and God. 

Now, that is a resolution that I can and plan to keep!

“As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.”  Psalm 42.1IMG_1878

Blessings,

Nancy

An Anagram Sabbath

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Do you like anagrams?  What is an anagram for silent?  It’s listen. In the book of James we read that we are to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  It is hard to listen without being silent.  Steps to the sun

I must say that in today’s world listen and its anagram silent get lost in the noise out there whether it be on the 24 hour news cycle, Facebook, blogs, or talk radio.  It seems these days we only listen in order to react and quickly get angry.cat th

And as with other biblical passages that we conveniently want to ignore in order to do things our way either by satisfying our ego’s need to be right or our first amendment need to be free to say what we want, this passage from James is counterculture.

Sabbath, too, is counterculture.  Who has time these days to take a 24 hour rest?  We are too busy with all our speaking, doing and trying to get ahead.  And yet, let’s be clear that Sabbath was a way for God to break through our egocentric existence and command us, yes, command, to be quiet and let silence do the heavy lifting for 24 hours.  (BTW I continue to be amazed at the number of Christians who state publicly that don’t like God telling them what to do! ??????????????????????????????They are pretty clear that they know what is better for them than God does…but I digress).

Without Sabbath not only do we never stop but the noise never stops either.  We stay continually off-balance listening for the next news break, comment on Facebook or ad hominem attack on the radio.  There is no time to listen to God, to our souls, to our inner wisdom.  If the world is any indication of what happens when we don’t take Sabbath time, then I say we should start obeying that fourth commandment ASAP!

Why not take James to heart this week – be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger?  Make it a Sabbath commitment to honor God and yourself. balance stones

              “Be still and know that I am God”  Psalm 46.10

Nancy

Mini-Sabbaths

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Life has been uber busy these last two weeks.  We have transitioned from our winter stay in Georgia back to our home in Western New York.  ?????Packing up, driving two days in caravan mode, unpacking two cars, settling in, recovering from the stomach bug not to mention all the things on my calendar that had to be done as soon as I got back including a wedding and preaching the same weekend.  All of which I consciously accepted and for which I was excited.  Nonetheless, I found myself petering out long before any of my tasks were completed.

And I did something totally novel for me.  I stopped and rested!!!exhaustedwoman on bed

I listened to my body, which was pretty adamant, and took a breather.  When I first sat or laid down, I wasn’t sure my back would stop aching or my tiredness would disappear without days of rest.  However, within 20 minutes the spasms were gone and I felt like myself again. 

Time business concept.Twenty minutes!  Then, I was up and about my tasks again until the tiredness tapped me on the shoulder and said “excuse me…time for a break”.  I became obedient to that message.  And guess what?  Everything got done. 

Imagine how much better we would all feel if we took the 24 hour Sabbath rest that God commands us to take? 

Over and over I need to relearn this lesson that rest makes me more productive.  It does not make me lazy.  It also makes me a happier, more creative person who enjoys life so much more.spiritual energy 

How are you doing on listening to God, your body, mind and spirit?  Is resting a part of your routine?  God knew it would bless our lives and when I listen I know it too. 

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1.20b

Find those mini Sabbaths and work up to the wisdom of a 24 hour Sabbath.

Blessings,

Nancy

Spiritual Renewal and Sabbath Keeping

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

In working with a local church on renewal issues, I came across an article written by Lawrence Wilson entitled “7 Ways to Renew Yourself Spiritually.”  In it he lists seven basic spiritual disciplines that Christians have been practicing for centuries.  

They are:  Silence, Solitude, Secrecy, Simplicity, Submission, Service and Sacrifice.  His premise is that modern Christians seek lively worship, great activities and pronounce strong opinions on public morals; yet, we do not act as if we know Jesus very well when it comes to our behavior and attitudes.  

I’ve heard this said often and it usually comes in the form of “church goers are hypocrites.  They profess one thing and do another.” 

According to Wilson, we can move beyond the trap of disconnecting our life from our faith by delving more into these disciplines.  These disciplines help us to stay connected to God throughout the week and allow us the grace and time to reflect on how we can be more like Jesus in our actions.

Keeping Sabbath is a spiritual discipline within submission and simplicity.  In order to keep Sabbath or even to take Sabbath moments we need to submit Ten Commandmentsto the command of God that this is what is required and to simplify enough to have the time and room to enter fully into the presence of God within a Sabbath experience. 

We all know this…in our heads.  The interesting thing is that even though we know it, we don’t do it.  One person from the church I am working with was honest enough to say, “if everyone did this (practice the seven disciplines), we wouldn’t need a renewal process.  We would be acting and not trying to figure this out.  However, I am not very optimistic.  It is difficult not to focus on our own needs and wants.”

Funny thing is what God has created for us in Sabbath keeping meets those very needs and wants – we just are not disciplined enough to realize it.  IMG_1261

“I am the vine and you are the branches.  When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant.  Separated, you can’t produce a thing.”    John 15.5 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

 

 

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

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

 

SURPRISED

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Yesterday afternoon I looked like thisBeautiful positive and casual woman expressing surprise.!  I was totally and completely surprised out of my skin and jumped high enough to prove it. 

Why?

Because as I was walking along a street in downtown Roswell, GA and approaching an art gallery that was having an exhibit of Dr. Seuss paintings,  one of  – what I thought were life-size stuffed props of  – The Sneetches handed me a flyer.  It scared the beejeebies out of me and everyone, including me, broke into uproarious laughter.   I did NOT see that coming!

It put me in a playful and silly mood and I was much better able to enjoy the exhibit knowing that Dr. Seuss  had once again brought out the child in me and made me laugh out loud. 

I sometimes wonder if that is how God meant for Sabbath to be…We go through our week, walking down the sidewalks of life, watching where we are going, all business, agendas and to do lists in hand, moving with intention and skill like all good adults do when all of a sudden after six days or six blocks of this journey, God hands us a flyer in a total unexpected way and we jump.  We are stopped in our tracks because we did not see it coming.  The flyer says “Come on in from your busy life and sit a while enjoying the beauty and fun of life”.

Suddenly, we are released from our concentration and tasks and laugh.  We are allowed to be playful and experience the joy and beauty around us from a new perspective. 

Now that is the kind of Sabbath that I could really enjoy.

BTW As we were leaving the gallery and walking down the street to our car, a gentleman came around the corner  and as he saw me, with a twinkle in his eye that looked oh so familiar, greeted me with a hearty laugh and asked “Having a great day?”  How did he know?

Let God surprise you this week with something out of the ordinary that makes you stop and smile or laugh and changes you from a human doing to a human being totally enjoying the God-given moment.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17.22

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Intentions

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Happy New Year.  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that you are greeting each new day with joy and peace.  That is my intention for the year. I want to be as precise as I can be in setting my intentions for each day.   Setting intentions also means that I do everything in my power to be what I want in my life.  Jesus said “Do onto others as you would have them do unto you.” and Gandhi said it a little differently but with the same result… “Become the change you wish to see”. 

If I want peace and joy in my life, then I must offer peace and joy to others and choose to be filled with peace and joy in my day-to-day interactions.  And so I have my work cut out for me because far too often I worry and fret leaving me irritable and sad and anything but peace and joy filled. 

Many of us begin the New Year with resolutions or intentions and often see them disappear from our lives before the end of the month.  We fail to keep them alive because they take too much work or time and we aren’t willing to give up, let go of or rethink our choices and our way of doing things.  

A fairly common resolution for people of faith is to spend more time with God this year.  And by mid month we are back to busy schedules, skipping church, and forgetting about our resolution.

However, if we  truly want to deepen our spiritual life and become closer to God, then we must choose to do the things that will deepen our relationship with and bring us closer to God every day. 

My granddaughter became very excited a few nights before Christmas when she saw a star in the sky.  She asked her mother about the star that shone so brightly over the manger of the baby Jesus and then concluded that they had better abandon their plans to go to dance lessons that night and instead follow that star.  iStock_000027543299XSmall

Her 5-year-old choice made me think about what I need to let go of in my life if I truly want to follow God. How about you?

  • Where do you need to abandon a plan or course of action in order to be closer to God, to follow Jesus? 
  • What do you need to let go of in order to spend the time intentionally deepening your faith? 
  • What is the change you want to see? 
  • What actions need to be intentionally started in order to achieve that change? 

Here’s to an intentional New Year filled with peace, joy and a deepening sense of God’s love and grace.

“When they saw the star they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy; and going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.  Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.  And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.”  Matthew 2.10-12

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 Peace

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

It’s good to be back on-line with you.  My time in Puerto Rico performing the wedding of a darling couple was great despite my itchy legs.  BTW I have a solid diagnosis now, I hope.  My dermatologist says it was poison ivy on a steroid rebound.  It seems the Urgent Care Dr. missed the diagnosis and then ‘woefully’ under treated it.  As a result the lower dose of steroid caused it to get worse.  It seems to be on the mend now and I credit the salty water of the Atlantic Ocean for a lot of that healing…thank you all for your concerns, comments and prayers. 

This week I am back home in Western New York.  It has been a bittersweet time.  We have put our house on the market and hope to find a maintenance free condo in Rochester.  Moving out of a home after 20 years conjures up memories and begins the goodbye process to a home that has been good to us.  And the memories go with us. 

A far harder goodbye took place yesterday when I said goodbye and God speed to a dear friend who is dying of cancer.  She is at peace and looking forward to her new adventure as she transitions from this life to the next.  I, on the other hand, am selfishly sad to be losing a friend who has brought me joy, grace, love, laughter and a great deal of wisdom through her keen mind and deep faith.  The world needs more people like her not less. 

I share all these tidbits from my life this week because there is a Sabbath Moment thread that runs through all of it. 

Time, sharing, and relationships are the essence of Sabbath Moments.  The time we spend with God in sharing our lives, fears, joys, sorrows and confusion brings us into a closer relationship with God that in turn brings us a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of life’s ups and downs. 

My relationship to the bride in Puerto Rico began when she was a member of my church as a little girl.  Our journey together was one of discovering who God was in her life and that discovery forms who she is today.  Your prayers and concern for my strange outbreak is a result of our time together sharing these moments and a love of a God we know and trust.  Leaving our home to establish a new one reminds me that things are always changing but through it all God is with us.  And my dear friend’s last few days are filled with a sacredness and peace that comes only from spending intentional time with a God of love, mercy, compassion and justice.  (Her favorite words). 

Life can be a series of Sabbath Moments that bring us a deep and abiding peace so we can say “all is well with my soul.”

Treasure, guard, and be intentional with your time with God this week.  You never know when you will need to draw on that assurance of God’s presence, love and truth.

“When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”  Horatio Spafford

“And a storm and wind came down the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in danger.  And they went and woke him saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!”  And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; and they ceased, and there was a calm.  He said to them “Where is your faith?”  And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even wind and water and they obey him.”  Luke 8.23-25

Blessings and peace,

Nancy

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