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

Posts tagged ‘time with God’

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

 

 

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

 

 

Sabbath Moment Bright Spot

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

The other day I was in a less than perky mood.  You know what I mean?  It was just one of those days when I felt a bit off my game. If I were to pick a color to describe how I felt, it would be blah beige with an emphasis on blah.  Maybe it was because I had to go to physical therapy and I knew I would come out feeling worse than when I went in.  Or, maybe there was no reason and I just felt low.

As I was doing my exercises flat on my back stretching my quads or ham strings or some muscle that didn’t like it very much, I heard a voice calling out, “Hi Princess, how ya doin’ today, Beautiful?”  I turned to see a short, stout woman hugging my physical therapist.  She saw me look and said, “She’s my princess.  Isn’t she beautiful?”  Before I could answer her she was off to another office spreading her own type of healing as she mewed over an outfit or a hairdo or a smile.  She made the rounds greeting every one with a squeal of delight.

In spite of my foul mood, I found myself smiling as I felt the energy in the room increase.  Laughter escaped from my pursed lips as I listened to her chat with everyone.   Now, that would have been enough to lift my spirits at that moment, but as I stood up to finish my routine she said to my therapist “Isn’t she a pretty one? I couldn’t see her face before but now I think I’m looking at, oh what’s her name…that movie star who is blonde  now and looks so much better as a blonde.  You know who I mean?”

Ok, so now I am smiling wide and laughing.  (For all I know she could have meant Phyllis Diller but I chose not to go there). Turns out she meant Meryl Streep…what a hoot!  Who cares about her looks I just wish I had her talent.

At just the right time she came into my life and made me forget my ornery-ness. I breathed a silent prayer of thanksgiving for this angel in her Notre Dame baseball cap and sneakers stiff and limping through her exercises and exercising the joy of her heart which obviously was in great shape.   It was in a strange sort of way a Sabbath Moment moment.

Just like this woman with her perky perspective, Sabbath Moments also can lift me out of a foul mood and make me see what is around me in new ways.  Sabbath moments can leave me breathing a prayer of thanksgiving and send me on my way with a smile on my face and a new perspective to guide my thoughts.

How about you?  Does spending time with God improve your outlook on life?  Take time this week to find the joy in the moments as God comes to you in unexpected ways.  And, maybe, even spread a little joy yourself to the next person you meet along the way.

“Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”  Hebrews 12.14-15

Blessings,

Nancy

 

Sabbath Moment Peace

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

The violence continues in our world.  Whether it is Boston, Aurora, Tuscon, Newtown, Baghdad, New Delhi, New York City, or any small town or large country in the world, the violence continues.  Behind the violence is everything from anger to fear to mental illness to vengeance to religious beliefs, to economics, to the need for power…and probably many more human frailties we cannot quite understand or accept as reasons to kill innocent people.   If the violence comes because of a war, we label the innocents as collateral damage.  If the violence seems like a random act, we label the perpetrators and we put more and more restrictions in place.  Faced with such irrational behavior it is our attempt to control it and keep the general public safe.  And this is not a criticism of new safety procedures.  It is simply an observation.  We live in a violent world. 

Of course, it isn’t the world that is violent but the people who inhabit it.  I read once that in all of recorded history there has been only a total of 3 minutes when there wasn’t a war somewhere on earth.  We are a violent species.

So what does this have to do with Sabbath Moments, you ask?  It’s the individual aspect of violence and our response to it that draws me to Sabbath Moments.  For every act of violence and every horrible war ever fought there have been incredibly brave, compassionate people who have stepped in and stepped up to respond with love and kindness.  Somewhere inside these people is a sense of peace that moves them forward.

Where does this inner peace come from?  It comes from a sense of connection to something or someone bigger than themselves and bigger than any act of violence. 

I read angry Facebook posts every day.  I listen to angry on air personalities or politicians broadcast fear and lies to an already scared population and I wonder where is their peace?  Do they have any inner peace?  What is it that keeps them from offering love rather than hate? 

Spending daily time with God and letting God’s peace infuse our minds and hearts certainly is an antidote to all the anti-peace surrounding us.  It is our inner peace that will flow outward even in the midst of violence.  Jesus was clear that those who live by the sword will die by the sword, that we will reap what we sow, and that the peace the world offers is no match for the peace that he offers. 

It has been hard this week but I have stepped up my reading of those verses that talk about God’s love for all the world, that remind me that vengeance is God’s, and that if I want the peace that passes all understanding I have to keep my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  Spending time with the God of love in Sabbath Moments is a way to inner peace.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” 

                                                                                                                                                                         Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Jesus said, “For a brief time still, the light is among you.  Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going.  As you have the light, believe in the light.  Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives.  You’ll be children of light.”  John 12.35-36 The Message

May you have peace this week, my friends, may you find peace.

Nancy

Sabbath Moments and Anger

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I have been noticing lately the increase of angry posts on Facebook.  It seems that this venue gives people permission to say whatever they want about whatever they want often without a great deal of personal knowledge or research into certain topics.  And their anger triggers an anger response from others.  I’m as guilty as the next person on this.

Now, I know there is a great deal to be angry about in this day age regardless of which side of almost any issue you are on from gun control to budget deficits to health care to religious beliefs to relationship advice.

One of the things that I am working on this year is my response to things that cause me to become angry.  I want very much to stop being and feeling so angry so much of the time.  In doing this I am learning to pay attention to my thinking, my reading material, and my relationships.  And this is where Sabbath Moments have been very helpful.

Regular time with God, prayer, scripture and literature that uplifts and gives me positive ways of framing responses has been a tremendous help in keeping me focused and peaceful inside.  There is a direct relationship between my inner calm and my time spent in Sabbath Moments.  And the more time I focus on the power, peace, and purpose of God, the less time I have to be angry.

Everyone is on their own spiritual journey.  Some of those journeys include anger.  I’ve learned some hard and unpleasant lessons from my anger and since learning is optional, I am grateful.  However, a steady diet of anger only keeps me from experiencing the great banquet of joy and peace that God has set before me.

Have you done an anger inventory lately?  On a scale of one to 10 what is the level of your anger at this moment?  With someone who disagrees with you?  Watching the news?  Reading the paper?    How does your anger manifest itself?  Does it set boundaries (righteous indignation) and move relationships forward or does it attack with intent to take down your opponent?

Take your anger inventory to God this week and let your Sabbath Moments soothe and calm and move you toward inner peace in God’s healing presence.

“Do not the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”  Ephesians 4.26-27

Blessings,

Nancy

Sabbath Moment Words

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Currently, I am playing 7 games of Words with Friends on my i phone.   I am no whiz at it but I do enjoy coming up with words from the letters I have ‘drawn’.   None of my opponents play for big points either so the back and forth construction of words is almost like a conversation and when a big score pops up we cheer each other on. 

I love the name of this game ‘Words with Friends’ probably because I love to have conversations with friends – and even strangers who are not yet friends.  Sabbath Moments can be like this game.  In the time I spend with God I am sharing Words with Friends, the most trusted Friend I will ever have in my life.  God gives me the letters to turn into the words of my life. 

The letters and words of my life come together to form thoughts, relationships and circumstances. My Sabbath Moments are filled with such as these.   Sometimes the words are full of joy, grace and peace and sometimes they are filled with anguish, despair and pain.  And God receives them all never looking to use them against me, to make me feel like these words in that moment will define me in the next or to trounce me with a triple word comeback.  God’s words come back filled with grace, love and mercy.   And, yes, sometimes those words of God’s challenge me to choose very carefully which words I will use next.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my Sabbath Moments Words with God.  If I don’t use the words that are in front of me at the moment, then I am not able to receive the words that God has for me in return.  And sometimes those words can give me a triple letter, triple word score that lifts me out of the doldrums and into lofty living only possible when sharing Sabbath Moments with God. 

How about you?  What have you learned in your Sabbath Moments with God? 

As you enter into your Sabbath Moments with God this week pay attention to the words that come to you to share with God and that God shares back with you. 

And enjoy your time playing your own Words with God throughout the week. 

“men and women do not live by bread only; we live by every word that comes from God’s mouth.”  Dt. 8.3 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

 

 

Sabbath Moments vs Social Media

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

This may not apply to all of you but to many of you it will strike a chord.  The University of Chicago just came out with a study that says the urge to check tweets, your facebook page or log in is stronger than the urge for sex or nicotine.  Like I said this may or may not apply to you!  However,  what may apply to you is that you are a work-a-holic and you never take a moment off.  

My Sabbath Moment challenge this week is to unplug, unhook, or just STOP the time wasters or overworking and use that time for your Sabbath Moments this week.    Plug God into your social media time slot and think about what you would write to God on your page or in a tweet.  Concentrate on God as your friend, your best friend.  

For those of you who do not do social media or overwork relax into your time with God this week.  There may be a discussion you need to be having.  There may be a dilemma you need help with.  There may be a week worth of gratitude you need to express.  Or, use this passage from The Message and reflect on it, how it applies to your life, and where your prayer takes you….

                         ” Silence is praise to you, Zion dwelling God, and also obedience.  You hear the prayer in it all.”  Psalm 65.1-2

Have a great week of being unplugged from the world-wide web and plugged into the web-master of the world.

“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”  Jeremiah 6.15

Be blessed,

Nancy

The Urgency of Sabbath Moments

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

I had the distinct privilege of experiencing my first tornado watch this week.  Fortunately, no tornado materialized here but those in Adairsville, Ga were not as fortunate.  My prayers are with those people who lost so much on Wednesday morning. 

As I sat watching the TV, which by the way had non stop weather coverage from 10 am until 7 pm Wednesday, the radar gave a detailed picture of how the storms were moving.  Whenever they detected a wind rotation an immediate tornado watch was issued.  And I must admit it lulled me into a false sense of control.  I didn’t realize how fast those rotations can develop…as you will see.

I was pretty fixated on the TV because they had been forecasting severe weather in our area between 12 and 2.  At 12:30 I was getting ready to go pick Arianna up from Pre-K and there was nothing going on in our area so I felt confident that I was clear to go pick her up.  About one mile from my apartment and still about 8 miles from her, the tornado sirens went off.  I froze for an instant…what should I do?  All morning the weather folks have been saying don’t go out and if you are in your car seek shelter immediately.  Did that apply to me?  (Honest that was exactly my thought at the time). 

So what did I do?  Kept driving.  I called my daughter to get her advice and she was on the road too.  We decided that it was best to get to our destinations if possible and I could always stop at her house on my way to school if it got bad.  She has lived through a few of these and said most of the time no tornado forms and this is just a precaution.  However, she added, you will know if it gets real black and the air feels eerie.  Yeah, right!  But again I was confident and all I wanted to do was be with Arianna. 

As I made the turn to within 1 mile of her the sky turned black, the rain was coming in sheets, the lightening was hitting fast and I imagined my car flying through the air and landing on top of a witch on a bike.   And the other part of my brain was saying loud and clear “If this is a tornado, I have to be with Ari.  I need to be with Ari.” 

Well, I made it and went into the school where the kids had been put into an inside room awaiting what we had been predicted as a 1:16 arrival.  It was 1:10.   I sat on the floor next to Ari, who acted nervous but I wasn’t sure if it was because of the unusual routine or the fact that Bobby, her ‘boy’ friend, was sitting next to her. I began to pray silently that God would protect this group of little children and spare the community while simultaneously praying that all tornadoes would dissipate and no more loss would be incurred that day. 

Suddenly, the lights went out and someone said “it’s here.”  Before I could even react the lights went back on – not because the power had been miraculously restored but because someone had leaned on the light switch!  But it was here and as we waited nothing happened.  Thank you, Jesus.  

A tremendously heavy rainstorm hit but no tornado.  After about another 10 minutes parents began taking their kids home.  Before we left, Ari and I went to the bathroom. 🙂  

All of this is to say that those thoughts of having to be with Ari reminded me of how important she is to me and how powerful the pull was to be in her presence.  It also is a great description of how we can approach our Sabbath Moments. 

Is there a powerful pull to be in God’s presence?  How often do you feel that compulsion to be with God?  Sabbath is a time for us to experience that desire to be with God and only God and to be as close as we possibly can be. 

May that force be with you everyday

Blessings,

Nancy

3 Steps to Daily Sabbath Moments

Dear Sabbath Seekers,

Because we are busy people it is easy to let our Sabbath moments slip by in the course of the day and before we know it a whole week has gone by with no intentional time alone with God.  Of course, if you take a 24 hour Sabbath at the end or beginning of each week, then this is not a problem.  However, if you don’t, then not taking time for any Sabbath moments does become a problem for our spirits, our minds and our bodies. 

So here are three steps you can plug into your daily routine to ensure that Sabbath Moments become part of your daily routine.

1.  Set the intention:  Put it on your calendar.  With all the date reminders we have on our phones and computers today, it is very hard to miss an appointment unless we choose to.  If you know you can’t do it at work, then set it for a time before or after.  Get up an hour earlier or make time with God your goodnight ritual.  Whatever it takes, be intentional with a daily reminder. 

2.  Pick a weekly theme.  For example, let’s say that you really enjoy walking and talking to God.  Set aside all your time with God (see above) for a walk for one week.  You may like to listen to music and journal.  Then make that what you do each day for a week.  Do you enjoy coffee and conversation with God?  Then, take your coffee breaks with God for a week.  Perhaps you are an artist and drawing brings you into God’s presence.  Get out the paints, charcoals, pencils, inks, etc and have an art class with God each day for a week.  You get the picture?  Choose a weekly theme that brings you pleasure and closer to God.

3.  Record your response.  By this I mean make note of how you feel after each Sabbath Moment period.  You can do this with a one word notation on your calendar or in your journal…peaceful, rested, refreshed, renewed.  You could even use one of those emoticons on your computer and simply click on an expression.  At the end of the week look back and see how your time alone with God was made alive in your day.   Now, I am also aware that some time alone will raise questions, bring about some restlessness or create some tension.  Record that too.  Pay attention to that because it could very well be the Spirit trying to get your attention.

Try this for a few weeks and see how it works for you.  After a month you may just find that Sabbath Moments are an indispensable part of your day and week.

“A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek; I want to drink God, deep draughts of God.  I’m thirsty for God-alive” 

Psalm 42.1-2 The Message

Blessings,

Nancy

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