The week between Christmas & New Year’s feels like a “not ready” week, maybe because of all the festivities, bustle & frenzy leading up to Christmas, . . . . . And then we pause 🙂
And for such a pause, I’m abundantly grateful. I don’t have to get ready for anything – no dinner guests, no events, no sermons, no parties, no gift wrapping or last minute presents to buy. In this week, it’s ok to be “not ready.” So I appreciate the opportunity to lounge in pjs, take time for reflection, watch birds and squirrels eat berries off the tree outside my window, get my vacuum into the shop for a much needed tune-up, sleep in a little bit and be entirely comfortable with being “not ready.”
Maybe this idea goes back to the concept of Sabbath, when we pause from our work and take a day of rest. I sincerely believe that such a pause is an essential ingredient for growing in our intimacy with God 🙂
I like to go fast. In our family, I’m the one who gets speeding tickets, I’m the one who snowboards fast & I tend to make going fast a high priority. While it’s fun to go fast, it also causes problems. For example, there are times when I try to speed through writing a blog & then make grammar & content mistakes :/
There are times when I find myself making speed a higher priority than quality or being present & engaging. That’s a recipe for train wrecks & dysfunctions.
There are times when slowing down & being present have better benefits than going fast or accomplishing stuff. Like with Mary & Martha in Luke 10, Jesus let Martha know that it was better to listen & be still with Him rather than be busy around Him.
So today, I’m telling myself to slow down & be still with Jesus 🙂
Three members of my family lean toward the loud side of volume & two of us not as much. Of course when I was a teenager, there were the normal moments of loud & intense but as I age, I find that often what I most relish is found not in noisy & frenzied. Instead, it’s entirely astounding what a person can experience walking alone at night in some rain or gentle snowfall. I also find that the moments of quiet that I give to God during any given day have great volume & application in my day to day living.
In a season that has the potential to be full of high octane demands, full on loud & overflowing with busy, let’s pay attention to keeping some quiet & still in our daily living. Doing this can help us to hear the gentle, affirming & inviting words of Jesus, whispering into our hearts & throughout each day. Let’s turn up the volume on Jesus’ voice by turning down the volume on the demands of a potentially frenzied holiday season 🙂
Christmas is a wonderful time of the year when we celebrate lots of things & in lots of ways. We lavishly spend time, money, people interactions, parties, etc and revel in the celebrations of the season, opulence and abundance. Then there’s the day after, today, when we might be groggy, overstuffed and possibly fatigued. On this day, I find my heart longing to recover a sense of balance, desiring some still and quiet, centering into what’s really important, the One Thing that Jesus spoke about with Martha at her dinner party in Luke 10:42. Sometimes it helps us regain our core when we sit at Jesus’ feet like Mary, waiting, listening, watching and paying attention to Who is the most Essential in our lives, Jesus 🙂
We had a very beautiful snow storm yesterday, even though it was treacherous with driving. Instead of going to the gym & working out, I decided to take a walk in the snow through some woods. It was a very soothing walk. In the woods, it was quiet & very still, but along the shoveled path, it was windy, icy & not as enjoyable. I was thinking about the trees and how they spend half of their time getting dressed, putting on leaves & half of their time getting undressed, shedding their leaves.
Sometimes I think we chose paths that seem smooth based on what we can see & feel but sometimes this choice prevents us from experiences with God that can be really rich for our hearts. These are just a few thoughts from my snowy walk in the woods 🙂
It seems to me that in almost every Christmas season, there comes a time when all of the pressures, activities, demands and general busy-ness shifts into the frenzied and frantic zone and the chaos threatens to swallow me into a abyss of cluttered insanity (sorry for all of the adjectives). In the midst of all of this, I find my heart getting really still and quiet, seeking to create some serenity, calm and peace. Even now, I have a few unexpected moments of quiet and while I’m writing this, I find myself letting go of some of the season’s stress and receiving some much needed divine peace.
So my friend, please be sure that with all of this season’s demands and expectations, don’t neglect to take those essential moments to be still and celebrate our Prince of Peace 🙂
I was in a security line at the airport early this morning & it was moving rather slowly. Thankfully, most of us in the line were still pretty groggy so there wasn’t much complaining, except for the guy right behind me. He was really gripey & for me, gripey & groggy aren’t a good combination. Thankfully, God helped me to keep my mouth shut because when it was all said & done, we weren’t waiting for more than 10minutes – which points out a bit of a challenge for our modern living.
I think that if we aren’t careful, we can easily fall into the impatience trap & neglect to learn & practice waiting on God. There are LOADS of verses that speak to the importance of waiting on God & I would encourage you to explore what God says about waiting. But from my personal experience, waiting on God is a great way to be in God’s presence & God’s presence is my priority 🙂
So wait a second & grab some God time ,)
I find that my world has lots of noise and not just from the radio, TV or my kids having fun. There just seems to be lots of noise, even in my thinking. The noise in my brain might be similar to yours: tasks I haven’t finished, people that I’m concerned about, issues I need to discuss with my husband, work things to get through, planning my dinners for the next week, topics I need to talk about with each of my kids, the brake light & head light on my car that need to be replaced, . . . . . Just lots of things flying around in my brain, probably just like yours. But these things can become annoying if I don’t take some time to get quiet and be still. Initially, when I try to settle down my thoughts, they only seem to get louder & demand more attention. But if I stay with it, pressing in to being still and quiet, I can often find some quietness and I love these moments because it seems like these are the times when my fellowship with Jesus is very rich. So, maybe we could agree to take some time this weekend to get quiet and be still – listening to Jesus and giving Him our presence and attention. The effort can pay indescribable dividends! 🙂
Today is my kids’ 1st day back to school so we all have those 1st school day jitters – nervous about new teachers, classmates, new subjects, what’s the school year going to be like, being accepted, friends etc. As their mom, I find myself also a bit nervous & jittery. So we all get to explore what it means to trust God with our unique jitters with their stuff as well as mine – decisions, future direction, www.savingmoses.org . For myself, I find that receiving Jesus’ peace is wrapped in the same decision as rejecting anxiety. When I try to fight anxiety, for me it only seems to get bigger when I don’t simultaneously receive Jesus’ peace to guard my heart & mind. So I’m accepting Jesus’ peace & keeping the anxious thoughts outside to wither in the glorious light & truth of the Holy Spirit 🙂
This morning, I read Psalms 23 and it was super encouraging to my heart! What really stood out to me was the very beginning part when David says that God causes him to lie down in green pastures. This was really soothing because when you look at the verb in the Hebrew, the idea is that God is very much making David to lay down – almost like an enforced pause.
Here’s my thinking on this idea of a pause – I think that many of us run a pretty fast-paced & high-demanding life for lots of different reasons (some good & some lame). Nevertheless, we all need rest, a break, on a consistent basis (more than just the idea of our daily sleep requirement). If we do not integrate a break or rest into our routines (i.e. a weekly Sabbath), then we will find ourselves in a place of “forced rest,” where God causes us to take a pause.
It is super important to have consistent breaks & pauses in our lives for many different reasons:
*a pause helps to clarify our thinking & emotional inputs
*a pause allows us to re-focus our priorities
*a pause provides the space & context for our relationship with God to deepen & grow
*a pause lets us have an opportunity to slow down & listen to God
Three cheers to a busy life with integrated & intentional rest 🙂
I just had the honor of attending a Veterans Day Ceremony at my kid’s school & it was really good. While I was there & on several other occasions, I noticed that people get really squirmy with “silence”. Sometimes when I’m giving a lecture or sermon, I do the silent thing for a few moments to make everyone just slightly jittery – its a little bit of twisted humor on my part. Nevertheless, the point remains that for many of us, we feel very uncomfortable with silence. In order to mitigate this discomfort we play music, talk on the phone, text our friends, hum or talk to ourselves, turn on the tv for background noise, . . . . just about anything to fill in the awkwardness we feel in silence. But there is massive solace, joy & even safety in silence. Mother Teresa said, “God is the friend of silence .”
So here are some thoughts that might help you to feel more comfortable with silence & feel free to add your own ideas as well:
quiet can be more soothing than filler noise
quiet can allow you to work through your thoughts to understand some deeper issues
try getting in 3-5min of quiet in each day (turning off everything & putting your phone on silent)
recognize that silence is an essential ingredient for listening
I made a comment this morning on my fb page about how it helps to hear God when we are still & quiet. I wanted to follow up on this comment because I think that for many of us, it’s difficult to be still & quiet. We live in a really busy, loud, active & demanding world. Between our smart phones, the internet, twitter, conventional media, family schedules & demands, etc, it can be seemingly impossible to find quiet & still. Furthermore, when we do get a moment to catch our breath, our mind is usually racing trying to organize schedules, figure out what we need to do next, hum a favorite tune, etc. Still & quiet seem like elusive & ethereal ideals for people that have lived in a different era or even a different planet.
But for me, still & quiet is essential and it takes some intentionality. For me, I’ve found it super helpful to get up early before everyone else to acquire some stillness before the demands of the day hit the fan. Furthermore, I am also intentional about when & how much music & external stuff I listen to, focus being the operative word.
When I’m still & quiet, with God’s help, I focus my attention toward God with the intent of giving the Trinity my undivided attention (without distraction, interruption or competition). I need to wholly be with my Creator & yes, this requires discipline, some failures & some successes. But the rewards of greater intimacy & fellowship with God are indescribably worth the efforts & discipline – indeed, living water, breath of life & more.
The last few days have been kind of a whirlwind – traveling to a few cities, lots of driving for end of the season swim parties, ministry opportunities, car challenges, etc. Sometimes when we are in those super busy seasons, it can feel like we’re running on fumes. If we’re not careful, we can get impatient, sharp & dismissive.
It is particularly helpful in these seasons to do our best to keep our eyes on God and we can do this in many different ways:
good worship tunes
reviewing Bible verses that have been helpful
talking with a friend about God
endeavor to find some quiet from time to time
Job 20:20 says, “Because he knew no quiet within him, he does not retain anything he desires”
I feel like I’m the pot calling the kettle black with this blog – guilty as charged & a walking contradiction, maybe even borderline hypocrite. Here’s why: the last 2 weeks have been busy beyond any degree of rational acceptance and now I’m writing a blog about keeping margins in our lives. A margin is the empty space on a page around the written area. There are margins in this blog, in newspapers, books, etc & margins are necessary in our lives.
empty space, pause, still
Sometimes life feels like a treadmill on which the pace continues to increase & the incline just keeps going up – so many demands, expectations, deadlines, responsibilities, requirements, . . . . . Sometimes if we’re not careful, we fill up all of the margins in our lives & then continue to keep the margins full.
However, when I look at Jesus’ life, He was very intentional about keeping margins in His life. Of course He had MASSIVE demands on His time & person – people squashing Him wherever He went trying to get some of His attention, time, power, healing, love, . . . . . and His life only became increasingly popular each day of His ministry. Nevertheless, He carved margins into his lifestyle. He dismissed the crowed after feeding the 5,000. He went off by Himself to pray ALOT. He withdrew with His disciples from time to time to give them some intensive teaching & attention. When He rode in boats, He slept. Jesus modeled margins for us with perfect agility & balance.
Here are some things that help me to keep some margins in my life:
quiet in the car – it helps me to turn off things that beckon for my attention; furthermore, when I’m riding with my kids, I want to be fully present with & to them
keep some rhythms & routines: sleep when its time to sleep, wake up early to have some solitude (or stay up late if you’re a night person), grab the spare minutes in a day to look to God & still your heart
drink water as opposed to soda & coffee – my body already has enough stress on it with out adding caffeine, etc
sitting with my husband or a friend – I don’t need to have a conversation but just some togetherness
I also want to add some Bible memorizing to my margin maintenance so I can give my mind some food on which to nibble when it wants to digest various “worries”
Keep some still in your life if you want to remain effective over the long run 🙂