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Archive for the ‘Sabbath Reflections’ Category

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I find myself a few days behind writing a New Year’s post, but to be honest, I am glad about it. My thoughts and dreams and aspirations for this year, my resolve concerning what I wish to accomplish…it’s all so very different from years past…as if my die-hard, list-making, controlling, OCD, check-off-all-the-boxes self has moved over and made room for agents of real change: grace, self-control, humility, service, love.

So my inaugural post of 2013 is a Sabbath Reflections post. It is Sunday morning. And though I give myself a hearty pat on the back for flossing my teeth and making my bed this morning (items straight off The List, don’t you know), on this first Sunday of a new year I seek something deeper. To worship intentionally…to love deeply…to serve sacrificially…to open my eyes to the beauty and wonder around me every day.

You see, I have worked hard to reach goals in the past (paying off debt, losing 40 pounds, being better prepared for a school year, waking up early each morning) only to find my heart still in the lurch, my patience still wearing thin, and my soul still parched. Not that goal-setting and accomplishment should ever be looked upon as a bad thing…by no means! But I think I finally grasp, just a little teensy bit after all these years, why it’s not about checklists and schedules and ducks in a row. Because even if, by some miracle, all the boxes were checked and every task completed on time and those ducks were perfectly aligned…it would not satisfy the deepest longings in me. This thirst for perfection cannot be sated this side of eternity.

So where does that leave me? Tasks still await my attention…and a life well-lived does require planning and care.

But these last few days I find my heart warmed by grace, drawn to Beauty, guarded by faith, encouraged by love…and it makes me want to press on. To work a little harder. Another meal served, another shirt ironed, another pile of dishes washed. Not as a task to check off a list. Do you know why? Because it will just have to be done again tomorrow. It will never be “done”…but if such acts of work and service become a part of the Art of Life, done with grace from a heart overflowing with thanks to the One who served us, sacrificed for us, loved us when we were unlovable…then maybe they become easier. Maybe they fill us with joy and delight rather than dread and exhaustion. Maybe this is a year where true change can occur!

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Sabbath Reflections

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It has been quite awhile since I have written a “Sabbath Reflections” post…it feels almost like coming home, a comfortable feeling…what I know best. You see, as much as I have enjoyed putting together posts about entertaining, I have to laugh as I review all my ramblings about cleaning and organizing, because over the last few weeks I have felt as though I am powerless to tame the chaos in my home…although I spent a good deal of time today both cleaning and organizing and the result is a much more peaceful environment. However, I must admit, I am not the world’s best housekeeper. I am so easily distracted! I am, however, full of thoughts and aspirations and ponderings…

Our sermon texts on Sunday mornings continue to be drawn from Philippians…we are now in the third chapter. Today we focused on the passage “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”…in a way these were hard words for me to hear, yet they were also just what I needed. I have felt so weak and overwhelmed and inadequate lately. I have so many ideas and goals for the life I desire to live and the wife and mother I desire to be, and lately I feel that I all can do is hang on by a thread…everything feels haphazard and out of control, and even what has been carefully planned for and thought about seems to unravel.

Sometimes God will place us in a situation where there seems to be no peace, no matter how desperately we grasp for it. Sometimes the chaos and unrest are a result of sin in our lives that we have not dealt with…selfish choices, failing to listen for that still voice, plunging ahead with our own plans without the wisdom and vision that comes from the Word. Sometimes we are simply in a difficult season of life that must be “got through”…yet in every season, in any situation, we are called to forget what is behind and press on toward the goal.

What is “behind” for you? Is is painful? Pleasant? Though we may pause and reflect and create a “stone of remembrance,” we must also discipline ourselves to forge ahead. We have work to do! We have a calling and a purpose! Personally, I need to focus on seeing each “disruption” in my day as an opportunity to serve God and others, to give a blessing…this is a choice that we can make! I can teach and train and disciple my children instead of just reacting to them. I can make time with the Lord my priority and encourage my children to do the same, even at their tender young ages. I can carefully guard our calender and schedule, realizing that we are very easily overwhelmed in this season of our lives.

There are just a few more days left until Christmas. I so long to create a restful, beautiful, loving environment for my family this week…every day of the year, really, but especially over the next few days. The presents are all wrapped. There is over a foot of snow outside my door tonight, some of it still clinging to the trees and stuck in the corners of the windowpanes, just like a greeting card. My alarm is set for an early hour in the hopes that I can do a quick cleanup in the kitchen, throw some Christmas music on, and whip up a special treat for breakfast. I know there is no possible way for tomorrow to be perfect. I know that I will continue to struggle…but I want to press on, to pursue, to run towards the goal…

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Sabbath Reflections

The picture above is from the front of a card that was given to me today by a friend, accompanied by a lovely little white “shabby” tiered serving tray. Not only have I always wanted a little white “shabby” tiered serving tray, I was so taken aback by the very simple offering of this gift given to me out of the blue. “I saw this and I thought of you”…how very sweet! I wonder, have I ever done that for anyone else? I’d like to become more aware of and intentional about such opportunities. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive or even a tangible object at all. An unexpected gift could come in the form of an invitation to coffee or tea, a note of encouragement, a plate of cookies, an offer to provide a couple hours of childcare for a weary young mother. It often does not take much to lift the spirits of another. Sometimes even a hug or a smile can bring delight and cheer. We are often so absorbed in ourselves, so wrapped up in our thoughts or jumping ahead in our minds to “what’s next,” that we can become oblivious to the opportunities around us, both great and small.

Continuing on in our passage in Phillipians, we saw this morning that “at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow.” What a joy for the believer to humbly and joyfully bow in this life as we serve our Lord, ever mindful of his condesceding grace towards us! We will each one of us bow that knee one day, but will we bow in reverence to our beautiful Savior, or in fear and dread before our eternal Judge?

In Christ we see a picture of humilty, of service, of condescending love, and of perfect obedience. May we take hold of this truth and, as we are conformed more and more to His image, may we be inspired to selfless actions that make much of our great and glorious God.

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Sabbath Reflections

Allposters.com "Blue Door"

Allposters.com "Blue Door"

Happy Sabbath to you! I have been pondering the subject of humility quite a bit lately, as it is what we are focusing on at church in our sermon series on Phillipians. I struggle greatly with pride, as of course most people do, if they are willing to be truly honest. I think it can be especially hard for someone who loves beauty and culture and manners and “everything just so” to avoid becoming wrapped up in it all…because when we have immersed ourselves in what is “refined,” when we have, as Mr. Darcy would say, “improved our mind by extensive reading,” there comes upon us, almost imperceptibly, an arrogant pride in our outlook on life. We begin to become increasingly aware of the fact that we dress a little nicer or speak more eloquently or are more intellectual than many people we come into contact with…and soon the idea that we are “better” takes root in our mind, growing stronger with each passing day.

Instead of seeing the workings of our minds and the craft of our hands as gifts from God and evidence of our bearing his image, we think that it’s all our own doing. In a small way, we “grasp equality with God” when we don’t attribute intellect and accomplishment in our lives as his workmanship, thereby depriving him of glory. Should we then spurn refinement and culture and learning? Certainly not! We should step back and think about how we can best glorify God by living in such a way that proclaims his greatness, how we can make that image that we bear shine even brighter.

In his book on the subject, C.J. Mahaney says that “humility draws the gaze of the sovereign God.” That’s what our desire should be, to draw the gaze of God and not that of man. Appreciate beauty because God is creative. Pursue knowledge and insight, because by possessing such things we can better reflect the wisdom of him who knows all things. Cultivate manners and decorum, because gentleness and kindness are a mark that his Spirit is bearing much fruit in our lives. Just keep in mind, every moment of every day, that God is the source of it all, the reason for it all, and deserving of the all the glory and praise. You are simply the vessel.

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Sabbath Reflections

Ah, the sweet, sweet gospel! How refreshing to the soul! I do hope that anyone reading this who claims Christ and belongs to the family of believers has had as lovely a Sabbath as I had today. Both the sermon text from the second chapter of Phillipians and our Sunday school lesson from 1 Peter highlighted our high calling as Christians to fervently love one another and to pursue unity in our faith as we stand firm against sin and darkness. I felt especially convicted of my tendency to reach out in love and friendship to…well…my friends. It becomes habit to enter a room and rush up to a close friend, to fall into discourse that comes so easily. We are immediately accepted, there is no awkwardness…we don’t even have to think about what we are saying. However, what about the shy woman that sits in the back and leaves right after the closing prayer? What about the one who is struggling with her marriage and tries to hide her pain behind a pair of sunglasses? Or the one whose social skills aren’t as polished as others and is therefore avoided or overlooked in a gathering of people. Have we stretched ourselves a little, made an effort to reach out in genuine love to them and extend our friendship? We need not offer to be their best friend and call them for a long chat three times a week, but I’m certain that we could do more than we are now doing to comfort others with the comfort we have been given. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. There was nothing charming or congenial about us when we were dead in our trespasses, yet our Saviour called us out of darkness into his glorious light. In like manner we too can seek out the lonely and hurting among us and befriend them, even when there seems to be nothing in it for us. Especially then. For in this way we will be following the example of Christ. Sabbath blessings to you!

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