Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Surrender To The Still Small Voice

I can hear the wind howling outside my window, the wind chimes clanging. The heat just kicked on whirring through vents. The clock ticking. I hear a lot of things as I'm sitting here at my desk processing this week's lesson. I'm alone in the house. John and Jonathan have college classes today and my dad went to Juárez to work at the church for a bit. This week's focus is to 'Rest Your Ears' for this Sabbath Rest theme I've been studying. There's a difference between hearing and listening. When Jonathan is not in classes, he's constantly talking at home. He's a friendly soul and loves conversation. I hear him, but sometimes, I'm not listening. How many conversations around me do I hear, but I don't listen to because I'm distracted or too tired to keep up? Jonathan can take the long way around a conversation and sometimes I ask him, "What is it you're trying to say to me? What do you want me to know?". The study this week focused on 2 instances where Christ asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" He questioned James and John and then blind Bartimaeus (Mark 20:35-52). James and John asked for glory. To be the ones to sit on Christ's left and right hand. Bartimaeus responded with a request for mercy. I was thinking about this last night as I was on the bedroom floor stretching the day out. In Mark 10:45, Christ told James and John that they really didn't know what they were asking for. That what it meant was the call of the suffering servant. "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."  On my back, legs resting on an exercise ball, listening to soft inspiration music, John and I talked about this last night. Christ came to minister. He asks us, "What do you want me to do for you?" 

In verse 46, blind Bartimaeus called out to Jesus as He was walking through Jericho. Those around him tried to 'shush' him, but it made him more determined to get Christ's attention. "What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?", Jesus asked him. It's not that He didn't know Bartimaeus' answer, but that He wanted him to say it. To name the thing that plagued him. To call out the truth, risking vulnerability. 

I was trying to articulate last night what my answer is to the question of what Christ could do for me. What do I want Him to know? How could He minister to me? What is it that I need? And what it is that is imperative to surrender in order to find the answer.  (("Seek peace, and pursue it," Psalm 34:14b.)) Of course, He knows what I need and wish for, but He wants me to say it. The name the thing that..what..plagues me? escapes me? How much of it is my fault because I choose the busyness? The still small voice says, "This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." Isaiah 30:21b-- Giving up a time to really listen, to trust that He will come and minister sounds life changing, doesn't it? "The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate", Psalm 34:22. 

Christ came to minister and asks, "What do you want me to do for you?". And when I answer vaguely, I get vague results and then wonder why I struggle when peace escapes me. We have definitive goals for work, for ministry, for the home, but we're not quite sure what a day of rest looks like. A day set apart, marked holy and different from the norm. Or even just 'still' time. No planning. No adding to the to-do list. No self scolding over what didn't get done. A time frame set aside to listen for God's still small voice. If it's not paid vacation, then we can tend to feel like rest is not valued time. "Rest is accomplished when we no longer see the clock as a bully, but as a favor", author Shelly Miller wrote. Taking a Sabbath or window of time to rest, can bring life back into perspective. It reminds us that

God is in the details of life and that we can trust Him. "He gave us his life, the price for our freedom (Mark 10:45), yet often we choose to define value and worth by what we produce and shackle ourselves with a bulging agenda." Shelly Miller, Rhythms of Rest.

When Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted Him to do, his answer was clear, "Lord, that I might receive my sight", Mark 10:51. Verse 52 recounts that Jesus told him to go his way, that his faith had made him whole. Immediately, he had received his sight and followed Jesus. Bartimaeus' answer was specific, his faith secure, his healing immediate, and his path direct.

To connect with Him, we may need to intentionally withdraw for a bit from the shackles of busyness. To say "no" to extra projects. To call out to Him and to have the freedom and time to rest in Him. To let Him minster to us. To separate ourselves from what others think, risking vulnerability. It's an exposed place to be in when thinking of a specific answer for how Christ can minister to me. Maybe I don't have a specific answer because I tend to be too busy to wait for it. Maybe it's a sense of pride keeping me from naming what I need. Or maybe I feel my request is too silly and simple. “When you don’t have a name for something, you’re haunted by it’s shadows…But when you can name something… It loses it’s mask and you can find a strategy to deal with it.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts) Christ has a strategy and it's simply, "Come to me". Noise, activity, self, and distraction are the devil's playground.   

I tried not to hurry last night during my stretching and reflecting on this week's lesson. I wanted to let the clock/time be a favor instead of feeling the need to rush. Part of the stretching routine I'm trying to incorporate nightly is a Sabbath in a way. A winding down process, quiet time too, reflection, taking time to clear my head and breathe. I'd like to not set a time limit ..but to do this as long as I need to. To sense that I'm paying attention to the still small voice. To quiet my hands is hard work. Normally, I'm playing games on my phone as 'down time' until I can't keep my eyes open any longer. That's not stilling hands and heart. It's activity and distraction from rest. 

When we quiet our hearts and hands, our sight can be restored too see God's place within our problems. When we honor moments of rest and dedicate that time for His purpose, our ears can tune out the unnecessary noises to tune into His, "What do you want me to do for you?". Christ knows the answer, but He wants us to be specific. He calls for us to recognize His desire to fulfill in every area of life. Through blind trust in His healing, our faith can be made whole. 

Links to previous posts on Sabbath Rest (starting with week 1 of the study): 

Surrender to Rest (introduction)
Surrender to Focus (week 1)
Surrender to Listen (week 2)
Surrender to Walk Humbly (week 3)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Conditioned to See

“We see the world, not as it is, but as we are──or, as we are conditioned to see it.” 
-Stephen R. Covey 

Glass half full? Or glass half empty? Which is it? "We see the we are conditioned to see it", wrote author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. The way we see things has been conditioned, or ingrained in us, from early on. By our surroundings, our upbringing, the good and the bad things that have happened to us in life, we have based our world view and our view of God. Having a photo theme for each day is becoming of habit. I know what topic I'm looking for in the morning and I strive to adjust my point of view. To condition to see- to be prepared to "fill the glass". To look beyond the circumstances of the day. To look for at least one opportunity to see beauty or inspiration in this moment of time. Here's this week in photos. 

Sunday: Warming 
Photo taken in Juárez, Mexico this morning of the sun on its way to warming up the city. It's been @ 85° in the afternoons already here on the Borderland. 

Monday: Garden
Rosebuds are showing up in the garden! 

Tuesday: Precious
Our beautiful brown-eyed girl. She is an Australian Red Heeler Mix by birth, and a heart healer by nature. We adopted Zap 2 years ago from an animal shelter to help Jonathan recover from a favorite dog gone missing the year before. She's feisty at times, yet loving. Playful always, yet gentle. The word "precious" just about sums her up in one word. Go ahead. You can pet her. She won't bite. 

Wednesday: Patience
I've had this climbing rose bush for 3 years and not once has it bloomed like it should have. One of my rose bushes out front took 2 years to flourish after being planted. With patience, attention, and care, this one is finally looking really good with plenty of buds. And they're in no hurry to bloom. A reminder that growth takes needs patience, attention, care, and some pruning every season to thrive. Always in a hurry we are, but we can learn a lesson or two by noticing that God has His season and timing for everything. 

Thursday: Write
A Scripture verse came to mind on this one, "Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart", Proverbs 3:3. It's why I write using the title, A Record of Graces. It's just that...a record, making a memory of things God is showing me. I'm not perfect. I often fail, but I can go back through these posts and read to be reminded of God's grace freely given daily. He has written in the Scriptures about His love for me, so I write to remember mercy and truth. Photo taken by me a few years ago at the local zoo. I edited it to put the Bible verse on here. 

Friday: View
This is what I like about Texas ...wide open spaces and a big blue sky. Photo taken today on the way across the mountain after running errands.

Saturday: High
Clouds high in the sky on a beautiful day-

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Surrender To Walk Humbly

Week 3 in the Bible study about a Sabbath journey brings me to rest my feet. Week 1, I worked through the study about resting my eyes in Surrender to Focus. The approach is a bit unconventional for the way I grew up because it's a journey through Lent, or the time frame leading up to Christ's death and resurrection. I'm not focusing so much on the word "Lent" but more on marking this time frame as a focus on Sabbaths for different areas of my life. Week 2, the focus was to Surrender to Listen. This week's area of focus, Surrender To Walk Humbly was quite the thought provoker. 

When I find myself elbow deep in house chores, financial worries, to-do-lists and then get frustrated like Martha in the book of Luke chapter 10, it comes to blaming others for their 'slack'. Well, and it comes to a place of pride as well. "If I don't do these things, then who will? And if I'm working, so should everyone else." Yes, I'm guilty of thinking like this. And this way of thinking leads to self-pity. Martha asked Jesus if He even cared that she was working all by herself (poor poor Martha) and wanted to take Mary's attention away from the fellowship of Jesus to focus more on the busy work. "Careful and troubled about many things", Jesus called her. And Miss Careful and Troubled blamed her sister for her tiredness and her lack of support. But Mary "sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word". (Luke 10:39) And Jesus called what Mary was doing, "needful". "Busyness can be avoidance instead of preparation", wrote Shelly Miller in her book, Rhythms of Rest. To face the world day after day and its own realm of busyness and constant noise, there has to be time made to be off your feet. To sit and listen. To do the needful thing, rest. Mary left the practical things undone- dishes in the sink, floor to swept, laundry to be put away to take time out to fill her spirit and rest her feet. And I don't think she left these things undone for an extended period of time, just for a nice reprieve from work to live unconcerned and untroubled at the feet of Jesus. I'm not saying that we all just need to let everything go, no. There is work to be done, but there is a time to make holy and sacred. I mentioned in my last blog post that if Sunday's are a busy day due to ministry commitments, then another day needs to be implemented to give your body rest, to prepare the heart for Him, and to choose "that good part" (Luke 10:42). Nobody was forcing Martha to work while Mary took time to slow down and lean into Christ. And, it's true of me. Nobody forces me around here to keep working when everyone else is having family time. The responsibility falls on my shoulders to make the time needed. And Christ told Martha that this time that Mary was at his feet wasn't to be messed with (my words). He actually said, "Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:42b) I'm working through a few points here on how doing the needful thing this week isn't avoidance of work, but preparation for leaning into God. 

1) Resting of feet is needful to reach out to others. 

If I am constantly tired and feeling self-pity because I'm overloaded with too many things with no time set aside for rest and honor,  how then can I reach out to others? Paul wrote in Ephesians 6 about the armour of God and in verse 15, he wrote, "And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace." Not the gospel of blaming others. Not the gospel of too careful and too troubled. But the gospel of peace. And if there is only turmoil because I fail to take care of the needful/spiritual side of me, there is no peace to share with anyone. 

2) Resting of feet makes God's direction clear. 

Micah 6:8, "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" And walking humbly means to walk with Him trustingly. That whatever work I put aside, either for a day, or for a short window of time to let Him renew me in body and in spirit is not wasted. And whatever time frame I set aside to mark and set apart to choose God's example of rest and honor is not trivial. It's giving up control of time and self when I trust in Him to fulfill His promise to be faithful.  

3) Resting of feet prepares my heart to meet with God

It's about not trying to walk ahead of God with my plans in mind. "Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people". (2 Corinthians 6:16) God wants to walk in me? Which means, whatever direction He's going in, I go. And this whole topic of Sabbath lately, if God ended work the seventh day, rested, and blessed it (Genesis 2:2,3).......then, so shouldn't I? God didn't make any excuses and the world didn't fall apart. In fact, it flourished. 

Practical Application: One way I've thought of applying this lesson of resting feet and walking humbly is in the way I 'do' Sundays for meals. John cooks breakfast for everyone on Sundays and that is one way I can continue to honor 'resting my feet'. He tells me to rest a bit longer, he'll take care of breakfast. He offers this gift of rest to me every week. "Are you sure?", I ask often. I feel guilty at times. That's my job to cook for everyone, but I just made that up in my head. Nobody told me that, it's just a pride issue. We actually all work together to put a meal on the table, whether it be getting the plates out, shredding cheese, or putting salad dressing out. And on Sundays, I'm not going to worry about getting up extra early to get a roast in the crockpot and cut up potatoes and onions to throw in there. Sundays are going to be easy...I plan to plan ahead to cook a nice meal on Saturdays so that we had leftovers to pull out on Sundays. I may have mentioned making deviled eggs or a potato salad on Saturdays to carry over to Sunday, but don't hold me to it. You never know how a week can go. We drive an hour to church and an hour back and with the temps already being in the 90's, we come home tired and hot. And if I have to cook anything or finish putting together a meal, it can make me a bit grumpy, which totally defeats and disrupts the focus on honoring the rhythm of rest. 

When I don't stop for a day, a short period of time during the week to 'walk humbly', careless to take care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually, it's called 'self-sufficiency'. I make a choice-- preferring the blame, pride, and self-pity over laying it all at His feet, and like Mary, do the needful and the good. Taking a Sabbath isn't about me, it's about honor. In setting aside time to rest from the cares of this world, it's honoring God's example set from the beginning. Surrender (yield, pause) to walk humbly (purely, simply, virtuously) has been a lesson straight to my heart this week.  

Saturday, March 18, 2017

To Capture the Graces

In the post "My Point of View", I mentioned following a list of ideas to photograph each week. Each day has a specific theme to capture, and I've taken it on as a way to record the graces in a creative way. Some themes are challenging and I wonder what I will notice or how I will interpret the day's 'challenge'. I have a few friends who have joined me in this project and it's so fun to see their photos on Instagram of the same theme. We each come up with different view points of the day's photo topic and I look forward to seeing what they share.  Here's what I captured this week: 

Sunday: Door
 All of our church doors look the same. They were made by our retired National pastor, 
Bro. Chavez (a welder by trade), and my dad years ago. But this one is my favorite. It's set back in a small hallway and the view of the roses when blooming is a pretty one with the inset glass cross. It's the door we open to let the women come in from the side headed toward the kitchen with pots and pans of hot food ready for a meal later. It's the door my son opens for elderly Bro. Chavez so he won't have to go the long way around to get to the back part of the church when needed. It's just a door, I know, but I will miss it when it's time to hand over the keys to a new pastor someday.

Monday: Sign
We're here waiting for John as he looks into part time work at the event center on campus. This sign signifies change for us as John will be a student here in the fall. When I was young, I'd always thought when I married that we would grow old together in the same house with kids and grand-kids coming home for the holidays. Our life hasn't looked like that. We've been here in the Juarez/El Paso area for 11 years, the longest we've been anywhere in 22 years of marriage. God moves in a mysterious way and He's chosen for us to be involved in many ministries along the journey. It's always been "Follow me". While it makes no sense to some, our path, each stepping stone has been carefully laid out for us one by one. "Many things about tomorrow, I don't seem to understand. But I know Who holds tomorrow. And I know He holds my hand."

Tuesday: Desk
Well, here it is. Nothing fancy. A kitchen counter top bought at Home Depot and held up by two filing cabinets. It's been our homeschooling desk for a lot of years where we've explored other countries, journeyed through a ton of books, and where we've cried over math problems (it's true). It's also the place where we craft cards to send to loved ones and where I read and study, email, write. Lots of memories on this desk. I'm noticing this photo challenge has morphed into a daily testimony of sorts as it makes me conscious to be grateful. "Count your blessings, name them one by one. And it will surprise you what the Lord has done."

Wednesday: Create
Creating a garden of sorts this year by the front door- herbs, tomatoes, and cucumbers!

Thursday: Twilight
El Paso/Juarez Twilight - mountains behind our house. I normally miss the sunset because I'm busy doing other things, but I waited all day for this. I carefully watched for the time frame when the sun was almost over the mountains. With the big sky and mountain view right behind our house, it's quite a way to start the evening. 

Friday: Clash
Bridges yet no water.... There are quite a few bridges here on the Borderland where rivers once flowed. The paths of the rivers can still be seen for miles. I spent the day out with my family exploring an agricultural museum in Las Cruces, NM and on the guided tour, we crossed this bridge.

Saturday: Contrast
I don't remember the name of these, but they've come back since I've planted them 2 years ago.I just noticed the pink one for the first time this season. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Surrender to Listen

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." Psalm 19:14

I wouldn't consider myself a good listener. I'm quick to form an opinion or offer a solution. I often judge and am impatient with myself and with others. This week's Bible study has been on the topic, "Rest Your Words". Listen more. Talk less. For a talkative girl, it's hard to keep quiet. To be still. And if I'm not saying anything out loud, I've got noise going on in my head about what I want to get done in a day. Always thinking, planning, plotting my next project. Even in 'down time', I'm meditating on what's next or what needs to be crossed off my 'to do' list. The past few posts on "Surrender" have been about different kinds of 'Sabbaths'. So far I've been studying about rest; emptying out 'busy work' to let God fill it more with His purpose, and about focus; taking my eyes off media and distractions to recognize more His working in my life. When I think of 'Sabbath', I think of Sundays, but time for rest isn't just on Sundays..and honestly, Sundays can be the busiest day of the week, especially for those in full time ministry. We may set the day aside as holy and for serving, but not as restful to rejuvenate in mind, body, and spirit. So I have to make time for it. Carve out time to study, to pray about things God is showing me, to focus on what's really important and not feel guilty because I'm not being 'busy'. Having a daily photo 'theme' lately is restful for me as it helps me 'record the graces' in a different way than I had been. It's interesting and fun to me. But, whether it's a daily photo 'challenge', time at my desk letting God speak to me through a Bible study, reading a new book, out with my family enjoying the beautiful weather, or outside watering the grass in the quiet of an evening, it's all beneficial because they honor rest of different kinds. And when I move my focus to incorporate moments like these, I find myself quieter in spirit and calmer in attitude. Rest may look like something entirely different to another person and with God making us each in a unique way, He can work in different ways through each of us, but with the same message in mind; "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." Matthew 11: 28, 29. First things first: Come unto me If I move towards Him, then rest will be given. Take my yokeIf I identify with Him and learn from Him,  then there is rest 'unto your souls' - not only for salvation from sin, but for life here on this earth. God is not limited to time and space, yet sometimes 'time and space' is what I only understand. It starts with recognizing the need for time set part (in any given place at any given time), letting God teach what rest means to Him for me as an individual and with surrendering the purpose of rest to Him.  

For a busy minded person, rest can seem a bit of a nuisance with so much to do. But, didn't God create rest? And interestingly enough, the day He chose to rest from His creation was the day He blessed and sanctified (or made holy/set apart). And any day we intentionally set apart as different for His glory is significant. Sundays, yes, are set apart to worship with other believers, but there is a need for personal rest away from business, work, noise. 

"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable"...not just the words that come out of my mouth, but what goes on in my heart as well. Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." What goes on in the heart, usually comes out the mouth. It's a refection. And if I find myself being more judgmental, harsh, impatient, then it is indeed time for a 'time out' to rest my words and calm my heart. And... maybe time for a nap, too. 

Surrender to listen, surrender time to listen...

Surrender: to yield (something) → working on yielding my need to have my opinions heard all the time; pausing when tempted to judge 

Surrender: to give (oneself) up to some influence, course, emotion, etc → working on allowing moments of rest without my mind racing to plan what's next; defining what it even means to set apart moments -what it looks like, how it pleases God when I honor Him with words and with reflections 

Surrender: to resign in favor of another → I don't always have to have control over meal plans or any plans for that matter. Being a natural born planner, it's difficult to relinquish control in favor of another. 

Resting words and whirling thoughts is difficult when using our own strength. In Psalm 19:14, David names God as his strength and redeemer. To withdraw words, opinions, and judgment can be done through God's strength. And when I fail and need to be reminded to let go of control, to yield my plans to Him, to set apart time to take a break, there is the Redeemer to make things new, right, and whole.  

Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Point of View

In last week's post, I shared some thoughts on my reading about a Sabbath for the eyes - about resting my focus on things that bring me to notice God's grace and about viewing life through the eyes of Christ. I found a neat photo challenge for Instagram that I've been following all week that encourages people look for the beauty in the day and to post photos about a certain theme. I decided to follow along the list of ideas provided and feel like I'm on a scavenger hunt of sorts or a game of "I spy". I do like to take pictures and it's fun to have a theme to look for each day. It also reminds me to not take things for granted. Life gets stressful and I can tend to walk on by the beauty around me or take it for granted.  
Here's my point of view this week. 

Sunday: Peaceful
 Birds and Blossoms! The peach tree flowers were blooming on Sunday in front of our church in Mexico and there was a little visitor in the tree.

Monday: Red
I spied a cheery red flower pot in the house and red begonias outside by the front door.

Tuesday: Gathering

I was cleaning up some plants on this morning and cut off some begonias that needed trimming. I gathered the clippings and put them in water. I'm told they will root and I should be able to replant them in another container. Later, Jonathan and I gathered ingredients to make homemade peanut butter cookies. Mmm..tasty! 

Wednesday: Drink

Jasmine green tea was steeping here in this infuser, a gift from my friend Angela years ago. It always reminds me of her and her kindness...and Brazil nuts and her fabulous guacamole. (I NEVER liked avocados or guacamole before I tried her recipe. Seriously so good!) Anyway, John calls my collection of herbal teas, "grass clippings". Well, here's to healthy grass clippings, then, with a little cream and local honey. Drink for health! 

Thursday: Pink

On the left are flowers Jonathan brought me to thank me for being a good teacher all these years of homeschooling. He's starting college classes on the 20th!  At the top right are flowers my dad bought me last week. There were more in the bunch originally, but these are the lone survivors. The plant on the bottom right is a little rough looking and I need to clean it up. These tiny flowers have come back every year since I've planted them. 

Friday: Delight

John and were are out by ourselves celebrating 22 years of marriage. We didn't have any specific plans of where we'd end up, but we landed in a New York type brick oven pizza place with Frank Sinatra era music playing, Statue of Liberty wall art, and a waterfall view. We bought a new mattress we've been wanting, completed some much needed errands, and found a park to finish off our pizza. The weather could not have been any nicer and we thoroughly enjoyed just sitting in the park, people watching, and eating cold pizza. We ended the day with a McDonald's hot fudge sundae. When we were first getting to know each other, I lived in a small town in NM and was teaching kindergarten. John was in the Navy stationed in WA state and when he would come visit me, we'd always end the date with a McDonald's apple pie and a hot fudge sundae. 

Saturday: Nature

 Top left photos are of the same mum plant. I had trimmed it down next to nothing in January- brown leaves, dead flowers. On the right are my rose bushes which were really really pruned this year. Branches cut way down and all leaves carefully stripped off. Both plants looked pitiful afterward. I'm always a little apprehensive every year when I do this. What if I trimmed too much? What if they don't come back as beautiful as last year? But you know what? They always come back better than ever, mums and roses alike. God has a way of showing us things through nature. That pruning is necessary for growth. While it can look ugly, it doesn't take much time for new blooms to have room to grow. Cutting back, trimming down the dead and unnecessary in our lives is like that too, I've noticed. Every spring, I am reminded of this. If I want growth and new life, I must make room for it.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Surrender to Focus

Sabbath Journey (continued): Week 1 
(See previous post, Surrender to Rest for 'introduction'.)

As a Baptist, I never focused on Lent or it's meaning until I came across this study on "A Sabbath Journey for Lent". If we pay attention to this time frame, it's leading up to the remembrance of Christ's crucifixion and the celebration of His resurrection. And to let the world take this time frame and twist it into focusing on ashes and self guilt instead of the amazing redemptive work of Grace and freedom through Christ isn't right. Talking of Lent here may raise some eyebrows, but I don't want to be afraid to explore this. I want to let God work and make this time that the world deems one thing into something of eternal value for me personally. Giving up 'stuff' for Lent tends to be temporary, but focusing on giving my life to the One Who gave His for me means something and has an eternal effect. It's taking the attention off religion and placing it on the relationship with Christ. In Luke 10, Christ tells Martha who was "cumbered about with much serving" (vs 40) and "careful and troubled about many things" (vs 41) that all that wasn't needful. What was needful and good was what Mary was doing- sitting at the feet of Jesus, body at rest, ears listening, and eyes on Him. By the end of Luke, Christ was being crucified. I want to honor this 6 weeks before Easter by working on surrendering different areas of my life. 

How much do we let the media distract our focus? I can tell you when I watch the news more, my attitude can drastically change. I get angry. Frustrated. And I think the sky is falling. A lot of the world is an angry place right now staring us down -daring us to defy their wants and ungodly wishes, no matter now illogical they are. It's easy to notice the unrest because it's everywhere. How much do I focus on what other people are doing and where they are going? I should be sitting at the feet of Jesus, body at rest, ears listening with my eyes on Him. 

A Sabbath focus this coming week is to rest the eyes. I mentioned in the last post that this study will cover one body part each week of 'Lent'. I want to turn my attention to God's heart and not the world's hate... surrender my focus. Surrender to focus on Him. I want to occupy my time this week with God's view of me because He sees me, knows my shortcomings, and even still has a purpose in mind for me. 

"•God sees inside the heart of a shepherd boy and discerns a King in David.

•God sees beyond Moses' doubt and chooses him as a leader changing history.

•God sees through Jonah's fear and makes him an orator with a message that saves a people group.

•God sees inside your heart, beyond your doubt, and through your fear because he created you from love with purpose." -Shelly Miller  

Note: The posts about Sabbath I hope to be writing about do not originate with me. It is a study I am going through which I will link in each post to the original source/author. I'm summarizing here, applying the principles, and sharing what I'm learning. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Surrender to Rest

Shelly Miller shared in her "A Sabbath Journey for Lent" (link to her free e-book shared at the end), "Lent provides an altar for leaning into vulnerability; choosing the smudgy grace of a do-over through Christ's crucifixion and accepting you are dust."

"Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of evil" Joel 2:13

A lot of discussion is going on lately about what to give up for Lent even in our church in Mexico. What if instead of focusing on what fulfills my flesh and failures, I hone in on that which nourishes my spirit? While giving up worldly goods or certain foods are beneficial, what if I offer up my heart? What if I repent of my stubborn will to have things my way and let Him lead- to rest from my agenda, to rest from guilt, to rest from the pressures of this world? "When the focus of fasting for Lent is self-deprivation, and self-loathing we name forty days of penitence by a four-letter word Self. Pleasing God means celebrating time as different, set apart, and holy to enjoy him through intimate relationship. "Empty time and allow God to fill the space", Miller wrote. 

I've never paid much attention to Lent, honestly. But maybe I will this year. We've had a lot going on in the last few years with ministry roll changes, John going back to college, Jonathan graduating from High School and entering college, the ups and downs of my dad's health. Seems like we just go from one thing to another with no space to breathe between life changing events. I found this study recently and I've only read the first few pages of this e-book and I feel like it's water to a thirsty soul. 

I hope through this study, I will be more aware to mark time as holy, to live a life fully awake to His presence, and to focus on His gift of salvation and not on guilt for not getting things right. Emptying time - hollowing it out to focus on the eternal and not the temporal so that God can fill the space with His grace and His perfect rest.
This study is about beginning again with a fresh perspective and about setting time apart to notice Him. Psalm 103

For each week of Lent, this study will focus on a specific part of the body to "allow God to bring fresh revelation, meaning, and purpose". I hope to be sharing here more of "A Sabbath for Lent". It's soo soo good. 

• Link to Shelly Miller's "A Sabbath Journey for Lent" (link to download at the bottom of her post) →

• Link to her buy her book (which I've recently purchased and am looking forward to reading), "Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World":

Wednesday, March 1, 2017


capable of being instructed, as a person; docile.
capable of being taughtas a subject.

I can admit I don't know everything, but can I say that I am teachable? When I first set out to homeschool, I had a lot to learn even though I had taught children before. I asked a lot of questions from other homeschoolers, looked things up on the internet, and made phone calls to different curriculum distributors. If Jonathan wanted to know something about a particular subject, we went to the library and returned with stacks of books. It's one thing to look up information for my own curiosity, but how do I react when I am specifically given instructions? Do I seek to learn a few things or do I turn a deaf ear? Sometimes, when making sure my son heard me, I would speak slloooowwwllly, enunciating each syllable. A bit dramatic maybe. Do I listen to wise counsel and gain understanding or become ignorant-- or as I've heard it said, "dumb on purpose"? Do I need God to speak slowly to me and enunciate because I just can't seem to grasp what He wants? What value do I put on wise counsel from God or man?

Can I be taught to be more patient, kind, loving, giving? Am I content in my stubborn ways? Tough questions, the answers hard to admit. 

I think of these things as my son is preparing for college and is readying to be taught by others. Have I instilled in him respect for elders and for those who know more than he does? Have I helped him become a good listener and one who will receive instruction well? Have I been a good example?

"Any fool can know. The point is to understand." 
-Albert Einstein 

To accept, to follow, to grasp instruction is a hard thing due to pride. To master the art and grace of making wise decisions is a life long pursuit, but one well worth the effort as it brings glory and honor to God.

"A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsel." Proverbs 1:5

"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase learning." Proverbs 9:9