Whenever I think of summer… somehow I begin to remember my childhood.. summer went on forever and it was amazing. School was out so there were no deadlines..we had time to swim, ride bikes, take vacations and my favorite of all.. the beach! Those days are long gone.. but the memories are still intact.. I long for that sense of timelessness and that joy of wandering along the boardwalk at the beach. It was amazing to be free of those things that challenged me at school.. not so much the schoolwork, but the long days in the classroom and the social dynamics with the other kids. I probably would have a been a great candidate for homeschooling if that had existed back then.. just stay home and learn everything from mom.. after all she had a Phd in psychology.. it probably would have been amazing. My grand kids are experiencing that right now. they get to learn from their very well educated mother.. I am so thankful that this is happening for them.
So this year.. my goal is to truly experience summer as an adult even though the responsibilities do not stop and the challenges are not taking a break. But summer is here in full bloom.. all the summer fruit is out and it is sooo good!! The sun shines brightly and the skies are blue. When there are clouds, they are wonderful.. designed by God to encourage us.. the sunsets too. We live on a hill and during July the sunsets tend to be very beautiful with orange and pink skies spreading out in all directions. We went on a hike today.. it was hot and I am not as young as I used to be, but so grateful that I can still hike and enjoy the smells of the trees and the beauty of this area. God is so good. He allows us special moments throughout our lives.. moments to enjoy and appreciate the life He has given us.
His creation is a gift to us and summer is a great time to take it in. I feel the longing to be back in those early years.. to experience the endless summer.. but I know there is more ahead that we realize.. someday we will experience things even more glorious than those summers of childhood and we won’t grow up and leave them behind. God has a plan for us that includes a future in His presence where we can enjoy creation in an unlimited way and it will be much better than summer!
” I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”…(mark 10:15)
Since I was writing about my journey through Lent this year.. I wanted to follow-up now that it is over and we are moving on to the post Easter season. What happened to me during that time when I was off Facebook and focusing more on the Lord.. reading the Bible more consistently and art journaling every day? Actually a lot happened and I am not sure I totally understand it all. One thing I can say is that God balanced me out and showed me the need for more self-control. He revealed areas in my life that were not working well and prompted me to decide that I wanted to change…to pray for Him to lead me to new places emotionally and spiritually.
So.. I can see growth and I felt the growing pains while it was happening. The challenge now will be to keep my focus and to stay true to the insights He has given me. Growth is a continual process. The first step is the desire to change and then we must take time to focus on ourselves..some people may object to that. They will think.. isn’t that being selfish? In reality it is very unselfish. When you take the time to reflect on your own behavior and to seek healing.. instead of being content with being stuck in familiar patterns.. you are actually choosing the better path. We can’t be a true friend, spouse, parent etc unless we are healthy and healed.
If we give because it is the “christian” thing to do and never stop to examine our behavior, we become depleted and often this is motivated by our need to be needed. So..as I stepped out of time for 40 days God had the opportunity to work deeply to show me the ways that I was being too concerned about others and He reminded me that I need to let go… He showed me my own selfishness which was disguised in my consuming passion to help people.. the down side to those of us with compassionate hearts. This was not a new revelation, but it went deeper this time and I am hopeful that I won’t return to the old patterns.
I am sharing this with you because I suspect that you may have the same issue. You can check in with yourself to see if this is relevant. Do you feel guilty for wanting time to yourself? Are you constantly feeling pressured to give more ( either in church, from friends or coming from your own internal voice)? Have you lost touch with yourself.. your likes and dislikes.. your desires and your dreams. If so.. then you need a season free from too many responsibilities with free time to sit with the Lord .. allowing Him to restore you and teach you how to care for yourself. It is essential to life in our very crazy culture.. take time to be still.. to pray and to seek healing. Don’t listen to any accusing voices.. and don’t feel guilty. God wants this for you..
Remember who said this...“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.“
As a result of my commitment to Lent, I have been doing more Bible reading than I was doing previously. I have a plan that I am following so that is helping. As I read everyday and do a little art in my Lent journal.. God is revealing things to me. I sense that He is answering questions that I did not realize I had..opening up scripture in new ways. This should hardly be news to me since I have been a Bible reader for the last 38 years, but there have been seasons where I could not open it up and I felt dried up and lost. This short season has changed all that.. my spirit is being renewed by focusing on the Lord, His word, my art and desiring to change some bad habits and patterns that keep me from trusting Him fully. My faith feels stronger.. I have more hope and there are some answers to prayer that I believe are coming.
One of the passages that God used during this last week, was from the last chapter of John.. you know the one, where Jesus appears to his disciples after the resurrection and says ” Come and have breakfast.” I have always enjoyed the down to earth flavor of that passage. He fried fish for them.. no sermon.. just food and fellowship. In this same chapter He asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter gets a little annoyed but says yes every time. What is this all about? Some people see it linked to Peter’s denial of Jesus.. since that happened three times. I can see that possibility, but I see much more. Jesus answered Peter three times.. He told Peter to feed His lambs, take care of His sheep and feed His sheep. Some translations say tend or shepherd my sheep. What does this mean? For me it means that if I love the Lord I am going to care for, encourage, and comfort His people. There can be no excuse for not doing this including disillusionment, cynicism, and old wounds. It was a word I needed to hear. Anyone who attends church and interacts with other believers long enough will have reasons for pulling away and licking their wounds. Yet if I am understanding this passage correctly, we don’t have that option. “IF YOU LOVE ME…Feed my sheep!” Wow.. I got it Lord and thanks for making it so clear:)
So grateful for a God that reveals Himself through the scriptures and that cares enough about us to communicate with each one of His sheep in a personal way.
I believe that this is always true of God. He is always doing a new thing and never runs out of ideas:) The problem is that at times we get stuck. We may feel as though nothing new can ever happen or that we are forgotten or possibly we believe that the past is being repeated in the present. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Spring is the time when we are reminded of this. Every year new things spring up from the ground.. trees are suddenly filled with lush green leaves. The light coming in the window is at a new angle. The old brown leaves that covered the ground are gone..suddenly replaced by lush green meadows and the tiny blossoms of wildflowers. The earth is being renewed by its Creator God. He has taken out his paintbrush and painted the most beautiful watercolor we have ever seen.. it takes our breath away.
Every spring I am surprised by the Lord..totally amazed at His creativity.. so inspiring. His personal reminder that He is at work in our world and that He is doing a new thing around us and of course in us.
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19)
The beginning of the year is an opportunity for a fresh start. I’m not writing about New Years resolutions or a list of all the things that I want to accomplish in 2014. What I need right now is a new way to look at the same old difficult things. When the clock struck 12 on Dec 31st, I did not leave my struggles back in 2013. Many of the difficulties of last year are continuing right into January.
So I am taking some steps toward living through the hard things without losing my emotional balance..One focus I have for this year was given to me by a good friend. She purchased a workshop for me called “One little word.” It gives me an opportunity to choose a word and focus on it throughout the year..creating a scrapbook and whatever other means I want to use to get that word inside my heart.
My word is ” REST”. I’ve heard that word for years now..coming to me from the heart of God. It seems unobtainable because of the trials that life continues to bring. Yet the Lord promises us rest and there are many references to it throughout the Bible. So I am going to throw myself into the challenge of learning to rest in all things.. to rest in the Lord.
I hope by the end of this year I can say with confidence..REST is available and I am experiencing it in a deeper way than ever before. If you are interested in taking this workshop, it is available on this website.http://aliedwards.com/
Let’s trust God to bring us our word and to take that word and take it deep into our minds, emotions, body, and spirit this year.
Then Jesus said ” come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
We just came back from a getaway. It was needed and of course wanted:) I could feel the need to break away from the routine and from the pressures of life. Fortunately we were able to go away for the weekend to a place that is beautiful and not too far away. For many years of my life, I could never get away. Not only was it financially impossible, I really wanted to escape from my own husband and the life we had together.
Everything is totally different now. Money is still an issue, but not like it was then. I am married to my closest friend and it is amazing to be on vacation with him. I have a wonderful life that is nothing like the one I had for 25 years. This season is rich with blessings. So..because I am an NF and always want to know the deep reasons for things, I wondered why I needed to get away so badly. God wanted to speak to me and I think He was having a hard time getting my attention.
He wanted to remind me that I need to slow down and enjoy life..not just when I am on vacation. He wanted to speak to my husband and I about our marriage and how we could be more intentional with one another. He wanted to give me ways to walk through a very stressful period that is threatening to become more intense. It was a break, but not a break from God. He was there waiting with words of wisdom that would help us when we came home.
We cannot always get away.. but we can learn to live daily in a less hurried, driven way. We can always make more time for each other. We can find ways to nurture our own hearts and we can always draw our strength from the Lord.
“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”
I thought of the title of this post while I was out walking this morning. We use this expression to express a different type of walking..it might be described as staying close to the heart of God..following Him..choosing His plans instead of our own. All of this is very important, but so is walking outside in nature with God. For me, it is a necessity.. I literally cannot keep going emotionally unless I get out and walk.
We live in a beautiful place so I am blessed to be able to walk out my front door.. right into nature. The reason I crave this time is because nature represents something stable and unchanging to me. The birds always sing..the grass always turns green after the rain..the creek always flows. In winter the trees always lose their leaves and their silhouettes are breathtaking. As spring approaches, daffodils poke up through the ground and the tips of the tree branches turn green. The flowers are in full bloom during the summer months and the birds seem to sing even louder. Then we have the beautiful fall show..the leaves turning color and drifting slowly to the ground. Wow!
Our Creator is working overtime in this world giving us glimpses of His artistic genius. It keeps me connected to walk outside and view His handiwork..it encourages me that He is never too busy to place beautiful clouds in the sky and to remember incredible sunsets. I just can’ t get enough of it! I truly hope you find the time to step outside and take in creation in all its glory..it will bring peace to your soul and rest to your spirit.
Do you ever say that to someone? I do and I mean it. What does that really mean? Does it sound selfish or self-centered? It is not. We are designed in such a way that if we don’t care for ourselves, we cannot care for anyone else.
So why is it so difficult? especially for givers. Users have no problem taking care of themselves.. in fact that is their life’s work. We can call that narcissism..a very big problem in our culture. Then there those of us who like to give and care for others. It is so easy to do this at the expense of our own well-being. We are adept at putting ourselves on the back burner..and we think it is the Christian thing to do. After all the Bible seems to be saying that we must put others before ourselves.
We are walking on a tightrope right now..because this is not a simple thing to understand. God does want us to care for others and to focus on the needs of those He puts in our lives..but not without caring for our own needs. We need to come and get filled up so we can give out of the overflow. If we put everyone else first our life will be out of balance and we will inevitably become grouchy, overly emotional, and just plain depressed. That is not God’s plan for our lives.
The most convincing argument for this comes straight out of the gospels. Jesus himself escaped from the crowds when He needed a break. He said no when it was the time to say no and He had boundaries with those around Him. If we look to His life we see an example of how to live..it still works 2000 years later.
Take a look at this scripture.. you’re read it before.
“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Notice anything?.. it presupposes that we love ourselves..it doesn’t say to love others instead of ourselves.. food for thought isn’t it?
That’s what it says at the top of my blog..the subtitle and underlying theme of this site. Sometimes I forget that I put it there.. then all of a sudden I realize that I am longing for all of those. Tomorrow is the first day of summer..what a perfect time to ask for a season when those four Rs will all become real.
My husband was telling me that what he misses most about being a child are the summers. No school, no work.. just a great big time out..to play..rest..enjoy. I miss it too. We need that feeling even more as adults. Being the super serious type.. I realize that if I don’t have that feeling once in a while, life starts to feel like a chore.. a job.. a responsibility. Jesus said He came to give us life.. abundant life..does that sound like a job? He also said that His yoke was easy and His burden was light..does that sound like being worn out and weary?
In the psalms God says “Be still and know that I am God.” That really sounds like rest to me..and peace. So..as we enter the summer season let is be like little children and enter the kingdom of heaven in a new way…faith filled children who trust fully in the goodness of God. We can also be like the birds who know that they will have all they need from the hand of their heavenly Father..they never go without and neither will we.
I pray that God will bless you with the four things I mentioned at the beginning of this post and renew your faith as you trust Him. I’m asking Him to meet you as you walk with Him..filling you with His Spirit and guiding you into the future.
“You will live in joy and peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.…to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his presence. Worship the Lord in all his holy splendor.