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)
My ” one little word” this year is REST.. I may have shared that in an earlier post. So I’ve been spending time contemplating the meaning of that word and asking God to help me enter His rest..
As a result of this journey with that word, I started thinking about feeling safe. For me, it is all connected. I can only rest when I feel safe. Makes sense doesn’t it? So am I safe with God? This topic opens up a can of worms for me. It is all related to that famous quote from C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. You probably know the one I am referring to, it is a reference to Aslan, ” He’s not safe, but He is good.” Many writers have taken off in one direction with those words..talking about how we make God too small and put Him in a box so we feel safe with our image of Him. I understand their point, but there is something else to consider.
God is not in a box and He doesn’t fit with our preconceived ideas and He is much bigger and more mysterious than we ever imagine. But at the same time, we are safe with Him. Yes safe. He cares for us and we can run to Him every time we feel threatened by people or circumstances. He wants us to feel safe. There is proof of this in the Bible..over and over again He says ” do not be afraid.” That tells me He wants us to feel protected and cared for and to know that we are always safe as long as we cling to Him and call on Him continually.
So.. I am learning to rest..feeling safe and secure with my God. How are you doing? Remember His goodness and relax if you can..knowing that He has you right next to Him.. He is keeping an eye on you.. watching your back.. You are SAFE with Him.
“This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.”( psalm 91:2)
God is in the business of restoration. He delights in taking the old and making something brand new. It is never too late to change. As a senior citizen and a grandma.. I know this personally. I have to remind myself that God does not stop working on our behalf because we reach a certain age. I’ve watched God change my 91-year-old mother. I know He is busy doing things in the life of my sister.. she is in her sixties.
God is not limited by time.. He exists outside of it and will work in us throughout our lives if we cooperate with the process. In this season of my life He is teaching me to rest in Him.. to slow down and enjoy life more. I’ve always been a striver..someone who wants to be productive every single day. So..the Lord gave me a very easy-going husband..someone who enjoys life and knows how to relax. He is a very good influence 🙂
This is a season of change for me and time to lay down some of the old ways. Not because of my age.. but because God wants to bless me with a life that is not filled with constant activity. There are plenty of older people who never slow down and rush through their lives. Activity and busyness are idols in our country( and in the church) and I believe they keep us from truly taking in life the way it was intended to be. I found my significance in activity and feeling needed..God is releasing me from that and teaching me to realize that He is pleased with me.. not my accomplishments or my service. After 30 years in Christian ministry..He is releasing me into a less stressful season.
Of course that does not mean that I am doing nothing meaningful. I work as a counselor and He brings me clients. I spend time with friends, family, and have found a healthy community of people in the local church. Relationships will always be the center of my life..they make life rich and meaningful and God will always give us roles in other people’s lives..as long as we are here.
What type of season are you in? What is God teaching you and how is He leading you? Ask Him so you can cooperate with the process..it is worth it!
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?”
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?
We need to rest this month. Yes.. I know it is hard..there is always so much to do. But isn’t that true all year long? Think about plants and what they do at this time of the year. I pruned my roses and fuchsias yesterday. It was painful.. taking them down to sticks. I so wanted them to bloom all year long, but they need to rest. This is the time for that.. this month in the winter season.
We are not so different. We did so much over the last couple of months.. all the activities and responsibilities were intense. We are tired and worn out.. aren’t we? Well.. I am.. I admit it.. I need rest. I suspect you do too.. There is nothing wrong with slowing down.. with protecting your time.. saving your energy for those things that really matter. The culture says something else.. I saw daffodils for sale in bloom today and it reminded me that Spring is almost here. Wait a minute..that is not true at all..Winter just started a few weeks ago.
We need all the seasons ..just like the plants. We need time to be renewed and restored so we can be productive and fruitful in the next season. Let’s not rush through this month. Take each day and ask God what He wants you to do with it. Look at your week and eliminate those things that can be moved into the future. Enjoy the quiet..be still..rest..take your time..relax. Everything that is supposed to happen.. will happen at exactly the right time.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven”
Not an easy thing to do in our world.. not a popular topic in some circles. Are we talking about selfishness here?..self-absorption?..narcissism? No..taking care of yourself is about realizing your limitations..facing your mortality..getting in touch with your body and remembering that you are valuable to God. He cares for us..unceasingly and in order to be able to join Him in His work..we need to care for ourselves. Often this means stepping back from the demands of the world..feeling OK about resting and relaxing..looking for refreshment for your mind, body, and spirit.
We identify so strongly with our accomplishments..our work..our activities..our service..all of these are not bad..but they are not us. We are more than what we do. We have value because of His love for us and because He created us..we belong to Him and His heart is for us. There is a difference between doing things for God and joining Him in His work. If we are compelled to work for Him..it gets confusing. Are we doing things to please Him ?..or do we realize that He is pleased with us and that inspires our activity. One way is legalism and the other is grace and freedom.
When we stop and rest and allow Him to renew us..we are able to see more clearly..we hear His voice in new ways. We stop being driven..we stop striving..we learn to rest and trust..to be still. This is not the way of the world..or the way of the church. Everywhere you look.. everyone is busy..moving fast from one thing to another..constantly rushing..talking on the phone..never stopping until it is time to collapse into bed. Yet many of us are isolated and lonely..wondering what our purpose is. God wants to change that ..to quiet us so He can pour His love into the empty places in our hearts.
He has a plan for us..it is His plan that will bring wholeness. He longs to become more to us. Care for yourself by making time for this. Trust in His faithfulness and His goodness.
“I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out..plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”
That is the goal for most of us.. and for some of us this is a huge challenge. We are wired to feel things deeply..to react emotionally to the challenges of life. What do we do with all these emotions? Did God make a mistake by giving them to us? No..He did not. He wants us to experience them.. to embrace them.. and to understand how they work.
We were created with feelings for a reason. God works through them and He reaches our hearts this way. Our problems begin when the feelings dominate and control us. Some of us react by trying to get rid of them..this does not work. We hope to bring get them under control through medication, alcohol,obsessive exercise, sexual relationships, shopping, over eating, starving ourselves or any other activity that turns into an addiction. It won’t work in the big picture..they will re-surface and we will have to deal with them.
Remember God gave us emotions..He wants us to have them. Without them we cannot choose anything that He has to offer us. So how do we deal with them? There is no easy answer.. if they are really out of control.. get some help. Find someone to talk with and begin to dig deeply into the issues that may be triggering your present situation. If you have unresolved grief and loss your present feelings are tied to the past. They are trying to tell you something..they need attention.
If you have done this work and you are still struggling than remember that God wants us to learn to manage our emotions..to keep them from dominating our lives. We need to return to Him continually and confess our need for emotional stability..asking Him to guard our hearts. This is very helpful if you are longing for things that have not happened. He will help you keep the longing alive but at the same time to keep your balance so you are not desperate or overwhelmed.
God wants us to have emotional health. His desire is that we are emotionally, spiritually, and physically as whole as we can be. He knows the challenges we face in today’s world and He has not abandoned us. He is with us and He will meet us as we keep running into His arms.
Hear me as I pray, O Lord. Be merciful and answer me! My heart has heard you say, ” Come and talk with me.” My heart responds, ” Lord I am coming.” …Don’t leave me now, don’t abandon me…the Lord will hold me close.
Are you looking back on the last 10 years? There are only four weeks left in this year. Then we start 2011 and a new decade begins. Why look back? There is a very good reason. Looking back helps us realize how much has changed since 2000. For some of us life has changed dramatically and for others it has not changed enough. Either way.. reflecting on life is good. Remembering is good. Allowing God to give you a picture of your life is important.
In our busy culture..we must be intentional about stopping and taking inventory. What has happened? Where was God while it was happening? Where was I? Have you been living life and not savouring it? It all goes by so quickly. Turn around and your children are grown up. Blink an eye and your grandchildren are growing up. Let’s agree to stop and be thankful. Let’s take time to remember the goodness of God.
Instead of rushing through the next four weeks..going from one activity to another..why not carve out time to sit and write in a journal..read a good book..have a cup of Christmas tea..share a rich conversation with a friend..paint a picture..listen to Christmas carols..pet the cat..take pictures of grandchildren..decorate your home.. cook a great meal..walk in nature..sit beside a fire or anything else that brings you pleasure. Rest..relax..be restored as this decade ends.
The next ten years are sure to be full of new challenges and surprises. There will be unexpected trials and blessings. Let’s leave this one behind rejoicing and remembering..let’s allow our God to touch our hearts and fill us to overflowing. He is with us.. Immanuel.
” The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel..which means God is with us!”
“Relief or freedom, esp. from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs.” I like this definition of rest from an online dictionary. Rest is more than inactivity. Resting is not always easy. We live in a culture that is addicted to activity so if we are not busy it seems like we are failing in some way. Yet resting is necessary. During seasons of rest God is doing things in us. He is restoring and renewing us. Our bodies need rest to continue the journey. We need breaks from emotionally charged situations. Our spirits grow weary and they need rest as well.
I find rest difficult. So much of my life has been filled with service to others. God is teaching me that my identity is not to be based on that..performance-based living is the American way. God’s way is different. He is not measuring our worth by what we accomplish. He is not keeping track of all the good things we do in His name. He love for us is not based on what we accomplish. It is a difficult concept to grasp.
The example that comes to mind is the way a parent loves a child..unconditionally..not based on what that child accomplishes in life. Since many of us did not experience that type of love from our parents we may have trouble grasping it. God’s love is based on His view of us. He created us and He sees us as His beloved children. We are His daughters and sons. He is not waiting for us to accomplish things for Him so He can reward us.. His desire is to shower down blessings on us because He loves us with an unending love. I want to rest in that love..don’t you?
“Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”