Sabbaths + Tea Parties

Soapy water ran over the plastic pink teapot.  Once it was clean, I grabbed the surprise animal crackers that were secretly hidden.  My daughter gladly took the cookies and put them on her plate and set them on her tea table.  I poured the boiling water over the mint tea bag,and then a few moments later into the teapot.  

 

Then, with dresses and scarves on, we sit down.   Addie assumed the responsibility of pouring the tea, “Would you like some tea?” she asks.   I answer yes of course. Then, I offer her a dash of milk and she continues to ask for a dash and sometimes a splash of milk throughout the rest of our tea time.  We drink tea, and nibble on cookies. Then, we refill our cups and begin again.

 

Once, when I offer her milk, I get a good glance into her eyes.  I see a new look in her eyes. It was delight. Delight, that her mother was really truly there with her.  I was present in that moment, with her.  I almost broke down crying, seeing both her pleasure, and gratefulness in that one look.

 

Most of the time, I am trying to do three things at once.  My most common response to my daughter when she asks me to do something is, to tell her to wait a minute or that I can when I finish “fill in the blank” task.  She is very vocal with her requests throughout the day so it can feel like I am spending a lot of time with her. But, through this encounter, I realized she has not had a lot of focused quality Mommy time recently.  I say maybe more than I say yes.

 

So, why on this day, was I able to give her focused time?  The answer is, we were practicing Sabbath. For years the idea of a Sabbath has captured my heart.  A whole day to rest? That was incredible. How to do it though, especially with kids, was a mystery.  Then, at the beginning of August I read about a family and what they did for Sabbath. It answered my questions of when to grocery shop and clean, because that is what I usually did on Saturdays, our chosen day for Sabbath.  The answer was to do them before the Sabbath, and that meant I actually scheduled to do them on Thursday and Friday respectively. With these objections out of the way, I felt encouraged to begin.

 

This morning it was our third Saturday practicing the Sabbath.  It is something we have to practice because we won’t know what will work for us until we try.  To be honest, I was not fully focused. Before this, we had had fun dancing, she was the ballet teacher and I was the student.  She often moves from one thing to the next,so we moved onto the tea party. In my mind, I wanted to do yoga after our dance session.   I had to tell myself I could wait because we did not have anywhere we needed to go. This we don’t have to rush anywhere Sabbath thing is still new to me too.  But, without a doubt, from this experience having a time during the week where we can simply be with one another with no other agenda will be amazing. I am glad to be able to tell my kids and my husband and my God that I will rest with you on our Sabbath.  

 

Back to the tea party.  My girl slowly ate one cookie at a time.  This is not normal. Anytime there is sugar in front of her, she eats it with abandon.  She was treasuring this time, just as I was. The gift of connection with another human being is priceless. With your mother, even more so.  Saying yes is a gift we can give to one another.

…the good parts

When I am in the middle of reading a fiction book I almost always skip ahead.  Sometimes it is to the end and other times it is only a few chapters ahead.  Once I am satisfied to know what I did not know before, I go back to my place and begin reading there again.  Yup, I admit it.  My husband always makes fun of me when he catches me doing that.  The other day I caught my five year old daughter doing exactly the same thing.

 

During a movie I will forward through scary or intense parts I would rather not see.

 

Do you?

 

At the coffee shop where I am writing I just watched a young boy drink an entire apple juice box.  Why do kids, including this young man, drink everything in a juice box in nearly one big sip?  They want the goodness to keep coming.  I so identify with that.  I want the goodness to keep coming, so I skip over the scary, overwhelming and hard parts of books and movies so I can get back to the good, and the wonderful. I want to stay right there.

 

The thing is, in life we cannot really do that.  Gosh, wouldn’t that be nice?  In personal struggles and difficult circumstances we have no remote or power to skip over it.  We have to live it.  We have to walk through it.  We have a choice of how we do that, in fear or in faith, with others or alone.  Some difficult things in my life this year has brought out fear, anxiety and worry more to the surface in my life.  In all of these things I have wanted to overcome them all already and be done with them.  But, it isn’t that easy.  We learn things and grow in the process.  The in between time between the trouble and the victory is place where we become.  It’s the place where we get to see God be who He said He will be.  He will be your refuge and your strength, even if it doesn’t quite look like how you imagined it to be.

 

I want to become so I have to accept the hard too.  I am still in that process.

 

I have been walking through Beth Moore’s bible study The Quest this summer.  It has come exactly at the right time.  It has encouraged being honest with God and asking him all the questions you have.  Even the scary ones.  God won’t be hurt or surprised when you ask them.  The study has asked questions I have needed to verbally process within myself and God.

 

This week we have begun reading and talking about the book of Job.  This is a book of the Bible that I have skipped.  I remember intending to read it probably ten years ago and I never got around to it until now.  God had to include in the Bible for a good reason, right?    So far, I see Job in the most horrible circumstances.  I am going to keep reading to see what I find.  I won’t skip it this time.

 

What do you need to face and not to skip in your life?

 

Cinderella, Swords and a Kingdom

I hear about princesses daily.  Cinderella is my daughter’s favorite.  We host balls in our living room and there are always a plentitude of dresses strewn about across our bedroom floors.  I often have a helmet clad boy approach me with a wooden sword ready to attack.  I have to tell my son so many times that mamas don’t really appreciate battle as much as he does.

 

Children seem to have an innate interest in things of royalty.  What little girl doesn’t want to play princess or even better be a princess at some point? As bigger kids, or I guess some would call us adults, we still have that desire that lingers somewhere within us.  It is why I could not get the latest royal wedding this summer between Prince Henry and Meghan Markle out of my mind for days.  As one who never reads entertainment magazines, I scoured the internet for anything about the couple and the wedding.  There is something deep within us that is wired for Kingdoms, Kings and Princesses.

 

I think I know why.

 

We were created to be a part of one, the Kingdom of God.

 

This will be our forever home.  He will be our forever King.

 

The Bible speaks so much about this King and this Kingdom.  As I read,I become more and more excited.  As I read, the power that is behind His words that don’t merely exist on a page of paper reach inside and refocus me.  They whisper to me of what is really true, and it feels so opposite of the seen world in front of me.  That’s why I need to read, so my perspective is returned back to my Father and what He has told me is important.  He says in Luke, “Don’t concern yourself about what you will eat or drink, and quit worrying about these things.  Everyone in the world is concerned about these things, but your Father knows you need them.  Rather, be concerned about his Kingdom.  Then, these things will be provided for you.”  In short, don’t be so concerned and focused on the world in front of you.  God will take of the world and He will take care of you.  Instead, think about His Kingdom.  Make Him and His Kingdom your number one priority.  My daughter wearing a crown to breakfast doesn’t feel so crazy now, right?

 

In the book of Matthew the disciples were arguing about who was the greatest in God’s Kingdom.  I am not sure why.  One of them probably wanted to be the greatest.  It was almost like a school yard fight for superiority status.  Jesus knew they still were not understanding.  He asked a little child to come to him and put the child in the middle of all the disciples.  I can picture it.  A little child staring up at the taller adults around him.  Jesus looked at his friends and said, “You need to become like this child, and if you don’t you will never be a part of God’s kingdom.  Whoever becomes like this child, is the one that is the greatest in my Father’s kingdom.  He goes on even further to say, If you welcome this child, you welcome me.  I can just imagine the disciples shaking their heads, hardly believing what they were hearing.  They had to become like kids?

 

I am so glad that I have my children to watch and learn about the Kingdom.  I don’t have any concrete conclusions but some observations and questions.

 

Children wake up and immediately begin playing.  Playing is their work.  It is within play that they imagine their way to understanding, they try things out, and simply play.  Life is not so serious or as complicated as we make it.  Our Father has told us not to worry and maybe play is a part of that?

 

Children will simply believe what they will hear.  At the same time, they ask a million questions.  They are not afraid to ask, because they are curious.

 

They think so much more is possible.  After all, Nothing is impossible for our God.  That can become something we simply repeat, but pause for a minute and know that it is true.  Nothing is impossible for God.  Absolutely nothing.

 

Oh, how children’s eyes light up as they experience new things!  It is one of my favorite things to observe.

 

It is His Kingdom that I want to be a part of my and my family’s reality.  I am not really sure how to do that but I know it will be worth it.  His Kingdom will be more of our reality than our present one.  It may take a constant stopping and shifting my perspective.    I will pray.  How can we invite His Kingdom to our meal times, our parenting and our play?  Well, our kids have the play part down, right?

It sounds like the greatest fairy tale, because it is.   It is actually one we have the privilege to be a part of.  It is your story too.   In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid, little flock (that’s us!).  Your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.  Let these words wash over you, and become a part of you.  He is pleased to give you the Kingdom.  And it is an actual, real Kingdom my friend.  What is unseen will soon be seen.  It is time to prepare for the Ball my sister.

a morning habit

Habits.  This has been a word on my heart and mind for the last couple of years.  I desire healthy habits for my children AND myself.  Habits are wonderful.  The day to day building of these habits?  Perhaps not as wonderful!  😉  Habits take dedication, discipline and doing things you sometimes don’t want to do.  Don’t tell my children I just said that.

Slowly, I have built a morning rhythm.  One habit on top of each other.  I make my bed, wash my face and do yoga, most days.  Sometimes I trade yoga for a shower.

My most important habit though?  It is what I do, first thing, after I have allowed my mind and body to wake up.  This sometimes takes long or short, it depends on the day.  I am a slow morning person.  I sit up in my bed.  Sometimes I light a candle and most days I open my curtains so I can stare at the world outside.  I sit back down and reach for my Bible, journal and current bible study.  I sit with Jesus.

When my first was little I would sit with Jesus during his first morning nap.  He was a glorious nap-taker and I would have one nap to sit with Jesus, one nap for something creative and then sometimes another one to do, I cannot even remember anymore!  So much free time!  It was when I had my second child that this all changed.  She was an early riser and not much of a nap taker.  Sometimes I would put her in the baby swing during my son’s nap so I could look at my bible then.  It was when she was one, that I realized if I wanted to fit in things that were important to me, I would have to start making new time for them, I would have to begin new habits.  I began with five minute yoga routines and even then my kids were crawling over me!  I learned that I could not even get out of bed to do my time with Jesus because otherwise I would get distracted and start cleaning something.  It was then, that I put my Bible and journal right by my bed.  Genius, right?!

Sometimes I wake up an hour before my kids get up.  Sometimes it is five minutes.  Sometimes I have to tell them to play for ten minutes while I sit with Jesus.  I love the hour times with God, they are amazing.  This year has not been a regular one hour times with God and I have had to give myself grace.  But, guess what?  Even, if I only have five minutes with Him, the verse I read, has power.  I can feel his presence, and just knowing or remembering with me, makes all the difference.  I need this long or short time of remembering that my Father is with me and remembers me.

This verse from the Psalms has shouted to me this week, “Let the Morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my Life.”  Each morning, by showing up, I allow my Father to bring me word of his unfailing love.  I need to hear it every morning.

Building habits allow space for God to speak in them.  Building habits is a process, day by day.  Building habits are so worth it.  Give yourself room to mess up (I am speaking to myself here too) and allow room to see what beauty grows out of these habits.  Amen.

NEW

Even on a cloudy day as it is today, my spring self is ready for new.  There is something about staring at the bare branches of trees for enough days that you are more than ready to see that tiny green bud appear on the branches.  When you spot a tree or bush flowering it is like finding the greatest treasure. Oh, I see color! I see petals of yellow or pink! I saw both last week.  I cannot help myself but to write about spring again this week because it is what is stirring hope in me.   I think the bird songs are what begin to stir up our hope for new.  While it is still cold, the birds begin their songs, cheering us up that something new is around the corner.

Spring means new in my mind.  They are one and the same. It is not only in nature that I begin to witness signs of new, but I feel it within myself too.  I am ready to go outside with the freedom of no shoes, or at least sandals and without the burden of a heavy winter coat. I have more motivation within me for beginning or trying something new.  New seems more possible now than it does in the middle of winter. Perhaps, it is really the birds cheering me on that new things are indeed possible within me too. Spring almost feels like another new year, doesn’t it?  It feels like another chance to take a step towards a dream or to go after that thing that has only been a thought in the back of my mind.

 

There are words that keep coming back into my thoughts as I have a moment to pause.  They are, “Whoever is in Christ is a NEW CREATION, The old way of living has disappeared.  A NEW way of living has come into existence”.*

 

I have heard this verse before.  But, somehow, right now, this spring, I can actually receive them.  I love how we can read the same words in the Bible, but all of a sudden they are completely new to our ears, minds and imaginations.  They really are living, they are what we need right in that season.

 

In this spring of 2018 I guess I need to hear that NEW is possible.  That new is possible for me, even in the areas that seem stubborn to change.  This new does not feel scary, like change often does, but this new feels right, like jeans that fit just perfectly.

 

I am a new creation.  You are a new creation. There are no limits, the new belongs to whoever is in Christ.  If you are not in Christ, well, come right in, and say yes to this Jesus Christ who welcomes new for everyone.  Our old way of living has disappeared. Our old patterns of shame, guilt, negative self talk or whatever yuck you have agreed with in the past have disappeared my friend.  It is no longer. We are not stuck. A NEW way living has come into existence. This new way of living is one of love, forgiveness, healing, and growth. It is good.

 

You are a new creation.

 

I am a new creation.

 

Oh Father, may that sink in deeper than anything else.  May the old way not feel strong any longer but give us the strength to say no to that old way when it tries to come knock on our door.  It no longer belongs to us. You have overcome it! It is not our reality anymore! Yay! The new way of living, your way living, your way of love is now here and with us.  We say yes completely to this NEW way. Amen.

 

*From 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

when i am weak.

When I feel weak,

I come to

your arms,

And lean in,

To your strength.

In that place,

With your arms around me,

I am safe,

Forever.

I am loved

Forever.

Open.

As I walk out our side door this afternoon with my kids, I breathe in the fresh air as an elixir.  As one who has been stuck in the house for a week with what we can only guess as the flu, the blue sky, the trees and the grass feel like an open expanse of freedom to me.  I look into the sky and feel like I could get lost in it, in a good way.

I have never had a “word for the year” before but this year I decided to try it.  I decided if one came easily I would try it, but if none came, I wouldn’t force it.  So, on my couch one afternoon, vulnerable came to mind.  I have desired in this season to be vulnerable, something that is so not always easy, right?  But vulnerable felt like kind of a complex word to focus on so I looked up vulnerable in Webster.  One of the synonyms for vulnerable was the word open.  This was much more simple and easier to focus my mind on.  So, OPEN, it was.  Being open feels scary in a way but then it is also very much like the blue sky that I stared into this afternoon.  It is freedom.  This is what I want, freedom.

May I…

Be open to days looking different or seasons not meeting my expectations.  For that matter,may I be open to let go of expectations when I realize I even have them.  This is what I realized I needed to do this very morning.

Be open to lingering longer with a kid at bedtime, does rushing make it really go any faster?  Yes, I want my own time.  Perhaps being open is really saying yes.  Saying yes to what is important.  In this case, its saying yes to the sacred moments before bed with my child.  My own time is important too, but I do see when I don’t try to rush, it goes pretty much at the same speed but my soul is in a better place!

Be open to go slower when I want to go fast and go fast when I want to go slow.

Be open to the different, CHANGE, the uncomfortable, the good,and the truth.

Be open to love and the Word and looking in the eye when I want to look away.

Be open to imperfection, and the rest and beauty it will bring.  Perfection is not all what it is cracked up to be.

Be open to think new thoughts.

Be open to be gentle with myself when I want to be my own harsh critic.  Can I not choose to be my own cheerleader already?!

Be open for things to be better and more beautiful than I could ever imagine.

Anna McParlan of @alonginlandsea on Instagram said this, “We grow most in the seasons of surrender-when we release our clenched fists and let God plant exactly what He wants in our open hands.  It will bloom in its time.  It always does.”.

Yes to that.  So, here I am, with my open hands, my open heart and my open mind.    Here I am, open.

 

Right Now.

Upon reading over my January entries in my journal today, I came to this quote, “Give your ENTIRE attention to what God is doing RIGHT NOW (all emphasis is mine), and don’t get worked up about what MAY or MAY NOT happen TOMORROW.”  I read through my past month as I move into the new month.  It honestly helps me to remember what stood out as important or what impressed itself on my soul, because I often forget quicker than I would imagine.

 

Give your ENTIRE attention to what God is doing RIGHT NOW.  Entire is a lot.  It means to have no element or part left out according to Webster.  In other words, it means WHOLE.  Give your WHOLE attention to what God is doing.  Do not have even one iota of your attention on any other thought,or any other pursuit but have every part of your mind on what God is doing.  Whoa.  

 

So, focusing my attention on what God is doing is evidently important, right?  I can hear the next question you have, because it was mine too, so what is God doing right now?  How can I know what God is doing right now?

 

There are times when I know, I just know without a shadow of a doubt that God is speaking.  This usually happens when I am taking a walk or doing some task, not expecting anything and suddenly I sense it, a phrase or an assurance of an idea that feels like it pops into my brain.  There is a yes in my mind that agrees with what I “hear”.  When I am hoping for an answer, often anxious about it, I don’t feel like I hear anything to be honest.  Mostly, I sense to trust God.

 

In this example, I actually had written this verse Matthew 6:34 from the Message not on only one page, but I had written it twice!  I had not remembered the second time that I had written it.  I also had written a box around it as a way of highlighting it BOTH times.  When I see something repeated, usually it is a theme that is repeated, not actually the same verse, I know that it is something to pay attention to.  In this case, it actually repeated to pay attention to what God is doing right now!  What He is doing is giving me this verse from Matthew 6:34 right now.  Oh, and not to forget the second half of the verse, because that is included in the repetition, He says, “and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  I so often have a script playing out in my mind if something would happen or trying to prepare myself for something that may or may not happen.  This part of the verse speaks to my overactive mind and imagination, that I have a permission slip to not get overworked or should I say, over fixated on it?

 

This gets even better!  A week or so after I wrote the verse for the second time, I go to church.  Guess what my pastor said right at the beginning of his sermon?  He said, “God is at work in your life RIGHT NOW (Yes, I had those last two words in all caps in my journal, just like the verse was written both times in my journal.)  It’s almost like God would know (He does know us.)  I would question if he was really working in my life right now.  Can you really pay attention to something you are not sure that He is doing?  No.  So, in that case, He makes it clear to me that He is indeed speaking.  Perhaps He is getting my attention so that when He does speak, I am ready.  I am not sure what He wants me to focus on, but after writing this, I am even more ready to know!  

 

I do not share this to say this is how it will work in your life when God speaks.  I am not giving you a five step formula but rather an example of how it could actually play out in your real life.  I wouldn’t have remembered any of this if I hadn’t journaled and if I hadn’t gone back to read my journal.  So, it may be a shameless plug for writing things down.  

 

Know that God is indeed working in your life, despite all the circumstances that are playing out in your life right now.  He wants you to know to put your whole mind on what he is doing right now and not on what may or may not happen tomorrow.

…Words of Life

Dear One,

Jesus stopped for the one, he will stop for you.  He is never too busy.  He always has the time for you.

He pays attention to me, and he will pay attention to you.  He doesn’t play favorites, but yet, you are his favorite.

Jesus is your help,your healer and he takes delight in you.  He is there at all hours of the day and in every circumstance.  He doesn’t shake his head at you when you make mistakes but he looks you straight in the eyes and he smiles at you, because you make him smile.  You do.  You really do.

Walk in these words of life today.