Journey to the Sabbath

I decided to use this space to write only when I felt I had something worth sharing, which obviously, has become less and less often as time passes. However, I do want to share with you about some lessons I’ve been learning over the months on the Sabbath.

We have some interesting ideas on the Sabbath and what it means. I know this, because I’ve asked a ridiculous number of people their thoughts on it, and all of the ideas are quite different to one another. But the overarching themes seem to be 1) Sabbath means church day. 2) Sabbath was for the Jews 3) Sabbath seems to be the 90’s outlook on Heaven. Lots of quiet and holiness and choirs singing and boredom. In fact, though no one would dare use the word, holy=boring to many.

But the more I read on the Sabbath for theology classes and papers that were due, the more my heart was stirred to lean into it. Then, our church hosted an amazing conference back a couple of months ago called Dwell that spoke on dwelling with God in several ways, and one of the ways was through the spiritual disciplines. If you’re anything like me, you may be like, “what are those?” and “they don’t sound fun.” 😉  I had never heard that term before classes and Dwell, but spiritual disciplines simply mean habits that we live to draw closer to God, several or all of which you already live out. There’s a list of these disciplines and the lists seem to change in minor ways depending on who has written it, but the gist of it goes prayer, worship, serving, Scripture reading, solitude/silence, Sabbath, fasting, giving, meditation, and confession, in no particular order of importance.

I want to share with you what I’ve learned about the Sabbath, about what it is and why it’s still in that list of disciples even this side of the cross. But first, let me share why our family has started the change into observing a Sabbath day with freedom in Christ.

Yes, rest sounds lovely and we could all use a good dose of it every week, but the restfulness we receive from the Sabbath is really just a byproduct of the real reason we observe it. The Sabbath first and foremost was set to be a reminder. God created the world, then rested on the seventh day and told people from then on out to follow his modeling. Work six days, rest the seventh. Why? Because we tend to overdue it? maybe. Because we need to rest and get ready for the next week? maybe.

But God has a really amazing habit of giving us good gifts along with a way to remember him and his provision. He established many festivals and celebrations for his people to remember his provisions like rain and a good harvest, or to remember major milestones of his provision, like freedom from Egyptian slavery. So with the Sabbath, he gave rest and refreshment to remember that he created the universe. He did. Not me. Not us. He lets us rest so that we understand we aren’t God.

It sounds easy and nice, right? Relax and remember he’s the One in control? yep, sounds like a good day to me. except, no one hardly does it. We work and work, then we sit down to rest and maybe read a book only for a laundry basket of clothes to catch our eye. I knew it was hard for me to sit still and relax, but I assumed that was just part of the mom in me, but then something caught my attention a couple of months back. Jennie Allen posted a list on facebook yesterday from A.W. Tozer of Rules of Self Discovery. I actually go through this list several times a year, because introspection is oddly fun to me. But when I went through the questions back in February, I felt like I was looking into a mirror and seeing for the first time the heart behind my busyness. Here were several of my answers a few months back when this journey to the Sabbath began.

What we want most: to learn. quiet/order

I enjoy reading and learning. I love my school work and growing in my understanding of what God has revealed of himself. So there’s that desire, but I also want order. I struggled to find the exact words without sounding petty, but honestly, I want a picked up house, organized meals, calm and happy children, a mowed yard, my car to be clean inside, and on and on. I don’t need perfection, and when everything goes crazy, I roll with it. But I was unaware of how much of my desires revolve around order. I basically want my life to look the way I think it looks best.

What we think about most: theology (it’s my major so it’s currently my life) but also, more order.

I was not surprised by the theology part, I often wait eagerly for someone who actually wants to chat about justification or theories on the Tree of Life. But, again, I was pretty unaware of the overarching theme of my desires, but what do I spend a lot of my thought life on? I put a lot of thought into planning, organizing, reworking any issues. I use planners, to-do lists, and pinterest to rework my life over and over in an effort to make it flow more smoothly, because….I want order. If there is an behavioral issue with one of my kiddos, I will think and think, obsess, talk to those I respect, and whatever else trying to help correct the issues before laying it before God’s throne and stepping back. If our schedule has issues and we just aren’t making it somewhere on time, or we keep running out of this product repeatedly, or anything that may throw a kink in my life running the way I desire it to run.

How we use our money: food! and on things my kids really don’t need, sigh. but also? controlling chaos

yes, I totally spend my extra money on yummy food and cutesy things for my kids, and I’m totally trying to stop the excessiveness of that. However, I also spend my extra money on tubs, food that is not as healthy but easier and faster, and other random things that when I really stop and think, I’m trying to keep everything running smoother. This question wasn’t incredibly revealing, but I really think that may have more to do with not having unlimited money to spend at The Container Store than my own self-control.

What we do with our leisure time: ? pinterest? reading. 

Because of the current season of life, I struggle to call any of my time “leisure” time. I know that’ll change when I’m not sneaking textbook reading and paper writing into my evenings and all open spaces in my days. However, if I am zoning out and wasting that time, I’m probably planning something or pinteresting ideas on meals or ways to fix some situation, house thing, or whatever.

The company we enjoy: friends, especially those who have a contagious love of Jesus

This one wasn’t that eye opening, except that it made me really grateful! I really enjoy people, and we’ve been really blessed with our friendships. There are so many that have such a love for Christ that they’re a breath of fresh air to be around them.

Who and what we admire: ironically, I most admire people who submit to God and live a life of dwelling with him!

Despite my obvious life of trying to control things, I really admire those who don’t! Sometimes, it’s what we lack that we admire most in others, so introspection and questions like these are really revealing to ask ourselves!

What we laugh at: Friends (the show, though I have some funny friends too ;)) my kids

This question was the most convicting. Wanna know why? Because it was hard for me to find something I regularly laugh at.   When you’re elbow deep in trying to run the world, you don’t have a lot of extra giggle time, you know what I mean?

 

This list was pretty revealing this year on where my heart was and how little I was trusting and submitting to God. I wanted the job of ruler of my own world, and I spent as much of my desires, thoughts, money, time, and more as I could on keeping a white knuckle grip on my life. Enter: Sabbath.

Do you know what the Sabbath means for a control freak? Sabbath means you have to stop. You have to let it go, be still, and breathe in deeply the knowledge that you can’t do it all and it’s a waste of energy to even try. Peter Scazzero said in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, that one thing we must accept is that we will all leave this world with a list of things we never got to do. We will never accomplish all that we wish or even all that we need, because we’re human, fallen, and time is ticking. So, you stop, rest, and enjoy God’s creation once a week, refusing to pick up that laundry basket or try to be the one who holds your life all together. It means submitting to the truth that I am not a special snowflake, and everyone in my life will not dissolve into tears if I’m not there to save the day. On Sabbath, I’m small and weak, but wholly loved. He is huge and all powerful, but waiting for us to let him love us. The strangest thing is that I never realized until the Sabbath that sometimes, not doing something turns out to be the most worshipful thing I can do.

I plan on sharing more of the details of this journey to the Sabbath I have been on, including what that actually looks like in a crazy house with three young children (because it does not look like the silent, rules-oriented day some seem to imagine), and I hope you’ll follow along and give me your own insight into your thoughts on the Sabbath!

What are you close to dropping your arms on?

 

Yesterday morning while sitting in church, we sang the song Lion and the Lamb. (Here’s a link to my favorite version of it if you haven’t heard it yet and want to know what I’m even talking about) The lyrics are beautiful, and the part that jumped out most to me in that particular worship was, “Our God is the lion, the lion of Judah, He’s roaring with power, and fighting our battles.” Especially that last part, fighting our battles…

As we sang through it and my mind was rolling that line over and over in my head. I imagined God fighting my battles and thinking of what that looks like, on my part and His both. We know that God will fight for us, but we also know He is often waiting for us to recognize our need and request that help too. And yet, we often don’t turn to Him or fail to stay consistent in our prayers. Also? if you’re like me, you may often fail to even recognize your struggle or hurt or worry as a battle. You may imagine battles as “big” issues other people deal with. I mean, look how blessed you are, what right do you have to act like this issue is some big battle and you’re in need of some giant victory and rescue?? …but..aren’t you? aren’t I?

So as I was mulling this over, one visual stuck out to me the most. It’s a story God included in His word from Exodus 17.

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

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The image of Moses with hands held high in surrender to God is what I kept seeing. Moses knew this battle was up to God, but in something as small as his aching, tired arms lowering, the battle would fall. This wasn’t because there was power in Moses arms, it was because God wanted Moses and everyone else to remember who was really fighting that battle, and that their dependence and surrender to Him was of utmost importance.

Then you have Aaron and Hurr beside him. First, they put a rock under him so he could sit down. Then, they held up his arms until the battle was won. I love it. I love it so much. You know they got tired too. Have you ever had to hold your arms above your head for any length of time? Try it. It’s no picnic. I have painted ceilings and it’s horrible work…and that’s with lots of rest breaks because I’m a total wimp!

They didn’t have to be the ones. They could have taken turns. They could have called on someone else. They could have brought up an entire tribe to take turns! But they didn’t. It was their job and he was their friend.

I was thinking of all of this, and thinking of a raging battle in my own heart lately. I thought of how I have tried fighting the battle on my own so often through “fixing” things here and there. I’m a tweaker. If this isn’t working, I’ll tweak something and try that, and so on and so on. I have taken this battle to the Lord, sure, but then I always put my arms back down and start trying it on my own again because the Lord was giving me a battle to watch Him win and not an instant victory. And then, I thought of how I have kept this battle to myself, when I have so many people in my life who would run up that hill and help. Even more, I have one or two who are my Aaron and Hurr, and I am theirs. They would gladly place a solid rock beneath me and stand with me until I could no longer stand alone. They would hold up my arms in a battle when I am hurting, and tired, and hopeless, and ready to give it all up.

What is your battle? What are you ready to drop your arms to, or maybe you already have? What do you need to take before the Lord in prayer day after day, and you know that you can’t do it alone? and who is it for you? Who are those one or two people, not a whole tribe, who will come together with you and give you a solid rock foundation, lifting their arms with you and helping to support you throughout this battle until you see victory at the end?

This morning before my kids were even up, I was on the phone with a friend, pouring out what God had shown me through that song. I told her my battle and asked her to pray, but first, I asked her what her own battle was and listened with completely open ears and heart as she cried and shared her own heart with me. We can hold up each other’s arms! We only have to take the first step in sharing our hearts <3

Summer Solstice Love

A couple of days ago was the summer solstice. The very first day of summer. We celebrated with playing in water and swinging on swings until little bodies all around me were drained of all energy (shocking, I know. who knew it was possible?) and eyes drooped while we read books. We spread a table of summery food and lots of flowers. It was perfect, except that once that full strawberry moon rose high enough to see its beauty, my girls were too sleepy to wake and take a peek at it. Maybe next year.

I love solstices and equinoxes. (In reality, I love all random and real holidays.) But, some holidays not only give you a reason to eat extra special food and celebrate, but they also signify something. I particularly enjoy the ones signifying something new. A new year. A new school year. A new season. and they make my spirit breath deep and sigh with relief. First day of…  it doesn’t even matter what comes next. It’s my first day of it.

I have another chance.

I am in constant need of another chance. I am desperate for them. And so, I am always grateful for them, even if only the symbol of them, because just because it’s officially summer now doesn’t actually change anything. But it does if you let it. I didn’t do everything I wanted to do in spring. That’s the way of life. But, once that solstice comes, it’s too late for what if’s and pouring over wishes. It’s time to dust my hands off from trying to catch up to my own expectations, sit and have a long day, a long dinner, a long anything that will make me laugh and let me look ahead to a new season. That also includes making plans…it’s who I am, after all. I love planning and laying out ideas. But, I know that even these new plans won’t be completed 100% either, badly as I wish they would.

And that’s okay.

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Because I’m human. Because some days look like waking early and drinking coffee while I read my Bible and watch silently as the sun creeps up. Some days look like marking off my to do list like a boss and answering my children patiently, gently rebuking and guiding them toward the right path in love. Then other days? Other days, it looks like me staying up too late the night before because I’ve procrastinated my homework or because I’m terrible at time management..or both. It looks like me being awakened by the screaming of small people, demanding that the other sister give a toy back and then I’m peppered by their tiny machine gun mouths that spit out incessant demands and questions before 8am. “I’m hungry, can we have pancakes for breakfast?” “Can I go swim in my pool while I wait for breakfast?” “Can I eat fruit snacks?” “Can we watch a movie?” “Are we going somewhere today?” “CAN we go somewhere today?” “Yeah! can we go to the park?” “the library?” “the park AND the library?” and so on. and because I JUST woke up and still have some patience, I squelch the urge to tell them NO to everything they just said, or that the library won’t let us in because it’s supposed to be quiet there. And then the day basically goes downhill from there. I have a to do list that I don’t even make out, because that would require motivation, and I lack the motivation to even make the list, much less complete it. I plan for nothing, look forward to nothing, and basically spend the day surviving until Lance comes home. Which of course makes it all warm and fuzzy for him coming home. all in all?

Some days, I lose hope.

Do you ever have days like that? When you feel behind before it even starts, and at every turn of the day, it’s one more mark on the list of mess ups instead of a mark on the happy “Done!” list? One more mark for losing my patience and responding in anger. One more mark for staring blankly or escaping with the help of my distracting phone instead of getting work done. One more day of wondering why in the world I can’t get a handle on my sin and JUST CONQUER THIS ALREADY. One more.

I have those days. The thing about those days, is that sometimes, they have a way of having a snowball effect. And a day rolls into another, and another, and another. Until it’s a week of being in a funk and not knowing how to shake it off. It’s a constant battle of trying to gain ground while you’re still slipping down a muddy hill. Shoveling snow in the middle of a blizzard. Fighting your own anger and pride in a house full of people who need you to show them what serving looks like. Before long, I don’t even know what caused any of it or what the deal is. I just struggle against letting the way I feel affect what I know. Because what I feel is unhappy. and I feel useless. feel unappreciated, unloved, unimportant. and then, I base my decisions on those. On “what is the point??”

But, oh boy, am I blinded to the truth in those times. What I really need is a reset button. And I know. I know that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning. I know every day is an opportunity to reset. shoot, every minute is an opportunity to reset. But, I am stubborn when I get stuck, and I need a big reset…or a slap in the face, but everyone around me is much too kind to do that.

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Then, a shift comes in the form of something new starting, like my school semester or the girls school year. Or, a new season begins. *sigh* there is my reset. And I’m so grateful that God already knew how flakey we’d be when He created this world. He knew we’d whine and gripe about cold weather, and He planned for winter to end and spring to come. And then, He knew we’d whine about the rain. We’re human, and He loves us in spite of that, and that is just wonderful. He is kind because not only did He know we’d just need a change because we’re human, but He knows that we get so desperate to peel off these sinful bodies in this fallen world. He knew I’d get tired of myself. So, He gave us reminders that none of this is forever. One day, we will be free of the cycle of sin and the chains of time…never enough time. We’ll be made new as He makes us new again and again and again, until finally we are complete because we are with Him. and that is worth buying extra fresh bouquets of flowers from Kroger’s clearance rack and spreading a table to taste of His goodness while laughing with friends and family.

Dust off your hands, child of God. It’s a new day.

I’m still here: another lesson from grief

I just had to reset my password to even get into this website because it’s been so many months since I’ve touched it. In fact, it’s been months since I’ve written at all, except for the random papers on biblical worldviews or Israel’s kings I’ve had for school. But that’s not the same type of writing…

It wasn’t until I was asked to write a blog post for my church’s site on serving that I realized how little I’ve written, and why.

Overall, I’m good. Though the upcoming Father’s Day weekend doesn’t exactly make me smile, I have healed so much in my grief from the loss of my dad. I can talk about him with a grin and laugh about stories of him and the times he was so funny or silly, especially with my girls. I can see pictures my siblings post on social media now without it knocking my breath away each time I open up an app and see him smiling at me again. I haven’t listened to his music that was so much a part of him yet, but then, Jimmy Buffet wasn’t exactly at the top of my playlist before he passed either ;).

But, I have realized this week that the part of me still grieving without me fully realizing, is the writing piece of me. The part of me that looks down deep and spills my heart out for other eyes to see. He was my number one supporter. Truly, he had his friend giving the eulogy at his funeral remind everyone there to buy my book! And it’s hard not to let go of a dream when the one who pushed that dream is gone.

We can compartmentalize so well..some of us better than others. We can smile and live and breathe, while another piece of us is wounded deeply. And it makes me wonder about other people in my life and what they have pushed down deep or given up on, even if for only a time. We’ve heard that time heals all wounds, but that’s only true if you let it. Because past left unprocessed is still the present. You carry it with you through each moment of each day.

The strangest part is that I think I could have gone my entire life without really writing again. I had decided to let this blog go and file away the project I worked on for months before Dad got worse. There was even an idea burning in my heart he actually started during our last really great conversation before he was no longer as lucid that I had let go of.

But God doesn’t want that for me. And giving up on the life God has for you because it hurts or is hard isn’t what He wants for you either. Personally, I have a terrible work ethic…ahem., but my dad was motivated and an intimidating person. He was like having my own person writing agent with wayyy too much authority and I couldn’t fire him. And I loved him for it.

Now, I have to put one foot in front of the other. Open my laptop and notebooks. and get to work. Because I have a calling that may not last forever, but while it does, I want to be responsible with it. What about you? What would require a lot of self-discipline and work, but deep down, you know you should get to it?

We don’t just let go of dreams because of deep wounds or tragedy, sometimes, we just get busy. Sometimes, the gets are just. that. loud. Anndd they have a thousand demands. Sometimes, we keep meaning to look into it, to work on it a bit, or get organized for it, but something else comes up and we trade off the important need for the immediate need. But you can do it. So can I. and we’ll slip and fail…months will pass again with me writing only what professors require of me, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect…it only has to be started.

New Year and a clean slate—Free 2016 Printable!

Happy New Year! Did you have a great New Year’s Eve?? We had a fun dinner and celebration with our girls, ringing in the new year with parts of Greenland…ahem…thank you, Netflix, for giving us a countdown we can use at 8pm.

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we had dinner with fancy glasses and new years tiaras…except there wasn’t enough for daddy, so we had to make him a crown

Even our Westie, Jazz got into it

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We bought lots of confetti poppers and made a balloon drop on our fan

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Then, we played board games and filled out some kid friendly year end reviews, with all the big events of our year on the wall for reference…because lists are my life blood

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When bedtime grew near and the smallest of us began to wane, we pulled up the countdown on netflix and had a big celebration with dancing and poppers and balloons! This was the entire floor of my living room by the end of the it all…

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It was all really fun. I love celebrating holidays with kids. Everything is so magical and fun to them, and their lack of expectations keep away the fear of disappointment. After the girls were all tucked in for bed, Lance and I filled out our own year end reviews and looked back on our last year together. We have a really lovely tradition for New Year’s where we go to bed before midnight…I know, we’re so lame. But, after all that partying hard, we were tired! So, we went to sleep and awoke to a whole new year. And, the weekend was full of relaxation. He built things and I read books. The girls played and giggled and ran. And we began talking about what a new year means. Lance and I talked about how important it is to learn how to dream together, and we spent most of the evening discussing our own dreams for ourselves, each other, and our girls. Then, last night, we wrote them down. The thing I love about fresh starts, is that they can go any direction you point them to!

Clean slates. Just like a slate chalkboard wiped clean, yes it has the chalky white appearance of things erased, but it is ready for something new! So, what will you wipe off your slate? What will you determine to write on it? There are so many great printable lists online. I looked through so many just to find one for myself, but I couldn’t find any that contained all the directions I really wanted to go in my planning for 2016. So I made one for myself, and I’m making it available to you. 🙂

Here is the image, if you’d like to right click, save as, and download it that way!

2016 clean slate printable

and here is the pdf file if you’d like to download it that way>>>2016 clean slate printable

What will your slate look like this year? Will you be sure to wipe away ALL the old chalk first? What will be your big goal? What will you do for yourself? I’m still mulling over many of these questions, including food to eat. SO MANY OPTIONS! 🙂 But also, what is my big goal? What will I devote my time, energy, and heart to? Do you know yours? I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee and hear your answers. Have a happy new year and a first normal week back after the holidays!