The most-beautiful-three-and-a-half-year-old on the planet decided to help me do a little crocheting when she and her parents were visiting. One of her favorite cartoon characters, the brilliant Richard Scarry’s Lowly Worm, was in the process of being recreated in yarn. Not a terribly difficult project for a 58-year-old grandmother who learned to crochet decades ago (from my grandmother, BTW, only I was a bit older.) Continue reading “Projects take time”
The college’s bell tower had not yet rung 6AM, and the sun was still coming up over the wheat that was drying out from the recent rains, which had at least brought in cooler weather. So sipping hot tea on my patio while donning a sweatshirt in southern Missouri in mid-June was a real treat. Birds singing, an occasional rooster (even though we live in town), and my big black dog was not panting yet. Not bad at all for a summer Monday morning!
Until a bird decided to critique yesterday’s sermon notes: Continue reading “Incoming!”
I’m saving for a new kitchen. They say the first rooms of any old house that should be remodeled are the bathrooms and the kitchen; okay, now that we’re 25-years into this already old house, it’s probably time. So I’m saving my dollars as I am hoping for a visit from the contractor in the months to come. (Bob, honey, take note.)
This past Christmas, our oldest granddaughter received a “new kitchen” from her father’s parents. I have rarely seen such an elaborate and beautiful play thing, and I’m thinking of writing them to request they send me one, only on a bigger adult scale! It’s magnificent!
The challenge is that it Continue reading “Some assembly required”
The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!”
Proverbs 26: 13 Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Bob and I were enjoying a nice, quiet summer night walk through the neighbor one evening. Our older street doesn’t have the best lighting so naturally it was dark as we picked our way along some of the crumbing sidewalks. Suddenly I stopped when I say something moving slowly in the grass as we passed, and thinking it was a wounded animal or bird, we looked at it a little more intently. As our pupils dilated to let in more light, the image that pounded through the retina and hit the brain was something black with a white stripe down its back.
The brain then gave definite directions.
Unfortunately, we didn’t move quite fast enough, and even more so, we both shouted out in fear
The brain did not fail us. It gave us the correct information; we were just not prepared to know what to do with that information.
Unlike this guy. You gotta admire him on some level:
I’m challenged by this attitude. I’m sorry to admit that I tend to be more on the panic side (as the fragrance on my shoes could attest!) rather than the calm stoic side; that is, learning the (life) discipline of standing firm, being very still, until the threat passes. And I definitely see that here:
“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.”
I’m long on information. I need more than information; I need wisdom, and the power to put that wisdom into practice. It’s so easy for me to panic about so many things—family, health, finances, world situations, _________. The problem is that when I panic, I tend to do stupid pretty well, which can get quite stinky not only for me, but for those around me. The atmosphere is not conducive to others wanting to be around me. (Especially when I track it into my house, if I can extend the metaphor a bit!)
The psalmist here gives me hope, that the discipline God places on me grants me firm footing when (not if) difficult and scary situations arise, since “the valley of the shadow” is not something we are told to circumvent, but to go through…
…albeit not alone.
It’s the thick of summer now. This morning, the locusts are humming and the humidity is high, and it’s not even 7:30! I have just returned from the last of three sorties out of state, and as I lay in bed last night, trying to get to a place of much needed slumber, I began feeling an inward fatigue. Not exhaustion – yet – but a red flag, a warning to be aware of what I was sensing internally. I’ve never scored high in what some might call self-awareness, so this was an important signal for me.
All three trips were not only tiring—how many miles in the car total? But they were also very relationship-building and relationship-affirming with other family members. As much as I truly love them all, and am so thankful for them all, it was still quite a time of “out-giving”. Now as I lay in bed, I began to feel overwhelmed by “the List”—all the things clamoring for my attention, and none of them wanting to stand in line and wait their turn.
Now, as I sit on the porch, I pray,
I cast all these cares upon You, Lord Jesus. Thank You, Holy Spirit, that You are my Guide, Comforter, Teacher. Thank You for grace for the moment. Show me how to fill up my soul’s tank, to be honest with my limitations and merciful with the limitations of others. Lord, protect me from over-responsibility and taking on what is not mine to do, not just in projects, but in people. Bless the works of my hands and the words of my mouth, because they are Yours. Show me how to open myself so that You can fill me up. Then, and only then, can I honestly pour out to others!
As if in response to my prayer, a yellow swallowtail butterfly lights to rest in the bush only a few feet away from where I am sitting. He spreads his wings, a living stained glass window, and I am reminded that pausing to admire and to attend to such beauty is, in itself, an act of worship to its Creator. Wait, and listen, and watch, and in these things, worship occurs.
Another one arrives and joins his twin! This second one I would have missed if I had not been paying attention. There is no nectar with this green bush, no feeding or pollenization happening. Nothing that business-as-usual would classify as “productive”. There is only the cool shade in an already dry, hot, and promising-to-be-hotter morning. And an important mystery begins to be revealed to me: all creation needs rest.
Is it possible to make a credible connection between rest and worship? Or is worship merely something we “do” when we sing on Sunday morning, and rest something we’d secretly rather be doing on Sunday morning? What if rest and worship can each be classified as a both a discipline and a joy?
The need for rest is not merely a consequence of the original Fall of man. No! It was indisputably God’s intention from the beginning of creation that we should take time for rest, not only physically, but in every other way as well. The Fall of man is, in actuality, reflected in our cultural attitudes typified by statements like, “Sleep is highly overrated.” Granted, sleep and rest are two different things, but everyone needs both. It is no accident that the Bible specifically records the 7th day of creation! (1)
Rest is a requirement for health in all areas of our existence. And rest requires patience, as we allow time for the brain itself, the actual physical organ that sits within in our skull, to recuperate from various levels of trauma, which include individual definitions of stress and overload. We want quick fixes, like emotional M.A.S.H. units providing temporary patches rather than complete healing and recuperation.
Now here’s the interesting connection: rest, and its companions—waiting and patience—are skills to be nurtured, even practiced. And these skills are exercised when we take time to worship God by purposefully diverting our attention from our lists to His beauty. Significant worship occurs in rest and reflection, as we are attentive to what God is providing for this moment. (2) Worship does not need to be boxed into a few songs during a worship service, but is expressed when we admire what God is doing right in front of us—in the smile of a child, in the gift of my friend’s big sunflower, or in the lighting of a pair of butterflies in the shade.
I guess even butterflies need rest.
- Genesis 2:1-3
- Psalm 84:1; Psalms 23:1-3
(excerpt from God Loves Gardens by Dawn Jones)