Time Out

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“Christianity is more than a moral code, more than a philosophy, more than a system of rites… It is more than a belief; it is a life.” – Thomas Merton

The prompt for PAD on April fourteenth was “Time out”. This is what came to mind…

Time Out
If I am being told to
Take time out to
smell the roses
Then more than likely
I need to take more time
And take more than a whiff
Perhaps I need to remember Who
Put the roses there
And not just who planted them
But Who created roses
And tulips and clouds
And me
Maybe I need to
Take time out
To say a prayer of thanksgiving
And to give someone a rose
Or a hug or a meal
Maybe I need to
Take a time out
From myself

Pinterest Worthy? Huh?

This post is for me, but maybe it’s for you, too. In reading a recent blog, I came across some interesting statements.

“Make your home Pinterest worthy”

Is that a thing? Are we now striving to make our homes worthy of Pinterest? I mean, I really enjoy Pinterest. I’ve found lots of cool stuff there, and I use it to keep things organized, like books I want to read and recipes I want to try. But, the ideas I find and/or use from Pinterest are to help me, not so that I can feel like I’m worthy if I use them.

“Who doesn’t want their life to look like a Pinterest board?”

Me. Sure, I’m excited that the kitchen cabinets I painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint turned out well. So did the Superhero Tootsie Pops for my grandson’s birthday. But, it’s not my goal to spend all my time trying to have a perfect house. Even so, I HAVE succumbed to the lure of the before-and-after pictures and the DIY projects. I have gone to Pinterest to just browse for five minutes and found myself surfacing an hour later, with new pins and a house full of dusty furniture.

“Curate your coffee table”

This one was actually funny. I dream of flowers and artfully placed books, but I end up with neatly stacked magazines on a good day.

A few days after I read the above quotes, my daughter-in-law posted something on facebook that I think ties in well here. She quoted the following from an article on HuffPost.

“despite the parenting books, the blogs, the Facebook groups, the Twitter hashtags, the Pinterest boards pumping us full of so much rhetoric and infinite guilt our instincts and sensibilities have vanished into thin air — the singular act of raising a child hasn’t changed all that much over the years. It’s still so damn hard. And like the generations of parents that came before us, we’re all making it up as we go along.”

When I was a young mother, I didn’t have the pressure of social media. There was no facebook for me to live up to by posting numerous pictures of my happy little family. There was no twitter to tell everyone how cool I was. There was no Pinterest to make me feel as I should be working on home projects and throwing elaborate birthday parties.

I’m grateful to see that some of this is dawning on my sweet daughter-in-law. Now it’s time for me to face the music. As an empty nester, I find myself unwisely wasting time on the internet, and comparing my home, my family, even my book reading, to people I hardly even know, or don’t know at all. It’s time to harness it all in; to use the good parts as a tool for good and to be wiser in the use of all the time wasters I’ve fallen prey to.

If this helps or causes anyone to stop and think, I’ll be pleased and grateful.

Labor to Shine as Lights

 

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In a book by Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, she quotes from Chekov’s letters: “You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures….It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared …for failures.”

I needed this advice last year when I received a rejection via email. I had submitted three poems to a new literary magazine. I was really hoping that at least ONE might make it. I had two people look over 6-7poems and tell me which ones they thought were best. Evidently the judges weren’t in agreement.

I have since experienced several other “failures”. Is failure to be expected? Yes. Does it hurt? Sure. Is it easy to “…go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly…”? No, unless we stop and realize that this is what we are supposed to do. Life isn’t all about limelights and successes. Contrary to popular belief, spouted by coaches and educators, we can’t all be whatever we want to be. But, we can all labor to shine as lights in the world.

Do all things without complaining and disputing, 1 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Philippians 2:14-16

He Is Nearer Than Our Own Soul,

...Of how much more value are you than the birds?  Luke 12:24

…Of how much more value are you than the birds? Luke 12:24

Sometimes I get despondent and it seems I am alone. I know in my heart that I’m not, but I forget that God is my Father, and a Father that cares more for me than I’ll ever know.

My dad had a hard time expressing himself. He grew up without a father as his dad died when he was only four years old. He had no role model to show him the way to express love to his children. I think I was a young adult before I ever heard him say, “I love you.”  I knew he loved me, but it was music to hear him say it. Yet, the older and mellower he got, he began to loosen up and I heard those words more often.

I am thankful for all the years I had with him. And I’m thankful God is near me, even when I can’t “feel” Him.

“We need never shout across empty spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”- A.W. Tozer

Under the Surface of Life

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“There’s a lot under the surface of life, everyone knows that. A lot of malice and dread and guilt, and so much loneliness, where you wouldn’t expect to find it, either.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

alone

I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop. –  Psalm 102:7

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26

Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. – Matthew 10:31

Quiet and Still

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Andrew Murray wrote a book titled Abiding in Christ, originally published in 1895 but still relevant today. The posts in this series are a combination of his thoughts and mine.

Among the lessons to be learned…there is none more needful and more profitable than cultivating a stillness of soul.

I still have to learn this lesson. I allow myself to be so easily distracted by the world, so easily sidetracked into wasting time. Murray talks about looking out for needless entertainment. And this was WAY before the advent of the internet!

We must watch even in lawful and necessary things against the wondrous power these have to keep the soul so occupied that there remains little power or zest for fellowship with God.

Just because something is lawful does not mean it is helpful or that is will edify us.

Better is a dry morsel with quietness, than a house full of feasting with strife. – Proverbs 17:1

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” –Zephaniah 3:17

A Cloud Over the Soul

skies

Andrew Murray wrote a book titled Abiding in Christ, originally published in 1895 but still relevant today. The posts in this series are a combination of his thoughts and mine.

“Sometimes there are hours and days of great continuity and even a profound experience of the peace of God. But how little is needed to mar (our) peace. To bring a cloud over the soul! And then, how the faith is shaken!”

Oh how I know this is true. I let too many things of this world mar the peace I have in Christ.

“…faith is putting ourselves quietly into God’s hands for Him to do the work.”

How much easier it is to rest than to fret. So why do I spend so much time fretting? I don’t particularly like the expression ‘let go and let God’, but I do think I need to let go and rest in His arms.

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.I Peter 5:10

First post in this series: When You Do Not Yet See the Way