Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
If someone happens to know where the month of January went could you please let me know....
Seriously, this "flying time" thing is out of control!
Unless I stop and think about it I can even forget what season we are in:
~ The weather is unpredictable (snow then sun then rain....)
~ I just got the Christmas decorations put away but a recent visit to the mall revealed that winter coats have already been replaced by bathing suits.
~ While I should be focused on "My Valentine" advertisers have me pondering my garden and landscaping plans.
While it often seems like living in the moment and focusing on today is impossible (and much of the world would have us think it is irresponsible) the bible teaches that "here and now" is exactly where God has placed us and what He wants us to focus on.
How many of us spend so much time focusing on what we expect and want for our future that we miss out on what we are blessed with right now? We carefully map out our lives, planning and preparing for events that may or may not ever unfold, and in doing so we neglect the precious gift of "this" moment.
Our calendars reveal commitments and schedules that have been set weeks or months ahead of time and literally rob us of time to rest, relax or refresh. In many ways it can feel as though we are on the fast-track to burnout, both physically & spiritually. But as we find ourselves living in a culture that values "busyness" and "scheduling" what can we do to slow the pace in order to live our lives to the fullest? Look at how Jesus answers this question:
There may be "no time like the present" but I am a firm believer that "there is no present like time" and that is a gift I find myself craving more and more.
So beginning today here are 10 ways I want to be intentional about "living in the moment" and making the most of my time in 2010 (in no particular order):
These ideas are just a starting point and though they may not succeed in actually slowing down time, they can help me make the most of the time I have been given!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
AHH, January in Kansas. There is nothing quite like extreme cold, bitter wind, ice under snow, snow melting into slush and then turning back to ice again.
It's times like this I envy people who live in milder climates. Don't get me wrong it's not the cold that bothers me, and I really do love the snow, but for the most part winter is just a downright ugly season!
Today the view out my kitchen window is last summer's planters filled with the dead remnants of what were once thriving flowers and plants. With the arrival of freezing temperatures the colorful view quickly became a distant memory and we were left with a brown and barren landscape.
On the other hand, I did bring some of the larger, more expensive plants indoors for the winter. The problem is, they must struggle to find the sun and I don't do a very good job remembering to water them so although they are alive, they are far from healthy.
I think its safe to say that Kansas winters are not very conducive to growth! In fact, January can be as dreary and depressing as the gray sky.
We may even discover that our hearts (blooming with love, joy and thanksgiving just a few weeks ago) have become hard, gloomy and discontented. Like the sickly plants I brought inside for the winter, our hearts are in desperate need of a good fertilizer that can sustain us until we are in a season when we can once again thrive.
But, like tropical plants in Kansas winters, how do we promote growth in difficult or uncomfortable conditions?
We start by tilling the soil of our hearts with gratitude.
blessed us with,
When we spend time with our Creator regularly, thanking Him for all He has done, the hard soil of our heart begins to loosen. Seeds of thankfulness develop roots and begin to grow into what God created them to be. Eventually the ground softens enough that the tender shoots of new growth are able to break through the top layer and bask in the full glory of the Son!
Galatians 6:7 says "we reap what we sow" and it's only when we are sowing seeds of gratitude and praise that we can hope to reap a harvest of blessing. Eventually, if we are diligent in cultivating gratitude, we will find an abundant harvest of the "fruit of the Spirit":
- Have you been hit by a sudden "hard frost" or "long winter" that has left you weak and hopeless like the flowers left outside?
- Or are you more like the plants that were moved inside? Hanging in there, surviving but just going through the motions; doing OK but far from healthy and thriving?
Well the good news is that, unlike gardening in Kansas, we don't have to wait for a change in the weather to plant a garden of gratitude. That can be easier said than done in a culture built on personal comfort, excess and entitlement so this year I have made it my goal to teach my children how to reap a harvest of blessing that comes from cultivating gratitude.
I purchased an inexpensive weekly calendar and keep it next to the computer where each day everyone is invited to write 1 to 5 things they are grateful for. When some of the family (mainly teenagers) balked at the idea I appealed to their sense of competition and offered a prize for whoever wrote on the most days of each month (ice cream or candy should work well). It may sound like a bribe but I like to think of it as a short term reward that will have long term effects. As they try to "win" the meager prize I offer they are receiving something much greater...a grateful heart!
Personally I hope they all "win". A family ice cream night is something to be grateful for indeed!!
So in closing, here are a few of the things our family is grateful for in January 2010....
- Jesus is the Gate!
- Memories of good times
- No school on Monday!
- The people trying to help with the Haiti earthquake
- Our dog Maggie
- My sister making my bed for me.
- All the people on earth
That is just a sample of our "garden of gratitude", what does yours look like??
Monday, January 25, 2010
Once Upon a Time....there was a woman who wanted to start a blog.
Through the blog she could stay connected with family, make new friends, express her creativity and develop her writing skills.
Much to her delight Blogland turned out to be an encouraging place filled with lovely ladies and the woman made many new friends, both online and in person.
In the beginning, similar to a new relationship, there seemed to be no loss of ideas and topics to post on. God, family, activities, history, beliefs, travel, problem-solving.....there was so much to write about and the woman was inspired and energized by the writing!
Not only was she encouraged as a writer but by visiting the sites of other women she was able to give and receive encouragement from others.
On top of that the woman discovered how to create new designs for her blog. Playing with the look and layout became part of the fun and she even made a little profit by helping other ladies update the look of their blogs.
But then one day the woman realized blogging wasn't fun anymore. Life was busy & stressful and her blog was an added pressure and deadline in her life. Writing was no longer creative and energizing, it was forced and draining.
Besides not having time to write she also felt guilty for not visiting the blogs of her new "friends". As for creating blog designs, they became more of a business than a passion.
Finally the woman did what anyone would do when they are overwhelmed. She turned her back on her blog and went on vacation (a LONG vacation) away from Blogland. Thanks to Facebook she didn't have to completely sever her ties to the online community (and many of her friends in Blogland) but conversing on Facebook doesn't carry the same "commitment" as blogging.
Still though, when other people would talk about writing a post or someone would ask about her blog she would get that itch to write again. Every once in awhile something would happen to get her "creative juices" flowing and the woman would think about returning to Blogland.....
The question was: "did she remember how to get there? What if she couldn't think of anything to write about? And what if she got overwhelmed by the time commitment again and had to leave?"
Then she got a grip and remembered, "life is about living in the present".
Monday, August 17, 2009
I really wanted to see it for myself but according to internet reports it would be best viewed in a dark sky around 4am and since our suburban neighborhood is fairly well lit and I am "out like a light" by 10:30 I decided to forego the shower-show this year.
My family, however, was a little more adventurous and as I headed to bed they planted themselves on the deck in hopes of catching a glimpse of a falling meteor.
Just as I was about to doze off Quin ran into the room, and with the enthusiasm unique to a 7 yr. old boy, he told me he had not only seen a shooting star but he had made a wish upon it! His wish (also unique to 7 yr. old boys) was that he would have "super powers". I asked which super power he hoped for and he listed 3:
2) Moving things with his mind
3) Super strength
He went back to re-join the family and I turned the light off again to go to sleep. A few minutes later he was back and this time his little lip was quivering. Apparantly his older brother and sisters had informed him that because he had "told what his wish was" it would not come true. His hopes for super powers had been crushed by his (evil) older siblings and this "mother's heart" broke to see him so sad.
I pulled him onto the bed next to me and as we lay there in the dark I told him that he already had super powers. Because he has accepted Jesus as his saviour he now has the power of God living inside of him through the gift of the Holy Spirit. This means that he "can do ALL things through Christ"!
What better power is there than that? And unlike wishes made on a shooting star the power of the Holy Spirit just gets stronger (and shines brighter) when you tell others about it!
I was feeling really good about this lesson (and being able to put a smile back on my son's face) when suddenly I felt more than a little convicted:
--What kind of powers are important to me?--money, material possessions, status....
Friday, July 24, 2009
One thing I love about travelling is the different perceptions people have about places and things unfamiliar to them. For instance....
I may be from the plains but it would seem to me that joking about sharks on a beach would be the equivalent of discussing firearms in an airport, but then again I am from Kansas and am just as likely to watch the storm clouds from the deck as to run for cover.
Hmmm.....isn't that what they said to Roy?
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
You would think by now I would be leery of "letting my guard down" and actually getting comfortable on vacation. After all the last time I did that we found ourselves facing a hurricane in Mexico!
Never-the-less that is exactly how I was beginning to feel on Monday. The sun was bright, my hubby and kids were playing in the sand and I was alone in the condo, enjoying my morning cup of coffee and finally writing on my long-neglected blog. Could life get better than this??
And then, as if on cue, someone knocked at the door......
It was "Building Management" and they wanted to know if we were having any water issues. "no, other than the toilet seems to run quite often." He shrugged that off and asked if they could come in and look around?
But they were looking through a different lens, specifically the lens of an InfaRed Water Detection camera. None of the pretty pictures painted on the walls impressed them at all but what was behind the wall had them very concerned! There was water and if left untreated it could turn to mold and eventually destroy the entire structure.
After discussing it among themselves for a few minutes the man turned to me and said:
"I'm sorry Ma'am but we are going to have to bring in some equipment that will impact your stay. If you can, you might look for somewhere else to move to."
"WHAT? But this is our vacation" I whined.
"You must understand that salvation of this building is our first priority. I am very sorry but we will be in touch."
Apparently the "building manager" trumps the "condo owner" in the heirarchy of decsion making and the comfort of a guest is not their main concern.
Later that afternoon we returned from the beach to find our very own "fan club" waiting for us in our "not-so-perfect" condo.(a giant de-humidifier & 2 of the 3 very loud fans that must run continually)
It is a good thing we are a family who is no stranger to inconvenience, LOL!
All of this has made me think...... what is hiding inside our walls?
In our culture we tend to focus on outward appearance ("working-out", what we wear, the cars we drive, where we live, spending a fortune on skin-care...) but we are slowly being destroyed by what's inside; bitterness, unforgiveness, greed, lonlieness, insecurity, fear....
Fortunately we have a "building manager" who is able to detect and fix the problem before it is exessive and visible to the naked eye.
If we let Him, God will shine the "infa-red light" of His love on us and not only expose those areas that threaten to destroy us but He also promises to help us repair them. He doesn't promise it will be comfortable but our comfort is not His first priority, our salvation is.
So in the inconvenience of struggling to be heard over the fans I take comfort, once again, in the fact that God is with us and at work in our family....