Friday, December 7, 2018

The Fast is Over

For those of you that have been following along (Hi mom) I cut out technology six days a week and added in a noise fast for just over 40 days.  Why I decided to do this over NaNoWriMo I don't know.  I blame the fact that I didn't start it in November, it just lasted through November, so I forgot about national novel writing month until about a week before.  I've talked about why I entered into this fast but I thought I would share some of what I learned.


Fasting has been on the Christian radar for a while but the diet community has latched on to the idea as well, siting the benefits of intermittent fasting to give the body a break and reset your metabolism and supposedly give you more energy.

The principle has been a part of God's plan from the beginning.  During creation, God established a sabbath, when we would submit ourselves under God's sovereignty and rest.  Our minds and our bodies need these periods of rest. 

In a year where God has called me to rest, I was not terribly please to find God was asking me to give up more.  Resting is the worst, right!  I am so grateful my Patient Teacher hasn't given up.  We live in a world of indulgence.  Our culture is cluttered, over stimulated and impatient.  We don't even recognize how starved for silence we are.  Now that the fast is over I find myself longing for the simplicity of quiet time spent with my Savior.  Having the ability to distract myself doesn't mean that I should.  Having a long to do list doesn't mean I have to get them all done today.  Fasting reminds us that the priorities we have established aren't necessarily the right ones.  Taking a step back is a great way to reset. 

Reset your body, reset your mind.  What do you need a fast from?

Friday, November 30, 2018

Desire of my heart

At the beginning of this year I started on a journey of rest.  I'm not sure what I expected but I don't think that I could have expected that in the silence God would show me the true desires of my heart.  Nor could I have expected that the first one would be adventure.  In the midst of rest, to discover that my longing for adventure was given by God, has been a delight.  God wasn't done, as he never is in teaching us. and He recently revealed to me that the second big desire of my heart is to have purpose.  Why am I telling you this?  For most of my youth I was confused about what God meant by Psalm 34:7.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Okay, when I say youth...I mean my middle age too.  I longed for adventure and purpose and might have pegged those as desires but I would have classified them as selfish or worldly.  It wouldn't have occurred to me that they were given to me by God and that He was how they would be met and fulfilled.  I focused on the first part of the verse and figured if I delighted myself in the Lord I would never lack.  While that has been true, I'm seeing it in a different light today.  I feel like God has given me new desires to fill my heart.  Not new in the sense that I've never felt their pull before but new like a clean pair of clothes.  I have been trying to fill those big two desires in my life  without God.  It has soiled and worn down those desires as I sought to fill those longings in ways other than God.  I feel like God has unwrapped my favorite childhood toy that I had ruined and now it's all shiny and new.  I know it's a little early to be opening Christmas presents but ... 

He has given me desires and they are indeed fulfilled as I delight in Him.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Obligatory Gratitude Post, or is it?

This week was Thanksgiving.  Today is Black Friday.   Are you feelin it?  Man, I sure am.  After a month of spending lavish amounts of time with God and writing, my time was not my own this week and I am spent.  Sometimes, that happens.  Life gets busy.  I've had a month of practicing "Be Still" and "Don't Fret" and that is one of the many things I was grateful for this week.  I've got a long way to go.  But this week Isure was thankful for the practice. The practice of finding peace and calm amidst the most dramatic of adventures.  The practice of letting go of what I think is necessary in favor of what God says is necessary.  This week, that means my blog is going to be super short because that is the amount of time I had to spend.  I will save my eloquence, real or imagined, for those who have seen me at my most dramatic, who love me even when they are not impressed by my shenanigans and who laugh at and with me when I need it most. 


That's why I wanted to talk to you about Friendsgiving.  I have a group of friends that have been gathering after Thanksgiving for over a decade.  It started with the lament that our parents always did the heavy lifting on Thanksgiving and we could never be adults and practice making a Thanksgiving meal.  We decided that was a great idea and what else were we going to do with all those Thanksgiving left overs than to share them with the people we wanted to spend time with.  I suggested we make it a murder mystery dinner party and thus our decade long Friendsgiving adventures began.  Over the years we've had a traditional Charlie Brown meal (yes I mean toast and popcorn and all that other stuff) and full on Thanksgiving extravaganza's.  Some times we switch genders just for fun.  Yes, some of my guy friends make very ugly women.  The group has gotten bigger and smaller as life and circumstances change but every year we gather, dress in ridiculous costumes, suffer through truly terrible scripts and laugh until we cry.

In all of our changing circumstances, shapes and situations, we gather.  We gather with our family and we gather with our friends.  We acknowledge that our lives wouldn't be the same with out them.  We shun the world and it's stress fueled impatience in favor of a good meal with those we love.  We don't rush it.  We value it and savor it.  We celebrate having found those just weird enough to think our weird is awesome.

We are intentional about it every year.  We look forward to it, we brag about it, we share our joy and make room on our calendars no matter what.  I may go a little crazy creating costumes for me and my spouse, which is totally what I will be getting back to for my second all nighter in a row, but I couldn't be happier.





I hope your Thanksgiving was allergen free, devoid of flair ups, free from unwelcome drama and full of the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.  I also hope you are thinking more about who you haven't seen in a while than what stores are having sales.  I hope you'll give them a call, invite them to coffee or over for games.  If you're super cool like me and my friends, then consider inviting them over for a little mystery, a lot of laughter and plenty of hokey costumes. 


 But even if murder mystery dinner parties aren't your thing, find your own thing.  If you're into interpretive dance, do that!  If you're into shadow puppet historical reenactment, well that is just way better with a crowd, am I right!  Don't lose sight of what's important.  People over tasks!

These are my people and I love them.  I couldn't be more grateful they are in my life.








Just as a side note, these aren't all the photos, and they aren't in order by date.  It's just a smattering.  If you promise to invite some folks over, I'll share this years photo next week ;)

Friday, November 16, 2018

Intolerant

I'm going to start by sharing something very important....something as weird as I am.  Something extremely on topic.  Prepare yourself.


God uses every bit of our story.  I was thinking about that as I opened up my new box of pots and pans I had to buy because of my hubby's nickel allergy.  I was thinking about how so many of my people, my tribe, have allergies and insensitive to food.  I have a loved one who has struggled for years with symptoms that multiple doctors couldn't figure out and it was apparently as simple (I use that word ironically for those of us with allergies and unexplained symptoms) as cutting lactose out of her diet.  Gluten, dairy, nickel, nuts, onions, ginger, I have friends and family who all live in this awkward state of having to carefully pick what we can eat, where we can go and how pretentious we're going to sound when we get there.  I didn't seek out people of intolerance, but I am so proud to do life with them.  They work as hard to avoid our allergies as we do for theirs.  Part of the reason our friends work so hard to avoid their allergy foods is always individual and usually filled with people along the way that thought they just don't like the food they are avoiding and seem to think its a choice that can be trained out of us.  Sometimes the road to discovering what had been causing all those weird symptoms that the doctors couldn't figure out was a hard one.  We learn to live without those things but we miss them and every encounter that reintroduces those food items holds a vast array of consequences. 

As I was thinking about food intolerance God whispered something beautiful to me.  The care that my tribe puts into caring for our allergies is a very direct working out of 1 Corinthians 8:13 and Romans 14:19-21.

1 Corinthians 8:13
Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

Romans 14:19-21
Therefore let us not pass judgement on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble

My tribe adjusting our meals for community times of breaking bread (metaphorically speaking, I can't have bread) is an act of love.  We delight in serving each other in that way.  It isn't a burden that we resent, it is one we gladly share because we understand how difficult it is.  The same should be true of our intolerance, our fears and, our weaknesses in life.  They shouldn't be treated as an inconvenience that we must suffer through because someone else can't police themselves.  They should be loads that we share because we have intolerance, fears and weaknesses too and we should understand better than anyone. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

I SWEAR

This technology fast has been awesome and so very hard.  I have been learning a lot, wrestling a lot (metaphorically, not literally) and practicing stillness.  God keeps reaffirming that this is the path He wants me on right now even though He has brought multiple people to ask me to explain myself.  I have been asking Him specially when this fast will be over.  I didn't feel like He gave me a deadline at the beginning.  Have you ever done that?  Felt like God called you to do something and then agonized about how long you were going to have to maintain the commitment?  Because I've been asking God "how long, O Lord", He has answered with some very specific calls to keep my oath.  I swore.  I didn't stand under the firmament with my hands raised and declare in a loud voice "I swear before the Lord that I shall not touch technology except on Friday's and my phone because it is my landline but I further declare I shall not use it for any other purposes than to accept and receive messages."  I did make a commitment though.  I agreed with the Lord that I would do what He asked.

It's been even harder this week.  It's the beginning of November which means it's time for NANOWRIMO!!!!  If you don't know what NANOWRIMO is, it's a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  The goal being to work on a singular piece without going back to edit with the purpose of practicing the habit of writing on a story every day.  I can see you see the problem here.  How will it be possible for you to participate without technology.  For all you young'uns out there, I am using paper.  I am writing my 1700 words a day in a notebook and my plan is to transcribe them on Fridays.  It will take some of my computer time, writing in that much on one day a week, but I will be completing the challenge and staying true to my oath before the Lord.  

Needless to say, with the 'asking for an end of the technology fast', and the start of a challenge I have participated in since 2008, I was approaching the deadline of Nov 1st with a bit of sorrow.  I wasn't sure if I could participate.  That's why God has been answering my question by bringing me to instances of oaths in His Word.  So I thought I would share what God has been teaching me about why oaths are important.  In today's day and age we look at commitment differently.  People don't formally swear an oath to each other like they did in Biblical times.  We've lost sight of the gravitas of promising.  But God hasn't and doesn't forget.  He had very clear guild lines set up for those who swear before the Lord, those who break their oaths and the consequences, and even what it means under the new covenant of Jesus.  God thinks oaths are important even if it becomes inconvenient for us later.  

The Bible Study I'm in has us studying Joshua.   We got to chapter 9 as I was pondering this question of oaths and it was clear that God holds oaths as very important.  The Gibeonites lie to make a treaty with Israel and the leaders swear an oath that they won't kill them.  When the Jews figure out they have been lied too, they go and confront them but they don't kill them because they swore an oath.  How important to God was that promise?  Well, important enough that when Saul kills some Gibeonites, somewhere around 350 years later, God is mad.

There are rules in the law of the Septuagint, too many to put them all here, that outline everything from being a witness to an oath to inadvertently making an oath.

Lev 5:4
Or if a person swears, speaking thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, whatever it is that a man may pronounce by an oath, and he is unaware of it - when he realizes it, then he shall be guilty in any of these matters.  

Numbers 30:2  
If a man make a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

Why is this important, you ask?  Well, there is a lot that has changed between the old and new testament and a lot that has changed between the new testament and today.  Because that is true, we sometimes forget the real truth that God doesn't change.  EVER!  While Jesus fulfilled the law and paid the penalty for failing the law, He doesn't abolish the law.  What does Jesus say about oaths?

Mat 5:33-37
Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, 'you shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.' But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.  Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black.  But let your 'yes' be 'yes', and your 'no,' no.'  For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.

I feel like Jesus knew and knows what little stock we put into a promise.  Whether through intent, ignorance or common saying, we agree to do things to avoid the conflict of saying 'no', all the time.  Our High Priest knows us well and His best advise on how to deal with oaths....don't do it.  Don't swear at all.  If you can't grasp the importance of the oath or the significance of what you are swearing on, then don't bother.  God swears oaths, makes covenants, and carries them out.  His word is always sure.  I think that is definitely something I need to work on.



Friday, November 2, 2018

What Happens When I Rest


  • A lot of inner monologue...A lot of inner monologue happens.
  • God reminding me of important truths that He's already told me but I forgot or didn't do.
  • Scripture memorization
  • Bible Study
  • and apparently, cleaning and organizing
When I'm busy, my house is the first thing that suffers.  
  • mail piles up
  • laundry piles up
  • dishes pile up
  • clutter consumes
Right now, I am a sweep away from being "company ready".  I've organized the office, linen closet and bedroom and will shortly hit the costume closet and craft room.  I'm excited to get home and vacuum!  My mother may be the only one to gasp at this statement so for the rest of you...I don't like cleaning, I like helping other people clean but cleaning my own house...ugh.

I know a huge chunk of that is because I left it til last, to when I was utterly spent but had no choice because there was nothing clean left or the clutter had made me so uptight and feeling trapped that I wanted to leave it all behind and live in a yurt somewhere far away.  

I wonder if I'm loving the cleaning because its something to do or if its because, as I move closer to my God in this time of rest, He is bringing me closer to the Prov 31 woman.  Either way, I am confronted with the fact once again that I was doing too much before.  I worked like I had three jobs and wondered why I wasn't being blessed for my generosity.  I was tired all the time and was constantly in emergency mode.  The funny thing is, I feel just as busy right now.  3 out of 5 evenings are filled with companionable obligations.  If I try and make plans with people, I still have to carefully navigate my schedule.  

So what does that mean.  It means my focus has shifted.  My days are silent.  I'm not distracting my brain with noise and so I can dedicate my time to what I'm doing.  My time with God is wholly His.  My time cleaning is spent working on my memory verses, praying or thinking about solutions.  I don't feel rushed or harried or obligated.  I get to choose.  I feel like for the first time in recent memory I am "choosing the better part" (Lk 10:38-42) and still being the "Martha" God made me to be.  I've given up the worry in exchange for listening to my Savior.

I'm still settling into it.  Still choosing the quiet, still practicing the stillness.  I'm not good at it .  The toughest verse for me to memorize literally starts "be still and wait patiently on the Lord" Ps 37:7-8  I have to sit and seriously concentrate to remember that first sentence.  I know I'm going to have to keep practicing because I will sink all in to service once again when I'm released from this season of rest if I'm not careful.  I want to choose this.  I want this to be my baseline.  This peace.  This quiet.

I'm going to share the verses I'm memorizing with you.  Keep me accountable or use these verses to inspire you to write God's word upon your heart.  Let's guard our hearts and minds with the transcendent peace of God.

Ps 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

1 Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves, therefore, under Gods mighty hand, that He may life you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

Ps 37:7-8
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.  Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret - it leads only to evil.

Jer 6:16
This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls but you said "we will not walk in it".

Philippians 4:4-9
Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again; rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable.  If anything is excellent or praise worthy - think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Being Real vs Being a Doer

I'm going to start this weeks blog with an apology.  When I was writing this I was on day two of a full blown migraine.  I ended up sacrificing the rest of my "computer day" to sit in a dark room.  What it taught me was this.  Oaths are important.  The temptation to run to the computer to "make up" the time I missed was strong.  Instead, I chose to keep my word before the Lord.  What I commit to Him is important and He thinks it's important.  The scripture is clear about keeping our oaths, especially the ones you make to the Lord.  We sometimes fall into the trap of putting the old testament in a category of "not applicable".  For me, it was more important to let my yes be yes on this matter.  So I'm going to post a little late today, I'm going to leave the rest of the post in its original state, and I'm not going to worry about it.  It's not professional, but it is real. 

~


One of the great things about being on "A mission from God" is that He will keep encouraging and reinforcing the message He wants to communicate.  Just like He does in the Word.  If something is important, God keeps saying it.  Have you ever noticed that when you're reading scripture?

God has really been encouraging me about rest.  Sunday, we bumped into a couple God had on my mind all week.  I shared, and she shared, and she encouraged me.  "I was at the place this summer, cutting out social media and releasing, to just be.  Being present in the moment instead of trying to figure out what I can do."

At yoga a few days later, the focus was rest.  Laying down everything and only picking up what God gives you.  Songs, scripture, fellowship...all of it has been pulsing with the message, "Yes, Rest".

So I decided to go back to the Biblical reason why I focus on "do" and figure out what it really says.

James 1:22 NIV
Do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.
 So, what has God told us to do?  In this context (James):

  • Watch your tongue
  • persevere
  • be quick to listen, slow to anger 
  • purge moral filth and evil from your life
  • look intently into the perfect law
  • love your neighbor
The funny thing is that the only part that comes even close to what I self defined as "do" was to care for orphans and widows in distress.  I condenses an entire book of the Bible into one word that threw my life out of balance.  This is part of the reason why it's important to keep reading the Word of God.  In the larger sense, there is a lot that the Word, or Scripture, tells us that we should be doing, not just nodding our heads at.  The above list is from one small book of the Bible and James (inspired by God) repeats them.  If you haven't read James lately, I recommend reading through it.