Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Try a little Sabbath

Sometimes, my mind is so cluttered with thoughts. Thoughts that run wild, thoughts that make no sense, and some thoughts that can be productive for what I would like to do.
And then there are the times, when my mind seems to be on vacation. That I don't think-or I don't want to think. That I am "mindless", or want to be.
You know its those times when you just want to veg. Or want to turn the world off and be empty.
Those are the times when I turn on the TV. And I search and search for something mindless to watch. Something that will allow me to escape reality for a bit; either entertaining, or educational. Its just something that I don't have to do. It can be a time when no one needs me or a time of pure escape-just for me.
I might just want to curl up with a book and enter into someone elses reality, or purely enjoy fiction and a story that I would never live.
Man, I love reading. And I read so much. And all types and genres of books. I adore autobiographies, I love historical fiction, I would love to write a medical mystery, I read books to learn about something that I find interesting or that intersects my life. I love spy novels and yet I love romantic fiction. I am especially fond of the classics and a Jane Austin fanatic. And then I read books to inspire my faith, that challenge me to become the woman God has always envisioned me to be.

Others find ways to escape their minds.
One might exercise or pursue their favorite hobbies.
Others escape reality by alcohol or drugs. ( note: probably not the best way).
Sometimes life is just so hard, that we need a break.
We need to be mindless and refreshed.

I imagine this is why God instituted the Sabbath.
He knew we would need to be re-energized.
I mean seriously, if God rested on the "seventh day", and HE is the God of the universe; why oh why would we think we didn't need to rest?
He is God. He is all powerful, and He rested.

Don't you just want to do things differently for a day or part of a day? Get away from the same routine that fills your days? Get your mind off work, or school, or the day in and day out of your "everyday life"?

I certainly do. But I confess that I don't really know how to set aside a Sabbath .
Believe me , I have tried.
There is no doubt in my mind of the value of this. Maybe it was in my years of child-rearing that it seemed almost impossible to do. As I look back on that, why didn't I just swap with my friends? We always traded babysitting, but it seemed as if it was always for something we had to do.
Why would I not have seen taking time off for me as something valuable? To have time for myself, to be with God, to do something I enjoy, to take a much needed nap. Was it that it seemed selfish? How trite.
How is it selfish if we care for our souls, feed our souls, get rested.
I know I would have been a much better mother.

Now it is easier for me to have mini Sabbaths. My time is much free-er. I do set aside parts of my days where I plan to "do nothing", and have nothing scheduled.
I know as younger moms, you think this sounds fine and dandy for her, "she's a grandmother with time on her hands",
"how the heck can I ever make that happen?"

SWAP with your girlfriends. MAKE it happen. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, so that you can be the woman, the mother, the wife, the friend and the daughter you want to be, the one God sees you as.

It is nurturing. If the God of the Universe rested, who do we think we are that we don't.
And it is NEEDED.
It is something we need, our bodies, our minds, our schedules need a rest.
We need to "schedule" this into our lives.
We at least need to try.
Try for 4 hours and see what it is like. See if you can see a difference.
If you are single or married-without kids, I know how busy your lives are. Between school,working and exercise and being with friends and other time commitments, you feel over commited, tired and definitely not rested. You too need to be rejuvenated and restored. This is THE TIME in your lives to start this practice.

As I said, I didn't do this when I was younger, but I am trying now. You know the saying, "its never too late to try something new"?  I believe that is true.
I hope you will try this and slowly but surely incorporate it into your lives.
And incorporate into your families lives.
I understand how hard it is to do. I really do. But I have seen its benefits and love them.
I , oh so want my dear husband to do this. I am encouraging without trying to be nagging,
I keep going back to if God needed to rest, how can I not need to rest?

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do almost anything to get it?
Apart from being a criminal I mean.
Maybe when you were younger, you wanted a certain toy, that you just HAD to have. Was it a bike? A doll that everyone else had (ie. you know a certain Barbie or an American Girl doll), or maybe it was one of the Transformers. Quite possibly it could have been a certain game for your Xbox or Nintendo or Wii. Or if you were lucky enough to have your won DS, one of those games.
The reasons that we could not live without it were given to our parents and depending on finances, our willingness to obey them, or even their mood, would determine if we would get it or not.
But if it was around Christmas time, usually our odds increased as to whether we got it or not.

Most likely the year I would have gotten "worst parent award" was the Christmas season that we decided not to get Nintendo for our kids because we thought it would take too much time away from them "being kids". Also, to be honest, it was rather expensive and I was afraid they would notice they didn't have more gifts. Thanks be to our good friend Darrell, who was single and without nephews of his own at the time, he dropped by on Christmas Eve with a Nintendo wrapped. Not only did they get the Nintendo they wanted, but also the presents we had bought them. It would probably rank as one of their all time favorite Christmas' of childhood. 

What about as we get older?
We want a boyfriend or a girlfriend.
We want friends.
We want to be accepted and liked (that is something that is in each of us, and will never change-no matter what one might say to the contrary).
We want to get into that one specific school.
And then we graduate, and we look for that one job, that will interest us, challenge us, and motivate us to want for more.
We want a spouse and that house with the white picket fence. (do those even exist anymore?).
We want children.
Sometimes we get children way too easily-ask the pregnant teen about that.
Sometimes we don't get children. Our dreams of having a child have been obliterated by infertility. 
We begin to think about adoption and the exorbitant costs restrain us.
Why is it some people get what we so desperately want and we don't?
The age old questions pop into our minds. We are bombarded with thoughts of "this just isn't fair". No one said it was.
No one said life was fair.
Life is an adventure. We don't know where we are going all the time, but we keep at it; striving to make our unknown destination-even if we are so uncertain to where that might be.

What if- God asked you to go somewhere. 
You had no idea where He was asking you to go, but you chose to go with Him.
This is what occurred in the life of Abraham. 
God asked him to leave all that was familiar and go to a new land that He would show him.
Abraham went without question. Or so we are led to assume from the account in Genesis. He took his wife, his servants, his livestock and all his possessions and set out for what was later to be named Canaan.
Once in Canaan he had series of adventures with the people that already resided there.
One day God visited him in the form of three men (possibly a reference to the Trinity) and told him that he and his wife Sarah would have a baby this time next year. It was almost unbelievable as Abe was almost 100, and Sarah was approaching 90. (Mind you if this were to happen to me today-I would PANIC. Way too old to have a baby, to keep up with all the demands of raising children).
This was even laughable-which is exactly what Sarah did.
But sure enough, one year later, Sarah gave birth to a little boy named Isaac (his name means, he laughs).
This heir, his real heir was the joy, the delight of his father's life. It was THE ONE THING that Abraham really wanted. And God gave him the desires of both he and Sarah's heart.
Some years later, probably when Isaac was around 12 or 13 years of age, God asked Abraham to take his son to a specific mountain, and there to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering.
The Bible tells us that "early the next morning Abraham set out...".
Can you imagine what his night was like? 
I believe he must have tossed and turned all night, wrestling with the constant thought of " why is God asking me to do this?". And yet Abraham went. We are told it was a 3 day trip to the mountain of Moriah. I have to think that each hour his heart weighed heavier.
When it was time to climb the mountain, he took his young son up.
Isaac, being an aware type of kid, wondered where the sacrifice was that they would burn as an offering to the LORD. And Abraham's response is "that God would provide".
What faith, what trust. 
I guess that there was a few doubts as well.

But at the moment, Abraham was going to kill his precious son, God told him to stop. That there was a ram in the thickets, that should be the sacrifice. God did provide the alternative sacrifice.
The LORD was testing Abraham's obedience.
I pray He never tests my obedience like that. 
I wonder if I would obey like Abe.
Oh how I want to be like Abraham. I want to obey God in all things. To be honest, I know that I don't. But it is my desire.

God asked Abraham to give Him the MOST important thing in his life. What would you do if He asked you to give up your long awaited dream?
Would you kick and scream? 
Or would you obey and trust?

I'm not sure at this point in my life what is most important to me.
In years past, it would be my family and my friends. 
It might have been being in ministry.
For you, it might be the idea of being married.
Or having the child you dreamed of.
It might be that you would be healthy.

The point to this story is two-fold.
Abraham was ready to offer his son as a sacrifice to God. And God actually did offer His Only Son as a sacrifice for us. The significance of there being a "ram" in the thicket to be used as a substitute, and Christ, being the spotless Lamb of God is not lost on me. Jesus Christ was our substiute. He Paid the price for all the wrong things we have ever done.
The other point to be made is that God desires our obedience. No matter what He might ask of us. Even if it means moving far away or not even that far (like Woodleaf). Even if it means giving up the job we had wanted for so long-so that He could use us somewhere else. Perhaps God might ask you to remain single; or to remain childless.
We often do not understand the ways of God.
We are baffled by what He allows to transpire.
What He wants most is for us to make Him the top billing in our lives and that often requires obedience of the very thing we do not want to do. 
What happened to Abraham when he chose to obey God?

Genesis 22: 16-17 from the New Living Translation says:
"This is what the LORD says: Because you have obeyed me and not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that I will certainly bless you."

Obedience brings blessings. Not material ones, but ones that draw us closer to God. Blessings that make us stop and be grateful for all that the Lord has done for us.
I pray that I will be obedient, even if it means giving up something I so desperately want.


When I was a brand new mom in the late 1970's,  i knew I needed to save money anyway I could. Kristi was probably about 3 months old and I was still on my maternity leave from the hospital, when I decided I would learn how to make bread.
OK that was easier said than done.
Oh, some of my attempts produced very heavy large sized hockey pucks; other times there was either too much wheat flour or not enough unbleached flour. I must have tried for about 2 months using different recipes. I was determined to make quality bread and Scud was very gracious in how he would try some of my many disasters.
Eventually I tried a recipe from a baby food cook book I had been given called, "Feed me, I'm Yours".
That was the answer!! And not only did I find a good bread recipe, but many other recipes that I used for years with my family.
I think bread making is becoming a lost art. And the reason being is it is very time consuming. Pllus, you must learn how to Knead the dough. That took quite a while for me to master but eventually it became quite easy to do.
I loved to let Kristi "help" me as she got older. We used to play this game where i would say in a loud voice "KNEADING THE DOUGH"  and she would reply in as loud as voice as she could "EATING THE DOUGH".
The memories of this brings a huge grin to my face every time I think of it.

I've learned thru trial and error how much yeast to add, and have often ruined the dough by adding scalding milk, instead of very warm milk. I've thrown away too many disasters. Yet I have had years of successes. Depending on the ages of my kids, I made 3-6 loaves of bread a week for years.
Funny thing about homemade bread, it really is yummy and you don't realize how GOOD it is till you eat store bought bread. I learned this while Kristi was in kindergarten and she went to a friends home for lunch and wouldn't eat. We discovered that she didn't like the bread. She still isn't much of a bread eater, but will eat my bread whenever I make it now.

As the kids got older and went to college and I was working full time, I decided that bread making was something I didn't need to do anymore. But as they came home from college or once we  moved to Woodleaf, I would make it when I knew they would be visiting.

Katie's favorite thing to do with mom's homemade bread is to make cinnamon toast and this year she introduced this to her nephew Kellen and now he loves the bread too.

This morning I decided to make some bread and was wondering if I had put too much yeast in. You see, I've been making bread for 34 yrs now and I never measure anything; its all by sight. As I mixed the yeast milk mixture in with the flour, I started remembering what I thought was a bible passage saying that a little least can ruin the whole dough.

In Old Testament times, yeast in bread making represented impurity. The Isrealites were told not to make bread with yeast at certain times of the year as yeast could represent the evil in their lives and their world.
Yeast has a way of permeating thru the whole dought. As you knead the bread, you allow the yeast to make its way throughout the flour mixture. In breadmaking, this allows the dough to rise, and after a couple of hours, you punch it down, divide it into what will become loaves, knead it again slightly and then roll it out into the loaves and you let it rise again before you place it in the oven to bake.

I was reminded of how the yeast works thru the dough today and thought of it as God working His way thru our lives.
This is not like the Old Testament. This is the New Testament way of thinking.
In Matthew 13:33 Jesus says
 "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."

What if the yeast in this parable represented a good thing, like Jesus? And that Jesus permeating Himself thru our lives would increase the power of His Kingdom here on earth? Because to me, that's what it seems like is happening. When we allow Christ access to permeate our lives, and we follow His leading, and obey Him, we give Him the opportunity to "rise" up out of our lives and we overflow with the grace and love of Our Savior.
I contemplated today as I punched down the dough if that isn't what Christ has to do with us sometimes.
He needs to "punch" us down to get us to get over ourselves and our pride, so that HE can RISE UP again and be seen.
And what if the final product of the baked bread is so delicious that no one wants the easy store bought bread?
That if our lives radiated the fullness of Christ, others would see Him in our lives and quit feeding their lives with things that never really matter, and would quit seeking religions that in the end, will get them nowhere.

My favorite smell in the entire world is the smell of bread baking in the oven. Because the aroma fills every space of our home. What if we were the "aroma of Christ" everyday to a world who desperately needs Him.
Jesus also said in John 6:35
"I am the Bread of Life." He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.

Oh, that we may partake of the Bread of LIFE each and everyday.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


A new year. A new start. A fresh beginning.
The past is just that-past.
New hopes, dreams, resolutions.
The failures of yesterday, the past year and years ago, don't have to be who we will be this year.
We can start anew.
That is amazing and gives me HOPE.
The hurts and pain and suffering of 2013 don't have to define who we are in 2014. A chance to be the person we want to be.

THE wonderful news about all this is: it is a new year; we can start anew. But do you realize that we can start each day like this? We don't have to let our previous days missteps define how we begin each day. 

I started the new year this morning as I have for the past 15 years; reading Psalm 119.
This psalm is all about the Word of God and how it is meant to give us hope in our lives. All the different words used such as regulations, decrees, commandments, ordinances and laws are just the same variation (mostly) of God's Word and how we should respond to His Word. 
Today, God's Word is THE BIBLE. 
It is the most widely published, Best seller of any book of ALL time.
As I wrote parts of the 176 verses in my journal this morning, I was overwhelmed again how God wants us to know Him, by how much He loves and pursues us, and how He has given us an Instruction book on how to go through life.
Psalm 119:73 says:

"You made me; You created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commandments."

God gave us His Word, the Bible, to help us, to guide us through our time on this earth. 
What if we all had the sense to follow His commands?
How different would our world be if we were to always obey God?
We would be lovers of people, we would look out for the least marginalized, we would consider others to be more important than ourselves and we would seek GOD.

Our world would be a completely different place, the earth that God had envisioned.
We, as individuals, might think we cannot make a difference, but we can. 
One person at a time.
If we seek God, seek to obey Him, seek to serve Him in however He may direct in each of our individual lives, our own little world around us would be different. We would have an impact. Whether it be large or small. 
I am amazed of the enormous amount of stories I read of how one person can make a difference. I truly believe this is what God intended for each of us.

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible, but it is filled with encouragement, hope and much needed advice on how to navigate through life.
That is why I start each year reading it. I need the reminder that God's Word is relevant today; thousands of years after it was written. That it is not just the best selling book of all time, it is our guide book for life.
I read it this morning in the New Living Translation, which is a bit more modern of a translation that keeps the original Hebrew and Greek words in context, and I loved reading every line of it. It takes maybe 15 minutes if you were to read it straight thru.
I would highly encourage and admonish you to take the time, either today or before this week ends to read this Psalm in its entirety.
If you do not have a bible, you can go to

and search Psalm 119 and pick the version you want to read .

Oh LORD, give us the sense to follow Your commandments and You.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! May you seek to know the GOD who loves us so completely in this year.