I realized this morning that there are 100 days until Christmas. I am not typically interested in counting down the days until December 25. I really look forward to the days of Advent that lead up to Christmas Day. On the Christian church calendar, Advent officially begins Sunday, November 27 this year.
I enjoy Advent, but not for the presents, not for the parties, and not for the nativity set or tree we put in our home. Those are great, but not my happiest place during Advent and Christmas. No, I enjoy it because it gives me the “excuse” to be still. It is in the being still that I find space in my day to pray, read my Bible, and work through an advent devotional. I need the motivation to be intentional in being still even more during the holidays. Do you?
When it comes to a devotional, I may read the same one for several years or I may search for a new one. I enjoy the process of selecting a devotional that is solid in the gospel and doctrine without fluff of more things I need to do to make this Christmas my best yet.
You may not be thinking about an Advent devotional today, but I want to pass along an opportunity to purchase a beautiful Advent calendar and devotional at a discount between now and next Wednesday.
The ladies at Amen Paper Company and the artist from Lindsay Letters have collaborated to pull this bundle of Christmas joy together sooner than later so you can be intentional in preparing your heart for Christ again or maybe for the first time in your life. Jess and Helen of APC put out an APB to those who may be inclined to submit written pieces on specific topics within the theme of, “Let it Be,” which is another way of saying, “Amen”.
I submitted a piece and it was selected and I cannot wait to see it all together. Words and art creatively colliding and displaying the splendor of Christ and his magnificent So Be It when his atonement was accomplished is where I desire my focus today and all my days.
Christmas is 100 days away. Let us prepare our hearts and make him room today and everyday. Amen?
Today’s text from a younger woman in our church prompted me to consider again this recurring and blessed nudge from God, this commission as spoken by Jesus to his disciples at the end of Matthew, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…”
What about you? Are you ever nudged by God about this?
Backing up a bit, I know the need for discipling from the perspective of this younger woman. Giving my heart to Christ as a young teenager was wonderful and memorable, but my growth was sporadic and unguided until I got out of college and became a mom two and a half years later.
Reflecting back to being a young newly married woman, I remember calling a wise woman in our church and asking her if she knew of a Bible study in which I could participate. This woman was someone whose faith I admired from afar. She seemed to have her life together when it came to her ability to share about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. At the least, I was hoping for an invitation to her Bible study. At the most, I was envisioning being discipled by her, one on one.
But I cannot forget her heartfelt response to me. She steered me to no one – not herself, and not her Bible study group because of my youthfulness and her group’s not-so-youthfulness. She steered me far away from pursuing discipling of any kind.
I hung up the phone dejected and ashamed to have made a cold call to this woman.
Fast forwarding now, I have been blessed in the years since that phone call being in the providential combo of right place and time of receiving from godly women – from group Bible studies, to one-on-one over steaming coffee, to authors who challenged me from afar unbeknownst to their discipling affect on my soul through the words in books.
The common denominator of all those life-giving and life changing encounters with godly women was the Word of God as central to nurturing younger women. Repeatedly pointing me back to truths found in Scripture was key to my growth.
Being a new mom challenged my faith and mentors pointed me to the solidity of the gospel in keeping Jesus at the center of my calling to parent. This sustained me through all the phases of parenting. I knew to whom I could drag my weary soul at the end of a hard day and it was to the Trinity. Women discipling me faithfully pointed me there.
Praying was never my strong suit, but through my discipling relationships, I learned how to pray alone and in community. I learned that God was to be the first ears to hear my heart’s burdens and not my husband’s, friends’, or mentors’. I saw confidentiality modeled and godly strength upheld. I saw repentance and seeking forgiveness displayed. I learned the value of communicating regularly with God.
And I learned the value of being invested in by godly (not perfect) women who gave of their time to come alongside me. For them, I am thankful.
I know the benefits of discipleship. Women discipling women are a breath of fresh air in the Church. To pour into another life (through the power of the Holy Spirit) as I’ve been blessed is a valuable benefit of being an active part of a church body.
I will talk with my younger friend and find out what God has laid on her heart. I will do my best to encourage and teach her as others have modeled for me. I will keep the gospel at the heart of our relationship. I will share my failures and flaws, my meager attempts and few successes, by God’s grace. I will ask her to disciple others, too, at the right time.
Is it time for you to do the same?Read More
It has been a while since I have had a day like this one. My planner has no directives for places to go. My list of things to do is small and so I plan to knock out those couple of penned plans, and then enjoy catching up on those back burner ones which have been simmering in my mind.
Perhaps like you, I have been seriously duped into believing that the empty nest equals an empty calendar. So a word of advice to you younger women about your seasonal busyness and dreaming of lazy days ahead-
It takes work ahead of time and a commitment to your spirit and your sanity to get those lazy days worked in on your calendar no matter the season in which you find yourself.
Still lounging in my pjs and writing this post past noon, I am pondering things like:
- compiling ideas for upcoming blog posts
- listing publications to submit writing queries
- making yet another list of potential items to make for my Etsy shop
- continuing reading Missional Motherhood
- working on recipes for my personal summer cookbook
- lingering in my Bible with my prayer journal in hand
- eventually making a supper of stir fry of chicken and napa cabbage.
I am not sure how I let myself get too stretched and then stressed like a weakening rubber band bundling way more than its cylindrical strength will accommodate. Like that rubber band stretching farther than it should before snapping and releasing all of its hold down to the floor, I can also be stretched past the point of allowance and burst. When that occurs it manifests itself in ugly ways like judgmental thoughts and comments, criticism, sarcasm, short words with Rob, mindless munching, and a huge desire to drop everything and hide.
Then I make promises to God, Rob, and myself that I will never ever overdo my schedule again. Ever. Ever.
Then I go to bed, get a solid eight (most nights), and awaken to a renewed sense of being helpful and following through with great joy on those commitments.
So it is on a rare day like today that I sense the Lord saying to me to build in space for empty time. Granted when I was a college student that looked like a nap between classes. Then as a working wife outside the home, it was Saturday watching PBS with my husband while taking care of laundry. As a young mom and homemaker, it was a 15-minute bath with pen and journal in hand. Building in some time came easier when the boys were in school. Now that I’m a mom to adult sons and their wives and now their children, my free time is still limited as my time to get more involved in ministering to women has opened up. It is also my pleasure to be available to help my family, much like I remember specific women in our families who could assist us at a moment’s notice when the boys were little.
Yet, I am still learning repeatedly that if I am not careful to protect some quality down time to refresh and refuel my spirit, then I will be of no value to those in my family, in ministry, and friendships.
I rarely build in blank space on my calendar. And I want to be more intentional to do so in order to be a happier helper of those to whom I’ve committed my time. Today, God has been gracious to remind me that it is a good and necessary thing for this child of his.
Are days like this rare for you? If so, how do you sense God is directing you?Read More
My nephew and niece had identical twin baby girls Lillian and Laine a few weeks ago, and I had given a promise at a shower way before they arrived to knit blankets for the girls.
It took me forever to figure out what the blankets should look like, stressing over the details from pattern to color. I would try one pattern and yarn only to be disappointed. Yarn was too fuzzy or too difficult to work with so, back to the store to return and buy more yarn and try another pattern I’d go only to repeat the return process. Buy, try, return, repeat.
So, I decided to quit and wait for the girls to be born rather than make any old blanket out of obligation to a promise as a shower present.
The girls arrived and once they were home and settling in my daughters-in-love and I went to visit them and as soon as I saw the nursery, it all came together in a sweet blend of color and style.
I pictured a vintage look of pale pink chevron knitted with sections of four rows of variegated yarn containing all the colors I saw in their nursery. I hoped such yarn could be found here.
The next day, I found everything I needed and began the blankets.
Working on the first blanket in the evenings while Rob and I watched our shows (like Fixer Upper, Downton Abbey, NCIS, etc.) I managed to complete it and looked forward to beginning the second one, hopeful I would be consistent in gauge for both.
I’m happy to say the blankets are both complete and have been delivered to the babies and I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome.
In the blink of an eye it seems, I have done much and not so much. I consider all the mental plans I had made for last year sitting here, gazing out my window as cars zoom by and students leave school. The occasional jogger runs by and I wonder what we are all thinking in this moment in time.
I imagine all of our ideas of things we want/need to do as vastly diverse as our fingerprints. I can almost see those ideas and tentative plans swirling upward like breath out of that jogger’s mouth on a wintry morning – quickly remembered, quickly vanished.
My to-do lists, sticky notes, planner jottings, and journal all filled and representing my 2015 now loom ready to stay either checked off as completed or ready to be transferred to clean pages of a new year’s planner, folder, journal in time to get those undone things done, I hope. It’s time to put 2015 away and keep on going into 2016.
Good bye to the shoulda, woulda, and coulda things.
Hello to shall, will, and can things.
Last year, I never had that day alone with God when I set aside time to pray through plans for the year ahead. The file folder containing past years’ penned prayerful goals and plans sat unopened all of the year. Occasionally, a scrap of paper would be forced in-between others in the folder in hopes I would get around to that day. I looked forward to it. Yet, I neglected to make time for it. No goals or specific hopes with prayers and verses were ever penned last year.
So yesterday I had the opportunity to begin the refreshing work on it a bit in the morning and I yearned to complete it before leaving the house to fulfill a joyful duty. I contemplated forgetting about the commitment only to be reminded of letting my yes be yes. Off I went with my thoughts swirling about my head, excited to pick up the day alone with God today. It looks like that will happen over the course of several days…snippets of time savored alone with the Lord. Ahhhhh.
A bit of tidying up the space on this blog needed to be completed today and thus, I have evaluated whether to keep investing money into a spot where so little writing happens. But then, I thought better of it and decided to keep it for this year. After all, writing still remains a pleasant activity for me, along with sewing, knitting, crocheting, reading, cooking, volunteering at the local cancer center, working on a manageable garden in the spring, taking care of dear husband, helping our adult children and our two-year-old grandson and soon another boy due in April to the younger son and daughter-in-love…then there’s teaching the occasional Bible study, helping out with church things for women, mentoring, spending time with friends, maybe practicing photography, maybe learning hand-lettering and hybrid journaling, cross-stitching, healthier habits (always), paring down my wardrobe, remembering the gospel daily, sharing the gospel with others, remembering God’s gracious goodness…
…and so the hopes, plans, and thoughts swirl about and waft up from my head hoping to make it to the days ahead and respective lists of things to do. Goodness gracious, it’s 2016!
Today is the last day of the SITSgirls #SITSblogging photo challenge. It’s been a fun 10 days to learn lots of tips and practice a little bit.
The tips and challenge today were all about taking photos in black and white or converting colored ones to black and white in the editing process. I opted for the latter due to the author’s encouragement. I edited the pictures below from the colored state and then converted them to black and white.
Ironically, several of the pictures I took had black and white items in them. Bear with me as I parade a few extra ones today.
I think this spilled salt on the granite countertop is my fave…
Over the kitchen sink is a lightweight metal oak leaf wreath that makes me happy in its fresh greens against the white shutters. Here in black and white and at an angle it has quite a different look.
Outside on the front porch we have a set of rockers and this summer’s heat and mosquito population has prevented much use of them, but today, I took a gander through the lens and yearned for a glass of tea and a cool breeze.
Rob and I value shutters that actually fit a window when closed as originally intended for the outside of a home. When the shutters are open a lovely S-shaped shutter dog is the functioning holder to keep each half in place.
I took a picture of the wrought iron post on the porch and when I played with the exposure the black iron looks white instead as you gaze up at what was the lighter colored ceiling before editing. Interesting effect.
To wrap up the photo challenge what better photo than one of chef’s twine on a granite countertop to tie it all together. It’s been a blast! I’ve loved the learning process.Read More