The Crafting Dilemma

I recently read that DIY weddings are out.  So 2011.

I was all about that idea last week!  Now, as my wedding approaches a quick 39 days, my shopping carts at etsy have begun to bulge and may soon break…the bank.  My philosophy of letting others do it for me and putting it on the card is plain not going to work.

Thankfully, my mother has kindly and effectively intervened.  She called on a few sweet, family friends to each make little parts of the reception decor.  One’s making a ring-bearer pillow, one’s making a guest book, one is making a banner, and so on.  It’s so gracious and lovely.

Of course, I’m now realizing that I’m going to have to pull my weight and make a few things, too.

My PT cruiser is now bulging with things I just “picked up” at Lowe’s today.  I’m supposed to stir, sand, paint, nail, and design a bunch of intimidating buckets of paint, wood, and paper into something beautiful?  Outside in the 110 degree Louisiana heat?  Oh, boy.

Since I’m not a crafty gal, I’m going to have to be headstrong and determined instead.  That, I am.

Here I go.

Pictures to come, if I dare.

**Note: I did, in fact, make a few crafts and order a few others for the wedding.  I do, in fact, have pictures.  I will post them at a later date.

I’m A Woman

A semi-repost with lyrics:

I’m A Woman
Naphtalia

9/22/10

I am a figure of your imagination
I have fooled you to think I really like carnations
But it’s just a web I weave

Nature, nature, nomenclature
Don’t tell me who I am
Nicked and knocked, my ticks and clocks are
Part of who I am
Mixed up, then fixed up, then mixed up again
I’m a woman

I am bold and clear and I have reservations
My emotions are more like a radio station
It’s fuzzy, then you tune in

Nature, nature, nomenclature
Don’t tell me who I am
Nicked and knocked, my ticks and clocks are
Part of who I am
Mixed up, then fixed up, then mixed up again
I’m a woman

Hear my song: beauty, beauty
I sing it all night, if I’m weeping or dancing
I don’t have one way to be
I want you to start seeing me

Nature, nature, nomenclature
Don’t tell me who I am
Nicked and knocked, my ticks and clocks are
Part of who I am
Mixed up, then fixed up, then mixed up again
Woven, then torn apart, then stitched up again
I’m a woman

I am beautiful and that’s not your imagination

Resting Kids

Not only do I believe in the necessity of the weekly Sabbath, I believe that being able to take a true Sabbath means that we cultivate a restful and renewable rhythm of life.

Below you’ll see quick start ideas for developing this time of mindset in children:

1. Take one minute of complete silence each day at noon (or right after lunch, right before nap time, or between morning snack and playtime).  You probably don’t want to stretch your kids by making them sit in silence for a minute while they’re hungry.  It’s hard enough for them to not talk.

2. Have them (each–if you don’t have too too many kids) write down an activity that they regularly LOVE doing.  Think: coloring, swinging at the park, playing the piano, or reading a book with you.  Write that activity down on your house calendar on the day you have designated for Sabbath.  (If you don’t have a big calendar hanging in the kitchen, think about adding one.)  When you reach that day, make sure you accomplish that activity with your child.  Chances are this won’t be work for you because you probably enjoy doing these things with them anyway.  Be sure you show the children that the day before Sabbath, you accomplished set tasks in order to be free to do their activity.  Have your child choose a task to complete the day before their activity as well.

3. Write in huge letters on your calendar, or post a big sign on your refrigerator that says “NO CHORES DAY.  WE ARE RESTING AND ENJOYING BEING TOGETHER.  PRAISE THE LORD FOR REST.”  Kids will obviously be excited to know that you have thoughtfully decided to free them of the burden of chores.  They love this release.  However, kids also can get overly excited and think they can then do EVERYTHING they think of doing–and they think of tons of fun activities.  To help them learn to rest, have them choose only one or two activities to enjoy that day.  Perhaps your 8 year old loves to read and ride bike.  Tell her she can do either activity as long as she likes, but she needs to split them up between before and after lunch.  (Of course she could read, bike before lunch then bike and read after lunch.)

I will keep mulling on this idea of teaching kids about the Sabbath and rest and see what else I come up with.  Most of my ideas so far apply to kids ages 2.5-8.  I am considering the predicament of infants in this as well, so don’t worry!  Please feel free to add your ideas below.

Happy rejuvenating!

Oh yes, I also wanted to share these thoughts on sound via TED.  Take note of the impact of bird songs.  Why not include nature in our rhythms of rest?

Faith In Work Is Rest

The past week felt like a month.  On Friday (or was it Saturday?) B. said, “This was a big week.”  I agreed, but neither of us could quite pin down why.

Was it my disillusionment with working out and frequent cries of “This is all pointless!“?  Perhaps it was the extra concert at school or the fact that B’s been working extra late this week.  I did finish reading two books and start another three; that could have something to do with it.  Or maybe my senses are all awakened now that Spring finally broke upon us.  My ambitions are no longer hibernating in the freeze of winter and I’m all aware of my shortcomings and tiredness.

Of course, it’s all of those things that have contributed to my sense of “so much” this week.  We know that life is life and often it feels like quite a pile of busyness–and often it IS a pile of busyness.  Work, meetings, Bible studies, rehearsals, readings, exercising, house projects, etc. 

We are working forward, ever striving.  We are building ourselves up while hopefully not tearing ourselves down in the process.  Oh we hope, we hope.

Instead of striving, I want to stride in meaningful, efficient, effective, rhythmic strides.  Instead of only hoping, I want to have faith that my work is paying off.  (Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 NKJ)

How can I do this?  How can I boost my faith to a place of knowing that my work is beneficial and long-lasting?

By keeping the Sabbath holy.  (Exodus 20:8-11)

Yes, as I was finishing my third book of the month today, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Peter Scazzero), I was impressed once more how completely necessary a consistent and true Sabbath is for mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.  I have always enjoyed taking Sabbath and have usually seen little need to work on my days off.  However, I have a lot to learn yet about taking a meaningful and impacting Sabbath, where its very pattern makes a difference in my life.

Here’s what Scazzero says about a true (Biblical) Sabbath, along with my own interpretation and application:

1. It should include STOPPING.  No running around, no big errands, no to-do list, no bill-paying, no chores, no work, no work e-mail, and maybe even no smart phone, or regular phone for that matter.

This provides a release for us in obligations.  By setting the boundary of communication and activity, we lessen the busy feeling and increase the “free to do whatever we want” feeling.

2. It should include CENTERING.  Stillness, deep breathing, closed eyes.  Attentive hearts, ears, and eyes to the good things of the Lord and what he says to us.  Praise and thanksgiving.

This allows our hearts to commune with God and our emotions to stabilize.  This is what makes our hearts feel calm and balanced.

3.  It should include SILENCE.  No chattering, no music, no internet, no TV, no traffic jams, only a select number of long conversations and only after a time a silence with the Lord has been had.

This allows our minds to move to the back of our consciousness, while our spirits to move to the forefront.  Our real selves, our spirits, can then hear the whispers of the Lord without distraction and disruption.

4. It should include SCRIPTURE.  Reading The Word of God, meditating on it, memorizing it, even speaking it out loud.

This allows us to know God both spiritually and intellectually.  We study so that we know God’s character, thoughts, desires, ambitions, and work for us–both what He has done and what He wants us to do.

Doesn’t that all sound lovely?  Don’t you want to have a full day to just be, to do what you want and enjoy?  A day where your spirit feels lifted and centered and whole? 

You can have this day; take it and guard it.  It is your Sabbath.  Take its rhythm and live in it–each week.

In this way, in allowing the mind, heart, spirit, and emotions to be free from the burden of busyness, we find true rest and rejuvenation. 

Scazzero re-tells a story of a group of pioneers traveling west by wagon.  They were devout Christians and stopped each Sunday to rest, remembering the Sabbath.  However, as winter approached a group of the travelers decided to give up Sabbath rest in effort to beat the snow to Oregon.  Despite their humanly efforts, they did not reach the west first.  No, the group who continued to rest each Sabbath was stronger and moved more efficiently the rest of the week.  They arrived at their destination first.

This is how we can be full of faith that the rest of the week will be fruitful and produce the desired results, by the strengthening power of rest and holiness.

*In order to notice a difference, a weekly Sabbath must be kept regularly, with diligence and intent.

I, the Sky, and Spring

Branches are etched in the sky.
deep silhouettes, skinny
bare from winter.  They are cold
shivering in Spring winds–
merciful, strong, creative winds:
full-armed winds.

hatches,

hatches of black
on luminous, healthy blue.
The sky says, “Bring me your winter hurts, your aches,
your old bearing down.
I, the Sky, and Spring, will make you new.”

The branches are etching themselves in the sky.

Natural Freedom

It was a big deal to me when I first read that nothing, absolutely nothing, could separate me from the love of God.  This very large idea set on the table of Romans 8:38-39 resonated with a very large desire: to be loved no matter the circumstances.

I once asked my parents if they would love me even if I became a drug addict.  They responded, “You’ll never do that.”  I was dissatisfied.  I wanted to know if they would love me in depravity.  When pushed, they gave way to my set up and said, “Of course.  We will always love you.”  When I asked this question of God, he responded that there was no thing that could separate me from his love.  “Neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NKJV)* 

My only question as a young Christian was “Why, then, do I not feel loved?”  This answer to this is multi-faceted and a long history of me, but there is one important aspect to remember, true then and today.  Although the love of God is ever present, seeking me, I can create obstacles that hinder my experience of God’s love.

Consider stepping back a bit in Romans 8 to verse 20:

“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it to hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” 

We are like creation in that we were once subjected to futility, a purposeless, unfruitful existence.  Now, with the work of Christ, defeating principalities and releasing our spirits from the bondage of futility, we can be fruitful and life-giving in our spirits.  But we still have our bodies which “groan within ourselves.”

The body: My flesh and mind get in the way of my spirit, my true self.  I have long, and often, said that walking a Christian life is allowing your spirit to be its natural self.  My spirit naturally longs to walk with God.  To know God’s thoughts toward me, about me, toward others, and about others.  My spirit was created for God.  In some ways, you could say God is my soulmate.  However, I sit here at my desk subjected to a physical life.  My spirit is free to live its natural life, but my body has its current subjected condition to deal with.

Sometimes my body is tired or frustrated or my mind is bombarded with thoughts in “enmity against God.”  (Romans 8:6)  However, these things I can put off by the release Christ gave and the hope God set forth even at the beginning of time.  Like creation, we are subjected “in hope.” (verse 20) And we are “saved in this hope.”  If I am downhearted not seeing my Lord each day, I remember that “hope that is seen is not hope…but if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.”

So I pick up my body and my mind and set them aside.  I allow my spirit to walk through Christ’s redemption and into God’s love and communion.  It is precisely this act of setting aside my carnality that tells me, oh I am hopeful.  I am persevering towards God’s glory.

This is my part in my spirit’s freedom.  Pick up the weights and cast them aside.  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”  (Colossians 2:6)

Since then I have been taught that nothing can separate me from the love of God, neither should I separate myself.  I know truth that God loves me, so I walk in it, rejoice in it, and find my most natural freedom in it.

*A similar list is found in Colossians 2 speaking of those things which Christ disarmed and triumphed over in the cross.