Tag: stress

peaceful

an alphabet of thanks, “Q”

 peaceful

Today I am thankful for quiet.

Quiet doesn’t necessarily mean lack of noise. We can be quiet within even when it’s noisy around us. But for this post, I’m referring to quiet as the lack of noise. I’m not one of those people who need someone around all the time. I don’t mind being alone especially when I can have quiet time. I find I listen and think better when it’s quiet.

Religious leaders from all faiths have extolled the importance of quiet for meditation. In Christian vernacular, quiet times refer to the times we set aside to read our Bibles and pray.  Although I still read and study my Bible, there seem to be more and more times I remain quiet and just listen. Every once in awhile I like some extended time of total quiet, when even my own voice is not allowed to break the silence.

quiet

There has been considerable research about noise and stress and the conclusion has been that noise is a huge stress factor. It certainly didn’t use to be that way. Life was simply quieter a hundred years ago.

Of course, in our own home, we can turn off the noise if we choose. We just seldom choose. But complete quiet is hard to get used to.

Most of us are uncomfortable with quiet. There are reasons for our uneasiness with quiet.

When we are quiet, the chatter in our head seems to get louder and that’s when our demons can come to haunt us. We are faced with our fears and insecurities. It’s hard to hide from ourselves when our minds aren’t bombarded, when we aren’t thinking about that next thing on our list.

That doesn’t scare me like it used to. I’m learning to be comfortable with the “quieter” version of me.

 

Most of us are going to go through a period of quietness before we leave this earth.  Due to the infirmities that accompany old age, we will have no choice.  Being comfortable with “quiet” and being unafraid to face ourselves now will prepare us for those times when we will have nothing but our thoughts. I hope this doesn’t sound maudlin but the truth is unless our lives are “interrupted”, we are going to experience old age. If we want to be a serene, contented elderly person, we need to become a serene contented person now.

The future always begins with the present.

Don’t be afraid of being quiet or being alone. Learn to be a friend to yourself. I think all of us would do well to incorporate real quiet in our lives.

We are approaching the busiest few weeks of the year. I’m sure many of you are thinking, “I’ll incorporate quiet later. Certainly, not now.”

But I would suggest that now is the best time. If ever we need to take some time for quiet, it is during this season.  You might be surprised how taking some to be quiet and reflect might actually energize you.

peaceful

God bless and have a quiet day.

Maundy Thursday

When you’re worried about making a big mistake

Last night my husband and I went to our church’s Maundy evening service.

A Maundy service commemorates the ceremony of washing the feet of the poor, especially commemorating Jesus’ washing of His disciples’ feet on Maundy Thursday, the night before his crucifixion. 

Our service was a combined service along with twenty other local churches. We expected a big crowd so my husband and I got to church early only to sit and wait for the church to fill up. It didn’t. But there was a nice diversity of people.

At one point there was a re-enactment of the washing of feet with four pastors taking turns. But the best part was the service of Tenebrae.

The word “Tenebrae” comes from the Latin meaning “darkness”, or “shadow”.  The Tenebrae is an ancient Christian Good Friday service that makes use of gradually diminishing light through the extinguishing of candles to that symbolizes the events of Holy Week from the triumphant Palm Sunday entry through Jesus’ burial. Lights are gradually diminished with the increasing darkness symbolizing the darkness of Jesus’ death. When the church gets dark, worshippers are encouraged to take that time to reflect on their life in light of the death Jesus and what it means to them personally.

Maundy Thursday

We had seven different pastors read portions of that week’s events, from the betrayal to the crucifixion. The readers were particularly good. Some of the headings of the Scriptures were, “The Shadow of His Agony and Arrest in the Garden”, “The Shadow of His Death”, etc.

A young man from our church sang some “dark” songs in between each reading. However, at the end, a man from one of our local black churches sang “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” I can only say, it sent shivers down my spine. This version will, too.

But here’s what it meant to me.

I’ve struggled with some things surrounding my mom’s declining health, including taking care of her finances and getting things in order. It’s been very stressful for lots of reasons I can’t share. I’ve struggled with the “unfairness” surrounding some of these issues.

Ordinarily, I never consider whether I’m being treated fairly or not. It’s not who I am usually. But it has been with this experience.

While I sat there last night, it occurred to me that these circumstances are allowing me to experience on even the tiniest scale how Jesus must have felt about the unfairness of what was happening to him. There is, of course, no scripture to suggest this, but I don’t think it’s too far a stretch to think that Jesus might have had a moment when he thought that way. Remember, Jesus was as human as he was divine.

I felt properly chagrined at my attitude when I considered what I was dealing with compared to the unfairness of a crucifixion of an innocent man.

We usually don’t attend the Maundy service so I surprised myself when I told my husband I wanted to go. Now I know why. I needed a “slap up along side my head”, and I got it.

But as the service went on and I was feeling pretty bad about my former attitude. (Part of being forgiven is thinking seriously about our sin.  If we really are aware of our sin, there should be some feelings of sadness. That’s how change usually happens and accepting forgiveness means a change is needed. We just don’t accept forgiveness and go one making the same mistake. We might for a while till we get it “licked” but it’s not something that continues. If it does, we weren’t serious when we confessed it.)  It also occurred to me that I had been worrying I would make some really wrong decisions during this season of my mom’s impending death.

During the service, I felt God saying to me, “I will never let you make a big mistake if you just keep listening.”

I know that now.

We can trust God to lead us in the right way, if we follow his voice. And following his voice means, praying and listening, and reading his word. There is no other way.

I’m so glad I was there last night. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” took on new meaning.

God bless and I hope the miracle of Easter Sunday has special meaning for you.

holy week

Can we be too cheap sometimes?

I wonder if any of you are like me, too cheap, at times.

Sometimes we need to quit thinking so “cheap”. “Cheap thinking” is, by my personal definition, trying so hard to save a dime that we work against our own natural energy and strength.

For example, I’ve been changing things up a little in my home. My mantle has always presented a challenge. I had this great little card table that used to sit in front of the fireplace on the floor. (Naturally, I didn’t take pictures.)

Anyway, it was a card table I painted white and in the middle was a deer head. I had a brain spasm one day and decided, “Hey, I’ll take the table apart and hang it on the wall.”

Great idea, huh?

Well, it would’ve been had I not decided the deer head was too small. So, I took it down, peeled off the deer head (it was paper), enlarged it, traced it on some heavy board, cut it out, re-pasted to the table and put it back up on the mantle. Still didn’t like it.

So I spent a considerable amount of time looking around the house for something I could put together quickly. Nothing caught my eye.

That’s when I gave in and decided to go shopping. Now, to me, that’s a failure. It means I’m going to spend money on something I wanted to make myself.

I do this all the time. I can be so cheap, I put extra stress on myself. So I gave in bought this rusty windmill.

mantle 2017

 

I’m not particularly fond of the other items;   I need more “bulk”, but that’s going to have to wait.

 

Besides, this is Holy Week.

holy week

 

A reminder that while:

Grace is free, it isn’t cheap.

Grace was purchased at a huge price. Grace could’ve been purchased “cheaper”, maybe without the death of God’s only son. But God put too precious of a price on our heads; it demanded a huge sacrifice.

Thank goodness, God looked down on his people and decided not to hold back. Thank goodness, God is not like me, cheap.

God bless and have a wonderful Easter weekend and remember that God considers you priceless.

 

When I think about “cheap” I sometimes think of people who “cheapen” the grace of God.

As I’ve said often:

Grace is free but itsn’t cheap.

 

 

When God wakes you up at 4:00 a.m.

As you know, there has been a lot going on in my life this week.

Yesterday was such a day. You can read about it here.

This morning at 4:00 a.m. God woke me up. I’m sure many would say it was because of stress. Some of it might have been but God certainly had some things to say to me.

While I am exhausted now, I am very much at peace about all the decisions I am having to make, which brings me to this post.

I find that when most people talk about compassion, they throw out common sense and logic. It’s so easy to have a knee-jerk reaction because we want to feel magnanimous. We don’t think through our choices. And, as Christians, we can really get messed up sometimes because we’re not familiar with all of Scripture. And the totality of scripture more times than not suggests that compassion should be tempered with thoughtful intelligence.

An example might be when someone feels compassion for a family member or friend who has a drug or alcohol addiction and contributes to that addiction by a gift of money. One could still help but in a way that doesn’t encourage bad behavior.

I thought of every parable. I thought of every healing. I thought of every lesson taught throughout the Bible. I thought of the Proverbs pertaining to wisdom.And all of that helped me work through the issues.

I have a supernatural peace now that scripture promises when we bring God in on our decision-making process from the very beginning.

Here’s some links to past posts about making decisions:

making decisions

My experience with how God helps us make good decisions

How to be absolutely sure God is leading us. (part 1

And then there is a post that seems contradictory. You’ll have to read it to know what I’m talking about.

Why we don’t always have to ask God about every decision.

Anyway, hope this helps you today if you have some big decisions to make.

God bless and have a good one.

 

 

 

 

Hallmark movies

Why Hallmark Christmas movies are a good idea right now.

Wow. Last week was something, wasn’t it? My hubby and I stayed up till the week hours of the morning and I was so glad when I woke up the next morning thinking it was all over.

Not!

But Christmas is coming and I refuse to let the continuing political storm ruin my holidays.

So I’ve decided to start to watch Hallmark Christmas movies way early this year. Usually I wait until the first of December but not this year.

Hallmark movies

This year, I need schmaltzy, tears and laughter. I need “feel good”  and “fairy tale” endings, where love and goodness always triumph over meanness. Mostly, I need “predictability”.

So this is how I’m coping this year.

I think this might be the first year that if we’re going to have a good Christmas, we may all need to actually work to do so.

I love the Christmas season but this year it seems that with the nation’s turmoil, my mother’s care requirements, and my continual back issues, I’m most definitely going to have especially “draw close to God, so he will draw close to me”. (James 4:8)

So if you’re like me and having to dig down deep in your faith to capture the spirit of Christmas, remember this.

The political scene surrounding the birth of Jesus was just as tumultuous as today, maybe even more so. And yet the Prince of Peace was born into that climate.

We can invite that same Prince of Peace into our lives now. We can experience that peace amidst the current unrest. While Christ entered the scene at a point in history, it was for all points of history.

It was for today.

The only way I know to counter this unrest is to be the best example of God’s gift of peace we can be. I don’t write this to suggest we have to agree about issues we feel strongly about but that we remember that “issues” aren’t people. People who are dealing with the reality of their own life. People who are scared or mad. People who are angry and confused.

I have been accused of being somewhat naive because I really do believe all this “religious” stuff. But what choice do I have? I either believe God’s message of hope or I don’t. And if I do, then  I HAVE to believe that hope can make a difference in our world.

I have to believe I can make a difference in my little corner of the world.

 

God bless and I hope you have a good day.

 

 

 

 

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