Archives for April 2014

The Necessity of Rest, Post #28

The saying goes that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”  Do we still believe that, even in our over-stimulated, over-programmed,  full-throttle lives?

This past weekend I had the blessing of enjoying eight of my college friends for our 20th annual girl weekend (normally we have 11 total—two weren’t able to join us this year). They are all friends from college, beautiful wives and moms, with 22 children among the 10 of them. Their wonderful husbands keep the children for the weekend while the 9 or 11 of us relax at a beach house in Charleston.

We eat, laugh, reminisce, walk on the beach, exercise, talk about our blessings and our struggles. We are mirrors to each other, encouraging each other and holding each other accountable. We strengthen each other in our faith journeys.

Usually on the Sunday evening or Monday after Girl Weekend, recipes, photos, and sweet “Reply to All” emails follow. I was surprised  several years ago to receive this certain “Reply to All” email. It read something like this:

“Good morning, ladies. This is Gina’s husband. I don’t normally look or respond to her emails, but I wanted to thank you for being such good friends to my wife. My beautiful bride came home so refreshed and happy. After three children, and 15 years of marriage, I love my wife today more than the day I married her. Thank you for refreshing her this weekend.”

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read his email–precious.  (Hint to any husband–this is a good idea to do.) Her weekend girl getaway not only refreshed herself but her husband also, her family.

It is healthy and necessary to get away and rest, relax.

Brilliant Renaissance man Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation. For when you come back to your work, your judgment will be surer…Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or proportion is more readily seen.”

In fact, it’s one of the Ten Commandments, not a suggestion, to rest, to honor the Sabbath.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” –Exodus 20:8-10a, 11.

I am thankful to my parents for encouraging our family to honor the Sabbath and rest. It helps  fuel back up for the week. If the Lord can do it all in six days, what makes me think I can’t?

Give yourself permission to rest and relax.  Let’s make more of an effort to unwind.

As Roman poet Ovid said, “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

Reflect:

–When is the last time you truly relaxed, truly rested with friends, your spouse or by yourself? Please comment.

–How do you observe the Sabbath? Please let us know.

–Are you over-programmed?

Renew:

-“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30 NIV84

–“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone
who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.” –-Hebrews 4:9-10 NIV84.

Recharge:

–What plans will you make to intentionally set aside time for vacation, rest, relaxation? Please comment.

–How will you plan to be still, be quiet for a time?

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What Was in Jeremy’s Egg? Post #27

Each time I see an Easter plastic egg, I am reminded of this inspiring Easter story, taken from Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul. May it touch your heart as it does mine.

Jeremy was born with a twisted body, a slow mind, and a chronic  illness all his young life. Still, his parents had tried to give him as normal a life as possible and had sent him to St. Teresa’s Elementary School.

At the age of 12, Jeremy was only in second grade, seemingly unable to learn. His teacher, Doris Miller, often became exasperated with him. He would squirm in his seat, drool and make grunting noises. At other times, he spoke clearly and distinctly, as if a spot of light had penetrated the darkness of his brain. Most of the time, however, Jeremy irritated his teacher.

It wasn’t fair to keep Jeremy in Doris Miller’s class. She had 18 other youngsters to teach, and Jeremy was a distraction. Furthermore, he would never learn to read and write. Why waste any more time trying? Doris sat for a long time, staring at the snow outside the window. Its coldness seemed to seep into her soul.  As she pondered the situation, guilt washed over her. “Oh God,” she said aloud, “Please help me to be more patient with Jeremy.”

From that day on, she tried hard to ignore Jeremy’s noises and his blank stares. Then one day he limped to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. “I love you, Miss Miller,” he exclaimed, loud enough for the whole class to hear. The other students snickered, and Doris’s face turned red. She stammered, “Wh-why, that’s very nice, Jeremy. Now please take your seat.”

Spring came, and the children talked excitedly about the coming of Easter. Doris told them the story of Jesus, and then to emphasize the idea of new life springing forth, she gave each of the children a large plastic egg.

“Now,” she said to them, “I want you to take this home and bring it back tomorrow with something inside that shows new life. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Miss Miller!” the children responded enthusiastically–all except for Jeremy. He just listened intently, his eyes never left her face. He did not even make his usual noises. Doris decided to call Jeremy’s parents that night to explain the project to them.

That evening, she had to shop for groceries, iron a blouse, and prepare a vocabulary test for the next day. She completely forgot about phoning Jeremy’s parents.

The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in the large wicker basket on Miss Miller’s desk. After they completed their math lesson, it was time to open the eggs. In the first egg, Doris found a flower. “Oh, yes,” a flower is certainly sign of new life,” she said. “When plants peek through the ground, we know that spring is here.” A small girl in the first row waved her arms. “That’s my egg, Miss Miller,” she called out.

The next egg contained a plastic butterfly, which looked very real. Doris held it up. “We all know that a caterpillar changes and grows into a beautiful butterfly. Yes, that is new life, too.” Little Judy smiled proudly and said, “Miss Miller, that one is mine!”

Next, Doris found a rock with moss on it. She explained that moss, too showed life. Billy spoke up from the back of the classroom. “My daddy helped me!” he beamed.

Then Doris opened the fourth egg. She gasped. The egg was empty! Surely it must be Jeremy’s, she thought, and, of course, he did not understand her instructions. If only she had not forgotten to phone his parents. Because she did not want to embarrass him, she quietly set the egg aside and reached for another.

Suddenly Jeremy spoke up. “Miss Miller, aren’t you going to talk about my egg?”

Flustered, Doris replied, “But Jeremy–your egg is empty!”

He looked into her eyes and said softly, “Yes, but Jesus’ tomb was empty too!”

Time stopped. When she could speak again, Doris asked him, “Do you know why the tomb was empty?”

“Oh, yes!” Jeremy exclaimed. “Jesus was killed and put in there. Then His Father raised Him up!”

The recess bell rang. While the children excitedly ran out to the school yard, Doris cried. The cold inside her melted completely away.

May we continue to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and ponder it in our hearts.

Reflect:

–How would you respond if Jeremy were in your class?

–Do you demonstrate your faith like Jeremy did?

Renew:

— “…The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” –1 Samuel 16:7b

— “He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” –Matthew 18:2-4 NIV84

Recharge:

–What will you do this week to show love and compassion for the Jeremy in your life?

–How will you show your faith more clearly?

Resource:

Kempel, Ida Mae, “What Was In Jeremy’s Egg?”. Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul. 1997.

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Christ is Risen, Indeed! Post #26

Happy Resurrection Day! Today is my favorite day of the year!  May the early morning miracle of Jesus’ empty tomb shine hope, love, and a deep faith renewal into your soul.

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples; He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him. Now I have told you.’  So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell His disciples.” –Matthew 28: 5-8 NIV84.

Isn’t it precious that two women found Jesus’ tomb empty and were empowered to tell the disciples the Good News? Women back then typically had no voice or place in society, yet were such an important part of Jesus’ ministry.

Like the women on Easter morning, Beloved, we may be afraid yet filled with joy to tell others about Jesus and what He means in our lives. Have courage. You have a voice to use it for His glory to tell this Good News and encourage others to strengthen their faith.

I am reminded of the following story about using our voices to tell others about Jesus.

In the mid-1950s, the Rev. W.E. Sangster noticed a strange feeling in his throat and that his leg had begun to drag. He promptly went to visit his doctor. Rev. Sangster was diagnosed with an incurable disease that caused progressive muscle atrophy. His muscles would continue to waste away, including the muscles in his throat, and he would eventually be unable to swallow.

Knowing that his time was growing short, Rev. Sangster decided to use his time in writing for British home mission and in prayer. During this time, he wrote numerous articles and books, and organized prayer groups throughout England. His disease did progress. Eventually he was unable to talk, but he could hold a pen.

On Easter Sunday, just a few weeks before he died, he wrote a letter to his daughter. Barely able to control his pen, he wrote, “It is terrible to wake up on Easter morning and no voice to shout, ‘Christ is risen, indeed!’ But it would be still more terrible to have a voice and not want to shout.”

Amen.

Reflect:

–What does Easter mean to you? Please comment.

–How does today strengthen your faith and how will you use your voice to tell others?

Renew:

–“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter and then to the Twelve. After that, He appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.” –1 Corinthians 15: 3-6 NIV84

–“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” –Galatians 5:22-25 NIV84

Recharge:

–What will you do this week to spread the Good News? To bear fruit?

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