Archives for April 2015

Taking Care of the Rest

Sometimes it seems difficult for me to slow down, to rest. But when I do, what a gift rest is.  My body, mind, spirit all know how much I need it.

This past weekend I had the blessing of enjoying eight of my college friends for our 21st 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 17 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 NIV

–“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 NIV.

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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Running After Laughter

Danya laughing

When is the last time you laughed, truly belly laughed? Do you take yourself too seriously?

Laughter and smiles are universal. It makes me smile to hear other people or children laughing. I love to laugh and make others laugh.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” –Proverbs 17:22

According to an article by the Mayo Clinic, a good laugh has great short-term effects like stimulating your heart, lungs, and muscles, increasing endorphins, soothing tension. Long-term effects from laughter may improve your immune system, relieve pain, improve your mood, lessen your depression and anxiety.

Clean, good-humored laughter truly is the best medicine. Just smiling makes you even more attractive.

Do you surround yourself with people or even one friend who lifts your spirits and laughter comes easily? If not, intentionally set times to spend time with someone or people with whom you can laugh.

Laughter is throughout the Bible. One of my favorite stories is when God told Abraham and his wife Sarah that they would have a baby when they were ages 100 years old and 90 years old, respectively. Needless to say, Sarah laughed—at God. She conceived and bore a son and named the baby “Isaac,” which means…. Laughter.

“Sarah said, ‘God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.’” –Genesis 21:6 NIV 

“Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.’” –Psalm 126:2-3 NIV

May you be encouraged to smile and laugh more, and to make others laugh. It sure does lighten the room, lighten your heart, lighten your marriage, and those around you.

Relax, smile, get ready to laugh.

Here’s a clean joke for you:

Little Johnny was sitting in Sunday School one day when his teacher was teaching about Noah and the ark and all the animals.

She asked “With all that water from the Flood, do you think many fish were caught from Noah’s ark?”

Johnny quickly answered, “Of course not.”

“Why not, Johnny? It would be so easy to catch fish,” his teacher asked.

Johnny said matter-of-factly, “Noah only had two worms.”

Reflect:

–What will you do to laugh more?

Renew:

–“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” –Ecclesiastes 3:4 NIV 

Recharge:

–Name three positive people in your life who lift your spirits. Make an appointment to see them and spend time.

Resource:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/stress-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456

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The Voice

Watching segments of the “AD” Bible-based television series has been inspiring to me. It has taken much courage to use this platform to tell others about Jesus.  It begs the question, “How am I using my voice, my platform, to tell others about Jesus and His love and my salvation?”

“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 NIV.

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. May we use our voices and our platforms to “go and tell” others how Jesus’s empty tomb filled our hearts with hope.

PS. One month ago, on Saturday, March 14, 2015, at 5pm in the afternoon, I was involved in a serious six-car accident, hit by a man charged with Driving Under the Influence. My car was totaled. For those of you who know, please forgive me for not being able to write about it yet. I am humbled that God spared my life. It has been too sacred to write about it. Psalm 91:4. One day I will use my voice to describe this experience. One day…. To God be the Glory!  Thank you for your patience as the magnitude of the miracle marinates.  

Reflect:

–How has your faith been strengthened and how will you use your voice to tell others? Please comment.

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 NIV

–“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 NIV

Recharge:

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

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