Archives

December beginning

I think perhaps we’ve had a bad impression of Martha for too long. Not Martha the American mega-business woman. Martha from the book of St. Luke.

We’ve chastised her for being a busy woman. There are a lot of busy, hard-working people whom I admire. They stick to the task. They get things done. They don’t mind getting their hands dirty. They keep at it until the job is complete. We can count on them.

Have we equated being diligent with being un-Christian?

Our first introduction to Martha is in chapter 10 of Luke, ” . . . a woman named Martha opened her home to him [Jesus].” She had the gift of hospitality and she welcomed Jesus and his followers.

When we bring people into our homes, there are things to do. Martha set herself to the task of feeding a group of hungry men.

We see the problem arising a couple of verses later: “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Ah, the distractions. I have walked in Martha’s sandals.

Other versions of Scripture say she was worried and troubled, disturbed by all her responsibilities. I especially like the rendering of the Message:  “Martha was pulled away by all she had to do . . . ”

I have been pulled away too. Pulled away from sitting at Jesus’ feet, pulled away from what is important by what seems urgent, pulled away from the people I am to serve by my need to finish all the preparations.

As I see it, herein lies some of the problem with the Christmas season. It has become complicated, full to overflowing, demanding, over abundant. We have become distracted by all the preparations. And we have been blinded to the beauty of Christmas.

Martha lost sight of her Lord, the very nearness of His presence in her home, while she became engrossed in the work at hand.

Her distraction and worry brought on accusations and demands. “Don’t you care?” she asked Jesus. “Make Mary help me,” she commanded Him. The audacity.

I have found myself guilty of Martha’s sin. I have wondered if God cared. I have stomped my feet like an angry child who didn’t get her way. I have been distracted, troubled and worried by the tasks and the schedule and have overlooked the reality of Emmanuel.

How can we approach Christmas with a work ethic like Martha and a heart like Mary?

Jesus said Mary chose the best, the place of sitting quietly and listening. Her attention was focused on His words that were Life to her.

That is the challenge. We live in a culture of extravagance, and our schedules fill quickly as we try to do more and be more. Yet we are not called to do everything or be all things to everyone. We are called to be still and know our God first. Then we are called to serve.

We cannot walk in power and peace if we lose connection with the Prince of Peace.

It will take determination, imagination even, and a made-up mind to spend some quiet time with Jesus each day, especially in December. So many voices call after us seeking our attention. We have to make a decision what is most important to us.

If you wonder where to begin, seek out someone you know who has developed the discipline of quiet meditation each day. Or simply ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. It is His specialty.

In the quiet of His presence, we will hear Him speak. We can take a deep breath and feel the calm infuse us. We will get a clear focus on what is important. And we gain wisdom from God who gives it liberally.

His plan for my day is always better than my own.

101_0599

 

Sunday grace

It’s been such a busy week. I already feel caught up in the vortex of coming end-of-year celebrations.

Thanksgiving is a few days away. December is on its heels, and the roller coaster wheels are turning. I see colored lights already blinking on porches and in windows as we push toward The Holiday Extravaganza.

Thanksgiving deserves its own day at least once during the year.

A local store mailed me an advertisement last week.

BLACK FRIDAY
FIRST PLACE TO STOP. BEST PLACE TO SHOP.
(IN STORE AND ONLINE)
STORES OPEN THURSDAY AT 6 PM

When did a day of thanks and a time to gather with family become a strategy to get the best deals, save the most money, and beat out other shoppers by camping on sidewalks until stores open?

Have we lost something in our 21 Century living? Are we more focused on accumulating additional stuff than on being grateful for what we have? What are we teaching the next generation about the value of human contact, the art of face to face conversations, and simple pleasures of enjoying being fully present at family gatherings?

Thanksgiving Day has been a federal holiday since 1863, proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln as a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,”

We have made it into something else.

The Almighty God is the originator of thanksgiving guidance, instructing His people to remember the goodness of God, to recall His deliverance and grace, to count the blessings He bestows lavishly on this earth.

Do we become more self-centered if we bypass being thankful? Shall we not pause to recognize that there is a Great Benefactor of all good gifts? We are not islands unto ourselves, making our own pathways through life, accomplishing our goals and becoming successful through our efforts alone.

There is a God who sends rain and sunshine, who causes seed to grow, earth and planets to revolve in their orbits, stars to shine, and seasons to comply with His plan and direction.

He gives the very breath we breathe, created the body to function like a beautiful machine, made our minds to think, reason, create, relate, and remember.

He gave His Son that we might become children of God. That alone is reason to thank Him.

As the week moves forward, can we give thanks to our great God? Can we pause amidst the  lines in grocery stores, the hurry of projects and the hustle of food preparation to remind ourselves Who is the source of our every blessing? Could we hug those precious people whom the Father has brought into our lives to love and cherish and remember they are gifts from a benevolent hand?

“It is a good and delightful thing to give thanks to the Lord,
To sing praises to Your name, O Most High.”  — Psalm 92:1 AMP

Sunday grace.

 

thanksgiving-prayer-norman-rockwell-saturday-evening-post

Normal Rockwell, Saturday Evening Post 1943

 

 

 

 

Let’s continue on

Completing one more Bible study is not just another notch in our belts.

A group of women and I finished Hosea: Unfailing Love Changes Everything by Jennifer Rothschild, and we celebrated this week. Seven weeks of meeting together created a bond of friendship that happens in the middle of opening God’s Word together. It’s amazing how we learn from the Scripture and how we learn to love one another. It’s special.

The challenge now is to continue the daily time of study and simply be in the presence of our Savior Jesus. How do we shut out the world for a few minutes each day and sit at His feet like Mary did?

We are good at being Martha, bustling about to accomplish tasks. That in itself is not bad. But in our “Martha-ness” we can become distracted, frustrated, critical and fussy. As we compare our own work load with another, we make demands and question our Lord. We lose our contentment in the gifts we have been given, gifts meant to bless others.

Our culture encourages us to work hard and find efficient ways of doing more. The “being” part is often left out, and we are left wondering how to do that.

We’ve somehow lost the art of being present, of being still.

So let’s try this. Dedicate fifteen minutes for some quiet, meditative time with the God of the Universe. Uninterrupted time. No multi-tasking. Press the pause button on your To-Do List. Turn off the smart phone. Take some time to pray, and then to listen.

Can we do that? Just fifteen minutes a day? There’s a very good possibility that the dedicated fifteen minutes will strech into thrity as we get lost in the Presence.

When we set aside a portion of our time, it becomes sacred. It becomes holy. And we find the Holy One has been waiting for us.

And in the holy stillness, our hearts will open and we will see God.

 

In the stillness

On a busy Monday, when everywhere we turn traffic will clog, when we have jobs to go to before vacation time kicks in, when we go from place to place and yet another place purchasing gifts on the list – it can be a challenge to find stillness in the rush of madness.

My list of tasks is long today.  I need items from the grocery that I should have gotten last week.  The dirty clothes pile is getting big and I really must do laundry.

I check my calendar and wonder how it got so full this week and if I will be able to accomplish it all.

The season is busy and blustery and time rushes and so do I.  And is there enough time to come and adore Him?

There is enough time . . . if I will slow.  Stop my frenzied thoughts.  Be still.

Sitting in the silence this early morning, I hear the ticking of the clock.  I realize I only hear it when all is quiet.  When I am quiet.

In the stillness, I sit and listen for His voice.

100_3307

Taking a breath

I’ve noticed that I’ve been a little tense lately.

My body is talking to me.  Simple health issues belie the stress.  My schedule has been crowded.  My inner spirit feels the need to take a breath.

In this my second year of retirement, I’ve not put restrictions on my activities like I did the first year. And I am feeling a bit overloaded.

Today I had plans; then I canceled them.  Instead I went to a friend’s home and sat in her sun room and began to take a breath.  She served me sumptuously, what she called simple fare but to me was fit for a queen.  Queen of quite a lot on her plate.  I relaxed in her comfortable friendship and the view of trees and sky.  I nestled into the chair with the pillow at my back, breathing deeply.

We talked.  Sometimes that is the prescription I need. No pressure to do anything, but simply the opportunity to be myself and to express my feelings.

My friend gave me a gift today, spur of the moment for sure.  She was willing to change her plans on my behalf, to minister to me around her table.

It is around the table where I find ministry takes place so often.  I think of Jesus and His disciples around the table at the last Passover they celebrated together.  Jesus had longed for that time with them.  It was the evening before His momentous event, and it was spent reclining at the table, sharing food and talking with His friends.  Jesus had words of love to impart and words that would call them to the same kind of love.

This afternoon I am breathing easier; I’m taking some time to rest.  I will fulfill my scheduled appointments already penciled into my calendar.  But I feel the Spirit urging me to be careful.  Take time to think through the plans and resulting actions required.  Consider what God wants to do with me, in me, through me.

I don’t plan on sitting around the rest of my life.  That’s not what I’m called to do.  There is still work with my name on it.  There is work and there is rest.  There are appointments to keep and there are margins to guard and maintain.

Life is to be abundant, joyful, and about the Father’s business.  It just doesn’t have to be bursting at the seams.

101_0314 100_3204 101_0089

A little busy

It’s been a little busy at the Wright House this week.  I’ve missed having the luxury of thinking slowly and writing the way I like.  But I will be back soon.

As we finish January 2015 and really face this new year head on, let’s don’t get sidetracked by what only appears necessary and urgent.  We so often give our attention to the “pressing task” when what is really important, the people around us and the work God has give us to do, languishes on the sidelines just waiting.  Just waiting for us to stop and take notice.  Just waiting.

Let us examine ourselves and ask our God and Father, “What’s the plan for today?”  Then may we take the challenge and follow Him wholeheartedly.  It is in the obedience, sometimes the hard obedience, that we find fulfillment, contentment, peace, and joy.

And couldn’t we all use a little more of that in 2015?

100_3257

100_0748 100_2765

on choosing a word

100_1550

I am a blog reader.

I’m kind of choosy about what I give attention to and what I allow to wrinkle my brain.  There are favorites I have subscribe to so they are conveniently delivered to my email.

Over the years some of my blog friends have chosen a word in January to guide their entire year.  At first I was just an observer of this process.  But this year, this first year of my retirement, I’ve decided to follow their example and choose a word for myself.  Actually two words.

Rest and Space.

I’ve been a busy person for a lot of years.  It seemed impossible not to be.

Sweet William and I experienced some life-changing events in our 30s that changed our plans.  I was placed in a role I never would have chosen, a burden I never dreamed I would carry.  Nevertheless it became mine.  Sometimes the load was very heavy.  And it became my lot to be very busy, very responsible, very tired.

So many of my days were spent going from one job to another.  Once I characterized myself as the Queen of Part-time Jobs.  It was not a royal reign.

I admit some of my busy-ness has been of my own making.  I’ve taken on responsibilities that were not my calling.

I’ve been stressed at times.  Overworked.  Over committed.

As I begin a new journey this year, I don’t want to live out the rest of my days in total overload.

Thus my words.  Rest and Space.

I question how I may accomplish this mountainous goal.  I can only try by keeping my focus.  I’m sure I will fail at times.  My bent is toward activity.  My inclination is to see an opportunity or a need and say “I can do that.”  I’ve been known to volunteer too quickly only to regret it later.

One thing I have learned is that when I am in God’s will and I’m using the gifts He has given me there is great joy and fulfillment in the project, even it if wears me out.  But if I am doing something on my own, perhaps what someone else is really called to do instead of me, I begrudge the time and can’t wait for it to be over.

I am more than willing to serve where the Lord calls me.  But sometimes I’ve served where He didn’t call.  I’ve heard it said that when we take a position where we are not called, we actually keep someone else from using their gift.  I ponder that.

So this year, 2014, I will focus on the ministry God’s has given to me.  Sometimes that is right in my own home.  Sometimes it is at church or community.  Sometimes it will be somewhere completely unexpected.

I will consider the opportunities to serve, pray for God’s guidance, and answer carefully.

I will receive the gift of space in my surroundings, my home and my life.  I will learn to “be” more than constantly “do” more.

I will allow my spirit, soul, and body to rest in the One who made me and prepared a good work for me to do.

He knows the way that I take.  I’ve strayed from that path a time or two.  I’d like to walk it right this year.

Your comments are so welcome.  I love reading them.  I’d really like to know what you think.