The Pinterest Project Day 20: Sabbath Rest

Today, a short Pinterest project post. I was inspired by a pin from a blog called Upside Down Home Schooling on observing the sabbath. Heather mentioned her conviction to observe a day of true rest.

Heather included resting from the Internet. That’s something I need to consider. In the meantime, I did have a nice day of rest today. Spent the morning at church, the afternoon relaxing with my parents, and the evening relaxing at home. 

Do you have a designated day of rest and worship? Some people observe Saturday as the sabbath and others Sunday. Perhaps yours is different. Do you have particular guidelines you have set for your own sabbath?  See Heather’s full post for the guidelines she has set for her day of rest.

Now, back to resting…

Happy Birthday to My Boys

Nineteen years ago today, I became a mother. Seventeen years ago, I became a mother again. Having two boys born on the same day has been a fun adventure. They are best friends and they get along so well. Even as teenagers, they’ve been fun to raise. 
I know, that doesn’t even sound normal for me to say. But raising teenagers isn’t always as awful as it’s cracked up to be. Every so often, you’ll meet someone who says their teenagers are a delight. I’m one of them. Please don’t hate me. I didn’t do anything to deserve these sweet boys. I know that God gave them to me and he showed me much grace when they became teenagers.
Perhaps God’s blessing reflects my own lack of patience. Sometimes I wonder if he said, “That gal has a lively temper and a low tolerance level. Give her two boys who will help her manage her weaknesses.” Or maybe he said, “Her husband has his hands full already with her. Let’s give him two boys as a reward.”
 Of course, they aren’t perfect by any means. They like to pick on their dear old mom. And sometimes, they butt heads with me. Sometimes they lick their plates when I’m not looking. And sometimes they leave their bathroom looking like a truck stop restroom for my piano student moms to use. Most of the time, their rooms are carpeted with dirty laundry (not sure why we actually put carpet down if they walk on their clothes anyway).
However God worked it out, I’m thankful for them. To all the moms who are struggling to get through the teen years, I’m praying that God give you all the strength and patience that I lack. I give you more credit than you can imagine for being such great moms!

Thanks for letting me have my little moment to celebrate my boys’ birthday today.

Considering Our Creator

When I Consider
Have you ever wondered why the earth wasn’t square and plain like a big box? What if it was more like a giant racquetball court or a gymnasium? Just six boring walls. Imagine a flat and two-dimensional world with little color or variety. No flowers. No trees. No hills or mountains. Could it have been this way? Sure. God could have created anything he wanted. But that isn’t what he did.
Sunset at Denver International Airport
Instead, he created geography that blows my mind. I’ve flown over the Rocky Mountains at sunset and driven to the top of Mount Baker in the state of Washington. I’ve been to Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. I’ve traveled the shores of Lake Superior and hiked the trails along swift rivers and peaceful streams. Not one acre of land is exactly like another and the contrast in the contour of mountains and valleys is almost more than I can fathom sometimes.
It isn’t just the magnificent formations that grip my thoughts. I’m amazed at the fine detail that God didn’t overlook even in my own back yard. As I meander my garden I see intricate flowers and a glorious display of color. As hummingbirds buzz around me and the blossoms bend and sway in a strong breeze, I can’t help but wonder, “God, how and why did you create this world with such attention to detail?” 
Those are the moments when my heart sings with the words of David in Psalm 8. “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers…what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” It makes sense that David would say, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth,” when he stopped to consider what God created. When I stop to think about why God didn’t create a giant racquetball court of a world, I can see several reasons, as if my little mind could even begin to understand the mind of God.
I think one reason he created the world with immeasurable beauty and awe is that it reflects his own beauty and awe. I’ve traveled so little in my lifetime, yet I’ve seen enough to make me realize that it must surely be a tiny sample of the glory of God.
In addition to reflecting his own glory in his creation, I think God created the earth the way it is simply because he enjoyed creating it. As an artist, I thoroughly enjoy the process of creating and designing a work of art. I can almost imagine God forming the world like a potter forms clay and splashing it with color in flowers and trees. His artistry shows in thunder and lightning, snow and rain, sun and blue skies. I imagine his satisfaction when he stepped back and he “saw all that he had made and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). As a gardener, I understand his delight when he “planted a garden in the east, in Eden…and the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food” (Genesis 2:8-9).
He made it pleasing to our eyes too, not just his own. Surely, he created it for our enjoyment. For the sense of peace and joy we receive when we spend time hiking in the beauty of rocky hills, canoeing the wilderness, flying into a sunset in an airplane, and resting by the side of a peaceful lake.
As if all of these weren’t reason enough, I think God created this world in such a way that not one human being could say, “I did this.” If the world were flat and square, we’d have less reason to believe in a creator. We wouldn’t be blown away enough. We’d believe that a random accident created the box. Although many still refuse to believe in God the Creator, I find it impossible to believe that a random accident made life sustaining water, photosynthesis for oxygen, and vast amounts of plants, animals and fruits for food. How could our round earth spin on a perfect axis, orbit the sun, and change seasons in order without a perfect creator?
As I consider the wonder of creation, I can’t help but think that if God created something so splendid in seven days, what will heaven be like?
Reprinted from Michelle’s “Habits for Quality Living” column in the September 2010 issue of Wisconsin Christian News.

What’s Eating You?

I’m not exactly sure when it fell, but when I awoke on Easter Sunday, there was a large tree on our storage shed. Perhaps it had fallen during the night. Or maybe it had been while we were visiting family the day before.

The stump caught my attention first. Three feet of jagged wood pointed skyward where the tall shade tree used to stand. I did a double take and assessed the scene. Like a tall man on a sofa too small for his stature, the bulk of the tree rested partially on the shed roof with the rest spilling over on the other trees on the edge of our property. It had been windy all weekend, so it wouldn’t have surprised me to find branches downed all over the yard. However, I hadn’t expected this tree to fall.
This was a sturdy tree, big enough that I could barely wrap my arms all the way around. From all outside appearance, this tree was healthy, and it wasn’t until it snapped off that I could see the real condition of it. The stump was mostly hollow, except for a few sawdust remainders and later when my husband and sons began to cut up the tree with chainsaws and axes, we discovered the problem. When a large piece of log split open with the swing of the axe, hundreds of black carpenter ants scurried for shelter. With each split of another log section, more ants poured out of the wood. The splitting and cutting revealed intricate tunnels in the wood woven like a lacey sponge. But as the ants ate the wood turning its fibers into sawdust, they ate away the strength of the tree.
When the strong wind came, the tree had no power to withstand. Those little tiny ants brought down a giant oak. I imagine one little ant moved in and brought a small family at first. But as they multiplied, they grew to a number that had the ability to bring down the whole tree.

Have you ever met someone and wanted to ask, “What’s eating you?” Someone who spewed anger or negativity and carried a grudge for the world? That attitude probably started with a small larvae of bitterness. When bitterness first moves in, we might seem spiritually healthy. We continue to serve in our churches and volunteer for missions work. We love our families and friends and we care for the needs of others. We might be ministry leaders and teachers, but have a growing bitterness in our hearts. We hide it well. For a while.
When we allow bitterness to take residence, it multiplies and it begins to eat away at our soul. It hollows out our joy and devours our contentment and peace. And when life brings a giant windstorm of cancer, joblessness, family crisis, or disappointment, we snap just like the hollow oak.
Bitterness robs us of the spiritual stamina we need to live for Jesus Christ. It robs us of the ability to love unconditionally. And it robs us of the joy of our salvation. When bitterness tunnels its way through our hearts and our minds, we’re left with a sad emptiness. But there is one empty place that can give us hope.

The only hollow place with any power is the tomb of Jesus Christ. It is empty because he holds the power over the grave, and if death couldn’t take him down, it means he has power over the strongholds of sin as well. Because of his power over Satan and any grip bitterness might have on us, Jesus can fill us with a power that we never had on our own. Where bitterness has eaten away our resistance and stamina, he can remove it like an expert exterminator and replace those hollow places with the fiber of his own character. He can make us able to withstand more than we ever thought possible.
What’s eating you right now? Whatever it is, don’t let it live there. Let Jesus do some work in you so you’re ready to face the stress of everyday life and the big storms that test your resistance.
This article appeared in the April issue of Wisconsin Christian News.