Lazy Days

This past Saturday, my husband and I spent what felt like a decadent day. We did not blow the budget, nor did I stray from my healthy eating plan. How did we pass the day? It was by “doing” almost nothing. We lingered over our coffee and talked and talked and talked. About big things and little things. About people we love. About decorating for Christmas. About our past. About the dream that God has placed in us and our next steps.

We never run out of things to talk about. Give us a bit of time together and my husband and I will drive right past our own house because we are talking. We still sit in the van in the garage and finish a conversation before we go into the house, even though we are empty-nesters now. We are communicators and we show love through conversation.

Life gets busy, and stays busy these days and often there is so little time for a full conversation. Days when we pass in the kitchen and blurt out all the things we want and need to say to each other in a disjointed way before we have to leave, just so they are said. This leads to things being forgotten, misinterpreted and misunderstood. Ineffective. We do not have time to waste being ineffective in this life, especially in communication. Our relationship is too valuable for that.

Sometimes I can treat my prayer time like this too. “Sorry, Lord I have an early meeting this morning so here’s my list of needs. Love you. See you tonight.” I do not have the confidence in these prayers being answered, not because God is not able, but because I have been ineffective in prayer and treated time with the One who loves me most of all in an insignificant way. I am not refreshed or encouraged because I do not give Him time to do so.

Prayer is conversation with God. He wants us to be real in conversation, no King James language (unless you talk that way all the time), just a conversation with someone we love. Laughing, crying, bursting into song, speaking, and listening. Effective. Refreshing. Fulfilling. Life changing.

That Saturday with my husband was simple but what my uncle would describe as “wonderous”. I was heard. I was loved. I was accepted. I hope he felt the same.

How I long for my prayer life to be like this. God always hears me. He always loves me. He has accepted me. I hope He feels the same after we have had time together.

I love the Lord because he hears my prayers and answers them. Psalm 116:11 TLB

Maybe you feel the same. Perhaps it has been a long time since you have prayed effectively and sincerely, or maybe a long time since you have prayed at all. Dear friend, He’s waiting, longing for that “lazy day” or a coffee break to have a conversation with you. He loves you. He hears you. Just start the conversation and your life will be changed.

Photo by Bruno Cervera

Feasting on Fellowship

This past weekend part of our family celebrated our second annual Thankbirthmas festivities. My husband and I both took a day off work to invest in our family relationships. We drove several hours in frustrating traffic to reach the home of our son and daughter-in-law. We spent the weekend together celebrating Thanksgiving (Thank), our four birthdays, which fall between September and December (birth) and Christmas (mas). As we are all actively involved in ministry, our schedules and the distance normally only permit a once-a-year visit. We make the most of it!

So often, celebrations become so food-focused and this has led me to be stressed out about them in the past. In my weight-loss journey, and now in maintenance, I feel much more in control of my food choices when preparing and eating “regular meals”. Celebrations with extra sweets, or seasonal foods has led me to over-indulge and then feel guilty about it. This time I wanted it to be different.

I do not have any foods that I avoid because they are “bad for me”. I make conscious healthy choices and practice portion control. If I want something indulgent, I plan for it and eat it if I can work it into my food plan. I know eating some things on a regular basis is not wise, but anything once in a while helps me not feel deprived and able to stay on my plan. I keep one of my life verses close to mind.

 “Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything.  1 Corinthians 6:12 CSB

Any food is permissible but not always in my best interest. Some foods are trigger foods that may cause me to overeat if I am tired or stressed and so I should put off indulging in them until I am emotionally stronger, more rested, and better able to exhibit the self-control needed.

So how did I work this into Thankbirthmas? I made sure I attended my wellness check-in and weighed in Friday morning just before we set off. I had my current weight recorded and planned on making one conscious healthy choice each day of the celebration. For example, I packed lunches for on the road to avoid fast-food stops. I had fruit and yogurt for breakfast when I knew our celebration meal would be that evening. We went out for burgers one day and I choose to have my lettuce-wrapped instead of having a bun.

Did I have desserts? You betcha. Did I enjoy my holiday favourite of turkey stuffing. I sure did. But I do not feel the least bit guilty about it. I chose mindfully.

The best thing I chose was to feast on the fellowship. Laughing, talking and hugging my family. We went to church and worshiped together. We also went for a long walk on Sunday afternoon and marveled at God’s creation, displayed in glorious fall colours.

When I recall that weekend, what I will treasure in my heart are the sounds of laughter, hearing my son sing as he came in the door from an early morning work shift, just like his father does, the hugging and the conversations. The calories I can burn off, they are so temporary. The feasting, the grabbing of every moment with those I love so much, will never leave me.

Watching father and son together satisfies my soul more than the most decadent dessert ever could. As the occasions come: birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and Christmas…may you feast on the love and fellowship of those around the table more than the plates sitting upon it.

Embracing Interruption

I think God is trying to get my undivided attention. My friends, I am being vulnerable here. I have been working away on my October planners, lesson plans for church and school, baking lists, Christmas shopping lists….. But, I am feeling that God wants me to learn to be interruptable. How do I know this? In recent reading and conversations with friends I am hearing these words:

“Lord, unrush me.”

“Jesus, you have permission to mess with my plan.”

“God, interrupt my day with Your plan.”

“Surprise me, Lord.”

When I read that last one this morning, I surrendered. I thought I had before, but my planner nature easily tries to take charge again. I can make a plan, and I know God made me a planner-girl. But I have to remember that the plans I make are to live a life that glorifies God and blesses others. If I am so captivated by my ideas for how this day is going to turn out that I wear blinders to the people and opportunities that He places in front of me, then I am missing the mark. Its a matter of doing an excellent thing in place of a good thing.

We’ve all heard those stories of people who had an interruption that caused them to miss a train or plane that later crashed. We rejoice in the interruption later, but at the time of the interruption was there much rejoicing?

The Lord says, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 NCV)

Not too long ago, a friend from many years ago contacted me on social media. I was glad to reconnect. When she asked for my number, I gave it to her. When she called not long after, I made an excuse to myself that I did not have time to talk to her and I would call her back. I did not take the call. About a week later I found that she had passed away suddenly. Imagine the regret I felt. Still feel. That was a lesson I will never forget. But still I found I did not heed the lesson the Lord taught me. I know well enough that I will keep taking that test until I succeed. I am determined to succeed. I do not want to miss an opportunity like that again.

So now, in the morning, I pray that God will interrupt my plan with His; that He will surprise me with how He can connect me to unexpected people and opportunities to be a blessing, or just to see His hand at work in my life. I want to be flexible and adaptable to the flow of the day, not stressing about what is left on the list. Seriously, my friends, do we ever come to the end of those lists?

I believe that embracing the interruptions in our day will help us live more purposeful lives than any perfectly completed to-do list can give. A purposeful life is a more contented life. Contentment springs from gratitude and certainly we need to be grateful that God loves us enough to mess with our plan with something unexpectedly amazing.

I’m not going to throw away my planners, or stop making lists. I’m going to start writing my plans in pencil and embrace the interruption.

It’s Time

It is October 1. I love a new month and I especially love October. I am a goal-setter, planner, maker of lists and a fresh page on the calendar excites me. So much possibility. So much time.

Until, that is, I start filling in the squares with all the “have-tos”. Work, doctor’s appointments, meetings; you know what I mean. Then there are the “want-tos” like church services, Thanksgiving with family, and breakfast dates with friends. When I look for where to put in those other items; things I have been dreaming to have time for like craft projects, pj days with a book, or my own writing project, there never seems to be much time. Unless of course I want to give up sleep entirely.

But THIS October is different. Nothing on the outside has changed. The inside of the planner is full of meetings, appointments, workouts and obligations. Still time for church and family. But God has been impressing on me in various ways that it is time for a new direction in this path. I have had many God-given thoughts to ponder, to jot down and occasionally to share with others, but most of them are stuck, waiting for their time to encourage, support or lead. God has shared things through His Word, through nature, through people and experiences and they have helped me grow closer to Him and the peace and joy that brings. I have had opportunity to share with some, individually and in groups, but now it is time for more, and I am making changes to carve out time for this God-opportunity.

This is where you come in! You are a part of God’s great plan! Are you feeling empty and dry like October leaves? Are you lonely, tired and discouraged? Do you have a blessed life, but need margin to enjoy it? Then come and join me as we walk through seasons together. I certainly don’t have all the answers – I am still walking myself, but I know the One who has the answer to our every question and concern. I am on the path to living the abundant life, a life that matters for God, impacts those around me and leaves me refreshed. I want this life for you too! I am ready to walk this path, hearing the crunching of the leaves beneath my feet, seeing the vibrant colours, breathing in crisp air. Pull on your favourite sweater, my friend, and let’s go. It’s time!