I Need a Silent Night

We’re almost officially to the Christmas season although the retail world has been promoting it as soon as those Halloween items were marked down for quick sale.

This morning on the radio on the K-Love morning show, they talked about Christmas music. A recent survey suggests many people actually find Christmas music as a trigger of stress and anxiety. I actually enjoy Christmas music and turned my playlist on in my Jeep. (I do draw the line at Let it Snow… I am not ready for snow!!)

As I listened, the song I Need a Silent Night  by Amy Grant came on. The words really resonated with me in the present reality of my life. I am tired, really tired. I am not here to whine and complain of my fibromyalgia flared ups or my crazy workload right now, but I will say, I listened to those words and thought… I do need a silent night.

The past few years I have tried really hard to scale back Christmas to focus on what it truly means. A silent night or a silent morning…time to focus on quiet time to reflect, to spend in the Word and in prayer and just to be still.

As we approach the busyness of the Christmas season, I hope you will seek and find your own silent night amongst the busyness….even if there is some snow on the ground.

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Life as the Great Balancing Act

I miss the mountains. A lot.


Over the weekend, a close friend was asking how my vacation was. As I shared how much I love the mountains, she agreed she could see me living there. When she asked what I loved the most about vacation, I reflected on the slow paced mornings, coffee on the deck, and writing time. She laughed and said, “Sounds like you want the retired life.”
Sigh. Actually, though, I guess what I love about the mountains is the quiet beauty of them. Life is life and vacation doesn’t last forever, though.

What I long for is a piece of that mountain peace  I felt to seep into my daily life. My ongoing struggle is this whole work life balance thing. I know I am not alone. Many of us work a lot and struggle to find a balance. My daughter is an education major and just told me the average teacher works 53 hours a week. I work in healthcare and that is comparable. Every occupation has its times of long hours. 

Last Saturday afternoon, while reading my devotional and Bible, I stumbled upon this verse although I don’t think it was a random stumbling upon…

It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to His loved ones. Psalm 127:2 NLT

There is a message in those words. Balance is important in life. Work should not consume our lives. When work feels like it is becoming too much, what can we do to regain our sense of self?
For me, this area is an ongoing work in progress. I have implemented a few things to help me. I am in the process of reevaluating the things that I am involved in outside of work and setting boundaries. I have just started an inspirational Writing group which totally uplifted me over the weekend. I take time nightly for TV time with my son to laugh along to our favorite show The Middle. I am making snippets of time to write and exercise. I am trying to find moments to reconnect with my husband because he is in a season of working a lot of hours, too. 

The most important thing? I am keeping prayer and time in God’s Word as a priority. I am learning to give myself grace. I am trying to learn an important lesson my friend reminds me…No is a complete sentence.

Finding balance amist the chaos of life can feel a bit like driving through a thick fog. It can be easier to simply accept the busyness as okay. It is much more uncomfortable and disorienting to sort your way through the fog of finding balance.
Finding balance is a process. Don’t settle for crazy. What small changes can you make that may pave the way for big strides towards balance in your life?

Old Fashioned Fun

Having spent a week without my phone, I reconnected with some entertainment that normally mindless phone time would have occupied. 

I read.

I journalled.

I savored the quiet.

I listened to God for His lessons in this time.

Thankfully, a new battery and less than $100 later, my phone is back good as new. No lost pictures. No permanent damage. No huge expense. I am grateful.

The time without my phone has opened my eyes to how people, myself included, spend our time. The act of everyday conversation is becoming a lost art. People don’t engage with each other as much. Just look around a restaurant. Unless, just maybe, you are at Cracker Barrel.

The other night at Cracker Barrel, I observed table after table engaging with one another over a friendly game. I love these little wooden peg games. In fact, my grandfather made me this one years ago. I will always cherish it.
It was refreshing to see so many people interacting and not on devices. I know that our world has shifted just in my short life to be more focused and centered on technology and various forms of media but breaks from all of it is a great thing.
Spending time with older adults daily in my work is also another great reminder of the need to engage and interact with one another in meaningful conversation.

Our family is planning a media free day for an upcoming weekend. As we look forward to this time to connect undistracted, we are very aware that we need to be intentional about our plans. 

The world that God created is too amazing of a place to let everyday moments pass by because our attention is focused downwards on a device.

What are your ideas for old fashioned fun?

The Simple Things 

Sometimes, it is the simplest things that serve as reminders of God’s faithfulness and blessings in our lives.

Like…a special verse in my devotional this morning on the one year anniversary of this job where I strongly believe God has called me

Or…an amazing staff meeting/Christmas party and a bag of gifts from my staff… completely unexpected… totally humbling 

And… realizing that wow, I am calm…small victories over struggles with anxiety 
The beauty of the Christmas tree, my son wanting to help me just because, a text from my daughter and best friend, my husband asking how my day was…

Simple things yet these simple things are reminders of God’s love and His care for me.

In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, sometimes the simple things can bring us back to focus on what really matters. It’s not the presents under the tree, the amount of money in our bank account, or even if we didn’t accomplish one single New Years resolution set months ago.

Rather, what matters in life is the people whose lives we impact and whose lives impact ours. It is trusting God with our hopes, dreams, fears…our everything. It is opening our eyes enough to see the joy and His tender care in the simple yet profound things in everyday life.

Take time to notice, savor, and reflect on the simple things.

What simple things are most treasured by you?

Disconnected

So…I was trying to leave work Monday night…already an hour later than I had anticipated…coat and bag in hand…personal and work cell phones in my hand…and just like that, my personal cell phone slipped out of my hand. And landed on the floor. Against my desk. With a cracked screen and a blurred image staring back at me.

IMG_0061 (1)

You know it’s not a good sign when twenty minutes later, the Verizon man shakes his head and says, “It’s not good.” Cracked internal LED screen. Nope, not good. I used it as much as I could Monday night, moving my apps to the bottom half of my phone. By morning, the phone screen had faded to mostly black.

Besides being able to call my best friend and husband only because I have their face location on my speed dial memorized, my phone is useless.

Disconnected        

I am feeling a little disconnected.

And, I have to admit, I realize how dependent I have become on my phone. Instant connection right at my fingertips. I remember thinking just this weekend…wow, I’ve been on this phone a lot…doing mindless stuff. It’s like when I have any free space…waiting for an appointment, right before I fall asleep…it’s there in my hands.

I find that a little disconcerting.

I believe God can use anything to speak truth to us. I believe there is a message in everything if we will but listen.

This disconnect I feel may just be a blessing. It’s an opportunity to trust God with providing the means to fix my phone. It’s an opportunity to step back and reflect on my dependency on my phone…it’s not a good thing.

Yes, I am going to get my phone fixed. We have the part ordered, and by this time tomorrow night, I should have my phone back good as new. I promise you, though, I will be more mindful how often I pick it up and use it.

I need to be more disconnected from the world and more connected to His Word.

The last thing I should do before bed is read the Word, pray, thank God for the day….

The moments of waiting for an appointment….an opportunity to pray…

As a society we are so dependent on our technology…right at our fingertips. We are always connected. This sabbatical from the connectedness, is well, not such a bad thing.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2 The Message

Mindful Living

Every weekend, I go through  the ritual of re-organizing my house and picking up the chaos from the week we just survived. I’m quite positive that I am not the only person in this world that does the same thing on the weekend. It’s bound to happen between work schedules, homework, dinners prepared and cleaned up, a meeting here or there, church mid-week…the list goes on and on. My fairly clean and organized table Sunday suffers the worse and by Friday, it is a chaotic collage of food wrappers, Lego pieces, unopened and opened mail, water bottles, pens, graded school papers, and crumbs from dinner that no one bothered to wipe up because we inhaled our food before heading out for our next adventure. It drives me crazy yet I feel helpless to change it. So, here it is Saturday, and I will go through the same cleaning and re-organizing ritual once again.

clutter

If I’m not careful, it’s easy to get caught up in the same sort of craziness in other areas of my life. This is where mindful living comes into play. I don’t want my relationship with my kids or husband to get lost in the shuffle of homework, dinner prep, and community/school/church meetings. I don’t want to stay up so late that I can’t pull myself out of bed in the morning for devotional time and exercise. My precious writing time is often reserved for early morning Saturdays when everyone else is still tucked away in bed. I don’t want to be so rushed that I make poor food choices that agitate my stomach.

I’m working towards simplifying my life. Less stuff=less clutter. Less clutter=less stress. Less stress=mindful living. I am a work in progress.

What areas in your life could you simplify?

Now, to tackle that table…