Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Sabbath "Experiment"

Hi, friends. I have been thinking a lot about moments and rest and I am still asking, "What is this moment for?" (Please see that post first.) Some of you are, too. I thought I would share some Sabbath thoughts with you so far this year.

I began reading this book during the first week of the year, so the first Sunday of 2009 was the first day of this "experiment." After coming home from church and lunch, I snuggled up on the couch beside my husband who had big plans to watch a football game. There was no laptop on my lap, no projects in my hands, nothing but a Pottery Barn magazine and the Miami Dolphins on tv. After flipping the last glossy page, I looked around the room and thought, "I am bored."

This whole concept of truly slowing down, of guilt-free relaxation, of refusing the long list of to-do's in my planner and in my was, well, foreign.

The night progressed with a simple dinner and playing a fun board game (which never seems to top the list over the ever-present television). We talked on the phone with family, spent quality time together, and had an all-around peaceful day.

Worship. Relaxation. Romance. Family.

And let me note that, for what it's worth, I had the most PRODUCTIVE week, that first full week of the year. I was working out every night (can you imagine?), preparing stress-free meals, and I even got ahead on the laundry. I kept looking around and wondering, What is going on? And, Could it be the Sabbath? I feel so centered...

The second Sunday of January went similarly, and all week I found myself looking forward to the Day where nothing could press in on me, and everything could be enjoyed. Savored. I added in time for reflection. Reading and discussing and praying with Dean.

This past Sunday was not like the others. We had a beautiful weekend with my family- and their new puppy- in town. Someone had a big birthday!,
and we enjoyed the city to the hilt. Sunday was brimming with a special church service, a family brunch, and goodbyes. It was perfect.

But right when I should have taken pause, taken a little nap, or just regrouped and reflected on the joy of the weekend, we changed into jeans and charged over to our friends' house for a football party. (Go, Eagles...poor Eagles).

Let me say, I don't regret spending the Sabbath with our good friends. I am learning that the Sabbath is especially perfect for enjoying God, family, and friends. It is about slowing down to connect. But when the Small Voice (and my husband) pointed out that the time was growing late, the social butterfly in me was not yet ready to flit home. So we stayed.

When we finally got home and straight into bed, I realized that I had pushed my limits. I had not accepted the natural invitation to rest on the day that my body and soul desires it most.

And Monday morning greeted me with a roar. I have felt a bit off-center this week.

Let me say, I am not legalistic as to think that if we don't honor the Sabbath, we will have a bad week. But I am realistic in understanding that if we bypass a moment that is intended for rest, we might just feel run down and weary in the days and moments that follow.

So I write this today as a lesson in obeying...and in cherishing the Sabbath moments in your life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What is This Moment For?

Happy New Year! After a wonderful and reflective Christmas holiday, I am back and full of new thoughts...

Last year was the year after the Wedding. It was also a year filled with running. I think it started with the adrenaline rush of planning an event as big as a wedding and spilled over into the small tasks of daily living. I began to live for list-making and list-crossing-off. I read tons of motivating productivity blogs, like Simple Mom, Fly Lady, and LifeHacker. I wanted to streamline every process, eliminate waste and clutter in daily life. ..and every closet, car trunk, and cabinet. I tried to plan each minute and coordinate them with my big red planner; efficiency was the ultimate goal.

It was thrilling, I will admit. By the time Christmas rolled around, I had a mostly organized home (it's hard to maintain perfect order) and a well-planned new year, but my heart was speedracing through the Christmas Eve service. For no reason. Here we were, all the way in South Carolina to celebrate the holidays with family, nothing in the world on my plate to stress me, and my heart was pounding so loud and fast during the solo that I looked at Dean to see if he could hear it.

Something was off. For a right-brained person like myself, learning the skills of organization and running an efficient home are worthy goals...these things don't come naturally to me, as to others (My dear friend Kelley is a Professional Organizer!). But shouldn't there be some balance? Shouldn't I know how to work when it's time to work, and play and relax and enjoy life when it is time for those things?

Ecclesiastes 3:1 - "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."

So I picked up a highly-recommended book, The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, by Mark Buchanan.

In it, he describes time this way:

"Embedded in the Greek language were two distinct words for "time." The first word is chronos --familiar to us because it's the root of many of our own words: chronology, chronicle, chronic. It is the time of clock and calendar, time as a gauntlet, time as a forced march. The word derives from one of the gods in the Greek pantheon. Chronos was always consuming, never consummated...Chronos is the presiding deity of the driven....

The second Greek word is kairos. This is time as a gift, as opportunity, as season. It is time pregnant with purpose. In kairos time you ask, not "What time is it?" but "What is this time for?" Kairos is the servant of holy purpose." (page 36)

What is this time for?

When God created us, He designed our moments with a clear purpose in mind for each one.

Imagine asking yourself, not "Do I have time to go to the gym before Lost comes on?" but rather facing the clock, or better, asking the Lord in your heart, "What is this moment for?"

As I have begun this simple practice in my heart, I hear such clear directives. Sometimes, I want to read, and He has told me "this moment is for you to rest. Take a nap." And sometimes, He has nudged me and shown me that this moment is perfect for sweeping the floor.

Each moment has a purpose.

A moment to decorate a home for the holidays.

A moment to bask in the glow.

A moment to entertain friends.

A moment for exercise.

A moment to try a new recipe.

A moment to share with others.

A moment to love.

A moment to come home.

This new year is already one of deeper breaths, of slower steps, of less lists and yet more accomplished. In the days to come, I will share with you my journey of learning to slow down, to listen, and to celebrate the Sabbath.

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