Are you feeling stressed? Anxious, sad, or helpless? Are you suffering from high blood pressure, an elevated pulse, or tensed muscles? You need to go play outside!
A number of studies in the past few years have proven something most of us have intuitively known all along—nature is good for us! It’s why we go to the park, take a nature walk, or climb a mountain. We may get physically tired, but the overall effect is rejuvenating.
Last week I opened an entire case of worm cans. (If you missed it, you can read it here.) How Christians are to keep the Sabbath has been a point of contention since the church began. We’re not going to solve it here, yet it’s worth thinking about. God seems to think it’s pretty important!
I’ve spent the last few weeks rereading the book of Isaiah. As so often happens when I read the Bible, certain passages jump off the page at me. I feel as if the Holy Spirit is underlining them, saying, “Pay attention! This is especially for you right now.” I typically underline the verses, then include them in my prayer time. God, what are you telling me here? (This is one reason I get a new Bible after reading it through a few times—I want to see the passages as fresh and new, and not get distracted by what God pointed out in previous times.)
I read a good book last week: Women Who Do Too Much: How to Stop Doing It All and Start Enjoying Your Life, by Patricia Sprinkle. I chose this book because I met the author at our yearly ministry retreat. She was both interesting and engaging, and I expected the same from her writing. I wasn’t disappointed.
As you might expect, this book focuses on ways to declutter your life. Unlike many of the time management solutions available, Sprinkle’s advice is based on Scripture—she starts and ends with prayer and the word of God. This is advice you can trust.
Our God is greater, our God is stronger
God You are higher than any other
Our God is Healer, awesome and power
Our God, Our God…
Into the darkness you shine
Out of the ashes we Rise
There’s no One like You
None like You.
What an appropriate song for our church to sing this weekend! I doubt Chris Tomlin meant “out of the ashes we rise” literally when he wrote those words, but that’s exactly what so many in our congregation are doing this summer.
The service continued with other songs about how great and powerful God is, and how we can trust him in the midst of adversity. It was powerful. And yet…
I finally have a day off.
Believing that God wants us to take a day out every week as our “Sabbath,” I’ve set aside every Thursday as my day of rest and reflection. (Sunday might be traditional, but it doesn’t work for us, since we volunteer in our church’s café at 6 a.m., then attend Sunday school followed by the service, then take my dad out for lunch and shopping afterward. We get home mid- to late afternoon, exhausted.)
Taking Thursday off might be my intention, but it doesn’t always fit reality. For the last few weeks, I’ve spent the day packing for a camping trip, cleaning the house for guests, balancing our checkbook and paying bills… and I couldn’t do those things earlier because I was doing other important and urgent things. Life happens. But this week, I’m taking a day off to rest, relax, drink tea, read, pray, and contemplate the state of my world. It’s heaven.
“I have to write a post for tomorrow morning. I’m on a schedule!”
It was getting close to bedtime, and I’d been staring at a blank document for the last thirty minutes. My mind was totally blank.
“God, I need your inspiration, and I need it now, please!”
No answer. No thoughts popping into my brain. Just exhaustion.
Instead, I kept mentally reviewing the list of tasks I had to accomplish the next day: Pay bills, balance accounts, clean the house for coming guests, defrost a freezer-burned hunk of mystery meat and turn it into that night’s dinner. Do a load of laundry. Feed and water the chickens, cat, gecko; water the drooping houseplants (I have an indoor jungle) and flower beds. Find some time to work out or go for a walk. Spend significant time with God. (Why did that always seem to be at the end of the list?)
Last week, Jeremy (see previous post) made the following statement: “For a while now though I’ve felt like I need to go camping alone for a few days and do nothing but fast, read the Word, and pray. The idea just hit me outta nowhere once, and it pops back into my mind every once in a while.”
My first thought was, “Wow, God wants to spend time with you! How awesome is that?” I sure want to encourage him to follow through on this. Here’s why:
For centuries, Christians have taken themselves out of the busy-ness of everyday life and “retreated” to a quiet place in order to reconnect with God. Jesus set the standard for this. All throughout the gospels, we’re told that Jesus went away to a lonely place to pray. Sometimes He invited the disciples to go with him.