Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In Other Words--Using Time Wisely

"One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy."

~ Elisabeth Elliott ~

I have been challenged the last few weeks to order my priorities in the things of God, and see Him bless my time. I have always known in my head that we make time for the things that are important to us and that are activities speak loudly about what or Who ranks first in our lives. Knowing it in my head and determining to act it from the heart, are two different matters. So, I have been challenged.

It began a few weeks ago. A friend was having outpatient surgery. I felt led to offer to prepare a family meal for her two days after the surgery (knowing that day one she wouldn't want much and day two her daughter was not working). So I got up that Thursday morning and reviewed what needed to be done: cake baked, casserole made, salad made, carrots steamed, school for Jewel, laundry finished, Bible Study prepared for Friday, trip to bank, our own family meal planned and prepared. (Ironically, or not, the Bible Study I was preparing was on Martha not choosing the "best" thing.) I sat down and looked at what needed to be done, and prayed "God I believe everything on this list are tasks ordained by you in my ministry as a mother, wife and friend. But it won't all get done if you don't do it, so please help me." That was at 8:30. Jewel and I baked the cake as part of school. She sat down to do her handwriting while I made the casserole and put it in the fridge for later. I sliced the carrots while she did art. She read to me while the cake finished. She played while I prepared Bible Study and the cake cooled. In between I put in the last load of laundry and moved the clean clothes up to the bed to fold. I iced the cake--and realized that with the exception of heating the casserole just before taking it to my friend (after which I was going to the bank), everything was done. I looked at the clock. It was 10:45. I don't know if the sun stopped moving for a while, but I do know that God honored the fact that the tasks were His and they were all done. I even had time to enjoy the day with my girls. I sat down and cried just because of the goodness of God.

Elisabeth Elliott is right--when we concern ourselves with the tasks of today that the Lord has called us to do, there is always time to accomplish His will. I've seen it happen time and time again. So why then do I find myself harried and hurried? Most often it is because I have *volunteered* to do *good things* that God has never ordained for me to do. I add to the heaviness of serving God by saying *yes* when I should say *let me ask God about that*. I tend to forget that I am not a lone ranger having to do it all myself. The other reason I feel hurried is I let non-priority things come first. I enjoy my computer time, but it cannot take the majority of my time--and it is so easy to lose track of time while reading blogs or surfing the Internet looking for education helps. I relax with my hobbies, but if I start them before I start the care of the home, the home suffers. Non-priority good things usually get done, and with less guilt, when I keep the priority good things first. I know it in my head---I want to apply it in my heart.

Father, thank you for the being the source of my time and the keeper of my time. Thank you that you really don't call me to do more than You can do through me. Help me to seek your face first. Help me to arrange my priorities to be Your priorities. Help me to be discerning when to say yes and when to say not now. As people look into my life, I want them to see Your heart for people and not just an exhausted person trying to do good on her own. Make my life reflect You. And I will give You the glory for all that is done. In Jesus' name and for His sake...amen.

To read what others are saying this week about this quote, please visit Sarah at To Motherhood and Beyond. I know you will be blessed!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In Other Words....or not

If you came today looking for my In Other Words contribution, I apologize. I am working on finding a new time to write as the girls are taking shorter naps. I was writing in the morning and doing Bible Study during their long naps. Now, I'm trying to start my day with Bible Study since I can't guarantee any quiet time later. It is making writing a challenge. This week, it has been impossible. I hope to be back into a routine next week. In the meantime join Alison at Simply Christian Living to discuss this quote:

The purpose of Christianity is not to avoid difficulty, but to produce a character adequate to meet it when it comes. It does not make life easy; rather it tries to make us great enough for life."
~ James L. Christensen ~

And if I don't get back here before Thursday, I pray each of you will have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Fire Safety Lesson They Won't Soon Forget

Last weekend we were extremely busy. I knew that we were going to be busy--but it was a good busy so that was okay. Friday morning we got up, threw the last few clothes into a suit case, set up the living room for Bible Study and turned on the coffee pot. We welcomed the ladies to the study and had a wonderful time in the Lord. God really blessed the time, because I was sure that we had talked way over our time, but instead we had finished 20 minutes early! And nothing got left out! And rabbit trails were followed.

Being done early meant the girls and I could breathe a few minutes before heading off to catch the train. We were going up to where German works (1 1/2 hours away by train) to stay the night and go out to dinner with one of his co-workers and her family. The trip up was beautiful! The changing colors of fall were gloriously displayed in the trees across the Dales. We arrived at the hotel, went swimming and got ready for dinner. The entire evening was wonderful. At 1130 we crashed into bed. One of us made the mistake to say, now for a restful night's sleep because Saturday had a late night birthday party/ceidhl to attend. Famous last words.

At 230 a.m. we awoke to the klaxon of the the fire alarm going off in the hotel. We slipped shoes on, grabbed coats, slipped them on sleeping children, grabbed a security blanket and stuffed doll Flower sleeps with and scurried out the door. We made our way down the three flights of stairs with all the other sleepy guests. I especially felt sorry for the dad trying to keep the sleeping 6 month old baby still asleep! Seven minutes from hearing the alarm to being downstairs. We gathered around the front desk--because it was soooo cold outside. The night manager was calmly yet frenetically working the switchboard to get answers. He soon announced that he apologized for the rude awakening. The problem had been located and resolved and it was safe to return to our rooms. (The next morning there was a letter of apology stating the problem was in the main kitchen and quickly dealt with, whatever that meant). We were the first to the lift so we took our sleepy girls up that way instead of walking up three flights. German explained to Jewel what had happened and why we did what we did. Honestly at 300 a.m. I doubted she was really understanding. The girls immediately went back to sleep. It took my heart a good 40 minutes to stop pounding so loud the people in the next room could hear it. But we did manage to get some sleep. The next morning, the fire alarm was all the girls could talk about. We reiterated what you do in case of fire alarm.

(The rest of the weekend went smoothly--visit to an old mill, drive home, ceidhl until 1100 p.m., wonderful church service Sunday morning, NASCAR Sunday night.)

And all week, the favorite game around our house? Fire alarm in the hotel! They have practiced and practiced and practiced. They have found the smoke alarms in our house and talked about how to get out quickly. What's a few hours sleep lost for a (safe) lesson learned forever? I'll take it.

When was the last time you talked about an escape route in your house with your kids? As much as we hate to think about the possibility, it could save their lives. If you make it a game, they will learn the lesson quickly and thoroughly. Have a blessed weekend!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

In Other Words...For Your Own Good

She thinks I am the meanest mommy in the entire world.

Definitely a killjoy. Hampering her behavior.

It only takes two words to send her to a pouting, crying huddle in the corner as she tries to hide the behavior.

Those words? "No thumb!"

Flower is a thumb-sucker. She has been from the womb. But what is cute at 3 days is not cute at almost 3 years. Especially when it can do damage to an otherwise adorable smile. So, because I love her and know that it will be easier to break the habit now than later, I am encouraging her to stop. But she does not see it as loving. She sees it as restricting and mean. And she kicks and screams (sometimes literally) to not change. Seeing the bigger picture, I have to persevere. Even though it breaks my heart to see her unhappy, love knows the outcome will be worth the hurt.

And this mirrors my spiritual walk. There are times that I struggle to not see the restrictions of God as mean. I am comfortable in my behavior. Then God says, "Don't take pride in that!" and I go off to the corner to pout. Or He says, "let go of that possession," and I hold on tighter. He sees the bigger picture and knows that the momentary disappointment and hurt will lead to greater gains.

"Love is beautiful, but it is also terrible--terrible in its determination to allow nothing blemished or unworthy to remain in the beloved."
~ Hannah Hurnard ~
~Hinds' Feet on High Places~

Sometimes, the terrible love of God is to ask us to walk through serious pain and suffering. Sometimes it is the not-so-simple releasing and refining in our lives. But it is the love of God that calls us to those times and sustains us through them. Whether it is the breaking of a habit, the demolishing of a not-pretty character trait or the endurance of a long and painful trial, we are able to survive those times because of His love. I pray that I can recognize the hand of love in the things I must walk through.

"For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. " Isaiah 48:9-11 (italics added)

Our hostess this week is Bonnie at Ink it Blog. Please come and be blessed by other interpretations of this quote.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

November Goals and 2 SBQs

I didn’t set any specific October goals except to have a good time on holiday. But now it is time for November goals. Here they are:
1. Finish Kell’s Neighbourhood RR
2. Start and finish ornament for exchange
3. Choose ornaments for the girls and kit them (stitch if possible)
4. Get 10 hours stitching on Flag Sampler
5. Finish binding Flower’s quilt
6. Bind Christmas table runner
7. Have a successful meeting with LEA regarding Jewel’s education
8. Continue with homeschool program as scheduled
9. Create, write, print and address 300 Christmas cards
10. Wrap and mail Christmas presents to family and friends in US
That should keep me plenty busy for the next 29 days.

SBQ’s from last two weeks:

Do you railroad?

The permalink to this post is: http://blog.blondelibrarian.net/archives/2007/10/sbq-working-on-the-railroad/

I do occasionally railroad top stitches. I think it makes a difference, especially when stitching with light colors (e.g. ecru, white) and on darker fabrics.
Today's SBQ was suggested by Ternezia (http://loreleicrafts.wordpress.com/) and is:

If you were a cross stitch designer, what would your design style be?

The permalink to this post is: http://blog.blondelibrarian.net/archives/2007/10/sbq-designing/

Any designing I do is currently situation specific—for round robins or small gifts. I can’t imagine designing on a more prolific scale. The things I would like are already being done by La De Da and My Big Toe, lol. Samplers and verses are my current faves, so I guess that is what I would design.

Reflections on Holiday

I have been trying to find the time to write my final reflections on our holiday in Turkey.
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As I stated before, Turkey was never on my “list” of places to see. To be honest, I imagined it to be similar to what we encountered in Egypt—the only place I have ever been to visit that I can unequivocally say I have no desire to ever return. Ever. Period. (Lisa, the pyramids are amazing, it was just the rest ...). I expected to be on edge and not feel safe. I expected begging and poverty to be prevalent. Yes, the poverty was there—but not in a way that was hard to see. The people had an incredible dignity, even in their need. I can’t really explain it, but it was a place that hurt my heart but did not make me uncomfortable or tired.

If you know much about the major religion of the area, and the time of year that we chose to visit, you will know that we were there in the middle of a month long time of prayer, fasting (and then feasting). [Forgive me for not being explicit, I am aware of web searches on those words—if you can’t figure out what I am talking about, email me.] I was concerned what it would be like vacationing there during this time. I expected to be confronted with the fast and the religion. I expected people to be unavailable or inconvenienced. I expected closures in food-related businesses. I expected to see people observing the rituals. I was wrong. Except for the nightly *call* at sunset that the fast was ending and the *call* to evening prayers, I would never have known there was a religious belief present at all. I never witnessed any one local person acknowledge the calls. I never witnessed a reaction of any type. I saw locals in cafes during the day—whether they were drinking water or just talking, I do not know but they were there. I saw an occasional head covering on a woman. But the only reactions to the calls from the m**que was from my girls announcing, “now it’s time to pray.” In many ways I was relieved—the holiday was easy and without issue. But in other ways, it made me sad. This is supposedly a sacred time, and there was no evidence of it.

That in itself led me to reflect on how the outside world sees me celebrate sacred times. In the lead-up to Christmas do they see me reflecting on my Savior or frantically shopping and cooking. Is Holy Week a time of reflecting and preparing my heart for Easter, or is it just another week before a church service, perhaps with a new dress? What about any given Sunday morning? Would anyone notice the sacred? Or is it business as usual? It is a wake-up call for me, a reminder that the world is watching and I should be reflecting what Christ has done! On Sunday morning as we leave for church, we are one of a handful of people in our neighbourhood heading out. But there are people out walking dogs, gardening, etc. What do they think when they see us leave? Do they then watch us during the week to see if any of it makes a difference? Would my life say that it made a difference?

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I sat on the balcony one afternoon, watching that amazing view of the Mediterranean. The I-pod was playing one of my husband’s playlists. The Mercy Me song came on—“Word of God Speak.”
Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

As I thought about the lost land I was admiring, I found myself praying those words. The Word of God needs to be heard in that land. And I pray for the missionaries who are risking a lot to be there and speak that word. And, I thought of the lost land that I live in. Once a proud Christian nation sending out missionaries, it stands in a postmodernistic world with so many believing that the notion of God is a quaint, but out-dated, idea. Now other countries send missionaries to them.! Again, the word of God needs to speak. This time, it is through me that He may choose to speak. I need to remember that He is indeed in this place, and live like it. May I be found faithful. Finally, I thought of the country of my birth and my heart’s love. So quickly moving away from a Christian heritage. So much in need of the Word of God to speak! My prayers turned to the men and women of God I know that are faithfully living lives for Christ and proclaiming the Word. May the Word of God speak clearly through them.

I never go on holiday that I don’t return more appreciative of what we have. This is especially true when we holiday where people are less fortunate materially and financially than we are. But this holiday has changed me spiritually. To walk in Biblical places and yet see no Christian church, to look on the faces of beautiful children and lovely friendly men and women knowing that they face an eternity without God, and to return to a place of freedom to worship and still see lost neighbours who do not even recognize their need to seek Him touched me. I don’t know where to put some of these feelings. I am unsure how the changes will be seen. But God is working at my heart.

And that is what made Turkey an amazing holiday! A beautiful country, yes. Wonderful people, yes. Fascinating sites, yes. Delicious food, yes. But most importantly, God met me there and renewed a fire in me. And that is amazing. Where was the last time God drew you into the sacred? How did it change you? Is it still changing you? I pray if you ask me that question in the next few weeks I will respond that He is still changing me.

Now I am off to work on Christmas preparation. My goal is to finish all my preparation prior to December, so that December is all about reflecting the sacredness of the season.

Thank you for sharing my holiday reflections.

photo of Bible on beach can be found at www.morguefile.com The artist is mercucio.