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A Simple Blessing after Christmas

27 Dec
I always think of Christmas as a time of blessing, but I read these “Christmas Facts”* from the United Kingdom (written after Christmas, 2009), and said, “Oh my!”
Here are just a few of those facts:
  • Hospitals in the UK reported four broken arms after “cracker pulling” accidents. [I cannot imagineChristmasCrackers_FreeFoto this… holiday crackers (see right) look so benign!]
  • Three people die each year testing to see if a 9-volt battery works on their tongue.
  • Thirty-one people died (since 1996) by watering their Christmas tree while the tree lights were plugged in. (The UK apparently calls them “fairy lights.”)
  • Nineteen people died within a three-year period, believing that Christmas decorations were chocolate. (Huh?)
  • One hundred and one people (since 1997) had to have broken parts of plastic toys pulled out of the soles of their feet.
  • One hundred and forty two people were injured, just in 1998, by not removing all pins from new shirts.

May your Christmases always be accident free … especially from those silly things!

I’ll keep this short. Christmas is over and you’re probably exhausted from church and family events. But your heart is full, right?

But if your house is like mine, after the holidays, my house feels a bit chaotic. I keep wishing one of my Christmas gifts was a housekeeper!

HeadingInto2015

I want to share a simple blessing I read in Dianne Barker‘s great book about organizing for the maximum life. **

“When life becomes hectic and harried,

   may you find calm in the chaos.

If your floors don’t sparkle,

   may the glory of the Lord light your face.

If grime streaks your bathroom sink,

   may it never corrode your heart.

If you’re racing the clock and losing,

   may you choose the important over the urgent.”

What a great way to head into the New Year – (1) embracing a calm perspective (by focusing on the  peace of God), and (2) living for God’s glory with (3) a pure heart and (4) right priorities.

[Simple scriptures for meditation on these points: Philippians 4:7; 1 Corinthians 10:31 & Ephesians 1:12; Matthew 5:8; Matthew 6:33]

Take a moment to think about your life right now. Which of those four areas needs a little work today?

Working on even one of them over the next few days might prepare you for the New Year a lot better than a list of resolutions.

– Dawn

Photo of Christmas Cracker: Image Supplied by FreeFoto.com.

* “Christmas Facts” from Sparkpeople.com, 12-26-09

** Book by Dianne Barker: I Don’t Chase the Garbage Truck Down the Street in My Bathrobe Anymore! (Crossroad Books, 2014),p. 179.

 

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Circle Some Dates for God

17 Jan

Did you catch some of the calendars for the New Year? Besides all the beautiful landscape, travel, personality, inspirational quotes and scripture calendars, I saw:

  • A Slim Dog Life calendar (I thought it was a doggie diet calendar, but it’s really adorable greyhound drawings for each month)FailedPrototypeCalendar
  • A Camel calendar called “Shadows in the Sand” with photos of camels in the desert
  • A Geocaching calendar
  • A “Year of Squirrels” calendar (with a Squirrel crossing on the cover)
  • A “Not So Humble Pi” calendar (with math cartoons)
  • A “Whatever” calendar
  • A “Brains – 25 cents” calendar (actually, filled with weird signs from across America)
  • A Sock Monkey calendar, and
  • A hilarious “Failed Prototypes” calendar (inventions that didn’t make the cut  … like a light bulb with a candle inside, a calculator with an abacus on the front, and a cell phone with all the gadgets from a Swiss Army Knife attached)

So many funny ones. (Other calendars I saw were trash. Nasty. A waste of paper.)

I ended up buying a calendar with inspirational quotes for one room, and a scripture calendar for another. As I write this, I look over one of my new “filled in” calendars and realize how easy it is to cram full our days with meetings, tasks, responsibilities, events – things we love to do and things we must do – and not to plan in time for God or His good gift of rest. There’s Sunday, of course, and other church-related gatherings. RedeemingTheTimeClock_FocusBut God wants more of our time. It’s all His anyway. The Psalmist said, “Hour by hour I place my days in your hand…” (Psalm 31:15, The Message).

One of the ways we “redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16) is to spend it wisely. We plan for times for work, ministry, God and family, but some of us don’t plan enough time for rest and renewal. I know I don’t. And it’s pretty obvious when I’ve reached my limit.

I long for quiet times of retreat, don’t you? As I look over the busyness of my life – the things ahead beyond my control as well as  activity choices I’ve made – I sense God saying, “Plan times to come apart with Me, because I care about you and I don’t want you to fall apart.”

God doesn’t want us to “overdo” and stretch our labors in “anxious toil;” He gives the blessing of sleep to His beloved children (Psalm 127:2) – even though we may have some sleepless nights. But in our culture (or maybe, because some of us have Type A personalities), busyness is the norm. More than ever, we need to cultivate times of rest…. times of quietness … times of meditation with God.

So … I’ll be speaking in workshops in early March at a conference center, and I plan to take some time in between those workshops to “get away.” IMG_8904But I also need planned “retreat days” too. One definition of the word retreat is, “a period of seclusion, retirement or solitude, especially to pray, meditate, or study.” In military terms, it’s a time of falling back … a time to regroup and rethink before entering the battle again.

God spoke to my heart today:  “You are in a battle. You are serving me today with eternity in mind and leading others to do the same. You desperately need times to retreat so you won’t burn out in the battle.”

Is God saying that to you too?

Let’s seek God together this year and be sensitive to His voice – especially when He says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Let’s circle some special days on our calendar just for Him.

– Dawn

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