Sabbath Rest

 

He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul. Psalm 23:2

True rest has been a very elusive element of my life. So, when I am offered an opportuntity to learn more about what God has to say about it I usually take it. One of those recent opportunities was the book: The Rest Of God: Restoring: Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, by Mark Buchanan. It helped me take a fresh look at rest from my current place in life.

There are so many lessons to be mined from this book, but my take away today is that sabbath is made for us. God wants to bless and yes even spoil us. He invites each of us to take a day each week to do what we love. For that to happen well, we need to lose our legalistic expectations of what we may think religion and rules dictate about rest.

There is so much more to say, but for the sake of brevity and rest…=} I ask you to think about what you love to do. What makes you feel alive? What feeds your soul? Then be sure you make time to do it! God delights when we feel the His pleasure! So let’s make us all happy.

As for me, I plan to keep writing multifacetedblog.net, however, I also need some space and rest. So this post will be the last blog post of 2016 and I will resume again in early to mid January of 2017. I plan to take time with family and to reflect more on restoring my soul and how to better incorporate God’s rest, Sabbath Rest, into my life.

May God Bless you beyond all you can ask or imagine as you close out 2016. I pray The Holy Spirit meets you where you are, in your rejoicing, rest, busyness, sorrows, in a crowd of friends or in loneliness, with family or strangers, at home or far away. As our Creator says: “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  [Joshua 1:5 & Hebrews 13:5]

 

Advent Beauty & Promise

Advent is about waiting for new beginnings. New beginnings necessitate endings of old things. Nothing is intended to live forever here in this place. This year I am struck by the beauty of endings. Perennial grasses die, for the winter, but go out in a blaze of gold. We have the certain hope of eternity without tears, wars and discord.

The berries on this tree did not turn radiant red until the tree ‘turns in’ for the cold winter months. As striking as these are, they do not compare to the hope we have in the advent of Christ. The little baby who is 100% human and 100% God!

And perhaps my favorite image in this series. My new puppy bounds to the water’s edge. She has her ears up in curious anticipation. We see the path continues on the other side. We see it is long, but now we must wait. We anticipate….

 

Our lives stretch out in front of us yet we can only progress along the way one day at time. We participate in life cycles, consciously or not, and in the seasons of the year and of our lives.

I think because of the loss of both my parents and one brother I find myself more aware than ever before that I am realistically in the last third of my life… at best.

Like my puppy looking ahead, I look down the path to the end of this year and beyond wondering and waiting. My desire is to go as far down that path of life as God will allow, and to do it in the blaze of Gold and a flame of radiant red. For me, that means absorbing as much beauty as I am able to take in. It means waiting for Jesus, not just in Advent, but looking and listening every day.

I long to be in lock step with Him, able to respond to His call from a heart already full of the experiences of God. This personal history with God in turn builds trust, hope, courage… dare I say patience, for those times when the promise looks so far away. I want to respond to His invitations to abundant life knowing that waiting is good, even beautiful, when I wait for the best.

By our Gregorian calendar we celebrate the arrival of the best promise ever, on December 25th every year. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

How do you prepare your heart to celebrate the best promise ever?

 

Becoming Whole

Andrea on the left, my mom Carolyn on the right

When I heard about the Becoming Whole conference I sensed a definite Holy Spirit nudge to sign up right away. I went with a sense of expectation. I was not certain what to expect, but I was certain I needed to be there! I planned to serve, but Abba had more than that in store for me.

Do you remember seeing those magazine stress tests? “If you have experienced ______ in the past year,” then you tally up the numbers assigned to each stressful event. My stress levels broke new barriers every year several years in a row. I have gone through a lot of changes, many of them worthy of grieving deeply. Three deaths in my family of origin and closing out their homes, empty nesting, loss of employment and our dog of 13 years died. Relationships collapsed and sold my home of 19 years. I spent 8 months in “housing limbo” before my new home was ready, just to hit a few points. I desperately sought the face of God… I graciously & gratefully found Him, and yet I still had this deep, crushing grief I could not shake.

When I arrived at the church, the months of prayer preceding the actual event were palpable to me. The worship team came with their hearts set on our worthy God, knowing that their call was to participate in creating an atmosphere where the Holy Spirit could operate freely in the hearts of everyone who attended. By fixing our eyes on our maker who loves us, we began to open our hearts to participate in the process of Becoming Whole.

The teaching laid the foundation Thursday night and continued Friday evening. That second night is where God graciously highlighted what he wanted to do for me. Fr. Alex spoke on life for a baby in the womb. He showed how the life of the mother in particular, affects the life of the yet to be born child. He also shared a story of how God showed him that he was supposed to be a twin, but his twin died in the womb in early stages of development. His testimony of the grief he lived with before God brought him healing of those events in the womb, struck deep in my heart.

You see, about the time I was conceived, my mom’s best friend, her only sibling and my namesake was diagnosed with cancer. She had a tumor that actually had teeth & hair in it. Andrea was originally a twin, but the other baby died in the womb and was partially absorbed into her body, in her case as a ticking time bomb.

The entire time mom carried me she was grieving. My aunt Andrea went to be with the Lord three months after I was born. Mom struggled to bond with me, plus I carried Andrea’s name as a daily reminder of her lost sister. Mom never consciously put any of that on me, but I carried it spiritually until the Becoming Whole event.

That night I stayed for prayer. I waited for Fr. Alex. Because 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “…God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” He had already lived what I needed.

If measured in words, the prayer time was very brief and uneventful. But the presence of the Holy Spirit was strong, pulling decades of my mother’s grief out of me that had served as hooks in my life to lock onto my own personal reasons to grieve, holding me captive. No matter how hard I tied to free myself before, I couldn’t. I needed the help of others, with the touch of God, to unlock and release it all. Before we finished Fr. Alex blessed me, filling me with joy, rest, peace and sealing the work of God. Those previously painful places were now filled with the wholeness of God.

After receiving such deep transformational healing, I was exhausted for days. But even with that, friends independently began to comment how they noticed a lightness around me they had not seen before. Now, I find it much easier to laugh full belly laughs and to experience the goodness of God on new levels. I am free of my mom’s grief. I still am learning to walk out my personal freedom of joy and peace in believing, but I too notice it is much easier for me to experience joy, peace and yes, wholeness.