Thursday, December 31, 2009

Summary of Simplicity

We've been journeying through the Spiritual Habits of Faith for the last couple of months. We started in November, talking about what it meant for us to be Generous and Thankful in all areas of our lives. We enjoyed discussion and visual reminders of all the things we have in our lives that make us thankful - and that enabled us to be generous. Both, attributes that God calls us to.

In December, we turned to the habit of Simplicity. In the busy, craziness of the holidays and all that they entail (shopping, cleaning, baking, parties, wrapping gifts, family dynamics, church activities, school programs, etc)... It's hard to remember to find that holy space in our calendar to remember that Jesus is why we celebrate. We've taken the time this month to talk about carving a few minutes out of each day for time with God, we've talked about spending less and giving more time and meaning in our gifts, we've talked about giving away to charities, we've talked about the importance of church services, of family devotional time, of getting rid of the extra "stuff" in our lives... So many ideas to simplify our hectic lives - and focus on what's most important - God and family.

I invite you, as we begin a new year and a new habit, to continue working on Thankfulness, Generosity, and Simplicity in your life... God calls us to these things - not as added stresses, but as ways to find peace and happiness in our lives, through Him.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


"Paul said in Philippans 4:11-12, 'I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.'

"Can we say the same thing? Can we care about people and situations and material possessions in a way that doesn't allow them to possess us? The discipline of simplicity invites us to this kind of freedom."
--Valerie Hess

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


"Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income."
--Ecclesiastes 5:10

"Some people are never satisified. The Irish saint Columbanus is reported to have said, 'The man to whom little is not enough will not benefit from more.' We all know people like this. Give them an all-expenses-paid trip to an exotic destination and they complain about the view from the hotel room. Take them to a place of beautiful scenery, and they complain of being tired from all the traveling. Show them another culture with all of its marvelous characteristics, and they hate the food and the bathrooms. These kinds of people always find something wrong because they are looking for perfection on earth, a quality that is simply not available in this life.

"The verse above reflects the human condition of always wanting more, of never being satisfied or content. One way to practice the dscipline of simplicity is through a spirit of contentment. This is so contrary to the culture around us that people are bound to take notice. We can strive to be sincerely thankful for all of the little things in life. Sure, there may be struggles or things we wish were different or needs or wants we would like to see met, but we are invited to keep them from becoming our defining reality.

"When we respond in peace and joy to the question, 'how are you?' we can be a witness to others of God's goodness in all things."
--Valerie Hess

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 27th, 2009

Church today was very quiet and very few people... But so nice to be there. After all of the celebrations, food, parties, gifts, and festivities, to return to where the celebration began. To be reminded one last time of the true reason for the season. To once again wish our faithful friends a "Merry Christmas."

I always have a hard time realizing Christmas is over... You build up to it for so long, that when the last gift is unwrapped, the last morsel of leftovers consumed, and the naps begin... It makes me sad...

Although... We will be leaving out Christmas decorations up for a week past New Year's this year for a small dinner party... And I guarantee that I will be listening to Christmas music for a little bit longer... I need to ease out of the Holiday mindset!

I hope you're enjoying this Sabbath day of rest. Re-couping from the festivities and reflecting on the joy and blessings! I know I am!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drowning in Stuff

"I wonder what Jesus' entourage looked like as he traveled around Israel. There were at least 13 men and several women in the regular group, plus those who followed along for part of the time. Sometimes there were even large crowds traveling with them (Mark 6:30-44). How did they pack and who carried all their stuff? They were not wealthy, though we know that the women mentioned by name in the rest of Luke 8:2 supported Jesus and his disciples, so they weren't destitute either. Were they each allotted one suitcase and a carry-on?

Humor aside, we need to note that Jesus never let anything detract from his focus of preaching the good news to the kingdom of God. He trusted God to provide, allowing material possessions to serve him and his disciples rather than the other way around.

The question for each of us is, which of the possessions and activities in our lives are keeping us from following Jesus fully?"

As the holiday season draws to a close - do you have enough? And if so, is there some you can donate? Are there things keeping you from focusing on God?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

"Christmas is more than getting and giving;
It's the why and the wherefore of infinite living.
It's the positive proof for doubting God never,
For in His kingdom, life is forever.
And this is the reason that on Christmas Day
I can only kneel and prayerfully say,
'Thank you, God, for sending Your son
so that when my work on earth is done,
I can look at last on Your holy face,
Knowing You saved me alone by Your grace."
--Helen Steiner Rice

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas!!!
The service WILL be happening tonight at 5pm.

See you there!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Keep Watching!

Due to the weather forecast... Please keep checking on our church website, our Facebook site, here, the news, or calling in to the church voicemail... Whether we have Christmas Eve service, or not, will be determined by noon tomorrow.

"Jesus came into this world
one glorious Christmas Eve.
He came to live right here on earth
to help us all believe.
For God up in His heaven
knew His children all would feel
That if Jesus lived among them
they would know that He was real
And not a far-off stranger
who dwelt up in the sky
And knew neither joys nor sorrows
that make us laugh or cry.
And so He walked among us
and taught us how to love
And promised us that someday
we would dwell with Him above.
And while we cannot see Him
as they did, face-to-face,
We know that He is everywhere,
and not in some far-off place."
--Helen Steiner Rice

Give-a-way #2 Winner!

Using - Beth J. was our winner!

Your pretty mug will be ready on Christmas Eve - or on my desk the following Sunday!

Congrats - and enjoy! (I know I love mine...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Minute Simple Gifts

It's the week of Christmas! Here's a few last "simply giving" ideas!

*Watch the words you use - be kind.
*Let the little things slide.
*Get away - even if it's only for a few moments a day.
*Give people what they want, not what you want for them...
*Tell friends about your favorite books, movies, music!
*Surprise your spouse with a tank full of gas!
*Tell a parent they're doing a good job.
*Be present when you're with someone - put the phone or the blackberry away...
*Make a meal for someone else.
*Give a goat. Go to Heifer International's website and donate animals and crops to villages who need them!
*Be the house where everyone feels welcome!
*Pick up the tab for a stranger...
*Take a day off - and spend it with the family.
*Send a "thank you" to someone who impacted your life.
*Visit a shut-in.
*Donate toys to Christmas Angel programs or to Neighbor's Inc.
*Tell people you love them.
*Read the nametag - and use people's names.
*Park in the back - and leave close spaces open for those who need them!
*No gift is too small - give what you can!
*Donate old cell phones, eyeglasses, ink cartridges, computers, etc to organizations that reuse them!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 20th, 2009

Wow! What a fabulously fun Sunday!

Education Hour kicked off with:
* The Children rehearsing for their big Christmas program!
* The Confirmands talking about living with JOY in light of Christ's birth!
* The Advent Conspiracy class talking about how to show love to others in this Christmas season.
* The Wired Word discussed the use of the word "merry" when associated with Christmas.

Worship was a joy to be a part of! Mike and I got to light the Advent wreath. The Children's Christmas program was so fun! These kids are talented and perfect little angels. And shepherds. And wise men. And Mary and Josephs... They're all great! Here's a synopsis I put on my own blog: (We've got a little 'Ninja-shepherd on the bottom left - who was adorable and couldn't stand still! The littlest angel, next to him, was constantly falling off the step and loosing her halo. The two beautiful girls behind her were continuously helping her up and plopping the halo back on her head. Our lovely Mary, who's currently reading, had to keep sharing her baby Jesus with an adorable little shepherd who just wanted to cuddle Jesus so bad! Our older shepherds, in the back, went back and forth between looking bored out of their minds, and proud as can be! Our cute little angels, behind Mary, did their best to stay still despite crooked halos and wings - and static-y gowns! Their fidgeting made me giggle. And our Wise People were stoic and true to their role... especially in those glamorous robes! I love Christmas programs...)

We also got to be part of the celebration of giving Bibles to our new-er kids: Bennett, Casidi, Jack, Maddie, and Denielle. Congratulations, kids!

Pastor Penny took a few minutes to preach about the "Extra-ordinary Christmas Relatives." We enjoyed everyone's Nativity scenes that they brought from home - such beautiful reminders of that night in Bethlehem! We handed out glittery, red stars - a simple symbol of the extraordinary events of Christmas - from a simple beginning in a manger, to a king of peace and hope!

We thank everyone who participated in our Sunday service - kids, parents, teachers, friends - what a wonder-filled day!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Pageants

Here is a link to one of my favorite blogs - a pastor from Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. As we get ready for the children's program tomorrow, take a moment to read this - what a beautiful way to anticipate the joy that children (and a little chaos) can bring!

God is in the Small Stuff

Prepare him room - in our lives, our schedules, our comings and goings... in order to let him grow in our lives!

When we leave no room... our schedules - it means no opportunity for Jesus to do something surprising in our lives.
...for quiet and reflection - it means no chance for us to hear God's still, small voice in our thoughts.
...for solitude - it means no place for us to be alone with God. our resources - it means no possibility that we will enjoy the blessing of giving to God's work.
...for Jesus - it means no way for us to truly appreciate Christmas.

These may seem like small things... but the results can be huge!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Time Out

"Brighten your day, and lighten your way
And lessen your cares, with daily prayers.
Quiet your mind, and leave tension behind
And find inspiration, in hushed mediation."

"In quietness and confidence shall be your strength."
--Isaiah 30:15

"It's not an easy thing to find a quiet moment during the holidays. With shopping, baking, decorating, and entertaining, it all seems to go by in a blur. It could be said, however, that making time for quiet meditation is more necessary during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Unless we do, it's possible that we'll miss some of God's most joyful blessings.

"Christmas has great meaning to all of Christendom and even to the secular world. As the angels said, the season's good tidings were meant for all. First and foremost though, Christmas is about the individual heart reconnecting with God's heart. The Christ Child came on behalf of all of us and just as certainly for each of us. It's possible to be part of the shared blessing that comes from being with family and friends and reaching out to others and still miss out on the personal blessings that comes from spending time quietly resting in His presence.

"As you schedule your activities during the Christmas season, set aside some time each week - or even each day - to spend with your heavenly Father. It's an investment that will give the holidays new meaning and a true sense of joy."
--Helen Steiner Rice, from her book "Celebrating Christmas Everyday"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Nativity Scenes

On Sunday we're inviting all the members of our congregation to bring their family Nativity Scene to church so we can look at the lovely array of reminders of baby Jesus' birth!

If you don't already have a set - get creative! I've made them out of Play-doh, Lincoln Logs, a Fisher Price farm set... etc etc. I saw a picture of one today made out of the little "S'more people" and Hershey bars! If you need another idea - check this out! Who knows what you can come up with?
Good luck!


"We must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives. This does not mean we will never be busy. Jesus often had much to do, but he never did it in a way that severed the life-giving connection between him and his Father. He never did it in a way that interfered with his ability to give love when love was called for. He observed a regular practice of withdrawing from activity for the sake of solitude and prayer. Jesus was often busy, but never hurried.

"Hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart...

"...It is because it kills love that hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life. Hurry lies behind much of the anger and frustration of modern life. Hurry prevents us from receiving love from the Father or giving it to His children. That's why Jesus never hurried. If we are to follow Jesus, we must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from our lives - because, by definition, we can't move faster than the one we are following."
--John Ortberg, "The Life You've Always Wanted"

Remember to check out our give-a-way! You have til noon tomorrow to enter!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This is so cool.

This is great - please check it out when you have a moment. Just another way to look at what this season is all about - and how easily we forget.


"The discipline of Simplicity... deals with the way we use our time and the way we use our words. It is an overall attitude of contentment and gratitude manifested in a visible way of living that includes not trying to do too much or have too much. It is a way of speaking that lets our yes be yes and our no be no, as Jesus commands in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:37)...

"In short, through the discipline of Simplicity we seek to live a life that is pleasing to God, life-giving to ourselves and has an element of availability to others. We can live a life of goodness, joy, peace and balance if we will engage honestly with this discipline."
--Valerie Hess, "Spiritual Disciplines Devotional"

Ways to help you practice this discipline:

* Go through your purse, wallet or briefcase - get rid of anything you don't need!
* Find ways to say "no" to things your don't want to do or can't do - without feeling the need to justify yourself.
* How many conversations in your life are about time or possessions? Pray that God helps you to use these things in ways that express gratitude.
* Write down three blessings in your life - EVERY day. (Come back to this list when you feel like you don't have enough...)
* Do you have time in each day to spend a few minutes alone? If not, try to scratch one thing off your to-do list everyday.
* Try to be content today in everything you do have... When you start to think, "if only I had..." - be sure to stop and thank God for what you already possess. Shelter, food, clothes, water, family, friends, etc, etc.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Simply Giving

Here's some more ways to give simply to others this Holiday Season!

*Give yourself the gift of silence...
*Read the Christmas story again.
*Come to the aid of someone different from you!
*Let your heart lead.
*Collect lose change around the house - and give it to the Salvation Army kettles!
*Care for the sick.
*Be patient - especially with annoying relatives.
*Take your grocery cart - and maybe another - back.
*Pick up trash and litter.
*Make a handmade gift.
*Share family memories.
*Hug a grinch!
*Invite a friend to church.
*Leave a voicemail to brighten someone's day.
*Start a savings account specifically for giving!
*Give a "favor" coupon.
*Read a book to a child.
*Turn off all your electronics for a night - cell phones, tv, computer, video games.
*Cross one item (the biggest) off your Christmas wish list... Do you really need it?
*Bake an extra dozen - and give them away!
*Offer to baby-sit.
*Play in the snow!
*Take your lunch to school or work - and give away the money you save.
*Reconnect with old friends.
*Give a special photograph to someone you love.
*Go caroling (the church is going Dec. 17th!).

Remember to check out our give-a-way!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 13th, 2009

What a FABulous day at church!

Education Hour started with some great discussions:
* The Children learned about Jesus being the Son of God and were encouraged to thank someone who has taught them about Jesus and sharing the wonderful gift of Christ!
* The Confirmands met with their parents and Pastor Penny to watch the NOOMA video, "Shells" - a discussion about all the ways we find ourselves "too busy" and wondering what our focuses in life should be...
* Wired Word was led by Andrea this weekend - and the topic was an interesting one! The new Uganda laws pertaining to homosexuality, prison time, and the death sentence - how should we, as Christians, respond to this? And how can we live out our daily lives following the commandment to "love our neighbors as ourselves"?
* The Advent Conspiracy group focused on how to bring meaning to our holiday celebrations without focusing on money and materials.

Worship was a celebration today! Jennifer and Bennet lit the Advent wreath... Mark reminded us in the children's chat that one of the most simple and ordinary things we can do this holiday season is give food and gifts to Neighbor's, Inc, to help out other families! Pastor Penny briefly spoke about the "Ordinary" people around the dinner table and in Jesus' family tree... That sometimes the "ordinary" ones can bring the greatest gifts to us all! Think of Mary! Popcorn was handed out as a reminder of an "ordinary" way to spend time with the family and friends in this month of simplicity... Play a game, listen to each other talk about your days, or pray together!

Then... the choir performance! We thank our choir and Jennifer for all their hard work! It was beautiful! Sandy played her harp and sang a solo, Janet and Peter sang solos, and it was wonderful!

Afterward, just about everyone sat down to a warm, yummy breakfast of egg bake, muffins, and COOKIES! What a fun way to celebrate the holiday season together! Thanks to our hosts for doing an amazing job!

Remember: Next, week is the Children's Choir Performance - AND we're asking everyone to bring in their Nativity Scenes for a display of all the variety and beauty they bring to our decorations and traditions!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

God is in the Small Stuff

"Unless we choose to bring the meaning of Christmas to our celebrations, we will miss the meaning altogether.

There's someting about waiting that prepares us for arrival.

Christmas is a time of contrasting emotions: hope and despair, peace and conflict, togetherness and loneliness. Advent helps put them in perspective.

Getting on and getting off the holiday fast track have this in common: They are both choices.

We will never recognize the significance of Christmas until we slow down enough to think about it."
--from the book "God is in the Small Stuff at Christmas" by Bruce and Stan

Friday, December 11, 2009

Give-a-way #2!

I promised another give-a-way! So, here it is!

If you saw me walking around on Sunday with my cool Christmas mug - now's your chance to get one, too!

You have four ways to enter the give-a-way:

1) Comment on this post.
2) Be or become a follower of this blog.
3) Mention the give-a-way on your blog.
4) Mention the give-a-way on Facebook.

Just let me know the ways you have entered... All entries must be in by Friday, Dec. 18th, at noon!

Good luck!

Good Will to All

"As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience."
--Colossians 3:12

"Kindness is more than thoughtful words and actions - it is also defined as a state of being kind. It's an attitude, a way of living, a well-exercised habit. If we truly want to emulate the kindness God showed when He sent us His son to be born in Bethlehem's manger, then we must make it a living, breathing part of who we are every day of the year.

"An attitude of kindness must start from within. Do we judge others by the color of their skin? What about those from unfamiliar cultures? Can we extend kind gestures to those who do not share our opinions about politics and religion? How about those whose lifestyles we disapprove of?

"It's easy to be kind to those who think like we do, look like we do, and act like we do. But it is far more difficult to show kindness to those who don't. We must remember that kindness neither condemns nor condones. It just is. God in all His holiness reached out in kindness to ALL of us, without reservation. His loving kindness is extended to every living soul. Glorify Him by asking that your own attitude of kindness would become as broad as a sky filled with angels."
--from the book, "Celebrating Christmas Every Day" by Helen Steiner Rice

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Give-a-way Winner!

We had 11 entries, each was assigned a number, then using I entered the numbers into a "random number generator" and number 6 was the winner!

Jill E. you are now the proud owner of Matthew West's "Give This Christmas Away!"

I'll have it for you on Sunday!

Watch tomorrow for our next give-a-way....

Simple Abundance

My friend, Andrea from NY, posted a beautiful blog entry last week honoring her grandmother who died recently... A story of simple abundance, joy, and beauty. I invite you to visit her blog today and read this beautiful tribute - and then think of all the ways you live in abundance as well!

Thanks, Andrea!

PS: The give-a-way ends at noon today!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Well, you never know in what ways God may decide to use you... And in our theme of simplicity - what could be better than knowing God used a frustrating afternoon to provide for someone in need of prayer? The most simple gift to give....

Tuesday afternoon as the snow was falling and I was trying to get things lined up so I could leave early for the day... The phone rang. I debated answering it - knowing I didn't want to get even more bogged down with more tasks... But I did.

And on the other end was a woman from a homeless shelter - simply asking for prayer. She told me a story of great love, struggle, depression, and a frustrating situation with her husband... All she wanted was prayers for peace, healing, and help in this difficult time - and she fully believed that the more people praying, the better things would get.

I listened to her story and I prayed with her - and told her to call back anytime.

When I hung up, I realized that all the frustrations on this afternoon were meant to be. She needed a friendly voice, willing to pray out loud with her - and I was here to be that person.

God works in mysterious ways... But what a blessing to see those ways at work!

By the way... Can you keep her in your prayers? Her name starts with an R (I don't want to compromise her privacy). Thank you - she would be delighted to know you're praying!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Simply Give

Here's some easy things to do or "give away" this year - in order to spread the holiday spirit!

*Hold a door for someone
*Give thanks
*Write a letter
*Say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" to a stranger
*Make a joyful noise!
*Do a secret good deed
*Give someone a hug
*Take some of your good stuff to Goodwill
*Invite someone to dinner
*Tie up a loose end
*Tip generously!
*Pray for our soldiers
*Really listen
*Give something away - without telling anyone!
*Be a comfort
*Spend time with the elderly
*Get to know your neighbor
*Buy a cup of coffee for a stranger

Just a few ideas... more to come! (Do you have any?)

Be sure to check out our Christmas give-a-way!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday at SPUMC - Dec. 6th

Today was another festive and wonderful day at St. Paul's UMC!

During the Education Hour:
*The Children talked about recognizing the people you love by doing something to show them! And they are preparing for their FABULOUS Christmas performance - Dec. 20th during worship!
*The Confirmation youth explored some of the prophecies of the coming Messiah (and had fun playing some Advent games!)
*Our Study Group is discussing the "Advent Conspiracy" - a book that challenges us in our spending during the holidays... Can we spare buying one more gift, and instead give to someone who has greater needs?
*The Wired Word discussed the White House party crashers and what it means to be offered admittance... into Heaven, too!

Worship focused around the "scandalous" relatives of Jesus - and how comforting it is to know, if these are Jesus' family, then we must have a place at the table, too! Jeanette and her girls lit the Advent wreath like old pros. We sang some great Advent carols. Communion was served as the bells played beautiful music!
And "Yes" and "No" bills were handed out! These are meant to be "spent" this week - say "yes" only when it feeds your soul, and "no" when it's just one. more. thing.... You can make the choice to make this season holy!

After church, we had a lovely fellowship hour with yummy cakes and cookies; and the 2nd-6th graders headed out for some bowling!

A great day!

Remember to check out our Give-a-way! There's several ways to enter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Serving Others

"The capacity for caring illuminates any relationship. The more people you care about, and the more intensely you care, the more alive you are."

On Sunday, we talked about the "overlooked" family members in the Christmas story... But what about the "overlooked" in today's story? Who are the people you pass by everyday - unnoticed, unseen, and unheard?
Is it the homeless man at the door to the grocery store? Is it the lady cleaning the bathrooms at the airport? Is it a family member that is struggling with life? Is it an old friend that has gone a different direction... and has become lost?

When I think of the overlooked in my own life, I wonder what I could be doing this holiday season to make sure they know they are loved - by me, but more importantly, by God.

What ideas do you have? What is one simple thing we can do to reach the overlooked with love and compassion this Christmas season?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Give-A-Way #1!

"What if I told you, you have the power
To give someone hope far beyond their wildest dreams.
What if I told you, it's right there in your hands, in your hands.
It's hard to imagine how something so small
Could make all the difference, tear down the tallest wall.
What if December looked different this year?

"What if we all just give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there.
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive,
When you give this Christmas away.

"It's feeding the hungry, serving the poor,
It's telling the orphan, 'You're not forgotten anymore.'
It's doing what love does even when no one's watching you.
For God so loved the world that He gave us all His son,
So we could be His hands, His feet, His love... His love.

"What if we all just give this Christmas away
If there's love in your heart, don't let it stay there.
Give this Christmas away
And your life will be changed by the gift you receive,
When you give this Christmas away."
--from the song "Give This Christmas Away" by Matthew West

Want an uplifting moment?! You can watch the video and hear the song if you click here. What a great message for Christmas this year!

I'm giving away the book that was written based on the song, by Matthew West. It's a great book with LOTS of wonderful ideas for spreading love and cheer throughout the season - by giving Christmas away with money, actions, smiles, kindnesses, etc. (It's so neat, I bought myself one, too!)

So to enter the give-a-way for this fun little book, this is what you do:
1) leave a comment on this post for an entry
2) mention it on your blog for another entry (and let me know!)
3) post the link to the give-a-way on your Facebook for another entry (and let me know!)
4) become a "Follower" of this blog for another entry!

That gives you 4 possible entries! (And this is a practice round... There will be another give-a-way every week til the end of Advent!)

All entries need to be in by noon on Thursday, Dec. 10th.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spending Time

"A wise person once said that 'time is life.' Nothing could more certainly be true. Life is measured in the moments and the days we are given. And they are numbered... Finite. What makes life precious... what makes TIME precious... is that there is only so much of it. So to share time with someone is to share something precious, indeed. It is to share life itself - purer and more costly than gold."
--Love Finds a Voice in Bethlehem

God is there to share time with us everyday. Are we willing to share time with God? Or are we reluctant to even give one hour of worship a week to God?

How are you carving out time in your busy schedule to spend with God? Whether in prayer, reading, journaling... How do you spend time with God?

I'm working on a half hour every morning of reading, journaling, and praying... and then an Advent Devotional reading at dinner with my husband. I'd love to hear your ideas, too!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Time with God

"I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love... that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
--Ephesians 3:18-19

Into the busy-ness of this hectic season your word invites me to stillness - to sit and consider, to grasp and perceive the impossble dimensions of your love. To dive into it... to bask in it... to be filled with the fullness of God. I can't do that without lavishing you with a certain amount of my TIME, Lord. And as Christmas encroaches (yes, it honestly feels that way!), time is a commodity in short supply for me. That is no excuse. In fact, it should be the reason I NEED to spend time with you.
"Pilate asked Jesus, 'So you are a king?' Jesus answered, 'You say that I am a king. For this I was born, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.'"
--John 18:37

You WANT me to spend time with you. You want ME to spend time with you - to listen to you. During this busy season of Advent I hope the truth sinks into my busy mind: that you spent (and spend) time with me. Isn't that what this season celebrates after all? You left heaven to spend time with humanity - to teach us the heart of your Father... to suffer and die to win us back... to rise that heaven would be ensured us. You've certainly got my attention. I'm listening.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Month of Simplicity

"Half the joy of life is in little things taken on the run. Let us run if we must... but let us keep our hearts young and our eyes open that nothing worth our while shall escape us. And everything is worth its while if we only grasp it and its significance."
--Victor Cherbuliez

As I've been looking at my own schedule and list of things to do for this busy time of year... I feel I'm already failing on the "simplicity" challenge. I've decided to look at each engagement and obligation and decide - 1) do I WANT to do this? 2) do I NEED to do this? 3) how does this particular activity nurture my soul?

Most of my plans are already about family, friends, and fun homemade gifts! So now what?! How do you simplify further when you've already weeded out the things that don't need to be done and don't inspire or uplift your spirit?

When I'm overwhelmed and over-busy, I lose steam, lose joy, and lose appreciation for all that surrounds me - which is why I liked the quote above. "...Everything is worth its while if we can only grasp it..."

What have you noticed today that has made you stop, smile, and appreciate the season? Maybe part of simplifying is simply being aware of what is around us... even when we're off to something else!

So far today, I've noticed:
*one of my favorite ornaments on the tree lit up from the sun this morning
*a Jimmy Buffet Christmas song on the radio (that made me laugh)
*my little "Pause" gift on my desk that encouraged me to close my eyes and take a breath
*someone taking the time to drop off more presents for our Neighbor's collection
*some of my blogging friends doing tours of their Christmas decorations - and they all had Nativity Scenes!