This is preparation day for the Sabbath. As I look at my “to-do” list from the past week I see things I’ve crossed off, and things I did not have time to do.

I remind myself that every day this week, I prayed for the Holy Spirit’s leading, wisdom, and discernment, and that it was my desire to use my time wisely. I remind myself that every day, I prayed I would know how to redeem the time God has given me. I see that I’ve made some progress on my list. I know this because some things have been crossed off.

I’ve also been frustrated by circumstances that have stopped me from doing more than the judge-y voice in my head tells me I should have been able to get done. Still, throughout the week, I have reminded myself that God is sovereign and that He is in the mix of the circumstances of my life.

Now, on this preparation day, I rewrite my “to-do” list on a fresh piece of paper. This reminds me that after the Sabbath, there will be a fresh week to once again work on my list. I remind myself that my times are in the hands of the One who “works all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) I remind myself that after this day of rest, I will start the new week refreshed, with renewed strength for the days ahead.

Remembering these truths brings calm. My heart fills with gratitude that God ordained the Sabbath, a day when I stop working, and rest. A day when I experience the truth that my Heavenly Father’s priority for me is spending time with Him. A day to sit with Jesus and enjoy His Presence. A day when I re-affirm that I can trust my Heavenly Father with my “to-do” list, and my very life.

On this preparation day, I look forward to lighting a candle at sunset and welcoming the gift of the Sabbath. On this day, I am grateful to be His child and under His care.

Amen.

If you observe the Sabbath, I would love to hear what value this day has for you? I’m also interested in how your “to-do” list affects you. If you have questions or thoughts about Sabbath keeping, let me know.

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Photo by Daria Volkova on Unsplash

 

 

Recently, the news media’s primary focus has been on the negative effects of the corona virus.  We are bombarded with statistics of businesses forced to close, people who are unemployed because of these closures, and the crashing stock market.  We hear about schools closing and parents scrambling to adjust, about those who have contracted the virus, and about those who have not survived.  From the call to shelter-in-place, to the mandate to stay at home, the effect of this virus on people’s lives ranges from a mild inconvenience to a catastrophic disruption.

Within this range from mild inconvenience to catastrophic disruption, there is a sub-group of people whose lives are being doubly affected by this virus.  This sub-group  are those who live with domestic violence.  For them, the negative results of this virus are intensified, because anything that disrupts their normal routine increases the danger that something can (and likely will) upset the abuser.  The result is often dangerous, at best.

For victims of domestic violence, work and school are often unspoken shelters.  In their homes, anything can set off the abuser, and they know that unsettling times increases the incidence of domestic violence.  They walk on egg-shells, hoping and praying to keep from upsetting the abuser, knowing their lives are at effect of the abuser’s anger and control.  During this time of crisis when people are forced to be confined to their homes, the abuser, who holds the power, now seems to have absolute power.  

This topic is near and dear to my heart, because I grew up in a home terrorized by domestic violence.  I know the fear, and the way it affects people’s lives long after the abuse has stopped.

I once heard that the pen was mightier than the sword. Because I can’t wield a sword, I will now pen three suggestions that you and I can do to help victims of domestic violence during this corona virus crisis:

  1.  Pray.  Pray that abusers have an “Aha” moment where they see their behavior for what it is, and repent.  Pray for wisdom and discernment, and for angelic protection on those who live with an abuser.
  2. Pay attention.  If you suspect that a friend or neighbor lives in domestic abuse, reach out.  Let them know you are there for them and that you care.
  3. Draw on God’s Kindness in order to be kind to others.  Your kindness will bring hope and healing to those who are suffering in silence.

Please let me know if this post was helpful to you.  And, as always, if you have thoughts you want to share, I would love to hear from you.

Robby

 

Prayer Partners

I remember knowing I needed prayer support the first time I took a step of faith in obedience to God’s specific leading.  I asked three close friends to pray.  Almost immediately, I felt as if a bubble of protection surrounded me.  I loved knowing I was being prayed for!

Recently, I was scheduled to share my testimony at a Christian Women’s Connection luncheon in Pocatello, Idaho.  As always, I asked my friends to pray.  The day before the luncheon, I sensed God urging me to seek more prayer support – specifically prayers for safety. I emailed the prayer request to one more friend, and to my local church.

Early the next morning, leaving my home in the Boise Idaho area, I saw that the tire-pressure warning light on my dash was illuminated.  I assumed it was because of the change in temperature, and that it would go off shortly.  It didn’t.  The light was still on when I arrived in Pocatello four hours later.

After speaking and returning to my car, I drove to a gas station to ask for help checking my tire pressure.  With a gauge, the manager checked my tires and determined that the pressure was extremely low.  She filled all four tires to the required thirty-six pounds of pressure.

When I started my car, I saw that the tire pressure warning light was still on.  I called the dealer to ask what I should do.  He assured me that the light would go off after I drove a few miles.  It didn’t.  Not knowing what else to do, I traveled back to the Boise area, driving the speed limit of 80 miles per hour.  When I arrived home later that evening, the tire-pressure warning light was still staring at me.

The next day my car was scheduled for an oil change. I told the serviceman my story from the previous day and asked him to check the tire pressure.

When my car was ready, the serviceman told me that the gauge the manager at the gas station used must have been broken, because all four tires had been filled with ninety pounds of pressure!!!! He told me I was lucky I didn’t have a blowout on the freeway.

Words cannot express my gratitude as I realized how “lucky” I was!  I was “lucky” to have prayer partners.  I was “lucky” God’s Spirit urged me to ask for extra prayer.  And, I was “lucky” God protected my car and my life.

I’m wondering if you have ever thought about asking people to be your prayer partners?  Do you have stories about God’s answers to their prayers?  Is so, I’d love to hear them

Over the years, my mother’s hearing has diminished.  And, as she hears less, she talks more.

I suspect this is because she doesn’t want to have to keep asking, “What did you say?”  I also suspect she feels badly that we no longer have phone conversations like we had in the past, before she lost most of her hearing.

Recently when I called, she was having a difficult day.  She is normally a positive person, but on this day, she could only talk about how hard life had become.

After listening for a while, I thought of a way to divert her attention.  I asked, “Mom, did you get the cookies I sent?”

She didn’t hear.  She just kept talking.

A bit later, I asked again.  This time, louder, “Mom, did you get the cookies I sent?”  Again, she didn’t hear.  She continued telling me all that was wrong in her life.  Again and again I tried, but, without success.

When the call ended, I felt sad.  I wanted so badly to help her focus on something good in her life.  I wanted her to be reminded that I think of her, and that I had sent cookies to bring her joy.

Momentarily, my thoughts turned to my relationship with God.  When things are difficult, do I just keep talking, unaware of His voice?  Do I stop to listen for what He might be saying to me?

Do I hear Him when He asks, “Did you get the cookies I sent?”

 

 

Time with God

Matthew 5:6  “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” KJV

Morning and evening, my habit is to spend time in silent meditation on God.

I tell Him I have come to be with Him.  I tell Him I want to know Him, and that I am listening should He want to speak.  I invite Him to be present with me.  Though my body stays still during this time, my mind frequently wanders in any number of directions.

My purpose during these times of quiet is to focus on God.  Though I fail to always stay as focused as I would like, I am convinced of something that gives me hope.  I believe it is impossible for me to sincerely seek God, and for Him not to show up.

Though I may not be exactly sure what has happened during the time I spend with God, I am sure that something has happened.  Somehow, as a result of time spent in His Presence, I am changed.

God sees my heart.  He knows my desire is to know Him.  He is faithful to keep His promise, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”

Before mom went into a nursing home, week by week, her dementia worsened.  Her frantic early morning phone calls communicated confusion, agitation, and ever-increasing fear.

As her calls became more frenetic, my fear for her safety and well-being intensified.

Again and again, I prayed for her safety.  I reminded myself that mom had belonged to Jesus since she was young, and that God had taken care of her all her life.  Logically, I knew God could be trusted with her care now.  Yet shortly after praying, fearful thoughts returned.

One night I fell asleep, only to wake a few hours later.  Anxious thoughts swirled, and fearful “what if” scenarios played like a video in my mind:  Would mom wake in the night in confusion, and do something that might harm herself or someone else?  If she got up and left her apartment, would her caretaker wake up and help her back to bed?

I tried to pray the Lord’s prayer, but my mind refused to stay focused on the words.  Instead, as if drawn like a magnet, my thoughts insisted on returning to images that created fear and worry.

Finally in exhaustion, I prayed “God, help me!”  Silently, the words came to me:  “I am Yours, You are mine.”

My mind easily focused on those few words.  God loved me, and He loved mom.  I didn’t need to pray again.  I didn’t need to worry any more.  God had heard my prayers for mom’s safety, and He held her in His care.  All was well.

Peace.

 

 

On New Year’s Eve, I found myself missing the Watch Night services I attended at church as a child growing up in Michigan.

The service started between 10 or 11 in the evening.  We sang, spent time in worship, then listened to a sermon.  There was time set-aside for people to share about God’s work in their lives in the past year, and when midnight neared we gathered at the altar or remained in our seats to “pray in the New Year.”

Since leaving home and moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, I’ve never attended a church that held a Watch Night service.  Recently over dinner, my family was discussing the ways people celebrate New Year’s Eve, and I mentioned this service and the practice of “praying in the New Year.”  The mixture of disbelief and shock in my son’s eyes informed me that this may be something foreign to many people, and it made me sad.

I miss this tradition of the Watch Night service when I set aside time to invite the Holy Spirit to look back with me on the previous year, and to seek His guidance for the coming year.  I miss taking the final few moments of each year to stand still and acknowledge that God is God, and I am not.

I may not be able to bring Watch Night services back into vogue, but on December 31st as midnight was nearing I spent some time in quiet.  I invited the Holy Spirit to speak to me about 2017, and to pray for His guidance in 2018.  It was hopeful, and time well-spent.

If you’ve ever attended a Watch Night service, let me know your thoughts about the experience?

How do you spend New Year’s Eve?

This article was written by Robby Kautz for the blog:  Christianquietude.wordpress.com

The expected call came at 10:15 that morning.  Answering the phone, I felt relief when I heard the pride in my husband’s voice: “The meeting went exceptionally well.  The president even took the time to compliment me on the quality of my presentation.”

I stopped what I was doing.  Knowing that for my husband to fully enjoy this success, he needed my complete attention and appreciation for his hard work.  As he filled in more details about the meeting, I became aware that his love for me and our family motivated him to work hard and to take pride in his accomplishments.  In that moment my heart filled afresh with love for him.

Later that morning I went outside for my time of Bible reading and prayer.  It was then that I received another call for my attention.  As I began to read I sensed God’s Spirit urge me to stop my self-imposed devotional routine and to simply sit in the quiet with Him.

I put down my Bible and looked around.

A soft breeze caused the branches of the trees to sway ever so slightly.  I noticed the blue of the sky, the warmth of the sun, and the different shades of green in the bushes and trees.  I saw with new eyes the intricacy and beauty of the flowers at my side.

Like my husband, God wanted my undivided attention.  He wanted me to stop what I was doing so I could notice and appreciate the beauty of His work, His provision, and His care for me.

In that moment my heart filled afresh with love for Him.

*This blog post is the work of Robby at Christianquietude.wordpress.com

 

 

I love the Sabbath!

Shortly before sundown and the start of the Sabbath I knew I needed to sit and journal about my week and the many things I wanted  to get off my mind and onto the written page.

I wrote about talking on the phone while rushing to jot down a prayer request, missing a step, and falling onto the bathroom’s hard tile floor.  I wrote about how foolish I felt lying in pain,  about needing to go to the chiropractor because of the effects of that fall, and about how grateful I was for his help.  I wrote about the multitude of calls I’d made searching for a caretaker for my elderly mother.  Finally, I wrote about the to-do list I’d created at the beginning of the week, how few tasks I’d checked off the list, and the many tasks I would dutifully transfer to next week’s list.

Looking up at the clock and seeing that it was four minutes until sundown, I  quickly wrote, “I love the Sabbath!”

Four minutes later I lit a candle to welcome the Sabbath. Externally, time shifted me from  a week of work to a twenty-four hour period of rest.

Wanting to help myself shift internally, I settled into a comfortable chair.  My thoughts went to that final sentence, “I love the Sabbath!”, and  I asked myself what, specifically, in that moment, did I love about the Sabbath?

Do I love it because it’s like taking a deep sigh of relief after a week that typically feels like a marathon? Or was it simply an honest statement  that  I really do love the Sabbath?  Both reasons are true, but I was determined to find the most compelling reason that in that moment I chose to write that final sentence.

I continued sitting in silence, and before long I knew the answer.

When I started my journal entry I felt all jumbled and frazzled, yet as I wrote, things started to untangle.  In the same way, at the start of most Sabbaths I tend to feel  jumbled and frazzled.  Yet each week as I honor the Sabbath by spending time resting and focusing on God, what looked like a confused mess slowly untangles, and peace descends.

Each Sabbath while I rest in God’s Presence, He reminds me that He is working on my behalf in ways I can only imagine and that He can be trusted with everything that concerns me.

On this Sabbath, He reminded me that all the things that only moments before I’d hurriedly poured onto the page  were under His control.

 

 

Recently I had friends coming for dinner.  Knowing it was going to be a long night of cooking, hosting, and cleaning, I decided to spend time meditating on God before starting to prepare dinner.  Up to this point my evening time of meditation was reserved for just before bedtime.  I knew that if I waited until then on this night, I would likely be thoroughly exhausted and unable to focus.

Spending time with God at this earlier hour was wonderful!  Because I wasn’t tired, I was able to more fully focus on Him, and I loved it.

As I left my meditation time to prepare the meal and host my friends, I was surprised at how the moments I’d spent with God positively affected my energy level and creativity.  The effect was as if I’d spent time in an oxygen chamber (though I’ve never actually been in an oxygen chamber, from what I’ve heard about the experience, that’s how it felt).

Since that evening, I’ve been working to make this time-switch my new habit.  I find that when I meditate on God at this earlier hour, I am more available to Him and better able to stay focused on Him.  Sitting, standing, or kneeling silently in His Presence, I sense His love.  When I leave my time of silence, I notice His creative energy and help as I prepare dinner and through the remainder of the evening.