Today seems like a perfect day to begin this. November 1st. I woke up this morning eager to begin our family’s November tradition of creating a paper-link-chain of gratitude at dinner-time. But then this morning in my sweet serenity with the Lord, I thought it would also be a perfect time of taking on a challenge. The challenge of taking a thousand snapshots and/or recording them with ink of all that I am grateful for. To slow down. To be a ‘hunter of beauty’ as Ann Voskamp shares in “One Thousand Gifts.” I have highlighted soooooooo much of her book. If something resonates with me while I am reading a book, I feel this deep desire to confirm my agreement with those thoughts with underlining, highlights, stars and exclamation points. And this book is full of my markings!!
“I’m craving it deep: more time to manage just the life I already have. The work, the kids, the meals, the laundry, the ministry…….the busyness of my life leaving little room for the source of my life.” Which instantly made me think back to the words of another author who has recently gripped me- Cindi McMenamin in “When Women Long for Rest”. She writes: “Any way you cut it, a key ingredient in authentic Christianity is time. Not leftover time, not throwaway time, but quality time. Time for contemplation, meditation and reflection. Unhurried, uninterrupted time.”
And so I’ve sat here sitting with God. My piles of laundry are as huge and daunting as they were when I woke up this morning. Nothing in the life of my work, the kids, the meals, the laundry, the YL ministry is a step closer to being accomplished. And, yet, I’ve had time for meditation and reflection. Unhurried, uninterrupted time. I was able to give God my precious quality time, my “awake” time, my day-time when I could have been doing a million to-do’s. It feels good to give Him this time. Does it make me feel like I’ve squandered my time and wasted time that I could have been using to be productive around the house…..truthfully, yes, a bit. But I know that this time is not wasted time. This is time I need. I used to think it was a luxury to sit down and be quiet before the Lord. Now I know it is a deep, deep necessity of my soul.
“God never tells his people, ‘Hurry up, get going, faster!’……God’s words, instead, are ‘Be still.’ ‘Wait.’ ‘Rest’……the harried path leaves you run-down, exhausted and overwhelmed….the archenemy of spiritual authenticity is busyness, which is closely tied to something the Bible calls wordliness– getting caught up with this society’s agenda, objectives and activities to the neglect of walking with God.” (McMenamin)
I should preoccupy my time with that which is eternal. I should live as though my days are numbered, to recognize from day to day what is most important and make the most of each moment.
“God doesn’t want me to just do things for Him. He wants me to be with Him. He wants the relationship……..I hear him rebuking me…’I am not impressed with all your busyness, but only with the time you spend with me. Can you give up what the world says you must do in order to sit at My feet and learn from Me?….Now this is not to say that taking care of our household responsibilities isn’t important. We do have obligations to care for our husbands, children, ourselves and our guests…..But we should make sure that in fulfilling our daily priorities we don’t sacrifice the one true priority- seeking time alone with God.” (McMenamin)
“Who actually knows how to take time and live with soul and body and God all in sync?” (Voskamp) Exactly!!! This is what I still haven’t figured out and oftentimes feel a failure at. How do I maintain my obligations, not get caught up in the fear of disappointing people and worship God daily? I desperately want all of that to be in the right priority and in sync.
Lord would you hear my prayers. Prayer for…
time to breathe deep
time to see real
time to laugh long
time to give You glory
time to rest deep
time to sing joy
just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, depressed, driven or wild to get it all done
Lord, I live in a world addicted to speed. I don’t want to “blur the moments into one unholy smear”
Thank you Ann Voskamp for all these thoughts. Thank you for your words. Thank you that I can turn them into my own prayers. I am going to accept your invitation to slow time down with the weight of my full attention and give thanks for one thousand things. I want to be present and in that very presence meet our present God. And in His embrace, allow time to lose its sense of speed and stress. I want to be a hunter of beauty. I want to be able to say, like you say, that it’s ridiculous how much joy a moment can hold. And to find God and all His goodness in those moments.
Thank you Ann for pointing out John 6:11. “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted.” Thank you for pointing out to me that those two words, gave thanks, were the bridge words. They were the crossing over that took the ‘not enough’ and made it ‘enough’.
That is the key. There is so much of my life that doesn’t feel enough. So much that feels lacking or not good enough. The weight of “shoulds” that weigh on my shoulders and stress me out. People who disappoint. Expectations that aren’t met. And I’ve felt myself slipping into negativity and quick-to-complain as I age. I don’t want to become a grumpy old person. I want to run into your arms. I want to see the riches of your love in the minute details of my every day. When my pulse quickens as the stress and noise of the kids, dogs, washing machine, blender, dishwasher, lawnmowers mount in volume….I pray that in that very moment you would help me to stay calm, enter that moment and immediately scan for what I can give thanks. Lord I don’t want to bark hard or push hard because of stress. I want to savor long whatever time holds. (Thank you Ann for those words. They resonate deep within me.) Help me oh Lord when the pace of my life quickens as soon as I go pick up the kids. Help me amidst all the flurry and the sounds of a full home, to stay calm and find all that I can give thanks. When the days flood torrential, give me full attention to slow down the current. Nothing compares to your embrace oh Lord. You are more than anything and you daily bless me with gifts.
Help my eyes oh Lord to see those gifts.
I will move slow.
I will be a beauty hunter of all the gifts you give me.
#1. Thank you for the gift of those 10 minutes with “flower fairy” Natalie yesterday.
#2. Thank you for the words of Ann Voskamp.
#3. Thank you for the words of Cindi McMenanim.
#4. Thank you for Yvette and the time I had to sit with her at Starbucks and have her tell me in conversation about this book by Ann Voskamp.
#5. Thank you for the friend you connected with Yvette during Woodleaf who put “A Thousand Gifts” on her Instagram, which caused Yvette to catch attention to the book and, in turn, to bring to my attention.
#6. Thank you for Joann Hellerman and her pursuit and connection with Cindi McMenamin- to bring her to the Women’s Retreat, so that I could be stirred by her and drawn to her books.
#7. Thank you for this time this morning. This time of uninterrupted quiet from 9:30-1:00 to focus on you. Thank you for this silent retreat.
#8. Thank you for the worship team from the Ballards’ church who introduced me to this song: “Forever Reigns” this past Sunday. I’ve had it on continuous loop for the past 45 minutes. Thank you for those words of worship.
#9. Thank you for Heidi Ballard. Thank you for her faith. Thank you for bringing her into my life. Thank you that her faith is such a significant part of her life.
#10. Thank you for the ways you have caught my attention recently. Thank you for calling out to me through the recent tragedies. Thank you for putting me in Maureen Lull’s thoughts. Thank you for the Facebook post you nudged Lori Sase to send me. Thank you for putting me in Beth Lee’s thoughts. Thank you for putting my heart’s prayers in Cheryl Ram’s thoughts. Thank you Lord for showing me how you put the names and faces of your people in other people’s hearts for prayer.
Thank you for these 10 things. 990 more to go. I will be searching Lord. I will be on the look out. Thank you for these smiles.