Thursday, January 28, 2010

Take Time Tuesdays

Good morning to all... My computer is still overtaken by malware and not functional, but I decided to go ahead and borrow Blaine's computer to post the final chapter of Becoming a Woman of Simplicity. (Never realized how "comfortable" I had become with my own computer and it feels strange to use someone else's - even though it's my husband's!) It got me thinking - my life became simplified and complicated all in the same moment... And, while I'm mostly disconnected from my computer world, I'm still fully connected to the One who is my source of life.

Chapter Eleven ~ The Beauty of Simplicity

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. " 1 Peter 3:3-4

"When I purchased the home from Mrs. Crighton, my childhood teacher, she said, "I will sell you my house if you promise to do one thing every morning." "What's that?" I asked. "Stop whatever you're doing at ten o'clock." she told me. "Go sit on the front porch or backyard swing and just listen to the bird." Ingrid Trobisch

And so we begin looking at the final chapter of our study... I will likely work through this study again (in the near future) to remind myself of so much that God lovingly taught me through this study. In addition, the Lord opened my ears to hear another source of blessing and encouragement to empower me as a woman of God: Lisa Bevere - great resources and audio messages for all of us. She and her husband both share powerful messages... You can find her here!

The 1 Peter scripture verses above are special to me and how I hope and pray His beauty is reflected through my life in words, actions and personal physical beauty... And, the quote from Ingrid caused me to squeal with sheer delight! Oh, to be blessed with a home so lovely. It's a beautiful word picture for all of us. I often stop to watch the birds flit about the yard and neighborhood and quiet myself to hear their lovely songs...

Slow down... Such a difficult "action" to take in our busy, busy, hustle, hustle world. I've often been so guilty of it myself - running from place-to-place and hurrying children here and there. So much to do and NOT enough time in each day. We often think that don't we? Not enough time in the day! And yet, I'm reminded that God created day and night and said it was "GOOD". Therefore, I must be the one who has an issue that need to be dealt with... I love what Cynthia shared in the study, "Simplicity is about living as God intends. It is focusing on living simply and purely in devotion to Christ. When this is our goal, we begin slowly to cultivate an inner beauty - a beauty of spirit that is gentle: kind, gracious and thoughtful, and quiet: calm, peaceful and composed. This is the beauty that adorns a woman of simplicity."

This week's study discussed 4 specific areas:
  • Gentleness
  • Quietness
  • Rest
  • Contentment

Let's take a closer look and discover how much freedom God's Word brings to our lives when we abide in Him ~

"But, whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Isn't that a beautiful picture? For me, it gives renewed hope that I am being set free, that abiding in Christ brings freedom into my life and that I am continually being transformed. I am not stuck in one place, but always being made into His likeness - and that is exciting news!

I love, love, loved what Cynthia shared about "becoming" a woman of simplicity:

"We become thoughtful and loving because we have abandoned ourselves to Christ and have presented our bodies as living sacrifices." 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 talks about that kind of self-less love!

What a beautiful picture ~ especially when we see it lived out in people's lives. I am still being transformed and I hope one day to be a picture of these verses!

Cynthia shares about "allowing God to direct her day and being available to Him" ~ and this is a Rule of Life that I try to follow on a daily basis. While I have "my plans", I truly desire HIS PLANS to always take priority in my life. That doesn't happen every time, but it does happen often..

Cynthia shares: "We become gracious because we have accepted the graciousness that comes from God. We are no longer driven by the tyranny of the urgent and are free to serve according to His plan without the irritability that an overly busy schedule produces. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says:

"There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."

Wow. An amazing concept to grasp, isn't it?!

Cynthia also shares that "we can be truly quiet and peaceful ONLY when we trust God with all our hearts." I love Psalm 59:16-17 that she shared regarding this understanding...

"But I will sing of Your strength,
in the morning I will sing of Your love;
for You are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.
O my Strength, I sing praise to You;
You, O God, are my fortress, my loving God."

Isn't this absolutely beautiful? During the dark and deeply troubling times in my life, while I did not know these verses ~ this was the condition of my spirit ~ even though physically and mentally it seemed I would be overcome; my spirit praised God, knew He was my refuge and fortress and oh, how He loved me! His Word and songs praising Him kept me going...

Now, I am still learning. I am not calm and quiet in the midst of every challenge and difficulty that comes my way, but I continue to learn and my trust in the Lord grows with each trial I face.

Cynthia shared David's response to God, "My heart says of you, "Seek His face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek." Psalm 27:8

I really appreciated Cynthia's discussion on REST ~ a subject that I have struggled with for many years... I've never heard it shared as she did:

"Jesus confirmed that the Sabbath, a day of rest instituted by God, was made for us (see Mark 2:27). Christians now set aside the Lord's Day for worship, for our rest is not in a day, but in a Person. We are no longer bound by the Old Testament Law to keep the Sabbath, but nevertheless I think that as we observe the rhythm of God, we would be wise to rest one day a week. I do my best to schedule one day where I do not have to do anything. ...I think that this is God's way for us to manage stress - to stop and rest from our labor one day a week."

She shared that during this time she visits a friend, has extended time with God, no pressing appointments or obligations... Her explanation makes sense according to what I "see" the church living out, but I'm still seeking out God and what His definition of rest and Sabbath is for my life. I don't think we should just accept what others share, but all things must be measured against God's Word and how He defines our lives. She has given me food for thought. However, the bigger issue here is that God designed us for rest and not to work continually without a time to rest, be refreshed and rejuvenated.

Contentment is an area I have struggled with my entire life. I know what God's Word says, but I'm still not "there" yet...

"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have." Hebrews 13:5

This has been a MAJOR distraction in my life for as many years as I can remember. I grew up in a military family and we moved often. I said I wouldn't marry a military man, as I didn't want to move around constantly with my own family. Well, I didn't - but God's plan for my adult life has included moving often from place-to-place, although remaining in the same general geographic area (Puget Sound region near Seattle). All I ever really wanted was to find a house, settle down, live in the same place for a long time and to have our children grow up with long-time friends in their lives. This was not our reality. So, everywhere we've lived I've been frustrated with "where" God planted us for a time when what I really wanted was just out-of-reach. However, looking back, I do see how God has used our lives to touch others and He plan has blessed our family with many opportunities that would not have happened if we lived in one neighborhood for many years... In addition, money was always tight growing up and there are memories that I have of not being able to do or acquire something I really desired. I was determined that my children would not have to do the same thing. Pretty much any interest, supplies, materials, etc they needed - we supplied; even to the extent that we racked up quite a bit of credit card debt. I justified it all with the argument that it wasn't frivolous - but meaningful in supporting the gifts and talents in their lives. (It was challenging living on one income all of our family years...) And today, one child has a spending habit (getting whatever he wants), another had a similar habit (but has chosen a difficult road to walk now with little money) and the other is a "saver" and spends little (and the one who received the least growing up). I hold myself responsible for some of their actions, but I do see more clearly now and I'm still learning how to hold possessions and ideals lightly... And, living in discontent is troubling not only to yourself, but also to everyone in the family. I know He is able and one day I shall get there!

I was really touched with what Cynthia shared from Oswald Chamber: "Every now and again our Lord lets us see what we would be like it it were not for Himself; it is a justification of what He said - "without Me you can do nothing." She goes on to share ~ "That is why the bedrock of Christianity is personal, passionate devotion to the Lord Jesus."

"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him." Isaiah 30:18

"We simplify, not just to be less busy, even though we may be right to pursue that. Rather, we simplify to remove distractions from our pursuit of Christ. We prune activities from our lives, not only to get organized, but also that our devotion to Christ and service for His kingdom will be more fruitful. We simplify, not merely to save time, but to eliminate hindrances to the time we devote to knowing Christ. All the reasons we simplify should eventually lead us to Jesus Christ." Donald S. Whitney

The study has contained powerful and eye-opening lessons for my own life. I pray that it has helped you to desire more of Christ and a willingness to let go of things that keep you from being devoted to Him. I'm not "there" yet, but I see His transformational work happening in my own life. May each of us continually desire to "become a woman of simplicity" and be a light in this dark world so that many people will experience His love, Truth and grace through our lives!

A special thanks to Cynthia Heald and this great new study. I am thankful she made herself available to our precious Lord, so that I could learn and grow from all she shared!

Lord ~ may You continue to bless each of us that we are a blessing to others for Your glory. May Your love be shared through our lives that many would come to know You as we abide in You and live lives simply and purely devoted to You. You are so good. In Jesus' name ~ Amen

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Abundant blessings on your day... Joanie