Gift Ideas - Handmade and Other

Friday, February 28, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Choose

I got home tonight and found the parking lot in front of my building filled with cars - overflow from the restaurant across the street. This inevitably annoys me immensely. But tonight when the temperature is supposed to be well below zero and I need to pack my car to leave for the weekend, I really don't want to move my car at 10 p.m. when the cars are likely to finally leave.

I want to do something to those cars that will let the owners know that this isn't their parking lot and they don't belong here. Dastardly things run through my mind and then is when I must choose how to respond. The choices are wide open really, I can do any number of things . . . but with each choice comes a consequence. Am I willing to accept the consequence if I choose to express the annoyance and anger I feel?

No . . . I'm not. I'm not willing to bear the punishment . . . OR the guilt that would shred my insides.

Still I must choose because my anger motivates me to misbehave. In the end I choose not to do anything, but this is not a satisfactory choice, even though it is the wise one, for I still have to leave my warm apartment to move my car and load it at 10:30 p.m. on a frigid, windy night.

What and how do you choose when faced with two unsatisfactory ways to resolve a problem? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Solo Days

Since I have been a bit MIA the last couple of weeks, I thought I would take a minute to explain why before I jump into today's topic. As I've mentioned before, my mom is elderly and she's had some health concerns lately so we've been providing even more support than usual. I have been spending more time helping to manage her care, therefore my brief hiatus from blogging. Hoping I am back again now.

Solo Days . . . ummm, what is that?

About twenty years ago I read a book called The Youth Builder by Jim Burns. In it he describes taking a mini-retreat periodically to help maintain his sanity in the midst of a busy, busy, busy ministry life. I was inspired to begin my own trek into this practice. As the years have passed, this discipline has become part of the rhythm of my life and I have refined the process to work effectively for me. In time, I dubbed this custom a "Solo Day."

A Solo Day is a day (or sometimes more than one day) set aside to refocus specifically on God and what He is doing in my life. It involves prayer, Bible reading, reviewing my life, journaling, and goal setting. It happens about every 3 months around the same day each of those months. In May just before my birthday, I review the entire year and consider the entire coming year.

Usually I begin with prayer, asking God to guide this time and to speak to me. Then, often (although not always) I read a large portion of Scripture (a whole book or several chapters) with the expectation that God has something to say to me through His Word. I continue with prayer and journaling about what God has communicated to me through the Bible.

Then I focus on three core questions:

  1. Where have I been?
  2. What is God doing?
  3. Where does God want me to go next?
Where have I been?
I review the last 3 months. I reflect on outstanding memories. I review my journals. Occasionally I review my calendar. Here I am gathering data, looking for facts and events.

What is God doing?
This is the beginning of the interpretation of the data. I am looking for where God has been at work in my life and around me. Where can I see patterns of His activity? What have I heard Him say to me? What lessons has He taught me?

Where does God want me to go next?
This is the second part of the interpretation of the data and is bathed in prayer and processing. Where does God want me to focus for the next 3 months or the next year? How do I get there? I normally write down some action steps or goals to move me forward toward where I see God leading me.

Last week I had a mini melt down one morning and later in the day, I realized that it was near the date for my quarterly Solo Day. I was feeling stressed out and overwhelmed as I often do just before it is time for a Solo Day. I knew that I needed to put it on my calendar pronto and then keep that date.
For nearly twenty years my Solo Days have been a time to connect more deeply with God, to regain my focus, to discern God's direction, and to emerge with greater peace and encouraged to forge ahead. 

How do you help yourself stay focused? 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Five Minute Friday - Write

Lisa Jo Baker started a gathering a few years ago and challenged others to write for 5 minutes each Friday on one specific topic. The idea is to write . . . just write unscripted and unedited for 5 minutes and then link up with others over at her site.  Today's prompt is "WRITE"

Ready? Set? Write . . .
I have loved to write since I was a small girl. I purchased an ancient typewriter as a pre-teen and would crank out the "Violet Hill Newspaper" filled with fictional stories of things that happened on Violet Hill. As I grew older, I wrote letters, in my diary, even a couple of novellas when I was in high school.

My favorite place to write has become my journal, a place where I can process life in God's presence and with His guidance. My journals are also where I engage in many of the spiritual disciplines that help me to build my relationship with God through Christ.

Not only do I enjoy the act of creating something with words, putting words together to form sentences that create pictures and express ideas, I also love the physical act of forming the words with pen on paper. There is something precious in the old-fashioned act of physically writing the words on paper, of seeing a person's individual handwriting.