Beginning Again

 

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Hi Ya’all!

I’ll keep it short today, especially since today IS short! I know we’re all running around checking off those last-minute items from our Christmas lists. Or maybe, like me, you’re late to the party and still shopping, still making those lists. Either way- today- short is good.

Breezing through my Instagram feed the other day, I saw a meme from Patsy Clairmont, that said in essence, “Begin Again: Add Joy”. It was just what I needed at that moment. It’s what I need all the time!

My sister and I saw a sign in a gift shop that said: “It’s never too late to start the day over!”, so I understand the theory of beginning again. It’s become something of a theme with us. We’ve been known to “start the day over” after dinner! It’s a handy tool to have, the “start-the-day-over” button in my brain. It’s like a reset button.

It is a mindset, really. I don’t know about you, but I can get bogged down in a project and next thing I know, my mood begins to decline (doesn’t that sound better than saying “have a melt-down”?) and the lovely project transforms into a monster that is not going to bless anybody.

Last week, I spent every moment I could eek out working on a project, only to scrap it at the last minute. I wasted precious time at a time of year when time is hard to come by. I was so disappointed in myself. The harder I tried, the worse it became. I was mad at myself. I didn’t hear from God evidently. There was nothing accomplished, nothing complete. I don’t know if starting over would have saved the project but I’m sure adding joy would have made a big difference.

Starting over is one thing. It’s very helpful. But adding JOY to the start-over is like a super-charge to your thought processes. The Bible says the Joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Joy is: feet spread wide, arms outstretched above your head, happy. It’s also a deep abiding peace that permeates your whole being. If I need to begin again, I need joy and that will give me strength too!

JOY can be found by taking a few moments to thank God for what is going well. It’s noticing the beauty in creation. It’s stepping back, taking a deep breath and turning your thoughts away from the problem and toward the Source of all Help. Do I need a short walk? Nap? Water? How about coffee? Maybe a good stretch and some upbeat music will help me re-focus. Joy is there;  all i have to do is find it!

So… I am practicing beginning again- and again- and again! It’s better than getting muddled in the middle of something that’s not working. Starting over AND adding joy is like hitting the jack-pot. It’s truly a fresh start.

Starting over and focusing on JOY is my Christmas miracle- at least for today- because I’m at peace (yikes!) even though there is still SO much to do. In spite of all the doing, it’s really about the JOY of the Lord’s birth and His great, joyful love for us!

Disclaimer: I know. There are plenty of times to keep going. Hang in there. Stick it out. The trick is knowing whether to start over or keep going. With all the busy-ness of Christmas, I think it’s good to start over- with JOY added because… really? When we joyfully start over, we are re-setting our mind.

Merry Christmas Blessings! Enjoy. Just do it… in-JOY!

I’m looking forward to seeing you next year! 2018! Let’s make it a great year together.

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Slow Down

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“Pick one thing today and do it well, then exhale.”

Thus ends the devotion* I was reading. In “exhale”, she is saying to stop and enjoy the work you’ve done. Did you do laundry? Stop and enjoy the smell of clean clothes. Notice the symmetry of folded towels in the linen closet. Did you paint a picture? Write a chapter- or a thank you note? Take a deep breath. Smile and think about the encouragement your work will bring to someone.

It’s true. Everyone seems to be writing and talking about slowing down. But somehow, it’s appropriate for everyone to say something about it. It needs saying- frequently!

I know I need to remind myself often. It especially applies to the “good” stuff, the things that are good to do and hardest to say “no” to. It applies to all the great blogs and posts I feel like I’m missing. I want to stay up to date, stay inspired and encouraged, after all! But even the best blog by the greatest inspirational writer can turn into One. More. Thing. To. Do.

Dare I say it? Advent, as beautiful and important as it is, can add too much stress. Advent is certainly worth slowing down for, taking notice of, and preparing our hearts to celebrate. But, my friend, if it’s just adding stress, don’t do it. How does it sound to read, “…the angel said, ‘I bring you tidings of great joy…’”, in a hard, sarcastic voice? EW! Allow this time of year be about finding Jesus wherever you are, rather than being bound by a schedule.

November galloped past and we hung on for dear life, dashing into Thanksgiving (forgetting Veteran’s Day completely). We barely stopped to enjoy what is supposed to be quiet, grateful reflection with family. Did you catch the Black Friday deals? Have you decorated the tree and put the lights on the house! Let’s be sure to write Christmas cards and go to concerts and bake cookies and roast a goose and don’t forget to shop ‘til you drop! There’s the kids’ teachers to buy for, the boss’s party to dress for and grandma’s house to go to. Sing in the choir. Give to the poor. Support the cause. And don’t forget to plan New Year’s Eve. And – LOOK! In January they’re starting a Bible study! Better put it on the calendar. Oh! Did we make Valentine’s dinner reservations? How about summer camp sign up?

Phew! Just writing all this leaves me breathless. Our society seems bent on bullying us into doing the next 5 things before we even get to the real NEXT thing.

STOP!

I don’t know about you, but I need to make RIGHT NOW the important thing. Then, the next thing, when it’s time to do it, can be important. I need to CHOOSE what to devote time and effort to and then enjoy it, savor it, rest in it. It really IS okay to “rest on your laurels”- for a few moments.

I need time in the day- preferably in the morning- to be quiet. I need to connect with God, to find peace and direction. I need to connect with myself, and the “to-do” list, to find out what really needs doing. (Like it or not, if there’s no underwear, I MUST do laundry!).

Guess what? We all need time to be quiet, silent. We are created with a built-in requirement for rest. Our bodies must have quiet rest to function well.

I’m resisting the efforts of our run-away, do-it-all culture. Sure, I’d like to “do -it-all”, there’s value in the things I mentioned earlier.

But consider:

#1- what is God saying to me? and

#2- what can I reasonably do and do well?

I need to keep a sharp focus on what’s important to my heart and my family. We are all different, so what’s important to me probably isn’t to you! Don’t throw out something that speaks to your heart just because your friends don’t do it. If you’ve determined to do a project, do it with gusto. Do it with your whole heart.  Turn off the negative talk in your head.

Rather than dash and crash headlong to the next event (even if it’s your Bible study) enjoy, notice, even relish unloading the dishwasher, the job at hand. Be “mindful” and “intentional” (those oh-so-popular buzz words).

There will always be voices yelling at us to do, do, do… and make it snappy!

Let’s tame those bullies, shut them down entirely. Let’s hear from our heart, hear what God has put there. Let’s do one thing well and allow that one accomplishment to nourish us and fill our heart, enabling us to do the next thing with a full heart.

Exhale. Rest. Relish. Breathe.

 

*Day 333. “A Different Way of Looking at Success”, by Denise J. Hughes. Page 335     A Moment to Breathe, published by (In)Courage.

 

Do you relate to feeling overwhelmed, even by the “good stuff”?

I’d love it if you share and tell us how you tame the bullies.

Please share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks so much!

 

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Share this with a friend who might need encouragement to slow down.

My plan is to publish on the first and third Thursday of each month. Be on the lookout for another edition December 21st!

THANKS for reading! God bless you!