Get a life!

-i.e. live the life you were designed to live!

Life.

Sometimes all IS calm, all IS bright.
Sometimes life is wonderfully beautiful.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel remotely wonderful or beautiful.
Sometimes I feel like life is like being a hamster on a wheel – moving frantically but getting nowhere fast.

We work harder & harder, & the wheels turn faster & faster.

This frantic existence is sustainable short term. Trying to do it all. Trying to do more . Trying to do it all better.But unexpected circumstances or pressure knocks us sideways.

Sometimes we can anticipate a trouble looming. Sometimes we feel like we’re tossed right into a storm. Sometimes an avalanche of responsibility crushes our optimism.

Our life can feel satisfactory- acceptable though not outstanding. We can feel disconnected & flat. Like we’re living in black & white rather than true colour. Like we’re surviving not thriving. Coping-just about

Donald Miller wrote ‘Stop reacting to life & start living with intention’

And if we live intentionally -it often means deliberately choosing to do less-rather than more

There’s a German phrase weneger aber besser . The English translation is less but better . Quality, not quantity.

Greg McKeown wrote a book entitled Essentialism:
‘Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done.’

‘Doing the right thing is far more energizing than simply doing anything and everything. We only have one life and this life is too important to waste by being busy.’ (Christine Caine)

So how can we redeem our one,solitary, precious life from the default setting of busyness?

*Recharge

When we’re feeling overworked & overwhelmed the best thing we can do is slow down & stop.

‘Just as our phones have a certain capacity, we each have a unique capacity level. Our capacity depends on our personality, our experiences, and our seasons of life. People and events are constantly draining us, and we must recharge and off-load our excess or risk shutting down altogether.'(Alli Worthington-Breaking Busy)

‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a while… Including you’ (Anne Lamott)

We need to unplug & unwind. To create space in our days in our minds & margin in our lives.

In our Maker’s instruction book He decreed that we should have a day of rest in every seven- not as a luxury but as a necessity for us to function. Quality downtime is not wasting time.

*Reflect

When you’re unplugged & unwound, consider these questions. Write down your answers for future reference.

(1)What has God entrusted to me?

What are the things only I can do?

I think this is a very useful question.I’m recognise that I have been entrusted with the task of nurturing my children. I also need to be the life-partner my husband needs me to be.

You may have been given a career or a role in church that you know is a God-given assignment. Not everyone has the gifts, talent, experience or qualification needed.

Though I may not have chosen to be work full-time in previous seasons, currently using my training & degree in the practice entrusted to me is something only I can do.

Writing to try to encourage others on this journey of life is also something I’m meant to do.

What are the things in your life that only you can do?

(2)What things should I stop doing?

Purposely edit your life-don’t drift along. We have the choice to say yes to the things we are assigned to do, & no to other non-essential things.

‘The decisions remake determines the schedule we live’
‘Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances’
(Lysa Terheurst-The Best Yes)

I need to stop wasting time eg limit time on social media.
I may need to say no the good things in order to have time to do better things.
I need to stop expending energy on negative relationships.

What do you need to stop today?

(3)What brings joy & encourages me to live well?

Carve out time with those you love.
Do more of what makes you happy.

That’ll look different for each of us. For me that means being in the great outdoors with my family, running, reading & writing .

How can you thrive?

*Reconnect

Reconnect with your Designer

‘Sure-the world says you are what you do. But the Word says you are Whose you are. And what we do ultimately flows out of who & Whose we are.’(Ann Voskamp)

The life we were designed to live has God at the centre. He is our source of strength, our Grand Designer & Saviour of our soul.

The way to truly get a life is to surrender it to the One who created your life & sustains it.

Let Him take control:
“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”
(Matthew 10:39 NLT)

Jesus said, ” I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
(John 10:10 MSG)

‘It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.’
(Ephesians 1:11 MSG)

‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.’
(Romans 12:1 MSG)

Whatever else you do, carve out time to recharge,reflect & reconnect this week

Blessings,

Ruth x

FATT-Frazzled All The Time ?

They say that you can tell a lot about a person by the way they react to:

Traffic jams
Tangled Christmas tree lights
Toddler tantrums
& of course spilt milk!

These minor mishaps & countless others can lead to us feeling hassled & annoyed.

But I’ve noticed that there’s a more subtle ongoing background activity that makes many of us feel F.A.T.T.- Frazzled All The Time. We are not functioning at our optimum & feel slightly stressed a lot of the time. We are frazzled & frayed at the edges-worn away to exhaustion.

We are multitasking to a level our brain was not designed for. We scroll down through social media incessantly- at the same time as watching,cooking, talking & toileting! We are multi-tasking too much, & becoming inefficient. Indeed digital scrolling has altered the way we read

We are never unplugged! We can’t switch off so we never truly unwind.

This causes mental clutter & mind congestion & leads to us being fuzzy-headed, scattered brained …& frazzled.

We are overloaded & supersaturated with oftentimes irrelevant, useless facts. We are drained by information we don’t even need to know! Apparently, an average Sunday paper contains more information than an average medieval man acquired in his lifetime. This is the Information Age with the constant stream & newsfeed. Our minds are over fed yet undernourished.

‘That’s often the case with busyness: it robs us of the gifts right in front of us.’ (Jeff Goins)

Our daily lives can be hijacked by small things.

‘Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.’
(Song of Solomon 2:15 NIV)

In the whirl of activity, we have no time to wonder or ponder.

No time to calm your mind or search your soul.

We are easily distracted, getting dragged into the vortex- entangled in the world wide web- searching & skipping from one screen to the next.

I find myself drawn into the minutiae of ‘Friends of friends’ on Facebook & yet I run out of time to write a note to our Compassion kids. This highlights my very poor time management & skewed priorities.

There are so many {too many} good things on social media & the web, that we need to focus.

We have to form clarity in the clutter. In the same way that we de-clutter our homes or our desks, we need to de-clutter our minds.

‘We make choices & our choices make us’

We need to conscientiously choose to focus & de-frazzle!

It can be soothing to disconnect with the digital to engage fully in reality!

What can we decide to do to de-frazzle?

Here are my simple suggestions:

•No screen time before breakfast
•Always read God’s Word first
•Set a time limit before you switch on
•Ask does this really matter?
•Is there anything more important you should do instead?
•Go for a long walk- & leave your phone at home
•Read a paper book rather than Kindle/ibooks
•Go back to basics & use paper & pen to journal thoughts
•No phones out at meal times- at home or when out & about
•Consider a ‘cyber Sabbath’ i.e. no tech/gadgets for one day a week
(I haven’t managed this one yet- but it’s a great idea in theory!)

And when we quiet our minds, we can start to hear the still, small voice of Truth:

‘Be still, and know that I am God’
(Psalm 46:10 NIV)

Meditate on those words:

Be Still
Be Still & know
Be still & know that I AM
Be still & know that I AM God

‘Stillness is to the soul as de-cluttering is to the home.’
(Emily Freeman)

‘When you have an overwhelmed world, you don’t have to have an underwhelmed soul -if Christ fills the thoughts.’
(Ann Voskamp)

Blessings,

Ruthx

When you can’t sit down

I’ve written about the importance of chair-time & sitting down ‘on the inside’ 
But what happens when you can’t stop, when you can’t rest even when you want to?

‘Life, for most of us, feels like a movie we’ve arrived to forty minutes late’ writes John Eldredge in his book entitled ‘Epic

We always seem to be in a hurry, multi-tasking to try to catch up with ourselves. Weeks go by at a frenzied pace, in a hap-hazard way.

It’s difficult when we feel that busyness is thrust upon us rather than chosen by us.

Yet if we don’t pause, we can burnout i.e. become emotionally & physically exhausted, detached from those around us & feel ineffective & unfulfilled even though we’re working hard.

‘Hurry always empties a soul’ wrote Ann Voskamp in ‘One thousand gifts’

It’s just as well that the God who created us , also created rest on the seventh day!
Rest. The dictionary defines it as freedom from activity, or a pause for relaxation.

The Italians speak of ‘dolce far niente’ – the joy of doing nothing! But, 
‘There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want!’ (according to Calvin & Hobbs!)

We need to rest before we become exhausted. It’s not selfish to look after ourselves:
‘Self-care means giving the world the best of you instead of what is left of you.’ (Katie Reed)

‘You should sit in nature for twenty minutes a day. Unless you are busy…then you should sit for an hour!’ (Zen saying)

In Psalm 62:1 King David wrote, ‘My soul finds rest in God alone ‘

Rest is a Person- not a place!

For, true rest is found in God alone.

That’s worth repeating, so I can let the truth sink in:
True rest is found in God alone.

‘That’s the only quiet, secure place in a noisy world, The perfect getaway, far from the buzz of traffic.’
(Psa 27:5 MSG)

Jesus said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me & you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest” (Matthew 11:28-The Message)

Real rest sounds very appealing, doesn’t it? Our God created rest on the seventh day of creation. A day of rest each week is actually a blessing given to us.

Tonight I read these words:
‘Sabbath is more than a day.It is a way of life,a conviction we order our lives around,based on what we believe about God. But mostly, it is a gift from God we cant find time to open,because we dont know what we’re missing’
(Keri Wyatt Kent- God Space)

God’s special day of rest is a time to:
-Relax 
-Recharge our batteries
-Refill & refuel for the week ahead
-Nourish our souls
-Renew our minds

So, here I am, on this autumn Sunday listening to the rain softly falling down. I’ve had three days of enforced rest due to a viral illness. (I will have empathy when I’m diagnosing others with similiar this week!)

I must learn to rest before I am tired & embrace this welcome pause before another week starts to play out.

‘To pause between the notes of our lives turns noise into music. It’s called resting’ (Keri Wyatt Kent)

This is the day the Lord has made. Don’t load it with yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s troubles. Rejoice in the gift of today!’
(Max Lucado)

So,’Give up last weeks burdens, so you can head into the week ahead without them. Surrender all troubles to God & forgive yourself & others’ (Marianne Williamson)

Blessings,
Ruthx

Sometimes you need chair-time!

 For as long as we have lived in our current house, we have had a comfy chair beside our dining room table. It used to be a rocking chair (that was covered by a throw after Layla chewed large chunks out of it when she was a puppy) The rocking chair has now been replaced by a cuboid leather chair.

The chair’s principal function is to provide a more comfortable place for Rob to sit while I finish my dinner! I am an extremely slow eater (I was once the last person to finish each of the three courses at a wedding reception with over 200 guests!)

This year I designated the chair as a place to read fiction slowly. I promised myself to read at least once a week in this comfy chair! I have managed to read many chapters of ‘All the light we cannot see‘ in this chair.

Apparently reading fiction improves brain connectivity & function. Also, ‘Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are’ (Mason Cooley) Escapism at it’s best!

A couple of years ago I read a novel called The Chair– about a chair with supernatural powers as it had been carved by a carpenter from Nazareth two thousand years ago.

The idea of an extraordinary chair is not a new one. At the Giant’s Causeway, there is a rocky seat known as the Wishing Chair. Apparently, this chair was made for the giant, Finn MacCool, when he was a child. And ever since, so legend says, all wishes made by anyone at the Wishing Chair will come true. 

I’ve been listening to an audio-version of Bill Hybels’ book Simplify. In it, he stated that the first practice to unclutter your soul is chair-time. 

This chair doesn’t have to be extraordinary or fancy. We simply need to find a chair to spend time with God. Bill urges us to schedule chair-time to sit & read the Bible with the Author & to take time to listen to what He has to say.

‘Come near to God and he will come near to you.’
(James 4:8 NIV)

‘God gives us everything we need for space -but we will have to make space.
God gives us all the ingredients for time -but we will have to make time.’
(Ann Voskamp)

The idea of spending time in the chair is simply that- creating space to commune with God.
For our God desires to have a relationship with us. He longs to be close, not distance. If we feel that God is far from us, we have moved away.

I’m not sure why, but when I thought about chair-time with God, I found myself re-reading the chapters of The Shack where Mack spent time gazing at the stars & walking across the lake with Jesus. Our God is the good, good Father & the Friend who is closer than a brother.

No matter what we need , what our inclinations are or what our days look like we could all benefit from chair time. As Bill Hybel’s earlier book title stated, we are too busy NOT to pray.

We need to slow down. 
Sit down. 
And be still. 
And know. 
Deep down.
That the Great I AM is God.
Our God.

‘Be still, and know that I am God’
(Psalm 46:10 NIV)

‘Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings’
(Hebrews 10:22 NIV)

Blessings,

Ruth x

PS This is the puppy on the chair before it was chewed:

Edited & updated- originally posted @ www.blessedme.co.uk

Simply abide

In a world that’s shaken by terrorists & when the daily news is almost too painful to watch, when hurricanes are storming across the planet,it’s all too easy to feel anxious & insecure.
But even in tumultuous times & uncertain days we can have inner peace:
‘He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”’
(Psalm 91:1-2 ESV)

Jesus said,”As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
(John 15:9 ESV)

Though we live in this broken,messy world we can choose to abide in the love of God & dwell in His presence. We can experience His peace.

I’ve been reading Simply Tuesday by Emily P Freeman ‘Small- moment living in a fast-moving world’ Emily tells the story of how her family & another neighbour bought matching benches & place them in their cul-de- sac. The benches provided space for them to connect on an ordinary day( like Tuesday- arguably the most ordinary day of the week!)

Emily looked out on the benches from her kitchen window & pondered ‘How can I sit down on the inside?’

When we feel overwhelmed we too need to pause ‘on the inside’ & allow your soul to breathe. We need to find a metaphorical bench to sit down ‘inside’ if we can’t locate a real one.

When life feels busiest , we often need to stop & simply draw aside and sit on the bench with our Heavenly Father who knows what we really need. And sometimes our deepest need is simply to be still, and find rest in Him alone.

Consider the Hebrew word ‘Selah’ in the Psalms. It’s more than a musical term. The Amplified Bible adds ‘pause and calmly think about that’ to each verse where ‘selah’ appears. Perhaps we need to place a bench in our day- where we pause, think & praise. We need to punctuate our life with interludes- quiet moments with God.
‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’
(Psalm 46:8-10 MSG)

If we sit on the bench for long enough we may be ‘able to see the handwriting of a holy God where another person just sees the same old tired streets & sidewalks’ (Shauna Niequist)

When we’re sitting on the bench:
We’ll not just watch the world go by-we’ll pray to the One who made it.
We might count the stars- & praise the One who made them.
We’ll count our blessings- & thank the Giver
We’ll communicate with the One who can solve our problems- & trade worry for calm.
We’ll connect with our True Friend:

‘He is our eternal Friend- continually, under all circumstances, & constantly ready to prove Himself as our Friend (George Mueller)

Jesus said, “Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11:30 MSG)

Even in days like today?
Yes- even today. For Jesus also said,
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 NLT)

So,’Sit on a bench, count the stars & let your soul breathe’ (Emily P Freeman)

Blessings,

Ruthx

Updated & edited from original post @ http://www.blessedme.com