Monday, November 11, 2019

Sabbath Is Relationship.

Sabbath is time.

A study book* I'm reading caused me to ponder more closely what I'm doing with my Sundays -- the day I call the Lord's Day. We do church. We're there from about 8:45 until about 1:30. Isn't that enough? (Wow - isn't that the wrong question?!!)

The writer helped me to remember that a-day-of rest-after-work is an Edenic concept, and an eternal fact. Sabbath rest is not an Old Testament religious construct that we can chuck out the window now; Sabbath rest is heaven. Rest is what God has called us to do. When I fail to remember this truth, I fail to understand the New Earth God is making for me.

(I see our 7-day week as a kind of broken Ground Hog's Day movie nightmare. We work. We just get started into an eternal rest on Sunday, and then bamm! The week starts all over again. We can't seem to exit the loop and head into our real goal: eternity. Jesus did that successfully, though, on His Sunday. His resurrection broke through the Ground Hog's Day barrier and crashed into eternal rest, and we get to follow Him there. In fact, we can start remaking our lives now to get a good taste of what that wonderful rest is like!)

What should I do with my Sunday? The book writer reminded me that Sabbath rest is all about relationship with God. Hmm -- I thought, "So one day each week I basically have a day date with God." Is that too much time? Yikes - a day is a lot! (Again, that's the wrong question to ask!)

What do you do on a date with a friend or spouse? You devote time, you communicate, you think about each other, you enjoy the time together, and you try to serve the other person. That's a good start. I asked myself, "How can I do all those things, on Sunday, with God?" I'm devoting some time; I could devote the whole day. I need to pray more during the day, just talking with God, keeping my mind on him instead of the constant distractions of my life. I can read the Bible, journal my prayers, and most important -- relax, and enjoy the time. Don't look at the clock. Don't bemoan the things I'm not getting done. (Because ... I'm a doer.)

Part of Sabbath is trusting God that He will give me the time I need on Monday (and Tuesday and all week) to do the things I need to do. It's like manna: enjoy the food for the day and don't worry that it won't be enough. Sabbath is time, time to relax, time to trust that God will provide more time. More time? How much time? Eternity. All the time forever. For the Christian, there is always tomorrow, always more time to do all the things.

What about that last part -- serving God? How can I serve somebody who has everything and can do anything for Himself? What does He possibly need from me? Jesus tells us that when we serve others (especially the needy or those under our care), we are serving Him. If Sabbath is relationship with God, and relationship is service, and serving God is also serving others ... then on Sundays I should devote myself to serving others. My husband first, who is exhausted from his church duties. I spend time with him. I relax. I give him my attention. Other people also, as God brings them my way.

Who do I not focus on, on Sunday? Myself. I tell myself, "No," when my brain says to tend to the herb garden or make soap or clean the house or do the many, many things that I love to do -- tasks that give me a feeling of accomplishment, tasks I usually do alone and love to tick off my "to-do" list, and then dash off to the next task. For me, this isn't Sabbath rest because it doesn't keep my mind on God. It keeps my mind on myself and my labors.

I practiced this new approach yesterday, and I found it interesting. It wasn't hard to catch myself in activities that I should avoid. "There'll be time for that tomorrow," I told myself. I found it a richer day. I found my spirit much calmed by so much one-on-one time with God. That alone was lovely.

"Thou has made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it find its rest in Thee." 
-Augustine of Hippo

*Nancy Guthrie's Even Better Than Eden, "The Story of Sabbath"

Friday, November 8, 2019

Impatience

Sometime in the past few years I stumbled across I Corinthians 13 again and stared at that list of 16 (as I count them) traits that define LOVE. Love, the sign of the Christian. Love, the noblest emotion. "God is love," the Apostle John says.

Love is patient, love is kind. I never got past those first two, and in truth, I never got past "Love is patient." I am an impatient person. I'm the person who is seething inside because someone is making me wait, the person who can't stand to be put on hold on the telephone, the mother who often told her children, "Hurry up! We're late!" The person who is irritated at others who can't do things as fast as I can. And if I'm not hurrying others (impatiently), I'm hurrying myself! Berating myself for not maximizing every minute's use, for sitting around 5 minutes to enjoy the view, for not being the first one to arrive. 
Image result for road rage
Hurry = impatience. I can't think of an instance when this is not so. I suppose one could hurry for the sake of safety (step on the gas pedal to get across the flashing railroad tracks ... but wouldn't it be better simply to stop?) or for the sake of not making others wait (but shouldn't they patiently wait? Isn't that loving?). However, I'm almost never, ever late for anything. I'm not hurrying myself to be considerate; I'm hurrying myself because I'm impatient even with myself and hurrying has become a habit.

Impatience is a bad habit, but we excuse it in ourselves. We say, "She shouldn't make me wait! That's inconsiderate on her part!" We say, "The children need to learn how to be timely. It's a good character trait." We note rudeness in others when they inconvenience us, prompting our impatience, but we don't realize our impatience itself is rudeness. It's unloving. 
Image result for impatience
Why? Why should we have not only the appearance of patience, but also the inner peace of it? What's so wonderful about patience, and why is is the very first definition of love? Patience has to do with TIME. I ask myself, Why am I in a hurry? Do I feel I have limited time? If I do everything in my life a little faster, will I have more extra time at the end of life? This is silliness, of course, but we live this way! We act like we must squeeze all the productivity out of every minute because there are a limited number of minutes. 

And that's the lie. In my opinion, that is the very attitude that offends God, the attitude He doesn't want us to have, because it shows a deep misunderstanding of heaven -- of eternity. Do I have a finite number of hours and then Poof! I'm done? No -- I have eternity. Do I need to rush through activities as if I only have 70 or 80 years? No, I have eternity. Do I need to be impatient with others because they're robbing me of precious minutes I could be living as I choose? No, because I have eternity. I have eternity on a New Earth better than this one -- I have all of time, endless time, to do everything I ever want to do.

There is no hurry.

When I hurry, I say, "I don't have eternity," but God has already told me He has given me eternity. When I hurry, I deny this promise. When I'm impatient, I'm denying this promise both for myself and for others. I'm imposing my faithlessness on them, saying, "Why don't you hurry? We'd better both hurry because we don't have enough time in our lives to do it all." That's not love.

Patience is beginning eternity now. Love is reminding each other of eternity, of the sureness of the promise, of the sheer joy of knowing that we have forever to do all the things we simply don't have time for now ... and it's okay. It's okay not to have time for it all now. I'm not in a hurry. And you don't have to hurry for me. Let's relax through life and show that we believe we have all the time in the world.
Image result for relaxation

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Heading Home

Today I'm going back home to the coast, leaving the beautiful mountains. The coast is very beautiful too, of course. I've loved every minute of being here with my mother and caring for her. Do you ever wish you could be in two places at once? I do. 
Here are a few random photos from the last few days.
My brother Max with two of his kids, Nathan and Katie


A fun sign at mother's friend's house

This delightful fellow is the local post office dog.
The P.O. lady said she had to bring him to work each day
 because otherwise he tears up her curtains!
 He is just darling, sweet and friendly.
Look at that face!!

Bonnie has a good life.

Mother's maidenhair fern and orchid, on her desk in brilliant morning sunshine
 And now for a study in cardinals!

 See the male cardinal? The female is below the two box feeders.

 Each morning, Mr. Cardinal comes to the window several times during breakfast. Mother says he sees his reflection, but I think he is checking on Mother to make sure she is recovering well.
 Here they are again. And again.
 I painted a couple more cards.

 I'm enjoying the wreaths. A circular shape is so pleasing to the eye.

There's an old restaurant in Lewisburg called Jim's Drive-In.
It's been around for many years, and when highway 60 was the main route into town, its location was prime. You park, and the girl walks up and takes your order. Soon the food appears on a tray that perches on the edge of your window. Their specialty is an "English hot dog" -- buttered, toasted bun, with onion, chili, and slaw. Delicious!!!
 Last night we had the delight of dinner with Max and Anne. Anne always makes her home look warm and inviting, especially in colder weather.
 This is an osage orange fruit. Isn't it strange? They picked it up on one of their walks along the river trail, along with the tulip poplar leaves Anne put in a wooden vase.


Yesterday Mother had an MRI to assess her liver, which had a mass removed from it two weeks ago, in addition to the tumor in her colon. She's had an exhausting time. With elderly people, one health issue often leads to another, and another. The doctors do their best to guess and diagnose. Mostly we are trying to encourage her to drink a lot, eat more, and rest. That's the best medicine on a daily basis.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

When My Writer Brain Was Born

That's my copy of The Sound and the Fury. However, inside the cover my brother Max's name is written. I must've swiped it from him. I have a collection of most of Faulkner's best novels in paperback. In college I studied them, loved his writing, loved his style -- his voice -- and his crazy, disturbing settings and plots. I tried to read The Sound and the Fury in 10th grade and failed; a few pages in, and I was utterly lost. The Benjy section is challenging. By my senior year in college, all his novels were easily accessible and a joy to read. Then I didn't touch them for about 35 years.

Recently I've been bored with my bedtime reading, as I mentioned before. How discouraging! I mentioned this to a friend who sympathized. She said she'd put away her electronics before bedtime and reverted to her tried-and-true method of going to sleep well: she reads Faulkner.

"Faulkner," I thought. "Sounds like an odd sleep prescription, but I have him on my shelves somewhere. I'll give him a try."

I found myself, once again, reading and reading, flipping one page after another, utterly UNbored. Faulkner is still a delight to me for some reason. And pondering my mental love for his writer's voice, I remembered his impact on me years ago -- after I grew accustomed to his voice, his eternally long sentences, his quirky turns of phrase and seeming non sequiturs, his brilliant understanding of the human heart and fearless delving into humanity's darkest moments -- after I could read him with ease, he had a peculiar effect on me.

He made me a writer. By that I mean that his voice awoke a writer's voice in my own head. Rather like a small child hesitantly singing a tune being taught him by a music teacher, gradually my inner voice grew, trying to keep pace with him. Faulkner's not exactly stream of consciousness, but there's a long, luscious flow to his text, like a river, that carries the reader along (after he learns to swim and not drown in it), and for me, this swimming became my own way of thinking stories. Stories are always running through my head. Plot points pop in, characters introduce themselves, stories grow and bloom, but my inner voice is always talking, always telling. I thank Mr. Faulkner for this. Somehow we have voices in tune with each other, and finding his books awakened my own. I had forgotten.

I'm still in West Virginia for a few more days. I finished a large order of cards and will be mailing them out on Monday. So, here are a few more cards I just painted this morning:



If you're interested in viewing the cards I presently have for sale, click here. It's a Google Photos album. If you want to purchase one, just click on the photo, and look for a text box that says, "Say Something." Type a note to me in that box and hit enter. Please note that the price of the cards at the top of the album is $8 each; the cards lower (below the text description) are still $5 each.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Resting in the Mountains


Image may contain: Ann Robinson Baker, sitting and indoor

At last, after much traveling on the interstates, I'm with my mother in the West Virginia mountains. We are resting. She had surgery a little over a week ago and is recuperating, and I'm here to help, and make sure she eats. She's lost a lot of weight in the past year.

Adam and I drove from home to Chattanooga, stayed with our son and daughter-in-law there, and then drove on to Mississippi for our grandson's baptism.

 

 




We had a quick lunch with Julia while we were in the vicinity, enjoyed the changing leaves in the mountains, and arrived in W.Va. on Tuesday. Adam is back home now, and I'm staying in these lovely, peaceful, home-feeling mountains for as long as I can, to help my mother. (If you're a personal friend of Mother's and want more info about her health, please email me. She appreciates prayers and everyone's love, but doesn't want a flood of phone calls. She is doing well.)





Friends, wherever you are, whatever your situation, I hope these autumn months -- the cool air, the slanting sunlight, the approach of holy days, the crunching leaves and bright fires -- will bring you joy.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Old Clothes, New Baby

I can't remember if I've ever blogged about the family baptismal clothes. These are from Adam's family, not mine. They were given to me by his grandmother (his dad's mom) when I was having babies and they were baptized. Three of the children were baptized in Mississippi, and one in Iowa.  Here are the clothes.
This is the square-necked dress:
 This is the long-sleeved dress:
 This is the slip:
 And this is the cap:
 Granny and I did some repairs to the clothes before Philip was baptized. I sewed new tiny snaps on the back of the slip, replaced tiny pearl buttons on the dresses, and attached new ribbons to the cap.
There's another pretty dress that we've never used.
 At the center of the bib area, the fabric is weak and has torn.
When Granny mailed me these items (along with other old heirlooms of hers -- little-girl dresses and a couple of old items of clothing, a purse, etc.), she sent notes along with them. I was thankful for the historical information about when the baptismal clothing had been used in the past; that information shouldn't be lost. But now that I read her note, I'm more thankful for the personal feel of it, for her words at the end. Here's her note, written on a series of pink slips of paper:
 (John is Adam's dad. Marcus was Granny's husband.)
 (Granny is Mary Jane.)


"... but time slipped by." Boy, doesn't it.  

Also enclosed was a little pink cap made for Granny's brother, who lived only 2 months. He's been gone all these many years -- 115 years! -- but his memory remains through Granny, through the clothes, through the family.
She must've sent these to me when we lived in Iowa, the spring before Julia was born. I'm not sure exactly. Today I pulled the big box from under the bed, picked out the baptismal items, lovingly washed them and hung them to dry. Soon they will be worn by Isaac, our grandson, Granny's great-great grandson. 

Philip was baptized when he was only 13 days old.
Anna was baptized at 3 months old.
Peter was baptized at 6 months old.
Julia was baptized at 3 months.
I'm not sure, but I think only Philip wore the long-sleeved gown. The other three were too big; it has very small arm holes! The square-necked gown will have to do for Isaac also, I suspect. He's chunking up nicely.
I know I have photos of the children in these clothes, and of Granny and John too, wearing them. So many photos, and it takes hours to find them in the many books. Someday I'll do that search and share them. Meanwhile, I can't wait for Isaac to wear them!