Surrendering to Sabbath – Week 5

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“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

May your Sabbath be the window to the soul, the place of excavated beauty you find in your own back yard.

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Moments of awe for the way the Light illuminates the hidden places.

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Bask in His presence, close your eyes, feel the wind blowing your hair and remember He made this day for you.

Want to learn more about the Surrendering to Sabbath Society? Click the tab Sabbath Society and find out how to join the sisterhood, a growing community of people who said, “I’m all in.”

A few posts from the sisterhood this week for encouragement:

Surrendering to Sabbath: What Makes it Hard

Practicing, Not Perfecting Sabbath

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One Thing We Need to Reach Our Dreams

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“Hey, I was just listening to NPR and they were talking about the power of story,” H says excitedly when I answer the phone.

Cocooned in bed with my Kindle and a cup of tea steaming on the night stand, H is chasing pavement for five hours on his way to a conference where I’ll join him in a few days. He’s an hour into the trip when he calls.

“I was thinking about the stories you write, the name of your blog and how you are giving life to people through what you write, “ he encourages.

He often does this. Makes me hold my breath in awe over the way he believes in me. 

My man, who fields hundreds of emails a day, runs the day-to-day operations of a church planting movement, drives to a conference he is organizing with more on his mind than I can comprehend and  thinks about my writing. Because he loves me. And what matters to me, matters to him.

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People often ask me the same question when they hear stories about the hardships I faced growing up, “How did you turn out so well?”.

While my first answer is always that I found Christ at a young age and He redeems the hard places, I also say that I am fortunate to have significant people in my life who believe in me. People who show me, not just tell me they love me. Like my husband.

During childhood, my grandparents drove two hours each way on weekends to spend time with me. They stocked their refrigerator with my favorite food, ran after me on a bike until I could balance, held me on top of water until I floated on my own, taught me the Lord’s Prayer and introduced me to Jesus. As I grew older, they phoned me faithfully, every single weekend. Not because they had to, but because they wanted to.

My grandpa told me I was the best friend they ever had. The feeling was mutual.

After they passed away, God graciously sent more people who love me tirelessly. My best friend LuAnn, who is ceaseless in her encouragement, my mother-in-law who never expects me to be more than who I am, my aunt who believes in me even after we lived together during the teen years and my husband who never gives up pulling me into perspective on days of self-doubt.

And many of you crown me with your golden words that lift my eyes toward heaven.

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Today I’m thinking about how I want to be that person for you. Because if we have just one person who believes in us, more than we believe in ourselves, despite circumstance, we can achieve our dreams. We need people to call out those beautiful places buried beneath the elaborate walls we create that blind us from seeing the truth.

And if you don’t have someone in your life telling you how wonderful you are on days when you want to curl up in a dark room of self-doubt, I want to be that person. Not because I think I possess something you don’t. Because I know Jesus, how much He loves you, and the way reminding you of that truth will change you. 

So how can I help you realize your dreams? Let’s do this together.

Linking with Imperfect Prose with the one word prompt: Believe.

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When You Don’t Get What You Deserve

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I met a friend for coffee in the middle of the week, snatched an hour before afternoon carpool to catch up. And we had a lot of it, catching up. A wedding, two teenage car accidents between us and leaving the church where we met since we last talked. It turns out, timing is everything.

When she asked me how my daughter was doing, Murielle’s car accident didn’t even cross my mind. I was thinking teenage girl stuff, not trauma. November seems like a faded snapshot in the scrapbook of our busy lives. It was only two months since she narrowly escaped death and I’d already forgotten about it. Until I realized my girlfriend’s daughter had the same kind of accident with different results.

Join me for the rest of the story at BibleDude.net, I would love to see you there in the comments.

Linking with Laura, Michelle and Ann.

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Surrendering to Sabbath – Week 4

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Morning gales blow a furious fit, daring me to turn around and walk back home. I decide it’s better to be brave than boring. And I won’t be bullied. I’ve memorized the view out my window a hundred times.

The surprise of sun overshadows my self-doubt. The kind of doubt born in a mother the day her child takes his first breath.

My son woke up with a sore throat and I let him stay home from school out of fear. We’re travelling next week. I wrote the end of the story before turning the first page. He was fine an hour after the first bell rang.

And I think that this is sometimes how we approach Sabbath. Afraid to take the time to rest for fear of what might happen about all those things we won’t get done.

I turn the knob on the door after my walk, and realize I’ve locked myself outside. Tap on the window and my son comes to the door, lets me back inside.

God redeems my self-doubt, the same way he redeems my time.

Harrison and I, we won’t remember it, the way he missed school for nothing. The same way we won’t remember what we did on the Sabbath this week a year from now.

Because my life and yours, it’s not defined by failure on Friday or success on Sunday. Let’s not trip over today and miss the meaning of a lifetime. Sometimes the view is much better from the other side. We just have to be brave enough to walk outside.

Have you heard about the Surrendering to Sabbath Society? It all started here. You can find out more by clicking the Sabbath Society tab. Want to join? Email me: shelly@redemptionsbeauty.com.

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For more Sabbath reading from the sisterhood this week, here are some links worth the click:

Surrendering to Sabbath, slowly (a series about growth) from Chelle Wilson: Because sometimes you have to “Surrender to Sabbath by eating the elephant one bit at a time.”

Low Tide at A Work of Art: Helen shares photos of her Sabbath walk and the exquisite beauty she finds. This has stayed with me all week.

Appreciate the Blessings of Right Now by Michelle DeRusha: Because sometimes we just have to stop long enough to see.

And you know that book by Mark Buchanan I’ve been quoting? The Rest of God. Yeah, I would love to do this.

And because sometimes you just need to laugh until your mascara runs: I Tried on Spanx and Almost Called 911

Happy Sabbath Everyone!

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Blindsided

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I lived the early years of my life wearing afraid like a worn out sweatshirt hanging off my shoulder. Afraid to come home after school, dreading the descent of the long gravel driveway to the front door of the house hidden in the woods for what I might find inside.

I slept with my head underneath the covers at night sweating off the fear of being alone. Grasped the frayed ends of afraid with one hand cupped to my pajama chest and let my fingers open on brave when I told the stranger that followed my mother home to leave my house.

I walked the hallways afraid I wouldn’t measure up, make the grade, be found out or realize my dreams.

Then I left that sweatshirt lying in a heap on the back side of the dilapidated barn door of my youth. Choosing courage over staying stuck.

I pushed out my chest and held up truth to pages of lies the generations before me believed. And followed my dreams.

Because Jesus didn’t come so we could be afraid. He came so we would have life.

I woke up this morning beside the man who loves me. Kissed the kids I bore. I sat in the stillness, closed my eyes and couldn’t remember the last time I uttered the word afraid.

I’ve been blindsided by redemption.

Joining Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday (because it seems like that’s all the time I have right now) for the one word prompt: Afraid.

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Stupid Things Christians Say

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Gathered in overstuffed armchairs of her palatial living room, memories of my mega church, TV evangelist, name- it and claim-it, Midwestern spiritual heritage return like photographs strewn on the hardwood floor of my faith.  A phrase in the book we’re reading together conjures a childhood memory for her. And when she says the words tent revival, a filmstrip of forgotten fragments suddenly reappear in the accumulated files of my mind.

I remember how I lost favor with my boyfriend’s mother when she found out I didn’t speak in tongues.

Remember the Rhema prodigy I bused tables beside, the one who wouldn’t admit to being sick. She was wiping away tears from her flushed face, smiling through sneezes, delivering food to tables with germy hands. Declaring “I’m healed in Jesus name” to all of us gathered in our pie encrusted aprons like a fairy wanding magic dust. Believing that admitting the truth out loud would somehow diminish her faith. Or disappoint God.

****

“You know I’ve gone more than twenty-four hours now without sinning,” he said, widening his oval blues, elbows resting on the glass gun cabinet.

I meandered away from my post among watches and rings for a moment to flirt with the bible school boy in the back of the store. And this is how he greeted me.

Staring awkwardly at steel barrels and the price of ammunition, I waited for the acrid cloud of pride to vanish; the irony of his admonition lost in a haze of spiritual superiority.

****

I sit on the front row draped in black, tassel swinging to the beat of my furious foot. Squinting to find my family seated in the nose bleeds awaiting the walk of my destiny. Falsely hoping they are lost among the crowds long enough to miss his speech.

We’ve already lived through the embarrassment. Oral Roberts locks himself in a prayer tower and proclaims that God will take his life if he doesn’t raise 8 million dollars. But he makes it long enough to cancel the scheduled keynote speaker, climb down from the tower and ask for more money from the crowds gathered to watch their children graduate.

*****

There are triggers from our past experiences that keep our faith from fully forming. Or they strengthen it.

It’s really our choice isn’t it?

Because I can use all the stupid things Christians say as the blue print for why I can’t continue to build my faith. Or use them as stepping stones to excavate truth.

My faith isn’t defined by the breadth of my own experience.   And like good art, deep faith evokes more questions than answers.

As I remember it, I drove my twenty-something self to church the day my legs wobbled down rows of concrete steps, into crowds of strangers gathered on the mega church floor. As I bowed my head toward my folded legs in surrender, I felt a hand rest gently on my back and I began to speak in tongues.

And then I broke up with my boyfriend to pursue God.

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Everything that we have—right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start—comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 1:27, The Message

I’m just wondering, what are the triggers from your past that keep you from saying yes to God today?

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When You Are Desperate For An Answer

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I brush my daughter’s arm with my hand while we’re sitting in church, our eyes meet and she knows what I’m saying without words. Stop playing with your hair, its distracting me from the sermon.

I’m hanging on to every word he says because I’m feeling desperate for a phrase, a word, a song, a paragraph, a comet to land and split the roof open. Anything to help me understand why I’m here. And just when I’m doing the self-talk, wondering if I should just let her be herself, braid her damp hair in church, the pastor says it.

God is silent in the bible more than He speaks. While He is silent, He is never still.

Journals stack full of conversations with Him on my desk. Whispers of hope and purpose and future all written down in black and blue. I’m re-reading them, quite a lot lately. Because when He speaks, it changes me.

But right now, it feels like I’m stuck among a five-lane pile-up during rush hour in Los Angeles. I’ve been sitting in the hot car so long; I forgot where I’m going. And He’s in one of his more familiar moods – not very talkative. It doesn’t mean He has nothing to say.

Then the pastor, he reminds me that God usually speaks when we least expect it.

Levi met Jesus in the line behind his desk spread out with ledgers, calculators and a moneybox. Instead of talking taxes, Jesus leans over, looks him in the eyes and says, “Follow Me.” And Levi, he did.  He folded up all his books in his brief case and left those people standing in line. (Luke 5:27)

God told Abraham to leave everything: the family home, all the ancestors parked on the lawn for a family cookout, the acres of land beyond them dotted cows and sheep. I can’t imagine that, but Abraham, he did it. (Genesis 12)

While Moses walks heavy with guilt about killing that Egyptian, God shows up in a burning bush and tells him to lead five million Israelites out of Egypt for forty years. And after Moses airs all his self-doubt, his reasons why he isn’t the guy for the job, he does it. (Exodus 3)

Because contact with God, it changes us, transforms us into the people we can’t imagine.

I know this isn’t exactly how each of these stories pans out, but my contemporary version, it helps wash away the despair and hopelessness that falls in the cracks sometimes and tries to grow there. I’m Moses with all the reasons why, desperate to see with binocular vision.

Following Jesus at a moment’s notice must’ve gone well for Levi. He threw Jesus a dinner party and included every sinner he knew on the guest list. And all those church people at the party? They had a fit about it. And Jesus’ response?

“Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.” Luke 5:31, MSG

I’m reciting the benediction in a whisper through the lump in my throat now.  He’s here in the room for me, an outsider with a broken heart.  And just like the silent exchange between my daughter and me over her hair twirling, we don’t need words to know He speaks.

Whenever he chooses to talk to me, I’m saying yes.

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A repost from July 2012.

Counting gifts with Ann today and linking with Michelle and Laura.thousand gifts

For the Surrendering Sabbath Society and the way we are encouraging each other to rest.

For long walks that help me see Him differently in the same places.

Crock pots and leftovers on Sunday.

The way I’m seeing a group of ladies learn how to dream and pray expectant.

Coffee dates with friends.

Confirmation of calling, over and over again.

A new website almost ready to launch. Yipee!

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Surrendering to Sabbath – Week 3

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The process of eating together reveals our humanness, pulling back the façade of our self-sufficiency. In the simplicity of asking someone to pass the butternut squash, we’re reminded we don’t just need food but each other. We cannot go it alone. ~Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck

 The table, it’s where it begins. We light the Shabbat candles and the veil falls over time. Exhale a trail of busyness, inhale His rest. We linger longer under the spell of conversation uncorked in the settling.

And while we feed our bellies, we become aware of our misplaced hunger. Where our appetites have gone awry among the slog of the schedule; failing to stay hungry for the eternal, overstuffed with today.

This weekend, may we feast on His goodness and enter His rest.

 Be still and know I am God. ~Psalm 46:10

 

Want to join the Surrendering to Sabbath Society? We’re a sisterhood of  52, encouraging one another to rest. It all started here.

Some inspiration from the sisterhood around the web this week and worth a click:

Heidi writes about The Practicality of a Sabbath Pause and she shares her challah recipe here.

Kristin lists some resources for A Mealtime Make-Over at the MOB Society. And don’t forget about 52 Sunday Suppers.

Margaret Feinberg shares Leif’s Almost-World-Famous Green Chile Chicken recipe on her blog this week, the one she writes about in Wonderstruck that makes me salivate.

Jane writes about how she sees Sunday a bit differently since joining the Sabbath Society.

 

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Overwhelmed By Ordinary

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It’s come to this. I’m taking photos of my son’s shower curtain. Captivated by Light that casts glowy shadows in the rooms of my house.

Last year, I knew this kindred Psalm. Every word revealing a tributary on the face of my open palm:

I am weary with my moaning;

every night I flood my bed with tears;

I drench my couch with my weeping.

My eye wastes away because of grief;

it grows weak because of all my foes.

(Psalm 6:6-7 ESV)

 And finding simple beauty, like the way the light filters through a shower curtain, it’s what drew me back into joy. Sound crazy? Maybe you should try it.

At twilight, I push my high heels through freshly cut field wearing a new top. Sit in a borrowed zebra chair positioned next to a candelabra on a wide expanse of sodden stage; the trees our opening curtain.  And while the shutter blinks, I’m pleading with God under my breath about the stalkers, grey hatted overhead. “Please blow them away,” I beg.

And just when our hands begin to look like cherry popsicles, I see reflection of answered prayer flickering on the lens. A golden orb peeking through a wiry field of barren branches, flashing a hesitant smile before pulling up her evening covers.

“Oh, the light is so beautiful,” we sing.

And suddenly the cold doesn’t matter anymore.  We’re just captivated by the way He surprises with answers. Trying to capture what only the eyes can see; what the heart can truly behold.

When was the last time you were captivated by something ordinary?

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If you’ve meandered around here over the past few weeks, you’ve read about how I’ve started to practice true Sabbath and invited you to join me in the quest of renewal and peace. Taking time to stop and see among the busy and mundane minutiae of life. And honestly, what God is doing among us, fifty of us now, well, it’s blowing me away.

I hope you’ll come back and join us as we begin to slow down and see this weekend. It all started here. If you’re interested in joining the sisterhood – Surrendering to Sabbath Society – send me an email: shelly@redemptionsbeauty.com.

Linking with Imperfect Prose with the word prompt: Light.

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Morning Dance

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It all seems like too much and not enough. Being a mother.

I’m like the town crier ringing my bell over endless days of strewn socks and wet towels; coaxing Rip Van Winkle from slumber on mornings too cold for birds to fly. Praying circles around destiny and begging God for the imprint of mercy on the sagging middle cushion of their fleeting days of folly.

We’re playing tug-o-war with presence. Not sure when I should let go or hold on tight.

Early morning light sneaks through an absentminded shutter, her bright forefinger beckoning me to his bedside to see. The shape of his head, line of his jaw; the way his arms and legs sprout into every inch of the bed frame. Holding breath while memorizing the moment in my mind.

“I think you grew last night,” I whisper stroking the side of his face to begin our morning dance. “You look older.”

A quick witted response slurs through the slot machine of his mama’s laughter.

And time waves from the broad side of the crack, for the growing done below the surface. The pages of their lives, they are informing mine.

She’s out of breath at the bar, bending minutes to fit her frame. Focused on friendship, college forms, and the hinges of her faith between swallows of orange and time.

She doesn’t think he’s funny. But I  notice the way she lingers longer at the table, smiles at his gibberish banter, wants her friends to see him wearing his new hat. Curious how love looks like the lanky frame of  her brother.

I hold the door open for his armful of books and belts, shoes and sweatpants. Wait for the wave that halts our morning waltz.

Twirling in front of the mirror, we talk about plans and pins and pray for tests. “What do you think,” she says pressing her toes to make her heels tall.

Balancing books and breakfast, elbows hanging with  handles, I push the screen door open greeting the steam of her freshly brewed coffee.

And as I rest my forehead on the slats in front of the dining room window, time’s forefinger curls back toward me through the trails of her tail pipe.

And it all seems like too much and not enough. Being a mother.

A little bit of fun with the prompt: Mother over at Imperfect Prose.

 

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