Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sabbath Chairs

It was a God-thing. (We didn’t plan it; it just happened—a God-thing.) A few friends and I were setting up the room for our Sabbath-Living Retreat last May. The theme revolved around the white wicker chair Beth sat in while she told her story of learning Sabbath. We were placing the gift book, Choosing Rest tied with raffia on each chair and it dawned—the chair pictured on the cover of Sally Breedlove’s book was almost the same as the one sitting on the riser in the front of the room. God designed the platform, the giveaways, and the theme to all compliment each other and echo the words we were hoping the attendees would hear.

That was the beginning of the Sabbath chair theme I began noticing all around me.

A few days after the retreat my husband and I flew to Phoenix. We were staying for two nights in the guest house of good friends. When we walked through the door, I was overwhelmed by the number of chairs: little chairs (that a doll might sit in), large overstuffed chairs to provide comfort for weary bodies like mine, practical wooden chairs around the table, chairs in pictures, chairs for decor, and chairs to sit in. When I asked my hostess about them, she shared that when her decorator asked about her desires for the theme of the guest house, she responded that she hoped it would be a place of rest for those who stayed—thus the chair theme began.

Another friend often responds to a request or a question, “I need to sit with that”. Sit, rest, ponder, consider, and listen for the voice of God before responding. A good habit.

The familiar narrative about Mary recorded in Luke 10 commends her for sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to his teaching.

I too have favorite chairs that are places to sit, be still, and hear from God. As I pondered  these chair stories last summer, I realized that the word chair could be a descriptive acrostic and definition for Sabbath. I love acrostics; they help me remember.

C – It is a cherished time to be with Jesus; a time to contemplate and commune.
H – It is a holy time to hear from Jesus.
A – It is a time to give attention to the anchor and author of my life.
I – It is a wonderful invitation to me from God.
The view from my chair today.
R – It is a time to rest, refuel, reflect, and respond.

In her book, Choosing Rest, Sally says, “…we will never know an internal place of intimate connection with God unless we develop the discipline of actually making space in our schedule for “Sabbath” times, times like those God Himself enjoys.” (p. 140) I highly recommend her book to you.

“Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following (the Israelites’) example of disobedience.”
Hebrews 4:11, NIV

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Earlier this week five of us met together to listen for God’s words to us. One of my friends I knew well; the others were newer acquaintances. None of them knew each other. We came together with one desire in common—to hear from God.

After coffee and scones and some initial chit-chat in the kitchen, we congregated in the great room. We surprised each other as we shared bits of our stories at the commonality of our geography and of our experiences. The bond and heart for our new-found sisters began.

Between the five of us we held three different translations of the Bible. We read Psalm 33 aloud from each before scattering to different rooms. We left with a few thought provoking questions, pens, journals, and our Bibles bookmarked to Psalm 33:20-22—all we needed for our personal time with God.

The 45 minutes seemed like five. We re-gathered, satisfied and yet still hungry; a good thing.

We took turns sharing what we heard from God and quietly prayed for each other. Lunch time came and past, our fellowship continued. God met each of us individually at our point of need; we celebrated; we cried (Can women share without a box of Kleenex?); and we cheered each other on in our journeys. It was good to be together.

As I pondered the few hours we spent in each other’s company, I was humbled by the wisdom and love of God in bringing us together. Truly each of us had a part in ministry to the others. Our sharing encompassed all of our conversations; even the chit-chat provided encouragement. Although our lives did not previously intersect, our experiences did intersect; the understanding that allowed was powerful—powerfully good.

There was a quiet contentment when my last friend left. We each heard from God alone and together. We need each other—even the each others we didn’t know all that well. Could it be that God brought us together “for such a time as this”?

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another …”
I John 1:7

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Note to my Soul Sisters

Or, Some Ponderings Prompted by Psalm 16.

Hello to Everyone Else,

The origin of Soul Sisters

It is okay for you to read over their shoulders. Perhaps you too revel in similar friendships.

I am still awed by how God brought us together last fall as we drove to Buena Vista to attend the women’s retreat. Our relationships were all at different places that Friday afternoon. (P and D, weren’t you meeting for the first time?) But the aroma of Christ emanating from each beckoned, and the bond of “Christ in you” came out and secured our friendships. Who would have thought our weekend together would lead to a desire from all of us to walk this journey together? I’m so glad it did.

If we merely voiced our hobbies attempting to build our friendships, I wouldn’t even remember your names. (P, your ability as a seamstress challenges me. If I were to turn my sewing abilities into a business, we would be dining on peanut butter and jelly. J, I love how you love animals and the outdoors. It’s a treat for me to know a horse-whisperer. And your fly fishing—gosh, I never even considered that. D, you are nothing short of amazing. Using your bike for transportation around our busy city is gutsy. And learning Greek and how to shoot a gun? I can’t even imagine.) Just listening to your many-varied pursuits engages my imagination and causes me to consider the creativity and diversity of God.

My mind wandered again to our friendships this week as I meditated on Psalm 16. Verses 5 and 6 brought me back to some of our recent conversations. In the ESV it says, “The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; …”  The Message Bible translates it, “My choice is you, GOD, first and only. And now I find I’m your choice! You set me up with a house and yard…”

Three cautions for us came to mind as I thought about the truth that God holds our lot and His lines for us have fallen in pleasant places:

  1. We must not abuse the sense of safety we have with each other by allowing ourselves the freedom of complaining about our lot.
  2. Because of our mutual hearts for ministry, we can feed each others frustrations.
  3. The tendency to compare or allow jealousy to surface is far too easy. After all, we are four women. 
Then I back-tracked to verse 3. It seemed to be the ointment we needed to avoid those traps. “As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.” ESV, or in The Message, “And these God-chosen lives all around – what splendid friends they make!”

  1. Remember that each of us is a saint, a dearly loved child of God. We must define who we are apart from the various hats we wear.
  2. Encourage each other in our God-given, unique to us pursuits. I want to be one of your best-est cheer-leaders. Sometimes—often—that will come in the form of questions. Please, will you help me to think well with your questions for me?
  3. Let’s pray for each other apart from the times we plan to be together each month. What a gift that would be for all of us. I bet that is happening. J   
Well, my friends, I am so very thankful for each of you. I am honored to be a soul sister with you and to call you, “splendid friend”. What a privilege to journey together.

“Friends love through al kinds of weather,”
Proverbs 17:17, The Message

 [S1]I know there needs to be some kind of transition here. Or perhaps this whole paragraph is unnecessary.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Used Goods

The brown leather chair anchored a prominent spot in the living room. It enabled its bearer to converse with friends while comfortably supported in its embrace; or enjoy a favorite book while listening to the sparks emanating from the fireplace a few feet away.

To the casual observer—possibly the discriminating observer—the small faded spot on the leather just above the right foot was invisible. (I didn't even notice it.) But someone had discarded the chair because to them the faded age spot eclipsed the usefulness of the chair. How sad.

My face supports some age spots too. (I asked my dermatologist to remove them. She refused.) Mom calls them beauty spots. I like mom's perspective.

Like the chair, my age spots scream: useless, over the hill, history, used-goods.
However if the beauty spots could speak I'd hear: wisdom, encouragement, new opportunities.

I long to believe the message of the beauty spots. This causes me to examine my belief system?

  • Do I know I am loved by my owner?
  • Do I believe my adoption as God's child has purpose?
  • Am I courageous enough to thrive in a new environment?
  • Can I trust God that He knows best?
When I think of that chair, I remember how lovely it looked in my friend's living room. I recall the comfort of its seat. The faded age spot paled in the beauty of its new surroundings. I want to be like that chair.

“In love he predestined us for adoption … according to the purpose of his will”.
Ephesians 1:5