Archive for November, 2014

Shabbat Part Two…

November 22, 2014

So, without any further adieu, here’s my Shabbat story:

The most important thing I learned is that I need to prepare all week for this one day. I need to be intentional about getting things throughout the week that I’ll need on Friday (or whatever day I observe the Sabbath). It feels like the complete opposite of rest to run around in the grocery store on the “decided day of holy rest” gathering supplies. It totally defeats the purpose.

It was frustrating that no one in Whole Foods seemed to know what Shabbat candles were, but bless them for trying to find them anyway! And when I tried Market Street, no one could help me locate them either. Everyone had Hanukkah candles out but those little white Jewish Shabbat candles were just elusive…nowhere to be found! I settled on plain white taper candles and figured God knew my heart & that I was a newbie at this whole Shabbat thing. As a last-ditch effort, I even went next door to the LifeWay store thinking they may have a Messianic section, but all I could find were candlelight service candles.

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The look I was goin’ for…

So, I left LifeWay and drove over to Starbucks to drown my sorrows in a grande half caff, 2 pump, non fat, no whip, chestnut praline latte. I thought, “This will help settle me down!” Warm, over priced java goodness! When I got to the drive thru line, there was already another car behind me. When I tried to roll down my window, it got jammed 2 inches down from the top! There was no turning back. I tried to roll it up then back down again, but it kept getting stuck. So, I placed my order by cracking my door open and yelling my order over the door. On the way to the drive thru window, I told God He needed to fix my window NOW & when I pushed the button hard, it went down!

Oh, His mercy… I felt like Moses striking the rock out of anger to get water from it. Insert conviction here. For a moment, I almost wished it had stayed jammed.

When I reached the drive thru window, the barista asked how my day had been. I lied and said, “Ok”. But how can it be ok to wake up with a sore, scratchy throat, plugged right nostril, and all energy sapped out of you both physically and mentally?? I mean, this was supposed to be this great holy day of rest that I had desperately needed and committed to. But between the fact we really think being a drained, hot mess is ok (which is exactly WHY we need a Sabbath) and the fact we are just plain conditioned to respond with “ok”, I felt like I had no other option but to offer my pretty little lie in exchange for that grande cup of liquid sanity.

Well, on my way home, the “sanity” leaked in my cup holder. THIS was quickly becoming “not ok” and I was internally becoming “not sane”. Tears stung my eyes and anger gripped my heart. I shouted in my car, “This is supposed to be RESTFUL!” If I didn’t drive with my hands at “10 and 2”, I may have even shaken my fist in the air at God. Thankfully, I’m a safe driver & my hands stayed firmly planted on the wheel!

By the time I pulled into my garage, anxiety seemed to be getting the best of me. I seemed to settle for unrest, thinking it would be impossible to recover anyway. I started unloading the groceries and checked my phone. It was 3:45 pm and according to my Shabbat app (yes, I downloaded an app), I would need to light the candles at 5:04 pm. I glanced at my table and it looked like a war zone. The place I would need to usher in the presence of God, and the peace of Christ, looked more like the Valley of Dry Bones. It was filled with carnage from the previous week. Ugh.

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BEFORE

At that point, I got to work. After all, it wasn’t the Sabbath yet, and I could still work and clean, right?! I cleared things off my table and started replacing stacks of books and papers with placemats, dishes, and my grandmother’s crystal. Make up bags, nail polish bottles and my Bible got replaced with honey, paper towel covered challah, and cheap, “non-Jewish”, white taper candles.

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AFTER

Time was drawing nearer to the lighting of the Shabbat candles. Because of that, I decided to simplify things. My grandiose dinner plans got thrown out, and were replaced with some chips, guac, and canned soup. In faith, I set places for my future husband and my future children. I turned on music by Marty Goetz (Pastor Mary Jo’s suggestion), and then my Shabbat app advised me it was time to light the candles.

And that’s when it happened. A holy heart change. An intentional engaging with God that all the sudden didn’t care about not having a pretty bread covering, official Shabbat candles, or an Instagram-worthy-dinner plated before my app alarmed. Yes, the shift happened when I tossed out my plans, and invited the Spirit of the Living God to fall fresh on me and take over.

And that’s exactly what took place.

The Lord breathed on me, blessed me, and communed with me. He honored me: honored my faith, honored my future husband and children, honored me with His presence.

Marty Goetz played on softly in the background while I fumbled through Hebrew blessings and spoke them over my husband and children to be.

Even though I was a “party of one”, I didn’t want it to end. The sense of His presence, the beautiful light from the candles, and my table full of love in faith.

I was more full of peace and rest four hours after entering into Shabbat than I had experienced in having two days off back to back earlier this week. A holy rest is different from simply having a couple of days off. It’s a filling of the Holy Spirit, and a communing with Him that begins to repair your body, soul, mind, and spirit from the felt effects of the world.

I knew after my first Shabbat with Jason and Alicia Ward, a few months ago, that I craved more of it. My mistake is that I thought I craved the carved out “chronos” time, the observance of the ritual, the tear-inducing blessings, etc.

But what I really craved was more of the Holy One, blessed be He.

Because God is faithful, and He has ordained this “goodly gift in His storehouse”, I know He will continue to bless my efforts as I learn more about the Sabbath.

Looking back, today was full of teachable moments. I’m glad it was all piecemealed together and filled with hiccups. God did a stripping down of religiosity and control. The Holy Spirit brought revelation, and shed light on areas where my fingers are gripped too tightly. It was reiterated in my heart to “hold all things loosely”.

Tonight, I’m left with hope of what REST will cause my life to look like in all areas. I think one reason observing Shabbat feels so good is that when we observe it, we’re walking in obedience with His commandment. Disobedience is what causes UNREST, anxiety, and many other unwanted changes in the body, soul, mind, and spirit.

Sabbath rest is a journey, and over time it will develop into a rhythm. So let’s learn the “unforced rhythms of grace” together.

Shabbat Shalom!

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Shabbat Part One…

November 22, 2014

One thing I’ve learned about myself in the last three months is that I don’t do “rest” very well. This knowledge has really shaken up my fast paced, full of striving world. I want rest. I don’t want to operate from a worn out, limping place in my soul. No, I want to run with endurance like a cross country athlete.

Many things in my life have changed over the last few months. One of those changes has been where I attend church. I’m really thankful to now be a part of a church family that honors Israel and prays for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

I’ve been like a sponge soaking up “all things Israel” and I so desperately want to learn more about what Jewish people do and why they do it.

And Shabbat is one of those things that I want to “get”. The Sabbath is a commandment as well as a gift to us from God.

No working on the Sabbath; keep it holy just as GOD, your God, commanded you. Work six days, doing everything you have to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, a Rest Day—no work: not you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, your ox, your donkey (or any of your animals), and not even the foreigner visiting your town. That way your servants and maids will get the same rest as you. Don’t ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and GOD, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength. That’s why GOD, your God, commands you to observe the day of Sabbath rest. Deut. 5:12-15

I’m blessed in my life to know a couple of people who have been observing Shabbat for quite some time now. I know the difference it’s made in their lives, and I want that same kind of difference to rain peace and rest over me. And I also want the blessings of God…who doesn’t?!?

Pastor Mary Jo Pierce at Gateway Church has been instrumental in teaching me, and so many others, about Shabbat and what it means to honor God by observing the Sabbath. She often references a quote from Joe Lieberman’s book, The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath. The quote is originally from the Talmud:

“The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses: Moses in my storehouse is a goodly gift, and Sabbath is its name.”

The Sabbath is a twenty-four hour period of time set apart to honor God and to rest. It should look differently than the normal routine of your week. Whatever is work or labor intensive to you should be replaced with rest and fun. Yes, fun…do you remember what that is?!

Are you thinking you don’t have time for that?? I get it. It definitely takes a mental shift to embrace this new way of life.

I thought, “Oh this will be no big deal. I’ll light some candles, read some prayers, have a fabulous meal….” But let’s just say my first time to observe Shabbat looked anything like what I thought it would. I am a perfectionist. I can be Type A when I am expected to perform well. I had placed a lot of expectations upon myself. I mean, who wants to fail at their first attempt at something deemed “holy”?! I sure didn’t.

But as you’ll read, my story reveals that I did fail by perfectionist standards. The Lord taught me great lessons through it all, and my performance driven self took a back seat to the Holy God who met me on Achievement Avenue. I didn’t win a blue ribbon for the most perfect Shabbat gathering, but I did win a VIP pass into the presence of our God Most High!

**My Shabbat experience is highlighted in my blog entry: Shabbat Part Two**

Sifted

November 22, 2014

Sifted.

Oh, the journey of a name!  This blog has had a name for two years, but is just now being birthed! Talk about a long “pregnancy”…

But I was being sifted.  That whole process just takes some time, ya know?

So, what does “sifted” have to do with anything?!

One of my favorite things in Scripture is wheat. For years, I’ve been obsessed pouring over Bible verses and pictures of wheat fields! I’m also really fascinated with the process of how wheat is harvested.

Reaping. Gleaning. Threshing. Winnowing. Sifting. Collecting.

In the Bible, these are a few of my favorite wheat related stories: Ruth was a gleaner (which is someone who walks behind the reaper and collects the stalks of wheat that have been left behind). I’d love to have coffee with her, and have her talk me through the process. Gideon wanted to avoid drawing attention from his enemy, so he processed his wheat in a wine press. Then there were the disciples. They were known to walk through fields and grab a handful of wheat as a snack. Oh, and let’s not forget that Satan wanted to sift them like wheat.

But to be honest, there’s just something “free” about wheat. I love how it dances in the fields. I love how the sun is reflected off of it. I love knowing that there have been generations affected by wheat and the processing of it. I also love how complicated it is, and that a million different beautiful things that can be created with it (complicated status and all)!

Because all of the above describes us, right?

Free. Dancing. Reflective. Processors. Complicated. Creative.

There’s just something so “life giving” in the messiness. Something so “God” in all that.

Some of my sweetest times with the Lord have come from me crying it out during a time of being sifted…while the impurities are being stripped away.  Of course, they didn’t taste or feel sweet at the time, but the memories and journal entries are some of my favorites.

One of the things the Lord is sifting out of my life right now is busyness.  I’m on a quest to find REST!

This coming Friday, November 21st, will be the first time to observe Shabbat in my home.  I can hardly wait!

I’ve been an honored guest in a friend’s home for Shabbat once, but I have never been the one to light the candles, say the blessings, etc.  I’m nervous and excited all at the same time.

Sabbath is a new sifting for me. You can follow my journey or better yet, join me! In fact, I’ve been waiting for the right timing…for a “go ahead” sign from God to release and publish this blog. It’s been a 2-3 year project that I’ve kept in the recesses of my heart. I’ve deleted many previous entries not knowing when and where to start. It’s all be a part of the process. I am guaranteeing right now that I’ll mess it up along the way, but years from now I know I’ll be glad that I took this first step.

Just like the priests had to stick their toes in the swollen Jordan River before it would part (see Joshua 3), I’m proverbially sticking my toe in the water and inviting a holy rest into my life. I pray you’ll do the same!

Lord, please sift the busyness out of my life and teach me how to Sabbath well. Amen.