Tag Archives: time

Why an Empty Day Can Lead to a Full Life


As I gaze down at the square , a tinge of guilt begins to wash over me. The day on my calendar is blank. Not one pencil scribbling nor erased mark evident.
Empty.
What do I make of that? The voices surrounding me beckon my mind and my days to be full. A non-stop marathon of ingesting information, engaging in relationships, pursuing dream vacations, and thrusting myself into a plethora of activity.
I’m not sure how to stand still
To simply be. observe. listen. Give Thanks.
That echoes of Sabbath.
Of basking in the presence of my Creator
The opposing voices label the stillness as lazy, withdrawn, unmotivated
“Identity is determined by our activity”
God’s word says my identity is determined my Creator
“Be still and Know I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
The temptation to resolve the uncertainty lurking inside as I recognize an empty day is to find something; anything to prevent the reality
But I’ve been blessed with these hours of life. I long for rest. For enjoyment in simple things. Why do I want to push it away?
Jesus said he came to give us life.  I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
But his “full” is different. Ironically, the path to realizing a sacred full life demands emptiness. It means setting aside our own agendas; of which we carry without a second thought, and listen to Our Creator. We find contentment in the submission. We sense fullness as we feast on the voice of the Holy Spirit.
I will strive to find joy in the empty. For it is a Holy gift.
This post is written for the Five Minute Friday Prompt “Empty.” Come join us http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/
 
 
 

How Running Errands With Your Child Becomes Sacred Time


We’ve all been there.  After a day or days filled with non-stop activity, or caring for family in a myriad of breathless ways, you long for a respite.

AHHHHHHH!

A dreamy illusion of a bubble bath with soft, relaxing music in the background fades. So you go for the next best thing: an excursion to the store-and maybe a little splurge on a coffee drink as a treat by yourself.  All you yearn for is a few minutes away from the beckoning voices and drama. Yes, it is an errand-but it’s a few moments of gather -your- thoughts solitude. There might even be an opportunity to sneak a peek at some article of clothing or cute piece of dinnerware that usually gets a glance as your attention is diverted by securing the items that were actually on your list.

Ahhhhhhh…….

In my life this is what really happens…. After announcing of my impending departure to the store, my teen occasionally follows me as I walk out the door. “I’m going to come along.”

What?

I try to explain that, really, I’m just going to pick up a “few things” (including that coffee drink) and I’ll be right back. My response is not met with success. However, he persists, “I don’t care. I’m bored.”

The voice in my head argues back, “I just wanted to go to the store by myself.” Yet, saying those words doesn’t feel quite right. And, despite my best efforts to escape by myself, I agree to let him tag along. When your teen son wants to tag along with his mother, that becomes a sacred moment.  In this phase of life, a few stolen moments with my son are hard to come by-especially if they are initiated by me.

My son tends to open up in the car-about everything.  His normally quiet demeanor transforms into a verbal conversationalist on all kinds of topics.  Those thoughts that have reserved space in his mind and feelings in his heart let loose.  Burdens are shared and a heart, which often pushes away helpful pieces of wisdom from his “you-don’t-know-what-it’s-like” parent, opens up to receive.

Generations of mamas who have experienced similar tensions come to mind.  Maybe the venue was different. Perhaps, they found those sacred moments in the field as they gathered crops or walking to the market.

It’s into those moments that God spoke:
” Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.”  Deut. 6:6-8 (The Message)

These sacred moments provide the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to take the word of God-if even for a few moments-out of our mouths and into their hearts. In addition, we  model the incarnate Jesus, who often exuded the love of God by listening and asking questions. Those opportunities don’t always arise at the most convenient times in our agendas-but sometimes what we really need, we don’t always recognize.  I am thankful that the Holy Spirit gives me a nudge (sometimes it’s more like a punch.)

There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself.  Sometimes, escaping to your oasis of choice is the absolute best thing for you and those around you.  But also remember, that God answers our prayers in ways we don’t often expect.  It may come in the form of running to the store.

Where do you find your sacred moments with your kids?

When Working at Target Became My Calling

The ways that God speaks into our lives constantly amaze me.

Sometimes it’s loud and blatant .

Other times, the voice comes as a whisper or a gentle nudging.

And often, it comes in the midst of an ordinary moment. Unexpected. Like a burning bush appearing among the familiar landscape.

One day, as I waited at an intersection for the light to change, I glanced up at the Target across the road. I was just passing time. Yet, my eyes connected to a sign advertising the need for overnight stockers. For some reason, the sign resonated with me.

Why? I have no idea. My husband was working. My days and nights were filled with the schedules and activity that result from having three small children.

The Holy Spirit was nudging through the most ordinary circumstances

As the light turned to green, the thoughts were packed into the back of my mind and I proceeded down the road and onto my day.

Two years later, I found myself listening to my husband share the devastating news that his company would be closing a few months later. A peace “that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7 )” permeated my heart as we talked over a coffee date about the plans for our immediate future. A few months provided a bit of cushion but still….what if he doesn’t find a job? Do we sell our house? So many questions surfaced.

And did I mention Christmas was right around the corner? I had a college degree as well as an M.Div. but I had left my pastoral position to enter a season of staying home with our children. Now what?

As we talked, my mind had not forgotten the nudge about the Target sign I had seen two years earlier. The job would entail nights at work and sleep during the day. How does one do that with a two year old? Ironically, my husband’s company did not have a current space for him to work from so he was given the opportunity to work from home.

God affirmed what had been revealed two years earlier. A new season for me was emerging.

Within weeks, I donned the red shirt and displayed my new title: Target employee.

Though the schedule often left my body exhausted, my spirit felt renewed. The job allowed for adult conversation, a means of providing financially for my family and even opportunities to look at merchandise without being yanked away by bored children.

In addition, my eyes and my heart were opened up to the life situations for many who live “under the radar.” Many people with whom I worked alongside, shared stories of broken dreams and desperation.

A wife became ill, and though retired, her husband resumed employment in order to pay bills. Two corporate executives lost their jobs in a mass lay off. Now, one worked the night shift. Many single moms worked with me. Unlike myself, they navigated sleeping in between transporting kids to school and managing other household tasks.

College students who juggled work with school also became colleagues. Here we were, an eclectic group to be sure, but serving together for one purpose. And I felt honored to be invited into their narratives.

In January, my husband found a new job which meant my job at Target was no longer necessary. I was happy to be done but a bit sad that this season was over. I was well aware that, while I had the option to leave the job, others did not have such a choice.I left with their stories imprinted on my heart and pondered how I could help others in similar situations.

Like Esther, my life entered a new season-for a divine purpose. One, that she hesitantly embraced as it came about unexpectedly and took her out of her comfort zone. But Mordecai exhorted,And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Ultimately this season reminded me that our calling is wherever God leads us. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace.

When have you been ordained to “such a time as this?”

How an Errand With Your Child Becomes a Sacred Moment

We’ve all been there.  After a day or days filled with non-stop activity, or caring for family in a myriad of breathless ways, you long for a respite.
AHHHHHHH!
A dreamy illusion of a bubble bath with soft, relaxing music in the background fades. So you go for the next best thing: an excursion to the store-and maybe a little splurge on a coffee drink as a treat by yourself.  All you yearn for is a few minutes away from the beckoning voices and drama. Yes, it is an errand-but it’s a few moments of gather -your- thoughts solitude. There might even be an opportunity to sneak a peek at some article of clothing or cute piece of dinnerware that usually gets a glance as your attention is diverted by securing the items that were actually on your list.
Ahhhhhhh…….
looking
In my life this is what really happens…. After announcing of my impending departure to the store,  my teen occasionally follows me as I walk out the door. “I’m going to come along.”
What?
I try to explain that, really, I’m just going to pick up a “few things” (including that coffee drink) and I’ll be right back.  But my response is not met with success.
He persists, “I don’t care. I’m bored.”
The voice in my head argues back, “I just wanted to go to the store by myself.”
But saying those words doesn’t feel quite right.
And, despite my best efforts to escape by myself, I find myself giving in. When your teen son wants to tag along with his mother, that becomes a sacred moment.  In this phase of life, a few stolen moments with my son are hard to come by-especially if they are initiated by me.

My son tends to open up in the car-about everything.  His normally quiet demeanor transforms into a verbal conversationalist on all kinds of topics.  Those thoughts that have reserved space in his mind and feelings in his heart let loose.  Burdens are shared and a heart, which often pushes away helpful pieces of wisdom from his “you-don’t-know-what-it’s-like” parent, opens up to receive.
I am reminded of the generations of mamas who have experienced similar tensions.  Maybe the venue was different. Perhaps, it was a matter of finding those sacred moments in the field as they gathered crops or walking to the market.
It’s into those moments that God spoke:
” Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.”  Deut. 6:6-8 (The Message)
These sacred moments provide the opportunity to allow the Holy Spirit to take the word of God-if even for a few moments-out of our mouths and into their hearts. In addition, we are able to model the incarnate Jesus, who often exuded the love of God by listening and asking questions. Those opportunities don’t always arise at the most convenient times in our agendas-but sometimes what we really need, we don’t always recognize. And that is when I am thankful that the Holy Spirit gives me a nudge (sometimes it’s more like a punch.)
There is nothing wrong with taking time for yourself.  There are times when escaping to your oasis of choice is the absolute best thing for you and those around you.  But also remember, that God answers our prayers in ways we don’t often expect.  It may come in the form of running to the store.
Where do you find your sacred moments with your kids?
 

Sometimes God's Purpose for You is Right in Front of Your Eyes

Have you ever dreamed up big plans concerning how you can be used by God to change the world?  Sometimes God puts big plans in our hearts.  Plans so big and so overwhelming that the immediate reaction is to run; or at least find excuses.  (Let’s not forget that Moses, Jeremiah, Saul, Peter…. encountered those fears). Without a doubt, God is in the business of using us, imperfect as we are, to accomplish great things.

Yet, we easily can get so caught up in those big dreams that we lose sight of the many opportunities we have everyday  to bring the face of Christ to others. Many of those opportunities happen in the mundane, moments of our lives. Jesus regularly spent moments with those who he encountered….while traveling, stopping at a well, eating with friends.  We get so accustomed to the tasks in our routines; so distracted by the images on our electronic devices, the agendas that fill up our days,  that we don’t see others the way Jesus saw them. 

 Sometimes, we don’t see them at all.
untitled-design-4

I am reminded of a few scenarios in which I, unexpectedly, encountered what I call “Divine” moments.  

  • Finding myself lost in a lonely hospital hallway while looking for the meeting room of a support group I attended, I encountered a man. After helping me out, he shared with me that his wife just underwent a double mastectomy earlier in the day.  He was on his way to her room.  
  • While we were cleaning out my grandmother’s space following her funeral, I engaged in a conversation with a man who poked his head in to my grandmother’s room . It was an encounter that, at first, seemed inconvenient with a man, who seemed “grumpy.” I left blessed.  (For the full story:http://stephaniejthompson.blogspot.com/2013/04/divine-interruption.html
  • Helping a woman at a party learn to use her smartphone to see pictures of her grandkids, led to her sharing about a predicament in her life and an opportunity to pray for her.
I don’t share these glimpses into my moments in order to bring glory to myself.  In fact, I’m sure I would have been blessed many more times, had my eyes been looking for the opportunities.
So…my challenge to you as well as myself is this:  When you wake up, ask God to give you the eyes of Christ.  Lend yourself to being open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. 
 What would happen if you went into the bank/ gas station and actually talked to the person behind the counter?  
What if you paid for the coffee of the person in line in back of you?
What if you practice grace when the waitress/restaurant staff messes up your order?

What if you listened (really listened-you know what I mean) to your kids/spouse tell about their day?
None of us knows the stories behind those whose paths we cross in a day. Only God knows.  But what we do know is that all of us are broken people in need of grace and hope and validation that our lives matter. Sometimes, God’s purpose for you, is right in front of your eyes.