Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Preparing for "Holy Leisure"

HOLY  +  LEISURE    =     "Holy Leisure"                       

Jeremiah 29:11:
"For I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future."

This verse is a special one for me. It has meant different things at different times, as the Lord has used it to calm and encourage my heart.

He used this verse:
-in a season of singleness which got especially hard after turning 30 and the Lord had not yet shown me if I would find the one to marry (which I did shortly after).
-in my wedding; I put the verse on our wedding invitation as a reminder of His promise as I was entering the covenant of marriage and all that would bring.
-during the darkest time of my life; postpartum psychosis, depression and severe anxiety. The verse was something I held onto when darkness was smothering me and I literally felt hopeless and beyond despair.
-even now as a reminder of His ongoing love which carries me through all the life circumstances I will face.

When I sat down today, I didn't have any idea I'd be writing about that verse. I was thinking about preparing my heart for an upcoming vacation; a time I've scheduled for rest away from the busyness of my life. I'm glad the verse came to my mind, since I do want to prepare my heart. The last several months have been challenging and at times overwhelming. It started when my husband entered a depression that quickly became severe and led to him spending time in the hospital. It was so hard bringing my son there and then we'd have to leave without daddy and my son would just cry saying "Why can't daddy come home?" All I could tell him was that daddy needed special care from the doctors at the hospital. Just before this happened, I had accepted a leadership position in my mom's group at church. Our Titus mom's group has over 100 moms and my training had just started. I had also been asked to be the administrator for a "Lotsa Helping Hands" network for a dear family at our church. (Lotsa Helping Hands is a website where you can schedule caregiving when someone is in need.) For this family, I was responsible for putting things on the calendar (like cleaning, meals, groceries) and maintaining the website for the community of volunteers. My husband was brought through his depression, by God's grace, yet I continued serving in these other areas through this fall. It has only been in the last week I've received some extra help which has been a welcome relief. And if that wasn't enough, last month I was diagnosed with an irregular heart beat, (premature ventricular contraction); basically heart palpitations. Thankfully, the heart beat problem is not symptomatic as it's mainly from stress and not a concern for the doctor other than annoying for me at times. In light of this, I have sensed a deep need to take some time away; especially around this Thanksgiving holiday for reflection, renewal and relaxation.

With all that in mind, my son and I will leave Thursday afternoon for a 10-day vacation down at my sister's home a few hours south of where I live. Staying at her home is like being at a resort with its many rooms, spiral staircase and birds and wild life. I look forward to the simple joy of having no agenda; from enjoying a morning cup of coffee while just watching the birds come to feed, or packing my son in the back pack and heading off for some adventure at the nearby wildlife rehab center. I will have a full week of Otium Sanctum, "holy leisure" leading up to Thanksgiving day when my husband will join us for the holiday weekend. I just read about "holy leisure" in a book called "Celebration of Discipline" by Richard J. Foster. He describes it as a sense of balance in the life, an ability to be at peace through the activities of the day, an ability to rest and take time to enjoy beauty, an ability to pace ourselves.

I'm looking forward to training myself in this way of holy leisure; to rest in Him as I go about each day. I am glad for an extended period of time like this where I can disconnect from projects and commitments and just enjoy some time away. It is truly a blessing to me.

I had all kinds of things I could have written about today; from preschool units of dinosaurs and pumpkins to beautiful fall pictures from a few days we had in the North Woods in September, but right now my computer is actually "in the shop". I'm glad I ended up with no access to the pictures I would have used to put those posts together and instead came up with this one. I'm also glad the Lord is preparing my heart for this getaway; a getaway from worldly things that bog down and a time of drawing nearer to Him, the Source of Life.

Thank you for visiting! I hope to post again soon.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Our Robot was Featured Overseas - Toasty is Famous!

Lilla A's Robot Exhibition Poster

I feel so honored! We were a featured robot in Lilla A's online robot exhibition. Lilla A is a blog from Sweden who somehow saw my Robot Preschool post and asked me to join her exhibition. Her exhibition had entries all over the world from Australia, South Africa, USA, Spain, France, Poland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, UK and Croatia. For some reason, I now feel like my blog has really "made it".

Here's the story. We started home preschool this fall and our first unit was "Robots". My son loved the unit and at the end of it we ended up making a robot. We used "recycled" things around the house like a plastic Folgers coffee can, kid star sunglasses, an old Jif peanut butter can, plastic lids, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. My son named him Toasty and was so proud of our creation. He even wanted Toasty to sleep with him and when I told J he was too fragile, he had me put Toasty in his rocking chair and we put a little blankie over him at night. (Just recently, I actually found out why he named him Toasty. He said the slit between his head and body reminded him of a toaster slot and he named him Toasty because he could make toast).

Here is our Toasty:

My son J was just THRILLED to go on Lilla a's blog and see his robot among so many others. Now he keeps pointing to various new ones he wants to try and make next.  How cool is that? (as my son loves to say)!

Thanks for visiting!!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's Happening in Monroeville

Wow, I can't believe it has been OVER ONE MONTH since I've sat down and written something meaningful here! I am in a busier season of life and just haven't had the energy to keep up with it all. Unfortunately, the blog probably suffered the most as I put my energy into the other pressing things. It's good to be back though, and this is just the first post in catching up. 
I found a new blog called A Quiet Heart and I love what she had on there today, a Status Report. It was a great way to share a bunch of random things all in one post. I liked it so much that I wanted to do it too.

Sitting…at my kitchen table after just sharing a meal with my son. My husband is at church for a class on exploring the book of Isaiah so my son and I are hanging out. 
Drinking…my favorite drink - Milk! We go through 3 gallons a week for our family of three. I've loved white milk since I was a child. My husband doesn't even drink it that much, so I get the lion's share. One of my favorites is milk with pizza! Some people really hate that combo.
Wearing…My fuzzy (like fleece) red zip-up cardigan with white snowflakes on it (similar to the one above, but long-sleeved). We set our house temp around 67 degrees in the colder months, so I just love wearing my warm cozy sweater jacket.
Enjoying…a night at home. We have been having busy days, (good busy) so it's nice to spend a night at home. I was asked to be part of the leadership team for our church mom's group, the "inclusion" team lead. We have a group of over 100 moms so it's quite large (and so is our church) so there is quite a bit of planning and organizing. We had our bi-monthly meeting today and I was there from 8-12 noon, then we came home for some lunch and then hit the library for an hour or two. By the time I came home, it was little one's nap time and then I had to get going on dinner. So it's nice to take this time to "rest" as I blog.
The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life
Attempting...to simplify my home. I have been skimming a book called The Joy of Less and began an overhaul of my home to reduce the clutter and disorganization. I have written a list of all the areas to tackle and then whether it's a drawer, a closet or a whole room the plan is to take every single thing from that area and sort through it separating things into Keep, Give Away or Trash. I am really looking forward to letting go of a lot of extra stuff that will benefit someone else.
Considering…what book I'm going to start next. I always have a few books going at the same time, but right now it's getting ridiculous and I have to decide what to keep and what goes back to the library. Right now I have No Graven Image by Elisabeth Elliot, Simpler Times by Thomas Kinkade, Thin Places by Mary E. DeMuth, The Eighty Dollar Champion by Elizabeth Letts and Alex & Me by Irene Pepperburg. Phew! I will probably end up reading all of these, I just need to figure out in what order.
Wondering...if the Lord will bring us another child. Although we are not actively trying, I find that I am thinking about this more and more. Last night for the first time, J said out of the blue "Mommy, is there a baby in your tummy?" I told him I couldn't be truly sure, but not as far as I knew. He told me he wanted me to have a baby, so I encouraged him to pray. He prayed that God would bring a twin! So cute. My husband would have been content to have no children, yet really enjoys being a father to our son. But since we had kids later in life and have an 8-year difference, he's facing turning 50 in 2012 and just doesn't picture having more children. We both are trusting in the Lord for whatever His will is.
Trying…to make quiet time with the Lord (Word/Worship/Prayer) a DAILY priority! I have made daily quiet time part of my life for many years, but lately I'm finding it's slipping away. I don't want it to be something I do just as I'm falling asleep or little bits of prayer scattered throughout the day. Those are elements of my day I want to keep, but I mean a time of sitting down during the day and quieting myself before the Lord. Reading His word, really soaking in it and allowing for worship and prayer to flow from that. It may call for rising a bit earlier to make it happen!
Cooking…Creamy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham - YUM! My husband gave me this idea as it was one of his mom's dishes he loved while growing up. Now I think it's a favorite of my son too - he was eating and said to me, "Yum, that is wonderful!"
Reading…Jo Princess Warrior's blog Princess Warrior Lessons. I used to get her daily feed when she was on Facebook, but then she took a Facebook sabbatical and I lost touch with her blog. Today I found it again and it is such a blessing to catch up and read her inspiring posts.
Finishing…A Light in the Window (part of the At Home in Mitford series). I am not a big fan of fiction books, but am really enjoying Jan Karon's Mitford series that I learned about on Melissa's Fearfully and Wonderfully Made blog. (She's currently on a blog sabbatical since early summer.)

Well, I hope you enjoyed catching up as much as I did writing it!!

Thanks for visiting :o)