Study Break Reflection

Well, I am back into the thick of school work. I’ve been reading up a storm and have added a handful of post ideas to my list. If only I had a few extra minutes to really sit down and put my thoughts into form. Some day. I’ll just keep chipping away and keep you posted when it does happen.

I did have a day off with my boys on Monday. Thank goodness for teacher in-service days. I love my boys’ teachers and think they are all rock stars. So if they need a day off for training, I’m happy to give it to them. Of course, I also have some ulterior motives. A teacher work day in January translates to mom and sons ski day. No traffic, short lift lines, and Monday we were blessed with good snow and dry weather!

The Family that Plays together…

My boys have been skiing for a few years now, so they are pretty good. Just competent enough to carry their skis in from the parking lot, use the bathroom without their dad’s help in getting all their snow gear back on, and make it down the slope in one piece. Now, to clarify, they are actually quite capable on their skis. If we stayed on the intermediate runs, we could ski all day with out problems. However, they insist on taking me into the tiniest, iciest tree trails that can be found on the mountain. By God’s grace alone I haven’t taken them out as they dart around on their short little skis. I’m sliding around behind them with skis just short enough to make the hairpin turns necessary to stay alive. Still, I haven’t embarrassed them so much that they don’t want me with them. My youngest did make the observation the other day, “moms sure say ‘be careful’ a lot.” Yes, son, we do. And if I didn’t have to literally save your life about every 15 minutes I might someday stop.

I realize that skiing isn’t going to cut it for every family, what with the high priced lift tickets and daily opportunity for broken bones. Yes, for some it is a turn off. However, I hope you will all consider a recreational activity that the whole family can enjoy (note, skiing is not enjoyable for the parents for the first couple of  years. But with time and hot chocolate bribery the kids will eventually grow to love it, and then parents can enjoy it again). Safety, fitness, and economic factors should be considered. But just be sure that the activity you choose gives each member of the family an opportunity for self-humiliation. This is where true bonding begins. My boys will literally tear up with joy when my husband and I tumble off of the top of an icy mogul. They will come to our aid, of course. But usually we are also laughing (please, adults, wear a helmet!) in spite of ourselves. And as often as possible, let your kids take the lead. This actually works well in skiing, because we can let the kids make their way down the mountain to the designated “stopping” point. Then we can blast down like slalom racers and impress the kids with our sweet moves (*please see previous sentence about moguls).

The Skiers Psalm

I have always struggled with memorizing scripture. But there is a Psalm that I can’t help but recite as we are riding the chair lift and taking a moment to gaze out at the beauty of God’s creation.

Psalm 121 (New International Version)

A song of ascents.

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.

7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

I just wanted to leave you with this thought, friends. Our God delights in surrounding us with His presence. Growing up here in the great northwest, I’ve grown accustomed to the presence of the Cascade Mountains. They are ever present. Just a glance over my eastern-most shoulder and they are there. Granted, they are often enshrouded by a cloud. But with a little patience and effort, I could drive right up and touch them. Certainly, living in the foothills for most of my life, I sometimes forget that my home is firmly rooted on their foundations. And isn’t that the truth about God’s presence in our lives? Though some days He seems to be surrounded by a cloud and out of our vision, we are supported by His firm foundation of ever present love.

“Encore, Encore, Encore” photo for public use on Flick’r.

The Sun on my Shoulders

Today was the first day that the Puget Sound region has seen the sun, in a loooong time. Of course this is not much of a surprise. As a native Washingtonian, I have grown accustomed to 100 day stretches of overcast, drippy weather. However, this winter has been a doosy. I’ve been hearing a lot of rain laments even from long-time residents.  How many of you can agree with me, in the middle of a dreary northwest winter, a speck of sunshine will literally stop people in their tracks? People might even congregate in a spot of sun on the sidewalk, just to feel it’s bright warmth!

Sadly, my son stayed home from school today recovering from a bout with the flu. Neither one of us was able to experience today’s warm weather gift. As I mentioned in my “What’s this about Holy Leisure?” post, I did take full advantage of this sick day. I wore my pajamas until well past noon and caught up on my reading. I also took a few moments to soak in the sun through my big picture window. This reminded me of a childhood memory that has a lot of meaning to me.

A Memory of God’s Presence

When I was young I lived with my grandparents and sister on a small farm in a rural area of western Washington. One morning I was playing by myself outside in our gravel driveway. I remember sitting on a small patch of grass and weeds playing with the rocks. I’m not sure why I was out there, but I often would go out in the morning and enjoy the sounds of the farm waking up. To be honest, I probably had been sent out there to do some chore and was dilly-dallying. I just remember sitting there with the sun warming my back and shoulders. It was a quiet moment – I felt very pleased and content.

About 10 years after this memory, I was a young college student. I had recently come to faith and was in prayer with God about some very difficult times in my past. I was asking Him, “Why weren’t you there with me? Why did I have to go through all of that alone?”. He answered me by bringing back this memory. It’s as though God was saying to me, “I was the sun on your shoulders, you were not alone.” This vivid memory literally warmed me through to my core.

So, if you are feeling alone. Remember there is never a time when God is not near. If  you need to feel like He is there. Find a speck of sun and let it rest on your shoulders. Turn to God and He will not disappoint you.

Think for a moment about Moses. He desperately wanted to see the glory of  the LORD. The LORD, knowing that Moses could not survive a face to face encounter with holiness, devised a plan. He placed Moses in a cleft of a rock and covered Moses. Just as the LORD passed by, He uncovered Moses. Moses was able to catch a quick glimpse of the LORD’s backside, and heard the LORD exclaim, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…”. (Exodus 34:6-7)

Our God is awesome and holy. He understands our need to feel His presence. Sometimes we will get a glimpse of His mighty splendor. Sometimes, we can feel the warmth of the sun and remember that the creator of the heavens and the earth is near.

Photo by Guy Schmidt on Flick’r.

NFL Playoffs build Character?

I’m going out on a limb with this post, I know. But, I can’t help it. I’ve been thinking about the Seattle Seahawks wildcard victory over the New Orleans Saints the past few days. I just can’t get over the 67 yard run by Marshawn Lynch that ushered the Seahawks into the play-offs. S0, you ask, what could we possibly learn from watching NFL football? I submit to you that watching football (and hockey for that matter) is a perfectly acceptable recreational activity. At the very least you can get a few high-cardio work-outs when your team makes a touchdown or receives an unfair penalty. The standing, jumping, and fist-pumping most certainly will boost heart rates. I also hope to convince you that supporting your local team can be a pursuit of leisure – meditation on the struggle of humanity.

Surrounded and Entangled

At the beginning of the play, it seemed like it would be just another run into the mob at the line of scrimmage. I’ve often been impatient with the typical 1 or 2 yard running play. It just seems like such a waste to run straight at those snarling defenders. But one day my husband told me that the offense is hoping to poke a hole in the line of defense so that the running back can slide through. So, as I watched Lynch begin his run, I wasn’t surprised that he ran smack into what seemed to be a brick wall of linemen. The interesting thing is that he just kind of slid off their backs, finding the path of least resistance until he finally made it through the line. At this point a whole new play began. Lynch was no longer rushing for a first down, the goal line was in view.

[I apologize, my imbedded video was disabled by YouTube. I recommend]

This is also where I think we would benefit from pairing our video with Paul’s letter to the Romans. Take a look at chapter 12, verse 1: “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…”. Indeed Lynch was surrounded and you can see he is shaking Saint defenders off, like a dog who has just come out of the water. I love it!

Just when Lynch has made it through the crowd, we see a lone cornerback, Tracy Porter, come into view. Isn’t that just the way of life? You’ve made it through some struggle – marriage problems, financial stress, career dissatisfaction, illness… and just when you think you are in the clear it comes back into view. Here is where we need to take a lesson from Marshawn Lynch.

How to Throw a Stiff-Arm

Please rewind and watch the video at least a few times to get this down.

1) Check your peripheral vision every now and then.

2) Take the threat seriously.

3) Get mad!

4) Throw out your arm fiercely until the disturbance is flat on it’s back and in your dust.

I think the pivotal moment in our hero’s scenario is #3. He got mad! Let’s just imagine the words that were going through Lynch’s head at this moment…

“Nope. Denied. Sorry, I’ve got an appointment with the end zone. This is not going to happen.”

Okay, I admit, there are plenty of scenarios in our lives where a stiff arm will not solve our problems. I also think there are plenty of problems we allow to side-track us, all because of a lack of determination. Most of these problems have to do with our lack of self-discipline. Here are a few examples from my own life: weight-gain, debt, and unhealthy relationships due to lack of boundaries. Just when I was making progress in my life, one of these would rear it’s head and try to knock me out of the game. Usually I would have forgotten to check my peripherals – am I heading the right direction, is there trouble on the horizon?

But then, I got mad. Just like the voice of the NFL announcer, I said “Get off Me!’ That’s right, I was sick and tired of being sick and tired and out went my arm. This is how a person grows to maturity. We learn how to identify those things that have a tendency to trip us, we deal with them, and then move toward the goal.

Overcoming a Losing Record

Maybe a losing record isn’t such a bad thing. Most of the nation was laughing at the Seahawks because they entered the playoffs with a less than stellar record.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

That’s right, we can be thankful for all the crud we have mucked through in our lives. If we have experienced trials and then taken the time to work through them, we should be able to see little seasons of growth and maturity in our lives. Not only that, mix that growth and maturity with some hope and you have a ravenously hungry football team on your hands.

So, with that I charge the Seahawks and Hawk fans everywhere:

Have Hope! We’ve made it through the playoffs before! We can do it again! Go Team!

For those of you more interested in the struggle of humanity:

“And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but wealso rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;  perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” (Romans 5:2-5)

For the dignity of Dogs

I have a friend who is currently embarking on a new lifestyle. Dog owner. Actually, she is sharing custody of a dog with a friend of hers who has begun to travel for work. So, in a way, this is a very good situation for both families, and the dog! First of all, I’m going to say that the dog she is caring for is just about the sweetest and most mild tempered dog I’ve ever met. She is curious, gentle, and enjoys interacting with the family. I think it helps that this little dog is 6 years old. My friend doesn’t realize the gold mine that she has stumbled upon. She has never owned a dog before and has been very intrigued by the fact that this dog seems very satisfied with just a little bit of attention and acceptance into their family. The dog is content to learn how to please her owners with obedience and gentle affection. Obviously, what we have here is a well-trained dog who has been taught good boundaries.

Well, in response to my friend’s new found pet-friendship, I’ve decided to write a post about some of my very deep thoughts on pet ownership.

The Value of Pets

Maybe you are wondering, what does pet ownership have to do with anything spiritual? Well, first of all, our pets are an awe-inspiring part of God’s creation. I’m saying this with all seriousness. The idea that dogs came from wild beasts and then have been domesticated (into all sorts of shapes, sizes, and temperaments) doesn’t take away from the fact that God masterfully pieced together the original wolf. Powerful, smart, and beautiful – He even decided to endow wolves with the potential for domestication. (Fyi – any of you who want to argue about evolution, natural selection, blah, blah, blah… whatever. This is not my intent for this post, so send me your thoughts and we’ll save them for another day. Maybe.) I think the word “potential” really is the crux of this conversation. Why would God give some animals the potential for domestication?

Well, there is something to be said about domesticated animals providing ancient people with an additional resource for survival. It is also worth mentioning that some dogs are known to provide protection. I think, however, over-riding reason that God enabled wolves to be domesticated is for the blessing of companionship. I cannot even begin to explain the comfort and joy I have experienced through my relationships with my family dogs over the years.

A Friend at All Times

How many times have you read the paper, watched the news, or stumbled upon a TV show that featured a pet-owner explaining the near miracles their dogs have performed. I’ve heard of dogs rescuing people from burning homes, scaring away burglars, staying with lost children… I even heard a story the other day that a certain lady’s dog can alert her when her blood sugar is dangerously low. These amazing creatures do so much to bless their families, I’m sure we don’t even know the half of it. I know for a fact that my dog has made it his mission to rid our yard of moles by personally excavating every mole hill. To top it off, they don’t require much in return. Food, water, shelter, exercise, and some training (to teach them manners and give them a job) are really not too much for them to ask.

When our dogs aren’t trying to serve their families in heroic ways (they will find a job for themselves – you can either assign the job through training, or they will find a hole to dig… all for the sake of their family), their soft faces and unconditional love can bring immeasurable blessings to a soul. Every time I walk in the door, I only have to wait a moment before I receive a furry, tail-wagging greeting. George, my husky mix, often bellows an energetic howl when we enter the house. In quiet times, especially when I’m doing homework, I’ll often look up and notice that my dog has curled up on my feet, providing warmth and affection when I’m not even noticing. Many of you can vouch for me on this one, how many times have your tears been washed away by a gentle tongue or muzzle?

Amazingly, our pets just give and give of themselves, asking very little in return. And often, when life is busy, we offer very little to them. Somehow they never seem to hold a grudge.

I want to mention a difficult thing now. My family recently had our sweet and beautiful German Shepherd, Greta, put to sleep. She had injured her leg and was in pain. We didn’t feel that the proposed surgery was in her best interest, so we had to let her go. My grief over the loss of her presence in our lives is very deep. Any of you who know me, I’m sure you can imagine the slobbery mess that I am while I sit here writing.

Dogs are not Humans

Having felt the emotional blessings of my dogs’ companionship, I can say with complete conviction that they are not human. They are not even human-like. Some of you might be saying, “but, my Fido is like a son to me!” If that’s true, you have completely missed what, I believe, is God’s purpose for our pet’s lives. The truth is, unconditional love and complete devotion, are completely un-human concepts. We do not have the capacity to pour ourselves out for one another in such a way. Honestly, if I had a friend who treated me the way my dogs treat me, I’d probably think she was emotionally unstable. Even with our best efforts, at some point our selfish natures will cause us to fail. Our dogs are hard-wired by God for these displays. Dogs display a “pack-oriented” nature and respect for “alpha” position that enable them to provide loyalty and selflessness. We receive this behavior in terms that we understand, love and devotion. Our dogs are not meant to be compared to our children. They are, however, meant to display a creative imprint of God’s character.

Creation Displays God’s Character

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…” Romans 1:20 (New American Standard Bible)

I have found much spiritual encouragement considering the awesomeness of God in light of his beautiful creation. Majestic peaks speak of his enduring power. The new spring blooms speak to my heart of His thoughtful and creative blessings. My dogs remind me that whether or not I deserve it, His love is there for me.

Every morning as I’m waking up, I slide my hand out from under the covers over the side of my bed. All I have to do is rub my fingers quietly together and there will soon be a furry head (or bottom?) under my hand. A slow, quiet wag and cheerful eyes say, “good morning, I thought you’d never get up!” What a fantastic reminder to tuck away. If my dog looks forward to an intimate moment in the morning, how much more does my Heavenly Father look forward to another day with me?!

In honor of my sweet Greta, I submit to you this plea:

Don’t treat your dogs as though they are human. Treat them with the proper dignity deserving all of God’s creation. Enjoy them, take care of them, and look for God’s blessings as a result of their lives.

Epiphany, God’s baby announcement?

You know, I’ve heard it’s bad form to leave your  Christmas tree and lights up past the holiday of Epiphany. Does it count if the tree is naked, except for the really high stuff and all the lights are unplugged? As much as I love the smell of dried tree and the ornate cob web firmly strapping the tree to the ceiling… it really is time to put away Christmas.

So, you ask, what’s Epiphany about anyway? Well, it is one of those lesser known holy days (at least to us free form evangelicals who pay little attention to the church calendar) that is kind of the end cap of the season of Advent. Epiphany is the celebration of when the wise men journeyed from the east in order to pay their respects to the new King of the Jews. The account is found in the gospel of Matthew, chapter 2.

I’ve been chewing on this story for a couple of days now, and just had the most wonderful time with God this morning. Maybe a little bit of an epiphany? So, I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts.

God’s Revelation to the Nations

The awesomeness of this holiday is that God revealed the birth of His Son to the gentile wise men, through the appearance of a star. I like to think of it as a little birth announcement, set up into the sky for the whole world to see:

“Welcome baby Jesus”

“Proud parents: Mary and …. the Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth”

“7 lbs, 20 and 1/2 inches”

“Nursery colors: brown and straw yellow”

Or perhaps it was a little more like this:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)

Hitching a ride with the Wise Men

I hope you will take a moment to look at the passage in Matthew chapter 2. I kind of want to look a little more at the wise men than at the actual story.

As I was thinking about the journey of these wise men from foreign lands to see the new baby King, I was reminded of  the description of Solomon’s wisdom in 1 Kings 4. His wisdom was so deep and wide that it was sought after and respected by the kings of the world. They sent their wise men (and sometimes traveled themselves) to listen and learn from Solomon.

I wonder if these wise men expected a similar situation? Did they hope to gain wisdom to bring back to their country? Had they been waiting for the next King of Jews to come and revive the wisdom of the Jewish God?

For a few minutes this morning I just tried to put myself in their… umm, fancy slippers? What must it have been like to ride into Jerusalem only to find a nation oppressed by foreign rule. The wise men must have exchanged quiet glances as they realized that King Herod was surprised by their visit and had to consult his own wise men to find out where the baby King would have been born. I wonder if they sensed his fake tone of respect when he asked the wise men to report their findings back to him? I have a feeling they knew they were in danger and were happy to get the heck out of there.

I wonder what it was like when they finally found little Jesus? They respectfully presented their offerings and worshiped Him. Then they went on their way. They had knelt at the tiny toes of the Messiah.

The Wise or Foolish King?

The truth is, these men were really the only wise men to recognize the wisdom of God in Jesus. They did so, because God revealed the truth to them through His creation. The teachers of the law and intellectuals of Jesus’  time did not see Jesus as the Messiah. They thought the crucifixion proved their point. They mocked him and thought he was just another fool.

This is where God touched my heart this morning. What good is wisdom if it doesn’t lead you to Christ? What good is knowledge of the scriptures if you can’t recognize that the crucifixion was the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan? The apostle Paul picks up on this in his first letter to the Corinthians. He says, “the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength (1 Cor 1:25).”

This probably means more to me right now because I spent quite a bit of time studying the book of Proverbs for a class last semester. I love the book of Proverbs and have found it very useful in my life. God’s wisdom in the book of Proverbs has taught me how to be a good wife, mother, and just a decent person. I think God was saying to me today, “don’t forget about the gospel.” You have to start with Christ. The gospel reveals the Father and makes a relationship with our Creator available to  us. Once we have that, the fullness of His wisdom and power can be worked out in our lives.

Sorry, this has gone on a little longer than I wanted. But I want to leave you with the prayer that is recommended in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. If you want to know how to celebrate some of these lesser known holidays, this is a great book to get your mind and heart in the right place.

Collect for The Epiphany, Book of Common Prayer:

“O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen”

Thanks friends, for a good first week at! I love your feedback. I’m back to school this weekend and look forward to sharing some of the things I’m learning. If you have any private comments or want to share a topic with me, please email me at

Stork Boy photo courtesy of William Arthur Fine Stationary. For public use on Flickr.

Wisdom from Super Grandma

My family is blessed to have our very own “Super Grandma”. Grandma Dena is now 93 years old and resides in a very nice assisted living facility about 15 minutes from our house. In the past year she has become more sedentary, so we try to visit her in the comfort of her home as often as possible. One of the favorite parts of my week is to attend her “seated” exercise class with her and then go back to her room for a short visit. I’ll tell you, she can pump that 2 lb. hand weight like a champ. I often wonder if she will out-live us all.

Last week my boys and I went to exercise with her (they were still on winter break) and then we went back up to her room. Grandma set the boys up in her craft-matic adjustable bed (it’s amazing how high those lift off the ground) along with a pile of rootbeer barrels and chocolate. While they watched TV, grandma and I had a nice conversation about all the new things we had been up to.

“Yes, the kids are still in 4th and 2nd grade.”

“Of course, they are the smartest and most handsome students in their class.”

“Yes, Paul (my husband and her grandson) is very brilliant and a wonderful man.”

“No, we haven’t been camping lately, but we are looking forward to some more ski days in the coming weeks.”

At this point I decided to ask Grandma a question. “Grandma, at the age of 93, what kind of advice or wisdom would you give to a young person today?”

This is what she said:

“Keep active for as long as you can.”

“Don’t expect someone else to do all the work for you… at the very least, you can make your own bed in the morning.”

So, I offer those brief words of wisdom to you. I’m pretty sure we can all pump a 2 lb. hand weight twice a week and make our beds in the morning, but will we? I hope to glean a little more wisdom from Grandma in the coming weeks. I’m so thankful for our special relationship.

Staring Allowed

When I was young, I used to come out of my bedroom in the morning and find my grandmother quietly seated at the kitchen table. She would sit with her elbows resting on the table, a mug of coffee in her hands, and her eyes fixed on our pasture out the back window.

Sometimes I would try to slither on the floor in order to sneak around and startle her from behind. She never seemed to break her gaze from the window, but I somehow never seemed to give her much of a scare. Maybe she really did have eyes in the back of her head?

Armchair Solitude

Years later, I find myself doing the same thing. I have a favorite chair in front of a window, looking out over a wooded area of our front yard. When I can, I like to sit there with a cup of coffee or tea and write in my journal. Sometimes I read or pray quietly. At the very least, I will often sit in this quiet place and watch for my boys to get off the bus in the afternoon. Even just a few minutes of watching tree branches sway, the birds fluttering, and the squirrels chattering can bring peace into a chaotic life. It can bring to mind scriptures such as:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”  -Matthew 6:25-27 (New International Version)

This is the practice of meditation and solitude in it’s simplest form. Create a place in your home where you can turn your back (even for a moment) on your tasks and duties. Let God’s creation inspire you to chew on scripture. Lift up an offering of praise to God and let Him touch your heart with a sense of His love.

Just don’t forget, if you have children in your home… turn on those eyes in the back of your head!

Winter Window photo courtesy of  starmist1. For public use on flickr.

So, what’s this about “Holy Leisure”?

Well, the holidays are pretty much over. We have enjoyed much merriment – including visiting with family, friends (near and far), lots of tasty holiday treats (a few too many), great times of worship and celebration with our church, and even some winter recreation (ice skating, skiing, and some frosty, snow fun around our neighborhood). Today the family has one last day until we head back to school and work tomorrow.

Before we jump back into our busy schedule I thought I would take a moment and explain the title and purpose of this blog.

Holy Leisure Defined

Several years ago I read (and have since re-read for a class) Richard Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline. This is a great book for anyone who would like to understand how to use the classic spiritual disciplines (prayer, meditation, study, fasting, etc.) to grow in their relationship with God. I found the book to be very informative and inspirational. I’ve used it to explore and implement several disciplines into my life, and refer back to it when I want to work on expanding into other disciplines. However, in such a fast paced lifestyle, it’s very easy to lose any sense of spiritual discipline and only meet with God in moments of need and/or desperation. This is where I frequently find myself, and so I was thrilled to find this special little nugget of a concept, “holy leisure”, in Foster’s book. He suggests that we need to make a little room for God, before we put too much emphasis on adding new healthy spiritual habits. Rightly so, because we all know there are only 24 hours in a day.

This is how Foster describes “holy leisure”:

“If we are constantly being swept off our feet with frantic activity, we will be unable to be attentive at the moment of inward silence. A mind that is harassed and fragmented by external affairs is hardly prepared for meditation. The church Fathers often spoke of Otium Sanctum, “holy leisure.” It refers to 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. With our tendency to define people in terms of what they produce, we would do well to cultivate “holy leisure” with a determination that is ruthless to our datebooks.”

In this paragraph Foster is referring to the need for “holy leisure” in order to develop the spiritual discipline of meditation. But honestly, is this not a spiritual discipline in and of itself? Put another way, one of my dear pastors (Betsey Hayford of Eastside Foursquare Church in Bothell, WA) challenged the congregation to consider whether or not we had any time in our day for interruptions. Are we so maxed out that a simple interruption will cause our day (and attitude!) to crumble? We see these interruptions as destructive forces to our plans and efforts. However, do we stop to consider whether or not these interruptions are God’s way of providing the things that we really need?

I have to confess, a mid-week, sick day at home with the kids can actually be a time of refreshment (obviously, a little more refreshing if it doesn’t involve cleaning up certain undesirable bodily fluids…). To sit with them, rub feverish foreheads, and eat toast on the couch has become an envious change of pace. I might even catch up on some Bible reading while they sit and watch Tom and Jerry cartoons. I feel no need to apologize when canceling appointments, and I will revel in a little down-time. So here is the question, how can I re-prioritize my life so that I don’t have to rely on the flu season for spiritual refreshment? Because, the truth is, after a day or two, those cute little sicklings start to get squirrely and I’m counting the hours from the last “episode” so that I can send them back to school.

Purposeful Leisure

As a wife, mother, student and lay minister, this is an important challenge for me. I will not check off the tasks of my to-do list in such a single-minded and routine fashion, that I miss all the beautiful expressions of God’s love in my life. The outward appearance of a efficient and productive life cannot replace the eternal benefits that come through experiencing  such things as the growth and personal development of my children, the sprouting of spring’s first crocus, and even the kind conviction of the Holy Spirit as I submit another area of my heart to God. I desire to build a life from the ground up that allows for God’s work in and through me, as well as the everyday doings of the common, “Angela”. I think it’s possible. And I have to agree with Foster, it might require a “ruthless” look at my datebook.

So, I hope you will join me (and challenge me) as I begin to explore this theme over the coming weeks and months. Let’s explore some new ideas and maybe return to some old disciplines that inspire us all to live life with a little more leisure.

Hello world!

Happy New Year!


I can’t think of a better day to start my new blog. All those “ones” seem so fresh and ready for the days ahead.

The truth is that I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for over a year now. I’ve been writing in a journal for many years, but haven’t really felt like I’ve had much to say that anyone would really want to read. Writing has always been a helpful tool for focusing my thoughts, gaining perspective, recording my prayers, and just letting out some steam. I figure this blog will be an extension of my journal. Probably not too many juicy tidbits, but hopefully a place for some of my more thoughtful writing efforts.

With much hope for a wonderful new year,