Notice

Notice Heading (Mel) I was tired. It had been a long day. And all I wanted to do was make myself a cup of coffee and decompress after the work day.

But it was snowing. And the running hug I received from one of my daughters immediately reminded me that just because I thought I was exhausted and had taken off the “employee” hat, my “mom” hat was now fully in play.

So I told my girls they had better get out of their slippers and into some socks. We were going outside.

We “suited up”: boots, snowpants, thick jackets, hats, mittens. As I finally zipped up the final piece of outerwear (mine), I glanced at the clock and couldn't help but quickly calculate just how much time we'd have outside if I still wanted to make it back inside to cook a timely dinner.

It hardly seemed worth it.

We opened the front door as the snow fell soft and silent. Just like a snow globe. The girls immediately took to their silly play, swapping brightly-colored mini shovels and creating snow angels. I looked around and said a silent prayer that the snow would be packing snow and that a snowman could be created – not only because I like making snowmen but because if I couldn't, I wasn't sure what else I could do.

I wasn't sure I knew how to play.

It wasn't long before the girls were calling me, almost frantically from the side of the house.

Mom, Mom, Mommy! You need to come here – there's real snowflakes on the ground!

I had to laugh to myself as I drudged my way through the snow to where they both knelt on the sidewalk...”real snowflakes”.  Aren't they all?, I wondered.

But I soon noticed what they meant.

Snowflake Close Up

I had seen snowflakes before. But never like this. These were big, fat, thick snowflakes. They looked as though they had been punched out of construction paper.

I told the girls I was going to run in the house and grab my camera. They squealed with excitement. While I snapped image after image of the paper punched snowflakes, my daughter said something I hope I don't soon forget.

Snowflakes_Branch

I love it when you're out here with us, Mom.

Oh, my sweetheart. I love it, too. If only I'd slow down more often to notice His gifts, even when I'm convinced I am too exhausted to see them.

Snowflake Scripture

 

MelBioEdit

Making Room, Part 4: Media

 glow

If you’re just joining us, this is the fourth post in a series discussing Making Room for God in our lives. You can catch up on parts onetwothree, and five here. 

A few Sundays ago, I was sitting in church with my family when my 8-month-old son started crying inconsolably. He was hungry and needed a diaper change, so I took him back to the mother’s room, changed his diaper, and settled in to nurse him. Once we were both settled into the rocking chair, I glanced at his sweet baby face staring back at mine for a few seconds. He smiled at me. Then his eyelids shut slightly as he drifted into a happy milk coma. With the baby no longer interacting with me, I glanced around the room instead. Nothing much to see. For a brief moment, I was bored.

My response to this slight boredom was automatic. I reached a hand into my diaper bag, pulled out my phone, and seconds later found myself surfing Facebook.

Only after I had replied to a few emails and checked up on my blog reader did I remember: I’m at church right now! In fact, my Pastor is giving a sermon! I can hear this sermon over the speakers! What in the world am I doing on my phone!?

Media in its various forms has become such an automatic distraction in my life, I hardly register it as a distraction. Instead, I view it as a good thing: my life line. My phone and my computer keep me in touch with the outside world on the days when I am otherwise stuck at home with my three small children. My television allows me to entertain the children during that half hour before dinner when I just need them to sit still and be quiet so I can get things done. The internet is a never-ending source of inspiration for projects, and recipes. It allows me to get any needed shopping done at a discount without ever leaving my house.

So what’s the problem here?

The problem is that media is such an easy source of fun, entertainment, inspiration, and human interaction, that I often find myself automatically and unwittingly allowing it to fill time that should be better spent. Maybe I should have a really good conversation with my husband, but it’s way easier for us to spend the evening staring at our separate glowing rectangles. Maybe I should fold this laundry, but look! A new blog post is up on my favorite blog! Maybe I should spend this relatively unexciting downtime thinking, dreaming, and brainstorming, but an instagram feed full of pretty pictures is right at my fingertips. The more I am in the habit of filling every single still moment with media, the more automatic this behavior becomes. The next thing I know, I’m checking my phone during the sermon at church without even realizing I’m doing so.

The Bible talks a lot about being “still” and “calm” before God, practicing patience and quiet as we seek to know Him.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. (Psalm 62:5)

But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content. (Psalm 131:2)

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. (Isaiah 32:17)

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.(1 Peter 3:4)

it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)

Having grown accustomed to instant gratification entertainment, I find it difficult to practice stillness and quiet as i go about my days. Those moments I could spend in quiet communion with God are far too easy to fill with readymade distractions like my computer or television.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

Do you struggle with managing the time you spend on media?

This week’s challenge: Replace a time you would normally surf the internet or watch a movie with silent thought and prayer. 

AmberSignature

The Unfading Beauty of a Gentle and Quiet Spirit

1 Peter 3:3-4

 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
 

Often when we read this verse in Peter we think to ourselves about “inner beauty” and our character and faith being more important than “outward adornment”. We meditate on being loving, faithful women who put pleasing God before our need to feel desirable in the eyes of this world. We concentrate on the phrase “that of your inner self”. We often fail to ponder the beauty in the end of this verse.

“The unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit” does not immediately cry out “I am a strong, independant woman and I’m ready to take this modern world by storm”! I think that sometimes we mistakenly associate gentleness with weakness.

Weakness is not a synonym for gentleness. “You were not given a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline” (2 Tim 1:7). This is NOT a contradiction. We need to strive to be gentle women whose humility and faith does not leave us spineless or speechless, but whose strength can be beautifully channelled into graceful and loving speech rooted in firm conviction and practiced with quiet compassion.

Christ was gentle. (Matthew 11:29) He humbled himself. He also unquestionably stood in truth as Truth. Gentleness is not a quiet tolerance, it is a gracefully spoken but honest reminder of God’s law without neglecting the necessity of sharing God’s love, and there is a great deal of power in it.

In 1 Kings 19 we read about the Lord appearing to Elijah, not in a powerful wind, an earthquake, or a fire, but in a gentle whisper. There was no weakness in that whisper. Consider Proverbs:

Proverbs 25:15

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded,

   and a gentle tongue can break a bone.

 

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

We put a great deal of effort into proving our strength in this world. We take pride in holding firmly to our convictions and strive to make an impact on those around us. A gentle and quiet spirit is a far more effective force than condemning and outspoken discourses on our beliefs.

The most effective weapon in this battle to win souls is not always the biggest, loudest, or flashiest. We fight to bring glory to God, and should do so as he instructs us.

Colossians 3:12-14

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 

Philippians 4:5

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

 

We are consistently and clearly reminded to put our pride aside and reflect Christ’s love, and when we do this we are beautiful to the only one who matters.