Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Slow Day

Mud Pies with nature goodies
Reading books
Blooming lavender
Mini Golf - my Dad won!!
Sunset and mountains
Free figure skating exhibition one Friday evening
Croquet in the backyard
A bunny living in my parents backyard - named Maple or Buttons depending on which of my girls you ask ;)

* these photos are not from one single day but a collection of slow moments over the last week or so

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Quiet Retreat: Thoughts on Sibling Bickering Part 1

After my hike, I headed to my usual spot on the Castle Terrace. It was empty and quiet when I arrived and very inviting with sunlight filtering through trees, the dishware of the Tea wafting through open windows and the trickle of water from the fountain nearby. But shortly after sitting down, a group arrived and I struggled to concentrate - so I moved to yet another spot next to the creek. The water moving provided a lovely natural noise barrier to other things going on around and also a peaceful sound to sit quietly with.

One of the things I really wanted to spend some time thinking through was how to handle little arguments and bickering between my children. My children are just like yours and all other children everywhere and even me when I was a child. They don't always get along with their siblings!

As their mom and one who helps to lead and shape them, I have felt very inadequate lately at how to respond to this. I know that these moments are golden in how I respond and I want to utilize them wisely to help them learn and grow. Often in the face of another disagreement, I find myself almost paralyzed. I take a deep breath and pray for wisdom and then sort of fumble my way through it. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and shut down - another disagreement?

So while I had some time alone to process, I really wanted to ask God about this - how should I be handling it? What is the lesson here? How can I be more effective as a mother in discipling these souls in my care?

Before church, I did a quick search online for suggested Scripture to use in guiding my time of processing this dilemma. One verse that came up quickly was Ephesians 4:29-32,

"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

So first of all, I dug into these verses:

- v. 29: let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only what is good for:
* building up
* fitting for the occasion
* full of grace

- v. 30: the very next thought expressed is that we not grieve the Holy Spirit; think of what we have received from Him and how our response should be to live a life set apart for Him as much as possible.

- v. 31: get rid of the following:
* bitterness
* wrath
* anger
* clamor
* slander
* malice

Consider how Jesus did not tattle on others or try to get them in trouble and He did not wear Himself out trying to defend Himself. He spoke TRUTH and He offered forgiveness. Keep in mind truth is not an invitation to say what you want to get it off your chest - truth is God's Word.

As I was thinking about this - a couple more verses came to mind:

Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

Teach my children how to give the Phil. 4:8 test:
- is it true?
- is it noble?
- is it right?
- is it lovely?
- is it admirable?
- is it excellent?
- is it praiseworthy?

Psalm 19:14, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

Romans 12:18, "If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." 

Luke 6:45, "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." 

Philippians 2:14, "Do all things without complaining and arguing."

- v. 32 {now back to Ephesians 4}: replacement theology - we saw in verse 29 what to get rid of and now we see what to put on:
* be kind to one another
* tenderhearted
* forgiving one another
* follow Christ's example

Think of this: what has God forgiven me for? How would He respond? In fact, I just looked down at Ephesians 5:1 {the very next verse} and it says, "Be imitators of God, as beloved children." And verse 2 begins with "walk in love."

Be a fragrance/an aroma of Christ's presence in our hearts.

Ok, one more passage for today:

Mark 8:11-13, "The Pharisees came and began to argue with Him, seeking from Him a sign from Heaven to test Him. And He sighed deeply in His spirit and said, 'Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.' And He left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side."

I really appreciated coming across this passage. Jesus is dealing with arguing! Yes, please show me how to handle it! I take a couple of simple things away from these verses:

* Jesus sighed deeply {I envision this like a deep breath - you know the kind like you are trying not to say something you shouldn't!?} and the best part is that we know He never sinned. So while He may have been frustrated or aggravated, He did not sin. He took a deep breath - a pause.

* Jesus replied simply: He did not get caught in an hour long debate or discussion over the matter. He questioned their lack of faith and simply said no. The end. I can learn from this not to drag the matter out longer than necessary especially needing to consider if my audience is even receptive at the moment. Keep it short and to the point addressing the heart if possible.

* Jesus left: again He did not belabor the moment, short and sweet and then on His way. I get so emotionally involved in trying to handle these situations that it is hard for me to keep it short or to walk away but what an example.

Now that we've taken all that in, let's consider how to practically apply. That part is coming Thursday!

Side note: I wonder sometimes what to share here and what to keep in my journal, but the bottom line for me comes when I think of my children as adults and parents reading through these thoughts of my heart. I want them to know me, to know the struggles and realities of what I've gone through and if they can learn something from this and it helps or encourages them in any way then it is a success to me and why I share.

So how do you handle arguing in your home?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Quiet Retreat: Sunday Afternoon Hike

I started my annual afternoon retreat Sunday after church and dinner. The quiet drive is the first deep breath of my time alone. This year, I started out a little bit differently - on my way, I stopped at my favorite overlook for a couple of photos of the stunning beauty I miss seeing on a regular basis. I used to occasionally take my lunch break at this overlook and it remains one of my favorite views!

It was overcast and not chilly or overly warm. The yucca blooms seemed such a lovely focal point with the backdrop of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. But I didn't want to spend too much time here as I was eager to get off to my retreat.

A few minutes later, upon arriving at my home for the afternoon - I sort of impulsively decided to do something different. I parked in a new spot and took a walking path for the first hour. I noticed rock formations and wildflower blooms of Indian paintbrush and little mountain bluebells, many shades of the color green, various cacti and various rugged mountain nature embellishments.

When taking a retreat like this it can be easy to have too high of expectations. Wanting it to be a spiritual mountaintop, expecting to hear something life-changing from God and His Word, looking for a breakthrough on something specific. I had a couple of small things in mind that I wanted to process but mostly I just wanted to retreat and to refresh.

I was reminded by the burned trees in the distance of the raging fire a few years ago and how this place was generously spared though extremely close to where the fire destroyed so much. I was reminded of walking this trail years ago as part of a staff meeting. And I was reminded of how much I love the mountains, remembering our wedding in the Castle and so many lunch breaks on the grounds in various places.

This place has held a special place in my heart for a long time and it continues to be a place that I love to come. I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue to visit and take these afternoons to be restored and in God's presence.

Every corner on the trail that I rounded brought a new perspective as the trail rose gradually higher. The layers of mountains became more visible. Colorado air has such a sweet and fresh smell to it almost all the time but when on the trail, it is more pronounced with woodsy scents. The scrub oak seems familiar and adds a spicy scent along with pine trees and more.

When I see the high foothills, I feel small and yet so safe as I ponder the majesty and beauty of the Creation we see before us which points my heart to its Maker. The various shades of red dirt and rock, the ruggedness. I know every place has its beauty but there is something about this place for me. Do you find that in the place where you spent the majority of your growing up years? It holds a special draw and place in our hearts for years to come?

I also thought of this: from this perspective the Castle seems so small but when you are right up on it, it is so big I get distracted thinking of how the original plan came to be, how all those stones were cut and moved to this location and built so elegantly and beautifully. The craftsmanship that has held up over time with quarter sawn oak walls and innovations beyond its time. Isn't this sort of like life? When I take a different path or even just a few steps back, it can really change or widen my perspective that is so narrow up close.

I was sort of wishing I'd brought my journal and Bible with me on the hike - but as I came back to my car, the sun came out and I was eager to find another spot to sit and reflect. More tomorrow!