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Posts Tagged ‘Refreshment’

FullSizeRenderAs I sat writing (when I should have been preparing for our road trip to our favourite place) the words, “come away with me” kept wafting through my mind.

When they finally took root, I pondered their origin, and remembered they were spoken in the Song of Solomon :

“My beloved calls to me, “Arise, my darling. Come away with me, my beautiful one.” SOS 2:10

It is a most intimate invitation, a seduction of the Beloved to the Lover, it is intended to draw another away to a secluded place, away from the rest of the world, away from the everyday demands on life. It was an invitation to renewal.

But, it is more.

In Mark 6:31, Jesus says to his disciples :

“Come away with me. Let us go alone to a quiet place and rest for a while.”

This too was an intimate invitation, in that it was personal, yet spoken to a group of individuals. It was intended to draw them to a secluded place, where they could enjoy rest, refreshment and renewal.

Though it is good to be busy, doing the work that we have been gifted to do, it is also imperative that we go away. Go away to a vacation spot, a retreat, a secluded field, to your door-locked bathroom in a tub full of bubbles. And go with those, with one, closest to you, who you need to reconnect with, rest, refresh, renew and recreate together.

It is in the times when we answer the call to come away with me that we can remember the beauty of together, shared with the God who first called you to come away, with him.

This is his gift of refreshment to us, if only we would hear and answer his call.

 

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IMG_3475I have been snapping and sighing up a storm this spring.

With each tree in bud, each flower in bloom delight has entered my heart. In an way I feel a bit parental, as each plant has a story, a beginning, significance.

There are the many perennials, tubers and bulbs that I have received from the sweetest three older women from our church. Each of their sharing of their beauty came with stories as well.

There are the living gifts I received in the form of a Magnolia, Red Maple and Japanese Maple from my kids and hubby. They all now sit were they began (most plantings in my garden don’t have the benefit of sitting in one spot, as I keep moving them around, never letting them become truly comfortable).

There are the boxwoods along the driveway, each one began as a hard cutting, pushed into the soil, and left on their own to do what they do best … grow. And now they are all one to two feet tall.

The trees and bushes that I transplanted from their original locations … the Oregon grape, rhododendrons and the forsythias that delight me each early spring.

There are the strawberries, thriving in my vegetable garden, the grapes that line the fence to the pool, the chives that have delighted baked potatoes for years.

Everywhere I look, there is an abundance of beauty for the eyes, the nose and even the taste.

This garden is lovely to spend time in, but it has also been my place of refuge and sanctuary. It is where, like the garden of Gethsemane for Jesus, I can pray without interruption, without ceasing.

It has been my place of worship, and thanksgiving, and praise. The flowers have been fertilized by my sweat and tears. There is even one, secret place, in my garden where I can go when “my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow” (Matthew 26:38).

But my present garden, my little piece of sanctuary, can go with me, can go with each of us, wherever we live, work, trod. For the refreshment from a garden, comes from the gardener of all gardens, and, as the Song of Solomon says,

“you are a garden spring, A well of living waters”
(4:15)

It is the Spirit of God, dwelling in us, that brings our refreshemnt, that brings refreshment to those we interact with, allowing us to have and to be the conduit for refreshment, for growth.

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I am a lover of beauty.

IMG_0306Beautiful art, beautiful people, beautiful music, beautiful stories, beautiful landscapes, beautiful food, all of it!

To just see, hear, smell, touch and taste that which evokes joyous emotion can fill my cup to the brim, and flowing over. It can revive my mind, heart and soul like a mini revolution.

Sunday afternoon I retuned to Pacific timezone, after twenty hours of packing followed by travel. I was not well-rested, yet I was revived by the myriad of beauty I had encountered throughout the ten day trip to Italy.

Just the day prior, I was walking the streets of Florence. Florence is the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance.

I walked through a tour of the Bargello Museum, and took in works by Michelangelo, Donatello, Benvenuto Cellini and more, listening to the history, known of each piece, touching the cool statues, looking into the eyes formed from the stone, with such detail, such affection, with tears in my own.

While walking the stone streets I paused to hear two gentlemen making stringed music. As their song ended, I turned to continue on my way, but turned, involuntarily, as their rendition of Pachabel’s Canon caused the tears to flow from someplace so deep inside.

In the hot afternoon, I sat in the shade, enjoying the freshness of every morsel of my slice of Italian pizza, while watching a couple dining al fresco, as he lovingly, passionately, kissed her hand, their eyes only able to see those of their lover, both in the seventies.

After inquiring about the famous Italian liqueur, Limoncello, the shop owner pulled out a chilled bottle, offering me a taste that, again, tasted of a freshness I had rarely encountered before.

Beauty, beauty everywhere!

I came home utterly exhausted. But my physical fatigue was no match for the overall sense of refreshment.

And, as I looked across the baggage carousel, with refreshed body, mind and soul, I was, again, moved to tears, to see my love smiling, beautifully, back at me. And, in the hours that followed, my three other most beautiful ones and I reunited.

Beauty, beauty everywhere!

“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful,
we must carry it with us
or we find it not.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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A prayer for this summer …

Because we could all use a prayer …

to give us hope,
to give us dreams,
to give us direction.

Dear God,
Thank-you for summer …
for it’s heat
for it’s light
For warm nights
and bright early mornings
Thank-you for the unique rhythms of each day
and the bright stars at night
For the days at the beach
and the days cleaning a closet
For the times with friends and family
and for the times with only You
For the meals juicy and tender off the grill
and the marshmallows burnt to a crisp
For the summer parties
and the lazy days
For adventures in places near
and trips to places which are far.
God,
Please great me these things, this summer :
refreshment from my soles to my soul
challenges to make me stretch
memories with my babes
joy with my love
and excitement to start the insanity all over again in September

Oh, and soft rains to fall asleep to at night.

Amen

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Ah, Spring Break!GetAttachment

I had been counting the weeks (ten) and days (forty-nine … work days) to this, since the completion of the Christmas Break!

Winter on the wet West Coast is definitely not my favorite season. There is nothing like …

rain,
followed by drizzle,
followed by rainfall warnings,
followed by showers

… to send me into dreaming of sunnier days!

But this break from the regular (rainy) days is about more than just weather, it is also about down time … a break from the regular routines.

This year I have the blessing of enjoying the break in a sunnier, warmer climate. It is so refreshing to wear open-toed shoes (to show off my first pedicure of the summer), shorts, sleeveless shirts and to be just a ten minute drive from sitting on a white sand beach.

As I read the Spring Break-related posts on FaceBook this morning I am reminded that a tropical destination, although wonderful, is not mandatory to enjoy this break.

People are cleaning closets and cupboards, having play dates and painting their homes, going for coffee and going to the craft store, doing a day trip and going on dates with their hubbies (and wives), shopping and shipping unused goods out to the thrift shops.

The universal experience is not the same, and yet it is. People use this break to re-fuel, to catch up, to clean up and create … basically it is a time of down time.

Down time is a vital part of healthy living. It does not require a trip to a sunny location, or extravagant plans, it simply requires a break from the everyday routines of life. It provides opportunity for refreshment, refueling, and recreation.

There was a time … once upon a time … in the beginning, when this rest and refreshment happened every seven days, modeled by our Creator, when He rested on the seventh day, after Creation.

In our busy world today, filled with work that continues (thanks to technologies) 24-7, recreation that is more like competition, and rest that includes purchasing groceries, doing laundry and mowing the lawn, rest is so needed.

So, if you have the benefit of a Spring Break, make sure that you are being refueled and refreshed … there are still thirteen weeks until summer break 😉 .

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After about nine months of complaining about monsoons, and living on the Wet Coast, Mother Nature has finally given birth to the best season of the year … summer.

I love summer! The sun and the break from work, school, after-school activities, and … SCHEDULE make me smile every day. I awake each day ready smiling, and lay my head on my pillow at night muttering (with a smile across my face), “hubby, have I told you that I love summer?”

I feel refreshed by the change of pace. I feel energized by the solar rays casting down from heaven, just for me! I feel unhurried, unencumbered (by dreadful head to toe covering clothing), and uninhibited by anything. Heck, most days I do not even remember what day it is!

Even our pool (aka the Cesspool) seems to be happier since the sun awoke from it’s   L O N G  winter’s (and spring’s and fall’s) nap.

I am so content with this season, that I could even have been heard humming while cleaning the loo just the other day, while saying to no one, “I love summer!” And you know that the season has gotten to my head when I can clean the porcelain god with a smile on my face.

My son and I have gone for sushi. My eldest daughter and I have had lunch together. I have had coffee with a couple of friends, and even played in our pool a few times. We have had one pool party, a couple of dinner dates in our backyard with friends, and children of all ages over for a dip … complete with the making of many, many, many s’mores (and if you are looking for a good s’more variation, try Nutella instead of chocolate).

Hubby and I cleaned up the garage a bit, and got one of the gates hanging. I started one renovation project, which, as usual, will turn into three, or four, or … But all is well, because summer does not have the same pressures of winter. And really, just having the sun shine makes everything better.

My summer has not even been exciting yet! And yet, every day is fresh, and revitalizing and life-giving. I just hope it doesn’t go too quickly.

See, I can write a post on the weather, and make you wonder if I should get a prescription for Prozac 😉 .

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One of the best lessons I ever learned was from a woman speaking about the Twenty-Third Psalm.

The visuals that she created in my imagination are with me still, and there is not a time when I hear or read that Psalm that the pictures do not resurface in my mind’s eye.

The main point that I took from her beautiful speaking had to do with “the shadow of the valley of death.” Doesn’t that simply sound dreadful? Frightening? Foreboding? Dark? That is what I had always thought … until I heard her speak on this passage.

She described:
– the beautiful coolness, and protection that walking through a shadow on a hot day can provide
– the lush green, and refreshment that come from spending time in a valley

From her description, I am certainly not left with images that are dreadful, frightening, foreboding or dark. I am instead left with images of solace, rest, refreshment, and wonder.

“He makes me lie down …”

We mere humans are not often very wise. We push through the business of life. We equally push through the difficult of life, putting our nose to the grind, working only to get it finished (whatever ‘it’ might be). At times, God needs to force us to lie down. Not as an abusive figure who pushes us to our bed, but as a loving Father who sees our blurry-eyed stare, our inability to think straight, our fatigue that encompasses us from the inside out. And he gently takes our child-like hand, and leads us to a place of perfect rest, where He can watch over and care for our personal needs that we have denied.

“Yea, though I walk …”

It says nothing of running, yet, when we are going through a dark and difficult valley, our greatest desire is to run, so that we can get this season over! This was another of the points of the speaker I had heard, Jill Briscoe. Her point was that if God has allowed us time in the valley of the shadow, then there must be purpose in our placement there. There must be a message, a lesson, a maturing that He desires us to learn. It is not a place to race through, but instead a place in which to have our souls restored, while we are being taken care of by the refreshment, and protection in that valley.

“For You are with me …”

This valley is not a place where God plunks us down, and says, “I’ll be back when you have gotten a sufficient amount of sleep, and learned your lesson.” Instead it is a place where his presence, his comfort accompany us. We do not wander through the valley alone, we are walking through it, while our hand is held by our heavenly Father. Or, like the author of the famous Footprints poem, we are cradled in His arms.

“You anoint my head with oil …”

God is giving us His blessing. This blessing is the inheritance of the eternal valley of refreshment, an eternal Garden of Eden, where we can walk and talk with our Creator.

It is here, in the valley, that we will “dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.”

And that does not sound so dreadful.

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As my two week Spring Break comes to a close, I feel refreshed and ready to return to work, and schedules, and earlier mornings (after all there ARE only nine more work days until a four day weekend … but, whose counting? 😉 ). When the break began, all I desired was a weekend away with hubby, regular walks on my favorite trail, and time with each of my kids.

It began slow, well no, it began busy, with a weekend full of activity for both hubby and I (church related). Once hubby’s time off began, four days into mine (really his time off began with him doing a full day of work-related paperwork 😦 ), I finally had time to get much needed groceries. To me, time off is not really time off until we are all off!

I had a delightful luncheon with a dozen lovely ladies, and three coffee dates with some of the sweetest women I know. Moments that refuel and encourage me, as a woman struggling to understand life.

There was the morning (oh yes, the entire morning) of ironing … it had not been done since September … sigh). There was the search for fabric for my daughter, that led to a five hour storage closet cleaning, ten bags of goods to the thrift store, and many giggles by my daughter over the photos of yours truly and hubby way back in the days leading to our wedding. Giggles that led to conversations about life, and hopes, and dreams.

There was a haircut, and lunch with my eldest daughter. There was a lunch and thrift store shopping day with my younger daughter. There was a movie date with my son. Moments with each of my kids, with no other disruptions, refills my momma heart like no other.

There were the deaths of two co-workers moms. There was the death of the fifty year old husband and father of six, two of his daughters are friends of my daughters. Moments that make you thankful for the mercy of another day.

There was more cleaning, and more purging, and more trips to the thrift store to dump another load. Another reminder of how much we have that we do not use, do not need … what I really NEED in my life should last longer than a trend?.

There were walks on my favorite trail. Walks in the sun, the rain, the snow and the hail (and that was just one day!). There were walks with hubby, with our Chinese son, with a daughter, and always with my beastie. Walks that refresh me from the inside out, walks that remind me of my Creator, and how fine His handiwork is.

There was the day of culinary therapy … something that my household was thrilled with the results of! How wonderful to create something(s) that I can watch others take delight in!

Then there was the Passion (Passion 268) concert featuring two great musicians, who led a sold out Rogers Arena in worship to God, and a calling to end human trafficking. Although I am a generation beyond their organizers intended attendee, I was reminded again, that we are all responsible for what we do, or do not do, to end such a horrific thing as use and abuse of fellow human beings.

And then there was my birthday, a delightful day when the sun was bright, and I was celebrated for my thirty-nine (with, now, four years experience) years, by family and friends, near and far.

Somehow, when when hubby and I are busy we function like a well oiled machine, but once the calendar is more cleared, the cracks in our relationship show a need for more oil, more attention, and a going deeper than “what does your day hold?” conversation. This resulted in a beautiful twenty-four hours away, to a beautiful, waterfront Hotel, where we watched the sun set at night, and the horizon lighten in the morning. A good reminder of what we already knew, but life can keep you from if you succumb to it’s demands, that time spent alone, as husband and wife, is the best thing you can do for your kids, for your health, and even for your ability to do your daily work. Lesson learned, and our next getaway is in the planning stages!

It has been a wonderful break. One that has refreshed my body, mind and spirit, refueled me for the days to come, and one that has given me much needed variety and options each and every day.

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Karla Sullivan

Progressive old soul wordsmith

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