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A Place at the Table: Everyday Doxology

As much of a social butterfly as I consider myself to be, one social situation sends my heart racing – and not from excitement. I turn into a bundle of nerves when I have to find a seat at a table, especially in a public place. What if there’s not a seat for me? What if I sit in someone else’s place? I’ve come to discover that those fears reflect some fears I didn’t realize I had about the Kingdom of God. I’ve learned though, sitting around tables across the world, that there is always room at His table. Hopefully you’ll find some encouragement in these stories shared around my table.

 

Everyday Doxology

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psalm 9:1-2

As crazy as it may seem to some, I had never heard the word Doxology until I was in college. Twenty-four hours after a tornado ripped through my college town, I found myself in the backyard of a pastor’s home with 50 college students singing these four lines:

MondayPraise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Him all creatures here below,

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts,

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

Amen.

The only thing that made sense to us in a season of destruction and rebuilding was to praise God. For weeks after the tornado, we would gather in a pastor’s backyard for dinner and sing the Doxology together. Those nights helped those four lines sink into my bones and take root, to a point where I find myself still breathing out those words habitually throughout the day.

It’s easy to repeat the Doxology after a day when the sun is shining and everything is going your way. It’s easy to stand and sing praises when your life is an adventure and the hand of God is evident in every day. But sometimes a tornado sweeps through your life, literally or figuratively, and you’re stuck figuring out which way is up again.

The Doxology is a piece of quiet comfort to me. It’s a simple song full of strength, and one that can almost be finished in one breath. It’s a song for times when we’re not eloquent or put together, for when all we know to do is to acknowledge that God is with us.

When we find our place at the table of God surrounded by the people of God, praise should be pouring off our lips. Our Creator delights in us every day, in every moment. This should lead us to delight in Him in the same way, to live and breathe that Doxology every day and in every moment. The good and the bad, the happy and the sad—whether the sun is shining or a tornado is coming.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Chelsey

What To Do When You’re Doing Too Much: Say Yes to Rest

Are you often overwhelmed? Overcommitted? Do you have a hard time saying no? Then hang around this week. We’re going to start off the new year by learning to say “no” to filling our days with busyness and say “yes” to the things God wants in our lives.

 

Say Yes to Rest

And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Matthew 6:31, ESV
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:40-42, ESV

mary-martha-and-jesus-1354812-mI admit it. This is something I struggle with every day. I have a tendency to stay up way into the night to get things done that I didn’t have time for during the day. I spend my weekends catching up on things at home that I’ve neglected during my busy week. I’ve often lamented, “If only I didn’t need to sleep! I could get so much more done!”

I don’t know about you, but I have a very hard time relaxing when there’s laundry to do, dog hair to vacuum, errands to run and projects I need to finish. It doesn’t help that we’ve always been told things like “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” and that a Proverbs 31 woman never stops working—she rises while it is still night and her lamp never goes out. Sitting around doing nothing? I can’t even comprehend that most days.

As admirable as the woman in Proverbs 31 is, I don’t think this kind of non-stop busyness is what Jesus wants for our lives. When Martha was fretting over Mary not helping her serve their guests, Jesus gently reminded her that it wasn’t necessary to be so anxious, and that Mary had chosen the thing that mattered—spending time with Him.

I know at times I get so busy that I forget to spend time with Him. I try to remember each morning to read my devotions and pray, but on those days when you sleep through the alarm and wake up running, sometimes the day slips by before I realize I haven’t taken that time.

Women, especially mothers, tend to put everyone else’s needs ahead of our own. We often neglect things like our own rest, whether that’s physical or spiritual. And ladies, they’re equally important. (I’m preaching to myself here, trust me!) We cannot continue to serve others or God if we’re physically and spiritually exhausted.

Physical rest is vitally important. It’s linked to heart health, brain function, and even weight loss. Scientific studies have shown that adults who get 7-8 hours of sleep at night are actually much more productive during the day than those who burn the midnight oil to get things done. I know it’s not always easy, especially if you have small children, but try to remember that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and caring for it is your responsibility. If you’re exhausted and sick, you won’t be much help to anyone.

The same is true for spiritual rest. Find time, even a few minutes a day, to sit down, cast your cares on Jesus, and then listen to what He has to say. Plug in to the Scriptures. Recharge spiritually. Talk to God as you go through your day. If you’re afraid people will think you’re nuts, then pray silently. Give thanks for little things like a good parking place at Walmart or the feel of the sun shining through the window. Connect with God, as often as possible, because whenever you do, your spirit will find rest. And the best part?

He’s always there, waiting.

In His Love,

Amy

What To Do When You’re Doing Too Much: It’s Okay to Say No

Are you often overwhelmed? Overcommitted? Do you have a hard time saying no? Then hang around this week. We’re going to start off the new year by learning to say “no” to filling our days with busyness and say “yes” to the things God wants in our lives.

 

It’s Okay to Say No

My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.
Proverbs 3:21-22 NIV

saying-noThis is such a great opportunity to serve! I’ve really wanted to read this book or do this Bible study. I’ll join this group because I’ve been looking for buddies to work out with. I really need to take this class because I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that. If I don’t agree to help plan that, who will? Besides, they need me!

Guilty of any of these? I know I am. Wanting to help, wanting to learn new things, wanting to find ways to connect socially is not a bad thing. Overcommitting yourself to the point of stress in your life is. We can always justify what we think we should be doing, as well as what we simply want to do. Unfortunately, we have only so much of us to go around, and we can start to feel like Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” One of the most apt descriptions I’ve ever heard!

Most women are natural caretakers. There’s a joke about what would’ve happened had the three wise men who came to baby Jesus been three wise women instead. They’d have asked directions, shown up on time, helped deliver the baby, brought practical gifts like diapers, made a few casseroles for Mary to heat up later, and cleaned the stable while they were at it. It’s funny, but there’s a lot of truth there!

Learning to say “no” is very hard for a lot of us. It’s just not our nature to turn down someone requesting our help. But when we overcommit, we have so much on our plates that we can’t give everything the necessary time. We end up rushing through things, or forgetting them altogether. We want to help, and yes, receive the blessings that come from serving, but are we really serving if we’re so overcommitted we can’t give something a hundred percent of our attention?

Saying “no” to something I really want to do is one of the hardest things for me. What I’ve learned is that most of the time the project will still get done, even if I’m not the one to do it. Maybe by someone who wouldn’t come forward as quickly as I would but is just as willing to help. Maybe someone who has never been asked. As I said before, saying no often gives someone else the opportunity to be blessed by serving. So if your schedule is already busting at the seams, and you know that still, small voice is telling you you’re already too busy, don’t be afraid to say no. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Pray for the right person to come forward. Suggest a name if you know someone who might like to help. You never know how that opportunity might bless someone else.

In His Love,

Amy