Tag Archive | religion

Quiet Times in a Noisy World

I read something the other day that made me stop and think. It went something like this: God’s characteristic way of working is in quietness and prayer. Yet, it seems that in today’s society, quietness is nearly non-existent.

Nearly everywhere we go, noise is being promoted. Whether we’re shopping, eating out or participating in any number of activities, there is usually music or a radio station being played “in the background.” And restaurants of varying sizes and clientele now offer TVs as well — usually more than one and usually on different stations with the volume turned on. To carry on a conversation at some of these restaurants becomes frustrating, if not impossible. Then we also have added into the mix the not-so-private cell phone conversations being carried on at the table next to us. This list goes on and on. That’s what’s outside our homes.

Sadly, once in the privacy of our homes, things may not be much better. Family dinners around the kitchen table with everyone sharing their day are all but extinct. In many homes, families may still gather at the kitchen table, but cell phones are positioned next to plates as if they are another utensil and a TV is blaring nearby because we don’t want to miss the news, or because one of our favorite shows is on. Then there are the “family” dinners that aren’t even in the kitchen at all. Instead, these are found in the living room or family room with the TV front and center. And, for many families, most dinners are “on the go,” grabbing a bite between activities which have family members running helter-skelter in multiple directions.

Many of us have become so accustomed to noise that we find it harder and harder to do without it. Even when we’re alone, we have to have noise. The TV comes on first thing in the morning, is turned back on immediately after work, and stays on until the sleep timer shuts it off for us. And, what’s really sad is that sometimes we sit and watch TV shows we don’t even particularly like or enjoy — we just want the noise. We seem to have an aversion to quiet. I know. I’ve been guilty.

Bad habits can start innocently enough. For me, it was the death of my husband. The noise helped keep me from feeling quite so alone. But after a while, I realized this was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. So I intentionally went back to my pre-widow days of enjoying true quiet times alone with God in the early morning hours — no TV, no background music, only the sound of clocks ticking. I returned to the wonderful anticipation of waking up and being excited to see what God has for me in His Word.

If we are conditioned to only respond to noise, we will miss out on God’s word for us. We will miss hearing his still, small voice. As Christians, we should no longer be content to remain in our fast-paced, noisy world and let our time alone with God “just happen.” We must re-condition ourselves and purposely set aside a time of quiet and solitude every day. It must become a priority for us to find a time and a place where we can meet one-on-one with God and enjoy his presence.

I realize what is idyllic for one is not for all. We are all made differently and we are all wired a bit differently. And, besides that, no two homes are the same. So many factors have to be considered when planning your personal quiet time. For instance, I think of the working single parents with young children at home who are often stretched so thin with responsibilities that it’s hard to find time to think, much less spend a few relaxing quiet moments alone with God.

For those of you who struggle to find a few minutes to yourselves for a quiet time, I encourage you to read a blog Jennifer Rothschild recently posted entitled, “Who Made the Quiet Time Rules, Anyway?” at http://www.jenniferrothschild.com.

Bottom line: quiet times alone with God don’t often “just happen.” They must be planned. And it’s up to each one of us to evaluate our lifestyle and intentionally plan our daily one-on-one time with God. Whether it is in the privacy of your own home or (as Jennifer suggests) in the car or on the treadmill, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that, wherever you are, you are able to turn off the world’s noise, focus on God, and fine-tune your hearing so you can hear what His Spirit is whispering to you.

Question: In the fast-paced world that circles around you, how do you intentionally set aside a quiet one-on-one time with God? What does your quiet time look like?

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People Watching

Had a chance to do some people-watching Saturday, and it proved very interesting. I was helping my sister with a garage sale. My job: money-handler. Her job: price dickerer. I realize that’s not technically a word, but that’s what she did — negotiate a price that allowed both parties to walk away happy (or at least satisfied).

Let me introduce you to some of the people we met. There was the tall, thin man in cowboy boots who sounded every bit like you’d imagine a cowboy should — slow, steady words in a deep, base voice. He was ecstatic (at least as ecstatic as a cowboy can be) over his purchase of a couple coffee cans full of miscellaneous nails, screws and drill bits. He mentioned twice that that $1.00 purchase saved him a trip to Lowes. Glad we could help!

We also met the grandmother — or was she the mother? — of a 1st grade boy and 2nd grade girl who were “shopping” with her. I never did determine her exact relationship to the kids and it was hard to tell her age. In talking with her, however, I learned that “John” is in the same 1st grade class as my granddaughter. As soon as that connection was made, her shopping suddenly ended and she began a detailed account of her over-the-top plans for his birthday party later this month. Of course, my granddaughter will be invited because nowadays no one in a class is excluded from receiving an invitation. And, I received my own personal invitation as well (probably an effort to enlist my help in chaperoning all those kids)! Not sure what, if anything, she purchased. My head was too busy spinning with visions of cotton candy, trampolines, blow-up bounce houses, monkey bars with air mattresses beneath them, and of course, cake, ice cream and thirty 1st graders running helter-skelter all over the place!

Then there was the man who got a chuckle over my sister’s use of the word “dicker.” He apparently hadn’t heard that word in years and it took him back to his stomping grounds as a kid growing up in South Carolina. Not sure what he ended up buying either!

And then there was the man looking at (and purchasing) several tools. He would buy a couple of things, circle around and buy another couple of things. Then he continued to circle around again and again and again, buying things with every lap he made. He reminded me of a kid in a candy store. He had a little money to spend and wanted to make sure he got the most important things first. Either that or he just had a hard time making decisions! But he was funny and he was buying stuff, so we didn’t mind that he was creating a well-worn path in the garage floor.

The last one I’ll mention was the mother of three. She was from out of town and stopped by because of a last-minute, desperate attempt to find something to fill her time while her senior high daughter was taking an SAT test at a school nearby. She was honest right off the bat. She wasn’t shopping for anything. She just had time on her hands. Fortunately both my sister and I had been through the SATs with kids, so we could identify with her anxiety as well as the need to find something to do to pass the time. We didn’t mind that she walked away with nothing. It was a joy just to visit with her.

People. All kinds of people. All ages, sizes and shapes of people. Some interacting with us as they shopped; others choosing to remain silent and distant. All landing at our sale because of one little sign posted at the end of the street.

Out of all the people who came to the sale, these five stand out in my mind over 24 hours later. All left an impression of some kind — mostly good. I can still see their faces, expressions and mannerisms, and vaguely hear their voices in my head. Which makes me wonder. Was there anything I said or did that left an impression on them in return? If so, I pray it was good. Even hot, sweaty and tired, did my speech or mannerism reflect Christ in any way? Oh, how I pray it did.

People and choices. They seem to go hand-in-hand. Nearly everything we do in life is a choice we make. We choose to get up in the mornings. We choose what to wear. We choose to get the kids up and ready for the day. We choose whether or not to start the day with God. We choose to go to work. We choose to walk into the office with a frown or a smile with a cheerful greeting. We choose where to eat, what to eat, and how much to eat. We choose. And even if we find ourselves in the rare situation where a choice is made for us (be it good or bad), we still have a choice in how we react.

People and choices. There’s no living without them. So why not make the best choices possible and put your best foot forward wherever you go with whomever you meet? Remember, there are people watching you. And you never know when you could be leaving behind an impression of eternal significance.

On the Search for a Rainbow

“Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind.” Genesis 9:14-15 (NIV)

I saw a rainbow the other day. Its colors weren’t brilliant; nor was it particularly large. In fact, for a time I thought I may have been imagining it.

You see, I was on a search for that rainbow. I didn’t just WANT to see it — I desperately NEEDED to see it.

My life had been paralleling the storm outside. I had been watching the storm clouds brewing. I could see the lightning in the distance and faintly hear the rumbles of thunder. And I wondered just how close the storm would come or if it would simply pass me by.

It didn’t. Instead, this life storm hit me full force.

I was left shocked, battered, bruised, and drenched with tears when its intensity thundered down on me. The storm was much worse than I expected; the aftermath much more devastating than I could have ever dreamed. What had I done to deserve such treatment?

The responses of those who brought me such heartbreak and tears were the pat answers most Christians feel obligated to say in situations like these: “God will provide.” (I know that.) “We just know there’s something better out there for you.” (How do you know that?) “You’ll end up in a much better place than where you are now.” (Not hard to believe since the pit I was just thrown into is pretty dark.) All these pat answers are a whole lot easier to give than to receive. And, they can be downright insulting to a person who has grown up in the church and has already experienced God’s provision firsthand in other situations.

As the rain outside slowed to a trickle, suddenly a bright ray of sunshine appeared and it hit me: these are the perfect conditions to see a rainbow. So I raced from the kitchen, through the living room, and out the front door to check the eastern sky.

I didn’t see it at first. Disappointed and refusing to believe there wasn’t one, I kept gazing. Staring. Straining my eyes to see what I knew had to be there. It’s coming! Or are my eyes just seeing what they want to see?

A few seconds later, “It’s coming!” I shouted through the open front door.

My daughter and two grandkids came running, giving me mixed reactions to my moment of excitement and wonder. My 6-year-old granddaughter took a quick look and, unimpressed, asked if she could go back to bed. My daughter humored me a bit longer, hanging around for a couple of minutes before going back to what she had been doing.

But, as I sat on that front porch step, my 3-year-old grandson, Nate, climbed up in my lap and we talked about the rainbow and watched until it began to disappear.

Nate verbalized my thoughts perfectly. “I don’t want it to go, Grandma. I want it to stay.”

Me, too, Nate. Me, too!

God’s word is saturated with promises. Sometimes his promises are clearly visible. Other times, not so much; or perhaps not at all. The rainbow is God’s visible promise to us that he is with us, protecting us through our storms of life. He will never abandon us. No matter what form they take, visible or not, God’s promises are always in tact. They are not diminished in the least just because we can’t see them. Hebrews 6:18 says, “It is impossible for God to lie.” (NIV)

If he has promised to protect us, he does.
If he has promised to love us, he does.
If he has promised to guide us, he does.
If he has promised to . . . , he does.

As a Christian, I know the promises. I also know the struggle in the wait. And every day is a battle. Part of that battle is choosing to wonder instead of worry about what the future holds. Part of that battle is rebuilding my self-esteem when nearly every shred of it disappeared. Part of that battle is trusting that God, in his wisdom, saw the storm brewing in the distance and, for whatever reason, allowed me to experience its full force.

So, bottom line: it makes no difference if your storm is weather-related, job-related, relationship-related, or whatever-related, God is God. He keeps his promises no matter what. And sometimes — sometimes — he blesses you with a clear and unmistakable visible reminder through a rainbow.

So, here I sit, several months after that initial storm, still struggling and straining to see the rainbow in all of this. I don’t just WANT to see it — I desperately NEED to see it.

6-8 Living

Welcome to my (still under construction, very “plain jane”) website where I plan to post a blog every Monday morning.  Yes, I know I posted this on Thursday, but bear with me!  This venture has been somewhat daunting for me who is not, in any stretch of the imagine, technology savvy.  You will just have to come back every Monday to see what’s new!

You will notice under my name a tag line called “6-8 Living.”  Let me begin by telling you how 6-8 Living came to be and what it is all about.

I have always been a bit partial to the numbers 6 and 8 because of my birthday — June 8th.  I’ll leave the year as a secret between me and 1,000 of my family, friends, and high school/college classmates and personnel.  Several years ago, I began to notice a lot of scripture verses I was memorizing had references of 6:8.  Micah 6:8.  Isaiah 6:8.  Matthew 6:8.  Romans 6:8.  You get the idea.  You probably know these yourself.  Being intrigued, I sat down with my Bible and began to search from Genesis to Revelation all the 6:8 passages.  While I initially wrote them all down, I finally settled on what I call my “Top Ten.” I believe living a life focused on these ten 6:8 references can change your life. So, periodically my blog of the week will focus on one of these passages of Scripture.

Other times my post will be a devotional thought. Whether we realize it or not, each one of us has within us lessons to share.  If you are out living a life, with all its bumps and bruises and mountain top experiences, and if you are able to discover a Biblically sound life application along the way, you have a devotional thought that will be of benefit to at least one other person. Feel free to share those with me.  You just might end up being one of my guest bloggers!

Sometimes I may post a short saying or thought and ask for your feedback. I may issue a challenge for us to do together or ask a question. Whatever I do, I expect to get some participation and responses!!! Don’t keep all your wisdom to yourself — share a bit with me!

Who knows? We may also venture into a bit of Bible study.  And we most certainly will start listing some of God’s characteristics and attributes.

Right now, the sky’s the limit as far as what will be posted. The only promise I can make to you and the only criteria I’m determined to latch on to and uphold with all my might is this: it will be God-honoring. Our life-walk is too short and our path too treacherous to ignore God’s blessings and how he is at work in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

So, here we go!  Thank you for partnering with me on this new journey.

Cheryl