Blanket

20120117-183441.jpg

Right now I’m cuddled up, nursing my babe, while my son snuggles on my side, watching Super Why and the snow falls out the window. Tucked under a blanket that my great grandma made, I am reminded of something I wrote a while ago and decide to share…

The Blanket

I am thin and tattered.
Frayed and slightly unraveled.
I am old with stories etched in every seam.
Yet I am soft.
I am warm.
There are stories left for me to see.
I encircle those I love in comfort.
I wrap those I care for in strength.
I am a blanket,
Yet I am not only a blanket.
I am something more.
I am a symbol.
I am the water that surrounds at birth.
I am the arms of the mother.
I am the sun beaming all around.
I am the embrace of the lover.
I am the earth that welcomes us all to rest.
I am a blanket,
And I am yours.

Rejoicing in the journey,
Bethany

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

A Prayer for Solstice, A Prayer for Advent

Today is the shortest day of the year. Today is the longest night of the year. Just typing the words makes my bones hurt and my heart heavy.

Today I feel like I have a number of people in my life who are experiencing a stripping down, a confussion, a “dark night of the soul”. Light feels missing, guidance feels lacking, and darkness feels eminent. The darkening reality of the physical world seems to fit well with the confusion and darkness of the soul.

We need light to break through.

And so today I celebrate Winter Solstice by remembering that light is coming back into the world. From this day forth light will slowly, but steadily, grow. Each day will bring more of its warmth; each day will bring more of its clarity. Today marks the turning of the tides.

And so today I pray this for my friends and for myself…

Lord, hold the darkness at bay.
Say unto the night, “This far shall thou come and NO farther.”
Speak life, and light unto our hearts.
Father, light the path before us, we don’t need to know the whole way,
but give us light to see the next step.
Spirit, break through the cold, the dark, the heavy, and lighten the load.
We moan for light. We moan for grace. We moan for You, Lord, Jesus.
Come, light of the world. Come.
Amen.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

A Winter Quote

“It is not the high summer alone that is God’s… All man’s winters are His – the winter of our sorrow, the winter of our unhappiness, even ‘the winter of our discontent.’
Winter does not belong to death, although the outside of it looks like death. Beneath the snow, the grass is growing. Below the frost, the roots are warm and alive. Winter is only a spring too weak and feeble for us to see that it is living. The cold does for all things what the gardener has sometimes to do for valuable trees: he must half kill them before they will bear any fruit. Winter is in truth the small beginnings of the spring.
Winter is the childhood of the year. Into this childhood of the year came the child Jesus; and into this childhood of the year must we all descend. It is as if God spoke to each of us according to our need: ‘My son, my daughter, you are growing old and cunning; you must grow a child again, with my Son, this blessed birth-time. You are growing old and selfish; you must become a child. You are growing old and careful; you must become a child. You are growing old and distrustful; you must become a child. You are growing old and petty, and weak, and foolish; you must become a child – my child, like the baby there, that strong sunrise of faith and hope and love, lying in his mother’s arms in the stable.” – George MacDonald

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Winter Rhythm and Trusting God

Lately, I’ve been feeling really depressed. Honestly, I think some of it is stress from a busy schedule and uncertain future. Some of it is from some things that God allowed to be stirred up and ways he allowed me to hurt over the past month, but I think some of it is just natural and seasonal.

It seems to me that in winter, especially in climates like Prague, there is this natural desire to slow down. With short cold days, there’s a desire to stay inside, to be home and spend a lot of time with family and close friends. There’s a desire for familiar and comforting things. I’ve felt this very tangibly lately. I don’t want to keep long active hours, I don’t want to run all over town, and I don’t want to meet a bunch of new people or spend times in large groups. Instead, I long to reflect, to read, to think, to ponder, to write, to have deep conversations with close friends, to cuddle up with my husband, and to eat and drink warm food.

Today I was trying to catch up on blogs that I’d gotten behind on and I came across this post, by Christine Sine at Godspace. She writes:

“Maybe, we reflected, we need to take notice of our bodies and build a slow down time into our winter schedules. In nature the winter is a time when on the surface there seems to be no activity, but beneath the ground roots are growing deep and strong. In fact shrubs planted in the Fall send down deeper roots than those planted in the spring and so are more resistant to drought. Maybe we too are more resistant to spiritual droughts if we take time to slow down and reflect over the winter, allowing our roots to go down deep…We are not meant to be continually producing fruit or even be continually blossoming. In fact plants that are forced into bloom at the wrong season by florists never recover their natural rhythm. Most of them will never blossom again.”

This struck me so profoundly. I feel this physical and natural urge to slow down, but I realize that this beginning season of winter has been and is and will continue to be incredibly busy for me. I have not been listening to my body or this call I have felt to rest and slow down, and instead I have sped up. And it seems that this pressure and speed of action will continue for some time still.

It seems interesting to me that this is common for many people – winter is actually a very crowded and busy season, not a relaxed or slow season. Especially December is a month filled with stress and activities for people, not a month of reflection and waiting and rest. And January as well, though a slower month in many ways, it is also a time when we set  new goals and try to plunge head first, full speed ahead, into the New Year. January is often a time for making changes, for starting new things, for trying to create fruit in our lives – does this seem counterintuitive to anyone else?

This month will be busy. I can’t really change that. But, what I can do is not add to that busyness. I can choose to take time as often as possible to reflect and be with God. I can be picky about the things that I add to my schedule and the things that I choose to let drop. I can choose not to give into the pressure to perform, to produce, to fill my days with motion. I can choose a different rhythm.

I was talking with a friend the other day and she made a statement about Sabbath and about rest. She basically said that choosing to rest is choosing to trust God.

So, often I choose to produce and perform and crowd my schedule, because I am not trusting God, because I want to control my life and control the outcomes of my life. I choose not to rest, not to slow down, not to take the time to put down deep roots, because I feel that I have to make things happen. But, the truth is that I can’t make anything happen.

The truth is that only God can provide for my needs.
The truth is that only God can really raise financial support for Bryan and I.
The truth is that only God produces a harvest and makes fruit grow and drop from the trees.
The truth is that only God draws people to himself, and only God grows a church.
The truth is that only God can make me or some project that I think is mine succeed.

Really, my job isn’t to make anything happen – I can’t really make anything happen. Yes, God chooses to involve me in his work, but it is HIS work, not mine. Really, what God calls me to is to abide in him, to rest in him, to put down deep roots and stay connected to the true vine, Christ Himself. He calls me to listen to him. Sometimes He may call me to action and sometimes He may call me to rest, but the important thing is that I am connected and listening to Him.

Lord, teach me to trust YOU. Teach me to rest in YOU. Teach me to not grasp at control, or rush forward in my desperation for results.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)