The Gift of Sleep– Musings and Prayers

 

I took the red-eye home from California last Wednesday, and I didn’t sleep at all on the flight (because I was fascinated watching out the window, seeing the brilliantly lit cities, solitary lights shining in the dark, and the deep dark of uninhabited regions). Consequently I was as tired as I can remember all day Wednesday and am only now caught up on sleep, so sleep has been very much on my mind.

I love the way Milo curls into a ball when he sleeps

Because of my sleep-deprived state, the following verses about God giving sleep to those he loves came to mind when I thought of what to ponder this week. Then I decided to look up my old records and see what verses I had written on around this date in previous years, and I found that on June 26, 2011 I had written on these same verses! I don’t know why I had, since this was my first red-eye flight and probably my first completely sleepless night since college days, but it seems very timely, so I’m using it again on June 26th, just slightly revised.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127: 1-2

Monday: What different kinds of work do you do, whether as a job, or in your home, or in some capacity as a volunteer? Bring it all before God and ask him to work with and through you, making your work effective and good and of eternal value.

Tuesday: Ask God for wisdom about your work. Are there any changes you could be making in what you’re doing? How about in how much you’re doing? I know that I tend to say yes to too many requests for my time, so this is a question I need to ask myself often, remembering that it is ultimately God’s work and not all my responsibility. Let’s listen carefully for his guidance today.

Wednesday: What or who do you try to protect or safeguard? Yourself? Someone or something else? Ponder the statement that unless the LORD watches, our watching is in vain, and commit yourself and that which is precious to you into his care.

Thursday: Does anxiety drive you to work too much? If so, think about God’s promise to supply your needs and protect you, then entrust yourself and your needs to him.

Friday: As you go to bed tonight, thank God for the gift of sleep, and ask him to help you receive it peacefully.

Saturday: God wants us to be fruitful in our work and to have peace and rest. Praise him for his love and goodness that bless our lives every day.

The sweet sleep of a newborn :)

Invitation to come and rest– Musings and prayer

I am in San Francisco this week meeting my new granddaughter, Elizabeth, and helping my son and daughter-in-law adjust to life with a toddler and a baby–a time of much joy, and I am filled with gratitude. I am also being reminded of how exhausting it is to care for an energetic toddler, and I know my son and daughter-in-law will often be tired in the coming weeks and months. So weariness and rest are on my mind, and this week I want to meditate on Jesus’ invitation to those who are weary to come to him and rest.

Sometimes when I read and meditate on Jesus’ words, they present a different picture of what he’s like than I’ve thought, whether because of my own experiences, or society’s view of him, or even from how’s he’s been represented by the church. That’s one reason I read and reread and ponder his words as recorded in the gospels and why I also always appreciate hearing the thoughts of others who are reading them with fresh eyes. I’m including the passage in two very different translations, since that also sometimes helps me get a fresh perspective on what I’m reading.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Monday: Of all the voices around you, how many invite you to rest? How often do you actually rest in a way that leaves you refreshed in both body and soul?

Tuesday: What burdens are you dealing with? Are you weary from carrying them? If so, Jesus’ invitation is for you, to come and rest. Take some time today to really rest, receiving whatever opportunity you have to rest as a gift.

Wednesday: At times, when I’m really wound up or on the go, I find it hard to slow down and rest, even when I have the opportunity. Jesus invites us to learn how to rest from him. So many of the voices around us are telling us to work harder, produce more, make ourselves better, but Jesus invites us to come as we are and receive from him. Ponder this thought today and think about how Jesus’ words differ from the world’s demands.

Thursday: Jesus is gentle and humble. Let’s meditate on that today, thinking about what that means for our relationship with him and also for how we live in relationship with others.

Friday: What might the “unforced rhythms of grace” look like in our daily life. Let’s ponder this throughout the day today.

Saturday: Do your life or responsibilities sometimes feel too heavy? Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden light– that he doesn’t lay loads on us too heavy for us to bear. Ask God to help you know what is from him and what are actually demands from others that aren’t something God is calling you to deal with. Jesus calls us to walk and work with him, so that we don’t have to do it alone and so we can get the rest we need.

A bundle of sweetness
Paul stopping to smell the flowers

Happy 13th Birthday, Rowan!

It’s hard to believe that Rowan is thirteen years old. It feels like he’s always been with me, so it seems as though he should be much older than thirteen. Some days he seems older than thirteen, when he isn’t really on the ball, but then other days he is more his old self (and thankfully there have been many more of the latter recently). This spring we’ve been spending hours outside just enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and scents on the breezes. Rowan loves to lie in the grass watching whatever I’m doing.

DSCN5926

Recently when I was gardening he decided to help…Flowerpots have always been some of his favorite toys.

And occasionally he’ll still play tag with me…

Waiting to play tag around the hay rake- our favorite game
Ready, Set… Go! (I only caught his feet and chin in the photo since he leaped just as I took the picture)
Ready or not, here I come!
I can still catch you, Mom!

And then we sit on the deck watching the world, Rowan with an ear always cocked in my direction.

Watching the world; listening for Mom

I know all the time I have with my Rowan is a gift, and I cherish each day with him. Happy Birthday, my sweet boy, and I hope you have many more years to share with me.

May light shine in the darkness…

‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ John 1:5

‘Blessed be the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

We’ve been made very aware of darkness in the world this past week, and many lives have been shattered. Let’s seek God’s comfort and then share that comfort with those who are hurting, so that we can help reflect the light of Christ into the darkness.

Monday: Thank God for the assurance that his light is not overcome by darkness. Ask him to help you focus on the light every day in the face of dark news.

Tuesday: Pray for others who feel overwhelmed by evil and darkness, that they would keep their eyes on God’s light and receive his comfort.

Wednesday: Think of times God has comforted you in the past, and ask him how you can share that with those who have suffered losses.

Thursday: Thank God for first responders and others who give sacrificially to help in terrible situations. Pray that many people would experience God’s love and seek his light as they see the evil wrought by darkness.

Friday: Pray that God would show you how you can reach out with his light to touch broken and hurting people in our communities, so that they would experience the support of true community.

Saturday: Praise God that he is a God of light and love and comfort. Ask him to help you become more like him.

Acadia Artist Retreat 2016- Great week of sketching!

I’m just home from a fabulous week of sketching and painting at Acadia National Park, mostly on the Schoodic Peninsula. Schoodic is beautiful no matter what the weather is doing, which is good, since the weather changes quickly and rarely seems to do as predicted. I love the softened atmosphere of foggy and rainy days just as much, as the brilliant colors and contrasts of sunny days.

There were three wonderful instructors who each gave us an hour and a half of instruction and tips the first three days, and the rest of the time was unscheduled time for painting– a wonderful way to structure the week. Meal times were great for sharing adventures and thoughts about art and nature, and a couple of times we had sessions where we shared and discussed the art we had been doing there. I loved seeing what everyone was doing, all very diverse styles and mediums, and I learned a lot from observing and from hearing how the other artists thought about their work.

During the week I got the wonderful news that our new granddaughter, Elizabeth, had just been born, which made me walk around the rest of the week with a smile on my face and joy in my heart. I’ll be heading to San Francisco to meet Elizabeth in two days, and have much to do in the meantime, so this post will mostly be photos of my work. I did very few actual paintings, focusing instead on filling two sketchbooks with landscapes and with field sketches of wildlife.

Click on images to see them larger

Meander journal of meandering through Schoodic -side 1
Meander journal of meandering through Schoodic- Side 2
Sketching at Schoodic Point while Elizabeth was being born
Masked Shrew (found dead on the road)
Schoodic rock study (on Little Moose Island)
Raven’s Nest
Field sketches of Black-throated Green Warbler and Eastern Wood-Pewee
Ranger Kate leading us on a geology walk
One evening’s activity- figure drawing!
Peregrine Falcon field sketches
Peregrine Falcon field sketches
Little Moose Island from Blueberry Hill

 

Moon, stars, and the wonder of creation– Musings and prayers

“O Lord, our Lord,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!”
                                                            Psalm 8:1, 3-5, 9

God reveals his glory in all of his creation, and this coming week I will be reveling in the glory of creation as I spend time on the Maine coast. We’re close to a new moon, when the sky is dark, with stars  unobscured by moonlight, so, weather permitting, I am planning to go to a location with no lights and stand in wonder under a dazzling canopy of stars.

With an abundance of natural beauty all around me, I’ll be pondering the magnitude and splendor of the universe and what that says to me of the God who created it all. I hope you will also be able to make time to go outside some clear night to look at the stars and meditate on what they reveal of our great God. Here is the url for a website that puts the size of Earth in perspective with the rest of the Universe- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nroo-i8t8vg

Monday: Ask God to open your eyes and your mind to what he is telling you through the world he created. Slow down long enough to look about you and savor some aspect of creation.

Tuesday: Take some time today to consider the vastness of creation. What does it tell us of God’s power? Praise God for his creation and for what it reveals to you of who he is.

Wednesday: Meditate today on the wonder of God’s love for us, small as we are in the world he has made. What does that reveal to you of your worth to God? Let’s carry that thought with us throughout the day today.

Thursday: Think of the many peoples of the world who are treated as though they have no value or honor for any of a variety of reasons. Ask God what you can do as an individual to make a difference in some small way. What can you do to help the people you encounter on a daily basis have a better sense of their inherent value?

Friday: Recently I’ve been stepping outside several times a day on overly busy or stressful days to simply focus on the sun shining on treetops, or dewdrops sparkling on morning grass, or on stars watching over the earth at bedtime. Doing this has calmed me and has often helped me regain perspective on who God is and who I am. Think about how you can plan in some intentional moments of creation observation today and in the coming days.

Saturday: Let’s wrap this week up by looking for things great and small in creation that fill us with wonder and awe at God’s greatness. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Full moon sketch
Night sky sketch

 

Summer Acadia Artist Retreat

I’m almost all packed. The important stuff- piles of art supplies- are all in the car (and have been for several days). I still have to throw some clothes in a bag, grab the book of John Muir writings that I got from the library, sling my binoculars around my neck, and then… jump in the car and head north and east to Acadia National Park. This time I’m going to be there for a week-long artist retreat. I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with two of the instructors, whom I met when I was at Acadia last fall, and meeting the third instructor and spending time with the other artists who will be there. I’m eager to learn from the three artists, each with different areas of expertise, and am so looking forward to lots of free time for plein air painting. I can hardly wait!

The weather report is calling for some rain, so at the suggestion of a friend who’s also going to be there, I have set up the back of our minivan as a traveling studio. I’m all set to paint from either the back or the side door of the car, depending on views and parking. Hopefully, though, we’ll have plenty of good weather for painting fully en plein air.

Traveling studio in our minivan

In addition to being very excited about focused time for painting in such a beautiful, quiet place (we’ll be on the quiet Schoodic Peninsula part of the park), I’m looking forward to the quiet of retreat time after a busy few weeks here at home. Time to think, to absorb the peace of nature, and to meditate on all the ways that creation speaks to me of who God is and who I am. I spent today at a local monastery having a quiet day to help slow my whirling mind a bit and to do some planning for my retreat time, both spiritually and artistically. And now I am going to go finish packing some warm clothes (highs are supposed to be in the low 60’s!) and go to bed to dream of surf and wind and trees and birds.

Schoodic Point (painted from a photo I took last month)