A Good Picnic Can Reduce Stress

Take some time to read it thinking about what compassion fatigue feels and looks like. Think about the stress a person or group of persons might feel when they think they have left work to get respite only to find what they left behind right in front of them.

Take some time to think about how the fact that Jesus started teaching the people right away gave the disciples a little bit of rest. Think about how well Jesus cared for and provided for everyone in this story.
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If Refrigerators Could Talk

OH!!!! I’m not sure I really want to write this post – but the thought has been on my mind for a couple days and today, when I opened the frig and smelled that ‘I need to be cleaned’ smell I laughed inside. And when my husband said ‘Oh, and if you’ll clean the refrigerator today it would be good because garbage day is tomorrow.’ I kind of cringed . . . I prefer to get the frig cleaned before he recognizes it needs cleaning. But the moldy cucumber in the produce box could be seen and I suppose it was the combined scents of a slimy slice of deli sliced turkey and a little dab of leftover baked ham that had the familiar ‘it’s getting old sheen’ that had made our noses wrinkle this morning when we opened the door for our glasses of juice – cranberry for me and orange for him. He’s on what I call an ‘inconvenient fast.’

Inconvenient because we don’t share regular mealtimes together – but that’s another story feeding into this one because what’s left in the refrigerator right now speaks to me about more than this inconvenience of not eating meals together. We are each on our Lenten journey and while it isn’t drawing us closer to one another, perhaps we are each being drawn closer to God.

So if refrigerators could talk mine would ask – “Why did you buy so much lettuce, such a big head of broccoli and such a big onion? And why did you buy that cucumber and those two peppers when you know you don’t digest them?” And I would say – “I bought it for my husband before I knew he was going to be fasting.” And now I’m asking myself “Why didn’t you find someone to give them or take it to the food pantry, instead of throwing it away?” Aaaarrggghhhh – a good thought a little too late . . .

I hate throwing food away – I remember my father telling us at meal time that we should clean our plates because children in other countries were starving. And yes, I did ask my father one day how my stomach being too full could help someone somewhere else to not starve. He said it couldn’t so maybe I should think about them before I put the food on my plate. And I still wondered how that would help those other kids. That was then, and tonight I think . . . If my refrigerator could talk it might say something like this – ‘Don’t you realize there are families whose refrigerator drawers and shelves are almost bare?’ And I would have to say ‘Yes, indeed I do and this is what I’m going to have to do. Buy less for my husband and me and give more to them.’

If refrigerators could talk during the season of lent they might give us some common sense and lead to some changed lives . . . .

. . . give us this day our daily bread . . .

Interesting that cleaning my refrigerator led me to thinking about The Lord’s Prayer . . .

I am more aware now, that if I can use more restraint at the grocery store when shopping for my husband and I, I will reduce the amount of guilty stress I feel by ‘wasting food.’
I am also more aware that when I use more restraint at the grocery store when shopping for us, I will be able to help reduce the stress level of a family in need who is praying ‘give us this day our daily bread’ with true sincerity and hope.

Scanned Book Cover

Giving Up to Take It In (Fasting to Feast)

DoveAll around the world Christians and non-Christians are talking or hearing talk about this season of change that many churches have named ‘Lent.’  Traditionally it is taught about as a season of fasting.  As a child it was all about giving up meat on Wednesday and Fridays, especially Friday.  Friday Fish Fries got started this way – the fishermen must have started it, I thought, when I was a child.  I thought it was the disciples who were fisherman who started eating fish on Friday – the day Jesus died, maybe fish helped them remember him.   That was my childlike faith and since I wanted to be like the disciples I, like my family ate the fish on Fridays.

Then I grew up a little, and I heard the story about the disciples and Jesus after the resurrection and the fish fry they had and then I thought it interesting that the first disciples Jesus called were fishermen and how he said he would teach them how to fish for people and now he was asking them to feed him fish for breakfast.

Then I grew up even more and learned some of the purpose behind the season of lent and about purposeful fasting.  I learned it didn’t matter so much that you gave up meat, you could give up candy or soda or any kind of food and that the money and time you spent purchasing and devouring could be given to the Lord’s purpose . . . to the church or a family or person or organization in need or perhaps some of the money and time could be well spent on items that would help mature your own faith life, devotional books, calendars, prayer and thought journals.

Several years ago when I went on a silent retreat I was inspired to consider giving up my own attitudes and will to take IT in – IT being the Spirit of God.  Some people talk about having the will of God like it is so easy and natural – but it isn’t, and Jesus never taught that having a holy spirIT filled life would be easy or comfortable.

40 days of fasting in the wilderness is what happened to Jesus after the Spirit of the Lord descended and rested upon him.  I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like you are in the wilderness, but this world has a lot of wilderness places where we can find ourselves alone . . . having the Word of God resting in our hearts can help us resist all the things that Jesus resisted.

So, if you’ve never fasted for your own benefit – I’m giving you permission to do that.  Not that you need my permission, but more that you need to give yourself permission to give up whatever you want to – an attitude, television, shopping, desserts, coffee, cream, anything and take the time to care for yourself,  if you need to do that – and you do – fill yourself with the loving words of God, “Come to me all of you  who are tired and weary, afraid, busy, overwhelmed, lost . . . Come to the Lord and allow the Lord to help you care for yourself during this season so that you can care for others feeling a little less pressured, forced or rushed. God loves cheerful giving . . . because God loves you he want you to remember that caring for yourself is a loving thing to do and Jesus wants you to love yourself as well as the Lord and your neighbor – you are in the middle of that equation:  Love of God + self + neighbor = the 2nd greatest commandment.    The first is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength . . . maybe give up doubt, fear, or anger toward him . . . toward yourself . . . toward other people . . .   let this be a season of letting the Spirit of the Lord Rest Upon You . . . .