Saturday, September 24, 2016

PEN ART AND THIS IS FALL


AND THIS IS FALL


(Writing and photography by 
Sheila Gail Landgraf)

"It is the summer's great last heat, 
It is the fall's first chill:
They meet."  
(Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt)


This old favorite verse of poetry reminds me that we are officially beginning the  Fall Season.   This lovely season always feels just a bit too short.  

I never grow tired of enjoying the time and every day feels like a fresh new gift from God. 

 Fall is my favorite season. 


The Irish love to say “Autumn days come quickly, like the running of a hound on the moor.”  

It is so true; one day you are standing in the heat of summer, and a few days later you begin to hear the snapping and cracking of the trees as they adjust to the cold and say hello to autumn.   You know it will not be long before “the frost is on the pumpkin.”   

Even the rain changes to a soaking kind of wet instead of a blowing pounding kind of wet.  Autumn rains can be soothing falling on the rooftops at night.  

You begin to smell smoke from wood stoves and fireplaces burning off the chill of their owner's houses.  

The sky becomes busier with the sights and sounds of birds migrating to a warmer place for the winter.  If you live in one spot long enough you will come to recognize the birds that have fall flight patterns through your area.  They light in ponds to rest and you know it is a sign of Fall.  So is the apple harvest, with its lovely rolling hillsides full of apple crates just brimming over with luscious fruit.        
It seems as if the trees enjoy taking turns changing their colors.  

The poplars like to go first, then the maples, then the others follow suit until they all stand vividly together, as if dressed for some elaborate banquet that we all have suddenly stumbled upon.  They  wave and invite us to their dance and we feel so honored to be their guest.  


Delicious fall recipes are spread on tables across the land, using the bountiful pumpkins, nuts, maple sugar and apples.  It is a feast for the table and a feast for the eyes as well.  Everything has a festive flavor.




Local fall customs come out to play.  Football teams and small town festivals and carnivals.  


Do you have a favorite thing about Fall that you find yourself doing or seeing or looking forward to that let’s you know for sure the season has truly arrived in your heart as well as the calendar?  


My list is full of so many things; I doubt I could even name them all.  
The fall foliage color tops my list of favorite things. My camera will get no rest during this season.  Fall is heaven to a photographer.  I love capturing the color and I love capturing the festive community events.  Each festival seems to bring a new work of art, a fresh way to recognize the beauty of the local people against the landscapes they call "home."  
My artistic soul is captured by the way the sun shines this time of the year. Technically this is called the Autumnal Equinox, but I would rather have the same 'kindred spirit' as Anne Shirley from Ann of Green Gables and make up a much better name.  I want to label this lovely autumn sunshine “The Dance of The Sun Through A Swirling Pool of Colors.”   Even those words seem not justified by the actual beauty presented.  

The word equinox comes from the Latin words “equal night.”  I like to turn that definition toward the positive in my mind and think of this season as a time of “equal light.”  At any rate, the slanted sun crosses the celestial equator and the temperatures begin to drop.  Slowly the days start to get shorter than the nights, but the hours of slanted sun daylight that we do have to enjoy are dazzling with vivid and brilliant colors and delightfully crisp air.   This all tends to make the earlier evenings seem more peaceful and relaxing.  




Fall is especially beautiful in the South as the sprawling mountainous landscapes silently explode with red, yellow and orange flames.  The leaves begin to jump off the trees and from your car windows you see people raking their yards.  Children take turns jumping into the leaf piles, until their parents take note and begin to teach them how to rake too.  


Football season totally occupies the locals of the land, and college towns create and cater to all types of personalities that best present their beloved teams.   Enthusiasm runs rampant.  Whole towns are dressed in team colors on certain days.   People bring out their sweaters and hoodies and warm socks.  They roast marshmallows and tail-gate and carve pumpkins and fill vases with flowers of rust, yellow, purple and orange.  Door fronts across the nation become much friendlier.  Friendly scarecrows appear everywhere.  Yards are full of busy squirrels scampering around trying to hurry up and finish storing their food for the winter.  If you simply watch the behavior of the animals and the plants, you will know that Fall is in progress.





Poetic love songs tend to happen during this season more than other seasons.  Tired poets are refreshed and inspired again.   Artists bring their canvases out of storage, to capture the beauty of the moments that will quickly fade and never be again.  Chefs inventing new soups are glad of the chance to turn from the challenging meals of summer to the more creative yet traditional meals of Fall.  School children suddenly seem to be on display everywhere you go, with their books and lunch pails and hair ribbons and flannel shirts.  Yellow buses bring traffic to a creeping halt as if to say “step aside, this is our season.”   Goblins and ghouls roam the streets evidently looking for food and are soon favored with sweet sticky candy apples and candy corn and chocolate. 

It is a time of great thankfulness and a time to share the bounty of the gifts that God grants to us in abundance.  It is a time for families to gather together and share the harvest that comes from loving one another.


The magic is everywhere. 
This is Fall. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

COME AS A CHILD LESSON 137 MOSES HAS A FAMILY REUNION





MOSES HAS A FAMILY REUNION
(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

Remember that Moses had a father-in-law still living the life of a pagan priest back in Midian? His name was Jethro.  Moses had entrusted his wife and children to Jethro's keeping while he tended to the things that God had commanded him to do.  

Word of mouth travels fast and Jethro heard of how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.   He marveled at all the things that had happened to Moses since leaving Midian. 

Do you remember the details of the Midianites?  The Midianites (Jethro’s people) were descendants of Abraham through his wife Keturah.  They were descendants from her son named Midian.  Remember how Abraham was good to all of these sons by Keturah?  He raised them, but he did not force them to accept his culture.  After they were all grown he sent them off with their portion of the inheritance.  Some suppose this was to protect them from trying to claim any of the intended inheritance of Isaac.  If you need to refresh your memory about the marriage of Abraham to Keturah just follow this link:  ABRAHAM AND KE`TURAH.


Midian was one of these sons  that Abraham “sent off” with his inheritance when he became a man.  After he left Abraham’s home, he settled somewhere near Mount Horeb.  This is the place where his descendants eventually lived and it was Jethro’s homeland.   Midian, being a son of Abraham’s concubine/wife, would have been exposed to the knowledge of Abraham’s God, but he was also friends with Ishmael, who would have influenced him to do things that were contrary to the ways of God.  Ishmael’s influence seems to have won out because the people living in Midian had some very pagan ways. 

The fact that Jethro was a pagan Midian priest probably meant that he would have worshiped Baal Peor and Asherah.  This would not have mattered much to Moses when he first came to Midian; because at that time Moses had not yet experienced the burning bush and encountered The True God.  Moses knew very little of God’s ways when he first came to Midian.  On the contrary; the pagan ways of the Egyptians that Moses had grown up with might have influenced Moses so much that the ways of Jethro, as a Midian priest, would not have seemed so strange. 

The things we know of this fake god called Baal Peor are really disgusting.  I see no good reason to go into great detail here; except to say I definitely understand why God would have been very angry with any worship of such a horrible fake deity.  The practices of the Baal religion were abominable.  Many of the rituals involved perversions and sexual acts before the gods.  The fake goddess, Asherah, was known as the female counterpart to this gross pagan god named Baal.  Her practices were just as disgusting as his; and everything they both did (or were deemed to do - since they were not real) was terribly abominable.  Asherah was said to have worshiped Baal Peor mostly for perverted sexual reasons.  She was known as the fertility goddess of the land.  The practices of the people who worshiped these false gods were sickening and awful to imagine; yet, Jethro, was a pagan priest of Midian; hence it is most likely that he was participating in such things, even though he was described as an honorable and glorious man and in his position as the Priest of Midian; he was well respected.  Strange; but true. 

In those days, just as in the present days in which we live; there were cultures that had no moral compass; and with their religious practices it seemed that “anything goes” was the main mode of worship.  They thought nothing of things godly people of today would find terribly wrong and uncivilized.  Midian was like this; but at the same time it was friendly and welcoming and peaceful; it became the place of refuge for Moses as he ran from Egypt after he murdered the Egyptian.  If you could overlook or not become involved with their religious rites; Midian was probably a peaceful and happy place in which to live.  You could say the same thing about Sodom and Gomorrah too.  Often the most wicked places are hidden among the most peaceful and hospitable places.  That is where we need God's Holy Spirit to give us discernment and guidance.  Moses did not have that luxury when he first came to live in Midian.  

It is even possible that Moses could have participated in the Midian religious practices from time to time.  We do not know for sure.  We do know that the Egyptian culture Moses grew up in was very pagan; so these things of Midian might not have seemed so strange to him at the time.  More than likely, Zipporah, the woman Jethro offered to Moses for a wife, also had pagan ways. 

   
We are told so very little about this Midian wife of Moses.  

I tend to believe that Zipporah came to know God through the stories that Moses brought home to her after his encounter with the burning bush.  None of this is spelled out in the scripture exactly; but the few things that are mentioned about Zipporah suggest that she had become a child of God in spite of her pagan upbringing.  If you need to refresh your memory on some of Zipporah's godly actions; reread the lesson we covered about how she circumcised the first born son of Moses:  HOW ZIPPORAH CAME TO CIRCUMCISE HER FIRST BORN SON,  

Zipporah was definitely a help to Moses following God and not a hindrance, as a few scholars have suggested.  Her obedience at one point actually saved Moses' life.  On that day she had much more spiritual discernment than Moses.  I believe it happened that way because she had converted to the ways of Israel in her heart and had begun to follow God whenever Moses did.  This is merely speculation on my part from the little pieces of the story that are given.  

It is probably shocking for anyone who has grown up hearing all of the wonderful stories of the life of Moses to think of him ever living in this pagan lifestyle of the Midians.   Yet; before Moses met God in the burning bush; he was basically a pagan too.  His blood was Hebrew; but his training was not.  Perhaps the time he was looked after by his own mother disguised as just another Hebrew nurse would have had an effect on Moses; and perhaps that is why he became sympathetic to the plot of his natural family when he learned the truth of his heritage; but, many, many years had passed and all those years were years Moses had lived in pagan cultures.  He basically lived a pagan life for at least 80 years before he met God and began to be taught the proper way to live directly by God.  This fact alone should give hope to many living in our broken world today! 

Keeping all of these things in mind; Moses probably didn’t give much thought to Jethro’s strange religious practices until he encountered The One True God.

After God revealed himself to Moses though; things in his life changed drastically.  Jethro must have been totally confused with the new Moses that evolved from that day forward.  Perhaps the conversion of Zipporah also confused and disappointed Jethro.  What father wants his daughter to change from the way he has raised her?   Who knows how many family relationships were strained after Moses began to learn of the holiness of God and a better way to live.  

These are not really such odd circumstances.  The same such situations are actually happening all the time every where on earth.  People are converted to God and they have a change of heart that produces a change in lifestyle.  They are invited to bloom where they are planted.  If they were converted in an evil and wicked culture; it will not go away just because God choses to bring them to a new understanding.  They must continue to live and function in the old world, though their spirit has been renewed.  Hence; we often find good and evil coexisting simultaneously together; not even being bothered with each other, and carrying on their own private business in their own private ways all the time.  

Even in the Christian cultures of today, there are people quietly living among us who are practicing these same disgusting, abominable religious rites and rituals which give homage to pagan gods and idols just as the Midians did.  We simply never know about these people or even notice them as being different because we are not exposed to that part of their lives.  They see what we believe and they do not share this with us.  On the surface, these people appear to be just like the people who have chosen to follow God.  They appear to be good, honest and humble.  We only see their daily interactions in the world and those interactions seem just the same; good, honorable and noble.  No one sees the hidden pagan practices except those who are actually participating in the rituals.  That is the type of picture I first got of Jethro.  He appeared to be loved and respected by all the people in every way, despite his strange pagan practices.

So we note that except for his weird religious practices; which the culture in Midian had totally accepted as normal; Jethro was considered to be a very sound citizen, one who was charming and wise and loved by all of the people.  He exuded humility and grace in every other way.  He was studious and often joyful and kind and loving toward his neighbors.  He seemed to be a loving and caring father. He had been very good to Moses at a time when Moses needed a friend.

Jethro had treated Moses as a beloved son; thinking he was an Egyptian who would be a good match for his daughter.   Moses had a love and respect for this man; no matter his odd religious practices.  Like so many times when someone converts to Christianity; those who were former friends and relatives are STILL their friends and relatives.  You do not change your relationships when you become a Christian; you simply change your ways and actions within those relationships to something that is more pleasing to God.  You hope your changed actions speak of your love and devotion for God to those who notice the change.  You strive to live in harmony and peace with all people; especially those who have been good to you in the past.  

This seemed to be the case with Moses and Jethro.  Moses did not wish to harm or upset Jethro; yet; I’m sure as time went on Moses was becoming more and more uncomfortable with the way of life in Midian, and the fact that he had married into a family ruled over by a Midian priest.  Moses seemed to be an expert in finding difficult situations in which to live his life!



Obviously, Moses eventually felt that God wanted him to leave Midian, and that had now proved out.  Zipporah’s feelings are not really explained here; but I’m sure she had mixed emotions if she had grown up in the culture of her father and had no other influences toward the ways of God. Her conversion had to be deep in order for her to blindly follow Moses from her home and the ways of her father.  She must have known that she would not be able to bring up her sons in the Midian culture and still live a godly life with Moses.  This was a very sharp turn in the road for her.   We understand how faithful she had become when she circumcises her first born son after Moses neglected this godly act.  It was this very thing that had actually caused Moses to send her and the two boys back home temporarily as he went to Egypt to deliver the people for God.  

Zipporah's faith in God and her love for Moses had to be very strong and it appears that maybe she was tested by being sent back all alone into the culture that her heart had left.  Perhaps God wished to see if she would remain true under all circumstances.   She had the good sense to hold on to the hope of returning to Moses and becoming an Israelite herself.  She remained faithful and choose to take her two sons into this new life with her.  Finally the day had come.  Her father was taking them to meet Moses and she must have been very grateful to God.    

The next thing we hear from the scriptures is the fact that they came to him when Moses was camped near The Mountain of God (Mount Horeb.)  Jethro came to see Moses by traveling through the wilderness bringing Zipporah and Moses' two sons Gershom and Eliezer.  Jethro had sent word ahead that he was coming, and Moses went out to meet them.   This must have been quite a reunion for the little family.  Jethro must have had many emotions running through his heart and his head that day.  He must have realized he might never see his daughter, her husband, or his grandsons after this visit was over.  It seems that in spite of all his pagan ways; Jethro was a compassionate man, putting the concern for others over his own desires.  

When Moses saw his father-in-law coming to greet him with his family in tow; he bowed down before him and kissed him.  This was a customary greeting for family in those days, probably an honorable way for a son-in-law to act to his father-in-law.  At any rate it appeared the two men were very glad to see each other.  

Soon the whole family was gathered into Moses’ tent for a happy reunion.  Can’t you just imagine the dinner conversations between these two men?  Moses must have vividly described the details of all that happened with Pharaoh and how God had delivered them from an impossible situation.  Jethro must have taken it all in with wide-eyed astonishment.  

Moses also must have shared with Jethro the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had sustained them through these troubles every time.  So Jethro would have heard the stories about the Red Sea crossing, the beauty of Elim, the water that was turned from bitter to sweet at Marah, and the water from the rock at Mirabah.  He would have heard how the Israelites defeated the Amalekites through the power of God.  Jethro must have heard the stories of how the Israelites began to receive food called manna from heaven, and how they had learned to keep the Sabbath because of the way God had miraculously given them their daily bread.  He heard of how the quail had been provided when the people complained of having no meat, and he heard of how the LORD went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  Jethro must have taken all of this in with amazement.  Surely none of his pagan gods had shown such wonder and might and care for his people! 

I can just imagine Zipporah coming and going with food and water as the two old friends sat at the table and talked just as they had done in days gone by, when Moses was a Shepherd of Midian.  

Zipporah must have been so relieved to be with her husband again, and to have her whole little family in one place under the shelter of his tent.  She must have cherished seeing her husband and her father in deep conversations again.  I wonder how many times Zipporah got caught in the middle of their theological disagreements?  

I can visualize the two young sons of Moses playing nearby, quietly listening to the older men talk of the amazing things that God had done for all of the people of Israel.  They must have missed having their father with them as much as they loved and respected their grandfather.  Perhaps this was the first realization for these young sons that their father and grandfather were very different in their religious beliefs.  Who do you think would carry more weight with them and their thinking as they grew older?  Role models are so important in the formative years of young children.  
  
Jethro was delighted with all of this amazing news that Moses was sharing!  As a priest who related to many gods, (a whole pantheon of them), his first reaction was to give praise to The Lord!  This was certainly a new development!  Jethro KNEW how to worship Moses' God with the same holy actions of Moses; and now Jethro seemed to understand who he should worship and thank for these miracles. His very words were “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians!"

Moses must have loved hearing such words of praise to God coming from his father-in-law.  

That would not have been so strange for Jethro to do; considering the fact that the Midians believed in plural gods ruling the land.  Perhaps he was simply adding God to his long list of other gods.  This would not work though; God is a jealous God and He does not tolerate His people acknowledging other gods.  

The next thing that Jethro said must have given Moses great hope.  Jethro said “Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”  For the first time in a long time; Moses and Jethro could agree on something religious.  It was a start!

I’m sure it pleased Moses to know that Jethro was finally recognizing how great the True God is.  The end of the sentence speaks for itself though; that part where Jethro says that the LORD is greater than all the OTHER GODS pretty much makes it clear that Jethro still believed in MANY gods; not just the One True God.  That part may have made Moses’ heart skip a beat after being so hopeful.  

I’m sure Moses longed for his father-in-law to come to the saving knowledge of The One True God.  Do you not have people in your life that you love very much that are too blind to see who God really is?  Do you not wish with all of your heart that they would come to know the truth?  We all can identify with this!  We all long for our loved ones to come to know The One True God.

I'm sure that Moses and Zipporah must have prayed often for Jethro's eyes to be opened.  Progress seemed to be happening with Jethro; but the task didn’t yet seem to be complete.  Moses was a humble and a patient man.  He simply waited on God to do His work.  

Some of the old Jewish sages seem to think that Jethro had a total change of heart, that he was so moved by this new realization of God's power that he believed ONLY in God and asked to be circumcised and wanted to became a full fledged Israelite.  This isn’t very likely; but we can always hope.  

I tend to think that Jethro’s eyes were opened part of the way but he never fully made a full commitment to believing in only One True God.  The practice of paganism is very hard to overcome.  We do know that Jethro made a good appearance of worshiping as Moses did.  He brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses and his father-in law in the presence of  God.  

If Jethro did not believe fully in the same way as Moses and Aaron; he showed no evidence of this in their presence.  He respected their beliefs and acted as they did before their God.  He seemed truly grateful and happy to be making these sacrifices of thanksgiving.  

Maybe you know a few people who are like this.  They turn to God when it is the popular thing to do.  They seem sincere, but deep in their hearts they are only following the crowd and doing the popular thing.  They fall away the first time that troubles come and they quickly forget the things they appeared to be thanking God for in the public worship ceremonies.  

The people of God are always patient, humble and kind to such worshipers, simply trusting God to show them the rest of the truth.  In turn the people of Israel, including Aaron as high priest and all the elders of the Israelites, also extended the warm hand of fellowship to Jethro.  Things appeared, on the surface to be okay and in harmony.  Jethro made himself at home among the tents of Moses for a time.

The scriptures do not say; and we are left to wonder if Jethro continued to do his pagan rituals while living with the Israelites.  We do not know what his influence actually was with the people in the congregation.  We do not know if he interjected false teachings into the lives of the men following Moses.  Sometimes these things creep into a work of God, sitting silently, festering and boiling up until they become noticed one day much later.  I suspect that Jethro might have swayed a few against the ways of God and toward the worship of idols.  There is no scripture to back this up; it is strictly my own theory.  Someone influenced the people to do wrong later in this story.  It could have been a combination of factors, or it could have been the influence of Jethro who was wondering through the crowds being his charming self as Moses was tending to business.  Moses was often too busy to be spending time with the family in those days.  It is often in those hours when we are most distracted and busy that the devil comes tip-toeing into the camp; unseen and unnoticed.  He likes to come in through the people that we love and trust; and catch us totally off guard.  



One day, in the usual capacity that he had been following since they left Egypt, Moses went up to serve the people as their judge.  He would sit from sunup till sunset for several days in a row, helping the people solve and resolve their disputes in a godly way.  His father-in-law observed this and noticed that it was “all consuming” and that it was taking all of Moses’ time and energy. 

I had to wonder if Zipporah had complained to her father of her husband always being so busy with tending to the people and other things besides tending to their marriage.   Like any good, concerned father-in-law, Jethro inquired of Moses; asking him why he was doing this and allowing it to take up so much of his time.  

Moses explained that he was simply helping the people to understand God’s will.  Moses must have felt the heavy responsibility of this task and he had not taken it lightly.  

Jethro criticized this practice; not that judgment wasn’t needed; but that Moses was the only one who had to preside over every single case.  Jethro advised Moses to be more of a teacher, continuing to teach the people; but to select men who feared God, who were trustworthy and would not exercise dishonest gain to represent Moses as officers over the thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.  Jethro advised Moses to leave the minor things to these men and only have them bring the very difficult cases before Moses. 

Moses listened to the recommendation of the older man and decided to take this advice.

This was the beginning of an order that Moses would form for governing the people of Israel. God must have looked down on two men beginning to make decisions on their own.  Perhaps he decided the time had come for Him to intervene and give some laws to these people in the wilderness so that they could learn how to live better.  There are a lot of new changes coming of which neither Moses nor Jethro are yet aware.  God has His own timing and it is this timing that usually proves who are truly his people.  Men may try to rule their own way; but God always prevails in the end.  Until Jethro appeared; Moses had been only listening to God.  Perhaps God took Moses aside and pointed this fact out.  The next thing we know; Moses is helping his father-in-law pack his bags and we hear of him sending him back to his own home with a blessing for the journey.  It was time for the little family of Moses and Zipporah to began a whole new way of life.  The more time passed, the closer they came to God.  As they began to live a holy lifestyle the pagan things of the past faded into the background.  They were totally committed to the mission God had given them.    





Friday, September 16, 2016

AN APPLE A DAY - LETTING GO OF THE SUPER-PERSON IMAGE



AN APPLE A DAY
DAY 115 OF 365 DAYS TO A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE 
(Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)

"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).

Let this scripture be an anchor for life  It is so easy to get off track when it comes to your health! 

One minute you are cruising along, planning your healthy meals, exercising regularly, getting lots of rest, tending to your relationships both with God and men; then suddenly the bottom falls out of the sky and disrupts your calendar and bombards your nicely planned and organized life. 

It isn’t you that causes these unexpected interruptions; it is life in general and the lack of any ability to foresee the future or to know the unexpected plans of others and how they will intersect into your days.  



Maybe you have things all neatly laid out; then a dear relative from out of town decides to come to visit at your house for two weeks which causes your schedule to be completely rearranged.  You must keep working through this visit because you had not planned it yourself and you have no scheduled off time.  Of course you just can't say "no."  You don’t want to miss a moment with this person you love and you are thankful to be able to offer them a place to stay; but you totally had not planned on spending that extra time; it cuts into your prep time for buying the groceries and arranging the healthy menus you want to follow on your diet.  You put off the projects you had planned in order to take more time after work with them.  You also want to prepare more "special" dishes for this not so frequent visitor; so you get off your healthy eating plan for a few temporary days.  "What difference will two weeks make?"  You repeat these words to yourself quickly as you pat yourself on the back for giving special people first priority in your life; as it should be!  You are determined to go with the flow and enjoy the moments.   

That is all good and right, so you just know everything else will fall right back into place later.  Then you find out the NEXT weekend (the one you thought you were going to have free to recover) needs to be used to take care of some unexpected visits from your grandchildren, who need you to be babysitting with while their parents tend to pressing life matters.  Hmmmm - a whole long weekend, not a few hours – a whole three days that you will need to rearrange your schedule for again.  Those projects you had planned get pushed back a little further.  Your recovery time just doesn’t happen as planned.  You had already given up your grocery shopping time and meal planning in order to give that extra time to the visiting relative….now you need to add three more days to the no-down-time schedule.  

You LOVE spending time with your grandchildren though; and you don’t want to ever say “no.”  You might miss some magical moment in their lives!  That might make your most awesome grandmother level drop below the average line for a few days.  No way!  You agree to keep those sweet kids without a moment's hesitation, and you plan to think of some way to feed and entertain them on your lunch hour the day before they arrive.    

Okay – this road is getting just a little bumpy, but you can walk on without faltering!   Just a few more days to overcome and all will be back to normal again.  You can just grab fast food on that grandchild weekend, the kids will love it for a change and you will not have to worry about time in the kitchen.  Win/Win??  Not really, but you will get by.  

You decide also to plan to meet your much loved and cherished visiting relative in a high calorie restaurant in order to squeeze in a little more visiting time while they are here.  Schedule overload?  Nah....you can do it, and a little dessert won’t hurt, right?  After all; it is all in good taste to enjoy fine food and coffee with those that you love. 


As you are working full time in the middle of all of this frantic rearranging, a new project kicks off unexpectedly at work and deadlines fall right in your face.  You start working through those lunch hours that you had been using for walking in the park for an hour a day.  Got to meet those deadlines – no choice!  No exercise or time to walk around the building on breaks during these next few weeks!  The Company will order fast food for all of us who are faithfully burning the midnight oil in order to get the marketing done in time for the big project.  Pizza, pizza, pizza and more pizza; not your typical healthy diet.  Oh bother!  



If you are not working late; you are busy entertaining, and you end the week with a house full of energetic children.  No down time for you Grandma; too much fun to be had this week!  

You are trying to figure out how to do the laundry and entertain the kids at the same time when suddenly you realize it is your husband’s birthday.  Yikes!  How on earth will you ever be able to plan any special time out with him with everyone else’s schedule whirling around in your brain?  Not to mention that you, by now, have consumed too much sugar, wiped too many runny noses and not had a green leafy vegetable on your plate for several days.  Sleep?  Are you kidding?

Whether you are a man or a woman; by now you have probably realized the dangers of the super-person syndrome are at work here!  

The timing for the rest of the week usually goes something like this; as you are planning dinner reservations for your husband in a kid-friendly restaurant that will cost a fortune and be very wasteful, your agent calls.  You have waited five years to find the right publisher for your new novel and your agent tells you they are in town, ready to buy and MUST see you sometime THIS weekend, because they will be hopping a plane back to New York on Monday morning.  Your heart sinks.  

You hang up the phone and pull out a carton of chocolate ice cream and devour the whole carton as quickly as possible.  It is runny and melting because of your tears falling into your bowl; and the grandchildren are all staring wide-eyed at you as if you suddenly lost your mind.  Your husband walks in with a big grin on his face and lets you know you can go for a ride in the brand new boat he just bought himself for his birthday.  It only gets worse from here.  Super-person syndrome is NOT where healthy people need to live!  You’ve got to end this now; but how?



Good news.  There is a possibility of solving all of this and getting your life back.  It will take great concentration and perseverance on your part and it will not be easy.  Let’s just take a deep breath and consider the fact that productivity and tangible accomplishments do not necessarily make you a better person!  Sometimes in life; “more” is NOT better.  

Quit feeling the guilt of not being perfect.  You ARE perfect without any of these things!  Did God not create you just the way you are?  You need to just slow down and de-stress; but how?  You tried scheduling your life but it is OTHERS who didn’t consider your schedule.  

Something just isn’t working here.  Let’s start to sort it all out and figure out how to forget the perfectionist attitude and all the stress that comes with it.  How can you achieve this without hurting everyone and everything that you truly care about?  The things that are happening are all good and all within your goals in life – you just need to find out how to pace them out and slow them down a bit!

Totally impossible and unachievable goals like these can undermine your health.  You can’t last long in this snowball effect without completely burning out.  In the end you simply wind up hurting all those you so want to please.  



Take a deep breath and read on.  Be brave.  If you are identifying with this super-person syndrome (I’ve often been guilty); then find the nearest phone booth and change back into your regular clothes!  Burn that super-person outfit as soon as possible and wipe it from your memory!  

You can be a good person without being a super-person.  You trying to be a super-person is actually enabling others that you are helping to become false/super-people, and at the same time you are crippling your chances of ever finding complete peace.  Let that sink in and read on (after you change in the phone booth.)

Now close your eyes and memorize these three little words.  KEEP LIFE SIMPLE.  Say them to yourself first thing every morning and each night before you close your eyes to sleep.  This is your new motto. 

Okay – easy for me to say; but how do you actually DO this?

Began by writing down one little sentence.  This sentence should explain your purpose in life.  It should address the things that are most dear and most important to you, the things you can’t possibly give up or live without.  I’ll give you an example with my own statement:  “My purpose in life is to joyfully and thankfully give glory to God, to be a loving wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and friend, and to use my God-given talent for writing as wisely and effectively as possible.”

Simple; right?  So go ahead and write your own statement now.  

Whenever things seem overwhelming and impossible; take this little index card with your life statement out and read it to yourself as a reminder.  Post it on your mirror if needed.  All things to all people is NOT your mission in life.  Remember when to say “no.”    

Now that you have your mission statement for a happy life – make yourself three little lists.  

(1)  A list containing everything that you must do in a day to survive.  This would include anything you must do in order to get through a day.  List those things like eating, drinking, bathing, cooking, cleaning, working a job, paying bills, etc.  Just the things that are typical in order to survive each day.   

(2)  Now make another list of only the things you think you must do daily to accomplish your life mission statement. 

(3)  The last list should contain everything you are presently doing daily that you think you can stop doing without affecting any of your life goals. 

You will probably learn a lot by studying and analyzing these three lists.  Now buy a new calendar and begin to make yourself hour by hour appointments that incorporate the thinking of your life mission into what you need to do to survive every day.  List the tasks of each day of the week out in a way that utilizes these three lists to your best advantage.  Keep it simple!  Study the last list for time wasters and unrewarding time spent and try to quit doing these things.  Try eliminating one unnecessary thing a day until the whole list from list number 3 is crossed out. 

Schedule your life in a way that is workable for obtaining your life mission while allowing yourself time to do the daily things you need to survive.  Let your needs take priority over your wants, but do not leave your "wants" out of the equation.  

Schedule all survival tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, etc.   Space these things out so that you don’t have to hurry or worry that you will not have your needs for the week met.  Can you delegate any of these things to someone else?  Are there any things on this list that you can afford to hire someone else to do?  Would getting a few things better organized cut down on your routine tasks?  Schedule in organizing sessions until it is all easier.    Make standard pre-printed extra copies of grocery lists that you can just check off what you need and don't need from.  Keep them in a handy place so they are available when needed.  Print out your recipes into a handy book you can keep in the kitchen.  Map out about seven standard, healthy menus for meals that you memorize and can cook without instructions and use them over and over again for your daily meal plans.  Keep standard food items stocked in your pantry and freezer.  Buy extra cleansers and paper goods so you don't have to run to the store all the time when you run out.  Think of easier and more efficient ways to organize your cooking, cleaning and laundry.  Follow through.  Keep it routine so it doesn't get overwhelming.

Allow lots of down time in each day.  This is important!  Block off at least one day of the working week where you do nothing at all after work.  Buy dinner out.  Allow at least two-hours to do anything your heart desires.  Take a bubble bath, read a book, call a friend.  This is your little weekly oasis of peace.  Bask in it.  Don't ever forget to schedule it.  This will get you through the rougher parts of the week.

Each morning get up in time to give yourself some extra minutes just to drink coffee, sit outside on your back deck or front porch, pray, read the paper, sing, have a conversation with your dog; whatever makes your morning start out good!  Don’t even look at that daily to-do list you made until you give yourself your morning time to relax and be thankful for each new day.  Eat a proper breakfast and dress properly for what you will be doing all day.  Then;  consult your to-do list and tackle the items of your daily work. 



When noon arrives, stop and take a break for at least an hour.  Do not run errands, tend to other people’s needs or talk business during this hour.  Eat what is healthy for you.  For me – I’m fasting for lunch, but I’m taking walks outside and enjoying a hot drink when I return from the walk.  Listen to music or invite a cheerful friend to go along and walk with you; but do not make your lunch “task” oriented in any way.  This is your healthy break – take it.  Do not skip it - ever!  Do not let anyone steal it from you.  You need this time of peace and joy for your health. 



Same thing applies to your early morning routine.  Sip your coffee slowly.  Notice how good the fruit tastes that you are putting on your breakfast plate.  Listen to the birds sing as you take breakfast on your patio outside and offer up a morning prayer of thanks to God.  Move as slow or as fast as you please.  Don’t keep anyone’s clock but yours.  Remember all of this before you pick up your daily to-do’s and start to tackle them, then take that long, luxurious time out again at lunch.  Be selfish – it isn’t selfish – it is healthy!  You staying healthy is good for your family and friends.  Take pleasure and do not feel guilty in doing this. 

After the mid-day break – tackle the rest of your list for the day.  Schedule your afternoon and run your errands on the way home from work. Save time and gas money by shopping on the way to and from other places.  Space your afternoon errands out according to need and try to frequent places that are on the right side of the road for you to stop conveniently without fighting traffic.  Schedule your cooking and time in the kitchen each evening; then sit down at the table to enjoy your dinner and do not rush.  Chew slow.  Savor the taste of the food.  Be creative and artistic with dinner when you feel like it.    



Don’t make appointments during this scheduled dinner time.  Ignore the phone and eat at the table instead of in front of the television.  

After you have relaxed for an hour with your food; schedule some time to clean up and do some housekeeping chores; but make it a brief time; not a long drawn out work routine.  Schedule housekeeping chores according to need.  The point is to schedule time for spaced out house work so that you do not feel overwhelmed and have to do everything all at once or in one day at the end of the week. 

Make the last two hours before bed be your real down-time.  Ignore the phone.  Do not turn on your computer or check your e-mails.   Schedule these things into your day time work time.  Do all of those things earlier.  Those last two hours of the evening are about relaxing and unwinding.  



Sip on some wine.  Watch a movie or a show that you enjoy or listen to music or read a book. Do not get into any heavy conversations with family members!  

Take about 15 minutes at the end of this time to think about your next day and make any notes you need to remember.  Look over your calendar for tomorrow.  While you are taking that last glance at your calendar for the day,  stop to write a note to yourself that describes your favorite part of the day that just ended.  Offer up your thanks to God for it.  Let that be your last major thought for the day.   You will come to cherish these notes.  I re-read and review mine at the end of each year to remember how blessed I am!  

Go to sleep in a clean, orderly room and make your bed as comfortable and cozy as possible.  Your bedroom should be an oasis away from the rest of the busyness of the house.  Pamper this room.  Arrange fresh flowers in the space, or fill it with special photos you enjoy seeing.  Arrange the furniture to allow for comfort and ease and order and rest.  Make the colors peaceful and cheerful.   Keep your bath area clean and organized and well stocked.  You can schedule all of this into your daily calendar of routine to-dos.  Keep your clothes closet in order and your clothes ready for each day.  That can save you an hour a day if you do it right.  I wrote a blog that might help with this:  ( http://dancinginseason.blogspot.com/2016/07/the-house-doctor-organized-home-is.html )  

Most of all, keep things as simple as possible.  If you sleep better with a sound machine or music going; please do.  Whatever it takes for you to rest is wise.  If you don’t feel sleepy but you know you need to sleep; try drinking chamomile tea, sipping a glass of wine and/or reading something happy, tranquil and peaceful. Get eight hours of sleep each night.  

Just this sense of order will help you de-stress and feel better, but here is the most important thing of all to remember.  Schedule two days of downtime each week.  One day should be for leisure and fun.  Spend time with your husband or wife.  Visit with your kids and grandkids.  Take time to call friends and do things with friends.  Enjoy your hobbies without feeling guilty or rushed.  Love and enjoy your home.  Love and enjoy your season of life and the seasons of time God has granted.  Spend some alone time if you are feeling crowded and tired.  Make this a day of leisure and doing the things you love without a schedule.   



One day should be for rest and worship.  God has explained to us that He created the Sabbath for men.  God knew we would need one day in seven to re-group, redirect our goals to match God's goals.  He knew we would need to have the time to worship without being in a hurry or pressed to move on to other things.  Don't schedule anything but worship on your Sabbath.  This will allow you to get REAL rest and the peace of God will fill your soul.        


These two days are key factors to eliminating the super-person syndrome in life.  They are SO NECESSARY!  Mark them off on your schedule and keep them for yourself.  When others make plans for you on these days without consulting you, simply look at your calendar and say “Oh – I’m scheduled on that day – could we make it another time?”  That will keep things from stacking up on you and layering until you find you are smothering in other’s people’s plans and having no time for your own mission in life.  


Once or twice a year schedule some vacation time away from the normal routine.  Plan it ahead and don't let anything rob you of this time.  It doesn't have to be grand or expensive; just get away from the routine.  Camp if you can't afford anything else.  Nature is an awesome way to renew your spirit and rest.  

God ordained holy days in the spring and in the fall that almost force you to take time out and away from the normal routine.  Those of us who keep God's Holy Days have come to understand how refreshing they can be!  

Try to find a change of scenery and explore some places where you have never been.  Make memories that last a lifetime.  They will sustain you when you have stressful days later.



Simple things; but they are not easy at first!  Get determined to make every effort to eliminate the stress of perfectionism and people pleasing, no matter how tempted you are to give in and cave to other people’s desires to run your life.  

Remember; learn to say "no" when you need to, schedule your daily life and follow your schedule, take a day for leisure and a day for rest each week no matter what.  Keep it simple.  It is fine to make all those other plans that people want you to help them with; just make the schedule fit your life and your time instead of theirs.  Take a break from the routine of life at least once a year.

Keep working on these things until you don't feel stressed out all the time.  One day you will find all that stress has been replaced by sheer joy.  You will wake up each morning ready to tackle the adventures of daily life.  Now that is life in the Kingdom!  That is what good health is all about!

    


  

Featured Post

PIECES OF THE PUZZLE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL

              HOW TO COME TO GOD WITH THE HEART OF A CHILD (Written by Sheila Gail Landgraf)   I'v...

Followers