Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Stepping into October

I love October!

There are things to love about every month of the year, and October is no exception. The colors, the scents, the crispness in the air ... all are so lovely. An in-between-month ... not too hot, not too cold. A beckoning call of the warmth of holiday times coming. 

And I love new beginnings ...

The start of a new month always holds a special place for me ... it signifies new beginnings, a fresh start. I love to turn over the calendar page to a brand new month, open up my Simplified Planner and fill in the events for the month, and even writing in the events and plans on the daily pages gives me a sense of joy.

But most of all, a new month signifies a refreshing of my heart, my mind, and my focus. The busyness of life catches up with us as we go through our weeks and our days, and it's always good to pull aside and refocus, bringing our hearts - and our priorities and plans - back to our sweet spot, close to where God is.

I am by nature a private person, filling my journals each year with prayers and things that God has been teaching me, but I also come alive when I can share my heart and my thoughts with others. And this is the place where I am at the beginning of this new month - feeling prompted by God to share with you what is on my mind and my heart at the start of this new month. 

Stepping into October ...

Words from God that are on my heart ... 

"Are you tired? Worn out?
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 Message)

These are some favorite verses of both my husband and me - and I think that they may need to be my theme for this coming month. It is so easy for me to slip into the mindset that things depend on me and my own efforts ... but they do not. I desire to focus on my part of walking with God each day, keeping company with Him ... and He is the one who will give rest, and accomplish what He desires in our home, family, and ministry (which is also the best for us).

I'm also appreciating reading through the book of Exodus again, following along as we are learning through this book through teaching at Citylight this month. 

A continuing call to prayer ...

"Don't worry about anything;
instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need,
and thank Him for all He has done.
Then you will experience God's peace,
which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds
as you live in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

These words resonate with me at the start of this month, as I need to be reminded and refreshed to talk with God about everything on my mind and heart. It is too easy to slip into the mode of worry. And there is so very much to pray for ... in our homes, for our families, friends, and for our nation and world. I long to be faithful and fervent in prayer. 

Relationships to nurture ...

The most important things in life are not things, but people. And highest on my list is my dear hubby. Especially after the scare of a stroke earlier this calendar year, I am more devoted than ever to pay attention to the one that is dearest to me. We'll be working closely together to guard time for rest and refreshment as a couple amidst the busyness of life.

Nurturing other close relationships with our family (six grown kids, four sons-in-law, and ten grandkids) is also of very high priority this month ... watching for doors that God opens up for connection, loving, and serving. And a special treat ... some time with a son visiting from California later this month!

And there are more ... listening to and caring for many others, including our CityGroup friends from Citylight Church, volunteers and partners with us in ministry, and all those who God brings into our lives this month.

A trip I am looking forward to ...

I love trips! I am looking forward to traveling to Colorado with my hubby this month for a GPI MTL Conference (a regional conference with Cru). After the conference, we will spend a few extra days in Breckenridge where we found some off-season rates for lodging in that beautiful setting. It's always such a huge blessing to spend some relaxing days together as a couple! And such good timing - about midway between our summer Pacific Coast Trip, and the full and wonderful holiday season.

Responsibilities and ministry on my heart ...

I am asking God to continue to give me a servant's heart as we help with a few family members ... my husband's older brother, and my 95 year-old father. Both live nearby, and have needs that we help with on a weekly basis. (And we're so thankful for three of our daughters who live in this area, who are also a great help as we serve these dear family members.)

And it's such a joy for me to work together with my husband as a team in our Cru ministry. And this school year, I am desiring to give even more hours to help lighten my husband's load - helping with administration, with special events (this week for Cru Central High), and also assisting and being part of some support-raising appointments.

Preparations for the holidays ...

The holidays are a big thing for me - I love the holidays! They don't "just happen", though - there is much work to do to prepare for our whole family home for Christmas. My main focus this month is to start on the heavier cleaning, and also take care of various other home projects before I start the baking and gift-buying next month.

Some fun projects before me ...

An enjoyable hobby for me is to preserve our memories in digital scrapbooking form. My hopes for this month are to finish up the pages capturing our Pacific Coast Trip, as well as keep up with scrapbooking the current month. 

I'm also excited to purchase a slide converter either this month, or in the next few months. My husband and I have a project we are working on with some of our older slides, and are thankful that we had a good recommendation from a brother of mine to use for converting slides to digital format.

Books that I am reading ...

I love good books. They are a source of great learning to me, as well as a way to relax and be refreshed. I'm focusing on these two books at the start of this month:

Present Over Perfect - by Shauna Niequist
I had intended to read this book a few months from now, as I have several waiting to be read ... but somehow, it happened that this is the one that is calling me right now. I think it is a good time for me, for as the holidays approach, I tend to slip into thinking that things need to be perfect. And I need to be reminded, again, that being present is more important than perfection. I started reading this book last night, and know it will be filled with encouragement. Here's a quote from the introduction:

"My prayer is that this book will be a thousand invitations, springing up from every page, calling you to leave behind the heavy weight of comparison, competition, and exhaustion, and to redraft a life marked by meaning, connection, and unconditional love."

The Nightingale - by Kristin Hannah 
One of my favorite genre of books to read is historical fiction. This book was recommended by a blogger/friend who reads a lot of historical fiction. I just started it a few days ago, and am enjoying reading it on my brand new Kindle Paperwhite, a birthday gift from my hubby last week! The setting of this novel is France during World War II. I love to get glimpses into different periods of time through fascinating novels. So much to learn ...

And wishing you a month 
filled with purpose and meaning - 
of drawing close to God, 
a time to love and be loved.