Monday, January 18, 2021

In the Word, and In Community


My first post of 2021 (click here to read) focused on the joy I've had at the start of this year as I've been spending time "In the Kitchen".  There has been a lot on my mind and heart, and on yours as well, as we navigate our way through grief and concern all around us. Though we all may (and do) have some differing political persuasions, and we may be concerned and grieved about different things, it is true that we all carry concerns on our hearts at the start of this year. And spending time in my kitchen has been one of the things that has given me joy in the midst of all that is going on around us.

But in this post I'm going to move on and share about two more places where I am finding so much joy in the midst of stressful times ...

My favorite spot these days and weeks is right here (photo above). My view is our peaceful snow-covered yard, our new electric fireplace stove, some candles and soft throws on the couch, and yes, our Christmas tree still up! The decor of our tree covered with mini white lights and a variety of silver balls just blended right into the January landscape, and it just seemed right for it to be part of our winter decor for awhile yet!

In the Word

This peaceful setting is where I most often spend time "In the Word", pausing from my tasks, taking time to rest, feeding my soul. For nothing is more important than this. I'm sure you need and experience the same. 

Above all else, 

guard your heart, 

for everything you do flows from it.

(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Here's what I'm focusing on to help me guard my heart and soul during this winter month of January:

  • Starting out on a two-year Bible-reading plan with our Citylight community of friends (click here to follow along if you're interested). The readings are starting out in Genesis and Matthew this month, one chapter from each the Old Testament and New Testament each day.
  • Journaling daily as I read and listen to His Words. Feeding on Truth, as I also pour out my heart to Him in response. Somehow, I learn best and integrate what I am reading best, when I also am writing out words of Truth, letting them soak down into my heart.
  • My large collection of 3x5 verse cards of favorites from over the years. I like to take a few each week from my growing collection of verses, and keep them close to my heart, letting God's Truth and Love soak in deeply.  (left photo below)

  • Using the seasonal topics in the Gracelaced book each week. Reading the devo reading and verses that are set in beautiful artwork, and thinking on the main topic for that reading through the week. Last week's word was "Dwell" ... how can I dwell in His love and presence this week? And this week's word is "Lean".  (right photo above: my second time through this book)
  • And this month I'm reading the newly published book, Becoming Elisabeth Elliot. A very fascinating biography written by Ellen Vaughn. There is much to learn from Elizabeth Elliot.
  • In all the above, asking for His help, continually being reminded that nothing I read can have lasting impact on my heart without the grace of God, through His Spirit, giving insight and wisdom.

What are you filling your mind and heart with as the New Year has begun?

In Community

I'll continue on, and share another favorite spot that also gives joy ... spending time "In Community".  Yes, you read that correctly ... community is needed, even during a pandemic. We went through the first four to five months of the pandemic completely quarantined, with our family even bringing our groceries to our doorstep. We are so very grateful for their loving care. 

During the summer months as things were letting up a bit, we sensed God's strong promptings on our hearts that it was crucial for us to be back in community again. Safety measures were already set in place for people to be able to go back to Citylight Midtown on-site, though we had live-streamed since the middle of March. Making that move the very next Sunday (and since then) has fed our souls. 

And a few months after gathering in community on Sunday mornings, we also knew it was time to gather with our CityGroup again, our small group within Citylight. We have continued to do since the end of the summer.  Such a source of joy and connection ... we absolutely love our times together. It has been critical for the health of our hearts and souls. We are made for community.

How are you spending time in community during this time? 

Caring for our hearts during a pandemic, and during the challenging times we are in as a country, is critical to our emotional and spiritual health. Time In the Word and In Community ... I am so thankful.

(Note: especially being in the age category that we are, in our 70's, we continue to seek to be wise and take precautions needed during a pandemic. Our in-home gatherings are limited so far to family, and to our smaller group of CityGroup friends. There have also been weeks/months when these connections only took place through zoom or other online forms. Continuing to be part of these communities in whatever form, even during a pandemic, has been life-giving for us.)

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