Today, it’s my pleasure to bring you another post from my sweet cyber-friend Marja Meijers. Marja is one of my first online friends and subscribers. I know you’ll enjoy her post. Please leave her some comment love! Here’s Marja…
My husband walked in just as I sat on top of my suitcase, trying to cram one more shirt in there. A shirt I just had to bring on this trip. I tried to look as innocent as possible while I casually flipped the locks back and forth to show him it took no effort.
I could tell by the look on his face however that he had a different train of thoughts and was on the verge of teaching me a lesson. “Honey, we’re only going on a two weeks vacation. Don’t bring your whole wardrobe, just grab the essentials.”
The essentials. Bewildered I took a quick inventory of my room. Clothes everywhere, shoes, scarves, and bathing suits scattered around like wild flowers. What was I thinking?
I grabbed my checklist from the night stand and stared at it for the longest time. Books, goggles, insect repellant, sun block, sandals, clothes and more clothes. Why was it that every time I tried to get ready for a trip I ended up taking too much luggage with me?
I shamefully recalled the previous year; for two weeks I dragged stuff around that I never wore and never needed. I even managed to complain from time to time to my husband that we absolutely took too much luggage on our trip. Yes, with the emphasis on ‘we.’
At that time, he never said anything and I figured he didn’t care. Now, I know he simply made up his mind regarding future ventures: if she doesn’t downsize, I would rather stay home! And you know what, I think he was right.
We must learn to grab the essentials. My overflowing suitcase was a picture of the upcoming vacation and maybe even of the upcoming year. I had already planned too many activities for the next few weeks. I had already planned to read more books than I could and should possibly take with me.
Yes, my vacation had already been fully planned before it even began. Go see this, visit that, make a tour, go out for dinner. I had planned my recreation time like many people plan their regular agenda: too full, no emphasis on essentials and no time to really rest.
Re-packing my suitcase with the essentials turned out to be a great exercise in reflecting on the new year, too. After all, if I wasn’t able to reduce the luggage I took on a simple vacation, how was I going to downsize my luggage for a whole year?
I realized that, ever so often, we make the mistake of taking up too much to carry and then complain about the burden. We must learn to concentrate on the essentials! I believe that can be a great motto for 2012.
For starters, I made a checklist of some spiritual and natural essentials I want to grab a hold of in 2012. As you will see, faith and daily living are interwoven. I hope this checklist will help you to carefully pack your suitcase for this coming year.
While taking a yearly rest from daily chores and rituals is a good thing, it is much more important to take our weekly rest which the Bible calls Sabbath (Exodus 20:8). A day of rest after every six days of work is the prescription to prevent stress and anxiety. It has been for thousands of years and it will always be.
In preparation for that weekly rest, however, we should take our daily rest seriously, too. Our daily rest is our time alone with God and His word. Jesus offers us the blueprint for a quiet time in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” (NIV)
We cannot expect to truly feel relaxed and refreshed once a year if we don’t know how to do it on a weekly and daily basis. We must learn to break down our resting periods in little segments which are more manageable and will inevitably turn out to be an essential part of our day.
While recreation is different for everyone, it should never end up on our ‘things to do list,’ whether it is hiking, bicycling, reading, or gardening. If we cannot do the things we love without seeing them as just another appointment on our calendar, we are missing the point.
Recreation is re-living the creation. Seeing that everything is good (Genesis 1:31), enjoying everything that is beautiful (Genesis 2:9), and being inspired to take on new projects (Genesis 2:15).
Regular reflection is necessary to make sure we are still on the set course of our life. It is very easy to get sidetracked and do things our way. The Bible says in Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (NIV)
It sometimes means letting go of tasks and delegating them to other capable people. It might involve reorganizing our work schedule and household chores in order to be more efficient. Reflection certainly includes looking back at accomplishments and blessings and the cultivation of an attitude of gratitude.
Thankful reflection recharges our batteries more than anything else!
Preparation for a new year, a new week, or a new day means purposely leaving room to move, purposely leaving empty spaces on the calendar. Being prepared does not mean being fully booked.
Preparation is a mindset. It means to be ready for something different and unforeseen, to be open for surprises, and to be willing to take on new assignments. First Peter 1:13 says, “Prepare your minds for action.” (NIV) We must be alert! A prepared woman, or man, has a teachable spirit, an ear to listen and a heart for the unexpected things of God!
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