Lovely Squares for Moments of Rest

Swallowing the last sip of tea from a second morning cup, I pick up my phone on the bedside table when I hear the familiar alert. One of my favorite Instagrammers has posted a morning photo. I open the app, scroll through her feed and my mouth is drawn open in wonder. Flowers sprinkled around a teacup on a weathered grey table. A simple photo fuels new ideas for styling a photograph at my desk a few hours later.

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Square. It used to be a word with a negative connotation.  Referred to as a person considered to be old-fashioned or boringly conventional in attitude or behavior; an old fogey, conservative, traditionalist, conventionalist, diehard, conformist, bourgeois, you get the idea. More than an object with four equal and straight sides, to be square wasn’t something to be sought after.  Hopefully, it still isn’t.

Since Instagram, the square has become defined as quit the opposite. Squares are now in vogue.

We are all attempting to cram beauty, story and information into into tiny framed boxes and then see how many people like us. Today, a square means more than an open area where a town gathers, the product of a number multiplied by itself, or an instrument used to test right angles.

A square is used to define culture, beauty, belief, and lifestyle. I know, can you believe it?

Framing your life requires attentiveness to detail; capturing the beauty right in front of you and then translating your viewpoint in as few words as possible.

If you were to frame your life right now, what would it say about you?

Since becoming a serious student of the square on Instagram a few months ago, a whole new world of creativity has opened up to me. God’s imagination is endless.

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Top row: @hannahargyle, @britt_throndsen Bottom: @emilyquinton, @humphreyandgrace

In the same way the eye is drawn to contrasts in a photograph, the contrasts of life enable us to define what we believe. Contrasts aren’t nuanced, they are bold, deliberate and strikingly different. And the way your life contrasts with the mainstream world inspires beauty.

Through a tiny window into the soul of a person’s life, we can see glimpses of where God is at work.  We are all walking the same journey on different terrain, longing to be at home in this big, beautiful world. And the galleries highlighting the moments are marvelous.

One of my favorite pauses during a long day of writing is to grab my phone and open Instagram. A few minutes of perusing beautiful images reminds me that I am not alone and what we each bring to the world has great value.

If you are a visual thinker and imagery curates some good work, check out these inspiring hashtags:

#thatsdarling

#pursuepretty

#flashesofdelight

#thehappynow

#prettycitylondon

#verilymoment

Find me @shellymiller120 on Instagram. Follow our community hashtags #sabbathsociety and #rhythmsofrest and show us how the beauty in rest looks for you.

What inspires you? Add the hashtags you enjoy following in the comments.

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Happy Sabbath Friends!

Want to make rest a routine, not just something you fill in between the cracks of your busyness? Join the Sabbath Society. Follow Sabbath-keepers in community with the hashtag #sabbathsociety on Twitter and Instagram and our Pinterest board, Surrendering to Sabbath.

 

 

Flashes of Beauty for Moments of Rest

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The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Psalm 50: 1-2

From the top of Dovers Hill, I savor a panoramic view of the charming Cotswolds. In the distance, a fan of sunlight highlights a patch of neon yellow rapeseed among verdant rolling hills. Below, an endless green carpet is sprinkled with tiny yellow flowers like confetti dropped from clouds. Lambs are bleating back and forth as we weave past them toward a copse of trees.

It’s as if God’s hands are made of seeds in the English countryside and He is waving them as he chuckles. The perfection of beauty the psalmist writes about resonates. God’s face is beaming with kindness.

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In the 1600’s, during a tumultuous time in religious history, the Westminster Catechism was adopted, creating a common theology.

Catechism is a word used to describe a way of discipleship in the faith; formulated in a way that when a question is asked, a proper response is learned. It is how one of the most powerful statements of the church came to exist, a response that answers this question: What is the chief end of man?

According to the Westminster Catechism, the chief end of man is to Glorify God and enjoy him forever.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my H shared it in his sermon last week. Since becoming a Christian, I realize, I’ve focused more on glorifying God through how I live and less time enjoying Him.

How do you enjoy God?

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This week as I embark upon a writing retreat in the Cotswolds, I traipse around stone walls laid by hand as a witness to the intersection of the past with the future. God’s fingerprints are all around us. I notice beauty more easily when I’m rested.

I enjoy God by noticing the contrast of barren branches twisting toward a blue cloudless sky. In delicate purple flowers cascading over rock and sturdy stalks of pink growing through cracks in the pavement. I enjoy God by inhaling the aroma of garlic roasting on a piece of freshly caught fish.

In our busy search for the meaning of life, we can miss the beauty right in front of us. Quiet your soul by standing in one place for a few minutes. Breathe, listen, and enjoy God. You might find yourself whispering, “Glory!”

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I’ve been a little smitten with some galleries on Instagram lately. Beautiful images inspire me to create in a way like nothing else can. I plan to share some of the beauty with you here on the weekends.

Today, I introduce you to Jo Rodgers, an expat living in London and a journalist for Vogue Magazine. Jo’s photos tell a story that draws me back to her feed. She has recently published The Essential Guide to the Cotswolds capturing the charm and sophistication of this beautiful area. I ate dinner at Horse and Groom last night and can tell you, Jo is spot on.

What inspires you to become your best? How do you enjoy God during moments of rest?

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Happy Sabbath Friends!

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” Psalm 50:23

Want to make rest a routine, not just something you fill in between the cracks of your busyness? Join the Sabbath Society. Follow Sabbath-keepers in community with the hashtag #sabbathsociety on Twitter and Instagram and our Pinterest board, Surrendering to Sabbath.

On Owning Your Awesome

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On most Sunday mornings, after the last worship song is sung and the blessing is recited, the people stand up and turn around slowly while pulling arms through sleeves of jackets and wrapping scarves around necks. Up the middle aisle from my front row seat, I join others collecting vagrant bulletins as we make our way back to the high, stained glass window towering above us at the entrance. The place where tea and coffee are poured profusely into ceramic cups and crowds chat in open circles.

I have good intentions but rarely make it to one of those circles. By the time I reach that place in the sanctuary, the people are gone and the cups, loaded in the dishwasher. The sea of warm faces between my seat and the tea station are one of the many reasons I love going to church on Sunday.

“It’s too bad we don’t like each other,” I often say in jest to H as passing the peace becomes a weekly, roaring reunion.

Last Sunday, I made it. I stood with a cup of tea warming in my hands and listened to a friend admit something vulnerable with alacrity and sheepishness. I witnessed a twinge of pink spread over ivory cheeks when she said, “I’m sure you’ve never had that problem. Your life is so perfect.”

I gasped.

And immediately squelched that bit of idealism.

I am not perfect, I told her, giving evidence with detailed lists.

I spent (at least) a year of motherhood crying myself to sleep for all the mistakes I made attempting to communicate with my pre-teen daughter.

I avoid paperwork like the plague.

I am forgetful when it comes to taking pills and bringing carefully crafted lists to the grocery store.

I have dropped my cell phone in the toilet on more than one occasion.

I cause my H to clench his teeth when he calls from work and my phone is repeatedly on vibrate or silent. At least I’m consistent but I could go on.

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I could have told my friend that just the week before, I was standing over a sudsy sink when H finally broke up the conversation I was having with all the accusing voices in my head. He could see they weren’t being kind by the look on my face.

You know, those convincing voices about not measuring up to the awesome of someone in your sphere of influence.

Feeling like the only turtle in a race of rabbits, I had nearly convinced myself that the gifts God gave me were somehow a tainted consolation prize from pity. I know, what in the world?!

That’s when H said, “You aren’t like those other people for a reason. You are a creative. Being a slow processor is what allows you to create and write in the unique voice God gave you. Why are you comparing yourself to someone else?”

In a wet apron, I ran into his open arms and wept while exclaiming, “Thank you for saying that!”

Isn’t it foolish that I didn’t truly own being a creative until I heard him said it out loud?

We need to speak truth to each other often to squelch the lies that keep us from owning our awesome.

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I read hopeful, life giving words from Isaiah 43: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. But I often re-write those words to sound something more like this: Fear though I have redeemed you, I have called you by her name, you are my consolation. Thank God my darling husband set me straight.

When we judge ourselves through the snapshots we see of others, what we find reflected back is a distorted picture. A beautiful life isn’t perfect, it’s beautifully redeemed and perfectly flawed.

We are meant to be inspired by how someone lives in order to become all that God has for us, not inspired in order to become perfectly like them.

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Let’s read the fine print and own it. Live as though you are free and deeply loved.

“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.

I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.

When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.

When you’re between a rock and a hard place,

it won’t be a dead end—

Because I am God, your personal God,

The Holy of Israel, your Savior.

I paid a huge price for you:

all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!

That’s how much you mean to me!

That’s how much I love you!

I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,

trade the creation just for you.”

Isaiah 43: 1-4, MSG