Saturday, March 24, 2012

Things I'm learning this spring

These are a few more things to add to my 1000 gifts list - things that God has been teaching me.

At the End of the Porch, by John Sharman (1918
425. Being free from SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
The picture above reminds me of how I just love to sit in a pool of light and soak it in. Sunlight is supposed to be crucial to keeping SAD at bay, but God is teaching me there is more to it than just getting enough sunshine and vitamin D. Exercise is helps a lot (thank you, my blogging friend Faith!), and medication may help as well, but in the end, God's mercy seems to have the final say.

Even before we got our early spring, I was marveling this winter that I wasn't getting any symptoms of SAD, even though last year had been my worst year - lasting from February into July. This year I started medication in January in preparation, but it made me really nauseous and head-achy. Even cutting back the doses didn't help. I stopped taking it, after a couple weeks, figuring if the depression got really bad I'd have to go back to the doctor to try something else. But the depression never came, not even a mild case of the blues.

Maybe a short stretch of medication is what prevented it; maybe it was my important discoveries last fall from Beth Moore's Breaking Free bible study: "tearing down lies and re-wallpapering with truth" and "hanging on tight to my Daddy's leg". But honestly, I haven't been putting these into practice very much - because I wasn't "SAD" enough to really need them.

So I think God has taught me that sometimes he just extends His sovereign mercy and gives us an undeserved gift.  He gave me a year without SAD.

I am so thankful.

426. Not wasting time on the internet
Stars (my stepdaughter's nickname) decided to delete her Facebook account because it was turning into "Wastebook" - she was wasting too much time on it and she wanted to have more to focus on training her horse and getting into shape. My online weakness lately has been Pinterest and Tumblr - all those pretty pictures! It's like having unlimited access to hundreds of art catalogs and magazines (without ads). But when Stars deleted her Facebook, I decided it was high time I deleted my two temptations, as well. I brag at times about not wasting time with TV shows, but the internet can be almost as bad.

I do still visit Pinterest even though I no longer have an account (which has helped me cut back). But the other thing I'm learning with this temptation to waste time looking at pretty things is how to "give them back to God" so they end up being a blessing instead of waste. All it takes is to slow down, to take the time to really look at a piece of art or beautiful photograph, instead of rushing right on to the next one.

Take as an example that picture above, "At the End of the Porch".  I saw it on Pinterest, but it was on a board with lots of other beautiful art. I was tempted to quickly save it and move on.

Instead I forced myself to stop and really look at the picture, and pick out the details. At a quick glance I never would have noticed the color of her dress, or what is in her hands, or the patterns of shadows. I thanked God for the details. I thought about how I love to sit in sunshine like that (with a book instead of a craft), and I thanked him for having more time these days to sit and relax (now that the twins are 5 years old!) and for an early spring that's giving me lots more sunshine than I usually get. I thanked him for the beauty all his light and shadows give us. Then eventually I move on to the next picture, and look for God in that picture too - even if its just thanking Him for giving us humans so many creative ways to express all the beauty he's given us. After a few more painting or photos, because I'm more God-centered and not as self-centered, it's much easier to say "okay, that's been enough time on Pinterest. Time to get back to work."

427. Transcending time
Related to not wasting time on the internet, I'm learning when I put God first then I find I have more time to accomplish productive things and still have extra time to enjoy reading or visiting blogs or Pinterest.

"These quiet moments with me transcend time" (from  Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young). Whatever time you invest with Him you get back, sometime multiplied. I love the idea of transcending time - I can't wait to see what time in eternity is like.

Another nugget of wisdom: "On the days when your plans are thwarted, be on the lookout for Me."  I thought that was an unusual perspective - we know that sometimes Satan tries to deceive, and I think he tries to get us to blame God for inconvenient or upsetting things that happen to us, but really, we could look at them as ways that God might be trying to get our attention. My theme this year is "seeking Him" but I am saddened by how many days go by when I do not think to seek Him at all. Maybe when my day doesn't go as planned, that's God's reminder that I need "to keep my mind stay'd on him" (Isaiah 23:6).

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