Welcome February! Writing that is not a wave of relief indicating that January is a month to be despised, but just a welcome. It dawned on me this morning I have completed my last January in my decade of the 50's. All in all, it wasn't a bad month even with a few surprising health issues and with a few set backs, the month of January contained great joy, contentment, peace and fun. Even in the midst of issues and set backs, you have to find the fun, even if it is the thinnest little string in the midst of it all...finding the joy, sometimes as hard as it is to do, will be the lifeline in how we experience the peace that passes all understanding. For some this month has held the painful loss of loved ones. Others have been delivered life changing news. There are those whose lives are being turned upside down from the comfortable place and pace. Some are dealing with their ordinary and mundane.
Since I took a much needed nap yesterday afternoon, I wasn't quite ready to slip into sleep at the regular time, instead I slipped into a book or two, sipped on a Diet Coke which is much better than slipping and sipping on ice. The Diet Coke was straight...from the bottle. I worked on homework, the continuing drama of Isaac, Rebekah, and their twin sons Esau and Jacob. Last week looked at Esau giving up the life of the first born for a bowl of lentils and Jacob's quick mind plotting and formalizing the getting of that blessing. This week we are studying about Isaac and his determined behavior to give Esau the blessing in spite of knowing God's plan for Jacob being the receiver thereof. It is a messy chapter for sure, deception plans of three of the four, lots of lying, lots of manipulation, lots of tears (Look at all the lots. Lot is still a problem for the next generation, ha!) and no obvious gestures of asking and including God in the whole mess by any of the participants. Again, I take all this cooking stuff to be my biblical reason for staying out of the kitchen...nothing good comes from the preparing of meals, well, except for deceit and ill-gotten manipulation. As always, I have to give the warning that most accidents in the home, happen in the kitchen. So I stay out just for safety sake too but that is not my biblical reason. All the drama of Isaac and his fam on my mind while reading Journaling by Alan L. Feldman and looking through several other books on creative and artistic journaling. I began to "sketch out" in my mind a character synopsis, looking back on every mention and then charting their development that brought them to this full chapter of Genesis 27. I began journaling my thoughts on this, reflecting on the promises God has made to these descendants of Abraham, yet seeing how their humanness either thwarted or in spite of, God blessed. I knew I needed to close up my writing because instead of drifting into tired, I was energized by learning and reflection.
"Journaling is a tool for reflecting on God's presence, guidance, and nurture in daily comings and goings. Journaling is the disciplined activity of recording reflections on life for the purpose of facilitating a deepening daily awareness of Jesus' loving, personal and active presence." Journaling, Adam L. Feldman
There in my notes, I saw something I would have never seen in just doing my homework but it came from journaling. Isaac asks Esau to make him a venison dinner...boom, he is out the door with his bow and arrows, wearing his early biblical camo to go hunting. Rebekah hears the plan and calls to Jacob and tells him of her plan to "help" God. Rebekah fixes Isaac's favorite meal using young goats, but she takes it a step further, she also serves him hot bread, Genesis 27:17. So Jacob takes the delicious meal, hot bread and some wine to his father. Esau doesn't strike me as the type that would take the time to make bread and add wine. His father asked him to kill some wild game and prepare it for him. Bada Bing, Bada Boom and we'll read on in the chapter that is exactly what Esau does. The hot bread and wine should have tipped off Isaac. He does the hear, touch and smell test but he doesn't go with his gut instincts. For me, reflection in journaling this, a principle to maybe use when I have a duplicitous person in my life; the added item, the extra incentive,the more than, and the physical attraction for something to seal the deal. It takes your mind off the facts. I don't know that I would have seen that if I hadn't been journaling it out. It was such a revelation to me, I really, really, really, wanted to wake Roy from his sleep and tell him. We had been discussing the story before he went to bed. As it was, in the middle of the night when he got up to use the bathroom and he was getting back in bed, I told him....it was the bread, kind of like telling someone the butler did it! This morning he barely remembers me telling him but even in the dead of sleep and early morning, this news was too wonderful for me to contain.
This morning I have spent hours going over the story of Isaac and Rebekah and have learned so much. Hand in hand with the Journaling book, reading about the "when of journaling" and when we are discontented with a current season of life, that discontentment manifests itself in ways that suck the joy, peace, contentment, love and fruitfulness out of your life today. Adam warns us in the book if we are not careful these "life suckers" will detrimentally affect your love for God and for others. I have mentioned on the blog these three before but never delved into them. The three life suckers are; entitlement, bitterness and nostalgia. Entitlement is when you believe you are entitled to more money, more respect, more fame, more fulfillment, more time, more silence, less distraction and less noise. Ouch! That sentence hurt! Entitlement robs you of joy because you spend significant energy blaming yourself, others or God for what is less than desirable about your current season of life. Life sucker number 2 is bitterness. Adam Feldman writes when entitlement deepens its roots in your heart it grows into a nasty, suffocating vine of bitterness. And bitterness strangles joy. The third life sucker is nostalgia which the author explains that bitterness is veiled under the guise of nostalgia. Nostalgia mentally and emotionally removes you from the present moment. If we are measuring life with the ruler of nostalgia, we are idolizing the past at the expense of the present. I personally think Adam L Feldman is a very smart and deeply spiritual author. I have never heard anyone write or talk on entitlement and nostalgia in the Christian world. Today, I have been applying these three life suckers to the lives of Isaac and the fam. Journaling it and contemplating the wisdom that is found there.
I could go on and on and I bet many of you think I have, but I will spare you....for now. I cannot emphasize enough how much this book will reshape your journaling and thinking. Order it from Amazon if you can't find it in a local bookstore. I know I will be writing more about all of this, but for now, I must close.