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Posts Tagged ‘#bestillandknow’

Listening …

Sometimes it seems that the silence is deafening. There isn’t revelation, direction, not even critique. Just silence.

When will he speak, lead, direct? When will a fire be ignited in my belly? Where has my get up and go gone?

Questions I have asked, of late … of God.

It is just silent. I have been around long enough to know he is there, here, within me. I still know he has a plan and a purpose, but … it. is. so. quiet.

Erwin W. Lutzer, in his book, Getting Closer to God, wrote:

“Of course, it’s easy to trust God when the bush is burning, the waters are parting, and the mountains are shaking— it’s those silent years that are discouraging. But blessed is the person who does not interpret the silence of God as the indifference of God!”

God is not indifferent, uncaring, unconcerned. He is still working.

But, it is so quiet.

Ever been to a body of water that is so quiet, it’s surface is more like a mirror than a body of life? It is still, quiet. There are times in our lives when we long for such stillness, when noise is all around, when the waters are teaming with life, ready for the catch. When we long for things to just be still, quiet.

I hear the Psalmist say,

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 

I have no choice but to be still, for this is the season, yet … am I?

Worry and anxiety over that which is out of my hands, my control, can overtake my thoughts. There is no specific direction, no task at hand … and that makes me ill at ease, disquieted in my soul.

And the whisper returns,

Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 

Not to be irreverent, but as I read this verse, over and over, I found myself coming to the conclusion that what God is saying here could be interpreted as

just trust me and hold my beer

He is reminding us that he is God, that he hold the world and all that is in it, in the palm of his hand. Just be still … that is your job, your task, your calling.

John 13:7 tells us, You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

In the deafening silence it can seem as though God is not there, that he does not care, that he has no use for us. But, in these silent days and years, he calls on us to be still, to contemplate what he has done in and through us in the past, to trust our unknown future to this God who has more than proven himself in the past.

He has a plan … just keep listening in the quiet, meditating at the calm waters.

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As a child I loved it when my mom would hand me what was once a tidy ball of yarn that had gotten loose in her knitting bag or scattered across the floor. She would ask me if I could untangle it for her. Or my grandmother would do the same with a necklace, whose chain had knots.

I would eagerly take on these problems, these messes and straighten out what was knotted. It was a game, a challenge for me where I usually had success and I loved it.

Problem solving has become my life. I have used this skill in my profession, helping students learn in unique and creative ways. In the running of a home, utilizing form and function. In childrearing … in so many ways. In helping in so many situations and circumstances.

Give me a problem, a puzzle, a challenge, a mystery. Invite me into your struggle, your situation, your sorrow. Let me untangle that knotted mess of yarn that is that part of our life.

What I am not good at is acknowledging when I cannot solve the problem, when the mess is tangled beyond my problem-solving capabilities.

Recently I ran into a snag … problems that I simply could not untangle. This failure of ability (for it was not a failure of desire to solve the puzzles) was getting to me. I looked at it from every side, tried to see if moving things would help. Yet, I was quickly faced with the reality that all problem solvers hate to face …

the tangled mess was out of my ability to straighten it out.

This self-acknowledgement wore on me, for that which I love to do and do well, I was powerless to accomplish.

Besides, I am a follower of Christ, a believer in the power of Christ in me … I mean doesn’t Matthew 7:7 say “ask and you will receive” … and Mark 11:24 says, “whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you”?

Of course I am taking those one-liners out of the context of the Word, as a whole … rubbing my Bible-Genie making my one wish. But, what I ask is so desired, so good, so sincere …

Then I saw an image. It was the one at the top of this page. It was the mess of the first screen that got me … as soon as I saw it, my eyes did not see a pile of letters, but a pile of yarn, twisted and knotted … a problem waiting to be solved.

That was the problem I was dealing with.

Then the reminder … the God-response … not the I love you, for I simply do not have the capacity to not know that God loves me, or others. It was the two words,

I know

He knows.

He knows the knotted, tangled, ugly messes of our human lives. He knows that situations that break our hearts, that mess with our confidence, that even make us question if we are still in his will.

He knows.

“Be still, and know that I am God”
Psalm 46:10

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Summer is officially here!

The schedules of the school year, of sports and other recreational activities, of work and all that is part of the rest of the year have been put on hold for rest, relaxation and recreation.

One of the best parts of summer is looking at the calendar of July and August in comparison to the rest of the months … there are so many clean blocks, with no writing on many of the days of the week. The calendar in FULL of whitespace!

Whitespace is the part of paper that is not written on.

According to Bonnie Gray, who writes at incourage.me, and faith Barista,

“just as beautiful art needs whitespace,

our souls need spiritual whitespace.”

Enjoy this guest post from Bonnie Gray.

I didn’t want to get out.

But Daddy swung the car door open.

My parents had just divorced and Daddy took me and little sister to the toy store one Saturday morning.

He wanted to buy us something to “Remember Daddy loves you,” as he placed the plastic bag in my hand at checkout. But, all I could think about was Momma. What she told me that morning. That I better not take anything from him.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that visit was going to be the last time I ever saw him again. I was a little girl, seven years tall.

Daddy kept telling me, “It’s okay. It’s okay.” But I didn’t want to walk up to the porch. My legs drilled down into the ground like roots to a thicket of thorns at the bottom of concrete steps.

My Daddy put one hand on my back, pressing me forward, as he grabbed my little sister’s hand in the other. He rapped on the screen door while I blinked and sucked my breath in.

As I held myself there for a million years, the door flew open.

There she stood. Over me.

Even behind the screen, I could see Momma clearly. Her ragged jawline, her teeth clenched and face flushed. Her chest heaving. She took one look at me, at the plastic bag I was holding. I could see it in her eyes.

Anger.

And I broke apart in a thousand pieces right then and there. I knew I shouldn’t do what I did next, because it would make everything worse. But, I couldn’t help it.

I started shaking. Tears began to erupt and my mouth pulled down into a trembling sob. I couldn’t swallow them down. So I began to cry.

Things didn’t go well for me that day, as I stood there at the screen door out on the porch.

There was no space for me.

I was split between who to please and what to do.

I could not find rest.

Longing

Even though I’m all grown up now – mom to two adorable boys, married to a loving husband — deep inside, I’m still that little girl looking for rest.

Longing for space to breathe.

To feed my soul.

To feel and dream dreams.

To just be me.

I need rest.

But, stress seems to always be one step ahead of me.

I’ve wondered if I could ever really stop.

Then, God allowed my life to come to a big stop.

A Beautiful Discovery

Two years ago, at the cusp of a childhood dream coming true – writing my first book – I was launched into a debilitating season of panic attacks, insomnia and anxiety.

Writing triggered memories to come alive. I began reliving them.

I’ve done much harder things in my life, free of panic attacks. I grew up as the oldest child in a single parent family, put myself through college, and launched first-to-market technologies in the high-tech world. I’ve even traveled halfway around the world as an overseas missionary.

But, now overwhelmed by anxiety and stress, I was no longer able to cope the way I always have:

by problem solving,

taking care of others,

planning and doing.

God was allowing my exhausted, weary self to surface, so that I could go on a new beautiful discovery: the journey of rest.

A New Journey

When we come into contact with stress, our natural response is to push through.

We don’t want to be in need or fail to meet others’ expectations, especially our own. We beat ourselves up for not trusting God.

But, God offers us a different response.

Rest. Kindness. Comfort.

Instead of being harder on us, Jesus whispers –

“Come to me, all those who are weary and heavy-laden
and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

When Jesus was surrounded by pressing needs, Scripture tell us –

“Jesus would often slip away
to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16

Jesus took time to rest because nurturing his soul with his Father was more important than what He could do.

Putting our hearts firstletting Jesus love us—is a new journey of resting with Him.

As people of faith, our response to stress is not to avoid it.

What we need is rest.

What we need is spiritual whitespace.

Spiritual Whitespace

Whitespace. It’s the space left on a page left unmarked.

Whitespace is not blank. It breathes beauty.

Just as beautiful art needs whitespace, our souls need spiritual whitespace. We need rest.

We are not project plans for God. We are not God’s stock investments, where our value rises and falls with performance.

God after all is an artist. And we are His works of art.

“For we are God’s poeima (the Greek word for workmanship, from which we derive the word “poem”)…
which God prepared beforehand…”
Ephesians 2:10

I ended writing a different book than I started.  I wrote a memoir-driven guide about my search to find rest and the answers as I found them.

To find the things I somehow lost along the way –

Quiet.

Stillness.

Beauty.

Intimacy with God.

Rest is a journey we don’t have to take alone. We need each other.

Let’s live a better story. Move beyond surviving.

Take the journey to rest. Find your spiritual whitespace.  

Listen to Jesus’ gentle whispers –

You’re loved.

You’re cherished.

Just rest.”

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Sometimes

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Sometimes …

we awaken and just cannot ‘do’ another day.

 

Sometimes …

the sun is simply not shining enough,

the birds are not singing enough,

the passions are not burning enough,

the love is not big enough,

the faith is not strong enough,

to ‘do’ another day.

 

Sometimes …

admitting it,

is the most difficult.

 

Sometimes …

giving in is being the most real …

the most healthy.

 

Sometimes …

closing ones eyes,

turning off the world,

and resting in His arms,

is the best medicine, the most healing, the most responsible.

 

Sometimes …

that feeling that we cannot ‘do’ another day

is an invitation

to be still

 

and know …

and know …

and know

 

that He is God.

 

 

 

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