September 27, 2015

Sunday Soul Rest: Silence

"In the silence
You are speaking
In the quiet I can feel the fire
And it's burning, burning deeply
Burning all that it is that you desire to be silent, in me."

"In the Silence" by Jason Upton

It's Sunday morning and after heading to the kitchen for coffee, I'm back under the warm covers of our bed, snuggled in with the quiet and my laptop.  Some thoughts have been stirring in my heart this week on my need for silence, so before I start getting ready for church, before the day really gets off and running, I don't want to miss the chance to put them to paper so to speak.

It's peaceful here in our room, and the only sounds I hear are the birds singing their morning song out my window, and the plane that's passing over our home.  One of the many things I'm learning about myself, is how much my heart needs these still restful moments each day.  

"Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our lives are in danger. Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the Christian life and should therefore be the subject of our most personal attention." 

 ~ Henri Nouwen 

Jesus himself withdrew from the crowds, he went to the hills to pray, to be alone with his father, and to hear and receive from him.  And he didn't live in the world we live in today with cell phones and the Internet and the constant bombardment of noise.  If he needed silence and solitude then, how much more we must need it now.

And so I'm making time, time to sit in the stillness without a phone in my hand, the television on, and the computer in front of me.  Time to be alone and just be present in the quiet, to listen for the stirrings in my heart, to pray as God guides and leads me, and to simply linger with him and enjoy his presence.

Five minutes turns to ten, and ten minutes turns to twenty, and I don't want to leave that peaceful, life-giving place.  But the day calls to me and I'm much more able to take it on, to stay calm in the midst of activity and noise, and to hold on to the quiet in my heart because I've made space for silence.

Whether it's in the morning, the afternoon, or even the early evening.  Whether it's once a day, or twice, or even more, I'm choosing with intention to make space for silence and solitude and I love the effect it's having on me.

Try it and see if it blesses and fills you too.  I promise God will show up just as he always does and you'll be refreshed and changed because you've spent time in the silence with him.

"And Jesus got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, "Hush, be still." 
And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm."  
~ Mark 4:39


September 24, 2015

In Season and Out

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

The glorious season of fall arrived this week and a cute, round, perfectly orange pumpkin joined the host of colorful happy mums on our back deck.  Oh how I adore this season!  Though I'm not very good at picking favorites since there are so many things I love, this season comes pretty close to taking the prize for being my favorite of all.

I'm not sure what it is exactly that captures me... the crisp cool air, the changing leaves, the holidays around the corner.  Maybe it's the coziness... the coats and scarves and blankets and extra snuggles to keep warm.  Maybe it's the shorter days and longer nights that bring more sleep and rest.  Or it's the hot coffee and spiced cider that warms in the mug in my hands, and the pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread and how when I bake them the house smells divine.  I'm not sure what it is exactly, but every year this season wins me, heart and soul.

Digging a little deeper, I think what draws me in is the hope and promise of unforeseen days and the wonder of what God has coming for me.  I don't mind packing away the long, lazy days of summer when I know there's more life ahead for me in the fall, and that's true of every season.  Change is good and it's nothing to fear when we set our hearts on Jesus and put our trust in him.

"For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you 
will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."
~ Philippians 1:6

God is always up to fresh new things in our lives, in season and out.  His beautiful work continues whether the leaves on the trees are bright green and full, or they're red and orange and fading fast.  He lovingly takes us from glory to glory and strength to strength as he brings more healing, growth and maturity to our lives.  And just as he expertly paints a fall tapestry of beautiful vibrant colors, he paints himself upon our lives with ever increasing beauty.  I don't want to look anything like I look now at the end of this gorgeous, ever-changing season.  When winter comes, I want to be stronger and braver and more myself, and I want to know Jesus more deeply and intimately than I do even now.  

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."
~ 2 Corinthians 3:18

Though the seasons may change, God never does.  He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever, and he promises his presence and love to carry us through all of our days.  He is faithful and sovereign and we can trust our hearts to him.  In season and out, he is a good father and he is good to us.

So welcome fall, and welcome change, and most importantly, welcome Jesus.  Have your beautiful way in my life and heart in this my favorite season.  I can't wait to see what you have in store!

What do you love about this stunning season of fall and what are you looking forward to as you walk with God in it?  I would love to hear.


September 20, 2015

Sunday Soul Rest: Entering In

"Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."

~ Psalm 116:7

I'm wrapped up in a big fluffy throw all cozy on the sofa listening to George Winston's Autumn as I breathe in the sweetness of an apple scented candle that's burning in the kitchen.  Outside, the wind bends the trees, the sun is shining bright, it's cooler and crisper than it was yesterday, and the promise of fall came with the morning.

Not every day begins like this, with this kind of quiet peaceful ambiance.  There's work and school and laundry and we ran out of coffee and there's chores to be done and raising kids can be hard sometimes and I woke up with a headache and all I can write is run on sentences and so forth.  Many mornings I wake to a glass that appears half empty and I'm faced with the choice to instead see it as half full.

God is after rest in my heart, a deep soulful rest that's not based on my circumstances but that comes from within.  The kind that simmers and grows and wells up and bubbles over, even on days that are painful and stressful and feel absent of hope. 

He invites me to rest, to enter into HIS rest, even as I go about my day.  It's not necessarily a rest FROM activity, but a rest that comes IN THE MIDST OF activity.  It's a condition of the heart that carries me through whatever may come.  It's the act of leaning in and letting go and trusting my heart to Jesus.  

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  
For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

~ Matthew 11:28-30

And so I pray...

"Jesus, what do you have for my heart today?   
How would you have me rest?  
What does that look like?  
What do I need?
What are you inviting me to?"  

And then I wait, and I listen for his answer, and I walk with him in it.  Today, it looks a little like this...

staying home from church
lingering in my jammies
quiet reflective prayer
joy, peace, hope
a walk around the pond
caring for my people
writing a few words
practicing gratitude
a bit of laundry
a quick grocery run
being creative in the kitchen
and so on...

I wonder, what does rest look like for you today?  How is God inviting you to lean in and let go and trust your heart to him?  I'm starting a new series here each week... "Sunday Soul Rest" and I would love for you to join me in finding rest for our souls, of taking Jesus up on his offer to come and find our rest in him. I think it will be really good for our hearts.

Blessings on your rest today, friends... 

May it be sweet and satisfying and just what your heart needs.

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