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Posts Tagged ‘spirit’

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. A lot of thinking. Even more than usual. I have been questioning things I’ve never questioned before. Questioning everything really. Around and round I go each day, the ground shaking beneath me, shifting and turning, keeping me from nailing much down. But as much as I’ve been questioning, as many things as I’ve been rethinking, there are these few that I keep coming back to.

It has been a year of change. But these things keep staying the same…

  • I believe in Creator God.
  • I believe Jesus lived, died on a cross and was who He said He was.
  • I believe that my husband and my children need me more than anyone else does and need me more than anyone else.
  • I know I feel so…alive when I am running (or otherwise active), writing, reading and experiencing this gorgeous planet (and that the purer I experience its form, the better). I believe all that has to mean something.
  • I believe Jesus is the answer to a lot of my questions.
  • I believe in real food. I believe it is the solution for much…maybe even most…of what ails us today.
  • I believe that being still, being quiet, truly simplifying, is the answer to finding the Holy Spirit. I believe it is through the Holy Spirit that we find peace, wisdom, clarity, direction, purpose, discernment, awareness, compassion, self control.
  • I believe in adoption. I believe it is on my heart and in my mind through out the day, every day, for a reason.
  • I believe in generosity and compassion.
  • I believe in green living. It makes so. much. sense.

These ten things I still believe.

And I would love to know, when your whole world is changing, what things do you still believe?

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I must confess, I went out of curiosity more than anything and with expectations of being an observer rather than a participant.

But I should have known.

I should have known that my walls would come crumbling down. Should have known that the shroud covering my heart would be gently pulled away.

They are just too good at what they do. And His spirit is too mighty. Especially in those moments where I am forced to be still. And quiet.

SPACE, they call it. SPACE. What is SPACE? Well, let me tell you what SPACE was for me…

When I walked in an immediate quiet surrounded me. Not just an audible quiet. A complete quiet. Instantly, without my even intending for it to, this caused my spirit to take a deep breath.

Dozens of candles flickered across the front of the room. They, along with a few strands of soft white lights that had been wrapped around some wooden beams were all that lit the space. Black curtains hung around the room’s edges. A small stage, an area rug, a few scattered chairs and four “stations” completed the gathering of items with which my eyes connected. Several dozen people had arrived before me. Some were sitting. Some were standing. A track of soothing music played very softly in the background. I grabbed a sheet of paper from the table by the door and settled onto a spot on the rug that had been layed in the middle of the floor. I glanced down at the words covering the paper that I held in my hand.

“SPACE is designed to be a soul environment – a sacred, reflective time for prayer and calibration. Our hope is that you experience the love story of Jesus through this environment and feel the freedom to journal, pray, reflect, or just rest at the feet of the Father. We are glad you are here. Be still. Listen. Reflect.”

After reading these words, curiosity about the four stations pulled me back to my feet and I began a slow walk around the outer edge of the room. A few minutes into this time Leslie, David and a woman who’s face I did not recognize, took the stage. I returned to my spot on the rug. Moments later Leslie’s soothing voice filled the room, inviting everyone to worship with them through music if we so desired, or just continue on with what we were already doing if that was where we needed to be.

And for the next hour, with Leslie on her guitar, David at the piano and the stranger accompanying with a violin, I was swept away. I couldn’t even sing. I could only sit and weep. Weep unexplained tears. Not tears of sadness. Or anger. Or disappointment. Not tears of regret or pain or fear. Not even tears of joy. Just tears from a soul overwhelmed to be sitting in the presence of my Father’s Spirit.  Soul environment. This is what they mean when they say soul environment.

After a half hour of tears, a half hour without a clear thought in my head, I received a message so penetrating,  I couldn’t’ve ignored it if I’d wanted to: My soul needs the white noise to be quieted. My soul is desperate for it. For several breaths I just sat in the clarity of that moment. But that wasn’t all that would come to me. Moments later a rush of words began running into my mind. I grabbed my paper and hastily wrote them all down.

– Get out of the city.

– Get rid of stuff.

– Get off of the computer.

– Turn off the t.v.

Rebuke the lies in your head.

Pray. Pray. Pray.

– Keep reading.

– Keep writing.

Love your children.

Love your husband.

Cherish your family and your true friends.


I am still meditating on these thoughts today. As well as a few more thoughts:

Our souls are longing to be fed. They are desperate for nourishment.

Everyday we feed our faces. Our egos. Our desires. Our impulses.

But how often do we feed our souls?

And how do we? What does this even look like? Sound like? Feel like?

We must begin this soul journey. Or continue it if it has already begun.

For truly, our very lives, our very souls depend on it.

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Psalm 1/16

In my moments of darkness I feel fear

I know You are here

I truly believe You here my prayer

And that You love me

I feel Your presence

Your attentiveness

Your compassion

And still, in my moments of weakness, I feel such raw and unbridled fear

I am desperate for unwavering faith

For perspective

For peace

I trust You and know with all my heart that You will never leave me

But do I have faith in You?

Take heart, daughter, your faith has healed you.

According to your faith, will it be done to you.

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I breathe in the crisp, night air. It is snowing. The neighbors’ yards are glistening with what snow has already fallen. The road is wet and intermittently icy. There are Christmas tree lights in many windows. Lamp light warms the living rooms of the houses that I pass by. I can see into my parent’s front window. My entire family is inside. All the children are in bed, the adults gathered in the living room/dining room. Soon I will join them. But not now. Not yet.

A sudden and intense longing to move my legs and breathe some fresh, winter air has landed me in the middle of the street. And in my haste I have only taken the time to don a pair of tennis shoes and a light jacket over the pajama pants and t-shirt I was already wearing. The wind cuts through the thin fabric of my attire. Ice cold water climbs my pants as each blue cuff drags the ground. The moisture quickly seeps into my shoes as well, and my wet socks begin to cling to my frozen toes. I stick my hands into my jacket pockets to spare them from the frigid air. Instinctively, my shoulders hunch and my core muscles contract in their effort to protect me from the cold, and for several moments I allow them to.

I walk in silence, filling my lungs with the cold, winter air, then slowly letting it all back out again. But my hunched shoulders and contracted core are counteracting my deep breaths and preventing the relaxation that usually accompanies them. When I realize this, I make the decision to let go and to be fully present in my cold surroundings instead of trying to hide from them. The difference this makes is remarkable. Almost instantly all of the tension I am holding begins to melt, like that last thin layer of snow that still covers the ground on a sunny winter day. Somehow, in the moments following, the cold doesn’t seem to bother me so much.

“I don’t know what to pray for, God.” I finally blurt out quietly, without really meaning to, shaking my head. This confession breaks the night’s silence as well as the disconnect I have felt for several days now. “I know that I need You. I know that I need…something. Please help me.”

What happens after I utter my plea, “please help me”, I can only describe as a direct response from my Father in Heaven and a truly incredible experience- like He is praying the prayer for me and answering it all at the same time, telling me what I should ask for, then granting the request the moment it is asked.

The words in bold are the words that came to my mind, that I offered to Him. The words in italics were the words He gave  back to me.

my childrenpatience. a fresh perspective.

future childrenpeace. hope. that I will not live in fear. that my hope will be in God, not in my own plan.

my husbandto be Jesus to him. compassion. keeping the fire burning.

my family appreciation.

our small groupinspiration.

the lostwisdom for how to serve and love them.

my purposeclarity. a vision.

my passiondirection.

A calmness and a sense of clarity fill my heart and my mind as I meditate on each word He gives me.

When I am almost back to the house, I feel I should end my prayer as I often do- by counting my blessings. Immediately when this thought comes to mind, He reminds me to be thankful for my health, my home, my family, and hope. And oh, how right He is! My heart feels as though it will burst with gratitude for the blessings He has given me.

As I walk back up the driveway, the scripture, “If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves.” Romans 8:26-27, plays through my head and makes me wonder- was tonight an example of this?

I think I will always remember, how on this Christmas night, if only for a few minutes, the world around me was silent and white. And how when I stepped outside in pursuit of a walk and a deep breath, the ensuing stillness led me back to my Creator.

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

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Warmth

A gray morning it has been. Cold. And dark. Very gray. I pad around my house, the November cold seeping in through the windows and doors, chilling the air on all three floors of my home. My bare feet quickly lose whatever warmth they had found in our bed last night and I begin to wonder where my house shoes might be hiding. Layers are added. A tshirt. A sweatshirt. Warmer pants. I struggle with wanting to be up and about. Days like these are much more conducive to some hot tea and a good book than piles of laundry, a sink full of dishes and errands that need running.

When the gray morning hours have passed, I step into my kitchen. The sun has just found it’s way out of the clouds and a ray of light is beaming through the window over my sink and onto the cold linoleum floor. My hunger leads me to the refrigerator. I open it’s doors, grab a stack of containers and turn to set them on the counter behind me. I turn this way and that, grabbing needed items from cabinets and drawers. As I turn back to the counter from which I began, my feet encounter a pleasant and momentarily unrecognizable sensation.

“Warmth” my brain finally processes. It is warmth that I feel beneath my feet. I turn to look. A square of sunlight. A square of warmth. I pause and savor the reprieve.

My thoughts quickly turn to my Creator as I once again, as happens on occasion, encounter a physical/external occurrence that speaks to me about the nature of the Spiritual/Internal, about the nature of God Himself.

And I am thankful for this. For it is only with great effort that my mind can begin to grasp the nature of Spirit, the nature of the Unseen. It is through experiences like this one that His presence becomes a little more real. And a little more describable.

And so I think-

It is so cold in here without Him. And dark. And gray.

But He is always near. Patiently waiting for us to turn and notice. Patiently warming a spot beside us until we realize how cold we are without Him and step into the Light. Unwaveringly offering reprieve.

If only we would accept it. If only we would notice. If only we would move.

We might begin to warm up.

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great Light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a Light has dawned.”  -Isaiah 9:2

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I am a dreamer. A dreamer and a thinker.

Sometimes I wonder why this is. Why, both fortunately and unfortunately, I feel incapable of shutting off my brain and spending more of my time outside of my head. (It gets so noisy in there. Stays so busy. Whew.) I think I have concluded that it is a combination of my temperament (melancholy) and my upbringing (thanks, Dad) but regardless of why, it is what it is and at least for the time being, it doesn’t seem to be changing.

A lot of the time this just means that there is never enough time to do all that I want to do and see all that I want to see. I awake most mornings, dreaming and scheming, my mile long to-do list following me around, my long term, life dreams knocking at my door.

I think I see life a little differently every day. Not because my surroundings or my circumstances are changing but because my brain rarely (if ever) shuts off and this causes a constant and continuous evaluation of life, of Truth, of the reality of my and our existence.

Exhausting? At times. A blessing? Often.

The blessings that come from this can be great. I rarely settle for average. I am often content (thank God) but very rarely complacent. I usually put a lot of thought into, and seek out a lot of counsel for the decisions that I make. My compassion towards and awareness of people is often better than doers.  (There are doers and there are thinkers and there are the rare few that manage to live right in the middle. I am married to a man who is mostly a doer but with usually just the right amount – though occasionally not quite enough – of thinker sprinkled in. Thank God for him! He so often displays a beautiful balance of the two.) My desire to help people live their best life, for their own peace and joyfulness sake and to the glory of God, burns passionately and at times inexplicably. And I am diligent and passionate about the direction that my own life, my own heart, my own spirit takes. Because of this, and by the grace of God, I have been able to walk down a road of many, many blessings.

But it causes dilemmas too, one being that I have difficulty staying focused long enough to begin a thought or a task and then follow it through all the way to the end. I have the best intentions, the best ideas, the most passion- but I have too many at once, too many to juggle, too little time and energy to devote to each one. And at times, because I do not have time to do them all, I do none. (or I start ten and spend so much time starting them that I run out of time and finish none of them) Not workable. Not beneficial to anyone.

It also causes me to sometimes hold myself to impossibly high standards, and those around me as well. The problem with this is that I forget to celebrate the milestones, the baby steps, the growth along the way and in this my heart becomes ungracious towards those (including myself) who keep missing the mark and then depressed about the state of my friends, my family, myself…or humanity in general. Not good. Not good at all.

And also, and perhaps worst of all, it occasionally causes a complete crash. (Like with a computer, when there is too much information being inputted to be processed, too many commands to try and follow that the computer just shuts down completely.) A crash causes a withdrawal from those around me, a dive into my mind and away from those that I love and all that I need to do. And it causes me to stay there, either until someone comes in and rescues me (this task often falls to my husband, he has become an expert at it), or until I become so desperate for air that I reach out and grab a float and make it back to shore, or until I remember that my God is always there for me, loving and listening and understanding, unchanging and unphased, waiting for me to return to Him, waiting for me to ask, once again, for His Spirit of patience, of wisdom, of peace, of compassion to fill my mind and my heart. His response is usually swift, His deliverance profound.

So here is my thought for today- There is only one of me, there are only twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week. Because of this reality, I must accept that I cannot do all that I wish I could do. (Not today at least, and maybe not until I figure out how to clone myself.) This means that my only option is to narrow my focus and simplify my choices.

But what does this look like? For today, this looks like stating my passions and my purpose, pouring myself into these things and allowing the rest to remain on my to-do list until I find the time, make the time or am given the time to get to them.

It also means clearing away the clutter- the cluttering thoughts and commitments and possessions. And eliminating the pointless, meaningless, fruitless things that this life and our culture are so quick to offer in such abundance.

And what, you might ask, are these passions? What is my purpose? What is worth my time?

Stay tuned as I work on figuring that out! 🙂

In the mean time…what are your passions? What is your purpose? What do you consider worthy of your time? Please leave me a comment! I want to hear your answers!

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I hear my alarm on the nightstand beside me and quickly push snooze. I groggily check to see what time it is. Five a.m. And still dark outside. I lie in bed and debate. I could snuggle into the soft sheets and warm blankets of this bed, cuddled up to my sleeping husband for the next two and a half hours, and start the long day ahead of me with a solid five hours of sleep…

Or I could drag my tired body out of bed and spend my last morning on the island watching the sunrise.

My exhaustion tells me to stay.

But my hunger for the experience that awaits me, for the memories I will take home with me, speaks louder.

I roll out of bed.

I slip on my black stretch pants, pull a blue shirt over my head and slide my feet into a pair of  flip-flops. I grab my phone and car keys off the nightstand and tip-toe out the bedroom door.

The house contains an unfamiliar quiet.

I make my way down the tiled staircase, careful to keep my flip-flops from flip-flopping too loudly, unlock the side door and step out onto a wooden landing. I take my first breath of the cool, salty air and descend a second set of stairs. I glance at my surroundings. Every color is muted, a landscape made up of varying shades of gray. Houses that have been painted every color of the rainbow, bushes and palm trees usually a deep shade of green, flowers in their array of pinks and reds and purples: all muted. All gray.

I hop into my hubby’s xterra.

I drive three miles, passing a cluster of massive hotels, dozens of houses on stilts, one convenience store and acres and acres of sand, sidewalk and palm trees. I reach a giant sign. This sign marks the end of the developed stretch of the island and the beginning of paradise: the seven miles of uninterrupted sand and ocean that I found on my long run five days before.

One point four miles later I pull into a small parking lot, park the xterra facing east, and turn off the engine.

I roll down the windows. Immediately, my ears are filled with the sound of the ocean, the endless, soothing rhythm of the waves as they crash onto the sand. I inhale deeply. Close my eyes. Inhale again. Open my eyes and drink in my surroundings. Could there be a more magical place on earth? There is fifty feet of sand beside me, then ocean for as far as the eye can see. The gray water follows itself all the way to the horizon. For a while I get lost in its infiniteness. The rolling water is hypnotic and I find myself relaxing into this experience.

Eventually I turn my attention back to the scene that is unfolding in front of me. I sit facing east and watch as slowly, steadily, the coming light begins to touch the sky. The low-lying clouds hide the sun as it peeks out of the horizon.  I watch them evolve from their muted gray to a light pink, then to a deeper, reddish pink. The sky around them turns almost blue.

The landscape in my rearview mirror is still gray. The light has not yet reached the west.

The constantly changing colors filling the eastern sky keep me fascinated. Everything about this place, this moment, feels right. Contentedness runs through my veins.

An hour passes quickly.

Around six-thirty the sun’s rays burst through the low-lying cloud cover. The sight is glorious. They light up the entire sky, turn the water into a sea of blue diamonds, turn the sand into a radiant white. They color the eastern sky a deep gold, the western sky a deep blue.

And they leave me with three thoughts that I have taken home with me, that I am still thinking of today.

1) I serve a magnificent God. Who chose a grand creation. And when I take the time to stop and notice, His brilliant design always leaves me breathless.

2) It has never been more clear to me as it was that morning, as I witnessed the power of the sun’s light, how appropriate it is that we call our God and His Son, the Light. The earth was transformed that morning. Everything the light touched was changed. From a dark and colorless mass emerged a distinct landscape bursting with brilliance and color. What a beautiful metaphor for the shape our hearts and our lives can take when they are touched by the Light.

3) I need to experience a purer form of His creation more often. I want this. My spirit craves this. More often than every once in awhile, I must leave this busy city and get lost in His creation.

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