Monthly Archives: July 2009
“October 2, 1996. The day it all changed. The day I started never to take anything for granted. The day I learned to take charge of my life. It was the day I was diagnosed with cancer.”
“The day I was diagnosed with cancer was the day I started to live.”
- Lance Armstrong
Please take a second to read the rest of this quick post and come back, ok?
Do you have a day? Was it cancer? Divorce? Loss? Rehab?
Ultimately, it boils down to emptiness.
Having absolutely nothing.
My moment was giving in to the depression. Not that I was giving up. Just the opposite. It was the day that I came to Jesus with nothing. I surrendered. I spoke out loud what I knew since childhood (but had to live through pain to understand) that I had nothing to offer. I needed help. I was weak – He was strong.
And I sat in that moment.
I sat in emptiness.
In the book (that I can’t seem to get off my mind) author, Ruth Haley Barton, says “all of us most walk through [emptiness] on the way to encounter God.”
“Most of us spend our whole life trying to avoid the experience of being empty and alone. True solitude allows none of the usual escapes [from emptiness]“
Mr. Armstrong says the day he started living was the day he found out he was empty.
So if you find yourself there today, look for the Holy around you. You may just have a life changing day – today!
It looks like a secluded spot alone with God. Or taking a walk in the woods.
A retreat finds you away from your ordinary, everyday environment.
It gives you space both in mind and body to enjoy the beauty around you.
A retreat might even include overnight accomodations!
No matter the situation, God will always shine His light.
(pictures taken during my recent retreat at The Shack)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrew 12:1-3)
Have you gotten so accustomed to your bad habits that you don’t even recognize them anymore?
I have a terrible habit. I leave a trail of work everywhere I go. Just the other day I took a shower after my workout. I was wearing a green shirt and black pants. Later in the day I passed my pants in the hallway and thought – oh, I should start the laundry. I had just been in the bathroom, so I started looking for my green shirt elsewhere. After no luck, I peaked back into the bathroom and sure enough the sweaty shirt was lying on the floor right where I left it.
Read more at Exemplify.com
In Retreat Reflections I began sharing a bit about this book:
During my quiet times at the serene picturesque retreat I observed my setting:
The sun glistens on the water in front of me as the birds sing their song behind my head. I can hear the wind dancing through the trees before it stops to cool my body.
It’s hard to be still and not have an agenda. My heart presses for more knowledge of God – to read more – to learn more – to do more. Yet my head knows I need to stay still and allow God to direct me.
Out of the corner of my eye I see the swans appear in the bay. I wonder if they are as annoyed as I am at the jet skier which breaks the serenity of my moment. My eye follows the graceful movements of the swans and I notice an apprentice. One not quite as big and not quite as white. But the apprentice follows the example set out before him. And as he grows, he will continue to reflect the image of his father.
What a sweet lesson in this serene moment. I wish I had my camera!
2 Corinthians 3:18: And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
After reading more of my journal I came across this quote near the end of the book:
“Solitude does not consist only in creating perfect conditions outside myself… [but I noticed] the quietness of solitude and silence was becoming an inner condition within which I was to recognize and respond to the stirring, the voice, the very Presence of God himself.”
An inner condition.
ooo… I think I need more practice!
Often we think of solitude and silence in perfect settings, the best conditions, somewhere far away from here.
But in the author encourages us to practice times of quiet where ever we find ourselves and for whatever time we have. The author talks about struggling to make it just 10 minutes. Can you give up a few minutes just to sit and breathe to seek the Presence of God? Knowing that it will cultivate an “inner condition” in which I can find solitude in my un-silent world – Yes – I will strive to create a daily practice.
It’s Monday morning. I’m determined to start this day better than Saturday! (even though the little one spilled her cereal all over the place and cried hysterically)
I open up my Psalms devotional to get my daily dose.
(1) I cry aloud to the Lord.
(2) I pour out my complaint before Him.
(3) When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way.(5) I cry to you, O Lord; “You are my refuge, my portion.”
(6) Listen to my cry, I am desperate need.
(7) Set me free…that I am praise Your name.
In my devotional a quote from Charles Spurgeon adds insight: “We do not show our trouble before the Lord that He may see it, but that we may see Him. It is for our relief, and not for His information that we make plain statements concerning out woes.”
Go to God – so that we may see Him.
One last thing – the prayer:
-Admit any tendency you have to turn to people (food, TV, etc…), rather than to God, to meet your need.
-Pour our your heart to the Lord about any trouble you are facing. Be specific in telling Him your circumstances. Cry out to Him to be your refuge and your portion.
-Use Psalm 142 as a basis to pray for someone whom God places on your heart.
O Father, thank you for always supplying my need. Thank you for offering the right Word and the right time. You are my portion. I believe Lord, help my in my unbelief. Forgive me Father when I have pushed you aside, when I have turned to food or TV as a relief from my pain. Show me my circumstances today for the blessings that they are verses a burden that I must bear. Thank you for bringing friends to run along side of me. As they each have their burdens Lord, show them that You are the one to turn to. Direct their path and reveal yourself so that may see you and praise Your name. Amen.
It’s hard coming back to reality after being away.
Last week I spent precious moments with God at a retreat. The scene was perfect. Beautiful environment, bountiful library, spacious lodge, areas set up just for sitting quietly. My parents had the kids. My hubby and I had two full days to do nothing but connect with God and each other.
After a week of rest, one would think I would have new perspective and an arsenal of peace to handle the typical everyday pressures of motherhood.
But on Saturday, at the first sight of not-so-perfect conditions, I lost it.
The day went wrong from the very beginning. Instead of spending some quiet time with God while the kids were watching Saturday morning TV, I checked email and did internet research. Not exactly the best way to fuel my mind for the long day ahead.
The One I know to bring life to my life I pushed away.
Can you be too annoyed, too angry, too sad for God?
Why would I avoid the One who could give me strength to get through the day?
For the most part, I kept myself together for the duration of the day. However, toward the end of the day I found myself in the middle of a grocery store with two out of control girls running through aisles, throwing unnecessary items in the cart and screaming with delight because their mom was letting them get away with it. I knew I had lost it when I grabbed a cheesecake (with NO intention to share) and the Duncan Hines milk chocolate frosting to spoon off the craziness of my day.
The day ended with the arrival of my hubby after Saturday night church and I escaped. How? Bed and TV. What else? I had already eaten the cheesecake, as well as chips that daughter #2 had thrown into the cart as well as the fresh bread daughter #1 had confiscated. Did the sweets, salts, carbs or TV make me feel any better? No. In fact, it made me feel even worse.
I don’t know if the day would have been any better if I had opened the Word, but I do know that my soul would have had an underlying peace to help me endure.
I can totally relate to Paul when he writes in Romans chapter 7:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:15,18-19,22-25
I pray today that I can learn how to be still when the world around me is not so still.
How are you handling your everyday?
I love retreats! I could become a retreat junkie! Here’s my favorite quote from the week:
You are like a jar of river water all shaken up. What you need to do is sit still long enough that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear. ~Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton
Invitation to Solitude and Silence is an excellent book on learning the art of spiritual retreats.
The quote above was told to the author to help her understand the need for solitude. When I first read the quote I thought this illustration is perfect! We are all like shaken river water. Even the good stuff gets cloudy from the confusion and murky water.
Sitting still allows things to settle in their appropriate place. It allows you to identify the places filled with mud. Stillness opens your spiritual ears and quiets your busy mind.
I look forward to telling you more next week. For today enjoy this look on the psalms and depression. I agree with Peter, Psalms brings me comfort.
This week I’m spending most of my time alone with God at a spiritual retreat with my husband. We are totally unplugged – no email, no phone, no TV, no newspaper, no internet (right now it’s 9pm on Friday night July 17th… yes, this is how I spend my Friday nights! Sad, but true!).
My hubby and I have taken part in 3 different retreats before, this will be our first time doing it on our own. From past experiences I know that I will leave this week feeling refreshed, reconnected and mostly LOVED.
The typical day does not consistent of me feeling loved.
No, I often fill my head with thoughts of how UN-loved I am.
I look in the mirror and see the lines I don’t love. I look at my pants that don’t quite button and see the extra parts of my body that I don’t love. I hear the screams of children fighting upstairs and I’m about to tell them just how unloved their behavior is! And the list goes on.
But during this retreat I’m going to spend my time diving into the TRUTH of Who God is = LOVE!
How do you measure love? (the following is from Many Meadows)
Ever find yourself measuring how much you are loved?
Maybe your measure is the number of people reading your blog.
Maybe it’s the number of times your husband or wife tells you they love you.
Maybe it’s whether or not your family cleans up after themselves.
Maybe it’s when life is going well.
And when those things aren’t happening, we just don’t feel loved.
Why do we do that to ourselves, to our family?
Today’s post comes from Gifted for Leadership.
The boy hesitated as Andrew pushed him toward Jesus. “Sir, I have only a small lunch, five loaves and two fish, but if this could help feed some of the people, you can have it.” I’m sure Jesus smiled and said, “Thank you. I think this is exactly what I need.”
The boy watched in awe as, with that small lunch, Jesus fed more than 5,000, with lots of leftovers.
“Wow,” the boy responded. “If he can do that with my lunch, I wonder what he could do with my whole life!”
Each of us could wonder the same thing: What if I give him my whole life?!?
How is God moving in your heart today?
This week I’ll be out doing this:
However, I have some great posts lined up for your reading pleasure!
it’s not always what you’d think.
sometimes it’s just this.
it’s not always what you’d think.
sometimes it’s just this.
Go check out her award winning site and leave her an encouraging comment!