Friday, January 29, 2010


This entry comes from the free newsletter LIFE SUPPORT SYSTEM, which shares life, love and laughter. Published by Steve Goodier.

Did you know that practicing some form of relaxation is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself? Taking time each day to quiet your mind and breathe deeply, can make a big difference in how you feel throughout your day and into the night. And dedicating a day every week for mental and spiritual renewal is equally important.

We're told that the word "relax" has its origin in the Latin word "relaxare," which means "to loosen." When we relax, we are in effect loosening tension, releasing tightly held energy and letting go. From the state of relaxation we can experience calm peacefulness.

Another great word is the Hebrew word "Shabbat" which, of course, is a day of rest. But it quite literally means to "quit; stop; take a break." Whatever you are doing, stop it. Whatever you are saying, be quiet. Sit down and take a look around. Don't do anything. Don't say anything. Fold your hands. Take a deep breath... .

Extended periods of rest are a biological necessity. The human body is like an old-fashioned wind-up clock. If it is not rewound by rest, ultimately it will run itself down.

A group of Americans made a trip with Brazilian natives down the Amazon River. The first day they rushed. The second day they rushed. The next day they rushed. One day, anxious to continue the trek, they were surprised to find the natives seated together in a circle.

When asked the reason for the delay, a guide answered, "They are waiting. They cannot move further until their souls have caught up with their bodies."

Do you owe yourself time to let your soul catch up with your body?

-- Steve Goodier

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coming to a screeching halt

Life comes fast and hard sometimes. That's how it's felt for me the past few months. Like everything is racing by and I can't seem to catch up or stay on track. I slow down here and there to check in with God, kind of like a drive-by prayer. I dump my thoughts and fears and sometimes I linger long enough for Him to get a word or two amidst my scattered thoughts and demands.

From the craziness of my daily life, I knew it was time to stop and regroup.
I get so flustered I just want to plug my ears and sing out "lalalallalalalalalala... I can't hear anything!" But then I can't hear God either when I'm trying the escape route.

No, it comes down to simply having to make time to sit quietly, wait patiently and listen intently.

And on one such day, I clicked over to one of my favorite blogs A Holy Experience where I found a couple of passages about the importance of slowing down and checking in with our Heavenly Father. Our small daily activities are important. Jesus said a sparrow doesn't fall from the tree without God knowing. He also said we are much more important. Our daily struggles matter to Him.

I decided to begin scheduling times to STOP- Stop, think, obey and pray. I set three alarms on my digital calendar to remind me and for the most part, I've been able to pause a moment each time. Sometimes just to give a word of thanks when things are going well. A plea for help when they aren't. Other times it's simply asking, "How am I doing? What do I need to be doing?"

It's made a difference. I'm finding inner peace once again and realizing things I need to change. Best of all, I'm beginning to hear Him again and I so need to hear His voice, His direction, His comforting words when I'm out of sorts.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.
Prov. 3:5-6

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stillness by Kate Sweeney

Perfect Stillness.

It is a very great gift, not always available to those who would most appreciate it or find joy in it, and often not appreciated by those who have it but are uncomfortable with it. External noise is inescapable in many places - traffic, sirens, people talking about everything everywhere, music (the kind my Grandma says has such thundering amplification that it makes the ground shudder).

Its amazing what a few days out of your normal environment will do. Going home is one of places where for short while, all the chaos of the moment gets muted. I think we get so accustomed to the noise of business we forget to seek silence and retreat.

I spent a night just gazing at stars, which were perfectly clear and sweetly glittering, and found myself completely engrossed in a conversation with God as though He was right there, chilling in the hot tub. Why doesn't that happen more often? Pretty soon though my mind began to race to other things: lyrics from a week......project appointments.....NEO training........which led to thinking about all the emails sitting in my inbox....and I reached for my iPhone to set a reminder for later when I realized something. Not only was my mind racing but so was my heart rate and the peace of just sitting and being still was gone.


I think it is possible to learn stillness, but only if it is seriously sought. He did say "be still and know that I am God." The stillness in which we find God is not superficial, a mere absence of fidgeting or talking. It is a deliberate and quiet attentiveness - receptive, alert, ready. Wherever you are, be all there. This concept is easy enough if we're talking about sports.

Especially college football.
Got it.

For me, this quietness in the presence of God, this being "all there" for Him, though I desire it and treasure it, is not easy to maintain, even in the beautiful places I find myself a hot tub and perfect night sky overhead.

Wouldn't it be a calming thing to just practice stillness, which is the absence of motion? Why not try a quiet day or quiet week without the usual noises and distractions?

Maybe a better question is, does God seem absent?

Yes, for most of us He sometimes does. Even at such a time may we simply be still before Him, trusting that He reads everything we cannot put into words?

My friend Kate Sweeney posted this on facebook, Monday, December 28, 2009 and it touched me so much, I asked her if I could share it with you. She graciously agreed. I hope it blesses you and encourages you to seek out still moments with our heavenly father.

God bless!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Faith and Prayer #33

Dear Glorious Saints,

I’ve said before that God seems to give me long term prayer projects, so when I get an instant answer to prayer, I get really excited. I just did.

We have been doing the *Experiencing God Bible study again. In one of the first lessons Blackaby says, “Always go to the Bible and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of your situation to you.” (p.14) I was struggling with some things in my life and I knew I needed to do that. So I prayed and asked God to show me His perspective on it and felt like the Lord directed me to a book in the Bible. Reading that book really shed light on my situation and I was very grateful.

Now, five weeks later, the study asks, “Are you currently praying for anything God is not granting? If you answered yes, pause and ask God to help you understand what He is doing in your life. Then watch to see what happens next or pay attention to what He begins to reveal to you through His word.” (p.115) Since I answered, “Yes,” I stopped and prayed, asked God to help me understand and wondered what would happen next.

The very next section that I read was on the silences of God and it focused on the exact same book of the Bible that God had directed me to five weeks earlier! What tremendous confirmation to me. I wish I could say my faith is so strong that I did not need that reassurance again, but I did. And I am very grateful that He is so kind and loving to me to set that up and affirm once again how He views what I am going through.

I know He loves me but I also know He loves you too. If you need His perspective on your situation then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal it to you and watch to see what happens next. Let me know!


*Let me put in a plug for Experiencing God. If you have never done it let me say that it has been the most life changing study that I have ever done. This is probably my 5th time through it and God is still using it to impact my life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Throwing off what hinders...

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.
Hebrew 12:1

At the end of the year, during my holiday break, I begin to ask God for direction concerning the year to come. He's always faithful to answer when we seek out his guidance. He always has been and this year, he didn't let me down.

My words for the year 2010 were: Streamline and Focus.

And God, never being in any great hurry, feeds me a bit at a time, not dumping a lot of information on me that I probably wouldn't understand anyway. So first, the words came and I pondered over them, wondering why these words? Streamline? What did he mean by that? Of course, Focus was a given. I often get distracted by shiny objects.

Squirrel!! (for those of you who've seen the movie Up.)

It wasn't until just this past week that he began to show me what these words mean to in my life. I looked up Streamline in my best friend, the dictionary, and this is what it said:

to alter in order to make efficient or simple. (n)
to flow steadily along the path of least resistance. (v)

This is what really stuck out to me-

To be streamlined is to reduce the energy required to produce that motion.

See? When I first heard the word streamline, I was thinking, "Oh yeah, I could really use to de-clutter some places in my house. I'm a bit of a pack rat." But I'm beginning to think He meant something much deeper.

And that's so God's way, isn't it?

Along with these words, I also received this scripture from Hebrews 12:1 that speaks about running our race with perseverance, throwing off or STREAMLINING those things that hinder, and keeping our eyes fixed, or FOCUSED on Jesus.

I can be running along just fine, until the path takes a curve, or begins to turn upward, disappearing into the misty heights. Then I stumble. I hesitate. I even cry and kick dirt clods around in my frustration.
Yet Jesus endured so much more. And if I really knew him as I should, then I would keep running, not dragging along a load of junk that slows me down, nor faltering when I'm unsure. I'd know he only has my best interest at heart. If I could only keep my eyes on him, and not the waves, or the storms as Peter did, then I'd be able to accomplish amazing feats because he's right there leading and cheering me on.
No, it's not an organizing session I need. The things that hinder aren't necessarily physical, though I do have a lot of clutter in some places. More so, is the clutter I've allowed to pile up in my heart, the doubts that drag down my spirit, the fears that deflate my heart. These things must be cast aside so I can run with endurance, as he did when he faced the cross. I don't have to face a cross, or humiliation, or even death. I'm just trying to make it through an average normal day.
With him, all things are possible. With him, listening to him, spending time and getting closer to him, nothing can hinder me. I'll know I'm a daughter of the living God. And in that, I can stand firm.
Father God, show me what I need to cast aside. What are the things that hinder me from being all you've created me to be. Help me to cast them aside so I can run with less resistance. May I keep my eyes on you. Not the mile markers. Not the turns. No those yelling from the stands. Only you. I pray that my focus will be on you first, so everything else can just fall into place. Amen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Secret

I can do all things through Him who give me strength. Philippians 4:13

If God is behind it, that is the driving force that will get us through. But if He's not behind it, then we may as well be paddling up steam without the proverbial paddle.

When I stopped working to raise my young children, we struggled financially. I ranted and raved to God, yet knew I was doing the right thing by staying home to take care of them. So I began working out ideas on how to raise extra money, and finally settled on making t-shirts. I'd even prayed about it and asked God if it was alright. I didn't hear him say "no" so I figured it would be fine. Actually, I felt He was perfectly fine with me doing this project.

Unfortunately, it never did take off. I never made a profit. If anything, I lost more money on it.
Defeated, I asked, "Why Lord? I hate the way we are struggling. I just want to do something to fix it."

He directed me to the proceeding verses of Philippians 4 where Paul says, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what is is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry. Whether living in plenty or in want." (vs. 12)

It came down to me going through a learning process of being content even in want. He taught me the secret. It started with leaning to let go of my expectations of how I thought things "should" be. He had my life in His hands and I needed to trust in that truth. Then I learned to listen to Him and be obedient to what he asked.

One of the reasons for my absence in keeping up with posting to this blog was I felt prompted to organize a Young Writer's club at my school where I work. I'd never done such a thing before, but the materials I needed simply came to me, and most surprising was the amount of kids who came every week. It was a great success.

And I believe it was such a success because He was behind the whole thing. In return, I've received much for doing this:

The thrill of helping kids find out they had it in them to do something hard as they wrote their stories and worked toward their goals.

The chance to write and finish my own book.

The honor of being nominated for an Extra Mile Award from my school.

The privilege of having the group featured in a podcast on the district website.

I think I'm finally understanding the secret. I can do anything so long as I do it through Him in partnership with Him and not on my own because of my own selfish desires.

He is the way. He is the truth. He is the life force that drives me to do great things. That helps me to stand firm in trials. That helps me to climb heights I'd never try on my own. At church, our worship leader, David Mayo summed it all up for me when he said, "We don't try to work God into what we are doing. We try to fit ourselves into what God is doing."

That's the secret.

Father, help me to seek your will first, knowing that all the other things in my life will fall into place as I drop my agenda and run after you. Amen.

If you'd like to hear the podcast, click the link.

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