My Journey

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Cultivating a quiet heart

 This morning as I was cooking breakfast I was listening to an interview from 2009 with Eugene Peterson. He’d used an analogy about how a dog chews on a bone, we can chew on the Word. Someone from the audience asked for an example of what that looks like in his life and he shared one. What really ignited in my spirit was that as Peterson shared his personal story, he said he’d been on the first 2 verses of Luke for the past three months. Somehow it was like this gave me context and permission to keep going over & over the same thing. 

For me it’s been Psalm 131, specifically the second part of the second verse: “I’ve cultivated a quiet heart” (MSG). The amplified Bible puts it this way: “my soul is like a weaned child within me [composed and free from discontent]”. The Message paraphrase also compares that quiet heart to bing like a baby content in his mother’s arms. I’ve been thinking about how my youngest grandson, Dominic, looked the last time I saw him this past July. He was hanging out in Rachel’s arms and seemed so totally content. This concept of cultivating a quiet heart has really been gestating in the back of my mind since this past January…..


Saturday, November 13, 2021

Maybe

 This isn’t scientific, so it’s hard to be sure. But it appears as if there’s been some changes in my life since I started spending this time in silence.

As an aside, I feel compelled to admit what a poor job I do with my time in silence. I’m grateful that I read in Rich Villados’ book, that it’s OK to not do it perfectly. My brain is pinging all over the place. I’m grateful that I read that Thomas Keating said if your mind gets distracted 10,000 times in 20 minutes in prayer, it’s 10,000 opportunities to return to God. I get to do a lot of returning during my times of silence.

Yet…..there’s this feeling I get. I’m not sure how to explain. I think I can best describe it by something I witnessed once. My oldest son Devon used to be rather crabby. One day he had been very crabby with all of us all day long. Then I saw him go and put his head in the lap of Rachel. Rachel is his wife now and I’m not sure if this happened when they were first married or before. Anyway, he put his head in Rachel‘s lap and looked so pleased. Had a smug little smile on his face. It was like he was right where he belonged. It didn’t matter that he had done everything wrong all day and not been nice to anyone, he was loved. Every time I come in the silence I get some of that same type of feeling. I feel a smug little smile on the inside of me.

This doesn’t make sense, but there’s been some changes in my life recently and I think they’re attributable  to the time in silence. Previously, I was tired all the time and struggling with a really really really being burned down at my job. Currently, I’m still more tired than I want to be. I still get overwhelmed and discouraged at work. But there’s a difference. It’s like there’s an inner strength I hadn’t experienced before, a solidness that makes it different. I’ve always enjoyed singing praises to God. But lately I find myself singing them more frequently. Ill be in the shower and suddenly notice that I’m singing away. I’ll wake up with songs in my heart. Throughout the day words of praise will be in my heart. I don’t think I’m imagining this. Frankly, even if I am and it’s a placebo effect, it’s a good one and I’m grateful.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

It’s difficult to be that unproductive

One of the many challenges I face when trying to have even just 7 minutes of silence, is the nagging feeling that it’s a “waste of time”. There I said it. That sounds awful, but it’s the truth. I mean I’m here trying to get my mind silent, while I’m sitting and doing nothing. I’m not even supposed to daydream. I keep reminding myself that this is to put myself in a position where I might be in the presence of God. Or I might open up my receptivity to him. Honestly right now it’s a struggle. I committed myself to 7 minutes every morning on weekends and morning & arrival home from work on week days. I’m going to just make myself do it for the first 30 days and see. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The longest seven minutes

Seven minutes. Just seven minutes, that’s all I’m starting with. I’m committing myself to a time of silence twice each day. I’ll record here how it goes.

I’m captivated by a story about mother Theresa. As the story goes, she was interviewed about prayer. During the interview she said she listens to God. The interviewer asked her what God said to her, and she said he listens to her. I don’t fully understand what she was saying but it draws me. With human people, with whom I’m close, I can sit in silence and feel connected. I want to get to that place with God. A pastor named Rich Villodas quotes some neuroscientist who claims that consistent, routine, time in silence rewires the brain in ways that lead to enhanced creativity & other positive things.

So far, as I’ve sought these times of silence, my thoughts have bounced all over the place. I was encouraged when I read that Thomas Keating said that if your mind gets distracted 10,000 times in 20 minutes of prayer, it’s 10,000 opportunities to return to God. I can relate to this.

The other thing I’ve always seemed to experience super briefly at the beginning of a time of silence is a “smiley” feeling. I don’t think this is something God is giving me, I think it’s something I’m feeling. It’s the feeling of getting to be close to someone I’m super delighted likes me. It’s a little bit of a smug feeling. I think I saw the same feeling in my oldest son once. He can be a bit gruff/crabby. He’s been crabby all day with all of us and then he laid down on the couch and put his head in his wife’s lap . The look on his face was a very small smile and kind of a smug expression. It was like he felt like he was the luckiest guy in the world and he got Rachel. Not sure if I’m explaining this very well. But that’s kind of how I feel briefly whenever I enter into any time of silence.

Monday, March 22, 2021

My need to pray for my nation

Generally speaking in life I try to be a positive person; to think on that which is good, lovely, inspiring.  However, sometimes there are harsh and hard things in life which need to be dealt with.  Over the past year there are several things in my nation that are troubling me.  I love America.  It's my country.  I feel like there is so much to be grateful for that I was born here. But there are things in this nation that are breaking my heart:

We're killing babies.
The CDC keeps records on reproductive health, including abortions.  The 48 reporting states in 2018 report 619,591 legal induced abortions.  I almost start crying just thinking about all those babies that were killed.  All those mothers, many of which were in a bad place and conflicted about what they did. All of those fathers who had no real say in the matter; who may not have even known about it.

We're divided.
A group named Beyond Conflict launched research in 2018 regarding the political polarization in America. This group developed a Beyond Conflict Polarization Index. Their goal in developing this index was to develop a diagnostic tool that provided comprehensive insight into psychological processes of polarization and their causes. They found significant levels of dehumanization, dislike and disagreement between Republicans and Democrats.  It was interesting that they also found that both sides thought the other side dehumanized, disliked and disagreed with them twice as much as they actually did.

Our public media is biased.
In April 2020 the Washington Post conducted a survey of journalists.  They sent out a survey to 13,000 journalists and 13% responded. Of these respondents 78% self identified as liberal democrats.  It seems to me that there's a narrative that is put out and events reported and event details all fit with the narrative.  Repeatedly during the past couple of years only part of certain events were told and when further facts came to light these truths were basically ignored (for example the Nicholas Sandman & friends with the American Indian activist).

The national debt is on an unsustainable path.
The gap between what the U.S. spends and what it earns through tax receipts and other revenue continues to expand at an alarming rate.  As of 3/22/21 the current national debt is $27,965,655,597,214.40. This is estimated to be around $85K per citizen. The US national debt clock is an updated source for this information.

Many people in the US are still living in poverty
According to the US Census,  in 2019, 10.9% of the American population lived in poverty.  The US Welfare system doesn't work.  Changes are needed.

A few years ago I read a book entitled Fervent by Priscilla Shirer about prayer.  The book encouraged me to pray, delve into the Bible, and write out prayers.  I feel compelled to do that regarding my prayer for our nation.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Leading during trying times

 I'm grateful for all God's blessings.  I'm healthy, God meets me during times with Him, I've a husband who loves me, my sons are successful adults, through this entire pandemic I've had consistent work....how can I not be grateful!

None the less, these Covid times wear on one.

I see it in the people with whom I work too.  At the end of the AM meeting today we all sit and just look at each other.  Finally I get up and then they all do too; we're just tired.  I know it's a Friday, but I know that it's really all this COVID stuff - it's a lot.  Today at the end of that meeting I felt like they were all looking at me, but I don't know what to give them or do for them.  We have 3 give aways this month; today was Bagel day so we had Bagels for staff.  That's great and all that, but they need more from me then Bagels...

Father, please show me what I can do to empower, encourage and inspire my people.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

An experience with the examen prayer

Photo from Fine Art America
Last night I was praying the examen with an emphasis on shifts.  The questions were about if I'd noticed shifts in myself during the past week, months or even years.  To think on those shifts and ask God to bring any specific one to mind.  

I kept looking for negative shifts, but the Holy Spirit kept bringing me back to the fact that there's been a shift in my attitude this past year as I've sought him to be my everything.  I know that repentance is important so I was seeking in my mind for some sin, some negative shift...but God kept bringing me back to this increased desire for Him.  I'm not sure how to describe this, but it was as if God wanted me to know that He was pleased.  I was overwhelmed with a sense of it...I cried a little bit because it was so encompassing and wonderful.

I'm reminded again of a couple of verses.  The second half of Romans 2:4 (TPT):

Do you realize that all the wealth of his extravagant kindness is meant to melt your heart and lead you to repentance?

The first half of Hosea 11:4:

I drew them with gentle cords
with band of love

This is who God is.  He is love.

This morning I read a translated poem by St Teresa of Avila that explains this experience so well (and it blows my mind that here I am relating to a woman who lived in Spain from 1515 - 1582):

                                                HE DESIRED ME SO I CAME CLOSER

                                                     He desired me so I cam close.

                                              No one can near God unless He has
                                                          prepared a bed for 
                                                                   you.

                                          A thousand souls hear His call every second,
                                  but most every one then looks into their life's mirror and
                                              says, "I am not worthy to leave this
                                                                  sadness.

                                              When I first heard His courting song, I too
                                                     looked at all I had done in my life
                                                                  and said,

                                              "How can I gaze into His omnipresent eyes?"
                                                        I spoke these words with all
                                                                    my heart,

                                            but then He sang again, a song even sweeter,
                                and when I tried to shame myself once more from His presence
                                        God showed compassion and spoke a divine truth,

                                                "I made you dear, and all I made is perfect.
                                                            Please come close, for I
                                                                        desire
                                                                          you." 


Blog Widget by LinkWithin