Silence Speaks

I have always enjoyed silence.

A quiet moment in the morning before anyone else is awake. The world outside is still. Life moves at my pace for a snapshot in time before the craziness of the day begins.

That is silence in solitude.

Comfortable silence with others represents a closer, more intimate relationship reserved only for close friends. I can sit with my best friend or husband and say nothing, and it is OK. We are comfortable with each other even when we are saying nothing.

What about when God is silent?

This is where I am right now.

The last few months of last year as I struggled with my job in a difficult work environment, I surrendered the situation to God. I said ‘Yes” every morning before knowing what I was facing. I spoke with God all through the day…Psalm 61:2….when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. God clearly spoke to me so many times through those challenging days.

Now, I am in a new job with a much better work culture, but am struggling with work and family balance and a trying staff member. My husband’s situation with his job….uncertain. The direction of our church as we seek to plan the direction God desires for us to go next. Other unknowns in my life. Emotional situations.

Which leads me to ask…what, God, do You desire for me to learn from the silence?

Just as I could not see the wind today on my walk but could physically see the tree branches thrashing back and forth with the force of the wind that pulled me towards one side of the sidewalk, I know wind exists. I cannot see it, but I can feel it. God’s silence is the same. I cannot hear God speak now, but I know He continues to be with me.

What can I seek to learn through this time of silence?

  1. Silence is not the same as absence.
  2. Silence is an opportunity to trust. God has spoken to me so powerfully the past few months; He has provided me with His lessons that can continue to lead me through my daily struggles now.
  3. Silence doesn’t mean nothing is happening. I can trust that God is continuing to work in my life.
  4. Silence is a time for me to really examine my life…what areas may God be asking me to surrender or confess or trust Him more with?
  5. Silence is an opportunity to trust His sovereign will.
  6. Silence provides me the opportunity to remember all the ways He has worked in my life in the past, the ways He has blessed me, and has taken care of me.
  7. Silence provides me with the choice….will I continue to worship Him even when it is hard, even when I may not feel like it, even when it may be easier to simply accept things as they are?

Psalm 13 (NLT)

O Lord, how long will You forget me? Forever?

How long will You look the other way?

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!

Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Don’t let my enemies gloat saying, “We have defeated him!”

Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in Your unfailing love.

I will rejoice because You have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord because He is good to me.

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Silence can speak powerful truths if we are still enough to listen.

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When the exit ramp isn’t the right one…

Distracted driving. It’s become a fairly common term with the prevalence of cell phones. Talking. Texting. Checking email. Not safe things to do while driving.

But, what about distracted driving because your mind is racing with a million thoughts of the work day ahead and the things that need done once you get home? Concerns weighing down your heart. Listening to a favorite song on K-Love as the words speak directly to you. And then, you realize, yup, you definitely got off the wrong exit.

That is exactly how my day started today. My mind, a million miles away, so focused on so many things. As soon as I followed the car in front of me towards the exit ramp, I knew I was on the wrong exit. That hotel to the right of me…when did that appear? It was too late. Thankfully, I was somewhat familar with the area, only it spilled me onto two choices of main interstates. Of course, I chose the wrong one. I veered off at the first exit, pulled into a Wendy’s, and punched my work address into my phone. (For those wondering how in the world could I possibly get lost on the way to work….I commute 50 minutes to work at a senior lifestyle community in the middle of a rural area nestled between two tiny little towns). I took a deep breath, and in that moment, I felt God speaking in the silence.

Slow down, my child. Breathe. Be open to the possibilities of the detours of life.

My demeanor changed. I felt tension release itself as I listened to the voice of the map on my phone. I snaked my way along the country road with its 45 miles per hour speed. My focus shifted from the weight of my “To Dos” at work and home and my worrying about some situations both at work and home I am walking through…the giants I am facing. I began to talk to my good, good Father about my work day and these concerns. I thanked Him for the detour, for the extra ten minutes I would now be spending in the car with Him.

Detours. Life is full of them. Best laid out plans that don’t unfold as we intended. People don’t respond the way we thought they would. Deferred dreams. Broken hearts. The perfect job, we soon realize isn’t so perfect. The offer on the house falls through. Life is full of detours…life lessons to be discovered along the way. A quiet country road, the unintended route to work this morning, extra time with God to help prepare me for the chaotic day ahead. A few years ago, this dirt road below…a detour off the main highway on my way to a Christian writing conference I was nervous about attending…an opportunity to trust God’s leading in my life.

Detours can sometimes be life’s greatest blessings. Have you ever experienced a detour that blossomed into a blessing?

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Sunday Reflections…

Seek Him and find life that overflows…

Seek

I absolutely love this verse. Jeremiah 29:11 is referenced so many times in relation to graduates and their future. I love to keep reading, though…yes, He promises to give us a hope and future, but we need to call on Him, pray to Him, and seek Him with all our heart.

Encouragement on this Sunday as you head into another week….dream big, pray boldly, call on Your Father, and seek Him with all your heart. Lord, help our unbelief to see and embrace life that overflows with Your goodness.

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Oh, the weight of it all…

My son loves TV…thankfully, he absolutely loves the sitcoms I grew up on. Brady Bunch. The Wonder Years. Gilligan’s Island. The good ol’ family shows where humor is clean.

Despite it being Valentine’s Day yesterday, my son adamantly refused my request to watch a good clean love story and opted instead for some Gilligan’s Island adventures. He chose the episode where Gilligan is struck by lightning and somehow ends up with a rock bowling ball stuck to his hand. My son roared with laughter as Gilligan tried to maneuver around his thatched hut with that weight on his hand. As I watched it, a thought played through my mind…how often do we do that? How often do we carry extra weight around? Weight we were never meant to carry.

A friend brought to my attention a few months back how much I worry. Never did I consider myself a worrier, but I realized how very right she was. Those words really have been eye opening for me in realizing how much weight I have been carrying that I don’t have to.

Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Like Gilligan, sometimes we need the help of friends to rid ourselves of weight we are carrying…a kind word, a caring gesture, a reminder of His love for us…lay the burdens at the feet of Jesus and be free. Free from the weight of the world, free from the weight of our problems we were never meant to carry. Our circumstances may not change, but when we lay the weight of our issues at the feet of Jesus, we find true rest and peace as only He provides.

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What defines you?

What defines you?

This hasn’t happened overnight, but I am learning that what defines me is simply this-I am His. I am a child of God. My food issues don’t define me. Fibromyalgia doesn’t define me. I love my job, but my career does not define me.

I spend my day working with older adults in varying levels of care…independent living, assisted living, and nursing care. Some of these elders suffer from the devastating diagnosis of dementia. I have a heart for individuals with dementia. Dementia does not define them. Despite cognitive and physical impairments, they are still inside. I have seen people who rarely speak come alive when they hear a favorite song or hold a kitten. Moments of connection…who they are inside…children of God.

Being a child of God does not release us from the trials of this world. We will face sickness, financial trials, relationship troubles, but through it all, God remains, a constant in an ever-changing world. Despite whatever comes our way, we have a choice of how we react. Our thoughts, our attitudes, our reactions to others’ unkind words…we have a choice to react in love, grace, and kindness.

My life isn’t perfect, but I am a child of God. I have faith. I have hope. I am loved. He is my Bread of life.

What defines you? As a child of God, your identity is in Him. You are His.

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The Act of Balance

I hated the teeter totter when I was a kid. The trick to a good teeter totter experience was to find someone you were equally yoked with, that is, someone of about the same size as you. If not, you were either stuck in the air dangling your feet or stuck on the ground most of the time because your partner’s weight wasn’t enough to sustain your upward experience.

I never was much of a tree climber, either. Holding onto the branches was another act of balance I found too risky. Unlike my son who has no fear, the fear of falling kept me from taking the risk to climb to higher ventures.

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As an adult, I find that my life is a balancing act. Some things are simple like dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is healthy for you, but there is a balance between healthy and eating a half a bag of Dove dark chocolate. Coffee is great for a morning boost, but three cups of coffee a day is probably a bit much, at least for me it is. And then there are things a little more complicated than chocolate and coffee. I am an introvert who works in a very people filled social environment which I absolutely love, but I know that I need a balance of alone time and time with others away from work. The trick is to find the right balance of family time, social time with friends, and quiet time alone.

When it comes to our daily lives, balance is intricately woven into everything we do. So much of life is routine….get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, do evening activities, and then go to bed. Yet, to live life more mindfully, balance needs to become something we are processing and analzying in our day to day lives.

God has been speaking to me about balance in my day to day life. Work and family balance. Rest time and productive time at home balance. Family time and alone time balance. Listening and speaking balance.

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering. Romans 12:1 MSG

As you shift from weekend thoughts to thoughts of the week ahead, offer your everyday, ordinary life to God and listen for His guidance in balancing your time and gifts in your life. My personal challenge to myself this week is work balance and family balance as I trust God to hold me tightly as I climb higher to His greater purpose.

Monday Musings

Mondays….they come once every seven days. Do you dread them, mourn the end of another weekend, or look forward in anticipation to another week?

I have a love hate relationship with Mondays. A lot of my feelings towards Mondays depends on how busy my weekend was versus how restful it was. When I hear people wishing on Mondays that they wish is was the weekend already, it makes me sad thinking they are wishing their lives away. Living every day to the fullest includes even Mondays.

I like routine. I like fresh starts. I like Mondays….even when I’m tired, even after a busy weekend with little time for rest, even when I know the week ahead promises to be busy.

Pictures Fall 2013-Fall 2014 2131This particular Monday, it begins the last week of what I know as normal. Life will become more messy, more tangled, more complicated, but it will be okay. I recently read in a devotional about our lives being pieced together by our Heavenly Father like a patchwork quilt. Instead of being tangled and tossed and strewn randomly around by the wind like the loose branches in the woods, I choose to believe that my life is pieced together with purpose by the One who sees the greater picture.

So, this Monday, as we go through our normal weekly routine, knowing that on Friday, my husband will close the door on a chapter in his life when he steps out of his workplace for the last time, we trust that our Father is already working out the details for the million Mondays and every day in-between to come.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrw will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34

So, whatever you may be facing this Monday or any day, trust that the One who created you has it all figured out…sufficient for the day is its own troubles. Here’s to hoping for a magnificent Monday!