Finding Comfort in the Silence

I wrote last week about being physically stifled by the silence of my summer, and in doing so, I allowed those closest to me to know what I was feeling and had been unable to express. Breaking my own silence, allowed those individuals whom I love and who love me, to truly know what I was enduring and pray for me… help me to be able to pray for myself, once again. It has also been in this last week that I have stepped outside of my comfort zone a time or two and allowed for more of the people around me, to really see me. I have never underestimated the power of prayer, but in this last week I have certainly felt the comfort of prayer more than I have in a very long time.

It has been in this last week, that I was reminded by others, as well as myself that silence isn’t always a bad thing, in fact… just this morning I was reminded that I need to remember to “be still” in His presence. Allowing myself to meditate in the silence with Jesus and listen to His direction in my life.

 

So, I sit here this morning, coffee at my side, and listen… listen to what the silence has to offer. Nearly all sounds averted, yet, there are some that are reminders of all I have in my life. First sound, is that of the clock on the wall–ticking away, rhythmically, like a steady pulse; reminding me that within me, my heart too, beats with a steady pulse because God has given me the gift of life.

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Next, there is the sound of the rain that has been falling most of the morning… as it taps on the roof of my home, I am reminded that I have a roof over my head, I have a home that provides me with shelter and a gentle reminder that not all people are so blessed. As the rain falls on my lawn, I am reminded of our farmers in the community, harvest will be here before we know it and this rain will help them to have a bountiful crop. This crop will help provide many of us, even those beyond our little community with food for their tables. Listening to the rain fall, I am sadly reminded that there are so many who do not… that there are small children who might go without eating today.

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Then there is the sound of a train as it blows it whistle, as it passes through our sleepy little town. This is a reminder, not of the “noise”, but of what the train signifies for so many. Without trains, it would be much more difficult to transport so many different and important provisions all over the country. Whether it be food or fuel… the trains are vital, as well as providing jobs for so many people, allowing them to be able to provide for their families.

The next sound that breaks through the silence of my morning is actually that of two different sounds–first the dog quietly growling/barking at the noises and activities that our occurring outside our front door, and that of my daughter (who fell asleep on the couch) telling him to “be quiet”. It is through these two wonderful sounds, that I am reminded of all that I have that is comforting in my life, in this very moment. Today, I have my sweet daughter here at home with me. And even in her absence this summer, I had the comfort of our dog, to provide me with his unconditional love and protection. It is this thought, that of “unconditional love” that further reminds me of the One who also provides an unconditional love, if we so choose to receive it.

My devotional this morning (Jesus Always, Sarah Young) request that we “Come Rest With Me“, asking us to put aside some of the the tasks that may be urging us, to set them aside, ever so briefly and spend a few moments with the One who knows what we need. “I know what you need most” He tells us, “to be still in My Presence“. When we allow ourselves to take the time to find our balance, to set our feet on solid ground for the day; when we do so by meditating with Christ and doing so by reading His word… we equip ourselves to take on any given day, no matter how loud or how silent it may be. The Living Word of God gives us the necessary strength we need each day, as it “infuses” fresh life into us; moment by moment, throughout a given day.

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Once we are fueled by His Word, we can take on our day, and if we allow ourselves to–we can bring what He placed on our hearts, what He showed us in His Word; into our day, sharing and spreading His light and goodness to all. When you reach a moment that seems to hard, too difficult to get through on your own, whisper His name; quietly speak the name of Jesus and bring Him ever closer to you, His nearness will then provide you with the strength you need to move forward, stepping over any stone or hole in the path that lies before you. “In everything you do, put Me first“.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” ~ Psalm 46:10

 For the word of God is alive and active… it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ~ Hebrews 4:12

He will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:6b

So I ask you, no I implore you, to embrace the silence, not the darkness, but the silence that will always allow you to find comfort in Him. Let Him speak to your inner most being, listen to His prompting; as He guides your soul… When you allow yourself to spend those first initial moments of your day with Him, He will provide you with what you need to guide you through anything that may be a part of the day’s path. Trust in what He shows you, allow Him to bring you through the silence and darkness, into His warm and loving light.

Until the next moment,

 

 

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Find Your Zeal

I’ve been silent again. Too silent. Lost in a dark and lonely solitude of my own making. A silence that is not easily explained, or even identified for that matter. A silence that tonight was reawakened by one simple word. A word that in today’s world of instant this and immediate that, just isn’t spoken. A single word that could have only been placed on my heart and in my mind by the Spirit that lies deep within myself; the Spirit He placed with in me, within us all that believe.

ZEAL

What is zeal? Webster defines it as great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Its synonyms include: passion, fire, devotion, enthusiasm, eagerness, keenness, and intensity. With antonyms that include apathy and indifference. In my silence, I had lost; correction, have lost my zeal.

So as I set in the quaint setting of an old barn tonight, sharing in fellowship, with a sisterhood of women who like myself, love the Lord; I was reminded, as perhaps some of them were, that my life was missing a vital piece of God’s armor; the Cloak of Zeal.

Many of us are familiar with the Armor of God. Ephesians 6 reminds us that this armor includes: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (the word of God). Tonight it was also revealed to us that there is one more vital piece of armor that no soldier should take the battlefield without, the mysterious cloak of zeal.

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     To learn of this lesser know part of His armor, we must venture back to the Old Testament, to the book of Isaiah. Chapter 59, verse 17 states: He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (NIV) The New Living Translations reads: and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.

Zeal. Passion.

     He wants us to wrap ourselves in this attribute, to be entirely protected by His armor, allowing the final piece, the cloak of zeal to cover all the other pieces, further protecting us from the enemy. We must remember to put on each piece of this armor, each morning as we prepare to face the day. Allowing us to be properly equipped to take on anything the enemy may bring our way.

The speaker asked us, what are you passionate about? I instantly thought about my desire to write, to share my thoughts and revelations. To share what He has done and continues to do in my life. My passion to share how with His love and direction, you can overcome anything. That with Christ in your life, you can accomplish anything that is a part of His will for you. I know that with His guidance, I have so much to say, so much to share… that my voice, directed by Him, just might have the ability to change a life.

I have previously shared brief glimpses into some of the darkness that was my former life, my life before I learned to trust Jesus Christ as my Savior; trusting Him to get me through the hardships that had been all to often placed before me. I have battled depression for decades and sometimes, even with the truth and understanding, and the hope He brings; the darkness can creep in and with it the silence that eventually engulfs me. It sneaks in slowly, quietly… sometimes I notice it, but it is just so comfortable, so familiar, that I don’t stop and think about it being harmful for me. Forgetting how much it will hinder the progress I have made in my growing relationship with the Son of the living God.

So here I am, smack dab in the middle of another bought of silence, brought on by the stress of life, the fear of the unknown, and simply listening to the enemy repeat the familiar old lies of why I will never be more than I am, why I will never succeed in my life. I know better, Christ has brought so much more to my life than I could have ever imagined. Yet, with life gets tough, when there are too many unknowns; it is all too easy to believe those old recordings, to look in the mirror and see who I used to be, instead who He has helped me to become. It’s difficult to have passion, to live with zeal, when your life seems to be nothing more than a black and white movie that lacks even the possibility of a remotely happy ending.

As I listened tonight, to our speaker, a woman whom I love and am blessed to call my friend, I was/am reminded that I am responsible for my own zeal. I am in control of what I am (or am not) passionate about in my life. If I want to be able to share what He has done in my life, I need to be spending time with Him,so that He can continue working in my life. I am disheartened to admit that my time with the Lord has been minimal. My time in His word, even less. I pray, occasionally, and the only time I open my bible is on Sunday morning as I sit with the rest of the congregation while our pastor leads us through His Word. Tonight I was gently reminded that this is not enough. Not even close. He needs and wants more from us, He deserves more from us. As our faith grows, we learn to call him friend, companion, even father. These names signify a relationship and we should be nurturing this relationship, allowing it to become stronger every day.

I can often find myself complaining about being tired or not having enough time to get certain things (like the dishes) done. Yet, I can stay up late, watching one more episode of my favorite show on Netflix, or playing a game on the computer. Or take my weekend off and spend it nearly motionless on my couch, instead of catching up on one of the many things that could be done. Most every morning I hit the snooze multiple times instead of simply getting out of the bed and hitting my knees and spending five or ten quiet minutes starting my day in prayer. Its a conscience choice, one that I have been making poorly for a few months now.

So, my zeal has been renewed. I once again have a fervent urging to find time, no, to make time to spend in prayer and more importantly in His word. Utilizing even the smallest of moments to help strengthen my faith, but better yet my relationship with Him, the One who never stops wooing me. And He doesn’t, He is always pursuing us, all of us, even when we stop pursuing Him.

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So I leave you with a few questions, including the question that was asked of me tonight… what are you passionate about? Are you lacking zeal? Do you take the time to arm yourself every day with the Armor of God? In closing I also encourage you to find that passion and give it to God… allow Him to direct you and how you can best serve Him with your passion. Go to Him in prayer, and in those quiet moments, be reminded of all He has, can and will do for you… if you only let Him.

 

Until the next moment,

 

 

 


Fighting the Darkness with His Light

I have been silent again these past few weeks, not intentionally; it has once again been more often than not, nearly impossible to beat the dark pull that keeps me nearly motionless on those days that I don’t have to walk out the door for work. It’s hard to explain, this odd battle I still have with depression. How the darkness can surround me and act like an anchor, leaving me immovable. It has been like this for as long as I can remember. As long as I am busy with work or activities, I can move and function. But when I have nothing to do, or let me rephrase… nothing outside of my home to do; I just don’t. I don’t do a single thing. I make these grand plans, create projects; but it is rare that I am able to follow through.

When it gets really bad, when the darkness is most suffocating, I also loose my ability to spend those quiet moments with the Lord. On the days that I do… the days that I do spend time in His Word, spend time in conversation with Him; on those days the darkness looses its hold and my day is a whole lot more eventful. It’s a battle, a daily battle that I am afraid I don’t fight to win nearly as much as I should. I allow the darkness win and just fall deeper into the pit.

My years in recovery reminds me: One Day at a Time

So, this morning I opened my devotion notebook. I was deeply saddened that it had been two weeks since I had written in it, since I had opened my Jesus Calling devotion and studied the passages at the end of the page. Two weeks since I had spent more than 2-3 minutes in prayer that didn’t take place before my feet even hit the floor.

Last night I attended a Ladies Supper at our church with my daughter. We were blessed to hear from a young woman who grew up in our church and is now a missionary working in Africa. She has been home for a few months of furlough and was sharing with the woman of our church her life in the mission field. She will soon be returning to the mission field, to her little village; once again living among people who live in real darkness because they do not understand the Light of Jesus.

Choose to live in the Light

It made me think, made me remember the joy I find when I sit at my kitchen table and allow myself to get lost in the Word, allowing His love and light to fill my spirit and give me the strength to get through another day. Encouraging me, empowering me… making me a better me. Giving me the strength to be the best example I can be to me to my daughter, to all my children. To be a good mom, teaching her the simple things that are important in our lives. To do what needs to be done, and to do so with a loving and joyful spirit. Most importantly, getting my lazy self up off the couch and doing what needs to be done, even when I don’t want to do it.

But the silence is so loud…

I have to admit that this summer has been harder than any before. It has been much more quiet that previous summers…too quiet. My oldest and her husband are busy with work and school. For the first summer ever, my middle children stayed in their perspective college towns; my son taking some summer classes and working a bit. My daughter is working full time at a job she really loves. I miss them and the busyness that comes from having them home. The laughter and conversations. The late night movie marathons or binging on our fave TV show via Netflix. I am trying to adjust, to really get used to my nearly empty nest, but there are days when that is so much more difficult to do. Sometimes, I  wish they were all little again. Those days when I would be running around in circles trying to get it all done. Running from one event or activity to another. Piles (and piles) of laundry, tripping over toys, books, clothes… I miss those crazy moments of our lives. Yet, in the same instance I am so insanely proud of the adults they have become. The direction they are heading in their lives… the love and respect they have and show to others on a daily basis.

In less than six months it will mark the 20th year I have been a single mother. I think that is why this whole “empty nest” thing is so much harder. Because in roughly five years my nest really is going to be empty. Even now, as my youngest daughter is older and continues to become more involved in things that will take her out of the house to pursue her own dreams; I perceive the impending quiet, sense the void as it is slowly being created by the absence of the four people who have brought me the greatest joy in my life.

I have made many career changes in my life, never really knowing what I was meant to do, who I was meant to be in this world. Yet, after my initial doubts those early years in my adjusting to single motherhood… I know with all my heart and soul. I believe with every ounce of my being that I am meant to be a mother. Not just any mother, but the mother to the four children that God so graciously gave to me to care for on this earth, for this moment in time. These four amazing and inspiring children, who love me unconditionally even through all our struggles and failures. The four beautiful children He gave just to me. If I never accomplish anything else, I will have accomplished more than I could have dreamed; as I watch them grow and succeed on their own in this world. Stepping out in faith and trusting God to guide them along the way. Seeing this, knowing this, allows my mama heart to be full… no, it allows my heart to burst with joy!

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

The darkness will always be a part of my life, of all our lives.. because the darkness is real and surrounds us all. The difference will be, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to fall into the inviting and temporary warmth that darkness sometimes creates? Or will I turn to the light, His Light and allow the deepest parts of me to be surrounded by His love and warmth? Will I hear, listen for, his wee small voice and allow it to comfort me through the hard times, through those dark moments. As I was reading and writing this this morning, I felt that comfort; His comfort as my soul was refreshed with His light and the joy that it brings.

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I also found encouragement in Psalm 51

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice. (vs8)    

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (vs12)

Until the next moment,