Archive | Teaching Moments RSS feed for this section

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

26 Jun

Some books are fun to read during the hot months of summer, those books that are quick, easy, and don’t require much thought. The stories flow fast and furious until they are done. Then the stories melt away, much like an ice cream cone on a hot, sticky day.IMG_1700

The book I’m going to blog about today is most definitely NOT one of those books, not at all. I picked up Finding Spiritual Whitespace, by Bonnie Gray. Then I put it down. I picked it up. I put it down. The tug of war was real. I would read a little bit and have to put it down for awhile. It seemed like I would be happy to do anything else, but read that book. I finally had to read it in small chunks because I required time to process what I was reading, to mull the words over, to think about what the words meant to me personally.

You might be wondering why I was putting myself through this? Why read a book if it is that difficult? The words ripped hard at my heart. Good books are like that. The books that mean something, the books that cause change, are usually not going to be the easiest to read but, they are the most necessary. When an author connects with his/her readers, so much so that they need to highlight and underline the parts that ring true, the parts that scream, the parts that are sometimes so difficult to fit together…..it is then that they know their story has become real to others.

I’ve known Bonnie for about three or four years through her Faith Barista blog. I’ve followed her as she has written this book, I know the struggles she has had watching her life flow out onto paper. She and I are from such different worlds, and yet not. Her writing about her journey to find soul rest is sometimes hard to read because it is so raw. Life was not easy, not for her, not for any of us. We all live in a broken world. So many times our past wraps us up, suffocates who we really are. We insulate ourselves from the words. We pretend that we are fine, because it somehow seems easier that way.

Life is hard and it can hurt, and we have all been there.

Bonnie, in her open and eloquent writing, reminds us that it doesn’t have to be that way. Jesus wants each of us, just as we are. He wants the soul weary, those of us that have journeyed long and hard. Those that have been cut down by words, seared by emotion, scarred by decisions that might have been out of our control…. We can find soul rest in Him, and through Him, and because of Him.

I have been touched by Bonnie’s courage to be real, to tell it like it is. One of my favorite parts of her  book is found on page 89. “This journey of joy is a recovery of the joy-wounded us. And Jesus is the one who can take our hand and guide us through this terrain. He can give us the rest of joy. We can sample how joy feels for our souls. Joy is organic. It changes through different seasons. So let’s give ourselves permission to try new things. See how they fit.” 

The first time I read that I realized I was holding my breath, and then the air leaked out slowly, and I thought to myself, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”.

Friends, are you longing for rest, but don’t know how it is even possible in your fast paced, stressed out life?  Take some time to find your whitespace. “It’s the space on a page left unmarked. Untouched. Whitespace makes art beautiful. It gives the eye a place to rest. Just like beautiful art, our souls need balance and beauty.” (p.20)

Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 

Good For The Soul

23 Jun

The sky was shades of morning blue, all the way to the horizon, with not a cloud in sight. I could already feel the heat and humidity in the air, but the strong breeze blowing from the west helped it to not feel so oppressive. The sun shone brightly over the tops of the trees in the distance, its warm rays already bouncing off the metal barn roof in blinding spectrums of light. The collie joined me on my trek to the chicken coop. He knows he isn’t allowed inside, so he watched instead, gave a few sniffs, and wandered on down the yard. After feeding the hungry chickens I made sure to lock the door so they got no surprise visitors to their humble abode. Now, it was off to the barn to let the horse outside into the pasture. She made me smile with her fly mask on. Her attire reminded me of an equine version of a Halloween costume. Even though her eyes and ears are covered, I know she is watching me. Better to wear a mask then to have to deal with those pesky nuisance flies!

On the way back to the house I notice I have an entire entourage following behind me. It is an early morning farm parade… Me, the collie, the neighbor’s dog, and two out of our three outside cats, followed along behind me. I laughed out loud. The sound carried and bounced off the side of the barn, echoing back across the yard. Laughter. It truly is good for the soul.

 

IMG_1155102_4465102_4188**************************************************************************************************************

Today I am thankful for:

*blue sky

*pets…lots of pets

*laughter

*good food in the crock pot

*watching TV with my husband

*tall, lanky son

*daughter who wears her ball cap

*front porch flowers that explode in colors of purple and pink

*movie with friends

*ice cold water

*flip flops and rolled up jeans

*summertime music

*reading a good book and napping in the hammock

Catch And Release

20 Jun

Every Friday we spend 5 minutes writing.

The prompt this week is RELEASE.  

Don’t over think it,  just write! 

Five Minute Friday

 

 

________________________________

When I first saw the word release I thought of the phrase “catch and release”.

Sometimes I  have to catch the memories from my past, and then release them.

Release them to God, and just let them go.

When I say, “I can’t forgive myself”, in essence what I am really saying is, “I’m unforgivable”.

But, Christ says I am forgiven.

In Him I am a new creation.

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

IMG_1202

Rest Deeply

19 Jun

 Today’s Thursday 6/19/14 writing prompt:  share a special Bible verse currently touching your heart with rest and comfort?
Faith Barista

 

My favorite Bible verse has always been Luke 1:37.

“For with God nothing will be impossible.”  How could that not be a comforting verse?

The God of the universe, who loves me,  who wants me to know Him…for Him, nothing is impossible.

Not on my worst days, not on my best days, no matter what I am going through, nothing is too difficult for God.

He is a very present help in time of trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

I can rest deeply in that knowledge.

Could there be a better place to rest than in the shadow of The Almighty? The One who makes me feel safe and protected.

There are a lot of places that I could be in this whole wide world……but, none that is as comforting as being with Him.
IMG_1702

A Mid-West Summer

17 Jun

Sometimes pictures truly are worth a thousand words……

Glimpses of the lazy, hazy days of a Mid-West summer.

 

Take Me Home Country Roads

 

The long driveway to the Amish house, where they sell eggs.

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flowers of the fields…

 

 

 

102_3115

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A neighbor’s barn that looks like a scene straight out of a Norman Rockwell picture.

 

 

 

102_3152

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wind socks of patriotism.

 

 

 

102_3794

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun sinking into the horizon, and the night cooling off ever so much.

 

 

 

102_4436

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no colors like this here on earth.

 

 

 

102_3018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mama killdeer hiding her, soon to be, babies.

 

 

 

 

102_3207

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relaxing on the hammock because lazy days are necessary.

 

 

 

 

IMG_1245

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream!

 

 

IMG_0247

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The days, delicate, fragile, much like life.

 

 

Assurance Of His Love

16 Jun

I believe, that on occasion, God speaks to us through seemingly mundane events, things that most people might not see as communication from the Almighty. Have you ever had someone say something, or you read a passage, or something happens and you just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God meant it just for you? Maybe it is a confirmation of the decision you just made. Maybe it is words from a friend that soothe your soul, or an article, for reasons unknown to you, that ends up in your inbox. You may find yourself at just the right place at the right time, or certain circumstances come about that leave you knowing that it was meant to be.

God is sovereign.                                                                   IMG_1177

He is in control.

But He knows that we are weak and sometimes require assurance.

Assurance of His presence.

Assurance of His love.

Assurance of His plan.

To humans belong the plans of the heart,
    but from the Lord comes the proper answer of the tongue.

All a person’s ways seem pure to them,
    but motives are weighed by the Lord.

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
    and he will establish your plans.

The Lord works out everything to its proper end—
    even the wicked for a day of disaster.  Proverbs 16:1-4 NIV

*****************************************************************************************************

Thankful today for: 

*God who is always in control of circumstances

*He who can calm the storms of life with just His voice

*The One who knows all things

*The Great I AM, who is and was, and is yet to come……

*The Ransom from Heaven

*The Rescue for sinners

*King of kings and Lord of lords

*Name above all names

*Sovereign

*One who loves us

 

Messenger

13 Jun

 

Five Minute Friday
Today over at Lisa-Jo’s blog it is Five Minute Friday.

We write for five minutes. We write from the heart. We …just….write.

Don’t worry about typos, or mistakes. Don’t worry about whether you think it sounds dumb or weird or if you believe it is a masterpiece. It doesn’t matter.

Type the words. Tell your story.

Today’s prompt is:  Messenger

*************************************************************************************************************

Do you ever have the kind of day(s) that leave you feeling weary? Worn out? Dejected?

Days when you are just going through the motions because that is all you can do…

Me, too.

And then in the midst of the blah, in the middle of the mundane……

Comes the message.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.…  (Matthew 11:28-29)

Jesus is the messenger that walks through the every day.

He is a soft place for the weary, a welcome sight to the worn, and a deliverer for the dejected.

 

IMG_1099

Reminders From Him

11 Jun

This past week I received my two Christmas books in the mail, one Southern Living Christmas and the other Gooseberry Patch Christmas. Yes, they always come in June. They come six months early, so that those so inclined can begin working on their projects for the holidays without feeling rushed. Like that would happen with me. Ever.

 

Gooseberry

traditional-tree-lgraphic-gift-wrap-l

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I enjoy looking through the books with all their beautifully decorated pages. Everything looks so perfect. Perfectly decorated rooms, perfectly planned meals, perfectly wrapped gifts, crafts, and treats. Sigh. All this perfection……and, I feel so…..

Imperfect.

Inadequate.

Ordinary.

How many times do I feel that my good just isn’t good enough? That if I could only complete one more task, spruce up one more thing, make one more call, then everything would be okay, and my life might look like one of the 8×10 glossies in the books.

Oh, I need to lose weight, exercise more, have a house free of cat puke, and dog fur. I need a nicely mowed lawn, and I really should make more trips to the farmer’s market. I need to make time to read more books, spend less time on the computer, have meaningful conversations with my children, and have date nights with my husband.  I should try to style my hair in a cute new look, smile more, make my own cleaning products, keep track of the memories and learn how to relax.

 

IMG_1163

 

IMG_1206

 

 

 

IMG_0197

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I could go on and on. That is the kind of thing that goes on inside my brain….all the time. I admit it, I often spend so much time thinking about what “should be”, that I often times miss out on the “here and now”.

 

I know better, but I keep doing it anyway.

I count the moments, because I require the reminders.

Reminders from Him.

God wants me to be present in this moment. The one that is happening right now.

Otherwise, I will miss out on everything He has planned for me.

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 hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV

Main Street U.S.A

10 Jun

I recently read something, where the author made mention of the “fly over” states. That irked me. Every single time I hear that expression or read it being used by an east or west coast inhabitant, I cringe. What they are in essence saying is, the majority of the states in this country (Mid-West, the Great Plains, the Deep South, the Desert South West) are just states that one will fly over to get to the big cities on either coast, they aren’t worth stopping at for a visit. Even though I grew up in Maryland, only thirty minutes from Baltimore and an hour from D.C., I lived in the country. I appreciated small town life. I saw beauty in the rural landscapes, and the wide open spaces.

Anyone that knows me, or has been reading my blog for any amount of time, knows that I have a nostalgia for small town America. Are small towns perfect? No. Things happen in small towns too, and not always good things. I have to say though, that it is nice to live somewhere where people actually know your name, or at least your face. There is a familiarity that is comfortable. For me, there is peace that comes with quiet, and calm that comes from open space. Neither quiet, nor open spaces are easy to come by in the big cities.

I’ve mentioned before on several occasions that I have enjoyed the old On The Road segments by the late Charles Kuralt. He had a gift for finding the story inside of each person…..no matter how quirky. I am currently reading Bill Geist’s book, Way Off The Road. He is following in the footsteps of Kuralt, who went before him, narrating the interesting stories on the back roads of America. My next set of books will be Garrison Keillor’s writings on Lake Wobegon.

I know that bad stuff still happens in small towns, and good stuff can happen in big cities, and that no one place is a utopia. That aside, there are some aspects of small town life, that I wish we could all go back to……..

 

 

main-street-usa_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Street U.S.A

 

 

 

woolworths_1399_18611167_0_0_669_300

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local five and dime stores, not huge box stores

 

 

 

102_4840

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm land and farmer’s markets and fresh produce that is actually from America

 

102_4618

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God and country…and Sunday was special.

 

 

parade-stevensville-montana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parades to celebrate life and liberty…..with hot dogs and hamburgers and ice cold sodas while we watched.

 

 

 

102_3155

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Bless America and God bless our military.

 

 

Door2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Front porches were for visiting with neighbors and time slowed down

 

 

 

120720025946-lone-rock-iowa-chatterbox-cafe-story-top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local diners that served up good ‘ol comfort food and no one thought about calories

 

 

 

 

images-country road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Riding the back roads looking for something to do and finding out of the way places

 

 

 

images--tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet tea out of a mason jar….because is there anything better?

 

 

 

 

 

I Never Cease To Be Amazed

9 Jun

IMG_1178

102_4940P1020034IMG_0158IMG_0166IMG_1107102_4893102_2364102_4675102_4623102_4243102_2159102_4415102_4328102_4436102_4236102_4189102_4138102_3880102_3455102_3448102_3696102_3223102_3133102_1586102_2367102_4425

 

 

 

All of nature cries out to the Creator, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty!”.

Everywhere I look, I see the hand of God. His fingerprints are left on each creation. From the single dandelion, to the storm clouds rolling in…..

I see grass and flowers in the field, I see the sun and the moon in the sky.

I am mesmerized by the cloud formations, and the animals that roam across the ground.

None of these things, alone, are worthy of my praise…

Only the One who created all this beauty.

I never cease to be amazed by His creativity and in awe of His majesty.

Showing gratitude for it all……

******************************************************************

Today I am thankful for: 

*being able to sleep a few minutes longer

*the nice people that I have met and befriended since moving here

*a slow paced Monday

*the beginning of summer

*ice cubes in my tea

*smiles

*sharing good news

*safe trip back home for my husband

*flea markets

*projects to work on

*God who loves, and gives abundantly

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,036 other followers