“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. (the Message)
This book, Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Barton is challenging me! Solitude, as a discipline doesn’t come naturally, at least not for me. It’s probably why it’s called a discipline! And discipline takes practice.
“Lord, is there something you’d like me to notice
here in my ordinary back yard?”
My eyes fall on a broken-off tree branch
lying in the middle of the yard,
dry and shriveled
And I can’t help but think of what Jesus said
about the vine (Jesus)
and the branches (us)
He tells us a branch attached to the vine
and a branch, separated from the life-giving vine
Lord, when I don’t spend time with You . . .
I become shriveled, dried up
However, unlike this branch, which can never recover,
I can go back to spending time in Your presence . . . .
back to You . . .
the One who is already searching
and waiting for me.
I grab my camera.
I want to REMEMBER this for myself
& CELEBRATE by sharing with others!
I have always loved this photo – a beautiful sunshiny day at the Botanic Gardens. So tonight in our group when we are to choose a photo as a journaling prompt, I knew I would pick it, even though I really didn’t know how it would fit. (Since I am the facilitator, I have a certain advantage. Or is it disadvantage?) This photo is compelling and so I write in response to “journal ,using this photo as a picture of your spiritual life and desires as they are right now.”
Clean crisp air
No fog today
A warm coat,
I am set to enjoy this cold day.
Sort of like my life these days. . .
It’s good to feel alive,
in a “good place.”
But like this beautiful day,
If I am to experience this moment
to the fullest extent . . .
to be fully alive . . .
I must pay attention
to what I need
in this season
of my life.
Yet, good as things are right now,
something is “off.”
I’m “wired . . .”
my mind unfocused.
Last night in your presence,
there was calm.
And I know I need the quiet
as much as ever!
When I am desperate, I create the time!
To not create the time
when I am feeling good
is like not stretching
because my back doesn’t hurt today!
God, gently reminded me
that as good as I feel right now,
I still need to prepare
to enter into the life
you have for me.
I need YOU!
I still need time to
quiet myself . . .
listen . . .
pray . . .
Friday morning in Montana.
We just arrived last night. The wonderful wedding craziness that is part of any wedding starts tonight with rehearsal. Tomorrow, Brian and Becca get married!
I am out here on the deck Gordon built. I miss him, but I am OK. I do love being here in Montana where Gordon lived his life. I look around and ask God if he has anything here for me in this beautiful place this morning before everything swings into action.
I breathe in the fragrance of the lilacs.
lining the deck where I sit.
I take deep breaths, slowly . . .
breathing in and out . . .
noticing the beauty of the fragrance
and of the flower itself.
I hear a bird calling and I follow the sound,
never finding him (her?)
but I enjoy the music.
As I continue to wander around the yard,
I notice the raindrops
clinging to the pine needles.
Such startling beauty in simple things.
I think of scripture that tells me
I can know God
by the things He created.
Romans 1:20 – But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being.
I feel peace sweep over me and it comforts like a warm sweater on a chilly morning.
I grab my camera. I want to “Remember and Celebrate” this display of God’s goodness!
Thank you, God.
Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms says “It is your desire for God and your capacity to reach for more of God than you have right now that is the deepest essence of who you are . . . not your woundedness . . .not your personality . . . not your giftedness, but your desire!”
As I pondered the losses of my life in relation to this statement, I wrote the following.
to think you see me
as I was intended to be. . .
not “the girl
all of her siblings.”
You don’t look at me and say:
“Even though it was hard,
now Carol has a purpose.”
The losses of my life
and resulting wounds
have their impact,
But that is not what you see.
You are using these things in my life . . .
I am able to minister in special ways. . .
But these losses do not define me.
Tears spring to my eyes.
I find this hard to believe . . . .
My head knows it to be true.
It’s just that
would also like to know
to be assured.
Help me understand and know.
And Dear God,
Help me pay attention
to what you will continue to do
in my life . . .
giving me opportunity for
ministries and purposes
that only I can fulfill.
Your desire is evidence
that I am continuing
to draw you
Spend quiet moments with me,
I will lead you in life-giving ways.
It’s peaceful out here tonight.
The snow makes everything
And I breathe deeply.
I didn’t know if I’d truly know
that I could feel this good.
I thought I had lost myself,
never to find the old me again
I didn’t find the old me exactly.
What I am starting to discover
is the me that God created
me to be . . .
the one I was
before I developed patterns of coping
with pain and loss
patterns that are no longer helpful.
The me who now
knows herself more fully
and in turn can relate more fully
with God and others.
Tonight I feel deep down joy.
I am so glad it is still to be found.
My heart broke,
my world crashed around me
but in the rebuilding I found
strength I’d never known.
Thank you, God.
March of 2009. Mom has just been admitted to hospice care. I am on my way to see Carol and the kids and I am so afraid of all that is ahead. I don’t know how I will manage her care. It seems very overwhelming. I am sitting on the plane waiting for take-off, talking to Galen about my fears. I end the conversation as we are preparing for takeoff . . . . . .
And I notice this symbol on the wing of the airplane
outside my window.
but as I sit here
and think about what is ahead,
that silly circle
is all I can see
from my window seat
over the wing.
Lord, I feel like I am on a
in need of a safety line.
And you remind me . . .
a safely line is only
as safe as the
And I know there is a lesson here for me.
I will attach my line to YOU
as I’m learning once again to trust.
But I am really scared.
I know my faith dare not rest
only on You doing
what I want . . .
what I think
Please help me.
I want to trust that
You’ll coordinate all these things
as I am losing again.
Be patient with me
while I learn to walk by faith yet again . . .
trusting the “Attach Point”
When I return home, I ask a dear family friend, John Tyler who is a retired American Airlines Mechanic. He tells me that in the emergency, the emergency door is opened but on a narrow-bodied plane like this one, there is no chute. The passengers slide down the flaps – the first person out attaches a rope to this “safety line attach point,” and it is used as a safety rope/guide line for those leaving the plane.
“Keep me safe, O God,
I’ve run for dear life to you.
I say to GOD, “Be my Lord!”
Without you, nothing makes sense.
My choice is you, GOD, first and only.
And now I find I’m your choice!
How I need the quiet.
It’s been a week of
being in new places
and more people
(even at night,
my hotel room is full of people)
Days without time alone with You
Leave me on edge . . . restless.
I eat too much, thinking that will satisfy.
I check email too often.
I restlessly roam from room to room
accomplishing nothing of value.
I lose my focus as I
eat . . .
roam . . .
continually check email.
And then I realize I am procrastinating . . .
not finding the thing I need most . . .
time alone with You.
He did it again.
The enemy tells me I can still the
with things that don’t satisfy.
As long as He can keep me searching
in the wrong places,
I distance myself
the only one
who really satisfies.
Now I am sitting here by the Lake.
I look at the water . . .
I hear the noise of the suburbs,
and it is asking nothing of me.
At last, alone with You
I feel your peace.
I feel your heart for me.
I feel my heart for you.
Why did I wait so long?
Why did I try all those other things?
I didn’t even recognize it was the enemy
using what He knows best
to keep me from You.
God, the next time,
help me pay attention
to what is really happening
in my soul.
And look for the ONE
who truly satisfies.
from my journal, an entry from October 2006, as I was in the midst of deeply grieving the loss of Gordon:
And there’s a question asked in my small group. This community was life to me: I learned through all of the changes that followed Nov. 2005 that Community is life sustaining and necessary for deep change and healing to take place.
“What hinders me from “going deeper” with God? –
Here is my journaled answer:
I lose my peace and I am hindered from going deeper with God when I:
Focus on the future,
Forgetting God’s overriding interest
in my future
Fearing I’ll only exchange one hurt
Focus on the present:
forgetting God’s presence
in my present
Believing my present is
Focus on past hurts and pain
forgetting God’s extends grace to me
so I can extend it others.
and forgetting HE heals the broken hearted
Love flows unhindered between us when I
God’s presence in my present
God’s sovereignty in my future
God’s grace for my past
These reminders are gifts to me.
how easy to forget . . .
how easy to lose hope . . .
how blessed when I remember
Posted 9/16/10 – written July 16, 2006 – It’s 7 1/2 months after Gordon died. This week, we will be going to Montana to visit the place where Gordon was found. The job loss and the resulting crises it precipitated is still fresh, adding to my stress. During the sermon, the pastor asks us to spend a few quiet moments journaling on Psalm 46:1.
GOD is our refuge!
not our own workings . . .
our own plans . . .
our safety nets firmly in place.
God IS our refuge!
not was . . .
not will be . . .
not maybe . . .
God is OUR refuge!
Mine . . . Yours . . . Ours . . .
A personal refuge.
God is our REFUGE!
a place to which I run,
a safe place away from all
the noise . . .
the danger . . .
the confusion. . .
An EVER-present help in trouble!
aways there . . .
never leaving me,
no matter how bad I feel,
no matter how deep the pit.
An ever-PRESENT help in trouble!
You make yourself “present to” me.
I know you are there.
I feel your love and your care.
An ever-present HELP in trouble.
Not only are you present . . .
An ever-present help IN TROUBLE!
when “bad things” happen,
when I need you most,
always there to sustain me . . .
offering what I need.
And I can say “I will fear no evil,
for my God is with me.”