I notice the deep footprints in wet sand And how fast they disappear A few waves . . . And all evidence is gone. And I wonder . . . Did they really exist if I can’t see them now? But I know they were there I have pictures taken on a beach on March 19, 2014, 9:22 am ***** So easily, I feel God’s presence in the good times. Deep. Real. Hard times come And sometimes it feels like all evidence is gone. And I wonder, was he really with me if I can’t feel Him now? Ah yes, I have a journal filled with “pictures” of God’s grace of his presence. Dear God, Help me remember when you seem to disappear. Last year life’s circumstances left me reeling, uncertain and feeling unsafe. God didn’t seeem close and the doubts closed in. The circumstances seemed more real than what was really real. (If you haven’t been here lately, catch up with my life by clicking “MY STORY”) But over the years one of the most important things I have learned is this: He is OK with the honest struggle and doubts of his children. And I knew he was there with me, even when he seemed far away. I missed that sense of presence, but I knew I needed to pay attention, ask for help - because sometimes God shows up in how he uses people – a friend, a counselor, my community. He does shows up. And He has It’s all grace.
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Linking with Diana Trautwein (Just Wondering ) for the conclusion of “Living the Questions” Series. This week the question is “What do I do with all the hard/weird stuff in the Bible.” I am with Diana on this – even though there is hard/weird stuff in the Bible, I am willing to let the hard stuff be under God’s sovereignty and have my focus be on engaging my heart with him through scripture.
As I read through what she wrote about the Book Of Love, this is my initial response:
Engaging the scriptures with our hearts — that phrase reminds me of a book I studied and journaled through a number of years ago, Sacred Rhythms, Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transfomation by Ruth Haley Barton. It was life changing for me, especially chapter on engaging scripture for transformation not information. Here I learned to “read for the pause” and come back to it and journal what is going on there for me, using the Lectio Divina guidelines. Because I have ADD, giving myself permission to focus on a thought/word and journaling on it helps keep my mind forcused so my heart can engage and not just my head.
The following are my thoughts and response to her blog this week, to which I am linking. I encourage you to visit her post. Also, a wonderful conversation takes place each week in the comments.
Lectio Divina (Latin for “Sacred Reading”) has radically changed how I interact with scripture. Described by Ruth Haley Barton in Sacred Rhythms as a way of engaging the heart with scripture, it is very different from the speed reading most of us usually use on newspapers, books and yes, sometimes even the Bible. It is listening in a spirit of silence and of awe for the still, small voice of God that speaks to us personally.
It’s different than in-depth Bible Study, which is much needed and important to the understanding of scriptures. Many of us have done a lot of that already, but this is a reflective reading.
Reading a passage of scripture, I listen for a word or phrase that strikes me in some way, stands out from the rest. And I pay attention to the words that bring resistance, for it is often in the things I resist that I find God has something to say to me.
CLICK HERE for a blog post written a couple of years ago after spending time in Psalm 23. The practice of Lectio Divina led me to the reflection and comfort that I experienced that day, sitting at a picnic table, under the trees, by the lake at the forest preserve
If your heart longs for a way to connect with God’s heart, see the following steps and link below.
Choose a passage of scripture and first of all, take a moment to just be quiet – it may be the first time you have been quiet all day. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths:
- First reading: simply listen for a word or phrase that makes you pause. You notice it. It stands out. After the reading, be quiet for a moment as you savor the word or phrase, without trying to figure out what it means.
- Second reading: Reflect on how your life is touched by this word or phrase. Maybe answer one or more of the following questions:
What is it in my life that needs to hear this word today?
Where am I in this text and what do I experience as I allow myself to be part of the story.
Simply stay with God on this, still resisting the urge to try to figure it all out.
- Third reading – Ask yourself if there is there an invitation here? This is your first unedited response to God – the prayer that comes most naturally to what you have heard. Write out your prayer. Do not worry about style, punctuation.
- Fourth reading – This is time to just rest, enjoy God’s presence, realizing God is the one who will enable you to respond faithfully to what you have heard as you seek to carry this word/phrase with you the rest of the day.
For more on this transformational way of engaging scripture click HERE.
He made the moon to mark the season, and the sun knows when to go down.
This coordination of the moon and the sun... It captures me. And I am reminded. The God who tells the sun when to set and has the moon ready at just the right moment is the same God who cares deeply about me. humbled amazed grateful. _____________________ Joining today with Diedra Riggs, at The Sunday Community
“God doesn’t waste suffering . . .
if we cooperate.”
To Cooperate with God:
to keep an open, honest communication
with Him about all that concerns me
and the ones I love.
I wrote the following letter to God 5 years after my brother got lost in the mountains of the Montana wilderness and died of hypothermia,
I didn’t post it here, nor shared it much. Now 3 1/2 years later, I see how the lessons learned about cooperating with God instruct me still.
* * * *
Somehow, I knew you knew my path, even when it was darkest.
I was counting on You helping me to heal. And You did.
As I look back, I can appreciate and understand what You have done for me.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
then You knew my path.
Yes Lord you did!
You knew this loss would strike at
my very being.
You knew it would be
complicated by earlier
You knew I would be in deep pain
deeper than I had ever known.
this was the very thing
I most feared . . .
losing someone I loved.
You knew my path.
You provided people who
journeyed with me,.
people who did not give answers,
but gave themselves.
And now I can thank You,
not that you allowed the loss –
but that you knew my path
through the loss.
You knew all I would learn
as I processed this deep loss.
And You did not spare me.
You knew I would learn to
“Pay Attention . . . ”
to see more clearly
your activity in the midst of
You knew the self-awareness
that comes from processing grief
would give me the confidence
to begin stand on my own two feet.
You knew my path.
You went with me to the painful places
You let me know you were there
when my baby sister
was born too early
the same day.
You knew how much I would miss her.
And you let me know without a doubt
you were there that terrible morning
when my little brother
breathed his last labored breath
while I was in the next room,
on my knees
pleading for his life.
You knew I would begin the process
of learning to identify
and ask for what I need
instead of accommodating myself
to everyone else’s needs
losing my own self in the process.
Yes, you knew my path.
You know my present
and my future.
for you are “all-seeing.”
I can trust You.
3 1/2 years after writing this, I still see God working in these areas, going deeper, ever working.
Also linking week with Diana Trautwein in her continuing series on suffering – this week is “The Question With No Answers.” I recommend reading what she has to say. “Why do bad things happen to Good people” is the question for this week.
From my August 2008 journal.
The truth doesn’t change
Just the details!
Psalm 63:8 I hold on to you for dear life. And you hold me steady as a post. The Message A random photo while walking a country lane on Saturday. So much change So much I can't control or manage This verse from the sermon on Sunday. And I know why I took an ordinary photo of an ordinary fence post. God's visual for this visual child of His. LORD, I am holding onto you for dear life. Please hold me steady as a post.
Recently I visited Fort Sheridan Beachon the north shore of Lake Michigan and this is what I saw as I got out of the car.
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. Romans 1:20 This. This is why I come here Here I am reminded of your existence, of your character, And why I can trust you when the pieces don't fit.
To the north I see your handiwork. To the south it continues And I am reminded. I can hold in tension two truths about life Sometimes it's hard, desperately difficult Sometimes it's good, heart-stoppingly beautiful
And You are present In both. For today it’s enough for me.
joining with with Diana Trautwein (Just Wondering), in her continuing series on "Living the Questions." Topic: “Holding it together when the pieces don’t fit. Click HERE and join the conversation at Diana's blog, including the comments for more on this topic (adding this page to my Life Lesson's book:}
What do we do with our suffering?
Joining again with Diana Trautwein’s Blog – Last week Diana opened the door to a series-within-the-series, a set of questions that touch on the Big Topic of suffering. This week’s question jumps in a little deeper:
It reminded me of something really important I learned from my mentor/spiritual director friend, Shirley.
It was about grief – and this week, I lift a sentence and expand on it from a post written to her in celebration of her birthday a few years ago.
When my brother died,
I knew I had to see you,
because I knew you knew,
the way no one else would know
because you had lost your brother
And then few months later
I told you I felt guilty
as I compared
my loss of a brother
to my sister-in-law’s loss of a husband.
That was surely worse,
And you reminded me not to quantify grief.
Everyone’s grief is their own, you said
and cannot be compared
to another’s grief.
Losing a brother is different
from a wife losing a husband
from a daughter losing a dad
from a son losing a dad
from a father losing a son
from a mother losing a son.
You said even though
you had lost a brother
you did not lose my brother.
This was a relief.
I was now free to
process my own grief.
For grief minimized
is pain unaddressed.
And the pain is carried
the living of life
only to re-surface.
And surface it will.
joining with (in)courage – on finding freedom to tell our stories
“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question.” Elizabeth Elliot
These words introduced our “Silence” last Sunday morning, and I thought of this post from a couple years ago. I update it here with this quote and share it again.
There is as much uncertainty/as many unanswered questions as ever.
I gaze at the frozen lake…
the gray of late afternoon.
“It’s sad, here today,” I think.
Nothing here . . .
And You remind me . . .
There IS life here.
I just can’t see it.
Resting is your plan.
Help me know
You are still at work
even when it’s winter.
You Made both Summer and winter. Psalms 74:17b
Linking with The Sunday Community this week.
Diana Trautwein asks this question in her “Living the Questions ” series on her blog, Just Wondering this week. This week I am linking my post to hers. There has been a great discussion there in her online community. You might want to spend some time there.
Yes, Yes, there is room for my tears.
Tears are a gift.
I have shed many tears beside this lake
many of them under this willow tree.
and in this garden
beside this waterfall.
While some have been tears
of deep grief,
sometimes tears tell me
it’s time to
see what God has for me.
Although not always readily apparent,
the time spent paying attention
until it becomes clear
I first posted this a little over two years ago, in September 2011. In January, I was looking for a blog post to take to a writer's group.
And there it was.
The circumstancees were different then, but the message is still the same and is pertinent for me now,(third paragraph particularly), over two and 1/2 years later. When we write down what God says to us,we can remember it when we need it later. God's words to us are timeless.
As I walk into the Gardens today,
I pray to be aware,
To pay attention.
Perhaps there is
Something I need to see.
Something I need to learn
My mind has been full of questions,
mostly questions about our future
Where will we….
When will . . .
What if . . .
What should we . . .
Will we . . .
How can we . . .
Will there be . . .
And then I notice the sign.
“Don’t go here,” it says.
But, I am here at the garden,
surrounded by all this beauty.
Surely there is something else
to speak to me this morning.
I continue my walk
and there it is again.
What is it about these signs that say
“Don’t go here.”
The image stays with me
As I continue.
And then I understand.
It’s about those questions
I’ve been asking
About the future.
And I hear You say to me,
Carol, don’t go there.
You can plan,
You can be wise,
but the things you are
asking about cannot be
set up or
And I know I am being asked to
To the present,
Trusting my future
To the One who knows.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now,
and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.
God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Matthew 6:34 (The Message)