If I am totally honest, I have struggled hard with constant low grade anxiety, some sadness and that mid-morning tired feeling that is, well, exhausting. I’m not without a pool of good reasons for the state of my heart and mind. Even so, it’s been a hard Fall.
My boy has been in Italy for almost four months. His absence is the equivalent of removing one of the strong rocks in my life. Perhaps that’s an odd thing for a mom to say about a child, but that’s who Quinn has been for me. He comes home soon, only to leave again in January. Woe is me as my nest empties.
At the office, I had several difficult issues to work through. As a professional woman with a commitment to excellence and desire to deliver a job well done, those obstacles were/are hard! I’m reminded by my wise counselor Dan not to personalize the professional – – what a difficult practice!
When my self talk and prayers hit bottom, I force myself to speak truth to myself.
I remind myself of my worth by framing my purpose in light of Jesus’ love and kindness toward me. It would be nice if my world served up everything I needed to feel secure and confident. But then I would have no need for God.
I keep a quote in my planner to counteract my performance oriented personality. I feel life rise up in me when I am kind to myself in this way.
There is no shame in being proud of the smallest amount of progress.
Morgan Harper Nichols
I acknowledge that my soul craves connection. In the big picture, we all need it. As an individual, connection keeps my head above water.
I try not to overlook the small things that life delivers when the big things are not in view. Small things like – Mom, will you bake banana bread? The girls love your recipe. Or, my mom and her husband picking up a Christmas tree for me and getting it on the stand.
Friends, this has been my hard Fall.
Despite myself, I pursued intentional joy during my hard Fall – – which brings me to my Fall bucket list share.
As you know, my bucket lists are intentional guides to help us live out love, self-care, creativity and hospitality in every season.
As we say #GoobyeFall, I am sharing with you some of the pics from my Fall bucket List adventure. I hope you enjoy the pics. I truly hope you too pursued joy this Fall.
Most of us are not masters at setting boundaries. However, I think we can agree that all of us are in need of them. We need boundaries for our sanity and our security. Since I am not a good source of limits, I look to my Father who is the master creator of boundaries.
On the day time began, our Father spoke boundaries into the formless, empty darkness before Him. He separated darkness from light. Sky from water. Land from sea. He split day and night. He eventually split a rib so that man would not be alone. Genesis 1 & 2.
God is the master of boundaries. I don’t often know when or how to create them, but he speaks them out of wisdom and love. The Word often uses the analogy of the sea when it comes to boundaries. Proximity to the ocean and its view are peace for me. But the ocean also rages, just like our lives. God has a plan for our peace in the midst of the raging sea.
When worry and anxiety strike and control is something you don’t have, God provides the boundaries. We are not out at sea without cover. We are children of God whose nature it is to create boundaries. As his daughters and sons, we can believe and trust that the hard thing won’t consume us.
Security in the Storm
The next few verses have been safety for me when I don’t have insight to the resolution or outcome. In other words, I am speaking of the stage of circumstance when there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The chaotic season, the fearful season. The lost in the dark season. These verses give us security to know we are protected while we are in the middle of the storm. The full verses are at the bottom of this blog if you want to read more.
The one who has your best interest in mind limits the stretch of the proud waves. He rebukes chaos and puts everything in its place. God limits transgressions so that they cannot flood you. Even when the circumstances of your life are roaring against you, God places a perpetual barrier around you.
Can you feel the safety net around you? Can you feel the promise that there is no drowning in chaos? Can you believe that no matter the rage of the storm, barriers exist to protect you?
If we know, believe and trust the character of our Father, it makes sense that he holds the wisdom to help us express boundaries in our own lives.
Boundaries can feel complicated, well, because relationships and responsibilities are complicated. But there is a simple starting point that has worked for me.
You Have Control of Your 24 Hours
If you know God protects you, what in your daily practices will you protect? We know that daily practices are key to living a peaceful, productive, purposeful life. Simply start with your calendar. This is the aspect of your life where you can push back proud waves, tame chaos and create barriers. You, my dear sister, have control of the twenty-four hours a day that belong to you.
I’ve been working on this in my own life for a few years. Below are a few bullets that represent some of my daily and weekly practices. I may not be in the same season as you. We may have different likes and resources. You will have to brainstorm within your specific life circumstances. The point of my sharing is to provide evidence of how intentional daily practices are the stepping stones to strong boundaries.
Daily & Weekly Practices
Monday Verse of the Week, Prayer list and Inspirational Quote
Weekly Bible Study in a group
Tuesday Physical Therapy
No Cooking on Friday nights
Sunday Night Review for the week
Weekly act to replenish my joy
Weekly act of kindness towards another
Mail a snail mail card to someone every week
Regular blogging and posting
2-3 walks at the beach
2-3 yoga workouts
Whether or not you can relate to any of these daily and weekly practices, consider how the carving out of space for these practices results in the small steps of boundaries. As you take responsibility for the time you have been given and protect your resources, you are effectively splitting your life into yeses and nos. As you separate and split your time in positive ways, you are mirroring your Father. You are honoring your Father.
Creating boundaries in your personal life sets in motion boundaries for the rest of your life. When I am exercising my positive spiritual, mental and physical boundaries, I can offer more clarity, love and intentionality in my friendships and parenting. I can offer understanding and realism in my marriage. I can give work what it’s due but not my blood.
Boundaries Rock the Boat
When you are a woman with boundaries, you rock the boat and rile up proud, raging waves. Your opposition doesn’t like the path of your life when you are living a peaceful, productive, purposeful life with boundaries in place. Your opposition prefers that you wear yourself down and out – – especially in the areas you are most vulnerable or insecure. The opposition intends to stop you from growing in depth, calling and wisdom.
As you assert boundaries, attacks come. Arrows hit. In these moments, we can allow these arrows to point us toward old, unhealthy ways such as
Overcommitting your calendar
Staying in toxic friendships, organizations or business relationships
Allowing work to take more than its allotted time on a regular basis
Spending more financial resources than you have or in the wrong areas
Taking on the needs or problems of others while neglecting your own
Or, we can interpret the arrows as opportunities to hold tight to our boundaries, even if our actions rock the boat.
Lesson in Boundaries
Recently, I had a prior client make untrue claims and unfair demands. I decided to stand by my firm’s work. At the same time, I attended to her requests to the best of my ability. In the end, my efforts failed to please her. She filed a formal complaint against me and her view of me has remained negative.
Without boundaries, I may have met her unfair demands. In this case, that would have solved the problem in a way that didn’t honor my time, credibility or resources. I maintained my boundaries and had to stretch myself to deal with the resulting “raging sea”. That was a tough arrow for me as it hit me in a place of insecurity. Who am I if I can’t make everyone happy? Am I still worthy or valuable in the face of other’s negative opinions?
I thought several times, was this experience worth setting a healthy boundary? When it comes to my bend toward people pleasing in a way that doesn’t honor my time, credibility or resources, this was an exercise of growth. Boundaries really do rock the boat. Maintaining the boundary cost me time and emotional stress. At the same time, maintaining the boundary is also growing my worth, resilience and faith. God places wise boundaries and I can do the same.
In Another Instance
In another instance, I was involved in a community project. In that role, I found myself regularly questioning my worth, attempting to earn my value and over exerting myself in areas that are not my strengths. I defaulted to an equation where if I worked hard enough, the dynamic would change. In obedience to God’s direction in my life, I decided to humbly step away. It took a full year for my soul to heal. Until writing this blog, I had not realized how important my eventual boundary was in this scenario. I pray for you and for me to learn to mirror our Father and place timely, fitting, protective boundaries in our lives.
Imagine yourself as a woman of worth with protections around you that are set by the authority of God. Can you shift your mindset to believe that the opportunity to set boundaries is there to grow and prosper you and not to harm you or hurt others? Can you stay alert and not be caught off guard by arrows that seek to open wounds that Jesus has healed or is healing?
My examples above may not feel as heavy to you as some of the circumstances you may be facing such as abuse or betrayal. Look less at the facts of the story and more at the lesson at hand. My experiences may be preparing you or me for bigger steps in the area of boundaries.
Stand Your Ground
When we are in the heavy circumstances of life, we don’t have to be unprepared or without clarity or direction. The Word tells us
. . . to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm . . . Ephesians 6:13-14
. . . Rejoice in our suffering, because we know that suffering produced perseverance; perseverance character; and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us . . . Romans 5:3-5
. . . walk in freedom for we are devoted to God’s commandments. Psalm 119:45
Let’s acknowledge how hard standing our ground can be. Let’s be candid about the process of perseverance and suffering. Obedience that leads to freedom costs us something. These are hard precepts. Hard promises. Hard love.
Let’s also recognize what God has done for us by example. He split the day from the night for our well-being. It’s not the other way around. We are not meant to be split open through overcommitting our calendar, overspending our resources or staying where we are not called to be. The unboundaried life does not get to choose how we live for Jesus. The boundaried life is one that models Jesus in wise choices of yeses and nos.
Do you feel the protection of that? Can you feel the perpetual barrier around you? Can you believe that creating boundaries are good despite how we may feel in the moment?
Mirror Your Father
Let’s mirror the Father and follow his example of setting wise boundaries.
You may come this far, but no farther; your proud waves stop here. Job 38:8-11
You set a boundary they cannot cross. Psalm 104:5-9
He set a limit for the sea so that the waters would not violate his command. Proverbs 8:27
The waves surge, but they cannot prevail. They roar but cannot pass over it. Jeremiah 5:22
Begin with a reflection of your daily practices. Stick to them not because you are a rigid person but because these practices are your lifeline to expanding boundaries in your life.
Know that setting boundaries will rock the boat. Stand firm. The same God that split night and day holds back the waters for your good. Mirror Him. You can trust the God who split open his body to make you whole.
Remember . . . the one who has your best interest in mind limits the stretch of the proud waves. He rebukes chaos and puts everything in its place. God limits transgressions so that they cannot flood you. Even when the circumstances of your life are roaring against you, God places a perpetual barrier around you.
Of the four verses describing limits, which one provides you the most security that God has your back in difficult circumstances?
What do you think about the concept that daily and weekly practices are the springboard to strong boundaries? Write a list of your current practices. Pray about adding one or two. Pray about removing one or two that are not promoting growth in this season.
What circumstance in your life feels like a raging sea? What yeses or nos can you decide upon today to start a path of healthy boundaries?
You know boundaries are working when the opposition increases. What are some ways you can stand firm and continue to cultivate a boundaried life?
[I] enclosed the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb . . . [I] made the clouds its garment and total darkness its blanket, [I] determined its boundaries and put its bars and doors in place, [I] declared: “You may come this far, but no farther; your proud waves stop here.” Job 38:8-11
You established the earth on its foundations; it will never be shaken. You covered it with the deep as with a garment, the water stood above the mountains. At your rebuke the water fled; at the sound of your thunder they hurried away. Mountains rose and valleys sank to the place you established for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross, they will never cover the earth again. Psalm 104:5-9
I was there when he established the heavens, when he laid out the horizon on the surface of the ocean, when he placed the skies above, when the foundations of the ocean gushed out, when he set a limit for the sea so that the waters would not violate his command, when he laid out the foundations of the earth. Proverbs 8:27
Do you not fear me? This is the Lord’s declaration. Do you not tremble before me, the one who set the sand as the boundary of the sea, an enduring barrier that it cannot cross? The wave surge, but they cannot prevail. They roar but cannot pass over it. Jeremiah 5:22
There are thousands of ways to live intentionally. In fact, this is one of the widest action words I know. Intention can be applied to literally every area of our lives. Work, relationships, faith, parenting, friendships, fitness, mental well-being, hobbies/interests . . .When the options are so vast, intention can get lost in the opportunities.
Simply put, intentionality is taking specific actions toward an outcome that is important to you.
Intention can get lost in the action and execution when we don’t first determine what is important to us. We can adopt someone else’s list of intentional acts because they appeal to us. But if the purpose isn’t in line with our own purpose, intentional living ends up fizzling out or burning us out.
Why I Started Creating Bucket Lists
I started making bucket lists about two years ago. Previous to that, I had shifted from writing to women’s networking for a time. When it was time to shift back to writing, I lacked inspiration and my personal why. Creating bucket lists were a simple way to find what was important to me again.
My first bucket list was for Valentine’s Day. The list focused on loving others, self care, creativity and hospitality. You can look at that first bucket list and all of the others by clicking here.
As I continued to create bucket lists for Spring, Summer, Fall, Christmas and the New Year, my why became clearer and clearer. My four personal pillars represent what is important to me.
Loving others is a biblical call and brings me joy.
Self care is an area I have neglected most of my adult life. However, I can confidently say no more after a lot of growth in the last few years.
Input and output in the way of creativity is what keeps my soul alive. I find that I am more fully myself and happy when I am honoring creativity in my life.
I think I could write a book on hospitality. In this brief bullet, I will share that my home with its furniture, accessories and food represents a valuable way to invite others into peace, comfort and enjoyment.
The List Must Bolster Wholeness, Not Productivity
My understanding of intentionality also grew as I wrote and lived out bucket lists. I learned that if, even for one minute, the list felt like a burden, then the list was no longer serving its purpose. If the list sneakily transitioned to a measure of productivity, then it was time to stop. Or, if the list negatively impacted my worth, then the list lost its worth. Make sense?
Bucket List Mantra
As I continued to create bucket lists, this became my mantra:
My bucket lists are about bearing fruit. They are intentional guides to help you live out love, self care, creativity and hospitality in every season.
Fall Bucket List Progress
This week on IG, I shared my Fall bucket list journey thus far. I’m sharing the pics here with more detail. Enjoy. Be inspired. Be intentional. Be bold with your love. Down below you will find a few questions to help you write your own seasonal bucket list.
Three of us pooled resources for this fall bundle of goodness. I dropped it off, sent a text that something was outside and hopped back in the car. We picked this friend because she is a giver and tends to isolate when she is in need of comfort, sisterhood and understanding. This was our way of delivering that to her while honoring her desire to seek solace within her home.
Dustyn is my monthly coffee date for the rest of the year. She doesn’t know that it’s life giving to me to serve her as she lives out a part of her story I see in myself. What a blessing to exercise vulnerability, laughter and sisterhood.
I love my green pumpkin. I also have a yellow and orange striped cutie with a green ribbon tied around the stem. I have been known to go overboard with my pumpkin purchases, but I am quite happy with these two this year.
We have fall scented candles in every room. Many of them are lit right now. The last three people who walked through the front door said, what smells so good? Bull’s eye!
If you flipped over this card, you would see that I have written three Christmas miracles I am praying for. I hope to write a few more. Some are big and some are small, but all mean something to me.
Discovery Questions: WRITE YOUR OWN BUCKET LIST
Name four things that are important to you. You could include categories like I did or individual people, a specific hobby, something work related. Enjoy writing a few important things.
Once you have a few important things, think about your season of life. You could choose the actual season as I did. Or you could note your life season such as empty nester, busy time at work, hurting in need of healing, overflowing season . . .
Write down the season you chose in number two on the top of a sheet of paper. Below it, write the four things that are important to you.
Now you are ready to write your bucket list. Be inspired by things that are important to you in the season of life you are in. Give yourself a time frame to live out your bucket list items.
Years ago, when I was crafting the beginnings of my own personal blog, this was one of the three verses that served as my anthem.
I am confident that I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living.
There are a few reasons why I love this verse.
First, I love unique words that stand in for other more common words. The “land of the living” stands in for our earth, the place in which we live and move and have our being. The land of the living speaks to me because it inspires my imagination. What could it look like to see his goodness in this life? What does it currently look like to see his goodness?
Second, I love the word “confidence” in this context.
Confidence is the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.
In Psalm 27, God is inviting us to feel certain about his promises of goodness here on earth. He is telling us we can confidently trust him. God is asking us to look at Him and his reliable qualities and abilities and believe that whatever has happened or is happening, we will see him work it out in his goodness – – in the hear and now, in the land of the living, and not just in eternity.
I feel you sister. Confidence and trust are not easy when we are living out God’s calling over our lives. The truth we are walking feels very upside down in this upside-down world. Let me remind you of the seemingly impossible things you are embracing:
You surrender what deeply matters to you.
You practice dying to self in order to live.
You embrace last in order to be first.
You willingly carry crosses to express love and sacrifice.
You experience thorns in your side to comprehend grace.
You turn the other cheek to honor humility.
You lay down your life for your friends.
You willingly choose character over “success”.
You relate to your Savior as a man of suffering and sorrow as you experience the same in your own life.
Let’s be candid sisters, it makes little rational sense that living this way would build confidence in God’s goodness. An objective read of the above leads to a sort of death by a thousand cuts as my friend Suzanne D would say. Through a spiritual lens, however, this sort of life leads to saving exactly who you are and who you are meant to be.
So, how do we find confidence in the midst of so much laying down of our lives? How do we venture into this often upside down Christian life with confidence in his goodness?
A shift in mindset can actually grow your confidence in such a way that you change your view of possible and impossible!
When impossible because possible, it is fair to say your mind has shifted to certainty of God’s truth. Our gaze is upon his qualities and character, and we believe. We have confidence.
Back to the Story of the Blog
Be Confident. Be Bold. Follow Your Calling.
That was the original tagline of my blog.
I fell for the confidence offered in Psalm 27. I began to believe that I would see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Once we believe, we become bold. Most of you would describe me as a kind, gentle spirit with a soothing voice. Even so, I chose the word bold because, once we have confidence of his goodness, we have no choice but to be bold with living out God’s calling over our lives.
I started the blog because women boldly following their calling matters. The thorn in my side is seeing any woman stuck because she believes a lie that tells her what she cannot be or do for God. This leads me to my second anthem verse.
Every woman is God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared for her before the beginning of time.
Paraphrase of Ephesians 2:10
Having spent most of my life pursuing friendships and listening intently to the women in my life, I learned to decipher a particular deceitful voice. The voice reflects untruths about her limits. The voice rises from a false belief about limited resources, lack of experience or education or lack of time. The limiting voice sometimes comes from someone she believes has power over her identity and future. That’s the voice that breaks my heart and also makes me bold.
Let’s Talk About Hope
Over the last few years, my core burdens and calling haven’t changed. However, over time, my understanding of hope has.
Like many of you, I have been through seasons where my hope dwindled down to a grain of sand. Life can be deeply burdensome and harsh to the point that your internal self becomes silent. In this way, hope can practically disappear. Yet, the one grain of sand remains by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like many of you, I also have been through seasons where my faith decreased to a spark; or maybe a smolder is a better description. With my grain of sand and smoldering faith, I kept walking towards renewal by the power of the Holy Spirit. [I grant you permission to laugh out loud while you envision me with my tiny spark and smoldering coal.]
This part is bonus.
This bonus list includes the truths that helped me rebuild my hope and faith, and my confidence in God’s goodness. These truths were hard earned and also make me the woman I am today.As I walked toward renewal, this is what I learned.
The only thing I have control over is me.
It’s okay to rely on others. Sometimes that will work out and sometimes it won’t.
No expectations unless they are based on past experience.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to hit the bull’s eye on the moving targets in my life; not mine.
Some friends step away as life changes and some stay with you forever. Know the difference.
The character flaws of other’s are not a reflection of me and it’s okay to be truthful about that.
Use communication to ask for what I need.
Other than I love you, my best words to my kids will always be Choose Wisely. It’s up to them, not me.
Where are you at with your hope?
As we grow, hope grows. Psalm 27 doesn’t mention hope. Yet, it is drenched in hope. As we grow in hope, we become confident that we will see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Confidence is fueled by hope.
Where are you at with your hope? Are you in a season where you are barely holding your one grain, or do you have buckets full?
If you are holding one grain, you are in a growing season. Ask yourself: What can I learn here? What knowledge do I seek? Who can help? Scroll back up to the list of four intentional choices to help shift your mindset. God won’t give up on you. He wants you to move from impossible to possible.
If you have buckets full of hope, are you following your calling? Have you defined God’s plan for you in this season? Have you designed a plan? Are you following it?
My blog tag line used to be: Be Confident. Be Bold. Follow Your Calling. I spent two full years of my life helping women define, design and follow their calling. In this new season, my desire is to provide tools for the growth of hope. Hope fuels confidence. Confidence leads you to be bold with your life and to follow your calling.
My tag line now says: Be Confident. Be Bold. Be Hopeful.
I stand by my wish that you will follow your calling. I stand by my passionate burden to see all strongholds fall in your life. I stand by my confidence that you will see his goodness in the land of the living. I stand by my wish for you to be bold with your life. I stand by impossible things. I stand by hope.
Where are you at with hope? A grain of sand, buckets full or somewhere in between?
Given your current obstacles or difficult circumstances, what areas do you wish to grow in? Name a few people that can help you grow.
When considering the path to increasing your confidence in God, which intentional choices will you choose to shift your mindset? Scroll up to the four bullet points to choose.
What’s your “bonus” list? List your big life lessons of the past five years or ten years or even in the month of September?
Because I can’t help it and September just ended, name ten things you are grateful for in the month of September. I’ll share mine very soon.
P.S. If you have an idea for my next “HOW TO” blog post, please email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this year, I read a book by Ann Voskamp called Waymaker: Finding The Way to the Life You’ve Always Dreamed Of. The tag line seems unattainable. Maybe even self helpish at first look. If you follow Ann, however, then you know that the way to that life is by giving away your life to a very present God, often through a time of suffering and sacrifice.
Ann is a woman that I admire. During a handful of dark and chaotic years, I clung to her words. I even kept of few lines of her book The Broken Way in my wallet. I remember connecting with a friend who was suffering in similar ways. She also felt connected to Ann’s words.
Ann’s most recent book has a small thread of the story of Hannah. Just a few paragraphs have stayed with me. Ann’s words are the inspiration for this post, How to Give A Dream Back.
The Story of Hannah
Hannah is our infertile sister with a husband who loved her dearly. As was the Jewish custom, families, including Hannah’s, annually traveled to Shiloh as a pilgrimage. Shiloh held the tabernacle which was the earthly dwelling place of God for worship and sacrifice. In the Torah, sacrifice, or Korban, is different from our modern understanding of the word.
We think of sacrifice as giving up something of value for the sake of something else that is regarded as more important or worthy. Korban, or Jewish sacrifice, was about making an offering to draw near to God. Korban was a way to move into a closer relationship with God. It was an expression of gratitude and joy, and it was a path to remove obstacles caused by sin.
Jewish pilgrims offered a sacrifice to God and then sat down together for a communal meal with the remainder of the sacrifice. The meal included a time of worship and singing and exemplified a commitment to justice and ethics. All of this was difficult for Hannah because her husband’s second wife used the pilgrimage as an opportunity to taunt her infertility. The second wife had birthed multiple children to their husband.
This particular year, Hannah slipped away to the temple steps to pray to God with tears. She poured out her heart asking God not to forget her and grant her a son. Her prayer included a promise to God. I’ve included her prayer in three translations so that you will find one to connect with.
Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.
1 Sam 1:11 CSB
Oh God of the Angel Armies, if you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I will set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
1 Sam 1:11MSG
O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime.
1 Samuel 1:11 NLT
You can read the whole story in 1 Samuel 1 and 2.
Who does that?
In her book, Ann says of Hannah –
Why ask God to make a way – and then give back to the WayMaker that very dream that He made a way to? Who does that?
Who does that?
I stayed there for a while.
Who does that?
Honestly, who does do that?
Ann goes on to say,
Someone who doesn’t want anything to get in the way between her and God.
Imagine Hannah in her pain and desperation. She had probably asked God every year, for years, for a child. This particular year was different. Perhaps she embraced Korban in a way she hadn’t before. She offered herself with tears and she offered to give back the one thing she so deeply desired – a child.
We all have intimately asked God for something we deeply desire. We want for all kinds of reasons. Some of our reasons are pure and honest like Hannah’s Korban prayer. Sometimes we can mix up the dream with other things. Perhaps in past years, Hannah’s desire for a child was more about avenging the second wife and less about glorifying God. Perhaps her prayers were more about elevating her appearance in the community by becoming a mother instead of giving herself fully to a God that loves her as she is.
When we deeply desire something good, the gift can get wrapped up in the draws and measures of this world. We can shrink in the trap of comparison like Hannah may have. We can look to appearances for security like Hannah may have. I don’t judge Hannah and I won’t judge us.
A Dream Revisited
God has given me a desire to share myself through words. Upon the grandiose standards of today, well, you know what that looks like. Books on shelves. Podcasts. Social media notoriety.
If I travel back in time, over the years of this gift in my life, it has been about deep community, encouragement and sharing from the heart.
The dream has a mission statement:
Bloom where you are planted. Grow in the quiet of God’s spirit. Look deeply in to see the needs of others. Write and rest and be with your people.
The dream of sharing words plays out very well in my tightly knit bible study community, with local women, extended friends from past and present and on the blog. Less so on social media or at speaking engagements. The dream plays out well where God intends it to play out well.
My dream, in its pure form, is not mine. The dream lives within me as a gift to share with others. In that sharing, I have the honor of glorifying the Father. I feel joy and gratitude. This is Korban.
In pure form, gifts or dreams exist without reference to comparison or appearances. Gifts grow out of Korban prayer. As we draw near to God, He draws near to us. If comparison or appearances or whatever “extras” you struggle with stand between you and your gift, go back to Shiloh. Take the pilgrimage in prayer. Pour out your heart and soul on the temple steps. Remember Hannah. Let her be your courage as you lay down your desires before God.
Remember, it’s hard to give back dreams wherein we have written a lot of our own footnotes. It’s freeing to give back the dreams that He actually gave us.
Coffee with a Friend Revisited
Last week, I met a newish friend for coffee for our second annual meet up. She understands what it is to be a person with a dream. She shared that dreamers tend to want the dream to change the world because passion fuels the dream. We both quietly acknowledged that such things as doubt and disappointment are real things when it comes to dreams and passion. She kindly shared that my dreams have a valuable thumbprint right here in the space that matters; beyond what I am able to see.
That is the kind of dream you and I can legitimately give away. The kind that matter close to home and beyond what we are able to see.
The giving away may not make total sense in the way of our modern understanding of sacrifice. But we can in the way of Korban.
Sacrifice: Giving up something of value for the sake of something else that is regarded as more important or worthy.
Korban: Making an offering to draw near to God. A way to move into a closer relationship with God. An expression of gratitude and joy.
In the Korban way, we can give our dreams back to God. In the Korban way, we can be women who don’t let anything get in the way between us and God.
Thank you Ann.
I can’t wait to meet you Hannah.
Is there an author or speaker that you admire? Who and why?
What has been a common thread in your life when it comes to gifts or dreams that God has given you? Have you freely given back your dream to God? Why or why not? If not, look for verses that give you courage to give your dream back.
Do you have a dream? Does your dream have a mission statement? If not, ask God to inspire you to write one now.
Do you relate to Hannah? Have you ever cried out to God for something? How did God answer you?
Think about the differences between the modern word sacrifice and Korban. I feel a deeper sense of intimacy around receiving from God and giving back to Him. How does the newfound meaning impact you?
Have you had coffee or tea with a friend lately? If not, please do.
Hearing the words quiet within is like the sound of the ocean waves rolling onto the sand.
Quiet within looks like sun beams coming down through your window into your home.
Quiet within is a deep desire of our beating hearts. We crave it. But we lack patience and priority. Even though all of what we may need lies within a time of quiet, we have a hard time passing through the noise and motivating ourselves to get there.
How are you doing with quiet within?
Do you know how to turn off your internal volume?
Did you know that solitude is a spiritual practice?
“Scriptural solitude is the biblical practice of temporarily withdrawing to privacy for spiritual purposes.”
– Donald Whitney
Solitude is . . . “intentional time in the quiet to be alone with God.”
– John Marc Comer
This post is about how to find solitude when your off button is missing or lost.
A Bit of My Story
I got to a point in 2016 where my internal noise was so chaotic and untamed that it shouted out in the form of panic and anxiety. I did not have a turn off button. Circumstantially, my internal ruckus made perfect sense. Practically, the days and nights were overwhelming and emotional.
One of the earliest methods I used to calm down was Vinyasa Yoga. Let’s not get too deep or existential. Yoga helped me with solitude for one primary reason. If you don’t constantly listen to the teacher, you will get lost in the class. In dim light, you listen to the teacher’s words for instructions to move through the hour long flow.
My licensed therapist with a seminary degree suggested yoga to me because he knew something about me that I didn’t. My brain could not simultaneously run its chaos and follow along in a yoga class. My mind took the logical jump to be present in the class rather than remain present in my 2016 mess. Clearly, that jump was the Holy Spirit’s work to help me cut through the noise.
Just before Christmas last year, I came back to yoga. I set a holy intention at the beginning of the class which typically relates to my chosen verse of the week. By the end of class, I can hear God’s wisdom during shavasana (end of class relaxation). Truly, I can hear him speak and I am grateful. This is not an advertisement to buy a membership at a yoga studio. It’s a practice I use to find solitude.
My Second Practice: Beach Walks
The other way I find solitude is through beach walks. My soul settles when I feel sun rays warming my skin. The warmth on my skin somehow levels the thoughts in my mind. Almost immediately, I feel God with me.
As I walk down A1A, I listen to the rock music that the construction workers play. I note the rhythmic sound of chirping birds and the crickets. I listen in on the instructional talk between the teacher and the student scuba divers. I nod at the wrinkled, tanned old men in beach chairs. I smile back at the dogs running ahead of their owners in their morning happy. I look at the beach bungalows being repaired one after another for their 40 year city certification.
I come prepared with ear buds, loaded podcasts and play lists, but I never listen. I don’t worry for those thirty five minutes either. I find solitude. As soon as I find it, I sense that God is moving down the street with me.
What do you find in solitude?
Internal quietness in the presence of God offers the gift of truth. Solitude replaces your version of chaos and untamed thoughts with what your soul really needs to know; with what your soul really needs to hear.
What does your soul need to know and hear? You can find the answer in solitude.
You cannot find truth while intermittently texting, googling, snapping or checking FB, IG or Twitter. You can’t find truth while adding to your to do list between bible verses. You can’t comprehend biblical wisdom while cooking during online church. You can’t find truth in chocolate or binge watching.
I like scrolling, to do lists, cooking, tv and chocolate. Frankly, I feel God’s presence while doing many of the things I like. Even so, God calls me and us to solitude.
Solitude teaches us the truth about what we actually need in our need. We don’t necessarily need the outcome we are hoping for OR the answers we greatly desire. Circumstantial relief is not reliable in the world of time and space that we live in. But the presence and comfort of the Trinity is a promise.
When I am in the midst of worry, change, loneliness, pressure or problem solving, I can be disturbed by my tendency to fill up my chest with my need for answers and outcome. I think I know how to get relief. My mind conjures up answers with to do lists. But, in solitude, I am led to find that my need is his presence. Everything I desire lies in his presence.
Questions to ask in solitude
As I gear up for my beach walk, I ask God, “What are you up to and What do you have to say?”
This is a good way to start because it lets God set the tone. If left to me and my quivering heart, I would jump to – God, what have I done wrong and how can I do better? I know those aren’t the questions he’s looking for me to ask. I order the conversation with God going first.
This positive practice of ordering the conversation has taught me that my father has good things to say. Along those same lines, his plans are good. Even though I may have hard or bad things happening in my life at any given time, his goodness tells me that the outcome also will be good.
We are not waiting for the other shoe to drop. We are not waiting for God to turn his back because he has other stuff going on. I don’t know exactly how I have reconciled bad things with his goodness, but solitude plays a role. His truth rather than my faulty truth becomes central when I am committed to the practice of solitude.
Are you convinced that solitude is a worthy spiritual practice? Are you already practicing it? Will you give it a try?
Have you thought about the spiritual practice of solitude lately? In what ways are you practicing it now?
I really like sitting at my desk by the window at home. But I am rarely alone at home. I find it too hard to escape questions and chit chat so I head out to nearby places to practice solitude. Practically speaking, when and how could you carve out solitude in your week?
We think we know what we need in our need. Think about letting God’s presence and wisdom inform what you actually need. Spend some time in solitude. Journal how God may have changed your view of what you need. What’s different? How do you feel?
Solitude helps us reconcile the hard things in our life with his goodness. In solitude, welcome God to speak to whatever is hard – your heart, a relationship, a loss, a financial situation. God’s thoughts are higher and kinder than our thoughts. Let him show you his goodness in solitude.