I was attending a silent retreat. While I was not speaking, things were far from silent. Sitting in the morning sunshine I was serenaded by the songs of various birds. Some I would have noticed before, but there are many I would have missed amid the sounds of human voices.
Even though I was not speaking aloud, the voices in my head continued. Random thoughts appear in my conscious mind, taking me back to the busy life I’d left behind. It was during these times that I realized how difficult it is to focus on only the present.
I gazed over an expanse of lawn, framed by towering evergreens. Off to one side, a river wound its way lazily through the property. I was surrounded by the beauty and majesty that God had created. In my mind, I heard the words “be still and know that I am God”.
It is in the stillness that God’s message for me becomes clear. For only when I block out the distractions of the world am I truly able to focus on the loving relationship that my Heavenly Father longs to have with me. There is peace, stillness for my mind and renewal for my soul to be found in the silence.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV
This is found in my book Inspirations From the Everyday. This past weekend I once again attended this silent retreat and had the same profund experience.
He sits perched on the floating branch fallen from one of the maple trees that line the river bank. I watch from my own perch, where I’ve come to be in a place where I often come, to slow a mind that has got caught up in its own whirl of thoughts like a river eddy.
But decisions and worries continue to swirl through my mind. Then I gaze at the Jay’s presence, see it’s still wings while it sits upon its perch. And my mind finally stills.
I watch and wait, light sounds of the river’s water and the rustling of tree branches above me, from winds unseen grace my senses.
My eyes follow the Jay as it takes it flight, flies from its perch that has become unsteady in the moving waters. The Jay flies up and up, finally resting in a Manitoba Maple tree’s branch that, I see, points west attached to a trunk that is sturdy and steady.
I rise from my own perch, steadying myself on the uneven turf with the help of reaching a hand against the sturdy tree that resides beside me.
I steady with the knowing that no matter when life seems as unstable as a branch on rushing river waters, I can find even ground again. I just need to take responsibility for my life and fly.
Lynn J Simpson is a writer who is rarely without camera in hand, capturing Breathing Spaces moments to share. She’s published two journals to help people create healthy mind-sets and is a Certified Professional Life Coach. A mom, a grandma, and explorer, Lynn loves to capture life’s journeys through writing and photography. You can find her at InspiringHopeInYou.com
“My hair is the bane of my existence,” my friend said. “I can never get it to look like I want it to.”
She has straight hair and wants to add some curl to it. I, on the other hand, have spent a lifetime attempting to straighten my natural curls.
We discussed that this is about more than wanting what we don’t have. For both of us, this is a sign of our need for control. Controlling my hair is a small step in controlling my life. If my hair falls into place I have more confidence other parts of my life will do the same.
What I fail to remember is that my plan is not always the best one. God has a much better plan for my life than anything I can imagine.
Giving up control and stepping out in faith has been a challenge. Uncertain circumstances are difficult for me. I want to know the next steps to take and what the outcome will be. Anxious thoughts can hold me back.
My trust in God is what can calm my fears. When I let go of my futile attempts to controlling my life I am more peaceful. I know that he is able to handle every aspect of my life. When my confidence is in God, even a bad hair day can’t stop me!
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
I had just drifted off to sleep when I heard a noise that startled me. “What was that?” I said. My husband thought it must be something outside. He wasn’t worried so I went back to sleep without giving it another thought.
The next morning when my husband opened the pantry door he knew what had made the noise. Somehow items on a wire rack on the top shelf of the pantry had shifted, causing a domino effect. A few items were on the floor. Among them was a jar of olives with the lid popped off. Liquid from the jar was pooled on the floor.
The cleanup could have been much worse as a large glass bottle of maple syrup had also fallen but remained intact.
I wondered if this situation could hold a lesson for me. If I was alone in the house and heard a strange sound in the night I may have worried about it. Knowing my husband was beside me and not concerned gave me peace that everything was alright.
What I sometimes don’t think about is that God is beside me at all times. The Bible tells me that when I pray I will experience God’s peace. No matter the situation, he is available to get me through it. When he is watching over me I don’t need to worry about things that go bump in the night.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)
The water aerobics class was nearing completion. The exercise we were doing involved jumping. As one of the participants prepared to slip out of the class early, the teacher good-naturedly joked to her that she wasn’t jumping. My friend smiled and said that she was jumping in her mind!
I laughed and said that my mind jumped around a lot, too! This is especially true when I have many things to accomplish. My thoughts don’t seem to hold still on one particular thing for any length of time. In fact, sometimes they change so rapidly that I don’t know what I’m thinking until I hear the words come out of my mouth!
When this happens, life becomes frustrating not only for myself, but for those close to me. I need to slow down, take a deep breath and refocus. The peace and serenity I long for can be found if I know where to look for it.
Fortunately I realize that this peace of mind is found when my focus is on Jesus. The distractions that keep my mind jumping are no longer noticed when my eyes are on him.
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
The view over the water was disconcerting. I couldn’t see the horizon. The line where the sea met the sky was blurred by the mist.
I thought of how sometimes in life the line between yes and no; do and don’t; right and wrong also becomes blurred. When I’ve been unable to distinguish a clear marker, it was easy to cross that blurred line.
The result is never good. I end up faced with shame and disappointment rather than the hope and promise I desire.
Within hours the sky cleared and I had a new perspective of the scene before me. The line was clearly defined and no longer blurred.
This has happened both literally and figuratively.
It is the power of Jesus in my life that allows me to see things clearly. He takes away the confusion and gives me peace as he guides me. He sees clearly what I cannot. It is my faith in him and not my own limited vision that I choose to live by.
For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.1 Corinthians 14:33 (NKJV)
The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Proverbs 12:15 (NIV)
For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV)
A Dickens Christmas Village is set up on my hearth. The lights in the church, shops and house shine onto the little village scene. In one area Charles Dickens reads from A Christmas Carol to a crowd gathered around. Nearby are a group of Christmas Carolers. Some children are playing in the snow.
Gazing at the cheerful little village brings back precious memories of receiving the various pieces throughout the years. My adult children enjoyed moving some of the people to unusual locations in the village to see if I’d notice. Grandchildren loved to gaze at it but knew not to touch the porcelain pieces.
This village brings me peace and joy. It also reminds me of love shared with my family, who are the primary members of my personal village.
Christmas is about peace, joy and love. There is no better way to honour Jesus than by sharing the love that he so generously gives to me. That is what I plan to do with those I come in contact with.
I want to express my appreciation for each of you who read my posts. May you feel the blessings of love and peace not only this Christmas but throughout the coming year.
This is how God showed his love among us; He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 1 John 4:9 NIV
Just before leaving the house for the morning I made what I thought would be a quick trip to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs I heard a drip, drip, drip. “Oh, that can’t be good,” I thought.
It didn’t take long to identify the problem. A pipe that circulates the water for our in-floor heating had sprung a leak. I had been in this area less than 30 minutes before and everything was fine so this took me by surprise. I quickly found a bucket, mopped up the floor and said a prayer of thanks that this had been discovered before I left the house.
While waiting for a plumber that day I learned that even a pinhole opening in a pipe can disperse a lot of water. Drop by drop my bucket filled until it needed to be emptied. A large outdoor garbage can was brought in to hold the bucket and catch any overflow. The dripping didn’t stop until the main water line to the house had been turned off.
This was a powerful visual of what negative thoughts and ideas can do in my life. The first few are just drops in an empty bucket. A little doubt and disappointment here, some fear and anxiety there and soon these drops accumulate. It doesn’t take long for them to become a steady stream of negativity. Before I know it my bucket is full to overflowing. Then it spills out and affects those around me.
The only way to stop this is to turn it off at the source. When I take all of my concerns to God he is able to take the negativity away. Through my faith in him, he will allow it to be replaced with peace, joy and hope. Now those are things I’m happy to overflow with.
May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 GWT)