I am usually an early riser. It doesn’t matter if it is the weekend or a day off, I love a good sunrise. My mantra has been, “the early bird gets the worm”. Plus, I love long days.
In the spring and summer I tend to play a little game in the morning called, “who will rise first”. This game is played with the neighborhood birds and me. I try to rise before the first bird rolls out of the nest and let’s out it’s first chirp of the day.
You may think this is a little strange, especially to all of the night-owls reading this post after noon when you roll out of bed. All I am doing is raising my awareness of the beautiful creation God has given us. In fact, as I sit here on this beautiful sunny Saturday morning, I do not hear any birds chirping. My little friends have started to head south for the winter.
I challenge you to sit in awareness today. Let me know what facet of God’s creation piques your awareness. Feel free to share in the comments section below.
Mark 1:35 (NIV)
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
This morning, the sun was shining brightly on the steeple of the church in my neighborhood. It was as if God was waving and yelling out, “Good Morning!” to all of His creation. I felt a peace pass through me.
2 Samuel 23:4 (NIV)
he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.
It has been nearly two years since we last saw each other. From what Jesus said in the Bible, you are experiencing great weather, you are walking around, dancing, running, enjoying time with your family and friends, no tears, no fears, you are living in a mansion, you get to see Jesus face to face, and spend time praising God with all the angels and saints. You are living the life that was prepared for you.
Life has gone on since your departure. I cannot lie; I was really in a funk for the first year after you left. I attempted grad school, but I could not concentrate. My mind’s eye focused on your final years of suffering as your earthly body deteriorated from illness. Time heals, if you let it, and I let it work for me.
Last night, I was looking at pictures from our time together. Oh, how I miss visiting with you! I wish I could hear your voice and your laugh just once more. You had such a great demeanor. You took on your Heavenly Father’s characteristic of unconditional love. You followed His leading on how to be a great father to your children and a loving husband to your wife.
Thank you, Papason, for the life you gave me. Thank you for many, many great memories.
Happy Father’s day! I look forward to seeing you again. I hope my room in the Heavenly mansion is next to yours.
Deuteronomy 5:16 (NIV)
Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
My drive from Michigan to Ohio was absolutely beautiful. Michigan had experienced an ice-storm and every branch of the crystalized trees glittered for miles, superior to any display of Christmas lights I have ever seen, as the sunshine brought them to life. My simple little camera would not have captured the beauty that was before me; therefore, the photo album is etched in my memory.
To silence oneself for a few days is not as hard as imagined; I accomplished this during the last weekend in March in a most serene setting in Ohio at a silent directed retreat. About 25 others attended this quiet-time to contemplate and discern God in our lives. We were blessed with trained Spiritual Directors to guide us in this journey.
The first evening, we were able to speak with others while sharing a meal. I was one of three participants from Michigan, and I met some awesome Ohioans. We may have talked for 45 minutes or so, but much was shared within those precious minutes. After the meal, we met in a room together to share what was on our hearts this weekend. When it was my turn to speak, I explained that about a month ago, I had a very vivid dream of someone telling me to “minister to the church”. My personal task then was to spend time with God to see just what that meant.
We were assigned one of four Spiritual Directors and we broke into smaller groups to meet with them for further instruction about the weekend and to set up our personal meeting times. After this short meeting, we were excused to begin our journey into silence.
Back in my room, I had a hard time settling in. Earlier that morning, my mother was rushed to emergency and diagnosed with a treatable form of congestive heart failure. It was on my mother’s urging that I go ahead and make my journey to Ohio as I had planned for months. I silently kept in contact with my siblings by receiving updates about my mother’s condition via text messaging.
One awesome cook made all of our meals. Eating in silence was an experience I had never encountered. We acknowledged each other with smiles, but then focused on our food before us and the beauty of the landscape that surrounded us through all the windows in the dining area. We took turns cleaning up the kitchen after each meal. I signed up for clean up duty after breakfast on Saturday morning. I broke the silence in the dining area when I accidently dropped a drinking glass onto the ceramic tiled floor.
Spring was not in the air; however, God gave us sunshine every day. I bundled up and took a walk along the paths in the woods and I walked around the pond and next to a stream. I spotted beautiful birds that I never see in Michigan, I heard the jack-hammer pounding of the Woodpeckers high up in the trees, and two sets of geese were making their homes near the pond. It was so beautiful.
Sitting in silence and letting the Holy Spirit speak to my heart was quite an amazing experience. Spending time in prayer, God’s word, in His creation, and simply resting in Him, made me realize that He is not quiet at all.
During our closing session, we went around the room, as we had at the beginning, and shared what the Holy Spirit spoke to us in our silent journey. This is what I said:
On Thursday, I announced that I wanted to know what my dream meant to “minister to the church”. I found out that answer this weekend.
To minister means to care for others. The church are people everywhere.
The Holy Spirit allowed me to search deep inside of me to remind myself that I love to help people. I have sewing skills, listening skills, writing skills and support skills that I can creatively use to serve God’s people. Although I have ideas on how to utilize my passions and skills, it will be the Holy Spirit that will lead me. I will spend more time in prayer and in God’s word as they will strengthen me.
Philippians 4:13 is my take-away verse:
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
I did not want to leave the serenity of the weekend. My Spiritual Director explained that this is an experience. I can take this experience with me, lean on it, remember it and be thankful for it. I can create new experiences to spend quality, quiet-time with the Holy Spirit. When she said this to me, it didn’t make sense. Only after being immersed into the world once again, do I understand. It is important for all of us to sneak away, quiet ourselves and let the Holy Spirit speak to our hearts as it is true nourishment for the soul. Now I understand why Jesus took time alone to pray to his Father. He was being strengthened for His journey to the cross.
A special Thank You to Sister Virginia, my Spiritual Director. May God continue to use you for His good works.
Stepping outside this morning, I noticed it was a beautiful fall day; the air crisp and the sun warm.
As I was driving after church to run an errand, I continued my contemplation of the blessing of such a beautiful day. A perfect, cloudless blue sky encapsulated the city; however, clouds could be seen in the distance to the west and the north. Seeing the clouds in the distance reminded me of life; sometimes peaceful and beautiful yet the storms will be in our future.
As I crested a hill on the highway, I came upon a police car and a fire truck, both with their lights on. People were standing around discussing with the police officer the details they remembered of the accident that recently happened. Storm clouds moved in on their beautiful fall day in which the air remained crisp and the sun warm.
On my way home, I saw more flashing lights in the distance. An ambulance and a fire truck parked in front of a house on this beautiful fall day. A stretcher was being wheeled into the front yard and paramedics were entering the front door to offer their trained services and to help calm the storm within.
Praise be to God for the beautiful fall day; the air crisp and the sun warm. Praise be to God for the stormy times in our lives as well. God is in the center of each situation. Can you see Him?
Psalm 68:4 (NIV)
Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds—his name is the LORD—and rejoice before him.