Your Brilliant Simple Plan to Create Calm in Chaos and SLOW Word

It’s no secret. I need quiet like I need water.  Perhaps we all do. Have you read this article yet? Our brains require ample amounts of silence in order to rebuild the brain cells stolen by noise and stress.

Because who can truly hear in the middle of all this crushing noise?

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). (By the way, this is the first verse of the SLOW Word lectio divina included below.)


nye quote


This afternoon I chatted with another homeschool mama in the corner of a kitchen as kids in costumes ran from one room to another playing hide and seek. We whispered about the need for quiet as if we were divulging a secret then we giggled at the extremes we go to guard our hours alone. But if this article or my (everyday!) experience are any indication, needing silence is just as essential to our mental and emotional health as our computer’s reboot button is to its continued functioning. And really, should we be surprised? My husband asks me the same question every time my computer seizes up: “When was the last time you rebooted?”

So, friends, it’s time to make a plan for rebooting our internal computer. It’s been necessary for women (and men!) throughout time. John Wesley’s mother, Susanna (1669-1742), used to take her long apron and place it over her head to signal the need for calm. Madeleine L’Engle’s children would recognize her irritability as a need for silence long before she ever did and beg her to take off to her writing tower at Crosswicks. Other women have written about their struggle to create spaces of silence. The introvert in me always smiles when I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem The Art of Disappearing.

In the early 1950’s Anne Morrow Lindbergh penned A Gift from the Sea about the wrestle between motherhood and the need for quiet: “I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote these words before the hundreds of channels on the tv, the portable XBox, or the black hole of the interwebs.




Into the age-old conversation I’m offering this simple little gem: #10MinutesofStillness. Sometimes simple can be embarrassing, but sometimes it can be brilliant. After years of practicing, this one, my friends, is brilliant simple. Of course, it’s not my brilliance. I’m just the beneficiary. I picked it up from my sister, who picked it up from a friend. You get the idea. Now here’s the prescription: Choose a quiet space, put the phone upside down and turn off any beeps and buzzes, and set an alarm for ten minutes. Full stop. It’s the mini-Sabbath in the middle of your busy Thursday.

(Secret: I’ve found #10MinutesofStillness are just as luxurious on family holidays as they are on a busy weekday. Here’s one of mine from family vacation last year.)

For just ten minutes you push away the incessant to-do list, and just settle into the gorgeous richness of the present moment. Listen for the birds. Scan your space for beauty. Be attentive to your breath. (Maybe you’re a shallow breather like I am?) Perhaps you can take a short phrase of scripture and do centering prayer. Most days I keep it simple. I make a cup of cinnamon tea, head out to the porch, shut the front door with all its crazy on the other side and sit in the swing. Ten minutes to hit the refresh button.




Why #10MinutesofStillness? Here’s what I’ve found after a few years of the practice:


1. #10MinutesofStillness is the perfect transition.  Do you reach for a cereal bowl and a remote when the kids are finally in bed? Yup, some nights I do too.  Other nights I want to lean into something more creative. Scheduling a #10MinutesofStillness at the moment of transition helps me to be more mindful of my true desires and not just fall into an immediate Netflix hole. I did the same thing when the kids were young enough to nap.


2. #10MinutesofStillness gives us a moment of time to be attentive to emotions crowding under the surface. You know how it is. Your irritability is coming from somewhere. Nonjudgemental listening is the first step to untangling. Bring the emotion up into the air, look at it with compassionate curiosity and without trying to be a Fixer. Bring it up and out into the Presence of Christ.


3. #10MinutesofStillness is the creative’s best friend. When we’re mired in the tough of the making and the words refuse to flow, just ten minutes of no agenda silence will often unleash the dam and we’re on our way again.


4. #10MinutesofStillness is a gateway back to gratitude.  Practice opening up one sense at a time for sixty seconds each, without judging what you receive and without trying to create meaning. And then start thanking God for the simple gifts you are experiencing. Pretty soon the chaos is tinged with joy and you’re ready to love your people again.


5. #10MinutesofStillness can push the door open to God’s Presence. When our head is down and we’re leaning hard into hustle, we can forget to be aware of God-with-us.  Light a candle in your quiet space and sit without an agenda but with expectation, contemplatively present to He who is always present.


So, friend, I’m daring you: schedule a mini-Sabbath into your day. Cultivate a small corner of stillness then enter the conversation. What was it like for you? Was it a struggle? Was it a gift? We want to hear. And if you use the hashtag #10MinutesofStillness, let us know! I’d love to see the chorus of contemplatives rise!


Do you have another brilliant simple idea for creating calm in the chaos? Do share!


Today’s SLOW Word. (The scripture starts at 2:20):

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Praying for Healing with Scripture and SLOW Word

Remember, everyday Monday and Thursday is a SLOW Word right here. It’s such a privilege to pray the Word together! Subscribe on the right for gentle reminders straight to your inbox. And, if you know of anyone who would benefit, share this SLOW Word by Facebook or email and set the table for someone else. Love you all!


On this SLOW Word/Lectio Divina I share a piece of my story, the crippling fear of rejection and the scriptures I prayed.  Again, I’d love to pray for you by name if you need healing. Put your name in the comment section and a bit about your desire. If you are interested in more about my story or how you can receive more healing from the fear of rejection find them here:


Where My Story is Challenged by Truth

Serious Approval Addiction Excavation

The Gift of Vulnerability – The leper and my story entertwine


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Your Key to Experiencing Scripture Reading Come Alive and SLOW WORD

(SLOW Word at the bottom. Remember, every Monday and Thursday there will be a Lectio Divina right here. Let’s savor the Word together.)

Perhaps you’d like to read in the quiet. I get that. Or perhaps you are like my sister and you want to be read to today:) I get that too. I’ve got you covered. Check out the very bottom of this page.



“You are painting a picture without God in it.” My mother was a month from moving day when those words were spoken to her, lifted up before her like a mirror. Dad’s work had moved eight hours away. So like it or not, there would be a moving truck parked in front of the house they had just built and all their furniture would be hauled up a ramp and she would have to listen to the movers with their heavy, hollow, halting steps tramp up and down with pieces of her life.   No family was waiting on the other side of the truck’s journey with a table long enough to receive them. No friend was waiting inside a screened door with a cup of coffee. She would need to start creating a life from scratch. Again.


She carried the heavy anxiety and brought it into Delores’ office for them both to turn over in their hands. Delores listened to the fear and then quietly spoke, “Beth, you are painting a picture without God in it.”





And we do that, don’t we? We walk into our day with a picture of what that day will hold…and it rarely has God painted into it. Our imagination mocks us with absence, not Presence. We allow fear to reign and forget that Christ the King is walking beside us.  “I will never leave you or forsake you,” we were told in Hebrews 13:5. Jesus Himself gave this one last statement to the disciples to echo down through his disciples’ hearts for the centuries to come: “And surely I AM with you to the very end of the age,” (Matthew 28:30).


The picture of our future is completely different with God inside the frame.  When Jesus is present, the picture of our future sparkles with light, with ungathered joys, and there is always a full table set.


Writer and preacher Gregory Boyd in Seeing is Believing says this, “If Christ IS with us, isn’t picturing Him present actually more true than picturing an existence without Him?”

Christ present is the promise.

Christ reigning is the truth.

Christ WITH us is the essence of His name: IMMANUEL.

And THIS, my Friends, changes everything.






But stay with me through this transition. Christ Present not only transforms our tomorrow, it changes how we do life today. Profoundly.


When we live picturing Christ present, we are saying yes to reality and framing our lives to fit the truth.


And here’s where this truth connects right here with the SLOW Word movement. When we create space to listen to the word, WITH the WORD, the scriptures come alive. Try it. Try offering Jesus a seat at the table across from you and looking into His eyes as you hear Jesus ask Peter before the betrayal: “Will you really lay down your life for me?” (John 13:38). Ouch.


Or try, again looking into His eyes, “If you love me, you will do what I command,” (John 14:15) and see what rises in your soul.


Or perhaps try today’s SLOW Word, “Come to Me and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28-29).


When you are looking into Jesus’ eyes, the Word of God begins to vibrate with intensity and no longer sits still on the page. It BREATHES. It no longer lies flat. You can no longer pass over to the other side unchanged. The Word is now sitting there between the two of you and it becomes a vital part of the ongoing conversation of your life.


This verse from the writer of Hebrews awakens us to the truth: “The Word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12). Looking into His eyes, awake to His Presence in the present, I ask His Spirit to do His SLOW work, renewing my mind, teaching me to place Him in the frame of my reality, and transforming me through His Word.



(Subscribe on the right to receive more practical keys to the WITH God life and more SLOW Words. And if this, dear friend, is a gift for you, share it with someone you know who may need the encouragement. Set the table for someone else.)


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Making a Plan for Rest Today and Thursday’s SLOW WORD



This July I was in Italy for three weeks with my people. I’m still living in the after-glow.  We spent one week on the Ligurian coast, a week in the Dolomites, a quick trip through Venice, and a week with friends in the hills of Tuscany on a vineyard.  A few days into mornings wandering markets and afternoons by the sea, my dad and I were chatting and this was the essence of our conversation: Italy is the anecdote to America.  It’s the anecdote to America’s speed, urgency, commercialism, and constant hustle.

We rented an Air B and B four flights above a gelato shop close enough to the Mediterranean to be lulled asleep by the waves. We feasted on simple foods, ripe white peaches, and bread slathered with pesto, prosciutto and fresh buffalo mozzarella. At night we watched the sun set over the water while eating thin crust pizza and then walked along the coast with a cone of raspberry gelato made in house just that day.  We were just steps from where I was born.








But we weren’t the only ones living SLOWly and lavishly. The Italians spent hours around the table every evening and came out for gelato after the sun set. Whole families walked the town of Sori and Bogliasco and pushed the wheelchairs of the elderly so they could get fresh air.

In contrast, today I’m tempted to crack the whip.  We’ve just gotten back from fall break and my anxiety level is heightened. The oven top has four day old spaghetti sauce splatters (how did it get all the way up the side of the fridge?) and there’s a hurricane of boy’s clothing and soccer gear that hit the living room. I’m tempted to yell, to push, to demand. I’m tempted to make of our classroom an outer reflection of my inner life.  I need a Creator to make order out of chaos. I need Jesus to put his hand over my mind and calm the inner hurricane. I need to SLOW down.  I need to choose to get off the crazy train.

So today I choose SLOW. Today I choose to light a candle on the island whether it still has splashes of dried pumpkin bread on it or not.

I’m making a plan to:

say yes to Silence,

to Lower expectations,

to Open heart, Open hands,

and to stay aWake to God’s presence in the here and now.

I say yes to SLOW.

SLOW living is soul-full living.



SLOW is going to be my new miniseries right here on the blog because I sense we’re hungry for stillness and for permission to live with margin. When we live SLOW, we live out of fullness, not depleted from hustle. We fill out our planners for every activity. It’s now time to make a plan for rest.

Today, this is my SLOWdown plan: #10MinutesofStillness sprinkled through the day.  I always set my alarm for ten minutes on my phone. It’s permission. I wave the children away and show them how much time I have left. Sometimes I just sit without any expectations, just enjoying the quiet and a cup of tea. Sometimes I listen to the emotions that are just on the surface and need my attention. Other times I follow this pattern from Dr. Daniel Siegel, a well-known neuroscientist who teaches us how to heal an anxious and battered brain: I open my senses one at a time without judging what they take in and then I invite Jesus into the present moment. You can read about these minirests here and here and here.  It’s baby steps for the busy. Perhaps you may want to use the hashtag yourself.  Show us what your experience is like on facebook or Instagram and then link right back here so we can find it.


Subscribe on the right to make sure you get all the SLOW goodness of the miniseries.


How do you plan for rest, dear friend? Perhaps this SLOW coming before the Word?


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Luke 10:38-42 Slow Word Movement




We’re tucked in a cocoon of family this long Columbus Day weekend. Perhaps you are too.  Here’s to enjoying more margin (Hooray for margin!), inviting Jesus into the joy, and setting aside time to sit at His feet.

From my reading this weekend:

“Gospel meditation is gazing on Christ. When Jesus compared himself to the bronze serpent that God told Moses to make for the children of Israel to gaze upon when they were dying of snakebites (John 3:14-15), one of the things he was saying was that gazing on Christ in trust and devotion allows the Spirit of God to take his life and make it ours.” (David Benner talking about Slow Word reading or Lectio Divina on a gospel passage.)

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How to Win the Battle over Compulsive Habits

There’s a Slow Word video every Monday and Thursday. Today’s is at the bottom of this post.





We know how to beat a path to the refrigerator when we’re sad. We know how to scroll through email when we’re lonely, how to grasp for things that fill, things that numb, or things that whisper we’re special.  We have an overflowing basket of coping mechanisms for when we feel cut down, cut out, or cut clean through. It’s fast food and it never lasts, except for the addictive path that remains.

It’s time, dear friends, to trail-blaze a new path straight to the feast, to pull out our chair, to sit at the table knowing Peace is a Person and He is sitting with us. In fact, in Psalm 23, it says He’s the one who has prepared the table before us and laid the feast.  Then in Psalms 119 we hear: “You are my place of quiet retreat. I wait for your word to renew me.” (Psalm 119:114 The MSG). This Slow Word Lectio Divina invites us to listen to the Word not just to gain knowledge but to be WITH the Word-Giver. And as we listen to His heart, we become rooted and established in love and stretch out into becoming followers who can risk the hard journey.





We’ve built what the neuroscientists call strong neural pathways. Lonely? Walk to the refrigerator.  Rough day at work? Search for the remote.  Anger or self-loathing? Search the upper cupboard for the wine bottle. Need a little jolt of recognition or a virtual high five? Write a Facebook post and watch for likes. We’ve done it a thousand times and the path is worn bald. But, Loves, there’s something more, and oh, it’s so very good.


“I am now going to allure her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.” God declared these words over His people in the small Old Testament book of Hosea. He took her away from all her other lovers and from her greedy self-provision. He set a table in the wilderness as a spiritual detox. No other voices. No other distractions. No other Source. This is the gift of stillness. He invites us phone addicts, sugar addicts, noise addicts, and compulsory shoppers into the quiet of rest where He is the only one setting the table. We stop and we savor. We wait with expectation: “We wait for His Word to renew us.”


Slow word after slow word He invites us to feast on the word WITH the WORD. Then, every time we come to the Word carrying our strong and twisted hungers and find we are once again lavishly satisfied, we reinforce a new neural pathway. We practice resurrection. 




Dear friends, we’re building a movement all the while falling in love with the Word and the Word-Giver.

I’m absolutely amazed at how these little unpolished videos are connecting so many hearts to the word. Remember, there’s a Slow Word video every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe on the right to receive yours straight to your inbox, a twice-weekly invitation to the feast.

Share the movement and invite others to this simple feast and then share with all of us how the word or invitation is working itself through your heart.


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Slow Word: Matthew 14: 25-33



Every Monday and Thursday find a Slow Word right here:


Two weeks ago a friend asked me to do a Slow Word for her church retreat and Matthew 14: 25-33 of Peter walking on the water was the scripture they were using. The experience was transformative. The Holy Spirit has been bringing me back to the Sea of Galilee to hear the words, to listen deeply. I wanted to take you with me.

My sister Stephanie flew in from Columbus last night and after we got children settled, we sat on the front porch last night enjoying this word and the sound of a Great Horned Owl.  Afterwards, we settled on the couch with a cup of bedtime tea and couldn’t stop talking about what we were hearing.  Both of us had heard the same word but with completely different practical applications.

I finally have a subscribe button!  On the right hand side, under my picture, you can subscribe and get posts and/or Slow Word Lectio Divinas straight to your inbox. Your email is completely safe with me. I’d never give it to a third party.

And you friend, what word or phrase or invitation do you hear from the Lord?  Join Stephanie and my conversation in the comment section to encourage each other in the Word.

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How to Renew a Heart of Worship and Slow Word



Intentional silence, even for a mature Christian, can often feel either scary or superfluous. But when we make time for silence we are carving out space for transformation.


My first experience of communal silence was on a visit to a French Benedictine monastery. It was a field trip from Canterbury to Le Bec Heloin the monastery which had sent the first Archbishop of Canterbury on mission north into the wilds of the Anglo-Saxons. That first experience of communal silence was awkward in the extreme. I can still remember the discomfort of eating soup at a table across from others I didn’t know in silence. Now I find I crave the type of silence where God’s voice has less competition.

Read the rest at


Today’s Slow Word is from Psalm 91:


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Slow Word Movement and Video



Welcome to the Slow Word Movement.

I love to set the table for people to spend time with Jesus.

As a spiritual director who spends much of my ministry creating space for people to be in the Presence of God, I know the value of setting the table for just one. And when one of my people needs a nourishing meal? I’m there. My beautiful sister Stephanie is a busy mama who runs a non-profit bringing awareness to human trafficking. When we celebrated her birthday last month over brioche at a small cafe, she leaned over and said she was feeling hungry for more of the Word. I watched her try to enjoy breakfast with a toddler whose curiosity meant she could barely carry on a conversation. She asked me for these small videos setting the table for her to be with Jesus.  A few simple unpolished videos and a few days later she asked if she could start sending them to friends.





Why a Slow Word Movement?


Because it takes time:

to reawaken our first love and then root right there.

for the Word to slip from the head to the heart.

for deep seated lies to be uprooted by the truth.

to recognize a rich feast is already spread before us so we don’t run to fast food.

to hear God’s heartbeat and receive God’s dream.

to chisel through the hard rock of our hearts.

to learn to run to God to be refreshed.

to hear God whisper our true identity.

for hope to conquer incessant despair.

for any relationship of substance to thrive.

And because we have to receive a feast before we can give a feast.




As an inner healing minister, I know the truth of the WORD heals and transforms us. When His Presence walks into our dark places, everything changes.

I also know that distraction is a disease, a disease I’m combatting along with every one of you.  All those beeps and dings and I find it much harder to be still with the Word.  Am I really getting more done or am I fracturing my attention from the ONE THING that’s needed? (Luke 10: 38-42). Distraction leads to emptiness. Listening in the Presence leads to fullness.  “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” (Colossians 3:16)

There’s nothing new about this. Other nerdy church history types like me will recognize this Slow Word Movement as something that’s been going on for centuries: Lectio Divina. These Latin words just mean “divine reading” and was always served with stillness, with repetition, and with a slow reading carving out space for the Holy Spirit to speak.

Baron von Hügel described spending time with the Word in Lectio Divina like this: “letting a very slowly dissolving lozenge melt imperceptibly in your mouth.”


Join me in savoring the Word.


Let’s share! What word or phrase did the Lord speak? What invitation are you hearing? Join me in the comment section. Share on facebook. Encourage others right here.

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