A Place of Your Own

Most of your life you share space with someone or something else. And most of it is right and good. Yet…in that hiding place of the heart, you hear a voice calling for a place of your own.

A longing for solitude wells up inside most of us regularly, no matter how occupied or diverted we are. In fact, the busier we are, the more insistent God’s invitation to “come away” compels us. (Song of Solomon 2:10, KJV)

So then, where will you find your own place of reflection…of prayer and reverie? Why not begin by asking what kinds of places soothe you? Where and when does your soul relax and begin to “stroll”? What colors, sounds, scenes produce a sigh from your deepest places?

“When we create an atmosphere that is pleasing to our eyes and beautiful in our sight, we are replenished by being there. As we are replenished, we are energized to enjoy life and all it holds.” – Terry Willits

Do you love flowers? Then browse through a garden or plant one. Love to read? Then find a nook in a library. Walk beside a river. Sink into a rocking chair. Make your bed your island. But find a way to answer the call to be alone: to make room for your soul.

Are you attracted to water? Then a brook or pond or lake or wide-open sea will beckon. What about plants? Visit a plant sanctuary. Does fragrance stir you deeply? Use fragrance before you walk or after a bath, or before bedtime, or light a scented candle during your devotional times. Even tiny moments can become “rooms for the soul”.

I drive to the country–to a riverwalk beside still waters, and stroll, and sit on the bench overlook. My car becomes a sanctuary–a house of praise– as I play music on the way there. Other times, I find respite on my porch swing. And libraries: I go often and linger long and happily in libraries and second-hand bookstores.

I actually keep a list of my favorite places in case I forget. For what is more important to remember than places where the “holy” comes –high and holy places where Love comes down–where soul rises , and where life is set right and “dusted off” and strengthened by God to return to the story we call life.

“My special place is a small brook in a green glade, a circle of quiet from which there is no visible sign of human beings.” -Madeline L’Engle

My own porch is completely private and overlooks a deep gorge, a creek, and a forest of quiet giants. It is the most pleasant of places to spend a quiet hour. It’s furniture is simple and comforting. There I greet the sounds of the morning and there say goodnight to the stars.

My bedroom has a tiny rocker beside a window with a view. There I meet the Lord morning by morning, candle lit, coffee in hand, and there I am changed. He sees to it.

Wherever you choose to “come away”, relish soul peace beyond understanding that only God gives. Such a peace is a gift.

You will know you have found a place of value if your soul starts daydreaming, and a smile plays about your lips and your heart beats against God’s.

The Father pulls out your chair, He issues the invitation, he lays the table, and He provides the nourishment. All…you need….is here.

Let the feasting begin!!

Linda Andersen

Where do you go when your heart needs refreshment?

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The Privilege of Love

 

Mark 1:16-18 Read it. 

I was born into a world of big dreams (even in ministry) and I have loved them, have written poetry about them, breathed onto them before I shined them and set them up on the glass étagère for the neighbors to see when they came over.  Like Gollum, the Hobbit’s consumed villain, I have petted them and have not let them go even when I stopped eating life. 

When had I become consumed with the bread or even more twisted yet, the feeding of that bread instead of the Bread of Life Himself?  More importantly, what business was it of mine?  Why did I hold onto responsibility of how my gifts, my dreams were used or laid aside?  Answer: Because I was allowing them to define me instead of my being Consumed with the Giver alone.  This quote is Watchman Nee:

“The breaking of the alabaster box and the anointing of the Lord filled the house with the odor, with the sweetest odor.  Everyone could smell it.  Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else.  Immediately you scent the fragrance.  There is a savor of the Lord.  Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor. Of sweetness.” 

Yes. I want to be satisfied with Him and nothing else.

Not only have these gifts (spiritual gifts, natural talents) defined me, but erroneously, I have believed that somehow You have need of them, all those sermons of being the hands and feet of Jesus have built a new Babel, a tower of pride.  But, You own the cattle on a thousand hills and even the rocks can praise You and oh yes, You can even form man out of clay.  You have no need of me and yet I hear Your beckoning invitation, “Come, Summer, Follow Me and I will teach you how to fish for people!” 

You gift me with the privilege of service, show me how to get down on the cold floor, pour the pitcher, feel the water’s warmth, lovingly place the feet in the bowl.  Pure privilege! Without love, all my gifts are empty, but with love, service has Spirit-flowing power.  You are the One who honors me with the privilege of pulling kleenex out of my purse, wiping tears from the brokenhearted in the middle of the bread aisle at WalMart.  Your Spirit fills and I receive the gift of mothering redemption into the lonely one at the health club who hides her abandoned heart between bent shoulders.  Then, I gift-wrap grace to Shelley across the street.  She lives with three big dogs protecting her, unsure if You are safe, but opens her door to eat my Autumn Chowder.  Every year she opens vulnerable, bakes a birthday cake for her stillborn baby girl and lets me eat a piece, share in her suffering. 

Privilege.

Love is not thrown out like a net on the masses but spoonfed to the vulnerable, one at a time. 

by Summer Gross

I daily need to ask for love, beg for love, for my children, my town, those God gives.  You know a secret?  He is always faithful.  I learned recently, I cannot conjure it up, I need His love to gulp large droughts and then pour out into the world.  Who do you need to ask God to give you a big love for?

Linking to:

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The Lord is my Shepherd Thanksgiving

THE LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. Psalm 23:1

You have the crook, yes, but You have the heart, open and generous, protecting, shielding.  I shall not lack…here, now in this Moment.  This seems to be the key.  You are always enough Here.  I am the one who runs ahead into lack, who runs ahead into fear and smacks my head sharp.  How could I lack with Your powerful Presence, with me, for me?  You are here and that news is like spring water running again.  Fear drives me to lack as a frozen stream, stuck.  Your Presence heals my fear of not enough, my fear of new, my fear of judgment.  The lies that shout, fall silent at Your feet.  You are here.  I shall not lack.

Sheep are dumb.  I heard it over and over in sermons.  Now I understand: “Sheep are simple.”  I AM simple to You.  You know my needs and how to meet them in the here and where to get daily bread.  This awkward, leaping frog jump into the future was never made for me.  I am simple.  I was meant to take small steps forward, while chomping on what was right in front of me.  I need to remain simple, open, slow, close to the Shepherd.

Summer Joy Gross

(More of this meditation on Psalm 23 will come in the following days)

How do you dwell trusting in the moment?

 

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Welcome!

I’m pulling out a chair dear weary, thirsty friend.  Come sit down and enjoy the view over the hills.  Doesn’t it make you want to sit, put up your feet, pull out your glass for cold water, maybe a sip of warming wine?  God has put more than enough of what you need on His table and is always inviting, “Come, dear one, sit down, whatever you need, it’s on the table.”

My (Summer’s) mother-in-law graciously loves people through food, chocolate cake to be exact, piled with dark fudgy chocolate icing 1/2 inch thick.  Like an Italian mama, she invites her loved ones to another big rich square.

This, my friend, is our way of loving you, big piles of words, prayerfully crafted because we hope that just maybe you will want to sit down for a bit of refreshment…getting more than joy, way, way way more than religion, we hope we can point you directly to Jesus who spreads a table before you.  And we know that once a week on Sunday is just not enough.

We will pass around more Word, invite each other to the Source, the headwaters, Jesus Himself.  He never runs dry.  Never.

Are you Thirsty?

 

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Abba: Worship Wednesdays

                                                  

Galatians 4:6                          Mark 14:36               Romans 8:15

 “Abba!  Daddy!  Father!  Oh, how my spirit wraps itself around that unspeakably warm and touchable name!  You are who you are.  You are not as the fathers I’ve known or the ones I will know about.  None can compare to your matchless, flawless self.  There is no way to compare you with human fathers.  Does the sun compare to a match?

 You ride the winds for entertainment.  You dabble in the oceans and spin the earth on its’ axis and lift the sun and juggle the stars.  You cast the rainbow and stride the clouds and call the seasons out from their hiding places.  There is nowhere your voice is not heard.

 You spoke and commanded a universe and more into being.  You speak now, and nations shift and powers bend.  You pull fruit from blossoms and snow from clouds and toss thunder from shrouded darkness.  You “get little” and take our pulse and patch our hurts and plan our trips and pay our fares.

 You hold our pain, erase our fears, soothe our worst selves and blot unruly tears.  You are a safe place to tell our truths and confess our sins and ask for help. We need wisdom and  ask with a certainty we will not be harshly judged for asking.

 Like a human father?  Oh no.  Never!  Just “not”.     We can run to you and confide our angry and blistered truths and confess our tattered sins and get great helpings of forgiveness and be set back up on our trembling feet.  We can count on you, believe in you, rest in you, and trust you in a stretched-out eternity that lies ahead. 

 You don’t invade our space, but you do come when invited.  Your love is personal, perpetual, and purposeful.  You’re always about the business of reshaping us inside ourselves and seeing that our spirits grow younger and stronger even while the body wails under the weight of humanity.

 Abba!  It’s the sweetest name we will ever know!  And you’re just the same as your lovely name. 

 Of fathers, I’ve had two plus two, fathers and fathers-in-law.  Good men, all. But men.  Grounded-in-earth men and mightily flawed like me.  I don’t hold their feet  to your fire.

 Oh, there have been names I’ve longed to hear.  But never has there been a name so dear, to this heart of mine, as the name divine.  The precious, bejeweled name: Abba.

Linda Andersen

What name of God ushers you into worship?

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