The Gift of Solitude


A harried executive who went to the desert father and complained about his frustration in prayer, his flawed virtue, and his failed relationships. The hermit listened closely to his visitor’s

rehearsal of the struggle and disappointments in trying to lead a Christian life. He then went into the dark recesses of his cave and came out with a basin and a pitcher of water. 

‘Now watch the water as I pour it into the basin,’ he said. The water splashed on the bottom and against the sides of the container. It was agitated and turbulent. At first the stirred-up water swirled around the inside of the basin; then it gradually began to settle, until finally the small fast ripples evolved into larger swells that oscillated back and forth. Eventually, the surface became so smooth that the visitor could see his face reflected in the placid water.

“That is the way it is when you live constantly in the midst of others,” said the hermit. “You do not see yourself as you really are because of all the confusion and disturbance. You fail to recognize the divine presence in your life and the consciousness of your belovedness slowly fades. “

It takes time for the water to settle. Coming to interior stillness requires waiting. Any attempt to hasten the process only stirs up the water anew. Guilt feelings may arise immediately. The shadow self insinuates that you are selfish, wasting time, and evading the responsibilities of family, career, ministry, and community. Theologian Edward Schillebeeckx responded, “…silence with God has a value in itself and for its own sake, just because God is God. Failure to recognize the value of mere being with God, as the beloved, without doing anything is to gouge the heart out of Christianity.” – Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child.

The Blessing of a Broken Toe


Yesterday as I left my 35 week prenatal appointment, I managed to slam the big toe of my left foot against a curb while walking back to my car. The throbbing, stabbing pain immediately informed me that this was not just a stubbed toe. Through tears, I drove home in a torrential downpour only to walk into a house with no power, a sleeping husband, and hungry, crying children.

It was, in every way, a perfect storm. After the kids were finally fed and put to bed, my toe cried out to me for attention. A visit to the Urgent Care clinic confirmed what I already knew: “You have a fractured toe. Stay off of it completely for three days and slowly begin to increase your activity after that.”

I wish that I could say I said, “Sure thing, doc!” I merely laughed in her face. “I have three little kids,” I said. “Slowing down isn’t exactly an option.”

But sometimes circumstances beyond our control force us to slow down. A friend of mine in college said that she thinks that is why it says in the 23rd Psalm, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.

Two days before this accident, I was spending some time teaching my girls about how we hear God’s voice. I wanted them to know that He doesn’t only speak to us through the “still small voice of His Spirit within us” or Scripture alone. “Sometimes,” I told them confidently, “God speaks to us through our circumstances. Like if we get sick and are forced to rest, it can be God’s way of saying, ‘slow down.’

Little did I know that God would speak to me these exact words two days later. I am 4 or less weeks away from giving birth to my 4th child and I will be very honest with you. I haven’t slowed down at all. But God saw fit, in His sovereignty, to force me to sit still and embrace rest, solitude, the gift of literally putting my feet up and just basking in His presence.

Embracing the Gift of Brokenness


Our culture has got some things really screwed up. One of them is that if we slow down or rest, we are failing…missing out…losing ground. But it is only when we slow down that we can focus completely on what really matters. It is only by embracing times of solitude and quiet that we come face to face with our true selves before the face of God. In that place, He can show us what we’ve lost through a turbulent lifestyle and restore it through His loving presence.

Do you fight or flee from solitude and rest? Do you press through fatigue and run towards busyness? Let Christ take your hand today and lead you into the stillness of His presence. Embrace what He may be speaking to you through circumstances that slow you down.

Sometimes weakness and trial can open doors to greater gifts than we could have ever imagined, but we must embrace them as such.

Experiencing God Through Nature

This morning I went jogging on a mountain trail I’ve walked since I was a young child. I looked at a stream I used to play in, naming every section based on the fairies or little animals I imagined lived there. I took pictures of ferns I remember turning into fans or roofs of houses for salamanders I played with.

I watch my own girls – 6, 4, and 2 explore my old stomping grounds with glee and wonder at God’s creation. Separated from highways, media, and everyday responsibilities leaves me with lots of room and space to reflect on the intricate patterns of a single leaf or flower and find myself filled with joy as a result.

To hear birds singing and smell the cool mountain breeze – I find myself becoming small again and the world becoming large and friendly – beckoning me to exhale and explore and let my soul be cleansed of heavy burdens.

These are moments when I can reflect and remember what life is really all about – Knowing and Enjoying God.


I am grateful for God’s gift of His Creation, which:

1) Gives ample demonstrations of God’s provision for all the creatures that He has chosen to create; (Matthew 6:25-34).

2) Shows me a beautiful picture of God’s created order and balance; (Colossians 1:17)

3) Invites and beckons me to enter into praise and worship as I “consider all the worlds His hands have made…” (Psalm 148)

4) Stirs creativity in me as I stand, awestruck, at God’s many masterpieces: a beautiful sunset, a pathway dusted with flower petals, a roaring stream teeming with life (Psalm 8).

What do you gain when you engage God through His creation? How do you heal, grow, and recover your childlike wonder and faith?

Whether it’s gathering seashells, swimming in ponds, or planting flowers, don’t let age or busyness stop you from receiving nature’s sweet therapy.

Jump into God’s creation this summer and re-learn what it means to discover and explore once again.

Your soul will thank you for it!

Believing What God Says About You


In the children’s book “You are Special” by Max Lucado, a little wooden boy named Punchinello can’t seem to get other people to like him. He’s not smart, athletic, handsome, or gifted. So the other wooden people called Wemmicks stick gray dots on him instead of golden stars. In fact, all of the Wemmicks are covered with either gray dots or golden stars.

One day, Punchinello meets a Wemmick who doesn’t have any stars or dots on her. When he asks her why, she simply tells him that he needs to come to the woodcarvers shop and meet Eli, the maker of the Wemmicks. Upon meeting him, Eli tells Punchinello, “You are special because I made you – and I don’t make mistakes.” As he hears this, Punchinello thinks to himself, “I think he really means it,” and as he thinks this thought, a gray dot falls off of him.

I love this story because it is a great illustration of how we live our lives. We run around giving ourselves and each other marks – good or bad. We praise some and put down others. We admire and applaud or we criticize and condemn. We are a fickle people.

Real Life Wemmicks


In Acts 14, we read that the Apostle Paul together with his partner in ministry, Barnabas, were preaching powerfully and God was doing miraculous signs and wonders through them. When they were in Lystra, they prayed for a man who had been crippled from his birth and he was healed.

As a result, the crowd that saw this miracle decided that Paul and Barnabas were the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes and could scarcely be restrained from sacrificing to them.

Shortly after this “Worship Paul” fest, some Jews from Antioch arrived and won the crowd over to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead.

Why You Shouldn’t Live for the Praise of Man

This story from Paul’s life is a great example of how quickly people can change their opinion of someone. Moments before they stoned Paul, the same people were literally worshipping him. Go figure.

Crowds are fickle. People’s opinions can change rapidly. But I love how this story ends. The people who really loved Paul gathered around him and helped raise him up.

Then what did Paul do? Whine to his friends that people were mean to him? Lick his wounds and mope for awhile that he wasn’t popular with the crowd anymore?

Not Paul. He literally “got up and went back into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe” (verse 20).

He didn’t care what people thought about him because he didn’t live for their approval. In fact, he wrote to the church of Galatia that when you choose to follow Christ, you are choosing to make His opinion of you the only one that matters:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

Believing What God Says About You

Punchinello and Paul have something in common. Both of them learned how to keep the opinions of people from “sticking” to them and keeping them down. They learned to listen to the only opinion that mattered: their Maker’s.

Have you listened too long to voices who say that you won’t amount to anything? That you’re too much of this or not enough of that? Maybe the most critical voice you hear is your own.

The only way to silence those voices is to drown them out with the Voice of Heavenly Love – the One who created You and says, “You are special because I made you – and I don’t make mistakes.”

Choose to believe what HE says about you today. Stand up, shake off the opinions of others and live your life for God alone.

His is the only approval that you need.

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