In the Silence…

Contemplative Thoughts

be gentle

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“Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” ~ PRO16:24

I remember a time when I was meeting up with some fellow students for a class assignment. Of course I was there early. I read through the homework and I had organized notes. I was prepared! One of my classmates arrived and sat down. He started making chit chat. Our friend was running late, and we decided to wait until she arrived to go over our assignment.

My classmate kindly looked into my eyes and said, “Annette, you are trying to get an A in a Pass/Fail class. Relax, you will pass.” I’ve always been harder on myself than anyone else. I was overly prepared and anxious for no good reason. He was right. I did relax, I enjoyed the class, and I passed. I’ve had to learn and practice being gentle on myself.

God has always been gentle with me. Quietly guiding me, and giving me simple prompts that I can understand. The situation at hand is difficult. I’m not going to go through this time perfectly. I’ll have to say kind things to myself when I get anxious. I need to be gentle on myself, and I hope you will be gentle on yourself, too.

In the silence, go gently…

work in progress

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“If I take the wings of dawn and dwell beyond the sea, even there your hand guides me, your right hand holds me fast.” ~ PS139

I finished a cross stitch project last night. Every stitch of it was a pleasure! The fabric felt good in my hands, and the thread easily pulled through the fabric with out making knots. The design was interesting. I truly enjoyed it!

I have several works in progress. Lots of choices. This morning I picked up one of my works in progress that had spent a few months in time out. I wasn’t happy with the thread colors that came with the kit, and I stopped. I decided to pull out the stitches of the color that bothered me, and add a few colors of thread from my stash. It has made a huge difference! I am happily stitching along again.

I’m a work in progress. My prayers come easily most days. When I struggle, I pull out my Bible, and read. God is always helping me grow. God has not given up on me, even when I’m a difficult project.

In the silence, God is working on me…

a new day

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“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.” ~ ECC3

A new day, a new month, and a new start. Rather than focusing on being stuck here for another month, I am changing my mind.

I filled up my hand soap, and emptied the trash cans this morning. I’m planning on doing some cleaning today. I’ve been working around a stack of papers on my desk. Today’s the day to sort through them. Some will get filed, other papers will get shredded, and finally some will go into the recycle bin. My desk will get a good cleaning and dusting! I know once this small desk space is clear, it will help me to feel better. I’ll enjoy using my desk everyday.

Is there some small task you can tackle today? Set a 15 minute timer, and work on it. Taking small steps, rather than big ones, help me to accomplish my goals.

In the silence, it’s time for a change…

songs of praise

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“Let everything that has breath give praise to the Lord.” ~ PS150

I was working on a sewing project and listening to music from songs on my device. I put it on random selection so I never knew what song from my music library would play next.

Several songs of praise played and I sang along to some of them. My lyrics didn’t always match the tune.

I smiled and remembered where I acquired the songs. Some songs lead me to pause my sewing project, and focus my thoughts on praising God.

Do you have some praise music? With technology, it wouldn’t be difficult to find some. Dust off some old CDs and press play. If you play an instrument, get it out and play! Sing from your heart to God’s ear.

In the silence, praise God with song…

light and darkness

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“the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” ~ JN1:5

A wise woman recently asked me if we have to really understand darkness before we can understand light. When she asked me the question, it really struck me. Yes, I wanted to say, Yes! Her question is so profound.

Each of us will have moments in our life that we would describe as real darkness. Deaths of loved ones, illness, estrangements, losses in life bring us into dark periods. Not glib thoughts, but physical pain. God is there in the darkness with you.

After we begin to heal, we can experience joy again. The light of life can be so bright, we can feel overwhelmed by it. God is in the light of life with you.

If you are in a moment of darkness, acknowledge it. It’s painful, and there are no quick fixes. Let yourself feel sad. Befriend the darkness, God knows your pain.

Light will come into your life again. Just as the sun rises each day. One day, you will see it again.

In the silence, God is in the light and the darkness…

shelter

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Right now, more than ever, I think that the words I say to myself take on significant meaning. Some say for us to “shelter in place,” or “shelter at home,” or “safe shelter.” I like those phrases, they work best for me. Staying at home is the safest move for me right now. Other people say, “Lockdown” or “Quarantine.” For me, those words seem negative. Like I am a prisoner.

I’ve heard a saying, “what you focus on expands.” I’m focusing on being safe at home. I admit, I am at an advantage because I already love being at home. I’m kind of a hermit anyway.

During this challenging season, we have an opportunity to expand our connection with God. God often feels most present when we are desperate.

“For over all his glory will be shelter and protection: shade from the parching heat of day, refuge and cover from storm and rain.” ~ IS4:6

Take a few minutes to read over this beautiful Scripture passage. Reread it as many times as you need. Write it out and put it on the refrigerator.

God is our shelter, and when we let God be, we are at peace.

In the silence, God is my safe shelter…

the retreat house

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“…when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” ~ MT6:6

This inspiration has been with me for a long, long time – over a decade – to host a retreat house. I’ve been seeking, praying about, talking about, and looking for a retreat house. My Spiritual Director told me that I was the retreat house. Ok, I understand, I help others feel safe, and meet their Spiritual needs, like a retreat house. Yet, the inspiration continues to nag, and my head turns when I pass a For Sale sign in front of a small white house.

Recently, I hosted a small group of women in my home for a Morning of Prayer. We’ve met together a few times a year at my house. A few weeks ago, I had a real conscious awareness that my home is the retreat house. So, as I cleaned, I prayed over each space. I prayed that each woman would feel welcomed and safe. I was more aware that I had been gifted by God with my very own retreat house, my home. I was affirmed by the women that morning, they already knew it was the retreat house.

Maybe, right now, wherever you are doesn’t seem anything like a retreat house. How about creating a prayer corner, a prayer chair, or a prayer closet? This is a time when creativity and ingenuity can rise up. Gather together a few items that you already have on hand. Make a shelf or a window sill a space for reflection. Try something. If you don’t like it, that’s okay. You can make changes as you are inspiried to do so. Start now.

Years ago, I prayed that my home would be a peaceful haven. I’ve taken many steps to improve it over the years. Small changes, step by step, and now it is a safe, peaceful haven.

If you already have a sacred space, look it over. Does it need anything now?

Light a candle, open a Bible, just relax and take a breath. Say a prayer.

In the silence, you are on retreat…

No Events

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Every morning, usually after my cup of coffee and breakfast, I look at my calendar on my cell phone. Today it has just two words, No Events. There is no exclamation mark, but each word is capitalized.

There were years when I had events each day. When our children were in school, it was event after event. If I had a break, I filled it with something. Even as a Spiritual Director, I had super busy seasons, Lent being the very busiest! One year during Lent, I helped guide people on 4 different week long retreats and 1 weekend retreat. I literally drove from the end of one retreat to the beginning of another. Too many, too much! God was patient with me, and got the point across to me soon after, that it was God’s work, and not mine. I didn’t have to work so hard on God’s behalf. I had a good chuckle and was humbled.

Nowadays, my children are adults. My home is generally pretty quiet. I have days of No Events, and I really like it that way.

“Be still and know that I am God!” ~ PS46

Perhaps this verse is over used and over heard. This morning it is the verse that came to my mind and my heart. And it has an exclamation at the end. How much more still can I be? Yet, God draws me in with this verse again.

After breakfast, I picked up my latest needlework project, and let myself stitch a little longer than usual, because there’s No Events.

In the silence, in the stillness, know God…

comfort

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I began reflecting on comfort.

What brings me comfort? I feel comfort when I wear soft socks on my feet. Cozy socks. So when I feel anxious, I check my feet. Sometimes, I feel comfort listening to music, and other times I easily settle myself with deep silence. Doing something creative comforts me. I always have 100 or more creative ideas and projects rattling around in my mind. If I do one of those projects, it helps comfort me.

Creating order in my home and organizing a space brings me comfort. Not everything around the house is in perfect order, but if I pick up a broom, or dust a shelf, I feel better. Enjoying a cup of hot tea with a spoonful of honey also brings me a moment of peace. The smell, the taste, satisfy. Writing my thoughts out in a journal helps me. For me, comfort is experienced through my senses: touch, smell, taste, vision, and hearing.

My Spiritual senses are soothed most by reading Sacred Scripture. Every morning it is my practice to read Scripture. I tend to pull out one verse or phrase to reflect on each day. “God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress” ~ PS46 God is present to me, and always comforts me through the Scripture. It is a tangible comfort.

What do you do to comfort yourself? Perhaps, take a few minutes now to write down a list for yourself, and apply it.

In the silence, God comforts your soul…

Hello again…

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The thought came to me, around 3am, that I can be a helper during the challenge we are facing.

I remembered my blog. It was 3am, after all, and in the morning, I would see if that idea was still there. It is. Here I am. You are not alone. We are in the silence, together.

These posts will be a little bit of my life and ramblings. I don’t know what I’ll write about…

When I couldn’t sleep, I reached for my Inspire Bible, and some color pencils, and did the open to whatever God decides flip. And, in the margin it read, “The Lord delights in you.” Isaiah 62:4

I colored the letters in, and smiled! Thank you, God, for reminding me that you are delighting in me, even when I am not focusing on you.

In the silence, God delights in you!