Days 18 and 19: Finding Spiritual Whitespace—You Are Not Forgotten

Tranquility

Even if they don’t know what it means, everyone needs spiritual whitespace. If only we all clearly recognized this need in ourselves or in our loved ones, especially those who struggle with depression or some form of PTSD. Maybe we would be able to save them … save ourselves … from reaching that anguished breaking point where the only source of peace and solace available seems to be death.

On August 12th, Bonnie Gray, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest wrote a tribute to Robin Williams and shared a letter she had written to her younger self. This is some of what she shared:

I wish I had a chance to talk with Robin in that dark moment he decided to take his life. I wish I could say something to bring him some hope, some comfort — the same way he brought a measure of it into my life through his art.

I’m telling you. I shed some tears. For my yesterday. For Robin.

For we are all soul-starved and hungry.

Soul-loneliness is our sad modern epidemic.

I wish I could tell you, Robin.

There is rest apart from death. There is hope in your hurt.

You can find home. God can meet you in your sorrow.

There Is Hope

From her letter to her younger self, these are the words I believe we can all benefit from:

Be broken. Don’t run from it. Feel your need and dare to follow your dreams.

And when you feel you’ve been too broken and cannot stand the pain of being alone one breath longer — break your silence.

Tell someone. Anyone. Everyone. …

When you give yourself permission to need — to touch the place of empty, the place of wanting – that ache of unrequited desire will lead you to fulfill God-sized dreams imprinted in you before you were even named. …

Your need entwines you to Christ.

Brokenness is beauty to Him.

You are not forgotten.

You're Not Alone

In today’s post, Bonnie shares how the journey of telling her story prompted her recent invitation to lead a Spiritual Whitespace Retreat for Wounded Warriors from Fort Campbell, Kentucky in Nashville this weekend. Bonnie asks for prayer for herself and those who attend the event:

Pray for me, as I’ll be sharing my personal journey through non-combat PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks to active duty military leaders along with their spouses.

This will be a three-day retreat to guide soldiers on a journey of Spiritual Whitespace and experience spiritual refreshment through storytelling, journaling, prayer and meditation.

Pray that the brave men and women who serve our country will experience unexpected soul rest — and get a taste of what feeds their soul. That they will be known and rejuvenated from the experience.

Sacred Idleness

Speaking of events for those who have served our country, we are having a local event here in Shelbyville, KY to honor our veterans and remind them that we appreciate them and are here for them.

Veterans Supper

One of the young ladies who used to work (maybe still does part-time) at Shelburne Pet Center (where Bella goes for doggy day care and boarding) came up with the concept for this First Annual Veteran’s Supper and she has been spearheading/organizing the entire event. “This event will honor veterans of the Shelby County, Kentucky area with an afternoon of delicious potluck food, fun local music entertainment, community business basket raffles, and commemoration to the sacrifices they have made for our community.”

I pray that this rejuvenates the spirits of our veterans and their families. Thank you to Molly Carter for not only caring about your hometown, but for being an integral part of making it a better place to live for all of us. I wish you much success, and I’ll see you up there on Saturday. :)

In closing, here are just a few of my favorite veterans and VFW members, which I recently shared on my Facebook page:

My Aunt Mary and My Grandma Jo

My Aunt Mary and My Grandma Jo

My Grandfather - Dan Lee

My Grandfather – Dan Lee (with my grandmother)

My Uncle - KC Lee

My Uncle – KC Lee

I have other family members and many friends who have also served or are still serving – thank you all for what you have done and what you continue to do. I hope you never feel alone or forgotten. If you do, call me!

“God has said,
‘Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.’

So we say with confidence,
‘The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?'”
(Hebrews 13:5-6)

 

Her Spirit Soars

Beaches

After the discovery of cancer in her brain in June of this year, my friend Denise Enos passed away on August 11th. I’m writing today’s post more for myself than anyone else. Just a way to say goodbye and to honor her memory. It’s scary when someone close to your own age dies, especially when it is so quick and unexpected. A good reminder that the choices we make, the focus we take, the lives we touch … every moment matters.

These are some of my memories of Denise:

New Life

Denise Enos adored her family and was strengthened by her faith.

She was bold, determined, and passionate about her beliefs.

She built strong relationships and treasured her friendships.

She appreciated beauty in nature as well as in man-made designs.

She savored good food and enjoyed great wine.

She believed in the power of possibility.

She was consistent and detail-oriented,
yet creative, adventurous, and fun.

In her work, she was a perfectionist,
so she could be hard on herself,
yet she offered others such grace.

Full of ideas, and always thinking,
Denise constantly sought improvement
in herself and in the workplace.

Because she cared so much about so many things,
she would sometimes get a little overwhelmed.
But venting with trusted friends and laughing
together over the craziness of our industry
helped keep us sane and fortified us to
go back another day and do it all over again.

We shared a love of family, faith, friends, imagery, words, language,
writing, consistency (especially the series comma), organization,
a positive attitude, and many other things.

Today, my heart is heavy,
acknowledging the fact that my friend is really gone.
She left quite a legacy and some very strong memories behind.
These memories allow the rest of us to taste small sips of comfort.

Although we pray that she rests in peace,
knowing Denise, her faith, and her living testimony,
I don’t think she’s resting at all …
I believe, today, she soars!

She soars!

I think Denise would want us to remember and focus on the good times we enjoyed with her. I found some “Getting to Know You” questions and answers on her Facebook page. Reading through her answers made me smile. So, I thought I would share them here:

DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING?

It is completely, embarrassingly illegible.

 DO YOU HAVE KIDS?

My wonderful and amazing Marshall and Charlotte–I am so blessed.

 IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU?

Oh, sure; I’m big fun.

 DO YOU USE SARCASM?

See above.

BEST DAY OF THE YEAR?

Any holiday when I have my whole family together.

 HOW DID YOU MEET YOUR SPOUSE/SIGNIFICANT OTHER?

Through mutual friends–I am in their debt forever.

 WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO IN LIFE?

“Love one another.” and “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?

They’re not really a possession, but I’d say my family.

 WHAT CARTOON CHARACTER BEST DESCRIBES YOU?

The pig in Pearls Before Swine. I am ridiculously naive and optimistic–
thank God for my friends who “reality check” me on a regular basis!

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.
… It has no survival value;

rather, it is one of those things that
give value to survival.” —C.S. Lewis

My Soul Has Been Freed

Slowing Down in a World of Rush

Butterfly on Zinnia

In case you have begun to think that the only thing I write about on this blog is Bonnie Gray’s book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace, I wanted to assure you that I am nearing the end of my focus on this particular book. When Bonnie decided she was going to do a “21 Days of Rest” blog tour, I was in no way obligated to join her, but I felt like there were so many good bits of wisdom in the pages that I wanted to continue sharing right along with her. When she realized that all the opportunities opening up for her would not allow her to blog for 21 straight days, Bonnie explained that she would spread the 21 days out as time allowed. This helped me as well, as I had begun to feel overwhelmed myself.

Which brings me to a new book of interest. This one is by Lysa TerKeurst. “She is the New York Times bestselling author of Made to Crave and Unglued. She isn’t shy about admitting what a mess she can be. But in the midst of everyday ‘growth opportunities,’ she’s been learning God’s lessons and sharing them on her blog (www.LysaTerKeurst.com) and in her books.”

I enjoyed this book.


I follow Lysa’s blog and her Instagram posts, and I have read other books of hers (like Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl). She’s got a great sense of humor and a wonderful way of connecting with her readers.

I am looking forward to reading Lysa’s current book, The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands. I think it connects well to the idea of trying to find spiritual whitespace, as well as attempting to simplify our lives by making changes to our cluttered homes and cluttered schedules.

slowtherush

Here’s a brief description of Lysa’s new book.

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you:

  • Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
  • Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
  • Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
  • Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.

That’s all I’m going to share for now, but look for more on this book, more on what the right “yes” could mean for you, and more of my photos and thoughts.

Thanks for being here with me.

Stop and Smell the Flowers

Day 17: Finding Spiritual Whitespace in Forgiveness

21 Days of Rest

We’ve all been wronged or hurt by others at some point in our lives. Sometimes those who hurt us didn’t really mean to, and they apologize. That is a wonderful thing. But, in especially traumatic circumstances, often the person is never confronted with the truth of their actions, or if it is brought to light, they deny that it even happened. That’s when we have to decide if we are going to forgive them anyway. Not for their sake, but for our own.

Forgive Others

Part of the problem with forgiving others comes with the interpretation of what forgiveness really means.

Wikipedia defines it as follows: Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).

Forgiveness

After writing about her own personal traumas while growing up, and exposing some of the heart-wrenching situations she experienced with both of her parents, Bonnie Gray, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace has been asked in several interviews: Have you forgiven those who hurt you? How has forgiveness played a role in your story.

In her blog post “What Does It Mean to Really Forgive?” Bonnie explains what forgiveness DOESN’T mean:

Forgiveness does not mean trust is freely granted or automatically restored.

Forgiveness does not mean you don’t have boundaries, if their actions are unhealthy or cause you emotional, spiritual, [or] physical harm.

Forgiveness does not mean giving someone who has hurt you license to hurt you again.

Forgiveness does [not] mean open borders to toxicity, fear or intimidation to manipulate you into being the friend, girlfriend, co-worker, daughter, ministry worker, wife, … (fill in the blank), fashioned in someone else’s image. …

Forgiveness does not mean we don’t talk about it.

Forgiveness does not mean we hide our stories. And pretend it didn’t happen.

We’re all broken in some way. We all have wounds.

So, we still have to take the journey to heal, to grieve, and cry — in order to find what’s beautiful, to awaken our hearts to what’s real.

So, we can take better care of ourselves. To feed our souls. And begin to dream again.

 Follow the link above to Bonnie’s post for today and read the whole thing. As usual, she shares some beautiful thoughts and reminds us of the importance of creating spiritual whitespace “to make room to receive from God what we’ve lost.”

Forgiveness

How would forgiveness free up spiritual whitespace — room to rest and nurture your soul?

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Day 16: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Rest is an Awakening

Today, Bonnie Gray used her blog post to write about the first step to soul intimacy (something deep that happens when we take time to feed our souls), and to share a story from one of the readers of her book Finding Spiritual Whitespace.

Reading Finding Spiritual Whitespace inspired stay-at-home mom Janine Crum to make time for art and open an online shop of original prints.

If you follow the link to Bonnie’s post above, you’ll find a free Whitespace Printable art piece (Find Rest for Your Soul) created by Janine that you can download. And you can read her beautiful story about what it meant for her to make room for spiritual whitespace in her life. It’s so amazing to hear about the different ways that Bonnie’s words have touched others and reawakened their heart’s desire.

Although I have been done with the book for a while now, I still open it up now and then to read some of the passages I highlighted. This is one I like that Janine also included in her post:

When we make room for spiritual whitespace, we step into the beautiful journey of letting go to discover what’s really worth holding onto.

Noah's Big Fish

One of the fish my stepson, Noah, caught while out with his Dad this summer.

These words remind me about the importance of letting go of stuff and holding onto people, relationships, nature, and activities that bring us joy.

Recently, I started following blogger Rachel Jones from Nourishing Minimalism. She says:

“I don’t believe minimalism is particularly about a small amount of belongings, I believe it’s about being content. That one can come to a place in their life where they don’t need ‘more’ and we can spend our time impacting the lives of those around us, rather than caring for ‘things.’ People are the true things that matter.”

I really relate to a lot of her ideas for simplifying. In fact, I created this simple graphic from information she shared in one of her newsletters.

Simplifying

Rachel describes the lifestyle many of us seem to live with these words:

Feel like you’re running in a million different directions?

Most of the time, I think Americans run their life from 3 feet above their head. We don’t take time to sit and be here. In the moment, in this room, on this chair. It’s a rather disjointed life.

Rachel is describing the life of someone who has not figured out the importance of spiritual whitespace or the need for rest, whether physical or mental. On a related note, too much stuff really does cause stress. And more stuff does not lead to contentment as many seem to believe. You can read more from Rachel on simplifying here.

Tranquil Waters

Even Pope Francis (in an interview published in part in the Argentine weekly “Viva” July 27 ) listed leisure time, or rest, as one of his Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one’s life. Another had to do with connecting or building relationships.

“Be giving of yourself to others.” People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because “if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid.”

“A healthy sense of leisure.” The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said.

“Consumerism has brought us anxiety” and stress, causing people to lose a “healthy culture of leisure.” Their time is “swallowed up” so people can’t share it with anyone.

Spending time with those we love is so much more important than working harder to climb the ladder of success or to acquire more things. Holley Gerth says it best in yesterday’s post:

Jesus didn’t climb ladders … He built bridges.

Instead of reaching up for success He reached out in love.

We can do the same.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

 

Having a Bad Day? You Are Not Alone.

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

Despite our best efforts to keep our lives on a steady track, like a carousel, life is typically more like a roller coaster. We have our ups—things are great, life is good, we’re on top of the world. And then we have our downs—those trying times when it seems that everything that can go wrong does.

Personally, I am only on a small slope right now as I experience a little uncertainty about my income in the upcoming months and continue to deal with the on-again/off-again issues of carpal tunnel and fibromyalgia. However, among my family and friends, there are several people experiencing more traumatic issues like the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, multiple surgeries, major medication and rehabilitation, long-distance moves, and various other shake-ups.

Today, whether you are experiencing a steady decline or you feel like you are descending at a rapid rate, remember: looking back does not change the course; every down is followed by an up; and finally, whatever you are going through, you are not alone.

Roy Lessin image

Virginia Knowles, who writes about motherhood on her blog (This Mom Grows Up!) posted this today: “When Life Is Not a Bowl of Cherries”

“So much we go through, the good and bad mixed together. It stretches our faith. It teaches us life lessons. It connects us to those who want to help us. It draws on our capacity to love others. It shows us where we need to put forth more effort.”

Another blogger I follow, Susie Middleton (at SixBurnerSue.com), shares some of the crazy downs experienced in farm life:

“It’s … easy, this time of year, to look around a farm and get discouraged. Weeds are ravenous, pests are ravenous, farm stand customers are ravenous. (And our egg supply isn’t keeping up with demand.). The pretty green frilly stuff of spring has fled, replaced by dying pea vines and bolted lettuce and plants ravaged by potato beetles.

But wait. That’s only one way to look at it.”

She goes on to comment on the cheerful sunflowers and zinnias, the bountiful tomato harvest, and the fresh black raspberries now ripe for making homemade berry ice cream.

Copyright © 2014 Susie Middleton

Copyright © 2014 Susie Middleton

Sometimes, how you look at your surroundings and what you choose to see is more important than what appears at first to be the overwhelming “reality.” Changing your focus is not always easy to do, especially if you are experiencing financial difficulties or overwhelming grief, but you can often find the silver lining in many situations if you try and/or if you give it time. (Of course, there are some things that we will never understand or see the good in … at least not during our earthly lives. For those things, we simply have to trust in God and His plan.)

JoAnn Potter, shares some really good thoughts on bad things in her blog post, “God Never Says ‘Oops'”:

“Whenever something bad happens to me, my first reaction is to think that I don’t belong in my situation. Surely, there’s been some kind of mistake.

My son shouldn’t be sick. I shouldn’t have constant conflict with my boss. I’m not supposed to have broken my mother’s prized china. My husband wasn’t supposed to be downsized out of a job. Our car shouldn’t have broken down. …

Regardless of what I want to believe about my situation, I am in it for one of only two reasons: Either God has willed it, or He has allowed it.

If I do not admit this, then God becomes subservient to my will, to the devil, to chance, or to something else. And He can’t. If He does, He is not God. …

God is not selectively perfect. He is not selectively knowing. He is not selectively loving. God is these things all the time.

He does not make me do stuff, but He does work all things together for good. He can turn my bad decisions, eventually, into good. He can turn evil inside out. He does it all the time.”

PEACE - I Have Overcome the World

Whatever you are going through, I pray that your burden will be eased; that you will receive encouragement through your connection to God, friends, and family; that you will find relief from your pain and comfort for your sorrow; that you will discover the desires of your heart and the path that will get you there; and that you will find rest, peace, and renewal at the end of the “ride.”

Dr. Charles Stanley says, “Perhaps the hardest part of receiving the desires of our heart is waiting for them to materialize. Yet God’s Word insists that we rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. This means relying on Him to work out circumstances even when achieving our desire seems impossible.”

 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing
the Lord is about to do…”
1 Samuel 12:4

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Deuteronomy 31:8

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.”
Jeremiah 17:7

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Stop Worrying

Day 15: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Journey to Rest

In yesterday’s post, Bonnie Gray (the Faith Barista), invited readers to join her “on the porch” at Ann Voskamp’s blog where she shared one of her most vulnerable chapters – “The Pink Outfit.” As part of the Whitespace Launch team, I took part in helping her choose which chapter to share with Ann’s readers; she gave us the five chapters she was deciding between and we voted on which chapter was most powerful for us personally. This moment won out.

If you do not have the book and/or haven’t read about the pink outfit, I encourage you to follow the link to Ann’s blog above to read a story that Bonnie says she kept hidden away for most of her life. It’s about the moment when she first experienced the lonely feeling that comes with hoping for joy only to have it cruelly snatched away.

Bonnie says: “But, this pink outfit moment is the moment Jesus has never been closer to me, more intimate as a Father holding his newfound daughter — and this is how He has chosen to introduce new friends to meet with me between the pages of our stories.”

Walk with Kindreds

As you read (Bonnie says), may your heart be prompted and encouraged to know this:

You matter.

Your voice matters.

Your story matters.

Because Jesus is living your story with you.

Because Jesus is your story.

He will always be faithful to carry you through everything and anything.

Because He loves you.  

As is.

Bonnie guides us to discover a better story for ourselves, one that feeds our soul and makes room for rest.  

 Give yourself permission today to take the journey to rest – whatever that looks like for you personally.

Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace