Dare to Dream and Do

When was the last time you lounged around on a deck or the beach or even on your couch, looking up at the sky, reading, napping, or catching up on your favorite TV shows? (We have two seasons of one show recorded that we still haven’t watched.) What about going on a hike or exploring a nearby town that you haven’t visited before? Heart Leaf

When was the last time you did nothing and enjoyed it? Doing nothing is not always nothing; sometimes it means you are caring for your soul. But doing something that brings you joy … now that is living. Think about it. What awakens your soul? What speaks to your heart?

Many of us get so bogged down in everyday life, we don’t make or take the time to pause or pursue our dreams—you know, the things that make us happy that we so often put on the back burner. As caretakers of others, we often move ourselves and our dreams to the bottom of the priority list in order to take care of all the other things that seem to be so important. Of course, some of them are … but, then again, so are we. I matter. You matter. Our happiness matters.

These words from Darling Magazine provide a good reminder: “No matter the season we’re at in life, we should also remind ourselves of the hobbies, dreams and aspirations that give us life. When you feel as though you’ve lost hope, intentionally choose to partake in the activities that bring you joy. Whether it be going on a nature walk, painting, playing tennis, sewing, [creating a fairy garden,] baking your favorite recipe or scrapbooking old photos, remind your heart that it can still experience joy and passion.”

Fairy Garden from Gallrein Farms

Fairy Garden created by Gallrein Farms, Shelbyville, KY

Thankfully, I am experiencing a rare slow period with my work and I have been able to spend a little more time this past month reading, writing, taking pictures, and working on crafts. It has been a time of rest and a time of fun! How sad that so many people seem to have forgotten what it feels like to have fun or what they would even do if they had time for fun.

In one of the books that I am reading: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, Bonnie Gray explains: “Just as beautiful art needs whitespace, we need … spiritual whitespace. Our souls need rest. … Spiritual whitespace makes room—room  in our hearts for a deeper, more intimate relationship with God, room in our lives for rest, room in our souls for rejuvenation.”

Blank Canvas

In thinking about my own spiritual whitespace, I am reminded of my “one word” for this year: happy. In my attempt to focus on and live this word, I am re-learning how to have fun—to embrace the gifts and the dreams that God gave me, to feed my soul, and offer up my words, photos, etc. in a way that honors those gifts and brings me joy. I am no longer simply dreaming of the things that make me happy; I am doing. In fact, I recently started a crafting Meetup group (Happy Scrappers) and this next month, we will be creating art journals. I plan to make mine a “one-word” journal using words, watercolors, chalk, magazine cutouts, photos, and who knows what else. It will be an ongoing process and a compilation of the things and moments that make me happy.

Art Journal

What dreams and joyful activities have you been forsaking?

Bonnie says, “Each time we reach for joy, we take the step of faith to say, ‘This is mine. My Father in heaven knows what I like and I’m learning to discover it too.’”

Join me in June as I take part in Bonnie Gray’s blog tour 21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

I’ll be posting some of my favorite quotes from her book with my personal photos to share with you. On some days, this will be the only thing I post. On others, I will share additional thoughts and photos with you. I hope the words and images that I share from my heart will touch and bless your heart.

Enjoy the Moment

Bonnie’s book Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest releases Tuesday, June 3rd. If you order before then, you will receive some exclusive pre-launch bonus gifts.

On top of that, GoodReads is giving away five copies of her book. Click to enter by Tuesday, 6/3.

Bonnie Gray is the writer behind Faith Barista.com who wrote a book about her inspiring, heart-breaking journey to find rest, which garnered her a Publisher’s Weekly starred review. I’m taking the journey to find rest through this guidebook and invite you to read it too.  You can get a copy HERE.

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

Comfort and Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about “comfort” lately, not because anything is wrong in my life, just that I find it fascinating to explore the various things, places, people, and situations that many of us turn to for comfort depending on what we are experiencing in our lives. Many people turn to comfort foods, which can either physically comfort us (like hot soup on a cold day) or provide us with a sentimental or nostalgic feeling that links us to loved ones or reconnects us with happier times or places. Enjoying comfort foods is not a bad thing in and of itself; however, according to Wikipedia “Comfort food consumption has been seen as a response to emotional stress and, consequently, as a key contributor to the epidemic of obesity in the United States.”

Made to CraveAs Lysa TerKeurst explains in her book Made to Crave: “Craving isn’t a bad thing. But we must realize God created us to crave more of him. … Many of us have misplaced that craving by overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction.”

For example, there are those who find comfort in alcoholic beverages. As a former alcoholic explains it: “alcohol gives [me] a false sense of being at ease … it blurs the hard edges of life and gives [me] a false sense of courage. Alcohol helps a person forget his/her problems for a while, but it doesn’t help resolve them.” However, for those who don’t over-indulge, enjoying a glass of wine, a beer, or a mixed drink is simply part of their winding-down process. In situations like this, a drink can be a comfort, but not a cover-up. And that’s okay; I’m not judging here, just following a train of thought. 🙂Glass of Wine

For those who DO use food or drink as an escape, I am drawn to these lines from another blogger that I recently read: “If we hide from our pain, we don’t need a healer.  If we hide from our faults, we don’t need a redeemer. If we hide from the fact that we are lost, we don’t need a savior.” Are you hiding things in your life? Are you looking to the wrong sources for comfort and answers?

When sharing about her own personal journey, Bonnie Gray shared this: “I decided if I was going to make it through this hard season of my life, I needed as much comfort and beauty for my soul that I could find. Even if it was whisper thin, even if it brought my heart pain to long for it, I would nurture that desire in me. Beauty reminded me that the real me was whole and present inside me. I didn’t know how to begin. But, I knew I needed to begin.”

2014-05-15 11.55.08

What are some things (or places) that bring you comfort? Not necessarily in the midst of catastrophes but when you’re dealing with the everyday blues or when you’re just not feeling your best for whatever reason? I definitely look to nature as a source of comfort – it almost always provides me with a spiritual pick-me-up. Do you have things that you consider comfort wear? I’m not talking about sweats or yoga pants that you wear because they are comfortable. I’m talking about things that, for whatever reason, seem to make you feel just a little bit better.

Have you ever heard of prayer shawls? There are many groups around now that participate in this, but the basic idea is that individuals knit or crochet shawls, which they pray over, and they give them to those in need of comfort and solace. Janet Severi Bristow, one of the founders of the ministry in Hartford, CT describes it this way: “Shawls … made for centuries [are] universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify.” I just love this idea. Imagine wrapping a shawl of prayers and blessings around your shoulders. Close your eyes and feel the arms of the Father (and those who were involved in the making and distributing of the shawl) giving you a much needed hug.

I don’t have a prayer shawl, but I have a couple of shirts that I consider comfort shirts. One is this flannel shirt pictured below that I’ve had for probably 20 years. The other is a Tigger T-shirt that I may have had for just as long. It has small holes in it so I don’t wear it out anywhere, but sometimes I put it on when I’m having a down day. Or if my husband is out of town, I like to put on one of his shirts to feel closer to him. It comforts me to feel connected to him. I also have a quilt that my older sister made for me. I use it at night when it’s chilly, but I also like to cover up with it on the couch when I’m not feeling well. If you don’t have “comfort wear” already, why not pick something out … something that reminds you of happy times or a particular person or place. Next time you are feeling a little blue or lonely or sick, reach for that shirt or wrap or blanket and give yourself a hug. And be sure to also take some time out for yourself – time to rest and recharge.

I've had this flannel shirt for probably 20 years. It's thin and worn so doesn't really provide much warmth, but it's familiarity brings comfort.

I’ve had this flannel shirt for probably 20 years. It’s thin and worn so doesn’t really provide much warmth, but its familiarity brings me comfort.

This is the quilt/comforter that my sister made for me. I love it.

This is the quilt/comforter that my sister made for me. I love it.

If what you are feeling is stronger, deeper, more than you can handle alone … reach out. Call a friend or family member (we don’t know you are hurting unless you tell us), go to church, or find an opportunity to forget about your own troubles and help someone else. Helping others is a sure way to find not only comfort, but joy.

Lysa TerKeurst reminded me (and thousands of others) in a recent Facebook post: “Be joyful: Intentionally look around for measures of joy each day. There is joy in simply being alive and in being redeemed by God. Remember, joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances. It’s good to look for the good, to celebrate it even in small ways. Doing so is a moment of victory!”

Bella running with pure joy!

Bella running with pure joy!

No matter how unpleasant your current circumstances might be, don’t cover up or hide from the realities of your life. Don’t cower in shame for your weakness or allow your fears to debilitate you, but boldly reach for comfort whenever you need it. You are not meant to live in fear or to suffer alone. Actively pursue comfort and joy, and you will surely be moving in the right direction!

I will send you the Comforter.

I will send you the Comforter.

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you.”

John 14:15-16 (The Living Bible)

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com